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Thanks for the very nice link. Seems lots of folks are asking the same kinds of questions.
Rep. Murtha, that Code Pink-certified veteran, was consistent in his objections going into and out of Somalia. No mention of whether he accused Marines of shooting innocents in "cold blood" for that event.
I'm not sure the number of bodies in place is the correct metric. Do you need armed troops to establish a security space? Aid workers? Lawyers? Forensic accountants? The need differs in different places, and I would argue that this also has some parallels in the post-World War Two occupations combined with the Marshall Plan actions (which were myriad and complex) as well as turn of the century pacification. For the eternal "runup to Iraq" argument, Countercolumn has a persuasive set of arguments and a comparison to Algeria.
The other issue is what you want to do in the place you land. If it's Haiti, I'd argue that the culture would have to change before there stopped being periodic political disasters there. If Somalia, you have to change the culture by breaking the "me against my brother, my family against my tribe, my tribe against the others" mentality. If Zimbabwe, it's reestablishing some kind of normalcy before the hyperinflation and socialist destruction kill huge numbers of people.
Lots of angles to discuss this stuff, indeed.
Representative John Murtha accuses our Marines of killing "innocent civilians in cold blood."
Rep. John Murtha, an influential Pennsylvania lawmaker and outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, said today Marines had “killed innocent civilians in cold blood” after allegedly responding to a roadside bomb ambush that killed a Marine during a patrol in Haditha, Iraq, Nov. 19.
The incident is currently under investigation, but Murtha already has the facts.
The incident is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Multi-National Forces Iraq.
The Marine Corps originally claimed that a convoy from the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, hit a roadside bomb that killed Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, of El Paso, Texas, and the ensuing firefight killed 15 Iraqi civilians — casualties the Corps at first claimed were killed in the bomb blast — including seven women and three children.
A March 27 Time magazine report published claims by an Iraqi civil rights group that the Marines barged into houses near the bomb strike, throwing grenades and shooting civilians as they cowered in fear. The report prompted calls for a Pentagon probe.
“It’s much worse than was reported in Time magazine,” Murtha, a Democrat, former Marine colonel and Vietnam war veteran, told reporters on Capitol Hill.
“There was no firefight. There was no [bomb] that killed those innocent people,” Murtha explained, adding there were “about twice as many” Iraqis killed than Time had reported.
No official investigation report has been released by the Pentagon and a spokesman for Murtha was unable to add to the congressman’s remarks.
The Marines respond.
“I do not know where Rep. Murtha is obtaining is information,” said Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Central Command in Tampa, Fla. “Thoroughness will drive the investigation.”
More from Murtha.
Murtha said combat stress prompted the Marines’ alleged rampage.
“It’s a very serious incident, unfortunately. It shows the tremendous pressure that these guys are under every day when they’re out in combat,” he said. “One man was killed with an [improvised explosive device] and after that they actually went into the houses and killed women and children.”
Let the media orgy begin.
UPDATE: Original TIME story can be found here.
Let's keep in mind that no matter the outcome of this investigation, it has an effect on all of our troops. Given Murtha's latest comments, the media will no doubt fan the flames, leaving those on the ground to deal with the fallout.All done!
Navy Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr, Commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, takes us Inside Guantanamo Bay. He concludes the tour with this:
The U.S. government remains committed to not detaining any person any longer than is absolutely required. We are, in fact, outright releasing or transferring detainees to their home countries and other nations willing to accept them. In my reading of history, simply releasing enemy combatants during the course of an ongoing war is unprecedented..
Despite articles written by defense attorneys and young translators arguing the contrary, these are, in fact, dangerous men in our custody. Make no mistake about it--we are keeping enemies of our nation off the battlefield. This is an enormous challenge. These terrorists are not represented by any nation or government. They do not adhere to the rules of war. That said, we treat them humanely, in full compliance with all laws and international obligations.
The young Americans serving here in Guantanamo are upholding the highest ideals of honor and duty in a remote location, face to face with some of the most dangerous men on the planet. Your readers should be proud of them. I am proud to be their commander.
A new shipment in Kandahar. YIPPIE!
Support for Warlords? Posted on this a couple of days ago here.
