Archive for April, 2011

Progress must be more than a military battle

April 30, 2011

afg_police

(Reuters) – Afghanistan’s government does not know exactly how many people work for its national police force, creating a risk that foreign funds for police salaries are being abused, a U.S. watchdog said on Monday.

The audit of Afghan police personnel and payroll systems by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR, came as U.S. commanders prepare to hand greater control of security to Afghans and start withdrawing.

Since 2002, about $1.26 billion has been disbursed for Afghan police salaries from an international donors’ trust fund run by the U.N. Development Program, the audit said.

But without a central police payroll system, in place, it is difficult to tell "where the money is actually going," said Herbert Richardson, the acting special inspector general.

The audit by his office said U.N. oversight also was "an issue."

There’s a surprise for you.  Read the whole article to see just how well the money flows.

Afghanistan ag

U.S. military dismayed by delays in 3 key development projects in Afghanistan

U.S. aid officials have been forced to delay three large development programs intended to support the American military strategy in southern Afghanistan at a critical, make-or-break moment in the war.

The initiatives, which are supposed to support local governments, agricultural development and job-training efforts, have been held up by bureaucratic missteps and funding cuts by Congress, according to senior U.S. officials. As a result, the programs will not begin until much of the summer fighting season has concluded.

Military commanders have voiced dismay that the initiatives, to be run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, have been pushed back. “Our flank is exposed” without these programs, said one senior U.S. officer in Afghanistan.

After repeated complaints from the military, USAID is scrambling to implement interim measures. Senior agency officials insist the delays will not affect the delivery of agricultural aid or assistance for local governance.

…In 2009, the agency issued a $300 million grant to Arlington-based International Relief and Development (IRD) to help farmers in two southern provinces — Kandahar and Helmand — improve productivity over just one year. The agency initially did not want to spend so much in such a small area so quickly, but it was told to do so by Richard C. Holbrooke, who had been President Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan until his death in December.

The program’s goal was to increase employment opportunities by rehabilitating farms in both provinces. That was to be accomplished by paying for day-labor jobs to clean canals so more water could get to crops, offering subsidized seeds so farmers would be encouraged to switch from growing opium-producing poppies, distributing tractors and other equipment, and constructing a network of gravel roads so growers could take their goods to market…

That’s $300 million folks.  Please read this article. 

More:

…In Kandahar, a program to pay thousands of men to prune 50,000 acres of orchards — in an effort to increase the amount of fruit grown on the trees — has been met with derision from the governor. “In my childhood, everyone was cleaning the canals. They were pruning their trees. Nobody was paying them,” said Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa, who holds a doctorate in agricultural economics. “IRD is killing the culture here.”…

The war in Afghanistan is more than just military maneuvering. 

For your viewing pleasure…National debt

April 30, 2011
The United States Debt limit Explained

 

National Debt Roadtrip

Donald Trump is worrisome

April 26, 2011

donald-trump-photo

Why Donald Trump is a player. Thomas Sowell says it better than I could.

Read his whole article.

Trump has what so many other Republicans are so painfully lacking: the ability and the willingness to articulate arguments clearly, forcefully, and in plain English. Too many Republicans talk like the actor of whom a critic once said, “he played the king like he was afraid that someone else was going to play the ace.”

Donald Trump is not what America needs but his approach is what the Republicans need.  This is good news for President Obama but bad news for the rest of us.

More progress?…

April 25, 2011

Nearly 500 Taliban flee in daring Afghan jailbreak

Almost 500 Taliban prisoners escaped through a tunnel in an audacious overnight jailbreak in south Afghanistan which the president’s office on Monday called a security “disaster”.

The Taliban said it was behind the operation to free the prisoners using a massive underground tunnel in its heartland of southern Kandahar, and claimed that all of those who escaped were its members, many of them senior commanders.

 

The daring breakout, the second from the prison in three years, threatens to undermine recent security gains claimed by foreign forces after a US troop surge, with the newly-freed insurgents once again available to wreak havoc.

What did they dig with?  How did they get the tools?  Do we not have any oversight at all?  If from outside then there are still some serious security questions.

