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Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Buzz Patterson announces the release of his new book, War Crimes: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy the Military and Lose the War on Terror, posting short excerpts over at The Corner.
Buzz has spent the last couple of years building his case for War Crimes, in his many interviews with military and MILBLOGGERS on Rightalk Radio, and his dedication to amplifying the wattage of MILBLOGGER voices. He’s been guest of our inaugural MILBLOG Conference, and a guest contributor to MILBLOGS. All that, and he very graciously quoted me from one of my anti-media tirades, sent me an early draft for review, and invited me to contribute a blurb for the book jacket. (Suffice to say, this won’t be an entirely objective review. That’s okay. I’m not a journalist even if I don’t write in my pajamas.)
Buzz saw War Crimes as a mission he could accomplish: to give the American public an opportunity to hear military voices responding to media ignorance, apathy, hostility, and other journalistic malpractice and malfeasance. Here’s how he sees the current media climate, and his solution:
Realities on the ground often go unnoticed or under-appreciated. The American soldier has often lacked a voice to articulate his mission and his successes amidst the cacophony of defeat in Congress and public opinion polls. I invited warriors to weigh in with their perspectives, interviewing hundreds of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, many on the battlefields of Iraq. Together, their interviews constitute much of War Crimes: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy the Military and Lose the War on Terror. And the picture they paint of their fellow citizens at home is anything but rosy.Read Buzz’s posting, or better yet, check out his book for what soldiers have to say about the war within.
(Lots more commentary and review of War Crimes over at Dadmanly.)
The Army has a daily (well, Mon. - Fri.) electronic news roundup publication called "Stand To!". One of the features is called WHAT'S BEING SAID IN BLOGS and occasionally something I have written on my blog gets a nod... although not usually when I put up a rant... and especially when the rant is aimed at the Army. But I can always tell when my blog is linked because my site meter details has loads of pentagon, government and military addresses.... so I was a bit surprised that my latest rant about the treatment of Invisibly Wounded was linked.
It just boggles my mind that with all the attention and focus in the press and in Congress and at DoD on PTSD and TBI -- and after all the studies, recommendations, howling and shouting and all the press releases about how they take PTSD seriously and how they will care for these Wounded Warriors, that when the rubber meets the road, the Army still doesn’t get it.
Then again, maybe they were just interested in the link to the insurgent video (multiple angles) of the "holy $%^!&*" sized VBIED attack that wounded my son and one other two years ago?
All of it over at Some Soldier's Mom
Sources of Afghanistan information categorized here. Special guest appearance by Task Force Phoenix. Heh.
So I guess I have two questions: how did that leak to the Seattle Times (rhetorical) and is anybody in trouble for the contracting?
I once worked for a guy who complained that we in the Navy would send a blueshirt to mast for taking a government van through a McDonald's at the wrong time, but lose billions or lives in acquisition and nobody gets spanked. Look at A-12's ending. Who got fired, lost money within a decade, or went to jail? I looked into the problem, and it's a very hard one; the system is structured such that decisions made on the operator level cannot be done. That's a real shame.
There are good GOFO, average GOFO, and "others." Now and then you happen upon a great General Officer or Flag Officer. A true gem for his generation. I had the opportunity to briefly work with and talk with this man (and I mean that in its best definition) - and this email tells you a lot about his character - and why almost everyone who has known him would follow him anywhere.
On Chucks second anniversary of having been dead...he happened upon a piece of it...
About the time we finished, a very nice lady stood up from her table and told all of us thank you, and ordered us all to get a slice of pie on her. Turns out the restaurant also makes truly tasty pies--I had a slice of raspberry pie that tasted like they somehow filled a fully cooked pie crust with fresh raspberries. It was a perfect slice of pie.
Our checks came, and about the time I realized my $8 lunch was way too cheap for the quality, the server came by and scooped up the checks--for all of us. She explained that some of the regular customers had already paid for us.
I meant to add this comment to the earlier post, but it was either too long, or MT was having problems...
I served in Iraq as a Guardsman, so I read GEN Stultz's comments with great interest.
On the whole, GEN Stultz made some important points about Civil Affairs (CA), cultural differences, and so forth. I'm not sure, but I think he has some kind of personal agenda, because he mixes apples and oranges in the interview.
Clearly, the US Army can always learn new things when dealing with foreign cultures and tribal politics. And we are.
But the General needlessly conflates two entirely separate issues, that of treatment of Iraqi civilian populations and treatment of Iraqi soldiers during what could be described as basic training like conditions.
His statement that Iraqi soldiers would be offended by being yelled out is laughable in its separation from actual fact and reality. One of the unfortunate consequences of fascist like dictatorship -- and the kleptocracy that it bred -- as that military discipline was entirely replaced by naked power and fear. Iraqi soldiers knew the consequences of making decisions on their own, and doing anything other than exactly what they were told, and much they weren't.
They were often abused capriciously, and treated in ways that NO American or western military would tolerate. Worse than servants, they were often slaves to the whims and appetites of their senior officers, who themselves served at the complete pleasure and whim of the Baathist power structure, and especially, Saddam his sons and clansmen.
From what I saw, the NCO corps was non-existent, what few Sergeants Major or First Sergeants I saw or heard of were veterans of the Iran Iraq war with more holes and chunks missing (as in flesh blown or cut off) than you can imagine. They commanded respect to a degree, but they and their senior officers commanded through threats, intimidation, insult and corporal punishment. I suspect that still remains the most effective means of getting Iraqi soldier attention, although the "more soft" American approach is no doubt increasingly common for American trained Iraqi units.
That being said, I don't doubt that Reserve soldiers (and Guard as well) possess all manner of skills and work experiences that allow them to find other strategies for dealing with the challenge of changing attitudes, military culture, discipline, and other mission accomplishment. As a Guard First Sergeant, I took 160 soldiers to Iraq and back, most with some other job or career as their real job. The Army became their new job with Mobilization.
And yes, in that sense, we needed to reason more, explain, get buy-in, and otherwise use a more thoughtful and less forceful approach than many of our Active Duty counterparts (at least at first). That proved more effective, perhaps because few of our troops had been soldiers first, and our average age was over 35.
We never sacrificed discipline, or mission, but it sometimes took a few tries to implement unpopular decisions in peacetime/garrison/mob site -- In Iraq, that rarely happened and we lowered the boom immediately when it even came close.
But that describes how Guard leaders treated US National Guard soldiers. Americans have entirely different expectations than Iraqis, and that's really the point. The idea that Iraqi soldiers require anywhere near the amount of persuasion, respect, in fact any leadership style other than direct is contrary to my experience.
Again, I wonder at GEN Stultz's agenda with this interview; the idea that we're being too hard on the Iraqi Army is somewhat ridiculous.
Heh, Greyhawk still keeping his international man of mystery status in check.
I asked Brigadier General Livingston about the "pretty please" thing during this morning's OASD roundtable. He is with Task Force Phoenix, which is a force development mission that has been training Afghan military, and more recently police, forces. He's National Guard (SC).
He agrees that the diplomacy learned in the civilian world is something that has been very useful to him in achieving training results in Afghanistan. Getting people who aren't really subject to Western military discipline all moving in the right direction is an exercise in diplomacy, he says; but one that he understands due to his work in construction back home. You've got contractors and architects and plumbers and they all need to work together -- but they're also, finally, free to just quit and go home anytime they want, as the Afghans are as well.
He was quick also to praise the regular army and our Coalition partners, to be sure -- he didn't want a fight over the issue, and I don't want to give him one. I do think there's something to be said for the proposition, though.
A matter of poor intelligence work leading to bad target selection here.
Former Marines should probably wear warning labels...
Scott Ott emailed me and asked me to pass this around to reach those that would benefit the most.
Faithful ScrappleFace readers know that editor Scott Ott is also director of a Christian children’s camp called Victory Valley Camp, in Zionsville, Pennsylvania.
As an expression of gratitude for the sacrifice of our troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Victory Valley Camp is offering a free week of day camp (ages 5-to-11) or overnight camp (ages 8-to-13) for their children during summer 2007.
This offer applies to families of troops deployed to either of these theaters of operations during the 2007 calendar year. A week of Valley Day Camp normally costs $135. A week of overnight Camp or Outpost costs $335. For these families, we will charge nothing.
We’re doing this as an act of honor and love for these families who have given so much of themselves that the rest of us might live in a nation where we’re free to worship the Lord.
We appreciate that a week of camp for these children will not only provide a joyful time of God’s word in God’s creation, but it also offers a much-needed week of respite for the stateside spouse.
For more information, click the flag of the United States of America at VictoryValleyCamp.org
May the Lord bless the families and the troops who hold freedom more dear than life. We count it all joy, and a privilege to serve you.
Victory Valley Camp has no fund set aside for this effort. We’re doing it because it seems like the right thing to do. People who wish to help, may contribute online or by mail. To learn more, click here. But whether folks give or not, the offer stands.
If you know someone who would enjoy some fun in the sun share this story
Heh, opening up the place to give a better view
I'd like to hear a few takes on this story from the Telegraph...
Gen Stultz said: "The Army Reserve soldier had a different perspective of how to handle the situation from the active army. He said, 'the first reaction working with the Iraqi soldiers from the active army was the traditional drill sergeant approach: just yell at the guy.
