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11.14.12

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Jake Tappers Book About The War In Afghanistan As Experienced In Combat Outpost Keating On Its Northeastern Frontier Announces His Conclusion
It Was Madness That Is A Really Awful Place For A Base It Doesnt Make Any Sense

In 600 Pages Packed With Detail, Mr. Tapper Lays Bare The Poor DecisionMaking That Shattered Dozens Of American Lives In The Pursuit Of An IllConceived Goal
Book Review:
The Outpost By Jake Tapper Little, Brown, 673 pages, $29.99

Combat Outpost Keating Photo; Bob Strong/Reuters/Corbis Without a fundamentally different U.S. approach to the deeper dynamics of the conflict, more troops or more helicopters wouldnt have improved the outcome in Afghanistan. The U.S. forces in Afghanistan were spending their effort and prestige to prop up a government that was at best ineffectual, and at its frequent worst, abusive and criminal toward its own citizens. That reality isnt the troops fault; they follow orders.

November 9, 2012 By SARAH CHAYES, Wall Street Journal [Excerpts] Ms. Chayes, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, lived and worked in Afghanistan for eight years and served as special adviser to two International Security Assistance Force commanders and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ************************************************************************************ The first sentence of Jake Tappers book about the war in Afghanistan as experienced in an outpost on its northeastern frontier announces his conclusion: It was madness. A young intelligence specialists superior orders him to make slides depicting the site where the ill-fated camp is to be built. But sir, he demurs, that is a really awful place for a base. The refrain is repeated as successive officers, choppered into the camp, stare upward at the mountains that dominate it on all sides. This Whole Thing Is A Bad Idea, This is retarded. It doesnt make any sense. In 600 pages packed with detail, Mr. Tapper lays bare the poor decision-making that shattered dozens of American lives in the pursuit of an ill-conceived goal. The protagonist of The Outpost is a place: Combat Outpost Keating, named for a U.S. officer killed there. Mr. Tapper follows the fortunes of the base, its defenders and their families from its conception in the summer of 2006 until Oct. 6, 2009, when B-1 bombers dropped multiple tons of ordnance to obliterate it. Like the troops it describes, the book toggles wrenchingly back and forth between the crags of Afghanistan and the home front, where wives, parents, and children are depicted awaiting, and dealing with, terrible news. Photographs and emails they and surviving troops shared with Mr. Tapper are scattered through the book, adding to its intimacy. Most of The Outpost is taken up with vividly written battle scenes, peppered with accurate military jargon. In one, a giant dual-rotor Chinook helicopter is dropping off troops and supplies by night: At 10:09, (Chief Warrant Officer Eric) Totten tried to stick a landing for the third time from south to north. As he lowered the aircraft, the Chinooks tail swung to the left, and

the rear rotor hit that gnarled tree that the men from 3-71 Cav had worked so hard but to such little effect to cut down. The back blade exploded and came off the chopper. The soldiers at PZ Reds started diving for cover as thousands of pieces of shrapnel sprayed all around them. . . . Treebranch parts flew. The helicopter pitches off the precarious landing zone, igniting into a huge fireball on the rocks 150 yards below. Such incidents expose glaring deficiencies in intelligence gathering; others spotlight the counterproductive expenditure of aid dollars. By quoting from conversations among officers, and by examining the contrasting styles of various commanders, the author presents a key debate of the Afghanistan war: the value of a counterinsurgency approach, which emphasizes contact and relationshipbuilding with the local population, as opposed to offensive operations. As Mr. Tapper shows, counterinsurgency successes are often ignored and not built upon. Former Lt. Col. Chris Kolenda, for example, established a rapport with community leaders; American deaths fell dramatically on his watch. Yet he receives little praise for this achievement from his superiors. Mr. Tapper tells us that he wrote the book so that you as a reader (and I as a reporter) might better understand what it is that our troops go through, why they go through it, and what their experience has been like in Afghanistan. Other books have preceded The Outpost in this endeavor, most pertinently Sebastian Jungers War, which follows a single platoon deployed near Combat Outpost Keating during the same time period covered in The Outpost. Mr. Tapper clearly read War. He borrows Mr. Jungers patented technique of interrupting heart-thumping narrative with an almost clinical explanation of a key phenomenon for example, what adrenaline does to the body: When . . . released, it can constrict air passages and blood vessels, increase the heart rate, cause tunnel vision, relax the bladder, and prompt the nervous systems fight-or-flight response. Despite its abundant detail, and the lengths to which Mr. Tapper goes to interview protagonists and cross-check their accounts, The Outpost lacks one key element: authenticity. Mr. Junger embedded, repeatedly, with his platoon. He knows what the soldiers went through because he went through it, too. Dialogue that Mr. Junger put between quotation marks actually happened. He has it on tape. That shared experience adds an unrivaled power to Mr. Jungers writing. The Outpost, by contrast, feels formulaic. Mr. Tapper gathered most of his information from his office in Washington, conducting some interviews in person while others, he concedes in a section on sourcing, were done by phone or email. And while Mr. Tapper handles conversations and chaotic events with proficiency, quotations and thoughts and