UPDATE:Afghan prison break was inside job: Karzai office     You think? 

 


“One of the iconic exchanges of Vietnam came, some years after the war, between Col. Harry Summers, a military historian, and a counterpart in the North Vietnamese Army. As Summers recalled it, he said, ‘You never defeated us in the field.’ To which the NVA officer replied: ‘That may be true. It is also irrelevant.’”

You cannot spin your way to victory, you must plan to defeat the enemy.  If you can’t identify and name your enemy you may have a problem.  If your not willing to destroy your enemy you may have a problem.  If you continue to fund those that directly support your enemies you may have a problem. 

The only sign of progress I see is the increase in size of the Afghan Security Forces.  Few other numbers or information indicates progress.  When we determine progress do we base this on the last month, six months or 5 years?  This is important as progress can easily be shown or not shown month to month.  Is Afghanistan more stable today then say two years ago?  Is the Taliban smaller or larger today?

Many will argue this point.  Please point me to the numbers so I may adjust my thoughts. 

http://csis.org/files/publication/101110_ied_metrics_afghanistan.pdf


Just one example of a disjointed approach is the Poppy issue.  We know the Taliban use the money from the poppy fields for funding. We  also know the local farmers need the money to survive.  We claim to support a poppy eradication program yet large obvious poppy fields exist within only a few miles from ANA and Coalition bases.  Poppy is not grown all over Afghanistan but in a relatively small area in the south.  Yet we can’t seem to stop this. 

http://www.therecord.com/news/canada/article/521398–afghan-poppy-eradication-not-top-priority

Negotiations over the poppy field landing platform


Folks I’m not an Anti_war nut.  But we can’t fight a war at the same time plan a pull out.  All in or all out but make a choice. 

Related:

Negotiations over the poppy field landing platform

The Afghan War: A Survey of “Metrics”

500 Taliban escape in huge Afghan jail break

Hundreds of Taliban escape Afghan jail via tunnel..CBS News

More than 450 inmates – many of them Taliban – make underground escape from Kandahar prison..Winnipeg Free Press

http://csis.org/files/publication/101110_ied_metrics_afghanistan.pdf

http://www.therecord.com/news/canada/article/521398–afghan-poppy-eradication-not-top-priority

What is our plan again?

April 23, 2011

I’m not going to comment much on these articles at this time but would ask you to read and digest the implications of these conflicting stories. 

(Reuters) – The United States will provide Pakistan with 85 small "Raven" drone aircraft, a U.S. military official told Reuters on Thursday, a key step to meeting Islamabad’s calls for access to U.S. drone technology.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pakistani news channel Wednesday that links between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence military spy agency and the Haqqani faction of the Taliban were continuing to strain relations between the countries.

Adm. Mullen’s comments to GEO TV, a private network, signal that the U.S. isn’t backing down from an increasingly hostile battle with Pakistan over how to combat Islamist militants who operate on the border with Afghanistan.

"We have strong reservations over the relations of elements of the ISI with the Haqqani network," Adm. Mullen said. He termed the …

WSJ online so you might not be able to get to the entire article


Similar article to the WSJ article above.

Hours after a top American military official said that ISI’s continued links with the militant Haqqani network are at the core of the strained US-Pak ties, Pakistan’s powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has strongly rejected the notion calling it "negative propaganda". Kayani, in a statement, contended that Pakistan Army’s "ongoing operations (against militants) are a testimony of our national resolve to defeat terrorism".)

Kayani’s statement came after Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff who was on a visit to Pakistan on Wednesday, referred to the military-run ISI’s links to the Taliban faction led by militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani that is based in the country’s North Waziristan tribal region.

"It’s fairly well known that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has a longstanding relationship with the Haqqani network and addressing the Haqqani network from my perspective is critical to the solution set in Afghanistan…that’s at the core — it’s not the only thing — but that’s at the core, that I think is the most difficult part of the relationship," he had said.


What does it mean?  Are we arming our enemies as we fight them?  Is this perhaps happening in other places.  Just asking..

Pakistan Army Exposed Pakistani

Steve Sack has some good cartoon at the Star Tribune.  Check them out.

