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Bill Roggio, via email:
One of the reasons I started this venture because I believe an education about the nature of the fight is our greatest weakness. Many often look at this war as a fight in Afghanistan, sometimes Pakistan, Iraq if we're lucky. I provided an update on the major theaters in the Long War, and in some minor theaters were are often not familiar with. I called the post "The State of Jihad." It is a one to two paragraph roundup of developments in the theaters over the past year.
My reaction here.
Saddam reaches the end of his rope - Jawa has the video. (No, it's not the CNN version).
The striking thing about this is the room. A dark little chamber somewhere in Baghdad, a fitting doorway to sheol for a man whose entry was long overdue.
Below the fold, a still clip received via email. I debated a few moments with myself over whether I'd share all this, but a lot of folks here went to considerable effort to make this happen.
Sic Semper tyrannis? If only that were true. This will certainly do for a start.
HOWZ-E MADAD, Afghanistan -- Sweltering heat in the summer, frigid cold in the winter, sleeping in the desert and the ever-present threat of Taliban attacks doesn't seem to be a downside for some Canadian soldiers serving here.
As a matter of fact, with the end of this rotation coming up in February, a number are already talking about coming back for another tour of duty.
Forty-four Canadian soldiers have died in this war-torn country since 2002 and 2006 has been the bloodiest year for our troops since the Korean War.
But individuals like Cpl. Mark Ejdrygiewicz, 22, of Lethbridge, Alta., believe a six-month tour isn't long enough to get the job done.
"On this six month tour we did a lot. There was a lot of progress made: Op Medusa and down in Panjwaii and the districts there opening up the schools and building highways," said Ejdrygiewicz, known as "Edge" to his patrol mates, as he rode in the back of a light armoured vehicle near Howz-e Madad.
"We're doing what we can but we know the Taliban are going to come back. Winter's here and they've gone back to Pakistan," he said, taking a drag from his cigarette. "We've got a foothold on the ground in the area but in the back of your mind you know they will be coming back and it will be another threat."
And Ejdrygiewicz takes his job very seriously. Written in felt pen on the cover of his helmet in Pashtu is "Taliban Relocation Service," a tribute to fallen comrade Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh, who was killed by an accidental rifle discharge last summer.
O' Canada. Displaying the resolve of the Poles.
The Jessie MacBeths of the world have always been with us. Visit any local bar and one will find an array of individuals who blather on endlessly about experiences they never had.
The greater question is why are they elevated to 'Hero" status?
Voltair(a pretty smart guy) said, "If God didn't exist we would have to invent him."
In general people who have a God have an omnipotent power to put their faith in, a framework of good and evil, and a mechanism for accepting things that have no clear explanation..I.E. God's Will.
Greyhawk's reference to the X-Files is pretty close to the mark.
The entire X-Files series was based on a single predicate event, the unexplained disappearance of Moldurs sister, an event for which no rational explanation is available to Moldur. We are then treated to an endless parade of conspiracy theories, supernatural forces, evil alien beings etc as we watch Moldurs mind attempt to rationalize what he can not accept, his sisters disappearance.
Pacifists can not accept war for any reason. It is a fundamental part of their belief system. We are treated to an endless array of conspiracy theories as they attempt to rationalize something they can not accept.
Socialists believe that all evil is the result of the failings of society, they also treat us to an endless array of evil government conspiracy theories.
Ms Sheehan's descent into insanity is entirely predictable, being a pacifist, no justification for war could ever exist. Her son dieing in a war is outside of her belief system. If the "evil" George Bush didn't exist, her mind would create him.
For a socialist, Jessie Macbeth's life story is a litany of everything wrong in America, a family that failed him, an education system that failed him, a social safety net that failed him. They can't accept that no one is smart enough to design a perfect system where no one ends up like Jessie MacBeth. If the "evil" men in Washington that allowed Jessie MacBeth to become the loser he was didn't exist, they would have to create them. Exploiting Jessie MacBeth by turning him into a stone cold killer is just further evidence of the evil of those in power.
As a psychological construct, it is easier to attribute almost omnipotent, malevolent powers to those than accept the imperfection of humantity.
I will offer SD's corollary to Voltair's postulate.
If the devil doesn't exist we would have to create him.All done!
Of more than 20 major actions in the Pacific during World War II, she was there for all but two. She was bombed, hit by Kamikazes and fought on and on, for a time as the lone operational carrier in the Pacific.
She became the most decorated ship of the war.
Sailors know who she was, but you can find more here.
Blair himself also recently caught another one in the act - a small timer, perhaps, but I don't mind shining a little extra light on any of these cockroaches.
That one inspired this response from Iraq vet Diggs at 4 Mile Creek.
Regarding the question Diggs asks, the desire to pretend to be a real GI Joe isn't always a political ploy (gaining a few bucks in unearned VA benefits is probably the prime motivator for most, a desire to simply con folks or a desperate need for acclaim probably accounts for much of the rest), but those who do pose for purely political reasons tend to be lefty, anti-war extremists. Maybe that's just part of the pose? It's possible that since these folks don't really know much about the military they've been duped into believing the Hollywood/media fiction of the recalcitrant soldier. MacBeth might fit this category (I've provided a link to the definition in case he wanders by and wants to see if he's been insulted or not), but Micah Wright and this Mike Hudson clown? Not so much.
But the left is absolutely vulnerable to these types because they desperately "want to believe" (que X-Files theme). Witness the real clowns in the Jesse MacBeth story - his "battle buddies" in the IVAW and the chump that made him a video star.
But it should also be noted that the sharper lefties are now avoiding the "stolen valor" problem by planting their own "instant heroes." (More recent news on that story here and here, for those who may have missed the updates.)
The body of Saddam Hussein was handed over Saturday to a delegation representing the tribe of the former Iraqi president, Al Arabiya reported, citing unnamed sources...Here's how they reportedly came for the pick-up:
Members of the delegation met with advisers to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the governor of Saladin Province and his deputy, the television station said.
The tribal elders want to transfer the body to a cemetery in the Al-Ouja section of Tikrit, where Saddam Hussein's relatives, including sons Uday and Qusay, are buried.
Sheikh Ali al-Nida, head of the Bou Nasser tribe, led a delegation that traveled aboard a U.S. government airplane to Baghdad.And, according to the same story, his last words were "Muqtada al-Sadr".
"This dark page has been turned over," al-Rubaie said. "Saddam is gone. Today Iraq is an Iraq for all the Iraqis, and all the Iraqis are looking forward. ... The [Hussein] era has gone forever."But...
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who didn't attend the execution, used it as an opportunity to plead for national unity to ward off deadly sectarian violence which is straining Iraq's fledgling government.
"In the name of the people I call on all men of the past regime and manipulated by it to reconsider their stances," al-Maliki said in a written statement released after the execution.
Deadly car bombs Saturday struck a mainly Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad and the southern Shiite town of Kufa, officials said.Elsewhere:
Millions of Muslim pilgrims performing the Hajj in Saudi Arabia have thrown stones at three pillars representing the devil, as part of a ritual.CNN is concerned the hanging might create a rift between Sunni and Shiite Muslims:
New security measures have been added in an effort to control the movement of pilgrims and prevent stampedes that have killed hundreds in the past.
2006: 345 die in a crush during a stone-throwing ritual
2004: 251 trampled to death in stampede
2003: 14 are crushed to death
2001: 35 die in stampede
1998: At least 118 trampled to death
1997: 343 pilgrims die and 1,500 injured in fire
1994: 270 killed in stampede
1990: 1,426 pilgrims killed in tunnel leading to holy sites
1987: 400 die as Saudi authorities confront pro-Iranian demonstration
Arab pilgrims in Mecca expressed outrage on Saturday that Iraqi authorities had chosen to execute former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on a major religious holiday, saying it was an insult to Muslims.
Sunni Arabs at the hajj were shocked at Saddam's hanging which followed his conviction for crimes against humanity against Iraqi Shiites.
"His execution on the day of Eid ... is an insult to all Muslims," said Jordanian pilgrim Nidal Mohammad Salah. "What happened is not good because as a head of state, he should not be executed."
The Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, marks biblical patriarch Abraham's willingness to kill his son for God. Muslim countries often pardon criminals to mark the feast, and prisoners are rarely executed at that time.
The death could harden hatred for Shi'ite Muslims in Saudi Arabia, a bastion of Sunni Islam whose Islamic orthodoxy -- known as Wahhabism -- regards Shiites as virtual heretics.
Unlike in 1943-45, when there were thousands of them - there
is only one are only two flyable Lancaster bombers. And those gnomes who spend their spare time poring over the commercial satellite imagery looking for things like airplanes in flight and military installations - found one, flying, in Google Maps.
[Update - over at my place, I've been put in my place as usual by one of my Canadian snipers, positioned to catch all disses Canadian, intentional or unintentional:
Oh dear ... The GoogleEarth image is probably of the Lancaster (PA 474) flying with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight with further details here . However, in TundraLand, we have the Mynarski Lancaster (KB 726) flown by the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. I have enjoyed seeing it in flight several times. Hurricane + Spit + Lanc = 6 Merlins in full song.
For those who travel, the CWHM is in Hamilton, Ontario. Further info: click here.
Sic Semper Errata. Heh. Twice.
[Remainder of post snipped as being stale and irrelevant per this post from 22 November pointed out by Eagle1 which I obviously never saw. No reason to waste the picture bandwidth on my server or your reading time.]
Let's celebrate the living who paid a hefty price to send Saddam to the house of the dead.
And measure the impact of Project Valour-IT at the same time.
Surely that will be big headline news, right?
Ahhh, well now I understand completely...
However, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who heard arguments from attorneys by phone, rejected the challenge Friday night. She said U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction to interfere in another country's judicial process.
In a 21-page request filed Friday, Saddam's attorneys argued that because Saddam also faces a civil lawsuit in Washington, he has rights as a civil defendant that would be violated if he is executed. He has not received notice of those rights and the consequences that the lawsuit would have on his estate, his attorneys said.
A couple of interesting side items from the execution story:
...a U.S. district judge refused a request to stay the execution.He was executed on Saturday in Iraq.
Attorney Nicholas Gilman said in an application for a restraining order, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, that a stay would allow Hussein "to be informed of his rights and take whatever action he can and may wish to pursue."
Haddad had called Gilman's filing "rubbish," and said, "It will not delay carrying out the sentence," which he called "final."
There had been speculation that Hussein would be executed before Eid Al-Adha -- a holiday period that means Feast of the Sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims around the world at the climax of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The law does not permit executions to be carried out during religious holidays.
Eid began Saturday for Sunnis and Sunday for Shiites and lasts for four days. Hussein is a Sunni Muslim.
The witness reported that celebrations broke out after Hussein was dead, and that there was "dancing around the body."
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki did not attend the execution, according to an adviser to the prime minister who was interviewed on state television.
The execution was videotaped and photographed, state television reported, and those images will be distributed to the media.
Al-Arabiya television network reported that Barzan Hassan, Hussein's half-brother, and Awad Bandar, former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, were hanged after Hussein. All three were convicted of killings in the Iraqi town of Dujail nearly 25 years ago.
Jules Crittenden hits his (blogging) stride in Dead by Dawn? - which segues to a brief glimpse at reporting in the early days of the invasion.
I think Jules and I are in about the same frame of mind on the execution.
I's add that it's a damn rare thing to see a tyrant meet his maker in such a manner. Unprecedented in modern history?
WMD and other (IMHO) unfortunate advertising gimmicks aside, the fundamental reason for invading Iraq in the first place was a notion that perhaps if freed from Saddam's oppressive rule the Iraqis could build a model democracy*. I'll admit I believed that in 2003 (with the "perhaps" qualifier included, I'm a bit too old to live without it) but I'd like to see more evidence of it now - say more folks acting instead of wishing (or awaiting Allah's will). But perhaps too many were his children after all, and he the only model to which they aspire.
However few there may be to oppose such as that, I'm still on their side.
This war is strange. I never hear soldiers worried about their own morale sagging. Contrary, the war-fighters here are more concerned to bolster the morale of the people at home. Here in Kuwait, where the dining facilities are bedecked in Christmas decorations, soldiers stream in from Iraq on convoys and stream back north along those bomb-laden roads. The service members here are not all rear-echelon people who never see fighting or blood. Yet their overall morale obviously is high. Few of them know I am a writer, and so they speak freely at the tables around me. In Qatar, from which I’d just departed, I spoke with troops taking four-day R&R passes, some having just returned from the most dangerous parts of Iraq, and others heading straight back, and their overall morale was also very high. The morale at war is higher than I have ever seen it at home; makes me wonder what they know that most Americans seem to be missing.We'll know soon enough. Michael says va email: "I've landed in Baghdad and am preparing to re-embed with U.S. Force."
So is Bill Ardolino, whose INDC journal has a new name. He says he's headed to the airport to manifest for a flight - which shouldn't in any way be confused with the act of getting on a plane that takes you where you want to go.
They arrive in interesting times.
*The "Yeah, but why the f--- should we care?" angle being another issue altogether, and one that good people can argue reasonably.
WSJ Online's Best of the Web Today leads off a look at reporting on Iraq with an extensive quote from Russ Vaughn. Quoteworthy from top to bottom, so there's no point pulling one out for inclusion here.
SADDAM HUSSEIN will be executed no later than 0600 Saturday Baghdad time (2200 Friday EST; 1900 PST).
So long, sucker!
Sailors, rest your oar.
Three weeks ago the South Korean government announced they were going to suspend the USFK relocation to Camp Humphreys to 2013. The SK government announced this decision at this time because they hoped the Pentagon would be to preoccupied with the transition between Rumsfeld and Gates and the on going Iraq debate to care about events going on in Korea. The Korean government was right because there was no response from the Pentagon. This lack of response gave the Korean government the green light to pass a bill during the Christmas holiday that cut all governmental funding for the USFK relocation.
Many people in Korea complain about the US presence in Korea, especially the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, but when it comes time to cut US troops and consolidate the remaining troops in an out of the way area south of Seoul the Korean government every time does whatever it can to stop it because the Korean government prefers the status quo.
The current status quo prevents the US from taking any action against North Korea because of where the majority of US forces are currently stationed would be easily destroyed by a North Korean artillery strike. Plus the Korean government doesn't want to pay for the move to Camp Humphreys. Though the South Korean government is more than willing to send over an billion dollars in aid next year to North Korea they have always funded USFK on the cheap. So from the South Korean viewpoint if the US government decides to go ahead and completely finance the move to Camp Humphreys themselves, then when the US eventually pulls out of Korea, the Korean Army will receive a state of the art military base for free.
Other economic factors is the fact that by consolidating USFK bases the US military will be able to cut jobs of Koreans that support the bases. The move would instantly cause massive unemployment in the cities of Dongducheon, Uijongbu, and the Yongsan area of Seoul where the majority of US forces are located.
Another factor that keeps Yongsan where it is at is the fact that Korean politicians love to demagogue this issue for short term political advantage. The usual rhetoric goes, "Vote for me and I will kick the Yankee imperialists off of Yongsan and return this land to Korea!" Yet when this person gets elected they do everything possible to ensure it stays right where it is at ensuring that the USFK gravy train rolls on.
A good section:
In other words, why should we be so concerned about North Korea's miniscule arsenal, since the U.S. has enough nukes to flatten the DPRK many times over. But such arguments are specious--and ignore the larger point. The last time I checked, 70% of U.S. military wasn't sitting on the border, prepared to invade our closest neighbors. We don't fire ballistic missiles over Mexico, Canada, Russia, or anyone else to make political points, and the United States hasn't conducted nuclear tests to gain attention on the world stage. As for Pyongyang, guilty on all counts.
Additionally, the United States is not part of a global proliferation network that is actively engaged in the transfer of ballistic missile and (possibly) nuclear weapons technology. Pyongyang, on the other hand, is already the world's largest exporter of ballistic missiles, and there is great concern that the bankrupt DPRK will share its nuclear expertise as well. There is justifiable fear that a North Korean nuke design (or a finished weapon) will wind up in the hands or Iran, Syria, or terrorist organizations--regardless of how large or small the U.S. nuclear arsenal might be.
A quote from that story:
But Olson, who received her subpoena Thursday, acknowledged she has no legal grounds to refuse to testify, since she is being asked only to confirm the accuracy of what she wrote about Watada and not to disclose confidential sources or unpublished material.In short, the reporters are simply being required to testify whether what they wrote is truth or fiction. I completely understand their discomfort on this one - such a precedent could destroy the industry as we know it.
This late entry is a contender:
Cliff May posts some interesting notes from a Marine in Iraq.
The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. … Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shape charges" (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges, in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.
"Blogger may be malfunctioning like crazy, but the News is still up!"
Our buddy Ehren Watada apparently talked to a lot of journalists. Funnily enough, this is of interest to the people prosecuting him.
Army prosecutors have sent subpoenas to journalists in Oakland and Honolulu demanding testimony about quotes they attributed to an officer who faces a court-martial after denouncing the war in Iraq and refusing to deploy with his unit.
The MSM is big on their narratives. It's the "storyline" through which every news item adheres to in some form or another. So what happens when two major MSM narratives conflict? In this case: "The economy is in the tank and only the poor enlist in the Army as it's their only option."
How then to explain this little nugget in this NYT article about challenges facing recruiters in the wake of the proposed increase of the permanent size of the Army?