"If he's not wearing his helmet at the right time, just scream at him. The Iraqi soldier wasn't used to that. In some cases they would be offended or indignant.' "
The general said the major had told him that "those of us in the Army Reserve who deal with the civilian population of America would never scream at a customer because I know he would just walk away".
Gen Stultz said that some Reserve officers developed a closer relationship with Iraqi soldiers than did their active counterparts. "You can't treat everyone as if they're an American soldier. Everyone's culture is different."
I suspect that "pretty please" just isn't going to help the Iraqi forces shape up and take control....
Michael Yon -- our intrepid boy reporter - is still in Baqubah and has riveting details of Operation Arrow Ripper. His reporting from Iraq continues to be a MUST READ for anyone interested in what's REALLY going on there (and should be required reading for Carl Levin, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, et al.!)
Media reports indicating that many top leaders escaped before Arrowhead Ripper began appear to be mostly true. But other information suggests some AQI leaders are trapped just down the road from where I write. In addition to the seven men who were caught trying to escape while dressed as women, there is information that some AQI leaders remain trapped in a constricting cordon.
Be sure to read "Drilling for Justice"
Pete Hegseth, an Iraq War veteran and executive director of Vets for Freedom has an editorial today in the Washington Post in response to Carl Levin's OpEd piece last week.
In his op-ed, Sen. Levin invoked the example of Abraham Lincoln, who endured years of challenges before finding the right generals and strategy to win the Civil War. After four years of uncertainty in Iraq, America finally has both the general and the strategy to turn the tide. The question is whether 2007 will unfold like 1865 or 1969.
Be sure to read Reality Check for the Antiwar Crowd.
I also have a few reminders from various news sources posted over at Some Soldier's Mom to remind all why we are in this fight... and why we must succeed.
Texas lawyer Beldar says this about lawyering, which I think illuminates a part of your point:
There's truth in Shaw's (character's) observation that all professions amount to conspiracies against the laity, but it's not the whole truth. A fair portion of this blog is critical of my profession, or elements of it. My second post about Mr. Smith started with a sentence acknowledging that lawyers are only occasionally effective at policing our own; I know that's also true of physicians, and it's probably true of other professions as well. Some of what should be "career-ending moves" go entirely unpunished, and many lesser transgressions do, and those all exact a substantial cumulative price from both laity and professionals. Conspicuous cases like these in which we've gotten it right are worth acknowledging.
Well, maybe not that Pluto - but there was another one which was, as set out here.
How do you handle offenses committed by junior soldiers versus those committed by more senior? How about enlisted vs officer?
A common misconception is that officers get away with things that enlisted don’t. That when an officer commits some form of misconduct, they are allowed to skate whereas the lowly(?) NCO gets hammered for the same conduct. You most often hear complaints like this from people that sign their names “John Smith, PV2 (Ret)” which should always give one pause.
To the extent there does exist a disparity in treatment, the real distinction is not between officer vs enlisted but between junior and senior. The 2LT fresh out of ROTC is more likely to get hammered and eliminated than is the E-7 just on the cusp of retirement.
And that’s perhaps the biggest factor in why some junior soldiers (O and E) may receive less favorable dispositions, retirement. When so much of military service is based on hitting that 20 year mark and becoming eligible for retirement decision maker (themselves eligible or near eligible for retirement) might not be willing to punish an individual twice, once for the actual misconduct and twice by taking away their retirement benefits.
There is a certain logic to it. Whereas the stated maximum punishment for an offense might be quite light, is it fair to then take away several hundreds of thousands of dollars from an individuals by denying them their ability to retire with benefits? That tends to change the calculus. Panels and separation boards certainly take it into account.
Is there a solution? Not really, so long as “20 years” remains a magic number, decision makers will continue to consider the effects of nullifying all that work for an offense that might not warrant such a heavy de facto punishment.
(I say all this as someone who is nowhere near that magic number.)
The sheer number of blogs and Web sites, and the viral spread of information on the Internet, makes gathering specific measures of effectiveness difficult, Barber said, but she gains confidence from subjective measures like MNF-I also constructing a YouTube page, or other federal government agencies inquiring about how to approach new media on their end.
<...>Barber expressed confidence, however, in the department’s posturing via new media advances and its readiness to adapt as necessary to continue best serving its primary audiences.
Apparently there's some engaging still to be had
At this point, nothing surprises me anymore.
Sometimes the big machine grinds slowly, but at least it's grinding. I think they're beginning to "get it."
HELEN - A camping trip to Low Gap Camp Grounds near Helen turned into a harrowing experience for Chris Everhart and his three sons when they tangled with a 300-pound black bear.
But it proved fatal for the bear.
The bear had taken the Everharts' cooler and was heading back to the woods when 6-year-old Logan hurled a shovel at it.
Fearing what might happen next, the Norcross father and ex-Marine grabbed the closest thing he could find _ a log.
"(I) threw it at it and it happened to hit the bear in the head," Chris Everhart said. "I thought it just knocked it out but it actually ended up killing the bear."
The man was given a ticket for failing to secure his camp site, said Ken Riddleberger, a region supervisor for game management with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Now I really cannot comment much on this story because it might seem unfavorable to the Marine who didn't secure his camp, however one cannot deny his good aim, but then, he's a Marine.
BTW, someone please inform the press, that once a Marine always a Marine, NOT an EX-Marine, unless his name is Murtha.
From: Ace Reporter
To: Foreign editor
Over the past several days I've noticed troops moving from their tents to the latrines and back again. This seems to happen at all hours, day and night. Not sure exactly what's going on, but I'll remain vigilant and inform the home office immediately upon discovery.
-Ace reporter, BBC
Photo exhibits, kidnapping, tribal anger, and wheat harvest results - all found here.
Maybe someone should be holding OpSec classes for journos?
This from the Telegraph about a potentially serious OpSec violation by the BBC... What were they thinking?????
And I can't even use the excuse that YouTube is blocked at work because I'm on leave this week.
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I think I'll just sit over here quietly in the corner for a few minutes...
Earlier this year, the Australian Navy showed how to handle Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen in the NAG:
The Defence Department has confirmed a report Iranian naval forces in the Persian Gulf tried to capture an Australian navy boarding team but were repelled in the face of machine guns and "highly colourful language".The Brits should have followed the Aussie example.
According to the BBC, the incident took place before Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized 15 British sailors and marines in March, setting off a tense two-week diplomatic stand-off that might have been avoided if Britain had learned from the Australian encounter...
...Quoting a "military source", BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner reports Iranian forces made a concerted attempt to seize a boarding party from the Royal Australian Navy and that the Australians "were having none of it".
"The BBC has been told the Australians re-boarded the vessel they had just searched," Gardner reports, "aimed their machine guns at the approaching Iranians, and warned them to back off, using what was said to be 'highly colourful language'.
"The Iranians withdrew, and the Australians were reportedly lifted off the ship by one of their own helicopters."
[Intel Source: ninme]
Here's some video from Afghan PRTs.
More of this, please.
If you really want to know what's going on in Iraq, GO READ THIS. It's from Michael Yon.
Our guys are tough. The enemy in Baqubah is as good as any in Iraq, and better than most. That’s saying a lot. But our guys have been systematically trapping them, and have foiled some big traps set for our guys. I don’t want to say much more about that, but our guys are seriously outsmarting them. Big fights are ahead and we will take serious losses probably, but al Qaeda, unless they find a way to escape, are about to be slaughtered. Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and that’s the plan.
Bookmark his site and check it every day. Go back and read what he wrote yesterday and the day before that and before that. He is in the thick of it in Baqubah. If you REALLY want to know, go. Read.
x-posted Some Soldier's Mom
BANGOR — Five hundred thirty-one soldiers stopped for a layover Tuesday afternoon at Bangor International Airport, but not one of them ate a piece of Debbie Bickford’s decadent peanut butter fudge — nor did any indulge in a homemade chocolate brownie or a Maine-famous whoopie pie.
Homemade treats long provided by the area’s volunteer Maine Troop Greeters disappeared at the airport about a month ago after BIA began enforcing a ban on such giveaways.
Last I checked Airports are funded primarily by Federal Taxes. Someone at the White House (I mean you George) needs to pick up the phone and call someone at the FAA and the Dept of Homeland Security and FIX this nonsense NOW.
One thing you can say about Marine leadership, they are clear, direct, and well - Marines.
Marines are getting too comfortable at their dug-in bases in Iraq, the Corps’ top officer told an audience at the Naval War College on June 13.
“Due to the available infrastructure in the Al Anbar and the longevity of our presence, Marines are getting used to living at fixed bases and with more comforts of life than we really need,” Commandant Gen. James Conway said in comments provided to Marine Corps Times.
“The comforts and the infrastructure of large bases in Iraq are a byproduct of our sustained presence there, and certainly do contribute to the morale of our Marines. However, Marines must guard against complacency and the expectation that tomorrow’s fight be marked by equally hospitable operating bases,” he said.
Given the choice, I suspect more than a few Air Force folks would forego the new Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) in favor of walking around in their underwear alone. While it looks fine, the ABU is heavier than even the heaviest winterweights of days gone by. Here (in mil-speak) is the bad news for any who hoped in vain for a lightweight edition suitable for, say, a desert climate:
The ABU will have a permanent crease and will be offered in 50-50 nylon-cotton blend permanent press fabric eliminating the need for winter and summer weight uniforms.Great if we invade Siberia, but it's especially unfortunate that people have to wear the damn things in the 120-plus degree heat imminent over here. (Those lucky enough to have them are still sporting the DCUs.)
