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Let the Mudville Christmas re-runs begin...
last year years ago from my buddy James Hooker - he called it his "half assed, on the cheap, USO Christmas Show".
Unfortunately, Youtube is blocked for viewing by deployed military folks.
Fortunately, this ain't Youtube. Merry Christmas. (And thanks, James.)
Moving the George Washington Carrier Strike Group into the Yellow Sea is bold, and carries a great deal of risk. This move will piss of Chinese leadership, and that will insure plenty of propaganda that enrages China's population. I don't expect China to attack the US Navy, but I do expect China to respond in a serious and potentially harsh way. The US is making a safe bet that nothing will happen and no one will be foolish enough to attack the US and South Korean naval forces. It is a good bet, but it is still a bet - and anyone who bets knows the rule: you can lose any bet.
I also believe we are making a move not unlike March 1996 when then President Clinton ordered the Nimitz and Independence carrier battle groups to sail through the Taiwan Strait. The consequence of that move was a vow by China of "never again," a vow we are actually about to challenge in a different region off China's coast. The unintended consequence of Clinton's policy decision has been the most remarkable modernization in human history of the worlds largest Army, Navy, and Air Force. In less than 14 years, China's military has essentially jumped 2 generations of combat capability. That is a remarkable pace, and highlights how no one can predict what reaction will come from moving the GW into the Yellow Sea.
As for China...
North Korea hasn't been silent about the attack. They've laid out their account of the Yeonpyeong incident in radio broadcasts and communiques from the army, claiming the attack was merely a response to the "reckless military provocation" of South Korea's artillery tests in the area and threatening "merciless military counter-action" should South Korea venture "even 0.001 mm" into North Korea's territorial waters. But Kim's business-as-usual shows the North Koreans want to show they're not afraid of more conflict.
So why is Kim so seemingly serene? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that China's state-controlled media has been largely sympathetic to North Korea and its accounting of the incident. China's Global Times published an editorial saying "North Korea showed its toughness through the skirmish" and blamed the tension on America and South Korea's unwillingness to engage with North Korea's underlying concerns and preference for sanctions. China's state television has also been playing up North Korean media reports that place blame for the shelling on South Korea. All of which could be that the Hermit Kingdom isn't likely to face any pressure from its most powerful neighbor and ally, China. No wonder Kim is officially chillaxed.
One Free Korea makes for interesting reading these days, too.
Thanksgiving, 2010 - with the Marines at Camp Leatherneck:
And Soldiers and Airmen at Kandahar:
And the Navy?
The U.S. military announced Wednesday it is sending the USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group to Korean waters to take part in a joint U.S.-South Korean naval exercise, one day after North Korea bombarded a populated South Korean island near the disputed maritime border.
The strike group, which includes the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and four other ships, left Yokosuka Naval Base on Wednesday...
"These (exercises) are not a direct reaction," USFK spokesman David Oten said. "Basically, they're unrelated."
Perhaps. Perhaps they'd always planned on spending Thanksgiving at sea...
But I'm home for this Thanksgiving, and thankful for those on the farthest edges today and always, this and every year.
(From the Mudville archives, 2004....)
Click image for larger:
UPDATE: Russ was gracious enough to whip this up for me and he explains here what inspired him. Also, get well soon Russ.
(Originally posted by Mrs Greyhawk, Thanksgiving, 2004)
Thanksgiving During War
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Military dining facilities go all out to give service members a taste of home on Thanksgiving Day. It hasn't always been that way.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln a Thanksgiving proclamation following the Union victory over the Confederates at Gettysburg, Pa.
The idea of a Thanksgiving meal for Union soldiers didn't happen in 1863. But in 1864, with Union forces occupying trenches around Petersburg, Va., the idea came to many on the homefront to give the "boys in blue" a Thanksgiving feast.
"It wasn't an organized effort," said James H. Blankenship, a historian at the Petersburg National Battlefield. "The units all came from the same geographic location, and the people back home decided to send special foods to the soldiers for Thanksgiving."
The Army did not go out and order special Thanksgiving food, but did allow the localities to ship food using the Army supply lines. Folks back home sent down barrels of turkeys, sauces and fixings. "It was traditional holiday fare," Blankenship said. "If they couldn't get turkeys, they sent ham or beef."
The food came to City Point, Va., on the James River via "ice packets" -- an early example of refrigerated transit. With the food from home and Army rations, which included canned foods and dried vegetables, the soldiers made a good meal during the holiday.
Union soldiers regarded oysters as a delicacy. "There was an oyster house at City Point that many soldiers frequented," Blankenship said. "Oysters were probably a big part of the Thanksgiving feast."
The troops along the Mississippi River also received Thanksgiving food, but other Union soldiers did not fare quite as well. The Union Army of the Cumberland was sparring with the Confederate Army of Tennessee and would do battle with them at the Battle of Franklin, Tenn., on Nov. 30.
The Union Army of the Tennessee was on its march to the sea. Every day was a feast for them as they were stripping the Georgia countryside.
Sailors enforcing the blockade of Southern ports received special foods from home, but it was a hit-or-miss proposition if the food arrived on time.
But whether they feasted or fasted, Union service members could still follow part of Lincoln's proclamation. "I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," Lincoln wrote.
"And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."
Full text of President Lincoln's proclamation:
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
According to an April 1, 1864 letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.
George Washington, by request of Congress, had issued a similar proclamation in 1789 ("WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:") - but his was a one-time good deal, it was Lincoln's that established the annual tradition.
A tip of the hat to all the folks who worked hard to prepare a Thanksgiving feast today - for many fine chefs it's truly their finest hour.
And here, just for fun, a behind the scenes video of some unsung heroes preparing Thanksgiving dinner for a few thousand hungry troops at a US military dining facility in Iraq, 2009, set to the Finest Worksong I know.
As a veteran of two Thanksgiving dinners in Iraq, I appreciate the effort involved.
But I'm thankful to be home for this one.
Among folks familiar with empty chairs at Thanksgiving tables:
The poll showed military families were divided over the war, with 49 percent backing the U.S. role and 47 percent saying the troops should come home.
That's from an AFP story on the November 18 Quinnipiac poll, headlined More Americans Oppose War In Afghanistan. Depending on your perception/understanding/interpretation of President Obama's goals for The Real Central Front in (What Used to be Called) the Global War on Terror® the numbers are grim - especially among members of the president's own party:
Democrats, who are otherwise loyal supporters of President Barack Obama's policies, are overwhelmingly negative about the war, with 62 percent saying U.S. troops should not be in Afghanistan, according to the survey.
And while the American public mood seems to mirror White House fickleness and unpredictability (same poll results in September: 49 percent of Americans supported US involvement, 41 percent opposed) it's certain that Republicans aren't going to vote for Obama based on Afghanistan.
As Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg was leaving a Monitor breakfast last week, he was asked about the possibility that President Obama might face a Democratic primary challenge in 2012.
Mr. Greenberg's two-word answer: "Watch Afghanistan."
I doubt it - for reasons too numerous to list here. But high among them, Obama's new National Security Adviser:
He was inspired to go into politics after reading Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Hunter S. Thompson in high school. He moved to Washington, D.C., for college, receiving his undergraduate degree from Catholic University in 1977.
In 1980, at the age of 24, he worked on the Democratic National Convention and helped thwart Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's (D-Mass.) last-minute bid for the presidential nomination.
Four years later, Donilon helped Carter transition back to private life after he lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan.
Four years after that, Donilon was back on the national stage as campaign coordinator for 1984 Democratic presidential candidate Walter F. Mondale.
He earned a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1985 and was a member of the school's Law Review.
