Oshkosh Corp. announced it would lay off 700 hourly positions starting in June and 60 salaried jobs by July in its defense segment.
Most of the salaried positions are temporary employees and people who are retiring. Following the cuts, Oshkosh Defense will have about 1,850 employees. The cuts reflect the reduction in defense spending by the U.S., which is returning to peacetime operations, said John Urias, executive vice president and president of Oshkosh Defense.
“We have gone to great lengths to minimize and delay the impact of the reduced spending on our Defense workforce,” Urias said. “We explored and implemented a range of alternatives from not filling open positions to bringing in outside contracted work as promised in earlier discussions with the UAW, which represents our production employees, as well as continuing to pursue relevant international opportunities.”
Originally Published: April 01, 2014 3:17 PM Modified: April 03, 2014 11:09 AM
Two defense ground vehicle manufacturers with a Michigan footprint have received production awards worth more than $120 million combined, to build several hundred new vehicles or vehicle components by late 2015.
Sterling Heights-based General Dynamics Land Systems reported today it has received a $74.7 million contract from the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. for “egress upgrade kits” to improve its fleet of Cougar infantry vehicles.
The company’s Force Protection subsidiary, created when GDLS acquired Ladson, S.C.-based Force Protection Inc. in 2011, will develop and produce 916 egress kits for the Cougar by September 2015 under that contract.
‘Not bug splats’: Artists use poster-child in Pakistan drone protest
Published time: April 07, 2014 13:29
Image from notabugsplat.com
A poster of a young child has appeared in north-west Pakistan to raise awareness of the numerous drone attacks the region suffered. Artists who created the image hope military commanders will think twice about shooting after seeing the portrait.
More than 200 children are believed to have died in the heavily-bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa according to the website notabugsplat.com. ‘Bug splat’ is the name given by the military to a person who has been killed by a drone. Viewing the body through a grainy computer image gives the impression that an insect has been crushed.
Now a giant portrait of a young child has been produced to try and raise awareness of civilian casualties in the region. The hope is now the drone operator will see a child’s face on his or her computer screen, rather than just a small white dot and may think twice before attacking indiscriminately.
The child featured in the poster is nameless, but according to the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, who helped to launch the project in collaboration with a number of artists, both parents were lost to a drone attack.
Drone raids in Pakistan started in 2004 under George W. Bush’s administration as part of the US War on Terror. The vast majority of strikes have focused on the Federally Administered Tribal Area’s and the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa area due to their proximity to Afghanistan, which the country invaded following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Vets, Docs Worry Fort Hood Shootings Will Deepen PTSD Stigma
By Bill Briggs
The word “PTSD” had barely left the mouth of Fort Hood’s commander late Wednesday when, across the nation, many veterans with those symptoms and doctors who treat the malady understood they faced a renewed battle: a resurgence of the stigma that comes with that diagnosis.
The Fort Hood tragedy –- 16 wounded and four killed, including identified shooter Ivan Lopez, a soldier being evaluated for PTSD –- is precisely the type of event that makes combat veterans cringe. Many worry they’ll be further mislabeled as dangerous time bombs, as the next to snap, and that post-traumatic stress will again be misrepresented and misunderstood as a condition that sparks public, violent outbursts.
“That is not what post-traumatic stress is or what it does,” said Ingrid Herrera-Yee, a clinical psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area who treats veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues as well as their family members and civilians. Her husband, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Ian Yee, spent three combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Yes, there is anger and irritability (associated with PTSD), but it’s usually internalized. You’re more likely to see it as someone who is withdrawn, anxious and numb, who’s lost interest in life. Some veterans explain it to me this way: ‘The last thing you want is to go out and lash out,” said Herrera-Yee, adding: “Just like any victims of a trauma –- rape or domestic violence -– they can become fearful of their surroundings, but they’re not going to react angrily toward their surroundings. For them, it’s all about avoidance.”
“You’re more likely to see it as someone who is withdrawn, anxious and numb, who’s lost interest in life. Some veterans explain it to me this way: ‘The last thing you want is to go out and lash out.’”
