Tag Archives | army

Utah Biological Weapons Center Locked Down

Looking north toward Dugway Proving Ground Testing Range. Photo: David Jolley (CC)

Looking north toward Dugway Proving Ground Testing Range. Photo: David Jolley (CC)

It’s a day for scary sci-fi stories apparently. Following on from the genetically modified mosquitoes, the U.S. Army has admitted to placing its Utah high security biological weapons facility under lockdown orders — meaning that something bad has happened within. Let’s hope it stays within, but don’t be surprised if some scary new ailment like Lyme Disease results. Report from CNN:

A Utah military facility that tests chemical and biological weapons was locked down “to resolve a serious concern,” and authorities were working to reopen the base, officials said Thursday.

All base personnel were safe and working, and no evacuation was needed, said spokeswoman, Bonnie Robinson. She would not say why the base was locked down.

The U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground has been locked down since 7:25 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, said another spokeswoman, Paula Thomas.

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U.S. Combat Troops Taking 6-Month Supply Of Psychotropic Drugs To Wars

US Soldiers

Fox News reports:

As U.S. military leaders gathered Wednesday to give their latest update on the rash of Army suicides, new questions are being raised about a U.S. Central Command policy that allows troops to go to Iraq and Afghanistan with up to a six-month supply of psychotropic drugs.

Prescription drugs have already been linked to some military suicides, and a top Army official warned last year about the danger of soldiers abusing that medication. Psychiatrists are now coming down hard on the military for continuing to sanction certain psychotropic drugs for combat troops, saying the risk from side effects is too great.

“There’s no way on earth that these boys and girls are getting monitored on the field,” said Dr. Peter Breggin, a New York-based psychiatrist who has extensively studied the side effects of psychiatric drugs. “The drugs simply shouldn’t be given to soldiers.”

Anxiety, violent behavior and “impulsivity” are all side effects of some of these medications, he said, the latter symptom being particularly dangerous in a war zone.

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U.S. Army Has A ‘Spiritual Fitness’ Test

CSFThanks to Will C. for sending us this latest bit of “separation of church and state” hypocrisy, reported by Jason Leopold at TruthOut:

An experimental, Army mental-health, fitness initiative designed by the same psychologist whose work heavily influenced the psychological aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program is under fire by civil rights groups and hundreds of active-duty soldiers. They say it unconstitutionally requires enlistees to believe in God or a “higher power” in order to be deemed “spiritually fit” to serve in the Army.

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) is a $125 million “holistic fitness program” unveiled in late 2009 and aimed at reducing the number of suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases, which have reached epidemic proportions over the past year due to multiple deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the substandard care soldiers have received when they return from combat. The Army states that it can accomplish its goal by teaching its service members how to be psychologically resilient and resist “catastrophizing” traumatic events.

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Birther Faces Court Martial For Refusing Deployment Orders

ObamaLakinIf Obama isn’t a US-born citizen is he fit to act as Commander in Cheif? That’s the question that brought Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin to trial for refusing to report for duty. Lakin, and other “birthers,” question whether President Obama is a US-born citizen or not. He pleaed guilty to one of two charges against him, stating he believed his orders for deployment were illegal because he still questions that Obama has a US birth certificate. MSNBC reports:

An Army doctor who disobeyed orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questions President Barack Obama’s citizenship pleaded guilty Tuesday to one of two charges against him.

Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin of Greeley, Colo., pleaded guilty in a military court to a charge that included not meeting with a superior when ordered to do so and not reporting to duty at Fort Campbell.

Lakin faces up to 18 months in prison and dismissal from the Army.

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Robot Wars – For Real

Robot WarsI always liked the Robot Wars organized by Mark Pauline’s Survival Research Laboratories in the ’80s and ’90s. I wasn’t the only one and eventually they graduated from cool underground happenings to a TV series (yes, I know the creators will claim that SRL was not the inspiration, but I ain’t buying it!). Now the United States military is gearing up for real life robot wars. The New York Times‘ tech expert John Markoff reports from Fort Benning, Georgia:

War would be a lot safer, the Army says, if only more of it were fought by robots.

And while smart machines are already very much a part of modern warfare, the Army and its contractors are eager to add more. New robots — none of them particularly human-looking — are being designed to handle a broader range of tasks, from picking off snipers to serving as indefatigable night sentries.

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The Fake Taliban Scam That Fooled NATO

Taliban flag

Taliban flag

Joshua Foust’s analysis of the fake Taliban scam that duped the U.S. Army and NATO is spot on, for The AfPak Channel at Foreign Policy:

Remember last month, when all the news was atwitter about the prospect of meaningful negotiations with the Taliban in Kabul?

The story was moderately shocking: a senior Taliban figure was being flown around the region, talking directly with General Petraeus, President Karzai, and other senior figures in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan government. The driving force behind coverage of those negotiations was New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, who wrote that NATO had provided air transportation and secure road travel for Taliban leaders to visit Kabul for the negotiations.

Almost precisely one month later, Filkins and Carlotta Gall are writing the exact opposite:

In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little. “It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions.

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School Enlists All Ninth Grade Freshmen In JROTC

USMCJROTCFrom The Sun News in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:

Welcome to high school. Now drop and give me 50.

The entire freshman class at Carvers Bay High School has been automatically enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, a military-sponsored program that trains high school students in military discipline and concepts. Principal Richard Neal, a Navy veteran, said the school’s Marine Corps JROTC class is fulfilling the student’s physical education requirement and is part of the school’s Ninth Grade Academy.

But Charles Holloway, the parent of a freshman student at Carvers Bay, said he did not want his son in that program and when he asked that his son be taken out, his son was put in a class by himself. Holloway said he feels his son was being punished for not wanting to take part in that class…

[continues at The Sun News]

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Grave Mistake at Arlington National Cemetery Could Be Over 6,000

The most disciplined organization in our government seems to have the least organized cemetery. With more and more records being lost or found incorrect, and graves left without tombstones, the number of burial errors has risen from hundreds to thousands at Arlington National Cemetery. The Associated Press reports:

Estimates of the number of graves that might be affected by mix-ups at Arlington National Cemetery grew from hundreds to as many as 6,600 on Thursday, as the cemetery’s former superintendent blamed his staff and a lack of resources for the scandal that forced his ouster.

John Metzler, who ran the historic military burial ground for 19 years, said he accepts “full responsibility” for the problems.

But he also denied some of the findings by Army investigators and suggested cemetery employees and poor technology were to blame for remains that may have been misidentified or misplaced. He said the system used to track grave sites relied mostly on a complicated paper trail vulnerable to error.

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U.S. Army Report: Crime, Prescription Drug Use Makes Soldiers ‘More Dangerous Than the Enemy’

US_Army_logoThe content of the report is not as shocking as its source: the U.S. Army itself. ABC News investigates:

After nine years of war, the U.S. Army is showing signs of stress because of repeated deployments and inadequate support for soldiers when they return, according to a blunt internal report released today. It blasts the Army’s leadership for failing to recognize the problem.

The figures in recent years are staggering.

The number of soldiers committing suicide has increased since 2004, surpassing civilian rates in 2008. Use of prescription drugs has tripled in the past five years; prescription amphetamines use has doubled between 2006 and 2009. One third of soldiers take at least one prescription drug and 14 percent of soldiers are on some form of powerful painkiller.

Crime is rising every year as well. Each year has seen an increase of 5,000 misdemeanors over the previous year, meaning soldiers are expected to commit around 55,000 such crimes in 2010.

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