Thursday, April 28, 2011

Petraeus, Panetta and War Fighting

Every minute of every day our government spends $2.1 million on the military. To slash that spending we have joined the New Priorities Network, a broad coalition of groups working together to fund jobs and services, end wars, and cut the pentagon budget.

And there is a lot to be done - Linda Bilmes lays out some of the challenges here.

”Even the Pentagon admits that it has “lost visibility’’ on spending. We spend $600 billion per year on the “base’’ military budget — but anything we ask it to do — like fighting wars or distributing humanitarian aid — costs extra. It’s like having a fire department that charges extra if your house catches on fire.”

The New York Times looks at the war-fighting picture in Afghanistan following the announcement of President Obama's new team. Mr. Panetta will leave the CIA to head the Department of Defense and General Petraeus the current US commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan will take over as head of the CIA.

"As C.I.A. director, Mr. Panetta hastened the transformation of the spy agency into a paramilitary organization, overseeing a sharp escalation of the C.I.A.’s bombing campaign in Pakistan using armed drone aircraft, and an increase in the number of secret bases and covert operatives in remote parts of Afghanistan.

General Petraeus, meanwhile, has aggressively pushed the military deeper into the C.I.A.’s turf, using Special Operations troops and private security contractors to conduct secret intelligence missions. As commander of the United States Central Command in September 2009, he also signed a classified order authorizing American Special Operations troops to collect intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran and other places outside of traditional war zones.

The result is that American military and intelligence operatives are at times virtually indistinguishable from each other as they carry out classified operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Some members of Congress have complained that this new way of war allows for scant debate about the scope and scale of military operations. In fact, the American spy and military agencies operate in such secrecy now that it is often hard to come by specific information about the American role in major missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya and Yemen."

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Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
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