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I'm sure the President-elect will put this on the top of his "to-do" list...
Earlier this month, Reprieve and the U.K. Musicians Union launched Zero dB, a "silent protest" over the use of music in interrogations. According to Reprieve, many of its clients have been subjected to hours of music played at deafening volume -- sometime for days or even weeks on end...(Via Insta.)
This has musicians furious. Last week, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails even suggested he might pursue legal action to stop the practice.
Chloe Davis, a researcher for Reprieve, told Danger Room the Zero dB campaign was planning to work with prominent musicians to lobby the incoming administration.
"It is really important that we seize the chance to alert Obama to this practice," she said.
I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, at some of the callous comments left at Danger Room. "Does this mean I can have my neighbor charged with torture for playing his music to loud?" and "Yeah, I can see how a group like Nine Inch Nails might not want their music associated with anything dark or evil."
In a somewhat similar vein: "Back in the day," says Chuck Z, "I compiled a playlist that we could blast from the psyop truck when we entered a ville for a "dynamic" entry and house search." That list is at the link.
And there's nothing on it by Nine Inch Nails. But this is there:
Tending Distant FiresThis Dawn Patrol is a request for readers to wish a Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah / Happy New Year to those deployed away from their families during this holiday season, in unfriendly places.
Far from hearth and home, watching
Cold alone but not alone
On distant shore and only wanting
Safe return and little more
What tales we'll tell
When that time comes
When tales can be told
When things grim
Seem far away
When other fires go cold
Some distant sunset, vision fading
And tired eyes gaze 'pon folded flags
While distant drums beat their refrain
Saluting fallen friends whose names
And youth will never fade
Here's to those on other shores,
for them live well, the price is paid
-- Iraq, Christmas 2004
Please leave them a comment and wish them all a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah.
IraqI have only listed milblogs I know of that are deployed, if anyone knows one I have missed please leave a link in the comment so others may visit.
Far From Perfect
Fraser in ****
Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army - Jeremy
Something on the staff (just returned home!)
S4 at War
Bad Dogs and Such
Big Tobacco - (Jewish)
Up Country Iraq (just returned home!)
Notes from Iraq
Wings Over Iraq
Fobbits need ice cream too
Armed and Curious
The Gun Line (site is down :( )
Bill of Castle Argghhh!!!
The Marching Camp
Two Brothers, Two Countries, One Army - John
Embrace The Suck
The Left Captain
Stay in Touch
Conversations in the Desert
Good Morning Afghanistan
For those troops that are reading blogs to get closer to home, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We love and miss you.
Here's a message from a Soldier's Angel that says it all.
Tonight as I bow my head in prayer and nod off to sleep under that blanket of freedom while living safely in my sturdy shelter, I will always appreciate the precious gift of freedom you continue to give to me.
~ Shelle Michaels, Soldiers' Angels
Come home soon.
...or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
A Mudville Holiday special: one of my favorite "war movies". Enjoy...
Great video from Baghdad:
So I notice the Band of Brothers Blu-ray version has been a hot seller at Amazon. But if you're like me you might wonder if a high definition version of an older TV series offers a real improvement over simply putting the original DVD version into your Blu-ray player and letting its "upscaling" features do their trick. (But if you're like me you also haven't upgraded to Blu-ray or high def television yet, so the question is hypothetical.)
But if you have upgraded, here's what makes the Blu-ray Band of Brothers worthwhile: in addition to all the extras in the original DVD version, they've added picture-in-picture commentary by the Easy Company veterans to each episode, along with an interactive "field guide" where the viewer can access extra information about soldiers, battles, and historical details. Since the current price for the six-disc set is only $37.49 (which is list price for most single-disc Blu-ray movies) I'd say that's a bargain.
If you've already got that, don't overlook the book (or some of the individual memoirs that have been published as a result of interest in the Band of Brothers).
More gift certificate ideas: Generation Kill - the book for $5.99 (while it lasts).
If you already own an earlier edition, click through that link and use the "search inside" feature to read the new afterword from the author in which he brings readers up to date on the lives of the Marines he traveled Iraq with back in 2003. (Trust me - you'll be glad you did.)
Speaking of where they are now, did you know that Sgt. Rudy Reyes played himself in the HBO miniseries? And several of the Marines were advisers during the filming. The DVD version ($27.49 or on Blu-ray for $55.99) is out now.
Worst DVD case ever? Could be. But I've ordered one anyhow.
An interview with a cast member:
Actor James Ransone, the Baltimore native best-known for his portrayal of tweaked-out stevedore Ziggy Sobotka on season two of HBO's "The Wire," now stars in another project from the creative team of David Simon and Ed Burns. Ransone, 29, plays Marine Cpl. Ray Person in HBO's "Generation Kill"You can read the full interview here. Another excerpt:
Q. What was boot camp like?
A. it was not as much physical stuff. It was a crash course in military history and vernacular, and how Marines, tactically, how we'd do stuff. It was about two or three hours of working out a day, and then a lot of book studying and weapons training, radio training. We went through what you would go through in the Marines in the course of a week and a half.
Q. Did you ever meet Cpl. Josh Ray Person, the character you play in 'Generation Kill'?
A. I never met with Josh. Josh and I talked, and still talk today. I really like him. I get along really well with a lot of the Marines who are military advisers. They actually became really good friends with me. But I sort of made a point not to talk to Josh until after we started filming. It was too big of a head trip, just because of the size of the part. I didn't know, when I was coming to Africa, that my part was going to be as big as it was. When I got there, there was actually some significant revamping that I did with that character. I kind of, originally, was playing him a little more white trash, a little bit more southern.
Q. What made you alter your portrayal?
A. Just being around the other Marines. And realizing, for their sense of humor and stuff, they're actually really, really smart. And [the show's military adviser] Eric Kocher sort of telling me stories about Josh. I was starting to get a different feel for him altogether. I think actors have a tendency, when they're playing soldiers, to have this like Southern accent. Actors live in coastal cities, where it's like (pompous voice) 'Oh, I would never join the Marines, and I'm a thespian. If I was a soldier — (hick voice) Well, I got mah chaw!' That's so [expletive] far off base.
Q. How did reading 'Generation Kill' affect your perception of the Iraq War?The book All done!
A. My perception of the Iraq War has not changed. But I think, for most people who say, 'I support our troops, but I do not support this war,' it's a very, like, 'I've got a black friend' thing to say. You know what I mean? I think a lot of people I know in more liberal cities don't really come into contact with veterans of this war. And it totally changed my perception of the modern soldier. I still don't support the reason why we're over there — not for any greater cause. I think I'm really pragmatic about it. Our economy's so [expletive] up. Our education system's so [expletive] up. I'd rather be fixing [expletive] here than trying to fix it somewhere else. But as far as the soldiers that I came into contact with, I [expletive] love those dudes. They're like the funniest, sweetest — I don't know. man. They've really, really lived, to a certain extent. There's no real rites of passage into adulthood in American society. And there's no initiation into manhood. And I feel like a lot of these guys, in some form of another, got that through being in the service. You just come off respecting them.
Q. A lot has been written about the failure of depictions of the Iraq War in films and on television.
A. And it's understandable. I think they're written by people who — I don't know if they have a political agenda, as much as they have a very highbrow view about this war and what it does to soldiers. The tendency is to either make them monsters, or pity them. And that is without nuance at all. An audience can read into that really, really quickly. And I think the difference with this series is that, here's a bunch of real guys. We're not talking about the politics. This is stuff that happened. Let's just tell their story, and it doesn't have to be any deeper than that.
Looking for something to spend that Amazon gift card on? Here's a deal: Black Hawk Down (3-Disc Deluxe Edition) - on sale for $9.99.
Why would you want the three disk edition? Because those extra discs include documentaries on the event, and many interviews with the guys who were actually there.
Done with regular DVD? Here's movie on Blu-ray for $14.99.
And don't forget the book - some Amazon sellers are practically giving it away.
Today's Dawn Patrol is a simple list of our downrange milbloggers. If you have a few moments to spare through the hectic holidays, please consider visiting a few of these folks and leaving a quick note in their comments section. Having spent a Christmas in Iraq myself, I can assure such greetings are more than welcome.
And here's one of the things they've been fighting for:
There are a lot of great Christmas links, photos and videos in yesterday's Christmas Eve Dawn Patrol, too.
And a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Frohe Weihnachten, etc etc from our house to yours!
Gotta luv the Marines. Keeping in great Spirit the 1st Battallion 4th Marines, Bravo Company 3rd Platoon has produced this hilarious Christmas video out of ECP1 in Fallujah, Iraq.
So you can sing along, here are the words:
Our Twelve Days of Christmas in Iraq
1- full resupply of TP
3- crappy humvees
5- hours of sleep
6- rusty dumbells
7- months deployment
8- IPs(iraqi police) dancing
9- sentries standing
10- hours posting
11- bags of trash
12- freakin' flies!
You can also leave them a comment to wish them a Merry Christmas.
To those that are grieving our lost soldiers.
All We Want for Christmas... Written by Milblogger Major Dad - 2004
Twas the night before Christmas, the house seemed so sad,
Early this year, this family lost “Dad.”
He’d been a soldier, in Afghanistan serving,
To help people live free, now thankful, deserving.
His wife and the kids have cried a river of tears,
They had known this could happen, through all of the years.
It’s a dangerous business, no place for wimps.
Some don’t come home, some others with limps.
As I slipped down the chimney, I really did dread…
That I’d fall straight apart in this house with war dead.
I crept from the hearth, wondering what would I see,
What my eyes would behold, in this land of the free.
The home was decorated, with the tree and some lights
The milk, plate of cookies, and some other tasty bites.
Next to this was a note, from the boys up in bed,
I picked the page up and here’s what it said.
“Dear Santa we know that you’re busy and need to be speedy So we’ll keep it short, we don’t want to sound greedy. You know already that our Daddy’s not here, He went to heaven, that's perfectly clear. Tonight as you travel across the cold Christmas skies. We want you to help, take the tears from the eyes. Of the other kids missing a Mom or a Dad. Please help them to realize that it’s not so bad.
Our Dad died doing what was just, what was right.
His nation had called him, to head off to the fight.
To free the oppressed and protect us all here,
He went with a smile, a heart without fear.
One month ago, we had gotten the news
An airplane was missing, along with its crew.
Up in the mountains with weather so cold,
One of the missing, our daddy…a pilot, so bold.
Later we learned that God had called him that day
He needed a pilot, so tough and so brave.
We cried and we cried, the tears would not cease,
Daddy’s West Point friends wrote, “Mike…be thou at peace.”
We need your help Santa, for our Mommy tonight,
She misses him so, they were so tight.
All we want for Christmas is for her to be happy,
Knowing Daddy still watches over us, a flier so scrappy.”
Could I help these kids? I scratched my old head.
I snuck up the stairs and found Mom in bed.
Her eyes were still red, it was plain she’d been crying.
But a smile on her face, in her dreams she was flying.
Along with her pilot…her husband…her mate…
This lady was special, so obviously great.
My task wasn’t tough, really it ain’t.
After all, my name is Nicholas and I am a saint!
I straightened my suit, combed back my long hair…
Then as quiet as a mouse, I pulled up a chair.
I touched her calm face and closed tight my eyes…
My mind it was reeling, I started to cry.
Then inside my head, I heard a soft voice…
“Santa it’s Mike. Buck up, you don’t have a choice.
You know where I am…and I’ll tell you quite clear,
If I can’t have Christmas there…it’s not so bad being here.
I’m no longer with them, they know that it’s true,
That doesn’t mean I can’t see what they do.
When you pray for my wife and my kids Christmas night,
Let them know I’m on duty and I am alright.
My crew's here too and we’re flying tonight…
Take a look over your shoulder, make it your right!
You need to be careful. You need to “check six.”
That’s us behind you…Chief, give the lights a few flicks.”
Santa it’s time. Your job here is through…
The night’s not half over,
you’ve still plenty to do.
No need to worry, you need to be quick.
They’re in great hands, Jeanette’s got the stick,
You prayed for them all and showed them the way,
A soldier still stands guard over them every day.”
I knew Mike was right, it was getting late.
The world only half covered, I just couldn’t wait.
I stopped by the rooms of each of his boys…
I had to be careful to avoid clothes and some toys.
Mike Jr., Thomas, and Ricky lay snug in their beds…
I gave this blessing to each as I touched their heads.
“Your daddy was special, fighting for peace.
May you boys be spared from combat when all conflicts have ceased.”
With that I took leave from this Hawaiian home,
Through the skies I’d be flying, though not alone.
I did look back a number of times, more than a few.
And yes, on the horizon was my escort crew.
