This Week in National Insecurity: July 4th Edition
Happy (almost) birthday, America! Nothing says red, white, and blue firecrackin' love of country like a roundup of defense dementedness. Each Friday, we grab our lensatic compass, rucksack, and canteen, then mount out across the global media landscape for a quick national security recon. Whether you think our military is too damned busy—or not busy enough—here's all the ammunition you'll need, in a handy debrief.
In this installment: No to "toe shoes"! And no to tech support! But yes to ugly cars, loads of marijuana, $5 trillion wars, and coating your colleagues in "foreign substances."
The government's national threat level is
Elevated, or Yellow "at a heightened level of vigilance."
- Bye bye, Bob Gates. Care for a Presidential Medal of Freedom on your way out? All outgoing defense secretaries get a medal now. (Stars & Stripes)
- And what does the new secdef, Leon Panetta, get? A $5 trillion war on terror. A new study says that's the actual cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (not the $1 trillion the Pentagon estimated last week). The report also gives an "extremely conservative" estimate of 225,000 deaths and 365,000 injuries in the wars. (Time)
- So what are we spending all that money on? Computer systems that don't work, apparently. The Army's $2.7 billion DCGS-A network is supposed to give commanders real-time battlefield data, but "was unable to perform simple analytical tasks" and has actually helped insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. "There's a lot of bugs in the workflow," says one officer. Lesson learned: Computers can make chocolate rain, but they can't rebuild failed nations. (Politico)
- But here's something the Army's unwilling to spend money on: "toe shoes" for exercising soldiers. According to a new directive from the brass: "...only those shoes that accommodate all five toes in one compartment are authorized for wear. Those shoes that feature five separate, individual compartments for the toes, detract from a professional military image and are prohibited" during workouts. (Washington Post)