Tag Archives: U.S. Military

Months After Syrian Rebel Training Program Ends, Pentagon Suggests Sending More Trainers to Iraq

Months after ending its rebel training program in Syria, the Pentagon indicated this week that it is considering sending hundreds of additional troops to Iraq to work as “trainers and supporters” in order to take back the city of Mosul.

Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said he sees sending trainers to Iraq as the next step in the fight against ISIS, and that he believes the Iraqis will need at least eight combat brigades for the invasion of Mosul.

“The reason we need new trainers or additional trainers is because that’s really the next step in generating the amount of combat power needed to liberate Mosul,” Warren said Wednesday.

[RELATED: Truth In Media: The Origin of ISIS]

Traveling to Paris to meet with defense ministers from 26 nations to discuss fighting ISIS, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he expects the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to increase from its current number of about 3,600.

“I think we’re certainly open to that,” Carter said. “I mean, I think that’s in the category that the president has indicated wherever there’s additional opportunity to make a difference, according to the strategy, we’d be willing to do that.”

Carter said that although the U.S. is “making a big contribution already,” it expects its allies to “get in the game” against the Islamic State.

I expect the number of trainers to increase, and also the variety of the training they’re giving,” Carter said. “For example, as territory is retaken from ISIL, as moving up and ultimately including Mosul, there are going to need to be not just ground forces that can seize territory, but police forces that can keep security.”

[RELATED: Obama Administration Ends $500 Million Syrian Rebel Training Program]

The Obama administration ended its $500 million program training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels in October, recognizing that the program failed to produce successful ground forces to combat Islamic State militants.

At the time, Carter said that instead of continuing the current “Syria Train and Equip” program, the U.S. will seek to work more closely with capable Kurdish groups, which he called a “more strategic approach.”

Report: U.S. Military Ordered Troops to Overlook Afghan Allies’ Sexual Abuse

The U.S. military has reportedly been engaging in a policy of ordering its troops not to intervene when U.S.-allied and trained Afghan security forces sexually abuse children. Soldiers who have attempted to intervene in the abuses, some of which have taken place on U.S. bases, have been punished by superiors for disobeying orders.

The New York Times’ Joseph Goldstein wrote, “Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally ‘boy play,’ and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

The Army stripped Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn, who has since quit the military, of his command after a 2011 incident in which he allegedly assaulted an Afghan police commander who had admitted to keeping a local boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.

I picked him up and threw him onto the ground. I did this to make sure the message was understood that if he went back to the boy, that it was not going to be tolerated,” said Quinn. He added, “The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights, but we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.

[RELATED: Inspector General Calls US Effort to Rebuild Afghanistan an “Abysmal Failure”]

Army Special Forces Sgt. First Class Charles Martland is also reportedly facing disciplinary action for assisting Quinn in the alleged beating.

The Army contends that Martland and others should have looked the other way (a contention that I believe is nonsense),” said U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

Col. Brian Tribus, spokesman for the U.S. command in Afghanistan, told The New York Times, “Generally, allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan military or police personnel would be a matter of domestic Afghan criminal law. There would be no express requirement that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan report it.

Gregory Buckley Sr., whose son Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. was killed by a 17-year-old boy staying on base with an Afghan police commander, believes his son’s death was a consequence of the U.S. military’s policy of ignoring sexual abuses by allies. He said that, during his last phone call home before he was killed, his son told him, “At night we can hear [the boys] screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it.

My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture,” said Gregory Buckley Sr.

An ex-marine speaking under conditions of anonymity explained the military’s view on the policy to The New York Times. “The bigger picture was fighting the Taliban. It wasn’t to stop molestation,” he said.

Federal Judge Orders Reasons for U.S. Government Withholding Over 2,000 Torture Photos from Iraq and Afghanistan

On Tuesday, Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the Obama Administration has until December 12, 2014, to provide complete details as to why it is withholding approximately 2,100 graphic photographs of members of the U.S. military torturing captives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under Hellerstein’s ruling, Justice Department attorneys must provide justification for why each individual photograph is being kept from the eyes of the public.

According to The Guardian, the imagery in this case, which has lasted more than a decade, is the subject of a transparency lawsuit that “both the Bush and Obama administrations, backed by the U.S. Congress, have strenuously resisted.”

International Business Times UK reported that the current stash of photographs are said to show “more disturbing examples of torture and humiliation,” than were revealed in the photographs of “hooded, naked and abused prisoners inside the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq,” which sparked global outrage in 2004.

In 2009, President Obama insisted that releasing the photographs would “further inflame anti-American opinion,” and would ultimately “put our troops in greater danger.”

As a result, the Protected National Security Document Act was passed in 2009, to “protect” the photographs from the public.

