August 30, 2004

Where the helmet meets the head

Canadian soldiers should take careful note of the recent Wall Street Journal story on concerns about the new U.S. army helmet, the ACH. The new design, which may be leading to increased head injuries in Iraq, is similar to the current Canadian military helmet.

What's not mentioned in the WSJ, I suspect, is the difficulty wearers of the previous U.S. army helmet (the PASGT) had with firing prone, due to their body armour bumping the helmet up and over their eyes. It's still a problem sometimes even with the smaller Canadian helmet. As Carter points out, these are complex issues, and a smaller helmet could well be, taken with everything else, still the more effective solution.

Posted by BruceR at 05:51 PM

Abu Ghraib report

The report on military intelligence's role in the Abu Ghraib embarrassment is out. Some excerpts follow:

There is no single, simple explanation for why this abuse at Abu Ghraib happened. The primary causes are misconduct (ranging from inhumane to sadistic) by a small group of morally corrupt soldiers and civilians... (Executive Summary, p. 2)


Most, though not all, of the violent or sexual abuses occurred separately from
scheduled interrogations and did not focus on persons held for intelligence purposes... (Summary, p. 3)


As is now evident, LTC Jordan was a poor choice to run the JIDC. He was a Civil
Affairs officer. He was an MI officer early in his career, but transferred to Civil Affairs in 1993. The MI experience he did have had not been in interrogation operations... (Fay report, p. 43)


Several of the interrogators were civilians and about half of those civilians lacked sufficient background and training. Those civilians were allowed to interrogate because there were no more military assets to fill the slots. (p. 46)


Another instance showing lack of accountability to the procedures or rules involved a CIA officer who entered the interrogation room after a break in the interrogation, drew his weapon, chambered a round, and placed the weapon in his holster. This action violated the rule that no weapons be brought into an interrogation room, especially weapons with live rounds. (p. 54)


[Following a shooting incident] Iraqi Police, hence the name “IP,” became detainees and were subjected to strip searching by the MPs in the hallway, with female Soldiers and at least one female interpreter present. The IP were kept in various stages of dress, including nakedness, for prolonged periods as they were interrogated... Military working dogs were being used not only to search the cells, but also to intimidate the IPs during interrogation without authorization. There was a general understanding among the MI personnel present that LTG Sanchez had authorized suspending existing ICRP [interrogation restrictions] because of the shooting... (p. 56)


An incident of clearly abusive use of the dogs occurred when a dog was allowed in the cell of two male juveniles and allowed to go “nuts.” Both juveniles were screaming and crying with the youngest and smallest trying to hide behind the other juvenile... (p. 68)


On 7 October 2003, three MI personnel allegedly sexually assaulted
female DETAINEE-29... forcibly kissed her... shown a naked male detainee and told the same would happen to her if she did not cooperate... forced to kneel and raise her arms while one of the Soldiers removed her
shirt... (p. 72)


The three detainees [abused in one of the infamous Lynddie England photos] were incarcerated for criminal acts and were not of intelligence interest... (p. 73)


During this abuse a police stick was used to sodomize DETAINEE-07... (p. 74)


An 18 November 2003 photograph depicts a detainee dressed in a shirt or blanket lying on the floor with a banana inserted into his anus... These are all identified as DETAINEE-25 and were determined by CID investigation to be self-inflicted incidents. Even so, these incidents constitute abuse; a detainee with a known mental condition should not have been provided the banana... (p. 78)

Posted by BruceR at 05:11 PM

Asked and answered

Andrew Sullivan: In New York this week, I want the president to tell us where we are in the war,...

Bush pronounces terror war unwinnable (MSNBC) he will tackle the looming nuclear threat of Iran,...

Pentagon spy passes Iran secrets to Israel (MSNBC)

...and how he can pull together the centrifugal forces in chaotic Iraq."

January Iraq election "impossible" (New York Times)

Posted by BruceR at 12:56 PM

...And back again

...After another week-long sudden absence, largely spent sleeping, in short widely-spaced increments mind you, under a tree in an effectively IT-free environment. Down to a slightly less chunky (for me) 216 lbs. on nearly two months now of army food, and looking forward to my new recruiting gig this fall. Everyone should be in a quasi-military environment once in a while. You come back from a little privation, and suddenly the little things seem magical: a soft bed, a downy pillow, etc.

I'll try and write more, but work and home are still busy, and as I get more and more interesting DND jobs to do, there's frankly an increasing concern about maintaining my security clearance. What I can say is this: the Canadian military, despite all I've ever said here previously, still has some incredibly dedicated, intelligent and visionary people working in the areas I've some experience with. Enemies underestimate us at their peril. We're still better than you might think.

Posted by BruceR at 12:16 PM

Protective mantle 1, Belmont Club (still, as always) 0

"Two taboos are about to fall in the coming days. The first is the protective mantle conferred by one of the holiest Shrines in Islam upon those [Sadrists] within. The second is the guaranteed access of the Western press to the battlefield."

--Belmont Club, Aug. 16

"Also Monday, firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr visited the Imam Ali Shrine in the city of Najaf for the first time since his militia left the holy site on Friday under a peace deal to end three weeks of fighting with U.S. forces."

--Washington Post, today.

UPDATE: I especially liked this completely incoherent Wretchard entry, which appears to argue that the mainstream U.S. press has now fallen for Sadrism the same way American Communists fell for Stalin/Mao. (You have to love any writer that uses Mao's eulogy to Bethune as his comparator example of interwar period journalism.) Somewhere in the middle of August in the Najaf dust, he argues, journalism as a profession changed FOREVER...

"However things turn out, the relationship between the media and its readers will never return to its former nature. When [Time correspondent] Robertson reentered American lines after a few days of absence, he returned, perhaps unknowingly, to a different world."

In other words, because Time ran an Iraq piece last week that was somehow vaguely reminiscent of the writings of Communists, therefore that obviously must demonstrate that the days of journalists writing like Communists have now suddenly ended, and as of last week we have all entered into (returned to?) that "different world" of journalism that is both hyperpatriotic AND objective. You know, kind of like you read on the Belmont Club.

Posted by BruceR at 11:06 AM

August 16, 2004

You'll never go poor betting on it, anyway

"Likewise, CNN appears to have been the victim of a second-hand psy-ops campaign, insofar as it is referring to the guerrillas as "anti-Iraqi forces." The idea of characterizing them not as anti-American or anti-regime but "anti-Iraq" was, according to journalist Nir Rosen, come up with by a PR company contracting in Iraq. Nir says that they were told that no Iraqis would fall for it. So apparently it has now been retailed to major American news programs, on the theory that the American public is congenitally stupid."

--Juan Cole, today

Posted by BruceR at 11:49 AM

August 13, 2004

Back in town again

...after an absolutely splendid six weeks on the road. Nothing much has changed, I see.

Posted by BruceR at 04:33 PM