Martin C. Evans

Posts Tagged ‘deployment’

Cong. Israel backs McChrystal, but not Karsai

In War in Afghanistan on December 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Corruption riddles government of Afghan president Hamid Karzai

Long Island Congressman Steve Israel expressed a deep lack of confidence with Hamid Karzai after meeting with the Afghan president Monday, the first day of a two-day fact-finding tour of Afghanistan.

But Israel said his confidence in the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan was boosted by an hour-long meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces there.

“My faith and comfort level in the Karzai government has precipitously declined since I had an hour and a half meeting with him,” Israel said. “I don’t think he understands the importance of corruption… or the urgency of the need to train Afghani soldiers and police.”

“He didn’t inspire any sense of confidence that he understand the magnitude of the problem or is able to do anything about it,” Israel said. “He essentially blames the media. He seems to think the perception is worse than the reality.”

Israel’s visit, his fourth to the embattled country, is his first since President Barack Obama began putting his own stamp on the 8-year Afghanistan war this year by replacing the U.S. commander there and ordering an anti-insurgency troop surge.

Israel, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, is leading an 8-member congressional delegation to Afghanistan. Congress will soon begin grappling with new legislation that will govern spending for military action in Afghnanistan – spending that was running at about $3.6 billion per month before the surge began.

The visit comes amid concerns regarding the legitimacy and effectiveness of a Karzai government that has been riddled with corruption and which has been largely unable to extend government rule beyond the country’s capital.

Karzai prevailed in a runoff election this fall, after international observers said his success in an earlier round of balloting was the result of massive fraud.

Members of Karzai’s own family have been implicated in high-level drug dealing, in a country in which drug sales are a principal source of revenue for the insurgency.  An anti-drug mission in Afghanistan took the life of Staff Sergeant Keith Bishop, a Green Beret from Medford, who was killed in an Oct. 26 helicopter crash.

Israel said he shared with Karzai an article that appeared earlier this year in Long Island’s  Newsday reporting on corruption in Karzai’s administration, and said he worries that parliamentary elections coming this spring will represent a new opportunity for fraud.

“I told him ‘this is what my constituents are reading’,” Israel said.

“I’m concerned the American people are going to have a hard time continuing to devote dollars and soldiers to a country that will have had two flawed elections in the span of a few months,” Israel said.

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Where is your soldier in Afghanistan?

In Uncategorized on December 13, 2009 at 10:32 am

A U.S. soldier earlier this year in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, near a lawless region of the border with Pakistan. Another soldier, Lt. Michael P. Murhy, a Navy Seal from Patchogue, was killed near here in 2005.

Ever wonder where in Afghanistan your loved one is deployed?

The Washington Post can’t tell you where your son, your sweetie or your cousin “Gus” is spending the night. But a graphic on its website shows where in that Texas-sized country U.S. troops are stationed.

It also tells where the troops of our “partners” in the Afghanistan war are positioned. And they are not exactly shoulder-to-shoulder with us.

Most U.S. troops are arrayed along Afghanistan’s eastern and southern borders – areas that just happen to be home to the most Taliban activity, or the busiest opium and gun smuggling operations.

The troops of our partners mostly keep order in the quieter areas of Afghanistan, away from the rugged and dangerous border with Pakistan.

Here is a link to the Washington Post map differentiating U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Not exactly an equal commitment..

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“Afghan Idol”

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm

"Afghan Star" is a wildly popular reality show among younger Afghans. But religious extremists say you had better sing good.

With America in a multi, multi-billion-dollar war to build democracy in a country  Americans know virtually nothing about, an Oscar-nominated film offers the possibility of learning about the scope of the challenge while munching on overpriced popcorn.

The British documentary Afghan Star tells the story of an Afghan must-see-tv reality show of the same name that is both widely popular among younger Afghans, and hugely controversial among the country’s opinionated and often dangerously-armed religious conservatives.

Think “American Idol,” only the Taliban get to behead the contestants if they don’t like their songs.