Part of the struggle, recruiters said, is economic. Attracting young people to military service is difficult when jobs are plentiful and wages are on the rise.
Darn it, I'm confused. Thankfully, new recruits, being the ignorant troglodytes they are, won't pick up on this fine distinction either.
Intesting report from the LA Times at the end of this:
Somalian government officials said they had no immediate plans to use heavy force to take the capital, a campaign they said could inflict heavy civilian deaths on the city of 2 million people. Instead, Ethiopians and transitional government troops encircled Mogadishu, shut down the seaport and airport, and pressured Islamic leaders to give up.Well, if true, good for us.
"We are cutting off the roads and begging them to lay down their weapons," said Abdikarim Farah, the transitional government's ambassador to Ethiopia.
He said the United States was among the countries helping to seal off access along the Indian Ocean coastline. (emphasis adde)
Besides, we were getting too serious anyway.
"The Corps has this reflex when it feels threatened at home. It has a history of eating its young."You'll find the source for that below.
At this point, if we're going to send 20 or 30k extra troops into Iraq, it seems they'd better be qualified to serve as investigating officers, and they better find results compatable with whatever subsequent media coverage may arise.
A.L., there's an interesting tone to the story you linked - it seems to imply that guilt has been determined. I suppose sentencing is all that remains. I'm not at all implying that you share that (perhaps Murtha-inspired) mind set, in fact I'm confident you don't.
Vanity Fair (yes, Vanity Fair) has put their Haditha story back on their online "front page" - and it's one everyone should read. (I linked it when it was new and said the same thing.) It includes this observation on the aftermath of Murtha's declaration of guilt:
Following his statements, Haditha became yet another test in a polarized nation, and never mind the details: if you liked President George W. Bush, you believed that no massacre had taken place; if you disliked him, you believed the opposite.Which is one of countless reasons why anyone in that position should think twice about trying to get his quotes in the press - though for the weaker among us the tempatation will always be entirely too strong.
Another key reason is that guilt is determined in courts, of course, a position I believe we've maintained here from the get-go. (And if anyone knows of a previous example of a case so utterly corrupted in advance by one inept politician, by all means let me know.)
Of course, this case began in the exact same manner - someone released a very ill-considered official comment before all the facts were in (see below). Avoiding such is exactly why the military usually has "no comment" in the first draft of any story on anything.
Again, read the whole thing. For the time-constrained among us, I've excerpted the portion addressing the investigation issue below.
Bear in mind this isn't the whole story (two of the officers charged aren't mentioned herein) but it's a bit beyond the bumper-sticker level of coverage I've seen anywhere else.
On the second day, a Marine Corps press officer at the big base downriver in Ramadi issued a wildly misleading statement attributing the civilian deaths to the enemy's I.E.D., as if the families had crowded around the device before it exploded. That statement was later held out to be a deliberate lie, a cover-up, but in fairness it resulted from the isolation of the base, and was more self-delusional than underhanded. The press statement was not seen by Captain McConnell or his men, who had no chance therefore to correct it. Once it was issued, it became an official truth that the Marine Corps, even today, has rigidly refused to retract, despite the fact that within the Corps a more plausible official truth existed almost from the start: the day after the press statement was issued, McConnell visited the battalion headquarters at a dam five miles north of Haditha, where he gave his commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani, a PowerPoint briefing on the action, explaining that some number of civilians had been killed by Wuterich's squad while they suppressed a "complex ambush" that had started with the explosion of the land mine and had continued with an attack by hidden gunmen. Most of the briefing concerned other small firefights that had erupted in Haditha the same day. Chessani authorized the maximum compensation payments of $2,500 to the families for each of the dead who could be certified not to have been insurgents. A Marine major was assigned to do at least that much of an investigation. McConnell's version was passed up the chain of command. McConnell returned to his fight for Haditha.The AP reports:
But one month later a reporter at Time magazine's Baghdad bureau, Tim McGirk, viewed a gruesome video of the aftermath, which suggested that people had been shot and killed inside the houses. Such is the nature of this war, with its routine collateral horrors, that had McGirk been privy to McConnell's report the video might not have surprised him. But with only the press statement about a land mine to go by, it was obvious that something about the official description was very wrong.
Meanwhile, Kilo Company and the rest of the Third Battalion had returned to California on schedule in the early spring of 2006, and had been greeted with the usual fanfare. But one week later the division's top general relieved Captain McConnell and Lieutenant Colonel Chessani of their commands, stating that he had lost confidence in their abilities to lead. The two officers remained on duty in other roles, though straining against bitterness, and anxious about the future. McConnell hoped that by remaining silent he might prevail, standing against the assault as a Spartan would. Semper fi. Nonetheless, it seems eventually to have dawned on him that his own beloved Corps might not be at his side. Reluctantly, McConnell hired a private defense lawyer, as did Wuterich and others. The naval investigation dragged on, and in midsummer produced a 3,500-page report. The report has not been made public, but apparently suggests that some members of the squad had engaged in murder, and that afterward they and perhaps others had agreed on a narrative to hide the crime. The Marine Corps began to ready charges, and to prepare for military trials and lesser career-ending disciplinary actions. The trials will take place at Pendleton, probably sometime before spring. The penalties may include capital punishment and prison for life. In the most general terms the outcome is already known. A former officer close to McConnell said to me, "The Corps has this reflex when it feels threatened at home. It has a history of eating its young."
Besides Chessani, officers charged in connection with how the incident was investigated or reported included 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, 25; Capt. Lucas McConnell, 31, of Napa, Calif., and Capt. Randy Stone, 34, a military attorney.All done!
Always better to have them retreat than to have them moving forward.
Triumphant Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies marched into Mogadishu on Thursday after Islamist rivals abandoned the war-scarred city they held for six months.More to follow, I am sure - but this is a better trend than what we have see for most of the year.
The flight of the Islamists was a dramatic turn-around in the volatile Horn of Africa nation after they took Mogadishu in June and spread across the south imposing sharia rule.
Terrified of yet more violence in a city that has become a byword for chaos, some Mogadishu residents greeted the arriving government troops, while others hid.
"People are cheering as they wave flowers to the troops," said resident Abdikadar Abdulle, adding scores of government military vehicles had passed the Somalia National University west of the city center
...you'll find the text of a comment recently left at Mudville. I can't verify the author is who he says he is (or even that "he" is a "he") but the individual expresses an opinion I've heard before, more than once. Outside of some of the political views I agree with much of the core of what he says regarding courses of action in Iraq.
Because I recently returned home after serving in Iraq, friends and relatives often ask me for my assessment of the latest change in strategy that President Bush seems to be considering – I say “seems,” because he has cautioned that he “will not be rushed” into deciding what’s come to be called “The Way Ahead,” no matter how many lives are lost or how much taxpayer money is spent while he ponders the question.All done!
Ordinarily, I would be reticent to comment on such a momentous subject, particularly since I view my own service in Iraq as of no great consequence to the war effort as a whole. However, since the President himself appears to be incapable of determining whether we’re winning or losing in Iraq (contrast his “we’re neither winning nor losing” remarks last week with his pre-election positive affirmation of victory: “absolutely we’re winning in Iraq!”), I see no reason why I should not venture to express my own views of the situation there.
First, it is inconceivable to me that an Army of some 480,000 troops, along with perhaps 100,000 Marines, could ever lose a war with an insurgency of approximately 20,000 to 30,000 illiterate, uneducated, untrained, ill-equipped and fractious “fighters.” The insurgents always “cut and run,” and, as we know from a certain rail thin member of Congress from Ohio, who customarily drapes herself in the red, white and blue, only cowards and losers do that. Since this member of Congress claimed to have received her advice from a Marine reservist, often seen at political events (never on any battlefield) in his uniform, her analysis must be correct. So the President’s nonsensical statement that we are neither winning nor losing in Iraq is just that – nonsensical and flatly contradicted by those in the know.
Second, the number of those killed in action in Iraq (note to editor: insert here some mewling cliché about how every loss of life is regrettable) is minuscule, compared to other U.S. military actions, even those we are somehow forbidden from describing as “wars,” such as the Conflict in Korea, or the Viet Nam Conflict. 3,000 or so KIA is nothing compared to the 65,000 killed in Viet Nam, or the 35,000 KIA in Korea! The less-than-staggering loss of life in Iraq only underscores my first point: the insurgents are more lazy than lethal. As one US Special Forces soldier phrased this indelicate matter in a conversation with me earlier this year: “3,000! I could kill more than that in a week!”
Third, there never has been a single strategy in Iraq, a pathway to victory, or whatever pithy description the Bush Administration is employing this week or day or hour to describe exactly what it is we’re doing in Iraq. The “we’ll stand down as they (the Iraqi forces) stand up” sounded plausible at first, until we belatedly came to realize that the Iraqis aren’t all that interested in standing up – they’re more interested in getting paid by the Americans for not showing up at all. In fact, almost all Iraqi “commanders” have reported that their unit strength and attendance is perfect, one hundred per cent, at all times, even though the actual figures are often as low as ten per cent in some units. Why? Capitalism, Stupid: the commanders pocket the pay the absent “soldiers” would have received.
Then came the “ink spot” or “blot” theory, evidently first articulated by a think tank thinker (forgive my lisp), which posits that the Americans can prevail if only we establish security zones (the “ink spots”), into which we pour money and other material resources (I think this is called the “red ink”); once the first red ink spot is established, the theory goes, other blots or spots are created, until the entire country (Iraq, I mean) is awash in red ink. Because this strategy depends, however, on overcoming the tendency to corruption of the Iraqis, the red ink has flowed, certainly, but the spots or blots have never really stained the country’s map.
I’m not certain what other strategies the United States has attempted to apply in Iraq, to be honest, unless one falls into the error of confusing sloganeering with strategizing. For example, “our mission will be complete when Iraq has a stable democracy, a government that serves its people and is capable of defending itself” or something like that. Another example of this sort of error might be to think that “mission accomplished” means “mission accomplished,” when in fact it means, evidently (note to editor: please add qualifiers to what appears to be any statement of fact throughout this article), that only “major hostilities” have ended; logically, then, only minor, endless hostilities have remained.
At this point, since I’ve revealed the vast lacunae in my knowledge about U.S. strategy in Iraq, you may be wondering what I tell my relatives, friends, and other kindly-disposed people who ask me what we should do in Iraq. Here’s what I tell them: we should, of course, pull out immediately, and as quickly as possible. I can tell you that there is nothing in Iraq worth another US dollar or even another hangnail suffered by an American. The Iraqis have lived under a dictator, a murderous one, and for most of them outside of Baghdad, not that much has changed now that they’ve been “liberated” and have dipped their forefingers in purple ink. For those in Baghdad and other population centers, conditions have degenerated to an indescribable extent thanks to their “liberation.” Unexpected, violent death is a part of their daily existence. Kidnappings, ordinary street crime, and despair have become the legacy of this shameful, morally wrong war. Were the Iraqis better off under Saddam Hussein? For the dead, the answer is of course obvious: at least they were alive. For the maimed, the answer is obvious, too: at least they were whole. For the remainder of population, one might ask them. Their answers, I suspect, will be far more predictable than America’s “strategy” in Iraq.
In any event, since Bush is determined that those who are serving in Iraq “stay the course,” (although that slogan has been abandoned now, too, once someone pointed out that when Bush said “we’re going to stay the course,” what he really meant was, “those soldiers and Marines who’ve served multiple tours will stay the course because I say so. I myself will stay here in the White House, in Crawford, or at Camp David, naturally.”), here’s the strategy we should adopt in order to use our fighting force of over half a million fighting men and women to accomplish the mission of suppressing, more or less permanently, the 20,000 or 30,000 insurgents: let our men and women fight. So many of our troops in Iraq sit around in air-conditioned offices on insulated American bases, that serving a tour in Iraq is like doing time in prison, except the guns are pointed outward, and the guards are Ugandan or from Central America (I’m not kidding; the mega-base security is contracted out to war profiteers who hire Africans and Central Americans.) My educated guess is that probably three-quarters of the troops never even see an actual Iraqi in his or her native element. Instead, the troops spend their time shuffling from an office, to the chow hall, back to the office, to the food court, and then to the trailers in which they sleep.
This setup masquerades as “force protection,” which is a way of saying, “we don’t want anyone to get hurt.” The tip of the spear employed by the American Army resembles the tip of a barroom dart thrown haphazardly by the drunks who run the place. In order to prevail in this struggle, we have to forget the loser, garrison mentality of the “commanders on the ground” (read: pompous generals hiding out in Saddam’s former palaces), most of whom joined the Army in the 1970’s, when anyone with any talent, intelligence, education or alternative shunned the so-called “hollow Army.” Instead, get our soldiers and Marines off the sprawling bases we’ve created at a huge cost and get them out into to the field, armed and ready to do battle. The paperwork the military generates – and it is Kafkaesque, believe me – can wait, and if it’s not done, no one will notice anyway. Ship two-thirds of the general officers home, put their bloated staffs into up-armored Humvees, and send them out with the rest of the paper-pushers to close with and destroy the enemy. That’s what an army does, and that’s the only way we’re going to win in Iraq.
While I’m at it, I may as well reveal another ground truth: the Army is nowhere near “broken.” If, as is the case, approximately half of the active Army has never served in Afghanistan or Iraq, how can the Army be described as “broken”? In fact, those who’ve been sent overseas for successive tours might be close to the breaking point, but only because they’ve been denied the ability to go out and kill the enemy and destroy his hiding places. The other half of the Army – the combat avoiders, the physically unfit, those who are forever and conveniently in one military school after another – put them on troop ships and send them over. They can then either fight to survive, or perish. Either way, their shameful avoidance of the fight will end.
Next, lay off the reservists who’ve served multiple tours already. Since 2001, I’ve deployed to Bosnia, Africa, and most recently, to Kuwait, Bahrain, and, of course, Iraq. When I returned home this last time, I felt as though my life had been ruined. I was estranged from my wife and children, my job had been given away to my supposedly “temporary” replacement, and it hit me with the force of revelation that while most Americans do “support the troops,” they do so only insofar as they have to make no sacrifices themselves. America is not at war; the Army and Marines are. Americans drive around in their SUVs, complain about taxes, their love handles, their mutual funds, the bags around their eyes, and so on, but most have never really suffered as those who’ve fought in Iraq have suffered. Not even close.
Finally, my advice to the commander-in-chief is this: Esto Vir! Be a man! Tell your commanders on the ground over the rank of Colonel to take their advice and shove it; can the chickenhawks (except yourself, of course – after all, you did fight for our freedom in the Texas Air National Guard, risking your life in nighttime missions over the Caribbean) who surround you and who got us into this war in the first place, ignore the think tankers who haven’t got a clue, and either get us out of Iraq, or get us in. Decider, decide to go to war, huh? Order a full-scale mobilization of every person in uniform who isn’t wearing a combat patch or who hasn’t left Camp Victory (a misnomer if there ever was one), Camp Liberty (ditto), Camp Anaconda (WTF?) or any of our force-protective bases in Iraq, and send them out to kill insurgents and destroy the rat holes in which they hide. Either that, or do the right, just and moral thing and get us out now.
Either way, start making plans to name your Presidential Library the “George W. Bush/Millard Fillmore Quasi-Presidential Reading Room.”
Not how anyone wants to come home for the holidays, but hopefully there's a valour-it laptop waiting under the tree.
Chuck Ziegenfuss - whose similar experience got the whole Valour-IT project started (hopefully readers here know that story) - visits Walter Reed for some follow-up, and meets Three Kings.
J.R. SALZMAN writes:
it is hard for me to tell you all this but i was hurt by an ied here. my right arm has been amputated below the elbow, my left has four working fingers. my legs are fine so l can still logroll! i am on my way to the hospital in germany, then back to the states for more care. i am in high spirits. i am going to be ok, but i will have a long road to recovery. please remember me in your prayers, as well as those who were injured with me. i will let you know more as time passes.
This was last week; presumably, he's in Landstuhl now. Salzman is from the same Minnesota National Guard unit that created the "Halp us Jon Carry" poster.
We wish him the best of luck in his recovery and rehabilitation.
Like it needs to be said, but if you're tasked with conducting an investigation or suspect malfeasance in your command, don't half-ass it, otherwise you can get your own ass in a sling.
Rather understated headline there.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The decision to charge four Marine officers accused of failing to properly investigate the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians was a rare step and might never have occurred had the media not brought the incident to light, experts said on Friday.
Four officers -- a lieutenant colonel, two captains and a lieutenant -- also were charged, accused of dereliction of duty and other counts for their role in the aftermath. An investigation concluded that reporting on the killings up the chain of command was inaccurate and untimely.
Part of my job entails reviewing investigations. In the Army, such investigations are typically informal, in the sense that until there's evidence of criminal conduct, they are not criminal investigations involving law enforcement (Mil Police or Criminal Investigative Division). Such investigations are really just attempts to first figure out what happened. If there is evidence of criminal conduct, then the investigating officer can recommend UCMJ action as appropriate to include a more specific inquiry by the relevant law enforcement agency.
Regrettably, investigating officers don't often do a very good job. Sometimes they do a great job and the investigation is tight, presents sufficient evidence to support its findings and doesn't make any wild leaps of logic or reason. I like those days, they make my job easy when reviewing the investigation and I can say "legally sufficient/mighty fine." Other times, however, the things are a trainwreck. You'll have investigating officers talking to two or three people, asking them a handful of questions each and then determining that "oh well, nothing can be done."
