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While many pundits would have us believe otherwise, the pork-laden bill to stop the surge and withdraw troops from Iraq is not the supplemental Iraq and Afghanistan funding bill that will ultimately (and hopefully soon) have to be debated in congress - it's a political ploy, and a dangerous one to be conducted in time of war.
So what if congress refuses to pass or even debate such a bill in a timely manner? Here's Defense Secretary Robert Gates' answer:
This morning I had -- I met with members of the House Army Caucus, a bipartisan group of representatives who have a special interest in the strength and well-being of the Army. We discussed several key issues relating to the Army's readiness. I received questions from both sides of the aisle as to the measures the military will need to take if the Congress does not pass the FY '07 supplemental by April 15th.An Army at war prioritizes the immediate needs of the soldiers at war, but while other key projects are often "back burnered", that proritization generally doesn't demand complete neglect of all else (and yes, I'm aware of building 18). I'm not sure if there's an historical precedent to this (that is, forcing the military to cut all other efforts in order to keep front-line troops fed and equipped) in the United States. But while some in congress might consider such actions a hard fought "victory" long in coming, I'm certain that al Qaeda would, too.
For example, according to the Army, which went through this experience last year, if the supplemental is not passed by April 15th, the service will be forced to consider the following kinds of actions: one, curtailing and suspending home station training for Reserve and Guard units; two, slowing the training of units slated to deploy next to Iraq and Afghanistan; three, cutting the funding for the upgrade or renovation of barracks and other facilities that support quality of life for troops and their families; and fourth, stopping the repair of equipment necessary to support pre-deployment training.
If the supplemental is not passed by May 15th, the Army will be forced to consider the following: one, reducing the repair work being done at Army depots; two, delaying or curtailing the deployment of brigade combat teams to their training rotations; three, this, in turn, will cause additional units in theater to have their tours extended because other units are not ready to take their place; four, delaying the formation of new brigade combat teams; five, implementation of a civilian hiring freeze; sixth, prohibiting the execution of new contracts and service orders, including service contracts for training events and facilities; and seventh, holding or cancelling the order of repair parts to non-deployed units in the Army.
This kind of disruption to key programs will have a genuinely adverse effect on the readiness of the Army and the quality of life for soldiers and their families. I urge the Congress to pass the supplemental as quickly as possible.
At a ceremony Monday Hinesville, Liberty County and the community unveiled a pair of yellow ribbons on a great oak, and bid Major General Lynch a fond farewell.The remainder - and possibly an additional aviation brigade - will have departed for Iraq by May.
"Keep your face to the fight, and know that we have your back," said Hinesville Mayor Tom Ratcliffe.
"Don't worry about us," replied Lynch. "We're trained and ready."
Friends of mine deployed today. My turn draws near.
There's news from beyond Washington, too. Here are three days of press releases from Iraq:
Weapons cache destroyed, seven suspected terrorists detained
National police find weapons cache in mosque
Raid seizes weapons cache in southern Baghdad
Marine Unit Attacked
Wolverine troops discover cache of weapons
Golden Dragon troops find large weapons cache
Roadside bomb strikes MND-B patrol
Kidnap Victim Rescued, Six Weapons Caches Found
MND-B security patrol ends with small arms fire
Three hostages freed, 13 suspected terrorists detained
Iraqi and Coalition Soldiers begin clearing operations in the Mansour Security District
Al-Sadr aide released
Network leaders captured over last three days
Marine attacked in operations in Al Anbar Province
Soldier attacked in operations in Al Anbar Province
Coalition forces destroy weapons cache, detain 23 suspects
Five terrorists killed, explosives factory destroyed
Golden Dragons capture mortar team
VBIED discovered; terrorists fail
Soldiers build Combat Outpost in Baghdad B-Roll Troops construct COP in Furat District
Alaskan Paratroopers find enemy cache
Mortar attack kills four in East Baghdad
LTG Eikenberry sends the Marine Special Operations company in Afghanistan back to Kuwait. Was this a necessary decision? Perhaps. I don't think they would be able to accomplish much in the rest of their stay - not after the civilian casualties resulting from the Marine's response to an IED/ambush.
I think this unit would have been better employed, perhaps, in a different area. The Pak-Afghan frontier maybe. Just a first impression from what happened with this unit. My only experience with the Marines was when they protected me in Parwan and Kapisa, and I had a Marine E-6 work for me for 3 months. They were terrific - but a special ops group...I would ask someone with more experience and knowledge to comment, please.
We're talking silencing the Ernie Pyle of this war, not the William Arkin's...
It looks like a certain Army General wants to shoot himself and the Army in the foot. Both feet. What a lack of vision this man seemingly has.
A note from Bob Owens, who blogs at Confederate Yankee - where you can find a picture of the General in question, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks.