Across the world tonight, I saw the same scenes,
Homes full of sorrow, homes full of need.
After you read this, give it some thought.
Can I be happy with just what I’ve got?
Dig deep into your pockets, you’ve got spare cash.
Drop it in the kettle; it’ll help tighten your sash.
It will make you feel good; it will make you feel right…
Merry Christmas to all, and to all….a good night!
I wrote this in memory of LTC Mike McMahon, USMA 1985 and his family.
The author of this poem is unknown but if any one knows please let us know so that we can accredit them
A WISH FOR YOU AT CHRISTMAS
If I could do whatever I want to do
To make complete your gladsome Christmas-Day,
I would not bring a single thing to you,
But I would come and take some things away.
I'd take away all trouble from your heart,
Each pain and sorrow I would have relieved;
And every word that caused a single smart,
And every hour through which you sadly grieved.
I'd have them all begone - forever gone
Forgotten like the things that cannot be
And then each hour would be a joyful one
For only good things would be left, you see
Now that is what I'd really like to do,
If I could do the things I wish for you.
Thoughts and Prayers go out to those who have lost a loved one in these wars. You are not forgotten.All done!
Another number written and performed by James Hooker.
For years now, The Grinch II has been part of our Mudville Christmas tradition. But it was written in 2003, and it's showing it's age. So I've decided to update the tale...
Everyone in America Liked Christmas a lot...
But the Grinch, who worked for a "news" service, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all
Was his heart (or something) was two sizes too small.
Whatever the reason, His heart or his shoes,
or that this Christmas his future was looking bleak, too
(and "misery loves company" at least, in his view)
he thought he'd kill Christmas with a lot of bad news
"They're hanging their stockings!" he snarled with a sneer,
"Tomorrow is Christmas! It's practically here!"
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
"I MUST find some stories to stop Christmas from coming!"
"This'll do for a start..." The Grinch said, as he clucked,
The global economy is totally - hosed!
"No one's shopping this year, and I'm overjoyed"
"They're lucky to have stockings - they're all unemployed!"
"And with global warming," the Grinch grinch-ish-ly screamed,
"The only White Christmas will be in their dreams!"
"It's a scientific fact - there's no doubt any more!"
"Only fools celebrate Christmas but deny Al Gore"
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the newsroom, and he laughed at the "peasants".
He looked for a story of deaths in a fire,
when suddenly Baghdad news lit up the wire.
"hmmm...", said the Grinch, "maybe over on page two...
"No, what am I thinking? That will never do."
Then he tossed those reports right into the trash can
and Googled the death toll from Afghanistan
He filed his stories with a gleam in his eyes
"Tonight's work should get me a Pulitzer prize!"
But his head hurt from all of that serious thinking,
so he sat himself down and he started to drinking...
The next day, quite hungover, he slowly awoke,
but smiled and cackled, grabbed the cable remote
"Pooh-Pooh to the fools!" he was grinch-ish-ly humming.
"They're finding out now that no Christmas is coming!"
"They're just waking up! Then they'll see the news!"
"Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
Then the sheepleville sheeple will all cry Boo-Hoo!"
"That's a sight and a sound that I MUST hear and see!"
So he cranked the surround on his HDTV.
And he did hear a sound rising on the news show.
It started in low.
Then it started to grow...
But the sound wasn't sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn't be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at America! The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Everyone cross the nation, the tall and the small,
were singing! Without any real cares at all!
He HADN'T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinchy-head pounding in pain,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "They must be insane!"
"I know - they're too stupid! They don't realize!
It's me that they need just to open their eyes!"
And what happened then...? Well...there's some who might say
That the Grinch's small heart shrunk three sizes that day!
'Cause he pulled all the shades and he locked up the door,
and started drooling and scheming, and typing some more
When into his inbox a reminder plopped
that caused him to pause, then he totally stopped
His boss sent a memo that he felt was cruel
But it stated for certain there was just one rule
And he knew it was wise, and follow it he would:
"After January 20 all the news must be good"
"I'm no dummy," he sneered, "they won't be showing me the door"
"At least not while I'm leasing a new Audi A4"
So you folks in America can take it from me
Next year will be better
As seen on TV.
Related: An Ode to Billy Joel. (Or is it "owed"?)All done!
From our friends at Soldiers Angels: "These great ladies sent Soldiers' Angels their amazing gift of "You For Christmas"-- to share with all the heroes out there.. You can listen to it on www.karmina.com scroll down midpage to 12.03.08 "You For Christmas""
Or you can click the play button here...
Thank you ladies! Merry Christmas!
Patti Patton-Bader, founder of Soldiers' Angels, has given her prizes from the America's Favorite Mom contest to service members and their families.
New York, NY (December 16, 2008) -- America's Favorite Mom played Santa for a Day in New York, using the prizes she won to bring an early Christmas to military personnel and their families. Patti Patton-Bader, named America's Favorite Mom last Mother's Day, received the remainder of her prizes in New York last week, which she immediately donated in support of her heroes.
Such generosity is typical of Ms. Bader, who is president of Soldiers' Angels, a military support nonprofit she founded soon after her soldier son was deployed to Iraq in 2003. Five years later, it is now a volunteer-based organization operating over 30 different teams and projects in support of America's military, veterans, and military families around the world. "Soldiers' Angels is proud to acknowledge the continued generosity of its founder, Patti Patton-Bader, through her donation of the proceeds and prizes she received from the America's Favorite Mom contest," said Soldiers' Angels Treasurer Mark Concialdi.
Redbook magazine interviewed Ms. Bader in New York at a private lunch with editor Stacy Morrison before she received her final prize of a shopping spree. At Ms. Bader's direction, the shopping spree was spent buying Christmas gifts for children of wounded soldiers living in Fisher Houses while their parents recover at nearby military hospitals.
The cash grand prize was distributed as a lump sum of $150,000, which Ms. Bader donated to Soldiers' Angels this summer. She has also donated the set of household appliances she received to nonprofit Homes for Our Troops, where they will be added to a home to be constructed for a quadriplegic wounded soldier. In a recent email, the soldier described his reaction. "We are indebted to you incredibly for your donation of those fantastic appliances. Your generosity is truly humbling," he wrote.
But Ms. Bader herself is humble about the experience. "The best part of winning was being able to give the prizes to America's heroes--our soldiers and their families. There are so many wonderful mothers in this country, and I was just glad to have the opportunity to shine the light on our military and the importance of supporting them in this time of war. I am so grateful to Stuart and Linda Resnick of Teleflora for developing the America's Favorite Mom contest," she said.
The individualized, diamond-encrusted necklace declaring Ms. Bader "America's Favorite Mom" was donated to the Soldiers' Angels Museum, which documents the development of Soldiers' Angels and responses from Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen it supports.
Ms. Bader was named America's Favorite Mom in a primetime NBC television show on Mother's Day 2008, sponsored by Teleflora and hosted by Donny and Marie Osmond.
Established in 2003, Soldiers' Angels is a volunteer-based 501(c)(3) non-profit providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as veterans and military families. For more information, see www.soldiersangels.org or call 626-529-5114. Tax ID# 20-0583415
(Bumped from 2008-12-16 12:44:49)All done!
It's a Holiday Bonus Mudville Movie!
Does this one need explaining?
It's Christmas. Ring those bells! The full feature waits below.
(Bumped from 2008-12-14 21:35:26)All done!
Michael Totten: “If your men conduct any raids,” I said to Captain Todd Looney at Combat Outpost Ford on the outskirts of Sadr City, Baghdad, “I want to go.”
...hanging out at the Penthouse Club (in Vegas) with my buddy Stephen Green, aka Vodkapundit...
...classy, you know, like the Brat Pack. And he says, "Dude, I gotta know, what's the secret?" And I'm worried, 'cause, well, he's a pretty good guy and I didn't want to tell him any of the ones that would require me to crush his larynx after telling, you know? So I respond with "I'm not sure what secret you mean..."
Which was true. But he says (quietly now, so no one around us could hear) "How do you get them to beg? I mean, really beg?"
And I breathed a sigh of relief, and relaxed the flesh on my right hand that I had already willed into steel via a little trick I learned somewhere in the far East "just in case".
But I said, "I don't know if you're ready for that one..." but really, even if he hadn't immediately passed me the recipes for three different yet equally perfect and powerful martinis I would have told him that one. Too easy.
Give it to 'em. Make 'em smile.
In the mail: The Last Centurion, by John Ringo.
I'd say this
In the second decade of the twenty-first century the world is struck by two catastrophes, a new mini-ice age and, nearly simultaneously, a plague to dwarf all previous experiences. Rising out of the disaster is the character known to history as “Bandit Six” an American Army officer caught up in the struggle to rebuild the world and prevent the fall of his homeland—despite the best efforts of politicians both elected and military. The Last Centurion is a memoir of one possible future, a world that is a darkling mirror of our own. Written “blog-style,” it pulls no punches in its descriptions of junk science, bad strategy and organic farming not to mention all three at once....makes it the ultimate must-read military sci-fi book for a milblogger.
I won my copy (author autographed - sweet!) in the Valor-IT auction - and thanks to John Ringo (and Laughing Wolf) for that. But you can read the first chapters online for free, then get your own here.
John of Argghhh has great Links for Veterans!!! and their families with Veterans benefits and how to file/ask for them.
There are many sites that explain how to obtain books, military/medical records, information and how to appeal a denied claim with the VA and ways to cut through the red tape.
"Did you hear about the Mom whose donations for the wounded Soldiers were stolen? Well, that's me!"Actually, a Gold Star mom. MaryAnn has the updates.
- Linda Ferrara, while chasing a WalMart manager through the store to ask for a donation.
A poem from Soldiers' Angel Karen:
I am a Soldier’s Angel, God chose me to take care
Of all our men and women, in a world that is not fair
I write them and send packages and pray for safe return
That is my job I’m proud to say, and how much I have learned
This Christmas will be different, most certainly for me
I ‘ll be the Christmas Angel upon my Soldier’s Tree
If he should cry and feel alone this coming Christmas Day
God please help me, to put in words, just what I want to say
I honor you with all I am and guard your life you see
You make such sacrifice for those, you cannot, even see
I watch I wait I listen on this sweet Christmas Day
For today’s my turn to make you proud I hope you are I pray
For no one’s more deserving than a hero such as you
You keep us safe each day and night with all you say and do
I am your Christmas Angel upon your Christmas Tree
I hope some day when you are old, sometimes you’ll think of me
Even if, there is no tree at all, you’ll look at me and see
I’m with you now I’ll be with you then, So please remember me
When I am old I shall recall in such sweet memory
The day I stood on top that day, upon my Soldier’s Tree
...to Uncle J.
Good on the Onion for doing the right thing. Now if only they could understand the right reason. (Ditto that to anyone who thought they were making fun of the troops.)
(Update: Okay, there's really only one way to respond to crap like this. I've written my own song, dedicated to Billy Joel. You'll find it posted below.)
So I'm out driving this morning, listening to Christmas songs on the radio. Among them, John Bon Jovi's "Back Door Santa" - first time I'd ever heard it, but I immediately thought it was the worst Christmas song I'd ever heard. (Update: Heh)
Until I got home and opened an email from Sgt Sumner (of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America):
Greyhawk:Joel explains that he's "not charging for the song because he simply wants people to hear it and think of the soldiers - "those poor bastards'' - stuck in Iraq for Christmas."
If you follow the links within the article and the instruction, you can both see the lyrics and for free download the actual song (just hit the skip icon in the payment options screen when you get to it). As Mrs G might read this ahead of you, I will not fully express here what I think of Joel's POS song.
But the song is his way of thanking the people of Australia for still thinking he's worth listening to:
"We wanted to do something to commemorate our tour of Australia,'' he said. "There are no other recordings of this song, with me singing, available.Hard to believe someone could be as ignorant of Iraq or the troops as Joel is, but it's true. Unfortunately he wants to share that ignorance with the world.
"We thought it would be a nice way to say thank you on our last night in Oz: Merry Christmas!''
Australia is golden territory for Joel, who has sold more than five million albums here. It was also one of the first countries to break his career-defining hit, Piano Man, in 1975.
Joel wrote Christmas In Fallujah last year and originally had it recorded by young US singer Cass Dillon because, at 22, he is closer to the age of the soldiers who inspired it.
