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November 11th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should U.S. military Muslims be forced to fight other Muslims?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The suspect in the Fort Hood shootings - that left 13 dead and wounded 42 others - had asked the military to let Muslims claim conscientious objector status when it comes to going to war against other Muslims.

Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

The Washington Post first reported on a slide presentation Army Major Nidal Hasan, who is Muslim, made as a psychiatric resident at Walter Reed back in 2007.

It was supposed to be about a medical topic, but instead Hasan lectured about Islam, suicide bombers and threats the military could face from Muslims conflicted about fighting Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan:

"It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims."

Hasan was set to leave soon for Afghanistan, and a relative says he had asked not to be deployed.

But the Washington Post is now reporting that's not true - an Army official says Hasan never formally requested to leave the military as a conscientious objector or for any other reason.

Meanwhile there is no exact count of how many Muslims are in the U.S. military. The Pentagon lists about 3,500 Muslims out of 1.4 million service members. But officials say that number is probably low since disclosure is voluntary.

Nonetheless, this seems to be a real issue that might continue to present itself with U.S. troops still in Iraq; and potentially tens of thousands of additional troops being sent to Afghanistan.

Here’s my question to you: Should Muslim members of the U.S. military be forced to fight against other Muslims?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Middle East • U.S. Army • US Military
October 5th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Would you vote for a military commander for president in 2012?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the U.S. continues to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - it seems like a sharp military mind in the Oval Office may come in handy. The New York Times reports on growing speculation that General David Petraeus - who oversees those two wars - might run for president in 2012. Petraeus' people deny it - but some say the White House is still suspicious.

Aides to Petraeus say he hasn't voted for more than five years - to preserve a sense of military impartiality. And although he's been described as a Republican - one top military official close to the general says he couldn't confirm his political party.

In any case - the Times points out how Petraeus, who was a favorite of George Bush, has taken on a more muted voice in the debate over Afghanistan. But he continues to have a seat at the table, as the Obama administration wrestles with sending as many as 40,000 additional troops to the fight .

There was a time when military service was a political asset - Eisenhower came to the White House via the military and was one of America's most popular presidents... JFK, Nixon, Carter - among others - also served.

But in recent elections, the attitude towards men in uniform has changed... voters rejected John McCain, John Kerry and Bob Dole - all veterans.

Here’s my question to you: Would you vote for a military commander for president in 2012?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Elections • U.S. Army • US Military
September 30th, 2009
05:40 PM ET

Media coverage of fallen troops' returning caskets has all but disappeared?

ALT TEXT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's been almost six months since the Obama administration lifted the ban on media coverage of the returning caskets of war dead... and the press mostly seems to have lost interest.

"The Examiner" reports how back in April, media outlets rushed to cover the first arrival of a fallen U.S. serviceman... 35 members of the press were at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

For the next returning casket - 17 media outlets showed up... that soon dropped to a dozen. The numbers kept shrinking until this month when only one news outlet was on hand to document the return of a casket bearing the body of a fallen Marine. That was the Associated Press.

In fact, the A-P has made it a point to be there at every arrival of a military casket where the family has granted permission - which is more than half of the time. The AP says it's their responsibility to cover these returns:

"It's our belief that this is important, that surely somewhere there is a paper, an audience, a readership, a family and a community for whom this homecoming is indeed news."

But where are the rest of the media outlets who protested President Bush's continued ban on showing flag-draped coffins returning to the U.S.?

This is especially troubling in light of what's going on in Afghanistan. Nearly eight years into that war, 2009 will record the highest death toll.

Conventional wisdom suggests if the American people aren't seeing the returning war dead - it's difficult to comprehend the real cost of war.

Here's my question to you: What does it mean when media coverage of fallen troops' returning caskets has all but disappeared?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: U.S. Army
September 21st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Commanders: Failure in Afghanistan without more troops

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan are about to force President Obama to do something he doesn't want to do - make a decision. The day of reckoning has been coming for a while now - as the U.S. death toll continues to rise, the Taliban strengthen their hold on ever-increasing parts of the country, and the effectiveness of the Karzai government when it comes to troops and security remains very much in doubt.

History suggests Afghanistan is a tough nut to crack. And to think you can do it on the cheap with limited budgets and a limited number of troops is just plain ludicrous.

In effect - the White House is being told by the people fighting the war: either come up with a strategy that has a chance of working and commit enough troops to make it happen - or resign yourself to the same failure that all foreign invaders of Afghanistan have ultimately come face-to-face with.

It's time for the administration to stop equivocating. First we heard a decision on troops is "weeks and weeks" away, then we were told there were no plans for additional troops for Afghanistan.

But the people fighting the war say without them - there are no plans for victory either.

Since World War II - we have failed to achieve victory in Korea, in Vietnam, in Iraq... And the polls indicate the American people are not eager to commit the resources that might be necessary to win this one either.

