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The Future Of America’s Military

On Veterans Day, after more than a decade of deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, we take the pulse of America’s military – as it faces big cuts and big changes.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and Army Secretary John McHugh, right, watch an Army carry team move a transfer case containing the remains of Pfc. Cody J. Patterson Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (AP)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and Army Secretary John McHugh, right, watch an Army carry team move a transfer case containing the remains of Pfc. Cody J. Patterson Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (AP)

Deployment after deployment, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Frequent rotations and a big toll on servicemen and women – and their families. Drone warfare changing the battlefield from above. Women joining the front lines. Reports of sexual assault, spiking. Soldiers surviving wounds that would have killed them even a decade ago. And more massive budget cuts and a pivot to Asia looming in the future. This hour, On Point: this Veterans Day, we’re taking the pulse of America’s military, how it’s changed, where it’s headed.

Guests

Tom Bowman, Pentagon reporter for NPR News. (@TBowmanNPR)

Cpt. Rosemary Mariner, scholar in residence at the Center for War and Society and lecturer in history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Cindy Williams, principal research scientist at the Security Studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Co-author of “Buying National Security: How America Plans and Pays For Its Global Role and Safety at Home.”

From The Reading List

Foreign Affairs: Accepting Austerity: The Smart Way To Cut Defense — “It didn’t have to be this way. President Barack Obama signed the BCA in August 2011. By the end of the year, the super committee established to craft a fiscal bargain that would replace the nine-year automatic budget cuts embedded in the bill had crashed and burned, triggering the nine-year budget cuts that began with the March 2013 sequestration. So the White House and the Department of Defense have had two years to develop a national security strategy consistent with the new budget limits, design forces and programs to match that strategy, point the Pentagon down a somewhat less abrupt budgetary glide path, and institute measures to smooth the downsizing.”

New York Times: Cuts Have Hagel Weighing Realigned Military Budget — “In recent weeks, Mr. Hagel has filled his calendar with an accelerated series of meetings with the service secretaries and Joint Chiefs, and with the global combatant commanders. He is requiring them to explain — and defend — how they contribute to security against current global threats, with the Army viewed as most at risk of even steeper cuts.”

NPR: What’s Changed In The Military, And What’s Next — “After the war in Vietnam, the U.S. military changed in profound ways. A conscript force became all volunteer. Congress changed the rules to force much more extensive use of the National Guard in any future conflict. Training and equipment emphasized fighting at night. And technology made blunt instruments like aerial bombing far more precise. Scarred by the experience of a war lost in the jungles of Indochina, U.S. military focused on conventional combat. Then, many of the lessons of counterinsurgency had to be re-learned these past 11 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. “

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  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Good luck shifting from bombs to bridges…remember the 3000 M1 tanks that the pentagon didn’t want but congress bought as Christmas presents for someone? The M1 tank is just one of many weapons systems with a long and storied past…
    http://truth-out.org/news/item/10784-congress-as-enabler-the-pentagon-cant-kill-the-m-1-tank-only-an-ied-can-part-two

    The power and corruption in the halls of K Street will muddy the waters and crises will be fabricated that are neither in the interest of the American public nor democracy nor freedom.

  • Ray in VT

    As a remembrance for the Great War, which next year has the centennial of its outbreak:

    In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    -Lt. Colonel John McRae

    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/flanders.htm

    • Don_B1

      The song I always think of since Elly Stone sang it at The Village Gate (translation by Mort Shuman from the Jacques Brel song) is:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_wHuw9ze4Q&noredirect=1

      There are other great performances (including his own in French), but this one will always ring my bell.

  • Jon

    All military forces in every country should be disbanded and diplomatic and economic approach should be the way to solve conflicts between nations. This would lead to fairer global competition and peaceful world. There can be a UN police force comprised of members from all nations to maintain the global peace.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Of course you are right, but the way you express it will send at least half of all Americans looking for their bunkers and dried beans. The future of the planet is likely as you describe, but not anytime soon.

      • Jon

        an amendment – confiscate and destroy all civilian weapons.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I’ll believe the cuts and reductions when I see them. The next generation aircraft carrier Gerald Ford has just been christened. Its big draw is more automation and fewer people, supposedly resulting in 4 billion dollars in savings over 50 years. Is this a cut or reduction we are talking about? Same size military with fewer jobs due to automation? I don’t think this is the sort of reduction many are hoping for. Until we give up on hegemony, there won’t really be any reductions.