Thoughts and musings on half a century….

April 18, 2011

Well today I turn 50. A good IPA in my hand and no regrets that I can do anything about. I am so thankful of the life I have led. I have seen and done some awesome things in this last half century. I’ve seen men walk on the moon for the very first time. I saw the wall fall under the finest President I will probably ever see. I’ve loved and been loved by some pretty good women. Some better than I ever deserved. I’ve been blessed to have four amazing men that I can call friend and anytime I need that friendship they are there for me (JB, you’re one of them). The things I’ve been privileged enough to see and do in the service of the greatest nation in the world is humbling. What an honor to still put the uniform on everyday, in spite of my desire for retirement. My body keeps hanging on with a little workout from time to time. I hope to be physically active and teach my grandkids to ski well into my 70/80’s God willing. I hope to blog you about how cool it is to turn 3/4 of a century. God bless you all.

Wonderful news…

April 18, 2011

Radial Islamist groups gaining stranglehold in Egypt

The rapid spread of Muslim political parties ahead of September’s parliamentary elections has strengthened fears that Egyptian democracy will be dominated by radical Islamic movements.

You don’t say…

Where have you been?

April 16, 2011

States I’ve visited.

 
Create your own visited map of The United States

Countries


Create your own visited map of The World

Hat tip: http://americanandproud.net/

Air Traffic Controllers need what?

April 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — The best solution to the problem of sleepy air traffic controllers is more sleeping on the job, scientists say.

Are you F^&*%$g kidding me?

But that would be a radical change for the Federal Aviation Administration. Current regulations forbid sleeping at work, even during breaks. Controllers who are caught can be suspended or fired.

Experts say that kind of thinking is outdated.

Raising Bullshit flag… Waving hysterically…

ATC

You know in my career I’ve had to work many strange hours and shifts. Currently I work a swing shift, which I hate. But I do it and I do the best I can with it. To hear Air Traffic Controllers and their supporters say they must take naps if very irritating. I was once in a Tactical ATC unit in the military in my early days. I was not a Controller but a Radio Operator. The Controllers I worked with knew how important their jobs were to the safety of those that fly. They adjusted their schedule to fit the needs of the job. That means those on swing or graveyard didn’t get to party like the day shift. Remember these are young military personnel. That’s a big deal.

The civilian side seems to have forgotten what President Ronald Reagan emphasized, you can be replaced. It’s not that hard to do your job or your shift. Be professional and wake the F*9k up.

I don’t care if someone sleeps on a shift but someone must be manning the controls. So if you’re the only one there you better be awake.

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Is Donald Trump your guy?

April 15, 2011

<a href="http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=344985" target=”businessweek”>The Trump Organization</a>

"Show me someone without an ego, and I'll show you a loser."
—Donald Trump

"All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me—consciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected."
—<em>The Daily News</em>, March 24, 2004

The thrice-married Donald has never been shy about being in front of the camera. At times, his nose for publicity outshines his business sense. Why does Trump make the list?

• That hair.

• The germaphobic Trump considers shaking hands a dirty, "barbaric" ritual.

• Lowered the height of the boxing ring for a 1988 title fight between Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks so those in the front rows wouldn't get stiff necks.

• Wrote Surviving at the Top just before his company plunged into bankruptcy.

• Engaged in a nasty, name-calling feud with Rosie O'Donnell in the media. Rosie had criticized Trump for presenting himself as a moral authority when he allowed the underage Miss USA, Tara Conner, to retain her crown after she was filmed drinking.

You know Donald Trump is an interesting guy.  He’s got money, well we think he has anyway.  He’s a businessman and we certainly could use someone in the Presidency that can see the good in creating jobs, but is Donald that guy?  Nah,

I like watching Donald now and then.  He can say things other politicians wouldn’t.  That doesn’t make him a good Presidential candidate.  If you’ve watched him over the past few years you will have noticed his politics can be all over the map, which leads me to believe he’s not serious. 

What he is good at though is stirring the pot and self promotion.  Sometimes that’s a good thing.  But Donald really shouldn’t get farther in the Presidential business than he is right now. 

Although I would like to see him debate President Obama anyway. 

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