Army


JERUSALEM — The Is­raeli mil­i­tary said ear­ly Sun­day morn­ing that an of­fi­cer thought to have been cap­tured by Pales­tin­ian mil­i­tants dur­ing a dead­ly clash Fri­day morn­ing, which shat­tered a planned 72-hour cease-fire, was now con­sid­ered to have been killed in bat­tle.

The an­nounce­ment came just hours af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu vowed to con­tin­ue Is­rael’s mil­i­tary cam­paign in the Gaza Strip as long as nec­es­sary to stop Hamas at­tacks, while sug­gest­ing a de-es­ca­la­tion of the ground war in Gaza may be near.

The case of the miss­ing sol­dier, Sec­ond Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, be­came the lat­est flash point in the con­flict, prompt­ing a fierce Is­raeli bom­bard­ment and calls from lead­ers around the world for his re­lease. His dis­ap­pear­ance came af­ter Hamas mil­i­tants am­bushed Is­raeli sol­diers near the south­ern bor­der town of Rafah, at the start of what was sup­posed to have been a pause in the fight­ing.

As the death toll mount­ed Sat­ur­day to more than 1,650 Pales­tini­ans, many of them women and chil­dren, and im­ages of homes, mosques and schools smashed in­to rub­ble filled the me­dia, Mr. Ne­tanyahu was un­der con­sid­er­able in­ter­na­tion­al pres­sure, from Wash­ing­ton and Eu­rope, to end the con­flict. The Unit­ed Na­tions warned of “an un­fold­ing health dis­as­ter” in Gaza with lit­tle elec­tric­i­ty, bad wa­ter and a lack of med­ical sup­plies.

At the same time, Mr. Ne­tanyahu was un­der po­lit­i­cal pres­sure at home to de­liv­er on his promis­es to crush.

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Hamas, par­tic­u­lar­ly with 64 Is­raeli sol­diers dead. He in­sist­ed Sat­ur­day that Hamas had been se­vere­ly hurt and he warned that it would pay “an in­tol­er­a­ble price” if it con­tin­ues to fire rock­ets at Is­rael.

His for­mer deputy de­fense min­is­ter, Dan­ny Danon,who was fired by Mr. Ne­tanyahu for pub­lic crit­i­cism of the gov­ern­ment, said in a state­ment Sat­ur­day that “the cab­i­net is grave­ly mis­tak­en in its de­ci­sion to with­draw forces from Gaza. This is a step in the wrong di­rec­tion.”

But Mr. Ne­tanyahu, in a na­tion­al­ly tele­vised speech with his de­fense min­is­ter be­side him, in­sist­ed that Is­rael was achiev­ing its goals and could al­ter its tac­tics. “We promised to re­turn the qui­et to Is­rael’s cit­i­zens, and we will con­tin­ue to act un­til that aim is achieved,” Mr. Ne­tanyahu said. “We will take as much time as nec­es­sary, and will ex­ert as much force as need­ed.”

Is­rael was not end­ing its op­er­a­tion uni­lat­er­al­ly, he said, adding: “We will de­ploy in the places most con­ve­nient to us to re­duce fric­tion on I.D.F. sol­diers, be­cause we care about them.” There were Is­raeli tele­vi­sion re­ports on Sat­ur­day that some Is­rael De­fense Forces troops were pulling out of Gaza, and Is­rael in­formed Pales­tini­ans in Beit Lahiya and al-Ata­tra, in north­ern Gaza, that it was now safe to re­turn to their homes. Is­raeli of­fi­cials have said that the army’s ef­fort to de­stroy the elab­o­rate tun­nel sys­tem from Gaza in­to Is­rael would be fin­ished in the next day or two.

Is­raeli of­fi­cials sug­gest­ed that the army would leave built-up ar­eas and some forces would re­de­ploy in­side Gaza, clos­er to the bor­der fence, to re­spond to at­tacks if nec­es­sary. Oth­er units will re­turn to south­ern Is­rael.

Hamas, for its part, vowed to con­tin­ue fight­ing. Sa­mi Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, told the news agency Maan that “a uni­lat­er­al with­draw­al or re­de­ploy­ment by Is­rael in the Strip will be an­swered by a fit­ting re­sponse by the Hamas mil­i­tary arm.” He said that “the forces of oc­cu­pa­tion must choose be­tween re­main­ing in Gaza and pay­ing the price or re­treat­ing and pay­ing the price or hold­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions and pay­ing the price.”

Mr. Ne­tanyahu thanked the Unit­ed States, which along with the Unit­ed Na­tions ap­peared to sup­port Is­rael’s po­si­tion that Hamas’s ac­tions vi­o­lat­ed the cease-fire, and he asked for in­ter­na­tion­al help to re­build Gaza on the con­di­tion of its “de­mil­i­ta­riza­tion.” Is­rael ap­pears to be hop­ing that with the sup­port of Egypt and the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty, Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas of the Pales­tin­ian Au­thor­i­ty can con­trol Gaza through a uni­ty gov­ern­ment agreed up­on with Hamas and take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for se­cu­ri­ty there and for the Rafah cross­ing to Egypt.

Mr. Ne­tanyahu re­peat­ed that his goal was to re­store “peace and calm” to Is­rael and that he in­tend­ed to do so by what­ev­er means — diplo­mat­i­cal­ly or mil­i­tar­i­ly. “All op­tions are on the ta­ble,” he said. But he in­di­cat­ed that Is­rael would not get caught up again in talk about a ne­go­ti­at­ed cease-fire with Hamas and Is­lam­ic Ji­had and would act in its own in­ter­ests, while seek­ing sup­port from Mr. Ab­bas and the in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty for what Mr. Ne­tanyahu de­scribed vague­ly as “a new re­al­i­ty” in Gaza.

Is­rael has de­cid­ed not to send a del­e­ga­tion to cease-fire talks host­ed by Egypt, at least not now, Is­raeli of­fi­cials said. In Wash­ing­ton, Jen Psa­ki, a State De­part­ment

spokes­woman, said: “In the end, this par­tic­u­lar­ly bloody chap­ter will ul­ti­mate­ly re­quire a durable so­lu­tion so that all the fun­da­men­tal is­sues, in­clud­ing Is­rael’s se­cu­ri­ty, can be ne­go­ti­at­ed, and we will keep work­ing with Is­rael and oth­er part­ners to achieve that goal.” She said that Is­rael had a right to de­fend it­self.

