Tag Archives | Pentagon

State Department Offering Contractors $10 Billion To Operate Overseas Drug-War Airforce

With such an effort, surely this war on drugs will be won soon. Wired reports:

Unsure how your private security firm makes money as the U.S. war in Afghanistan winds down? One option: Go into the drug trade — more specifically, the lucrative business of fighting narcotics. The State Department needs a business partner to keep its fleet of drug-hunting helicopters and planes flying worldwide. You could make up to $10 billion.

Starting next month, the State Department will solicit some defense-industry feedback on a contract to help operate its 412 aircraft, based in at least eight nations, before it reopens the contract for bidding. Among the missions: “Provide pilots and operational support for drug interdiction missions such as crop spraying.”

In Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan, and Guatemala, State Department air operations mostly perform “counternarcotics and law enforcement activities,” explains State Department spokeswoman Pooja Jhunjhunwala, and in Afghanistan it does transportation support as well.

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Private Contractors Will Conduct Our War On Drugs In Afghanistan For Years To Come

Wondering what exists at the center of the War on Drugs vs. War on Terror Venn diagram? Wired reports that well into the foreseeable future, our military will be pumping billions of dollars into the pockets of Blackwater-esque private contractors in a battle against Afghanistan’s drug economy:

The U.S. war in Afghanistan is supposed to be winding down. Its contractor-led drug war? Not so much. Inside a compound in Kabul called Camp Integrity, the Pentagon stations a small group of officers to oversee the U.S. military’s various operations to curb the spread of Afghanistan’s cash crops of heroin and marijuana, which help line the Taliban’s pockets. Only Camp Integrity isn’t a U.S. military base at all. It’s the 10-acre Afghanistan headquarters of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater.

Those officers work for an obscure Pentagon agency called the Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office, or CNTPO. Quietly, it’s grown into one of the biggest dispensers of cash for private security contractors in the entire U.S.

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British ‘UFO Hacker’ Gary McKinnon Will Not Be Extradited To United States

Curiosity about UFOs is what inspired McKinnon, who has Asperger’s syndrome, to engage in what American officials have called the “biggest military computer hack of all time.” The Guardian reports:

The home secretary, Theresa May, defied the American authorities on Tuesday by halting the extradition of British computer hacker Gary McKinnon, a decision criticised by the US state department but welcomed with delight by campaigners and politicians across parties in the UK.

McKinnon was first indicted by an American grand jury in November 2002 for hacking into US military computers, including the Pentagon and NASA, from his north London bedroom while he was looking for UFOs. He could have faced a prison sentence of up 70 years under US law.

May told Members of Parliament she had taken the quasi-judicial decision on human rights grounds because of medical reports warning that McKinnon, who has Asperger’s syndrome and suffers from depressive illness, could kill himself if sent to stand trial in the US.

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The U.S. Army’s Quest To Develop An Anti-Suicide Nasal Spray

Soldier, the problem isn’t that you’re facing foreclosure on your home, physical disability, and PTSD, you just haven’t had you daily spritz of anti-suicide spray. Via Russia Today:

The US Army has awarded a scientist at the Indiana University School of Medicine $3 million to develop a nasal spray that eclipses suicidal thoughts. Dr. Michael Kubek and his research team will have three years to ascertain whether the nasal spray is a safe and effective method of preventing suicides.

The research grant comes after the Army lost 38 of its soldiers to suspected suicide in July, setting a record high. So far in 2012, the Army has confirmed 66 active duty suicides and is investigating 50 more, making a total of 116 cases.

But the naturally occurring neurochemical thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) could slow the rising suicide rate. The chemical has a euphoric, calming, antidepressant effect. TRH has been shown to decrease suicidal ideas, depression and bipolar disorders.

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Don’t Turn Drone Operators Into Heroes

Via Salon, Glenn Greenwald on the Pentagon’s effort to build an aura of valor and bravery into postmodern, video game-style warfare in which villagers are blown up like bugs:

The effort to depict drone warfare as some sort of courageous and noble act is intensifying: The Pentagon is considering awarding a Distinguished Warfare Medal to drone pilots who work on military bases often far removed from the battlefield.