Note that the President of Somalia was elected by the "warlords' parliment". The article reports:
Abdullahi Yusuf has been elected the new President of Somalia by the warlords' parliament in Kenya. President Yusuf, himself a warlord and leader of the autonomous Puntland region, was hailed by the Somali MPs but described as a "war criminal" and "dictator" by others. Somaliland fears renewed tension after Mr Yusuf's election.
As some unnamed source says (more or less) in the WaPo piece, it's a mess in Somalia.
UPDATE: Though this post generally refers to the Somali piracy issue, there is some good insight (provided by an outfit named Protocol, which is self-described as a "private intelligence and security specialist company") into the situation in Somalia. Maybe someone else can support or challenge Protocol's work.
Speaking of Small Wars, go give a cruise around Small Wars Journal. Good men over there.
More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, officials of Somalia's interim government and some U.S. analysts of Africa policy say the United States has returned to the African country, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu.I always wondered what the hell that "warlord" bit was about - even back when the Marines first landed. Obviously the Somalis don't speak English as a primary language, so is there some equivalent term they use for their leaders that actually translates to warlord? Or is it the equivalent of "mastermind" - another overused journalistic device?
By the way, I anticipate no outrage at all about the revelations in this story. You'll find the headline rather vaguely supported at best, but if we're taking sides there - so what?
Reffing hawk's post below, I hereby nominate Justin Timberlake for the human tests of Noonan's man cannon....SPLAT!
Guess who's starring in Stop Loss:
Ex-boy-bander Justin Timberlake is reportedly furthering his movie career by signing on for his first leading role in the war drama 'Stop-Loss.'
"Justin is thrilled about getting his first leading role," said a source. "It is a huge challenge for him and he's excited as well as nervous."
My friend, Mike Tucker of Gunner Palace, recently posted about the movies that Hollywood will be making in the future.
Mike's post at GP is here - War at the Movies. Check it out.
He points to a New York Daily News article about the upcoming movies about Iraq...and, hold on to your seats!, as far as I can tell, they're all *gasp!* negative. Check this out:
...Tom Cruise has optioned and may star in "The Fall of the Warrior King," based on a New York Times story about a disgraced Army commander in Iraq. Ron Howard is scheduled to direct "Last Man Home," about the search for a missing American G.I. there. Ridley Scott will produce "The Invisible World," about a kidnapped female journalist, and "Boys Don't Cry" director Kimberly Peirce will helm "Stop-Loss," which centers on a soldier who doesn't want to go back to Baghdad.
Just last week, Deborah Scranton's documentary "The War Tapes," made by New Hampshire National Guardsmen with hand-held cameras, won the top prize in its category at the Tribeca Film Festival.
But racing reality is not without its fears for "Crash" screenwriter Paul Haggis. "I'm scared out of my wits," Haggis told us. "Which I think is a good thing for a filmmaker, or any artist." Just last week, Haggis completed the script for "Death and Dishonor," about a father searching for his son who went missing on the way home from Iraq. He's also directing a screen version of former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke's book "Against All Enemies."...
*sputtering* "Tom Cruise"?!
"Stop-Loss" the movie?!
PS - BTW, the War Tapes is an exceptional film. Then, again, Hollywood had nothing to do with it.
I know there are only 3 of us forward at this time and by looking at some of the topics, there doesn't seem to be much going on here in Iraq. While you guys back home are all figuring out these arm chair battle plans, us guys on the ground are actually doing work on some serious tactics and improvements that you can't find on CNN. We have implemented a few changes to the Marine Urban Battle Strategy manual (MUBS). Here's a picture of the new text book Marine Fighting Position developed for hot desert environments (psss, don't tell anyone).
1: You have to remember the moment in time. The problem was "how."
2: 100% correct. Clinton's Bay of Pigs. Avoidable.
3: Disagree. It drives me nuts when people throw out a 500-700K number. It is a poison pill. The logic train goes like this.
- You need 500K.
- You cannot sustain that level for any length of time beyond 1 cycle without substantial international (read German, Indian, etc) personnel or an immediate draft and full mobilization.