For years, Pentagon brass and branch commanders have urged troops and veterans to seek mental-health help if they feel the need, while repeating the message that, if they do see a doctor, they will not be viewed as weak but as strong. That campaign seems to have finally dented the macho-military mantra that every soldier can handle his or her own business. Many veterans are turning to doctors to begin addressing post-service anxiety issues, often fueled by repeated or long deployments.
In my last column I emphasized that it was important for American citizens to demand to know what the real agendas are behind the wars of choice by the Bush and Obama regimes. These are major long term wars each lasting two to three times as long as World War II.
Matthew J. Nasuti reports in the Kabul Press that it cost US taxpayers $50 million to kill one Taliban soldier. That means it cost $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban fighters. http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article32304 This is a war that can be won only at the cost of the total bankruptcy of the United States.
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated that the current out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars is at least $6 trillion.
In other words, it is the cost of these two wars that explain the explosion of the US public debt and the economic and political problems associated with this large debt.
What has America gained in return for $6 trillion and one million injured soldiers, many very severely?
In Iraq there is now an Islamist Shia regime allied with Iran in place of a secular Sunni regime that was an enemy of Iran, one as dictatorial as the other, presiding over war ruins, ongoing violence as high as during the attempted US occupation, and extraordinary birth defects from the toxic substances associated with the US invasion and occupation.
In Afghanistan there is an undefeated and apparently undefeatable Taliban and a revived drug trade that is flooding the Western world with drugs.
The icing on these Bush and Obama “successes” are demands from around the world that Americans and former British PM Tony Blair be held accountable for their war crimes. Certainly, Washington’s reputation has plummeted as a result of these two wars. No governments anywhere are any longer sufficiently gullible as to believe anything that Washington says.
These are huge costs for wars for which we have no explanation.
The Bush/Obama regimes have come up with various cover stories: a “war on terror,”
“we have to kill them over there before they come over here,” “weapons of mass destruction,” revenge for 9/11, Osama bin Laden (who died of his illnesses in December 2001 as was widely reported at the time).
Barack Obama formally ordered the Pentagon on Tuesday to make plans for a full pullout of American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, pointing to a way out of the conflict that is reminiscent of his end to the Iraq campaign.
While the Obama administration reiterated that it would prefer to maintain a residual military presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has refused to sign an accord that would pave the way for some US forces to remain. That has forced the administration to begin a contingency plan for a full departure after Nato formally ends hostilities in November.
A similar rebuke from the Iraqi government prompted all almost all US troops to leave there in 2011.
Obama told Karzai during a Tuesday morning phone call that while he would prefer Karzai or his successor to sign the so-called bilateral security agreement reached with the Afghans in November, “the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning,” according to a White House description of the call.
But defense secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that it was prudent “to ensure adequate plans are in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014”.
Hagel said that over the next several months, the US military will prepare “various options” for US and Nato leaders, including a full withdrawal of the approximately 37,000 US troops in Afghanistan, as well as the post-2014 missions of counter-terrorism and training for the Afghan security forces it has long desired.
The White House confirmed that Obama’s phone call to Karzai had been triggered in part by an urgent need to give clarity to Nato allies about any future US presence in Afghanistan.
“One of the reasons for the call is because Secretary Hagel will be participating in the Nato defence ministerial later this week and planning for post 2014 forces will be on the agenda,” said spokesman Jay Carney.
However, White House officials played down calls from Congress to cut off aid to Afghanistan if US troops are not allowed to stay, a major fear of politicians in Kabul.
“We have made clear that our commitment to Afghanistan – separate from the troop presence – is in our national security interests,” said Carney when asked about aid.
The White House rejected criticism that Obama had allowed a dangerous lack of communication with Karzai to develop. Prior to today’s call, the two leaders had barely spoken in months.
“It is preposterous to suggest [that Karzai’s refusal to sign the BSA] is because we have not made clear that it is to be signed,” said Carney.
The White House also warned that even if the security agreement was signed imminently, the size of the US commitment may now be in doubt
US president Barack Obama says he will withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, if the Afghan president continues to delay signing a post-war security deal.
The United States has about 33,600 troops in Afghanistan. It is withdrawing the force in line with Mr Obama’s vow to largely end a 12-year mission that began after the attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.
The original plan would see up to 8,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 for counter-terrorism operations.
Afghan leader Hamid Karzai has agreed to a deal but he refuses to sign a joint security agreement.