In 1988, Donilon served as one of then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden's (D-Del.) closest advisers during his presidential campaign.
More recently he'd "served seven years as in-house counsel to Fannie Mae, the federally chartered mortgage giant that had nearly gone bust in the financial crisis, costing taxpayers billions of dollars." That from Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars, where we also learn that in spite of that his value was recognized:
Emanuel had suggested Jones consider Tom Donilon, a 53-year-old lawyer and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Warren Christopher in the Clinton administration... extremely close to Vice President-elect Joe Biden, [Donilon also] had served as co-head of [Obama's] transition team for the State Department. His friendship with Emanuel went back several decades.
The Fannie Mae connection was toxic, and Donilon might have serious problems in a Senate confirmation.
Emanuel lowered the hammer. First he had suggested and now he was almost insisting. He wanted Donilon in the White House.
And "National Security Adviser" requires no Senate confirmation. For those not seeing real national security bona fides in the above, Woodward adds that Donilon "attended foreign policy seminars as recreation." The bottom line - that resume above is just one reason I wouldn't get too excited over the prospects of a serious "anti-Afghanistan" threat to Obama from within his own party. (And one of the reasons I'm not too thrilled with Afghanistan's future, either. But of this I'm certain - there will be many empty chairs at American Thanksgiving feasts for years to come.)
...but is no more:
The first half-century (or so) of US air(and space)power, with a special appearance by Major General (retired) Benjamin Foulois, who's appeared elsewhere here recently.
"From Kitty Hawk to Aerospace" (like Foulois' autobiography, "From the Wright Brothers to the Astronauts") is almost half a century old. I recall homework assignments from my elementary school days - less than 10 years after this film - to interview my parents/grandparents about all the great advances made in their lifetimes. They were many. Seeing this makes me wonder what answers I'd give my grandkids to the same questions, if they asked.
Young man in a hurry:
I'm told my Uncle Gil - the 20-year-old "I" in the quote above, has never delayed or declined a meal opportunity since. (But he still won't eat cabbage...) That conversation took place one day in October, 1944, at a makeshift allied airfield in St. Mere Eglise, France. Later that day:
We were ready to get in the air. A couple of us walked by the mess tent on the way to briefing.
"Let's get something to eat," my buddy suggested.
"Naw, I'm not hungry right now. We'll be back here in just a couple of hours anyway and we can eat then." By nightfall those words would echo back to me many times over - and I'd be eating those words - and not much else, for a long time to come. But right now, we were taking off for what would be my 43rd mission.
The Allies had made good progress pushing the Germans out of much of occupied France, but not all of them. Since parts of France were still occupied, there was more work to do. Four planes flew high above to watch for German fighters; eight of us were down at about 1000 feet looking for targets. It wasn't long before we saw one: a long train, rolling through the French countryside, apparently isolated. Two of us moved in to have a closer look. Our first pass, at high-speed to look for anti-aircraft guns, and if we saw any, the radio call would go out "Hot Target." Seeing no protection anywhere, I radioed the call, "Easy Target" and six more pilots started descending upon the train to open fire. The two of us already in position slowed to make the first strafing run, him out front, me flying low from the back of the train forward. Fairly routine so far, but that changed drastically within only seconds. We were about to see something we had never seen before.
We saw boxcars opening up everywhere. Not just the side doors, but roofs were opening up, too, where we could now see the thing was loaded with cannons, right under our bellies. We had flown into a trap. A very effective trap. The big guns began unloading on us immediately and I saw balls of fire flying up to meet us, as voices over my radio yelled, "What the hell??! Dammit, McDowell! Easy target my ass!!"
The first hit I took was directly in the engine, from which a shower of oil streamed over the cockpit. The oil pressure gauge sank like a rock to zero while the engine temperature pegged all the way hot. But the plane still managed to climb to 7000'...
This past week marked the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Ia Drang ("We Were Soldiers Once, and Young"). Many veterans' accounts here.
Bud Alley was a communications officer for the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry, and fought at the LZ Albany battle of Ia Drang. He describes that day at LZ-Albany: “There was no front, sides or rear.”
Robert L. Barker, LTC (Ret, USA), commanded C Battery, 1-21FA, during the battles of Ia Drang. He describes their support of the 1-7th Cavalry and 2-7th Cavalry at LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany.
Jules Crittenden is a Boston Herald editor who has reported from South Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans, and who accompanied the 3rd Infantry Division's 4/64 Armor in the taking of Baghdad. He writes about John Eade’s bravery during the battle of LZ-Albany.
Robert H. "Bob" Edwards, COL (Ret, USA) was the Commander of C Company, 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry, and fought at the LZ X-Ray battle of Ia Drang. What would he like people to know about the Ia Drang valley battle? “Plain and simple: The brave men who fought there.”
Nancy Edwards, Bob Edwards’ wife, thought he had been killed at Ia Drang. For a week she waited for news, mentally preparing for his funeral. She describes learning about the battle and the events that followed.
Larry Gwin was the XO (Executive Officer) or CO of Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and fought at LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany. He describes the close air support at LZ Albany, November 17, 1965.
"I'm going to talk about lawyers at war - more particularly, the professional elite and the bar associations that are at war with the military of our own country."
Fighting words, in this case, voiced by a member of that legal elite - Judge Dennis Jacobs, Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, addressing the Federalist Society this past week.
Watch the speech here, skip forward to the 4:45 mark for the beginning of his remarks. While an adversarial relationship is beneficial to a degree - and contra attempts to define it as such I don't see a "crisis" in this regard yet - there's an expanding atmosphere of fear, ignorance, and mistrust between the legal and military professions in the United States that bodes ill for the future of national security. (Though lawyers in general tend to thrive on fear, ignorance, and mistrust...) Judge Jacobs identifies the problem(s) quite well here. Twenty minutes well spent, if you've got them to spare.
At Small Wars Journal: Mark Twain on Counterinsurgency.
My friend Jim Hake offers an Email from a Marine Commander in Garmsir, who says "as we prepare to enter another period of national debate on the course and future of the war, I believe that we have shown that winning is possible."
He gives much credit for that to Jim's organization, Spirit of America. The message above is from Afghanistan, but from the earliest days in Iraq I believe Jim and Spirit of America understood what was needed to win the sort of war we were actually in over there, and how average Americans could help. Over the years they have indeed contributed much to the cause. For more details follow the link.
I think what Bryan (and he ain't the only one I've noticed) really wants is for your kids to kill more Muslims before they make him wear a Burkha. And he (and he ain't the only one I've noticed) summons the Spirit of George to aid in his crusade:
Gen. George Patton once famously said, "The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his."
That's wrong in about every way (including "the object of war"). The actual quote (and if you're going to use quotation marks, you should use the actual quote) was "I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country." And it was famously said by George C Scott.
- In the same movie scene where he repeated this better-attributed (and much more applicable to this discussion) Patton quote:
"This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don't know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about fucking!"
But Scott substituted the somewhat more polite term "fornicating" to avoid an "R" rating (and offending more feminine ears).
Video of the presentation ceremony.
Official US Army Sal Giunta Medal of Honor site
Stars and Stripes: Life won't be the same for Medal of Honor recipient Giunta (Earlier S&S interview here.)
CBS/60 Minutes video: "She Makes Me Who I Am:" Medal of Honor Recipient Sal Giunta and His Wife Jenny (Full 60 Minutes report here, with more video.)
Battle Company Is Out There - Elizabeth Rubin's February, 2008 NY Times report
My grandfather was a World War One vet, one of many Americans who served for the duration, then came home to the rest of his life. But in France in 1918 he was a medic, I suspect he saw more hell in any one day than anyone could care to imagine.
