Topic: Military

What's different? At first glance, not much.

2008: The Guardian Ethos
I am America's Maritime Guardian.
I serve the citizens of the United States.
I will protect them.
I will defend them.
I will save them.
I am their Shield.
For them I am Semper Paratus.
I live the Coast Guard Core Values.
I am a Guardian.
We are the United States Coast Guard.
2011: The Coast Guard Ethos
I am a Coast Guardsman.
I serve the people of the United States.
I will protect them.
I will defend them.
I will save them.
I am their Shield.
For them I am Semper Paratus.
I live the Coast Guard Core Values.
I am proud to be a Coast Guardsman.
We are the United States Coast Guard.

Wait a minute. Whom do they serve?

The hyper-skilled tradesmen who build nuclear aircraft carriers possess a level of expertise that requires steady use to maintain. Just as professional athletes must constantly train to maintain their abilities, shipbuilders must steadily build to keep their own proficiency at the required peak level. If you run Newport News Shipbuilding and your guys are forced to sit on their butts for years between builds, they're going to lose their skills (if not go into different lines of work just to keep food on the table). The ripples from that kind of splash would be very big and would last a very long time.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is under construction as you read this, but guess what the geniuses at Barack Obama's Office of Management and Budget are planning to do to the gap between the construction of USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) and CVN-80?

Brilliant move, guys:

Office of Management and BudgetThe navy has proposed an additional 2-year schedule slip to its newest carrier, CVN79, which would extend the funding profile from the original 8 yrs to 12 yrs.

...

This schedule change almost insures the cost of CVN-79 is going to be enormous due to loss of trade skill at the yard, which means CVN-80 is also going to be a whole lot more expensive. By 2020 aircraft carriers are going to have such an enormous cost that there is no way the nation will build CVNs after CVN-80.

I see only two ways this doesn't happen. Either Obama loses in 2012 and the new President addresses this issue directly, immediately following election, or in some future 2016-2020 time frame the nation funds and builds 2 carriers of the Ford Class just like Reagan built 2 with the Nimitz class as a way of getting long term costs for the CVN as a strategic entity under control.

Otherwise, there will be 3 Ford class carriers, and by around 2025 the nation will have decided that based on cost alone a new way to project airpower from the sea will be necessary in the future. If you don't believe this move will end the big deck aircraft carrier, then you are in denial how the industrial reality will be seen in a political context once the costs go up.

...

This is a bigger deal than the politics and economics and budgets will ever reflect in conversation. What is the true value of 50 years of projecting airpower from sea? A big deck nuclear powered aircraft carrier today is a strategic investment that the US really can't afford get wrong. Making the wrong choice would be a strategic and political blunder of incalculable magnitude; one history would record as our nation casually tossing aside the aircraft carriers strategic advantages without a clear understanding of the consequences, but doing so knowing full well that once you lose the big deck production line - there is no going back.

That bold-faced emphasis is mine.

An argument can be made that big-deck carriers in this decade might be as relevant as battleships on December 7, 1941. I'm not sure I buy it, but it seems colossally foolish to abandon the big-deck carrier not because of a hard-nosed assessment of their value, but to lose them instead because a bunch of pencil-necked peacenik accountants in Washington don't understand shipbuilding.

The Brits recently abandoned fixed-wing carrier aviation (see HMS Illustrious for details), and their failure to think ahead continues to bite them in the rear. To add insult to injury, it looks like Argentina once again intends to test the proposition that Britannia rules the waves.

But hey, who needs aircraft carriers when you've got universal healthcare, right? In the Age of Obamacare, the whole world loves us. Let's just redirect those sweet, sweet taxpayer dollars away from that icky war stuff to something more in line with our newly socialist tastes. We'll never be attacked.

Will cuts in defense spending fix our debt?

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You tell me, progressives.

We have a spending problem


Next foolish campaign slogan, please.

Let's take a quick look at §1031, §1032, and §1033 of S.1867 (official text here). These are the three sections of the Senate's version of the 2012 Defense Authorization Act that deal with military detention of terrorists. This bill is causing the ACLU to blow a gasket, and their wild-eyed predictions of Constitution-shredding doom have ignited e-mail inboxes nationwide.

This is the proposed text as it stands today. All highlighting is mine. The parts that sound scary (at first) are in yellow. The parts that should calm you down are in green. The parts that the ACLU and its radical friends are actually upset about are in blue.

You tell me:

In every category necessary for the endurance of direct ground combat, women are behind men. They rank behind men in every category by large margins except in lower body strength, where they are the least behind.

...

Combat involves physical strength, proper mindset, physical skills, aerobic capability, sharp vision and a killer instinct. ... I personally just want the Feminists to agree that they value women as much as they say they do, because putting them in places that they are even more likely to be violently killed, subject to capture, torture, rape by our enemies, or mostly for not thinking that women are above the day to day drudgery of life not only in an infantry unit in extended ground combat, but the drudgery of the job while not deployed seems to me to be a bit in conflict with the idea of honoring them and their abilities. The idea that women belong in units in the military that participate in direct ground combat makes about as much sense as allowing me into the Feminist Studies Program at Bryn Mawr.


idiotThink. Don't emote. The military exists to kill America's enemies and break their stuff. It does not exist to provide you a career, enhance women's rights, improve society, achieve social justice, counteract sexist stereotypes, pay for your college tuition, or any of a million other progressive pipe dreams. The military's reason for being is to violently kill people. It's an ugly fact, but it's no less true because it's ugly.

Men and women are inherently different physically, mentally, and emotionally. In every relevant respect men are better suited for combat, and especially so for ground combat. If that offends you, I don't care. Don't cry to me. Facts are often unpleasant and unyielding things, so cry to God (or if you're an atheist, cry to nature) to assuage your emotional pain. I am not out to offend you or anyone else. I am out to ensure America's military remains the most powerful and respected force on Earth, the force that gives you the protection and comfort you enjoy (and take for granted) today.

Without America's military, you'd have no leisure time to ponder the social justice implications of banning women from combat. You'd be a slave to a totalitarian government not of your choosing, a government utterly contemptuous of your needs and wants, much less your easily-bruised ego.

Save your social experimentation for arenas that don't revolve around violent death. Go fiddle with the diversity statistics at your local community college, and stop undermining the only shield between you and the barbarians. Construct whatever mental delusion or flimsy rationalization you must, but find a way to cocoon your delicate ego and find any other part of society to tinker with.

A nation that weakens its military by removing all barriers to women serving in combat is asking to be attacked an defeated.

P.S. -- If you want me to entertain your foolish ideas about women in ground combat without laughing in your face, do something first: change the law so that all young women are subject to the military draft just like all men. Once women bear equal responsibility and duty with men, then they can begin to talk about their alleged entitlement to equal goodies.

Nate Beeler cartoon on Iraq

Michael Ramirez cartoon on Iraq

Barack Obama ends the Iraq War

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Today he made it official, cutting and running exactly as promised and predicted. No big deal. Carry on.

Obama ends Iraq War


What's on TV tonight? Pass me my Bud Light, bro.

--

10/22 Update: Smart power.

Act of Valor trailer

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I have two words to describe how this movie's going to perform at the box office.


Enormous. Hit.

"The Rock" in Afghanistan, 2009-10

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Video from the 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment -- aka "The Rock" -- during Operation Enduring Freedom X:


Does anybody think these troops deserve to have their pensions gutted?

This is not the corporate world

Word about a plan to make drastic changes to the military retirement system reached me through the Coastie grapevine. The Army Times has the story:

A sweeping new plan to overhaul the Pentagon's retirement system would give some benefits to all troops and phase out the 20-year cliff vesting system that has defined military careers for generations.


In a massive change that could affect today's troops, the plan calls for a corporate-style benefits program that would contribute money to troops' retirement savings account rather than the promise of a future monthly pension, according to a new proposal from an influential Pentagon advisory board.

All troops would receive the yearly retirement contributions, regardless of whether they stay for 20 years. Those contributions might amount to about 16.5 percent of a member's annual pay and would be deposited into a mandatory version of the Thrift Savings Plan, the military's existing 401(k)-style account that now does not include government matching contributions.

The military is a special case, folks. No other organization is constitutionally chartered with a mission that requires bloodshed, maiming, and death. The U.S. Military exists to kill people and break things. If there are any Americans who deserve a decent retirement, it's those Americans who preserve our society's very existence by living, working, fighting, bleeding, and dying in the nastiest crapholes of the world.

If the bean-counters in DC want to find savings in the retirement system, they can make their changes to the benefits offered to new enlistees, new warrant officers, and new commissioned officers. Changing the rules in mid-stream for career members who've volunteered to put their lives on the line is a textbook example of what I'd charitably call bovine excrement.

