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Gone soon: some of the Soldiers' Angels Auctions end today - don't forget to leave a bid. Here's the ebay page for all the Soldiers' Angels Valour-IT auctions. (A great place for some Christmas shopping, especially if you've got a science fiction fan on your list.)
Over in the Dawn Patrol the Mrs has compiled a list of milbloggers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan this Thanksgiving. If you have a few minutes to spare this busy day, visit a couple and leave 'em a 'thank you' in their comments section.
And thank you for visiting here.
UPDATE (Mrs G): I want to give a shout out to the three people who took the time out of their Holiday to stop by and leave a comment of thanks to our men and women listed below. With a links from BlackFive, memeorandum, Hot Air, Michelle Malkin and a few others, you'd think there'd be more, tsk tsk.
I left mine, it's not too late for you to leave yours.
Thank You for thanking them:
From the Military Officers Association of America
TOP 8 GROUPS MOST DESERVING OF A GOVERNMENT BAILOUT
If our country can afford almost $1 trillion in bailouts for firms whose financial troubles were caused by their own mismanagement or recklessness, what about those in the uniformed services community suffering grievous circumstances imposed on them by the government through no fault of their own? Here are MOAA’s nominees for those most deserving a government bailout. Add your own views and nominations in the “rate this item” forum at the bottom of the list.
8. Currently serving uniformed services families – the only large group of employees denied use of Flexible Spending Accounts to deduct out-of-pocket health and dependent costs from income and payroll taxes. Who needs a child care tax break more than a family whose sponsor has been deployed?
7. Employers of Guard/Reserve personnel -- who deserve tax breaks to help ease the burden of hiring temporary replacements for ever-more-frequently deployed staff members. The government that imposes these requirements on them, and expects them to keep hiring Guard/Reserve members, needs to do more to assist them.
6. Guard-Reserve members deployed since 9/11 – whom the government has acknowledged deserve a reduced retirement age in return for frequent active duty callups, but has denied credit for those called up (for multiple combat tours in hundreds of thousands of cases) between 2001 and 2008.
5. Military families (again) – who’ve suffered terrible family separations because of past government resistance to manpower increases, despite predictions of a long war. Now, some congressional leaders have proposed cutting back on manpower increases, when the only possibility for relief is to accelerate them.
4. Severely disabled retirees with less than 20 years of service – who forfeit most or all of their military retired pay to fund their own VA disability compensation. Congress passed legislation to assist the combat-disabled, but a glitch in the law stymied relief for many. And a 100% non-combat disabled retiree has no relief.
3. Military widows whose sponsors died of service-related causes – thousands of whom must live on an annuity of $13,000 a year because their VA survivor benefits are deducted from their Survivor Benefit Plan annuities. Congress’ “first-step” relief action provided a mere $50 extra per month.
2. Separated wounded warriors – Thousands of wounded or potential PTSD/TBI victims were separated with low-balled disability determinations, “personality disorder” or disciplinary discharges that limited or denied benefits. Programs are changing now, but those already separated since 9/11 deserve reconsideration.
1. Caregivers for wounded warriors – hundreds of mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, and other loved ones have had to quit their jobs, sell homes, and cash in retirement funds – to provide full-time care to severely wounded servicemembers. The government owes training, respite, and compensation to those who never dreamed that a loved one’s wounding could put their own livelihood at such risk.
I would add: Reimbursing all those wounded servicemembers who received an artificially low disability rating from the services prior to Jan. 1, 2008 and who were/are required to pay back (some still are!!) the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, etc. disability severance payment from their VA disability allowances -- in effect, funding their own medical separations from the service!!
Just wondering what would be on your list?
Also, as Mrs. Greyhawk reminds us, let us not forget the Reality of Valour-IT
x-posted at Some Soldier's Mom
The clarity of combat as only a Marine Corporal can describe it.
“I was in my own little world,” the young corporal said.
Our local radio station has begun their non-stop Christmas Carol programing, something that just drives me crazy, but my boy's love it. Over the weekend, I heard this "song" and knew I had to share it.
"Merry Christmas My Friend"
(To the "tune" of T'was the Night Before Christmas")
'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE
MADE OF PLASTER AND STONE.
I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO
IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.
I LOOKED ALL ABOUT,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.
NO STOCKING BY MANTLE,
JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.
WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,
A SOBER THOUGHT
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.
FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.
THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.
THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED
A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.
WAS THIS THE HERO
OF WHOM I'D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,
THE FLOOR FOR A BED?
I REALIZED THE FAMILIES
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS
WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.
SOON ROUND THE WORLD,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE
A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.
THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.
I COULDN'T HELP WONDER
HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.
THE VERY THOUGHT
BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES
AND STARTED TO CRY.
THE SOLDIER AWAKENED
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
"SANTA DON'T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;
I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON'T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS."
THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN'T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.
I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS,
SO SILENT AND STILL
AND WE BOTH SHIVERED
FROM THE COLD NIGHT'S CHILL.
I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE
ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR
SO WILLING TO FIGHT.
THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, "CARRY ON SANTA,
IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE."
ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
"MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT."
This poem was written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt in 1986 while he was stationed at 8th and I. It was later published in Leatherneck, the magazine of the Marine Corp.
Thank you Lance Corporal Schmidt.
Here's the ebay page for all the Soldiers' Angels Valour-IT auctions. (A great place for some early Christmas shopping, especially if you've got a science fiction fan on your list.)