I'm writing to you today to ask you to help support Michael Yon, the former Green Beret turned independent combat journalist, currently in Iraq. As noted by Instapundit Glenn Reynolds and Austin Bay last night, Yon has been threatened with expulsion from Iraq by an Army General :A general emailed in the past 24 hours threatening to kick me out. The first time the Army threatened to kick me out was in late 2005, just after I published a dispatch called "Gates of Fire." Some of the senior level public affairs people who'd been upset by "Proximity Delays" were looking ever since for a reason to kick me out and they wanted to use "Gates of Fire" as a catapult. In the events described in that dispatch, I broke some rules by, for instance, firing a weapon during combat when some of our soldiers were fighting fairly close quarters and one was wounded and still under enemy fire. That's right. I'm not sure what message the senior level public affairs people thought that would convey had they succeeded, (which they didn't) but it was clear to me what they valued most. They want the press on a short leash, even at the expense of the life of a soldier.The General who wanted to silence Yon in 2005 was Brigadier General Vincent K. Brooks, then the lead Public Affairs Officer (PAO) for the United States Army. The stories that got Yon in trouble with Brooks: Proximity Delays and Gates of Fire. Proximity Delays got Yon in trouble, and in Gates of Fire, Yon picked up a rifle and joined combat to help LTC Erik Kurilla, who had been shot three times by an insurgent while CSM Robert Prosser was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with another insurgent. For inserting himself into battle (which violated embed rules) to help fallen American soldiers, and then having the gall to write about it, Brooks tried to kick Yon our of Iraq. Brooks is back in Iraq, this time as deputy commanding general - support for Multinational Division-Baghdad, and he still obviously carries his grudge against Yon. I confirmed last night with Michael Yon that it is this same General Vincent K. Brooks that sent Yon the email threatening to kick him out of Iraq.
I don't think I need to tell you how important Yon's reporting is. He has been favorably compared to WWII's premier combat correspondent Ernie Pyle, in part because Yon, like Pyle, is brutally honest in his reporting. When he sees problems he reports them, and when he sees progress, he reports that as well. Yon has, if I am correct, spent more time embedded in U.S. combat units in Iraq than any journalist for any news organization. Period. He plans to spend the next year on the ground with our soldiers in Iraq. He braves bullets and IEDs with our troops out on patrol, and was once targeted to be kidnapped and killed by insurgents because of his reporting. Through it all, Yon has pushed on, and now a General on our side appears to be trying to silence him.
I don't think anyone will dispute that the terrorists in Iraq are convincingly beating us in the media war, and Yon's front-line writing has been one of the few bright spots in the coverage of this war in the western media. That vital reporting is now under assault by a General that is apparently threatened by Yon's honesty.
Michael has been stuck in a U.S. base for over a week now. I strongly feel that Brooks is behind Yon's "grounding," and the threatening email he sent Yon seems to strongly support that contention.
I'm asking you to help turn up the heat on General Brooks and the U.S. Army, so that Yon can continue to bring us dispatches from the front line. Please consider writing about this attempt at censorship by General Vincent Brooks.
Don't let one of the best combat reporters of our generation be silenced by a General with a grudge.
Don't let one of the best combat reporters of our generation be silenced by a General with a grudge.
Or just from a lack of vision, or perhaps a rule-bound mentality. I seem to remember another journalist who picked up a rifle in a firefight - Joe Galloway.
Think about it, General - who do you want doing your reporting - the guy who goes out with the troops, or some dandy who never leaves the Green Zone and gets his data hearsay?
If it's the Green Zone reporter... gotta wonder what your priorities are, General.
Bushkazi, refugees, hostages, camels, dinner, polio vaccination and more...
I'm rock blogging again. We need only one state now - Delaware. Time window is closing fast. Can you help?
Thank you to everyone who has helped in this endeavor. The MilBlog community is responsible for sending sixteen rocks. These rocks will help form a Rock Garden that will be a lasting tribute to a fallen hero.
Just as a piece of context: This week in D.C. a reporter for one of the Italian Communist newspapers named Giuliana Sgrena is appearing at the Politics and Prose bookstore (you've seen it on CSPAN). She's flogging her book about being kidnapped and rescued by Italian agents, in an operation they didn't tell the Americans about.
Said operation then became problematic when they drove directly at a checkpoint at top speed, ignoring warnings. The result was a dead Italian SISMI officer and soured relations.
The reporter was famous for pushing canards about WP and similar lies, too. 'S'ugly.
The Italian government has just made kidnapping more potentially profitable...
Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema said he did not discuss with American officials the deal in which five Taliban prisoners were traded this week for the freedom of a kidnapped Italian reporter in Afghanistan. Despite strong criticism from officials in the United States and Europe, Mr. D’Alema told reporters in Rome, “I am not the slightest bit repentant for having saved” the reporter, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, adding that it “is preferable to have a controversy over having saved him, rather than for having had him killed.”(Link)
I don't want to steal any thunder from Soldier's Dad's (ugh, twin possessives) great line on the tree of libertah....but Army Lawyer's comment on this post had me laughing all night:
Y'know that crazy cat lady in your neighborhood?