Ask an Air Force guy how they like the new threads and they'll tell you in one word "hot". And the worst of summer is still to come.
Not just looking cool in my ACUs.
A soldier says to me, "the kid's got talent, but they really need to shut that academy down now." Wouldn't see that at West Point, he says.... Heh.
Noonan, I know you're a VMI man, but what say you?
Patriot from A soldier's Perspective points us to A MUST SEE VIDEO
Orphans Left To Starve In Iraq -- U.S. troops found an orphanage full of starving, neglected children in Baghdad, where it appears the orphanage director may have selling the facility's supplies to local markets.
This is just one of the many examples of what our troops do daily, Mr. Reid, Ms. Pelosi, Miss O'donnell and the rest that feel our troops are failing or believe our troops are the terrorists.
UPDATE: Labor and Social Affairs minister lashes out, calls the US Iraq's the enemy
Labor and Social Affairs minister of Baghdad does not except responsiblity for orphanage, instead lashes out, calls the US Iraq's the enemy. Says boys of orfanage are all perfectly healthy and report is a lie.
It isn't often that I stumble across some open source information about subject area I actually know something about. (As opposed to just talking out some rearward portion of my anatomy.)
Mike McConnell, US Director of National Intelligence (DNI), calls for a dramatic overhaul of the US Intelligence Community (IC) in the July/August edition of Foreign Affairs.
On July 26, 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act.
The DNI explains what that allowed:
With the proper tools and public support and the help of allies, the United States built the world's premier intelligence establishment. It put spy planes in the sky, satellites into space, and listening posts in strategic locations around the world. It also invested in its people, developing a professional cadre of analysts, case officers, linguists, technicians, and program managers and trained them in foreign languages, the sciences, and area studies.The DNI explains what went wrong since:
But by the time the Cold War ended, the intelligence establishment that had served Washington so well in the second half of the twentieth century was sorely in need of change. The post-Cold War "peace dividend" led to a reduction of intelligence staffing by 22 percent between fiscal years 1989 and 2001. Only now is staffing getting back to pre-Cold War levels. The National Security Act mandated that information be shared up the chain of command but not horizontally with other agencies. At the time of the act's passing, little thought was given to the need for a national-level intelligence apparatus in Washington that could synthesize information from across the government to inform policymakers and help support real-time tactical decisions. That reality, coupled with practices that led to a "stovepiping" of intelligence, arrested the growth of information sharing, collaboration, and integration -- patterns that still linger.Few Americans seem to have paid attention to ongoing efforts to reform, improve, and redirect the efforts of the US IC, as reflected most recently by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), which itself created the post of director of national intelligence (DNI), currently inhabited by McConnell. However much change has already been implemented, McConnell advocates for much more.
(For more excerpts from the DNI Article, and extended commentary, stop by Dadmanly.)
Andi, bumper stickers politics is starting to get to me. They tell you a lot about someone - but you expect some consistency. Take a look at what I had to spend what seemed like a decade behind in traffic the other day.
How you find Dale Earnhardt fan, Twoopherness, and Trekie all in one clapped out car? Just my luck.
When I finally passed him, on the right, I noticed that he had a goatee, two hoops in his right ear and a pot belly. We are the last, best, hope for the West....right?
We know all about Star Trek fans anyway.
If true, it pretty much blows the lid off of John Edwards claim that the Global War on Terror is nothing but a bumper sticker. Whether this video is truth or propaganda, the War on Terror is real, and we'll be fighting it for a very, very long time.
Oh, I mean some of us will be fighting it for a very, very long time. There are two Americas, after all.
Okay, how long have I been gone? These days I glance at my watch as often to see what weekday it is, or what day of the month as I do for the actual time.
There are two ways to roll into Iraq. The first is the most common from the past few years - you arrive, and work side by side with the person you're relieving for a few days, learn the system and all things that matter, and then he leaves and you've got it. This process is called RIP/TOA - Relieve in Place/Transfer of Authority.
But the surge is something new. There is no one to relieve; you build something from nothing, you determine how you're going to do business. You figure out where everything is and how to get anything done. You try to create your part of the system to be as simple as possible, and wonder - as everyone else does - why the hell everyone else but you is determined to make it as hard as possible to get anything done.
Within the first two or three days you realize that "we'll get that to you in two or three days" is a bullshit answer to any request you might be foolish enough too make, and is the same answer you'll get four days later. You learn that "The only guy who can authorize that is out doing _____" is code for "you're never going to get that done unless you do it yourself, even though you aren't authorized". And you do it yourself. And though you'll hear stories about "last time" you'll find no tangible evidence that this unit has ever been away from home before.
But somehow, when it comes time to write a weekly progress report, you'll find that last week's problems have somehow been solved (or rendered moot), and even though you've got a longer list of shortfalls this Friday you actually are making progress. And by week three you'll actually know how to make things work, even though you may wonder if it's because the system is becoming sane or because you are simply becoming one with an insane system.
And then it's week four, and chaos is routine, but deadlines have been met. And things are working, even though you had to stop everything for two days and learn a new system for inventorying all the shit you inventoried before shipping it over - and then inventory it again using the new system here.
And then inventory it again for someone else.
And not only are things working, but backup systems are working too - those had to be ops checked even earlier than you'd planned. And backups to backups are good to go too.
Her: When will you have time to write something?
Him: Two to three days - things should start to slow down...
Near the end of a 16-hour day. A PLAN has been made - the work of many. The work of many, working many hours. Then one guy makes A BAD DECISION without checking first with any of the many. The plan is about to unhinge, and with a simple glance at his output, I can see the future, and the future is bad. But it can be fixed. He awaits my praise for his efforts.
He knew better, he knew the system, or if he didn't it is long past time where he should have. This is not training, this is not practice, this is not home. Ninety percent of his damage is undone within hours, I'm there to make sure of it. No blood, no foul - this time. He gets one more chance.
Back to the tent, alarm set for 10:30, figured 6 hours sleep would be good enough. I set my own hours here - just work when I need to. But someone else had aniother plan, and a series of loud explosions woke me up about 8 AM. Not close enough to make me worry, but close enough to wake me up. Still don't know exactly what they were. Might have been our guys blowing up captured stuff - too many booms for it to be bad guys (I hope). So I showered (the day before the showers weren't working), shaved, brushed my teeth and came into work. It was too late for chow hall breakfast - if the bastards had struck an hour earlier I could at least have had food.
But what I did have was a rare brief period with nothing to do. So out of curiosity I checked something of which for the past weeks my time constraints have left me blissfully unaware - what sort of news America was getting from Iraq?
The answer? None.
Top US congressional Democrats bluntly told President George W. Bush Wednesday that his Iraq troop "surge" policy was a failure.Which was a pretty effective way to ensure no one in America would learn that a few days after that, we officially finished the "surge" part of the surge - and moved on to implementing strategy.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenged the president over Iraq by sending him a letter, ahead of a White House meeting later on Wednesday.
"As many had forseen, the escalation has failed to produce the intended results," the two leaders wrote.
"The increase in US forces has had little impact in curbing the violence or fostering political reconciliation.
The American commander in Iraq says his forces have launched new offensives against al-Qaida insurgents in and around Baghdad during the last 24 hours, making use of the last of the additional combat forces President Bush ordered to Iraq in January. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Baghdad.Unfuck yourself, Harry. All done!
General David Petraeus announced the offensives at a news conference on Saturday.
"Literally in the last 24 hours, we have launched a number of different offensive operations in the Baghdad belts in particular," he said, "and we're continuing a number of operations that have been ongoing in Baghdad itself."
General Petraeus says the operations are targeting areas that have been al-Qaida safe havens, and bases for launching car bomb attacks. "A fairly large, coordinated offensive operation, with all of these surge forces, has only just now been launched," he said.
The general said he is taking advantage of the fact that the last of the extra U.S. forces have finally arrived, bringing new capabilities he can use to go after insurgents on their home ground. He would not provide any details of the operations.
What does this comic strip have to do with tactics, a Chief of Naval Operations, a murder suspect and some great nicknames?
It's sorta tied together here.
Happy Father's Day to all... It was a very special Father's Day for one 3ID soldier...
Wander into a local higher HQ building near here (and I suspect this is true of more than one) and one of the first things you'll see is a memorial to the fallen, backdropped by a continuously scrolling slideshow with photos and information on Division's latest casualties of war. The faces represent a cross section of America, many are heartbreakingly young, and many of those who aren't leave young children behind. Each day new fathers without sons, and sons without fathers. Look hard enough at the screens and you'll see your own face looking back.
I'll pause on the occassions I visit higher, and I'm rarely alone in doing so. And I'll remain in that spot until I've seen every face, and felt the tearing of my heart from my chest. In the workaday bustle of that place, simultaneously in the midst and far removed from the grimmer aspects of this conflict, it would be easy to forget the far different reality that exists not far geographically away. But there the very familiar faces of the fallen bid greeting and farewell to those who would make decisions that will ultimately result in others joining their ranks.
One needn't wonder what they might say, given the chance. Their actions spoke louder and more powerfully than words ever could.