Great warriors improvise, adapt and overcome. With a nod to those that helped.
58 years ago, remembered here.
Late last week, this little tidbit in the Chicago Tribune (originally from the Washington Post) caught my attention: some idiot bureaucrat (these days, is there any other kind?) declared that Iraqi interpreters could no long wear masks:
BAGHDAD — The U.S. military has barred Iraqi interpreters working with American troops in Baghdad from wearing ski masks to disguise themselves, prompting some to resign and others to bare their faces even though they fear it could get them killed.
Many interpreters employed by the U.S. government and Western companies do everything they can to avoid being recognized on the job because extremists have tortured and killed Iraqis accused of collaborating with the enemy.
"The terps are the No. 1 wanted here," said A.J., a 36-year-old military interpreter, using the shorthand for his profession. "More than the Americans. More than anyone."
When I mentioned this to my son, he immediately (and loudly) said, "Who is that idiot? Is he nuts?? He's going to get a lot of good people killed! Someone should remind him that the terps are part of the Good Guys!"
I do understand the whole, "We are a professional Army, and professional units don't conceal their identity by wearing masks..." thing -- but really, Col. Stover -- these guys aren't working at Ft. Benning or Ft. Hood or even on the FOBs. There is still danger on the streets and especially for these guys.
So today, comes this from the Washington Post:
Thirteen members of Congress and an association of interpreters this week urged the Pentagon to rescind a policy that prohibits interpreters who work with U.S. troops in Baghdad from wearing ski masks to conceal their identity.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and 12 members of the House of Representatives on Thursday sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urging him to allow interpreters to wear masks.
"Members of Congress were dumbfounded," Wyden said in an interview yesterday. "The Pentagon's position defies common sense."
I believe Ms Clementi sums it up nicely:
"There seems to be a disconnect between the command and the people on the ground who appreciate what the interpreters are doing," said Lillian Clementi, a spokeswoman for the American Translators Association, which has more than 10,500 members in 90 countries. "We have received messages from members saying that this is outrageous -- that we have to do something. They're baffled, dismayed and even outraged at this really inexplicable policy."
Maybe others should drop him a line?
Dr. Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Department of Defense Launches National Resource Directory For Wounded Warriors, Families And Caregivers
The Department of Defense today launched the National Resource Directory, a collaborative effort between the departments of Defense, Labor and Veterans Affairs.
The directory is a Web-based network of care coordinators, providers and support partners with resources for wounded, ill and injured service members, veterans, their families, families of the fallen and those who support them.
"The directory is the visible demonstration of our national will and commitment to As new links are added each day by providers and partners, coverage from coast to coast will grow even greater ensuring that no part of that journey will ever be made alone," said Lynda C. Davis, Ph.D., deputy under secretary of defense for military community and family policy.
Located at http://www.nationalresourcedirectory.org, the directory offers more than 10,000 medical and non-medical services and resources to help service members and veterans achieve personal and professional goals along their journey from recovery through rehabilitation to community reintegration.
"The VA is extremely proud to be a partner in this innovative resource. This combination of federal, state, and community-based resources will serve as a tremendous asset for all service members, veterans, their families and those who care for them. The community is essential to the successful reintegration of our veterans, and these groups greatly enhance the directory's scope," said Karen S. Guice, M.D., executive director, federal recovery care coordination program at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"The National Resource Directory will prove to be a valuable tool for wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families as they wind their way through the maze of benefits and services available to them in their transition to civilian life. The Department of Labor is pleased to have the opportunity to work with our partners at DoD," said Charles S. Ciccolella, the assistant secretary of labor for the veterans' employment and training service.
The National Resource Directory is organized into six major categories: Benefits and Compensation; Education, Training and Employment; Family and Caregiver Support; Health; Housing and Transportation; and Services and Resources. It also provides helpful checklists, Frequently Asked Questions, and connections to peer support groups. All information on the Web site can be found through a general or state and local search tool.
The National Resource Directory's launch in November is a key feature of Warrior Care Month.
So far, they have received a great deal of response from Soldiers and are now pushing the other services and family members to weigh in. The deadline is Nov. 28.
x-posted at Some Soldier's Mom
The MHS is hosting a web town hall meeting where experts will answer questions from service members and their families about the Defense Department’s medical care programs for its wounded, ill and injured troops. I hope you can join us.
When: Nov. 19 from 2 to 4 p.m. EST
Questions: Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org
And please consider posting an entry to your blog and invite your readers to participate. During the event, medical experts, supporting organizations and service members who have been touched by warrior care will be dialoging about healthcare solutions. I’m working with MHS and your help will be appreciated.
Military Health System
This is a good place to make others aware of Project Valour-IT
Today, on the Ed Morrissey Show (3 pm ET), we have two great topics for you! Jonathan Bruel, author of Operator’s Manual for the New Administration. Bruel is the Executive Director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government. He was formerly the Senior Advisor in the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President, and served for nearly ten years as the U.S. delegate and elected vice chair of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Public Management Committee. We’ll talk about his new book and the efforts involved in the transition to the next administration.And you can join the conversation in the chat room. (You can bet I will.)
In the second half, we’ll talk about Project Valour-IT with Beth Schietzelt of Soldier’s Angels. We may also be able to get Chuck Ziegenfuss, the founder of the effort. They’ve just kicked off the effort, and they’re already raising plenty of money for computer systems for injured war veterans. Don’t forget to donate to Project Valour-IT!