But my mom tells the story of how he turned to his sons on December 7th, 1941, and simply said "boys, better oil up your guns." He died when I was 14, but that moment tells me more about him than I ever could comprehend at the time. The four of his sons who were old enough did just that. Like him they all survived their war, though today only one remains. You'll meet him in a moment.
My cousin Peggy just started blogging, her first post is a tribute to her dad. He flew and fought in the skies over Europe, till one day he went on that mission that lasted the rest of the war. Back home his parents and younger brother and sister might have considered the family fortunate - mom's small town high school yearbooks all feature photographs of the recent graduates who wouldn't be coming home. (Uncle Gil didn't really come home either. He - and one other uncle - stayed in, through Korea and Vietnam.)
The stories of the American POWs in Germany are rarely told and little known. Uncle Gil doesn't talk much about the experience, and I suppose few of his generation did. We know a little... first paragraphs follow, the rest is at the link.
Daddy needed to get ready for the Veterans' Day lunch today at the new apartment complex where he moved a few months ago, after he had suffered a fall and head injury at his home at age 85. He's pretty well rehabilitated now, but still has trouble keeping his balance. In spite of his physical challenges, he's a friendly and cheerful man with a ready sense of humor. And he always commemorates Veterans Day in some public ceremony. He has as deep a love for his country as I can imagine could be attainable. I believe that if it were possible now at age 86, he would stand up and fight for her today on any battlefield. I'm sure he is the greatest patriot that I will personally ever know. He would say that there are many thousands just like him. If that is true - and I hope that it is - then we are very blessed to be surrounded by greatness in our fellow citizens.
He had asked me to bring over his Purple Heart medal and pin it onto the POW vest that he planned to wear to the Veterans' Day ceremony. Since it's now painful for him to lift his right arm into a sleeve, I helped him get into the vest...
The 2010 Valour-IT fundraiser ends today, Veterans Day.
Good news: Overall, this year's fundraiser has exceeded its goal.
Not so good news: I hate to sound negative, but that was a goal set with a realistic eye on today's economy - NOT on the need for funds to support wounded troops. Casualties have vanished from the headlines, but not the hospitals.
And I'll let you interpret this news:
Not the greatest, I know. But I sure can't fault the great folks who've joined Team Air Force this year - my thanks to them all:
Cracking Chris Short
elengrey dot com
Guarding Our Patriots
If Laura Petrie Married General Patton
Ironic Surrealism v3.0
mean ol' meany
Misfit in NJ
Moultrie Creek Gazette
The Mudville Gazette
One Happy Dog Speaks
Soldiers' Angels Missouri
Wake up America
Words For Warriors
Join the team here.
And many, many thanks to the fine folks who've donated - you've made a real difference in the lives of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.
And to close on a good news item for everyone else - there's still time to donate here.
Foulois had "borrowed" his older brother's birth certificate to join the Army, but still had another test he barely passed: "I had to stretch a little to pass the height requirements, but I made it."
As mentioned previously, he'd served, mustered out, then re-joined under his own name - and was sent to the Philippines, a little older, a little wiser, but no taller than he had been; "If I were," he recalled, "I wouldn't be writing these memoirs."
There was little rest for us in the following months. We were kept on the move through the hills of Panay to prove the American presence and keep the guerrillas off balance. In January, 1900, our regiment moved to Cebu Island, where the hard-core remnants of the insurrection movement still held out. Our job was to search out, and kill, if necessary, those who opposed us.
Back in the States, William Jennings Bryan was running for President. He and his followers believed the irresponsible stories that were spread in the newspapers about the atrocities committed by American troops against the defenseless Filipinos. I won't dignify the charges with explanations, except to state categorically that no Americans that I ever saw committed any atrocities, and the shots that rang out of the jungles and killed Americans did not support the statement that the Filipinos were defenseless. Besides, Americans don't know what atrocities are, until what they see what Asians can dream up to do to a man.
Just as we were to take to the hills of Cebu, Sergeant Gunther called us together. "Men, they say back in the states that we have been committing atrocities against the natives here," he said. "The orders are that no man is to fire unless fired upon. Any questions?"
One private from Texas looked at the sergeant quizzically. "Do you mean that if a Filipino comes out of the grass and levels his rifle at me I can't fire at him until he pulls the trigger?" he asked.
The sergeant looked at his questioner a long moment. "Your question proves you ain't deaf, soldier," he said; "you heard me right. The other man fires first. Your job is to stay alive and get the second round off. It better be a good one."
That wasn't the last time Foulois would experience combat during an election year - he'd later participate in the Punitive Expedition to Mexico in 1916, seeking to punish Pancho Villa for his attack on American soil even as Woodrow Wilson sought re-election. But in the 1900 elections the Democrats were the outsiders, seeking to unseat President McKinley. Public approval of the Spanish-American war benefited the Republican incumbent and his new running mate, Theodore Roosevelt, the Rough Rider hero of San Juan Hill. (Described by Foulois as "the man who was idolized by every member of our fighting forces.")
"The charges of American atrocities grew in intensity in the States as we closed with the enemy half a world away," Foulois wrote. "The mail we received was weeks old, but relatives and friends in the States were telling us what Bryan and his friends were saying about American atrocities, and hoped the tales weren't true. They weren't."
Twain's opposition to incipient imperialism and American military intervention in Cuba and the Philippines, for example, were well known even in his own time. But the uncensored autobiography makes it clear that those feelings ran very deep...
In writing about an attack on a tribal group in the Philippines, Twain refers to American troops as "our uniformed assassins" and describes their killing of "six hundred helpless and weaponless savages" as "a long and happy picnic with nothing to do but sit in comfort and fire the Golden Rule into those people down there and imagine letters to write home to the admiring families, and pile glory upon glory."
Wikipedia on the presidential election of 1900:
My experience with an enemy atrocity was a vivid one. The day after the Mt Sudlon skirmish we moved on in pursuit of the natives. Along the way one of the men in our company stepped off the trail to relieve himself. A few minutes later the company commander stopped the column and ordered me to take my squad back and look for the man because he had not caught up with us.
My squad searched for the missing man all afternoon. We saw no sign of him, and returned to the company bivouac area. The next morning we searched again. We found him this time. His body was in four separate, grotesque, bloody pieces. His arms and legs had been tied to four carabao heading in four directions. The animals were whipped. The rest can be imagined. From the time I reported this act to the captain, the order to let the enemy shoot first was not repeated.
Nonetheless, the majority of soldiers in the Philippines did not support Bryan. Any mention of the election of 1900 in the soldiers' letters and diaries indicated overwhelming support for the Republican ticket of McKinley and Roosevelt. According to Sergeant Beverly Daley, even the "howling Democrats" favored McKinley. Private Hambleton wrote, "Of course, there are some boys who think Bryan is the whole cheese, but they don't say too much."
Despite Bryan's energetic efforts, the renewed prosperity under McKinley, combined with the public's approval of the Spanish-American War, allowed McKinley to gain a comfortable victory. His popular and electoral-vote margins were both larger than in 1896; he even carried Bryan's home state of Nebraska.
The last Civil War veteran to be elected U.S. President, McKinley's second term was brief. He was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz ("I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people - the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime") in September, 1901. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as 26th President of the United States.
"There were many lessons learned during our Philippine service," Foulois concluded, looking back on those events in 1967. "For example, we found that a few hundred natives living off their land and fighting for it could tie down thousands of American troops, have a serious impact on the economy of the United States, and provoke a segment of our population to take the view that what happens in the Far East is none of our business. The Army also learned valuable lessons of leadership and logistics in the islands, but was not able to convey the theme of readiness to the American people. This was a pattern that I was to see many times over in my next thirty years of service."
