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CRS: Cops Can Get Kitchen and Lawn Care Gear from DOD

By Bob Brewin // August 29, 2014

Drew300/Shutterstock.com

The Congressional Research Service has produced a report on the militarization of law enforcement unearthed by Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, which shows the Defense Department is a good source of gear far beyond the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in the news lately.

The Defense Logistics Agency's Law Enforcement Support Office provides state and local law enforcement agencies with surplus gear ostensibly for use to support the war on drugs and the war on terror.

This includes, according to the CRS report, kitchen equipment, lawn maintenance gear, computers, office furniture, bedding and tents.

Maybe there is a clever law enforcement agency out there that has figured out how to counter terrorists with a mass attack of lawn mowers. 

(Image via Drew300/Shutterstock.com)

Oh No: Obama Once Again Talks About ‘Sacred Trust’ with Vets

By Bob Brewin // August 28, 2014

Charles Dharapak/AP

Speaking at the American Legion convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, this Tuesday, President Obama invoked the “sacred trust” between those who serve in the military, the citizens they defend and himself.

Obama proclaimed, “The bond between our forces and our citizens has to be a sacred trust, and that for me, for my administration, upholding our trust with our veterans is not just a matter of policy, it is a moral obligation.”

That’s not much different than what candidate Obama said at the 2007 Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. 

“To America's veterans, our country must speak with one voice: We honor your service, and we enter into a sacred trust with you from the moment you put on that uniform. That trust is simple: America will be there for you just as you have been there for America,” Obama promised.

At the 2009 VFW convention in Phoenix, Obama hauled out the “sacred trust” line again, telling the assembled veterans that “America's commitment to its veterans are not just lines on a budget; they are bonds that are sacred, a sacred trust we're honor bound to uphold. These are commitments that we make ...

Scientists Figure Out Why Grunts Groan

By Bob Brewin // August 22, 2014

Deployed from USS Bataan and arriving in Afghanistan with a heavy backpack, a Marine with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), dons his backpack by laying his back on it.
Deployed from USS Bataan and arriving in Afghanistan with a heavy backpack, a Marine with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), dons his backpack by laying his back on it. // U.S. Navy

Some 325 scientists from around the world attending the third International Congress on Soldiers' Physical Performance in Boston came to the obvious conclusion any infantryman knows all too well: The combat load is way too heavy and defies efforts to shrink it.

Marilyn Sharp, who has the title of research exercise scientist -- really -- at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, Massachusetts, told the conference the “soldier load has been a problem for decades. And every time we lighten soldiers' load, we add another piece of equipment to make it worse." 

Despite a recent 20-year effort to lighten it, soldier load has steadily increased since the Civil War -- and this has led to injuries, Sharp added.

"The amount of load that you carry both in absolute terms and relative to your body weight is going to increase your injuries while you're deployed," Sharp said. "So I believe it's a very big problem that we need to continue to work to solve."

My take? Anyone who comes up with a great idea for a new piece of gear for a grunt to carry should first have to hike all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian ...

Entire Manhattan Project History Declassified and Now Online

By Bob Brewin // August 21, 2014

This is an aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site, New Mexico, July 16, 1945.
This is an aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site, New Mexico, July 16, 1945. // AP Photo

Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, the military chief of the organization charged with developing the atomic bomb during World War II – operating under the code name of Manhattan Engineer District – commissioned an internal and classified history of the project in 1944.

That entire history has now been declassified and posted online, according to Steven Aftergood, who writes the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News blog.

The history is arranged in 36 volumes posted on the Energy Department's OpenNet website. The final portions of the history -- dealing with intelligence and security and a supplement on foreign intelligence -- were posted in the past month.

The intelligence and security volume describes some 1,500 leaks between 1942 and 1946 at project sites scattered around the country from New Mexico to Washington State, California, Tennessee and Illinois.

Security was not to be achieved by the force of law or the threat of punishment, according to the history. Rather, "grounds for protecting information were largely patriotism, loyalty to the fighting men, and the reasoning that the less publicity given the project, the more difficult it would be for the enemy to acquire information about it and also, the greater would be the element of surprises ...

GSA Does Bombers Too

By Bob Brewin // August 20, 2014

A B-2 Spirit bomber soars during a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
A B-2 Spirit bomber soars during a deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam // U.S. Air Force

It turns out, the federal government’s landlord and long-distance phone supplier, the General Services Administration, also supports the Air Force B-2 stealth bomber.

GSA’s Assisted Acquisition Services Division increased a task order contract held by URS Corporation by $1 million yesterday to support work on a Very Low Frequency receiver along with some hush-hush classified projects.

I wonder if GSA has also branched out into the aircraft carrier business.