PAT LAMOUREUX - One episode in a person's life, does not define the person.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

President's Afghanistan Strategy - More Questions Than Answers

By Jon Soltz
(Jon Soltz is Chairman and Co-Founder of, the nation's largest progressive group of veterans in America. He served in the Iraq War with the Army.)

President Obama's strategy announcement for the war in Afghanistan raises more questions than it answers. But some answers are starting to come, and they're not good news.

The first and most important question, of course, is the feasibility of the strategy. On this question, many in the media and Congress have dropped the ball. They are asking if deploying an extra 30,000 troops is doable, when the question we should be asking is whether or not it is advisable.

Of course deploying 30,000 more troops in six months is doable. But when you delve into the numbers, whether we should do it is much more murky, and what the costs will be remains largely unanswered.

According to the Washington Independent, the US Army reports that it only has 24,000 National Guardsmen available for deployment at this time. Further, the report found that even if the President decided to repurpose heavy brigades that are of no use in Afghanistan as light brigades, there are only 31,600 active duty soldiers ready to deploy right now.

If all forces currently in theater were just beginning to fight, that would be one thing. But when you consider that many troops there are reaching the end of their deployment and should be rotated out, we run into serious problems. 

(click below for complete article)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Joshua Hunter, Alleged Fort Drum Killer, 'Snapped'

12/ 3/09 06:28 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. — Relatives of a Fort Drum soldier accused of stabbing his two Army buddies to death said Thursday that he told them he saw his best friend "blown to pieces" in Iraq and came back a changed man: abusive, violent, sleepless, edgy and plagued by flashbacks.

Spc. Joshua Hunter, a military policeman, was expected to be arraigned on second-degree murder charges Friday morning, three days after the bodies of Waide James, 20, and Diego Valbuena, 23, were found in their apartment just outside Fort Drum, about 140 miles northwest of Albany. Hunter and the two victims served in Iraq at the same time in the same battalion.

They all were based at the wind-swept Army post near the Canadian border, home of the much-deployed 10th Mountain Division, and shared an off-base apartment.

Hunter's wife, Emily Hunter, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that her husband was outgoing before he went to war, but when he returned stateside, he was an emotional wreck.

"He wasn't in any good mental shape at all," Emily Hunter said. "I tried to get him to go to therapy. They prescribed him medicine and stuff, but it just wasn't enough."

(click below for complete story)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Forgotten Cost of War: Caring for Veterans

Paul Rieckhoff
Exec. Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Posted: December 1, 2009 09:54 PM
President Obama has finally laid out his strategy for Afghanistan. Unfortunately, he did so without using the word "veteran" and without articulating any back-end support for our returning troops. In typical fashion, we've heard the media's talking heads ask: Is Afghanistan Obama's Vietnam? Why only 30,000 troops? Will the exit strategy embolden the Taliban?
And now, the politics and policy of the new strategy have been broken down into predictable soundbite-sized morsels by the partisans and pundits. But few have focused on how the Administration plans to support those 30,000 troops when they return home. Nor have we heard much talk of their families who won't be on planes to Afghanistan, but are still making sacrifices every day on the home front. These are the brave Americans responsible for executing this new plan or waiting for a knock on the door that they pray will never come.
President Obama's plan will significantly increase the demands on our service members, almost 800,000 of whom have already served multiple tours. The propeller-heads in Washington have crunched the numbers determining how much it will cost to send these new forces to the front. But I'm not at all convinced that they've done the back-end planning that's necessary for a complete war plan; one that cares for these troops when they come home.  As we saw with the implementation of the new  Gi Bill, failing to plan is planning to fail. If the President doesn't plan adequately now, Walter Reed will only be the beginning of a decades-long national embarrassment of failing to care for our nation's veterans and their families.
The only way to avoid another round of heartache, disappointment and frustration is to guarantee that our returning troops will receive the full support of the president, Congress, the Department of Defense, the VA and the American people (a critical spoke on this wheel that has been neglected for far too long). 
We can start by ensuring that every service member receives the resources they need when they come home. This doesn't mean a welcome home parade, although that's always a nice gesture. It means leaders in Washington that don't live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue stepping up right now. Congress must send the VA health care budget to the president immediately. As of tonight's address, the VA budget is already 61 days late.
But Congress cannot stop there. The outdated and ineffective military and VA disability systems that leave hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting for claims to be processed must be reformed. And during these trying economic times, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that every veteran can find employment and a place to call home.
Finally, President Obama must find a way to fully engage all Americans in supporting and advocating for all those who've served -- regardless of how they feel about the war. America's foreign policy cannot succeed without these heroes, and their return home won't succeed without us.

Crossposted at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Obama's Plans to Increase Afghanistan Troop Levels Would Leave US With No Reserve

Tuesday 24 November 2009
by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t Report

"The shortage of available combat brigades means that an escalation of between 30,000 and 40,000 troops is 'not realistic‚'" and would leave the US with "no reserve in case you had a problem......."

President Barack Obama intends to announce that he will deploy tens of thousands of additional US troops to Afghanistan, according to numerous published reports citing unnamed administration officials, to fight an eight-year-old war that a majority of Americans do not support and numerous Democratic lawmakers say is no longer worth waging.

Leaks coming out of the White House following Obama's final meeting Monday evening with top military officials, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Adviser Jim Jones, US. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and 12 other senior members of his administration, indicate that the president will send 34,000 additional troops to the region over the next nine months, far short of the 80,000 troops Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal recommended last August.