Some distant sunset, vision fading
And tired eyes gaze 'pon folded flags
While distant drums beat their refrain
Saluting fallen friends whose names
And youth will never fade
Here's to those on other shores,
for them live well, the price is paid
-- Iraq, December 2004
Blast from the past:
"We did not find any evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did. I believe that they did it on their own volition and I believe that they collaborated with several MI (military intelligence) interrogators at the lower level," Tugaba said.Maj Gen Taguba to Congress, May, 2004.
He's "real" - but...
Back in December The Nation magazine did a glowing profile on Appeal for Redress that included young Private Train:
A few of the antiwar dissidents lean more toward resistance than re-enlistment. Marc Train, 19, is an Army grunt stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and a signer of the Appeal. A native of Salina, Kansas, Train joined the Army right out of high school, convinced that he had no other real career prospects.We know that Appeal for Redress is an Astroturf campaign, begun by a Navy guy who joined so he could protest from the inside, and one might expect a few young GIs like Pvt Train to be fooled by the group. He certainly sounded like that sort when he left this comment on a reprint of The Nation's article at the Left-Wing web site Alternet:
Some of his comrades in the Third Infantry Division are scheduled to deploy to Iraq for a staggering third tour of duty. For Train, it will be his first--if he doesn't refuse. He says he wasn't very political before enlisting, but now he's been radicalized. He realizes now he joined the Army only to get a job and that he's grown suspicious of the Administration's motives for war in Iraq. "I think it's all about oil," he says. Train has made clear to his superiors that he's not happy about deploying to Iraq and might refuse to step over the line when the mobilization order becomes effective in January. He's already lost the security clearance for the intelligence job he was trained for, and he's now enmeshed in a series of official investigations. "I want separation from the Army because I don't want to be just a cog in the machine. I've registered as a member of the Socialist Party USA."
Asked whether he will refuse duty if not given the discharge he seeks, Train answers: "That's a very strong question for me, a very strong consideration. Right now, I'm about 70 percent leaning toward not going."
Signer of the AppealBut the reality is that Train, like Hutto, joined the military for just this purpose. Note that Train uses the nickname "Merchant_of_Menace" when he comments at Alternet - as in this example, from an article on pirate radio stations:
Posted by: Merchant_Of_Menace on Dec 23, 2006 11:25 PM
Just wanted to make a statement that I, Marc Train, signed that Appeal.
Further, if anyone wants to hear more Servicemember testimonials...
That links to the print version that will appear in the upcoming issue of The Nation.
How awesome is it to be quoted in a publication that you subscribe to?
RE: FCC: Give 'Em Back Their EquipmentThat odd use of quotation marks around the word freedoms might lead one to believe young Mr Train doesn't believe such things exist. Hardly a damning piece of evidence, even though it was posted a bit before this date:
Posted by: Merchant_Of_Menace on Aug 21, 2005 9:45 AM
Interestingly enough, Amnesty.org gave a recently favourable report on Chinese civil liberties, getting to a point where The Far East will rival the supposed 'freedoms' we have here in America.
On September 1, 2005, Marc Train was picked up at his house by a recruiter and delivered to the military entrance-processing station (MEPS) in Kansas City.But while that comment might seem a bit tame, this even earlier screed is a bit more revealing into the nature of the pre-military mindset of our hero. From an August 1, 2005 Alternet story on John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court:
So what's that make me?That strike me as an odd comment from a young man about to join the Army. But Train had strong opinions on a variety of topics beyond Supreme Court nominations and pirate radio, Here - just two weeks before entering Active Duty, he tries to sound off like he has a pair on an Alternet piece on military recruiters on school campuses:
Posted by: Merchant_Of_Menace on Aug 1, 2005 2:03 PM
Fear not. His savvy PR is no match for a real American, the folks who break every last of their fibers just trying to survive in this country, and then have to wake up and go to work the next day.
Folks, this is no time for throwing our fates into elected officials' hands in the mainstream parties, or any party for that matter. What has it gotten us?
An 'elected' government that cares little for our own fates as they send our best off to die in a pointless struggle against people that come from the same kind of poverty-stricken background as most of the military is made up of.
An 'elected' government that continues to import our living wage jobs overseas, and sabotages the efforts of labor unions(many of which are led by corporate sell-outs).
An 'elected' government which continues to give the federal government more and more powers akin to an oligarchy.
The list goes on, but my point is that ALL of you need to take YOUR fates in YOUR own hands (or hand...or...you know what I mean) and come together in your communities, make a stand, show 'em they can't snuff your existence out without a struggle.
RE: College gives you a more liberal mindAnd here are two more even earlier comments from July 30, 2005, left on an article about Oil Companies:
Posted by: Merchant_Of_Menace on Aug 13, 2005 2:33 AM
You know, the far-right always makes demons out of educated leftists, but they do need smart folks to preserve the elite's control. So, they figure, a healthy dose of mind-warping patriotism, courtesy of the DOD(that's Department of Defense for my liberal brethren who may have already been screwed by the looming 'Dark Age'), is just what they, the old elite, need, to raise a new generation of guards for the 'machine'.
RE: at least Iraq will have power!And then, barely a month later...
Posted by: Merchant_Of_Menace on Jul 30, 2005 3:47 PM
Your assumption that the insurgents would give a rat's ass whether or not we were actually doing anything to reconstruct the nation of Iraq's infrastructure is flimsy. These folks are pissed off that we invaded their country, regardless of what excuses we made to do it. They liked Saddam, and, interestingly enough, we've killed more civilians in our short couple of years being there than Saddam did during his ENTIRE RULE OF IRAQ.
If that's so hard to believe, why don't we have the Chinese invade us, and we'll see who cares whether they want to better our country or not (I would, but then again I'm no fan of the current government, anyway).
RE: at least Iraq will have power!
Posted by: Merchant_Of_Menace on Jul 30, 2005 7:54 PM
Let me say one more thing about America's 'ownership' of the world. They haven't been around to tell me to stop telling me to talk about revolutions against this country I've been posting up on this website for the past couple of days. I have advocated open revolution, and Bush himself gave folks like me the very means to, with no extension on the assault weapons ban after it expired awhile back.
This country has gotten far too arrogant for its own good, and its gonna take alot to make this a mature, responsible country that does good for its people, and I mean the majority, not those folks who generously donate to the Democrats and Republicans to pass laws and keep us down.
On September 1, 2005, Marc Train was picked up at his house by a recruiter and delivered to the military entrance-processing station (MEPS) in Kansas City.That's what Appeal for Redress is all about.
As noted previously, Train, like Hutto, is a guy who joined the military to do exactly what he's doing now. But if you want to believe this guy was a young sprout from Kansas who's eyes were opened to the evils of Democracy by Hurricane Katrina, be my guest.
If you can suffer through Sy Hersh's 9-page profile cum big wet one to MG Robert Taguba and find me one bit of new information within it, I'll give you a dollar.*
*Other than the fact that MG Taguba is five foot six, I did not know that before.
US Launches New Offensives in BaghdadIt's on.
By Al Pessin
16 June 2007
The American commander in Iraq says his forces have launched new offensives against al-Qaida insurgents in and around Baghdad during the last 24 hours, making use of the last of the additional combat forces President Bush ordered to Iraq in January. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Baghdad.
General David Petraeus announced the offensives at a news conference on Saturday.
"Literally in the last 24 hours, we have launched a number of different offensive operations in the Baghdad belts in particular," he said, "and we're continuing a number of operations that have been ongoing in Baghdad itself."
General Petraeus says the operations are targeting areas that have been al-Qaida safe havens, and bases for launching car bomb attacks. "A fairly large, coordinated offensive operation, with all of these surge forces, has only just now been launched," he said.
The general said he is taking advantage of the fact that the last of the extra U.S. forces have finally arrived, bringing new capabilities he can use to go after insurgents on their home ground. He would not provide any details of the operations. The general also announced the arrest of two key insurgent leaders in recent days.
I have a soldier son who has severe, chronic PTSD. I am someone who has had a heavy involvement in the past 2+ years with the DoD Mental Healthcare System, and I have a more than average knowledge of the topics covered within this report.
Nothing here is a surprise to me -- but don't get me wrong: I am and will remain eternally grateful that they are asking the questions and recommending corrections, even if my son will have left the service by the time any of the recommendations are implemented. However, anything that will improve the care and services available to our military and their families will help to strengthen our military and, therefor, our Nation.
I strongly recommend that anyone interested in or affected by the mental health of our service members take the time to read the 100 pages of this report and the recommendations. It is a thorough and exhaustive look at the problems of the system... but the proof is in the puddin'. Given the breadth of these recommendations (each of which will cost $$$), it will be interesting to see just how committed to this DoD and Congress -- and the American public -- really are. As you will see from my comments and personal experiences noted in red below, none of the findings is a surprise to me.
I want to hear some. Marines have strong arms, so we'll need to work at it with a will.
Seems like everyone wants to fight pirates.
'Course, some may have a bigger say in the matter than others.
Dr. Qasim's hospital upgrade, girl's school drive-by shooting, a bunch of dead Talib, and UN finger wagging - all found here.
I'm out here near Fort Lewis. Until now...we've been able to honor each fallen individually...as it should be.
May was a rough month. We can't have a individual ceremony for each of the fallen. It is not lowering for each that matters....it is to hear the bell toll that a sacrifice has been made.
