Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: military

May
29th

China’s cyber spies could compromise US defense

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

China has an ingenious way of saving billions in military research and development: Just steal it from other countries, primarily the United States.

The Washington Post reports that Chinese military hackers have accessed data from 37 American weapons programs and 29 other defense-related technologies. Some observers think the stolen information is why China’s J-20 stealth fighters are so similar to the U.S.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Post’s report comes on the heels of accusations earlier this month from the Obama administration that China has also hacked into computers of U.S. government

Read more »

May
27th

Should Shinseki resign?

The Veterans Affairs backlog in handling vets’ disability claims has some calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. Boston Globe columnist Juliette Kayyem says that although Shinseki’s effectiveness has been undermined by his reluctance to play the D.C. political game, he shouldn’t quit. She writes:

Shinseki is in a generational battle as much as a bureaucratic one. He is the quiet leader at a time when veterans need a persistent public nuisance.

Here’s the entire article.

By Juliette Kayyem
The Boston Globe

This week, we honor those who have died in America’s wars. And those who survive. Veterans

Read more »

May
12th

Military must do more to address sexual-assault crisis

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Nothing better sums up the military’s problem regarding sexual assault than the mug shot of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski.

Jeffrey Krusinski
Jeffrey Krusinski

The officer in charge of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention programs had been arrested — on suspicion of sexual battery in a parking lot against a woman he did not know. Police say she fought him off and called 911.

That someone like Krusinski – an Air Force Academy graduate – may not have gotten the message about unwanted sexual advances shows how far the military still must go to address the problem.

And it’s a big one. Based on anonymous surveys, the Defense Department estimates that about 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012 – an increase of almost 37 percent over the previous year. Sexual assault was defined as anything from rape to “unwanted sexual touching” of private parts. Only 3,374 of those assaults were reported in 2012.

Why are so few reported? The survey suggests that victims fear retaliation and have little confidence that the military will prosecute the offense. Read more »

April
1st

Extend visa program for Iraqi and Afghan allies

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Being a U.S. soldier in a war zone is hazardous duty, but at least Americans know they’ll be coming home to a safer place when their tour of duty ends.

Iraqis and Afghans who worked with American troops and contractors as translators, drivers and guides – frequently at great risk to themselves and their families – have no such reassurance.

They often live among people who might resent the aid they provided and consider them collaborators. They’ve been targeted by militia groups and others for harassment, threats, kidnapping and even death. In 2011, one foreign aid provider in Iraq estimated that at least 1,000 of these workers had been killed. Read more »

March
18th

VA’s delays, errors create hardships for veterans

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ delays in acting on disability claims isn’t just inconvenient. Congressional testimony Thursday indicates that at least two veterans may have died “due to delay in care.”

That would be the most extreme result of the VA’s backlog, which doesn’t appear to be decreasing. Most regional offices  are experiencing longer processing times, according to auditors and a review of VA data by McClatchy Newspapers.

The average wait to begin receiving disability compensation is now 337 days at the Seattle office – more than 11 months – up from 213 days in January 2012. It’s even worse in New York City: 641 days. The number of vets with backlogged claims is expected to be more than 1 million by the end of March – and keep growing. Read more »

Feb.
12th

Army shouldn’t close ranks around Madigan inquiry

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

It’s hard to beat the U.S. Army when it comes to giving the bureaucratic run-around.

The Army has been blocking News Tribune staffers who have tried to ferret out information about problems at Madigan Army Medical Center, where soldiers apparently had been misdiagnosed during medical disability reviews for combat-related conditions. Even Freedom of Information Act requests have gotten little traction, with the requests lagging for months before being rejected for one reason or another, or being answered incompletely.

Most recently, military reporter Adam Ashton sought information about findings made by the Army Behavioral Task Force, which conducted an Army-wide investigation after the reports of problems at Madigan. At a press conference last week, Army Secretary John McHugh announced that the task force generated 24 findings and 47 recommendations, but he couldn’t share any of them. That might happen at some future, unspecified date.

That’s not good enough. Read more »

Jan.
26th

Gender had nothing to do with WWII soldier’s skill

Several stories were available to us to run in connection with the women-in-combat issue. For our Sunday centerpiece, we’re running an article by Kayla Williams, a former sergeant and Arabic linguist with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). She is also the author of “Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army.” She supports the Department of Defense decision to open up combat roles to women.

Taking the opposite position on the same page is Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker.

An interesting article on the topic is by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. He writes about one of the most celebrated women soldiers in history, Soviet sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko. Credited with killing 309 Nazis during World War II, she’s No. 5 on the Military Channel’s list of top 10 snipers.

Here’s the article. Read more »

Dec.
27th

Norm Dicks: Embodiment of a better Congress

Congressman Norm Dicks

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

To understand what Washington will lose when Norm Dicks leaves Congress five days from now, you have to meet the man.

He comes across as a latter-day Teddy Roosevelt: beefy and bombastic; exuberant, gregarious and dominating; funny, friendly and full of stories. Though he talks nonstop, he’s no bore: The ideas just come too fast.

After about 10 minutes, you realize Dicks is not merely a consummate politician, but also a man of rare intelligence and insatiable curiosity. Once he’s on one of his favorite subjects – stealth aircraft, for example, or Puget Sound cleanup – you start to wonder if anyone else knows as much as this guy.

At 72, he still looks and talks like an irrepressible ex-Husky linebacker, which he is. On the issues he follows, he’s also a formidable intellectual with a dazzling grasp of technical detail and broad context.

Many of the tributes now being paid to Dicks amount to inventories of the projects and funding he brought home to Washington and the 6th Congressional District during his 36 years in office.

None of those lists is complete, though, because he’s done so much. Here is a sampling: Read more »