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US Army Suicides Continue at Record Pace

By Al Pessin
November 17, 2009

The U.S. Army reported Tuesday that the number of suicides among soldiers this year has already equaled the number for all of last year, and so will rise for the fifth consecutive year, in spite of a major effort to combat the trend. The Army’s number two officer says he is significantly short of the type of professionals who could help reverse the trend.

The vice chief of the Army, General Peter Chiarelli was frank about the latest statistics. …

The general reported there have been 140 suicides among active duty soldiers this year, and another 71 among reservists and members of the National Guard, some of whom had been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. …

“Everywhere I try to cut this and look at and try to find the causal effect I get thwarted, and that’s why we think we’ve got to look, in its totality, at a whole bunch of different issues. And it’s going to take time,” he said. …


Night training flights resume at Mildenhall

Stars and Stripes (European edition)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

RAF MILDENHALL, England — The 48th Fighter Wing has resumed nighttime flight training over the English countryside and the RAF Lakenheath-based F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles will continue flying missions until next spring, according to a news release.

Officials say the night training flights will occur Mondays through Thursdays and will generally end by 10 p.m. RAF Lakenheath is home to about 80 fighter aircraft and five rescue helicopters.

“We understand the aircraft noise can sometimes be a nuisance to the people living in and around the areas where we train,” the 48th vice commander, Col. Scott Reed, said in the release. “We make every effort to minimize the local impact, but this training is vital to what we do when we perform real-world operations with our fellow U.K. servicemen and women, as well as the servicemembers of other nations, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”


U.S. Set to Open New Afghan Prison

The Wall Street Journal
Alan Cullison
November 17, 2009

Pentagon Pledges Improved Transparency and Plans Open Hearings in a Move to ‘Increase Credibility’

Officials unveiled a new $60 million detention facility at the main U.S. air base in Afghanistan and promised greater transparency at a prison where Afghans have long suspected hundreds of their countrymen are being held for dubious reasons.

The new prison and the pledge to open the inmate review process come as the Department of Defense worries that abuses and militant recruiting within Afghan prisons are helping strengthen the Taliban. A Pentagon review earlier this year called for a broad overhaul of the Afghan penal system, as well as of the U.S.’s prison at Bagram Air Base.

The old Bagram prison is housed in a Soviet-era machinery hangar. Critics of the old prison, where two inmates died after being interrogated in 2002, have referred to it as “Obama’s Gitmo.” …


US health agency to take 'fresh look' at Vieques

By David Mcfadden
Associated Press
November 14, 2009

A U.S. agency has overturned its 2003 research that said no health hazards were caused by decades of military exercises on Vieques, a bombing range-turned-tourist destination off Puerto Rico’s east coast.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said Friday it intends to “modify” some of its earlier research on Vieques, where the U.S. and its allies trained for conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq.

The agency, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used its own studies to conclude in 2003 that there was essentially no health risk from the bombing range — a conclusion widely criticized by academics and residents on the 18-mile-long island of less than 10,000 people.

“We have identified gaps in environmental data that could be important in determining health effects,” director Howard Frumkin said in a statement posted Friday on the agency’s Web site. “The gaps we found indicate that we cannot state categorically that no health hazards exist in Vieques. We have found reason to pose further questions.” …

The military fired and dropped millions of pounds of bombs, rockets and artillery shells, including napalm, depleted uranium and Agent Orange, on Vieques. A cleanup began in 2005 to clear thousands of unexploded munitions from the former range, which is now a Fish and Wildlife Service refuge, and the island has placed new emphasis on tourism.

Some 7,000 past and current Vieques residents have filed a federal lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in compensation for illnesses they have linked to the bombing range.


Korean naval base to bring unwanted change

The Jeju Weekly
November, 12, 2009

Gagnon encourages Jeju residents to fight for the preservation of the Island
Bruce K. Gagnon gave a speech in Gangjeong village to oppose the construction of the navel base due to environmental concerns and fear the base will make the “island of peace” a military target in the future.

Despite heavy opposition from Jeju residents the proposed Korean naval base is scheduled to begin construction later this year. Jeju Governor Kim Tae-hwan survived a recall vote over his plan to allow the base in early October. The Jeju Elections Commission resolved the vote was invalid after a turnout of only 11 percent of the 33 percent required showed. In lieu of the negative attention surrounding the contradictory notion of missile defense warships docked at Jeju’s proclaimed “Island of Peace,” people from all over are coming out of the wood work to shout about how destructive the base would be not only to the ideal of a peaceful society, but to the precious environment that will inevitably suffer as well.

The southern part of the island, specifically Gangjeong, the proposed location of the base, bears international significance for multiple reasons. Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space and recently, he visited Jeju to determine the severity of the proposed naval base. He says the most noteworthy reason for the base is structured around the fact that Jeju is the crossroad for the Malaka Straight where 80% of China’s oil is transported from the middle east.

“If the United States is able to militarily choke off the straight then the U.S. would be able to hold the keys to China’s economic engine. As the U.S. economy is collapsing the U.S. military strategy has been determined that the way we will control the world is to control the distribution of oil and natural gas…I believe that the base at Jeju is the key for this particular strategy and particularly for choking off the straight and controlling China,” said Gagnon.