- You will not get the international divisions. An immediate draft will not happen, nor will full mobilization.
- You will not get 500K.
- You don't invade.
History did not begin in 2001, or 2003.
Read Chap's piece (found via link below). The two blocked quotes he places together near the beginning tell you just about everything you need to know about how we got to where we are today.
Once you've followed that link above, I offer three statements to discuss (or simply ponder):
1. We should not have gone into Somalia
2. Once in Somalia, we should not have fled.
3. We should not have gone into Iraq with less than a half-million shooters.
Without going into deep explanation:
Without the hindsight knowledge of 2, I was uncommitted on 1. I completely agree with 2, and disagree with 3. (My positions are unchanged from the moments these events happened.)
The small war approach may not work in Iraq, but it had to be tried, and it hasn't failed yet. I acknowledge that many have strong feelings to the contrary. We really haven't applied all our potential "might" to the larger war, and failure in Iraq as small war may eventually require us to do so on some unknown future battlefield (Somalia? Sudan? Iran?) of the GwoT, in much the same way as failure in Somalia was but one point on the line that led to 9/11 and beyond.
Ummm, John. Is this really the crowd you want to say "Man Cannon" around?
There has been an ongoing battle at Columbia University to get ROTC reinstated on the campus. There are many veterans enrolled at the university and they have a very active Milvets organization. About a year ago, the students' governing body rejected the proposal to restore ROTC to the campus.
Shane Hachey, a U.S. Army veteran, a 2004 graduated of Columbia University's School of General Studies and a current student at Harvard Law School. sent this letter via e-mail on May 6, 2006, the 1st anniversary of the senate vote against ROTC, to all members of the Columbia University Senate. Shane is a long time advocate for ROTC and the military community at Columbia University.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the ROTC Task Force,
I would like to say a few words about the possibility of returning ROTC to Columbia’s campus. There are several issues here that have been ignored or poorly addressed, and I think that I can help clarify some of them. Just to put my background on the table, I graduated from GS last spring, and am in my first semester at Harvard Law School. I joined the Army right after high school, spending five years as an Army Military Policeman. I was stationed in Germany for several years and spent nine months patrolling the Bosnian/Croatian border in 1996 enforcing the Dayton Peace Accords while attached to NATO. Much of what I have to say in this letter will be covered in an opinion piece that I submitted to the Spectator, but I am not sure if they will print it. I apologize for any redundancy.
First of all, I think we should question the wisdom of getting rid of ROTC in the first place. I know that many at Columbia view the school’s history of protest with pride, and I largely agree—my father is a Vietnam veteran, and I appreciate the effort of the thousands of people who worked to help bring people like him home and to end the war. However, I think some skepticism is in order. I know that during the last few years of the war there was increasing pressure to end the college deferment, an action which would have put privileged Ivy-Leaguers on the front lines with high-school dropouts. I think it is legitimate to ask to what degree radical Columbia students were protesting out of principle and to what degree they were protesting to save their own skins. Having seen the fear, confusion, and anger exhibited by Columbia students when faced with the mere possibility of a draft in the wake of 9/11, I can only imagine that a real draft funneling men to an ongoing war would have a similar, compounded effect. Again, I am not questioning the legitimacy of Vietnam-era protests in general or even on Columbia’s campus, but I think the possibility that the motivation behind ROTC’s banishment was less (perhaps far less) than noble or well-reasoned should factor into considerations of whether to return the program to the campus. Besides the motivation, I think it would be relevant to look into the actual and potential benefits of kicking ROTC off campus. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but that is really a research project that I haven’t looked into and don’t have the time to read or write about. As it appears on the surface, an administration caving in to angry students out of fear seems to be one of the least sensible reasons for doing anything at a university.
And the 3rd consecutive (annual) Columbia Spectator Editorial Board has endorsed the return of ROTC and military recruiters to Columbia University. Read "Staff Editorial: Opportunity Disguised":
This is not the first time the return of ROTC has been endorsed by the Columbia Spectator... and a 2004 poll showed that 2/3 of the student body supported the return of ROTC. However, the "elitist" student senate overwhelmingly voted in 2005 -- amidst a spate of anti-Iraq war diatribes -- to block the return of ROTC to the Columbia Campus. A Senate voting against the wishes of those they represent? Sounds like the next generation for higher office...