The Defense Business Board posted these slides on July 21st, summarizing their proposals to the Secretary of Defense.

Still looking for honesty from the VA

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Almost a month ago I wrote a post about religious discrimination by the Department of Veterans Affairs against Christian prayer at the Houston National Cemetery. The VA's Press Secretary, Josh Taylor, had the following to say about the controversy back on June 30th:

Invoking the name of God or Jesus is not only allowed, it is common at VA National Cemeteries across the country. However, VA's policy is that VA-sponsored honor guards should not make recitations at committal services unless requested to do so by the deceased's survivor(s).

Today, Taylor doubled down:

Pinocchio"The idea that invoking the name of God or Jesus is banned at VA national cemeteries is blatantly false," said VA Press Secretary Josh Taylor in a written statement to Fox News Radio. "The truth is, VA's policy protects veterans' families' rights to pray however they choose at our national cemeteries."

 

Taylor declined to comment on the pending lawsuit or other ongoing legal proceedings, but did say, "No one should make judgments before all the facts are known."

...

But Taylor said the rules set in place at the cemetery are meant to protect the grieving families.

"Put simply, VA policy puts the wishes of the veteran's family above all else on the day it matters most - the day they pay their final respects to their loved ones," Taylor said. "Out of respect for the families, VA's policy exists to prevent anyone from disrespecting or interfering with a veteran's private committal service."

Hooah, Leroy!

An "ancient" tribute to American troops

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Ancient in Internet terms, that is. The original blog post was written in French, but the blog itself vanished years ago. A snapshot is still available quand vous parlez Francais, but the translated text will still move you if you don't.

Hooah.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton questions the patriotism of Americans who object to our war "time-limited scope-limited kinetic military action" in Libya:

But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi's side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them? For the Obama Administration, the answer to that question is very easy.

Can somebody please reconcile Secretary Clinton's ever-so-subtle rhetorical question with Senator Clinton's heartfelt beliefs about challenging any president who orders troops to war whatever the heck it is we're doing in Libya? I'm trying to figure out what the guidelines are.

Project Hernandez? Really?

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FN Heriberto Hernandez was a Coast Guardsman who died in combat in Vietnam, in service to his country. He posthumously received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with "V" Device. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us, and deserves honor and respect for his actions. He was a hero.

So why must the Coast Guard belabor his ancestry?

What do heroes look like?

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Where do we find such men?

Oh no! Congressman Allen West sullied the American Flag and violated federal law by going on a scuba dive with Old Glory!

Allen West dives with American Flag   Allen West dives with American Flag

Golly, it sure is awful to see a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel behave so scandalously towards the flag. Surely no honorable military member would do such a thing, right?

Totally unexpected results from Gallup:

Thirty-seven percent of all active-duty military personnel and veterans surveyed approved of the job Obama is doing during the January 2010 to April 2011 time frame. That compares with 48% of nonveterans interviewed during the same period.

Military members and veterans? Really? I'm shocked.

When you find some quiet time this Memorial Day weekend, take a moment to offer a prayer of thanks for the selfless service of Nate Bruckenthal.

On April 24th, 2004, Damage Controlman Third Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal, USCG died from injuries sustained in the waters off Iraq in a suicide bombing attack by Islamic terrorists. He was the first Coast Guardsman to be killed in action since the Vietnam War. Petty Officer Bruckenthal left behind a wife, Pattie, and their only daughter, Harper (born seven months after her father's death).

Shut the heck up about the SEALs

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If they keep blabbing about tactics and procedures, the media and their attention-whore sources are going to get someone killed.

From her speech this past Sunday in Colorado (emphasis mine):

I believe our criteria before we send our young men and women, America's finest, into harm's way, I believe that our criteria should be spelled out clearly when it comes to the use of our military force. I can tell you what I believe that criteria should be. I can tell you what it should be in five points:


First, we should only commit our forces when clear and vital American interests are at stake, period.

Second, if we have to fight, we fight to win. To do that we use overwhelming force. We only send our troops into war with the objective to defeat the enemy as quickly as possible. We do not send our military and stretch out the mission with an open-ended and ill-defined mission. Nation-building, a nice idea in theory, but it's not the main purpose of our armed forces. We use our military to win wars.

And third, we must have clearly defined goals and objectives before sending our troops into harm's way. If you can't explain the mission to the American people clearly, concisely, then our sons and daughters should not be sent to battle. Period.

Fourth, American soldiers must never be put under foreign command. We will fight side by side by our allies, but American soldiers must remain under the care and command of the American officers.

And fifth, sending our armed forces should be the last resort. We don't go looking for dragons to slay. However, we will encourage the forces of freedom around the world who are sincerely fighting for the empowerment of the individual.

When it makes sense, when it's appropriate, we'll provide them with support and help them win their own freedom. We're not indifferent to the cause of human rights or the desire for freedom. We're always on the side of both. But we can't fight every war. We can't undo every injustice around the world.

But with strength, and clarity in those five points, we'll make for a safer, more prosperous, more peaceful world. Because as the U.S. leads by example, as we support freedom across the globe, we're gonna prove that free and healthy countries, they don't wage war on other free and healthy countries.

The stronger we are, the stronger and more peaceful the world will be under our example.

Works for me. She's dumped her remaining McCain advisors and has returned to her Reaganite roots by hiring Peter Schweitzer.

Predictions for gays in the military

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Here's what's coming next.

Watch for a *cough* *cough* totally unforseeable constitutional challenge to Section 2(e) of the bill, which states:

No Private Cause of Action - Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to create a private cause of action.

Once that section's excised with surgical precision by a sympathetic lefty judge (Vaughn Walker to the lavender courtesy phone, please!) ... Katie bar the door.

The gay activists in uniform will then sue to be allowed to marry, notwithstanding Section 2(d) of this bill, which states:

Benefits - Nothing in this section, or the amendments made by this section, shall be construed to require the furnishing of benefits in violation of section 7 of title 1, United States Code (relating to the definitions of "marriage" and "spouse" and referred to as the "Defense of Marriage Act").

Once 2(d) is gone & a few suitable test couples get hitched, retire, & file for marriage-related benefits in the civilian world, guess what'll be next on the chopping block?

DOMA.

After that inconvenient law is out of the gay activists' way (phone call for Judge Walker on line 3) they'll demand more than "tolerance." They'll demand financial benefits & federal protection for gay "marriage," state laws be damned. Why? They can't cite national security, because effective national defense matters not one whit to these activists. No, they'll simply cite the full faith and credit clause found in Article IV Section 1 of the Constitution:

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

Game over. It'll be "Sit down, shut up, & hand over those wallets, you hateful bigoted Christianist breeders."

This. Is. Their. Goal.

A simple question for progressives (#18)

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What exactly does it mean to say that homosexuals can "serve openly" in the U.S. military? Presumably behavior like this ...

U.S. military weakened by gay activists

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With the passage of today's lame duck bill, it would appear the ban on open homosexuals in the U.S. military will soon be repealed. Not long from now, it will be official military policy to endorse and celebrate homosexual behavior.

I find it interesting that none of the homosexual activists pushing this agenda of social engineering and the destruction of marriage have bothered to address what happens if things go horribly wrong, as many have predicted. If open homosexuals end up being a net burden on the military's ability to accomplish its mission (that is, to kill our enemies and break their stuff), then how do we undo this?

Urgent help needed for 2 Baghdad Pups

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This just hit my inbox:

Dear Alo,

We only have 4 days to save them...

Raka and Woody were specially trained and sent to Iraq for one reason: To save lives, even if it meant losing their own. They've sniffed-out explosives, stopped terrorists, and faced life-threatening danger daily. They are heroes!

And now they need you to do something heroic for them. Raka and Woody need you to get them out of Iraq on November 1st.

They were retired from active duty this past year, and now these sweet yellow labs are confined to a tiny kennel space every hour of every day. It will take your generous contribution to free them.

The Operation Baghdad Pups team is in Iraq right now on a rescue mission. They are flying back to the U.S. on November 1st. But to bring Raka and Woody with them, I desperately need your help.

Will you donate to save Raka and Woody right now?

For their heroic service, they deserve to live the rest of their lives in loving homes, not in small cages with little human companionship. Please help me save them right away.

With heartfelt gratitude,

JD Winston

JD Winston
Executive Director
P.S. Raka and Woody have only one chance to escape their cages in Iraq and come home. It's on November 1st. PLEASE GIVE TODAY!