So medals would be awarded for sitting safely ensconced in a bunker on U.S. soil and launching bombs with a video joystick at human beings thousands of miles away. Justifying drone warfare requires pretending that the act entails some sort of bravery, so the U.S. military is increasingly taking steps to create the facade of warrior courage for drone pilots:

The Air Force has been working to bridge the divide between these two groups of fliers. First off, drone operators are called pilots, and they wear the same green flight suits as fighter pilots, even though they never get in a plane.

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The Pentagon Has Created A Database Of Every Bomb They’ve Dropped Since WWI

The saddest spreadsheet in the world? Via io9:

For the past six years, the U.S. Air Force has been compiling an exhaustive list of every bomb their planes have dropped since World War I.

The database, which is part of a project called THOR (Theater History of Operations Reports), was put together by Lieutenant Colonel Jenns Robertson using thousands of historical documents.

For the Vietnam War alone, Robertson has examined records showing that from October 1965 to May 1975 at least 456,365 cluster bombs were dropped on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The database is also being used for current conflicts, including investigations into civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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The Pentagon’s New Secret Lily-Pad Network

Mother Jones says that for our military, the future is vast overseas empire of secretive dimples dotting the globe, with more popping up each year:

Unknown to most Americans, Washington’s garrisoning of the planet is on the rise, thanks to a new generation of bases the military calls “lily pads” (as in a frog jumping across a pond toward its prey). These are small, secretive, inaccessible facilities with limited numbers of troops, spartan amenities, and prepositioned weaponry and supplies.

Around the world, from Djibouti to the jungles of Honduras, the deserts of Mauritania to Australia’s tiny Cocos Islands, the Pentagon has been pursuing as many lily pads as it can, in as many countries as it can, as fast as it can. Although statistics are hard to assemble, given the often-secretive nature of such bases, the Pentagon has probably built upwards of 50 lily pads and other small bases since around 2000, while exploring the construction of dozens more.

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Welcome To Yodaville: The Fake City In The Arizona Desert

BLDGBLOG on a town built by Air Force for the purpose of being bombed into oblivion, over and over:

Yodaville is a fake city in the Arizona desert used for bombing runs by the U.S. Air Force. Writing for Air & Space Magazine back in 2009, Ed Darack wrote that, while tagging along on a training mission, he noticed “a small town in the distance—which, as we got closer, proved to have some pretty big buildings, some of them four stories high.”

As one instructor tells Darack, “The urban layout is actually very similar to the terrain in many villages in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Urban Target Complex, or UTC, was soon “lit up with red tracer rounds and bright yellow and white rocket streaks,” till it “looked like it was barely able to keep standing”:

The artillery and mortars started firing, troops advanced toward the target complex, and aircraft of all types—carefully controlled by students on the mountain top—mounted one attack run after another.

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Pentagon Creates ‘Mega Stun Gun’


Wired reports on the latest invention from the Pentagon agency known as the Joint Non Lethal Weapons Directorate, which is responsible for developing such non-lethal devices as “sticky foam guns, sonic cannons, and devices that could potentially create voices in the target’s heads, mimicking the effects of schizophrenia.”

This latest version of the stun gun, which utilizes the “nano-second electrical pulse,” can shock a person in “billionths of a second” and render them unconscious:

Imagine a stun gun that doesn’t just drop you to the floor, but renders you unconscious for several minutes. This tech is called a “nano-second electrical pulse,” and the Pentagon believes it could be used in a gun that would hit targets with high voltages of electricity for an amazingly short amount of time – we’re talking billionths of seconds here. That would make the enemy an easy capture. But today’s stun guns are already linked to dozens, if not hundreds, of abusive incidents.

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Navy To Stop Using Image Of Muslim Woman For Target Practice

Navy SEAL training apparently involves shooting at photos of hijab-clad women with Quran verses mounted behind them. All part of the plan to win hearts and minds. The Virginian-Pilot writes:

The Navy will not use a target depicting a Muslim woman holding a gun at a new training range for SEALs in Virginia Beach. The announcement came hours after the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the Pentagon to remove the target. A picture of the cardboard target, which shows a woman in a headscarf holding a pistol, was published in The Virginian-Pilot on Tuesday. The image shows verses of the Quran hanging on the wall behind the woman.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Washington-based council, said in the letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta dated Friday that the target “is offensive and sends a negative and counterproductive message to trainees and to the Muslim-majority nations to which they may be deployed.”

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