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September 26, 2009
Tell me how this endsBy Greyhawk
There are a number of things wrong (or half right - and the other half matters) with this New York Times narrative, ("General Casey, whose institutional role as Army chief is to protect his force"... "we'll have to assess what that will do in terms of stress on the force," said a Army official" ... "other officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan ...privately expressed doubt") but this in particular stands out:
His decision to send 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan early this year, which will bring the number of American troops there to 68,000 this fall, was made hurriedly within weeks of coming into office to stanch the tactical erosion on the ground and provide security during Afghan elections.
The young and impulsive last February defense is unbecoming, and an historical re-write. In fact that action fulfilled long-standing campaign pledges to do just that. ("Yes, I think we need more troops. I've been saying that for over a year now. And I think that we have to do it as quickly as possible, because it's been acknowledged by the commanders on the ground the situation is getting worse, not better." - October, 2008)
And this: "Mr. Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and an Army veteran, has not ruled out supporting more troops but said "the burden of proof" was on commanders to justify it" - is downright insulting to anyone in Afghanistan carrying out the President's orders to implement the strategy defined in March, not just the man selected in May to lead them. Those few are familiar enough with their world via 24/7 immersion in that hostile environment, no additional burdens are required.
I have no doubt the President knows full well his burdens and feels the attraction of retreat, and certainly some of the advisers named in the New York Times piece have shown him graphs of poll results detailing Bill Clinton's popularity post-Mogadishu (or will when the time comes to discuss strategy). But amidst all those partial quotes and half truths, when the New York Times informs us that "the liberal base of his party [is] increasingly vocal in its opposition to the war" we do well to note that's one claim they saw no need to support with quotes from outside experts.
Posted by Greyhawk / September 26, 2009 6:04 PM | Permalink
(Part one here.) This quote...Asked why al-Qaeda, which is comparatively safe in its current sanctuaries in Pakistan, would want to return to Afghanistan, where more than 100,000 U.S. and NATO troops are stationed, Jones said, "That's a good question. ... Read More
Happy Sunday! Bit rainy and overcast, but, hey, the plants can use the water. This pinup is by Bill Randall, with a bit of help from Mickey and Donald. What is happening in Ye Olde Blogosphere? Just One Minute points out that the NY Times is too bias... Read More
A brief look back at the fast and furious first few weeks of "Barack Obama's war" Foreign policy evolution, or revolution?Dining on platters of rice and lamb at the heavily fortified presidential palace in Kabul, Biden and his colleagues grilled Karza... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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