Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Breakdown of the mIlitary

Sunday 10:00am - 1:00pm
*Note – We are Live Blogging Winter Soldier Friday through Sunday.
You may see more typographical errers errors than usual as we type like @$#!
Please bear with us as we get the news out to you*
We missed the beginning of this session. There is streaming video

11:30: Lars Ekstrom - Marine Corp
Describes himself as intact from the neck down - suffered from depression after first deployment and was chewed out by NCOs to "get over it"
Discharge - was treated like a common criminal
Lost his education benefits because of his general under honorable conditions discharge and had to fight for VA benefits which are still not adequate
By the end of his tour in Iraq Lars, who had experienced hazing by his unit, became more afraid of the incompetence of his fellow soldiers than of the enemy in Iraq.

11:35: Steve Mortillo - US Marine Corp
Experienced hazing - beaten during boot camp and injured - was expelled from his unit for being beaten. Speaks of a friend who smoked marijuana to try to get out and somehow his drug tests
came back negative and he was sent to Ramadi where he was killed.
His experience in Iraq: Many vehicles in the invasion had no radios. The lead tank in his convoy commanded by the captain of his company was disabled by and accidentally hit by by a marine gunship and although the crew survived both the missile and the tank armor were made with Depleted Uranium (DU) and the most dangerous time to be exposed to DU is right after the impact.

As they came over the border Steve began giving Iraqi children the Humanitarian MREs and was immediately reprimanded. He got to Baghdad and back to Kuwait with those rations because a general said that "we don't want to give the Iraqis the wrong impression". The rations were ultimately buried in a garbage dump in KuwaitS.

Supply was ordered to destroy new parts so they could order more.

They were extensively briefed on how to talk to embedded reporters and some marines were kept away from the press altogether.

Why were the marines a day outside Baghdad in the 2003 invasion told to take off their chemical suits while reports continued of a very real danger of chemical attack on our troops.

"Any time you organize human beings to come together to use violence for conflict resolution you will have a break down."

12:00: Captain Luis Montalvan - 17 veteran of the US Army - Iraq veteran
his Blog contains many of the articles and sources her refers to in his testimony
Capt Montalvan starts by suggested that the testimony here should be done under oath to congress (standing ovation)
He describes the search and destroy tactics used in Iraq as the same that had failed under Westmoreland in Vietnam.
He described the Marine corps "Kinetic tactics" in Falluja in 2004 and the actions in Abu ghraib which focused on destroying insurgents with no emphasis on protection of civilians

He describes the "exodus of the captains" from the US Army which began in the mid 1990s which stemed from dissatisfaction of junior officers of junior officers with the false sense of success, the lack of ability to give feedback on failures and the failings of the senior command.

Finally someone talks about Petraeus and the surge. Petraeus resisted accountability for equipment to the Iraq army even though it had been done successfully in Kosovo.

National Guard problems: Only 50% equipped for domestic disasters. General Blum's positive testimony on the National Guard readinessis contradicted by GAO reports.

Montalvan further discussed the delayed implementation of the Pices system
that is involved in border security in Iraq.

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