Civilian or military, tradition is a powerful thing...
Marine Corps Times: Ambush survivor up for Medal of Honor.
This sort of news isn't supposed to be public until a decision has been made - and the story is "according to a source with knowledge of the process, speaking on condition of anonymity." In fact, "Reached for comment Monday, [Dakota Meyer, who left the Corps in June] was unaware he has been recommended for the Medal of Honor..."
You might recall this:
The recommendation adds a new layer to an incident that already was raw with emotion. The ambush made national headlines last year, after a McClatchy Newspapers journalist embedded with the training team, Jonathan Landay, reported that the troops were pinned down for hours without artillery and air support because it was denied by Army officers at a nearby operations center.
Meyer was unaware he has been recommended for the Medal of Honor, saying he does not feel like a hero and still dwells on what happened that day. He was a member of Embedded Training Team 2-8 training Afghan forces when the ambush occurred, and good friends with the troops he pulled from the kill zone. He left the Corps in June after his four-year contract with the service expired.
"Whatever comes out of it, it's for those guys," he said of the recommendation. "I feel like the furthest thing from a hero. I feel like I let my guys down because I didn't bring them home alive."
Whatever comes of it, I'm certain he's earned it. My admiration for those on the sharp end of policy increases at double the rate my respect for those shaping it falls.
And happy birthday to the unbeatable Marines, and my friends who wear that uniform with justifiable pride. Here's to the next 235 years.
Navy might want to launch a rescue mission: An Army friend tells me this auction item's going so cheap he's going to win it just so he can have it personalized with a message I'm not repeating here. (I know him, he'll do it. And it will be a frequently displayed on-line trophy, too.)
The auction ends today at 10:13:41 PST, 13:13:41 Eastern. (Got no idea how many "bells" that is.)
"After about a month at Camp Meade, the 19th Infantry entrained for the West coast, and it was en route that I realized there was a sharp difference between what the public thought about the regular soldier and what I thought at that time..."
"Benny" Foulois was a young enlisted troop, but he'd already seen action in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-America war. A volunteer (and one who'd used his older brother's birth certificate to do so) he'd come home and mustered out, "so sick of Army life that I thought I would never want to see a uniform again." But he soon noticed his hometown "had shrunk a lot in the seven months I had been gone." Before long ("after my nerves quieted down and the town's adulation for returning war veterans cooled off") he learned a company of regulars was being formed for service in the Philippines. The war with Spain had ended, but insurrection among the locals had begun. He joined the regulars, and boarded a train...
We had stopped at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, for coal and water for the engine. Several buddies and I were walking along the station platform when two elderly women approached us with a tray of doughnuts.
"What unit are you boys with?" One of them asked.
"Nineteenth Infantry," one of us replied proudly. Our mouths watered for those doughnuts.
"Volunteers?" one of the ladies asked.
"No ma'am, regulars."
The word "regulars" must have been a dirty word to those good people. They stared at us for a moment as if we had just run off with the town's bank funds, then turned and hurried away. This was my first experience as a second-class citizen. In later years, I learned that most people thought that regular soldiers were illiterates, thieves, and half-wits who had joined the Army to stay out of the clutches of the sheriff.
"Unfortunately," Foulois added - recalling the event over sixty years later, "this attitude still prevails in peacetime in America..."
(From the Wright brothers to the Astronauts, By Benjamin Delahauf Foulois, Carroll V. Glines)
Ever been declared the "instant expert?" (I suspect anyone who's served more than one hitch has had that honor...) If so, you weren't the first... witness the story of the birth of American airpower, as told by its true father...
"On the night of November 10, 2004, a US Army infantry squad under Staff Sergeant David Bellavia entered the city of Fallujah and plunged into one of the most sustained and savage urban battles in the history of American men at arms..."
- from the book. On November 9, 2010, an auction for an autographed copy of that book will end, with proceeds going to Valour-IT. Bid before 10:16 Pacific (13:16 Eastern) and it could be yours.
(Auctions for many books, movies, and other items ending today - see them all here.)
In our last episode - having completed weeks of travel and days of waiting, young Lieutenant Churchill was at last ready to deploy with the Malakand Field Force.
"Hitherto the course of events has been recorded in the impersonal style of history," he wrote - but henceforward he would provide an eyewitness account.
And eyewitness accounts are certainly valuable, but for this one we'll turn to Churchill biographer William Manchester for a detached view compiled from those original reports, letters home, the resulting book, and later recollections from Churchill and others. Enough jaw-jaw, then...
At the instant of dawn the entire brigade, preceded by a squadron of lancers, moved in warlike formation into the valley, Lee-Enfields at the ready. The Mamund basin widened as they entered it, and when they fanned out in three separate detachments, Churchill chose to ride with the center column. As they advanced not an enemy shot was fired. The slopes above were silent, watchful. But the natives were there. Approaching the far end of the valley, Churchill raised his field glasses and saw "a numerous force of tribesmen on the terraced hillsides ... they appeared seated in long lines, each with his weapon upright beside him.... The sun threw back at intervals bright flashes of steel as the tribesmen waved their swords." At 7:30 A.M. the lancers, trotting a hundred yards forward, opened with their carbines. Martini-Henrys immediately replied. Churchill wrote: "From behind the rocks and slopes of ground, on spurs, and from stone houses, little puffs of smoke darted. A brisk skirmish began." He accompanied about fifteen men around him who rode up, dismounted, and opened fire at seven hundred yards. They, too, came under fire. Then the British infantry, the bulk of Jeffrey's brigade, toiled up and reached them. The Thirty-fifth Sikhs split into small parties and attacked various hills, hummocks, and a village. Churchill picked the one heading for the village. Enemy fire died away; they reached their objective without incident. But once there, he looked back and saw no brigade. He searched the valley with his glasses. Jeffrey's force had simply disappeared. Although he did not realize it then, they were in fact enveloped in folds of the vast terrain. He and his people were equally invisible to the brigade; geography was the Pathan's greatest ally. It occurred to Winston that his was a very small troop: five officers, including him, and eighty-five Sikhs. He recalled Sandhurst warnings about "dispersion of forces," and was grateful when the company commander relayed word from a lieutenant colonel down below to withdraw because "we are rather up in the air here." Churchill noted on his pad that this was "a sound observation." Then the officer said: "You stay here and cover our retirement till we take up a fresh position on that knoll below the village."
Winston's small rear guard waited uneasily for ten minutes. They were about to depart when the mountain above them sprang to life. Sabers flashed, gun muzzles erupted, bright flags appeared, and figures dressed in white and blue began dropping down from ledges hundreds of feet overhead, shrieking, "Yi! Yi! Yi!" A group of Pathans began to assemble in a clump of rocks about a hundred yards from Churchill, and as they fired, Winston, borrowing a rifle from a Sikh, squeezed off answering shots while the Sikh handed him cartridges. This continued for five minutes; the battalion adjutant scrambled up and panted: "Come back now. There is no time to lose. We can cover you from the knoll." Churchill pocketed his ammunition - it was a standing order to let no bullets fall into the hands of the tribesmen - and was about to leave when an enemy fusillade killed the man beside him and hit five others, one of whom "was spinning around just behind me, his face a mass of blood, his right eye cut out." Recovering wounded was a point of honor; torture was the lot of those who fell into the hands of the Pathans. Carrying their casualties, they were halfway down the slope when a force of thirty tribesmen charged them. Chaos followed. More Sikhs fell. The adjutant was hit; Churchill stayed behind to rescue him, but a Pathan swordsman, getting there first, butchered the dying officer. At this point Winston remembered that he had won the public-school fencing championship. He drew his cavalry saber. "I resolved on personal combat à l'arme blanche." But he was all alone, and other clansmen were hurrying up. These were not public-school boys. "I changed my mind about cold steel." Instead, "I fired nine shots from my revolver" and leapt down the hill, gratefully finding refuge with the Sikhs on the knoll nearest the plain.
But they were being outflanked. And they were demoralized. As Winston wrote his "Uncle Bill," Lord William Beresford, a winner of the Victoria Cross, "the men were completely out of hand. The wounded were left to be cut up. We could do nothing.... Of course I had no legal status [ed. note: recall Churchill was an active soldier, but accompanying the expedition as a correspondent] but the urgency was such that I felt bound to see the affair out.... Martini rifles at 80 yards make excellent practice and there were lots of bullets. At last we got to the bottom in great disorder, dragging some of our wounded with us, and the men loosing off wildly in all directions - utterly out of hand with a crowd of Ghazis at our heels." During the descent, he himself got off thirty or forty shots ("I am sure I never fired without taking aim") before they joined the battalion. There the lieutenant colonel drew them up two deep, shoulder to shoulder, while hundreds of firing Pathans, "frenzied with excitement," streamed around their flanks. In that formation the Sikhs presented a tremendous target, but anything was preferable to scattering. British officers shouted above the din: "Volley firing. Ready. Present. Fire!" Tribesmen were toppling, but their numbers were overwhelming. The lieutenant colonel told Churchill: "The Buffs are not more than half a mile away. Go and tell them to hurry or we shall all be wiped out." Winston was turning away when he had a vision of himself as the sole, fleeing survivor of a massacre. That was not the way to Parliament. He turned back and said, "I must have that order in writing, sir." Startled, the commander fumbled in his tunic and began to write. Then they heard the distant notes of a bugler sounding the Charge. "Everyone shouted. The crisis was over, and here, Praise be to God, were the leading files of the Buffs."
His ranks swollen, the lieutenant colonel ordered a counterattack to recover the wounded, the adjutant's body, and his own prestige. they re-took the knoll (all the wounded had been slain and mutilated) but not till 5:00 P.M. Then they fell back. In the confusion, Winston had lost his mount, "but I borrowed a mule - I was too blown to walk and rode up again. We were attacked coming down but the Buffs were steady as rocks and hence lost very little." Meanwhile, another company of Sikhs, on their right, had been driven to the plain with even heavier casualties. "Well then we found the [brigadier Jeffreys] had split up his force and that odd companies were cut off and being cut up etc and it got pitch dark and poured with rain." It had been a calamitous day, and it wasn't over. Winston had been in action thirteen hours, but before he could fall asleep he heard the boom of a fieldpiece three miles away, followed by twenty more booms, followed by silence. It had to be Jeffreys; he had the only battery in the valley. But why should his cannon be fired at night? There was only one explanation - he, his staff, his sappers, and miscellaneous headquarters personnel must be fighting at very close quarters. The battalion officers, including Churchill, conferred. Sending a rescue party in the dark would be an invitation to disaster. The brigadier and those with him must fight it out with what they had.
Note: auctions for items listed below have ended, and the response was fantastic - but there's still time to bid on other items listed here!
WHAT IS VALOUR-IT?
Project Valour-IT began when Captain Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss was wounded by an IED while serving as commander of a tank company in Iraq in June 2005.
During his deployment he kept a blog (an online personal diary, opinion forum, or news analysis site-called a milblog or military weblog when written by a servicemember or about military subjects). Captivating writing, insightful stories of his experiences, and his self-deprecating humor won him many loyal readers. After he was wounded, his wife continued his blog, keeping his readers informed of his condition.
As he began to recover, CPT Ziegenfuss wanted to return to writing his blog, but serious hand injuries hampered his typing. When a loyal and generous reader gave him a copy of the Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred software, other readers began to realize how important such software could be to CPT Ziegenfuss' fellow wounded soldiers and started cast about for a way to get it to them.
"At that time I had no use of either hand. I know how humbling it is, how humiliating it feels. And I know how much better I felt, how amazingly more functional I felt, after Soldiers' Angels provided me with a laptop and a loyal reader provided me with the software. I can't wait to do the same, to give that feeling to another soldier at Walter Reed." -Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss at TC Override (wounded in Iraq)
Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss (Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss' father), provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries, amputations, eye or brain injuries, at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse.
For you to win one of these great items in the Valour-IT auctions - these items close tomorrow, November 8, 2010 (end time noted is Pacific time). Proceeds go to Valour-IT, bid now - don't miss out!
"Restrepo plunges viewers into the experiences of soldiers on the front lines of the Afghan War" - "a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, "Restrepo," named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you."
"RESTREPO mini poster signed by filmmakers Tim Hetherington (recipient of four World Press Photo awards, including the World Press Photo to the Year (2008), and an Alfred I. duPont Broadcast award for his work in Afghanistan for ABC's 'Nightline') and Sebastian Junger (bestselling author of "The Perfect Storm" and "War.")
This coin from Eagle Crest commemorates the Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and features intricate, multi-colored designs on both sides and the words, "Democracy, Bravery, Honor, Sacrifice & Freedom"
This coin from Eagle Crest commemorates the U.S. Army Combat Infantryman. Its green and gold face displays four Infantryman on foot. The blue and gold flip has 5 stars and a long rifle.
Counted cross-stitch of the U.S. Coast Guard emblem suitable for personalization with name/rank and additional information (years of service, unit, etc.)(see example photo). Finished piece is designed for a 3.5" x 5" opening (mat or frame). Can be mounted with a custom-cut mat (NOT part of auction item) for dual openings in an 6x10 frame (see example photo). Auction winner will need to provide contact information in order to arrange personalization before item can be shipped.
This auction is a copy of ADM Slavonic's upcoming book Leadership In Action. It will be released to the general public on Amazon.com in MID-NOVEMBER. This is an ADVANCED copy. ADM Slavonic will sign and ship. SPECIAL TO VALOUR-IT! Greg Slavonic has brought together several contributors for this book that would rightly be on a "Who's Who" list of our nation's most highly honored and decorated military leaders; two-, three- and four-star Generals, Admirals, Captains and Colonels, war heroes and two Medal of Honor recipients--they know what it takes to lead and to succeed. In the pages of this book, you will find something that is critical to success in life--a philosophy of leadership that you can take for your own. By reading each chapter, giving thought to what you've read and applying what you've learned in action; a discerning reader will gain a thorough understanding of what real leaders are made of--and in the learning can become one too.
The first DayByDay Cartoon book collecting all of the www.daybydaycartoon.com strips from 2002-2003. This miniature coffee table book measures 7"x7", features a high gloss softcover, is 132 pages with 363 toons and is signed and numbered by creator Chris Muir.
Autographed hardcover copy of Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes, in pristine condition. "A visceral, gripping, epic novel of the Vietnam War written by a highly decorated war veteran, MATTERHORN throbs with compelling authenticity on each of its many hundred pages. Though its topics are embedded in our cultural consciousness--napalm, Agent Orange, tortured soldier's souls, the chaos of guerrilla warfare, the impossible ethics of violence, the beauty and horrors of the jungle, loyalty, insanity, friendship, and death--MATTERHORN renders the Vietnam experience anew, boring relentlessly down on the specific kinetic reality of the time and place. Karl Marlantes writes with an intense immediacy reminiscent of Mailer's THE NAKED AND THE DEAD or James Jones's THE THIN RED LINE. MATTERHORN deserves to take its place on the short list of great works about America's engagement in Vietnam and the powerful reality of armed combat."
