It would be nice if the military supported our troops

instead of turning a blind eye to their well-being in many areas. this combined with the horrifying “treatment” of soldier mental health issues makes for a sad state of affairs.

The Pentagon allegedly endangered U.S. soldiers by implementing and covering-up dangerously toxic waste-incineration practices at Balad Airbase in Iraq during years past, as revealed in a leaked Air Force memo.

The document, written by an environmental engineering flight commander in December of 2006 and posted on Wikileaks on Tuesday, details the risks posed to US troops in Iraq by burning garbage at a US airbase. It enumerates myriad risks posed by the practice and identifies various carcinogens released by incinerating waste in open-air pits.

According to the document, a US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine investigator said Balad’s burn pit was “the worst environmental site I have ever personally visited,” including “10 years working… clean-up for the Army.”

The story then goes on to discuss a Pentagon report titled “Just the Facts” which, given the now-leaked memo, reeks of obfuscation. According to Army Times, “Just the Facts” admits the “occasional presence” of possibly harmful toxins but then attempts to write-off the cancerous Balad Airbase miasma as harmless:[INDENT]But “the potential short- and long-term risks were estimated to be low due to the infrequent detections of these chemicals,” the paper states. “Based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidance, long-term health effects are not expected to occur from breathing the smoke” at Joint Base Balad.[/INDENT]
here is the leaked memo:

But on the bright side, at least they can get medical care for free at the VA for life, right?

The way our troops are treated is appalling on every level, from base pay, to equipment, to medical care. It sickens me that we can spend untold billions hiring private security firms to do the same damned job the military used to do, while the troops get saddled with the effects of dramatically lowered recruiting standards, obscenely long deployments, shit pay, shit working conditions, deathtrap equipment, and a horribly broken VA system.

Burn pits are awful. In Ramadi, the destruction of the sewers meant that we had to use those scandinavian waste bags, which have the special biodegrading gels in them and all kinds of stuff designed for a certain type of disposal. Being the US military, we were then provided with no other means of dealing with our waste than burning it with all of the other trash, which was by far one of the most revolting and distinctive odors I’ve ever been hit with. The day one idiot threw away a really important piece of serialized gear by accident (meaning that even if ruined some effort has to be made to account for its whereabouts) was a miserable day for all.

Is the pay that bad when you throw in housing and other benefits? My submariner friends made good money, but I’m sure they got all kinds of hazard pay.

There is special nuke pay and retention bonuses for at least some submariners.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that. No, I don’t think military pay is bad at all. Combat pay and other special bonuses can add quite a bit to what is already quite adequate, and the post service rewards are more ample than ever for the average serviceperson, imo. There is certainly a lot of neglect and, in general, mishandling of physically and mentally damaged personnel, but that is not all part of the same issue.

On another note, contractor pay is still a bargain for the firm, and only a scam because of the way the US demands zero transparency or any shred of decency from those who “win” the bids (presumably the no accountability has to go both ways in order to be viable). You pay the high salaries in return for expendability and silence, and in the current climate of bullshitting the public (v. 13294287.0, for those of you keeping score at home) that’s a hell of a deal. A uniformed serviceperson may appear cheaper in some ways (certainly for the taxpayer looking at the bottom line), but there’s a whole support infrastructure and a set of meta issues that have to go along with that. Again, imo.

Plus the submariners spend most of their time under water so there’s no opportunity to spend their money.

Boy it must suck to surface after 60 days to find out what happened to your 401k.

Well, hey, I guess it beats the other stuff they could find after sixty days like, I dunno, a world lit only by the guttering flames of a nuclear apocalypse that they started.

Just a thought.

I dunno, a world lit only by the guttering flames of a nuclear apocalypse that they started.

One of the more cherishable things about the concept of hidden forces of global annihilation lurking in the deeps of the ocean is that the British nuclear deterrent apparently has a very simple test for determining whether the world’s ended or not - “Can you pick up Radio 4 on long wave?”[1]

[1] For non-UKians, think NPR with a much closer place in the hearts of Britons of above a certain class level. (Not entirely uncorrelated with the set of UK-residents who use the word Briton)

It used to be that submariners earned combat pay at sea, although I’m not sure if that’s the case anymore.

Edit: submariner duty incentive pay: