Keeping An Eye On Afghanistan, Health Of Military Personnel

Keeping An Eye On Afghanistan, Health Of Military Personnel, 22 March 2011, Washington Post

By Walter Pincus


In a busy news week, with Japanese radiation, Libyan fighting and Persian Gulf states’ protests dominating the headlines, new factual information delivered during hearings on Capitol Hill often gets lost in the mix.

Here is a sampling from Senate and House hearings on elements of the Defense Department’s fiscal 2012 budget:

Eye on Afghanistan: Gen. David Petraeus, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that persistent surveillance of Afghanistan has sharply increased and will continue growing. “We have increased the number of various types of persistent surveillance systems — essentially blimps and towers with optics — from 114 this past August to 184 at the present, with plans for continued increases throughout this year.”

The prime system is the Aerostat, a blimplike vehicle that is held 1,000 feet in the air by a tether, which also supplies electric power to its cameras and sensors. They are not highly pressurized so bullets won’t immediately shoot them down. They, along with systems based on towers, provide day and night monitoring of a wide area over towns and military bases.

Battling Afghan corruption: Petraeus defended President Hamid Karzai on the subject of Afghan corruption. He said Karzai’s concern with private security contractors was based on ownership “in some cases of former warlords or members of what he — and we — have agreed to call criminal patronage networks. . . . Again, these are criminals. They’re breaking the law. They have political protection in some respects. And they’re not just acting as individuals; they are part of networks. ”


FULL ARTICLE AT:–personnels-fitness/2011/03/18/ABB3YE9_story.html