    • northeaster17

      Between research and cost over runs the thing cost about 20 billion. The $4 billion in savings does little for the sailor or the taxpayer.

  • MrStang

    The Bush-Cheney War-of-Choice Casualties continue apace at approximately 20 soldier suicides per day (a ‘Conservative’ estimate).

    • John Cedar

      Suicide is painless

      • jefe68

        What’s wrong with you?
        Do you think it’s funny?
        This is no joke. What about the pain the families and friends go through when a loved one commits suicide.

        It’s interesting to note that two of the regular right wing commenters on this forum decided to make stupid juvenile comments on a show about the military on Veterans day.

      • hennorama

        What an

        • HonestDebate1

          Decorum please.

          • jefe68

            The truth hurts.

          • nj_v2

            For just about anyone but you, i might have assumed that this was meant to be posted under “John Cedar’s” bit of vileness.

          • HonestDebate1

            I consider the hennpecker to be extremely disingenuous. She recently said she is interested in decorum but she is as nasty as anyone. Its all about ideology.

          • Don_B1

            You bow to no one on ideology as the overriding force for every issue’s resolution.

          • hennorama

            Don_B1 — please don’t pick on the Dishonest Pontificating One

            After all, he displays an inability to count, and he clearly does not comprehend what he reads, including the words that he puts in his own posts.

            For example, here’s what he’s referring to above, which is part of a reply I made to [JONBOSTON]:

            “Rather than being a grammatician/grammaticist/grammarian, I’m interested in accuracy, and decorum would be a nice bonus.”

            It never fails to amaze how one so wrong will blather on and on and on, loudly, proudly, and clue-free.

      • nj_v2

        You really are an idiot.

  • MrStang

    We need to bring our military family home to fight a war on unemployment and climate change. They can build wind farms and install solar panels and upgrade our declining infrastructure which the American Society of Civil Engineers grades at D+.
    http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/

    • Don_B1

      Actually, if we did a little more training like was provided in the ARRA (stimulus) bill of 2009, and provided funds for infrastructure renewal with modifications for energy efficiency (and many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans would qualify for team leaders in groups performing those tasks) much of the unemployment could be ended.

  • Bminder

    i’d imagine that if we gave our slain military men and women a Voice now, speaking from heaven, they’d say, ‘We’d much much much rather you focus with far more passion on making peace a reality on our planet then on infusing the activity of war with so much hushed reverence. Why don’t you try to make the goal of peace the Holy of Holies, the most sacred desire that won’t be denied for the intensity of our yearning.’ Might we not find a few grieving parents and orphaned children who might agree? bob minder

  • StilllHere

    OMG, the government is shutdown today! What will we do? What will the economic cost be? Think of the children!

    • jefe68

      Lame. Go away troll.

      • HonestDebate1

        Do you read your own comments?

        • jefe68

          I’m responding to the idiocy of people like yourself. There is a difference, but your to f’n thick to know the difference buddy.

    • geraldfnord

      You are surely right, to the same extent as ‘drowsing’, ‘sleeping’, and ‘napping’ are all identical in meaning to ‘comatose’.

  • MrStang

    Audit the Pentagon Secretary Hagel.
    Stop feeding the Military Industrial Complex so that we may Invest In EMPLOYMENT FOR SOLDIERS AT HOME. REBUILD OUR INFRASTRUCTURE.

    • alsordi

      Even better…. AUDIT the FEDERAL RESERVE. They are the real source of military funding.

      Prior to 1913, leaders like Napoleon relied on gold, even Hitler tried to grab as much of it as he could. In comparison, the USA printed its way to victory in two world wars, and has been waging perpetual smaller wars funded on Fed Funny Money ever since.

      Most Americans will never admit that the US Currency, hence their exceptional standard of living, is backed by military force, pure and simple.

  • MrStang

    The Fat Koch/Petersen TeaPublican Virus infected Zombie would devour its own foot to lose weight.

