• Keith Bernstein/Warner Bros.

    Chris Kyle

    American Soldiers on 'American Sniper'

    Contrary to what the Internet would have you believe there are ways of thinking about Chris Kyle other than war criminal or hero.

    Countrymen and countrywomen, we have got to be smarter about this whole American Sniper thing.

    Without question, the film has tapped into that ever-elusive cultural zeitgeist, and think pieces are hardly the only metric proving it. The film has a slew of Oscar nominations, and a $105.3 million long weekend opening, a January box-office record. Surrounding these successes is a lot of rancorous noise and debate, not just about the film itself, but what its’ box-office impact signifies for us as a nation and as a citizenry. Maybe people do care about Iraq and Afghanistan, and the stories emerging from those places, after all—or at least care for a certain type of story from those places.

  • Susannah Ireland/eyevine, via Redux

    Bloody Secrets

    War and Men: A Love Story

    From an outpost in Afghanistan an Army officer tries to come to terms with the dual legacies of war—that something so awful could be the best time of a young man’s life.

    Early last year, when we were all transfixed with commemorating the ten year anniversary of the Iraq invasion, before ISIS became the chief discussion concerning Iraq, I came across an article written by ex-British Army officer James Jeffrey about his shame for having enjoyed fighting there. He felt shame because despite the terrible consequences of the war; the innumerable deaths, the monetary cost, and the immeasurable loss of international clout, he still enjoyed the experience. It was the best thing he had ever done. He felt joy, because, in his words, how could you not?

    “I defy anyone in a Challenger 2 tank, looking back over the commanders cupola at 20 armored vehicles kicking up curtains of sand, speeding across the smooth desert while enveloped in warm winds as the gunner traverses the turret to test fire the coaxially mounted machine gun, and then claim not to have enjoyed themselves.

  • via Youtube


    Why These Marines Are Hot for ‘Frozen’

    When a video of Marines singing along to a Disney song went viral, most viewers thought it was cute. It was really a lesson in how the military treats sex and violence.

    At first glance, it seems sweet: Young Marines in a barracks watching Disney’s blockbuster film, Frozen. Snuggled together on a couch, rippled shoulders touching, they bounce along, loudly singing the film’s hit song “Let It Go.” But then, as the song reaches its climax, the Marines explode. Arms go up in triumph, the bouncing turns to bucking, and the song’s final notes are overpowered by the aggressive sounds of the Marine Corps’ trademark war cry: “Ooh-rah!”

    Once the video was posted online, it immediately went viral. Viewers cheered on the “Adorable!” Marines in their moment of “true emotional liberation.” But they had missed the point entirely. Emotional liberation is not what’s going on in the video. It’s the sexy cartoon princess that has the Marines so worked up.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki takes his seat to testify before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care, on Capitol Hill in Washington May 15, 2014. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

    VA Scandal

    Obama Ducking Scandalous Deaths at VA

    Democrats can dismiss Benghazi and the IRS as pseudo-scandals, maybe, but 40 veterans have died, and where has Obama been? Totally absent.

    Up to now, President Obama and congressional Democrats had thought “so-called” scandals involving Benghazi, the IRS, and Operation Fast and Furious were largely behind them. Nothing to see, just Republican witch hunts designed to embarrass the president and perhaps land blows against Hillary Clinton. But recent revelations about shoddy care at Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities across the country have brought bipartisan condemnation from Capitol Hill that should worry a commander in chief whose reaction to the brewing tempest has been muted at best.

    What is most surprising about the present controversy surrounding the substandard treatment at the VA, in which at least 40 veterans lost their lives while awaiting treatment, is that House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) had alerted the president to trouble nearly a year ago. In a letter dated May 21, 2013, Miller began:

  • U.S. Army PFC Lawrence S. Gordon was killed in Normandy on Aug. 13, 1944 in Normandy. He was mistakenly buried as a German unknown soldier in a cemetery in France. His family produced exhaustive research that pointed to Gordon’s whereabouts, but the U.S. military didn’t act on the case. Instead the French and German governments moved forward to exhume Gordon and identify him with DNA. (Courtesy of Gordon family)

    Finally Home

    The WWII Hero America Abandoned

    For more than 50 years, Army PFC Lawrence S. Gordon was mistakenly interred as a German soldier in a cemetery in France. The U.S. never corrected the mistake.

    U.S. Army Private First Class Lawrence S. Gordon—killed in Normandy in 1944, then mistakenly buried as a German soldier—will soon be going home to his family.

    But don’t thank the American military for this belated return. The Pentagon declined to act on his case, despite exhaustive research by civilian investigators that pointed to the location of his remains.

  • Chris Keane/Reuters

    Sex & the Military

    How Did the General Get Off?

    A top Army officer faced life imprisonment on sexual assault charges and other crimes but walked away Thursday with a minor reprimand. How did that happen?

    Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who had been charged with sexually assaulting a female captain who worked for him, walked free Thursday.

    Sinclair received a surprisingly light sentence given that he had originally faced life imprisonment and his own defense lawyers seemed resigned to some jail time, asking this week that he not be imprisoned for more than 18 months. Instead, in a decision that surprised many, Sinclair was docked $20,000 in pay and received a letter of reprimand, but was allowed to remain in the military and keep his pension and benefits.