Hours be­fore the mil­i­tary an­nounced that Lieu­tenant Goldin had died, his par­ents called on the prime min­is­ter and the army not to leave their son be­hind.

The cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his death re­mained cloudy. A mil­i­tary spokes­woman de­clined to say whether Lieu­tenant Goldin had been killed along with two com­rades by a sui­cide bomb one of the mil­i­tants ex­plod­ed, or lat­er by Is­rael’s as­sault on the area to hunt for him; she al­so re­fused to an­swer whether his re­mains had been re­cov­ered.

As word spread on Sat­ur­day that Is­rael’s lead­ers were con­sid­er­ing pulling all ground forces from Gaza, Lieu­tenant Goldin’s fam­i­ly spoke to jour­nal­ists out­side their home in Kfar Sa­ba, a Tel Aviv sub­urb. “I de­mand that the state of Is­rael not leave Gaza un­til they bring my son back home,” said his moth­er, Hed­va. His sis­ter, Ayelet, 35, added, “If a cap­tive sol­dier is left in Gaza, it’s a de­feat.”

The fam­i­ly said they were con­vinced that Lieu­tenant Goldin was alive.

“I hope and be­lieve in hu­man kind­ness, that the world will do any­thing to bring Hadar with a smile back home,” his broth­er Che­mi, 32, said in an in­ter­view.

When his moth­er called him on Fri­day, Che­mi said, he

knew some­thing ter­ri­ble had hap­pened, but did not know whether it in­volved Lieu­tenant Goldin or his twin, Tzur, who was al­so fight­ing in Gaza. Che­mi said the twins, who at­tend­ed kinder­garten in Cam­bridge, Eng­land, did not talk much about their mil­i­tary ser­vice. In Gaza, the armed wing of Hamas said ear­ly Sat­ur­day that it was not hold­ing the Is­raeli of­fi­cer. The Qas­sam Brigades sug­gest­ed in a state­ment that the of­fi­cer might have been killed along with his cap­tors in an Is­raeli as­sault that fol­lowed a sui­cide-bomb at­tack by Pales­tin­ian mil­i­tants, who emerged from a tun­nel that Is­raeli troops were try­ing to de­stroy near Rafah.

“Un­til now, we have no idea about the dis­ap­pear­ance of the Is­raeli sol­dier,” the state­ment said. Say­ing the lead­er­ship had lost touch with its “troops de­ployed in the am­bush,” the state­ment added, “Our ac­count is that the sol­dier could have been kid­napped and killed to­geth­er with our fight­ers.”

The Is­raeli Army con­tin­ued to pound Rafah in its search for Lieu­tenant Goldin, strik­ing more than 200 tar­gets across Gaza in the 24 hours since the Rafah con­fronta­tion, in­clud­ing what it de­scribed as a “re­search and de­vel­op­ment” lab for weapons man­u­fac­tur­ing at the Is­lam­ic Uni­ver­si­ty, run by Hamas. Five mosques that the mil­i­tary said con­cealed weapons or Hamas out­posts were al­so hit, the Is­raelis said.

Around noon, a bar­rage of rock­ets flew in­to south­ern Is­rael.

The Gaza-based health min­istry, which had re­port­ed 70 peo­ple killed in Rafah on Fri­day, said the ca­su­al­ties had con­tin­ued there overnight, in­clud­ing sev­en mem­bers of one fam­i­ly who died when their home was bombed.

 

Steven Erlanger reported from Jerusalem, and Jodi Rudoren from Kfar Saba, Israel. Fares Akram contributed reporting from Gaza City, and Michael R. Gordon from Washington.

This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT)

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A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.

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Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.

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The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.

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It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’

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At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.

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Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.

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The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

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The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.

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Source: (July 21, 2014)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699772/This-desperate-little-boy-face-tragedy-Palestinian-toddler-clutches-shirt-hospital-worker-screaming-I-want-father-bring-father.html?ito=social-facebook

 Iran struck a historic deal Sunday with the United States and five other world powers, agreeing to a temporary freeze of its nuclear program in the most significant agreement between Washington and Tehran in more than three decades of estrangement.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani endorsed the agreement, which commits Iran to curb its nuclear activities for six months in exchange for limited and gradual sanctions relief, including access to $4.2 billion from oil sales. The six-month period will give diplomats time to negotiate a more sweeping agreement.

It builds on the momentum of the public dialogue opened during September’s annual U.N. gathering, which included a 15-minute phone conversation between President Barack Obama and moderate-leaning Rouhani, who was elected in June.

The package includes freezing Iran’s ability to enrich uranium at a maximum 5 percent level, which is well below the threshold for weapons-grade material and is aimed at easing Western concerns that Tehran could one day seek nuclear arms.

Obama hailed the pact’s provisions, which include curbs on Iran’s enrichment and other projects that could be used to make nuclear arms, as key to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear threat.

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“Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,” he told reporters in Washington.

For Iran, keeping the enrichment program active was a critical goal. Iran’s leaders view the country’s ability to make nuclear fuel as a source of national pride and an essential part of its insistence at nuclear self-sufficiency.

Giving up too much on the enrichment program would have likely brought a storm of protest by Iranian hard-liners, who were already uneasy over the marathon nuclear talks and Rouhani’s outreach to Washington.

In a nationally broadcast speech, Rouhani said the accord recognizes Iran’s “nuclear rights” even if that precise language was kept from the final document because of Western resistance.

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“No matter what interpretations are given, Iran’s right to enrichment has been recognized,” said Rouhani, who later posed with family members of nuclear scientists killed in slayings in recent years that Iran has blamed on Israel and allies.

Saying “trust is a two-way street,” Rouhani insisted that talks on a comprehensive agreement should start immediately.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who led his country’s delegation, called on both sides to see the agreement as an “opportunity to end an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons.”

But initial reaction in Israel was strongly negative. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the deal, a “historic mistake.”

Speaking to his Cabinet, Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel is not bound by the deal and reserves the right to defend itself. That is a reference to possible military action against Iran.

