Kudos to Dahr Jamail; Army to Discharge Single Mom Rather Than Court-Martial Her

Alexis Hutchinson

Army Spc. Alexis Hutchinson with son Kamani Hutchinson. (Photo: Alexis Hutchinson)

This is wonderful news for Army Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, and really wonderful news for her son Kamani.

Mom will not be court martialed. Kamani has his mother with him. Every day.

That’s absolutely awesome.

And thank the Army. Technically, Army Spc. Hutchinson violated the law, but she did so for the right reasons. Answering the call to serve in Afghanistan would have left her son, literally, an orphan. So, instead of facing court martial, Army Spc. Hutchinson will be granted an administrative discharge from the Army.

Mom and the United States Army all come out looking good in this one. Thanks to Dahr Jamail and Truthout for breaking the story.

From ENEWSPF:

On Thursday, February 11, Army Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single mother of an infant son, was informed she would be granted an administrative discharge from the Army.

Last fall, Hutchinson was ordered to prepare to deploy to Afghanistan. On November 5, 2009, after her childcare plans fell through, Hutchinson was faced with the dilemma of having no one to take care of her son when she deployed to a war zone.

She chose not to show up for the plane to Afghanistan and missed her deployment. When she reported for duty the following day the Army arrested her and took away her son, who was allegedly placed in an Army day care. His grandmother, Angelique Hughes of Oakland, California, picked him up a few days later. Alexis was granted leave to go home for the holidays in December, and returned to Georgia with her baby, Kamani, in early January.

After Hutchinson returned to Georgia in January, the Army filed court-martial charges against her and refused to discharge her under the Army regulations that clearly allow for discharges for reasons of parenthood responsibility. Truthout broke the story on January 14.

Makes you want to cry. Really. Then stand up, salute the flag, and maybe cry some more. Or say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Every once in a while, it’s nice to see a story end well.

In Support of Obama’s ‘Surge’ in Afghanistan

The New York Times posted an extensive article on the process through which President Obama arrived at his decision to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Obama was "haunted by the human toll," his advisers say, and wrestled with the economic toll. One estimate claimed that an expanded presence would cost $1 trillion over 10 years. The "fiscally conservative" far right doesn’t bat an eye at these costs. Obama was concerned.

From The New York Times:

Now as his top military adviser ran through a slide show of options, Mr. Obama expressed frustration. He held up a chart showing how reinforcements would flow into Afghanistan over 18 months and eventually begin to pull out, a bell curve that meant American forces would be there for years to come.

“I want this pushed to the left,” he told advisers, pointing to the bell curve. In other words, the troops should be in sooner, then out sooner.

When the history of the Obama presidency is written, that day with the chart may prove to be a turning point, the moment a young commander in chief set in motion a high-stakes gamble to turn around a losing war. By moving the bell curve to the left, Mr. Obama decided to send 30,000 troops mostly in the next six months and then begin pulling them out a year after that, betting that a quick jolt of extra forces could knock the enemy back on its heels enough for the Afghans to take over the fight.

The three-month review that led to the escalate-then-exit strategy is a case study in decision making in the Obama White House — intense, methodical, rigorous, earnest and at times deeply frustrating for nearly all involved. It was a virtual seminar in Afghanistan and Pakistan, led by a president described by one participant as something “between a college professor and a gentle cross-examiner.”

Mr. Obama peppered advisers with questions and showed an insatiable demand for information, taxing analysts who prepared three dozen intelligence reports for him and Pentagon staff members who churned out thousands of pages of documents.

We never heard President George W. Bush described as "intense, methodical, rigorous, earnest," although he may have been "deeply frustrating for nearly all involved." Obama was "deeply frustrating" for different reasons.

“I don’t want to be going to Walter Reed for another eight years,” he told his advisers.

Read the NYTimes article. Any who thought Obama was not listening to his generals should take heed. He was taking them back to boot camp, pushing and challenging them more than they had been pushed or challenged before. As Commander-in-Chief, he alone makes the policy decisions in war. The generals meet the professor.

I’m with the professor and the generals.

No one gets everything they want in a time of war.

Fort Hood Unit to Deploy Despite Losses and Grief

Those who suffered only recently are about to be deployed in service to this nation.

From the Sun-Times:

The day after arriving at Fort Hood, Army reservists dedicated to counseling troubled soldiers in war zones were overcome with their own grief.

Nearly a fourth of the Wisconsin-based 467th Medical Detachment’s soldiers died or were injured in the shooting rampage last month at the sprawling Texas post. The accused gunman, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, was supposed to deploy with the unit. Yet the soldiers said they never wavered in their determination to serve. They spent the last month training together, and several soldiers from across the country volunteered to fill the void left by the three soldiers slain and six others seriously wounded.

The 43 members of the Army Reserve combat stress unit were set to deploy to Afghanistan on Friday.

Department of Defense officials decided only recently that the unit would deploy as originally scheduled.

The article isn’t quite formatted correctly at the Sun-Times at this point — it’s two paragraphs, the second very, very long — but you should read it anyhow.

And pray for — and support — our troops.