Details here. See you there!
The President-Elect's policy shifts in Afghanistan printed in the Washington Post have raised eyebrows. Is negotiating with the Taliban the path we want to take?? It did not work for Pakistan.
My concerns are here.
...don't miss this podcast from C.J..
Folks, our Veterans Day special on BlogTalkRadio is going to be an historic event. For the first time EVER, an internet talk show will be syndicated on a national radio show! We are working in close conjunction with the great people from KFBK radio and Patriotwatch in Sacramento, California. The You Served podcast has the potential of reaching literally millions of new listeners in one night across more than 10 states on the West Coast. Troy and I will be co-hosting with Bruce Maiman of KFBK.Check out the list of guests at the link.
This week's show is on a completely different date and time. In order to honor Veterans Day, we will air the show on Tuesday and begin at 2100 EST in order to sync up with the West Coast (we go live nationwide at 2200 EST with KFBK). This gives everyone plenty of time to get home from their parades and listen in on this historic show! This may be the only time all these great Americans are in the same place.
The Virtual Veterans Day Parade is up over at the You Served blog. CJ thanks all the participants in the parade, the VA Mortgage Center is donating $460 to Soldier's Angels' Operation Valour-IT, $20 for each participant.
You can see Mudville and MilBlogs entries below the fold
Mudville (Click to enlarge)
MilBlogs (Click to enlarge)
The motivation for this blog is to discuss how we could tap into the power of blogs to help get the Army's story out - how blogs may be used to help round out traditional media. I'm an Army Major and currently a student at the Air Command and Staff College. As a graduation requirement, we each must complete a research project and I've chosen to examine the potential benefits (and inherent challenges) of not just allowing Soldiers to blog, but actually encouraging blogging among our troops.He'd appreciate your input here.
Disclaimer: The teams are not endorsed or sponsored by the DoD or any sub-component. But that doesn't mean YOU can't join one of them here.
If you just want to add one (or all) of the donate buttons to your site, you'll find them here.
Every cent raised for Project Valour-IT goes directly to the purchase and shipment of laptops and other technology for severely wounded service members. As of November 2008, Valour-IT has distributed over 2700 laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines across the country, and is now expanding its mission to include other technology that supports physical and psychological recovery.All done!
Valour-IT accepts donations in any amount to support our mission, but also offers a sponsorship option for laptops. An individual or organization may sponsor a wounded soldier by completely funding the cost of a laptop and continuing to provide that soldier with personal support and encouragement throughout recovery. This has proved to be an excellent project for churches, groups of coworkers or friends, and members of community organizations such Boy Scouts.
Originally Valour-IT provided the voice-controlled software that accompanies the laptops, but now works closely with the Department of Defense Computer/electronic Accommodations Program (CAP): CAP supplies the adaptive software and Valour-IT provides the laptop. In addition, DoD caseworkers serve as Valour-IT’s “eyes and ears” at several medical centers, identifying patients in need of laptops and other technological support for their recovery. Wounded military personnel can also directly request a laptop through the sign-up form or through the Valour-IT/Soldiers' Angels representatives at the following medical centers:
* Balboa Naval Hospital
* Brooke Army Medical Center
* Madigan Regional Medical Center
* National Naval Medical Center (Bethesda Naval Hospital)
* Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton
* Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital (29 Palms)
* Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Thanks to the efforts of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Valour-IT is also able to reach patients in VA hospitals who would benefit from a Valour-IT laptop or other technology to support their recovery and independence.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
By John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the for:
To you from failing hand we throw
The torch; be yours t hold it high.
If you break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
I prefer the way the Commonwealth chooses to mark the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month - it is closer to what it should be. It is important to remember a conflict that in many ways marks the end of Part 1 of a two part play where Europe destroys itself and gave birth to the world we know. In a much smaller world, 20 million died in order to only bring another greater horror a generation later.
We should all ponder the second and third order effects of unfinished conflicts; of weakening resolve of the free in the face of tyranny, of comfortable compromises of the now that undermine the potential of the future.
Cross-posted at CDR Salamander.
The "Change" site was a cut-and-paste from the campaign site. For now, at least, you can still view it here (link should go straight to issues page, but you might be prompted to donate to the campaign first.)
But when reading there, bear in mind what I said in comment on the previous post: The campaign is over and he needs to start developing policy, and no doubt learning about the world today will drive much of that policy. How much of the campaign rhetoric survives will be testament to the ability of those who crafted the original positions to actually write a lot and nothing at the same time.
I wanted to check his Afghanistan policy (I've read his Iraq policy a few times) but just noticed he doesn't have one.
By the way, this is interesting:
Lost amid all of the jubilation of the Obama victory was the announcement by the Obama transition team that it had set up a separate transition program beyond the one that is paid for by the American taxpayer. Called the "Obama/Biden Transition Project," it is a 501(c)4 tax-exempt organization, with no limits on the contributions it can receive and no requirements to divulge the names of individuals or organizations that give it money.
...the nonprofit may also serve as a haven for Obama supporters and campaign loyalists who for one reason or another can't be employed by the Administration or in the federal government. "There are some people who have been with us from the beginning who are clearly political liabilities or who won't be able to qualify for a job, say, because they can't get a security clearance," says another aide...
Regardless of the purpose, Obama campaign officials say there is no intention of shutting down the 501(c) 4 Project after the transition is over.