Now, Mr Obama has run out of patience, telling Mr Karzai that plans are being drawn up to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan.
If that occurs, US troops will not be there to train Afghan forces or lead operations against Al Qaeda.
However, the US also has the option to keep a small contingent in Afghanistan next year without Mr Karzai’s agreement.
Mr Karzai has already ignored the White House’s earlier demand that the deal be signed within weeks, not months.
Obama gives ultimatum to Karzai
Mr Obama told Mr Karzai in a phone call on Tuesday (US time) that he had ordered the Pentagon to plan an orderly exit of all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, the White House said.
The phone call was the first substantial discussion involving the two leaders since June.
“Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014,” the White House said in a statement.
US defence secretary Chuck Hagel will be taking the modified US position to a meeting of NATO defence ministers this week in Brussels.
Afghanistan has been blanketed in snow in recent days.
February 05, 2014
At least 19 people have been killed after heavy snow blanketed parts of Afghanistan and neighboring Central Asian states.
The deputy governor of Afghanistan’s northwestern province of Jowzjan, Abdul Rahman Mahmoudi, said on February 5 that heavy snow fell from January 31 to late on February 4 and it has been blamed for the deaths of 14 local residents, including five children.
In Tashkent, the capital of neighboring Uzbekistan, snow caused a plane to slip off a runway on February 5. No one was hurt in the incident.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he won’t agree to a security accord with the U.S. unless a peace process is begun in his country.
A bilateral security agreement, or BSA, which would enable some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, “can be signed if the U.S honestly starts a peace process,” Karzai said in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The U.S. and allied forces have said they’ll leave the war-torn nation by the end of 2014 if a BSA isn’t completed. A meeting of tribal elders in November backed such an agreement and urged Karzai to sign it before the end of 2013. The president instead called on the U.S. to start a peace process with the Taliban and ensure transparent elections this year.
Afghan president says U.S. should start talks with Taliban or leave
By Mirwais Harooni
KABULSat Jan 25, 2014 8:01am EST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a news conference in Kabul January 25, 2014.
Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail
(Reuters) – President Hamid Karzai appeared to stiffen his resolve on Saturday not to sign a security pact with Washington, saying the United States should leave Afghanistan unless it could restart peace talks with the Taliban.
“In exchange for this agreement, we want peace for the people of Afghanistan. Otherwise, it’s better for them to leave and our country will find its own way,” Karzai told a news conference.
The president said pressing ahead with talks with the Taliban, in power from 1996-2001, was critical to ensure that Afghanistan was not left with a weak central government.
“Starting peace talks is a condition because we want to be confident that after the signing of the security agreement, Afghanistan will not be divided into fiefdoms,” he said.
Most diplomats now agree that Karzai is unlikely to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would allow for some form of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, when most troops are due to leave.
Along with reviving peace talks with the Taliban, Karzai is also demanding an end to all U.S. military operations on Afghan homes and villages, including strikes by pilotless trones.
Video: The Army says the aerostats being deployed near D.C., will not be equipped with cameras like the ones in Afghanistan. The Post’s Craig Timberg, explains how aerostats work and how powerful their radar and camera sensors can be.
They will look like two giant white blimps floating high above I-95 in Maryland, perhaps en route to a football game somewhere along the bustling Eastern Seaboard. But their mission will have nothing to do with sports and everything to do with war.
The aerostats — that is the term for lighter-than-air craft that are tethered to the ground — are to be set aloft on Army-owned land about 45 miles northeast of Washington, near Aberdeen Proving Ground, for a three-year test slated to start in October. From a vantage of 10,000 feet, they will cast a vast radar net from Raleigh, N.C., to Boston and out to Lake Erie, with the goal of detecting cruise missiles or enemy aircraft so they could be intercepted before reaching the capital.
Surveillance aircraft floating high above Maryland
Aerostats deployed by the military at U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan typically carried powerful surveillance cameras as well, to track the movements of suspected insurgents and even U.S. soldiers. When Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales murdered 16 civilians in Kandahar in March 2012, an aerostat above his base captured video of him returning from the slaughter in the early-morning darkness with a rifle in his hand and a shawl over his shoulders.