Netanyahu has said the international community is giving up too much to Iran, which it believes will retain the ability to produce a nuclear weapon and threaten Israel.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who joined the final negotiations along with the foreign ministers of Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, said the pact will make U.S. allies in the Middle East, including Israel, safer reducing the threat of war.

“Agreement in Geneva,” he tweeted. “First step makes world safer. More work now.”

The deal marks a milestone between the two countries, which broke diplomatic ties 34 years ago when Iran’s Islamic revolution climaxed in the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Since then, relations between the two countries had been frigid to hostile.

Although the deal lowered tensions between the two countries, friction points remain — notably Iran’s support of the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. The United States also has said Iran supports terrorism throughout the region and commits widespread human rights violations.

The Geneva negotiations followed secret face-to-face talks between the U.S. and Iran over the past year, The Associated Press has learned. The discussions, held in the Persian Gulf nation of Oman and elsewhere, were kept hidden even from America’s closest allies, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago.

A White House statement said the deal limits Iran’s existing stockpiles of enriched uranium, which can be turned into the fissile core of nuclear arms.

The statement also said the accord curbs the number and capabilities of the centrifuges used to enrich and limits Iran ability to “produce weapons-grade plutonium” from a reactor in the advanced stages of construction.

The statement also said Iran’s nuclear program will be subject to “increased transparency and intrusive monitoring.”

“Taken together, these first step measures will help prevent Iran from using the cover of negotiations to continue advancing its nuclear program as we seek to negotiate a long-term, comprehensive solution that addresses all of the international community’s concerns,” said the statement.

Since it was revealed in 2003, Iran’s enrichment program has grown from a few dozen enriching centrifuges to more than 18,000 installed and more than 10,000 operating. The machines have produced tons of low-enriched uranium, which can be turned into weapons grade material.

Iran also has stockpiled almost 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of higher-enriched uranium in a form that can be converted more quickly to fissile warhead material than the low-enriched uranium. Its supply is nearly enough for one bomb.

In return for Iran’s nuclear curbs, the White House statement promised “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible (sanctions) relief” to Iran, noting that “the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place.” And it said any limited sanctions relief will be revoked and new penalties enacted if Iran fails to meet its commitments.

Kerry said the relief offered would give Iran access to $4.2 billion from oil sales. Approximately $1.5 billion more would come from imports of gold and other precious metals, petrochemical exports and Iran’s auto sector, as well as easier access to “humanitarian transactions.”

“The core sanctions architecture … remains firmly in place through these six months, including with respect to oil and financial services,” Kerry said. He said those sanctions will result in more than $25 billion in lost oil revenues over six months.

Those conditions are being highlighted by the U.S. administration in its efforts to demonstrate that Iran is still in pain. The administration has urged Congress to hold off on any new sanctions and give the accord a chance to prove its worth.

But one influential member of Congress was quick to criticize the deal.

Rep. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed “serious concerns,” saying the United States was “relieving Iran of the sanctions pressure built up over years,” while allowing Tehran to “keep the key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capacity.”

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Obama hailed the deal as putting “substantial limitations” on a nuclear program that the United States and its allies fear could be turned to nuclear weapons use.

“While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” Obama said. “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.”

Iran’s currency, the rial, got a small boost after news of the deal, strengthening to about 29,000 rials against the U.S. dollar, compared with about 29,950 in recent days.

 

By  John Heilprin and Jamey Keaten. Geneva/ AP, Nov.24, 2013

Associated Press writers George Jahn and Deb Riechmann in Geneva, Julie Pace in Washington, Robert H. Reid in Berlin and Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report. 

 European Union embassies in the North Korea will remain open for business, despite a proposal from Pyongyang for them to evacuate staff over mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the UK’s Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Diplomats Staying Put, EU Tells North Korea

“The EU does not share the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) views on the current situation and does not recognize the nature of threat as described,” the EU statement read.

North Korea proposed on Tuesday that foreign embassies evacuate, saying it could not guarantee their safety after April 10.

There have been no evacuations, however.

The North Korean proposal came shortly after the isolated north-east Asian country threatened to launch nuclear attacks on both the US mainland and American military bases in the region.

South Korea’s foreign minister said on Wednesday Pyongyang could carry out a test firing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile at any time.

 

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The North Korean threats came as US and South Korean forces carried out annual joint military exercises, some of them near the maritime border between the two Koreas. The United States responded by deploying F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and B-2 and B-52 bombers to the region.

Analysts say North Korea is unlikely to launch a full-scale attack on either US forces or South Korea, but concerns persist that rising tensions could spark hostilities.

 © RIA Novosti ,Moscow, April 10, 2013)

What war on the Korean Peninsula would look like.

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The Korean Peninsula is on a knife’s edge, one fateful step from war. While Koreans are accustomed to periodic spikes in tensions, the risk of renewed hostilities appears higher than at any time in the past 60 years, when American, North Korean, and Chinese generals signed an armistice agreement. Far more than 1 million people died in the Korean War, with at least that many troops and civilians injured over the course of the three-year campaign.

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The exact leadership dynamics at play in Pyongyang remain mysterious, but the domestic survival of the Kim family dynasty appears to hinge on maintaining a credible nuclear and missile threat — backed up by a local great power, China. To achieve the former, Kim Jong Un appears willing to risk the latter. His regime’s unrelenting verbal threats are intended to rally domestic support, and its reckless brinksmanship is aimed at forcing the outside world to back down and back off. In the past days and weeks — adding to the tension created by its recent nuclear and missile tests — Pyongyang has severed a hotline with Seoul, renounced the 1953 armistice, conducted cyberattacks, and, against its own financial interests, closed down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is the only economic thread holding together relations with the South.

There is no single red line that, when crossed, would trigger war, but the potential for miscalculation and escalation is high. North Korea has a penchant for causing international incidents — in 2010 alone it used a mini-submarine to sink the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan and shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island. The brazen and unprovoked killing of military personnel and civilians shocked many South Koreans, some of whom faulted then-President Lee Myung Bak for a tepid response. The new president, Park Geun Hye (South Korea’s “Iron Lady”) is determined not to echo that weakness and has vowed a strong response to any direct provocation. Meanwhile, the United States, via the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises, has many troops, ships, and planes on maneuvers in the region and, as an additional show of resolve, flew long-range B-2 stealth bombers from Missouri to Korea and dispatched F-22 fighter jets as well.

