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June 29, 2010
Petraeus TestimonyBy Greyhawk
(Live video feed ended - video here)
(Quick aside - well, this is very different from some of the General's previous experiences before this august body... serious people talking serious business here. Unfortunately, the cynical Greyhawk thinks that should ensure it won't appear on page one of any newspapers...)
Josh Rogin - Petraeus: Withdrawal timeline does not mean "switching off the lights". Aye - there's the rub.
Click here. Or for a quick reminder, here's the conclusion:
..until that over-arching problem is resolved (and three years is too long to wait), those who debate or argue over who's in charge, rules of engagement, the appropriate use of FM 3-24, or a host of other issues critical to effectively conducting war in the Central Front of What We Used to Call the War on Terror might as well be arguing over proper flower arrangements in the Kandahar Airfield Burger King.
Prepared opening statement here. Excerpt:
From the answers to the advance questions
And the President did indeed say it - just so. The question is - as always - will that message be vigorously countered by the White House once again.
The New York Times offers a glimmer of hope:
In the recent past, whenever the military has attempted to emphasize the "conditions-based" strategy unvelied by President Obama in his West Point speech announcing his surge ("Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground") the White House has been quick to respond.
In December - within days of the West Point speech, Joe Biden: "You're going to see [troop numbers] coming down as rapidly [as we build them up] over the next two years. The President made it absolutely clear..."
Apparently, Vice President Biden has emphasized that point in a recent book (In July of 2011 you're going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it," Biden said as he wheeled to leave the room, late for lunch with the president. He turned at the door and said once more, "Bet. On. It." - more on that later), but more recently Rahm Emanuel (responding to what General Petraeus "explained to this Committee two weeks ago") weighed in:
That news was quickly overwhelmed by the release of the Runaway General story. Obviously, that was one of many challenges confronting General McChrystal - less obviously it was the one from which all others flowed. Any "clarification" of the withdrawal timeline from the White House post-McChrystal will obviously be critical to our future there.
For those who need it, back to the New York Times for a great illustration of why it matters:
It's obviously dangerous for generals to refute the Vice President of the United States - for young corporals it's impossible.
So - how the hell did we get here? More on that later, too.
Postscript: the most interesting tidbit from this session might be the General's announcement that he's going to have the Vice President over for dinner. A good idea, I hope it goes better than this one. Here's to good table manners.
...and new Danger Room author Spencer Ackerman. (Who, in supporting President Obama, apparently hasn't noticed he does so in opposition to President Obama.)
And make of this what you will: [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein said that if Petraeus asks for more time, "I would say give it to him." I say in conditions-based timelines, "more time" isn't an issue.
Posted by Greyhawk / June 29, 2010 10:03 AM | Permalink
"A Marine with Weapons Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, sprints down the line of heavy machine guns to deliver a map," read the supplied caption, "after a firefight with Taliban insurgents, Feb. 9, at the "Fire Points" int... 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...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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