  • alsordi

    Truth be told, returning veterans (thank-you-for-your-service) are the biggest threat to the fascist security state that has been established by the international bankers in the US , since the day three high rise buildings fell at free fall speed in NYC (along with Enron and other uncomfortable financial evidence), a plane hit the pentagon accounting department where the 2 trillion is unaccounted for, and another plane disappeared in hole in the ground in PA (both plane crashed leaving little evidence of actual airplanes).

    My advise for veterans and future soldiers ….Make an intelligent assessment of the conflict before you decide to go killing foreigners and (ala Colonel Smedley Butler) STOP being the hired thugs for international bankers and defense contractors !!!

  • Yar

    We need a return to mandatory public service. You shouldn’t be able to buy your way out of serving our country. Thank you to Veterans, to all who serve the public both in the military and as civilians. The US Army Corps of engineers did more to promote lasting peace in Europe than all of the bombs. A lesson we should learn as we leave Afghanistan. When the fighting stops a war in only half over.
    http://www.usace.army.mil/About/History/HistoricalVignettes/MilitaryConstructionCombat/056NewDistrict.aspx

    • geraldfnord

      Who owns you?

      I’m quite willing to pay a just about any portion of my substance back to the society without which I could not have gagned and kept it, because my wealth is meaningless without society, but here I’m with the more libertarian people: the ability to conscript, backed by the threat of legitimised violence (as are all laws of course, but historically draft evaders face particularly bad prison terms, morality being old-fashioned there on the inside) is an insult to the idea that I am fundamentally my own person.

      And despite what the courts might say, in reality entering the service alienates one from many of one’s rights: in the service notionally every rule is there to save our lives, at the front or at home, and so can supervene any so called rights one might have—see the de facto power commanders have to quash just about any investigation not receiving publicity or positive attention from higher-ups.

      • Don_B1

        While Yar mentioned the military explicitly as it is the topic of the day, the term “public service” traditionally includes the Peace Corps, and other entities that serve the general needs of the underprivileged, both in and outside the United States.

    • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

      As a Vietnam vet, I totally agree with you about mandatory service, NO exceptions;

      • Ray in VT

        But what if you have “other priorities”? ;)

        • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

          Like a lot of other counties, the other priorities would could come after military service, No exceptions other than physical and mental ones.

          • Ray in VT

            Exactly. I was joking, of course. Thank you for your service, sir. One of my close friends was in Vietnam with the Army I think during the 1963 coup, and he’s told me a number of times how chaotic that day was, as he and his superiors did not know if those overthrowing the government were hostile to the U.S. Their initial plan was to pile into the trucks. Fight their way to the beach if necessary and wait there under the big guns of the Navy until they could be evacuated.

          • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

            Good morning. I am glad your friend made it home. The Navy has some big guns. The only service connected disability I have is from the noise of them.They are louder than the loudest fireworks you hear at a fireworks show, much louder. Yesterday I was asked by a young lady checking me out at a store If I missed my days in the Navy. I told her that there was nothing to miss about Vietnam, Even a lot of civilians strongly disapproved of us. Again, I am glad that your friend made it home.

    • northeaster17

      The service need not be under arms, unless of course…. All I can think about are the gliders that Powell said Saddam had that could reach NY. We can’t be tools of the political class.

  • J__o__h__n

    “even a decade ago” – Jane, we have been there over a decade.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    We should cancel all new weapon systems, like the F35, and use that money to pay for ALL the needs of our veterans. We should give them all free college educations, and free healthcare for life.

    • HonestDebate1

      We now have France to take the lead and Russia to handle the Middle East, heck lets just sit back.

  • rich4321

    The Veterans are the most under appreciated class I have known. The Wall Street bankers has no idea what the Vets have scarified in the process of creating our world today. The Wall Street bankers , act ruthlessly to rob the U.S. people including the Vets, all for their own greeds
    I would like to see a draft policy, draft all these banker scums to serve!

  • geraldfnord

    A large standing army constitutes an attractive nuisance to policy makers, for as they say, when you’ve got a really good hammer, every problem looks like an opportunity to launch an invasion.

  • MrStang

    “This is how American soldiers who are killed in action come home.”

    –Alan Chin

    - See more at: http://www.bagnewsnotes.com/2010/05/dover-air-force-base/#sthash.JWWc8VUp.dpuf

  • TFRX

    How do veterans’ unemployment percentages compare not with the populace at large, but with their peers, the people who grew up on the proverbial same block?