BILLY Joel's CHRISTMAS IN FALLUJAH
IT’S EVENING IN THE DESERT
I’M TIRED AND I’M COLD
BUT I AM JUST A SOLDIER
I DO WHAT I AM TOLD
WE CAME WITH THE CRUSADERS
TO SAVE THE HOLY LAND
IT’S CHRISTMAS IN FALLUJAH
AND NO ONE GIVES A DAMN
AND I JUST GOT YOUR LETTER
AND THIS IS WHAT I READ . . . . . . YOU SAID
I’M FADING FROM YOUR MEMORY
SO I’M JUST AS GOOD AS DEAD
WE ARE THE ARMIES OF THE EMPIRE
WE ARE THE LEGIONNAIRES OF ROME
IT’S CHRISTMAS IN FALLUJAH
AND WE AIN’T NEVER COMING HOME
WE CAME TO BRING THESE PEOPLE FREEDOM
WE CAME TO FIGHT THE INFIDEL
THERE IS NO JUSTICE IN THE DESERT
BECAUSE THERE IS NO GOD IN HELL
THEY SAY OSAMA’S IN THE MOUNTAINS
DEEP IN A CAVE NEAR PAKISTAN
BUT THERE’S A SEA OF BLOOD IN BAGHDAD
A SEA OF OIL IN THE SAND
BETWEEN THE TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES
ANOTHER DAY COMES TO AN END
IT’S CHRISTMAS IN FALLUJAH
PEACE ON EARTH GOODWILL TO MEN
IT’S CHRISTMAS IN FALLUJAH
IT’S CHRISTMAS IN FALLUJAH
Update: Okay, there's really only one way to respond to crap like this. I've written my own song, dedicated to Billy Joel:
A Short Pianist's Lament
It's evening in Australia
I'm on stage to sing and dance
But when I hit a high note
I completely shit my pants
I'm Billy Joel, goddammit
I'm as famous as can be
And you can ask your parents
I was married to Brinkley
Huh? Oh - she used to be a model
Your dad would probably know
And honestly she's still hot
But this is about MY show
When the record company called me
and said my records wouldn't sell
I told them they were crazy
I told them go to hell
I'm the guy that wrote "Piano Man"
Back in '73
Somewhere I've got a fan club
devoted totally to me
You think I can't be young and hip?
Can't get it up the charts no more?
Just wait a minute while I write
a song about the Iraq War!
I'll bet I can get a Grammy, dammit
On TeeVee (not just in my head)
Get Uptown Girl to answer my calls
and hang up on her instead!
What's that you say there, Sony?
You don't want my Christmas song?
It's because I'm Jewish, isn't it!
Wait, you say I got it wrong?
I'm what? Too old? You're shittin' me!
The girls all think I'm thrillin'
Do what? With who? Go where? Up yours!
And who the hell's Cass Dillon?
I mean, I can play you a memory,
Though I'm not really sure how it goes
But its sad and its sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger mans clothes
So I'm off the wagon once again
In some bar on Christmas eve
Calling the waiter "my friend John"
And demanding my drinks for free
When in walks a guy in a sailor suit
I shout "ahoy there Davy"
"I bet it's me that you're comin' to see"
and he feeds me my teeth! F%^k the Navy!!
I'm Billy Joel, goddammit
I'm famous, I'm groovy, I find
Everywhere I go folks love me
Including Fallujah in my mind
I'm Billy Joel, goddammit
I'm famous, I've kept my groove on
Next year I'll play Caesar's Palace
As a warmup act for Elton John
-- Greyhawk, 2008
And finally, here's one I actually wrote in Baghdad, Christmas '04.
Also in Iraq, our friend Grim reports on other topics. "You are probably unaware of this if you're reading it in America, but this is also holiday season in Iraq. The Hajj season is winding down, having been ongoing here for quite a while now. Thousands of Iraqis have traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform the rites of the trip to Mecca. This week is one of the great festivals of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha. Iraqis are celebrating by, among other things, touring Saddam's palace in Babylon."
The media aspect of this war is a well-known difficulty. It's not just that AQI needs only to set off one bomb, anywhere in the country, to make the reporting on any given incident all about them. That's true, and it's a problem -- if they set off a car bomb and kill a dozen or forty people, you lose track of the fact that literally millions more people went about their day untroubled by al Qaeda.
But there is another problem, which is that when al Qaeda isn't able to carry off even a single bomb on a major holiday, there's little news to be found at all. This time, every one of those millions of Iraqis enjoyed their holiday with no violence; but I'd guess that around 1% of America even knows there was a major holiday here last week.
But in many ways, the unannounced trip was a victory lap without a victory. Nearly 150,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq fighting a war that is remarkably unpopular in the United States and across the globe. More than 4,209 members of the U.S. military have died and the war has cost U.S. taxpayers $576 billion since it began five years and nine months ago.
The Bush administration and even White House critics credit last year's military buildup with the security gains in Iraq. Last month, attacks fell to the lowest monthly level since the war began in 2003. Still, it's unclear what will happen when the U.S. troops leave. While violence has slowed in Iraq, attacks continue, especially in the north. At least 55 people were killed Thursday in a suicide bombing in a restaurant near Kirkuk.
Elsewhere, Jules Crittenden (who refers to the author of that A.P. bit as "Bush-bashing distortionist Jennifer Loven") quotes Reuters' coverage of the impact of reality on the "reality-based" community:
Though the Iraq war is now looking like an astonishing success that will leave democracy and a pro-US government in a key formerly despotic and menacing Mideast nation, outraged blog chatter shows most progressives are beside themselves and feel betrayed by Obama’s rightward shift.Ah well, at least for now they've still got the A.P.
President George W. Bush ducked two shoes thrown at him by an unidentified man during a press conference in the Iraqi prime minister’s office.Actually, they threw shoes at that statue according to news video of it happening at the time. But they never did that to the real Saddam, did they?
Bush wasn’t hit by the shoes, one of which sailed over his head. The president shrugged and said “I’m OK” after the incident in Baghdad today. “All I can report is it is a size 10,” Bush said.
In Arab culture, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect. The man shouted an Arabic phrase, which an Iraqi present said translated as “this is a farewell kiss, dog.”
After U.S. troops pulled down a statue of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqi bystanders tossed shoes at it, according to news reports at the time.
The shoe-thrower, who was in a group of journalists, was wrestled to the ground and taken away.
Perhaps Billy Joel sneaked in. And just because he or she was in a group of journalists doesn't mean the show thrower was a journalist. But can the AP confirm the whereabouts of Jennifer Loven?
Just kidding. But hopefully al Qaeda can learn a lesson from this: you don't have to be a suicide bomber to get headlines.
Originally broadcast in April and May of 1998, the epic miniseries From the Earth to the Moon was HBO's most expensive production to date, with a budget of $68 million. Hosted by executive producer Tom Hanks, the miniseries tackles the daunting challenge of chronicling the entire history of NASA's Apollo space program from 1961 to 1972.Five disc set, List Price: $59.98, now $19.99
Needs you, even. Needs you bad.
Who can resist a damsel in distress?
Secretary Gates, encouraging candor ("Hearing their questions, concerns, and aspirations – unvarnished and uncensored – has been bracing. And it’s been helpful.") from troops at his "Town Hall" meeting in Afghanistan: "Your suggestions have shaped my thinking on everything from day-to-day military operations to enhancing the quality of life for service members and their families. This gathering is larger, but I hope it won’t keep you from being direct and honest with your questions and concerns. And don’t worry about the reporters here – they are good people."
Golly - I wonder why he would think they needed to be told the reporters were good people? And when you think about it, isn't "reporters" an odd thing to reassure troops they don't have to worry about in the middle of a war zone?
(By the way, I'll bet I can name one of those reporters. At least, I could name one who told me he'd be cruising the 'Stan with the Sec Def...)All done!
As [Master Sgt. Scott] Ford and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding returned fire, Walding was hit below his right knee. Ford turned and saw that the bullet "basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield."That bears repeating: "I literally grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around". They do not teach that in CLS*.
Walding, of Groesbeck, Tex., recalled: "I literally grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around. There was about two inches of meat holding my leg on." He put on a tourniquet, watching the blood flow out the stump to see when it was tight enough.
If there's anything to smile about in the story it's that the guy's name is John Wayne.
But for the record, the opposite of that is American Jackassery, and it's not funny. (By the way, lots of background emails going on around this story - folks are not laughing.)
Cassandra channels Ayn Rand:
Kill man’s sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognise greatness or to achieve it. Great men can’t be ruled. We don’t want any great men. Don’t deny conception of greatness. Destroy it from within. The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional. Set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept – and you stop the impetus to effort in men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence, to perfection. ...Is civilization threatened by the Onion? Of course not - at least, not as long as men such as those they witlessly ridicule are willing to defend it.
Then there’s another way. Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It’s simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humour is an unlimited virtue. Don't let anything remain sacred in a man’s soul – and his soul won’t be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you’ve killed the hero in man. One doesn’t reverence with a giggle. He’ll obey and he’ll set no limits to obedience – anything goes – nothing is too serious.
Allah at Hot Air: "It’s not a joke on wounded soldiers, as I take it, but a joke on the Pentagon placing unfair demands on the wounded to compensate for the manpower shortage."
And far too many commenters there agree. But they're missing the point (and likewise mistaken in claiming there's a boycott call coming from this direction). As Mrs G pointed out, "We have guys who are truly making every effort possible to stay in the military and go back with their band of brothers and there are some who are disheartened to realize that will never happen." (There are links in the original). That's what the pathetic little shits at the Onion don't get, and what the commenters at Hot Air are equally blissfully ignorant of - the piece is ridiculing the Pentagon for accommodating such folks. Their defense is ignorance, of course - they had no idea wounded troops were fighting for the right to continue serving, to get back into combat even, and have been since the war began. But they seen on the TeeVees where no one wants to join up or re-up because of the war so the Pentygon was sending all them wounded Pee Tee Ess Dee troops back to eye-rack with branes dameged so it mus be true, and it oughta get stopped!
Of course, the Onion gets to make a few bucks, too. Cause people are wiling to pay money for that kinda funny.
Just for laughs - a hilarious story from the Pentagon, March 2006:
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: There are nearly a hundred military generals with sons and daughter whose are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. One family, the Odiernos, talked to AMERICAN MORNING about what happens when father is son go off to war and the son almost doesn't come back.
Here's Barbara Starr.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Linda Odierno watched both her husband and son go off to war in Iraq. But soon after her husband came home, the phone rang with dreaded news. Their son, Tony, had been hit.
LINDA ODIERNO, SOLDIER'S MOTHER: When I heard about Tony's injury, all I could think about was, how is he feeling? How much pain is he in? And how he's doing.
STARR: Tony was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade during a routine patrol in Baghdad.
CAPT. TONY ODIERNO, SON OF ARMY GENERAL: The first one they shot hit my vehicle. It went through my door, took off that arm, and it killed my driver.
STARR: Bleeding uncontrollably, one arm shot off, Tony climbed through the gunners's hatch and tried to help his buddies before he collapsed. It was courage any father would be proud of, especially the tough general who had commanded the 4th Infantry Division, a division responsible for Saddam Hussein's capture.
LT. GEN. RAYMOND ODIERNO, FATHER OF ARMY CAPTAIN: I think it hit home when Tony got hurt, but it is different when you're a father. I mean, you know, he's my son. As a parent, you almost feel sorry for yourself initially. At least I did. And then when I saw Tony, I didn't feel sorry for myself.
STARR: The Odiernos say it was actually their son who kept them strong as they watched him recover. Tony and his dad now have adjoining Pentagon offices. Tony is the personal aide to General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This young man wants other amputees to know they will get better.
T. ODIERNO: Sometimes when you look at your injuries, I mean, it's just hard to look at first. You know, you're not used to your new body yet, and it's hard. And then one day, you realize that I can still live a great life, I'm still going to live. I can still live that, whatever I want to do.
STARR: And the general finds his life changed by what happened to his son. Now, when he talks to parents of other wounded soldiers...
R. ODIERNO: We talk as parents. I don't talk as a general to a parent. I talk as a parent.
STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
An update from Greta (who actually was calling for a boycott of the Onion): "Update 9:45 PM: The video has been removed!!!!"
A must read from Robert Stokely: Elijah Carroll
*They do teach you that as long as enemy contact is maintained you will keep your weapon pointing at the bad guys and shooting, meaning that sans medic, your wounded bud (who may be you) will have to take care of him/herself. Such things are, of course, situational.
** Sorry - that was just a joke that went wrong.
In keeping with the John Adams theme, this excerpt from a letter dated July 3rd, 1776 seems appropriate:
"Yesterday, the greatest question was decided which ever was debated in America, and a greater, perhaps, never was nor will be decided among men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony " that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, and as such they have, and of right ought to have, full power to make war, conclude peace, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which other States may rightfully do." You will see, in a few days, a Declaration setting forth the causes which have impelled us to this mighty revolution, and the reasons which will justify it in the sight of God and man. A plan of confederation will be taken up in a few days.