  • Two F-22 Raptors fly over the Pacific Ocean. (Getty)

    Pentagon Not Ready for Cold War 2

    The U.S. military spent decades pivoting away from its Cold War stance. Now the Pentagon is less prepared than it has been in generations for a confrontation with Russia.

    There’s an old saying in the military that we’re always training for the last war, so fixated on the lessons of our most recent conflict that we’re blind to the emerging threat.

    For years, that last war was the Cold War, and the emerging threat was the insurgents of Iraq and Afghanistan. Slowly, painfully, eventually, the military reoriented itself. The result? After more than two decades of post Cold War re-alignment, the military is less prepared than it has been in generations for a confrontation with Russia.

  • Kevin Dietsch/UPI, via Landov

    Sexual Assault Bill SNAFU

    The New York Senator may have lost the vote to move prosecution of sexual assaults outside the military, but she’s still a champion in certain circles who will continue to maintain a watchful eye on reform.

    Legislation that would have transferred the decision to prosecute sexual assault in the military from commanders to lawyers outside the chain of command failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the senate Thursday. The 55 senators that supported New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act included all but three of the 20 women currently serving in the senate. Those three, Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republicans Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Deb Fischer of Nebraska backed legislation crafted by McCaskill, which cruised to an easy victory after two hours of emotional debate.

    Except for the glaring difference in how women in the still male-dominated senate voted, pigeon-holing supporters for either bill along ideological or partisan lines proved difficult. The pro-Gillibrand vote had a more progressive caste overall with Democratic newcomers Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Cory Booker in her camp. But she also won over iconoclastic Republicans Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Chuck Grassley, a coalition that is rare for a Democrat in Washington today.

  • Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

    National Security

    Now the Military Needs to Be Fixed

    The shutdown is over but its harm to the military still needs to be repaired. Marine veteran Andrew Borene calls for the politicians responsible to own up and fix the situation.

    The epic embarrassment of our government’s shutdown has finally ended but in its wake we’re now faced with a serious national security deficit. Unlike our political leaders, America’s enemies didn’t take the last two weeks off to fight amongst themselves. Even with the government reopened our military and national security agencies can’t just get back to work as though nothing happened, first they have to repair the considerable damage caused.

    If a foreign power had crippled American national security and defense readiness by neutralizing 72% of CIA civilians and taking much the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s civilian staff out of action by nefarious means, our nation would justifiably have declared war. When that kind of devastating attack comes from within, it’s just called “politics.”

  • Scott Henrichsen/The Daily Beast


    Arnold Fisher Is Mad As Hell

    The New York real estate mogul's family foundation is paying the death benefits to the families of fallen soldiers. By Ben Jacobs.

    Arnold Fisher is outraged.

    The New York real estate mogul and philanthropist's family foundation, The Fisher House Foundation is paying the death benefits to the families of soldiers who have died on duty since the government shutdown began on midnight on October 1.

  • U.S. Army soldiers carry the flag-draped transfer case containing the remains of U.S. Army Pfc. Cody J. Patterson during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base on October 9, 2013 in Dover, Delaware. According to reports, Patterson, who was from Philomath, Oregon, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning, Georgia, was killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan. Since the U.S. government shutdown, a benefit called the 'death gratuity' that helps families cover travel and funeral costs for fallen soldiers has gone unpaid. (Patrick Smith/Getty)

    Left Unpaid

    The Death Benefit Scandal

    The $100,000 payment to the family of a fallen service member—which is supposed to be a first and immediate installment on an unpayable debt—is being withheld in the shutdown. Michael Daly on the outrage.

    Three days after the government shut down and two days before he was killed, 19-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr. went on Facebook.

    “Get it together Obama and not to mention Congress. Jesus! Make up your minds,” Collins wrote on October 3 from Afghanistan. “I will protect…my country with my life, but do not go fucking with the men and women that protect your sorry asses.”

  • Richard Ellis/Getty

    Military Pain

    The Shutdown’s Hidden Cost

    Politicians may be trumpeting that service members are being paid during the shutdown, but other military services are in the crosshairs, reports Jacob Siegel.

    With the news that Pentagon employees are being paid again, the military seems to have been saved from the troubles caused by the government shutdown. But there’s just one problem: it’s not true.

    The truth is that the military is not working like it’s supposed to, and things will only get worse if the shutdown isn’t resolved soon.

  • Gary Sinise, center with glasses, at the Dedication ceremony for the NICoE Satellite Center at Fort Belvoir. (fallenheroesfund.org)


    Private Funding to Treat Veterans

    Private money is funding veterans' medical treatment ignored by Washington. Rachel Rose Hartman reports.

    FORT BELVOIR, Va.— On Sept. 11 as bikers circled the outlying highways and flags flew at half staff 20 miles away from the nation’s capital, organizers at Fort Belvoir in Virginia cut the ribbon for the Army base’s new traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress (PTS) center.

    The 200 assembled guests heard stories of recovery from severely wounded veterans and learned how the absence of government assistance had necessitated the privately funded $11 million center—which has been gifted to the government.