    This is recognition that we have an all-volunteer service force compared to Vietnam and WWII.

    (I am having online listening issues with the show. Apologies if this was commented on and I missed it.)

    • jefe68

      The stats I’ve read is that recent Vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are in the 20% range in unemployment numbers. Overall Vets have a 10% unemployment.

      I don’t think comparing WW2 vets is a good idea. They had a lot more support and were returning to a booming economy.

      • Don_B1

        But one of the reasons for the G.I. bill was to take the pressure of a lot of discharged servicemen off the job market, and it did that along with its prime reason, providing a well-educated workforce.

        • TFRX

          I’ve seen enough WWII-era movies to know that a popular phrase was “Nothing’s too good for our boys*”.

          Talk about losing that thread over the decades.

          (*Back when women only were WACs and WAVES.)

  • creaker

    The best way to honor those who serve is to not put them in situations where they are needlessly at risk.

    • HonestDebate1

      Yes, it would have put soldiers at risk to save our ambassador in Libya so they were stopped.

      • Ray in VT

        And which soldiers were those?

        • HonestDebate1

          All of them. Every last one serving.

          • Ray in VT

            Sure dude. The administration just sat back, watched it all on live TV and never got any troops moving. Just like Fox and all the ideological dolts that inhabit the inbred world of the right wing media have told you all along.

          • HonestDebate1

            No, I think he was passed out drunk. Do you have evidence to the contrary?

          • Ray in VT

            You’re the one advancing a position. The burden of proof is upon you.

          • HonestDebate1
          • Ray in VT

            So, was that in the White House that night? This is, though, about the low level of discourse that I have come to expect from you when it comes to “honest debate”.

          • HonestDebate1

            You just said they were watching it on video, do you have evidence? The burden of proof is on you.

            The doctors also recommended “moderation of alcohol intake”.

            http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/mar/01/barack-obama-told-to-quit-smoking

          • Ray in VT

            I don’t have evidence, and neither did Fox News when it ran with that beauty. I guess that the difference is that I am joking and Fox had a bunch of Teapublicans to stir up 10 days before the election.

            My doctor also recommended that, although I don’t drink. Do you have evidence that Obama drinks too much? The doctor also recommended “periodic dental care”. That doesn’t mean that the President hasn’t been to a dentist in years.

            http://mediamatters.org/blog/2010/03/01/right-wing-media-brew-up-smear-that-obama-drink/161068

          • HonestDebate1

            There was a drone there was a video. The DOJ had it but obviously the White House can’t be bothered. You really should wipe the Fox hate out of your eyes. No one said (correct me with evidence) t they were sitting around the situation room watching it unfold. I think Hannity (opinion bomb thower tame compared to Maddow or Shultz) may have said the State Department was but he qualified it by saying ACCORDING TO TESTIMONY! Look up Charlene Lamb.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQSfqHJd2mU

            Forbes asked it this way:

            And why, in the heat of battle with real-time communications regarding what was going on, didn’t our top leaders send responsive help that was so urgently needed?

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2012/10/24/breaking-news-white-house-watched-benghazi-attacked-and-didnt-respond/

            Then there’s this:

            http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/10/12/video-from-benghazi-consulate-shows-organized-attack.html

            And here is what Fox reported on the news side:

            That’s from the Web story published on FoxNews.com. Notice how carefully Griffin articulates her reporting; she doesn’t make any representations about who was watching these “visuals,” but rather reports only that the video was available.

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/post/fox-news-and-benghazi-video-for-real/2012/11/09/79410b04-29d8-11e2-bab2-eda299503684_blog.html

          • Ray in VT

            I’m glad that you’re always around to tell me how hateful I am. If it wasn’t for you I’d just be under the impression that I have a problem with the sort of distorted partisanship that Fox, along with others, so often peddles when they have an ax to grind with the truth.

            Got it. The White House had the video streaming, but they just sat around and did nothing. So, it wasn’t that they watched them die, it’s just that they chose not to even bother watching? Got it.

