Report: Growing mental health problems in military

Mental problems send more men in the U.S. military to the hospital than any other cause, according to a new Pentagon report.

And they are the second highest reason for hospitalization of women military personnel, behind conditions related to pregnancy.

The Defense Department’s Medical Surveillance report from November examines “a large, widespread, and growing mental health problem among U.S. military members.”

The 31-page report says mental disorders are a problem for the entire U.S. population, but that sharp increases for active duty military reflect the psychological toll of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Northcom Backs Out of National Level Exercise 2010

Northcom has unexpectedly withdrawn from participation in National Level Exercise (NLE) with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Defense announced on April 26 it was decoupling its Ardent Sentry exercise from the National Level Exercise.

Ardent Sentry is a Joint Chiefs of Staff directed and Northcom sponsored “homeland defense” exercise. It is one of a number of DoD and Homeland Security exercises that blur the boundaries between the Pentagon, the federal government, and state and local governments under the guise of combating terrorism and responding to natural disasters.

The Pentagon said it decided against the exercise after Las Vegas, the planned site for a post-nuclear-attack response exercise, pulled out in November, fearing a negative impact on its struggling business environment, according to the Washington Times. Officials said a new site could not be found.

“The official also said the Northern Command’s exercise plans for ‘cooping’ — continuity of operations, during which commanders go to off-site locations — also had been scratched,” writes Rowan Scarborough for the newspaper.

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Who Will Hold America Accountable for Its Crimes?

The website WikiLeaks has been garnering attention recently due to its publication of sensitive material that many in government (and elsewhere) would rather be kept private. Information on the site includes secret intelligence documents and studies commissioned by the U.S. government, which does not seem to appreciate the disclosure of such information, for fear of a public outcry over the content.

WikiLeaks was founded by human rights activists, journalists and experts in the intelligence field, with the aim of exposing intelligence agencies and governments that violate international law.

One week ago, the site published the video “Collateral Murder,” a tape whose images have since been shown on television networks around the world. It shows American military personnel in a helicopter carrying out the cold-blooded killing of twelve Iraqi civilians. WikiLeaks states that the incident occurred in 2007.

By publishing the video, the website has exposed the incident as a crime committed by the U.S. military in Iraq, as the camera mounted on a U.S. Apache military helicopter recorded the actions of the crew. Naturally, WikiLeaks has not disclosed the source that provided them with the tape, but the sound and visuals are so clear that there is no possibility of the U.S. Department of Defense refuting the fact of a crime having taken place or making skeptical remarks about the video being a fake.
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Pentagon investigating alleged spy operation

WASHINGTON — A Department of Defense official is under investigation for allegedly hiring private contractors to gather intelligence on suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a U.S. official said Monday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case, told The Associated Press that Michael D. Furlong directed a defense contract to gather information about the region that could be shared with military units. After military officials suspected that he was using Defense Department money for an off-the-books spy operation, defense officials shut down that part of the contract, the official said.

The story was first reported by The New York Times in Monday’s editions, quoting unidentified military and business sources as saying that Furlong, now a senior civilian employee at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, hired subcontractors who had former U.S. intelligence and special forces operatives on their payrolls. The newspaper said some of the information collected by the contractors was used to track down and attack militants.

“The story makes some serious allegations and raises numerous unanswered questions that warrant further review by the department,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Monday.

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Pentagon Report Calls for Office of “Strategic Deception”

The Department of Defense needs to get better at lying and fooling people about its intentions. That’s the conclusion from an influential Pentagon panel, the Defense Science Board (DSB), which recommends that the military and intelligence communities join in a new agency devoted to “strategic surprise/deception.”

Tricking battlefield opponents has been a part of war since guys started beating each other with bones and sticks. But these days, such moves are harder to pull off, the DSB notes in a January report (.pdf) first unearthed by InsideDefense.com. “In an era of ubiquitous information access, anonymous leaks and public demands for transparency, deception operations are extraordinarily difficult. Nevertheless, successful strategic deception has in the past provided the United States with significant advantages that translated into operational and tactical success. Successful deception also minimizes U.S. vulnerabilities, while simultaneously setting conditions to surprise adversaries.”

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Trijicon: We’ll Stop Putting Bible Inscriptions On Military Rifle Scopes

Trijicon, the company that produces the military rifle scopes with Biblical inscriptions, will end the decades-old practice and provide the military with modification kits to remove the markings, ABC is reporting.

General David Howell Petraeus also addressed the scopes this morning, calling the matter “disturbing and a serious concern for me.” That’s a markedly different response from the United States Central Command spokesman who minimized the significance of the New Testament inscriptions this week, comparing them to “In God We Trust” on currency.

ABC reports:

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Government posting wealth of data to Internet

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday is posting to the Internet a wealth of government data from all Cabinet-level departments, on topics ranging from child car seats to Medicare services.

The mountain of newly available information comes a year and a day after President Barack Obama promised on his first full day on the job an open, transparent government.

Under a Dec. 8 White House directive, each department must post online at least three collections of “high-value” government data that never have been previously disclosed.

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