Monday, January 18, 2010

U.S. Military Morale



U.S. Army: Troop morale falls in Afghanistan

Military also points to shortage of mental health workers to aid soldiers

NBC News and news services

updated 12:44 p.m. ET, Fri., Nov . 13, 2009
WASHINGTON - Morale has fallen among soldiers in Afghanistan, where troops are seeing record violence in the 8-year-old war, while those in Iraq show much improved mental health amid much lower violence, the Army said Friday.
Soldier suicides in Iraq did not increase for the first time since 2004, according to a new study.
Wasn't this guy one of those mental health workers?

Accused Fort Hood killer Nidal Malik Hasan, in a 2007 photo.

This appeared in regarding DoD Directive 1015.2 concerning military morale:
When you click on the "View Publication" link, this is what appears:

Well, what do you expect?

But, one Congressman [who may not be considered a current Washington insider] wrote to the military expressing the sentiments of most Americans.
January 4, 2010
Major General Charles T. Cleveland
Commander, Special Operations Command Central
U.S. Central Command
7115 South Boundary Boulevard
MacDill AFB, FL 33621-5101
Dear General Cleveland:
I received your letter of December 15, 2009, regarding the pending courts-martial of Petty Officers Huertas, McCabe and Keefe; and I appreciate your office’s attempting to set the record straight and clarify what you describe as the “incomplete and factually inaccurate” press coverage of the situation. Having reviewed all of the material you provided, I still have to strongly disagree with the decision of your officers to pursue punishment of these Navy SEALs.
Ahmed Hashim Abed was one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq; responsible for the murders of innocent American civilians and numerous attacks on American and coalition forces. The injuries to Mr. Abed were, as you readily admit, relatively minor and certainly pale in comparison to the brutality of the crimes he helped perpetrate. While Petty Officers Huertas, McCabe and Keefe may have been wrong to not fully cooperate with investigators, it seems to me that the punishment still far exceeds the crime. In my opinion, prosecutorial discretion should have been exercised.
Beyond the fates of the three individual sailors, I have some general concerns about this case that are only reinforced by your letter. First, the fact that fellow U.S. service personnel initially raised the accusations against Petty Officers Huertas, McCabe and Keefe strongly suggests that we have created a culture within our Armed Forces where our military personnel are now more concerned about protecting themselves from legal jeopardy for every action or statement, than they are about fighting the enemy. Our troops and these SEALs need to be bold and decisive in combat; not hesitant and over-thinking every action for fear of prosecution. We are in a war that we must win against a determined, patient enemy who already believes we do not have the will to do what is necessary to defeat them.
Second, because of the intensive media coverage of this case – even if it is incomplete and factually inaccurate as you describe, this is the public’s perception of the case – the American people are outraged by the courts-martial of individuals who should be hailed as heroes. In fact, over 30,000 Americans have signed my online petition calling for an end to this prosecution. Perhaps even more alarming than the decline in morale this case has caused the country is the boost in morale and confidence that this case gives to Al Qaeda terrorists, who as I said, already believe America does not have the will or stomach to do what is necessary to defeat them.
General Cleveland, you are a distinguished soldier and former Special Forces operator yourself. I have the utmost respect for you personally. In this case the American people’s perception is that you are unfairly prosecuting three heroes based, at least in part, upon the word of an inhumane monster. Al-Qaeda’s own handbook instructs their operatives to allege detainee abuse if detained by American forces. In fact, al-Qaeda operatives are trained to self-inflict injuries for the sole purpose of accusing U.S. forces of abuse. We've seen repeated cases of this since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. In my opinion, carrying forward these courts-martial will do our Nation and our Armed Forces more harm than good. I respectfully and strongly urge you to exercise your leadership authority, stop the impending trials and drop the charges against these American heroes.
I await your prompt response.
Dan Burton
Member of Congress
CC: Hon. Barack Obama, Hon. Robert Gates, Adm. Mike Mullen
I think the train has left the station on this one Rep. Burton.
Common sense is not so common -- Voltaire



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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)