scenes presented as fact are at best reconstructedin at least one case I have checked, inaccurately. The overall effect is voyeuristic, the empathy ersatz. Another problem with this style, as common as it has become, is that it dangerously blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction. The author of a novel is entitled to state events as truth, because he or she is in effect God: the creator. But situations as multidimensional as those that Mr. Tapper describes can never be nailed down with such omniscience. By keeping his sources and thus their perspective s out of his prose, where they might interfere with the tempo, Mr. Tapper has written what could best be considered a docudrama. Several men he interviewed once or twice bear little resemblance to the officers I knew and worked with in 2009, when I served as a special adviser to the commander of international troops in Afghanistan. But the group that gets the shortest shrift is the Afghan people. Inhabiting a mythically untamed land, and frequently evoked alongside repulsive images, like the flies on the rice they offer the Americans, or described as drugged, feckless, or prone to greed and murder, Afghans are the stick-figure villains of this tale. Their consistent denigration by the author helps explain why Mr. Tapper missed one of the key flaws in the U.S. policy he set out to criticize. Mr. Tapper correctly questions the decision to scatter bases out into the far reaches of eastern Afghanistan, where population is thin and the head-spinning terrain erases Americans comparative advantage. He accurately points out the vast disproportion in effort, focus and resources devoted to Afghanistan compared to Iraq, an imbalance he blames for much of what went wrong. But without a fundamentally different U.S. approach to the deeper dynamics of the conflict, more troops or more helicopters wouldnt have improved the outcome in Afghanistan. They might have made Combat Outpost Keating easier to defend. They might have saved the lives of some of the men we meet in The Outpost. But they wouldnt have altered the grim prospects now facing the region. Some clues to the greatest weakness of U.S. policy can indeed be found in The Outpost itself. We see an Afghan National Army commander stealing his troops salaries and trafficking in reconstruction projects on the American base. We hear how Afghan President Hamid Karzais promises to elders who worked constructively to resolve local conflicts went unfulfilled. We watch the decision to recapture the far-flung district of Barg-e Matal fatefully delay Col. Randy Georges plan to close Combat Outpost Keating. We hear of electoral fraud in 2009, and of how Barg-e Matals 128 voters cast some 12,000 ballots. But these dots are never connected.

I happened to be on Col. Georges base the day he got word that Barg-e Matal, population about 1,500, had been overrun by insurgents. Col. George argued, convincingly, that the tiny district had minimal strategic value, and that his men had seen no signs of a battle. Back in Kabul, I urged my boss, the newly arrived Gen. Stanley McChrystal, not to overreact to the Barg-e Matal threat. But Mr. Karzai had ambushed Gen. McChrystal at a security meeting with a tirade about the reported attack. The Afghan defense minister threatened to resign if U.S. troops werent sent. For the sake of his relationship with the Afghan president, Gen. McChrystal ordered the operation that set back the closure of Combat Outpost Keating, deploying almost as many U.S. troops to the district as there were inhabitants. I was sure that Mr. Karzai, whom I had known for years, was playing the new U.S. commander. One reason Mr. Karzai was so adamant in demanding a U.S. presence in Barg-e Matal, it turned out, was to ensure that unfrequented polling stations remained open so that his acolytes could stuff the empty ballot boxes to facilitate electoral fraud, in other words. Confronted with the Afghan army commanders theft of salaries and reconstruction funds, Lt. Chris Briley figured the concept of skimming was so ingrained in Afghan culture that there was nothing he could do to change it even though numerous Afghans had complained about it. Mr. Tapper has Lt. Col. Brad Brown muse that the Afghan authorities had made no meaningful effort to take over the role of working with local elders. In other words, the U.S. forces in Afghanistan were spending their effort and prestige to prop up a government that was at best ineffectual, and at its frequent worst, abusive and criminal toward its own citizens. That reality isnt the troops fault; they follow orders. But Mr. Tapper never imagines that this collusion may explain why some Afghans react negatively to Americans. He only touches on the question of abusive governance in his second-to-last paragraph. Presumptions that Afghans are congenitally venal reduced it to an afterthoughtfor him as for U.S. decision makers. By failing to consider and evaluate the motivations of Afghans as if they might just be rational, Mr. Tapper falls into the very errors of the U.S. policy he decries. He focuses in compulsive detail on military tactics and numbers of men in uniform and bypasses the factors that have truly determined the course of this war.

AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS

Foreign Occupation Servicemember Killed Somewhere Or Other In Afghanistan Monday: Nationality Not Announced
November 12, 2012 Reuters A foreign servicemember died following an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan today.

Foreign Occupation Servicemember Killed Somewhere Or Other In Afghanistan Tuesday: Nationality Not Announced
November 13, 2012 Reuters A foreign servicemember died as a result of an explosion on a military camp in southern Afghanistan today.

Officer Killed By Afghan Ally As He Played Football At Own Base


13 November 2012 by CRAIG BROWN, Edinburgh Evening News & 12 November Ministry of Defence A Scottish soldier was shot dead by a rogue member of the Afghan army as he played in a football match on Remembrance Day, it emerged last night. Captain Walter Barrie was playing in a match on Sunday between British soldiers and members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) at his base in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province when he was shot at close range, the Ministry of Defence said. Capt Barrie, from Glasgow, had been mentoring and advising a brigade of the ANA to take over security in an area of southern Afghanistan.

The soldier was shot at Forward Operating Base Shawqat.

POLITICIANS REFUSE TO HALT THE BLOODSHED THE TROOPS HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THE WAR

Resistance Action

A hole in the wall of a house caused by a rocket attack in Kabul Tuesday. Omar Sobhani / Reuters 11.13.12 NBCNews.com A rocket landed near the Afghan intelligence agency in Kabul and two others struck near the airport highway and a private television station early Tuesday morning, security officials said. At least one person was killed and two wounded, Kabul police chief Ayoub Salangi said. Insurgents shot the rockets from positions on the eastern outskirts of the city, he said.

SOMALIA WAR REPORTS

Al Shabaab Insurgents Attack Ethiopian Military Occupation Convoy:


Fighters Escape After The Attack
Nov 12, 2012 Garowe Online BAIDOA, Somalia At least 10 people including civilians were killed after an ambush by Al Shabaab insurgents on a Ethiopian military convoy traveling in the outskirts of Baidoa capital of Bay region, Garowe Online reports. The clashes sparked after an Ethiopian convoy was hit with a roadside bomb planted by Al Shabaab fighters who attacked the foreign troops with heavy artillery near Awdinle outside of Baidoa. According to local sources, the clashes lasted for many hours after Ethiopian troops answered with their own artillery. At least 10 people were killed 3 of who were civilians, according to Baidoa authorities. There were three other injured although the Ethiopian casualties were not confirmed. Some reports indicate that Ethiopian forces fired indiscriminately in the town of Awdinle after the ambush killing civilians. Chief of Police for Bay region, Col. Mahad Abdirahman Adan, stated that civilians took the brunt of the devastation. Many civilians were injured and some killed in the clashes, they were innocent of crime, said Col. Adan. Police in Bay region are conducting investigations as to how the civilians were killed in the clashes. According to local sources, the Al Shabaab fighters escaped after the attack on Monday. The brazen morning attack on the Ethiopian convoy by Al Shabaab is one of the first attacks is many weeks and has reportedly reignited Ethiopias military conquest of towns and villages in Bay region.

Baidoa, was captured in February, by Somali government troops alongside the Ethiopian military who captured the city after Al Shabaab officials and fighters fled.