I received this in an email a short while ago from a Military Families organization...
President-Elect Barack Obama withdraws Iraq agenda from Change.gov website
Today President-Elect Barack Obama removed his Iraq and Afghanistan policy agenda from his transition website. We, as the Military Families and supporters of the brave troops fighting overseas are asking,
"Does this represent a shift in Mr. Obama's position on Iraq?"
We also want to know whether this means that, in light of the information he received during his national intelligence briefing last week, he will now be allowing our troops to finish the mission in Iraq?
Well, I couldn't find any information on any of his proposals on that website ("agenda" says they're working on it -- if I just missed the President-elect's proposals or agenda somewhere, let me know in the comments)... maybe they're just updating the website?
I did notice that you can APPLY FOR JOBS IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND FEDERAL DEPARTMENTS, AGENCIES & COMMISSIONS by using the website -- in fact, they recommend it... HERE. Wonder if they're giving Veterans Preference or hiring injured, wounded and disabled veterans?
Joe Kenney, the Republican gubernatorial candidate for New Hampshire and a current state senator*, told me the McCain team refused to allow him to appear on stage at the rally. The official explanation was that he hadn't had a Secret Service background check, and it would not be possible to arrange one in time. Needless to say, this was not persuasive.
(*and a USMC Active Reserves officer who's done two tours in Iraq. Didn't have problems getting clearance for killing his country's enemies, but the McCain camp evidently has tougher entry qualifications.)
Mailing hints, shipping deadlines, gift and stocking suggestions...
I did a post here highlighting some troops abroad reactions to the election. Some were in Afghanistan, some were in Iraq.
This wouldn't surprise me:
On the flip side, expect Democrats to start rattling sabers like the did under the Mad-Bomber-in-Chief Bill Clinton, who was quite happy to dispatch planes and bombs wherever and whenever he felt necessary or threatened by a domestic situation. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is the template here of what reason's Matt Welch identified as "temporary doves," that is, folks whose taste for war is highly dependent on party affiliation.I offer some additional thoughts on that "Iraq withdrawal" here. The quote above is from Nick Gillespie in Reason, who likely heard Obama rattle some sabers just a few weeks ago.
Obama, who is certainly something of a "stealth candidate" (to use an election-night phrase from Fox News' and NPR's Juan Williams), has never been shy about asserting his bellicosity. He's against "stupid" wars, don't you know, which gives him plenty of latitude to prosecute what he considers smart ones (and conflicts necessary to prove that he's no George McGovern). And here's a Canadian dollar that says that Obama's withdrawal plan from Iraq is precisely the one recommended by Gen. Petraeus.
Here's the (now) President-elect during his second debate with Senator McCain:
They are plotting to kill Americans right now. As Secretary Gates, the defense secretary, said, the war against terrorism began in that region and that's where it will end. So part of the reason I think it's so important for us to end the war in Iraq is to be able to get more troops into Afghanistan, put more pressure on the Afghan government to do what it needs to do, eliminate some of the drug trafficking that's funding terrorism.Tough talk. And I might be wrong, but "We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda" might stand as two rare, unequivocal, hard promises he made during his campaign. Other than who exactly "we" are there's very little room for analysis there.
And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.
Still, it might just be bluster designed to comfort (or even excite) McCain "national security voters" who would never hear Obama speak outside of a joint appearance with their man. I confess I don't know if this was ever part of an Obama stump speech or not.
If so, perhaps the calming influence of folks like Alice Walker will melt his heart of steel (perhaps via the First Lady):
I have sent out a request that Barack Obama, or Michelle Obama, get in touch with me. While waiting for a response (and imagining how busy they must be), I decided to write down my thoughts. After watching the debates between Mr Obama and John McCain, something has leapt out at me. It has now leapt out twice, and I would like to avoid having it appear a third time. It is Mr Obama's statement that, when he is President, he (the US) will pursue al-Qaeda in the hills of Pakistan, find Osama bin Laden and “kill” him. Though I understand that Mr Obama wishes to show himself as “strong”, even “tough”, this is problematic on ethical, moral, and practical levels.For the children.
I am not saying the same thing Mr McCain said, about walking and speaking softly and carrying a big stick. We know that during Mr McCain's service to the country there have been countless people assassinated, bombed, disappeared and in other ways destroyed, if not by him directly, then by the system of government that he serves. No, this is about something else: the language we use in leading, and why.
Each time Mr Obama has said “we will kill” Osama bin Laden I have felt a testing of my confidence in his moral leadership. And I support him, and demonstrated that support, to the very limits of my finances and my strength. Could it be that, like millions of children around the globe, who are taught “Thou shalt not kill”, I am reacting with disappointment and shock to someone blatantly declaring their intention to kill a specific person?
This could be it. In a Christian nation, this is what most of us learn. And even if we cease to call ourselves Christians, the notion of non-killing is hard-wired in us. We are not likely to accept the “killer” (even if the killing is done in our defence) with the same open-heartedness and lack of fear that we might have for someone who has not declared for murder. This is why Mr McCain coyly smiled each time Mr Obama made that statement.
We live in a country with a not too distant custom of lynching, particularly in the South. For those of us who are forever aware of this reality, something rises in us whenever there is a manhunt (in my case, even an animal hunt) to demand decent treatment of whoever is captured, and a fair trial. To the surprise of both Mr McCain and Mr Obama, apparently, millions of people in the world don't believe that Osama bin Laden bombed the twin towers and the Pentagon.