In our small midwestern town a good man, a volunteer firefighter, died from an IED. Bill Bailey was his name. The fire department, and other spots in town, lowered their flag in mourning.
He was eulogized as a protector of his family, his community and his country. During the funeral service, his widow, Dee, was presented with her husband's military awards - a Combat Action Badge, a Meritorious Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
He put himself at risk for a reason.
Let's honor that reason.
Get the picture here.
I think you've got a powerful point in there. Let's expand it a little; it's not just lowering the flag, it's publicly fetishizing every casualty announcement from DoD, only mentioning friendly deaths on the front page, only discussing the dead. The dead are dead for a reason, and the reason is the important thing. Not only that, for every unfortunate with a grieving family, for every loss or wound, there are many others who came back and succeeded. How many acts of heroism, of compassion, of sheer bullheaded effort and forbearance are ignored in the popular narrative? How many fools with failed lives and a shred of DD-214 get the press when the successful veteran family gets ignored?
That the sacrifices of the families with a warrior returned intact are ignored is an exact parallel with the account of post-Vietnam era memes in the book Stolen Valor, and every bit as pernicious and dangerous to the health of the country. This results in minimizing the loss of those who die in service to the country, because it's not only about the loss. It's about the why of the loss and the gift those families have made to us and our comrades-in-arms.
Until we change that fundamental concept, flag up/flag down/flag sideways--it's not going to matter as much. We need to properly respect the sacrifices in the context of the reason our comrades put themselves at risk. To remove context--and merely state deaths in isolation--robs our fallen comrades of the "why" for what they, and their families, gave us.
Time to play my role as Skunk at the Flag Day picnic.
USAToday had a bit about States lowering the Flag to honor the fallen, each individual fallen - every time. I go into more discussion at my home blog, but I would be interested in the general consensus here, because I really think this is too much public grief-mongering and not worthy of a serious nation at war. Just too much. It seems to trivialize and cheapen the greater sacrifice. A bad habit to make, because the day will come when this nation is in a major conflict where there will be dozens to hundreds killed each day. Do we want to be a nation where the flag is at half-mast for years on end? Is that a nation with a victory mindset, or am I just jaded, cold, and heartless?
Andi, our pal has also been expounding on the competence of the generals (Pace and Petraeus) he voted for...
...the surge is a failure. A miserable failure.
What do we want?
When do we want it?
The anit-war types have themselves a new Poster Child...a Pvt Marc Train. Full article here.
Just a few problems with the article ....
After Basic Training, Train spent 16 weeks at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, learning to be an intelligence analyst. He was given an interim top-secret security clearance, and after an initial investigation, would have access to highly sensitive compartmentalized intelligence.
Ohh wow...he joined the Army and had a really high security clearance...only problem would have been that his background check would show this -
At one point, he was spent a month at Charter Mental Hospital in Wichita, Kansas. "I'm kind of a mamma's boy," Train says, laughing a little. "For 13 years, I put her through a lot... I never went to class and the school would call her job all the time. We'd get really frustrated and yell at each other. The cops would come and I'd get taken away to jail. My Mom always came to pick me up later, though."
He has a history of Mental Illness...history of trouble with the law and no High School Diploma...while the Army does accept GED holders...a 96B Intelligience Analyst has have a High School Diploma. The likihood of someone with a history of Mental Illness, and a history of trouble with the law getting an "Above Top Secret" security clearance is zero. Anything other than a minor traffic violation is a red line.
On September 1, 2005, Marc Train was picked up at his house by a recruiter and delivered to the military entrance-processing station (MEPS) in Kansas City. Nine days later, Train ended up at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he began a new life on September 9, 2005....As Train's boyhood was being smashed out of him by Army drill instructors, he watched Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rip through the Gulf Coast of the US.
Just a bit of a problem with the timeline here -
Katrina hit New Orleans on 6:10 AM on August 29th, 2005.
Train knew the threats were serious when he was sent to the rapid fielding initiative (RFI) and equipped for deployment.
The Rapid Fielding Initiative is a Defense Acquisition Program. It is not a "place" where people go to pick up body armor.
One would think the "anti-war" folks would have learned from Jesse MacBeth....if you're talking to someone with a history of Mental Illness and trouble with the law than the liklihood that they are delusional is a lot higher than having had a "Super Secret" job in the military.
I don't know if a Marc Train ever served in the Military....I do know that the MARC Train is the Maryland Area Rail Commuter Train.
Our old 'friend' Jonathan Hutto should have picked up on the disqualifiers for 96B in Trains narrative, and recognized it for what it was...a fraud.....but nooooo.....
Jonathan Hutto, Cofounder of the Appeal for Redress, didn't know about Train's plans, but no soldier makes the decision to go AWOL lightly, he says.All done!
The X-plane would be the size of a fighter and would be designed for a speed of Mach 6.5 -- 4300 mph -- at 100,000 feet. (The SR-71 Blackbird, retired in 1990, could manage up to Mach 3.3 in sprints at 85,000 feet). It would be powered by two jet engines -- bigger versions of the engine used on the Skunk Works' RATTLRS (Revolutionary Approach To Time-critical Long Range Strike) cruise missile -- integrated into ramjets.
If so, some one needs to tell Ares
Sorry felt an invasion of squids :~p
Where are you John?
Here's exceprts from his book:
p. 203. …Was I afraid of their possible buddies in the Taliban? No. Was I afraid of the liberal media back in the U.S.A.? Yes. And I suddenly flashed on the prospect of many, many years in a U.S. civilian jail alongside murderers and rapists.
p. 206. I looked Mikey right in the eye, and I said, “We gotta let ‘em go.”
It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lame brained decision I ever made in my life. I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a fucking liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit.
... and the Democratic underground are having a hay day
But to stay on point,
Some of what Marcus and Matt discuss are the ROE (Rules of Engagement).
Can't tell you how many stories I've read in the blogosphere or heard while visiting guys at Kleber about the Fk'd up ROE and how their buddies aren't hear to talk about it.
Now ROE have been around since the Revolutionary War and are necessary but isn't it about time they change these current restrictive rules and let our guys do their damn job?
I'm just saying. T.A.R.F.U.
Col Hunt has some thoughts here
Hunt says while visiting Iraq recently, he observed rules of engagement that required seven separate steps before a soldier at a guard post could engage the enemy. The last step, he notes, states that if the enemy runs away, the soldier does not have to go after him. <...> [The existing rules of engagement] have hamstrung our soldiers to the point where you've got the British, who had to ask permission to fire on Iranians who are taking captive their soldiers, and were told no. ...
The Marines have got this problem in Al Anbar Province ... and the Army's got this problem all over the place, from Afghanistan to here. ... We have forgotten how to fight. This is nasty business we're in, and we seem unwilling or unable to do that.
Col. Hunt also has a good read : On the Hunt: How to Wake Up Washington and Win the War on Terror
Hopefully someone in Washington reads it.
There's more to the story of seafarers being "kidnapped" off Somalia than you might think.
Some of the owners of captured ships are not completely innocent themselves since they intentionally put their crews at risk out of greed.
My reasoning here.
Lubber's Line provides an interesting example of why the DoD budget is higher than it needs to be and why nuke subs cost more than they have too in The Cost of Doing Business in New York:
The Navy continues to struggle with high shipbuilding costs, limited budgets and an aging fleet. The age of current nuclear submarines fleet will be particularly acute in coming years with the predominant 688 class nearing the end of their service life.
The fact that of one of the Navy's key vendors was looking to reduce costs should be welcome news to those in government concerned with controlling defense costs and the federal budget.
NOT SO for the Senators from New York.
One month after the BPMI's restructuring announcement Senators Clinton and Schumer of NY took action to stop the company's consolidation plans.
Next time either of the senators involved yaps about defense costs, remember this tale.
Folks like John wouldn't let us live it down.
The Air Force on Tuesday confirmed a report that in 1994 a military researcher requested $7.5 million to develop a non-lethal "love bomb" that would chemically alter the state of mind of enemy troops and make them want to have sex with each other rather than fight.Aerosoled weaponized Viagra with a Lavender twist? What can you say? Can you even have a professional discussion at a brief about possible Blowback? Ahhhhh, nevermind.
I'm just glad it was the Air Force.
Why, yes, that ship does have a destroyer silhouette painted on her side.
How did the world's fastest passenger liner end up being painted haze gray?
Some explanations here.
Grim has a rather scholarly post on Non-Kinetic Operations in the Centcom AOR here.
Having grown up in the news business...I'll through in my two cents on Inforatiom Operations.
Propaganda can almost always be recognized by the presence of emotives. Words chosen deliberately because they elicit an emotional reaction. A quality editor will strike emotives from hard news storys. If you find emotives in a "News Article" then it isn't a news article, it is 'propaganda'.
Normal everyday official "Mil-speak" is loaded with emotives.
The word "Combat" is an emotive. Delivering supplies in Mil-speak is a "Combat Logistics Patrol". I'm sure it is a seemingly neutral statement to someone with 10 years in the military. To people that have never served in the military..."Combat" anything means the intent of the operation is to kill the "enemy" or to a pacifist...kill people.
IMHO...the word Combat should only be used to describe various military activities whose prime intent was to kill or capture. I don't have any accurate statistics...but I would guess that 80-90% of "Combat Patrols" (negative emotive) could be reasonably and more accurately be described as "Security Patrols" positive emotives.
