American military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan exceed 500,000 (Part 2 of 2)

Matthew Nasuti

A wounded U.S. soldier receives first aid inside a bunker in Bargematal,
Afghanistan, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009. (Photo: Oleg Popov / Reuters)

[Part 1] "American soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen face the worst of two worlds. First, they continue to be supplied with cheap and substandard equipment (which has become a Pentagon tradition), while military contractors and war profiteers linked to Administration officials become rich. Second, when they are injured, their courage and actions are not recognized. Their injuries are many times not treated or acknowledged, and they are abandoned by the country they risked everything to protect. It is a shameful spectacle."

In Afghanistan, the light at the end of the tunnel is an exploding Taliban IED. The Pentagon has been given nine years to win its war and it has failed to do so. Last week the American public was given a status report by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who told Time Magazine that he is “pretty confident” that in six months the U.S. military will have made “sufficient progress” in the war.

This vague and hardly inspiring characterization (in which the Secretary commits to nothing) sets the stage for December 2010, at which time the military will cherry-pick positive news, as it minimalizes the bad news. The resulting concoction will be trumpeted as “progress.”

In order to continue to prosecute its lackluster war efforts and to deflect criticism regarding the competence of the military’s general officer corps, the Pentagon long ago realized that casualty rates had to be kept low. As they did not remain low, the statistics were adjusted. The procedure is simple. The Pentagon does not count 95% of the injured soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen as casualties. “Fudging the numbers” was adopted as the solution. All that matters is that Congress continues to fund the Pentagon’s wars.

American Military Casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan Now Exceed 500,000 (Part 1 of 2)

Matthew Nasuti

The remains of an American soldier (The WE!)

[Part 2] Pentagon fudges the numbers to placate American public.

Since 2001, the Pentagon has sought to downplay overall U.S. military losses by artfully redefining what is a combat-related “casualty.” It has published and then changed the rules several times regarding the reporting of casualties. Currently the Pentagon uses DoD Instruction 1300.18 to arbitrarily separate out “wounded in action” from non-battle injuries. Wounded in action is narrowly defined to essentially be an injury directly caused by an adversary. So called “friendly fire” injuries and deaths would apparently not be counted. The emphasis is on acute injuries caused by enemy munitions which pierce or penetrate.

Under this scheme, chronic injuries and many acute internal injuries such as hearing impairment, back injuries, mild traumatic brain injuries, mental health problems and a host of diseases suffered by personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are usually not counted as being war-related regardless of how debilitating they are. They are either generally lumped into the category of “non-hostile wounded” or simply not counted at all.

Officially, the Pentagon admits that approximately 5,500 troops have been killed and only 38,000 wounded, amounting to 43,500 total casualties.

Pentagon Invents Taliban Atrocity in Khataba

Matthew Nasuti

U.S. Special Operations Command cover-ups turn Afghans against U.S. military and toward Taliban

It was early morning on February 12, 2010, in the village of Khataba near the city of Gardez in Paktiya Province, Afghanistan. A local family was celebrating the birth of a child. Suddenly, gunfire erupted from a nearby rooftop striking two men, two pregnant women, their unborn children and an 18-year old girl. The two men appear to have been killed instantly. The women were injured and reported bled to death because the gunmen would not allow them to be taken to a local hospital. Other family members were forced out of the home and detained. The gunman turned out to be American special operations troops.

Realizing that they had killed seven innocent people, the Americans immediately began to create what would become a series of false stories and fabricated incidents. They would destroy evidence of this potential war crime and ultimately attempt to blame the killings on the Taliban. The killings might well have been accidental, but the cover-up was premeditated, intentional and criminal. It causes one to wonder what other alleged Taliban and al-Qaeda “atrocities” have been manufactured by the Pentagon, and how many other Afghan civilians have been killed by the American military, with the Taliban being falsely blamed. The credibility of the American military is at stake in this case.

This article seeks to unravel the facts. It sets out some of the lies and fabrications, and attempts to identify some of those responsible. This incident may merit the United Nations Security Council appointing a special prosecutor as it did in the case of the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Harari.

American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 3 of 3)

Matthew Nasuti

American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 1 of 3)
American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 2 of 3)

The American military continues to operate burn pits in Afghanistan eighteen months after the U.S. Congress banned their use. See the February 1, 2010, article by Lindsay Wise and Lise Olsen of the Houston Chronicle. They used the burn pit at Camp Taji in Iraq as an example. It continues to open-burn 120 tons of waste each day. This provides a glimpse as to the volume of waste that is being illegally burned on American bases every day. Multiple that times hundreds of bases and posts in Afghanistan, and factor in that it has occurred every day for the past nine years and the scope of the problem becomes evident. The burn pits are only part of the problem. Other pollution results from spills, releases, illegal ash disposals and secret burials into unmarked landfills.