"...It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting, and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect at least. It will inspire us with many virtues which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement in states as well as individuals. And the new Governments we are assuming in every part will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues, or they will be no blessings. The people will have unbounded power, and the people are extremely addicted to corruption and venality, as well as the great. But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe."
Tonight's Mudville Movie: The Man Who Never Was - a real life espionage drama from World War Two.
In 1942, Operation Torch was imminent, and victory in the North African Campaign was expected. Allied planners considered the next step in the war. They decided to continue attacks in the Mediterranean theatre. Control of Sicily would open the Mediterranean to Allied shipping and allow invasion of continental Europe, making Sicily an obvious strategic objective. German planners saw this too, of course. (Winston Churchill commented "Everyone but a bloody fool would know that it's Sicily.") Furthermore, there would be a massive Allied buildup for the invasion (code-named Operation Husky) that would surely be detected. The Germans would know that some large attack was coming. But if the Allies could deceive the Germans about where that attack was going, the Germans might disperse or divert some significant part of their forces, which would help the invasion succeed.... as detailed in the full feature film below...
Several months before, Flight Lt. Charles Cholmondeley of Section B1(a) of MI5, suggested dropping a dead man attached to a badly-opened parachute in France with a radio set for the Germans to find. The idea was for the Germans to think that the Allies did not know the set was captured, and pretend to be Allied agents operating it, thus allowing the Allies to feed them misinformation. This was dismissed as unworkable; however the idea was taken up later by the Twenty Committee, the small inter-service, inter-departmental intelligence team in charge of double agents. Cholmondeley was on the Twenty Committee, as was Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu, a Royal Navy intelligence officer.
Montagu and Cholmondeley developed Cholmondeley's idea into a workable plan...
And a few copies of the book (written by Ewen Montagu, one of the men who developed the plot) are still available at Amazon.
Paul Cassell, writing at the Volokh Conspiracy: "I have played a small role in the defense of the case and thought I would post a few links that may be of interest to those following the case."
The defense view of the case is as follows:More at the link.
On September 16, 2007, on the dangerous streets of Baghdad, a State Department official and her security detail were attacked by insurgents using a roadside bomb. A second security team, including our clients, was sent to assist and in the process of securing an escape route were drawn into a firefight with insurgents in Nissor Square. Iraqi insurgents do not wear uniforms, and often disguise themselves as Iraqi soldiers or police to ambush U.S. forces. The tools of these insurgents include car bombs, roadside bombs, suicide bombers and automatic weapons. Faced with this enemy, these young men were fighting for their lives in a crowded, dangerous and chaotic environment. It is an unfortunate fact of war that in a country where terrorists and insurgents hide behind civilians to attack U.S. personnel, civilian casualties will result. These casualties are not the fault of our military and security forces however, but rather the fault of the insurgents who use women and children as shields, behind which they launch their cowardly attacks. Today, prosecutors in Washington, DC, seated comfortably in the safety of well guarded offices three thousand miles away from this deadly war zone, have seen fit to second guess how these decorated veterans of the military fought for the lives of their comrades and themselves. Worse they have charged these young men with offenses which could put them in prison for the rest of their lives for their efforts to save their own lives and the lives of others.
Of course Lex had something to say about the Miramar crash this week. He does, after all, include "fighter pilot" in his resume, and an address in San Diego. Go there expecting wisdom and insight and you won't be disappointed. Each sentence I read made me think, "ah, that's the one I'll quote" - all the way from top to bottom. Thus I've quoted none of them here. Insightful commentary follows that post, as is so often the case, so don't stop scrolling too soon.
Then this follow up:
A number of years ago I noted this phenomenon: Go to the local 7-11 and you’d see a family of first generation immigrants - people from God-knows-where - working 12 on, 12 off shifts. Flying from the stultification of the old world’s expectations for them. Fully cognizant of the opportunity they’d earned, gratefully busting their butts. Their kids would go to state schools, get good jobs, contribute to society. Their grand kids would go to Harvard, maybe. Maybe Columbia.That one leaped off the page. I'd just last night viewed an episode of HBO's John Adams. Part three, in fact, wherein Adams was attending a Salon in Paris. Not fluent in the language - either the spoken or the more subtle communiques employed in those environs - Adams' discomfort is obvious. He's surrounded by immaculately coiffed and heavily painted intellectuals (both male and female) whose good graces and influence may be crucial to his cause - convincing France to aid his new nation in the war for independence. In apologizing for his lack of command of the tongue they've mastered, he explains that his time must be devoted to study of politics and war, that his sons might in their turn study commerce so that their sons may in time persue learning the fine arts and other things that make French society the marvel he sees before him. His words earn their approval.
Though from slightly different context than the TV version, the original comes from a letter to his wife, written after a day of touring the gardens of Paris in 1780:
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.I pray the gentle reader takes no offense at calling such men patriots. Surely none was e'r intended.
C'est la vie.
Without date, 1780.
My Dear Portia, — The inclosed dialogue in the shades was written by Mr. Edmund Jennings, now residing at Brussels, a native of Maryland. I will send you the rest when I can get it. How I lament the loss of my packets by Austin ! There were, I suppose, letters from Congress of great importance to me. I know not what I shall do without them. I suppose there was authority to draw, etc. Mr. T.'s letter from his father hints that Mr. L. is coming here. This will be excellent.
Since my arrival this time, I have driven about Paris more than I did before. The rural scenes around this town are charming. The public walks, gardens, etc., are extremely beautiful. The gardens of the Palais Royal and the gardens of the Tuileries are very fine. The Place de Louis XV., the Place Vendome or Place de Louis XIV., the Place Victoire, the Place Royale, are fine squares, ornamented with very magnificent statues. I wish I had time to describe these objects to you, in a manner that I should have done twenty-five years ago ; but my head is too full of schemes, and my heart of anxiety, to use expressions borrowed from you know whom. To take a walk in the gardens of the palace of the Tuileries, and describe the statues there, all in marble, in which the ancient divinities and heroes are represented with exquisite art, would be a very pleasant amusement and instructive entertainment, improving in history, mythology, poetry, as well as in statuary. Another walk in the gardens of Versailles would be useful and agreeable. But to observe these objects with taste, and describe them so as to- be understood, would require more time and thought than I can possibly spare. It is not indeed the fine arts which our country requires; the useful, the mechanic arts are those which we have occasion for in a young country as yet simple and not far advanced in luxury, although perhaps much too far for her age and character. I could fill volumes with descriptions of temples and palaces, paintings, sculptures, tapestry, porcelain, etc., etc., etc., if I could have time ; but I could not do this without neglecting my duty. The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take place of, indeed to exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain. Adieu.All done!
Is it just me, cuz I'm not amused.
Via the Onion:
How Can We Make The Iraq War More Handicap Accessible?
Over at Bill and Bob's Excellent Afghan Adventure you can find the email address to the Onion and their sponser. He's as angry as I am and has a few words on the matter.
UPDATE: Emails here:
The Onion editorial email:
Advertising at The Onion:
Director of PR for Screen life, LLC:
Sonic Director of External Communications:
Sonic regional contact information can be found here
Also, Both Fosters and Burger King are advertisers, Burger King, which has their restaurants on almost every military base in the US and most of the large bases overseas to include Iraq and Afghanistan
Let's get them to pull this poor excuse of satire down and demand apology. The determination and bravery needed for our troops to go back to war after being seriously wounded is not something to be ridiculed.
Our Soldier's Angel in Germany has a post (with Video) that might put some perspective on this.
IIt's about the ten Soldiers of Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 of the 3rd SF Group who will be awarded the Silver Star today for their actions in the Shok valley of Nuristan province, Afghanistan back in April.
As [Master Sgt. Scott] Ford and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding returned fire, Walding was hit below his right knee. Ford turned and saw that the bullet "basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield."
Walding, of Groesbeck, Tex., recalled: "I literally grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around. There was about two inches of meat holding my leg on." He put on a tourniquet, watching the blood flow out the stump to see when it was tight enough.
Now that's tough. But it was just the beginning...
It is a harrowing tale, be sure to view it.
It's guys like these and the ones I linked above that the Onion is mocking.
UPDATE III What others have to say:
Another Angel isn't happy and is Boycotting the Onion
John of Argghhh!!! thinks it stinks and points out exactly what the Onion missed. He also mentions in an email that maybe we should invite The Onion staffers and the actors in that bit to visit Walter Reed and/or Brooke in San Antonio, and meet some soldiers and Marines who are working to get back in the fight.
That's a great idea!!!
Anyone who has visited our wounded at Landstuhl, Walter Reed or Bethesda, would not find ANY humor in this bit.
BlackFive and Laughing Wolf express their opinions here.
Maj Chuck Z, who is a combat veteran and was wounded in 2005, while serving in Iraq, writes a letter to the Onion and to their sponsors
Troy Steward believes they have crossed the line and ask you join him in the Pitchfork Brigade
Cassandra asks in her open letter: "Why do you find it "laughable" for wounded soldiers who have recovered from their injuries to resume the duties for which they have been trained?"
UPDATEIII: Via email from Greta via Anita.Lavine@screenlifegames.com>:
Dear Greta- Thank you very much for bringing this issue to our attention. We completely agree with you that the Onion's story was inappropriate, and we are working with them to resolve this as soon as possible. Please accept our sincere apology, and assurance that it is not our intention to support offensive or harmful content.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
And: More from Greyhawk here.
Another one from Amazon's DVD sale: War & Civilization.
Based on the research of military historian John Keegan ("Face of Battle," "The History of Warfare") this eight-part series examines various developments in the evolution of armed conflict – from technological breakthroughs to tactical innovations – while simultaneously exploring how and why the major military campaigns of the past 3,000 years were fought.Anyone seen this one?
December 10, 1996: The oil-for-food program begins operations as oil flows from Iraq for the first time since 1990. (Food shipments to Iraq would not begin until March, 1997.) Estimates of the Iraqi death toll resulting from UN sanctions between 1990 and 1996 vary widely; some indicate that 750,000 people died through malnutrition and lack of medicines; and that the rate at this time was 10,000 a month. "Oil for Food" was initially approved by the U.N. Security Council in April, 1995 (UNSCR 986), but Saddam Hussein would refuse the program until May, 1996. In June of that year Iraq's refusal to allow U.N. weapons inspectors access to sites would threaten the program, but following a strongly worded rebuke (UNSCR 1060) from the U.N. the deal was back on track. Iraq wouldn't block inspectors again until July, when UN Inspector Scott Ritter was denied entry to a Republican Guard facility. In August the President of the Security Council responded with a strongly worded rebuke.
In the beginning, Iraq was allowed to sell $2 billion worth of oil every six months. In 1998, the limit was raised to $5.26 billion every six months. In December 1999, the Security Council removed the ceiling on Iraqi oil exports under the program.
December 8, 1998: Chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler reports that Iraq is still impeding inspections. Cooperation ends between Iraq and inspectors when the country demands the lifting of the U.N. oil embargo. UNSCOM and the IAEA pull their staffs out of Iraq in anticipation of a US-led air raid on Iraqi military targets.
December 9, 1998: The Special Commission submits its second weekly report to the U.N. Security Council describing monitoring activities and the difficulties encountered in the course of those activities, including blockage at a site.
December 11, 1998: The House Judiciary Committee approves three articles of impeachment on a 21-16 party line vote, passing them to the full House of Representatives. The three articles accuse President Clinton of lying to a grand jury, committing perjury by denying he had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, and obstructing justice. Clinton declares himself "profoundly sorry" and willing to accept censure.
A Korean immigrant who lost his wife, two children and mother-in-law when a Marine Corps jet slammed into the family's house said Tuesday he did not blame the pilot, who ejected and survived.
"Please pray for him not to suffer from this accident," a distraught Dong Yun Yoon told reporters gathered near the site of Monday's crash of an F/A-18D jet in San Diego's University City community.
"He is one of our treasures for the country," Yoon said in accented English punctuated by long pauses while he tried to maintain his composure.
"I don't blame him. I don't have any hard feelings. I know he did everything he could," said Yoon, flanked by members of San Diego's Korean community, relatives and members from the family's church.
The Marine pilot will be forever marred by this event, I hope this gentleman's forgiveness eases that pain just a bit. Dong Yun Yoon is a patriot and his forgiveness of this pilot can not be easy. It's much easier to lay blame in such a tragic situation. Thoughts and prayers go out to all involved.
She also gives us this info:
Soldiers' Angels is collecting notes of support and encouragement for the pilot until Monday morning. As I pointed out above, he's living a hell of his own right now. If you'd like to contribute a note to him (name is Dan, he's a 28-year-old Marine lieutenant in flight training), you can leave a comment here or email beths[remove]@[remove]soldiersangels.org.
