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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘veterans’

Trump, Biden, Jorgensen discuss military and veterans issues – Task & Purpose

Posted by M. C. on September 17, 2020

Jo Who?

https://taskandpurpose.com/news/trump-biden-jorgensen-defense-veterans-issues

For the first time, all three major presidential candidates have weighed in on the most pressing issues facing service members, military families, and veterans.

President Donald Trump, his democratic rival former Vice President Joe Biden, and Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen have provided answers to the Military Officers Association of America to a wide variety of questions about their plans for the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

MOAA, a non-partisan group, published the verbatim responses from Trump, Biden, and Jorgensen on Wednesday without any editorial comment.

“We wanted to go beyond the soundbites for our membership,” said retired Air Force Col. Dan Merry, MOAA’s vice president of government relations. “When candidates discuss military and veteran issues on the campaign trail they hit the high notes and play to a wide audience.” 

“Our members have a deeper understanding, and a much deeper involvement, with these topics,” he continued. “We thank the candidates for offering their expanded plans on these important issues, and we hope making the responses available to everyone, members and nonmembers alike, will help all voters make an informed decision.”

Separately, Task & Purpose has submitted questions to the Trump and Biden campaigns. Neither has provided responses.

Here are some of the highlights from candidates’ responses to MOAA:

Greatest national security threats

Trump views China as a growing military and economic threat to the United States as it seeks to increase its influence worldwide. China and other “near-peer competitors” represent the greatest long-term security challenges.

The president also reiterated that NATO allies need to spend more of their own money on defense and he vowed that the United States and its allies would continue to work with partners in the Middle East to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

While Biden acknowledged that Russia and China are both immediate threats, he argued that several of the greatest dangers facing the United States stem from climate change and global pandemics, like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Biden also vowed to “end the forever wars” while leaving a counterterrorism force in Afghanistan and maintaining a small presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State terrorist group, adding: “We do not need large deployments of combat forces to maintain our security.”

Jorgensen vowed to bring home all U.S. troops stationed overseas, end all U.S. military aid to foreign countries, and focus on defending the homeland.

“We should turn America into one giant Switzerland: armed and neutral, with a military force that’s ready to defend America’s shores and soil against any foreign attack,” she said.

Defense spending

Trump said he was proud to approve a $738 billion budget for the Defense Department in December, which the president said has helped repair the damage caused by budget cuts under former President Barack Obama.

“In addition to massive acquisitions made over the past two years, our current effort authorizes nearly 100 new F-35s; 24 brand-new F/A-18s; 155 Army helicopters, of all different types; 165 brand-new Abrams tanks; more than 50 Paladin howitzers; 2 new Virginia-class submarines; 3 new Arleigh Burke destroyers; a Ford-class aircraft carrier, and two others on their way; and much, much more. And it’s all made, right here, in the USA,” the president said.

Biden claimed that Trump has “abandoned all fiscal discipline” regarding defense spending by focusing on older legacy weapon systems when the military really needs to prepare for future wars by investing in cyber, space, unmanned systems, and artificial intelligence technologies.

“We can maintain a strong defense and protect our safety and security for less,” Biden said. “The real question is not how much we invest — it’s how we invest.”

Jorgensen said that defense spending would fall under her administration because no U.S. troops would be stationed overseas.

“With no U.S. involvement in foreign wars, a military that’s laser-focused on defending America, and a citizenry with the unabridged right to keep and bear arms, America will be safe,” she said.

Recruitment and the Selective Service System

For Trump, the best recruiting tool for the all-volunteer force is to ensure that veterans successfully make the transition to the private sector.

“To that end, I have signed an executive order supporting our veterans during their transition from uniformed service to civilian life,” the president said. “I’m honored to be at the forefront of the greatest strides ever made at the [Department of Veterans Affairs] for our veterans.”

Biden said he does not believe the United States needs a larger military, nor does he see a reason to bring back the draft.

