Remembering absent friends

I presume these Canadian troops are marching away from a memorial to those who fell during the liberation of Belgium during World War 2. Yes, I remember all of those days.

My best friend died a few years back. He was the most decorated soldier from our home state in WW2. He had 16 months in hospital to reflect upon how he got there – not just the German soldier who threw a hand grenade at him at the liberation of a death camp; but, the corporate and political creeps who helped scum like Hitler into power.

We learned a lot together over the years. Both of our families came to the US from Canada, btw. His family from Montreal and mine from PEI.

I salute you, too, Clyde.

Thanks, Mister Justin

Brits to shut Army bases in Germany – bring their troops home

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond: “The return of the troops from Germany marks the end of an era”

Four Army bases are to close as part of a shake-up to accommodate thousands of troops returning from Germany…Claro Barracks in North Yorkshire, Howe in Kent, Craigiehall in Edinburgh and Cawdor in Pembrokeshire will be shut…Parts of Edinburgh’s Redford barracks, Forthside in Stirling and Copthorne in Shropshire will also close.

Returning forces will be stationed around seven sites, including Salisbury Plain, Edinburgh and Leuchars, Catterick and Colchester…The other sites are Aldershot, Stafford and the East Midlands.

There has been a British army presence in Germany for nearly 70 years.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the return of troops from Germany marked the end of an era, and thanked the German government and people for their “material and moral” support…

He said the changes overall would save £240m a year in running costs as soldiers are moved into “clusters” in key locations, and the re-organisation bill would be £1.8bn. A one time charge.

Around £1bn of the funding will go towards 1,900 new houses for service families and accommodation for 7,800 single soldiers. Another £800m will be spent on infrastructure and refurbishment of bases…

Under the 2010 strategic defence review, the government announced it wanted to withdraw all 20,000 troops in Germany, plus their families, by 2020.

Since then, about 4,000 troops have already moved back to the UK…

The pull-out has been accelerated because there were bigger cuts to the Army than originally planned, saving money which then could be used for relocation.

The government says the changes will provide savings and efficiencies for the Army, and certainty for personnel and their families.

The savings for the United States to do something similar would be greater. Our troops are scattered around the whole planet – requiring not only greater annual transport costs but similarly greater costs to supply them with essentials.

Given that we have more than 700 bases in over 170 countries, the savings realized from bringing those troops home – put them to work doing something constructive like rebuilding infrastructure – would be even more dramatic than the British program. Of course, they’re actually going ahead and doing it – while the White House and Congress manage to avoid even discussion of the idea.

U.S. to relocate 9,000 Marines from Okinawa — No, they ain’t coming home!


Click on chart to see the whole deal

The United States said Friday it would pull 9,000 Marines out of Japan as it seeks to ease a long-running standoff over the future of its huge military presence in one of its top Asian allies. The redeployment will see the troops sent to Guam, Hawaii and Australia.

Withdrawing troops was originally part of plans to move a busy US airbase on Okinawa to another area of the southern island chain but US officials decided to separate the two issues due to ongoing opposition to the base relocation.

In a joint statement issued in Washington and Tokyo, the two sides said they remained committed to move the Futenma base from its present urban site to a coastal spot.

The relocation is being heavily resisted among many locals, who want to see the base moved out of Okinawa altogether…

Still no opening up of secret treaties the United States was able to force Japan to sign as part of that nation’s unconditional surrender after the US dropped atomic bombs destroying two cities.

Japan and the United States have long clashed over Okinawa, the site of sporadic tensions with US troops. Around half of the 47,000 US service personnel in Japan are based on the strategically located island chain, which is nearer to Taiwan than it is to Tokyo…

Some activists in Okinawa have pressed for the base to be removed completely and the controversy felled one Japanese prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, who failed to fulfil campaign pledges in 2009 to renegotiate the deal.

After he was elected on his pledge to kick the United States military off Okinawa – Obama showed him the treaties and ordered him to shut up

Around 5,000 of those leaving Okinawa would be heading to Guam, with the remainder going to Hawaii and Australia where Washington is “establishing a US Marine Corps rotational presence”, the statement said…

The agreement is part of the same old foreign policy which has the US maintaining troops in 176 countries because of all those other countries that supposedly threaten us by NOT stationing their military all over the globe. In other words, Obama is just as much of a hypocrite and liar about fighting for peace as any other Democrat politician. And their Republican twins.

We’re the only nation that still threatens war on a global scale.

