Even the most adorable kitten in the world can’t defeat my grump today, so here’s the stuff I’ve been reading when I haven’t been shuffling through meetings.
Ackerman covers the QDDR:
Clinton put Slaughter, senior USAID official James Michael and Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew in charge of creating the document — a process of managing five working groups chaired by top-level agency heads to produce an interim report in January and a final document by next September. Last week, in an address to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, Lew defined the nascent QDDR process as an attempt to redress “a serious imbalance” in funding over decades that has left the “military but not civilian agencies resources to support expanding international roles.”
Rajiv Chandrasekaran has reportage out of Helmand:
In the three months since the Marines arrived, the school has reopened, the district governor is on the job and the market is bustling. The insurgents have demonstrated far less resistance than U.S. commanders expected. Many of the residents who left are returning home, their possessions piled onto rickety trailers, and the Marines deem the central part of the town so secure that they routinely walk around without body armor and helmets.
“Nawa has returned from the dead,” said the district administrator, Mohammed Khan.
Diplopundit covers more on S.Amdt. 2588, which is now known as the “Anti-Rape Amendment.”
PRT-Kunar is building a bridge.
AAN has some remarkable quotes from Afghans about the run-off:
“A second round is difficult, because there are so many places you cannot vote. And if we use the same voter cards, the vote will be as fraudulent as the first time… A coalition government is also not a solution. It will have no legitimacy and it is not the people’s fault that there was so much fraud. You cannot just give them a government they don’t want… The authorities should announce the results and address the fraud. They should prosecute the people who are responsible for the fraud. But it will not happen: the people who did the fraud are also the people who were in the campaign teams. They will instead be rewarded for their work… Karzai and his people are saying that it is normal to have fraud, but it is not true. If it is normal, then why do we have laws?” – former PC candidate from Nangarhar
Britain is sending members of its Navy back to Iraq to continue training the Iraqi navy:
Mr Rammell said: “Training of the Iraqi Navy has been paused since June and it is important to resume this activity as soon as possible to ensure that they quickly develop the capacity to protect their own territorial waters and the offshore oil platforms which are so vital to Iraq’s economic revival.
And General Sir David Richards has indicated that British troop reduction would likely not occur in Afghanistan until 2014:
He called for a bridging force, to contain the Taliban, while we “much more aggressively” grow the Afghan army and police. Gen Richards said: “If we get it right, our estimation is that by about 2011, 2012 we’ll see an appreciable improvement, and by about 2014 we will ramp down our numbers as they ramp up and you’ll start to reduce the overall risks of the operation.
“It is an ambitious target, which is why… I caveated slightly by saying I’m expecting Nato to ask us to put more into the training pot to allow that force to grow more aggressively. “But if I’m half-right we’ve got five years of declining violence as we get that formula right and then we’ll go into what might be called a supporting role.”
Interesting to hear a non-US general’s perspective.
The DOD is starting a program to compensate stop-loss troops:
The Defense Department will implement a new program this week to compensate former and current servicemembers for each month they involuntarily served from Sept. 11, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2009, a defense official said. Congress approved an appropriation bill last summer, giving the department $534 million over the next year for an estimated 185,000 servicemembers affected by the “Stop Loss” authority since 9/11, said Sam Retherford, director for the department’s officer and enlisted personnel management office.
In an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service, Retherford explained that qualified servicemembers will receive $500 for each month served past their contracted end-of-service, resignation or retirement date.
Fred Kaplan does additional research into his recruitment article which kind of walks back his point, but his point was based on the released information, so this is more accurate but still kinda funny looking:
Finally, just today, I got a phone call from a lieutenant colonel who works with the raw numbers every day. (He phoned me at the request of his higher-ups; this was not a hush-hush leak.) He told me that I had good reason to be confused by the numbers in the Pentagon’s original report and in the chart I was sent later. Those numbers, he said, oversimplify the situation; they don’t really tell what’s going on.
For instance, the numbers in the Pentagon’s report and the officers’ chart indicate that the Army recruited 70,049 new soldiers in FY 2009. That’s right, as far as it goes. But this figure, he said, accounts only for enlisted personnel. It does not include 11,003 soldiers who entered active duty as officers. Nor does it include 2,212 enlisted soldiers who either entered active duty through the Army National Guard or returned to the military after a brief absence (usually for disciplinary reasons).
If you include these categories (and a few others of this sort), you find that 98,877 people joined the Army in FY 2009, while 89,478 people left. Do the math, and you find that the Army grew by 9,399 soldiers.
Tom Schaller at Five Thirty Eight turns a cynical eye to a correlative action given lack of heath care reform:
Military service is noble. But let’s be clear: It comes with housing, health care and a very generous pension earned after just 20 years of service. And that’s true whether you are on the front line dodging sniper fire and tip-toeing around land mines in Afghanistan every day, or driving a desk at a recruitment center in Albany. Wherever the Wisconsin father ends up, there is something seriously wrong with our system of government when a guy pushing 40 with three kids has to sign up for a four-year enlistment in order to save his wife’s life. At that point ours ceases to be a fully volunteer army.
Refraining from commenting, but it stuck out to me this morning, so there it is. And finally, Af/Pak had an earthquake today. 6.2 on the Richter. Buildings shook in the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and the capital Islamabad, and the quake was felt as far east as Lahore near the Indian border, Pakistani television stations reported.