Gagnon believes the base to be a “provocative, dangerous base that makes Jeju Island a target. It makes the island of peace, not an island of peace, but an island of power projection for the US empire… Especially a place that sees itself as a tourist destination to have a military base that would clearly be a target for the Chinese.” …


USA to launch ICBM Minutman III on Nov 18 from Vandenberg Air Force Base

Vandenberg Air Force Base, in violation of Article 6 of the NPT, will launch a Minuteman III test ICBM hair trigger solid fuel long distance nuclear warhead (with dummy warheads) delivery system on November 18th 2009. There will be a peace protest sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom DISARM at 11:55 pm, Tuesday, Nov 17 at the base front gate (six miles north of Lompoc, California, on Highway One, Santa Barbara County).

The test missile will carry dummy warheads, but it is a missile test for nuclear delivery systems. This violates the good faith disarmament component of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.


The Public Affairs department at Vandenberg Air Force Base were contacted by our friends Macgregor in the US who informed her that next week’s Minuteman launch is cancelled. They did not provide a reason for the cancellation.

U.S. missile defense may backfire if too robust

By Phil Stewart
November 10, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. missile defense system that is too robust could actually backfire and become destabilizing, prompting countries like China to expand their nuclear arsenals, a U.S. general said on Tuesday.

Air Force General Kevin Chilton, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, did not question the current system, which was revised by President Barack Obama and the Pentagon in September.

But he explained that careful calculations would be needed when boosting U.S. defenses in the future to guard against threats from countries like North Korea.

“We have to be cautious with missile defense. Missile defense can be destabilizing depending on how you array it,” Chilton told a defense gathering in Washington.

He outlined a scenario that he said “I don’t think any of us want to see” in which hundreds of interceptors were deployed along the Western side of the United States.

“That kind of makes you feel more secure, doesn’t it? But what would it make the Chinese think about their deterrent?” Chilton asked.

“That might encourage them to in fact double, triple, quadruple their current nuclear forces. Because they would feel that their deterrent was no longer viable.” …


Colombia: court rules against US bases plan as more details revealed

WW4 Report
November 11, 2009

While the US Embassy in Bogotá says the new agreement for expanded US access to Colombian military bases enters into force immediately, a Colombian court ruling finds the agreement is “broad and unbalanced” in favor of the United States and not based on any previous treaty, so therefore must be reviewed by Colombia’s Congress and Constitutional Court. The agreement puts no limits on the number of US personnel to be deployed in Colombia nor on the number of military bases they will use.

The Colombian State Council, a court created to issue opinions on the presence of foreign troops, stated in its ruling Oct. 13 that the agreement gives the US the power to decide what operations will occur, gives immunity to US troops, allows access to bases beyond the seven named in the agreement’s text, and defers the most important questions about military operations to future “operational agreements.”

The Council reviewed 15 prior treaties and declarations cited by the Colombian government as the foundation for the current base agreement, and found that none of them offer a basis for the current agreement on stationing of military troops and use of military bases. It concludes that the agreement is a treaty, and so must be approved by the Colombian Congress and reviewed by the constitutional court. Foreign Minister Jaime Bermúdez, in signing the deal, said the government would bypass legislative approval of the agreement.

Colombian Senator Gustavo Petro Nov. 4 called on the government to renounce the pact. Petro asserted, “because it didn’t go through Congress, the pact is ineffectual, and any occupation by [US] soldiers in Colombia is illegal.”

In addition, 27 European non-governmental organizations called on President Barack Obama to reconsider the agreement, and urged him to prioritize human rights in US relations with Colombia. “The militarization of Colombia,” the groups wrote, “will lead to an increase in internal destabilization, will involve even more of the civilian population in the war, increasing the violations of human rights and strengthening the resurgence of the paramilitary groups and the receding guerrilla groups.” …


US bases to dominate Obama Japan visit

ABC: Radio Australia
November 9, 2009

The US President, Barack Obama heads off on his Asian tour this week, and he’ll fly straight into a storm in Japan about American military bases.

Tens of thousands of Japanese have rallied on the main island of Okinawa to protest against a controversial US base, putting strain on one of Washington’s key defence and security alliances. The new centre-left government in Tokyo says the issue will not be resolved before President Obama lands in Japan later this week.

Listen to this archived report on Radio Australia

Base Hit by Stress Disorder, Suicides

The Wall Street Journal
By Yochi J. Dreazen
November 6, 2009

Fort Hood, the base stricken in Thursday’s shooting rampage, is the largest U.S. military facility in the world — and a base that has a large share of the military’s overall instances of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

Army officials say that roughly 30,000 troops are stationed at the sprawling facility north of the Texas capital of Austin, while an additional 20,000 troops from the base are deployed to Iraq. Tens of thousands of military spouses and children live on the base and in adjacent suburbs. …

Since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, the base has lost hundreds of soldiers in combat. More alarmingly to many senior commanders there, the base has also lost at least 75 of its soldiers to suicide, one of the heaviest such tolls in the U.S. military. …

The base’s former commander, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, used his tenure at the helm of the sprawling post to mount a broad campaign to reduce the incidence of PTSD and suicide among the soldiers on the post. …

Despite the efforts, however, Fort Hood continues to be hit hard by suicide, PTSD and other related problems. Through October, 10 Fort Hood soldiers had taken their lives in 2009, the second-highest tally in the Army behind Kentucky’s Fort Campbell, which had 16 suicides.

In full at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125747341095832795.html