“I would, however, ensure that women are also eligible to register for the Selective Service System so that men and women are treated equally in the event of future conflicts,” Biden said. “We should explore targeted recruiting efforts to build a military that is more geographically and demographically representative of the nation as a whole and that has the skill sets needed for modern warfare.”

Jorgensen promised to abolish the Selective Service System because there has not been a draft since the Vietnam War.

“The so-called military-civilian divide can best be bridged by staying out of foreign conflicts, and creating as much transparency as possible while maintaining the protection of vital military intelligence,” she said.

Caring for veterans

Trump touted the reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs passed under his administration, including the MISSION Act, allowing veterans to get care from private healthcare providers without prior authorizations.

The president also stressed that the VA is working on reform its health system so that veterans will have one electronic copy of their medical records “from the first day of boot camp until they are honorably laid to rest.”

Biden said he would prioritize research into emerging service-connected conditions including Traumatic Brain Injury and exposure to toxins.

“I would expand the list of presumptive conditions to ensure that no veteran who experienced a TBI or had exposure to burn pits or other environmental toxins goes without access to VA health care and benefits,” Biden said. “We must never again have an Agent Orange-like crisis.”

Jorgensen said she plans to drastically cut the cost of healthcare by reducing government and insurance paperwork so that veterans could afford better medical care.

“I will work to replace the VA with direct payments to veterans who were wounded in combat, so they can spend their health-care dollars how and where they want to spend them,” Jorgensen said. “Veterans deserve better than denied care and bureaucratic roadblocks.”

Related: Here are the biggest national security challenges that Trump or Biden will face after the presidential election

 

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Veterans Exposed in Cold War Bioweapons Testing Still Awaiting Answers – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on May 15, 2020

I don’t believe it. The government says we don’t do this.

https://original.antiwar.com/Brett_Wilkins/2020/05/14/veterans-exposed-in-cold-war-bioweapons-testing-still-awaiting-answers/

On May 12, 2000, the CBS Evening News first reported that over 1,000 American sailors were unwittingly exposed to chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents in the 1960s and early 1970s as part of secret military experiments to study the vulnerability of US Navy ships to germ warfare attacks. The Pentagon responded to the report by insisting that the sailors “were not exposed to any harmful chemical and biological compound” and they all “were fully informed about the details of each test.” Neither of those claims turned out to be true. Subsequent reports revealed that some of the deadliest biological weapons, including VX and sarin nerve gas, were sprayed over unsuspecting sailors during Project 112 and its offshoot, Project SHAD. For decades, the Pentagon denied the existence of these tests before concluding in the 2000s that there was “no clear evidence” of long-term health problems resulting from them. Veterans – including some who blame their serious health problems on the tests – are still waiting for answers over 50 years later.

A History of Secret Testing

In early 1961 Defense Secretary Robert McNamara issued a directive urging the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “consider all possible applications” for chemical and biological weapons, “including use as an alternative to nuclear weapons.” By that time, there had already been considerable CBW testing in the United States, almost always against unwitting citizens. Immediately after World War II, the United States struck deals with some of Japan’s leading germ warfare specialists, including members of Unit 731, a notorious army unit that conducted horrific lethal experiments that killed hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and soldiers as well as Allied prisoners of war, some of whom were dissected while still alive. In exchange for not pursuing war crimes charges, Japanese scientists and doctors shared their knowledge and expertise while working for the United States. German doctors and scientists, including Nazi war criminals, were also imported into the US under Operation Paperclip.

Armed with Nazi and Japanese CBW knowledge, the US military began its own germ warfare experiments in earnest in 1949. The following year in Operation Sea Spray the Navy sprayed San Francisco with a massive cloud containing two types of bacteria, Bacillus globigii and Serratia marcesens, to study cities’ vulnerability to bioweapons attacks. Around a dozen people in the San Francisco Bay Area were hospitalized after the experiment; one of them died three weeks later. The test may have permanently altered the Bay Area’s microbial ecology. The Army also sprayed zinc cadmium sulfide over dozens of US locations including the Pruitt-Into housing project in St. Louis, where 10,000 people lived, most of them poor and black, and at Clinton Elementary School in Minneapolis, where former students later reported an unusually high number of stillbirths and birth defects. Cadmium, a toxic metal, is now a known carcinogen.