Last month the American military withdrew from its combat outposts in the Korengal Valley of Kunar Province and ceded the area to the Taliban. While the Western media reported on the American withdrawal, no one asked the question:

“Did the Americans remove all the hazardous waste that they spilled, released or disposed of in the Korengal Valley, and did they restore the locations to their original condition?”

The answer appears to be “No.” There is no evidence of any environmental investigation or soil sampling, let alone environmental cleanup and restoration at these outposts. All the hazardous waste generated by the American military appears to have simply been abandoned.

Similarly when the Americans withdrew in 2008, from Combat Outpost Wanat in Nuristan Province, there does not appear to have been a cleanup of the contamination at that location. The fear is that this is the Pentagon’s model for all American bases in Afghanistan. The underlying (and undisclosed) policy seems to be “cut and run.” Cutting out on their responsibilities and running away from the toxic consequences.

American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 2 of 3)

Matthew Nasuti

American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 1 of 3)
American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 3 of 3)

American Military Burn Pits Pollute Afghan Countryside

Pentagon officials seem to support the following epitaph for Afghanistan:

We had to pollute the Afghan countryside in order to save it from the Taliban."

In reality, the American military did not have to pollute. It chose to be sloppy and reckless and to ignore environmental standards.

On October 28, 2009, George W. Bush, in one of his last acts as President, signed into law H.R. 2647, which included provisions of “The Military Personnel War Zone Toxic Exposure Prevention Act.” The Act was sponsored by Congressman Tim Bishop of New York. It banned the use of burn pits in Afghanistan by the military. What is disturbing about H.R. 2647 is that an act of Congress was necessary to force the Pentagon to act responsibly and cease its use of toxic (open air) burning pits. It raises the question about how committed the Pentagon is to environmental protection and to the people of Afghanistan.

The impetus for this legislation was a courageous report written by Lieutenant Colonel Darrin L. Curtis, PhD BSC. Lt. Col. Curtis was a Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander at Balad Air Base in Iraq in 2006. He wrote a report on the environmental and health impacts of the Balad burn pits. His report, dated December 20, 2006, concluded that the burn pit was “the worst environmental site” he had seen in seventeen years of environmental work in the United States. He characterized the smoke released by the military as: “an acute health hazard” to everyone who has been deployed or will be deployed to Balad. He disclosed that the U.S. Army completed a study in April 2006, that supported his findings. It was generated by the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. Lt. Col. Curtis’ report was reviewed and endorsed by his equally courageous superior, Lieutenant Colonel James R. Elliott, MC, SPS, Chief Aeromedical Services. After that, the report went up the chain of command to more senior military officers much less courageous. They and the Pentagon ignored the report’s findings.

American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 1 of 3)

Matthew Nasuti

American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 2 of 3)
American military creating an environmental disaster in Afghan countryside (Part 3 of 3)

America plans to withdraw its troops but leave behind a toxic mess.

The American military presence in Afghanistan consists of fleets of aircraft, helicopters, armored vehicles, weapons, equipment, troops and facilities. Since 2001, they have generated millions of kilograms of hazardous, toxic and radioactive wastes. The Kabul Press asks the simple question:

“What have the Americans done with all that waste?”

The answer is chilling in that virtually all of it appears to have been buried, burned or secretly disposed of into the air, soil, groundwater and surface waters of Afghanistan. While the Americans may begin to withdraw next year, the toxic chemicals they leave behind will continue to pollute for centuries. Any abandoned radioactive waste may stain the Afghan countryside for thousands of years. Afghanistan has been described in the past as the graveyard of foreign armies. Today, Afghanistan has a different title: “Afghanistan is the toxic dumping ground for foreign armies.”

The Pentagon's Fantasy Numbers on Afghan Civilian Deaths

Marc W. Herold

A child killed in recent airstrikes, western Afghanistan

The American public is conditionally tolerant of [military] casualties and consistently indifferent to collateral damage. ~Dr. Karl P. Mueller, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Maxwell Air Force Base

"General McChrystal’s data provided an opportunity to reveal Pentagon lying (or incompetence) to all, but only the libertarians rose to the occasion. The mainstream U.S media, Obama cultists, and much of the U.S antiwar movement persist in blithely quoting UNAMA and consuming Pentagon and embedded “patriotic” U.S reporters’ characterizations of America’s War in Afghanistan."

The Politics of Counting Dead Afghan Civilians: Responses by the Libertarian Right and Obama Liberals to McChrystal’s Numbers.

The ever-so-faithful stenographer of Pentagon truths, USA Today, printed numbers put forth by General McChrystal on Afghan civilians who perished at the hands of NATO.[1] The article headlined “NATO Strikes Killing More Afghan Civilians,” noted that such deaths rose from 29 during the first three months of 2009, to 72 during 2010.

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