The desire to show strength, the fear of looking weak, and the presence of tons of hardware provides more than enough tinder that a spark could start a peninsula-wide conflagration. An accident — such as a straying missile, an incident at sea or in the air, a shooting near the Northern Limit Line or the Demilitarized Zone — could trigger an action-reaction cycle that could spiral out of control if Pyongyang, running out of threats or low-level provocations, were to gamble on a more daring move. It might calculate that a bold gesture would sow doubt and dissent in South Korea, drive a risk-averse United States to back down and restrain its eager ally, and hand China a fait accompli in which Beijing has no alternative to protecting its upstart neighbor. It might be very wrong.

Let’s say that the North decides to fire its new mobile KN-08 intermediate-range ballistic missile, capable of reaching U.S. bases in Guam. An X-band radar based in Japan detects the launch, cueing missile defenses aboard Japanese and U.S. ships. The U.S.S. Stetham, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer equipped with Aegis phased-array radars, fires its SM-3 missiles, which hit and shatter the KN-08 warhead as it begins its final descent. The successful intercept is immediately touted internationally as a victory, but, now desperate for tactical advantage that will allow it to preserve its nuclear and missile programs, the North Korean leadership orders an assault on South Korean patrol vessels and military fortifications built after the 2010 shelling incident.

The regime feels safe in striking out along the maritime boundary because the two sides have repeatedly skirmished in the area in the past 15 years. But President Park, determined to show backbone, dispatches on-alert F-15K fighter aircraft armed with AGM-84E SLAM-Expanded Response air-to-ground missiles to destroy the North Korean installations responsible for the latest assault. For good measure, they also bomb a North Korean mini-submarine pier as belated payback for the sinking of Cheonan. North Korean soldiers and military officers are killed in the attack. Pyongyang vows a merciless response and launches a risky salvo of rockets into downtown Seoul, in hope of shocking the Blue House into seeking an immediate cessation of fighting. But far from ending the tit-for-tat attacks, North Korean actions have now triggered the Second Korean War.

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U.S. and ROK Combined Forces Command implements a pre-arranged plan — perhaps using submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs dropped from a B-2 — to eliminate North Korea’s two major missile launch facilities: Tonghae in the northeast and Sohae in the northwest, both of which are fairly close to the Chinese border. North Korea responds with more rockets and Scud missiles, accompanied by North Korean Central News announcements suggesting that they could be armed with biological agents. China, seeking to restrain all sides, pours troops and materiel across the border to protect its interests and instigates a secret plan to replace Kim Jong Un with a senior general who understands the North’s total dependence on its only ally. The resulting confusion leads to a belief that North Korea, and not just the Kim regime, is collapsing. Meanwhile, the United States quietly embarks on a secret mission to secure North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

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Even now, however, the Second Korean War has only just begun because, as conflict breaks out, all participants expand their strategic goals. South Korea — which initially had hoped only to force North Korea to calm down enough to re-enter negotiations on nuclear weapons, expanded inter-Korean economic ties, and human rights — now believes North Korea is going to collapse and starts to implement an assertive reunification policy. The U.S. policy of deterrence and strategic patience has failed, so Washington decides to pursue active denuclearization and regime change. It joins with Seoul in planning postwar reconstruction in which the peninsula is reunified.

China, which was slow to curb its ally’s proliferation and never had a good handle on Kim Jong Un, seeks to ensure that the new leader of North Korea can restore stability. China also wants a new leader in Pyongyang to adopt a pro-China policy — one which includes continued preferential access to North Korean mineral deposits for its state-owned enterprises. Russia supports China, and it is promised unfettered access to the warm-water port in the Rason Special Economic Zone in northeastern North Korea.

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It is easier to start a war than to stop one, but in the best case the Second Korean War might end with an international conference — perhaps in Jakarta under the auspices of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations — in which the United States and South Korea come to a modus vivendi with China and a greatly weakened North Korea over the country’s future, addressing succession and confederation with the South,  as well as the verified destrcution of nuclear weapons. In the worst case…well, an awful lot more people would die.

The Korean War began in June 1950 as a result of a conscious policy choice on the part of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. With the Chinese civil war successfully concluded and authoritarianism on the rise, Kim concluded the time was ripe to deliver a knock-out blow and bring a long Korean civil war to a similar conclusion. He spent 10 days amassing 900,000 soldiers near the 38th Parallel, and in the pre-dawn hours on June 25, he ordered the invasion of the South. Hiding in plain sight, the troops nonetheless surprised the Republic of Korea Army, because the presumption was that Kim would never launch a full-scale war that could embroil a war-weary region in another major conflagration.

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The presumption, as we know now, was dead wrong. The United States mobilized a formidable international coalition under U.N. auspices and, together with the ROK Army, regrouped and launched their own counteroffensive. American leadership, too, was susceptible to overtly optimistic appraisals. By October, General Douglas MacArthur was so confident of rapid victory that he assured President Harry S Truman that the war would be over by Christmas. But the ferocity of inter-Korean tensions, mixed with Cold War superpower aims, assured the war slogged on until 1953.

The war’s renewal would be more likely to result from miscalculation than from deliberate choice. Kim Jong Un may not want war, but amid heightened tensions there are many ways one could start — and it could well be that it is the United States that miscalculates. There is no sound empirical method for identifying the particular catalyst that would trigger war, but should war begin again in earnest, its intensity and its duration could prove a nasty surprise, as it did the first time. And the consequences could affect Northeast Asia for the rest of the century.

 

BY PATRICK M. CRONIN | APRIL 3, 2013

South Korea will strike back if the North stages any attack on its territory, the new president warned on Monday, as tensions ratcheted higher on the Korean peninsula amid shrill rhetoric from Pyongyang and the U.S. deployment of radar-evading fighters.

