December 7th, 2010
04:06 PM ET

Lowest pay raise for military in nearly 50 years?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As our government plans to extend tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, they're also proposing the lowest pay raise for the military in almost 50 years.

You heard right. As our servicemen and women return to the battlefield for their third or fourth tours of duty, the people who represent us think it's a good time to cut corners there. Extend tax breaks for millionaires and the middle finger for the armed forces.

The Obama administration has proposed a 1.4 percent pay raise for the military in 2011 – the lowest since 1962, when they got no raise.

The administration claims a 1.4 percent raise would match the average for the private sector, and they say it's on top of other increases in housing and food subsidies.

But many in the military aren't buying it. And it's easy to see where they're coming from when rich Americans will be saving billions in tax breaks.

One Marine Corps sergeant who just got back from his fourth deployment in Afghanistan calls it "absolute garbage."

He asks USA Today how the government can bail out the auto industry and other major corporations, yet not give a larger pay raise to those putting their lives on the line for the U.S.

Some senators want to give bonuses to troops doing the most fighting. And an organization representing 32 military groups is pushing for a 1.9 percent pay raise.

It's estimated that an increase from 1.4 to 1.9 percent would cost taxpayers $350 million next year – compare that to the tax break deal which some say will cost $900 billion.

Here’s my question to you: In light of the economy, do members of the military deserve the lowest pay raise in nearly 50 years?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Afghanistan • Economy • Iraq • United States Military • US Military • War in Iraq
April 21st, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Three-fourths of youth unfit for military service

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

With the U.S. fighting two wars and threats like a potentially nuclear-armed Iran on the horizon, there is a very scary truth that needs to be addressed.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/21/art.cafeteria.jpg caption=""]

Three-fourths of the young people between the ages of 17 and 24 are unfit for military service. It's a national disgrace.

There are a number of reasons for a lack of a sufficient pool of recruits for the military to draw from. These include factors like having a criminal record, not graduating from high school, or having health problems.

But the biggest reason is that a boatload of young people in this country are fat. In a report titled "Too Fat to Fight," a group of 130 retired military leaders says the top medical reason is young people are simply too heavy - and can't handle the physical requirements of being in the military.

One fourth of young Americans are just too fat to fight.

The report blames unhealthy food in school lunchrooms; and they're calling on Congress to pass a wide-ranging nutrition bill that would make school meals healthier. But the problem extends far beyond the school lunchroom.

We have become a sedentary society that doesn't exercise enough, spends way too much time in front of the TV or computer and exists on a diet of fast food and/or junk food. The price tag for that is sacrificing the future of the U.S. military.

The authors of this troubling report say all branches of the military now meet or exceed their recruitment requirements… but if these obesity trends don't change, they could wind up threatening our national security by the year 2030. That's less than 20 years away.

Here’s my question to you: What does it say about our country if three-fourths of our youth are unfit for military service?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Obesity • On Jack's radar • U.S. Army • US Military • US Obesity
February 2nd, 2010
05:00 PM ET

How would repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' affect military?


Defense Secretary Robert Gates (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen (R) participate in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. The committee is reviewing the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It could be the biggest shake-up to the military since the integration of the armed services under Pres. Truman back in 1948.

Pres. Obama is calling for a repeal of the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy - which bars gays from serving openly... and prevents the military from asking them about it. Congress would need to approve Pres. obama's request.

And just hours ago - the military's top uniformed officer appeared before Congress to support openly gay members serving. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, says it's a matter of integrity and that it is wrong to force people to "lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."

The military is set to begin a year-long study into how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can be repealed without causing major problems in the service.

But Critics say it's a bad idea to change this policy while the U.S. is engaged in two wars and faces the ongoing threat of terrorism. Republican Sen. John McCain says he's quote "deeply disappointed"... and while the policy hasn't been ideal, it has been "effective."

Meanwhile - a poll from late 2008 suggests more than 80 percent of Americans believe openly gay people should be allowed to serve.

It's estimated that more than 13,000 people have been discharged from the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" since it was implemented in 1993 - this includes dozens service members who can speak Arabic - a highly-prized skill with the U.S. fighting wars in the middle east.

Here’s my question to you: How would the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" affect the military?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: U.S. Army • US Military
December 4th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Why is there only bipartisanship when military is involved?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Bipartisanship in Washington is virtually non-existent these days - except for President Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/04/art.marines.afghan.gi.jpg caption="U.S. Marines are pictured wading through a canal in Afghanistan's Helmand Province."]
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll - conducted after the president's speech this week - shows his plan wins approval from 63 percent of Democrats, a whopping 72 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Independents. Gee, with a consensus like that you could actually run the country.

The president is getting thumbs-up from people more inclined to extend their middle fingers when it comes to things Democratic. Karl Rove says that the president's speech "deserves to be cheered" and insists victory is attainable.