Brits remove the last of their troops from Iraq – All the United States has left is 47,000 troops and 63,000 civilian contractors

British troops leave Iraq

Britain is withdrawing its troops Sunday from Iraq, ending a role that began with the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, British defense officials said…

“We now look forward to a strong, long-term defense relationship with Iraq,” Fox told the House of Commons when he announced Wednesday that British troops would leave the country.

The announcement effectively ended Britain’s role in Iraq, a role that was widely unpopular in the United Kingdom. About 179 British troops were killed during operations in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Britain when the war began, protesting the deployment of British troops to join then-President George Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing.” At the height of the war, more than 46,000 British troops were deployed primarily in and around the southern port city of Basra.

In 2009, Prime Minister Gordon Brown ordered an inquiry into the UK’s participation in the war.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair testified during the inquiry that Iraq needed to be confronted over its ambitions to develop weapons of mass destruction… Supreme liar and flunky.

Britain ended its combat operations in Iraq in 2009 but maintained a small contingent, primarily members of the Royal Navy, to train Iraqi sailors and marines at the southern Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr…

Britain will leave behind a small contingent to protect its personnel at its embassy in Baghdad…

The legacy of the Brits in Iraq will always be colored by their colonial history.

The legacy of the United States? Most Iraqis will remember how many family members died to make the world safe for the Coalition of the Willing. They number in the hundreds of thousands.

Why should anyone remember us with more fondness than, say, a Ukrainian remembers the Germans?

Canada will end combat in Afghanistan in a year


Remembrance Day at the Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The government of Canada has confirmed that its military would end its combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2011.

The United States had asked Canada to continue the military effort in Afghanistan with other members of NATO, but Parliament had already set the timetable for withdrawing combat troops. Some soldiers will remain in the country after next year, training Afghan security forces…

Public opinion polls indicate little support among Canadians for continued fighting in Afghanistan.

Under the new plan, the current deployment of about 2,700 troops will be cut by about two-thirds by the end of next year. The 950 remaining soldiers will be withdrawn from Kandahar and train Afghan troops and police officers until 2014 on military bases near Kabul and possibly elsewhere. The remaining troops will also support Canadian aid and reconstruction efforts.

“This will not be a combat mission,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons. “It will occur in classrooms, behind the wire and in bases…”

The Obama administration praised Canada for maintaining at least some military presence in Afghanistan until that date…

Canadians should be proud of both the hardiness of their troops – and the good sense of the electorate to make it clear to the government they want those troops home.

U.S. Marines’ shift from Japan to Guam set for 2014


This was a positive step – in 1944

The shift of 8,600 U.S. Marines from Japan to Guam, a hot political issue in Tokyo, is on track for 2014 despite concerns the island lacks infrastructure to meet the target, a U.S. official said.

David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office administering the build-up, was speaking to Reuters after the release of a study on how the move will affect the North Pacific island’s ecological balance, including large coral reefs.

The shifting of the U.S. forces, which at its peak could add 41,000 to the U.S. territory’s population of about 175,000, would bring more than $10 billion in construction and investment…

What? Does every Marine in the move have four family members coming with him?

The move is part of a broader 2006 accord to reorganize U.S. troops in Japan, including relocation of the Marines’ Futenma airbase on Okinawa to a quieter part of that Japanese island…

Okinawans associate Futenma with noise, pollution and crime…All benefits of adding Americans to your population.

Lying 2,400 km (1,500 miles) south of Japan, Guam is made up of the peaks of two ancient volcanoes, including Mount Lamlam, described by local officials as the highest mountain in the world if measured from its base at the bottom of the Marianas Trench…

The study said officials were considering options to limit damage, including construction of an artificial reef.

How about a truly radical idea? Bring the troops home!

World War 2 has been over for more than a few months. As has been the Cold War. The only military requirement for stashing our troops all over the world is to have a Panzer Guard handy to prop up imperial flunkies, threatening every smaller nation that gets in the way of the Oil Patch Boys, making the world safe for United Fruit, etc..

Bring ’em home, Obama. Show our nation what leadership really can accomplish.

Obama maintains our “Foreign Legion” in Japan

Washington has given up on moving 8,000 U.S. Marines to the U.S. territory of Guam from Japan by 2014…a potential blow to Prime Minister Naoto Kan who is already struggling over a U.S. base dispute.