But even setting such disbelief aside, we have to think of what we are teaching the youth of the planet.
Don't worry about retention - the Democrat's VoteVets group will soon be encouraging service.
Brandon Friedman shares an email he was forwarded from an Army recruiter:
This email was forwarded to me by an Iraq veteran and former Army captain who received it on Wednesday:Brandon adds: "I'll be honest: I'd be lying if I said the prospect of an Obama administration hadn't made me consider the possibility of rejoining."
The relevant text says:24 Month Mobilization Deferment. A President Elect who says he'll get us out of Iraq. What are you waiting for? Stop taking your chance's [sic] in the IRR and be safe from deployment for 2 years. By that time our new President will have gotten us out of these other countries.
YIKES! I was surprised...
When I think of President (Elect) Obama as my CinC...
I'm filled with pride. I look forward to serving under him.
I'm worried and doubt I'll re-up when my time comes.
I'm ready to salute and follow his orders.
Vets Aren't Taking the Hill
In the current 110th Congress, only 28% of U.S. senators and 23% of U.S. representatives have served in the military (active duty, Guard, or Reserve).
That percentage has been declining steadily since it peaked at 74% in the House (1969-70) and 78% in the Senate (1977-78). (See the post-WWII year-by-year changes.)
Not all of the results are in yet, but it looks like this year's election will continue that downward trend.
In the Senate, there are ten certain seat changes so far, including Senators Obama and Biden. Three of the departures are vets, and none of the eight known replacements are. Of the three remaining open races, the only incumbent vet is Sen. Stevens (R-AK), and the only vet challenger is for Sen. Chambliss’ (R-GA) seat.
That means the new Senate will have a minimum of 25 vets, but could have up to 29 if both veterans still in contention win and if vets are appointed by the Illinois and Delaware governors to fill the Obama and Biden seats.
In the House, there are 50 certain seat changes so far. Fifteen of the departures are vets, and only 12 of the replacements are.
Interestingly, all six remaining open House races have a veteran in play. In three cases -- Reps. Goode (R-VA), Jefferson (D-LA), and Reichart (R-WA) -- the incumbent is a vet and the challenger is not. In the other three, the challenger is a vet and the incumbent is not.
So the new House will have a minimum of 93 veterans (a decline to 21.4%) and would stay at 99 (22.8%) only if the veteran is elected in all six still-undecided races.
But I guess this is good news...
Milblogger "Bubblehead", an author to this site, has posted that he has stomach cancer. It was discovered approximately 2 weeks ago. Good news is it was discovered early. Bad news is he has a very difficult road ahead of him.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Joel
It doesn't matter who you voted for last Tuesday. This is in your backyard - what are you going to do about it?
This kid's father is deployed to Iraq and her teacher holds her up to ridicule to tears. Who are you holding accountable?
Watch it all here (ignore the Finnish )
Cross posted at CDR Salamander.
WASHINGTON -- Veterans and active-duty military not in uniform can now render the military-style hand salute during the playing of the national anthem, thanks to changes in federal law that took effect this month. "The military salute is a unique gesture of respect that marks those who have served in our nation's armed forces," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake. "This provision allows the application of that honor in all events involving our nation's flag." The new provision improves upon a little known change in federal law last year that authorized veterans to render the military-style hand salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, but it did not address salutes during the national anthem.
Last year's provision also applied to members of the armed forces while not in uniform. Traditionally, members of the nation's veterans service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag while wearing their organization's official head-gear. The most recent change, authorizing hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel, was sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, an Army veteran.
It was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14. The earlier provision authorizing hand-salutes for veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag, was contained in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which took effect Jan. 28, 2008.
x-posted at Some Soldier's Mom
...the world can live in fear again:
President Medvedev ordered missiles to be stationed up against Nato’s borders yesterday to counter American plans to build a missile defence shield.The skies above are clear again:
Speaking within hours of Barack Obama’s election, Mr Medvedev announced that Russia would base Iskander missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad – the former German city – next to the border with Poland.
He did not say whether the short-range missiles would carry nuclear warheads.
Senior House lawmakers are ratcheting up pressure on Defense Department officials to release congressionally approved funding for an Air Force fighter that has been the subject of a running battle between Pentagon and Air Force leaders.Happy days are here again!
In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has said he wants the F-22 Raptor's fate decided by the next presidential administration, senior House Armed Services Committee lawmakers demanded an explanation for why $140 million already set aside for the plane's suppliers is being held up.
Lawmakers appropriated $500 million in the fiscal 2009 budget toward an additional 20 jets, which the Bush administration hadn't sought. The $140 million in question is part of that money.
Mr. Gates has said the plane isn't relevant to post-Cold War conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England would rather buy more Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which are cheaper but not as fast or as stealthy.
The letter was signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D., Mo.), ranking member Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces Neil Abercrombie (D., Hawaii), and the ranking member of the subcommittee, Jim Saxton (R., N.J.).
(Yes, I'm kidding. None of this is happy news.)
Stars and Stripes reporters overseas will be collecting reaction from troops (including those in Iraq) on the election and putting them up ASAP on their site.
U.S. Troops Cautious About Obama Victory
UPDATE: Here are some MilBlog reactions (below fold):
[Bounammer - Scott Kesterson: - in Afghansitan ]: “The guys have their opinions. It’s definitely interesting.” He smiled and then chuckled.