The film, running now in Los Angeles theaters but expected to soon hit screens in New York, is an entry for this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

A Los Angeles Times review raved about the film’s examination of the Afghan reality show as a marker of the potential change American troops have spent eight years trying to bring about in Afghanistan.

“The show also makes a huge statement for Afghans by bringing together contestants of different tribal ethnicities as well as allowing the participation of several female contestants, a big deal in a country that is essentially run by a male-dominated tribal elder system.”

But with America about to send 30,000 more troops and spend another $100 billion there next year, the film also demonstrates how difficult it has been and will be to bring change to a largely illiterate Afghanistan of ethnic division, xenophobic suspicion and geographic isolation.

Military must treat stressed GIs, Vets advocate says

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Leaders of the 10th Mountain Division at upstate Ft. Drum are not doing enough to make sure soldiers of the  get adequate treatment from emotional trauma related to deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan, says the director of Citizen Soldier, a New York City-based veterans advocacy organization.

Tod Ensign, the organization’s director, cites the alleged May 11, 2009 murder of five soldiers at Camp Liberty, Iraq by Sgt. John Russell, of Sherman, Texas, as an example of how a lack of adequate psychological help endangers U.S. troops. He says there also have been two suspected suicides and a murder involving psychologically-stressed Ft. Drum personnel in separate incidents this year alone.

“General Terry, I am concerned that the incidents outlined above reveal a disturbing pattern of malfeasance and/or negligence toward mentally stressed soldiers at Ft Drum,” Ensign wrote in an open letter to Major General James Terry, Commander of the 10th Mountain Division.

Last month, the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System announced an arrangement with Ft. Drum command staff under which LIJ would send a neuropsychologist to help military health workers at the fort treat soldiers suffering from war-related post-traumatic stress disorders.

Guard kids of deployed parents suffer more

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2009 at 11:47 am

A C-130 transport with the 106th Air Rescue unit being prepared for takeoff. The 106th has stationed rescue troops in Afghanistan several times this year. Newsday photo

Teens from military families, especially National Guard and others who don’t live on a military base, suffer more emotional stress and behavioral issues than other American youth, a Rand Corporation study published in the journal Pediatrics concluded.

Researchers found that across all age groups, children from military families reported significantly higher levels of emotional difficulties than children in the general population. Children whose caregiver also struggled emotionally and children in their teens were the most troubled.

The findings, published Dec. 7, are particularly significant to the large numbers of Army and Air Force National Guard troops on Long Island who have made multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Long Island does not have large military bases that elsewhere provide emotional and material support to troops.

Last year, troops deployed from several Long-Island based Guard or Reserve units, including the Army National Guard’s 69th Infantry Regiment, the 3rd Battalion/142 Aviation unit, the  2nd Battalion/25th Marine Reserve Regiment and the 106th Air Rescue Wing.

Nationwide, about 2 million U.S. children had a parent in either the active or reserve component of the military in 2009.

The Rand Corporation studied 1,500 children from military families across the country.

About one-third of them reported symptoms of anxiety, somewhat higher than the percentage reported in other studies of children.

Gov: Guard Troops to get pre-deployment guidance

In Deployments, Uncategorized on December 5, 2009 at 6:03 pm

N.Y. Governor David Paterson told members of the 442nd Military Police Company that they and all future National Guard units about to be deployed will receive pre-departure orientations to help them avoid family strife, financial troubles, psychological stress and other deployment-related problems.

“This is going to be policy,” said Paterson, who said America has “turned the corner” in achieving an increased appreciation for its debt to U.S. troops.

Paterson addressed about 170 soldiers plus wives, lovers and family members at a Guard-organized seminar Saturday morning at a hotel conference center in Tarrytown, N.Y.

An article and photographs covering the event will appear in tomorrow’s Newsday, as well as on the Newsday.com website.

Military officials say lack of pre-deployment planning can cause stresses among soldiers that undermines mission-readiness, and can lead to higher rates of stress-related psychological problems.

The 442nd will leave for Iraq in April to help train the Iraqi police force.