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The Pentagon Channel (and by the way, this is seen on satellite TV by troops overseas, inlcuding Iraq and Afghanistan) reports on the Walter Reed stories, including the "resignation" of Army Secretary Harvey.
Also of interest: the "commercial message" regarding speaking to the press that precedes the report. While the broadcast (Armed Forces Network) version of Pentagon Channel programming includes these "commercials", this is the first time I've seen one on the web feed.
Under the national hydrocarbon law approved this week by Iraq's Council of Ministers, oil will serve as a vehicle to unify Iraq and will give all Iraqis a shared stake in their country's future. This is a significant achievement for Iraqis' national reconciliation. It demonstrates that the leaders of Iraq's principal communities can pull together to peacefully resolve difficult issues of national importance.The bad guys know this too.
Resolving concerns about control of oil is central to overcoming internal divisions in Iraq. The country has the third-largest oil reserves in the world, and more than 90 percent of federal income comes from oil revenue. The effective and equitable management of these resources is critical to economic growth as well as to developing a greater sense of shared purpose among Iraqi communities.
The goal of Iraq's leaders was to draft a law that ensured that all Iraqis could be confident they would receive their fair share of the benefits of developing the country's resources, that the revenue from oil and gas would enable a decentralization of power while maintaining national unity, and that Iraq would adopt the best international practices for the development and management of its mineral wealth. By these standards, the hydrocarbon law is a great success.
Just got this email. Some of you may have noticed already, but.....
Oops!!!! Unbeknownest to us, the WGN telecast is a week behind and today's show is about a family from Gastonia North Carolina, and the show with Jeff and Kat Orr, will therefore, be next Sat. 3/10 at noon on WGN. However, if one checks the HOMETEAM web site, you have up in the post there is a map which will show a local affiliate (not all areas have local affiliate) that carries the show on Jeff and Kat this week. Otherwise, folks will be able to see it on WGN at noon next week 3/10/07.
Original post here.
I agree that it's not a bad idea.
But it could become one without some modification, because execution is everything. Here's my countersuggestion:
--It's not just moms. Spouses and families are affected, too.
--Wounded who are back on line know as well as anyone. Get some involved.
--Nothing will happen without execution. Get people who know how to make things happen.
--Make the panel small and mobile; make a team responsible to make the results.
--Keep the panel from getting hijacked (Remember the Baker Opinion Group--I mean the Iraq Study Group? Remember the leftist 9/11 widows who appear as representative of all?) and ensure it's got credibility amongst those who would disagree with results.
--Build some structure such that this won't happen the same way again. Bethesda, like any big place, has good and bad. So does Tripler. What's the minimum bad, and how does that level never get reached?
--What mechanism makes it so that five years from now the wounded serviceman gets attention?
--What mechanism make it so that support is still there when nobody cares on TV any more?
With every crisis comes opportunity. This would be a good time for a staffer somewhere in Congress to note what Soldier's Angels is doing, and mandate federal funds so that if a guy gets his uniform cut off he doesn't pay for the replacement, or if a guy can't type a Valour-IT machine is issued without donations. It's a good time for DoD policy for medevaced wounded to have clothing and kit available in the medevac location. Volunteers add an essential component--but this is a good opportunity to shift the funding burden from volunteers to the nation that put the wounded at risk.
When media coverage turns to attacks on political figures over this issue, said media reveals where their true priorities lie. An awful lot of congressional types from both sides of the aisle probably feel a bit "uncomfortable" over the Walter Reed issue these days. While I think it would be worth it to throw them all out and replace them (Jack Murtha would be first to go, so the temptation to demand scalps in the political arena is great indeed) I don't think that much of the blame rests quite so directly on their shoulders. But ironically, I suspect that through their actions over the next few weeks congress will find a way to exacerbate the problem.
While volunteers could probably fix the structural defects in building 18 in less time than it took the WaPo reporters to research and write the story, that's not how "the system" works, and that of course, is the real problem after all. In medical terms, that's the cancer of which peeling paint and leaking roofs are a symptom. Personally I'd like to see those macro-problems and their symptoms fixed, quickly, and not used as a political lever (or bludgeon) - but what are the odds of that? Instead I see 17 new layers of bureaucracy coming, and none of it helpful. (And eventually, long after the press goes home, some distant, slack-jawed cousin-in-law of Jack Murtha's showing up with a million-dollar contract, a can of paint and some spackle and a demand for brushes, putty knives, and a shop steward...)
Honestly I think the mom idea is our only hope.