            Did you read that Daily Beast article before citing it? I would guess not. I make that statement based upon the statement from that article that states that drone video is from the last hour of the overall attack and not earlier. Your pathetically biased comments also continue to fail to recognize that military assets were set in motion, but considering that problem that you have with facts that contradict your beliefs, I will continue to assume that you will defend that baseless and disgraceful accusation to the last.

          • HonestDebate1

            That’s funny. Who said the white house was sitting around watching it? Not me. they could have called the pentagon though.

            And don’t tell me about defending nonsense, that’s your specialty. Did Obama lie? Say it.

          • Ray in VT

            Oh, so they just had access to it, but chose not to watch it? Is that your position based upon Forbes and Fox? The Daily Beast article disappears. It must be sad to be so full of hate for Obama that it blinds one to basic facts.

            Like I said, I could make the argument either way, but I’ll use the GOP standard that you use that allows people to tell lies that lead to thousands of deaths, but that is okay, just so long as one is a “true conservative”.

          • HonestDebate1

            That was the testimony of Ms Lamb.

          • Ray in VT

            Care to quote where Ms. Lamb said that they had access to real time video?

          • jefe68

            Why bother with this rube.

          • HonestDebate1
          • Ray in VT

            My own personal amusement.

          • lobstahbisque

            Mr. Obama didn’t have a ‘bruising’ battle with a pretzel.

          • HonestDebate1
          • jefe68

            And you go on about other peoples comments when you make such doozies like this chestnut.

          • HonestDebate1

            I have my reasons. Prove me wrong, you can’t. That’s my point.

          • jefe68

            The point is that your not to bright, or so it would seem.

          • HonestDebate1

            So where was the commander in chief?

          • jefe68

            He’s spying on you right now behind that tree near your barn.

          • HonestDebate1

            O great, I better sneak out there and check it out, if nothing else but to warn him about the coyote den in the holler.

          • HonestDebate1

            It’s already been established that I’m an idiot. Any idiot knows that.

            Where was he?

          • jefe68

            Well then I’m going to tell you for the last time, what you’re on about here is dumb.
            End of my comment on this inanity.
            Don’t you have some gays to fire?

          • HonestDebate1

            No, we purged them all before that stupid law took affect.

          • jefe68

            Lame.

          • HonestDebate1

            No, just a little gimpy.

      • truegangsteroflove

        Post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this). It is highly unlikely that soldiers were “stopped” because they would have been put at risk. More likely they weren’t “started,” for perceived practical reasons, most likely because whoever was the decision-maker misread the situation, believing it to be a demonstration.

        Benghazi is a good example of the ungainliness of meddling around the planet. One evidence of the ungainliness is sending in an ambassador when there is no clearly established functioning government.

        The simple fact that the “embassy” was located in Benghazi instead of Tripoli hints that there may have been a problem with legitimacy. This also hints at why the military might not have been sent in to help.

        It may have been that a higher priority was given to keeping a low profile about the “embassy,” and a shooting incident might expose this vulnerability to the truth. Like bureaucrats everywhere, they seem to have been hoping for the best. This is like gambling with other people’s money, except in this case it is with lives.

        • HonestDebate1

          I agree he should not have been there in the first place but he was. Once there he should have been protected. Once attacked he should not have been left to die.

  • Guest

    The best way to honor those who serve is to not put them needlessly at risk.

    • HonestDebate1

      Absolutely but define needlessly.

      • creaker

        Iraq and Afghanistan are good examples. And even beyond the right or wrong of going those serving were woefully equipped.

        • HonestDebate1

          I would not define them as needless at all, especially Iraq. I agree with you about equipment but these cuts are not helping that,

          • truegangsteroflove

            Maybe you could define needful. If the invasion and occupation of Iraq was needful, the only clear needs were for Halliburton, General Electric, Westinghouse, Textron, and many others (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_defense_contractors).

            Of course, the politicians who start wars and are paid well for doing so are very needful of war. Without wars they would be very needful of some other scam.

      • jimino

        A few components of a working definition of “needless” would be: 1. Not being able to identify who your enemy actually is; 2. Not being able to identify how you intend to fight that enemy; and 3. Not being able to articulate what victory would look like.

        • HonestDebate1

          Absolutely.

  • alsordi

    Considering that one of my very valid comments was removed from todays forum, I am convinved that US soldiers have not been fighting and suffering for the First Amendment: FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

  • creaker

    I find it sad that we spend so much on defense – yet we are dependent on people raising donations to provide things like toiletries and socks to those deployed.