I'm reluctant to call it intentional since I think it's moreso straight up laziness. When good enough will do, so long as they get some statements they're done. Lord knows how many times I've had to talk to an investigating officer and tell him that just because you have two statements that conflict doesn't mean you're done--you actually have to make a FINDING as to which statement you believe.
Ultimately, it's a failure to recognize the importance of producing a coherent and thorough investigation. Stories like this underscore that importance.
I thought that we just finished the argument about triremes already!
As Eagle knows, this argument is on the periodic maintenance schedule.
But there is that argument about the awesome presence of a battleship off your coast..
Some more thoughts on the Ethiopian push into Somalia (and links) here. Might be the first time I have ever linked to an African Union press comunique in French...
Time to embargo heavy weapons from entering Somalia?
I think so.
Somalia calls on Islamists to surrenderMeanwhile, the New York Times' proxy site, the International Herald Tribune, declares:
Islamic fighters retreated Tuesday as Somali government and Ethiopian troops advanced on three fronts in a decisive turn in the battle for control of this Horn of Africa nation.
Somalia's internationally backed government called on the Council of Islamic Courts to surrender and promised amnesty if they lay down their weapons, spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said from Baidoa, the seat of the interim administration.
In Somalia, a reckless U.S. proxy war
Undeterred by the horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, the Bush administration has opened another battlefront in the Muslim world. With full U.S. backing and military training, at least 15,000 Ethiopian troops have entered Somalia in an illegal war of aggression against the Union of Islamic Courts, which controls almost the entire south of the country.
BAGHDAD - The death sentence on Saddam Hussein and two co-defendants in his trial for crimes against humanity will be carried out within 30 days, appeals court judge Arif Shaheen said Tuesday.
"It cannot exceed 30 days. As from tomorrow the sentence could be carried out at any time," the judge said, after confirming that the sentences had been upheld and that the trial process was complete and without appeal.
Photo: Russ Nolan/British Army
British forces raided the headquarters of a rogue police unit in Basra on Christmas morning to free prisoners who were about to be executed.All done!
Many of the 127 captives were found in a cramped and squalid cell at the headquarters of the serious crimes unit and showed signs of torture, officers said.
After the raid by 1,000 British and Iraqi troops, Royal Engineers laid charges and blew up the two-storey concrete building, known locally as the "station of death."
The serious crimes unit is the same police division raided in September last year to free two SAS troopers who were about to be sold to insurgents.
Major Charlie Burbridge said seven militia were killed in the raid at 2am local time (11pm British time).
"We came under small arms fire and RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) fire and we exchanged fire with the gunmen and killed seven on the way into the objective," he said.
"We then experienced some resistance at the police station itself. There was an exchange of fire but no casualties there."
Major Burbridge said: "We identified the serious crimes unit as, frankly, too far gone. We just had to get rid of it."
"Crimes Unit? That's pretty much what it does." said Capt Tane Dunlop, an Army spokesman.
Mohammed al-Askari, a spokesman for Iraq's defence ministry, said the operation was co-ordinated with the Iraqi government.
An Iraqi security official said the government decided two days ago to eliminate the serious crimes unit and punish some officers.
"The interior minister decided to cancel the serious crimes unit in Basra city and replace it with a new one based inside the headquarters of Basra police," he said.
"The decision was made two days ago on the grounds of security violations by the serious crimes unit."
The deaths of six more American soldiers in Iraq pushed the U.S. death toll to at least 2,978 -- five more than the number killed in the September 11 attacks -- as bombs killed more than 20 people in Baghdad on Tuesday.
The Reuters article also notes that December was the higest month for US casualties this year except for October which was higher than December (other months in previous years have had higher death tolls), and calls for the US to surrender now.
At least 89 U.S. soldiers have died so far this month, making it the deadliest this year after October's toll of 106, and adding pressure on President George W. Bush to find a strategy to extricate 135,000 U.S. troops from the messy war.The death toll in Iraq has exceeded that of a couple hours one September morning mere weeks after the length of the war exceeded that of WWII. The percentage of Americans killed in hostile action in Iraq remains at .15% (point-one-five percent, or fifteen-hundredths of one percent) of those deployed in the war on terror.
Once more, someone has suggested bringing back the battleships.
I don't agree.
Iraq protests at US arrest of Iranian diplomat
BAGHDAD - Iraq’s president protested on Monday against the arrest by US forces in Iraq of two Iranian diplomats who US officials said were seized in raids against Iranians suspected of planning attacks on Iraqi security forces.
“Two Iranian diplomats were detained by the Americans,” said Hiwa Othman, media adviser for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
“The president is unhappy. He is talking to the Americans about it as we speak."
“We suspect this event validates our claim about Iranian meddling,” said a White House spokesman.
In Tehran, the ISNA student news agency said the Foreign Ministry had summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran to discuss the arrests. The Swiss embassy represents US interests in Iran since diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington were cut after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“This move is not compatible with any international regulations and will provoke unpleasant repercussions,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said, ISNA reported.
Now ain't this interesting...
BAGHDAD, Dec. 24 — The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington.
Gordon D. Johndroe, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said two Iranian diplomats were among those initially detained in the raids. The two had papers showing that they were accredited to work in Iraq, and he said they were turned over to the Iraqi authorities and released. He confirmed that a group of other Iranians, including the military officials, remained in custody while an investigation continued, and he said, “We continue to work with the government of Iraq on the status of the detainees.”
It was unclear what kind of evidence American officials possessed that the Iranians were planning attacks, and the officials would not identify those being held. One official said that “a lot of material” was seized in the raid, but would not say if it included arms or documents that pointed to planning for attacks. Much of the material was still being examined, the official said.
Nonetheless, the two raids, in central Baghdad, have deeply upset Iraqi government officials, who have been making strenuous efforts to engage Iran on matters of security. At least two of the Iranians were in this country on an invitation extended by Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, during a visit to Tehran earlier this month. It was particularly awkward for the Iraqis that one of the raids took place in the Baghdad compound of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq’s most powerful Shiite leaders, who traveled to Washington three weeks ago to meet President Bush.
Over the past four days, the Iraqis and Iranians have engaged in intense behind-the-scenes efforts to secure the release of the remaining detainees. One Iraqi government official said, “The Iranian ambassador has been running around from office to office.”
Iraqi leaders appealed to the American military, including to Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American ground commander in Iraq, to release the Iranians, according to an Iraqi politician familiar with the efforts. The debate about what to do next has also engaged officials in the White House and the State Department. The national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, has been fully briefed, officials said, though they would not say what Mr. Bush has been told about the seizure or the identity of the detainees.
A senior Western official in Baghdad said the raids were conducted after American officials received information that the people detained had been involved in attacks on official security forces in Iraq. “We conduct operations against those who threaten Iraqi and coalition forces,” the official said. “This was based on information.”
But what about their access to lawyers?!
At Mudville, a holiday season tradition continues for a fourth year. Milbloggers far from hearth and home this holiday season have time to check their blogs on Christmas day. Will they find tidings of comfort and joy in their comments sections? Perhaps...
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Despite being pounded by the Holiday Blizzard of 2006, North American Aerospace Defense Command remains on alert for the nation and ready to track Santa Claus, according to NORAD officials.
“NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center is schedule to begin operations as scheduled at 2 a.m. Christmas Eve,” said Michael Perini, Director of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs.
More than 800 Santa tracking volunteers will cycle through the center answering telephone calls and e-mails from children around the world wanting to get a fix on Santa Claus’ whereabouts.
“In 2005, the volunteers at the Operations Center received 563,452 telephone calls and 103,156 emails from children around the world,” Perini said.
The NORAD Tracks Santa Web site, www.noradsanta.org, went live Nov. 17 and has already garnered an amazing 48,695,357 page views. Last year the site received 907,958,865 page views from 204 countries and territories around the world.
Beginning at 2:00 a.m. MST on December 24, the Web site will provide minute-by-minute updates on Santa’s journey around the world.
A toll free number is also available at 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) for children to call and personally speak to a Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve.
Ethiopia sent fighter jets into Somalia and bombed several towns Sunday in a dramatic attack on Somalia's powerful Islamic movement, and Ethiopia's prime minister said his country had been "forced to enter a war."They know they live in a tough neighborhood about to get tougher. Ungh. Peace on Earth?
God rest ye merry gentlemen. Be you in sand, snow, swamp, or solid ground, Merry Christmas.
The "world's longest running humanitarian airdrop" and a great holiday tradition:
...from James Hooker:
I'm offering, to the troops, downloads my new album FREE until 1 Jan. 2007 over at my place. Homemade SinCool stuff, thanks!
Permalink to the post, which I've made a sticky, is HERE.
For those unfamiliar with the man and his music, here's Hooker's Hanging Out With The Boys
Lots more (including Christmas tunes) at Hooker's.
For Christmas 2004, Noah came just weeks before his deployment in OIF3. He couldn't be with us last Christmas as he was working at Fort Benning after being returned to duty after his wounding and was preparing for the return of his unit (Our Guys) early in '06. We were particularly pleased that he could spend this Christmas with us as he is slated to return to the battlefield in '07...
So Noah arrived from Ft Benning safe and sound to spend Christmas with us... and he brought along an early Christmas present...
To see our gift, keep reading at Some Soldier's Mom
Some folks over at my place do. I disagree, mostly. Here's my conclusion for Reader's Digest fans:
Fundamentally - absent the most dire and immediate exigency - we cannot be a truly free country if we are forced to rely upon the indentured service of a conscript class for the maintenance of our freedoms. If the day should ever come that we can no longer provide for our defense with the service of courageous volunteers, then the day has perhaps come when we no longer deserve to be defended.
The rest is here, if you're curious.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE TIGER, Iraq – The 2nd Iraqi Army Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. Jamal, assumed independent authority to control all actions in their battle space during a transfer of authority ceremony held Dec. 18 at Forward Operating Base Tiger in Mosul.
“This ceremony marks a special time in the 2nd Iraqi Army Division’s history,” said Maj. Gen. Randy Mixon, commander, 25th Infantry Division. “This day also signifies the last [Iraqi Army] division to assume Iraqi Army lead in Multi-National Division – North, and the 2nd Iraqi Army Division will fall under the control of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command on Jan. 15.”
In other belated news
NAJAF, Iraq – The security and governance of nearly one-million An Najaf citizens was officially transferred to Provincial Iraqi Control in a ceremony here in southern Iraq Dec. 20.
This makes 3 provinces under Iraqi Control, 8 IA Divisions "In The Lead", 3 IA Divisions under Iraqi Ground Forces Command.
Normally, I mock and belittle MSM reports of "we're sending more naval forces to the Persian Gulf so we can attack Iran". The most recent reports, though, have a ring of truth -- not that we're about to attack Iran, but that we are going to plus-up our carrier presence in the Fifth Fleet AOR in the near term to maybe "send a message" to Tehran. I discuss it in more detail at my home blog.
Four U.S. Marines have been charged with murder in the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in the city of Haditha November 19 2005. Mike O'Sullivan reports, another four Marines face related charges, announced Thursday at Camp Pendleton, California.Some recent discussions on this topic can be found here and here.
Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who led the squad, faces 12 counts of murder of Iraqi civilians. A 13th count charges him with the murders of six others killed inside a home on his orders.
Sergeant Sanick Dela Cruz is charged with five murders. Lance Corporal Justin Sharratt is charged with three. Lance Corporal Steven Tatum will face two murder charges, another four charges of negligent homicide, and two counts of assault.
The Marines are charged with unpremeditated murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Four officers will also face charges that include dereliction, false reporting, obstructing justice and making false statements. The highest-ranking officer is Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Chessani, who is charged with dereliction and failure to investigate and report unlawful killings.
People always worry about the wrong things. In worrying about the wrong things, they invariably feel compelled to do something about those things.
Call me a curmudgeon. (C’mon, that would be a new one for me, and score one more attempt to revive a Perfectly Useful but Out of Favor word from yesteryear.)
Recent elections and the elevation of a Party more prone to Activist Government has predictably led to suggestions of this or that new program, or matters of Urgent Importance to Public Safety and Wellbeing.
In so doing, such Do-Gooders prepare themselves to make whatever matters they address, worse. This has less to do with the weakness or ineffectiveness of their proposed solutions, than the illogical foundation of their misplaced attention. Do-Gooders then compound these attention deficits with an over-abundance of response. You can’t do good, without doing something, after all.
I call myself a Conservative, but I find less and less common ground with much of what gets said on both sides of the Political Isle. (Indulge me, I refer to that overstuffed spit of land without a State, the District of Columbia, seat of United States Government, the home of so much pork that some desire to bust.
So out of these reflections comes a two-part, largely Libertarian manifesto on misplaced attention and misguided action. As the song goes about another famous Isle, “…put in your pipe and smoke that in.”
A CentCom press release reports the capture by the Iraqi army of an IED cell leader.
I guess the choice of what to do with him is up to the Iraqis, applying Iraqi law.
My instinct, as I say in my post: "I suppose I'd let him ride in various vehicles traveling the roads of IED land pending his trial...sort of putting him on "point" if you get my drift."
Maybe you have some suggestions?
December 18, 2006: U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Philip Learn, and his co-pilot, Captain Brian Hummel, were recently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroics a year ago in Afghanistan. But there's a lot more to it than that.
The two were flying an AH-64 Apache gunship at the time, escorting two CH-47 transport helicopters near Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan. One of the CH-47's took some ground fire, was damaged, but managed to land. Then the 34 troops on the CH-47 found themselves under fire from a large group of Taliban gunmen in the area. So Learn and Hummel took their AH-64 in low and basically shot it out with the Taliban, killing and wounding many, and forcing the rest to leave the area. At times, the AH-64 was exchanging fire with over a dozen Taliban, who were armed with assault rifles, machine-guns and PRGs.
Learn and Hummel were in the air with their AH-64 for ten hours that day, and Learn flew for 700 hours during his one year in Afghanistan. Normally, an AH-64 pilot has to fly 140 hours a year to maintain his flying skills. But in Afghanistan, the AH-64 is a major supplier of air support. In the last five years, the army has awarded 95 DFCs, but 60 percent of them have gone to pilots in Afghanistan, where the army has only a fifth as many troops as it has in Iraq. The British have brought in some of their AH-64s as well. The eight ton AH-64 carries a 30mm automatic cannon (with 320 rounds of ammo), plus 70mm unguided rockets (up to 19 of them) and Hellfire guided missiles (up to eight). External fuel tanks can also be carried, although the AH-64 only stays in the air for about 90 minutes when just using internal fuel (that can be tripled with the maximum of four external tanks). Typically, AH-64s in Afghanistan will fly up to half a dozen sorties a day, often taking on additional ammo when they land to refuel.All done!
From the link in your story it looks like the People's Collective has decided to abandon the "simple Navy sailor" angle on Comrade Hutto.
Jonathan Hutto graduated from Howard University with a degree in political science and a résumé of social activism.Certainly closer to the truth than the original coverage - perhaps they've adopted the "partial truth" approach now in hopes of undoing some of the damage we did to them. It would be nice if they'd tell the full story of this well-organized and funded campaign, but I suppose that's a start.
He worked for the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International after college. He whipped up grass-roots protests against police departments and college administrators.
One day in 2003, broke and seeking direction, Hutto enlisted in the Navy.
The Navy couldn't have known it then, but they know it now: They had signed up a sailor strongly opposed to the Iraq war.
Here's an interesting triptych:
Hutto is a finalist again for sailor of the year, yet he still raises some eyebrows with the photos of Malcolm X, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Che Guevara at his desk aboard ship.In honor of that, I've created one of my own:
Get it? They're all guys who stood up to Great Britain in the last century.
I was going to ignore it, but now that Drudge is linking to it - the moonbats are going to come out the woodwork and inflate the numbers all stupid like. Sigh. Greyhawk's favorite Astroturfer is back; the Navy's Hutto.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.Yes, an internet appeal where any putz with an internet connection can add their name to the list of "military members" who oppose the war. Yawn...but you know it will get traction. Get a half dozen ligit persons to justify a thousand poseurs. Sigh. Sometimes, all you have is scorn.
BTW, congrats Greyhawk, you scooped Drudge by, what seven weeks? And you have all the gouge!
Many authors and readers at this site are now two-time honorees as Time Magazine's "Person of the Year". (For those of you who've only been recognized once: neener neener neener.)
Looking back at Time's Iraq covers from 2003 I'm struck by the fact that the fundamental themes of every article on Iraq you'll read today are expressed in those ready-for-bumper-sticker headlines. Some might declare their early (and frequent) declarations of American defeat "prescient". I think there are better terms.
There's an article in The Virginian-Pilot about the controversy surrounding the naming of the next aircraft carrier; the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill says CVN 78 should be the USS Gerald R. Ford, while traditionalists are calling for something like USS America. This is a bigger deal than normal, because this will be the "first-of-a-class" ship, like the Nimitz. My thoughts are here -- do any of the Navy aviation-types, or anyone else, have any thoughts on this?
that the soundtrack to this video is going to pop up on about every third deployment video for the next six months. It's already all over the Internets as samizdat...