South Korean soldiers take part in a military exercise, near the demilitarized zone in Paju

 

North Korea says the region is the brink of a nuclear war in the wake ofUnited Nations sanctions imposed for its February nuclear test and a series of joint U.S. and South Korean military drills that have included a rare U.S. show of aerial power.

North Korea said on Saturday it was entering a “state of war” with South Korea in response to what it termed the “hostile” military drills being staged in the South.
A South Korean soldier patrols as trucks leave the South's CIQ office in Paju, to go to Kaesong in the North

But there have been no signs of unusual activity in the North’s military to suggest an imminent aggression, a South Korean defense ministry official said last week.

“If there is any provocation against South Korea and its people, there should be a strong response in initial combat without any political considerations,” President Park Geun-hye told the minister of defense and senior officials at a meeting on Monday.

The South has changed its rules of engagement to allow local units to respond immediately to attacks, rather than waiting for permission from Seoul.

Stung by criticism that its response to the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010 was too slow, Seoul has threatened to target North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and to destroy statues of the ruling Kim dynasty in the event of any new attack, a plan that has outraged Pyongyang.

Seoul and its ally the United States played down Saturday’s statement from the official KCNA news agency as the latest in a stream of tough talk from Pyongyang.

North Korea stepped up its rhetoric in early March, when U.S. and South Korean forces began annual military drills that involved the flights of U.S. B-2 stealth bombers in a practice run, prompting the North to puts its missile units on standby to fire at U.S. military bases in the South and in the Pacific.

The United States also deployed F-22 stealth fighter jets on Sunday to take part in the drills. The F-22s were deployed in South Korea before, in 2010.

On its part, North Korea has canceled an armistice agreement with the United States that ended the Korean War and cut all hotlines with U.S. forces, the United Nations and South Korea.

CALLS FOR RESTRAINT

White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said North Korea’s announcement that it was in a state of war followed a “familiar pattern” of rhetoric.

Russia, which has often balanced criticism of North Korea, a Soviet-era client state, with calls on the United States and South Korea to refrain from belligerent actions, said a recurrence of war was unacceptable.

“We hope that all parties will exercise maximum responsibility and restraint and no one will cross the point of no return,” Grigory Logvinov, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official, told Interfax news agency.

France said it was deeply worried about the situation on the Korean peninsula while NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said the alliance hoped “that this is more posturing than a prelude to any armed hostilities.”

Even the new pope has joined in the calls for peace.

China has repeatedly called for restraint on the peninsula.

However, many in South Korea have regarded the North’s willingness to keep open the Kaesong industrial zone, located just a few miles (km) north of the heavily-militarized border and operated jointly by both sides, as a sign that Pyongyang will not risk losing a lucrative source of foreign currency by mounting a real act of aggression.

The Kaesong zone is a vital source of hard currency for the North and hundreds of South Korean workers and vehicles enter daily after crossing the armed border.

South Korean soldiers keep watch on the north at the "Truce Village" of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone in Paju

It was still open on Monday despite threats by Pyongyang to shut it down.

“If the puppet traitor group continues to mention the Kaesong industrial zone is being kept operating and damages our dignity, it will be mercilessly shut off and shut down,” KCNA quoted an agency that operates Kaesong as saying in a statement.

Closure could also trap hundreds of South Korean workers and managers of the more than 100 firms that have factories there.

The North has previously suspended operations at the factory zone at the height of political tensions with the South, only to let it resume operations later.

 

* Reuters (april 1, 2013)

(Additional reporting by Paul Eckert in WASHINGTON; Editing by David Chance and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher.

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Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday.

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“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,”the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.”

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Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts.

“Historically, the bill for these costs has come due many decades later,” the report says, noting that the peak disbursement of disability payments for America’s warriors in the last century came decades after the conflicts ended. “Payments to Vietnam and first Gulf War veterans are still climbing.”

U.S. Marines carry injured colleague to a helicopter near Falluja.

Spending borrowed money to pay for the wars has also made them more expensive, the study noted. The conflicts have added $2 trillion to America’s debt, representing roughly 20 percent of the debt incurred between 2001 and 2012.

Bilmes’s estimate provides a higher range than another authoritative study on the same issue by Brown University’s Eisenhower Research Project. Brown researchers put the price tag at roughly $4 trillion.

Both figures are dramatically higher than what U.S. officials projected they would spend when they were planning to go to war in Iraq. Stephen Friedman, a senior White House official, left government in 2002 after irking his colleagues by publicly estimating that the Iraq war could end up costing up to $200 billion.

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It’s unclear how long Washington will keep paying bills for that conflict, which dragged on for nearly a decade and became deeply unpopular at home and in Iraq. Judging from history, it could take quite awhile. The Associated Press recently found that the federal government is still cutting checks each month to relatives of Civil War veterans nearly 150 years after the end of that war.

 

By Ernesto Londoño, March 28, 2013

The Pentagon halted the use of mortar shells pending an investigation after a shell exploded during training in Nevada, killing eight Marines and injuring seven.

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HAWTHORNE, Nevada — A mortar shell explosion killed eight U.S. Marines and injured seven more during mountain warfare training in the Nevada desert, prompting the Defense Department to halt the use of the weapons worldwide until an investigation can determine their safety, officials said Tuesday.

The explosion occurred Monday night at the Hawthorne Army Depot, a facility used by troops heading overseas. The rescue of the wounded Marines was complicated by the remoteness of the site, which is favored because the harsh geography simulates conditions in Afghanistan.

The mortar round exploded in its firing tube during the exercise, said Brigadier General Jim Lukeman at a news conference in North Carolina, where the Marines are based. He said investigators are trying to determine the cause of the malfunction.

The Pentagon expanded a temporary ban to prohibit the military from firing any 60mm mortar rounds until the results of the investigation. The Pentagon earlier had suspended use of all high-explosive and illumination mortar rounds that were in the same manufacturing lots as ones fired in Nevada

8 Marines killed in Nevada…

8 Marines killed in Nevada training exercise

It was not immediately clear whether more than a single round exploded, a Marine Corps official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation.

The Marine Corps said early Tuesday that seven Marines were killed. Eight men under the age of 30 were taken to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno. One of them died, four were in serious condition, two were in fair condition and another was discharged, said spokesman Mark Earnest.