There are a number of proposals kicking around... Before anyone gets their undies all twisted, these proposals are only prospective - for future enlistees... This from "No More 20-Year Retirements?" in the current issue of "Military Officer" Magazine from the Military Officers Association of America
DoD PANELl RECOMMENDS SWEEPING CHANGES TO MILITARY COMPENSATION SYSTEM.
The Pentagon’s Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation (DACMC) used its final public hearing Feb. 28 to announce preliminary recommendations for sweeping changes to the military compensation system.
DACMC’s recommended changes (most of which DACMC envisions as applying only to future service entrants) include:
Although the committee’s recommended changes would not be imposed on the current force, the DACMC proposes offering current members the option of participating in the new retirement system.
Undersecretary of Defense David Chu has indicated the DACMC’s recommendations would be turned over to the 10th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC). Chu has said he plans to send Congress at least one of the DACMC’s recommendations separately — extending the pay table to 40 years of service.
MOAA’s perspective is that most of these proposals have been reviewed or recommended by any number of military compensation reform panels over the last 40 years. The practical reality is that proposals to apply civilian-style retirement systems to the military haven’t been adopted or haven’t worked because military service conditions are so much more severe than civilian working conditions.
The 20-year retirement (and 20-year vesting) system was enacted in the belief that there has to be a significant “carrot” to draw highly capable people to serve for at least two decades under conditions that most Americans want to avoid even for a short time. Conditions such as the present high-deployment environment sometimes put that system to a severe test.
Congress changed the law in 1986 to reduce 20-year retired pay for new entrants in 1986 (that also was touted as “encouraging longer service”). But the change had to be repealed in 1999 after the Joint Chiefs of Staff complained it was hurting retention.
If today’s 10-year servicemembers facing a third Iraqi deployment were under this DACMC-proposed system, they would be mulling a choice between (a) separating and taking a significant chunk of their retirement with them, or (b) waiting until age 60 to get an annuity if they continued serving.
MOAA suspects that situation would generate some ugly retention figures. We’ll be very interested to see what the QRMC does with this recommendation.All done!
Major John: Dude, like totally go check out the sample track one on this old album It's these dudes in Vietnam and the Captain is trying to get some volunteers for this totally bogus mission.
John N/Steve S (if you is indeed two people): Where is America's elite? They is off gettin' educated in the gooder schools, from whut I here.
I would respectfully submit that 'America's Elite' are currently dirty, sweaty, thirsty and tired in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere...but 'elite' may be a subjective interpretation of perspective. I sit rather confident in my character-based perspective.
I agree with John that a nice start to including the 'elite' (perspective check) is allowing the ROTC on an Ivy League campus or two. I would, however, take that a step farther and energetically argue that any collegiate educational institution expressly disallowing ROTC activities be 'expressly disallowed' federal funding of any type. As an educator, allow me to add that yes, private institutions recieve federal funding...it's called Federal Tuition Assistance. The federal government will not issue loans for a student to pay an institution unless that institution meets some strict guidelines, which are routinely inspected.
If they cede that too, then by all means, ban the ROTC. It's a free country.
I tried to find Karpinki's Female Soldier's Die from Dehydration nonsense. Couldn't find any evidence whatsoever. Karpinski may be the proof that the Pentagon was sending mentally unstable people to Iraq.
"The EU3-plus-three political director meeting has been postponed to allow for further preparation on the EU3 offer to Iran," the ministry spokesman said. "We are not able to confirm the new date just yet."
Hmmm...Perhaps we shall offer them two reactors.
Note to self: Iran's nuclear program is not for sale. Non-negotiable. How many times can they tell me before I get it?
No worries. We still have ten years. Whew...
In a recent military.com op-ed, Kathryn Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaffer call for class integration in the military, arguing that America's priviledged is playing hooky when it comes to military service.