Support and encouragement to Mr. Yoon can be sent to:
Dong Yun Yoon
c/o Rev. Kevin Lee
Korean United Methodist Church
3520 Mount Acadia Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
Thanks to the support of loyal friends like you, Soldiers' Angels has sent out thousands of WRAPPED IN HOLIDAY SPIRIT care packages to our soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan or recovering from injuries in a hospital far from home.
But now we have an urgent situation on our hands...
We have run out of funds to pay for the postage to ship out the remaining 40,000 care packages!
It is absolutely critical that we raise $150,000 in the next three days to send out the remaining 40,000 care packages for our soldiers so they arrive in time for Christmas!
Each of these packages has been lovingly packed by our caring volunteer "Angels," but without your immediate help they will not get into the hands of one of our heroes in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Along with a handmade blanket, each care package includes snacks, hot chocolate, a stainless steel travel mug, socks and a handwritten holiday card.
I can't bear the thought of thousands of our wonderful soldiers being left out and ignored this Christmas. And as a loyal friend to Soldiers' Angels, I'm sure you agree that we can't let our brave men and women down. No soldier should go unloved... especially during the holiday season.
Worse yet, the wounded will be recovering from their injuries at military hospitals... feeling homesick and very alone. Please, can I count on your support so that we can show each and every soldier how much we care for them?
Your generous support at this time would be a Godsend.
To donate now please click here
The only way Soldiers' Angels can complete a job of this magnitude is to enlist the help of patriotic, caring Americans like you who support our troops.
That's why it's so critical that our most loyal friends respond today to this urgent request.All done!
Thousands of our brave men and women are depending on us.
Please, we must raise $150,000 in the next 3 days to send the remaining 40,000 WRAPPED IN HOLIDAY SPIRIT care packages.
I hope I can count on your critical support once more.
I know our troops will love the WRAPPED IN HOLIDAY SPIRIT care packages you will help send.
Please help now in any way you can.
Captain K at Wordsmith at War has FIRE IN THE NIGHT coming out soon. You can also find his writings in War Is... Soldiers, Survivors, and Storytellers Talk About War (pages 118-135)
...on the Glenn Beck show, where Joe the Plumber is promoting his book.
He expresses, McCain 'appalled me'
I think alot of conservatives felt the same. You fight an election with the politicians you have.
But he loves Sarah Palin, "She's the real deal".
...we received a Christmas card from Crawford Texas, signed by George and Laura Bush.
The first Christmas card that we received this year, and it came from our President. It is an honor to be on their Christmas card list.
MERRY CHRISTMAS PRESIDENT BUSH AND FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH!
And here's a s good a place as any to say thank you President Bush for being our President and Comander in Chief for the last eight difficult years.
Did he make mistakes? Sure he did. He is human.
Did he restore dignity to the White House? You damn right he did.
Did he do the best he could with what tools and info he had at the time? I truly believe he did.
Does he have my respect and loyalty? Now and forever
Couldn't agree more.
WASHINGTON Defense Secretary Robert Gates is moving to replace virtually all of the top political appointees at the Pentagon, and a number of centrist Democrats are expected to take their places.
Officials familiar with Gates' thinking say he is planning to keep on only a few of his closest personal aides - no more than a dozen or so. But the Defense Department's plum jobs - secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force, along with dozens of deputy and undersecretary positions, will be up for grabs.
Michael Totten, on Iraq at the end of the surge:
Last week I wrote that many Americans and Iraqis I spoke to in Baghdad recently expect a surge of violence after American troops withdraw from Iraqi cities as stipulated by the recently signed Status of Forces Agreement. Many readers seemed surprised by that pessimistic forecast and wondered, after two years of good news, if it could even be true. “Your report and that of Michael Yon,” Richard Everett wrote in the comments section, “published on the same day on the same subject are at so great variance that one has to ask; 'are you two in the same country?' He is positive, you are not. Why the extreme difference?”
A bonus Mudville Night at the Movies for December 7th: Guadalcanal Diary.
This film was produced in 1943, just one year after the battle depicted therein, and while the war was ongoing. The book (a memoir written by war correspondent Richard Tregaskis) that the movie was based on made Crittenden's List.
Wikipedia: Guadalcanal Campaign
WWII Multimedia Database: The Battle of Guadalcanal August 7, 1942 - February 1943
History Learning Site: Guadalcanal
Larry Gwin, former US Army captain, Silver Star, Purple Heart, XO of Alpha Co., 2/7 Cav, 1st Cav Division, veteran of the Ia Drang battles of 1965 and author of “Baptism: A Vietnam Memoir,” spent many years trying to understand war and find some context for his own horrific combat experience by exploring war literature. It is useful exercise, because in this manner the combat veteran may learn from other people, find commonality in what they write, ease the alienation and find his or her place in history. It is an important part of the post-combat normalization process. Make that post-combat normality transcendence process. There is the risk of obsession, but if that is an issue, take it up with your shrink.My suggested addition (in comments there) is a fairly quick read, a classic, and available on the internet for free.
In any case, Larry got bored the other morning, drafted his quick combat reading list, and emailed it. A couple of his buddies, on an email list that runs from Guadalcanal through Korea and Vietnam to Petraeus’ Baghdad staff and the Afghan Counterinsurgency Academy, added to it.
...1941 or thereafter.
Theodore Roosevelt, from his autobiography (MacMillan, 1913):
The War of America the Unready
I suppose the United States will always be unready for war, and in consequence will always be exposed to great expense, and to the possibility of the gravest calamity, when the Nation goes to war. This is no new thing. Americans learn only from catastrophes and not from experience.There would have been no war in 1812 if, in the previous decade, America, instead of announcing that "peace was her passion," instead of acting on the theory that unpreparedness averts war, had been willing to go to the expense of providing a fleet of a score of ships of the line. However, in that case, doubtless the very men who in the actual event deplored the loss of life and waste of capital which their own supineness had brought about would have loudly inveighed against the "excessive and improper cost of armaments"; so it all came to about the same thing in the end. There is no more thoroughgoing international Mrs. Gummidge, and no more utterly useless and often utterly mischievous citizen, than the peace-at-any-price, universal-arbitration type of being, who is always complaining either about war or else about the cost of the armaments which act as the insurance against war. There is every reason why we should try to limit the cost of armaments, as these tend to grow excessive, but there is also every reason to remember that in the present stage of civilization a proper armament is the surest guarantee of peace - and is the only guarantee that war, if it does come, will not mean irreparable and overwhelming disaster.
Why I like this pick: if Shinseki says he needs, say, 650,000 (random number) additional hires in the V.A. he'll get them. There can be absolutely no argument made against this - in the media, on Capitol Hill, or elsewhere.
Downside (as all Army vets who've emailed me on this have pointed out): V.A. berets.
The state should advocate for justice: for a just application of the law. Attempting to find innovative ways to put people in jail far longer than is just should be a form of prosecutorial misconduct. In my opinion, it should be itself a crime.Of course, all that talk of "law" and "justice" and other such inconveniences overlooks one overriding fact: a prosecutor can get a lot of good press by going after private security forces in Iraq, in much the same way others can for advocating release of prisoners at Guantanamo.
Look at the position we're in here:
1) The prosecutors intend to claim that the law -- which specifically limited itself to DOD employees -- should apply to State Department employees because 'they are supporting the DOD mission' by performing a function that the military would otherwise have to perform.
OK. My job includes arranging meetings between US government employees and tribal figures in Iraq in order to address and avoid problems. That's obviously a diplomatic function: the military's only doing it because the State Department lacks the personnel and resources to devote FSOs to it. Therefore: if I'm arrested on any future charge under this law, I'll just claim that the law shouldn't apply to me because 'I'm really performing a service that supports the State Department's mission.' Right?
No, that's obviously not right. I work for DOD; the law was written for me. Blackwater's guys work for the diplomats; the law specifically doesn't apply to them. Furthermore, the State Department knows it could get military escorts and doesn't want them. It feels that would make it subordinate to the military, rather than equal and independent. Thus, if they weren't using contractors, they'd have to provide State Department GS-series guards. Blackwater isn't supporting 'the military mission,' but State's desire to remain independent of the military.
The law was written this way for exactly this reason. Now the government wants to put the law into force in a way precisely contrary to the reason the law was composed.
The following contribution was written by Adam Weinstein, MNC-I Public Affairs, and sent to us by Major Brian Tribus, Media Relations Officer for Multi-National Corps - Iraq.
Along with the story, some timelines on transfer of "Sons of Iraq" (SOI) to Government of Iraq (GOI) control. In Baghdad that's already happened. In Wasit, Babil, Qadisiyah, and Diyala provinces the process has begun, and should be completed by January 1st. Anbar is scheduled for transfer by 1 February, with Ninewah and Kirkuk following on 1 March. Salah-ad-Din completes the process on 1 April.
"Of course, reconciliation is difficult", Major Tribus acknowledges. "There are many that feel we won't succeed - that the GOI will bide its time and that the SOI will face retribution once we leave. Certainly a possibility. The GOI can take this route and alienate 99K men and risk them choosing to take up their arms and return to violence. Or, the GOI can continue to demonstrate its commitment to reconciliation."
Sons of Iraq: A Vote of Confidence for Reconciliation
By Adam Weinstein, MNC-I Public Affairs
December 5, 2008
In early November, as U.S. Soldiers looked on, Baghdad-based members of the Sons of Iraq got their monthly paychecks from a new boss: the Iraqi government.
“It was a critical step in the turnover of the mostly Sunni volunteers from Coalition to Iraqi control. And the Baghdad transfer has become a model for similar moves in four other key provinces,” according to Lt. Col. Jeffrey Kulmayer, the chief of reconciliation and engagement for Multi-National Corps - Iraq. “The government is doing the right thing. Baghdad has gone quite well, and we expect that the rest of the provinces will do the same.”
The Sons of Iraq, one of the war’s good-news stories, occupy what Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter, the deputy commanding General of MNC – I, calls “the leading edge of reconciliation.” A few years ago, many of the group’s members considered Coalition forces their enemies; some fought against U.S. troops and their allies. But in June 2007, armed militiamen in Anbar province found they shared a goal with the Coalition: taking back their neighborhoods from al Qaeda in Iraq. “We helped organize them and eventually began to fund them to provide critical infrastructure and security throughout Anbar,” said Ferriter, “and it quickly spread to many of the other provinces.”
The security situation improved greatly, owing in part to Sons of Iraq tips and operations. Now, Coalition and Iraqi forces are cooperating to integrate approximately 99,000 SoI members across nine provinces into the Iraqi security forces, or provide them with peacetime livelihoods.
“The government will not abandon these people,” said Iraqi Army Maj. Gen. Muzhir al-Mawla, vice chairman of the Iraqi Follow-up Committee for National Reconciliation. “The government will provide employment opportunities for these people … as a reward for their sacrifice and their duties.”
U.S. leaders have dubbed the process “transfer and transition.” First, the SoI troops are transferred to Iraqi control and begin receiving paychecks from the government. Then, the members are given the opportunity to transition into new careers.
Many have begun to join the Iraqi army and police forces, where 20 to 30 percent ultimately will be integrated. The rest can enter a variety of literacy and job-training programs to earn a living in civil service – from banking to auto repair to electrical maintenance. “Those who have a degree will be given government jobs,” said al-Mawla. “Those who do not have much of a degree or any trade can go to a vocational school.”
Early reports on the Baghdad program, which includes over 51,000 SoI members, have been positive and the Iraqi government has followed through on its commitment to pay the SoI salaries. Nearly 2,300 Sons of Iraq from Baghdad have entered training to become police officers; others are signing up for apprenticeship training on Civil Service Corps projects, a New Deal-style employment program, with spots reserved for SoI.
“I feel good and appreciated that I got paid by the Iraqi government,” said Ahmed Kareem Ahmed, a SoI member from Ameriyah in north Baghdad. “I am very happy, very satisfied when I see my neighborhood safe and secure.”
The next provinces to transfer SoI members to Iraqi control are Diyala, Wasit, Babil, and Qadisiya. Sons of Iraq in these provinces will register during the month of December, and the transfer will take place on Jan. 1, 2009. The SoI’s four remaining provinces are slated to complete their transfers in summer 2009.
Kulmayer acknowledge that the program faces several challenges. “Many of the Sons of Iraq were worried that they might not get paid after the Coalition forces gave control to the Government of Iraq,” said Capt. Landgrave Smith, commander of Company D, TF 1st Bn., 63rd Armor Regt.