RIP: ME3 Shaun Lin, USCG

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Sad news from U.S. Coast Guard HQ about a Coastie serving in one of the most hazardous assignments in the service:

R 150216Z OCT 10
ALCOAST 502/10
COMDTNOTE 1000
SUBJ: LOSS OF COAST GUARDSMAN


MSST New York1. I AM DEEPLY SADDENED TO REPORT THE LOSS OF A SHIPMATE RESULTING FROM AN OPERATIONAL MISHAP.

2. ON THE NIGHT OF 13 OCTOBER, DURING A TRAINING EVOLUTION ON THE JAMES RIVER IN VIRGINIA, ME3 SHAUN LIN OF MSST NEW YORK FELL INTO THE WATER. AFTER EXTENSIVE AND EXHAUSTIVE SEARCHES BY MULTIPLE COAST GUARD UNITS AND OTHER AGENCIES, HIS REMAINS WERE RECOVERED ON 14 OCTOBER.

3. PETTY OFFICER LIN STOOD THE WATCH ON THE FRONT LINES, FROM HIS TIME ABOARD CGC MAUI SERVING IN THE NORTH ARABIAN GULF TO HIS ASSIGNMENT AT MSST NEW YORK. HE PROTECTED OUR NATION FROM CRIMINAL AND TERRORIST THREATS. PETTY OFFICER LIN'S INDIVIDUAL EFFORTS ARE PROBABLY UNKNOWN TO MOST PEOPLE, BUT HIS SELFLESS SERVICE CONTINUES TO BE HIGHLY VALUED BY ALL AMERICANS. HIS QUIET PROFESSIONALISM, LIKE THAT OF SO MANY OTHERS IN OUR SERVICE, ENSURED WE WERE ALWAYS READY.

4. I COMMEND OUR DEDICATED PROFESSIONALS THAT SEARCHED IN HOPE OF FINDING OUR SHIPMATE ALIVE. THEIR TIRELESS EFFORTS ARE THE TRUE EMBODIMENT OF THE PRINCIPLES OF "HONOR OUR PROFESSION" AND "RESPECT OUR SHIPMATES."

5. AS WE SHIFT FOCUS TOWARDS PROVIDING CARE AND COMPASSION FOR THE FAMILY OF PETTY OFFICER LIN AND HIS CLOSEST SHIPMATES, I ASK EACH OF YOU TO KEEP SHAUN, HIS FAMILY, AND THE CREW OF MSST NEW YORK IN YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS.

6. OUR INVESTIGATIVE PROCESSES WILL HELP TO PINPOINT AREAS OF POSSIBLE CONCERN. PENDING THE OUTCOMES OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE INVESTIGATION AND MISHAP ANALYSIS BOARD IN THIS CASE, I ASK YOU TO AVOID SPECULATION REGARDING THE FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THIS TRAGIC MISHAP. WE WILL SHARE THE RESULTS OF THESE INVESTIGATIONS WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE.

7. OUR DUTIES WILL ALWAYS ENTAIL DANGEROUS WORK IN CHALLENGING ENVIRONMENTS. HOWEVER, WE MUST REMAIN ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED TO THE SAFETY OF OUR SHIPMATES - A RESPONSIBILITY THAT BELONGS TO EACH OF US AS MEMBERS OF THE COAST GUARD FAMILY.

8. ADM BOB PAPP, COMMANDANT, SENDS.

9. INTERNET RELEASE AUTHORIZED.

USCG 5th District released a little bit of background info on Petty Officer Lin. Please keep his family, friends, and teammates in your prayers.

Flat out evil

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If this CNN report is accurate, then the military's got at least one ideal candidate for the death penalty.


Murder merits swift punishment. Next issue: why didn't any officers stop this?

Lucky the Dog needs your help

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This e-mail from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals International just hit my inbox. If Jason must leave Lucky behind, the Iraqi government will shoot or poison her.

Lucky the DogGreetings from Iraq,


I am TSgt. Jason Krivda - Lucky the dog calls me Dad.

Many of you have already donated to help rescue Lucky - and I cannot express how grateful I am for your generous support. But, we need everyone's help to save Lucky. Lucky means so much to me and my unit here in Iraq - she is our protector, our only source of comfort, and a member of our family. Please, if you haven't already donated - donate now to bring Lucky home.

We've posted three videos of Lucky on spcai.org so you can see Lucky's silly antics. They show Lucky doing her everyday activities - playing with us, after our morning run, and in the office protecting us. I hope you enjoy them.

After watching the videos, I hope you will donate as much as you can to help us bring our lovable, deserving dog home. Could you please forward the video link to your friends and family and encourage them to help Lucky too?

I could not bear to leave Lucky behind, but I can only get her home with your help and we don't have much time left. Please help us save her right now.

God Bless America,

Jason Krivda
U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant


Please donate whatever you can afford. Lucky and other dogs like her not only boost our troops' morale and keep them company; sometimes they save their lives.

V-J Day + 65 years

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Many, many thanks to the Greatest Generation.

Any Taliban seeing this ...

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... would wet his undies.

Fire McChrystal

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President Obama must fire General McChrystal and prosecute him for gross insubordination and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Even if McCrystal has valid grounds for objecting to the President's war strategy, the way he went about is was utterly wrong. Every officer knows that when you need to "drop the big one" in a critical dispute with the civilian leadership of the military, you resign your commission. You don't pop off to the press and ridicule your Commander-in-Chief while whining like a brat. You never even hint at challenging the centuries-old principle of civilian control of the U.S. military.

President Obama, drop the hammer on this disgrace of a General. Relieve him, prosecute him, and replace him. You have my support.

--

1:30 PM Update: McChrystal's out, Petraeus is in. Good call.

Michael Yon, please take a vacation

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Until Michael Yon returns from his journey into lunacy, he's off my blogroll and no longer gets the monthly contribution of $25 I've been sending his way.


Good grief. This has gone way beyond the bounds of legitimate disagreement and debate.

For those wondering if the U.S. Armed Forces consist only of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, here's the definitive answer:

The term "armed forces" means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.



The Coast Guard as established January 28, 1915, shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times. The Coast Guard shall be a service in the Department of Homeland Security, except when operating as a service in the Navy.

One objection I saw went like this:

Again, I said he [Admiral Allen] is not in the MILITARY...


Quoting the US Code

The term "military departments" means the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force.


Khun Joe on June 11, 2010 at 4:08 PM

Khun Joe misunderstands the categories he's quoting. Members of the Armed Forces are military, whether they're serving in one of the Military Departments or not. Hopefully this Venn diagram will help:

Venn diagram of the U.S. Armed Forces

I won't use the IANAL disclaimer; I'm an alumnus of both the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the CWRU School of Law. Hope this helps, Joe!

Memorial Day 2010

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Sometime during your barbecue today, pause for a moment to raise a glass in memory of the fallen. They bought your liberty with their blood.

Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day

Video: "Inside The Green Berets"

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Although National Geographic shot this footage in 2006, it still resonates:

Thank you, Kyu Chay and Fattah Karimi, for your sacrifice. You are not forgotten.

Using hay to control oil spills

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Could this be a fast way to limit the spread of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? I'm not seeing any drawbacks here.


Some Coast Guard buoy tender CO with gonads (CYPRESS? OAK? JOSHUA APPLEBY?) needs to load his cutter with hay, get out to the spill, dump it overboard, and film the results. Waiting for direction from CG Headquarters and the rest of the jokers in Washington, DC is no strategy for success. Be bold!

I never in all my life thought I'd ever see American troops in Red Square.


Damn right it's a victory parade, and the Russkies know it. Too bad we didn't bring a tank.

Body language speaks volumes

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Click either image for a closer look at how our troops react to two different Presidents visiting Afghanistan.

Obama in Afghanistan     Bush in Afghanistan

This is not a new phenomenon, and the troops aren't fooled by Dr. Utopia.

Below, you'll find scanned versions of several letters from The Camden Partnership, a coalition of local and state civic and political leaders representing Camden County, GA. The letters to President Obama, to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and to U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, oppose the Obama Administration's plans to cut the U.S. Coast Guard's budget and decommission MSST 91108, a counter-terrorism unit based in King's Bay.


Any opinions out there on whether cutting coastal counter-terrorism assets sounds like a wise move?


MSST 91108

KINGS BAY, GA -- Marine Safety and Security Team 91108 based out of Kings Bay receive a unit commendation for their superior performance of duties during the 2004 G8 Summit, Super Bowl XXXIX and XL and Hurricane Katrina. Some of the other achievements highlighted also include [providing security for] more than 150 naval assets and security for two Major League Baseball All Star Games. Coast Guard photo by PA2 Bobby Nash.