Now, we are trying to make the case to that privileged culture that serving in the military is not just about personal preference, but for the good of the country. But we notice that the effort to broaden the class-base of the military -- to include more members of the upper middle classes -- is not necessarily popular among those who serve. Who needs em? is how this position can be summed up. In other words, if someone has neither the need, because they have better options, nor the desire, why should they serve?
Okay, easy fix fellas. Allow ROTC back at Ivy League schools. Seems like an easier solution than whining about this ambiguous "priviledged class."
Major John asks, "I wonder if the folks that would have gone to the Naval Reserve in peacetime are going to the Marine Reserves now?"
Eagle1 notes that submariners are volunteering for duty in Baghdad.
This is consistent with my observations in the Navy Reserve before and after our deployment to Kuwait. In the months leading up to our mobilization, we had a big influx of sailors volunteering to join our unit, because they wanted to be "part of the action." Many of these were Seabees and ex-Marines; we even had one guy who was a veteran of the French Foreign Legion.
After we got back home, we experienced major attrition. Some of this was for the usual reasons: rotations had been delayed by deployment, and some folks just decided they couldn't stay in the Reserves for personal or family reasons. But a substantial number left our unit because we were entering a "down period," and they wanted to keep contributing. Some of these people went to other NCW units getting ready to deploy. Others transferred to the Marine Reserves, or even went back on active duty. One guy ended up in the *shudder* Army.
Why is the Navy Reserves having so much trouble with recruiting? Probably because we're not perceived as major contributors to the war effort. Contrary to popular belief, most people don't sign up for the paycheck -- especially not in wartime.
They sign up because they want to serve.
I once was disinvited from a shipyard meeting after using the expression "sand-crabs" but here the term takes on a different meaning as three intrepid submariners do Iraq:
The gritty, sandy soil of Iraq, far from any ocean, is an unlikely place to find a trio of submarine Sailors.BZ to them and to other sailors who are going feet dry in Iraq.
And yet these three undersea warriors have joined the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT) in that war-weary nation in a daunting mission. Trading their duties in the relative comfort of shore stations in the United States for the unexpected perils and occasional rewards of a front-line position in the Global War on Terrorism, the three submariners have exchanged their coveralls for desert camouflage to help rebuild the Iraqi military and its infrastructure. Headquartered in Baghdad, CMATT works under the guidance of the Coalition Provisional Authority to supply buildings, weapons, equipment, and training for Iraq’s new security and defense forces.
ETC(SS) Jason Taggart, YN2(SS) Randy Murray, and YN2(SS) Karl Rosenkranz, who served together onboard USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730), volunteered for this unique assignment. After a week of training and processing at Fort Bliss, Texas, they climbed aboard a plane for Kuwait and then moved on to Baghdad.
UPDATE: And, yes, I should note the article is from a couple of years ago, but the point remains the same. Good people are out there doing good things.
Poppy? Who has time to worry about poppies? Every 20th plant in this vineyard was for the farmers, uh, hash stash...
It's stunning how many people respond to questions on Iran's 'nuclear window' by citing the all-too-comfy ten-year prediction that appears in the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate. But the suddenly-credible intel powerhouse analysis flies in the face of...hold on...IAEA head Mohamed ElBaredei. I scratch my head in wonder when thinking how few bothered to notice in December that ElBaredei (yes, ElBaredei) gave the shortest known 'credible' timeline for Iranian nuclear weapons production.
James S. Robbins has written an important piece putting the CIA's own nuclear projections track record into perspective. (Hint: Not Pretty.) Way back in December, we also took a very close look at ElBaredei's projection of a nuclear-armed Iran in less than three years. Links to both can be found here. Pay attention. It's free.
The Naval Institute hides a lot of its articles behind a subscription firewall, which is counter to the concept of disseminating ideas to people. Which may well be why their 'eForums' are all empty and we've got so many squids on this blog.
The firewall means people will not be able to see things like this interesting piece from a guy who is figuring out why this "sea basing" thing might be really, really cool.
