IAVA Daily Brief 2.14.11
Posted by Isabel Black on February 13
Here are some of today's top stories and happenings at IAVA. Prefer to receive real-time updates about major stories and legislation that IAVA is tracking? Follow us on Twitter @IAVAPressRoom or subscribe at www.IAVA.org/DailyNewsBrief.
By some estimates, well over 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with PTSD, depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those. As a result, psychiatric drugs have been used more widely across the military than in any previous war. But those medications, along with narcotic painkillers, are being increasingly linked to a rising tide of other problems, among them drug dependency, suicide and fatal accidents- sometimes from the interaction of the drugs themselves.
Max Boot argues in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that Iraq may be a victim of its own success. Because it seems to be doing relatively well, policymakers have shifted their attention to more urgent concerns. But, Boot says, there is danger that our present inattention could undo the progress that so many have struggled so hard to attain.
President Obama will send Congress on Monday a $3 trillion-plus budget for 2012 that promises $1.1 trillion in deficient reduction over the next decade by freezing many domestic programs for five years, trimming military spending and limiting tax deductions for the wealthy. According to administration documents, the budget would cut the Pentagon’s spending plans over the next decade by $78 billion with reductions in various weapons programs deemed unnecessary, including the C-17 aircraft, the alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Marine expeditionary vehicle.
Nine months after President Obama authorized a broad expansion of benefits for those caring for service members severely wounded in the nation's two current wars, none of the assistance has materialized and it is caught up in a bureaucratic tangle that could shrink the number of families eligible for the help. Obama made care for military veterans and their families a priority in his role as commander in chief, and in May he signed into law a measure that for the first time would give cash assistance, counseling and fill-in help known as "respite care" to people overseeing the convalescence of wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Department of Veterans Affairs has since missed the Jan. 31 deadline for fully implementing the program, leaving the families of wounded troops to wonder when the promised help will arrive.
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A stream of independent data and analysis suggests a wide gap between battlefield gains and the strategic progress needed to convince a skeptical President Obama, Congress and the public to stay with the war effort in Afghanistan for at least three more years.
The Army ‘severely reprimanded’ two of the three officers cited for negligence after a flawed mission in eastern Afghanistan resulted in five US deaths.
Iraq’s parliament approved eight new ministers on Sunday, but Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has yet to decide who will hold sensitive security posts in the cabinet such as defense and interior.
There seems to be little doubt that the tumult in Egypt is stirring a deep well of discontent not only among Arabs living under autocratic rule elsewhere, but also in Iraq, the one country in the region that can claim to have experienced democracy after dictatorship.
The Army Special Operations Command is looking for female soldiers to join “Female Engagement Teams” to help units in their dealings with female locals while operating in Afghan villages.
Sailors aboard the Navy’s 71 submarines are learning to live with a smoking ban, which began fleet-wide January 1 because of secondhand smoke concerns aboard the tightly packed vessels.
Congressional plans to slash US foreign assistance, including multibillion-dollar aid to Afghanistan, risk undermining the Obama administration’s big to leave behind a stable nation with it withdraws its troops.