The Guardian reported that while Hellerstein is demanding answers from the Obama administration, “any actual release of the photographs will come after Hellerstein reviews the government’s reasoning and issues another ruling in the protracted transparency case.

In a blog post from an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Marcellene Hearn, she said that she viewed the release of the photos as something the government should do in order to provide transparency to the public.

The American people are entitled to know what took place in U.S. detention centers,” said Hearn. “It would be completely backwards to suppress images of government misconduct on the grounds that they are too powerful to be disclosed, when it is often disclosure, accountability and ensuing reforms that prevent misconduct from recurring.”

Here Comes The Call for Ground Troops in Iraq

As the United States continues to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), U.S. officials fear that solely relying on airstrikes has not proved to be effective enough, and they are warning that the installment of ground troops could occur in the future.

These warnings have been made, despite the fact that President Obama has vowed more than once that the U.S. would not send ground troops back into Iraq.

On Saturday, The Telegraph reported that Iraqi officials have issued a “desperate plea for America to bring US ground troops back,” due to the fact that Islamic States militants are now “within striking distance of Baghdad.

On Sunday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, told ABC’s This Week, that ISIS is becoming “harder to target.

Dempsey said the Iraqi government needed to put more effort into winning over the 20 million Sunni Muslims who live between Damascus and Baghdad, due to the fact that Islamic State militants are “blending into parts of the disenfranchised Sunni population,” which has made defeating the militants a “very challenging task.”

According to Dempsey, the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which was seized by Islamic State militants in June, will most likely be the “decisive battle in the ground campaign at some point in the future.

My instinct at this point is that will require a different kind of advising and assisting because of the complexity of that fight,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey pointed out that the “freedom of movement” ISIS currently exhibits, has also been a problem, and has allowed the fighters to come within 25 kilometers of the Baghdad Airport, which led to Iraqi forces calling for assistance from U.S. Apache helicopters.

Had they overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the airport,” said Dempsey. “So we’re not going to allow that to happen. We need that airport.”

When asked about the current “operation” of defeating ISIS on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, “First of all, they’re winning and we’re not.”

The Iraqis are not winning. The Peshmerga, the Kurds are not winning, and there’s a lot of aspects of this,” said McCain. “But there has to be a fundamental re-evaluation of what we’re doing because we are not degrading and ultimately destroying ISIS.”

During the same program, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pointed out that although ISIS is recognized as an international problem, it’s the U.S. that appears to be “doing all of the work.”

What I do not want, and I fear very much, is the United States getting sucked into a quagmire and being involved in perpetual warfare year after year after year,” said Sanders.

Poll: 70 Percent of Troops are Opposed to “Boots on the Ground” in Iraq

Despite the intensifying conflict with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the United States’ invasion of both Syria and Iraq via airstrike, a recent survey done by Military Times found that the majority of active-duty troops in the United States are opposed to sending ground troops in to combat Islamic State militants.

The survey asked the troops, “In your opinion, do you think the U.S. military should send a substantial number of combat troops to Iraq to support the Iraqi security forces?” Approximately 70 percent of the more than 2,200 surveyed gave the answer “No.”

Although President Obama has insisted that he will not call for ground troops to battle against ISIS, his decision to expand airstrikes from Iraq, into Syria, has left many questioning what his next move will be.

On Sunday, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner criticized Obama’s decision to only use airstrikes, saying that, “At some point somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.

When asked whether he thinks those “boots on ground” should be American, Boehner told ABC’s This Week, “We have no choice. These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. And if we don’t destroy them first, we’re gonna pay the price.

However, the majority of the active-duty troops whose boots could actually be the ones “on the ground,” don’t share Boehner’s views.

One Army Infantry Officer, who deployed to Iraq three times, and who asked to remain anonymous, told the Military Times that he didn’t believe deploying ground troops would solve the current problem.

It’s their country, it’s their business,” said the Officer. “I don’t think major ‘boots on the ground’ is the right answer.

Others doubt that going back into Iraq will make much more of a difference than before.

Marine 2nd Lt. Christopher Fox said, “It’s kind of futile in the end – regardless of how well we do our job, the Iraqi government isn’t going to be able to hold up.

According to the Military Times, this summer’s “near-collapse of the Iraqi army” fueled a “new level of pessimism” about the Iraq Warwhich led to only 30 percent of active-duty troops being surveyed to conclude that it was either “very successful” or “somewhat successful.”

Many soldiers are questioning why President Obama chose to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq in the first place, saying that their mission there was not complete in 2011.

Army Capt. Eric Hatch said that while he thought they were close to being done in 2011, they could have easily stayed another year of two.

If you’re going to commit troops to do a mission, you should stay until the mission is complete,” said Hatch.