Archive for Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More speculation about Petraeus’ future

December 20, 2006

Here are today's headlines about Kansas military matters:

Gen. David Petraeus/Fort Leavenworth

(LA Times) Top general in Mideast to retire: Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has submitted plans to retire and will leave his post in March, a step likely to make way for a change in military strategy at a time the Bush administration is seeking a new plan for Iraq. ... The leading candidate from the counterinsurgency advocates is Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, a highly respected military thinker who led the 101st Airborne Division during the Iraq invasion in March 2003. In his current job as head of the Army's leading military schools, Petraeus oversaw the rewriting of the Army and Marine counterinsurgency field manual, which was issued last week and argues that while killing insurgents is often important, the most vital task in a counterinsurgency is winning the support of the population. The manual also argues for moving soldiers out of large bases into smaller outposts among the local population. Such manpower-intensive tactics run counter to those now used by Abizaid and Casey. Currently, troops clear dangerous Baghdad neighborhoods with regularity but, because of their limited numbers, must quickly turn over long-term security responsibilities to unprepared Iraqi units, which frequently results in backsliding.

(Secrecy News) Counterinsurgency Manual Flies Off the Shelf: The new Army Field Manual on Counterinsurgency doctrine has been downloaded from the Federation of American Scientists web site at an extraordinary rate -- more than 250,000 times since it was posted on Friday morning. But unlike previous drafts obtained by Secrecy News, the new manual is no secret. It has been published and actively disseminated by the Army. "Why don't you also put up our press release announcing the manual which can also be found on our web site?" inquired Col. Steven A. Boylan of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth. That December 15 news release (pdf) and the accompanying manual (large pdf) can be found on the Fort Leavenworth web site.

Kansas National Guard

(Wichita Eagle) Guardsmen's new mission will transform them mechanics into war intelligence experts: In their third transition in 16 years, Kansas Air National Guardsmen will get a new mission that puts them -- and Wichita -- at the center of the war on terror. Plane mechanics and others assigned to the 184th Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base will be retrained as intelligence experts, handling top-secret information and helping key players in the war decide which enemy targets to strike and how. Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the state's adjutant general, announced the plans Tuesday, one day after Wichitan Robert Gates was sworn in as the new secretary of defense. But don't read too much into that timing, officials said.

(Wichita Eagle) Iraq war's burden falls most heavily on soldiers from rural counties: The death rate per million population aged 18 to 54 was 60 percent higher for soldiers from rural areas than those from urban and suburban areas, said the study by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. The higher rate is linked to higher enlistment in rural areas due to diminished job opportunities, the study said. A sense of duty - and economics - were the motivation for a mother and son from Grainfield, a town of about 320 in western Kansas, to enlist together in the Kansas National Guard on Friday, along with another relative. Patricia Langley, her son Jack Mayfield, and her brother-in-law Damon Rickard made the decision together, Langley said. "We all have an obligation," she said. "If we're going to complain about things, we need to be part of things. We all should at some point do something for our country." Langley, 39, also wanted a change after the cleaning business she and her husband owned for 10 years went under.

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