Code Pink is when that lady got interested in politics.
Yes, I'll be stealing it. Frequently. So let this post serve as my universal hotel tango to AL for a phenomenal line.
Part IV of my post on Saturday's protest, "A Tsunami of Stupid," is up.
Here's an excerpt:
These children (I refuse to call them “men”) clearly take no pride in their appearance. They know full well that by wearing their uniforms in this sloppy and improper manner, they are mocking everyone who continues to serve with pride in the U.S. military. Make no mistake, this disrespect is calculated and deliberate.
Rounding the corner, I spot CJ behind the line of green vests. His attention is focused on someone walking next to me, wearing a Navy lieutenant’s khaki shirt.
“Hey, it’s the pilot!”
This puzzles me, as the guy (whose nametag identifies him as “Will Reyes”) isn’t wearing the gold wings of a Naval Aviator, but the “water wings” worn by Surface Warfare Officers.
Reyes leaps out of the crowd, and shouts back at CJ, pointing to his sign and yelling something about “Uncle Sam’s oil plantation.” I follow along, trying to capture the exchange with my audio recorder.
Kit, standing nearby, snaps the photo above. That’s me in the foreground; Reyes is standing just to the left of me, with the sign.
The exchange between CJ and Reyes only lasts a few moments (listen to the audio). Immediately after the photo above is taken, the Stage Manager rushes over to push Reyes and me back in line, away from CJ and the other counter-protesters.
At one point during the exchange, CJ shouts, “Hey, when you get to the Pentagon, notice where the plane actually hit!” The remark seems strange at the time, but only later, after reading CJ’s account from the protest, would I understand the context: CJ had run into Reyes earlier in the day, and they had a very interesting conversation about 9/11 conspiracy theories.
So, this Navy guy comes up and rudely intrudes into our conversation before it really began. He told me how unrealistic it was that 19 people with box cutters could overwhelm NORAD and take down four commercial airlines. I explained that NORAD doesn't fly onboard aircraft typically and therefore couldn't exactly beat the box cutters out of their hands. I also reminded him that the terrorists screamed that they had explosives (whether or not they did, doesn't matter). Fear is what kept most of those passengers in line. He then told me, ignoring true common sense, that in an interview with pilot, the pilot stated that if he were ever to encounter a hijacking, he'd just roll the plane over quickly and throw the terrorist to the ground. I asked him if that interview took place before or after 9/11 (to be funny). He caught it and got that goofy look of "do I look stupid to you?" In my mind I immediately answered. I told him that pilots were trained NOT to fight a hijacking and that a maneuver such as that would have caused a lot more harm than good. Consequently, I haven't found ANY interview with that particular pilot except one about his farm. The guy gave me his bona fides by telling me he was a Navy Pilot (hence the Navy uniform). However, everything he was telling me didn't make sense. So much so that I can't even remember most of what he was trying to explain. He did say that he was a Navy Pilot and knew about the flashpoints of aviation fuel. No, wait, he never used the technical term "flashpoint", I did. He call it a "burn rate".
Reyes picked the wrong guys to bullsh!t. Not only is CJ a senior Army NCO, but he’s also the son of a Navy Master Chief. In other words, he knows the difference between Naval Aviator wings and a SWO pin. As do I.
Reyes gets the hat trick: he’s a sh!tbag, a kook and a poseur. It’s no wonder that he’s marching with the IVAW.
Before rejoining the march, Reyes accuses CJ of being a paid shill for “Boeing, Lockheed, or whoever… it is paying your ass.”
CJ responds with a smart salute and a sarcastic, “Way to go, Sir!”
It takes every ounce of self-control I possess to keep from cracking up.
Continue reading Part IV: A Tsunami of Stupid
All of us here at Milblogs have read and followed Michael Yon just about from the 'git go" and I'd think it fairly safe to say that we're all fans and admirers of his work and his gumption.
Seems Michael may have hit the boiling point with the [mis]treatment of the press by the brass in Iraq where he is currently embedded for the [3rd?] time... In fact, a General has recently threatened to kick Mike out...
So Mike -- despite lack of sleeping quarters and work space -- has introduced his new series -- RUBS.
As Mike explains
There is no joy in being here. Nothing to laugh about. For every drop of information conveyed, a bucket is spilled. Folks say to me, “I hope you are saving all that for a book when you get back.” Fact is, now is the time that the information can be most important.
In an attempt to ameliorate this and to increase the trickle to some sort of steady flow, I will begin publishing a series called RUBS:
RUBs will amount to little more than a stream-of-consciousness note…tapped out as quickly as I can, and posted without checking nary a tense or, comma.
Be sure to read the whole first dispatch HERE
And it's a good time to point out that Michael Yon is a totally independent reporter and finances these embeds from donations from readers (that'd be you and me) and the sale of his special and spectacular photography... so be sure to click on the links provided at his site for those purposes.