Nobody today is trying to levitate the Pentagon (as one group attempted back in 1967), but I can't help but wonder what inspires people to engage in such an exercise in futility. As long as they're wasting their time, here's a suggested schedule for more pointless protests:
Monday -- Protest against war outside the Pentagon
Tuesday -- Protest against poverty outside the World Bank
Wednesday -- Protest against violent crime outside FBI Headquarters
Thursday -- Protest against AIDS outside the National Institutes of Health
Friday -- Protest against war (again) outside Walter Reed.
On Saturday, if they're not too busy smoking dope, they can go protest against arson outside their local fire station.
Marc Danziger - aka Armed Liberal - is searching for Capt Jamil Hussein. From what I can glean from the current information available, there may actually be such a person, except that isn't his name, and he isn't a captain in the police, and he might not work where the AP claims he does. Or not.
It certainly looks like this bizarre story is hurtling to an inevitable unsatisfactory and inconclusive conclusion.
Which will be terribly disappointing to those on both sides of the argument who couldn't figure out that the existence or identity of this guy never mattered in the first place. Unless you're only interested in playing "gotcha" with the AP, it's what he claimed that matters. Danziger's asking about that too - good on him.
Some ideas are so bad, and so "..never gonna happen.." that some people can't help but think it should be done.
Growing instability across the Middle East has prompted foreign policy think tanks to brainstorm ways to stabilize that region. One idea circulating in Washington last week called for admitting Israel into NATO.Just a bit worse than those in the UK that just decided to stop training Para's.
At least one analyst thinks NATO membership could provide security to Israel, help settle the Israel-Palestinian border and make the alliance a stabilizing force in the region.
The submarine shown above was designed to help solve a problem that cost the U.S. Navy 12 ships near Okinawa alone.
The problem and the planned solution set out here.
A counterinsurgency can take years to defeat by doctrine standards. The timeline for troops to be pulled out may seem to be getting closer but with more troops heading to Iraq, the DOD is focusing on fighting counterinsurgencies for years to come. With the recent release of the Counter Insurgence manual on Dec 15th, for both Army and Marine service members can now be even more prepared to take the fight to the insurgency more so than ever before. Read the article below
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dec. 15, 2006
The Army and Marine Corps announce the release of the Counterinsurgency Field Manual
Fort Leavenworth, KS and Quantico, VA --The United States Army and the United States Marine Corps today released a new counterinsurgency field manual, FM 3-24/ MCWP 3-33.5. The manual, authored by a team of Army and Marine Corps writers, is designed to fill a doctrinal gap, as it has been 20 years since the Army and 25 years since the Marine Corps last published doctrine on the subject (though an interim manual was published two years ago). With the United States engaged in counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Philippines, it is essential that Soldiers and Marines have a manual that provides principles and guidelines for these kinds of operations. This manual—grounded in historical studies and informed by contemporary experiences—fills that need.
The new manual pursues a general approach to counterinsurgency, not one aimed specifically at any of the ongoing operations. It provides a broad overview of insurgencies through history to the present time, noting that every insurgency has a unique context and its own set of challenges. One cannot deal with former Saddamists or Islamic extremists the same way one would have fought the Viet Cong, the Moros, or the Tupamaros. Nonetheless, even today’s highly adaptable insurgencies remain wars amongst the people, employ variations of standard themes, and adhere to some elements of a recognizable campaign plan. The manual therefore addresses the common characteristics of insurgencies and takes into account issues of religion, ethnicity, and tribal relationships, examining these factors as motivations for the insurgencies the United States confronts today. Additionally, it discusses the impact of contemporary developments such as suicide bombers, urbanization, and new information technologies.
Aimed at commanders and staffs at the battalion level and above, the new manual strives to provide those who will carry out a counterinsurgency campaign a solid foundation on which to build. One of the primary emphases of the manual is the importance of learning counterinsurgency and ensuring that our forces are part of learning institutions that continually evaluate the circumstances of a particular campaign and adapt their actions to defeat the adversaries they face. Leaders at all levels must adjust their approach constantly, ensuring that their units are ready each day not just to kill or capture insurgents, but also to be nation builders as well as warriors, to help re-establish institutions and local security forces, to assist in the rebuilding of infrastructure and basic services, and to facilitate the establishment of local governance and the rule of law.
The manual notes that while the purpose of our Army and our Marine Corps is to fight, our ground forces have, throughout our history, been called on to perform additional tasks, particularly during counterinsurgency operations. As described in the manual, counterinsurgency operations are a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations, conducted along multiple lines of operation. The new manual explains that Soldiers and Marines conducting counterinsurgency operations thus need to be prepared to carry out a mix of both familiar combat tasks and tasks that are more often associated with nonmilitary agencies, with the focus varying depending on the local situation. Those on the ground must thus be ready, each day, to be greeted with a hand grenade or a handshake, and to respond appropriately to each. Success, of necessity, therefore requires extensive coordination and cooperation with a myriad of intergovernmental, international, and host nation agencies, and the manual underscores the importance of unity of effort by all engaged in a counterinsurgency campaign. The manual also alerts Soldiers and Marines to the many challenges of such endeavors and suggests general approaches for grappling with those challenges wherever they may have to operate.
Finally, the manual makes clear that conducting a successful counterinsurgency campaign requires a flexible, adaptive force—one that can both fight and build—led by agile, competent, culturally astute leaders. As the guidelines and discussions provided in the manual explain, counterinsurgency operations, inevitably, are exceedingly difficult and complex; indeed, they represent the “graduate level of warfare.”
The materiel included in the Counterinsurgency manual will be used to educate Army and Marine Corps leaders, to prepare for future operations, and to inform other U.S. government agencies and our allies on the intricacies of countering this aspect of irregular war.All done!
Nope. Not asking for money. Just showing you what we do with it.
Today SGT X crossed my path again. Two years ago when he was wounded I didn't know about Soldiers' Angels, I didn't know a thing about combat casualties, and even though SGT X had wounded hands it hadn't yet occurred to me that he wouldn't have adaptive computer technology at his disposal. But today I knew what it meant when I read the details of a request for a Valour-IT laptop:
1- 2ND/3RD DEGREE BURNS TO HANDS/FACE
2- LOSS OF HEARING
3- KNEE SURGERY TO REPAIR LIGAMENTS
4- BACK INJURIES(HERNIATED DISCS, PROTRUSIONS)
5- TBI FROM BLAST OF VBIED
I knew the name the moment I saw it. Two years on, and he's still recovering. And in those last two years I've been busy. And now maybe I know how to help him. I only wish we'd started sooner.
Small world, huh?
Update: Before posting this last night, I wrote to my Valour-IT colleagues and told them I know SGT X and he's a great guy. Based on that (and his injuries), he was instantly approved. He happened to be at Brooke for a therapy apointment this very morning (12/15/06) and was able to meet Valour-IT's representative and pick up the laptop 15 minutes after he was called. Twelve hours from request to receipt (no, that's not normal). Pretty cool, huh?
Read the rest here, at the home of the Heart of Project Valour-IT, Fuzzybear Lioness.
Former Defense Secretary William Perry, a member of the Iraq Study Group, said Saturday that Iraq could turn into a "quagmire" if the Bush administration fails to change strategy.This is a massive policy shift - many Democrats have been declaring Iraq a quagmire since before the invasion.
Perry, who led the Pentagon under President Clinton, delivered the Democratic Party's weekly radio address.
Referring to the Vietnam War, Perry said: "The term 'quagmire' recalls one of the saddest periods in American history, which we do not want to relive. But I believe that is likely to happen if we 'stay the course' in Iraq."
Back when we were in Germany, Mrs G would often cook up a huge pot of soup to take to the wounded troops recovering in the Landstuhl neighborhood. Yes, they had chow hall food available, but it turned out they appreciated the home cooking from time to time too. (Once she singlehandedly did an Easter Dinner for 40 - but that's another story.)
It didn't hurt that the soup was awesome. Now her recipe has been included in Blogalicious - a collection of recipes contributed by bloggers. Now, obviously Mrs G doesn't need a cookbook (he said, by way of maintaining household harmony) so I'm going to buy this one for myself.
On a related note, the lady who actually runs the whole Soldier's Angels Germany show could use your kind thoughts and prayers right about now.
Secretary Rumsfeld sounds worried in an interview (h/t LGF). Much of it sounds a lot like what he said to Smash last week--the secretary is consistent in his message from day to day--but these points are telling.
Look at the Johns Hopkins exercise with smallpox called Dark Winter. It was put in three airports in America. Something between 800,000 and 1 million people ‘died’ in some number of months, or a year, from a disease people are no longer vaccinated against. So there are things that can be done. There’s a tendency for a lot of people to be dismissive of this and to ridicule it.
Churchill’s phrase about the gathering storm - there was a storm gathering, but there were people in Europe who didn’t believe it and who didn’t take the periodic storm clouds and the squalls as a real threat. They thought they were transitory and, of course, paid an enormous penalty in treasure and life for their failure to understand the nature of that threat. I worry we are in a gathering storm and we do not, as a society, accept it. Many of the elites of our society, the key opinion leaders, are unwilling or unable to accept what an awful lot of people believe to be the case. The penalty for being wrong can be enormous.
CT: Biggest disappointment?
DR: It’s the inability to help the free people of the world to understand that this new century and the struggle we’re engaged in is real, is terribly dangerous to their safety, and regrettably, it is not going to be as easily seen in terms of pitched battles.
People who argue for more troops are often thinking World War II and the Weinberger Doctrine, which is valid in a conflict between armies, navies and air forces. The problem with it, in the context of a struggle against extremists, is that the greater your presence, the more it plays into extremist lies that you’re there to take their oil, to occupy their nation, stay and not leave; that you’re against Islam, as opposed to being against violent extremists.
People who argue for more, more, more, as I would in a conventional conflict, fail to recognize that it can have exactly the opposite effect. It can increase recruiting for extremists. It can increase financing for extremists. It can make more persuasive the lies of the extremists that we are there for the oil and water and want to take over their country. There is no guidebook, no map that says to General Abizaid or General Casey what they should recommend to the secretary of defense or the president as to numbers. It is a fact, whether or not it flies in the face of the popular media, that the level of forces we have had going into Iraq, and every month thereafter, are the number of troops the commanding generals have recommended. I have not increased them or decreased them over the objections of any general who is in a position of authority with respect to that decision.
Is it the right number? I don’t know. Do I have a heckuva lot of confidence in those two folks? Yes. Do I think it’s probably right? You bet, or I would have overruled it, or made a different recommendation to the president. But they have to walk that line; they have to find that balance.
There are two centers of gravity. One is in Iraq and the region; the other is here. The more troops you have, the greater the risk that you will be seen as an occupier and that you will feed an insurgency. The more troops you have - particularly American troops, who are so darn good at what they do - the more they will do things and the more dependent the Iraqis will become and the less independent they will become. If there’s a ditch to be dug, an American does not want to sit down and teach an Iraqi how to dig the ditch. He’ll go dig the dadburn ditch. But that is not what the task is. The task is to get the Iraqis to dig the ditches.
-- -- --All done!
"Thank you everyone, now I have to get back and read the News!"
Heidi's Thanksgiving, 2006. Via Heidi's Mom.
Click the picture for a larger version.
A little more evidence of the cooperation with bloggers we all want to see from CENTCOM...
(Another in a continuing series of profiles, but the first that deviates from a pattern set in previous Profiles, as described below. For a background on these profiles, and why I write them, go read An Introduction to Dadmanly's Profiles.)
All of my previous profiles have dealt with National Guard soldiers who deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or their families. This profile is a little different, written as a tribute to my good friends, comrades in arms and words, my brothers and sisters of the world wide web, the MILBLOGGERS. Not pajama clad, but camouflaged!
I previously attempted this profile of my fellow MILBLOGGERS. Earlier, I ended up writing about the significance of stories to soldiers, stories about their experiences, humorous anecdotes, remembrances, just stories, before I was very far into it at all. Best now to read that earlier post as preface to this profile of the MILBLOGGERS.
In Soldier Stories, I described concentric circles of shared experience, the strongest and tightest of all, the connection within a unit, and of shared command.
That’s how I think about MILBLOGGERS. Like the fellow soldiers of my unit, we’ve shared a mission. We fought together, in a very real sense, against media misrepresentations and the sometime indifference of our own nation or its leaders. We boosted each other up, we encouraged and sustained, we motivated. We worked through events together, covering scandal or history in the making, found perspective, described context, in short, told stories. Our stories, and our story telling, became the strongest bond of all.
(For more of the MILBLOGGER Profile, check back at Dadmanly. Many of my friends here are mentioned.)
The FBI has sent a bulletin to state and local law enforcement warning of possible terrorist reprisals as the health of an incarcerated terror mastermind fails, FOX News has learned.
Although the FBI said there is no credible indication that a plan for retribution is in place, the agency sent the warning as Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman was treated in Missouri for bleeding.
The blind sheik, who was the alleged architect of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, has called for revenge should he die in U.S. custody.
I think it's pretty clear that the Sheik will die in U.S. custody. The only question is when.
(Silver Spring, MD) - The Military Channel, the only cable network to go "behind the lines" on military subjects, and Military.com, the nation's largest online military destination, and subsidiary of Monster Worldwide, Inc., today announced a joint partnership to support men and women in uniform and give voice to veterans and current servicemembers through Reconnect America. This new national campaign will help raise awareness for numerous national organizations that support the U.S. armed forces, veterans and families nationwide, giving citizens everywhere the information they need to get involved. Reconnect America unites 50 million Military Channel and Military.com viewers and visitors with more then 10 million Americans in military-focused organizations such as Operation Gratitude, the Armed Services YMCA, the National Military Family Association, the Fisher House Foundation, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and many others.
I've got a list of contacts for press inquiries, so email if you're interested.
From my correspondent in the 1st Cav.
MOH recommendation moved up today for Division Commander’s signature. We had some bad weather in Taji, but the packet was eventually specially flown from his unit’s FOB. FYI his battalion is assigned to 2/1 ID, one of our 7 BCTs, but was task organized to 2nd Brigade, 2nd ID, another of our 7 BCTs, so a lot of units will get the privilege of honoring his heroism.
Recently, I attended the funeral of Private Reece Moreno, a Third Infantry Division soldier killed in Iraq. In the Patriot Guard Riders flag line, I stood next to Samantha, a local mother of a 3ID soldier and also the mother of a serving US Marine. At the funeral, we spoke briefly to Reece's mother, Regan, and told her to always remember that what her son had chosen for his life was important... that he was important.
A few days after the funeral, I was contacted by Lori, another local mom of a 3ID soldier and she asked if I would accompany her to present the Gold Star banner from Gold Star Mothers of America to Regan and Private Moreno's family. I said that I would be honored.
Today, Lori and I visited Private Moreno's mother and stepfather and Lori presented Regan with her banner, which they promptly hung proudly in the front window of their home.
Of course, there were tears -- more of that liquid love straight from the heart to our eyes -- as we embraced and talked of Reece. Regan proudly told us of his love for the Army, for his brothers and sisters, for his nieces, for his friends. She shared with us a video the family had made of Reece with pictures and the video of Reece's high school band... of he and his best friend Taylor.
It was a priviledge to watch this video and see the tiny baby cradled in his mother's arms grow to a chunky toddler, to a strapping young man, to the proud young soldier.
The video contained three songs -- one picked by Reece's mom, one picked by his fiancee, and one picked by his sisters -- James Blunt's "You're Beautiful". Turns out that just before Reece deployed, the whole family took a vacation to Nevada together just to have fun and to hang out... and one of the last memories his sisters have of Reece was all of them singing that song and laughing in the car on that last vacation together.
When we left, we reminded Regan that if she needed anything -- another mom to cry with or a shoulder to lean on or someone to vent the anger that will come -- we would be there for her.
We have always wondered where we find such men as Reece... and today I wonder where we find such mothers who raise such men, send them to war... and show such dignity and pride when they return... and when they die. Where do we find such women like Regan.
Today, Regan received this from someone she works with and she said it brought her much comfort, so I share it with you:
Death is Nothing at All
Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
whatever we were to each other
that we still are
call me by my old familiar name
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used
put no difference in your tone
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together
pray smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
without the trace of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant
it is the same as it ever was
there is unbroken continuity
why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you
somewhere very near
just around the corner
All is well
-- Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)
Canon of St Paul's Cathedral
x-posted at Some Soldier's Mom
Doesn't sound like the judge was happy about it, but he appears to have followed the law.
WASHINGTON - A federal judge upheld the Bush administration's new terrorism law Wednesday, agreeing that Guantanamo Bay detainees do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in U.S. courts.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Robertson is the first to address the new Military Commissions Act and is a legal victory for the Bush administration at a time when it has been fending off criticism of the law from Democrats and libertarians.
Though Robertson originally sided with Hamdan, he said that he no longer had jurisdiction to hear Hamdan's case because Congress clearly intended to keep such disputes out of federal courts. He said foreigners being held in overseas military prisons do not have the right to challenge their detention, a right people inside the country normally enjoy.
This was only a District Court. The lowest of the federal courts. The real test will be how the appellate court and (ultimately) the Supreme Court deal with this.
SCOTUS has generally not been too keen on the concept of jurisdiction stripping. Especially attempts to limit its own authority. Which presents a rather nice irony whereby the Court says that even though a law denies them jurisdiction to hear a case, the court hears the case to determine the constitutionality of the law.
Personally I think JDX stripping is cool and one of the few checks on a frequently irresponsible (and democratically irresponsive) judiciary.
