Army Secretary John McHugh confirms to members of Congress that commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan failed to keep required field records: "Steps are being taken to make sure this doesn't happen again"
July 12: This post has been updated.
The U.S. Army has conceded a significant loss of records documenting battlefield action and other operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and has launched a global search to recover and consolidate field records from the wars.
In an order to all commands and a separate letter to leaders of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Secretary of the Army John McHugh said the service also is taking immediate steps to clarify responsibility for wartime recordkeeping.
The moves follow inquiries from the committee’s leaders after a ProPublica and Seattle Times investigation last year reported that dozens of Army and National Guard units had lost or failed to keep required field records, in some cases impeding the ability of veterans to obtain disability benefits. The problem primarily affected the Army but also extended to U.S. Central Command in Iraq.
McHugh, in his letter to committee leaders, said that while the Army had kept some of the required records, “we acknowledge that gaps exist.”
And in an enclosure responding to specific questions from the committee, McHugh confirmed that among the missing records are nearly all those from the 82nd Airborne Division, which was deployed multiple times during the wars.
McHugh’s letter was addressed to Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., and the panel’s senior Democrat Michael Michaud of Maine, who said in an email Friday that the records were of critical importance to veterans.
“The admission that there are massive amounts of lost records is only the first step,” Michaud said. “I appreciate the Army issuing orders to address this serious problem, but I’m concerned that it took a letter from Congress to make it happen.”
“Our veterans have given up so much for our country, and they deserve a complete record of their service – for the sake of history as well as potential disability claims down the road,” he said.
A call and an email to Miller were not returned. Maj. Chris Kasker, an Army spokesman, said McHugh was not available for further comment.
In his order to Army commands, McHugh notes that units are required under federal law to keep field records, including “daily staff journals, situation reports, tactical operations center logs, command reports, (and) operational plans.”
“In addition to providing support for health-related compensation claims, these documents will help capture this important period in Army history,” he wrote.
But ProPublica and the Seattle Times uncovered assessments by the Army’s Center of Military History showing that scores of units lacked adequate records. Others had wiped them off computer hard drives amid confusion about whether classified materials could be transferred home.
In one 2010 report, investigators found infighting between the Army and U.S. Centcom over recordkeeping in Iraq and “the failure to capture significant operational and historical" materials in the theater.
The missing records do not include personnel files and medical records, which are stored separately from the field records that detail day-to-day activities.
McHugh’s response to the congressmen said Army rules delegate recordkeeping responsibility to commanders at all levels, but they weren’t always followed.
“Although numerous directives have been issued to emphasize the importance of the preservation of records,” the response says, “these directives unfortunately were often overcome by other operational priorities and not fully overseen by commanders.”
“Steps are being taken now to make sure this does not happen again,” the letter says.
McHugh’s order launching an Army-wide search for records also shifts responsibility for maintaining them in a new central repository.
Under regulations, individual units are charged with maintaining their records under the direction of the Army’s Records and Declassification Agency (RMDA), which archives some records but is not required to collect them. Separately, the Center of Military History sends trained historians into combat zones to collect materials to write the official history of the Army campaigns.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the historians found themselves becoming de facto archivists in combat, chasing down what field reports they could find. Their reports of missing or inadequate recordkeeping prompted alarms and complaints from military and civilian historians but little corrective action from Army brass.
Emails obtained by ProPublica show that the Center of Military History and RMDA have long argued about which Army branch should be gathering different records. Now, McHugh’s memo orders commands to send whatever they have to the Center, which is to assess what the Army does and does not have by Dec. 31.
Calls to the Center for Military History were not returned. Officials at the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, which had called on the Army to reconstruct missing field records, were not immediately available for comment.
A representative of the nation’s largest wartime veterans’ service group, the American Legion, called for more congressional hearings on the issue.
“It’s sad. My overall impression is it’s not good enough," Rich Dumancas, the Legion’s deputy director of claims, said of McHugh’s order. Missing reports need to be recreated by reaching out to affected veterans, he said.
Historians say the recordkeeping lapses echo the 1990-91 Iraq war, when the Army spent several years and millions of dollars to reconstruct the whereabouts of troops suffering from Gulf War Syndrome illnesses.
In 2003, as U.S. attacks on Iraq began anew, fresh orders went out about the importance of keeping operational records — explicitly citing the Gulf War failures to reinforce why records matter for veterans’ benefits and unit history.
