December 18th, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Your view: Is U.S. combat equipment up to snuff?

Yesterday's post on Rep. Ike Skelton's letter raising concerns about jamming M4s and restricting plastic straps on soldiers' rucksacks kicked up some pretty interesting comments on the way purchasing is handled for U.S. troops.  We heard from several soldiers, Marines, and civilians on the issue.  Mike says "Don't totally blame the military on this one, most of the blame is on the congress and how they fund the military." And commenter Adam wonders if the Pentagon's focus on larger weapons such as "$2 billion each for a B-2, $300 million for an F-22" has distracted from funding troops on the ground. Meanwhile, David states that "the M4 is a fine combat weapon. Soldiers begged to have M4s in lieu of M16A2s in 2003-2004, Soldiers will always complain about something. "

What do you think? Are U.S. troops on the ground getting what they need? Is Congress doing enough to ensure they have the right equipment? And is the American public willing to foot the tax bill to pay for it all?

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December 18th, 2009
12:41 PM ET

Around the Web: Drone strikes in Pakistan

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed three people Friday in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region, a local official said.

The missile strike occurred in the village of Datta Khel, said a North Waziristan political official.

This strike comes a day after two attacks left 15 dead in the same area. On Thursday, a drone fired eight missiles killing two suspected militants, a local political official said.

Hours later, another strike killed 13 people and destroyed two houses and two cars, according to intelligence officials, who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

More reporting on the drone strikes: Dawn; Washington Post; New York Times.


December 18th, 2009
08:51 AM ET

Military: Burn pits could cause long-term damage to troops

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Smoke billows from a burn pit on a base in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, in 2007."]

Washington (CNN) - The military is backing off its previous position and acknowledging that some troops exposed to the burning of refuse on military bases could be susceptible to long-term health effects.

Since the issue first arose two years ago, Pentagon health officials have insisted that, based on its analysis, troops who were near burn pits at Joint Base Balad in Iraq - the largest base in that country - faced no long-term health hazards. That covered most of the troops who passed through the base.

The Department of Defense found that the burn pits, which are used instead of incinerators on some bases and outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan, could cause effects in the short term - including irritated eyes and upper respiratory system problems - that can lead to persistent coughing. But the department said "it is less clear what other longer-term health effects [there] may be."

Full story

December 18th, 2009
08:00 AM ET

An inside look at corruption in Afghanistan

It's no secret that corruption is rampant in Afghanistan. CNN's Fred Pleitgen takes us inside a makeshift government facility where some people have to pay nearly half their annual salary - most of it in bribes - just to register a car.