John Stroud, national junior vice commander in chief for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, began a memorial event in Hawthorne on Tuesday night by saying “one of the critical has passed,” bringing the death toll to eight. Mourners then laid eight floral arrangements at a park where a flag flew at half-staff within sight of the Hawthorne depot’s boundary.

Stroud said he spoke with Marine officers from Camp Lejune who gave him the news before the ceremony. Messages left for a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force were not immediately returned.

The force did issue a statement Tuesday evening saying an additional Marine has been reported as injured.

The identities of those killed won’t be released until 24 hours after their families are notified.

“We send our prayers and condolences to the families of Marines involved in this tragic incident,” said the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force commander, Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox. “We mourn their loss, and it is with heavy hearts we remember their courage and sacrifice.”

The 60mm mortar traditionally requires three to four Marines to operate, but it’s common during training for others to observe nearby. The firing tube a shell some 14 inches (355 millimeters) in length.

The mortar has changed little since World War II and remains one of the simplest weapons to operate, which is why it is found at the lowest level of infantry units, said Joseph Trevithick, a mortar expert with Global Security.org.

Still, a number of things could go wrong, including a fuse malfunctioning, a problem with the barrel’s assembly or a round prematurely detonating inside the tube, Trevithick said.

The Marine Corps official said an explosion at the point of firing in a training exercise could kill or maim anyone inside or nearby the protective mortar pit and could concussively detonate any mortars stored nearby in a phenomenon known as “sympathetic detonation.”

The official said a worldwide moratorium after such an accident is not unusual and would persist until the investigation determines that the weapon did not malfunction in ways that would hurt other Marines or that mortars manufactured at the same time as the one involved in the accident were safe.

The moratorium could last for weeks or months.

The Hawthorne Army Depot stores and disposes of ammunition. It has held an important place in American military history since WWII, when it became the staging area for ammunition, bombs and rockets for the war.

Retired Nevada state archivist Guy Rocha said he was unaware of any other catastrophic event at the depot over the years it served as a munitions repository.

Associated Press writers Pauline Jelinek, Michelle Rindels and Ken Ritter contributed to this report.

The Pentagon announced Friday it will spend $1 billion to add 14 interceptors to a West Coast-based missile defense system, responding to what it called faster-than-anticipated North Korean progress on nuclear weapons and missiles.

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Threats will only “further isolate” North Korea, Carney says

Citing a “series of irresponsible and reckless provocations” by Pyongyang, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he is determined to ensure protection of the U.S. homeland and stay ahead of the North Korean missile threat.

“We will strengthen our homeland defense, maintain our commitment to our allies and partners, and make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression,” Hagel told a Pentagon news conference.

The Pentagon intends to add the 14 interceptors to 26 already in place at Fort Greely, Alaska. That will expand the system’s ability to shoot down long-range missiles in flight before they could reach U.S. territory. In addition to those at Greely, the U.S. also has four missile interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Friday, March 15, 2013. / AP Photo/Cliff Owen

James Miller, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said the project would cost about $1 billion. CBS News correspondent David Martin reported that how much added security that will buy is subject to debate, since the interceptors have an uneven test record.

“The reason we’re advancing our program here for homeland security is to not take any chances, is to stay ahead of the threat and to assure any contingency,” Hagel said.

The Pentagon announced on March 15, 2013 it will spend $1 billion to add 14 interceptors to a West Coast-based missile defense system, responding to what it called faster-than-anticipated North Korean progress on nuclear weapons and missiles.

Martin also reported that U.S. intelligence does not believe North Korea yet has a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching the U.S. But a photo of a mobile intercontinental ballistic missile in a military parade last year heightened concerns they are working hard to develop one.

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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates once said North Korea could have an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) by 2016, added Martin, but the extra interceptor missiles to shoot it down won’t all be in place until 2017.

Miller and Hagel said the U.S. will conduct environmental studies on three additional potential locations for interceptors in the United States, including on the East Coast, as required by Congress. Hagel said no decision on a particular site has been made, but the studies would shorten the timeline should a decision be made.

Miller said that would provide options for building an interceptor base on the East Coast or adding more interceptors in Alaska, should either approach become necessary due to further future increases in the threat from Iran and North Korea.

The threat of a missile strike from North Korea was the rationale for building the missile defense sites in Alaska and California during the administration of President George W. Bush. Technical difficulties with the interceptors slowed the pace at which they were installed at Greely and Vandenberg.

“Our policy is to stay ahead of the threat — and to continue to ensure that we are ahead of any potential future Iranian or North Korean ICBM capability,” Miller said in a speech Tuesday at the Atlantic Council.

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Miller noted that last December, North Korea launched a satellite into space, demonstrating its mastery of some of the same technologies required for development of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“Our concern about Pyongyang’s potential ICBM capability is compounded by the regime’s focus on developing nuclear weapons,” he said. “North Korea’s third nuclear test last month is obviously a serious concern for all nations.”

North Korea recently threatened to reduce Seoul to a “sea of fire” and stage pre-emptive nuclear attacks on Washington.

“North Korea’s shrill public pronouncements underscore the need for the U.S. to continue to take prudent steps to defeat any future North Korean ICBM,” Miller said in his speech Tuesday.

In this handout image provided by the German Bundeswehr armed forces a patriot missile is fired during the Operation Red Arrow exercise on October 15, 2008 in Crete, Greece. Germany’s cabinet agreed on Thursday to send Patriot missiles and up to 400 soldiers to Turkey to act as a deterrent against any spread of the conflict in Syria across the border. (Photo by Peter Mueller/Bundeswehr via Getty Images)* CBS (March 15, 2013)

A military jury on Friday convicted an instructor at Lackland Air Force Base of raping one female trainee and sexually assaulting several others, the first major case in a sex scandal that has rocked the Air Force’s basic training system.

The jury of two officers and five enlisted airmen found Staff Sgt. Luis Walker guilty on 28 counts, including adultery, violating regulations and committing sexual crimes against female trainees, most of whom reported to him at Lackland, in San Antonio, the Air Force’s lone basic training school.

He faces up to life in prison and a dishonorable discharge when the trial moves into the sentencing phase.