Another area that could use improvement is in the description of "Landmines". Various humanitarian organizations through out the world over the last 60 years have made the word "Landmine" a negative emotive...say "Landmine" and people instantly visualize an innocent child being blown up. Say "Improvised Explosive Device" and people don't visualize innocent children being blown up, yet the victims of "Improvised Explosive Devices" are frequently woman and children.
People who find and clear landmines are doing Gods work...even to the most ardent anti-war pacifist. Yet press releases regularly refer to "Route Clearance" operations and Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
We recently saw the State of Israel get roundly comdemned by various humanitarian organizations for using "Landmines"...no world condemnation for those who use "IED's" ...there is no "emotive" attached to the phrase "IED". Yet we continue to use the phrase IED.All done!
No DoD report, but the local paper says Cartwright in for Giambastiani.
Plus ça change:
The annual aerial show by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels — a San Francisco tradition dating back to 1981 that pumps millions into the local economy — is running into opposition from three local peace advocacy groups that are calling for a permanent halt to the popular Fleet Week flyover.
CodePink, Global Exchange and Veterans for Peace, Chapter 69, are working with Supervisor Chris Daly on a Board of Supervisors resolution to address concerns over the Blue Angels.
Daly acknowledged he is considering a call to halt the flyovers because, he said, “they seem dangerous and unnecessary.” Daly said he plans on introducing the resolution as early as Tuesday, but is still drafting the language. A resolution is not legally binding, but states a board position.
We get paid to defend San Francisco. It’s our job.
The rest of the country?
We’re doing that for free.
The New York Times published an Op Ed yesterday, written by Peter Rodman and William Shawcross, with the evocative title Defeat’s Killing Fields.
Rodman and Shawcross make a cause and effect comparison between Vietnam and Iraq and warn that Defeat in Iraq, as it did in Vietnam, will have disastrous consequences:
SOME opponents of the Iraq war are toying with the idea of American defeat. A number of them are simply predicting it, while others advocate measures that would make it more likely. Lending intellectual respectability to all this is an argument that takes a strange comfort from the outcome of the Vietnam War. The defeat of the American enterprise in Indochina, it is said, turned out not to be as bad as expected. The United States recovered, and no lasting price was paid.For such as need the lesson in latter half 20th century American History – and many rhetorical opponents of our efforts in Iraq surely need one – Rodman and Shawcross patiently explain exactly the catastrophe our abandonment made of Vietnam.
We beg to differ. Many years ago, the two of us clashed sharply over the wisdom and morality of American policy in Indochina, especially in Cambodia. One of us (Mr. Shawcross) published a book, “Sideshow,” that bitterly criticized Nixon administration policy. The other (Mr. Rodman), a longtime associate of Henry Kissinger, issued a rebuttal in The American Spectator, defending American policy. Decades later, we have not changed our views. But we agreed even then that the outcome in Indochina was indeed disastrous, both in human and geopolitical terms, for the United States and the region. Today we agree equally strongly that the consequences of defeat in Iraq would be even more serious and lasting.
(More excerpts and commentary back at Dadmanly.)
Michael Rubin writing on The Corner a few days back reported that the participants of the Prague “Democracy and Security Conference” issued a Prague Document. Contributors included former Czech President Vaclav Havel, famed Soviet dissident and Israeli Parliamentarian Natan Sharansky, and former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, and the document was immediately lauded by President Bush.
Rubin noted the following points:
1. To demand the immediate release of all non violent political prisoners in their respective countriesOh, Rubin also has something to say to those who pretend to care about human rights and “prisoners of conscience” the world over:
2. Instructing diplomatic emissaries to non-democratic countries to actively and openly seek out meetings with political prisoners and dissidents committed to building free societies through non-violence.
4. Raising the question of human rights in all meetings with officials of non-democratic regimes.
5. Seeking national and international initiatives, in the spirit of the Helsinki Accords, that link bilateral and international relations to the question of human rights.
8. Isolating and ostracizing governments and groups that suppress their peaceful domestic opponents by force, violence, or intimidation.
9. Isolating and ostracizing governments and groups that threat other countries and peoples with genocide or annihilation.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, European Union, Middle East Studies Association, BBC: Your silence is deafening.The more I reflect on this document, the more it reminds me of former President Carter’s attempt to premise much of US foreign policy on human rights, an exercise of quixotic proportions often viewed by conservatives as naïve.
Aside from what anyone might think of such attempts to isolate and ostracize dictatorships through moral condemnation, it amazes me that President Bush has formulated one of the most idealistic foreign policies of the past 100 years. What irony that many of those who most denigrate the Carter Presidency for naïve idealism so strongly support President Bush and his more “assertive” attempts to promote democracy. Likewise, note how those who should be Bush’s allies internationally rather condemn and excoriate him, and elevate Carter as a sage.
The many inconstant on Left and Right pick their heroes and villains first, and then justify their passions. There no doubt is some ancient term for such phenomena.
(Cross-posted at Dadmanly)
General Peter Pace will be replaced as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I can't help but wonder if this Army wife had something to do with the decision.
Seriously, we wish General Pace well.
Salamander, mon frère- I think we find ourselves in violent agreement on most issues.
My arguments regarding international law (of which I generally hold a very jaundiced view) and what I suspect are the ROE governing ops off Somalia are not that the rules are right, but rather that if you know you are going "hunting pirates" that the skids should be greased for "hot pursuit" well before you find yourself facing a captured merchant ship with hostages. Lay the diplomatic foundation first or announce ahead of time that which you suggest - that due to Somalia's inability to control its own waters, others will step in as needed. I can see no reason why such a decision should be left a CO to make on the spot. Although, if it was- then I think in this case the CO of Carter Hall made the right call.
I vigorously disagree that once hostages are taken in a situation in which a pattern has been established that it may be better to take the risk of having the hostages killed rather than let them be kept by the pirates awaiting ransom. I am certain that if I were one of the Danish crew of Danica White I'd appreciate you not making your point of defending freedom of seas with my life.
Which leads me to my real point, which is one of prevention of ship captures instead of the tail chasing "hostage rescues." To that end:
If I were the "anti-pirate" king, I'd offer up a voluntary convoy system for shipping entering into what long has been labeled a "danger zone" off Somalia. If no one on active duty remembers how to do convoy ops, I still remember how from my days in Naval Coordination and Protection of Shipping (or whatever it is now known as) and will volunteer to come back and help work the problem, though I also know that many NATO forces still have both the personnel and knowledge to do it if asked/tasked. In a similar vein, I have long argued for escorting UN food ships headed to Somalia. I am amazed that the UN has not sought coalition help in getting food to the thousands of starving innocents whose lives are threatened by these pirates.
A little forehandedness would go a long way in preventing ship captures.
Speaking of which, I understand the small ship shortage issue. I fail to see how sending lumbering amphibs (no disrespect intended) without other, faster, more appropriate assets is helping the problem. Why there aren't a a few Intermarine MV85s operating with an LSD is beyond me. Or why there aren't armed helicopter assets to respond to distress calls before a ship is taken by pirates?
Let me plan the next "pirate troll" and I promise to come back with scalps. But first let me take care of the handcuffs of international law and have access to something other than low speed high drag ships armed, essentially, with popguns. If we are serious about hunting pirates and terrorists at sea, let's develop a "hunter-killer" group armed with proper tools.
Went through Chinfo's alphabetical list of U.S. Navy ships and culled out the USNS, MV, submarines, minesweepers, amphibious ships and cruisers to get to the numbers of "destroyers" and "frigates" and "coastal patrol" ships. There are 86 ships listed below the break, 9 of which are PCs the remaining 77 being DDG or FFG.
I'm sure the list is probably not completely accurate, but assuming 1/3 deployed, 1/3 in workup or standown and 1/3 in yard or RAV, there's a lot of ocean being "covered" by too few ships.
We should be spending some serious money on small ships like the aforementioned MV85s and developing a "sea base" mothership (gee, like a destroyer tender?) for ops like pirate hunts and other littoral fun.