'This We'll Defend' Army Medallion 13:08:45
This coin from the Northwest Territorial Mint commemorates the U.S. Army. It has an Army themed front side with the words, "This We'll Defend." The flip side has the Department of the Army seal.
These auctions end tomorrow, November 8 - and many of the items are one of a kind. Bid now before it's too late.
(Continuing a discussion begun here.)
If you aren't familiar with the life and military career of John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough, don't feel bad. Though one of history's most extraordinary military leaders ("He commanded the armies of Europe against France for ten campaigns," his descendant Winston would write, while himself out of government and largely ignored during the 1930's. "He fought four great battles and many important actions ... He never fought a battle that he did not win, nor besieged a fortress that he did not take ... He quitted war invincible.") - today he's largely overlooked by all but the most dedicated scholars of the craft.
As for Churchill's multi-volume biography of his ancestor, it requires a bit more shelf space than most can spare. (Though abridged versions are available... but unlike Malakand, none are in in the public domain.)
But even in the First Duke's Wikipedia bio we learn (or are reminded of) at least one odd but valuable cautionary fact - not everyone loves a winner. Move past his many glories and successes to near the end, to discover that in (what would turn out to be) his final campaign, Marlborough had crushed the French, and it was fully expected England and her allies would march to Paris the following year. In England, however, the Tories were in control, feared the Duke as a future political opponent, and were ready to accept favorable peace terms from a beaten - but not bowed - France...
For Marlborough, though, time had run out. His strategic gains in 1711 made it virtually certain that the Allies would march on Paris the following year, but Harley had no intention of letting the war progress that far and risk jeopardizing the favourable terms secured from the secret Anglo-French talks (based on the idea that Philip V would remain on the Spanish throne) that had proceeded throughout the year. Marlborough had long had doubts about the Whig policy of 'No Peace without Spain', but he was reluctant to abandon his allies (including the Elector of Hanover, Anne's heir presumptive), and sided with the Whigs in opposing the peace preliminaries. Personal entreaties from the Queen (who had long tired of the war), failed to persuade the Duke. The Elector made it clear that he too was against the proposals, and publicly sided with the Whigs. Nevertheless, Anne remained resolute, and on 7 December 1711 (O.S) she was able to announce that - "notwithstanding those who delight in the arts of war" - a sneer towards Marlborough - "both time and place are appointed for opening the treaty of a general peace."
To prevent the serious renewal of warfare in the spring it was considered essential to replace Marlborough with a general more in touch with the Queen's ministers and less in touch with their allies. To do this, Harley (newly created Earl of Oxford) and St John, first needed to bring charges of corruption against the Duke, completing the anti-Whig, anti-war picture that Jonathan Swift was already presenting to a credulous public through his pamphleteering, notably in his Conduct of the Allies (1711). The means to achieve Marlborough's fall had already been put in train when the Ministry had set up a Parliamentary 'Commission for the taking, examining and stating the public accounts of the Kingdom', to report on alleged irregularities during the war.
Two main charges were brought to the House of Commons against Marlborough: first, an assertion that over nine years he had illegally received more than £63,000 from the bread and transport contractors in the Netherlands; second, that he had taken 2.5% from the pay of the foreign troops in English pay, amounting to £280,000. Despite Marlborough's refutations (claiming ancient precedent for the first allegation, and, for the second, producing a warrant signed by the Queen in 1702 authorising him to make the deductions in lieu of secret-service money for the war), the findings were enough for Harley to persuade the Queen to release her Captain-General. On 29 December 1711 (O.S), before the charges had been examined, Anne, who owed to him the success and glory of her reign, sent her letter of dismissal: "I am sorry for your own sake the reasons are become so public which makes it necessary for me to let you know you have render'd it impracticable for you to continue yet longer in my service." The Tory dominated Parliament concluded by a substantial majority that, 'the taking of several sums of money annually by the Duke of Marlborough from the contractor for foraging the bread and wagons ... was unwarrantable and illegal', and that the 2.5% deducted from the pay of foreign troops 'is public money and ought to be accounted for.' When his successor, the Duke of Ormonde, left London for The Hague to take command of British forces he went, noted Bishop Burnet, with 'the same allowances that had been lately voted criminal in the Duke of Marlborough'.
The Allies were stunned by Marlborough's dismissal. The French, however, rejoiced...
Marlborough wisely chose an extended stay on the continent, before returning home to an England he'd transformed into a global power. In the meantime, a peace treaty was signed with France - though on-again, off-again war between the two nations would continue through that century and into the next. Perhaps there's a lesson for us there, too.
So what would be Petraeus's reading list? The answer came back: Thomas Barfield's "Afghanistan, a Cultural and Political History''; Ali Ahmad Jalali's " The Otherside of the Mountain, Mujahideen Tactics in the Soviet War''; Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea''; and Winston Churchill's "The Story of The Malakand Field Force,'' about frontier fighting in the late 19th century. In Churchill's time there was a similar tremendous debate about Britain's "Forward Policy,'' whether to really go in and build up civil institutions, pacifying the Pashtuns, or whether to maintain a lesser footprint, punishing the frontier tribes when necessary; the 19th century equivalent of drone attacks and special-ops, nicknamed "butcher and bolt.''
Petraeus would have noted that Churchill closed his Malakand book by endorsing the former. But did the general notice Churchill's "crushing'' conclusion to the contrary? "It is this,'' Churchill wrote: "we have neither the troops nor the money to carry it out.''
That's mostly right. Britain maintained the largest Empire in history with an economy of force. According to Churchill biographer William Manchester, in Churchill's early soldiering days there were just thirty-one cavalry regiments in the whole of the British Empire. "By Continental standards, the number of men in uniform was tiny," Manchester wrote. "Asked what he would do if the British army landed in Prussia, Bismark replied: "Send a policeman and have it arrested.""
But England was too big to worry about big wars - that era had ended at Waterloo - and the spirit of the British colonial might be captured in the final lines of this excerpt from a poem of the day...
The similarity to modern times is clear - while the existence of an "American Empire" is debatable, the point that we have a small army globally dispersed is not.
And for further cause for modern despair, the whole of Afghanistan was not part of Churchill's calculus - his "not enough" comment meant only for that mountainous region called the Northwest Frontier (direction reference from India) - the remote border area between what's now Pakistan and Afghanistan, where many believe Osama bin Laden could be found today.
But the Boston Globe author's characterization is wrong - Churchill actually dismissed the notion of occupation in force (for the stated reason - though some might conclude he was goading the reading public of the wealthiest Empire in history) and endorsed the policy then favored (or at least, announced) by the government in England. From Malakand:
The inevitable alternative is the present system, a system which the war has interrupted, but to which we must return at its close; a system of gradual advance, of political intrigue among the tribes, of subsidies and small expeditions.
Though this policy is slow, painful and somewhat undignified, there is no reason that it should not be sure and strong. But it must be consistently pursued. Dynamite in the hands of a child is not more dangerous than a strong policy weakly carried out. The reproach which may be justly laid upon the rulers of India, whether at home or abroad, is that while they recognise the facts, they shrink from the legitimate conclusions.