Further, many SoI leaders have expressed skepticism over how many of their members will be admitted into the Iraqi Army and Police, jobs that are seen as a means to regaining Sunni prestige and political power.
SoI leaders in Diyala province had many of those questions answered in meetings with Coalition and Iraqi leaders Nov. 17 and 19. They were reassured that the government of Iraq was meeting its obligations to SoI members in Baghdad, and would do so across the country as the transfer continued.
“I think it was absolutely critical that the Iraqi government was there to speak directly to their people. It was uncertainty of what was going to happen with the transfer that I think was most worrisome to the SoI,” Kulmayer said.
“The message is so much better received when it comes from your own officials and the leaders that are actually going to take care of you.”
You'll find lot's of items that should appeal to MilBlog readers in Amazon's DVD Box Set sale.
But if you know anyone "downrange" you might want to consider getting them an Amazon.com Gift Card. Believe it or not, I had great service from Amazon throughout my last deployment to Iraq. I just spoke to a friend recently back from Afghanistan who reports same. (Send them that "card" now and they can get whatever they order before Christmas.)
Bill Roggio on How The Mighty Sadr Has Fallen.
How quickly the narrative on Sadr has changed. Today, the Washington Post describes a weakened Sadr, with a near-toothless political movement, struggling to find its path after suffering a stinging defeat after the passage of the Status of Forces agreement between the United States and Iraq.I believe we've discussed previously how the western media have carried water for Sadr for some time.
After four years of war, 3,200 American deaths, 23,000 U.S. troops wounded and possibly in excess of 100,000 Iraqis killed, U.S. policymakers are now making what may prove to be their worst mistake yet: They may be on a new collision course with Moqtada al-Sadr.That's from the earliest days of "the surge", and in the months since we've never passed up an opportunity to ram another boot up that pasty fat boy's ass. (But to this day you can find people crediting "Sadr's cease fire" with helping reduce violence in Iraq.)
But speaking of carrying the water...
Thursday, 04 December 2008
By Kendal Smith
Gulf Region Central District
BAGHDAD — “I am very happy for the 2 million people of Sadr City,” said Iraqi Engineer Aqeel Lami of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“I have been working here at the R-3 Water Treatment Plant for more than three years, since the start of the project. It’s the first in Iraq, fully automatic and with American standards of best quality,” Lami continued.
“We meet the people in the streets of Sadr City and they are very happy. They feel that we are interested in them and their health. We are very proud of the success of this project.”
The $27 million Sadr City R-3 Water Treatment Plant construction originally began in 2005 as a USAID contract. It was handed over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division in July 2007 to finish the remaining 15 percent.
“The plant location came as a result of a government study on water pressure and supply,” said USACE water expert, Simeon Francis, who has been with the plant as a technical expert from its beginning with USAID. “There is simply not enough water to Sadr City from the Kharkh and Shark-Dijilih Water Treatment Plants for the area.” Experts decided to add a plant on the northern fringe of Sadr City to remedy that, he said.
The plant began operation in mid-June with some interruptions due to power restrictions, but today, R-3 produces 4,000 cubic meters of treated water per hour into the distribution system through a 1.2 meter outlet line.
It is currently providing 27 sectors in Sadr City with clean potable water - sectors that historically have had no centrally distributed water. With the plant at full capacity as of Sept. 27, a performance test in October confirmed the quality of the daily output of 96,000 cubic meters per day (about 25 million gallons per day). That output equates to clean, quality water for a total of 1.5 million people in Sadr City and Baghdad, Francis said.
“Operating at full capacity, the R-3 Water Treatment Plant drastically increases the potable water to the people of SadrCity. The plant is operating at 100 percent capacity right now. It’s a great success story for USACE,” said project engineer Roland Belew.
The plant will employ 150 people for operations, maintenance and management, Belew explained.
“This project is special to me,” concluded Francis, “because I’ve been here from the beginning, and I am here for the end of it. It is really something to see the clear water sample from R-3’s output. I know what the raw water is like from the Tigris and to be able to look at the R-3 water and see nothing but water is very gratifying,” he concluded.
Iraqi men play a game of soccer on a renovated field
in front of a renovated school in Baghdad’s Sadr City
District, Oct. 30, 2008. Photo by Maj. Michael Humphreys,
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs.
Friday, 28 November 2008
By Sgt. Zach Mott
4th Infantry Division
BAGHDAD — More than $55 million in both U.S. and Iraqi funds have been pumped into Sadr City to improve the quality of life for residents there since the end of major combat operations this past spring.
In a combined effort between both Iraqi and American forces, the people of Sadr City have benefited from renovated and re-opened schools, new parks, improved medical facilities, more consistent electricity and better trash removal services.
The area where these improvements have occurred is referred to as Operational Environment Gold, named after the infamous wall that separates the southern third of this northeastern Baghdad district and provides a security buffer.
“It also had an impact on the government of Iraq as they have watched our support to the local government down here in the south part of Sadr City [we can] also start to see some progress in the northern parts or the parts beyond the Gold Wall as we call it,” said Col. John Hort, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.
Since May, when the Muqtada al-Sadr-enforced cease fire took effect, more than 100 projects have been completed with assistance from the 926th Engineer Brigade. Additionally, the Striker Brigade and the 926th Eng. Bde., who work jointly in OE Gold, have handed out more than $3 million in microgrants to local businesses.
These improvements to the area have not gone unappreciated. In addition to the increased revenue in the area, there has also been an increased desire for similar projects to take hold in areas north of the infamous wall.
“Unfortunately, reconstruction north of the Gold Wall is going slow. However, I know Dr. Sumad [Chairman of the GoI's Sadr City Reconstruction Committee] is committed to success. It is my hope that soon all the citizens of Sadr City may experience the improved security and economic blessings of OE Gold,” said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, commander of 926th Engineer Brigade, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.
Cooperation has been paramount to success in OE Gold between American forces as well as the Iraqi contractors and workers who complete the projects.
“The assistance and reconstruction efforts in OE Gold by [3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div.] and TF Gold have dramatically improved the quality of life for local residents. OE Gold residents are saying ‘NO’ to the militia and the old ways of Sadr City and ‘YES’ to progress,” said Talley, a South Bend, Ind., native.
Sadr City, with the addition of these projects and the impact of the monies pushed into the local economy, has experienced wholesale improvements in this once impoverished region. But, there are still many other areas where advances can still be made.
“We’re very encouraged with what we see inside Sadr City that we were not able to see last year and as early as March of this year,” said Hort, a Fayetteville, N.C., native.All done!
"People put their loves and hopes into this," Phillips said. "It's not just stuff."
Linda and Mario Ferrara, parents of a fallen soldier, had gathered $8,000 worth of clothes and blankets to send to injured troops. It all disappeared overnight when someone broke into their RV.
The Ferraras had filled their motor home chest-deep with boxes of zip-up hoodies, underwear and eagle-emblazoned blankets -- a rolling trove of gifts intended for U.S. troops abroad.
But when Linda Ferrara checked on the RV, parked outside the family's bakery in Compton this weekend, she found a lot of empty boxes. A heartfelt note thanking the troops for their service was ripped into confetti.
Ferrara, whose son Matthew Ferrara was killed in Afghanistan, burst into tears.
Her husband, Mario Ferrara, who arrived about an hour later, wondered what they would tell MaryAnn Phillips, the military support group contact who was expecting the boxes at the Army's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. And what would they tell the people who had donated clothes, tailored blankets and knitted beanies?
"Soldiers over there risk their lives with little or no thanks," Linda Ferrara, 58, said Thursday as the family gathered replacement items at their Bay Cities Italian Bakery. "These guys were stealing the little things we were doing to make them feel wanted."
As the sweet smell of bread wafted out of their low-slung bakery in an industrial part of Compton on Thursday, the Ferraras and their daughter, Simone Carmichael, busily answered a flood of e-mails offering help, spoke to camera crews and took orders for bread deliveries.The Orange County West Point Parents Club web page is here.
A neighbor dropped off two plastic bags filled with hundreds of T-shirts in the middle of the day. Phillips, a volunteer for the nonprofit group Soldiers' Angels at Landstuhl, had called from Munich.
She told Ferrara not to worry. Ferrara told her not to worry.
"I'm getting over the stress," she told Phillips. "We're going to get more stuff. We're going to make more blankets."
Ferrara, a slim, tireless woman who wears Matthew's dog tags or a beaded necklace with his picture every day, met Phillips in January. The Ferraras had stumbled upon Phillips' blog post describing a medical evacuation from a rugged mountainside in Afghanistan. It was the aftermath of an ambush that had killed Matthew instantly.
Matthew, a 24-year-old Army captain, never went to Landstuhl, where injured service members are taken from the battle zones, but Phillips told the Ferraras about men in Matthew's company who ended up there.
The Ferraras, who live in Torrance and have three other sons in the Army, try not to think about injuries that might send their sons to Landstuhl. But they wanted to do something.
Linda Ferrara saw on the blog that sweat pants, sweat shirts and socks were among the most popular items to help wounded soldiers get through the chilly German winters.
The Ferraras belong to the West Point Parents Club of Orange County, because Matthew and two of her other sons attended the military academy. Linda went to work with the group to collect donations. She and her friends also stitched together about 40 tasseled fleece blankets with patriotic themes to send as more personalized gifts.
They amassed more than $8,000 worth of clothes and blankets, and made plans to drive them to a Soldiers' Angels office in Newbury Park, in Ventura County, for shipping.
The Ferraras couldn't fit it all into a car, so they put the boxes in the family's 1989 Tioga motor home, which is usually parked in front of the bakery.
In the 15 years the Ferraras have worked there, no one has ever tampered with the RV or broken into the building, Mario Ferrara, 64, said. Then came the theft late Saturday night or Sunday morning.
"It's life," he said with a shrug. "Maybe they saw us loading it in."
According to Sgt. April Tardy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department station in Compton, the thieves made off with 308 pairs of socks, 231 T-shirts, 200 sweat shirts, 200 pairs of sweat pants, 103 pairs of boxer briefs, 48 washcloths, 45 hats, six handsewn blankets, three lounge pants and one scarf.
They also took a CD player and some DVDs, though they skipped a few of the clothing boxes and blankets, the Ferraras said. A box of romance and adventure novels was also untouched.
So far, Tardy said, there are no leads. A deputy returned to the bakery Thursday afternoon to follow up.
Phillips, who was reached in Germany on Thursday, said she was upset about the theft and the torn-up letter.
"It may only mean the thieves were young or something," she said. "I'm disturbed by what I see sometimes as a lack of respect for our service members."
She worried mostly about Linda Ferrara. Phillips hopes to help her replace the items and fly her out to Germany to distribute them.
"People put their loves and hopes into this," Phillips said. "It's not just stuff."
Checks to help replace the items can be written to the West Point Parents Club of Orange County and sent to the bakery at 1120 W. Mahalo Place, Compton, 90220
Fixed a bad link in the previous entry on the Strategic Framework document.
For the record, the following are available via the White House web site:
From the latter, this:
The SFA implements the Iraqi and U.S. desire for a long-term relationship based on cooperation and friendship as set out in the Declaration of Principles signed in November 2007. The SFA also includes commitments on:All done!
- Defense, security, law enforcement, and judicial cooperation and development.
- Further improvement of political, diplomatic, and cultural cooperation.
- Economic, energy, health, environment, technology, and communications cooperation.
- Joint Coordination Committees to monitor the implementation of the SFA.
The SFA and Security Agreement do not tie the hands of the next President. This package provides a solid foundation for the next President to pursue a full range of policy options with Iraq.
Somewhere south of Baghdad:
Yusufiya, Iraq is a predominately rural area approximately 600 km in size. Canals perforate the fields of okra, cucumber, tomato, eggplant, and potato. Orange groves and date palms are also abundant along the Euphrates which bounds the western edge of the region. The farmlands host a relatively dispersed and uneducated population, which in Iraq means: favorable conditions for hiding insurgent soldiers and weapons caches. Because of Yusufiya’s proximity to Baghdad, terrorists used the city for staging attacks in the city at large.
The day before Operation SARATOGA the Task Force was tense. Often dust clouds or aircraft maintenance issues cancelled Air Assault missions at the last minute—scrapping weeks of planning. And like all missions, the soldiers would venture out into potentially hostile territory. Final preparation included cleaning machine guns, helicopter loading practice, and rehearsal of medical evacuation procedures. And the Americans were unsure if Abbas would fulfill his commitment to ride along. Years of military rule have given Iraqis a healthy distrust of the military.