The message didn’t always get through. In the case of the 82nd Airborne Division, with two deployments to Iraq and several more to Afghanistan, it appears that few records exist and there is low likelihood more will surface.
According to McHugh’s letter, military history detachments picked up some 82nd Airborne records in Afghanistan. However, “Subsequent attempts to collect documents from the division and its brigades during operations in Iraq and after redeployment to their home station were largely unsuccessful.”
Last year, ProPublica and the Times filed Freedom of Information Act requests for field records from several Army units and were told none could be found. The units included the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division.
The two congressmen also inquired about the 1st Armored Division. McHugh’s response states that, from 2003 to 2008 when the division deployed in Iraq, “some of their records and historical documents appear to have gone missing.”
An Army division usually contains between 10,000 and 18,000 soldiers.
McHugh told the Congressmen the Defense Department has records in a number of repositories and that the Center for Military History has collected 92 terabytes of digital and paper records from war on terror operations. Additional materials, including unit after-action reports, are in specialized collections held by the Army Center for Lessons Learned and Combat Studies Institute, his letter says.
Moneylife Foundation’s Insurance Helpline has solved three cases of life insurance sold with a bait of fraudulent “interest-free loans”. In all the cases, Reliance Life’s corporate agent AB Capital was involved
Moneylife Foundation’s Insurance Helpline has helped three persons to get refunds of Reliance Life Insurance policy premium as the product was fraudulently sold by enticing the customer with a fake “interest-free loan” of 10 times the premium from Reliance Capital. The latest case was of Shailendra Dheer (name changed) who had paid Rs30,000 premium to AB Capital with hope of getting Rs3 lakh “interest-free loan”.
With Moneylife Foundation’s intervention, Mr Dheer immediately got a call from head–customer care of Reliance Life who helped to get refund of Rs30,000 within two days. The fourth case has just been reported to AB Capital wherein the customer paid Rs20,000 premium for lure of Rs2 lakh loan. Customers even get a fake loan reference number to make it look authentic. The waiting period for the fake loan is ‘forever’.
In the previous two cases, Prashant Gupte (name changed) got a refund of Rs2 lakh and Dr Sujay Verma (name changed) got a refund of his premium of Rs60,000. Mr Gupte had taken a personal loan of Rs2 lakh to pay the premium. Clearly, these are cases of outright cheating ought to make the regulator sit up, but until they do, people are getting trapped into taking a loan to buy high premium insurance plans of trivial value with the lure of an “interest-free” loan of 10 times the premium. Dr Verma was running pillar to post for six months to get the refund without any success, but within two hours of our taking up his case with the company, Reliance Life promised to make amends.
We had stated in our previous article without mincing any words, “Will the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) act quickly to cancel AB Capital’s license before it cheats more people?”AB Capital, a corporate agent of Reliance Life has written to Moneylife Foundation probably after facing the heat of its name entangled in the three cases that were resolved.
AB Capital’s email states that “We would like to bring to your attention that AB Capital is committed to protecting its customers' interests and ensure customer delight. We are therefore taking these reported incidents very seriously. As a result, based on our internal vigilance, we plan to lodge FIRs against the perpetrators and terminate their employment. We have strengthened our pre-login verification calling wherein each and every customer is called for verification and confirmations.”
AB Capital asks Moneylife readers to bring any such incidence of spurious selling to their notice by writing to them at email@example.com . Please drop a line to Moneylife Foundation Insurance Helpline firstname.lastname@example.org so that we are kept in the loop and can ensure justice to the hapless consumer. AB Capital’s email ends with “We would also like to caution your readers to not let greed get the better of them and not fall prey to any such lucrative and bogus offers.” If only such bogus offers were never made by those associated with AB Capital, the problem would not have arose.
AB Capital should evaluate at all the policies sold by them instead of waiting for policyholders to make complaints. Reliance Life has also a lot to answer even if it did not directly make such fraudulent offers. IRDA can surely get the menace to stop, in case, it acts. Reliance Life and IRDA—are you listening?
If the Nifty closes below any previous day’s low, we may see the upmove slowing
The benchmarks settled higher on buying support from rate sensitive sectors, helping the market close in the green for the third day in a row. If the Nifty closes below any previous day’s low, we may see the upmove slowing. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) reported a higher volume of 54.54 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 799:552.
The domestic market opened lower on the back of weak economic indicators—contraction in industrial production, rise in retail inflation, dip in exports and a decline in auto sales—released on Friday. On the other hand, markets in Asia were higher in morning trade as Chinese GDP data for the second quarter was in line with analysts’ expectations.