I've been eagerly awaiting this miniseries since I saw the first trailer, despite my recent misgivings thanks to Tom Hanks' asshattery. Here's a little history that sets the stage for the first episode.


In partnership with HBO, The U.S. Naval Institute has collected a great wealth of historical information on the the Pacific Theater of World War II. For further reading, try any (or all) of these books:

Want more video?

There's a bunch more after the jump.

DefenseTech thinks it's now time for pre-emptive cyber attacks on jihadist networks. Gosh, what an original idea.

Facepalm

Consider this your profanity warning.

Jim "Uncle Jimbo" Hansen is a retired Army Special Forces Master Sergeant.

Obama's West Point speech on Afghanistan

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This is a visualization of the 100 most frequently-used words in tonight's speech. Click to enlarge:

Visualization of Obama's Afghanistan speech

The Weekly Standard has the transcript.

Veterans' Day 2009

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In Flanders Fields
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

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 foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A simple question for progressives (#13)

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If jihadist ideology is supposedly a perversion of true Islam, how can it be "Islamophobic" to identify and remove jihadists from our military?

Bush never went to Dover [Updated]

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Barack Obama went to Dover AFB to meet the caskets of fallen troops returning from Afghanistan.

Obama at Dover AFB

Ah, such a refreshing difference! Golly, it's so wonderful to have Professor Hopenchange in charge now. As we all know, a single photo op on the tarmac far outweighs whatever the heck George W. Bush was doing for eight years. Let's see, what exactly did he do? Oh, now I remember:

President Bush has met hundreds of families of fallen soldiers, but he has yet to attend a servicemember's funeral, he said Tuesday.


"Because which funeral do you go to? In my judgment, I think if I go to one I should go to all. How do you honor one person but not another?" he said.

The appropriate way to express his appreciation to the family members of fallen troops is to meet with them in private, he said.

What a jerk Bush was. The nerve of that guy, meeting with the bereaved in private instead of using them to score political points!

Meanwhile, our living troops in Afghanistan wait for the reinforcements they need. I'm sure Obama will get around to making a decision one of these months. Probably.

--

10/30 Update: Yep ... plastic banana look-how-much-I-care photo op.

I say the following as a retired U.S. Coast Guard commissioned officer who swore and upheld a solemn oath to defend the Constitution.

Newsmax's John L. Perry is either nuts, a naïve fool, or a childish attention-seeker. His latest column speculating on the possibility of a U.S. military coup to unseat President Obama fails the most basic B.S. test. Perry hasn't the first clue about how our military's leadership understands its oath of office, nor does he demonstrate even the most rudimentary comprehension of our Constitution.

By publishing this bilge the editors at Newsmax have forever beclowned themselves.

More commentary:
Cassandra cracks open a can o' whupass

My sentiments on Labor Day

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Screw the unions. Honor these folks instead.

VA to vets: hurry up and die

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Jim Towey's editorial touched off the debate over the VA Death Book, so here's a copy to read for yourself.

This pamphlet's clearly quite slanted toward the euthanasia side of the scale, so pay it no mind. Instead, educate yourself about advance directives before you make any end-of-life decisions.

Just dropped into my inbox:

Fellow Alums: The Superintendent of the Academy, RADM J. Scott Burhoe, asked me to forward the following email, which he has distributed to the Academy staff re: the Alex Simonka investigation.

V/R
CDR Jim Sylvester, USCG (ret) '71
President
USCGA Alumni Association

---------------------------------------

Dear Academy Community,

We all were deeply impacted by the tragic death of Alex Simonka last March. People have come to me wanting to know more facts to replace rumor and innuendo. Although I and the Academy administration strive to be transparent, we couldn't share more information about the allegations of misappropriation of Coast Guard Academy Athletic Association (CGAAA) funds because doing so could have jeopardized an ongoing investigation.

Alex SimonkaWhen I previously reported that the U.S. Attorney had launched an independent investigation, I said I would say more when authorized to do so. The U.S. Attorney's office has now given me permission to share critical facts. I've chosen to share them internally, understanding they will reach a wider audience. Public trust of institutions like ours requires complete, accurate public disclosure to preserve the high ethical standards we represent.

The investigation began in early 2008 after an anonymous letter was received by Government Accountability Office Fraudnet, and was referred to the Coast Guard Investigative Service. The letter expressed concern regarding the possible misuse of CGAAA funds. The subsequent investigation estimated that approximately $1.4 million had been embezzled from the CGAAA between 2004 and 2009.

In addition to being the Women's Basketball Coach, Mr. Simonka was the Athletic Division Business Manager and CGAAA Director since 1993. In these positions, he played an essential role in the management and expenditure of CGAAA funds. When we were first advised of possible wrongdoing in August 2008, we acted immediately to remove his authority over CGAAA's accounts.

Continuing concerns by the investigators led me to decide to place Mr. Simonka on administrative leave, and the Assistant Superintendent informed him during a face-to-face meeting on March 11, 2009. Although Mr. Simonka was not asked any questions, he offered a general apology and expressed regret. The Assistant Superintendent informed Mr. Simonka of the availability of counseling and support services - including services available through the Employee Assistance Program and at the Academy.

Mr. Simonka was first interviewed by the investigators on March 10 and he admitted embezzling CGAAA funds since sometime in 1999 or 2000, which he said were used to gamble. Mr. Simonka wrote checks from the CGAAA's account payable to himself. In order to avoid detection, he created a record of "dummy checks" that made them appear to be payments to a legitimate vendor or for a legitimate CGAAA purpose.

Mr. Simonka told investigators he was solely responsible for the thefts and the investigation found no evidence that any other Coast Guard employee was involved in Mr. Simonka's actions. The amount of funds taken before 2004 could not be determined. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the Academy will be able to recover any of the lost funds.

We cooperated fully throughout the investigation and I thank the U.S. Attorney, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division, and Department of Homeland Security Inspector General which diligently investigated this matter.

The CGAAA operated for more than half a century, and developed its own ad hoc practices which lacked adequate internal controls such as segregation of duties and effective oversight over handling of funds. Before the reports that spurred the investigation, we had already begun the process of converting the CGAAA to a nonappropriated fund instrumentality under the auspices of the Assistant Commandant for Human Resources who approved it on March 24, 2009.

The former CGAAA is now the "Coast Guard Academy Athletic Activity Fund" and it is subject to the same financial management regulations that govern all similar instrumentalities, like the Coast Guard Exchange and the Cadet Fund. These regulations require segregation of duties to ensure that no one person handles all elements of a transaction. They also require greater transparency of fiscal operations and regular oversight by the Academy Comptroller.

With the cooperation of the Director of Athletics we have transformed the financial management methods of the Athletics Division. After implementing appropriate lessons learned, we will move forward with confidence that processes now in place will protect the integrity and effectiveness of these programs that are so important to Academy life.

RADM J. Scott Burhoe
Superintendent, USCGA

U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Assn
47 Mohegan Ave
New London, CT 06320

This is gonna get uglier before it quiets down.

Terrorist-eating warbots?

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EATR prototypeImagine turning one loose in Taliban Country! I wonder if one could be programmed to target the scent of patchouli oil, and be set loose in Berkeley?

Hat tip: Hot Air

7/17 Update: Drat!

Ready for a prime example of Barack Obama's incredible narcissism and utter military ineptitude? Read Bob Woodward's account of a briefing in Afghanistan conducted by deployed Marines for Obama's National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones:

Jones was carrying out directions from President Obama, who said recently, "My strong view is that we are not going to succeed simply by piling on more and more troops."

...

During the briefing, (Brig. Gen. Lawrence) Nicholson had told Jones that he was "a little light," more than hinting that he could use more forces, probably thousands more. "We don't have enough force to go everywhere," Nicholson said.

But Jones recalled how Obama had initially decided to deploy additional forces this year. "At a table much like this," Jones said, referring to the polished wood table in the White House Situation Room, "the president's principals met and agreed to recommend 17,000 more troops for Afghanistan." The principals -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; Gates; Mullen; and the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair -- made this recommendation in February during the first full month of the Obama administration. The president approved the deployments, which included Nicholson's Marines.

Soon after that, Jones said, the principals told the president, "oops," we need an additional 4,000 to help train the Afghan army.

"They then said, 'If you do all that, we think we can turn this around,' " Jones said, reminding the Marines here that the president had quickly approved and publicly announced the additional 4,000.

Now suppose you're the president, Jones told them, and the requests come into the White House for yet more force. How do you think Obama might look at this? Jones asked, casting his eyes around the colonels. How do you think he might feel?