Heavily Armed Fighters From Al Shabab Launched A Surprise Assault On Somali Forces
10 November 2012 Shabelle Media Network Garbahaarey At least two have been killed in a fierce battle between Somali National Army (SNA) and Al shabab militants in Gedo province, the latest in surge of attacks in the southwestern region. The violence reportedly erupted after heavily armed fighters from Al shabab launched a surprise assault on Somali forces at a checkpoint located on the outskirts of Garbaharey, a town largely controlled by Somali government. A Military source, who declined to be named, told Shabelle Media by phone that At least two combatants from both sides lost their lives in the fighting while untold number of soldiers sustained variety of wounds.

Somali Government Troops Shoot Each Other, As Usual


10 November 2012 Shabelle Media Network Mogadishu Heavy gun battle has erupted on Sunday in Somali capital Mogadishu as the federal MPs struggling to approve the newly formed 10-member cabinet ministers, proposed by Abdi Farah Shirdon, Somali PM. Eyewitnesses said the violence sparked when government soldiers exchanged gun-fire at KM4 junction, a busy crossroad in the heart of Mogadishu, accusing unconfirmed losses. The skirmish caused over unknown circumstances.

MILITARY NEWS

A Female Captain Testified That Sinclair, Her Direct Superior, Twice Forced Her To Perform Oral Sex And Threatened To Kill Her And Her Family If She Told Anyone
General Jeffrey A. Sinclair Has Been Charged With Forcible Sodomy

US Army Brigadier General Jeffrey A. Sinclair has been charged with forcible sodomy, multiple counts of adultery and having inappropriate relationships with several female subordinates. (AP Photo/U.S. Army) Source: AP [Thanks to Felicity Arbuthnot, who sent this in. She writes: Blimey, another one.] November 08, 2012 AP A married captain testified that Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair repeatedly asked her to send him nude photos of herself, which she said made her uncomfortable. Eventually, she said she placated the married general by sending him downloaded pornographic photos of other women cropped so that their faces werent visible, FoxNews reported. The testimony came during the third day of a hearing at Fort Bragg to determine whether Sinclair will go on trial for multiple criminal charges including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct and adultery, which is a crime under the military justice system. The allegations against Sinclair involve relationships with five women other than his wife.

Sinclair served as a deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan until he was relieved of his duties in May amid a criminal investigation and sent back to North Carolina. Yesterday, a second female captain testified that Sinclair, her direct superior, twice forced her to perform oral sex and threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone. The woman had a three-year relationship with the married general at Army bases in the United States, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Associated Press does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault or coercion. The female captain who testified today said she and Sinclair did not have a sexual relationship and they had met in person only three times. Their relationship was primarily through emails, she said. The military investigated the woman who testified today for adultery and fraternization, but she passed a polygraph test in connection with Sinclair. She received a letter of reprimand, but that is on hold and she was ordered to testify. A female major also testified today that she sent photos of her breasts and a personal video to Sinclair. The major said she had served as a company commander under Sinclair and that they became friends after they were no longer in the same chain of command. The major said she sent photos of her breasts, before and after elective plastic surgery, to Sinclair. She also sent a video. The major testified she was punished by the Army and ordered to testify. The major was investigated for adultery, took a polygraph test and passed it. But she was still punished for indecent acts. Sinclair potentially faces penalties of up to life in prison if convicted at courts martial on the most serious charges. However, there is no minimum punishment or sentencing guidelines in the military court system, meaning the general could be convicted but not punished. He could also be forced to retire or reduced in rank.

US Commander In Afghanistan, General John Allen, Under Investigation For Inappropriate Emails To Jill Kelley, The Woman Linked To The Sex Scandal