They know they cannot turn back. They fully intend to go on. Yet they fear to admit the situation, to frankly lay their case before the country, and trust to the good sense and courage of an ancient democracy. The result is, that they tie their hands by ridiculous and unnecessary proclamations, such as that which preceded the Chitral expedition of 1895. The political officers who watch the frontier tribes are expected to obtain authority by force of personal character, yet strictly according to regulations, and to combine individuality with uniformity. And sometimes this timidity leads to such dismal acts of folly as the desertion of the Khyber forts.
"Dynamite in the hands of a child is not more dangerous than a strong policy weakly carried out" - a stinging rebuke - and the reproached "rulers of India, whether at home or abroad" it was aimed at were the very fine gentlemen who comprised the government of Great Britain. Among them, the Viceroy - who, Churchill wrote in Malakand, "belonged to that party in the State which has clung passionately, vainly, and often unwisely to a policy of peace and retrenchment. He was supported in his reluctance to embark on warlike enterprises by the whole force of the economic situation. No moment could have been less fitting: no man more disinclined." The benefits gained from reading Churchill's account today extend well beyond achieving a greater appreciation for the history of the region.
A summation of the whole affair from Churchill's later (mid-life) account of his younger years fits this discussion, too:
So a lot of people were killed, and on our side their widows have had to be pensioned by the Imperial Government, and others were badly wounded and hopped around for the rest of their lives, and it was all very exciting and, for those who did not get killed or hurt, very jolly.
But all that was well over a hundred years ago - we've advanced in many ways, and have great and wonderful things like color photography today.
Still, spend some time reading Churchill's musty old sepia-toned thoughts today and you'll find yourself stopping frequently to admire the passages he committed to paper, and to history - to us. Because he authored dozens of books and hundreds of speeches, such discoveries are not difficult or rare. Here's one from Marlborough: His Life and Times, Churchill's biography of his ancestor, the First Duke:
"But no battle ever repeats itself. The success of a commander does not arise from following rules or models. It consists in an absolutely new comprehension of the dominant facts of the situation at the time, and all the forces at work. Cooks use recipes for dishes and doctors have prescriptions for diseases, but every great operation of war is unique."
That was a response to those who'd speculated that most of the credit for Marlborough's military successes was due to the influence of his earlier commander, French Field Marshall Turenne. (Marlborough wasn't the first or last military leader to learn his trade fighting alongside the soldiers of a nation he'd gain fame fighting against.) The biographer Churchill acknowledged that influence, in-part. But "There is no surer road to ill-success in war," he wrote, (perhaps he had an aversion to the word "defeat," as some do to "victory" today) than to fit past lessons into novel situations.
If it isn't obvious from the above (or the entire series), there's much to be learned from reading Malakand, much that applies to our Afghanistan situation today. But that last quote isn't found in that volume, and it's one with which any Malakand-reading Iraq veteran should agree.
(There are other lessons worth learning from the life of Marlborough - a discussion that continues here...)
An updated salute to the 467th Medical Detachment, first posted last year...
"Even though we lost our fallen comrades ...no one is going to stop us from completing our mission."
-- 1st Sgt. James McLeod, 467th Medical Detachment
This is how it is, mostly: no brass bands, or even drum and bugle corps. No cheering throngs. Just a simple walk in the pre-dawn hours to a bus that takes you to the flightline, to a plane that takes you to war.
Fort Hood Unit Deploys to Afghanistan
American Forces Press Service
An Army Reserve unit that had soldiers both killed and wounded during the Nov. 5 shooting at Ft Hood deployed as scheduled to Afghanistan.
Maj. Laura Suttinger, commander of the 467th Medical Detachment, said the unit's soldiers are more dedicated than ever to the mission.
"I think they decided that same day (of the shooting) that they were more dedicated than ever in honor of the soldiers that we lost and have stood firm in that commitment," said unit commander Maj. Laura Suttinger. "They were all very dedicated, caring soldiers, and they will not be forgotten. We're carrying on in their honor."
Three soldiers from the Madison, Wisconsin-based unit were killed during the shooting: Maj. Libardo Caraveo, 52, of Woodbridge, Va., Capt. Russell Seager, 41, of Racine, Wisc., and Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wisc.
Members of the unit will be better able to help soldiers overseas since surviving this tragedy themselves, 1st Sgt. James McLeod, of the unit, said. "Even though we lost our fallen comrades ... `no one is going to stop us from completing our mission' is really what their goal is."
The names engraved on the bracelets worn by members of the unit are:
Sgt. Amy Krueger, of Kiel, Wisconsin
Capt. Russell Seager, of Racine, Wisconsin
Maj. Libardo Caraveo, of Woodbridge, Virginia
- all from the 467th, along with
Capt. John P. Gaffaney, of San Diego, California
Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman, of Havre De Grace, Maryland
who were assigned to the 1908th Medical Company, Independence, Missouri.
Update - November, 2010, CNN: It's the first anniversary of the shootings at Fort Hood, and the 467th Medical Detachment has completed their mission and returned home.
The rest of the unit was offered the chance, in consideration of the horrors they'd witnessed at Ft. Hood, to skip their long-planned deployment. None of them did.
I've never forgotten that advice from Hearst - and with that in mind, it's time for our annual pitch for the other Valour-IT teams. Click an image below to donate to their campaigns.
And the all consuming Army
Or - enter the contest here.
Stars and Stripes: House Democrats see their defense experts tossed aside - including Ike Skelton, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. If you think that's good, read this. If you think it all matters, try here.
Stripes reports "At least 10" (of 37) other HASC Democrats were ousted - perhaps no one's had time to do a full count.
Ike Skelton of Missouri lost his seat. So did next-up John Spratt of South Carolina. So did next-up-next-up Solomon Ortiz of Texas (though a recount is possible). So did naval-subcommittee chairman Gene Taylor of Mississippi. So did Georgia's Jim Marshall, New Hampshire's Carol Shea-Porter, Virginia's Glenn Nye, Maryland's Frank Kratovil, Alabama's Bobby Bright and New York's Scott Murphy. Three other Democrats retired from the committee -- one of them, Pennsylvania's Joe Sestak, lost a Senate race last night -- and things look tough for Washington's Rick Larsen, as well.
"Their less-experienced replacements," says Stripes reporter Leo Shane, "will be left to fight against the defense priorities of a Republican majority" - first on the list, "an increase in military spending."
That's something of a wonderful fiction (or at least a partial truth) that benefits Dems in some districts. In others, not so much.
"The C-17 is critical to our national security and our economy - supporting thousands of jobs here in Long Beach and throughout Southern California," Boxer said. "We need to maintain a reliable American industrial base, with strong, qualified workers. We need to keep quality manufacturing jobs here in Long Beach. And I will do everything I can to ensure that we do so."
In a meeting with the editorial board of The Standard-Times, Rep. Frank, D-Mass., also called for a 25 percent cut in military spending, saying the Pentagon has to start choosing from its many weapons programs, and that upper-income taxpayers are going to see an increase in what they are asked to pay.
The military cuts also mean getting out of Iraq sooner, he said.
The second quote was from just before the '08 election - the first from this year's campaign. And if you weren't paying attention, no, there was no 25% cut in defense spending over the past two years.
And regardless of what's said or reported, we're withdrawing from Iraq on a timetable established by the Bush administration, following a surge that was (vocally, at least) opposed by many House and Senate Democrats who gained a majority four years ago largely by pledging a "new direction" in Iraq. What we got following the 2006 election was double the pork in the defense bill compared to the record-setting year before. (And if you think that's a thing of the past, think again.)
So as we carry on the battles over the battles with bullets (mostly in Afghanistan, which can now fairly be called Obama's war) you might see more coverage of defense bills, and you might even see Democrats bemoaning the expense. Whether you buy what they're selling or not is up to you. (Some don't. Some do...)
