Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Bill Carr on the Military Draft

Bill Carr is assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, serving as the Deputy Under Secretary in charge of Military Personnel Policy since August 2002. Here, he answers a caller's question on the military draft which he opposes reinstating.

If you want to end American military adventurism, you reinstate the draft. Keep the all volunteer army and our Empire will keep going and going until it bankrupts us.

Germany, by the way, still has a military draft and is currently debating whether to end it. We, on the other hand, should be having a debate over one and over the military in general but for whatever reason we'd much rather cut Social Security and Medicare. If Social Security is a milk cow with 310 million teats, then the US military is one bloated sacred bull goring the fiscal condition of the country.

Colombia's Constitutional Court Rules US Military Bases Agreement Unconstitutional

In a six to three vote, Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that US-Colombia agreement signed by the Uribe Administration in October 2009 that gave the US military unfettered access to seven army, navy and air force bases across Colombia is unconstitutional. The agreement took effect in May 2010 but a new agreement must now be renegotiated and then submitted to the Colombian Congress for approval. 

Article 173 of the Colombian Constitution prohibits the presence or the transit of foreign soldiers in or through the country without congressional approval. The Álvaro Uribe Administration and the successor Juan Manuel Santos Administration, had argued that the agreement with the US was not a new one, but rather an extension of an existing, decades-old military pact and, consequently, should not require separate scrutiny nor Congressional approval. The agreement gave the US the power to decide what operations will occur, provided blanket immunity to US troops, allowed access to bases beyond the seven named in the agreement's text, and deferred the most important questions about military operations to future "operational agreements."

The decision has been expected since mid July when Judge Jorge Ivan Palacio, who was delegated by the nation's Constitutional Court to study the constitutionality of the US-Colombia bases agreement, released his preliminary report stating that the controversial pact was unconstitutional and needed to be reviewed. The Colombian Constitutional Court assigns cases to a single judge who then issues a finding upon which the entire Court rules. 

In his report, Judge Palacio suggested that the Colombian Congress be given a period of twelve months to process a new bilateral agreement with the US military.

Within Colombia, the agreement is largely supported with the exception of granting of immunity to US military personnel. That's largely due to the case of Sgt. Michael Coen and US military contract employee César Ruiz, who stand accused of raping a 12 year old child in Melgar, Tolima on August 27, 2006. When charges were brought against the pair, US officials simply flew them out of the country.

Nor is the Coen and Ruiz case the sole irritant. Since 2007, over 70 formal complaints of sexual assault against American military personnel have been filed by Colombian women in Melgar alone. In 2004, home made pornographic videos starring Melgar teenagers with US soldiers and technicians from the nearby Tolemaida base were discovered for sale in local markets. In 2005, two US troops were detained by Colombian authorities for illegally trafficking weapons and ammunition in exchange for drugs with right wing paramilitary groups. The pair, Lieutenant Colonel Alan Norman Tanquary and Sergeant José Hernández, were released into US custody. They were deported and never tried.

Given that the Colombian Congress is dominated by the governing Partido de la U to which both Uribe and Santos belong, it is probable that an agreement of some sort will pass. However, the agreement is now open for debate and that debate will allow for a greater discussion of a failed war on drugs both in Colombia and here in the United States. And at the very least, it will afford the Colombian center-left the opportunity to strike down the immunity clauses that protect sexual predators and other criminals.

And just for the record, $32 billion dollars have been spent on fighting the drug trade at home and abroad this year alone. After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and claimed tens of thousands of lives. In México, since President Calderón took office three years ago 28,000 people have been killed in gun-related violence.

 

US Gains Five Bases in Colombia

The Colombian magazine Cambio is reporting tonight that Colombian President Álvaro Uribe agreed in principle this past Monday during his meeting with US President Barack Obama to allow the US military access to five Colombian military bases scattered across the country. The US will gain use of the three most strategic air bases of the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC), the Colombian Air Force, and two of the most important naval bases of the Armada Nacional, the Colombian Navy, including one on each coast. The US has been looking to replace the loss of the Manta Naval Air Station in Ecuador that it has used to run counter-narcotic operations across South America and Central America.