Involving Former CIA Director David Petraeus


[Thanks to Felicity Arbuthnot, who also sent this in. She writes: Why do Caught and Pants down come to mind? ... proven record(s) of integrity ... seem to be thinning out a bit. Who next? Oh, General Allen, of course.] 14 November 2012 By Hannah Furness, The Telegraph [UK] The US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, is under investigation for inappropriate emails to Jill Kelley, the woman linked to the sex scandal involving former CIA director David Petraeus, The latest twist in the unfolding controversy, disclosed to reporters aboard the US Defence Secretary Leon Panettas plane, suggests the probe into Gen Petraeus shock resignation is widening yet further. Mr Panetta said Gen Allens nomination as NATO supreme commander had now been put in hold with the agreement of President Barack Obama. The nature of the emails is not yet clear, although a senior defence official told news agency AFP there was a distinct possibility they were linked with Gen Petraeus. Mrs Kelley, a 37-year-old social liaison to an air force base in Tampa, Florida, had a longstanding family friendship with Gen Petraeus but had no official status in the military. Mrs Kelley, a mother-of-three, has already employed Judy Smith, Monica Lewinskys former crisis manager, and Abbe Lowell, a white-collar attorney who defended John Edwards, to assist her. Mr Panetta said in a statement that his department was informed about the case by the FBI on Sunday and that he had referred it to the Pentagons inspector general for investigation. He had ordered a Pentagon investigation of Gen Allen on Monday, he said. He added Gen Allen would remain in Kabul as the commander of NATO-led security forces but that he had asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to delay action on Allens pending nomination to be NATOs supreme allied commander. He has also requested the Senate committee moves promptly on the nomination for Gen Allens successor in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford. It remained unclear what allegations Gen Allen faces, and officials declined to comment as to whether the Marine general was accused of using his work email to communicate with Mrs Kelley or had disclosed any classified information. The defence official said: Its far too early to speculate on what the IG might find.

There is enough concern that we believe it was a prudent measure to take appropriate steps to direct an investigation and notify Congress.

Further Comment Unnecessary

War Profiteer That Defrauded Soldiers Ordered To Pay Up And Wipe Out Their Debts
Nov 12, 2012 By Mary Esch, The Associated Press [Excerpts] ALBANY, N.Y. New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reached a $9.5 million settlement with retailer SmartBuy and its affiliated companies over debt fraud aimed at soldiers.

Schneiderman says SmartBuy operated from a kiosk and small storefront at Salmon Run Mall near the Fort Drum Army post and ruined the credit of thousands of soldiers through fraudulent charges. The settlement, along with an earlier one with SmartBuy, wipes out $12.9 million in debt for more than 4,000 soldiers nationwide. Schneiderman said Monday that SmartBuy salespeople talked soldiers into payment contracts with hidden fees and exorbitant interest. Fayetteville, N.C.-based SmartBuy closed its local operations after Schneiderman demanded it stop deceptive practices and reimburse soldiers.

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FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nations ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.

For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose. Frederick Douglass, 1852

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder and it is the working class who fights all the battles, the working class who makes the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely sheds their blood and furnishes their corpses, and it is they who have never yet had a voice - in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war. They are continually talking about patriotic duty. It is not their patriotic duty but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches. -- Eugene V. Debs

To Avoid An Embarrassing Public Confrontation, The General Was Forced To Sneak In The Back Entrance Of His Hotel
Nearly One Hundred GIs Boldly Gathered Across From The Reviewing Stand Behind A Huge Banner Reading GIs For Peace
The Response From Soldiers Forced To March In The Parade Proved Embarrassing To The Assembled Commanders: Hundreds Raised Clenched Fists In Solidarity With The Demonstrators

[A quantity of stupid drivel has appeared in the past few years asserting that it was the civilian opposition to the Vietnam war that led the movement in the armed forces. As you will see below, the sweeping upsurge against the war revealed by troops in 1969-1970 gave heart and leadership to the anti-war movement among civilians, whose public demonstrations were growing every smaller. Sound familiar? T] ********************************* Perhaps just as importantly, the May 16 actions had great impact on the civilian community. The spectacle of simultaneous soldier demonstrations at twelve separate bases finally convinced people that sweeping changes were occurring within the Army and aroused renewed appreciation of the potential of GI resistance. From: SOLDIERS IN REVOLT: DAVID CORTRIGHT, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1975. Now available in paperback from Haymarket Books. [Excerpts] On October 11 [1969] nearly one hundred Fort Bragg soldiers, mostly Vietnam veterans, marched in a Moratorium demonstration in Fayetteville. On October 15, protests occurred in San Antonio and Colorado Springs. At Fort Sam Houston, approximately 150 soldiers signed a petition sponsored by the new paper Your Military Left, requesting facilities for a meeting on post. Their plea was rejected, though, and the Moratorium gathering was held instead in downtown San Antonio. At Fort Carson, Vietnam veterans Tom Roberts and Curtis Stocker, editors of Aboveground, encountered a series of command restrictions aimed at preventing them from attending an evening demonstration in Colorado Springs. Despite the obstruction, later documented in an official Fort Carson memorandum leaked to the New York Times,