You'd see a remarkable shift in perspective if Ed Wong were to use these guys as his "stringers" (or at least "sources") in Iraq rather than the terrorist-associated Association of Muslim Scholars he's relied on for years. Since many key members of that group have now fled Iraq, perhaps that's not too far-fetched.
I realize the building 18 situation is getting a lot of attention here, but it is also a good springboard to identify and describe some leadership issues. Like, say, this one (bad word alert).
Florida congressman aren't doing themselves any public affairs favors this month.
The Swiss army is not renowned for its aggressive expeditionary adventures - but it does appear to have accidentally invaded Liechtenstein. According to the Swiss daily Blick, around 170 infantry soldiers from the famously neutral country wandered more than a mile across the unmarked border with the tiny principality.
The incident happened yesterday morning and the Swiss troops turned back - probably slightly sheepishly - after they realised their mistake.
By the way, while it's easy to make fun of the Swiss Army for the blunder, they do have one badass Air Force.
Jason van Steenwyk's got the news. It's infuriating. The LA Times' Rosa Brooks, in complaining about an event with a panel called "The Left's Repeated Campaign Against The American Soldier", managed to smear a Medal of Honor winner.
On a more serious note, we (the vast majority of JAGs) don't write the SROE. We advise on them. And the SROE doesn't say that soldiers lack the right to self-defense. They retain that right. The "change," such as it is, states that the right of self defense can be somewhat limited, only after approval from SecDef, by commanders, typically on behalf of unit self-defense.
The ROE are simply how the commander wants to fight.
"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." is an example of an ROE AND a limitation on a soldier's right to self-defense.
As to the rest of the article, it's very poorly written and I honestly had a bit of trouble grasping the various objections.
Could a soldier who fires in self-defense face prosecution? Yes that's a possibility. The prosecution would most likely be based on failure to obey a lawful order however. Example: A soldier fires BEFORE he sees "the whites of their eyes." He could do so under the theory of self-defense, but could be disciplined for failure to obey that lawful order.
As to the example given of a speeding car to a checkpoint. The author attempts to argue that "under traditional rules" soldiers could have fired on that car. They can do so under the current SROE as well. If a commander wants to say "You will not fire until you have a positive ID"--they can do that. Bad idea? Maybe. Maybe not.
But commanders have been setting such limitations since the dawn of warfare. And have been doing so long before JAGs (or their ancient equivalent) existed.
**UPDATE** Halftime. 39-40 Winthrop. I am a nervous wreck. Can't sit still. It's going to come down to the bench and endurance, I think we're playing on pure heart and adrenaline right now. So proud of these cadets, what a fight.
The OPFOR bloggers, every stinkin' one of em, are VMI men. That's why we're so psyched about about today's nationally televised Big South Championship on ESPN:
When it came to naming serious contenders for the Big South men's basketball tournament title, VMI probably didn't make the list.
But now, only two teams are left -- and one of those is the Keydets.
Despite its unlikely postseason run so far, VMI has been afforded no chance whatsoever by those in the know to unseat top-seeded and homestanding Winthrop in the Big South Conference championship game at 2p.m. today. Mighty Winthrop (27-4) has won more games than any previous Eagles team -- for that matter, any Big South team ever -- carries a 17-game winning streak into today's ESPN-televised tilt. As far as VMI folks are concerned, what else is new? They've been playing the underdog card at the Lexington military school since it sent 13-year-old cadets to do battle with Yankee regulars 143 years ago.
New Market. We won that battle, by the way.
Seriously. I couldn't sleep last night. That excited.
The story goes beyond a mere post-season championship run. Before the season kicked off, two of our starters were "drummed out" for honor offenses. The coaching staff decided that desperate times call for desperate measures, and instituted a throttled up, shoot, shoot, shoot offense. The result: the lowly Keydets, universally ranked last in just about every preseason coaches/media poll, now leads the nation in scoring and has a stab at their first NCAA Tourney bid since 1975.
Yeah, this is a big deal.
2pm Eastern on ESPN. I hope you all (even Smash...no, ESPECIALLY Smash) join me in cheering on this year's college hoops Cinderella.
A long time reader sent a note this morning.
John, When we write about heads rolling, the MedHold 1SGT and the hospital commander are on the short list for relief. That has happened, fine, deservedly so.
But the Secretary of the Army? He wasn't relieved, he quit, he took the easy way out, he RAN from the responsibility of fixing the problems.