Jones let the question hang in the air-conditioned, fluorescent-lighted room. Nicholson and the colonels said nothing.

Well, Jones went on, after all those additional troops, 17,000 plus 4,000 more, if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have "a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment." Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF -- which in the military and elsewhere means "What the [expletive]?"

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

That's right, campers. It's all about Obama: his feelings, his reputation, his political future, his comfort. Don't pester him with requests for reinforcements. Sasha and Malia have to make do with the allowance Daddy gives them; you can do the same with what he's already given you. Run along now, and accomplish your mission without any politically uncomfortable casualties, OK? The Redistributor-in-Chief has to get back to socializing the health care system.

Jules Crittenden's bluntly-worded assessment follows, after the jump.

Come March, 2010 I'm going to subscribe to HBO just to watch this.

I still watch my DVD boxed set of "Band Of Brothers" at least once a year ...

Band Of Brothers

... so I suspect I'll be buying this one in about a year's time.

H/T: BLACKFIVE

Before you react to the U.S. Army's newest report on suicides by its troops, consider the reams of unanswered questions like these:

1. What is the suicide rate (suicides per 100,000 per year)?

2. How does this rate compare to the 18-24 year old civilian cohort?

3. What are the suicide rates of those who have deployed compared to those who have not? Combat action versus no combat action?

4. What is the Army's suicide rate in 2009 compared to 1999, 1989, and 1979?

Statistics are easy to misunderstand, misconstrue, or twist.

The Army is not hassling the VFW

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It's time to debunk this silliness:

Government Demands Inventory of All VFW Weapons

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars
June 9, 2009

An Infowars reader has passed along an email sent to VFW commanders by the Assistant Adjutant of the Department of Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars indicating the U.S. Army TACOM (Tactical Army Command) is demanding an inventory of all weapons held by VFW posts.

"While you may have had possession of this equipment for 20, 40, 60 or 100 years," the email states, "it still belongs to the U.S. Military."

The email arrived with an inventory attachment where all weapons are to be listed and the document sent to the Department of Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars. "This form will then be bounced off of the central database of all Texas VFW Posts at U.S. Army TACOM to verify serial numbers of each item that has been issued. This is a very extensive list and goes back to before the VFW was founded. So if you have a cannon from the Spanish-American War -- it's on the list."

Many VFW halls around the country have decommissioned military weapons on their properties along with uniforms, statues and flags from every era. It is a common practice for VFW honor guard units to use M-1 rifles made into blank firing devices for salutes at parades and funerals. Weapons held by VFW posts are generally kept under lock and key in storage rooms.

TACOM is not simply interested in blank firing devices and antique rifles and pistols, however. "Weapons and Equipment consist of but is not limited to, Rifles, Pistols, Mortars, Artillery, Tanks, Vehicles, Aircraft, Missiles, Aircraft Carriers (sic), etc, from any period."

Sounds scary, right?

This is refreshing:

As a Prius-driving, granola-eating, anti-gun, Left Coast Californian, I do not fit the stereotype of the typical armed forces booster. I am inclined to favor green technology over weapons of mass destruction. But I discovered during my visit that many of us who are working in non-military organizations, and who may not have given a second thought to the Navy as a model, would do well to understand how a small city floating on the ocean works. From startup entrepreneurs to seasoned executives, we can learn a lot from the U.S. Navy, from the enlisted men and women as well as from the commanding officers.

Let's shoehorn some more blogging lefties on a COD flight, stat.

SEALs looking for Coast Guardsmen

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BUD/S trainees in the surfThe Coast Guard is once again soliciting SEAL applications from active duty men in paygrades E-3, E-4, E-5, O-1, and O-2. BUD/S is extremely grueling, but becoming a SEAL is an incredibly effective way to serve your country.

Go get 'em, guys!

Obama snubs Medal of Honor recipients

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For the last 56 years, every President has made a point of attending the Salute To Heroes Inaugural Ball, which recognizes and celebrates recipients of the Medal of Honor. A bit of background:

The American Legion sponsors the ball, which recognizes recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. It started in 1953 for President Dwight D. Eisenhower's first inauguration.

Event co-sponsors include 13 other veterans service organizations, among them the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Every four years Eisenhower's successors followed suit: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

But yesterday, Barack Obama blew off 48 living recipients of the Medal of Honor who attended yesterday's Salute To Heroes Inaugural Ball. He had more important things to do.

Jerk.

--

More commentary:
BLACKFIVE
Ace of Spades
This Ain't Hell

Predictions, predictions

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Jim Dolbow solicits predictions for 2009 in two areas: national defense in general, and my beloved Coast Guard specifically. Go forth and comment.

On piracy in the Gulf of Aden

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Modern Somali pirateThe U.S. Naval Institute's new blog features some heavy hitters posting on America's response to modern day pirates in the Gulf of Aden. How come? Well, those pesky Somali pirates have kept themselves in the headlines long enough to draw the attention of the UN Security Council (I'll bet the pirates are terrified). After a recent close call, cruise ship passengers have now begun debarking before their ships reach the danger area, then flying to the next port of call to rejoin the cruise in safer waters.

At the USNI blog, the Navy's current tactics catch flak from Chuck Spinney, while Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen asks about the counter-piracy endgame. The latest missive from the Department of Crazy Ideas (courtesy of lawyer and retired Navy Captain "Eagle1") suggests a cheap inshore fleet. All well and good, but something's missing.

Let's convince Congress to issue Letters of Marque & Reprisal. This isn't as quaint or old-fashioned as you might think, and I'm not in the middle of a Walter Mitty daydream about Sir Francis Drake. The most recently-issued letter of marque allowed the civilian blimp Resolute to operate as an Anti-Submarine Warfare privateer, patrolling out of Los Angeles in 1941-42.

To curb the Somali pirates, our Congress could simply turn loose civilian contractors like Blackwater, Paratus World Wide Protection, or Triple Canopy. Quick, easy, no muss, no fuss. The Democrats in DC would only need to handle the paperwork and make belligerent speeches, leaving the private military companies to figure out the messy details. There would be minimal risk to our military personnel, who would only have to assist the contractors with surveillance and intelligence gathering.

If the sea services insist on taking part, or if the DC crowd pushes them into the fray, they should resist the urge to charge right up the middle with conventional forces. They should first look carefully at the capabilities of the Coast Guard's MSSTs (and the MSRT), as well as the Navy's SEALs, SWCC Teams, and Maritime Expeditionary Security Force. There's not much sense in trying to swat flies with a sledgehammer.

The creator of the Segway and the iBOT 4000 has outdone himself. At the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, Dean Kamen is developing the latest breakthrough in prosthetic arms ... and it's a quantum leap forward.

There's more video here.

When Kamen builds the "Luke Leg", I'll be at his door to get a pair.

H/T: Fox News

I suspect the stench was pretty pungent afterward.

Good thing big brother's looking out for us, especially if we're deployed with the military right now.

A group of half-wits in Fairfax County, VA decided to invent a new rule applied to Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots that stretches beyond the related state and military guidelines. To make matters worse, these requirements only apply to those ballots most widely used by members of the U.S. military and their families -- this rule does not apply to any other type of absentee ballot.

We better make sure that civilians and those not currently deployed (also known as 'folk who don't see the most pressing military needs') decide who will be the next Commander in Chief.

Just imagine the bumper sticker often touted : "I support the troops not the war."

Ace form of support in this grand piece of legislation.

My new sticker: "Keep the care packages and the ballots. -- Fairfax County Registrar"

Video: Dear Mr. Obama

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A veteran explains his upcoming vote in November:

Thank you, Joe.

During the Obamessiah's pilgrimage to Europe, he had made plans to visit wounded U.S. troops at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. But shortly before he was to arrive, he changed his mind and went shopping.

Despite his campaign's numerous (and conflicting) excuses, the real reason Obama blew off the troops was the prohibition on cameras inside the military hospital. For a cut-and-run appeasement junkie like Saint Barack, there's no point in slumming with the warmongers if you can't score cheap political points by doing so.

This makes the decision track very clear. Obama and his team set up the visits to military installations before going overseas. After seeing how the media got excluded in Iraq and Afghanistan, they decided it wasn’t worth traveling to Ramstein and Landstuhl to visit the severely wounded troops because they couldn’t bring the campaign and get the photo ops they wanted. Instead, Obama went shopping in Berlin.

I hear there are some wicked deals on Che Guevara t-shirts to be found in Berlin.

Sights like these never fail to warm my heart.

Before ...

Beaner 1

If we housed terrorist prisoners in these barracks, the world would scream bloody murder. This is completely unacceptable.