Here’s my question to you: What should President Obama do when commanders are saying the mission in Afghanistan will fail without more troops?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Troop Withdrawals • U.S. Army
September 15th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should U.S. send more troops to Afghanistan?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

You knew this was coming… the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says it will probably take more U.S. troops to win the war in Afghanistan. Can you spell "surge"?

Admiral Mike Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that he doesn't know how many more troops are needed, but "it's very clear to me that we will need more resources" to carry out President Obama's plan to fight the Taliban.

Top Democrats have already said they're opposed to sending more troops. Committee chairman Senator Carl Levin says the U.S. should first be sure that Afghan security forces are trained and deployed.

But Republicans say that the U.S. could repeat the mistakes made in Iraq by not committing enough troops. Senator John McCain says, "I've seen that movie before."

The Obama administration has been kind of vague about what happens next, which may be so they can buy time for other priorities like health care. They say no decision on troops is expected "for weeks and weeks."

In the meantime, the troops that are there are being killed at a greater rate than ever before and could no doubt use the help. 51 U.S. troops died there last month - more than in any month since the war started.

At home - public support for this war, which will soon enter its ninth year, is fading fast. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows only 39-percent of Americans favor the war - the lowest percentage ever. The number is down from 53-percent as recently as April.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. send more troops to Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • U.S. Army
April 28th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Most families allow media to cover fallen soldiers

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(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Since the Obama administration lifted the ban on media coverage of fallen troops returning to the U.S., most military families are choosing to allow reporters and photographers to witness the ceremonies.

The press had been banned from covering these solemn ceremonies ostensibly to protect the privacy of the soldiers' families. Cynics suggest it was because President Bush didn't want attention drawn to the fact that soldiers were being killed in the phony war he started in Iraq.

The ban was actually imposed 18 years ago by Bush's father, the first President Bush, during Operation Desert Storm. The father of one Army corporal recently killed in Iraq said, "I think it was to protect the government's butt." That's exactly what it was.

So far - 14 of 19 families have allowed the media cover their loved one's return. The Pentagon calls it "a pretty good majority." The Air Force Mortuary Affairs office says reporters have been cooperative and there haven't been any problems. They also say they'll help facilitate a meeting with reporters if the family wants... although only one family has done that so far.

Sadly, media interest has dropped off rather dramatically in just a few short weeks: almost 40 members of the press turned up for the return of the first combat casualty they were allowed to cover... at a more recent ceremony, the AP says its photographer was the only one.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if most military families want the media to cover the return of fallen troops to the U.S.?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: U.S. Army • US Military
March 27th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Should U.S. send more troops to Afghanistan?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is stepping up the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. He says the U.S. will send 4,000 more troops there in addition to the 17,000 additional combat troops he authorized last month.

Pres. Obama says the U.S. will send 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan in addition to the 17,000 he authorized last month.

Mr. Obama is describing a "comprehensive" new strategy to confront the growing threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Seven and a half years after the 9/11 attacks he says al Qaeda is planning new attacks against the U.S. from its safe haven in Pakistan.

President Obama says up until now Afghanistan has been denied the resources it needs because of the war in Iraq; and he's pledging those 4,000 additional troops to help train the Afghan Army and police - new legislation that would help the economies of both countries; and more civilian help to develop Afghanistan's economy and corrupt government.

As for Pakistan, the president says that after years of mixed results, the U.S. won't provide a "blank check" to them; they'll have to prove they're committed to rooting out al Qaeda.

It seems like Mr. Obama has public support behind him here. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 63 percent of those surveyed favor his plan to send an additional 17,000 troops into Afghanistan. However, he also has his work cut out for him: While 62 percent say the U.S. can eventually win the war there, only half that many think the U.S. is winning now.

Here’s my question to you: Should the U.S. send additional troops to Afghanistan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Afghanistan • Troop Withdrawals • U.S. Army
January 31st, 2008
05:02 PM ET

Army’s rising suicide rate?

 U.S Army Soldiers.

U.S Army Soldiers.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some very troubling statistics when it comes to our troops. The number of suicides in the Army jumped by as much as 20% in 2007, with officials saying that as many as 121 soldiers committed suicide.
In fact, about 25% of the suicides happened in Iraq. And, it's expected that the number of suicides by active duty troops may reach an all-time high for last year.

This report also shows a significant increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries. There were 2,100 last year, more than six times as many as the 350 attempts in 2002, the year before the war in Iraq began.

The Army says the "main indicators" for suicides are failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems and job stress. They found the number of days troops are deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan contributes to that stress.

It's probably no coincidence then that the Pentagon last year extended tours of duty from 12 months to 15 months, and that some troops have been sent back into the war zone several times.

Troop surveys in Iraq have shown that 20% of Army soldiers have signs of post-traumatic stress, including flashbacks. About 35% of soldiers are getting some kind of mental health treatment a year after returning home.

Another tragic side effect of this war.

Here’s my question to you: What should the Army do about a sharp rise in the suicide rate of soldiers?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: U.S. Army
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