  • alsordi

    More hypocrisy and evasion regarding sexual assaults. No one seems to know why they have increased ??? Really???

    How about because the US corporate wars are now held in Muslim lands where contact with females is prohibited by culture. Oh yeah.. The US troops cant buy women for two dollars a day as they did in Vietnam and the Philippines. Personally I think it was no coincidence that the US pushed more women into uniform. This was more of a moral boost to men serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to have women at the NCO club.

    • Sy2502

      So the American women who join the military don’t do so because they want to serve their country with honor and courage… but to entertain the men? Well, thank you for that despicable piece of insult right there. Now why don’t you crawl back into your cave and find 2 rocks to beat together or something?

      • alsordi

        Another feminist kneejerk reaction.
        I do not question the intention of female recruits is not in question. In fact, I do believe that most women join to serve their county and for noble causes… probably more so than men. What I am questioning is the real motive of the US military in recruiting more women.

        • Sy2502

          Yes, not appreciating women being insulted is a “feminist kneejerk reaction”. Of course. We should shut up and roll over. That would be so much more convenient. I can see you really can’t do anything other than insult and belittle when it comes to women.

  • John_Hamilton

    Tom Bowman mentioned that with “Sequestration” the military will find it difficult to maintain its current strategy. This of course begs the question of just what the current strategy is. If it is a strategy of being the “world’s only superpower,” we have seen in recent years the folly of this “strategy.”
    Tom Bowman is an access reporter. As such, you won’t hear any questioning of “policy” or “strategy.” To do so would risk losing one’s access to unnamed government sources. If he were to do some real questioning, he might inquire into whether NATO is necessary, and if so, why it is that the U.S. bears almost the entire burden of this anachronism. I served in NATO from 1969 to 1971 in Germany. The town I was stationed in had Army bases all around it. Supposedly these bases are being closed, but that is because the role of NATO has shifted to the Mideast. In other words, WE are in the Mideast.
    If you factor out all the bogus wars and occupations we have indulged in since, say 1954, a legitimate strategy would involve a greatly reduced presence worldwide. We might be able to reduce the military budget to something equivalent to what Germany or France spend on theirs.
    Another thing to consider, of course, is that a large military materiel industry depends for its survival on a large military budget. Without GROWTH in military procurement spending, many of these suppliers will go out of business. The thing that keeps them in business is payoffs to members of Congress, euphemistically known as campaign donations. As long as the Congress is intrinsically corrupt, the problem can be “kicked down the road,” but eventually there will be an end to the road.

  • MrStang


    Windfalls of war: KBR, the government’s concierge
    KBR’s umbrella contract to provide everything from showers to rebuilding airfields tops $37 billion. “It’s like a gigantic monopoly,” says one critic.
    By Sharon Weinberger

    http://www.publicintegrity.org/2011/08/30/5990/windfalls-war-kbr-governments-concierge

  • Florian Miyagi

    Great show, great episode. But I do find comments like “the next few years will find us fighting in places we couldn’t imagine at the moment” very worrying. It shows an inherent problem with the U.S. foreign policy. War and violence are not seen as measures of last resort but one of many different tools. I’m not sure how long the U.S.A will be able to keep up that kind of attitude in a multipolar world. Greetings from Germany.

    • fun bobby

      but we have always been at war with Eurasia.

  • homebuilding

    How very sad to see that NPR compiled a “war cheerleaders” forum for us, today.

    The rest of the world has “grown up” and no longer beats the drums of carnage by budgeting extraordinary sums to the military.
    The USA extreme budget for military toys stands alone in the world.

    Veteran’s Day is NOT the time to give promote senseless promotion of ever more military spending.

    For decades, now, the Pentagon defines bloat.

    (the only suggestion of the massive waste is the symbol implicit in the photo–a casket being carried to a final resting place)

    • J__o__h__n

      Agreed. We need a war contractors holiday.

  • lobstahbisque

    “The war to end all wars.”

    • Ray in VT

      If only….

    • tbphkm33

      LOL – World War One… oh how wrong they were…

    • harverdphd

      Fantasy…born by humans nature, believed by human nature.