The Nifty opened 18 points lower at 5,991 and the Sensex started the day at 19,926, a fall of 32 points from its previous close. The indices touched their lows in the first half hour with the Nifty falling to 5,981 and the Sensex slipping to 19,883. The benchmarks remained in the negative for the entire morning session as investors booked profits after two consecutive days of gains.
Meanwhile, headline inflation rose to 4.86% in June, driven mainly by rising prices of food articles, especially vegetables including onion. Inflation based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) had stood at 4.70% in May. In June, 2012, it was 7.58%.
The market emerged into the positive terrain in noon trade as buying in fast moving consumer goods, realty, technology and healthcare sectors. A green opening of the key European markets also supported the gains back home.
The indices hit their intraday highs at around 2.30pm on across-the-board buying. The Nifty rose to 6,038 and the Sensex regained the 20,000 level, climbing to 20,072 at their respective highs.
The benchmarks settled near their highs and in the green for the third day in a row. The Nifty gained 22 points (0.36%) to 6,031 and the Sensex closed the session at 20,034, up 76 points (0.38%).
Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index climbed 0.90% and the BSE Small-cap index advanced 0.80%.
Except for BSE Power (down 0.78%) and BSE IT (down 0.03%) all the other sectoral indices closed in the green. The top sectoral gainers were BSE Realty (up 1.94%); BSE FMCG (up 1.19%); BSE Capital Goods (up 0.89%); BSE Oil & Gas (up 0.72%) and BSE Bankex (up 0.72%).
Out of the 30 stocks on the Sensex, 19 stocks settled higher. The main gainers were Hindalco Industries (up 3.69%); Sterlite Industries (up 3.28%); Bharti Airtel (up 3.20%); Mahindra & Mahindra (up 2.46%) and TCS (up 2.20%). The top losers were NTPC (down 2.64%); Coal India (down 2.50%); Infosys (down 2.17%); Tata Steel (down 2.07%) and Tata Power (down 1.17%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—HDIL (up 7.93%) and Muthoot Finance (up 7.37%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Gitanjali Gems (down 4.97%) and MMTC (down 4.94%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Opto Circuits (up 34.51%) and Archidply Industries (up 20%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Automotive Stampings & Assemblies (down 19.86%) and Rishabdev Technoable (down 19.64%).
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 33 ended in the in the green. The major gainers were Punjab National Bank (up 5.30%); Bank of Baroda (up 4.31%); Cairn (up 3.96%); Jaiprakash Associates (up 3.91%) and Hindalco Industries (up 3.34%). The key losers were Coal India (down 2.57%); NTPC (down 2.22%); Tata Steel (down 2.13%); Infosys (down 2.08%) and BHEL (down 1.35%).
Markets in Asia closed in the green as China’s second quarter GDP growth came in at 7.5%, in line with analysts’ expectations. Positive comments from the People’s Bank of China that it would use a mix of policy tools to tackle liquidity in order to keep credit growth steady also supported the sentiments.
The Shanghai Composite climbed 0.98%; the Hang Seng rose 0.12%; the Jakarta Composite and the KLSE Composite added 0.06% each; the Nikkei 225 gained 0.23%; the Straits Times added 0.02%; the Seoul Composite advanced 0.28% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.42% higher.
At the time of writing, the key European markets were up between 0.34% and 0.50% and the US stock futures were trading with minor gains.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares totalling Rs664.82 crore on Friday whereas domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities amounting to Rs144.97 crore.
SpiceJet has clarified to the news item titled “Kuwait Airways enters the fray to buy stake in SpiceJet”. The company clarified that few investors have evinced interest in the company post government allowing FDI in civil aviation sector to foreign airlines, however, it will be very pre-mature to comment on the possibilities of any fresh equity issuance to such interested parties or confirm/deny names of any specific entity. The stock rose 7.94% to close at Rs29.90 on the BSE.
The board of directors of MBL Infrastructures have recommended dividend of 30% (Rs3 per equity share of face value of Rs10 each) subject to the approval of the shareholders at the ensuing annual general meeting. The stock fell 2.62% to close at Rs115.25 on the NSE.
Tata Global Beverages today said it has entered into an agreement with group firm Tata Realty and Infrastructure for the development of the its property in Bangalore. The development of the company's property in Bangalore will be done through a special purpose vehicle (SPV), Tata Global Beverages said in a filing to exchanges. The stock jumped 4.17% to Rs153.75 on the NSE.