“And what about you? How are you feeling about the election?”
“The media seems to be focusing on the fact that he is a black President. It has never been about race for me.”
He continued, “I looked at each candidate for what I thought would be best for the country. I felt Obama had a better approach for the country and what we are facing. Black candidates of the past have had black agendas. I felt Obama was speaking to all of America.”
The Staff Sergeant’s focus then shifted, “People get wrapped around the person who is President. But he can only do so much. We need to be focusing on the legislation that comes from the Democrats and Republicans we elect to Congress. They affect America more. Obama can come in and push an agenda, but if the Congress doesn’t buy off on it, nothing will happen.”
As we talked I asked the Staff Sergeant about some of the discussions that had been happening throughout the day.
[Fobbits need ice cream too - in Iraq]: Welp, new president-elect. First African-American president and all that shit, I suppose. I don't buy into that whatever-American shit though. You're an American or you're not. My grandparents immigrated from Norway after WW I, but I don't call myself a Norwegian-American. Black people over here have to wear body armor and get shot at just as much as us white guys; ethnicity really means nothing in the Army.
[S4 at War - in Iraq ]: Things have picked up here a bit so I haven’t had much time to create my typical brilliance. But I have been asked quite a bit what the military’s reaction to the election is. Now, I wouldn’t presume to ask any of my non-military friends what the civilian world’s reaction to the election is but I’ll do my part nonetheless. Here are a few overheards from today:
“He’ll close Guantanamo. That will be his big military move. For the rest of us motherfuckers up in here it’ll be the same old shit.”
“People are captivated when he talks.” “They cry and shit like he’s Michael Jackson.”
“He’s got Oprah, you don’t need shit else.”
“I’ll tell you this, if he gets me out of here I’ll vote for him again.”
I was watching the news with some of the civilians who work here and was surprised at how much more intense they were on their views.
[Bad Dogs and Such - in Iraq]: So...about that election - Well. That was a little more...definite than I had thought it would be.
I spent most of the morning in a room full of Sons of Iraq leadership, watching Al Arabia's coverage of said election. Explaining the electoral college through an interpreter is, in case you've never done it, kind of an adventure.
[CDR Salamander]: We are us and they are them. Also, we should all bask in the glory that to much of the Muslim world that knows their Sharia - we just elected and apostate to Islam as our President. That should twist the knickers of a few folks out there. In summary; the Republic will survive, do not despair - for the wheel will turn.
...Now, clear the cheese cloth from our eyes and lets take a sober look at what decision the American voters have made. We now have waiting for us in the new year the most Leftist government this nation has seen arguably in 70 years or 40 years depending on what formula you want to use. You can also argue that the potential exists for this to be the most Left - only time will tell
[Maj Z ]: I realized something today, as I watched our next batch of leaders take a PT test:
We're going to be okay. More than that, we are going to be a stronger nation.
We are a resilient country.
...Barack Obama is the new President. Support him until 2012. He is OUR President. He deserves OUR respect to do otherwise makes US the moonbats. Now is the time for us to show the world that we are not a nation divided. Our strength is in our unity.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you have to love or even like Barack Obama, but respect the office. I've had several bosses in the Army that I hated, both personally and professionally. They were still the boss, and they still got my respect, because they were in charge.
[This Ain't Hell]: I dispute this whole “historical” thing - I have these thoughts zooming around in my head and find it hard to work without writing them down.
I think it’s absolutely unAmerican to think of this as an historical moment in our nation’s long journey. It’s unConservative - and that’s been our whole problem with minorities, but it comes with the ideological territory.
In our Declaration of Independence, it’s written that “…all Men are created equal….” It doesn’t make a racial distinction.
[No Angst zone]: I must respectfully disagree. President-elect Obama shares absolutely none of the heritage of racial repression that has darkened this country's history. A man who has formative ties to Kansas, Hawaii, Kenya, and Indonesia does not know what it is like to have a father who can remember being fire-hosed and attacked with dogs while marching for civil rights. A man who attended Harvard does not know what it is like to work a job while attending night classes to become the first college graduate in his family.
The day we elect a person who grew up in a small town in Mississippi (or Alabama, or Louisiana, or Georgia), who attended a small state college, and who can trace their lineage back to a sharecropper and, before that, a slave, THAT will be a historic day for America.
[The War on Big Tobacco - in Iraq ]: There Were No Tanks in the Street - Mainly because all the tanks are over here in Iraq. But seriously, folks…
I’m smoking a Hecho a Mano Primo in celebration because when you think about it, it’s a victory no matter who won.
To 44 peaceful transfers of power...
G-d bless America.
[A Soldier's Perspective]: The fact of the matter is that whether we like it or not, Barack Hussein Obama will be this nation's 44th President of the United States. Like Bush before him, he deserves the respect that the office commands. The fact that Obama has won an office that only 43 people before him have ever held is an achievement that we must recognize.
[The Armorer]: But, now that there's going to be a Democrat in the White House, patriotism will be in again - so maybe the movies will be a little less dreadful, though they'll be no less preachy.
Does the election of a black man to the Presidency of the United States mean we can finally give Europe the finger? Seeing as how those hosers have never elected anything but a pasty-white European to high elective office?
[Illini6. - formerly known as Miserable Donuts ]: ...I'm afraid that this president is an unknown factor as far as defense and he will be pushed, just to see what he will do. I think this is similar to Kennedy and Khrushchev with the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is why I say, "Calm down." Let's see what the man does when his back is against it.