Defense contractor Raytheon last year touted an exercise in which it outfitted the aerostats planned for deployment in suburban Baltimore with one of the company’s most powerful high-altitude surveillance systems, capable of spotting individual people and vehicles from a distance of many miles.
The Army said it has “no current plans” to mount such cameras or infrared sensors on the aerostats or to share information with federal, state or local law enforcement, but it declined to rule out either possibility. The radar system that is planned for the aerostats will be capable of monitoring the movement of trains, boats and cars, the Army said.
The prospect of military-grade tracking technology floating above suburban Baltimore — along one of the East Coast’s busiest travel corridors — has sparked privacy concerns at a time of rising worry about the growth of government eavesdropping in the dozen years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“That’s the kind of massive persistent surveillance we’ve always been concerned about with drones,” said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert for the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s part of this trend we’ve seen since 9/11, which is the turning inward of all of these surveillance technologies.”
The Army played down such concerns in written responses to questions posed by The Washington Post, saying its goal is to test the ability of the aerostats to bolster the region’s missile-defense capability, especially against low-flying cruise missiles that can be hard for ground-based systems to detect in time to intercept them.
The Army determined it did not need to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment, required for some government programs, because it was not going to collect any personally identifiable information, officials said in their written responses to The Post.
“The primary mission . . . is to track airborne objects,” the Army said. “Its secondary mission is to track surface moving objects such as vehicles or boats. The capability to track surface objects does not extend to individual people.”
Even the most powerful overhead surveillance systems, experts say, struggle to make out individual faces or other identifying features such as license plates because of the extreme angles when viewing an area from above.
But privacy advocates say location information can easily lead to the identification of individuals if collected on a mass scale and analyzed over time.
Researchers have found that people vary their movements little day to day, typically traveling from home to work and back while also regularly visiting a small number of other locations, such as stores, gyms or the homes of friends.
A member of a fact-finding mission said on Friday that 13 civilians, most of them women and children, were killed in the US airstrike in Parwan Province on Wednesday. Initial reports had put the death toll at 8.
In a press conference in Kabul, the Afghan official said most of the victims were women and children.
The fact-finding mission began work after President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation into the deadly attack.
A large number of civilians have been killed or injured at the hands of US-led foreign forces — most of them in nighttime raids and airstrikes. The casualty rate has risen over the past few months, even though the Afghan government had asked foreign forces to make every effort to avoid killing civilians.
An escalation in the US-led strikes on Afghanistan’s civilian areas has angered both the public and the government.
Afghans have held numerous protest rallies countrywide to condemn such attacks.
Afghan government officials — including President Karzai himself — have also frequently condemned the killings of civilians by foreign forces.
The latest development comes as the US and Afghanistan are still at loggerheads over a bilateral security deal. Washington has been mounting pressure on Kabul to sign the deal that would allow several thousands of US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
Afghan political figures have heaped scorn on the US-led forces for committing unforgivable crimes against Afghan women and children since invading the country in 2001.
Over the last 12 years more than two million Americans have been deployed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. But for thousands who return home with injuries, another battle is just beginning – this time, with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).
Upon enlistment service members are promised that, should a service-related injury occur, the US government will provide them with care and financial compensation. The VA is responsible for providing this care but have been unable to render these services in a timely manner. The average time a veteran waits to receive his or her benefits from the VA is one year. The growing backlog of veterans waiting for their compensation has severely tarnished the department’s public image.
In August 2010 President Obama stated it was the country’s “moral obligation” to provide veterans with timely compensation. Under VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the Obama administration promised that all claims would be processed within 125 days and with a 98 percent accuracy rating by the year 2015.
Since the President made that promise, the backlog grew and reached its peak in March of 2013 when the number of pending claims reached nearly 900,000 with 70 percent backlogged. This past August, the numbers dipped slightly: nearly 800,000 pending claims with 63 percent backlogged.
The VA points to the August numbers as a sign of improvement, but reports of processing errors reveal a poor quality of work. The VA makes a mistake in 30 percent or more of the claims that they process. When a mistake is made, the veteran must appeal. Once an appeal is filed, the average waiting time for the veteran is another four years.
About 4 minutes.
Produced by Amanda Winkler. Camera by Joshua Swain and Winkler. Narrated by Todd Krainin.
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