However, current events and certain cultural and religious trends combine to suggest that creating and maintaining a fixed land base of operations in the region may be at best problematic, and at worst impossible. The sea, the last international commons on the planet, provides ample room for maneuver and defense, and it is an arena in which the capabilities of the United States, in the form of its Navy, are unmatched. When combined with the strike capability of its sister service, the U.S. Marine Corps, the resulting expeditionary strike group provides ample capability to continue to influence the direction of the new economic heartland in Southwest Asia for years to come.The Army guys in the Horn of Africa sure liked hot meals, showers, and getting their helicopters repaired at sea...
Inspired by Lex's "good on ya" to our Aussie allies, I wanted to give a shout-out to the group that I worked most closely with at CENTCOM -- the Poles. They really hung it out there for us, both politically and militarily. They took command of Multinational Division Center South for 2 1/2 years in Iraq, and are still there helping the Iraqis. Plus, their special forces guys (GROM) kick some serious butt.
The volunteering Eagle 1 is doing here with enthusiastic support is similar to what's driving a lot of folks to show up the next day at the same job in a tie here at my current work, and also driving people to work in places like Blackwater, Titan, FedEx and KBR. With 20 year retirements and 'up-or-out' policies, we've got a lot of folks in their forties and fifties who are capable of doing good work but are no longer of the active service. As a future retirement check collector, I don't want to wait to 30 to be vested; but as a taxpayer, we're wasting some opportunities here.
Anyone know if there are rumblings like that now that civil service reforms have started?
On OPSEC, before I hit the hay.
Did you all see that we were quoted in some Russian newspaper a few days ago?
You never know who's reading....
Because we don’t say it often enough, thanks for being at our side. We know it’s not always popular everywhere you go - but you should know it’s always appreciated here.
The US president and Australian prime minister have reaffirmed their alliance in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after talks at the White House.
Australia’s John Howard told President George W Bush Canberra was committed to supporting a lengthy war on terror.
Good on 'ya, mates. Buy yez all a beer, sometimes.
A Michael O'Hanlon article got me steamed, so I started writing, and next thing you know there's thousands of words on the blog.
Now discussion on the concept resulted in another multithousand word essay on the mechanics of making a genocide prevention corps.
Somebody stop me before I blog again. My fingers hurt...
The This Is Not Amnesty plan (with or without the 1st Border Battalion) will put 100 Million New Legal Immigrants on a path to citizenship by 2026. That's a 1/3 population jump purely by influx, not including natural birthrate or current illegal immigrants. Consider also that CIRA would reverse the current Visa measure by which the majority of lmmigrant Visas (80%) are currently awarded to professionals (doctors, engineers, programmers, etc.), and the majority will instead be awarded to more needy unskilled laborers, and nearly all permitted permanent residency convertable to citizenship. Doesn't sound much like 'Temporary Guest Workers'.
But remember, what President Bush "just described is not amnesty." I really don't care what it's called. Call it Cure for Cancer. I don't want any.
One-Third of our current population. Think about that long and hard.
Is this what we have cheapened American Citizenship to? If so, can someone please then inform me what the hell we are fighting a global war on multiple fronts for? What exactly are we defending if our own very citizenship is reduced to junk bond status?
During our chat last night, Michael Yon asked me something that has been itching my brain all day.
"Where are all the British milbloggers? The Aussies? The Canadians?"
I gave him one, The Cabarfeidh Pages, which is a British blog. That was the only non-US milblog that I could think of.
For whatever reason, whole phenomena hasn't seem to have caught on with our English-speaking allies. I kinda wish it would.
Also check out Canadian Heroes.
640 troopers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment recently stood in a mass formation, all with their right hands raised, reenlisting in your Army.
Hundreds participated in a re-enlistment ceremony Friday, standing bolt straight on the shiny wood floor in a Fort Carson gym, raising their right hands and swearing they'd do anything to support and defend the United States.
Retention is key to keeping the Army's formations filled with combat experienced Soldiers and building leaders of the future. It is also a great gauge of a unit's morale. Looks like morale is pretty damn high in the 3rd ACR.
THE GOOD NEWS: On the active duty side, retention is historically high and all four services exceeded their recruiting goals for the eleventh month in a row.
THE BAD NEWS: Among the reserves and guard components, only the Marine Reserves and the Air National Guard met their recruiting targets in April. The big loser is the Navy Reserve, which only got 75 percent of their goal.