This election may have made some of our friends friendlier, but remember, regardless of the outcome of this election, America still has people who hate us and I think the world has just gotten a little less safe.
[Neptunus Lex]: There’s always change. ...We can also say farewell to the legions of homeless, at least for a while. That’s been solved. And all of those loons on stilt puppets. Farewell to all that.
Sometimes you’ve got to find the pony in the pile of shit.
Which is not to say that we give our new political class a pass. We should watch them like hawks, compare their policies to our preferences, hold them accountable, safeguard the Constitution.
[The Sniper]: I don’t like you because I don’t trust you. I think you’re a socialist, I think you’re a media whore, I think you’re a flash in the pan… but you won. So congratulations… you now own the most powerful office in the world. Everyone in the world is looking at you as an example of America and more importantly, an example of an African-American. Little black kids across America are lloking up to you. Try not to eff it up.
[Matt - BlackFive]: I do worry about nationalized healthcare from the standpoint of innovation, quality and access. First, what large system has the federal government ever taken over and made better? Second, if the government could get military healthcare to work well, maybe, just maybe, I'd buy into the idea.
I am concerned about defense spending - military innovations and technology, pay, equipment, etc.
[Deebow - BlackFive]: Now is not the time to shirk our duties as men and women who are used to fighting. Now is the time to gird our loins, sharpen our axes, gather our allies and make our stand based upon our beliefs and fight tooth and nail for all that we have; never yielding or giving an inch on our beliefs.
We will DEMAND that President Obama not cut and run from Iraq or Afghanistan.
We will DEMAND ...
[Grim - BlackFive]: I see that John McCain has called Senator Obama -- now President-elect Obama -- to concede defeat. Our country has made a horrible mistake; that much is clear. We will raise taxes in a recession, and cut military spending during a war.
[Bouhammer]: Audio Blog: Post Election comments - This Audio blog is my personal opinion and political rant of this Presidential Election and what it means to this country….in my humble opinion.
[CounterColumn]: Ok, now, as a uniformed service member (part time), I need to start to figure out how to run a blog when I am not likely to be very supportive of the liberal-in-chief's policies - if not outright contemptuous. Now, I hope I am pleasantly surprised by the future Obama administration, but it seems pretty clear to me that the man is part and parcel of the worst that Chicago machine politics has to offer.
Think about that for a second. Of all the machines Obama could have come from, he had to come from the single most corrupt machine in the country (with the possible exception of Hawaii's Democratic machine). And then ...
UPDATE: LT Nixon has moreAll done!
Please join in the conversation. It'll be open all day.
Thank You Chuck for hosting this!
Let's talk Murtha and Russell. Take a look at the gobsmackingly hypocritical quote in this article:
“Congressman Murtha is in a brutal reelection campaign,” O’Neill wrote. “The Swift Boaters have put up a candidate from Virginia and have raised millions of dollars against Congressman Murtha. In addition, other 527s and the [National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)] have spent millions to smear Congressman Murtha on TV, radio and in newspapers.”
Murtha's the victim of a televised smear campaign? That's rich...
The news this morning is that Russell's internals show a dead heat between Murtha and Russell. But this is what caught my eye:
The Murtha campaign is hitting the carpetbagger theme pretty hard, though it's not quite fair. Russell moved to the district after he retired from the army, and during his 28 year career in the military his family had no real permanent home. He'd pretty much be a carpet bagger no matter where he went. Nonetheless, the Russell campaign thinks that if anything has hurt them it's this. In fact, when Murtha angrily denounced Russell as a "G-d damn carpetbagger" he may have looked like a crazy old man from the outside, it actually may have actually may have resonated somewhat as righteous indignation in the district.
Well, we do have homes of record, but I don't know too many military families who retire back to the towns they're originally from. Furthermore, many service members were military brats before they joined the military. They're "citizens of the world." I was under the impression that was hip these days.
A Murtha loss would truly be pop-the-cork worthy. I've got a bottle on standby.
I wonder if it's nice in Okinawa this time of year....
He has burns on 25% of his body - mainly his face, neck and hands. He will need rehab at least on his hands. He is also on a ventilator at this point, but they have begun weaning him off of that. His left ankle is fractured, but the most severe injury is the head wound. He has a lot of staples in his head and the doctor's are unsure of neurological deficits at this point. I have been told that he may be blind, he may be deaf (particularly in his left ear), and he may have problems with speech. We are unsure of this because it's just too soon to tell, but this is what I was told.
Well...it finally happened! Kevin said MOM today - yay!!!! Maritza was telling him he couldn't have any dinner until he said it and he just said it on the first try like he has been saying it all along. I think there were about 12 people in the kitchen and everyone just started clapping and dancing. Kev was so proud of himself!
AND A REMINDER TO ALL: THERE ARE MANY MORE MOTHERS AND SPOUSES RECIEVING NOTIFICATIONS, BUT NOT ALL HAVE BLOGS, SO TO MAKE SURE THOSE FAMILIES THAT MAY NOT RECIEVE ATTENTION THROUGH THE BLOGOSPHERE, LET'S MAKE SURE THEY RECIEVE YOUR SUPPORT THROUGH SOLDIERS ANGELS OR THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT OR SOME OTHER MILITARY SUPPORT PROGRAM OF YOUR CHOICE.
