Friday, February 8, 2008


Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We must get Army deployments down to 12 months as soon as possible. People are tired.”

The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are not the only things that are worn out. Their equipment is in dire need of a complete overhaul.

Adding to the fatigue problem the Army faces in Iraq and Afghanistan is the fact that enlistments are down. The slowdown in enlistments means more members of the National Guard and the Reserves will be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan leaving states throughout the United States vulnerable in case of a major emergency.

Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE, the blog that brings readers the latest on developments from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mullen: Army must return to 12-month tours

By Anne Flaherty - The Associated PressPosted : Thursday Feb 7, 2008 22:10:07 EST

WASHINGTON — The top uniformed military officer on Wednesday described a tired U.S. military force, worn thin by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and unlikely to come home in large numbers anytime soon.

The assessment comes as President Bush decides whether to continue troop reductions in Iraq — possibly endangering fragile security gains made in recent months — or not, and risk straining ground forces further.

“The well is deep, but it is not infinite,” Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We must get Army deployments down to 12 months as soon as possible. People are tired.”

Mullen’s stern warning swiftly became political fodder for anti-war Democrats, who want legislation requiring that troops start coming home from Iraq immediately. Democrats also want legislation that would require soldiers and Marines spend more time at home between combat tours. The Pentagon objects to both proposals, contending it would tie the hands of military commanders.

The leader of the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said Mullen’s testimony “confirms our warning that the war in Iraq has seriously undermined our nation’s military strength and readiness, and therefore our national security.”

“We need a new direction in our Iraq policy, one that will bring our troops home honorably, safely, and soon,” Pelosi added.

Mullen was testifying with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on the administration’s half-trillion dollar defense budget for 2009. Bush is asking for $588.3 billion for the Defense Department, only $70 billion of which would go toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The war money is expected to last until early 2009, when the next president takes over.
If the current rate of war spending is a guide, the additional request for 2009 is likely to exceed $100 billion, Gates said. But, he added that he has no confidence in that number, in part because he does not know how many troops will be in Iraq this fall. Also uncertain is whether Congress will approve the $102.5 billion still needed in this budget year, he said.

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There are two major problems for journalists trying to cover the Iraq war.

The first is they are always in grave danger when they venture out into any of the Iraqi provinces.

The second is the journalists are constantly being force fed propaganda from the military, and their accounts of the war are censored.

The Iraq War has become an after thought with most of the mainstream media in the United States and yet we still have 160,000 troops in Iraq with soldiers getting killed every single day.

It borders on treason and is criminal how the media in the United States has relegated the Iraq war to nothing but sidebar stories or a crawl along the bottom of the television screen on FOX NEWS, CNN and MSNBC.

Commentary by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE, a blog designed to bring readers the facts about the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reporting Iraq: Journalists' Fight Against Propaganda in a Censored War

By Onnesha Roychoudhuri, AlterNetPosted on February 8, 2008, Printed on February 8, 2008

The late British journalist James Cameron, known for his coverage of the Vietnam War, said of his journalism, "I may not have always been satisfactorily balanced; I always tended to argue that objectivity was of less importance than truth." Perhaps in times of peace, objectivity naturally hews closer to truth. But when leadership misleads (or, euphemisms be damned, lies to) the public, journalists bear a greater responsibility. "Reporting" can all too easily translate into providing a megaphone for intentionally misleading information.

It is these issues that are at the forefront of Reporting Iraq: An Oral History of the War by the Journalists Who Covered It. Comprised mainly of interviews with over 40 journalists who covered the war, Reporting Iraq offers a candid view of the difficulties and complexities of working in an environment so hostile to reporters.

In one episode Rajiv Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post recalls the difficulty of getting any relevant information from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA): "Well, off the record," CPA advisor Dan Senor told him, "Paris is burning, but on the record, security and stability are returning to Iraq." Such double-speak motivated reporters to take great risks to find the facts -- and spurred a wartime environment where journalists have now come to rely heavily on Iraqi stringers who, unlike western reporters, are able move more freely around the country.

Reporting Iraq takes a close look at the triumphs, challenges and regrets of reporters working to cover the first three years of the occupation of Iraq.

Mike Hoyt, co-editor of Reporting Iraq and executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review recently sat down with AlterNet to discuss some of the major themes raised by these war-time journalists. He also explains why he thinks we may have to push beyond the conventions of journalism to ensure we're getting at the truth of war.

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