More at Hot Air.

Robin Williams in Kuwait: all class

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Funny and poignant all at once. God Bless him and the troops.

H/T: BlackFive

Jihadists 1, Pentagon 0

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Stephen Coughlin, an expert on jihadist ideology, made the mistake of pointing out what our Muslim enemies believe. In response, a touchy Muslim aide working for Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England got Coughlin fired.

[Coughlin] had run afoul of a key aide to Mr. England, Hasham Islam, who confronted Mr. Coughlin during a meeting several weeks ago when Mr. Islam sought to have Mr. Coughlin soften his views on Islamist extremism.


Mr. Coughlin was accused directly by Mr. Islam of being a Christian zealot or extremist "with a pen," according to defense officials. Mr. Coughlin appears to have become one of the first casualties in the war of ideas with Islamism.

The officials said Mr. Coughlin was let go because he had become "too hot" or controversial within the Pentagon.

...

Mr. Coughlin wrote a memorandum several months ago based on documents made public in a federal trial in Dallas that revealed a covert plan by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian-origin Islamist extremist group, to subvert the United States using front groups. Members of one of the identified front groups, the Islamic Society of North America, has been hosted by Mr. England at the Pentagon.

I wonder what my blogging colleague Patrick Poole thinks about this travesty. I'd love to know what ties Hasham Islam might have to the ISNA.

H/T: Hot Air

Military exoskeleton prototype

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I want one. Maybe Sarcos can build a totally hand-controlled version for paralyzed vets like me.

Hat tip: NixGuy

A great way to clear your sinuses

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Take it from me: you never ever want to lose the documentation proving that you've completed military-grade OC spray training. Encores are a buzzkill.


As soon as that gooey pepper spray hits your face, your nose expels rivers of snot, your skin feels like it's been sunburned, your lips feel like they're covered in angry fire ants, and your throat tries to close up if you're dumb enough to breathe too deeply.

And your eyes. Oh, your eyes. They don't close ... they slam shut. This pepper spray's Scoville score is in the 2,000,000 - 5,300,000 range, so it's worse than breaking open a habanero pepper and rubbing your bare eyeballs with it. It's such exquisite pain that after your instructor calls "break" you can stare unblinking into cold water running from a hose into your eyes because it ... Makes. The. Ow. Go. Away.

Did I forget to mention that you're expected to keep control of your sidearm and your combative subject after being sprayed? Fun times.

Been there. Done that.

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Used to have the t-shirt.

President Bush presented U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy's posthumous Medal of Honor to his family moments ago. The text of the citation reads as follows:

murphy2.jpgFor conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader, Lieutenant Murphy demonstrated extraordinary heroism in the face of grave danger in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan.


On 28 June 2005, operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy's team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Demonstrating exceptional resolve, Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men.

When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team.

In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded, gallantly giving his life for his country and for the cause of freedom. By his selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty, Lieutenant Murphy reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

More on LT Murphy:
My previous post
Summary of Action, OPERATION REDWING
A memorial by Murphy's friends at Engine 53, Ladder 43, FDNY



Please, when you discuss this good news with friends and family, remember the following:

moh_navy_lg.jpg


  1. LT Murphy received the medal; he did not "win" it. Recipients consider it disrespectful to be called "winners."

  2. Even though the President awards the medal in the name of Congress, it's not the "Congressional Medal of Honor" or the "CMH." It's simply the Medal of Honor. Much of the confusion probably stems from the name of The Congressional Medal of Honor Society; it's a Congressionally-chartered society for medal recipients, not a society for recipients of a Congressional medal. The official name of the award is the Medal of Honor.

  3. Try not to confuse the Medal of Honor with the Presidential Medal of Freedom or the Congressional Gold Medal, neither of which are military awards for valor.

  4. Take time to learn about other Medal of Honor recipients, as well as recipients of the next-highest award for valor in combat: the Navy Cross (includes Marine Corps and Coast Guard recipients), the Air Force Cross, or the Distinguished Service Cross. Click on the "Uncommon Valor" logo at the top of the rightmost column of this page and familiarize yourself with other heroes of this war (especially LT Murphy's teammates, Matt Axelson, Danny Dietz, and lone survivor Marcus Luttrell ... who wrote one of the NY Times bestsellers below and appeared in the other two).

  5. Look over the order of precedence for American military decorations, and compare them with their counterparts in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada

Explosives tend to annoy wasps

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A fallen rock was blocking a route in Afghanstan and EOD decided to blow it up.

I hope the EOD techs had face masks on. Ugh.

If you'd like to hear from the front-line troops in Iraq, go browse the listings at MilBlogging.com and decide for yourself whether General Petraeus is telling the truth.

Also be sure to read the work of independent journalists embedded with the guys out on the bleeding edge: Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, Michael J. Totten, Bill Ardolino, Austin Bay, JD Johannes, and Pat Dollard. These guys are out in the thick of it, and they're not beholden to the Bush administration or to anybody else but the thousands of donors who fund their work.

--
UPDATE: Yon on Petraeus

Watch General Petraeus testify live online

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C-SPAN has streaming video of General David Petraeus' testimony before Congress today.

--

UPDATE: The Tank is liveblogging the circus.

Beach Homes For The Brave

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Imagine recuperating from war wounds in places like these.

Savannah home
Paradise cottage

Sure beats Walter Reed or Tripler. Now wouldn't it be even better if it didn't cost you a dime? Well, sit down before you fall down. That's exactly what's available to wounded warriors, thanks to some generous patriots in Palm Island, Florida:

"Beach Homes for the Brave," a new program for military veterans and those wounded while serving in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom kicked off its inaugural event last weekend. This program provides the war veterans with a complimentary weekend getaway to Palm Island.

Relatives and friends of Army Staff Sgt. Lee Jones enjoy a game of soccer during 'Beach homes for the Brave' in Palm Island, Florida.

David and Holly Haynes, who own and operate Tarpon Real Estate in Cape Haze, Florida, decided to start the program to provide wounded service members with the opportunity to enjoy a stay on Palm Island.

"We wanted to personally offer something and say 'thank you,'" said Mr. Haynes.

The program includes free ferry transportation to the island, lodging in a fully furnished beachfront home, meals at the Palm Island Resort's Rum Bay Restaurant, complimentary golf carts and other resort-like privileges on the island.

Just click on the banner below to find out more. If you've been wounded and would like to spend some time on Palm Island, you can sign up online.

Beach Homes For The Brave

God bless you, David and Holly Haynes.

Hat tip: CENTCOM Insider podcast (July 20, 2007)

US CENTCOM Audio News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Progress on CENTCOM online news?

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On Wednesday afternoon, shortly after helping U.S. Central Command improve its news distribution from the war zone, I sent the following e-mail to CENTCOM's Public Affairs Office:

Your CENTCOM podcast feed at ...


[link shortened]

... is broken. You've been uploading new podcasts all the way through 31 AUG 07, but the podcast feed has nothing new after 26 JAN 07. Just go look at ...

[link shortened]

... and you'll see. Please fix this ASAP. CENTCOM needs this podcast to function if America is to win the information war against the jihadis.

Incidentally, the following feeds are also woefully outdated (perhaps dead?):

[link shortened]

[link shortened]

Yesterday afternoon, CENTCOM replied:

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. I have contacted our web masters and you should see something new within the next couple of days. Thanks again for your support.


V/R
Master Sgt. S. Crumes
Public Affairs Operations NCO
US Central Command
(813) 827-6761
DSN 312-651-6761
Cell [snipped]
Fax 813-827-2211
parkersy@centcom.mil
www.centcom.mil

CENTCOM's three dead feeds disappeared this morning, but the two good ones remained. That leads me to believe that somebody's working on the problem. Unfortunately CENTCOM's entire site dropped offline this afternoon. I'll be watching to see what happens.

With General Petraeus' progress report on Iraq almost upon us, it's time to revisit the propaganda war (and our military's lack of success therein).

Last year Tom Blumer wondered why CENTCOM's news releases weren't showing up in key places online. I suggested solutions and followed up on Tom's excellent work. Since then, CENTCOM has taken some steps to put out some news feeds and make them available online, but their publicity effort's still woefully lacking.

Enough dilly-dallying. I dug around CENTCOM's site, found 5 feeds, and did their public affairs work for them ... and it took me all of 45 minutes.

Those five feeds are now hooked into several search engines and feed-publicizing web services, so whenever CENTCOM posts a new item, everyone will know. Google Blog Search, My Yahoo, Technorati, Bloglines, Apple's iTunes, Syndic8, FeedBlitz ... it's all covered. You can even subscribe to any feed by e-mail, if you want.

