Saturday, April 19, 2008

National Insecurity

As compiled by the National Security Network, “five new reports from various government agencies and independent organizations were released this week, all confirming that the Bush Administration has weakened the security of the United States.”

The reports were: 1) Government Accountability Office: the Bush Administration has no plan for defeating al-Qaeda its central haven in Pakistan; 2) National Defense University: Iraq War is a debacle; 3) Rand Corporation: 300,000 American troops have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; 4) House Armed Services: Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan are poorly managed; and 5) Refugees International: The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is worsening. Some excerpts:

Government Accountability Office: Bush Administration Has No Plan for Defeating the Terrorist Threat

The Executive Branch has failed “to develop a comprehensive plan that includes all elements of national power” to defeat terrorism. The GAO found that “no comprehensive plan for meeting U.S. national security goals in the FATA [Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas] has been developed, as stipulated by the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (2003), called for by an independent commission (2004), and mandated by congressional legislation (2007).” Despite these mandates, “. . . neither the National Security Council (NSC), NCTC, nor other executive branch departments have developed a comprehensive plan that includes all elements of national power—diplomatic, military, intelligence, development assistance, economic, and law enforcement support—called for by the various national security strategies and Congress.”

Al-Qaeda has succeeded in re-constituting itself in the safe-haven of Pakistan’s tribal areas, where they are putting the finishing touches on its plan to attack the United States. The GAO “found broad agreement, as documented in the unclassified 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), State and embassy documents, as well as among Defense, State, and other officials, including those operating in Pakistan, that al Qaeda had regenerated its ability to attack the United States and had succeeded in establishing a safe haven in Pakistan’s FATA.” In addition, the GAO report cites testimony from the Director of National Intelligence, which says that “al Qaeda is now using the Pakistani safe haven to put the last element necessary to launch another attack against America into place.”
Independent Report from the National Defense University: Iraq Conflict a “Major War, and a Major Debacle”


The Iraq War has profoundly weakened the United States. The NDU report, written by a former aide to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, found that the Iraq War has weakened the U.S. across the board: “Globally, U.S. standing among friends and allies has fallen,” and “our status as a moral leader has been damaged…” Additionally, the war has had a “…negative impact on all other efforts in the war on terror, which must bow to the priority of Iraq… ” and “our Armed Forces— especially the Army and Marine Corps—have been severely strained…” Worst of all, while the war was described as necessary to secure the safety of the United States, our efforts in Iraq have become “... an incubator for terrorism and have emboldened Iran to expand its influence throughout the Middle East.”

Post-Invasion strategy has been as flawed as the decision to go to war itself. “To date, the war in Iraq is a classic case of failure to adopt and adapt prudent courses of action that balance ends, ways, and means. After the major combat operation, U.S. policy has been insolvent, with inadequate means for pursuing ambitious ends.”

RAND Corporation: The War in Iraq has Done Tremendous Harm to the Health of our Armed Servicemen

The Iraq War has done great trauma to the mental health of hundreds of thousands of service members. According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation, it is likely that over 300,000 armed service members have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and an estimated 320,000 individuals suffered traumatic brain injury during their deployment. “Assuming that the prevalence found in this study is representative of the 1.64 million service members who had been deployed for OEF/OIF as of October 2007, we estimate that approximately 300,000 individuals currently suffer from PTSD or major depression and that 320,000 individuals experienced a probable TBI during deployment."

All too often, service members carrying these invisible scars do not receive adequate care. “Even when individuals receive care, too few receive quality care. Of those who have a mental disorder and also sought medical care for that problem, just over half received a minimally adequate treatment. The number who received quality care (i.e., a treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective) would be expected to be even smaller. Focused efforts are needed to significantly improve both accessibility to care and quality of care for these groups. The prevalence of PTSD and major depression will likely remain high unless greater efforts are made to enhance systems of care for these individuals.”

House Armed Services Committee Report: Provincial Reconstruction Teams, Crucial to US Efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, are Under-Resourced and Poorly Coordinated

PRTs in Afghanistan and Iraq lack “strategic guidance.” “The PRT program lacks strategic guidance and oversight. The Department of Defense and the Department of State have not established clearly defined objectives and milestones for Provincial Reconstruction Teams for achieving larger operational and strategic goals. Nor have they adopted a system for measuring PRT effectiveness and performance.”

Reconstruction initiatives suffer from unpredictable access to funding and poor coordination. “PRTs operate under complicated and, at times, unclear chains of command. The lack of unity of command negatively impacts unity of effort, which can result in uncoordinated, and even counterproductive, outcomes.” Moreover, the Armed Services Committee Report found that in spite of their broad set of responsibilities, PRTs have neither had “predictable funding streams” nor “an appropriate mix of well-trained military and civilian staff.”

Refugees International: Iraqi Government is ‘Party’ to a Worsening Humanitarian Crisis

Study contradicts Bush Administration claims; militias, not Iraqi government, are primary providers of humanitarian assistance. “As a result of the vacuum created by the failure of both the Iraqi government and the International Community to act in a timely and adequate manner, non-state actors play a major role in providing assistance to vulnerable Iraqis. Militias of all denominations are improving their local base of support by providing social services in the neighborhoods and towns they control. Through a ‘Hezbollah-like’ scheme, the Shiite Sadrist movement has established itself as the main service provider in the country.” Aided by these patronage operations, Iraqi militias “are also recruiting an increasing number of civilians to their militias - including displaced Iraqis.”

Sectarian Iraqi Government has contributed to the humanitarian disaster. “The Government of Iraq is itself a party to the conflict and its security forces have facilitated displacement and sometimes carried it out themselves. Officers in the Iraqi Security forces complain that most of their men are loyal to the Mahdi Army and most of their commanders are loyal to the Mahdi Army or the Badr Militia. They and Sunni groups described incidents where Iraqi Security Forces opened fire on Sunni neighborhoods, protected death squads, or were directly involved in the kidnapping and execution of Sunni civilians.”

1 comment:

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