The US Military is controlled by the civilian government of the United States. The Constitution is pretty clear on this. For the SecArmy to quit is to put into disarray all of our protections and controls. He cannot be replaced, immediately, by another Secretary.
Anyone of the undersecretaries will be called the "Acting" SecArmy. In the Army, when a commander is relieved, then the next guy there is the full-time commander. It might be a short time frame, but he IS the commander.
So Harvey quitting, no matter how Gates requested, hinted, asked, or ordered it, is to toss civilian control of the Army into a tailspin.
Harvey took the easy, even cowardly way out of a hot spot. He is refusing to fix the problems, to stand up, take the heat and soldier on.
My disgust is near debilitating.
I disagree. I understand not being happy with Harvey if he asked to quit, and is indeed running from his responsibilities. However, if that's the case, good riddance to someone who was just not up to the job, and better he leave.
I suspect, however, based on Gate's very specific statement, "I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed," that Harvey was told to quit, rather than get publicly fired.
There is also a tradition of people in that position, it being clear that they screwed up beyond belief or political tolerance, of offering to resign to clear the air for a new start.
The reality is, when Harvey relieved MG Weightman, who'd been in command for months, and replaced him with his predecessor, the guy who'd been in command there for years, under whose watch *all* of these problems existed and were not addressed, he set himself up for getting canned, if only for colossal cluelessness.
I don't see how this damages the concept of civilian control. One of the Deputies will fill the role as a temp, a new Secretary will be nominated, and the Republic and the Service will tottle on down the road as it has. On a purely practical note, when the position of Secretary of Defense was created, with the Service secretaries subordinate to that position, the impact and scope of the service secretaries was reduced to supervising the production of their service budget requests and the execution of the current budget anyway.
But the essential underlying premise of democratic government is that there are no indispensable people. Good thing it's true, too - seeing as how Arlington Cemetery is full of otherwise indispensable people and the Republic still stands, the opinion of the far left and right notwithstanding.
Now if the Generals had come out in public and demanded the removal/resignation of Dr. Harvey - we would be in complete agreement, no questions, that the concept of civilian control was in jeopardy.
But when the Secretary of Defense calls the Secretary of the Army in and says "Dude, you've lost my confidence, what *were* you thinking? It's time for you to move on, and I'd like your resignation on my desk before you leave my office, please" that is the quintessential expression of civilian control, and exactly how things should go, as I see it.
Your concern of "Army leadership in a tailspin" is perhaps more aptly raised in the context of how long does it take to nominate and confirm his successor? Certainly if the position is left vacant for a long period of time during the budget build, and decisions deferred until the new Secretary takes office, there will be short-term damage to some aspects of Army operations, now and in the budget being POM'd.
From another angle - sometimes firing the coach is the best way to fix the team, even when the coach isn't a bad person, or even a bad coach in most aspects. But if he can't lead the team and get it done - then it's time to bring in someone new.
All in all, I'm thinking the Army can use the shake-up in the senior ranks. Even in wartime. Perhaps especially in wartime, where we should perhaps be a little more results-oriented than we seem to have been thus far. I'm still waiting for something similar to happen over the still-fargled pay system. And other things.
An unhappy ex-JAG complains about ROE.
One expert told me that soldiers who act in self-defense could even face prosecution. He defends the new rules, claiming that troops "use self-defense too much in order to escape liability." It is one thing to say that a soldier should not fire wantonly or without cause, but it is quite another to say that soldiers may not defend themselves when facing an imminent threat of death or serious injury.
Another JAG officer told me of "statistics" and "studies" showing that soldiers in Iraq have itchy trigger fingers. Yet when I asked for the studies to support these statistics, none were provided. Several JAG officers expressed concern that CNN (yes, they mention that network by name) would report too much carnage if the restrictions did not exist.
This is some blunt talk from the boss. Emphasis mine:
Second, later today the Army will name a new permanent commander for the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This flagship institution must have its new leadership in place as quickly as possible.
I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed. Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems.
Also, I am concerned that some do not properly understand the need to communicate to the wounded and their families that we have no higher priority than their care. And that addressing their concerns about the quality of their outpatient experience is critically important. Our wounded soldiers and their families have sacrificed much and they deserve the best we can offer.
Finally, I want to reaffirm my confidence in the staff at Walter Reed and their professionalism and dedication to providing caring treatment. From what I have learned, the problems at Walter Reed appear to be problems of leadership. The Walter Reed doctors, nurses and other staff are among the best and most caring in the world. They deserve our continued deepest thanks and strongest support.