Saturday, June 11, 2016

How to Sign Up for the Thrift Savings Plan

The smartest thing you can do when you join the military is invest in the Thrift Savings Plan.

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is the government version of a 401(k) retirement account. The Thrift Savings Plan offers both a regular retirement account and a Roth retirement account.

The Thrift Savings Plan is preferred over civilian retirement accounts because of the low fees associated with the plan options. Every retirement account invests your retirement money into different funds selected by you, these funds charge a management fee for invested money. The lower the fees, the more money comes back to you instead of going to the fund managers.

Investing in the TSP also takes advantage of the tax benefits of military service. Because Basic Allowance for Housing and Basic Allowance for Sustenance are not taxed, military members often have a lower taxable income than they would if they were in a civilian position.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Holocaust Denial, Intelligence Analysis, and Assessments

The intelligence analysts responsibility is to sift through vast amounts of information and understand the ground truth of a situation and inform the commander.

What does this have to do with holocaust denial? The arguments used by holocaust deniers represent how political objectives can influence the interpretation of information by intelligence sources and potentially their decision to spread that information. The analyst must always be aware of the biases of information sources as well as their own biases when interpreting information.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

United Nation's Post-Gulf War Sanctions on Iraq

Written in November 2012

Prior to the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq was a powerful player in the Middle East because of the economic potential of its natural resource reserves, religious and cultural significance, strategic location within the region, and aggressive foreign policy. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the United Nations (UN) implemented wide-ranging sanctions against Iraq under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The UN sought to end Iraq’s long-term threat to international peace and security. The sanctions placed restrictions on Iraq’s export of oil, import of non-humanitarian goods, required the elimination of Iraq’s long-range ballistic missile capabilities, weapons of mass destruction programs, and held Iraq financially liable for the damage caused by the invasion. The sanctions effectively destroyed Iraq’s economy and ability to act as a sovereign nation.

Faced with the prospect of complying with the sanctions or ending his authoritarian regime, Saddam Hussein implemented multiple domestic and international policies to evade sanctions and maintain power in Iraq. UN sanctions against Iraq were ineffective as a non-violent means of coercion and resulted in massive human suffering among the Iraqi people.

Republic of Columbia Writing Assignment

Written in May 2015

The purpose of this paper is to explore the current and future significance of the Republic of Colombia to the United States and its regional role in both North and South America. Colombia’s location, history, and desire to end the domestic production and exportation of illicit drugs make it an important strategic ally for the U.S. in South America.

In the 1960s, Colombia sought the help of the U.S. due to on-going internal conflict. U.S. assistance led to the refocusing of Colombian military, police, and intelligence forces to internal security. The rise of Colombia as the largest supplier of cocaine to world drug markets in the 1970s only complicated its internal security situation. To this day, the U.S. continues to support Colombian internal security through various counter-narcotic and counter-terror programs.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Christ Lutheran Church of Lower Saucon Cemetery Pt. 2

My last blog post focused on the grave of Jacob Shimer (14 June 1734 - 6 June 1764) and the bronze plaque that honored his father, Jacob Schiemer (1679 - 1757), and five brothers. Jacob Shimer's grave is located in Christ Lutheran Church of Lower Saucon Cemetery.