Hagel’s front office gets a new Hand; Shineski, under fire; Obama to talk drone, Gitmo policy; MCT: Amos being investigated; Terminal Lance: “Shut up!” and a bit more.
By Gordon Lubold More than 85,000 veterans were treated for alleged sexual abuse, AP reports this morning. A new VA report, released to AP, shows that the 85,000 were treated for "injuries or illness" stemming from sexual abuse in the military – and about 4,000 vets sought disability benefits as a result. AP: "A Department ...
By Gordon Lubold
By Gordon Lubold
More than 85,000 veterans were treated for alleged sexual abuse, AP reports this morning. A new VA report, released to AP, shows that the 85,000 were treated for "injuries or illness" stemming from sexual abuse in the military – and about 4,000 vets sought disability benefits as a result. AP: "A Department of Veterans Affairs accounting released in response to inquiries from The Associated Press shows a heavy financial and emotional cost involving vets from Iraq, Afghanistan and even back to Vietnam, and lasting long after a victim leaves the service. Sexual assault or repeated sexual harassment can trigger a variety of health problems, primarily post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. While women are more likely to be victims, men made up nearly 40 percent of the patients the VA treated last year for conditions connected to what it calls ‘military sexual trauma.’" Read the whole story here.
Obama to talk drone and Gitmo policy this week at National Defense University. In his attempt to be more "transparent" about national security policy, especially regarding drones and the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Obama will go to NDU Thursday to delivery a major speech, the WaPo reports. A White House official, to the WaPo: "He will review the state of the threats we face, particularly as the al-Qaeda core has weakened but new dangers have emerged… "He will discuss the policy and legal framework under which we take action against terrorist threats, including the use of drones. And he will review our detention policy and efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay."
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The Pentagon’s front office gets a new Hand: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s special assistant, Bailey Hand, who leaves the Pentagon this week, will be replaced by Cara Abercrombie, who starts today. Abercrombie will be the special assistant for defense policy, Situation Report is told. She joined the Defense Department as a Presidential Management Fellow in 2003 and previously served as South Asia director when Hagel’s new right-hand man, Mark Lippert, was assistant secretary of defense for Asia Pacific security affairs. She also supported both Iraq and Afghanistan policy. She is a graduate of Dartmouth and Princeton.
The DOD Inspector General is looking at Jim Amos and four of his legal advisers in connection with the video of Marines urinating on dead insurgents. The Marine Corps Times reports that Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, or others acting on his behalf, "may have deliberately sought to manipulate the legal process, effectively stacking the deck against the scout snipers in the video," the paper’s Andy deGrandpre and Dan Lamothe wrote in a story posted Sunday afternoon. The complaint was filed by a Marine major, James Weirick, an attorney assigned to the Corps’ Combat Development Command at Quantico, Va. The complaint "also alleges that Amos showed preferential treatment to ensure the promotion of then-Maj. James B. Conway, the son of the previous Marine commandant, Jim Conway, now retired. The complaint complicates an already sticky situation for Amos and the Corps, and will likely figure in the court-martial proceedings pending for two North Carolina-based Marines charged in connection with the urination video: Capt. James Clement and Sgt. Robert Richards. At least six other Marines have been disciplined for their roles in the July 2011 incident, which exploded in a firestorm of controversy, at home and around the world, when it went viral on YouTube. Among the strongest reactions came from Amos himself, who launched a tour around the Corps to deliver his ‘Heritage Brief,’ in which he condemned the acts in the video, stressed the importance of ethical behavior and accountability, and pressed for aggressive responses to misbehavior." Read MCT’s full story, here.
Marine judge advocates, telling it like it is. A judge advocate from the Marine Corps, Capt. Lindsay Rodman, wrote today that the sexual assault survey that DOD released last week isn’t the whole story. Rodman, on the survey that showed 26,000 service members reported unwanted sexual contact: "The 2012 estimate was also significantly higher than the last estimate, causing some to proclaim a growing ‘epidemic’ of sexual assault in the military. The truth is that the 26,000 figure is such bad math — derived from an unscientific sample set and extrapolated military-wide — that no conclusions can be drawn from it." Read Rodman’s op-ed in the WSJ: "The Pentagon’s Bad Math on Sexual Assault," here.
