Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good thing he didn't face Simon Cowell







Yesterday Matthis Chiroux faced a military body. Today he shares:

I stood before the Army. I looked a board of officers in the eyes, and I told them I thought they were sending people off to participate in war crimes. And what did they say? Get out of here, Sergeant, and keep your damn G.I. Bill!!!
Indeed, folks! The Army awarded me a recommendation for a general discharge under honorable conditions from the Individual Ready Reserve for my refusal to deploy to Iraq last summer. This landmark decision means not only am I a free man, I'm free to continue school this fall with the "new" G.I. Bill that I earned while on active duty.
Though this discharge is identical to the one I refused in exchange for having this hearing, I can now rest easy knowing I never submitted, I never backed down and the Army has heard my story.
And not just my story, but the stories of those brave veterans at Winter Soldier and those who've participated in IVAW's Warrior Writers' program. Full texts of both books were submitted to the Army this morning, and I can only imagine the fun they're having transcribing them into the record.

So that was the board finding and congratulations to Matthis Chiroux. As noted yesterday, there is no change in his duty status yet. What happens next is the board's record is complied and a legal review takes place. Following that it's forwarded up the chain to, finally, the Commanding General of Human Resources Command. The Commanding General will issue a determination and that should take place before the end of next month.

And staying with war resistance, Friday WLUK (Fox 11 -- link has text and video) provided the latest news on Kristoffer Walker:

Monica Landeros: Well, Laura [Smith], a spokesperson with the U.S. Army tells me Kristoffer Walker has been demoted several ranks from Specialist to Private, but that's just part of his punishment. The Army also said Walker will be fined in the form of docked pay. For two months he will get half of his usual paycheck. In addition, he will also be fined for a -- confined to an Army base for 45 days. That means he can't leave the base and might even have additional duties during that time. Though Army officials do not know when that confinement will actually start. That's because right now, Walker is on medical leave from Iraq though officials won't give details on his medical condition. Once he is healthy, Army officials said he will begin the base confinement. Now we were unable to speak to Kristoffer Walker today though his mother tells us her son was aware of the severity of his absence and that he was ready for any consequences handed down.

That was in Monday's snapshot but the "n" was left out of Monica Landeros' name. My apologies.

Today the US Senate was where Marine General James F. Amos blurted out fears of 'emasculation'. Before that high drama came took place, the US Senate's Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support had to be called to order and chair Evan Bayh did that noting, "The purpose of today's hearing is to address the growing strain placed upon our Army and Marine Corps. We will receive testimony on the current readiness of ground forces with respect to deployed, deploying and non-deployed units. We will also discuss the Army and the Marine Corps' abilitiy to provide forces to meet combat commanders' requirements and to respond to unforseen contingincies. We're particularly interested in your assessment of the risks resulting from the continued committment of combat forces to Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally the subcommittee would be interested to know your views on the current and projected readiness reporting systems used by the Department of Defense. Over the last several years, we have observed total force readiness decline as a result of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe."

The witnesses appearing before the Subcommittee were the Army's General Peter W. Chiarelli and the Marines' General Amos. A surprise witness was Ranking Republican subcommittee member Richard Burr's tie which was a ghastly pink thing with silver and blue stripes that appeared to have just surfaced on his closet floor that morning after having gone underground at some point in 1975. The tie formed no words but somehow spoke volumes and may, in fact, have warded off Democrats which would explain why so few were present. On the Republican side, four serve on the committee and three showed up: Senators Burr, James Inhofe and John Thune took part in the hearing. Six Democrats are assigned to the committee. Bayh was present. We'll note a portion of Senator Roland Burris' opening remarks since he also showed up for the hearing.

Roland Burris: . . . I just want to thank our military personnel for all that they do for us, I will have a few questions. But my favorite saying -- and I want the military personnel to hear this statement: We are able to do what we do in America because of what you do across the world for our protection. Just keep that in mind. And we appreciate your committment, your effort and your dedication to making us the strongest country in the world. And every time I see one of you, whether you're a private or a four-star general, I saulte each and every one of you.

Democratic Senator Mark Udall joined the subcomittee near the end of the hearing (last third). Dropping back to the start, Gen Chiarelli paraphrased and summarized his [PDF format warning] prepared statement and key point was that the army will respond on the budget when its released by the White House. Gen Amos read his [PDF format warning] prepared statement which used phrases such as "the Long War".

Evan Bayh (to Gen Chiarelli): You mentioned that we're consuming our readiness as fast as fast as we're rebuilding it, I think that's what you said what must be done to change that? So that we're no longer just kind of treading water, what needs to be done to actually improve our readiness so that we're not in this constant state of tearing it up while building it without really making long term progress?

Peter Chiarelli: Well two things I'd point out, senator, would be first of all we need to complete the grow the army plan and as you know that goes to the 45 brigade mark. We are doing that.

Evan Bayh: That would be the top of your priority list?

Peter Chiarelli: That would -- that is very, very important that we grow those 45 brigades because this is a question of supply and demand. I can't control the demand. And the demand right now shows that I have 26 combat brigades that are currently deployed. I have a total of 18 active component brigades and 8 reserve component brigades. And when I have that many brigades deployed, I have what's called friction. Best explained by kind of a Navy analogy that -- when you have a --

Evan Bayh: This is a first. The army referencing the Navy.
Peter Chiarelli: This is a first. But I have a rough time explaining friction if I don't call on my other services to help me out. When you have an air craft carrier that's sitting in the middle of the Persian Gulf and you want to go ahead and relieve it an air craft carrier casts off from some place in the United States and at that particular point and time you've got two air craft carriers doing the job of one. And the same thing happens with Army brigades. When I have 26 deployed, I've got normally six that are also doing another job so that total number goes up to 32.