The planned transfer of Marines from the southern island of Okinawa is a part of a larger agreement between Washington and Tokyo that includes relocating functions of the U.S. Futenma airbase in Okinawa to a less crowded area on the island…

Any postponement over moving the controversial base on Okinawa, host to about half the U.S. troops in the country, could be a blow to Kan’s government, already reeling from a poor showing in an upper house election this month…

A scrapped government pledge to move the base off Okinawa had sparked anger from local residents who complain of noise, pollution and crime, and led to the resignation of Kan’s predecessor in June.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada reaffirmed in a meeting in Hanoi…that experts will work out details of the Futenma relocation site by end-August as agreed in a May deal. But doubts remain over whether the deal can be implemented on time.

An election for the Okinawa governor is due in November and the result could also affect plans to move the airbase, coming near the time when U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to visit Japan for an Asia-Pacific leaders’ summit.

If there’s anything that reveals how tied at the hip our two supposedly conflicted political parties are – it’s the phoniness of foreign policy “discussion”. Both parties function on behalf of the new imperialism we took over from the Brits after World War 2.

Differences are of degree and tactic – not qualitative relations with foreign countries, not strategy. Our military is stationed all over the globe at immense expense – and none of that is to be questioned. Not by Congress. Not by Americans without risk of their “patriotism” being evaluated by our insecurity services.

Obama differs not from Kennedy or LBJ – who didn’t stand out in a crowd of Nixons or Reagans.

Remembering absent friends

I presume these Canadian troops are marching away from a memorial to those who fell during the liberation of Belgium during World War 2. Yes, I remember all of those days.

My best friend died a few years back. He was the most decorated soldier from our home state in WW2. He had 16 months in hospital to reflect upon how he got there – not just the German soldier who threw a hand grenade at him at the liberation of a death camp; but, the corporate and political creeps who helped scum like Hitler into power.

We learned a lot together over the years. Both of our families came to the US from Canada, btw. Montreal and PEI.

I salute you, too, Clyde.

Thanks, Mister Justin

Allied troops take initial control in Taliban haven of Marja


Injured Taliban fighters receiving medical care after capture
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

American, Afghan and British troops seized crucial positions across the Taliban stronghold of Marja on Saturday, encountering intense but sporadic fighting as they began the treacherous ordeal of house-to-house searches.

More than 6,000 American, Afghan and British troops came in fast early on Saturday, overwhelming most immediate resistance. But as the troops began to fan out on searches, fighting with Taliban insurgents grew in frequency and intensity across a wide area.

The pattern suggested that the hardest fighting lay in the days to come…

American commanders said the troops had achieved every first-day objective. That included advancing into the city itself and seizing intersections, government buildings and one of the city’s main bazaars in the center of town…

From those posts, Marines and soldiers began to go on patrols, searching door to door for weapons and fighters. This phase of the operation, considered the most dangerous, is expected to last at least five days. The biggest concern is bombs and booby-traps, of which there are believed to be hundreds, in roads, houses and footpaths…

What has been advertised as the most important, and novel, aspect of the Marja operation got under way on Saturday. After clearing Marja, American and Afghan officials say, they intend to import an entire Afghan civil administration, along with nearly 2,000 Afghan police officers, to help keep the Taliban from coming back in. The first of those, about 1,000 Afghan paramilitary police, were scheduled to begin arriving within 24 hours…

Several aspects of this battle appear unique, differing greatly from standard – which means old-fashioned – U.S. military strategy and tactics. General MacChrystal is one of those advocating, studying, inventing new approaches in what is termed Fourth Generation Warfare.

I imagine that the Conservatives and teabaggers back in the U.S. – inside either party – are hoping for failure as strongly as they hoped for failure in the United States of the stimulus plan. Change which steps forward into history, even cautiously, strikes fear into cowards thoroughly committed to 18th Century ideology. And worse.

The surge is working in Afghanistan

The video speaks for itself. General McChrystal is confident the surge he has set into motion in Afghanistan is providing results. Click on the photo. Watch the video. Reflect upon what you know, what you see, where this is going.

Meanwhile:

U.S. forces have driven the Taliban from most towns and villages in the strategic Helmand province of Afghanistan, leaving incoming troops with the mission of holding key areas and rebuilding the economy, Marine commanders say.

“They’ve taken on the Taliban, the insurgency, right in the heartland and they’ve defeated them,” said Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills in an interview with USA TODAY.

Much of the Taliban’s leadership and support comes from the mostly Pashtun province and nearby Kandahar. Helmand, the country’s largest province, also produces most of the country’s poppy crop, which has helped fund the insurgency.

Recent attention has been focused on President Obama’s orders to send about 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan this year. But an influx of Marines to Helmand province last year has produced dramatic results, raising hopes that the gains can be consolidated and spread elsewhere, Mills said.

“I see us moving away from the clear phase and moving into the hold and build” phase, Mills said.

Continue reading