  • fun bobby

    did everyone get their poppies from the veterans?

  • hennorama

    On this Veterans’ Day, here’s to all Veterans, current military servicemembers, their families and loved ones, and to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our great country.

    We owe you all a debt that can never be repaid in full.

    • StilllHere

      Have the boys at S&P come up with an estimate on the economic cost of today’s shutdown? Will the sun rise tomorrow?

      • jefe68

        Troll.

      • hennorama

        StilllHere — sorry to see that you have no sense of what is appropriate or relevant as a response to a respectful and sincere toast to those who have bravely served our country.

        You can do better.

        • TFRX

          He can?

          That’s be news to many of us.

          • hennorama

            TFRX — I think everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, especially in here, where it’s easy to spout off without real consequence.

            Once again, I’m glad I have learned to not be sipping my coffee while reading new comments.

  • DOlala3705

    Possible budget re-thinking: Do we need commissaries and exchanges when a lot of base are near communities with plenty of shopping? Do we need to hire groundskeepers? When we were an enlisted family in the mid-80′s, we competed for Yard of the Month and learned how to mow grass and clean the mower before returning it. Do we need to grow a culture of military families? Why not a set training and only the military member be called up when needed without moving the whole family to a new training area. (for your guest’s information, the “warrior” is only part of each of our rounded personalities. Our society needs to learn how to honor the warrior and then support their return to society with a reduced warrior make-up and let their other sides flourish. Are we really ready to support returning military mothers who may develop PTSD? The fears and isolation of PTSD are heartbreaking for families.

  • Sy2502

    I appreciate that the military does many good things, but I never got the part about them defending my freedom. In fact, I see my freedom being constantly under attack from my government, but I don’t see the military doing anything about it. So somebody please explain this conundrum to me.

    • harverdphd

      Your perceptions are the product of your delusions.

      • Sy2502

        Please explain.

    • Ray in VT

      If you see the government as constantly attacking your freedoms, then, I guess, what, if anything, do you expect the military to do about it?

      • Sy2502

        Well that was my point. If the military isn’t there to really protect our freedoms, then what’s all the ra-ra about being thankful for the military protecting our freedom? What freedoms are they protecting?

        • Ray in VT

          Threats to freedoms associated with external actors would be my contention. I wasn’t really sure where you were going, so I was attempting to discern whether or not you were advocating the military doing something about threats (either real or perceived) from the government.

          • Sy2502

            Well I can’t think of any way in which the military has preserved my freedom. That’s all I was trying to say.

          • Ray in VT

            Okay.

  • harverdphd

    Exactly…toast ‘em and show them real war. Thank you.

  • Jasoturner

    This was an excellent episode, and Jane did a very good job filling in for Tom. Great topic for Veteran’s day.

  • hennorama

    FrankensteinDragon — it appears that, like [StilllHere] below, you have no sense of what is appropriate or relevant as a response to a respectful and sincere toast to those who have bravely served our country.

    Best wishes.

  • hennorama

    FrankensteinDragon — you are welcome to your opinion, extreme though it is.

    Here’s another toast: à votre santé.

  • Bluejay2fly

    As retired military I could say your response is immature and completely wrong ,BUT I cannot because you are 100% correct. We have become yet another iron fisted empire just like the ones we despised and vowed never to imitate. Our culture with our worship of using violence as the first option resembles the values of Nazi Germany then that of a nation dedicated to “christian values” such as kindness and compassion. Good job on your post.

  • Bluejay2fly

    What you can do is go out and get a job you enjoy, be with someone you love, and live a righteous and honest life. What I would not do is get angry about things that will probably never change. Life is too short to live with bitterness and resentment even if your intentions are well meaning.

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Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

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Apr 18, 2014
This undated photo provided by NASA on April 2, 2014 shows Saturn's moon Enceladus. The "tiger stripes" are long fractures from which water vapor jets are emitted. Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon, they announced Thursday, April 3, 2014. Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. (AP)

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Apr 18, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. President Vladimir Putin has urged an end to the blockade of Moldova’s separatist province of Trans-Dniester. Trans-Dniester, located in eastern part of Moldova on border with Ukraine, has run its own affairs without international recognition since a 1992 war. Russian troops are stationed there.  (AP)

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