Man, you just don't KNOW! When you're knee deep in the shyte, wastin' Charlie! Jumpin' outta planes! YOU CAN'T UNDO THAT MAN!
U.S. Army records produced in 2004 in response to a request from the organization News From Indian Country show that Churchill was inducted on Nov. 16, 1966, and trained as a light-truck driver and projectionist.He spent most of a year in Vietnam.
The stories he has told over the years of his Vietnam service have varied dramatically. On a 1980 résumé submitted to the University of Colorado, Churchill wrote that he served as a public-information specialist who "wrote and edited the battalion newsletter and wrote news releases."
In a 1987 interview with The Denver Post, and as recently as two weeks ago, Churchill described his Vietnam service as more complicated. In the 1987 interview, he said he had attended paratrooper school and been assigned as part of an elite long-range reconnaissance patrol to hunt the enemy. His service records do not reflect paratrooper school, or training or assignment on reconnaissance.
At his recent trial on charges of disrupting Denver's Columbus Day parade, he said he had walked "point" in a combat unit in Vietnam and was called "chief" because of his Indian heritage."
I was on the ground pulling triggers. You can't undo that. And I have an obligation to do what I can by way of compensation," Churchill said in a recent interview. "You can say that is the foundational reason that I do most all of what I do."
Chickens coming home to roost, indeed.
The South Korean government has made a power play against the new Pentagon leadership by announcing the delay of the United States Forces Korea relocation to Camp Humphreys:
A government source told Yonhap that it looks like transfer of the U.S. garrison at Yongsan to Pyeongtaek, originally scheduled to take place in 2007, would be delayed by five years to late 2013.
A source from one of the related government ministries said the possibility of completing the transfer by 2008 as scheduled was currently low, and that Korean government ministries handling the move were actively discussing a plan to delay the transfer from Yongsan and the competition of new base facilities in Pyeongtaek to 2013.
The government will reportedly announce this plan sometime next week.
The source said the change in schedule was necessary due to delays in discussions between authorities connected to the move and setbacks caused by protests from residents and civic groups.
The South Korean government is trying to take advantage of this period of transition in the Pentagon between Rumsfeld and Gates in order to get the USFK relocation delayed. Rumsfeld was dead set on the transformation of USFK and now the South Koreans are testing the new Secretary Gates to see if he is as committed to the relocation as Rumsfeld.
The Korean government has never wanted to allow the USFK relocation to Camp Humphreys just like they have never really wanted to take operational control from USFK either. However, Rumsfeld forced the issue on the South Korean government by calling their bluff and demanding the relocation and hand over of operational control. Both the Yongsan and the operational control issues have long served as great cannonfodder by South Korean politicians looking to demagoge the issue to their own political advantage. Plus the Koreans have never wanted to fully fund the move despite all the prime real estate they are gaining from the closed out USFK facilities. Heck they won’t even properly fund the US-ROK Alliance while giving over a billion dollars to North Korea a year!
You also have the Fifth Column in South Korea, organized by North Korean agents that want to stop the move because North Korea wants to keep 2ID and USFK locked into their current locations that are well within artillery range of North Korea which would mean their easy destruction during war time. Plus the South Korean government would like to keep USFK in their current positions as well because it limits the US's hand in dealing with North Korea because 2ID and Yongsan are effectively hostages of North Korean artillery. Additionally the locations of the bases, particularly Yongsan have been completely surrounded by urban cities which has led to accidents and incidents with the Korean public that gets demagoged by the North Korean sponsored anti-US activists groups in order to draw a wedge between USFK and the general Korean public. The consolidation of US forces would remove all US forces out of North Korean artillery range and additionally under the ballistic missile protection of US Army PATRIOT missile batteries. This would create better force protection for USFK forces along with giving USFK commanders more flexibility during war time. Additionally Camp Humphreys is located in a rural farming area of Korea which will improve USFK safety and training ability by not being surrounded by large urban cities.
It will be interesting to see the Pentagon’s reaction to the 2013 timeline. I tend to think that the Pentagon would accept a 2009 relocation time line that would coincide with a 2009 handover of operational control. A 2013 timeline is just an effort to further push this issue down the road and hope the Pentagon gives up on it just like what the Korean government is doing with the operational control issue.
I think it may be close to ultimatum time. Is it too late to bring General Trexler out of retirement?All done!
As tempting as it might be for some to see Mr. Bush lose his little war, it doesn’t end that cleanly. In order for him to lose, someone or something else has to win. And just because things are bad now does not mean that they can’t get worse.
We're all familiar with this picture of Arlington National Cemetary at Christmas.
2006 will mark the 15th anniversary of holiday wreaths being sent from the State of Maine to Arlington National Cemetery. Each year the folks at Worcester Wreath Company make and decorate wreaths that will adorn over 5000 headstones of our Nation’s fallen heroes - in what has become an annual event coordinated with the Cemetery Administration and the Maine State Society. The Patriot Guard Riders are escorting the wreaths from Maine to Arlington.
You Are Invited... to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony and activities at Arlington National Cemetery, or at any of the locations across the Country on Thursday, December 14th, 2006
A Moment of Silence will be held at ALL locations at Noon EST (sharp).
How can you get involved?
We hope you will be able to join us at Arlington National Cemetery or one of the other participating locations across the Country.
For those not able to attend, please pass the word that there will be a Moment of Silence at Noon EST, where people all across the Nation will stop and share a silent thank you, to all those who serve, to all we've lost, and to their families who will be without loved ones this holidays.
Please Share - Help spread the word!
More info HERE
The House and Senate will be faced will some early decisions as both the Army and Marine Corps ask them to increase the number of permanent personnel. Is the House ready to continue the attack on terrorism?
Someone you should know.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis packed only 136 pounds into his 6-foot frame, but few have ever matched his inner strength.
McGinnis sacrificed himself in an act of supreme bravery on Dec. 4, belying his status as the youngest Soldier in Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
The 19-year-old amateur mechanic from Knox , Pa. , who enjoyed poker and loud music, likely saved the lives of four Soldiers riding with him on a mission in Baghdad .
McGinnis was manning the gunner’s hatch when an insurgent tossed a grenade from above. It flew past McGinnis and down through the hatch before lodging near the radio.
His platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas of Longview , Texas , recalled what happened next.
“Pfc. McGinnis yelled ‘Grenade…It’s in the truck,’” Thomas said. “I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down.”
McGinnis did so even though he could have escaped.
“He had time to jump out of the truck,” Thomas said. “He chose not to.”
Thomas remembered McGinnis talking about how he would respond in such a situation. McGinnis said then he didn’t know how he would act, but when the time came, he delivered.
“He gave his life to save his crew and his platoon sergeant,” Thomas said. “He’s a hero. He’s a professional. He was just an awesome guy.”
Three of the Soldiers with McGinnis who were wounded that day have returned to duty, while a fourth is recovering in Germany .
For saving the lives of his friends and giving up his own in the process, McGinnis earned the Silver Star, posthumously. His unit paid their final respects in a somber ceremony here Dec. 11.
McGinnis was born June 14, 1987, and joined the Army right after graduating high school in 2005. He had been in the Army 18 months and made his mark even before his heroic deed.
“He was a good kid,” said C Company’s senior enlisted Soldier, 1st Sgt. Kenneth J. Hendrix. “He had just gotten approved for a waiver to be promoted to specialist.”
He also appeared on the Nov. 30 cover of Stars & Stripes, manning his turret.
Besides his military accomplishments, McGinnis leaves his friends and family with memories of a fun-loving, loyal man.
Private First Class Brennan Beck, a 1-26 infantryman from Lodi , Calif. , said McGinnis made others feel better.
“He would go into a room and when he left, everyone was laughing,” Beck said. “He did impersonations of others in the company. He was quick-witted, just hilarious. He loved making people laugh. He was a comedian through and through.”
While having a witty side, McGinnis took his job seriously.
“He was not a garrison Soldier. He hated it back in garrison,” Beck said. “He loved it here in Iraq . He loved being a gunner. It was a thrill, he loved everything about it. He was one our best Soldiers. He did a great job.”
Beck has memories of talking all night with McGinnis about where they wanted their lives to go, and said McGinnis always remembered his friends.
“When I had my appendix removed, he was the only one who visited me in the hospital,” Beck said. “That meant a lot.”
Another 1-26 infantryman, Private First ClassMichael Blair of Klamath Falls , Ore. , recalled that McGinnis helped him when he arrived at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt , Germany .
“When I first came to the unit…he was there and took me in and showed me around,” Blair said. “He was real easy to talk to. You could tell him anything. He was a funny guy. He was always making somebody laugh.”
McGinnis’ final heroic act came as no surprise to Blair.
“He was that kind of person,” Blair said. “He would rather take it himself than have his buddies go down.”
The brigade’s senior noncommissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. William Johnson, also had high praise for McGinnis.
“Anytime when you get a Soldier to do something like that - to give his life to protect his fellow Soldiers - that’s what heroes are made of,” Johnson said.
It also demonstrates, Johnson continued, that the ‘MySpace Generation’ has what it takes to carry on the Army’s proud traditions.
“Some think Soldiers who come in today are all about themselves,” Johnson said. “I see it differently.”
The Silver Star has already been approved for McGinnis’ actions Dec.4, and will be awarded posthumously.
Well done, PFC McGinnis. Requiescat Im Pace.
However, I have a question. Is the Silver Star a final award, or an interim? Why do I ask? Glad you asked. This is why:
*ANDERSON, JAMES, JR.
*ANDERSON, RICHARD A.
*AUSTIN, OSCAR P.
*BACA, JOHN P.
*BARKER, JEDH COLBY
*BARNES, JOHN ANDREW III
*BELLRICHARD, LESLIE ALLEN
*BLANCHFIELD, MICHAEL R.
*BOWEN, HAMMETT L., JR.
*CARTER, BRUCE W.
*COKER, RONALD L.
*CONNOR, PETER S.
*CREEK, THOMAS E.
*DAHL, LARRY G.
*DAVIS, RODNEY MAXWELL
*DE LA GARZA, EMILIO A., JR.
*DICKEY, DOUGLAS E.
*FLEEK, CHARLES CLINTON
*FOLLAND, MICHAEL FLEMING
*FOSTER, PAUL HELLSTROM
*FOUS, JAMES W.
*FRATELLENICO, FRANK R.
*GUENETTE, PETER M.
*HARVEY, CARMEL BERNON, JR.
HERDA, FRANK A.
*HOSKING, CHARLES ERNEST, JR.
*HOWE, JAMES D.
*INGALLS, GEORGE ALAN
*JENKINS, ROBERT H., JR.
*JOHNSON, RALPH H.
*KAROPCZYC, STEPHEN EDWARD
*KELLOGG, ALLAN JAY, JR.
*KINSMAN, THOMAS JAMES
*LANGHORN, GARFIELD M.
*LAW, ROBERT D.
*LEISY, ROBERT RONALD
*LONG, DONALD RUSSELL
What do these 39 men have in common? They all, in one way or another, fell on grenades to save the lives of others around them. Some were involved in hairy fights, some were isolated incidents. Few of them survived.
In other words, they all acted as did PFC McGinnis.
And that doesn't include WWII or WWI, which I don't have time to go through.
So, I hope this is an *interim* award. I've asked. I'll let you know if I get an answer.
Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.
Update: Glad I asked. I just got this (of course, right *after* I posted the above) from a buddy and long-time reader who is in-country and in a position to know.
Just wanted to give you a heads up that PFC Ross McGinnis, 1-26 IN, was
KIA on 04 DEC 2006 here in Baghdad. His parents will receive his Silver Star (hopefully interim) at the funeral. He is being submitted for the Medal of Honor. AIF got a grenade into his M1151 through the top hatch.
He yelled "Grenade" and shielded his comrades by throwing his body on the grenade. Everyone in that vehicle walked away; some were pretty hurt, but nonetheless, were alive.
I hope this award doesn't drag out for two-plus years.
Good. And ditto on that timeliness thing.
Update: Glad I asked. I just got this (of course, right *after* I posted the above) from a buddy and long-time reader who is in-country and in a position to know.
Just wanted to give you a heads up that PFC Ross McGinnis, 1-26 IN, was KIA on 04 DEC 2006 here in Baghdad. His parents will receive his Silver Star (hopefully interim) at the funeral. He is being submitted for the Medal of Honor. AIF got a grenade into his M1151 through the top hatch.
He yelled "Grenade" and shielded his comrades by throwing his body on the grenade. Everyone in that vehicle walked away; some were pretty hurt, but nonetheless, were alive.
I hope this award doesn't drag out for two-plus years.
Good. And ditto on that timliness thing.
As ever, Matt does it better. More story here.
There's been some confusion over a Washington Post story about Fran O'Brien's. Confusion cleared up here.
HotAir links to this video by the Christian Embassy featuring a whole bunch of senior military leaders in uniform speaking about their faith in, among other places, the Pentagon. Allah asks whether this violates DODI 1334.01, which prohibits wearing the uniform:
...when participating in activities such as unofficial public speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, rallies or any public demonstration, which may imply Service sanction of the cause for which the demonstration or activity is conducted.
Had such a request come across my desk for review, I’d have likely advised against it based on the potential that it would be seen as an official endorsement of a private organization. But 1334.01 does provide for exceptions to the general prohibition provided authorization is received.
DOD personnel can participate in private orgs in their personal capacities–they cannot do so (in or out of uniform) and attempt to coerce subordinates to join/donate money/etc. So even though I would have advised against it–nothing I saw in the video leads me to believe that DOD is endorsing Christian Embassy, either explicitly or implicitly. The video participants speak exclusively of their own beliefs, not DOD policy. So while it's a close question given their wearing of the uniform, ultimately I'd say the statements are not violative of existing policy.
As an additional note–the MRFF “compliance” PDF is garbage. It speaks of emails sent from an Air Force account that include bible verses as being “illegal” since, in their words “according to regulations, [such accounts] should be used solely for military business.”
The Joint Ethics Regulation (DOD 5500.7-R), paragraph 2-301, permits limited personal use of gov’t communications equipment (including email) when authorized by a superior (such authorization is is generally presumed unless expressly prohibited).
Provided the communications don’t reflect adersely on DOD, do not overburden the communications systems, are of reasonable duration and frequency, etc–then such personal use (including emails that cite bible verses) are permissible.
So yeah, garbage….though the rest of the PDF is fun--especially when it argues that the AF's 523d Fighter Squadron is pissing on the Constitution because its patch has a cross on it.All done!
I started to write a Dadmanly Profile for MILBLOGGERS. I ended up writing about the significance of stories to soldiers, stories about their experiences, humorous anecdotes, remembrances, just stories, before I was very far into it at all. Rather than make the MILBLOGGER profile overly lengthy – I tell you, what I need most is a good editor – I thought I’d make this its own post.
I visit a Vet Center from time to time, and in one of our group sessions, I remarked that I felt guilty that I hadn’t done more for my troops as a First Sergeant, mobilized, training, and then during deployment to Iraq. Oh, I did what I needed to do, I watched what I needed to watch, disciplined who I needed to discipline, stocked what I needed to stock and fixed what was broke. I did the duty, took some pictures, got a medal way too easily earned, would have got the T shirt, if we’d bothered to make one.
But somehow, I took care of my psyche, my emotional and spiritual needs my own way, almost in isolation. My faith was central, but MILBLOGGING was my emotional lifeline, as important to my strength and morale as the frequent phone calls and IM and emails with my wife and family. Every troop needs some kind of emotional contact, and I hadn’t been that as much as I could have been for my troops. I kept pretty close to home, so to speak.
One of the young men at the Vet Center, struggling with his own demons with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) since combat, challenged me to turn my guilt into action. He said that I wouldn’t be in that room, saying what I was saying, if it were really the case that I wasn’t ready to help my men and women when they needed me most. He said, “Top, they need you now. You’re a First Sergeant, you need to remember what it’s like and advocate for your troops. You need to make sure they get taken care of, that they get what they deserve.” I added to that thought, thinking that they need to get what they deserve from the Nation that owes them more than can be repaid.
I often think about the guys at the Vet Center. Some of them are angry, some are hurting, and all have been affected by their time in combat. We all of us share concentric circles of connection, we who serve.
(For the rest of Soldier Stories, check back at Dadmanly.)
Are currently broken. We're working on the fix.
I'm still very close friends with one of my roommates from VMI. I went on to join the military, he went on to become a reporter with a large MSM rag.
Naturally, we dual frequently over Iraq War reporting. His contention is that reporters are pros who are just trying to do their job. Bias is non-existant, and if it does occasional eek into stories, it is unintentional. Now since Sam lives the life of the intrepid reporter, I give him the benefit of the doubt on this subject. And his pops was a Green Beret, so Sam does understand both worlds, both lifestyles. I know that most journalists take accuracy very seriously, and that the editorial board of the New York Times and the DC beltway establishment are not the same as the larger national press corps.
So I can equally respect the positions of these journalists who commented on war reporting in a recent edition of the Columbia Journalism review:
Paul Holmes Reuters
I have young journalists who come to me and say, “I want to go to Iraq.” And my response to them is, “I will help you to build the sort of experience that would qualify you to go to Iraq, but you can’t go to Iraq. I’m sorry.” And most of them, in fact, all of them, have accepted it. I don’t think anybody should have to go to Iraq unless they have experience in a previous conflict, because I don’t think it’s fair to them, I don’t think it’s fair to their colleagues, and I don’t think it’s particularly good for the story. So we look at their experience, we look at their maturity. In a place like Iraq, they live and work with their colleagues in a compound where they can’t go out for most of the day and all of the night, and that requires a very special sort of person; you can’t have prima donnas in that environment, you can’t have loudmouths in that environment. I’ve worked in that sort of environment with loudmouths, and it’s unbearable.