the two managed to elude their would-be captors and joined seventy-five fellow soldiers for the anti-war observance in Acacia Park. A few days later, on October 20, the ASU [American Servicemens Union] chapter at Fort Lewis called a meeting at an on-post service club to discuss the war and the need for GI organizing; the gathering was broken up by MPs, however, resulting in the arrest of thirty-five GIs and three civilians. As the country prepared for the second wave of Moratorium actions, in November, an extraordinary full-page ad appeared in the New York Times Sunday edition of November 9. A statement calling for an end to the war and support for the planned November 15 mobilization in Washington, D.C., was signed by 1,366 active-duty servicemen. Included among the signees were 189 soldiers in Vietnam, 141 GIs at Fort Bliss, and people on over eighty additional bases and ships throughout the world. The statement had a dramatic impact within the peace movement and was at least partly responsible for the success of the events on the following weekend. The huge November 15 peace rally in Washington (attended by some 250,000 people) was led by a contingent of over two hundred GIs, many of them associated with the local GI paper, Open Sights. The next day, fifty of the servicemen joined in a picket line at the Court of Military Appeals Building to protest the injustices of military law. A simultaneous rally in Los Angeles on the fifteenth also was headed by active-duty servicemen, including fifty Marines from Camp Pendleton. The November Moratorium also witnessed a series of important actions by one of the most dynamic new groups of the GI movement, Fort Bliss GIs for Peace. The organization was formally launched on August 17, 1969, when several hundred soldiers, many of them assigned to the Defense Language Institute (DLI), gathered in EI Pasos McKelligan Canyon to proclaim the following purposes: to promote peace, secure constitutional rights for servicemen, combat racism, improve enlisted living conditions, and provide aid to the local chicano community. Through Gigline, an unusually well-written and articulate GI paper, the activists quickly attracted widespread local support -- and as a result, encountered serious repression. Paul Nevins, a drafted Ph.D. student and the groups first chairman, was shipped out to Germany; Giglines first editor received abrupt orders to Vietnam; and three other leading organizers were suddenly transferred to different bases, just hours before a scheduled Moratorium protest. In all, ten soldiers received transfer orders in the organizations first five months of existence. New members always rose to fill the vacuum, though, and the groups activities proved remarkably successful.

One of their first actions involved an anti-war protest at the traditional Veterans Day parade in El Paso. As weapons and marching units filed by in the November 11 pageant, nearly one hundred GIs boldly gathered across from the reviewing stand behind a huge banner reading GIs for Peace. The response from soldiers forced to march in the parade proved embarrassing to the assembled commanders: hundreds flashed the V for peace sign or raised clenched fists in solidarity with the demonstrators. On Moratorium day, the group urged students at DLI to boycott the noon meal and gather for a period meditation at a nearby chapel. Nearly a dozen plain-clothes men and officers showed up at the church to intimidate the protesters, but sixty soldiers braved the threats and carried out the prayer meeting as planned. The neighboring enlisted mess hall, meanwhile, was three fourths empty - despite the rare attendance of a huge contingent of officers. The anti-war upsurge culminated the following Saturday, when several hundred Fort Bliss soldiers marched at the head of a peace rally in downtown El Paso. The third series of Moratorium protests, scheduled for December, produced two additional GI demonstrations, including one of the largest and most militant gatherings in the history of the GI movement. At Fort Bragg, a growing GIs United Against the War sponsored another rally in Fayetteville, this time attended by two hundred soldiers and two hundred civilians. The more significant action, however, came on December 14 in Oceanside, California. In the largest Moratorium demonstration in the country on that day, an estimated one thousand servicepeople joined a crowd of four thousand in a march and rally near Camp Pendleton. The event united black, white, and chicano GIs behind a strongly anti- imperialist and anti-racist program and marked the founding of an important new GI organization, Movement for a Democratic Military (MDM). Operating out of the Green Machine coffeehouse in Vista, Camp Pendleton Marines launched the paper Attitude Check and established MDM as an openly revolutionary organization. Their program called for the right to collective bargaining, constitutional rights for all servicepeople, abolition of the court-martial system and its replacement with a jury and court of peers, the end of officer privileges, the elimination of racism, freedom for all political prisoners, and an immediate pullout from Vietnam. During a visit to the area in February 1970, Marine Commandant General Leonard Chapman labeled MDM a serious threat to the defense of this country.