At least 11 other instructors in the Air Force’s basic training system, nine from the same squadron, are under investigation in the widening case, which is the focus not only of a criminal probe but also a major policy review by a two-star general. At least 31 female recruits have been identified as possible victims.

One of those instructors has pleaded guilty; four others have been charged and are facing courts-martial. All have been removed from training duties, Air Force officials said. The lieutenant colonel in charge of some training units at Lackland has also been reassigned.

The sexual abuse scandal is among the worst to hit the military in over a decade. In 1996, dozens of women at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland accused male supervisors of rape, sexual assault and other offenses in 1996. A few years earlier, more than 80 women were assaulted during several days of drunken revelry at the Tailhook Association convention in Las Vegas, a case that led to the resignation of the Navy secretary and two admirals.

Air Force officials said more instructors could be charged as a result of the current investigations, with recruits being encouraged to report episodes anonymously through a 24-hour tip line. The two-star general’s review has also been expanded to include three other Air Force training bases.

“We’re not satisfied that this one unit is all there is,” Maj. Gen. Leonard A. Patrick, commander of the Second Air Force, which oversees basic training, said in an interview. “We want to assure ourselves through a disciplined approach that we’ve caught everything or everyone involved in this kind of behavior.”

The scandal has been deeply painful for the Air Force. Nine years ago, a survey by the Pentagon’s inspector general found that 12 percent of the women who graduated from the Air Force Academy that year said they had been victims of rape or attempted rape while at the school. The vast majority said they did not report the episodes to the authorities out of fear of being punished.

That appears to have been the situation in the current cases as well. The first assault allegations were reported by the acquaintance of a recruit and not the recruit herself. And when investigators began interviewing possible victims, almost all initially denied being assaulted.

With a staff of about 475 instructors, Lackland provides basic training to every Air Force recruit, about 35,000 a year. About one in five of those trainees are women, and about nine in ten of the instructors are men.

The rigorously hierarchical nature of the military makes it especially conducive to sexual abuse, critics say, and basic training is even more so, with instructors looming as intimidating, all-powerful figures to young recruits.

The Pentagon rejects such assertions. But amid growing criticism from advocacy groups and Congress, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced in April new steps to combat sexual assault, including having higher ranking officers handle sexual assault complaints, a change expected to lead to more prosecutions.

According to Pentagon data, there were 3,192 reports of sexual assault in the military in 2011, but only 240 went to trial, with 191 convictions. But the Defense Department acknowledges that the crime is vastly underreported, estimating the number of assaults may actually be closer to 19,000 a year.

During closing arguments in Sergeant Walker’s trial on Friday, the lead prosecutor, Maj. Patricia Gruen, portrayed him as a predator who first intimidated, then befriended recruits before assaulting them.

“When you take off the sheep’s outfit and the wolf is released on the flock, he looks for those that stand out, and pounces,” she told the jury.

But the defense, which called only one witness during the five-day trial, focused on the fact that none of the female recruits complained about Sergeant Walker to the authorities.

The lead defense lawyer, Joseph Esparza, also noted that the prosecution failed to produce DNA evidence or surveillance video, even though there were cameras in parts of the barracks.

“We don’t know what happened,” he said. “Everyone changed their stories based on when they were asked and who was asking.”

The trial was dominated by the graphic and often emotional testimony of female recruits. The New York Times does not typically identify possible victims of sexual assault.

One woman, identified as Airman 5, testified that Sergeant Walker tried to win her confidence by sympathizing with her after she had been upset by bad news from home. He later began sending suggestive texts to her cellphone before cornering her in a supply closet and forcing her to have sex with him.

The woman said she did not report the episode out of fear that Sergeant Walker would “recycle” her in punishment, meaning force her to redo basic training.

“I was scared, and miserable and hurt,” the woman testified. Her version was corroborated in court by a friend.

Another witness, identified as Airman 8, said Sergeant Walker called her into his office and pressured her to show her breasts. She mentioned the episode to other recruits, and word got back to Sergeant Walker.

She testified that he then called her back into his office and warned her: “If you had a problem with it, then you should have come to me, instead of running your mouth. Remember, I’m staff sergeant, you’re a trainee.”

“I went numb,” the woman testified. “I was scared. What if he punished me, or ruined my career?”

 

By  (NYT). Hollie O’Connor contributing from San Antonio. July 20, 2012

Capt. Susan Carlson was not a typical recruit when she volunteered for the Army in 2006 at the age of 50. But the Army desperately needed behavioral health professionals like her, so it signed her up.

Though she was, by her own account, “not a strong soldier,” she received excellent job reviews at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where she counseled prisoners. But last year, Captain Carlson, a social worker, was deployed to Afghanistan with the Colorado National Guard and everything fell apart.

After a soldier complained that she had made sexually suggestive remarks, she was suspended from her counseling duties and sent to an Army psychiatrist for evaluation. His findings were shattering: She had, he said in a report, a personality disorder, a diagnosis that the military has used to discharge thousands of troops. She was sent home.

She disputed the diagnosis, but it was not until months later that she found what seemed powerful ammunition buried in her medical file, portions of which she provided to The New York Times. “Her command specifically asks for a diagnosis of a personality disorder,” a document signed by the psychiatrist said.

Veterans’ advocates say Captain Carlson stumbled upon evidence of something they had long suspected but had struggled to prove: that military commanders pressure clinicians to issue unwarranted psychiatric diagnoses to get rid of troops.

“Her records suggest an attempt by her commander to influence medical professionals,” said Michael J. Wishnie, a professor at Yale Law School and director of its Veterans Legal Services Clinic.

Since 2001, the military has discharged at least 31,000 service members because of personality disorder, a family of disorders broadly characterized by inflexible “maladaptive” behavior that can impair performance and relationships.

For years, veterans’ advocates have said that the Pentagon uses the diagnosis to discharge troops because it considers them troublesome or wants to avoid giving them benefits for service-connected injuries. The military considers personality disorder a pre-existing problem that emerges in youth, and as a result, troops given the diagnosis are often administratively discharged without military retirement pay. Some have even been required to repay enlistment bonuses.

By comparison, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder is usually linked to military service and leads to a medical discharge accompanied by certain benefits.

