by David Winkler
We need a legislative Branch that works to support the White House Priorities on the exit strategy of Afghanistan. President Trump gave two clear & concise objectives to US Secretary of State. Pompeo. 1. Find a way to limit US Casualties, 2. Reduce the costs of the war in Afghanistan. I devised a plan in 2018 that meets the intent of both objectives & wanted to share context of what has transpired over the last 18 years with my Constituents.
In 2018, I fought hard as the Chief Executive Officer of a Veterans Non Profit to put forth this plan to mitigate further aftermath of the ongoing Traumatic Brain Injury Crisis. I engaged the NY Times, Senate Armed Services Committee & several Congressional members who’s staffers agreed with my thought process but sent us in circles with no progression.
October 07, 2001 we began the Afghanistan Conflict, with the intent to defeat the Taliban as part of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). 18 years have passed with little to no forward progression to hand over the Government to the Afghan people. (CRS Report), August 2018 states we have 52,347 Wounded Veterans, and 6,757 Killed in Action between both the Iraq & Afghanistan Conflict. The main threat and casualty producing weapon to our Service members & Allies is the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) made with Homemade Explosives (HME).
We must take every measure to decrease and mitigate this “IED” threat now to save the lives of our Warfighters, prevent future attacks on US soil, and decrease life changing injuries within our Veteran Community. Projected costs from the Congressional Budget office projects Veteran Healthcare for 2020 would range from $69 billion to $85 Billion dollars, which is a 45% to 75% increase from 2010. This is mainly because of inpatient treatments, surgeries, outpatient behavioral health issues, traumatic brain injuries, chiropractic treatment, & physical therapy.
The US Army owns the Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Program (C-IED), which has been losing this fight for 18 years. GWOT has cost US taxpayers $5.9 Trillion Dollars post 9/11 attacks. IEDs enable enemies to maintain a Strategic & Tactical edge in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. At the core of this low tech weapon system are mostly $100 bags of Potassium Chlorate or Ammonium Nitrate. In addition to high casualties and costs, and surging partner nation forces attrition, explosives violence has created the world’s worst Refugee Crisis.
The US Army has been negligent, committed Fraud, Waste, and Abuse with CIED initiatives including the “Soldiers as Sensors” success story that they shelved even after it contributed to 440 tons in seizures in 2012 and was highlighted by the Center for Army Lessons Learned as a Best Practice. Tens of millions of dollars spent on explosives detection equipment deemed “useless” in combat zones, and yet the Army kept buying more. Millions more spent on “highly effective” detection tools that were shelved and later disposed of despite unprecedented performance on the battlefield and high demand signals from US, NATO, and Partner Nation Forces for more.
The Army’s invention (CRESS) to counter this threat has been in development for 9 years and never tested by DOD’s Executive Agent (NSWC Indian Head EOD Technology Division) for explosive detection equipment. The Army told the Joint Staff in June 2017 that NAVY testing of CRESS was underway, when it was not. CSTC-A Commanders (US Army) told Army HQ in NOV 2016 and Resolute Support HQ in JAN 2018 that CRESS was going to close the Afghan Forces bulk explosive material detection gap. CRESS cannot detect Potassium Chlorate, the #1 explosive precursor (60%) used in Afghanistan. CRESS targets Ammonium, an ingredient in the most common legal fertilizer (Diammonium Phosphate) that is not used to make IEDs. CRESS Standard Operating Procedure will endanger Service Members if the bulk material analyzed is a peroxide explosive. According to Army Press Releases, the Army Program of Record CRESS kit was supposed to fielded in 2011, and yet it still not ready or relevant today.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher of Congress addressed the White House Chief of Staff Mr. John Kelly on 16 March 2018 in a letter that called into question why the Pentagon and the Army wasted 8 years trying to develop a solution for HME detection and expressed that the solution already exists in the cost-effective AI-HME-001 kits supplied by American Innovations, Inc. Secondly multiple Memorandums of Instruction from the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Afghanistan has dictated the implementation of training and equipping the Afghan Police with the AI-HME-001 kits. This instruction was mandated to CSTC-A by US & Afghan Government Officials multiple times. This inaction has undermined President Obama and President Trump Counter Terrorism Strategies, led to Waste & abuse of Millions of Dollars, and most importantly injury & Deaths of US Service Members. 400,000+ Traumatic Brain Injuries since 2001.
In conclusion we must do right by our Service members and Veteran Community. We have been at 18 years of Conflict, with 2 more years to go before a whole generation entered at a time of War and retired within the same conflict. Traumatic Brain injuries, Depression, Suicides, and Alcohol & Substance abuse are just some of the after effects of IEDS. These statistics are increasing in numbers every year this conflict continues. My Campaign just like most Veterans NonProfits care about our Military & Veteran Community and would like to see immediate action taken to give our War Fighters overseas exactly what they are asking to detect the HME threat, and ultimately meet the POTUS priorities & intent.
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David Winkler is a US Marine & US Army Veteran, Former CEO of Wings for Warriors who advocates on behalf of those who served our Great Nation. David aims to unseat Albio Sires in the 8th District of New Jersey come November.