Because of internal disputes, however, Pendleton MDM faltered, and by the summer of 1970 split into factions, with a new paper, All Ready on the Left, replacing Attitude Check. Despite these difficulties at Camp Pendleton, the idea of MDM proved attractive to other radical servicemen. During the first half of 1970, the groups program and name were adopted at six other locations: San Diego, Long Beach Naval Station, EI Taro MCAS, Fort Ord, Fort Carson, and Great Lakes Naval Training Center. As GI organizing flourished, the factionalism that hindered MDM became evident at other bases, with several separate organizations often existing on one post at the same time. No such divisiveness hindered soldier organizing at Fort Bliss. By adopting a broad, non-partisan approach, GIs for Peace successfully united a large number of servicemen and, despite a lack of civilian aid, carried on an extensive program of anti-war activity. One particularly effective demonstration occurred during a January 1970 visit to EI Paso by Army Chief of Staff William Westmoreland. When the former Vietnam commander arrived in the city on the fifteenth to deliver an address, he was greeted by a picket line of eighty local soldiers. To avoid an embarrassing public confrontation, the general was forced to sneak in the back entrance of his hotel. The largest GIs for Peace gathering, indeed one of the largest in the history of the GI movement, was a March 15 rally in El Pasos McKelligan Canyon. Approximately two thousand people, including more than eight hundred servicemen, came together for a festival of political speeches and rock music, in a massive display of local anti-war sentiment. At Fort Devens, about twenty GIs join several hundred civilians for the first rally ever attempted at this base. The paper Morning Report appears for the first time. Seventy-five soldiers and five hundred civilians gather for an anti-war march and rally outside Fort Meade. The first anti-war demonstration in the history of Anniston, Alabama, draws fifty Fort McClellan service people and two hundred civilians. At Fort Benning, one hundred GIs and some three hundred civilians attend a peoples tribunal on American war crimes. In Fayetteville, North Carolina, Rennie Davis, Jane Fonda, and Mark Lane address a crowd of 750 Fort Bragg soldiers and three thousand civilians in the largest Armed Forces Day rally in the country. At Fort Hood, over seven hundred soldiers march through the streets of Killeen and rally in a nearby park.

At Fort Bliss, GIs for Peace and local students, demonstrate against the war at the local University of Texas campus. The first anti-Vietnam protest in Manhattan, Kansas, attracts over one thousand people, including four hundred soldiers from Fort Riley. An MDM-sponsored rally in Colorado Springs draws thirty Fort Carson GIs and several hundred civilians. Tom Hayden raps to approximately two hundred Marines and several thousand civilians in a rally near Camp Pendleton. Fort Ord MDM sponsors a march and rally of more than three thousand people. Extra work assignments and riot duty mobilizations limit the GI contingent to only one hundred. A festival and series of workshops near Fort Lewis draw sixty soldiers and two hundred civilians. The events of Armed Forces Day not only demonstrated widespread anti-war sentiment within the ranks but sparked continuing political activity at many bases. Several groups made their initial appearance during the time, and a number of others experienced an increase in active-duty involvement. Perhaps just as importantly, the May 16 actions had great impact on the civilian community. The spectacle of simultaneous soldier demonstrations at twelve separate bases finally convinced people that sweeping changes were occurring within the Army and aroused renewed appreciation of the potential of GI resistance. As Abbie Hoffman quipped to the crowd at Fort Meade: Behind every GI haircut lies a Samson. GIs United [military band] members participated in various peace demonstrations in the New York area. One of the groups most unusual and daring activities occurred at a civilian-sponsored demonstration on October 31. Led by Sp/4 Verne Windham, ten Fort Hamilton GIs marched up the streets of New York at the head of thousands of demonstrators -- undoubtedly the movements first anti-war Army band.