In recent weeks, questions about whether the Army manipulates psychiatric diagnoses to save money have been raised at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., where soldiers undergoing medical evaluations before discharge complained that psychiatrists rescinded PTSD diagnoses, leaving the soldiers with diagnoses like personality disorder that did not qualify them for medical discharges.

In a memorandum, an Army ombudsman wrote that a doctor from the base hospital, Madigan Army Medical Center, said that one diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder can cost $1.5 million in benefits over a soldier’s lifetime. The doctor also counseled his colleagues to be good stewards of taxpayer money by not “rubber-stamping” such diagnoses.

In the wake of those complaints, the Army has removed the head of Madigan and suspended two doctors at a special forensic psychiatric unit. It has also reviewed the cases of 14 soldiers and reinstituted PTSD diagnoses for 6 of them.

Some senior military officials have raised concerns that PTSD is overdiagnosed. Still, the Defense Department has denied that it uses psychiatric diagnoses either to weed out injured or low-performing troops, or to save money.

“Our goal is to provide the most accurate diagnosis,” said Maria Tolleson, a spokeswoman for the Army Medical Command.

On Captain Carlson’s case, the Colorado National Guard declined to comment. Officials at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., said the psychiatrist who evaluated Captain Carlson in Afghanistan, Maj. Aniceto Navarro, was not available for an interview.

But in a statement, the hospital said: “No commander may order a credentialed clinician to make a particular diagnosis. Dr. Navarro did not feel he was being ordered by the service member’s command to make a particular diagnosis. The sentence referenced was written in terms of the commander asking to evaluate for a personality disorder, i.e. asking if one existed, not ordering to diagnose a personality disorder.”

Though it is impossible to know how many veterans are disputing their personality disorder discharges, Vietnam Veterans of America, an advocacy group, with help from the Yale veterans legal clinic, has sued the Defense Department seeking records they say will show that thousands of troops have been unfairly discharged for personality or adjustment disorder since 2001.

“We believe that many of the people who received personality disorder discharges were wrongly diagnosed and that in fact they were suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injury,” said Thomas Berger, executive director of Vietnam Veterans of America’s health council.

Although the number of personality disorder discharges is small relative to the total number of troops who have served since 2001, Congress was concerned enough about the issue to hold hearings in 2007 after reading reports that troops with post-traumatic stress and other combat-related injuries were being discharged for personality disorder.

The Defense Department then tightened its requirements, partly to ensure that troops who had served in combat zones and had PTSD were not discharged for personality disorder. Personality disorder discharges subsequently declined, to 1,078 in 2010 from 4,264 in 2007, data obtained by Vietnam Veterans of America show.

But the Government Accountability Office said in 2010 that the Defense Department had not proved that it was in full compliance with its rules. And Captain Carlson’s case shows that the military continues to issue personality disorder diagnoses in questionable ways, according to veterans’ advocates and her lawyers, Stephen H. Carpenter Jr. and Daniel C. Russ.

Unlike the soldiers at Madigan, Captain Carlson has not been given a diagnosis of PTSD. But the personality disorder diagnosis could complicate her ability get a medical discharge for a back injury and other problems. Perhaps more significant, the diagnosis will be listed on her discharge papers, which employers typically review when they are considering veterans for a job.

“It may have a significant impact on her ability to find employment,” Mr. Carpenter said.

Captain Carlson, now 55, signed up with the Army after a co-worker at a Milwaukee trauma hospital, a surgeon in the National Guard, told her that the Army badly needed therapists and social workers. Intrigued, she got an age waiver and joined through a program that commissions officers based on their specialized training.

At Fort Leavenworth, where she served for three years, supervisors called her “highly talented,” “outstanding” and “a dedicated officer,” according to a 2008 evaluation.

After leaving active duty, Captain Carlson moved to Colorado Springs in 2010 to take a civilian job as a substance abuse counselor at Fort Carson. But she soon learned that the Colorado National Guard, which she had just joined, would deploy to Afghanistan in early 2011. She told her commander she wanted to go.

“I wanted to experience what soldiers experience,” she said in an interview.

But her problems began soon after she arrived in Afghanistan last February. She got lost outside a combat outpost and wore shorts when she should have been in combat uniform. Then a junior enlisted soldier accused her of sexual harassment, citing an off-color remark she made during a game of Scrabble with several soldiers at a combat outpost.

Captain Carlson contends the remark was innocent, but the Army sent her back to Bagram Air Base near Kabul and opened an investigation. A major general eventually gave her a memorandum of reprimand, a potentially career-ending action. But she says it was the psychological evaluation she received at Bagram that upset her the most.

In notes from that evaluation, Dr. Navarro wrote that “it is very difficult to draw absolute conclusions for a personality disorder.” But he noted that her command had asked for the diagnosis and, in his final report dated three days later, Dr. Navarro did just that.

Captain Carlson has “a very dramatic style” and “chronic difficulty in adjusting,” Dr. Navarro wrote in that report, concluding that she had “personality disorder NOS” — not otherwise specified — “with histrionic traits.” He recommended that the Army move swiftly to discharge her if she did not comply with counseling from her commander.

Experts say personality disorder is generally evident in a person’s youth, leaving a telltale pattern across failed jobs and broken relationships. For that reason, they generally recommend that diagnoses include reviews of patients’ medical records and interviews with people who have known them for years. Dr. Navarro says in his notes that he did not have access to her records.

Dr. Andrew E. Skodol, research professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona and an expert on personality disorder who was not familiar with Captain Carlson’s case, said it would not be surprising for a person who entered the Army in middle age to have trouble adapting to the stresses of military life and deployment. But that would not necessarily qualify as a personality disorder, Dr. Skodol said.

After leaving Afghanistan last year, Captain Carlson went to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where a psychiatrist gave her a diagnosis of adjustment disorder, her lawyers said. That psychiatrist has since been suspended as part of the Army’s investigation into Madigan.

It will be up to the Colorado National Guard to decide how Captain Carlson will be discharged, a process that could take months. At the least, Captain Carlson wants the personality disorder diagnosis removed from her record.

“It’s a bad label,” she said. “I’m a broken soldier. I’m old. And they just want to get rid of me.”

 

By , NYT, February 24, 2012