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What Was It All For: Iranian Intel Leaks and the US Folly in Iraq

What Was It All For: Iranian Intel Leaks and the US Folly in Iraq

Reflecting on the Intercept/New York Times Release of Leaked Iranian Intel Documents on Influence in Iraq. East Baghdad, January 25, 2007. Newly minted 1st Lieutenant Danny Sjursen, all of 23-years-old, led his scout platoon – the "Ghost Riders” – on yet another meaningless presence patrol in an increasingly aimless war, at about 9:00pm local time in the Al Amin neighborhood of Shia-majority East Baghdad. We were no longer allowed to call them "presence patrols,” of course. From now on, each patrol had to – imagine that! – have a specific mission, a purpose, something, you know, worth dying...

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Saudi Bases and the Bin Ladens: A Love Story

Saudi Bases and the Bin Ladens: A Love Story

What is Trump really up to? It’s almost unknowable. At the same time that the president was pulling (some) troops out of Northeast Syria, giving an antiwar speech, and then sending other troops back into Syria to "secure the oil," he also quietly sent another 1800 service members into Saudi Arabia. What little Trump did say about it consisted of a peculiar defense of his actions. Faced with the obvious question from a reporter: "Mr. President, why are you sending more troops to Saudi Arabia when you just said it’s a mistake to be in the Middle East?" Trump argued that there was no...

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Yes, My Fellow Soldiers Died in Vain

Yes, My Fellow Soldiers Died in Vain

Sergeant Alex Fuller hailed from the depressed coastal town of New Bedford, Massachusetts. His brothers and sister did stints in prison; he sold drugs himself as a teen, and barely earned a GED. Then he found a home in the army. He excelled, he loved it, and even made sergeant in record time. Most of all he was my friend. His story didn’t end well, of course. On January 25, 2007 his body was shattered by a massive improvised explosive device (IED) in East Baghdad, Iraq. He was 21. His 19-year-old wife was pregnant. His family buried him on Cape Cod. Such is life. Read the rest at...

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An Officer’s Path to Dissent

For a while there, I was a real star. High up in my class at West Point, tough combat deployments in two wars, a slew of glowing evaluations, even a teaching assignment back at the military academy. I inhabited a universe most only dream of: praised, patted and highly respected by everyone in my life system and viewed as a brave American soldier. It’s a safe, sensible spot. For most, that’s enough. Too bad it was all bunk. Absurdity incarnate. The truth is, I fought for next to nothing, for a country that, in recent conflicts, has made the world a deadlier, more chaotic place. Even back in...

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‘We’re Killing These Kids, We’re Breaking the Army!’

Our soldiers are still redeploying at a frenetic pace that cannot keep up with reality—and the cracks are showing. I’ll admit I was taken aback. This senior officer and mentor—with nearly 28 years of military service—wasn’t one for hyperbole. No, he believed what he was saying to me just then. “We’re killing these kids, we’re breaking the army!” he exclaimed. He went on to explain the competing requirements for standard, conventional army units—to say nothing of the overstretched Special Forces—in 2018: balancingRussia in Eastern Europe, deterrence rotations in South Korea, advise and...

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