On October 28th, 2008 @ exactly noon, I was sitting on the couch feeding baby Eva when I got a phone call that would change our life forever. It was the Rear Detachment Notification Captain. He informed me that Rob had been injured in Afghanistan. I remember my blood going cold. I truly thought he was joking. In fact, I asked him “Are you serious?” “Yes, I’m serious.” He had me write down a bunch of numbers, but my hand was shaking so bad and my mind was so numb I don’t even remember writing them down. I just wanted to know how bad he was injured. He then told me Rob had been hit by an IED. WHAT?!? That was the last thing I thought would happen. They don’t even have IED’s where he’s at—or at least I thought they didn’t. He then gave me his list of injuries. I just wanted him to quit talking. This couldn’t be happening. I’m not sure if I was in denial or shock but I just wanted him to STOP.
Today was also the same. Even though people have told me this is going to be a very long, SLOW process, it's still hard to wrap yourself around that. I just want him to wake up, jump out of bed, throw his legs on, and go about his way. But, I know it's not that simple. My heart absolutely aches for him. I feel completely helpless. He is torn up all the way from his head down to his legs. I wish I could take the pain and hurt away. Even if he would just wake up and I could talk to him would make me feel better. It was one week ago yesterday when I last spoke to him. If only I knew.....
UPDATE: Soldiers Angels is on it.
AND A REMINDER TO ALL: THERE ARE MANY MORE MOTHERS AND SPOUSES RECIEVING NOTIFICATIONS, BUT NOT ALL HAVE BLOGS, SO TO MAKE SURE THOSE FAMILIES THAT MAY NOT RECIEVE ATTENTION THROUGH THE BLOGOSPHERE, LET'S MAKE SURE THEY RECIEVE YOUR SUPPORT THROUGH SOLDIERS ANGELS OR THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT OR SOME OTHER MILITARY SUPPORT PROGRAM OF YOUR CHOICE.
The U.S. Navy tucks some of its pirate fighting history into a work designed to remind people that the Navy has never been just about blue water operations.
A a steam galliot gets mentioned.
As set out here.
At first read these quotes from the CENTCOM change of command ceremony might seem unimportant. Perhaps they are. Or perhaps the things that people who are trying to keep it short say are worth close attention.
It is hard to find much more to say about Gen David Petraeus. At the MNF-I change of command ceremony a few weeks ago I said that history will regard him as one of our nation’s great battle captains. He is the preeminent soldier, scholar, statesman of his generation and precisely the man we need at this command at this time.Mullen:
Under his leadership our troops have dealt our enemies in Iraq a tremendous blow. Now he will take aim at our adversaries in Afghanistan and lead security capacity efforts throughout the Middle East, the Gulf and Central Asia, while working with our partners to counter a range of national and trans-national threats.
The progress of peace and the speed of that progress depends on the quality of trust Dave and this command will be able to achieve throughout the broader Middle East and how he will build upon the lessons Marty has brought forward to this very moment. While the challenges of this critical region may not require the same strategies, which forged a fragile peace in Iraq, they will demand the same patience, the same passion, the same dedication you inspired while you were there Dave. It’s now your turn with a new broader aperture and we have great expectations ahead.DEMPSEY:
CENTCOM is a command of men and women who understand that there are things in this world like freedom worth the sacrifice necessary to achieve and then preserve them. As Acting Commander of CENTCOM it’s been my privilege to visit the most austere and dangerous outposts on the frontiers of freedom.Petraeus:
Last December, in a visit to Afghanistan, I met Captain Rob McChrystal at combat outpost Melekshay on the Afghan-Pakistan border. He told me about his defense of this mountain pass that the Taliban use as an infiltration route from Pakistan and about the fight that his 20 paratroopers of his outpost had had the night before with 50 or so Taliban. There were several inches of snow on the ground. The troopers were living in sandbag metal containers at 8,000 feet and most of their supplies had to be brought in by helicopter because the road network to the camp had been mined by the Taliban, a tough and important mission being performed superbly by a tough group of soldiers.
Captain McChrystal reminded me that, because they’re a European based unit, their families were in Italy also far from home, a tough mission being supported superbly by a tough group of spouses and their children. These soldiers, their families and tens of thousands of their fellow soldiers, Sailors, airmen and Marines deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan are brave, they are proud, they accept the sacrifices we ask of them and I’ll tell you one other thing, nobody is getting through that mountain pass at combat post Melekshay or through any other outpost where young U.S. Americans stand watch for our freedom.
The Secretary the Chairman and General Dempsey have noted the accomplishments of this command in recent years and the challenges that lie ahead. Indeed from transnational extremist organizations and industrial strength insurgencies to weapons proliferation, a rise in piracy and persistent ethno-sectarian conflict, the CENTCOM area contains innumerable challenges.Of course, all four of them might be done and gone within months. But there you have it.
As we have all seen in recent years, addressing these challenges requires comprehensive approaches that employ the whole of our government’s capabilities in close coordination of host country and coalition governments and security forces. This is necessary, not just to resolve pressing short term issues, but to address over time the underlying conditions that give rise to such serious security challenges. So the way ahead will be difficult. However, CENTCOM’s tasks are of enormous importance to our country, to the CENTCOM region and to the world. It’s clear that in the months and years ahead, a great deal of responsibility will continue to rest on the shoulders of the wonderful men and women of the coalition countries serving in harms way in the Central Command area of responsibility and it is an honor to serve with them again.