Dan Murphy The Christian Science Monitor
I had gone and watched a movie with a buddy in Mansur one night, fall or early winter of 2004, and we wanted to go over the bridge. The bridge that you go over to go toward the airport, and there was an American vehicle checkpoint set up basically blocking the way you wanted to go on the bridge. It would have meant a twenty-minute detour for us. There were three or four cars that would pull up and they would turn around; it was late at night.
So we stopped and rolled down the window and a private walks over and I said, “I’m an American reporter, can you let me through, ’cause this is going to take another twenty minutes and it’s dark and a little dangerous and we’re just going over there.” The guy says, “Shut the fuck up.” I say, “Look man, I don’t want to make trouble for you,” and while I’m talking to him he’s got his flashlight and he’s moving it in frenetic circles over both of my eyes. I said, “Look, really man, I’m just trying to get home. Is there any way we can just get through?” And he says, “Now you’ve done it! I’m pulling you over and I’m making you wait here while we search your whole car.”
So we comply. We got out of the car, stand away from the car as we were told to, open the trunk, etcetera. And this is my friend’s driver, an Iraqi driver who I had just met that evening, so I felt pretty bad that I had gotten him into that situation. And the pimply private comes over and he says to me, “Yeah, how do you like that? You see what you get when you fuck with me?” Like two feet from my face. And not to my perfect credit, I basically called him a word that will famously get you thrown out of any baseball game that has ever been played. You can figure that out for yourself. Not a pleasant word. And that was it. He goes and talks to his commanding officer, who comes over and within two minutes has me zip-tied, handcuffed, roughly searched, and interrogated for fifteen minutes. We go through this and I’m calm, as I usually am, and eventually they’re like, I guess we can’t arrest an American for using language that we don’t like. They untie me, and we drove off and go home.
About a week later, we get an e-mail addressed to The Christian Science Monitor Baghdad bureau chief, and I was chief at the time, and it’s a letter written by the general in Baghdad at the time. The letter goes on to say we’ve had a lot of complaints about the conduct of our troops in the field and we try to hold ourselves to a high standard and correct problems when they are brought to our attention by the press, but we think you have to be equally responsible and aware of the terrible behavior of your people. For instance, this guy Dan Murphy was stopped and was politely asked to step out of his car and he refused and launched into a profanity-laced, anti-American tirade, and he was so agitated and physically wild that we had to restrain him for his safety and our own. And etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. That was completely fantasy. It was lies. And I have no doubt that the general who wrote this letter believed it; he had attached the incident report written by the soldiers who were involved in this little incident.
Basically, I responded and said I happen to be that guy, and I will tell you exactly what happened, and of course [the report] has no truth because these things have no truth. And he apologized and said, “These things get garbled in transmission, sorry.” Now, does this incident matter in the big scheme of things? No. Did the guys on that patrol lie because they thought that maybe arresting Americans for using one naughty word isn’t the thing they should be doing? Maybe. Was what he was told by the soldiers in the field, who of course might have an incentive to lie, believed wholeheartedly by this general? Absolutely. Does it lead me to believe — given the source from the podium in the Green Zone and elsewhere over three years now — that these sorts of reports are far from the whole truth? Absolutely. Have there been military investigations that have proven the same? Absolutely. I think you get the point of the story.
Sam was particularly taken with Dan Murphy's testimony. My response was that, like any organization, the military has a few bad seeds (Abu Gharab anyone?). His reply was: "Hey man, more "moral waivers" and bottom third asfab scorers than ever before. It's like great society II." Which turned into a debate on the draft, and so the great circle presses foward.
Caroline Hawley BBC
My big worry is that the audience sometimes doesn’t know what they are missing because we as journalists didn’t all know what we were missing, because we were unable to function as we would anywhere else in the world. You are unable to just go and chat with people in coffee shops. You’re unable to just drive up to a town an hour north of Baghdad, a mixed Shiite and Sunni town, and chat with people about sectarian division. You are unable to do all the things that you felt you should have been doing. And my worry always was that we didn’t know how much we were missing.
Anne Barnard The Boston Globe
The most personal thing I have to say about this probably is that when I first came into Iraq, it was really a feeling that a Band Aid had been ripped off the skin of Iraq — that everything was raw, everything was new. It might be a little painful or disorienting, but people were starting to talk, and people were spilling out these stories. People had many hopes and many fears, and it was the most dynamic experience I’ve ever experienced as a reporter, or personally. There’s a lot of sadness when I look back on that, when I look back on what might have been. And not to give the wrong impression — readers should know that Iraqis still are, in fact, going to work every day and going to the market. But the overarching fear and uncertainty I’m sure they didn’t know would last has lasted three years and counting.
But Iraq had suddenly broken open and all these things — both therapeutic and really ugly — were bursting out of people, and literally these bodies were bursting out of the ground. And people were digging up, on their hands and knees, digging up the ribs and the femurs of their relatives that had been buried by Saddam. They were finding them in these graves. At the time you had this idea that it was going to be like the end of the Soviet Union, and people were going to start reexamining their own personal choices in having condoned or supported or tolerated that regime, and that that would be a healthy process for the country.
But instead, the ugliness of what came out from things that were buried, physically and metaphorically, was just too much. There was so much anger that had to come out. And when you combine that with the failures of the American occupation to provide a safe environment for those things to be worked out, you got the situation that we have today.
One that I've learned from the anti-war elements in this country is that I simply cannot stand uninformed, ideologically driven commentary passed off as fact (Iraq is bad, mmmkay). That's why I feel so strongly about getting the MSM's side of this story, as we in the military constantly challenge their professionalism and journalistic ethics. It may not fit our party line, so to speak, but it does elevate the debate above petty name calling and snarking.
The entire piece is worth a read in its entirity.
The Australian Defence Force bans its soldiers from milblogging.
Parents of the year in my book, and the anti-Cindy Sheehan that I wish more Americans knew about.
Since Staff Sgt. Christopher W. Swanson was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in July, his father has trumpeted one message: “It’s OK to hate war, but you’ve got to love the warrior.”
Earlier this week, the couple flew from Maryland to Germany on their own dime to attend the welcome home ceremony of the 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team — their son’s former unit.
“I believe that’s what our son would want,” Gary Swanson said.
The couple has visited wounded members of their son’s unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which is not far from their home in Rose Haven, Md.
“The whole thing for us, our family being in and coming from public service, is it’s uplifting and it’s good therapy for us to be around these guys also,” said Gary Swanson.
Donald Rumsfeld is not universally loved in the Pentagon. I'm told that he can be a tough, stubborn, and demanding boss. Rumsfeld is infamous for firing off short memos -- known colloquially as "snowflakes" -- asking next-to-impossible-to-answer questions or demanding revolutionary changes. He came to the building in 2001, promising to transform the Department of Defense from a Cold War force to a more flexible, agile military, better prepared to face the challenges of the Twenty-first Century. Almost six years later, that transformation is well underway, but not yet complete. Along the way, Rumsfeld has stepped on many toes, and slaughtered many sacred cows. Inevitably, he made some enemies, especially among the senior officers and long-serving bureaucrats who were heavily invested in the "old way" of doing things.
But the troops, and a solid majority of the officers, love him. This is abundantly clear from the warm reception Rumsfeld receives as he walks up to the podium.
For the visual learners among us, the NECC badge looks like this:
And, as a fomer MIUWU guy (like Smash), I like the idea of some good folks getting a little recognition for doing a challenging job.
An enlightening interview:
Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?That's from an interview with Silvestre Reyes, incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Here's a question his interviewer asked only of readers:
“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”
“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.
“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.
He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.
It’s been five years since these Muslim extremists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center.And here's Congressman Reyes' opinion on troop levels in Iraq:
Is it too much to ask that our intelligence overseers know who they are?
Yet Reyes says he favors sending more troops there.For the record, I believe this is illustrative of one source (unfortunately a mere fraction) of frustration General Chiarelli expressed regarding the non-military commitment to Iraq. As the interviewer points out, Reyes is hardly alone in his world.
“If it’s going to target the militias and eliminate them, I think that’s a worthwhile investment,” he said.
But lest you despair, here's a reassuring quote from his home page:
He remains concerned about the potential threats to our national security and continues to push our Intelligence Community to develop more human intelligence, to procure more advanced technology, and to share more information so as to prevent tragedies like the terrorist attacks of September 11th from happening again.
An explorer, deliverer of humanitarian aid, law enforcer and -for a little longer- the oldest ship in the U. S. Coast Guard.
I think you put too much emphasis on whether or not he's really a Marine. Don't forget Jonathan Hutto - who like Philip Martin joined the military after the invasion of Iraq. ("Philip Martin has been a Marine for 2 years"). Hutto is an obvious anti-war "implant" in the ranks, but active duty nonetheless.
Martin, on the other hand, may be exactly what he claims he is - someone who was completely and totally gullible enough to be duped into joining the Marines during an actual war, the sort of person who will "fall for anything". Now he's parroting extremist Lefty talking points about Bushitler.
A lot of congressional leaders (and other Americans) are insisting they were completely and totally duped by pre-war claims of WMDs in Iraq. I'm always curious as to why these self-professed "easy marks" are considered worth listening to when they announce their latest epiphanies.
I put "Marine" in quotes not because people on active duty don't have the right to have personal opinions, but because I'm not sure this guy is who he says he is:
The moonbatty anti-war sites are a-twitter today with an essay written by one Philip Martin, who claims to be an active duty Marine stationed at Twentynine Palms. The essay itself is fairly juvenile, filled with a bunch of simplistic leftist conclusions that one normally weans themselves of during freshman year bull sessions (high school, not college). For example, he seems to be claiming that nationalism in America is a recent phenomenon. Later on, he says things about President Bush that, if said by an officer, would clearly be in violation of Article 88 -- but he doesn't seem to be claiming to be an officer. It's hard to tell when he really wrote the essay -- he mentioned the leaked Marine intel report from September, so it had to be after that. He also says that on the day he wrote the essay, he had attended a memorial service for a Marine killed in April. Do Marines really wait that long to hold memorials? He says he's deploying again in April -- are there any major Marine units scheduled to deploy then?
Anyway, if there's any group that could determine if this guy is really who he says he is, or if he's just someone claiming to be an active duty Marine, the mil-bloggers would be the ones to do it.
Update: From a reader, here's a story on the OP-29 website that may be the memorial service Martin was talking about; it was held Dec 5th..
December 7, 2006: The U.S. Navy will now issue a pin for enlisted sailors serving with the "Naval Expeditionary Combat Command" (NECC). Several other specialties have similar pins. Submariners wear a dolphin, aviators wear wings. The NECC sailors are being trained for ground combat, and this will let people know who they are. It's good for morale.
It's a quote ripped from out of its context. The General was referring to what has happened in the past - he says we could not have done more militarily than what we have done. He did not at all mean that we have nothing left to do, or that we can't do anything else, and certainly not that it's time to throw in the towel. He was speaking in the past tense.
The full quote is in the "continue reading" section, the full briefing text is here. The last line of the question he was responding to is this: "What missteps did we make in the last year?" And the short (but not hacked to the point of meaningless) version of his answer is "I happen to believe that we have done everything militarily we possibly can. We're working to strengthen the Iraqi military. The Iraqi army gets better every day. But I really believe the key to this conflict is to understand that it's going to take more than military action to solve the problems that face Iraq and to pull people together."
I'm not sure what's earth shattering about that. If anyone's ever been arguing that the US military by itself can fix every problem anywhere they are blithering idiots. In fact, I'm not sure what's headline worthy about that - unless you change what he meant to something entirely different.
Of course the media is going to frame that as a statement that the military can do no more than it has - which is far from the truth, and far from what the General said. But virtually any quote you see from a member of the US armed forces in the press will be completely butchered. For some reason, that butchering will invariably make it appear the individual quoted is defeated and surrendering. When reading or watching news you must bear in mind that the vast majority of members of the media are not on our side in this current war.
For the record, here's the next question:
Q And, sir, you don't think it's -- it's not too late for that? You think there's still an opportunity to turn things around?
GEN. CHIARELLI: I definitely think there's an opportunity to turn things around. There's no doubt in my mind there is.
Here's the section of the briefing we're discussing.
Q General, this is Pam Hess with United Press International. The narrative that we've gotten here over the last year in Iraq is that it was the Golden Mosque bombing that set this all off and set Iraq on the course it's on now. But I think it's got to be more complicated than that, Can you explain to us how you think Iraq got from the elections that you talked abut to where it is now, what the missteps were on the part of the United States that we could have done differently? I think we're aware of what the Iraqi government could have done differently, as in getting organized more quickly, moving towards reconciliation, handling their oil. But could you focus on the U.S. end? What missteps did we make in the last year?
GEN. CHIARELLI: Well, I think the Golden Mosque bombing was absolutely critical. In my two years here, there's not been a single more definitive event that seemed to have changed the way Iraqis looked at themselves and looked at their country. I remember when I was over here in my first year, the issues of sectarianism were something that were possibly below the surface, but when you talked to Iraqis, they considered themselves Iraqis.
And there wasn't a single situation that I remember in my first year where they pointed to the difference between Sunni and Shi'a when you went down into the neighborhoods. When you went down into the neighborhoods in Baghdad, where I was the first time, you found mixed neighborhoods of Sunnis and Shi'as who had lived together for many, many years. And quite frankly, neighbors didn't know what the sect of each other was.
I happen to believe that we have done everything militarily we possibly can. We're working to strengthen the Iraqi military. The Iraqi army gets better every day. But I really believe the key to this conflict is to understand that it's going to take more than military action to solve the problems that face Iraq and to pull people together. It's going to take working along with other lines of operation, the economic and the political lines of operation, the reconstruction line of operation, to give Iraqis hope for their future.
I'm still struck by the fact that when I go into the provinces and talk to provincial governors and ask them what's the one thing that I could do to, in fact, make things better and create a better security situation in their province, they unanimously tell me every time, put the angry young man to work, find jobs for them. And I think that it's those kinds of things that we need to do better, and I think it's those kinds of things that we have to convince the Iraqi government are absolutely critical to lowering the level of violence at the same time that we do what's necessary for those who do not want Iraqi democracy to succeed.
Q And, sir, you don't think it's -- it's not too late for that? You think there's still an opportunity to turn things around?
GEN. CHIARELLI: I definitely think there's an opportunity to turn things around. There's no doubt in my mind there is.
I am trying to process this quote from LTG Chiarelli. I need help.
"I happen to believe that we have done everything militarily that we possibly can,"Our "full measure?" Out of Schlitz? Winchester? Culmination?
I have looked all over the place for better context. It has to be out there. Isn't there a PIO out there that can "revise and extend his remarks?" Was he talking about a specific tactical aspect? Just an unfortunate choice of words, i.e. the wrong words at the right time in the wrong ears? We all have bad days. In a word: ungh.
Steele's point is timely; I'd point to some other essays that are also germane:
It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time -- Screamin' Eagle Edition
A Top Sekrit photo representative of the extensive testing the Army Combat Uniform went through has been released by the New York Times.
Hey - one thing's for sure... the ACU works in an urban environment!
H/t, Mike L.
Shelby Steele concludes a thoughtful piece at the Opinion Journal of the Wall Street Journal today...
For every reason, from the humanitarian to the geopolitical to the military, Iraq is a war that America must win in the hegemonic, even colonial, sense. It is a test of our civilization's commitment to the good against the alluring notion of menace-as-power that has gripped so much of the Muslim world. Today America is a danger to the world in its own right, not because we are a powerful bully but because we don't fully accept who we are. We rush to war as a superpower protecting the world from menace, then leave the battle before winning as a show of what, humility? We confuse our enemies, discouraging them one minute and encouraging them the next.
Could it be that our enemies are really paper tigers made formidable by our unceasing ambivalence? And could it be that the greater good is in both the idea and the reality of American victory?
You should read the whole thing HERE
The U.S. Army has a program in place that allows Soldiers (active-duty, Guard, Reserves) to send a special "thank you" to those who have supported them (spouse, parent, employer). It's free, take advantage of it.
Not sure if the other branches have a similar program. If so, let me know and I'll update the post.
When I saw this it jogged my memory a bit. Finally, I remembered Anecdote #243 [Frank Wilkerson] of the Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes:
On one of those six Cold Harbour days, when my battery was in action, I saw a party of horsemen riding towards us from the left. I smiled as the absurdity of men riding along a battle-line for pleasure filled my sense of the ridiculous; but as I looked I saw that the party consisted of a civilian under escort. The party passed close behind our guns, and in passing the civilian exposed a large placard, which was fastened to his back, and which bore the words, 'Libeller of the Press'. We all agreed that he had been guilty of some dreadful deed, and were pleased to see him ride the battle line. He was howled at, and the wish to tear him limb from limb and strew him over the ground was fiercely expressed. This man escaped death from the shot and shells and bullets that filled the air. I afterwards met him in Washington, and he told me that he was a newspaper war correspondent, and that his offence was in writing , as he thought, truthfully, to his journal, that General Meade advised General Grant to retreat to the north of the Rapidan after the battle of the Wilderness.
[a footnote reads; the correspondent was Edward Crapsey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. General Meade later claimed that his punishment delighted the army 'for the race of newspaper correspondents is universally despised by the soldiers'.]
Please stay safe, and God Bless Mr. Roggio.All done!
I've asked that Mudville be removed from the military blogs category of the weblog awards. Hopefully that will happen ASAP. Thought I'd better explain that before folks started wondering why I vanished.
I've always been strongly opposed to "competitive milblogging." I'm never going to send a message to a troop in Iraq or Afghanistan that some guy blogging from his home office has a better blog than his, and I can't stomach the thought of folks at home voting for their favorite deployed blogger as if troops in Iraq are in some kind of effing beauty pageant.
MilBlogs was briefly "down" today due to technical difficulties. If you had trouble posting a comment (or a post for that matter) that's why.
(safe for work)
More than half of the Navy's casualties at Pearl Harbor were sustained aboard the USS Arizona, where 1100 men are still entombed.
We still remember them to this day, in passing we still render honors.
...and being blogged about over at PBS, no less. Mark Glaser at Media Shift on Project Valour-IT.
BTW - the goal was $180K. Currently the total is $230K, and still inching north.
Good on us all, bloggers and contributors alike! That will put the project in front of a "bluer' audience... and will show them some of us chickenhawks at least put our money where our blogs are, and take care of our own.
We ask for money, and convince you it's worth it. We don't make the IRS go take it from people... 8^)
"Um, Lieutenant, sir? Don't you think we've been driving a long time for a 10 mile road march?"
"Of course not, soldier! I've got the GPS. Keep heading southwest."
"Uh, yessir - but the road sign back there said..."
"Troop, I'm not going to tell you again - keep driving!"
This is why we neep to keep maps and map-reading skillz, in addition to the nice gizmos. Snerk.
I did a little reading on this once upon a time. Courtesy of a rant at work, here's an incomplete list of things I've used to think about how organizations change.
Sunni majority countries in the Middle East also could become involved if the Shiite population inside Iraq lauched an ethnic cleansing program against the Sunnis, he said. If that were to happen, “I think that the Turks would not sit by idly if they saw Iraq beginning to fall apart,” Gates said. “So I think that you could have Saudi Arabia, you could have Turkey, Syria, Iran, all would be involved. We're already seeing Hezbollah involved in training fighters for Iraq.”
The war on terror could be a generational effort, and all parties must agree on the general approach to the battle. “He said there needs to be broad agreement on a path forward in Iraq and in terms of how the U.S. fights the war on terror “so that we can carry on this struggle in a way that (the terrorists and extremists) don't think we're going to cut and run, that they don't think we're going to walk away from this war on terrorism, and so that they don't think it's going to be easy to start attacking us here at home because we're not willing to take them on abroad.”
Confirmed by a 95-2 vote. He has better teeth and smiles more than Rummy.All done!
Opening up my AKO e-mail, I found this.
I think it is safe to say that we are seeing some improvement by CENTCOM and their work with bloggers...
WASHINGTON - The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to confirm Robert Gates as defense secretary, with Democrats and Republicans portraying him as the man who will help overhaul President Bush's Iraq policies.
The 95-2 vote was a victory for Bush, who named Gates to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon on Nov. 8, a day after voters gave Democrats control of Congress for next year.
Even so, much of Gates' support stemmed from his pledges to consider new options in Iraq. The vote coincided with the release of an independent study lambasting Bush's approach to the war, increasing pressure on the White House to change course.
Sens. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and Jim Bunning, R-Ky., voted against Gates.
I don't mind being beat out by NCOs and guys in the Sandbox... but Noonan? That hurts.
Hey, that does hurt! Why you always harping on the poor Loot? Sheesh and I thought bringing in a Light Bird would've helped some....
In all seriousness, I wouldn't make too much of it John. If the finalists were selected by virtue of daily visits alone, you'd be in the top 4-5 of all milbloggers. So if there's ego damage, remember to keep the grand scheme in perspective!
Our milblogging swabbies make up a powerful fraternity. Thank God I've at least got a fellow zoomie in Greyhawk.
The recent reports of North Korea making millions of dollars off of insurance scams that would make Tony Soprano proud, really shouldn't be surprising to anyone who follows North Korean affairs. However, what I think everyone would be surprised about is who is paying off the gangsters.
Recently the US and Korea concluded the USFK cost sharing agreement:
South Korea and the United States on Wednesday struck a deal to increase Seoul’s share of the cost of maintaining American soldiers here in 2007 and 2008 by 6.6 percent, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said.
Korea will contribute a total of 725.5 billion won ($780 million) next year, up 45.1 billion won from its share this year, and its share in 2008 will be 725.5 billion won plus the rate of inflation in 2007, ministry officials said.
``We could conclude the agreement with the U.S. side on the phone,’’ a ministry official said. ``Both sides are not totally content with the result of the negotiations, but I think it is the most reasonable result based on the spirit of the Seoul-Washington alliance.’’
The deal was struck after six rounds of negotiations between Seoul and Washington.
South Korea is going to contribute $780 million dollars to USFK next year which is still less than half the overall USFK costs. Prior to this agreement South Korea payed roughly 40% of USFK's costs; this new agreement means they are paying roughly 46% of costs.
Let's compare the $780 million dollar cost sharing agreement to the amount of money Seoul sends to North Korea.
While North Korea was busy creating international stability with their ballistic missile and nuclear bomb tests, the South Korean government was busy sending them a record amount of humanitarian aid. The South Korean government sent $227 million dollars worth of humanitarian aid while private donors in South Korea sent $70 million dollars worth of humanitarian aid for a grand total of roughly $300 million dollars in humanitarian aid to North Korea.
On top of the humanitarian aid, the Korean government this year sent 650 billion won or about $690 million dollars in inter-Korean economic aid to North Korea to finance joint Korean ventures such as the Kaesong Industrial Project the and Kumgang Tour operations.
So if you add up the humanitarian aid and economic aid sent to North Korea by South Korea this year, it comes up to nearly $1 billion dollars in aid while the South Korean government payed only 40% of the cost sharing for the US-ROK alliance for a total $735 million dollars. In effect the South Korean government is willing to pay the North Koreans more money than they are willing to pay for cost sharing of the US-ROK alliance that has been responsible for ensuring the economic, political, and national security of the nation for over 50 years.
Then to make matters worse the US negotiators had to then haggle for months to get the South Korean government to raise their cost sharing contributions by a only 6.6% to $780 million dollars this year while planning on continuing to give North Korea a billion dollars in aid next year despite their provacative ballistic missile and nuclear tests.
Obviously for the South Korean government it is more important to pay off the gangsters than to fund the very alliance that has made the Republic of Korea possible.All done!
Tune into Larry King LIVE tonight at 9:00 EST. Becky Davis, the mother of two soldiers and one Marine, will be discussing the Iraq Study Group's recommendations from the perspective of a family member who has someone serving in Iraq.
Becky has endured multiple deployments, her sons are constantly bouncing back and forth from Iraq to Afghanistan. Oh, and I should mention, she's also a milblogger.
My ego still smarts from the Weblog Awards nominations. Slipped from 4th in '04, to 5th in '05, to not even making the cut in '06. Castle Argghhh! had to settle for "Best of the Top 250 Blogs" (which is the short title for "Best of the Top 250 Blogs not a finalist in any other category"). I don't mind being beat out by NCOs and guys in the Sandbox... but Noonan? That hurts.
In reality, it's as much a reflection of the increasing quality of the competition as anything else, but, let's face it, I just got invited to the NIT as a consolation prize.
So, I guess I better bootstrap a little milblogging.
Last week I got to attend a faculty development seminar at the Command And General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. The speaker? Josh Rushing.
Better known as the Marine who went to work for al-Jazeera.
My first thought when I saw him was... "Funny, he doesn't *look* like a demon."
Come see what the rest of my thoughts (and Rushing's) were over at my place.
Click here and come on over!
DEAN ESMAY writes:
I got a buddy, Martin Shoemaker who has a gift worth several thousand dollars he would like to make to a wounded service member.
What it amounts to: a free copy of every Microsoft development tool, with a year's worth of updates and support, and a full license to use any of it.
If you're not a professional programmer, this doesn't even seem interesting. But if you WANT to be a professional programmer, this would be an AMAZING gift. Basically, it's everything you might ever need if you wanted to become a full-time programmer in the Microsoft universe. It's beyond what the average college kid gets, it's EVERY tool an up-and-coming programmer might want.
If it's given away lightly it means nothing. But in the hands of a kid who wnts it, however,he can do anything.
Know anyone who might be interested?
Bubblehead has the sad story; a nightmare scenario on board the Frank Cable as a boiler pipe gives way in an enclosed space full of people on watch. Several sailors severely burned.
Soldier's Angels are there, and that Valour-IT drive is already being useful. Chaotic Synaptic has details.
We all know what he's up to: Listening to Frank J.
Frank, you magnificent bastidge. You got traction.
This story has it all, a young sailor who breaks laundry list of rules, he talks his Marine buddies into providing cover for the endeavor. Each week, wearing night-vision goggles, him and a dozen other Marines would drive over to this young girls neighborhood, park a mile away and take a different route to her house. The Marines would provide cover while this young Corpsman, an HM2 Chris Walsh, did his loving deed in the dead of night.
End the end, there are broken bodies, strangers from around the world who are brought together and finally a young woman’s chance at happiness.
Just go and read. This is the story that should be on more front pages.
Cross posted at Doc in the Box
THE UNITED STATES plans to establish permanent bases on the Moon, according to a report in the New York Times citing Bush Administration officials.
Under a presidential order signed in 2004, the federal government has been developing plans for new space hardware to deploy personnel to the Moon and establish a foothold near the lunar south pole. Once there, unspecified “other countries” and “commercial enterprises” could “expand the outpost in order to develop scientific and other interests,” says a senior administration official.
The official declined to elaborate on what those “other interests” might be, but initial reports hint at efforts to seize and exploit the satellite’s natural resources.
Fallujah in June. A “routine” patrol, or at least it was until the IED went off just in front of the HMMWV. A Navy corpsman attached to a Marine rifle company bundles out with his brothers in arms and heads out on a foot race in search of the triggerman. They reach a door, go inside and find…
A frantic mother and a sick baby:
When Walsh and the Marines came to one doorway, M-4 rifles up and ready, a woman emerged from a room, holding an infant and saying, over and over again, “Baby. Baby sick.”
Walsh put his gun down and the woman put the baby down.
Walsh had seen bad things – as an EMT back home in St. Louis, and at war. But he told his comrades he had never seen anything like this: The child, just a few months old, looked as though her insides had been turned inside out.
Her name was Mariam, and she looked up at Walsh with dead eyes.
There's a lot more to the tale. It manages to both have a happy ending, and be very hard to read.
You should read it anyway.
And not one that leaps to mind these days... you'll see what I mean.
Nice to FINALLY see Greyhawk in the "Best Milblog" category, instead of "Best of the Top 250" or what not.
Best Military Blog
Bouhammer's Afghanistan Blog
Grey Eagle, A Female Soldier
For those interested in what the soon-to-be Secretary of Defense has to say:
Tomorrow: The Iraq Study Group releases its report. CSPAN will netcast the press conference at 11AM ET.
Just another reason I love being Catholic.
We have a Saint for EVERYTHING.
PS- yes, there is a military backstory here. I wasn't just hocking my religion :)
PPS- sheesh, where's the love guys? One of you could've emailed me and let me know that I linked the Halo 3 trailer instead of Lt Col P's post.
The soon-to-be SECDEF seems to have an eye on the Long Game.
China is building capabilities to fight short duration, high-intensity conflict on its periphery. Its near-term focus is on generating sufficient combat power to rapidly erode Taiwan’s will to resist and to deter or deny effective intervention in a cross-strait conflict.This is good.
I've already mentioned the Instapundit symposium on Iraq:
So can the blogosphere do better? I'm going to try a blog symposium on Iraq, Iran, and Syria. I want some new ideas -- beyond "cut and run" or "stay the course" -- on things we're not doing that we should be doing....but it occurs to me that a lot of sharp folks don't have blogs. So anyone who wants to make a contribution please feel free to do so in comments below.
I'll delete off-topic rambles at my leisure.
...and encountering hostility:
In nearly every conversation, the soldiers, Marines and contractors expressed they were upset with the coverage of the war in Iraq in general, and the public perception of the daily situation on the ground. The felt the media was there to sensationalize the news, and several stated some reporters were only interested in “blood and guts.” They freely admitted the obstacles in front of them in Iraq. Most recognized that while we are winning the war on the battlefield, albeit with difficulties in some areas, we are losing the information war. They felt the media had abandoned them.Read the whole thing.
During each conversation, I was left in the awkward situation of having to explain that while, yes, I am wearing a press badge, I'm not 'one of them.' I used descriptions like 'independent journalist' or 'blogger' in an attempt to separate myself from the pack.
What a terrible situation to be in, having to defend yourself because of your profession. I've always said that the hardest thing about embedding (besides leaving my family) is wearing the badge that says 'PRESS.' That hasn't changed. I hide the badge whenever I can get away with it.
Jules Crittenden brings the bloggers vs. the AP "burning Sunnis" story to the TeeVee.
Lotsa people watch the TeeVee.
FOR THOSE AMERICANS who still "don't get" the military, let me spell it out for you:
We are not victims. We don't want your pity. We don't need your charity.
DoD Announces Army Soldier as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown
The Department of Defense today announced the identity of a soldier currently listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Spc. Dustin M. Adkins, 22, of Finger, Tenn., has been unaccounted for since Dec. 3 in Haditha, Iraq, when the Chinook helicopter he was in made an emergency landing. He is assigned to the Group Support Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Campbell, Ky.
Search and recovery efforts are ongoing, and the incident is under investigation.
The War Tapes has teamed up with Sew Much Comfort to help our wounded troops. If you purchase a DVD of The War Tapes using this link, 20% of the sales purchase will be transferred to Sew Much Comfort, which really means that 20% of the sales will go to improving the lives of our wounded service members.
Click here to order your copy. I would also add that these DVDs would make great gifts for our deployed troops. Hint, Hint.
By the way, President Bush recently recognized Sew Much Comfort for the great service they provide our wounded heroes. Not too shabby....
But there's always room for one more snarky poster.....
Senator McCain has come out with two moral tests for going forward towards war. This was in response to a question about Iraq, but I think it is good for any time one believes that it is time to war-war and not jaw-jaw.
1. There can be no moral duty to attempt what cannot be done.Though I have issues with some things Sen. McCain supports, in this case I think his reasoning is air-tight. He is still pro-victory, which is why his point should be absorbed, not just read.
2. If you will an end, you must will the means to that end.
What should a newspaper’s executive editor do after receiving “a tip from a credible source that one or more unspecified articles in recent editions of the newspaper contain fabricated material”?Hypothetical, of course.
Update: One editor answers:
If newspapers don’t have an alternative, readers do. It’s called the Internet. That’s why newspapers, if they don’t want to be dragged further into irrelevance and disrepute, have to tell The Associated Press they are dissatisfied with its product.More here.
A week from today, Worcester will leave Columbia Falls, Maine, to lead the trailer full of wreaths down the coast. This time, it won't be just the trucker, Worcester and his wife, Karen. This time, there'll be an escort of a couple hundred Patriot Guard Riders, a national group of motorcyclists who take it upon themselves to display their respect for fallen service members.If you'd like to help out with a donation, you probably can't:
This time, Worcester and friends won't barrel down the interstate; they're taking the slow road, Route 1, so that more motorcyclists -- perhaps thousands more -- might join the caravan.
This time, the wreath-laying won't be a private affair. Instead of the 10 or 12 volunteers who had been rounded up in past years by Wayne Hanson, a retired federal law enforcement officer who lives in Springfield, at least 500 people will be ready to help lay the wreaths Dec. 14 -- and maybe many more.
Worcester has always returned the checks that people send him. The wreath-laying is his personal statement: "This is the least we can do."But you might want to look into this:
"It's just a way to pay respect," Hanson says. "When I came home from Vietnam, well, it wasn't the best time to be in the military, or to be coming home. But this -- it brings tears to my eyes to see 5,000 wreaths laid out across those white government headstones. You can't think about anything but that ultimate sacrifice these people made to give us our freedom."
This year, the interest in Worcester's project has exploded to the point that he had to find some way to extend the tribute, so he has launched http://wreathsacrossamerica.org, a Web site that coordinates similar rituals at more than 200 military cemeteries around the country.
Let it never be said that WaPo isn't ideologically diverse. I mean, they have articles ranging from "Bush is teh suXors!" to "Bush is REALLY teh suXors!" Today's online front page shows the following columns re the Bush Presidency:
Making such judgments when the man's defining element (Iraq/GWOT) has yet to be resolved is premature at best and ideological masturbation disguised as analysis at worst.
Since Lincoln is generally recognized as either the best or second-best president, it's worth looking at his time in context and comparison. It's fun to think that Lincoln was some preternaturally great Commander in Chief and that the outcome of the Civil War was near-destiny since the man and the hour had met [ed: they said that about Jeff Davis] [AL: I know, it's my post, shut up].
But face it: Lincoln is Lincoln only because he won. Had he lost the Union, we wouldn't have these silly polls since half the people that became president after Lincoln would have been president of an entirely different country.
Lincoln's quixotic approach to strategy and schizophrenic approach to his generals can hardly be said to have helped the war effort. At best, it didn't hurt it too much. It was only when Lincoln decided to STFU and left Grant, the most recent in a long list of generals, alone to do his job that substantial and consistent progress was made. While I feel safe in saying that Grant was a better general than McClellan, can anyone really make such a statement vis a vis Grant and Hooker? Meade? McDowell? Grant suffered higher casualties in single battles than any of them and the "high point of the Confederacy" (Gettysburg) was under Meade. Yet Lincoln is credited with having finally "found" Grant and elevating him.
This assessment of Lincoln's stewardship certainly didn't occur DURING his presidency--nor did it occur immediately afterward. The "Lincoln Finds a General" narrative didn't really take root until the 1950s as historians sought to present a chaotic and fractured time in US history as a more understandable narrative format--hence Lincoln "found" his general rather than "stumbled" upon him.
But again, would any of this have occurred--either Lincoln's near-deification in the political or military spheres--had the Union lost? Of course not. And these assessments certainly wouldn't have occurred while the war was ongoing. Though there was a good deal of the 1860s version of "Lincoln is teh suXors" at the time--hell, even Horace Greeley advocated suing for peace. [ed: A major New York paper advocating surrender? Shocking!] [AL: Quiet you.] Victory in war and Lincoln's martyrdom cemented his place in history--not the judgments of history professors.
Few presidents have their entire presidency defined by an all consuming war. Lincoln was one of them, Bush is another. FDR had 8 years (two full terms!) to establish his "peacetime" legacy before direct US involvement in WWII. Truman comes close during his time with the end of WWII and the Korean War. But people weren't exactly high on Harry by the time his term ended yet his "rehabilitation" has been steady in recent years. Other presidents have had wars during their terms (even Wilson didn't oversee direct US involvement until late in WWI), but none have approached the all consuming nature that the Civil War or GWOT has for a Lincoln or Bush, respectively.
Is Bush Lincoln? Of course not. But then again, Lincoln wasn't really "Lincoln."
The point of all this is to underscore just how utterly clueless we are as to how history (not historians) will judge a President during their term. History keeps happening, notwithstanding unserious columns from history professors.All done!
Professor Reynolds' has a creative writing assignment for the 'sphere:
So can the blogosphere do better? I'm going to try a blog symposium on Iraq, Iran, and Syria. I want some new ideas -- beyond "cut and run" or "stay the course" -- on things we're not doing that we should be doing.In this case "submission" is probably the wrong word...
Is it a good idea? You tell me. And add some other ideas of your own. Put "Iraq Symposium" in the subject line, and add a link to your blog entry. I'll pull them together in two or three days.
Update: Another observation from Glenn:
In fact, it seems as if Donald Rumsfeld, judging by his classified memo thoughtfully leaked to the New York Times, remains more open to new ideas than many of his critics, who often seem stuck in 1968.Which, I think, is accurate. Rumsfeld's memo did present some concepts beyond those bandied about thus far (in public, at least). But this symposium is a good chance for a lot of folks who are smarter than Rummy to prove it.
Robert should move next door to Alabama. Those guys know how to take care of their veterans. Just check out the license plate they authorized.
If that doesn't scream "Alabama supports our troops!"...I don't know what does.
Now as far as the Rummy memo leak is concerned, I defer to Crittenden, who has a much larger brain than I.
These options were unattractive to Rumsfeld because, having become stuck on stupid, he insisted on going to war with a downsized post-Cold War army, and insisted that politicaly and psychologically traumatized Iraq could sort itself out. He and President Bush did not move to expand the Army in the fall of 2001, when they could have had all the recruits they wanted and a blank check from Congress. So Rumsfeld didn't have the forces to put into Iraq, and he no longer had the political capital to raise a larger force.
Okay, maybe that quote doesn't have a whole lot to do with the memo, but the larger Crittenden piece does. I just got hung up on the "transformation" bit. Loved Rummy, but was never a fan of his vision for the 21st century force.
Hotel Tango to Murdoc for the 'Bama plate.
What the heck is that?
A pioneer is what she was, just as the nickname "The Covered Wagon" implied.
Her story here.
From Robert Stokely: "Today, I am embarrassed to be a Georgian."
Why? He's just discovered that if a GI gets wounded and medevaced out of Iraq in the first half of his tour he and his family lose a significant benefit. Details below.
In the January - March session of the Georgia General Assembly in 2005, a bill was introduced, passed, and signed into law called the HERO Legislation - SB 43. The intent was good for it gave the members of Georgia's 48th Brigade and other Reservists called up for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan a $2000 a year educational grant for up to four years if they served 180 days in the combat zone. It even went so far as to give this grant to the children of these soldiers, even children that were born nine months within the soldier's return from combat deployment. Sounds great - right? Well it was, but for I discovered some real oversights and brought them to the attention of my State Senator who then got with others to correct them.All done!
First, when my son Mike was killed three months into his combat tour, I worked to see that his wife got what she should. In the process, I discovered there was no spousal benefit for her and even if there had been, the 180 day service period would have knocked her out of the running. Likewise, a soldier wounded and sent home prior to the 180th day would be deprived, as would their children. Such was the case with the two soldiers seriously wounded when Mike was killed. This likewise would have affected two of Mike's fellow 108th CAV Troop E soldiers killed two weeks after he died, each of which left children and one of which had a wife.
In the 2006 session Senate Bill 415 was introduced into the Georgia Senate and sailed through. It went to the House and was assigned to the House Higher Education Committee. That is where the undoing started. Sadly the Georgia House Higher Education Committee quietly gutted the surviving spouse provision and such was not discovered by me or others. I feel embarassed I was so asleep at the wheel, but took it on faith that the bill was going to take care of the surviving spouses. In fact, if you pull the internet head note of this bill it states it is adding a surviving spouse benefit, but in reality it does not.
What would it have cost to leave this benefit in for these soldiers and their surviving spouse? All were not married, some may not even use the benefit, but assuming they were and do - a total state expenditure of $208,000 for a State sitting on a $600,000,000 surplus.
Sadly, it is yet to be determined if this was then voted on by the State House and then State Senate in ignorance without reading and understanding the substituted bill or whether it was the intent of these very legislators and Governor to deprive these 26 soldiers and their widows of a surviving spouse education benefit. What were they thinking? Or were they?
Worse yet no one, including myself, seemed to catch this until yesterday when I discussed this with Governor Perdue's staff. If the slap in the face wasn't stinging enough, I am then told "the governor isn't to blame, he can only sign what is put before him" and that I needed to talk to my legislative leaders. This coming from a Governor who just campaigned and was re-elected running commercial after commercial saying "tell me what should be on my "Sonny Do List" and bragging what he was going to do. Well, Governor Perdue, here is one that should be at the top of your Sonny Do List and a much better use of the $600,000,000 surplus to help a war widow go to college.
I promised my boy I would look after his wife of ten days, and re-affirmed that promise just a week before he was killed. I now think back on Mike's decision to forego the opportunity to stay home and recruit because, as he put it "I can't let my guys go it alone...". Well, I will not let my boy's widow go it alone, nor will I let my boy's guys who fell with him and their widows go it alone.
Is it too much too ask that fallen sons of Georgia, serving their State militia and asked to go fight for this country to be put on equal footing with those who returned? Is it too much to ask to spend as much on war widows educational benefits as the State of Georgia did to have a bronze jackass erected at the State Fairgrounds a couple years ago? Is it too much to ask to use just a small portion of the interest on the $600,000,000 surplus to help these war widows get better educated and have a better life?
I ask for your help. If any person who will would send a letter to the Governor of Georgia and in-coming Lt. Governor Cagle (who was in the State Senate when this mess happened), and also ask their friends in Georgia to do likewise, the noise level might get their attention. Politicians understand one thing - noise from the citizens, and a little shock and awe is needed to get their attention. Likewise, a complete list of State Representatives and State Senators in the Georgia Legislature can easily be found on line, and many have email addresses.
I would consider it a special favor. Letters can be sent to:
Governor Sonny Perdue
Atlanta Georgia 30034
Lt. Governor Elect Casey Cagle
Atlanta Georgia 30334
You are welcome to use my name, say I sent you, and pass my contact info around.
proud dad of SGT Mike Stokely
KIA Iraq 16 Aug 05 near Yusufiyah south of Baghdad
US Army E Troop 108th CAV 48th Brigade GAARNG
Come January, various Presidential Wannabes and former committee minority leaders who have found themselves transformed into majority leaders will all be chanting the same chant, "Staying the Course is not working". They'll all demand something, anything "change" in order to fix things.
Those of us who are watching Iraq closely know that the course has been changing all along. An Iraqi battlion here or there taking over an AOR, a brigade of 1st ID soldiers at Fort Riley being taken off line and reset into a "training brigade", units moved from one AOR to another, a slow methodical closing of Forward Operating Bases, yet another Stryker Brigade being formed at Ft Lewis, etc...
None of which made much of a difference on the day they happened, but make a huge difference 12 or 24 months into the future.
All of which are too subtle for a Pentagon Press Corp whose careers have been based on discovering a purchase order for a $300 toilet seat or a $75 hammer.
The "Fix it Now" crowd would not be denied on a need for an "immediate change", they got it in the form of firing Secretary Rumsfeld.
In a few days the Baker Commission will hand down its recomendation from on high, in many political circles, it will be given the same stature as God handing down the Ten Commandments to Moses.
Unless we want General Casy and Gen Abizaid to be hamstrung by the recommendations of the Baker Commission, the case has to be made that substantial changes way beyond the Baker recommendations were being considered for some time.
The surest way to make the case, is to stamp a memo Top Secret Eyes Only and make sure Major Leaker gets a copy. The irresponsible press corp will do the rest.
If Secretary Rumsfeld has personnally briefed the memo in the Pentagon Press room it wouldn't have gotten a single paragraph on page A24. The fact that it was a "Leaked" classified memo has made it the lead story.
The reality is that most of what is in the memo has been briefed.
The "5 FOB's" was 'implied' in a briefing by 3rd COSCOM in April 2006. Link here
AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq - Construction is underway at Al Asad Air Base on one of six water bottling plants planned for U.S. troops in Iraq...Soon there will be similar plants at Camps Victory, Al Taqqadum, and Al Asad, Q-West Base Complex, Foward Operating Base Speicher, as well as LSA Anaconda(note - LSA Anaconda is not considered to be an FOB)
Anyone want to bet which bases will be "interim QRF bases"?
I'll be the first to admit that the practice of anonymous sources and leaking classified memos are very dangerous ways to communicate to the public. Unfortunately, our MSM is addicted to scandal, exclusives and scoops. Intelligent discussions about important matters of the nations business won't get printed. Leaked classified memo's will.
The only thing new in the Rumsfled memo, is the classification stamp.All done!
The substance of the memo isn't my largest concern. I am scratching my head like Greyhawk on this; no big shocker about what it says in that we are already doing much of it. You can argue about degree or delay if you want - but that isn't what should keep you up at night.
No, here is what worries me, the first thing that came to my mind is something that Andy McCarthy states very well at The Corner.
If high officials — in wartime, no less — figure they better not give their best, most candid advice on sensitive, publicly-charged issues because opposing policy factions are going to leak each other's memos to the press, the initiative and creativity of the smart people we want in government is stifled. And the leaks will be used to portray the administration as disintegrating into rancorous chaos, which avalanche feeds on itself.On my very micro scale, I am known as the guy who walks into your office 5 minutes after you send me an email. Some things I will not respond to via email, or leave a phone message about. I got burned bad last tour, not going to happen again. I cannot imagine what it is like at the highest levels where you often have to put things in a memo - as walking down the hall or calling VFR direct isn't an option - and having no security that your "CLASSIFIED MEMO" will not be held in the confidence it was delivered. Communication will come to a dead stop. Andy McCarthy is right.
Free Fall. Like watching a train-wreck in slow motion.I don't care if you have spent the last five years sticking pins in your Rummy and Shrub voodoo dolls, you cannot find solace it this turn of events.
I mean, can you guess what newspaper printed the following?
Following is the text of a classified Nov. 6 memorandum
Update: Andrew McCarthy at the Corner:
If high officials — in wartime, no less — figure they better not give their best, most candid advice on sensitive, publicly-charged issues because opposing policy factions are going to leak each other's memos to the press, the initiative and creativity of the smart people we want in government is stifled. And the leaks will be used to portray the administration as disintegrating into rancorous chaos, which avalanche feeds on itself.
Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.You can ignore the NY Times framing of the memo, of course, because in a rare departure from their normal modus operandi they've provided the actual text. If you read it you'll find that many of "above the fold" options describe what we're going to be doing in Iraq for the next year or so - as per leaked portions of the Baker Committee report, the Pentagon review, and comments from House and Senate members over the past few weeks.
“In my view it is time for a major adjustment,” wrote Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”
"I need an Officer for a secret and dangerous mission. Get me a West Point Football Player!" - General George C. Marshall, VMI Class of 1901.
Words unspoken: and get me a VMI man to coach him!
I went to an Army school but grew up a Navy brat. Ahhh who to root for?
Guess I'll have to throw my hat in with the VMI-led West Point football, gymnastics, and tumbling squad :)
Before there was an Air Force Academy some graduates of West Point and Annapolis joined the Air Force. They flew together as crew members but the old school rivalry made the Army-Navy Game a big thing at the Officers' Club.
Tomorrow we will bury one of your sons. He is not the first -- Lexington... the Marne... Corregidor... Normandy... Pusan... Khe Sahn... Khafji... Takur Ghar... Fallujah.... Ramadi... As hard as is it to accept, he will not be the last. It does not matter that you did not know him. It is important that you know his name. Pvt. Reece David Moreno. Age 19 years, 17 days. Killed in Balad, Iraq. Part of the U.S. Army's proud 3rd Infantry Division... 92 Engineer Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade. Son of Regan and Al.
I will be there.
Read more at Some Soldier's Mom
GEN. MIXON: (ed Commander of MNF-N) We have a goal for this transition, and we're making advances every day. We currently have one Iraqi army division under control of Iraq ground force command, and a second division transferred today.
A third division will transfer by the end of January, and by February all four Iraqi divisions in Multinational Division North will be under Iraqi Ground Force Command. ...
As I mentioned, today in western Nineveh province, the 3rd Iraqi Army Division formally took the lead in providing security for Iraq's people. Over the past month, this unit has conducted over 400 operations independent of any coalition support.
If you don't read the News, I will have Marines throw snowballs at you!
[This photo is from 2005 when my little band of Marine security guys got a bit squirrely while we were in Gholam-ali].
No, we're not talking about the last line of defense for Army against Navy tomorrow (methinks it's going to be a slaughter, ever-so-glad I went to a Land Grant college and beat up on Army in football once, myself).
Rather - Laurie of Soldier's Angels New York wants to know if she should be gathering up silly string to send to the sandboxes for booby-trap detection duty.
She's really concerned, as a victim of silly string herself - if the utility of it will outweigh the Hearts and Minds aspect.
Victor Davis Hanson is so good at boiling things down.
The Majority OpinionMaybe I can get that scholarship now that I wasn't eligible for in the '80s.
The new majority school of thought — often described as the more nuanced and more sophisticated — seems to conclude that the “global war on terror” (if that’s even what it ever really was) is insidiously winding down to a police matter. Billions spent in lives and treasure in Iraq did not make us any safer; the passing of time, the dissipation of passions, and increased vigilance did.
The Minority Brief
We really are in a global war. Its dimensions are hard to conceptualize since our enemies, while aided and abetted by sympathetic Middle Eastern dictatorships, claim no national affinity. Indeed, the terrorists deliberately mask the role of their patrons. The latter, given understandable fears of the overwhelming conventional power of the United States military, deny culpability.
What's more deadly than a pair of minature helicopters?
I, for one, will be voting for Darpa's man-cannon.
Noah has also launched a biweekly Defense Tech newsletter that's pretty cool. Right up your ally if you're a gizmo geek.
The real discussion will center on "combat" vs "advisory" roles for US troops in the coming months. I expect what we'll see is a shift to having most US troops in QRF or advisory (embedded with Iraqi units) capacity. Those QRF forces might stage in Iraq. The Kurdish North would be the best option - Kuwait could be another. (Has already been done, in fact.) Other countries could be considered, but Okinawa is right out.
If not already there, the tricky part will be determining when to deploy them into Iraq. That will be up to commanders on the ground, of course, but what happens next time the Association of Muslim Scholars calls the AP and reports 184 mosque attacks? And if we are in other countries, what do their opinions matter on that issue? And will each execution of the option be touted in the press as a failure of the plan?
Another tricky piece would be a "brief" surge in combat troops prior to this shift. That smacks of "home by Christmas" - I'll leave it at that.
That's all a bit further on down the road though. For now, there are reasons for optimism. The battle is still on, and while we may not be as close to "victory" as some would like we are closer to it than any other faction is - for now. Here's why I say that - there are more cracks developing in the enemy facade, and more Iraqi civilians - at least in Anbar - moving from wishing to acting.
THURSDAY MORNING, at the Metro entrance to the Pentagon, I spotted a banner hanging above the entry lobby:
Unfortunately, the Pentagon discourages photo-taking, especially in the entry lobby. So instead, I'll share with you this lovely photo of a formal parade at West Point.
Hey, how did that "BEAT ARMY" banner get up there?