Still, the surge would bring the total number of US soldiers in Afghanistan to about 100,000 and would severely strain an already stretched military. 

Indeed, as Spencer Ackerman noted last week in an investigative report published in The Washington Independent, "If President Obama orders an additional 30,000 to 40,000 troops to Afghanistan, he will be deploying practically every available US Army brigade to war, leaving few units in reserve in case of an unforeseen emergency and further stressing a force that has seen repeated combat deployments since 2002.

"According to information compiled by the US Army for The Washington Independent about the deployment status of active-duty and National Guard Army brigades, as of December 2009, there will be about 50,600 active-duty soldiers, serving in 14 combat brigades, and as many as 24,000 National Guard soldiers available for deployment. All other soldiers and National Guardsmen will either be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan already or ineligible to deploy while they rest from a previous deployment.

"The shortage of available combat brigades means that an escalation of between 30,000 and 40,000 troops is 'not realistic‚'" and would leave the US with "no reserve in case you had a problem in Korea," Lawrence Korb, a former senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration who now studies defense issues for the liberal Center for American Progress, told The Washington Independent. 

According to an in-depth report by veteran McClatchy Newspapers reporter Jonathan Landay, deployments will begin in March of three Army brigades from the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky; the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, and a Marine brigade from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, "for as many as 23,000 additional combat and support troops.

"In addition, a 7,000-strong division headquarters would be sent to take command of US-led NATO forces in southern Afghanistan - to which the US has long been committed - and 4,000 US military trainers would be dispatched to help accelerate an expansion of the Afghan army and police," Landay reported.   

Officials commenting on the strategy refused to speak on the record, but the leaks appear to be well-coordinated and aimed at softening the blow that will likely result after Obama publicly announces his war plans December 1. His address to the nation next week will come two weeks before the president heads to Oslo, Norway, to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Without commenting on specifics of his strategy, Obama said Tuesday he intends to "finish the job" that began with the overthrow of the Taliban following the 9/11 attacks and promised to "dismantle and degrade ... al-Qaeda and its extremist allies [to ensure they] cannot operate" in [Afghanistan]. 

The president alluded to the fact that the Bush administration failed to commit resources to Afghanistan over the past seven years, choosing to focus exclusively on the occupation of Iraq, which allowed the Taliban to regain a stronghold in the region. Obama predicted the American people would support his efforts, despite opinions polls that show deep misgivings about the war.   

"I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we're doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive," Obama said.  

But convincing Congress, especially on the issue of how to fund the troop increase which Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, pegged at nearly $1 million per soldier, is another matter. 

While Obama promised on the campaign trail not to rely on the use of emergency supplemental money to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - estimated to have cost nearly $1 trillion thus far - and instead dip into the defense budget, it's likely the president will do just that when it comes time to pay for the surge.  

Congressman David Obey (D-Wisconsin) and Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) have proposed a war surtax on the wealthy to pay for additional troops. 

"If we have to pay for the health care bill, we should pay for the war as well," Obey told ABC News in an interview that aired Monday. "The problem in this country with this issue is that the only people who have to sacrifice are military families and they've had to go to the well again and again and again and again, and everybody else is blithely unaffected by the war."  

Obey added that it would also be a "mistake to deepen our involvement" in Afghanistan.   

Sen. Arlen Specter agreed. In a conference call with reporters last week, the Pennsylvania Democrat said, "We ought not to add troops in Afghanistan - let alone remain in the country unless the Obama administration can prove that escalating the war is 'indispensable to our fight against al-Qaeda."  

Specter said he arrived at his decision after meeting with Secretary of State Clinton; Defense Secretary Gates; Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and top intelligence officials. Moreover, Specter said Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's failure to root out corruption in his government factored into his decision.

That was a sentiment shared by Ambassador Eikenberry, who privately warned Obama in two classified cables he sent to the White House earlier this month about deploying additional troops to Afghanistan because of widespread corruption in Karzai's government.  

(click below for the complete article)

Monday, November 30, 2009

$40 billion in annual costs if President Obama sends 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan

"We have this theme in this country that we will support our troops, all work as a team, but there are so many cases when they are just released from service and left on their own.  We treat them as second-class citizens, but they are the ones who pay the price."

More Iraq, Afghanistan veterans need more help
Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, November 30, 2009

Pentagon bean counters see an extra $40 billion in annual costs if President Obama sends 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but Michael Blecker sees mainly this:

More than 13,000 new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. An additional 8,000 or so traumatic brain injuries. More suffering and need coming home in the form of wounded vets than the country can easily handle.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have produced more diagnosed cases of PTSD and debilitating injuries per capita than any other war in the nation's history, health care experts say. And veterans who encounter homecoming trouble are becoming homeless more quickly than ever, street counselors say.

It's something most people don't consider when they think of sending more soldiers overseas, said Blecker, head of San Francisco's Swords to Plowshares veterans aid agency. But they should, he said - especially now, as Obama prepares to make a speech to the nation Tuesday.

(click below for complete article)

"Grandpa Pat & Kain"

"Grandpa Pat & Kain"
"Kain-man" the jokester....

Pat Lamoureux - Iraq 2003

Pat Lamoureux - Iraq 2003
"Pat is an extraordinary, thoughtful, kind and generous man...not to mention a wonderful friend, in which one could always count upon to be there when in need." (words of a long time friend)

Pat's Family

Pat's Family
Mica & Heather, grandson Kain