1. USS ARLEIGH BURKE DDG 51 NORFOLK, VA
2. USS BARRY DDG 52 NORFOLK, VA
3. USS BENFOLD DDG 65 SAN DIEGO, CA
4. USS BOONE FFG 28 MAYPORT, FL
5. USS BULKELEY DDG 84 NORFOLK, VA
6. USS CARNEY DDG 64 MAYPORT, FL
7. USS CARR FFG 52 NORFOLK, VA
8. USS CHAFEE DDG 90 PEARL HARBOR, HI
9. USS CHINOOK PC 9 LITTLE CREEK, VA
10. USS CHUNG-HOON DDG 93 SAN DIEGO, CA
11. USS COLE DDG 67 NORFOLK, VA
12. USS CROMMELIN FFG 37 PEARL HARBOR, HI
13. USS CURTIS WILBUR DDG 54 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
14. USS CURTS FFG 38 SAN DIEGO, CA
15. USS CUSHING DD 985 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
16. USS DE WERT FFG 45 MAYPORT, FL
17. USS DECATUR DDG 73 SAN DIEGO, CA
18. USS DONALD COOK DDG 75 NORFOLK, VA
19. USS DOYLE FFG 39 MAYPORT, FL
20. USS ELROD FFG 55 NORFOLK, VA
21. USS FIREBOLT PC 10 LITTLE CREEK, VA
22. USS FITZGERALD DDG 62 SAN DIEGO, CA
23. USS FORD FFG 54 EVERETT, WA
24. USS GARY FFG 51 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
25. USS GONZALEZ DDG 66 NORFOLK, VA
26. USS HALSEY DDG 97 SAN DIEGO, CA
27. USS HALYBURTON FFG 40 MAYPORT, FL
28. USS HAWES FFG 53 NORFOLK, VA
29. USS HIGGINS DDG 76 SAN DIEGO, CA
30. USS HOPPER DDG 70 PEARL HARBOR, HI
31. USS HOWARD DDG 83 SAN DIEGO, CA
32. USS HURRICANE PC 3 SAN DIEGO, CA
33. USS INGRAHAM FFG 61 EVERETT, WA
34. USS JAMES E WILLIAMS DDG 95 NORFOLK, VA
35. USS JARRETT FFG 33 SAN DIEGO, CA
36. USS JOHN L HALL FFG 32 PASCAGOULA, MS
37. USS JOHN PAUL JONES DDG 53 SAN DIEGO, CA
38. USS JOHN S MCCAIN DDG 56 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
39. USS KAUFFMAN FFG 59 NORFOLK, VA
40. USS KLAKRING FFG 42 MAYPORT, FL
41. USS LABOON DDG 58 NORFOLK, VA
42. USS LASSEN DDG 82 YOKOSUKA
43. USS MAHAN DDG 72 NORFOLK, VA
44. USS MASON DDG 87 NORFOLK, VA
45. USS MCCAMPBELL DDG 85 SAN DIEGO, CA
46. USS MCCLUSKY FFG 41 SAN DIEGO, CA
47. USS MCFAUL DDG 74 NORFOLK, VA
48. USS MCINERNEY FFG 8 MAYPORT, FL
49. USS MILIUS DDG 69 SAN DIEGO, CA
50. USS MITSCHER DDG 57 NORFOLK, VA
51. USS MOMSEN DDG 92 SAN DIEGO, CA
52. USS MUSTIN DDG 89 SAN DIEGO, CA
53. USS NICHOLAS FFG 47 NORFOLK, VA
54. USS NITZE DDG 94 NORFOLK, VA
55. USS O'KANE DDG 77 PEARL HARBOR
56. USS OSCAR AUSTIN DDG 79 NORFOLK, VA
57. USS PAUL HAMILTON DDG 60 PEARL HARBOR, HI
58. USS PINCKNEY DDG 91 SAN DIEGO, CA
59. USS PORTER DDG 78 NORFOLK, VA
60. USS PREBLE DDG 88 SAN DIEGO, CA
61. USS RAMAGE DDG 61 NORFOLK, VA
62. USS RENTZ FFG 46 SAN DIEGO, CA
63. USS REUBEN JAMES FFG 57 PEARL HARBOR, HI
64. USS ROBERT G BRADLEY FFG 49 MAYPORT, FL
65. USS RODNEY M DAVIS FFG 60 EVERETT, WA
66. USS ROOSEVELT DDG 80 MAYPORT, FL
67. USS ROSS DDG 71 NORFOLK, VA
68. USS RUSSELL DDG 59 PEARL HARBOR, HI
69. USS SAMUEL B ROBERTS FFG 58 MAYPORT, FL
70. USS SHOUP DDG 86 EVERETT, WA
71. USS SIMPSON FFG 56 MAYPORT, FL
72. USS SIROCCO PC 6 LITTLE CREEK, VA
73. USS SQUALL PC 7 SAN DIEGO, CA
74. USS STEPHEN W GROVES FFG 29 PASCAGOULA, MS
75. USS STETHEM DDG 63 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
76. USS STOUT DDG 55 NORFOLK, VA
77. USS TAYLOR FFG 50 MAYPORT, FL
78. USS TEMPEST PC 2 LITTLE CREEK, VA
79. USS THACH FFG 43 SAN DIEGO, CA
80. USS THE SULLIVANS DDG 68 MAYPORT, FL
81. USS THUNDERBOLT PC 12 LITTLE CREEK, VA
82. USS TYPHOON PC 5 LITTLE CREEK, VA
83. USS UNDERWOOD FFG 36 MAYPORT, FL
84. USS VANDEGRIFT FFG 48 YOKOSUKA, JAPAN
85. USS WHIRLWIND PC 11 LITTLE CREEK, VA
86. USS WINSTON S CHURCHILL DDG 81 NORFOLK, VA
I have returned. Not quite MacArthur going ashore in the Phillipines, but the News is back nonetheless. Go here to find out more about French cuisine vs Afghan bureaucrats, murder most foul, mosques serving as vaccination centers and defiance of the Talib through volleyball.
I personally wouldn't say "sacrificed to the altar of LCS and DDX" as I would "we didn't buy small ships". Hi-low mix never won the battle against the high-only guys, and our smallboy numbers were in foul shape long before LCS showed up. Heck, even DDG-51 started life on paper as FFG-51 until they decided it needed antiair. I'm just wondering how much risk we've thought we took, versus how much we actually took, building fewer ships which are capable but not everywhere at once.
Although I admit DDX née DD21 née SC21 has been around about forever, and how big is that thing again?
As I said, this is easy to do, Eagle1, because we weren’t there; but this is how we learn lessons – and admit you are having fun with the give and take!
The FF and DD you want are all scrapped, sunk, sold, worn out, or waiting to be decommissioned. Sacrificed to the false gods of LCS and DDG-1000. We have what we have – and the 1,000 Ship Navy is just that – a position paper.
I acknowledge your points about territorial waters, always have, but Somalia is not Canada. They do not control their own land much less their seas. They are a failed state whose territorial waters are controlled by a pirate fleet – because no one else is. This problem has been known for a long time – your home blog has been all over it for years. The inertia of bureaucratic lawfare has prevented the International Community from fixing it. Now we have pirates commerce raiding from a safe haven. What we are doing right now is not working. Mother ship or not. They are winning.
As I have expanded on my original post, the logic of “not doing something because someone might be killed” would have the FBI providing fully fueled aircraft and seabags full of money to everyone who holds a hostage.
When it comes to the permissions issue, I shall not comment beyond what is out there in open source (BTW, the gun fire use last week was enabled by permission by the “leader” of the unrecognized state of Puntland, not Somalia). Again, love ‘ya like a brother Shipmate, but your lawyerness is showing. We will have to agree to disagree.
There is a solution to this pirate issue off Somalia – a simple declaration that until a time Somalia has the ability to patrol its won waters, the US Navy reserves the right to pursue any pirates into and in Somali territorial waters. (with today’s day and age and with forethought – easy to do). Other nations are free to join us if they wish. Maritime nations can opt out of rescue if they wish.
Have some JAG on the Joint Staff wordsmith it, but you get the idea. Better than what we are doing now. At this rate, the Somali pirates will beat the fleet gathered by the SMS Emden without anyone doing anything.
As for the initial press reports about the French ship; if I was the French LNO to C5F, I would be doing a nice old-school “modification” to the C5F PIO’s coffee mug about right now for letting the 5th Republic take the hits for the better part of a day.All done!
I think he's talking especially to Lex. That's a heck of a post.
From an email from reader Toluca Nole, subject line the same as this post:
There's a guy that goes to my pub who was there -- also has four Purple Hearts, I believe. Smokes Marlboro Reds and drinks some strong, "old man" drink. I love seeing him.
Would that more people had the same feeling about our war vets - especially, I think, the draftees, but all of 'em, really. Not to glorify war - but to acknowledge their loss of innocence.
No one comes out of combat innocent.
And many of the people who decry war in any and all it's forms - live in an innocent world *bought* by the loss of innocence of others.
Your mileage may vary.
My response to Toluca was this:
Next time you see him, walk up to him, salute him, and tell him it's from me.
I've also got a caption contest you might have fun with.
A couple days later, at a different PB, second platoon had some dumb terrorist try and hit them with a suicide car bomb. He drove past their patrol base, which was about a kilometer away from us, realized that he couldn't get past their security measures, and just blew himself up about 30 meters away from their house. It was so big it rocked us into thinking we were getting hit. What an idiot. This illiterate ass probably sucked at life, got duped into thinking he could get a ticket to heaven, got a class on some boom boom, was told where to find us, drove there and wasted himself on a fireworks show that hurt no one and pretty much damaged nothing. Turns out he sucked at jihad too.A newspaper account of that would probably appear thusly in a bottom paragraph of a story on the American death toll: "Elsewhere in Iraq a suicide car bomber struck near an American outpost in ____. Casualty figures have not yet been officially released."
Well, where to start? Every red blooded surface line officer would like bold action over being forced to stand by and watch pirates take a ship. Sort of the "kill them all and let God sort them out" approach.
Neither of us was there and neither of us knows the marching orders the allied ships were operating under. And it is too easy to speculate about what "shoulda" been done.
The CO of Carter Hall seems to have done what he could given the tools he had available and the risk of endangering the hostages if he acted further. That he was driving a large, slow amphibious ship seems to me to be part of the problem, but you do what you can with the tools you have. Where were the small boys?
As to your point about violating territorial waters to save life and limb - you had an obligation to do so. Rescue at sea is mandated by the law of the sea.