Here are the five feeds:

US CENTCOM News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

US CENTCOM Audio News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

US CENTCOM Press Releases

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

US CENTCOM Video News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

US CENTCOM Photo Feed

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Please spread the word far and wide. I'm only one voice.

--

9/6 Update: If you don't know what a "feed" is (nor why you should care) here's a one-page answer.

Never let it be said that duty in the U.S. Coast Guard is a safe proposition. Here's just one of many examples of Coasties doing dirty, hazardous, and essential work.



Incidentally, I served with CDR Rick Rodriguez back when we were junior officers on Guam, and he's a consummate professional, not to mention a genuinely good guy. It's gratifying to see the Coast Guard promote such people to positions of responsibility.

The next Scott Beauchamp? (Updated)

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UPDATE: What a shock. The lefty blogger at DKos just deleted his post. Coward.

--

My favorite blogging aviator Neptunus Lex cries foul over a conspiratorial post at Daily Kos alleging that America is about to attack Iran. The DKos diarist claims his information comes from an anonymous Navy officer aboard a carrier.

By the time Lex finishes debunking the anonymous source, the story has more holes than a sieve.

If you're wondering what the signal flags in Lex's post mean, here's a little help:

Imagine you're in the military and your unit is in Iraq, facing an angry mob made up of both civilians and terrorists ... and you can't tell one from the other. Would it be better to disperse the crowd by using a non-lethal heat ray, or would it be better to open fire and risk civilian casualties? Which approach would cause the western media to scream the loudest? Would the career-conscious/prison-averse commander be wise to retreat rather than try to break up the mob?

Discuss.

Fear the Reaper

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Blue Öyster Cult never imagined this new Air Force drone:

The Reaper packs a wallop. Sleep soundly, Mr. Terrorist.

Hat tip: Hot Air

This is just silly:Coast Guard laser tag training exercise

The U.S. Coast Guard will fire lasers -- not live ammunition -- at its own boats this morning in a sort of war-games training demonstration on Lake Erie.

...

Coast Guard personnel on the defender boat will be armed with machine guns and rifles loaded with blank ammunition and fitted with laser beam emitters.

The attack boat will have laser sensors on board that will reveal if it has been "hit" by the weapons aboard the defending boat.

The Coast Guard late last year dropped its proposal to conduct training exercises with machine guns loaded with live ammunition in 34 zones in the Great Lakes, including four in Lake Erie.

Rear Adm. John E. Crowley Jr. called that plan unsatisfactory after widespread complaints about safety and potential damage to the environment.

U.S. environmental groups and the Canadian Foreign Affairs minister said they were concerned that the bullets, which could dump some 7,000 pounds of lead compounds a year in the lakes, could be a health hazard to humans and wildlife.

Puh-leeze. This is just another example of the Coast Guard's tendency to kowtow to environmentalist wackos. Trust me on this. I spent 2 1/2 years at USCG Headquarters in the office that oversees vessel traffic management in major ports. Ever since the Exxon Valdez spill, the environmentalist movement has been the 400-lb. gorilla in the room when it comes to the Coast Guard's marine safety missions.

Has anyone demonstrated that the ammunition expended in true live fire exercises would actually cause the horrible environmental damage alleged? I'd love to see it, but I won't hold my breath. These days all it takes to spook the federal government is an alarmist press release about impending environmental doom. Gathering facts is so tedious and dull, especially when you can use sexy computer models and glitzy ad campaigns instead.

Further, which is more important: preventing expended ammunition from entering the water, or preventing waterborne terrorists from attacking our northern shores? Those nice jihadist fellows would love to blow up a tanker or ore carrier, and given an opportunity they'd light off a dirty bomb near a major coastal city too. I invite the assorted Gaia-worshippers to consider the environmental damage attacks like these would cause (since the human death toll probably matters much less to them). Isn't prevention of a true disaster worth the cost of small amounts of expended ammunition entering the lake?

One of the opponents of the original live fire training sees the foolishness in this laser tag exercise:

Dan Thomas, president of the Great Lakes Sport Fishing Council, one of the groups that had criticized the initial plan, had a mixed reaction to today's planned demonstration.

"It sounds reasonable at first, but there's also no substitution for the real thing," Thomas said by telephone from his Chicago office. "Our group is not opposed to them using live ammunition, but we want them to be better at communicating to all interested parties when it is going to be conducting its exercises."

Thomas said his group and others have also wanted the training to be done farther out in the lake if live ammunition will be used in the future. Today's demonstration was supposed to take place from three to five miles from Cleveland.

A little more common sense would be nice, but alas, this is the Coast Guard we're talking about.

Dolphins and Coasties

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Watching this brings me back to 1994-96 when I was stationed in USCGC BASSWOOD (WLB-388). We'd occasionally see Spinner Dolphins playing in our bow wave like little grey surfers. It always brightened everyone's day.

Remember the troops

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Life on a buoy tender

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What follows is an account of the kind of stuff I did for two years out in the Western Pacific during my time in the Cutter Basswood. I was a Deck Watch Officer, meaning I gave rudder commands and played throttle jockey with a 1,000-ton ship. It's amazing how the possibility of screwing up and dismembering your shipmates focuses your attention.

Want some graduate-level education on the crushing weight of stress? Spend several hours working the entrance buoy for the very windy Tanapag Harbor Channel without a bow thruster, positioning yourself using horizontal sextant angles instead of a dynamic positioning system, all without getting anybody maimed.

But I digress.

From the New Haven Register:

The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Juniper repair several huge navigational buoys during a patrol in Long Island Sound. Jeff Holt/Register. The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Juniper, cruising in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Long Island, spotted the rogue buoy last week. The crew secured the massive metal structure and got a closer look.

USCGC Juniper works a buoyThey were amazed.

"It's supposed to mark the approach to the entrance to the channel for Boston Harbor. It got ripped from its anchor by the nor'easter, " said the Juniper's skipper, Lt. Cmdr. Rick Wester.

Since the April 15 storm, the buoy had drifted more than 100 miles.

"And at 18,000 pounds that's a pretty dangerous thing to have floating around in the shipping lanes untethered," Wester said.

All in a day's work for the Juniper, which inspects, repairs -- and occasionally hunts down -- navigational buoys in and around Long Island Sound.

On a recent weekday, the weather on the Sound was perfect for boating, with gentle seas, cool breezes and temperatures in the 70s.

But for the men and women of the Juniper, the 13-hour workday won't resemble anything like a pleasure cruise.

The Juniper is on the fifth day of a six-day deployment to repair and replace navigation buoys that have been worn down by the elements, such as the nor'easter. The assignment: Hoist the buoys, which are up to 36 feet high and weigh up to nine tons, from the water; place them on deck; secure them and replace everything from the lighting system to the chains that anchor them to the bottom 30 feet below.

"Thirty years ago, working the buoy deck was considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the country," said Chief Warrant Officer Mike Tomasi, a 17-year veteran who serves as the deck safety officer.

Technology and training have made things far safer over time. But he said the buoy deck still remains a bad place to lose focus.

"You have about eight people working in a really confined space," Tomasi said. "The crane and other equipment are very loud, and you have to be able to hear each other. You can have a hydraulic problem with the crane with one of those dangling above the deck. The Sound is usually protected, but out on the ocean you can be doing this in 4- to 6-foot seas with 30-knot winds.

Lt. Commander Wester, a 1993 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, has been the Juniper's skipper since July 2006. The 225-foot ship, stationed in Newport, R.I., is his first command and is responsible for "aids to navigation" from Newport to New York Harbor.

Their mission for the week is to replace buoys that have reached the end of their six-year lifespan, and to replace conventional lights atop others with new, compact light emitting diode or LED systems.

Grant Westerson, executive director of the Connecticut Marine Trades association, represents the builders, brokers, marina owners and others who serve the owners of state's roughly 115,000 pleasure boats. But he said the state's economy and environment rely heavily on safe sea lanes.

"There are more than 6,000 (commercial) passings in the sound each year," he said. "That's a lot of gasoline, and bananas and other cargo. And what about a day (with poor visibility) when a tanker loaded with gasoline could run aground on the Thimble Islands in Branford and rip a hole in her hull? How important are those buoys then?"

Red or green buoys mark boat and shipping channels. They are 26 feet long and weigh 12,000 pounds. Candy-striped ones signal open water all around. Yellow ones, like the one foudn adrift, are for caution.

The day starts at 7 a.m. The 45 officers and crew will work a mile off shore, just outside the break wall to New Haven Harbor. If everything goes well, they will be done outside New Haven by 6:30 p.m., sail one hour to Bridgeport, and drop anchor for the night and wait in relative relaxation until tomorrow, when the entire routine starts all over again.