And the next morning the weather cooperated. Kazmarek received confirmation that the mission was a ‘go’ and at 0540 Four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, under the call sign ‘Smuggler 16’ checked in over the radio. The first lift of soldiers took their seats and the helos lifted off. Barely five minutes later, as the sun broke across the Euphrates river valley, the Blackhawks touched down in a fallow field in Yusufiya. Almost 50 American and Iraqi soldiers fanned out across the farmlands.
Their mission? Restore electricity to a remote village.
"Humanitarian aid implemented by the US military in Iraq is reinforcing stability and quickening the peace", writes Captain Steve McGregor, recently returned from a 14-month deployment with Task Force 3-187, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "One area of Iraq this is particularly noticeable is Yusufiya, where Task Force 3-187 was able to completely transfer their area of responsibility back to Iraqi control."
Although not addressed as such, there's much discussion of wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs therein, too - along with contrasting pink vs grey responses to challenge.
The saturation of Yusufiya by 3-187 prevented “disaster tourism,” a concept described by Alex de Waal. De Waal observes that aid workers and journalists tend to over-estimate famine in Sudan because of a “combination of factors, including visiting at the worst times of year, visiting famine camps, where the worst suffering is to be found, and meeting the most destitute, combined with a failure to understand coping strategies…” For 14 months the Task Force patrolled the poorest slums of Yusufiya and the relatively wealthy land-owning neighborhoods as well. They understood local needs from a comprehensive perspective.Among other conclusions:
The Army possesses and develops better leaders than the aid community. As an institution the US Army relies on national service academies, Officer Training Courses, leadership schools such as Ranger School, and real-world experience, to develop leaders. Aid organizations as well as the US Department of State need to reevaluate how they prepare their staff for austere environments and the rigors of nation building or consider military exchange programs.Read the whole thing, which ties together several themes that have been running through this blog over the past week. The 101st Airborne in Iraq (Yusifiyah, "the triangle of death"), humanitarian/anthropological "missions", irregular warfare, and why we're increasingly able to hand over authority to the Iraqi government and security forces. All done!
The Air Force gets a turn at Mudville Night at the Movies.
Except it's the German Air Force...
(Get some popcorn, the full feature awaits below.)
"Far from won and done" says JD Johannes.
The arc of the war in Iraq has mirrored the British experience in Malaya to an uncanny degree. U.S. Policy makers should study the history of Malayan civil war.If I did the math right in my head, that would mean about December, 2011.
If they do, they will see that we need another three years or more of deliberate and precision hunting down of the insurgent cadres to finish the job permanently, lest the core be able to reconstitute itself.
Read the whole (brief) thing, in which we are reminded that counter-insurgency concepts are nothing new, in terms of the Iraq war or the larger world: "I first encountered Clutterbuck and the Malayan civil war as model for counter insurgency in Fallujah in 2005." Says J.D.
And much of which is related to this discussion (and others still to come).
(Via the Dawn Patrol, of course.)
Iraq's presidential council on Thursday approved the Status of Forces Agreement with the United States.
A statement from Multi-National Force-Iraq:
Crocker, Odierno Statement on Ratified Security AgreementThere's been considerable (albeit misleading) coverage of the SOFA in the media, but little mention of that "Strategic Framework" document. Omar and Mohammed Fadhil first brought it to our attention here:
Thursday, 04 December 2008
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, MNF-I Joint Release
U.S. EMBASSY BAGHDAD — We welcome today’s ratification by Iraq’s Presidency Council of the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement. With this action and following an exchange of diplomatic notes, these agreements will become official and will enter into force on January 1, 2009.
The United States Embassy and the Multi-National Force-Iraq will begin immediately to implement these two agreements with our Iraqi partners. We will undertake initiatives to strengthen our cooperation in the fields of economics, energy, health, the environment, education, culture, and law enforcement.
The United States will support Iraq's request to the UN Security Council to continue protection of Iraqi assets. And we look forward, under these agreements, to the continued reduction in U.S. forces and the normalization of bilateral relations as two sovereign and co-equal nations.
Reportedly, SOFA has a sister document whose details are yet to be made public. Radio Sawa reported that Zebari and Crocker signed “another long-term strategic agreement, which the U.S. ambassador said would shape relations between the two countries in all areas for years to come.” It’s actually surprising that there’s no mention of this second document anywhere in the media.But you can now read the "Strategic Framework" document here.
Stability operations “shall be given priority comparable to combat operations.” That's the gist of the newly published DoD Directive 3000.07 (Irregular Warfare).
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates explains:
The defining principle of the Pentagon's new National Defense Strategy is balance. The United States cannot expect to eliminate national security risks through higher defense budgets, to do everything and buy everything. The Department of Defense must set priorities and consider inescapable tradeoffs and opportunity costs.At Abu Muqawama, Charlie says "IW scores big at the Pentagon"
The strategy strives for balance in three areas: between trying to prevail in current conflicts and preparing for other contingencies, between institutionalizing capabilities such as counterinsurgency and foreign military assistance and maintaining the United States' existing conventional and strategic technological edge against other military forces, and between retaining those cultural traits that have made the US armed forces successful and shedding those that hamper their ability to do what needs to be done.
Iraq veteran Colonel Gian Gentile has long expressed the other side of the COIN argument, and continues to today in the International Herald Tribune.
Related: Joint Operating Environment 2008
On Thanksgiving Day, the soldier who had fought so hard for so long finally showed signs he could not fight anymore.BlackFive has more on Jamie and his struggle with the Army
It had been six years since doctors told Staff Sgt. James Alford he had a few months to live, after tests revealed his strange behavior and disappearing acts were caused by a disease that was ravaging his brain. The young Green Beret who outran everybody in life outran the odds too, living far longer than anyone expected. But a bout of pneumonia ended Alford's life on Monday. He was 30.
The final itinerary for the Patriot Guard Riders mission to honor SSG James "Jamie" Franklin Alford is here.
May he rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
After her son died fighting for his country, Linda Ferrara wanted to do something for soldiers like him who sacrifice their safety for others.
So in the year since Army Capt. Matthew Ferrara was killed in Afghanistan, his mother has dedicated hours collecting clothes and crafting handmade blankets for wounded soldiers overseas.
The Torrance resident had planned to ship the goods Wednesday to an Army hospital in Germany.
"I don't want to let them down," Ferrara said. "This wasn't just stuff, this was going to wounded soldiers."
...she discovered almost all the collected items missing. Also, some of the letters were torn to shreds.
These items are donated through Soldiers' Angels Germany, ran by my dear friend MaryAnn, who tirelessly distributes these donations. She has the details of this story and is keeping close contact with Linda.
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
This is The Red Pill.
My friend Grim, from somewhere very near Baghdad:
Back in September, I talked with Colonel Caraccilo, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne. His brigade had replaced 2/0 MTN when it came to Iraq. Later, 2/3 HBCT left, and 3/101 assumed their battlespace as well as what they held from 2/10. He told me that his brigade was leaving soon, and would be replaced only by a transition team of about 1,000 soldiers: a battalion-sized element, replacing what had been the territory of two brigades only a year before.I can decipher that a bit for you. The units mentioned above were all part of Multi-National Division-Central (MND-C), the U.S. Army Division that was in charge of an area south of Baghdad commonly called "the belts", and also containing what was once called "the triangle of death".
The Order of Battle is a little hard to discern from over there, but I can tell you that is just what happened. Now the real force in the area is the Iraqi Army, with the transition team advising and assisting. 3/101 AASLT did its RIP/TOA with the 17th Iraqi Army -- not a US unit.
MND-C was "the surge Division". The surge, some may recall, was initially announced as five additional Brigade Combat Teams for Iraq. Later, a Division Headquarters was added, a bit later still an Aviation Brigade. A few other bits and pieces were tacked on along the way. The Tenth Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2/10) was in Iraq before the surge - but their tour was extended from 12 to 15 months. That's the reality of the surge, as all here should know - there were actually no additional Brigades sent to Iraq. The five "surge" Brigades were already scheduled to go. Some of their deployment dates were moved up. Their tour lengths were extended to 15 months, and all the Army units already in Iraq had their tours extended from 12 to 15 months. That is how the surge was accomplished - by tour extension, not by sending additional troops to Iraq. As explained to those who'd already taken the red pill at the time,
Some troops are going a couple months early, others will stay late. Stop the "surge" and the same troops will go to Iraq - just on their normal schedule and in time to hive-five the folks they will replace instead of reinforce.But in addition to the increase in troops numbers came a change in strategy. Instead of being concentrated on large Forward Operating Bases the members of the Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) were moving into smaller outposts dotted throughout their areas of operations (AOs). No more commuting to work, as General Petraeus would say.
One of our most notable accomplishments is seizing the Yusufiya thermal power plant, a former Russian project to provide power to the Euphrates River Valley... And it really was a large concrete, almost Stalinistic, structure, a project between Saddam and the Russians. But really it was a moral rallying point for al Qaeda in this valley. It’s only 30 percent complete. Because of its massive size, and with there being no security there, it became sort of an al Qaeda way point for terrorists moving from the predominantly western part of the country into sanctuaries to attack Baghdad.Part two is here.
On 23 October, we seized it with a two-company assault from the Golden Dragons, and since then it’s been known as Patrol Base Dragon.
I'm working on a long dispatch from the Sadr City area. Here is a short piece in COMMENTARY to hold you over in the meantime. Thank you for being patient. Everything, including writing and publishing, is a gigantic hassle in Iraq.I add a comment here.
And here's the latest from Mike Yon, who agrees with Totten on this point: getting words up on the internet ain't always easy.
Somewhere under Totten's piece another commenter questions the seeming difference between his view of Iraq and Yon's. "Your report and that of Michael Yon, published on the same day on the same subject are at so great variance that one has to ask; “are you two in the same country?”He is positive, you are not. Why the extreme difference?"
There is no difference, really. Yon writes about combat; Totten writes about Iraq. There is little enough combat to be found in Iraq - as Yon noted previously, the unit he was with had not fired their weapons in months. That's something I noted last summer when Michael Yon first announced the war was over and we'd won: from the perspective of a combat reporter that is certainly the case.
I'd note also that Mike Totten has patrolled with soldiers through combat zones and Mike Yon has written about the land and people of Iraq apart from the U.S. soldiers there - but in this case my general characterization above stands.
There is an ETT team in Afghanistan that is in need of some support.
The Team Chief blogs here (A must read!!!)
Some of the things they are looking for are:
* Microwaveable goods
* Instant oatmeal
* Baby wipes, especially anti-microbial baby wipes
* Power bars
* Laundry soap (single wash packets are great)
* Hygiene items
* Misc. junk food
* American cigarettes
* Anything else that strikes the hearts… thank you.
Since there is no PX around, these guys do not have access to items of comfort. As Troy points out (in link below) if you have issues with the tobacco products, just so you know, there have been instances of US soldiers being poisoned after buying cigarettes and dip off the local market.
Wouldn't you rather they get these items from someone they trust? Besides, trying to "kick the habit" while being away from family and loved ones, and getting blown up by the Taliban, is a bit much to ask of them.
Please help them out. For mailing address go to Bouhammer site for details
Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
Ladies and gentlemen, an important announcement from the Office of the President-Elect:
At a time when we face unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I've asked Secretary Robert Gates to continue as secretary of defense. And I'm pleased that he's accepted. Two years ago, he took over the Pentagon at a difficult time. He restored accountability. He won the confidence of military commanders and the trust of our brave men and women in uniform as well as their families.
He earned the respect of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for his pragmatism and competence. He knows that we need a sustainable national security strategy. And that includes a bipartisan consensus at home.
As I said throughout the campaign, I will be giving Secretary Gates and our military a new mission as soon as I take office -- responsibly ending the war in Iraq through a successful transition to Iraqi control.
We will ensure that we have the strategy and resources to succeed against Al Qaida and the Taliban. As Bob said not too long ago, Afghanistan is where the War on Terror began, and it is where it must end. Going forward, we will continue to make the investments necessary to strengthen our military and increase our ground forces to defeat the threats of the 21st century.
That's the actual transcript of the announcement. No mention of a 16-month time frame; in its place, a familiar (if rephrased) statement that as Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down. One can almost picture Donald Rumsfeld somewhere smiling, content.
It may be pure coincidence that within weeks of (then) Senator Barack Obama's visit to Iraq last summer his web site was changed to clarify the position he had always held on Iraq. The easily misunderstood, overly vague "Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months" became the more concrete ""The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month -- which would remove all of them in 16 months." Likewise, a confusing pledge to remove security contractors went away. After all, the primaries were over, and he wanted the general elction voters - and his supporters from the primaries - to have full clarity on his vision for Iraq.