On the other hand, chasing pirates in another nation's territorial waters is forbidden.
Why? I could come up with a few reasons, most of them inapplicable to Somali waters (but mostly spelled "sovereignty"}, but my guess is that whoever Carter Hall is working for emphasized adherence to UNCLOS Art 111, para 3: "3. The right of hot pursuit ceases as soon as the ship pursued enters the territorial sea of its own State or of a third State."
I'm sure there was a lot of weighing and balancing going on, but I'm also sure that if he had violated Somali water against orders and the hostages had been killed, his aggressiveness would not have been rewarded nor praised. Especially since the pattern of the Somali pirates has not, with rare exceptions, been to kill hostages but to hold them for ransom. At some point the risk harm to the hostages by attempting a rescue exceeds that posed by the pirates.
As for the French ship - we don't even know, based on initial reports, what type of ship it was. If it was an oiler, do your comments still apply? And the French ship driver had the same constraints as the Americans.
You ask, "[W}ho would have complained if the French warship had saved the Danish ship and its crew? Besides the pirates, who? " Probably no one. However, as long as we are engaging in "ifs," answer this- Who would have complained if the French (American) warship had recaptured the Danish ship at the cost of its crew?
Someone got expeditied permission from somebody in Somalia to allow a destroyer to shoot at suspected terrorists in recent days, so it seems possible that permission to extend the pirate chase might be easier to attain than you suggest. A simple "pergra" or request for help from the recognized Somali government is all that is required.
There is a solution to Somali pirates operating in international waters. Coalition forces need to find the "mother ships" that allow these pirates to operate 240 miles off the coast and take them down. And Coalition forces can provide escort services for informal convoys along the coast. Set up a schedule and invite the merchant ships join up.
Eagle1 - I non concur.
You will wait forever if you want to work something out with the Somali Provisional Government. The simple fact is that the waters off Somalia are incapable of being governed by Somalia (or Puntland or Somaliland). Period.
CTF-150 and France should hang their head in shame that they let a ship and Sailors from an allied nation be taken like that in ungoverned waters without resistance - only mindless slavery to regulations that are not even followed in that part of the world lets this stuff happen. The French were acting as if they were off Canada.
Having done it myself, violating territorial waters to save life and limb, especially that of your own Nation or friend, is not unheard of. If you wait for permission for someone else to declare that the sky is blue - it is too late. Some things are worth a Command Pin or a complaint through diplomatic channels.
Let me ask you this: who would have complained if the French warship had saved the Danish ship and its crew? Besides the pirates, who? What war would have been started? What ill would have been done? Who would send the Captain of the French warship to Courts Martial? Ok, the French might - maybe - but still.
Would you stand-by and let it happen? If so, why? Is not an officer expected to show judgement?
Well, it is worth pondering - and easy - because I wasn't there.
Jack Kelly picks apart a NYT report of the stopped terror attack at JFK.
Why is it the errors always lean in one direction? And why do we ignore stuff like CNN's slanting the news for Saddam, as they admitted in '02, or the Israeli state news admission this week that they slanted the news for withdrawal in the IS-HB war?
You may have noticed that your comments are not showing up, or that they have gone into moderation. Some of you may even be getting automatically junked (like mine). :~0
This is due to the recent spam swarm that came thru and adjustments needed to be made to MT's junk status. This however seem to also catch our trusted commenters as well. I hope new adjustments fixed the problem.
If you experience any problems please let me know.
Any and all Moveable Type geeks are welcome. please
While the news seems to consist mostly of first reports, and thus inherently suspect, it appears that a large amphibious ship, USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) at least attempted to render aid to a Danish ship, Danica White taken by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
See here and here for some details and additional links.
The standard practice for these pirates is to capture ships and then ransom ships and crews. Last reports had ship anchored off Hobyo, but the pirates move the ships regularly.
An "A" for effort to Carter Hall, especially given her limitations.
Note to the State Department: How about getting together with whomever we believe is in charge of Somalia and get a waiver of the ban on "hot pursuit" in Somali territorial waters? (Explained here)
This great Boston Globe story about two guys deciding to take some action on a flight from Minneapolis to Boston is too good not to share. It begins:
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff | June 5, 2007
Shortly before landing, Bob Hayden and a flight attendant had agreed on a signal: When she waved the plastic handcuffs, he would discreetly leave his seat and restrain an unruly passenger who had frightened some of the 150 people on board a Minneapolis-to-Boston flight Saturday night with erratic behavior.
Hayden, a 65-year-old former police commander, had enlisted a gray-haired gentleman sitting next to him to assist. The man turned out to be a former US Marine.
"I had looked around the plane for help, and all the younger guys had averted their eyes. When I asked the guy next to me if he was up to it, all he said was, 'Retired captain. USMC.' I said, 'You'll do,' "Hayden recalled...
The rest of the interesting tale is here at the Boston Globe. You just have to see Mrs. Hayden's comments at the end of the piece (they're priceless).
Those "younger guys" Mr. Hayden mentions should be ashamed of themselves...
For the husband of fellow Angel and Milblogger Kat Orr, who is currently in the ICU after collapsing from heat stroke. Kat is one of those rare selfless individuals who has devoted a good portion of her life to helping others. Please go over and leave a message of support.
With all twisted and distorted facts you'd expect.
Listening Post -Iraq war info clamp down
This link to us, sent a whopping 2 vistors. Need I say more.
The Battle of Midway (June 4 to 6, 1942) and the path to
it are remembered here by the U.S. Navy.
UPDATE: Steeljaw Scribe has a nice Midway series you can get to by going here.
Secret enemy agents attack a transportation link in what can be considered a form of asymmetric warfare.
No, not JFK International - this happened much earlier, as set out here.
Story unfolding... AQ plot to attack JFK Airport, New York...
IMHO...which is quite humble.
We will have Soldiers in Iraq until at least 2023...if not 2043...and alternative date is 2028. Realistically it takes a society at least 40 years to recover from babarism. The Iran/Iraq war resulted in 1% of the combined populations being killed. No living person in the Western World can conceive of 1% of the population being killed.
Lots of healing to do.
CNN is reporting that a Navy destroyer conducted a fire mission into northern Somalia, targeting a "suspected al Qaeda operative believed to have been involved in the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania". From a later Reuters report on the story (which has not been confirmed by the U.S. military):
The destroyer's guns appeared to be targeting a single person, perhaps moving in a convoy, according to the report.If the story has any basis in fact, here's hoping they shot straight and true.
A Pentagon spokesman would not comment on the details of the CNN report.
"We recognize the importance of working closely with allies to seek out, identify, locate, capture, and if necessary, kill terrorist and those who would provide them safe haven," said spokesman Bryan Whitman.
"The very nature of some of our operations, as well as the success of those operations is often predicated on our ability to work quietly with our partners and allies."
Looks like some of us are starting early this year.
Who is this war hero?
Courtesy the Tank (with analysis) is a report of one of those VVAW guys getting criticized for being out of uniform for a political goal. VVAW guy apparently got a little mouthy to a commissioned officer when called on it, too.
Check out the quote from the guy:
"I love the Marine Corps," he said. "I always have loved the Marine Corps, and that is why I'm particularly offended to see it being used for political ends."
A little uncomfortably close to Waziristan is a team of guys, led by a submariner type, which is Doing Good Work. Note what they're saying about the situation so close to the border and during the "big Taliban resurgence":
"Good security is vital for the PRT's mission to be successful," said 2nd Lt. Cory Marr, platoon leader for 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment, Arizona National Guard, who provides security and maneuver support to the Khowst PRT.
The security is beginning to take care of itself, he said.
The overall security in Khowst has improved greatly, which is the result of locals seeing the many improvements that have come in the past year, the fruit of their efforts in securing a safe environment. This has allowed the PRT to extend its reach, he explained.
"There's no place we're afraid to go," 2nd Lt. Marr said. "We work with the Afghan National Security Forces and get plenty of intelligence from the locals. For instance, we stop at police checkpoints as we enter an area, and they update us on the local situation. We always have a good understanding of the areas we're going into."
"In some of the more remote places we go, the locals have become extremely helpful to us," said Spc. Doug Schletz, an infantryman in 2nd Plt. "They used to look at us like we were aliens, but recently they've seen what we're here to do for them, like seeing us helping the ANSF provide security for many of their events."
This increased security is so successful, international reconstruction agencies and foreign investors that have, in the past, shied away from helping Afghanistan due to safety concerns are being drawn back, Cmdr. Adams said.
Of course Arkin misspells the name of our favorite milblogging public figure from OPFOR. (So now in the space of months, he's gotten his name, rank, and job gotten wrong in the MSM--so much for the legions of fact checkers!)
Yah, next time I do a media spot I'm just going to tell them that I'm Air Marshall Noonan, Chief of the Air Force's legendary Zepplin Bombardment Group. We'll shove it down the pipe and see what comes out the other end.
BTW, is Mrs. G going to make her recent (and frequent) appearances more regular? Cause y'know, I'm totally down with that.
Also, since this post seems to have no purpose whatsoever. Did anyone announce the results of the Milblogger March Madness bracket? I lost to Jimbo by ONE FREAKIN' POINT and I'm still pissed. Stupid Georgetown.
A young Iraqi seeks shelter behind a U.S. soldier following a suicide blast.
HT: Gateway Pundit.