MORE:

FREE TO ACTIVE DUTY:

A Vietnam Soldier Wrote The History Of How An Armed Forces Rebellion Stopped An Imperial War

SOLDIERS IN REVOLT: DAVID CORTRIGHT

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DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

CLASS WAR REPORTS

Anti-Austerity Strikes Sweeping Southern Europe:

Spaniards Are Furious At Banks Being Rescued With Public Cash While Ordinary People Suffer
Passion has been further inflamed since last week when a Spanish woman jumped from her apartment to her death as bailiffs tried to evict her when her bank foreclosed on a loan. November 13, 2012 Reuters Spanish and Portuguese workers will stage the first coordinated general strike across the Iberian Peninsula on Wednesday, shutting transport, grounding flights and closing schools to protest against spending cuts and tax hikes. Unions in Greece and Italy also planned work stoppages and demonstrations on a European Day of Action and Solidarity against austerity policies, which labor leaders blame for prolonging and worsening the continents economic crisis. The international coordination shows we are looking at a historic moment in the European Union movement, said Fernando Toxo, head of Spains biggest union, Comisiones Obreras. Passion has been further inflamed since last week when a Spanish woman jumped from her apartment to her death as bailiffs tried to evict her when her bank foreclosed on a loan. Spaniards are furious at banks being rescued with public cash while ordinary people suffer. Were going to protest because theyre ignoring peoples rights. People are being evicted and theyre raising our taxes, said Sandra Gonzalez, 19, a social work student at Madrids Complutense University who plans to march with friends. In Portugal, which accepted an EU bailout last year, the streets have been quieter so far but public and political opposition to austerity is mounting, threatening to derail new measures sought by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho. His policies were held up this week as a model by Germanys Angela Merkel, a hate figure in crisis-hit southern European countries. The first ever Iberian strike would be a great signal of discontent and also a warning to European authorities, said Armenio Carlos, head of Portugals CGTP union which is organizing the action there. Some 5 million people, or 22 percent of the workforce, are union members in Spain.

In Portugal about one fourth of the 5.5 million strong workforce is unionized. Unions have planned rallies and marches in cities throughout both countries, with a major demonstration beginning at 6:30 p.m. (1730 GMT) in Madrid. Just 20 percent of Spains long-distance trains and a third of its commuter trains are expected to run. Lisbons Metro will be shut completely and only 10 percent of all trains will run under court-ordered minimum service. More than 600 flights were cancelled in Spain, mainly by Iberia and budget carrier Vueling. Portugal flag carrier TAP cancelled roughly 45 percent of flights. Hospitals in Spain will fully staff emergency and surgery rooms but non-essential care will be scaled back. Italys biggest union, CGIL, called for a work stoppage for several hours across the country. The transportation ministry expects trains and ferries to halt for four hours. Students and teachers are expected to march. In Greece, which saw a big two-day strike last week while parliament voted on new cuts, the main public and private sector labor unions called for a three-hour work stoppage and an anti-austerity rally in solidarity with the Spaniards and Portuguese. Athens police expect 10,000 demonstrators, small by the standard of protests there. This will be the first time Spanish unions have held two general strikes in one year. Spains last general strike, in March, brought factories and ports to a standstill and ignited flashes of street violence. Protests against cuts and economic reforms have since gained even more steam. A violent march in Madrid in September - coupled with riots in Greece - sparked a September 26 sell-off in the euro and European and U.S. stock markets. Spains economy, the euro zones fourth biggest, will shrink by some 1.5 percent this year, four years after the crash of a decade-long building boom left airports, highways and high-rise buildings disused across the country. Portugals economy is expected to contract by 3 percent. Every week seems to bring fresh job cuts. Spains flagship airline Iberia, owned by UK-based International Airlines Group, said last week it will cut 4,500 jobs. The prestigious El Pais newspaper just laid off almost a quarter of its staff. Portugal has long avoided the street unrest seen in Spain and Greece, but that appears to be changing as the government continues to seek new measures to shrink a budget deficit. A strike organized by CGTP in March had little impact, but in September hundreds of thousands of Portuguese rallied against a government plan to raise workers social security contributions.

This austerity is a never-ending story. We see no light at the end of the end of the tunnel, just more pain and difficulties. We have to protest, do something to stop it, said Lisbon pensioner Jose Marques, who plans to march on Wednesday.

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