MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicles sit in a clamshell at night at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, July 31, 2011. U.S. Air Force Drone Pilot Burnout Triggers Call For Recruiting Overhaul — NBC Driving a war drone is a stressful business. Shifts up to 12 hours long are stretches of dullness, watching and waiting, interrupted by flashes of intense activity in which pilots must make life-or-death decisions. Not their own life or death, however. Pilots may be thousands of miles away from the flying weapons system they’re operating. They often head home at the end of the day, as if returning from any other office job, maybe picking up milk on the way. But while at work, their drones’ onboard cameras put them in a unique position to watch people being killed and injured as a direct result of their actions. As psychologists learn more about the mental scarring warfare leaves on drone pilots — caused by long shift hours, isolation, witnessing casualties and those Jekyll-and-Hyde days split between battlefield and home — experts from within the U.S. Air Force are calling for a review of drone pilot selection. Read more …. My Comment : Warfare is changing …. but the impact of killing someone has not. For some drone pilots …. their suffering is just as bad as those in the field.
NATO soldiers with at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul on May 16, 2013. (Mohammad Ismail/Reuters) How T he Afghan Conflict Will Be Decided — Michael Hirsh, The Atlantic A horrific week for U.S. casualties reaffirms President Obama’s rush to rely on the Afghan army. But can they handle it? KABUL, Afghanistan – Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi thumbs excitedly through a brochure prepared for him by Textron, the U.S. defense contractor. “This is what I want!” the Afghan army chief of staff says, pointing to a picture of the latest technology in armored troop carriers. Outside Karimi’s window, the giant, $92 million new defense headquarters that Washington is building for him is nearly finished; Karimi moves in in September. “Pentagon No. 1. This no. 2,” Karimi’s adjutant, Col. Mohammed Shah, says proudly in broken English. What Shah means is that the vast domed structure atop a hill–which resembles nothing so much as the Temple Mount–is expected to be the second-largest defense headquarters in the world, a distinct oddity in one of the poorest countries in the world. The Pentagon is also spending about a billion dollars on Karimi’s pride and joy, a new Mobile Strike Force. That includes $58 million on brand-new armored vehicles designed especially for the Afghan army by Textron (and which are deemed so state of the art that Canada just bought some for itself). Read more …. Update: Embassy Row: After Afghanistan for NATO — Washington Times My Comment: In the end …. Afghanistan’s future will be decided by the Afghan’s themselves …. which should have been the case starting a few years ago.
Rebuilding Of Mali Faces Daunting Obstacles, Despite Outside Aid — New York Times DAKAR, Senegal — The outpouring of support may be more a sign of nervousness than altruism. At an international conference in Brussels this week, donors pledged $4.2 billion for Mali on a range of fronts, including roads, energy and business development, hoping to help rebuild a nation that alarmed governments around the world when much of it collapsed and fell to Islamist militants last year. Beyond the money, the United Nations plans to deploy 12,600 peacekeepers this summer to make sure the militants do not return, while a host of outside powers, with France and the United States in the lead, are keeping a watchful eye on preparations for elections the Malians have promised for July. Read more …. More News On Mali Mali Gets Billions in Pledges to Rebuild — Wall Street Journal Nations pledge billions to rebuild Mali — AP Donors Pledge $4.2 Billion for Mali — Voice of America International donors pledge $4.19B for Mali recovery plan — Examiner UN Envoy Says July Date for Mali Presidential Vote “Difficult” — Wall Street Journal Ban pledges UN commitment to stable, prosperous Mali in message to Brussels meeting — UN News Centre Extreme food shortages in northern Mali — KUNA U.S. instructors to train African troops for Mali in Niger — Reuters US Air Force flies 200th Mali air refuelling sortie — Defence Web
Fighters from the Free Syrian Army. Khalil Ashawi/Reuters Syria Begins to Break Apart Under Pressure From War — New York Times CAIRO — The black flag of jihad flies over much of northern Syria. In the center of the country, pro-government militias and Hezbollah fighters battle those who threaten their communities. In the northeast, the Kurds have effectively carved out an autonomous zone. After more than two years of conflict, Syria is breaking up. A constellation of armed groups battling to advance their own agendas are effectively creating the outlines of separate armed fiefs. As the war expands in scope and brutality, its biggest casualty appears to be the integrity of the Syrian state. On Thursday, President Obama met in Washington with the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and once again pressed the idea of a top-down diplomatic solution. That approach depends on the rebels and the government agreeing to meet at a peace conference that was announced last week by the United States and Russia. Read more …. My Comment: This is an excellent analysis from The New York Times. Key paragraph is the following …. …. Three Syrias are emerging: one loyal to the government, to Iran and to Hezbollah; one dominated by Kurds with links to Kurdish separatists in Turkey and Iraq; and one with a Sunni majority that is heavily influenced by Islamists and jihadis. Indeed.
Obama Engulfed By Triple Scandal Crisis: White House Faces Fury Over Benghazi Cover-Up, Tax Probes On Right Wing Groups And Spying On Reporters’ Phone Calls — Daily Mail * Press secretary Jay Carney insists the White House had no knowledge of the IRS’s admitted plan to subject right-wing groups to closer scrutiny * Carney also says the administration was unaware of the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records until ‘yesterday’ * The administration continues to spin Benghazi, telling reporters that ‘politicization’ and comparisons with Richard Nixon are Republicans’ fault * Asked what action Obama will take on the IRS scandal, Carney responded only, ‘We’ll see’ * One-THIRD of committees in the House of Representatives are now investigating the Obama administration * Criminal investigation is launched into the AP phone records, with Attorney General Eric Holder recusing himself from the probe The White House struggled to deflect a barrage of questions today as it scrambled to contain three growing scandals lapping at Obama’s door. The usually unflappable Obama press secretary Jay Carney faced a torrid grilling in his daily briefing and could only claim the White House was ignorant – or blame Republicans for the deep water the Obama administration has found itself in. The swell of criticism over the administration’s actions following the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya has reached a new crescendo. Read more …. More News On The Scandals Plaguing The White House Obama administration has more than three scandals — Washington Times White House reels from 3 scandals — Boston Herald Multiple controversies suddenly plague Obama — McClatchy News Obama faces a raft of scandals — Iol News White House in full damage-control mode — Washington Times In scandal-plagued Washington, lawmaker struggles to keep track of issues — Yahoo News/The Ticket Attorney general orders criminal review of IRS — L.A. Times FBI starts criminal probe of IRS as report details unfair treatment — McClatchy News IRS Scandal Reaches Farther Than Just Cincinnati — The Note/ABC The IRS wants YOU — to share everything — Politico Scandal-scarred IRS rejects key Treasury Department recommendations — Washington Times Report blames IRS scandal on lax oversight, confused staff — L.A. Times House speaker suggests jail time for violations in IRS scandal — Reuters Eric Holder points finger at his DEPUTY who secretly obtained journalist’s phone records as Obama is forced to say he has ‘confidence’ in the Attorney General — AP Attorney General Eric Holder Had Stepped Back From AP Leak Investigation — ABC News Holder Isn’t Sure How Often Reporters’ Records Are Seized — NPR U.S. attorney general says he didn’t make AP phone records decision — Reuters Media coalition letter of protest to Attorney General Eric Holder — Washington Post