Defending America
David Hackworth
6 August 199

THE LATEST SCAM

Wars are a racket. That's why they won't go away!

But now even Peacekeeping is a racket. Which explains why we have America peacekeepers spread as thick as peanut butter from Angola to Zambia.

Peacekeeping makes it easy for the top brass to justify their force level/budgets/existence and the parasite civilian contractors -- such as former Defense Secretary Richard Cheney and his gang -- who milk them big time.

Take that $2 billion plus a year running sore going on in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Cheney and Company alone sucked in over $250 million last year doing what engineers and mess sergeants used to do.

Our uniformed men and women deployed there call themselves "Prisoners of Peace," POP for short, which is an apt description. They're locked up like maximum security prisoners in little forts right in the middle of a country that's become a huge insane asylum filled with serial killers and armed drunks.

Duty is normally as boring as watching grass grow, but every so often the shrapnel hits the tent. Since 1995, our peacekeepers in Bosnia alone have been blown up by mines and shot, stabbed, booby-trapped and grenaded by the inmates.

Every peacekeeper there deservedly draws hazardous duty pay and gets a tax break. Let's face it, you cannot pay enough extra money to anyone to stand down range in a shooting gallery manned by crazies. Our POPs deserve every extra nickel we can give them.

But not the cheats and scammers who, according to a Bosnian-based Sergeant,have been flooding into former Yugoslavia for "the sole purpose of fraudulently collecting the lucrative tax break and fire pay benefits."

Another irritated Sergeant says, "I have seen people come in on a C-130 (transport aircraft) for a 20 minute 'fact finding' visit while the plane undergoes an engine running off-load of cargo and passengers, only to re-board the plane for a speedy departure and a guarantee for the thieves that next month's pay check will be a lot bigger."

An Airman says "I have had officers tell me they frequently put troops from locations such as Hungary and Italy onto aircraft that are entering FRY (former Yugoslavia) airspace for the sole purpose of gaining benefits they don't deserve."

These "tax free" vacations happen every day. A captain sent me a bootlegged copy of the SFOR (Stabilization Forces in Bosnia) distinguished visitors sign-in log. It's three inches thick, heavy with the names of too many general officers who visit FRY for a few days once a month.

Of course, they're out there to make sure our troops health and welfare are being well looked after and that Cheney's boy are earning their fat profit. These brief monthly visits sure don't have a thing to do with qualifying for extra dough.

Another Sergeant in NATO Headquarters reports that "It takes the Joint Visitors Bureau (officer) about ten minutes to give his weekly visitor briefing" to the four star IFOR commander. He says, "The number of 'distinguished' visitors is absolutely unbelievable."

An Airman says, "It's not only the Generals who pour in here. We get stacks of colonels and others right down to the lowest rankers. It's wild! A Colonel, for example, who just visits for a day gets $650 extra.

At the USAF airbase in Tuzla, Bosnia, the crew who run the airfield have produced a "BOSNIAN TAX FREE CERTIFICATE. A Sergeant cynically says, " We give these to those 'weary travelers' who are obviously ripping off the American taxpayer."

It reads "SPENT AT LEAST 2 MINUTES IN THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA PRESENT THIS CERTIFICATE WHEN FILING YOUR TRAVEL VOUCHER AND YOU CAN EARN THE SAME TAX BREAK THAT TUZLA AB RESIDENTS GET BY SPENDING 30 FULL DAYS IN THE MUD."

Sure, some of these visits are necessary. But there's a lot of stealing going on that's taking money away from mission-essential activities and blasting the morale of those who do deserve the extra money.

This problem is easy to fix. Only award extra pay to the POP folks hunkered down in former Yugoslavia doing mission impossible and don't give the visitors zilch.

Oh, and torture of tortures, make the cheaters reimburse Uncle Sam. And, as usual, generals first in line.

The End