Remains of U.S. Paratrooper Found in Afghanistan

From ENEWSPF:

The remains of a U.S. paratrooper reported missing since early this month in western Afghanistan were recovered yesterday, military officials said.

The body of Army Sgt. Brandon Islip was recovered from the Bala Murgahab River in Badghis province after a local Afghan resident provided information on his whereabouts, officials said.

Islip, a paratrooper with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, went missing with another paratrooper Nov. 4 after being swept away by a fast-moving current while on an airdrop re-supply mission in western Afghanistan.

The recovery comes weeks after British divers found the body of Islip’s fellow soldier, Spc. Benjamin Sherman, who was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Read more here.

Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Review of Events Leading to Tragedy at Fort Hood

Washington, D.C.–November 14, 2009.

This was a week for honoring the extraordinary service and profound sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.

Every fall, we set aside a special day to pay tribute to our veterans. But this year, Veteran’s Day took on even greater poignancy and meaning because of the tragic events at Fort Hood.

On Tuesday, I traveled there to join with the Fort Hood community, the Army, and the friends and families of the victims to honor thirteen of our fellow Americans who died – and the dozens more who were wounded – not on some distant shore, but on a military base at home.

Every man and woman who signs up for military service does so with full knowledge of the dangers that could come – that is part of what makes the service of our troops and veterans so extraordinary. But it’s unthinkable that so many would die in a hail of gunfire on a US Army base in the heart of Texas, and that a fellow service-member could have pulled trigger.

There is an ongoing investigation into this terrible tragedy. That investigation will look at the motives of the alleged gunman, including his views and contacts. As I said in Fort Hood, I am confident that justice will be done, and I will insist that the full story be told. That is paramount, and I won’t compromise that investigation today by discussing the details of this case. But given the potential warning signs that may have been known prior these shootings, we must uncover what steps – if any – could have been taken to avert this tragedy.

On the Thursday evening that this tragedy took place, I met in the Oval Office with Secretary of Defense Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Admiral Mullen, and FBI Director Mueller to review the immediate steps that were necessary to support the families and secure Fort Hood. The next morning, I met with the leadership of our military and the intelligence community, and ordered them to undertake a full review of the sequence of events that led up to the shootings.

The purpose of this review is clear: We must compile every piece of information that was known about the gunman, and we must learn what was done with that information. Once we have those facts, we must act upon them. If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability. Beyond that – and most importantly – we must quickly and thoroughly evaluate and address any flaws in the system, so that we can prevent a similar breach from happening again. Our government must be able to act swiftly and surely when it has threatening information. And our troops must have the security that they deserve.

I know there will also be inquiries by Congress, and there should. But all of us should resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater that sometimes dominates the discussion here in Washington. The stakes are far too high.

Of all the responsibilities of the presidency, the one that I weigh most heavily is my duty as Commander-in-Chief to our splendid service-men and women. Their character and bravery were on full display in that processing center at Fort Hood, when so many scrambled under fire to help their wounded comrades. And their great dignity and decency has been on display in the days since, as the Fort Hood community has rallied together.

We owe our troops prayerful, considered decisions about when and where we commit them to battle to protect our security and freedom, and we must fully support them when they are deployed. We also owe them the absolute assurance that they’ll be safe here at home as they prepare for whatever mission may come. As Commander-in-Chief, I won’t settle for anything less.

This nation will never forget the service of those we lost at Fort Hood, just as we will always honor the service of all who wear the uniform of the United States of America. Their legacy will be an America that is safer and stronger – an America that reflects the extraordinary character of the men and women who serve it.

Thank you.

Source: whitehouse.gov

British Scouts Yell “Kill the Jews” at Jewish Second World War Vets

They were only teenagers, and part of adolescence is testing the limits. The other part is learning when you’ve gone too far, sometimes horribly too far, and learning there are indeed limitations.

From The Guardian:

A scout troop is being investigated by the police after its members shouted death threats and racist abuse at Jewish war veterans during a remembrance parade.

Dressed in full uniform, the explorer scouts, who were taking part in Remembrance Sunday service in Romford, Essex were heard to repeatedly shout "Let’s kill the Jews" at Jewish second world war veterans.

The head of the scouts in the area has issued a full apology for the incident, which was witnessed by a senior policeman standing a few feet away.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said the Met was investigating two allegations of "racially aggravated harassment" involving more than one member of the Romford explorer scout unit. He would not say how many scouts were involved.

The Rev Lee Sunderland, who was taking part in the service, expressed shock after hearing the scouts shout: "Here come the Jews, let’s kill the Jews."

Other witnesses said the racists chants were started by a boy believed to be 15 years old. One of the troop has since come forward and been interviewed by police. He has been ordered by the Scout Association to visit the rabbi of the Romford and district synagogue to apologise in person.

One 84-year-old former RAF pilot challenged the scouts, "I was absolutely fuming … I told them I was a Jew and I’d spent four and a half years in the RAF during the second world war, and that Jewish people had sacrificed so much for freedom," he told the Evening Standard."

Nod to AmericaBlog for this.