And then last month, after having won that election, a demand that the U.S. Congress "must approve" the Status of Forces Agreement (text here) was changed to the more specific expression of a desire that Congress "should review" it. And virtually immediately after the election, the buzz among those in the know was that there would not be a new Secretary of Defense. The only thing still not clarified was Obama's intent to leave an unspecified large number of of troops in Iraq (training, fighting al Qaeda, and providing security) for an indefinite period of time.
So between now and December 31, 2011 (Obama's 16 months must begin no later than 2 years from next September) we will witness the responsible and phased removal of our troops, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government, resulting in a successful transition to Iraqi control.
Look closely at the lectern he stands behind and resting on top, throughout his speech you'll see a red pill. He never really draws attention to it, but it's there.
But inquiring minds want to know - sir, isn't there a blue pill, too?
QUESTION: Sir, do you still intend to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq in 16 months after inauguration? And did you discuss that -- the possibility of that -- with Secretary Gates, before selecting him?The answer is yes - there is a blue pill, and a red pill:
OBAMA: Well, keep in mind what I said during the campaign. And you were there most of the time.
I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months with the understanding that it might be necessary, likely to be necessary, to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support to protect our civilians in Iraq.
The SOFA that has been now passed by the Iraqi legislature points us in the right direction. It indicates we are now on a glide path to reduce our forces in Iraq. I will be meeting be not only Secretary Gates but the joint chiefs of staff and commanders on the ground to make a determination as to how we move that pace -- how we proceed in that withdrawal process.
I believe that 16 months is the right timeframe. But as I have said consistently, I will listen to the recommendations of my commanders. And my number one priority is making sure that our troops remain safe in this transition phase and that the Iraqi people are well served by a government that is taking on increased responsibility for its own security.
It is a sovereign nation. What this signals is a transition period in which our mission will be changing. We will have to remain vigilant in making sure that any terrorist elements that remain in Iraq do not become strengthened as a consequence of our drawdown. But it's also critical that we recognize that the situation in Afghanistan has been worsening. The situation in South Asia, as a whole, and the safe havens for terrorist that have been established there represent the single most important threat against the American people.
And we're going to have to mobilize our resources and focus on attention on defeating Al Qaeda, bin Laden, and any other extremist groups that intend to target American citizens.
Thank you very much, everybody.
Here's an interesting post at Mother Jones. Interesting because in it David Corn tries mightily to get his readers to take that blue pill, and wash it down with a draught of ice cold koolaid:
There's an obvious reason for Obama to keep Gates at the Pentagon. Having a George W. Bush appointee in charge will give Obama political cover as he proceeds with his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq.
And - judging from the comments - they'll have none of it.
They aren't going to touch that red pill, mind you. But they aren't going to acknowledge their dependence on the blue ones just yet either.
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
Next: The Red PillAll done!
Since I just started this blog, the following entry will be pretty long, so just bear with me. I want to get you caught up with the events that have happened in the past few days. I will update this site as frequently as I can.
Notification: On October 28th, 2008 @ exactly noon, I was sitting on the couch feeding baby Eva when I got a phone call that would change our life forever. It was the Rear Detachment Notification Captain. He informed me that Rob had been injured in Afghanistan.
Yesterday we flew from Germany to the states. Rob did fairly well on the flight. His temps continue to be high. The highest it got during the flight was 103.4. They were able to cool him off with IV bags put in ice and then put between his arms and legs. They also hung an American flag on the wall beside him. That meant a lot.Nov 10:
Then as Rob received his Purple Heart, it was a completely bittersweet moment. So many emotions ran through me. I was desperately trying to wake him up. I felt like getting sick. Although this award is an honor, it's one I wish my husband NEVER had to receive. I feel so bad that we wasn't awake for it. President Bush was the person who awarded it to him. When he walked into the room, he gave me a huge hug. He had tears in his eyes and told me he was so sorry. He just kept hugging me.Nov 11:
As it does for many of you, Veteran's Day takes on a different tune for me this year. Living the military life and being around military families constantly, it's easy to forget the danger and sacrifice the military endure. We live our lives day in and day out and chalk it up as "This is my husband's job." What you don't take into account (and maybe this is a coping mechanism) is that when they are on foreign soil, there are people out there who hate America and what we stand for. It's not until something like this affects our family directly do you truly realize how amazing and selfless our military men and women are. Rob would often tell me, "This is just my job. I chose to do this." This is true. He felt very strong about his reasons for being deployed. But, if it weren't for Rob and all those other men and women, I would not be able to so freely write about our experiences on this blogNov 13:
This morning I was getting ready to go to the hospital to see Rob when I got a phone call from ICU. They said that Rob had had quite a bit of bleeding from his lower extremities and they were taking him to emergency surgery. I gave my consent for surgery over the phone so they could take him right away.Nov 16:
First of all, Rob is out of surgery. We have not got a chance to see him yet because they are currently doing a CT scan on him. So, I don't have any updates on him yet. However, this morning when we were waiting in the waiting room, my mom got a terrible phone call. My 2 uncles and their wives were in a horrible car accident this morning in Kansas City.Nov 16:
Ok, first of all I want everyone to know that I got word that my aunts and uncles will be fine. A few of them have several broken bones but they will all be ok.Nov 17:
Rob is out of surgery. Everything went well. They cleaned his leg wounds and debrised some dead tissue/skin from his legs. Before the surgery, there was talk of putting the wound vacs back on but they decided not to do it and continue with the wet to dry dressing changes for now. The plan for Wednesday is to take him back to surgery...Nov 19:
This morning they took Rob to surgery at 8... We got word around 4:30 that Rob was finally out of surgery and back in his room. The doctor said they were able to close his left leg amputation. They are going to take him back to surgery on Friday to do the right leg.Nov 20:
I went to the hospital to see Rob and brought my laptop. I had downloaded a bunch of songs that reminded me of him and I. I also had a slide show playing with all our pictures. I put it on the bedside table in front of him and turned it on. When the songs started playing, tears began to trickle down his cheeks. He never took his eyes off of me. I couldn't help but cry too. You're mourning the past, present, and unknown of the future. I've never loved my husband more than I did at that exact moment...Nov 21:
The doctor came by and said that he is REALLY happy with how Rob is doing. He said today is the first time that Rob has responded to commands from him. He would ask him to open and close his eyes on command and Rob followed all of them!
Today Rob went to surgery bright and early. While he was in surgery, Nebraska Congressman Adrian Smith came and saw us. It was great visiting with him. After he left, Col Wesley came. Col Wesley is an amazing person. He was Rob's old Battalion Commander when Rob deployed out of Ft Riley to Iraq from 2005-2006. Rob has the upmost respect for him. It was so WONDERFUL seeing him and spending time with him.Nov 24:
Well, Rob did not get skin grafts today. I guess the plastic surgeon wants to wait until his bili is down more because he's afraid that they won't take otherwise.Nov 25:
Wow. It's hard to believe it was 4 weeks ago today that the attack happened. The days have just blended into eachother. Steps forward. Steps back. Fear, excitement, anxiety, happiness, tears. So many emotions. On this rollercoaster ride of recovery and emotions is easy to lose sight of the fact that it's ONLY BEEN 4 WEEKS. Today Rob had Occupational Therapy.Nov 26:
Today Rob had another surgery to look at his legs.Nov 27:
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. We had a nice dinner at the Fisher House. A family provided us with a wonderful meal.Nov 28:
I'd have to say Rob had a pretty good day. He had surgery this morning.Nov 29:
A little while ago I had to make the toughest decision of my life. They found a huge blood clot in the main part of Rob's brain. I could either let it be and let him die a peaceful death or I could choose to do an emergency craniotomy on him...Nov 29:
After talking it over with his parents and my mom, we felt that we had to give Rob a fighting chance. ...Rob has 2 little girls that need him very very much. So all I can ask for right now are more prayers than you've ever prayed before.
Rob made it through the surgery and tolerated it very well.Dec 1:
Well, today Rob went to be with the Lord. Last night his ICP's went really high and they took him for another CT scan. The scan results were devastating. So, we decided to let him go Home. He went very painlessly and quickly. I don't know when his funeral will be but it will be in Nebraska in my hometown. I will let you all know the details when I get them. Thank so all so much for the thousands of prayers you sent for my husband. We now have an angel looking over us.
'American hero' Rob Yllescas dies from war injuriesHe married a hero, too. The above excerpts are from the blog she kept throughout his hospitalization. You can read the complete entries and leave condolences here.
U.S. Army Capt. Rob Yllescas died Monday from injuries he suffered Oct. 28 in Afghanistan.
He was seriously wounded in an explosion in Afghanistan, losing both legs and suffering head injuries. He died at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
His father-in-law, Al Gissler of Osceola, Neb., described Yllescas as "an American hero."
Yllescas commanded B Troop, 6-4 Cavalry of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
His wife, Dena Yllescas, is a native of Osceola, Neb., where she met and married Rob. His funeral will be in Osceola, Gissler said.
Arrangements are pending.
"I am deeply honored that the President-Elect has asked me to continue as Secretary of Defense.Given the number of people operating under the delusion that this was a decision made by one man alone, I think this bears repeating:
Mindful that we are engaged in two wars and face other serious challenges at home and around the world, and with a profound sense of personal responsibility to and for our men and women in uniform and their families, I must do my duty - as they do theirs. How could I do otherwise?
Serving in this position for nearly two years - and especially the opportunity to lead our brave and dedicated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Defense Civilians - has been the most gratifying experience of my life. I am honored to continue to serve them and our country, and I will be honored to serve President-Elect Obama."
If the rumors are true, then Politico gets the headline right: Gates agrees to stay on under Obama. That's not the same as saying "Obama to keep Gates on at SecDef". Both might be true, but there was no "b" without "a", and as a certain local blogger opined shortly after a recent election:"...I must do my duty - as they do theirs. How could I do otherwise?"SecDef? Current odds-on: Robert Gates.Because if you're willing to be Secretary of Defense in the midst of war and a financial crisis, you aren't in it for the money and fame. And the same reasons that make Gates a great choice to keep at the Pentagon make him highly desirable in the private sector, too.
I suspect he'll get to offer a private yea or nay to that question before anything more is heard.
I’m crediting Gates, whose motives might be described by that oft-ridiculed term “patriotism”.
Or perhaps simply "duty".
That's the question the Christian Science Monitor asks here. My guess is the answer will be "no" - but Europe will have a higher opinion of America, and that's always nice.
Apparently they're pondering the question in Germany, too.
Looks like General (Ret) Barry McCaffrey has pissed someone off.
Not directly related to that story, but another brilliant aspect of Obama's choice to keep Gates as SecDef: the media will be able to take jabs at the Pentagon if they feel the need without appearing to be questioning the President. Make no mistake about it: Gates is staying because trajectories in Iraq are good - were they otherwise this would be a non-issue. But even with Gates remaining (or perhaps especially with Gates remaining) some purges will no doubt be required*. Watch for more applications of Alinsky's rule #12 beyond this attempt on McCaffrey.
*Watch for increased media praise for Gates' willingness to hold leaders accountable for failures, too.
It might be helpful for folks to understand that there were always at least two Iraq wars - one, a military conflict in Iraq and two, a political pissfest in Washington. The U.S. military won one of them in 2007; the Democrats won the other in November, 2008. Tom Friedman wears gold-bordered battle ribbons for the pissfest, awarded from both sides. (Okay, maybe one from the real war, too, depending on whether or not you count the media battle as a separate conflict or campaign.)
By the way, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECY:
So what next for Iraq? The answer to that question will be much more political than military (and that's good news for all), and the Iraqis have more of a say in that than what supporters of any American politician would like to believe. History is in motion, current trends are positive, and there's really no reason to dam the flow. Regardless of what you may hear to the contrary, President Obama has inherited a golden opportunity to take credit for all that is right in Iraq for the next several years, and deflect all blame for what's not. At some point he - unlike Republicans - might even chose to declare "victory" there. (Americans love a winner, after all.)Next prediction: 2009 will be a good year for Psychiatrists. All done!
But that's his call to make. Republicans have lost the opportunity to choose the words to be used to describe the process for the next couple of years. For now the approved phrases are "end the war" and "allow planning for a withdrawal from Iraq to begin as soon as possible".
Get it? Grim news...
(Hopefully I'll have time to offer some more thoughts on this later today. There's a story waiting the tellin' here.)
...from the Washington Post: Joint Chiefs Chairman 'Very Positive' After Meeting With Obama.
I say "good" because had he returned to Washington despondent and hurled himself to his death from the roof of the Pentagon that would have been a bad omen.
Prediction: 2009 is going to be a good year for Psychiatrists.
But you can still donate (especially if you just can't stand being this close to 10k without going over):
The preliminary total for the entire effort is just above $80,000.
Our thanks to Team Air Force:
And thanks to each and every one of you who donated!