According to Cambio the US gains use of the Palanquero FAC base, the most important in the country, situated in the center of the country on the right flank of the Magdalena River between the departments of Cundinamarca and Caldas, the Alberto Pouwels FAC base in Malambo in the Colombian department of Atlántico just outside the city of Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast and the Capitán Luis Fernando Gómez Niño FAC base in Apiay in the Colombian department of Meta. This last base, located on the northern fringe of the Amazon Basin, places the US into the midst of Colombia's long-standing civil war. It is from Apiay that the Colombian armed forces coordinate the war against Bloque Oriental of the FARC, the most powerful group in the Marxist insurgency. The base in Palanquero has also long been a FARC strategic objective as it is the largest air base in the country and boasts the longest runway in Colombia. In terms of naval bases, the US is to gain use of ARC Bahía de Málaga on the Pacific Coast and the ARC Bolívar in the historic city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast.

There's more...

Perhaps Another Decade More in Iraq

If you have come to believe that Iraq is now firmly in the rear view mirror, General George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, seems to think otherwise. On Tuesday, General Casey suggested to an invite-only gathering of policy analysts and journalists at a Washington think tank that the United States is prepared to leave fighting forces in Iraq for as long as a decade. This is in spite of an agreement with Iraq that that would bring all American troops home by 2012. The story in the Los Angeles Times:

The Pentagon is prepared to leave fighting forces in Iraq for as long as a decade despite an agreement between the United States and Iraq that would bring all American troops home by 2012, the top U.S. Army officer said Tuesday.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, said the world remains dangerous, and the Pentagon must plan for extended U.S. combat and stability operations in two wars. "Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction," Casey said. "They fundamentally will change how the Army works."

He spoke at an invitation-only briefing to a dozen journalists and policy analysts from Washington-based think tanks. He said his planning envisions combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade as part of a U.S. commitment to fighting extremism in the Middle East.

Casey's calculations about force levels are related to his attempt to ease the brutal deployment calendar that he said would "bring the Army to its knees."

Casey said his comments were not meant to conflict with administration policies.

President Obama plans to bring U.S. combat forces home from Iraq in 2010, and the United States and Iraq have agreed that all American forces would leave by 2012. Several senior U.S. officials have suggested Iraq could request an extension, but the legal agreement that the two countries signed last year would have to be amended.

This Empire habit is hard to break. Perhaps some 12-step program might our assist our military leadership in learning to let go. Otherwise what's the point of holding elections if the military gets to overrule the wishes of voters?

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Cooperative Security Locations, Not Permanent Just Enduring

The US military has a number of terms that it uses to describe its various kinds of military installations. One of these terms is a Cooperative Security Location. According to Global Security, a Cooperative Security Location (CSL) is a host-nation facility with little or no permanent US presence. CSLs will require periodic service, contractor and/or host nation support. CSLs provide contingency access and are a focal point for security cooperation activities. They may contain propositioned equipment. CSLs are: rapidly scalable and located for tactical use, expandable to become a Forward Operating Site (FOS), forward and expeditionary.

The Department of Defense has released a FY 2010 Budget Request Summary Justification (pdf.) presentation outlining its proposed expenditures. Some are curious, a few are disconcerting.

The FY 2010 Base budget includes $46 million for a cooperative security location at Palanquero Air Base in Colombia.

This is news to Colombians. Though Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos broached the subject of stationing a base in Colombia back in February, that trial balloon did not float. Colombians remain opposed to any US military presence in the country.

Significant investment at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, a forward operating site for which responsibility has been moved from CENTCOM to AFRICOM.

It looks like AFRICOM, which remains homeless or perhaps better put awaiting a home in temporary quarters in Stuggart, Germany, is going to get rammed down hapless Djibouti.

The Department's objective is to develop a network of Forward Operating Sites (FOSs) and Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) to support current and future operations in the Gulf and Central Asia. The Department plans significant investments at the following enduring locations:

* Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and Al Mussanah Air Base, Oman,
both of which are Cooperative Security Locations, and
* Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, a Forward Operating Site

Enduring? Just what does the DoD mean by that?

These notions of a far-flung empire are killing this Republic. Never mind the cost. Military adventurism undermines democracy at home.

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