When a Marine holds an umbrella for Obama, partisans come out. At last week’s press conference at the White House with the Turkish prime minister, a Marine held an umbrella over the president while he spoke. The image was captured on the front pages of a number of national papers and Web sites last week. The Marine’s stern look was interpreted as irked, prompting some bloggers to take to the Interweb to speculate about what the Marine was thinking. Others took potshots at the president. But terminallance.com, an unsanctioned cartoon that pokes fun at the Marine Corps, told bloggers to "shut up" and come in out of the rain. Terminal Lance: "We’re Marines, if the President of the fucking United States asks you to hold a fucking umbrella, you hold a fucking umbrella. As well, the day I give a shit about a boot corporal holding an umbrella is the day I’ve forgotten what the Marine Corps is. Honestly, holding an umbrella for the President is probably the least demeaning thing I could imagine doing as a Marine, as opposed to the other bullshit I had to do every day. No one would think twice about asking a boot to police call cigarette butts across the entire base at 5am, but the minute this boot has to hold an umbrella for the Commander in Chief, people get upset. He’s the President, he rates an umbrella. Get over it." Read the whole post, including the cartoon of Obama’s reaction, here. The original picture on news sites, here.
"Good omen:" Kayani meets incoming Pakistani prime minister. Never before has the Pakistani Army Chief of Staff — the most powerful military officer in Pakistan — sat down with an incoming prime minister, apparently. But indeed, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani met with Nawaz Sharif, writes the WaPo this morn
ing. A ranking military official told the WaPo: "It shows there is no threat to democracy and no tension between military and civilian leadership… both want to work and support each other for strengthening democracy and addressing the grave problems of militancy and terrorism."
Shinseki, under fire. A new video is pushing for Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, citing the still-expanding backlog of cases and noting Shinseki’s relative silence over his four-year tenure. There are a number of veterans groups concerned about the backlog, but this takes that concern to a new level. The group behind the new video, Concerned Veterans for America, was described by the NYT Sunday as a "conservative-leaning" non-profit. On the group’s Web site: "Military commanders are not allowed to fail for four years and keep their job. Nor should Secretary Shineski." Shinseki, who had an intriguing personal story — a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran who spoke truth to power in the run-up to the war in Iraq and then paid the price — was to remake the VA. The system has been flooded by veterans returning from war. Yet a backlog of more than 900,000 veterans that doesn’t seem to get smaller and reports that the VA still uses paper instead of computers for many administrative functions is making it harder for Obama, who pledged to fix the VA, to defend the situation. Watch the video, here.
Welsh removes the movie "Armadillo" from a reading list amid the deepening sexual assault crisis across DOD. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh removed the movie, a documentary about Danish troops during a six-month deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand province, from a list of recommended titles because of scenes with sexual content, writes the Air Force Times’ Jeff Schogol, in a story behind the paper’s pay wall. The Air Force added movies to its reading list last year. The list, here.
- Bloomberg: North Korea test fires six missiles in three days.
- Battleland: Sorry, but Japan still can’t get the war right.
- NYT: China calls for North Korea to release fishing crew.
- Defense News: Pentagon considers three budget-cutting options.
- Inside Defense (ICYMI): No official decision on Odierno’s Joint Landpower office.
- Breaking Defense: "Year of the Radio:" Battle on for three key Army contracts.
- Pro Publica: What’s going on at Gitmo?
Syria, Year Two
- Time: Why the rebels aren’t winning in Syria.
- BBC: In Syria, a fierce battle for the key town of Qusair.
- The New Yorker: The spreading consequences of Syria’s civil war.
- ABC: Kerry to Middle East to advance struggling Syria peace plan.
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children. Twitter: @glubold
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