These were but two of the hundreds of tests carried out by the US military on unsuspecting citizens during the Cold War era. American sailors were also exposed to Bacillus globigii, Serratia marcesens and zinc cadmium sulfide during Project SHAD tests.

Sailors Exposed to Sarin, VX Read the rest of this entry »

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Veterans Oppose the Endless Wars, Back Trump: ‘A Lot of Wasted Lives’

Posted by M. C. on November 5, 2019

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/11/03/veterans-oppose-endless-wars-support-trump/

by John Binder

American Veterans who risked their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are increasingly opposing foreign interventionism that continues to dominate the Washington, DC, political establishment.

The latest Pew Research Center survey on the issue finds that 64 percent of Veterans say the Iraq War is “not worth fighting,” along with 62 percent of all American adults who agree. Only 33 percent of Veterans say the Iraq War is worth fighting.

Likewise, nearly 60 percent of Veterans and all American adults say the Afghanistan War was not worth the fight. Less than 40 percent say the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was worth fighting.

In interviews with the New York Times, Veterans explained their support for President Trump’s effort to end what he has dubbed the “endless wars” across the Middle East which has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

“All in all, it is a lot of wasted lives and money and time and effort spent to accomplish a goal we never accomplished,” said 31-year-old Tyler Wade, who received a Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan, told the Times.

Veteran Dan Caldwell said American men and women signed up to defend their homeland against terrorists, not to nation-build whole countries and remain until stability in the region is regained.

“For conservative-leaning veterans, we signed up to defend our country,” Caldwell said. “We didn’t sign up to build girls schools in the Al Anbar Province. We had friends killed or wounded in action; it wasn’t clear for what.”

Veteran Amber Smith, 37-years-old — who served in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2005 and 2008 — said the minority of Veterans in Congress who continue to support U.S. military intervention in foreign countries do so at the expense of their brothers and sisters in the uniform.

“We gave it nearly two decades, thousands of U.S. lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, and we have learned at this point there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan,” Smith told the Times. “There are a few veterans in Congress who are very pro-military-involvement in the Middle East. Well, they already fought that fight. They are not going back. As we have seen, when Trump talks about reducing troops, everyone in D.C. becomes unhinged. Unfortunately, the U.S. service members pay the consequences for that.”

Even when it comes to the U.S. intervention in Syria, Veterans by a majority oppose the effort. The Pew Research Center survey found that 55 percent of Veterans said U.S. involvement in Syria is “not worth it” while almost 60 percent of American adults agreed.

Former President George W. Bush led the U.S. into war in Afghanistan and Iraq with more than 4,500 Americans dying in Iraq — including more than 3,500 killed in combat — and up to 205,000 Iraqi citizens dying in the war since March 2003.

In total, Bush’s post-9/11 wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and intervention in Pakistan have resulted in the deaths of between 480,000 and 507,000 people — including nearly 7,000 American soldiers who had deployed to the regions.

Be seeing you

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Like Agent Orange before, burn pits sicken new generation of veterans | Tampa Bay Times

Posted by M. C. on October 18, 2017

Government as killing machine. It doesn’t care who.

Thinks of what the hundreds of bases in the US and overseas do to the local citizens.

The new agent orange.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/military/veterans/like-agent-orange-before-burn-pits-sicken-new-generation-of-veterans/2340892

TAMPA — D.J. Reyes served as a top Army intelligence officer in combat zones across Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Those were long days, long nights, a lot of stress, a horrible environment,” Reyes said. “But I had a mission to do.”

When he retired, a doctor found scar tissue on his lungs, evidence of long-term respiratory problems.

Now Reyes is one of nearly 120,000 people who have registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs because of health problems they blame on their exposure to burn pits — the military’s crude, low-tech method for disposing of trash in war zones. Read the rest of this entry »

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