Update, via email, from Leo Shane:
"At least 10" line is because there are still two races involving HASC Dems that are too close to call (Giffords in Arizona, and Larsen in Washington) and Solomon Ortiz looks headed for a recount in Texas. So, in three weeks, we should have an actual number. Until then, I've got this running list.
As for the original article, read the whole thing.
...to win several Valour-IT auction items, as bidding ends today on the first group - including a signed (personalized to the winner) copy of milblogger/Iraq vet Matt Gallagher's Kaboom.
At This Ain't Hell: VoteVets-endorsed House candidates versus Vets For Freedom-endorsed House candidates.
And the Iraq Veterans for Congress "veteran class of 2010."
And more - from military.com: Nine Afghan, Iraq War Vets Head to Congress.
In all, at least eight Republican veteran candidates won House seats, and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk -- who served briefly in Iraq and Afghanistan -- grabbed the Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama.
But Democratic veterans didn't fare as well. Pennsylvania Rep. Patrick Murphy, an Army vet who was the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress, failed in his re-election bid, as did Air Force reservist Ohio Rep. John Boccieri.
Murphy, first elected in 2006, was a vocal opponent of the Iraq war during his first term and led House efforts to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" law in recent months.
Will DADT be killed in the lame duck session? Stay tuned...
- and others to elsewhere. Here's a look at the winners and losers among the military veterans who ran for the Senate this year. (See here, where we identified 10 campaigns where one or more major party candidates had served.)
We'll start with the better luck next time category:
Former US Army Captain/Republican Campbell Cavasso lost in Hawaii, as did U.S. Air Force Reserve JAG officer/Democrat Rodney Britz Glassman in Arizona. But those were two races veterans couldn't lose - which brings us to the victory list:
For those keeping score - military candidates were 4-4 against non-military opponents, Republicans were 3-1, Democrats 1-3, (+1 each category if you add Arizona and Hawaii) and the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marines can all claim at least one Senate victory in 2010.
Congratulations to former Army LTC Allen West, who first appeared in Mudville seven (wow) years ago this month.
Want to help out a wounded troop via Valour-IT? Bid on one of these books - all are signed by the authors, and proceeds from the auctions go to Valour-IT:
And - for a real out-of-print collector's item, the People magazine issue featuring Chuck Ziegenfuss and Valour-IT (signed by Chuck and author Susan Katz Keating).
And for something a bit more light-hearted, Chris Muir's Day by Day collection.
And if movies are more your thing - here's a DVD of Severe Clear, signed by the creator/filmmaker, Mike Scotti.
Plenty more Valour-IT auction items here - get some.
Here's how I know that big word: back when I was a kid my home state celebrated 150 years of statehood, a sesquicentennial. Some stuff you learn when you're a kid stays with you a long time...
You might see that word more often in the near future, as we observe (unless we ignore) anniversaries like this one:
The United States presidential election of 1860 set the stage for the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout most of the 1850s on questions of states' rights and slavery in the territories. In 1860, this issue finally came to a head, fracturing the formerly dominant Democratic Party into Southern and Northern factions and bringing Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party to power without the support of a single Southern state. Hardly more than a month following Lincoln's victory came declarations of secession by South Carolina and other states, which were rejected as illegal by outgoing President James Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln.
The date was actually November 6, 1860 - the first Tuesday in November, 150 years ago.
Before that year ended, South Carolina left the Union, declaring:
"A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.""On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government," the authors declared, warning that Republicans intended "that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States."
"We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved," and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do."
The election of 1860, your sesquicentennial moment for today.
In modern day election news from South Carolina:
Next: To go for a soldier
On ebay: a signed, numbered copy of Chris Muir's first Day by Day Book, donated by the author - the proceeds go (where else?) to Valour-IT. (And the auction winner designates the team.) Anyone who's spent any time at all in the blogosphere knows this is a treasure. Thanks Chris!
More great auction items here, and more to follow...
That prediction hardly required psychic powers - America's tradition of electing its veterans to public office began with our first president, and in the years following World War Two there were more available than any other time in history. Half a century passed before Bill Clinton - after defeating a WWII vet to become President - defeated a second to hold the job, a definitive end to the greatest generation in American politics. (At least, almost, as we'll see below.) But while their numbers are much reduced, veterans are still seeking office, and I spent a bit of time this weekend seeking them. What I found follows below.
If you're looking for an advocacy piece urging you to vote for veterans, look elsewhere - this isn't it. (Translation: sorry Alvin, no help here, either.) Vote on the issues, says I - but if you're looking for deep insight into candidates' positions on those issues you won't find that here either. (In fact, I have no idea where you'd find such depth - but we're not even going to wade into the shallow end of that pool.) This is just a quick look at veterans in this years' races at the highest level - more specifically, the US Senate. (Translation two: If anyone has time to check every candidate for all the House races, have at it.)
But is military service still important to American voters? To judge by candidate's online biographies it is. I compiled this list by visiting their web sites and reading those bios. And while most are not veterans themselves, several of them mention their father's service many years ago. (And most of those appear to be post-WWII vets. Perhaps because the "Dad served" claim is so common among baby boomers - however proud of it they may be - it isn't a mark of distinction. Or maybe the "boomer" era in politics is passing, too...) But while every one of them, veteran or not, supports the troops (and would in Washington if given the opportunity, I'm sure) what you'll see below is simply the military service record of those candidates who claim one - as they describe it themselves on their campaign web page.
Across the country only one-third of Senate seats are up for grabs; voters in Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming are spared the excitement this year. And while there are Senate races in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin no vets were tapped as contenders there.
Unless I missed a few third-party candidates - though I found a few, too. While the major party candidates in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Utah can't claim VA benefits, each of those states includes a veteran on the ballot.
That brings us to the 10 (ten) Senate campaigns where one or more major party candidates has served - including New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte (R): "Kelly's husband, Joe, an Iraq war veteran who flew combat missions over Iraq, currently serves in the Air National Guard." That counts, says I.
Voters in seven states can choose between a veteran and a non-veteran - let's run through the list in alphabetical order:
For those who didn't count along, that's four Democrats and three Republicans vying for Senate seats who've worn the uniform of the nation's armed services. But we've still got two more races to check, and - R or D - in those I'll guarantee a veteran wins.
"John attended college at the United States Naval Academy, and launched a 22-year career as a naval aviator upon his graduation..." Unless you've been somewhere even more remote than he was back in the late Vietnam days, you're somewhat familiar with the biography of Arizona Republican John McCain. "During his 23rd bombing mission on October 26, 1967, a missile struck his plane and forced him to eject, knocking him unconscious and breaking both his arms and his leg. John was then taken as a prisoner of war into the now infamous "Hanoi Hilton," where he was denied necessary medical treatment and often beaten by the North Vietnamese..."
His opponent, Rodney Britz Glassman "currently serves as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserves at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base."
The most senior member of the U.S. Senate, Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye is the exception to the greatest generation fade mentioned above. "In January 1943, at the age of 18, he volunteered to serve in the United States Army. He was assigned to the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese-American U.S. Army unit, and he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor." And though I've stuck to my own "just what their campaign bio says" rule until now, I'd urge you to read the account here.
His opponent, Campbell Cavasso, "served as a Captain in the U.S. Army in Europe."
And there you have it. Six Democrats and six Republicans seeking seats in the US Senate this year have served. Political sorts likely counted along - and fellow veterans might have, too - and noted this tally:
Air Force 2.5
(With the those third-party candidates I found added, 7, 3, 4, and 2 respectively.)
"How many," I wonder, "will win?"