Newt Gingrich is out praising President Obama for showing political courage on Afghanistan... in going against the anti-war left in his own party.

This is not to say that there aren't critics of the president's Afghanistan strategy in both parties, but on the whole, he's getting support - at least for now. If it doesn't go as planned, all bets are off. But at least for a few minutes we have the leadership of the country agreeing on something.

And this isn't just about President Obama and Afghanistan. The Democrats had no love lost for President George W. Bush but were mostly afraid to buck him on the wars.

Here’s my question to you: Why is it the only time there is bipartisanship is when the military is involved?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Bipartisanship • US Military
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.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/11/art.hasan.jpg caption="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?


Filed under: Middle East • U.S. Army • US Military
November 10th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

White House vs. CBS on Afghanistan troop increase?

Call it CBS News versus the White House.

CBS reports that President Obama intends to give General Stanley McChrystal most - if not all - of the 40,000 troops he's asking for in Afghanistan. They say the president has tentatively decided to send four combat brigades plus thousands of more support troops.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/10/art.mcchrystal.jpg caption="General Stanley McChrystal is the U.S. Military commander in Afghanistan."]
According to CBS, the troop buildup would last for about four years - until the Afghan military doubles in size. This surge would mean the number of U.S. troops would grow from the current 68,000 to about 100,000 by the end of the president's first term.

But the White House insists the CBS story is false. They call reports that the president has made a decision about Afghanistan "absolutely false." They say Mr. Obama still hasn't received or reviewed "final options" with his national security team.

So - who's telling the truth here? It comes down to the word of the Obama White House against the network of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.

Of course... CBS News also saw Dan Rather step down in 2005 after apologizing for a report that questioned President George W. Bush's National Guard service. Rather said the report was based on false documents.

Meanwhile the Associated Press seems to support the CBS story, saying President Obama is nearing a decision to add tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan - but not the 40,000 that McChrystal wants.

Some officials dub that likely troop increase McChrystal Light since it would fall short of the general's request.

Here’s my question to you: CBS News says nearly 40,000 additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan. The White House says the story is false. Whom do you believe?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Afghanistan • US Military • White House
November 9th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Do you think Ft. Hood shootings were an act of terrorism?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Army might have had a terrorist in its midst and not even known it. As the days pass, there are more and more signs that Army Major and psychiatrist Nidal Hasan - who slaughtered 13 people and wounded 42 others - was an Islamic extremist who was sympathetic to al Qaeda and had strong objections to U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/09/art.hasan.jpg caption="Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the suspect in last week's Fort Hood mass shooting."]
Independent Senator Joe Lieberman says the shootings could have been a terrorist attack; and that he'll launch an investigation into whether the military could have stopped it.

Lieberman, who chairs the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, says there's evidence Hasan was a "self-radicalized, home-grown terrorist." If that's true, last week's killings could be the worst terror attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Witnesses say at the time of the shootings Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great" - something terrorists have used as a battle cry.

Then there's this: Hasan apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two of the 9/11 hijackers in 2001 - at a time when a radical spiritual leader preached there.

And, ABC News reports U.S. intelligence agencies knew for months that Hasan was trying to contact people associated with al Qaeda.

Finally, former classmates complained repeatedly about what they saw as Hasan's anti-American views. One says Hasan gave a presentation that justified suicide bombing and talked about how Islamic law trumped the U.S. Constitution.

The Army isn't ruling out terrorism - but is concerned about a possible backlash against Muslim soldiers.

Here’s my question to you: Do you think the Fort Hood shootings were an act of terrorism?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: 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?


Filed under: Elections • U.S. Army • US Military
August 24th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Time to declare war in Afghanistan a lost cause?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

More bad news about the war in Afghanistan. Military commanders say they don't have enough troops and warn that the Taliban is getting stronger and even gaining the upper hand in several parts of country. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, says, "It's serious and it's deteriorating."

Case in point, last week's election, which was only the second in the nation's history. The ballots are still being counted, results are expected tomorrow, but we already know voter turnout was low amid threats of violence. There are reports of voters' fingers being cut off. More than 200 complaints have been filed with The Election Complaints Commission, and one of the candidates is alleging fraud.

History shows a long list of failed foreign incursions into Afghanistan. So the U.S. may be taking a spot behind the Greeks, the British, and the Russians, who have all come before them-and left defeated.

For now, the Obama Administration is waiting for a new report on the situation (due out in two weeks) from the top commander in the region. Regardless of what it says, troop levels by the end of this year are on track to be double the number there at the end of last year.

In March, President Obama ordered an additional 17,000 troops into Afghanistan, but all indications are it's not nearly enough. Meanwhile, public support here at home for a war that is going on eight years is hardly increasing.

Here’s my question to you: Is it time to declare the war in Afghanistan a lost cause and get out?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Afghanistan • US Military
April 28th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Most families allow media to cover fallen soldiers



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?


Filed under: U.S. Army • US Military
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