Chiarelli explained this effects dwell time/reset time with soldiers spending 12 months deployed "and 1.3 years back at home." He also raised the issue of the 'surge,' "The surge for the United States Amry is not over. We on't get our last combat brigade off of a 15 month deployment until June of this year and I won't get my last combat service support or combat support unit back off a 15 month deployment until September."

He declared the Army had met their recruitment goals, in fact, "we even went a little bit over." Sunday Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) reported that the US Army was now able to be "more selective" as a result of the (bad) economy in recruiting which has allowed them to cease "accepting felons and recent drug abusers into its ranks". Tyson added, "The Army annually granted hundreds of waivers for felons in recent years, reaching a high of 511 in 2007. Now, that category of waiver, for 'adult major misconduct,' is closed" according to Brig Gen Joseph Anderson.

You can't have a Congressional hearing these days without someone saying "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" and today that phrase was said by Bayh. This took place in his exchange with Gen Amos. Bayh noted that when people hear that the non-deployed forces aren't ready, they wonder "just how not ready are the non-deployed forces?"
"Sir, I think it would take probably several months I think it would take Global Sourcing for the Marine Corps [removing Marines from Western Pacific assignments]." The Congress has doled out $12 billion thus far for reset costs and Amos stated that the estimate of the total reset costs was $20 billion.

Senator Burr wanted to know about contractors and Amos referenced Honeywell in Iraq and how 100 of their "workers do the triage, they do the preliminary mainteance" on equpiment and vehicles and determine whether or not something can be salvaged. Senator Burris also wanted to know about contractors, the ones employed in the US to inspect the equipment, "determining that it's functional." Gen Amos replied that they not only ensure that and that "if you pick your nicest car that you have confidence in when you buy it, that's how" reliable the equipment that passes inspection and is sent out to the field is.

Senator Bayh made the point in the last third of the hearing, to General Chiarelli that, "I think the American people have a right to know that if something else comes along, we're going to have a hard time meeting the national security threat to the country, we'll do our best but it puts you folks in a very difficult position." Bayh brought Gen Amos into this topic and Amos agreed.

James Amos: I think it would be very challenging. Difficult, challenging, for me mean they mean the same thing. I don't think there's any question about it. You know this is not -- uh -uh

Evan Bayh: It's not an abstract. This is not an abstract problem we're dealing with here.

James Amos: It's not, sir. I think it's a very worthwhile question and in the case of the Marine Corps if something happened in Iran or Korea -- North Korea -- we would end up freezing the forces in place. You'd freeze the ones you had in Iraq and Afghanistan, hold them in there, and as we said earlier on in the testimony, you would bring together -- you would build a fighting force that you could deploy but you'd have to train it, you'd have to figure out how you're going to get the equipment. We would, in the case of the Marine Corps, would emasculate all of our strategic reserves which are in our Maritime Preposition Squardons whatever's left up in the caves of Norway. We would pull all of that together and uh and deploy that force but we'd have to train it, we'd have to figure out what we'd need to do in that environment that we're not training people for right now because we're predominately a counter-insurgency, a regular warfare focus Marine Corps right now. So all those other skills -- combined armed fire manuever forcefible entry -- those things -- we'd have to figure out, we'd have to figure out, "Okay, what do we need to do for this new -- this new contingency? Is it possible?" The answer is "yes." [General Chiarelli begins nodding his head in agreement.] Your military, both your Army and your Marine Corps and Navy and Air Force would come together and we'd make it happen just like we did prior to the onset of Korea. We did exactly the same thing. But it would be painful.

Even Bayh: As I recall in the beginning stages of Korea, it also meant that our performance suffered because we were just trying to make the best of a bad situation. And we shouldn't consciously put ourselves in that spot is that --

James Amos: Sir, that is absolutely correct. In the case, just instructive for me as I think about this, we went -- after the president and the Secretary of War -- after WWII and the great successes of WWII, emasculated the Marine Corps, even went public and said we don't even we're not even sure we need a Marine Corps anymore and for certain we'll never do an amphibious operation and yet in 1949 we took a Fifth Marine regiment from the West Coast which was down to about 15 to 20% of what it should have been cobbled together Marines from the East Coast, all across, brought 'em all together to Fifth Marine, blew that balloon up, trained 'em and then ships together and made the largest amphibious operation and certainly the most difficult one we've ever done shortly after so, sir, I think your concerns are very valid.

Evan Bayh: When a Marine uses a term like emasculate the situation must be fairly dire.

James Amos: I just -- well I just think it certainly was then.

But he didn't just use it when speaking of Korea back in 1949. He was speaking of today as well. Which doesn't make him correct. He may just suffer from castration fears. He also seems to forget that if the US used the military only when attacked, the costs would be much less. (And many would argue that a standing military isn't even used -- however, without one, what would US presidents have to play with?)

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot""'When I went to the door, I knew . . .'""Torture, Iraq, Abu Ghraib""Matthis Chiroux""clive james""Clive Jones""4274 killed since the start of the illegal war""Iraq & Clive James""The say anything Danny Schechter""War widows"
"Clive Jones""The national embarrassment""He'll say anything"

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