The LED lighting systems are being phased in throughout U.S. waters. And if not the most glamorous job in the service, Wester said it is a very important one.

"The older (lighting) systems have conventional bulbs under a red plastic cover," Wester said. "They run on batteries in the base much like car batteries. There are structures above the lights that have solar panels which recharge the batteries during the day."

"The nor'easter we had last week knocked a lot of those off," Wester said. "A fishing boat can come by and knock them off with their (outboard) rigging. The base is supposed to be watertight. But water can get in there and (damage) the batteries. A solar panel can get knocked off so the battery can't recharge. The bulb changer can get stuck and burn out.

"And yes, people do hit buoys."

The LEDs are self-contained, present a smaller target, emit a more reliable light, are considered more durable and can be replaced easily. Wester said in the Coast Guard, time is money -- and safety.

"Right now we spend 60 to 70 percent of our time on buoy maintenance and replacement, and the remainder on law enforcement," Wester said. "We'd like to reverse those numbers, and we think the LED systems will let us do that. And we believe it will save money in the long run after the initial cost outlay."

Officers on the bridge nudge the ship up right alongside the buoy to be picked up. On the focsle deck next to Tomasi, Boatswain's Mate Chief Kat McSweeny threads a chain with a hook on one end and a long rope at the other through the buoy's upper structure in one toss. A seaman on down on the buoy deck grabs the chain with a hook to tie off the top. Another hook is used to secure a rope to a ring in the base. Another hook, attached to the crane operated by Yeoman Second Class Jen Fattarusso, is affixed, and things get moving, all very painstakingly.

The buoy is raised to the edge of the deck, where three more lines are attached. The anchoring chain is secured for later inspection. It is ever so deliberately raised up and over the deck, with four lines pulled from four different directions to steady and guide it. Then Fattarusso -- with almost surgical precision -- lowers it onto a set of saddle blocks which prop it up at an angle. Three more lines are attached and pulled taught to the deck with pneumatic drills.

Seamen armed with scrapers remove layers of mussels and other sea life. Seaman Juan Reyes climbs atop the structure to remove the old lights, and to add new ones to the buoys that are going back into the water.

"Juan is qualified in ATON (aid to navigation) maintenance," Tomasi said.

Fattarusso and a group of green helmets next turn their attention to the anchoring block, hauling it up to the deck to inspect the chain. As a rule the anchor chain is roughly three times the depth of the water. Those off New Haven are 90 feet long to accommodate the 28-foot depth.

On Buoy 6, only one section of the chain needs replacing.

The worn section is cut off with a torch and moved aside. A seaman connects the section of new chain to the portion remaining in place with a horseshoe-shaped link that is closed with a long, thick stainless steel pin.

"We call it a 'Heat and Beat'," Tomasi said

Boatswain's mate Jason Knapp applies the blow torch to the extended end of the pin until it is glowing red. He jumps out of the way and Reyes and Seaman Doug Duryea quickly pound the end flat with alternating blows from sledge hammers.

Then it's back into the water, and on to Bridgeport.

Some pics here and here, and a short video here.

Bleg: jet fighter video in high def

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My 50" plasma screen TV needs a workout. I absolutely lust after jet fighters, especially 4th- and 5th-generation models. What's the best high definition DVD out there that combines gripping footage (not necessarily combat), an excellent soundtrack with lots of afterburning thunder, and multiple camera angles (in-cockpit, HUD, externally mounted, formation flight, fly-by, etc.)? Extra warm fuzzies if there's a Hornet in there anywhere.

This is the video that started my drooling.

You can bet I'll be asking Lex for his opinion. Cuz this ain't half bad, neither:

Coast Guard Air Station Houston hoists 4 people to safety after their boat goes over the Colorado River dam in Bay City, TX.

Nice work, folks!

The Royal Marines are pansies

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So say Ralph Peters and John Derbyshire. This isn't the first time that Tony Blair has knuckled under to the degenerates in Tehran. Sadly I have to agree with Peters and Derbyshire. The Royal Marines have become a pale shadow of their forebears, and are now a bunch of weak-kneed sissies.

The Coast Guard Academy is "adrift", according to the Associated Press' take on a USCG task force report analyzing the Academy's climate:

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy has lost its way and is struggling with a climate of distrust and cynicism in which nearly a quarter of cadets say they would not report classmates who commit sexual assault, a task force reported Friday.

The task force, created last year after the first student court-martial in the academy's 130-year history, said the academy must restore its focus on leadership and character to develop the best officers to safeguard the nation's coasts.

...

The task force said that an emphasis on sports and academics has overshadowed leadership development and a focus on core values.

I'm a 1994 CGA graduate, and I also went to law school with LCDR Richard Batson (one of the task force members) for whom I have a great deal of personal and professional respect. I'll reserve comment until I've read the report.

Peter Stinson at Tidewater Musings did a fine job of digging up the actual task force report. Before you get all spun up about the Coast Guard's supposed culture of cavemen, read the report yourself. And take it with a grain of salt.

The local rag newspaper in New London, The Day, has two brief stories on the fallout from the task force's climate report: here and here.

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Update: The Academy's Superintendent wrote a letter to the alumni and made an opening statement to the press, and the CGA Alumni Association posted both of them.

Shortly after April 14th, the PBS show "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer" will highlight a Tennessee couple trying to raise enough money to equip their Marine son and his squad with new Dragon Skin body armor before the Marines deploy to Iraq. So far they've only raised enough money to buy one vest, but look on the bright side. Even though the Marine Corps won't foot the bill, at least they'll let Lance Corporal Alex La Rosa and his mean wear the best armor on the market.

If these young warriors were in the Army instead, they'd be screwed.

To help, call Javier La Rosa at (865) 766-9840.

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8/31/07 Update: Check the latest news.

The good guys get aggressive online

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Our military is finally striking back at the jihadists online.

The U.S. military is quietly expanding capabilities to attack terrorist computer networks, including websites that glorify insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, military officials and experts say.

The move comes as al-Qaeda and other groups fighting in Iraq and elsewhere have expanded their activities on the Internet and increased the sophistication and volume of their videos and messages. Much of the material is designed to raise money and recruit fighters for Iraq.

"You should not let them operate uncontested" on the Internet and elsewhere in cyberspace, said Marine Brig. Gen. John Davis, who heads a military command located at the National Security Agency. The command was established to develop ways to attack computer networks.

...

"Our opponents do a heck of a lot more than just watch us in cyberspace," Davis said. "They are acting in cyberspace. We need to develop options so that we can ... dominate cyberspace."

Cyberattacks can take different forms, including eliminating terrorist websites and creating doubts among insurgents about their networks' security, said Arquilla, who favors an offensive approach he calls a "virtual scorched-earth policy."

Hallelujah! It's about time.

Hat tip: The Tank

About a year ago, the U.S. Army banned its soldiers from wearing any body armor other than standard-issue Interceptor armor. Surely the Interceptor armor's as good as anything else, right?

Nope. Take for instance Dragon Skin, made by Pinnacle Armor:

The Marine Corps doesn't like the awkward, heavy, and less-effective Interceptor armor. The Army grudgingly agreed to test Dragon Skin, but I haven't seen anything come of that promise (other than snarky comments from a guy who's a product manager for Interceptor Body Armor). And don't get me started on the moon suit.

Since the President's Secret Service detail wears Dragon Skin, as do U.S. Army generals in Afghanistan, the Army's resistance to Dragon Skin for the troops strikes me as very fishy.

Defense Review also viewed a letter from ATC [Ed: That's the Army's Aberdeen Test Center.] containing information that proves that SOV/Dragon Skin did NOT fail any U.S. Air Force test or requirement, as has been stated by certain parties in the U.S. Army. We viewed the relevant information ourselves.

Bottom line is, all relevant ballistic test data is available for viewing and validation (just like we viewed and validated it), exactly as Pinnacle Armor has offered in their written response to the SOUM [Ed: the Army's "Safety-of-Use Message" criticizing Dragon Skin armor] and the Pentagon Brief by General Sorenson. Defense Review has validated this ourselves by visiting Pinnacle Armor and carefully scrutinizing all of the data with our own eyes. That data covered a 9 year timeline and validates Pinnacle's statements in their written response.

So, the upshot is that based on the unrefutable ballistic test data that we've seen ... Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis' (U.S. Army) negative statements about Pinnacle Armor SOV/Dragon Skin ... and Major General Jeffrey A. Sorenson's, Col. John Norwood's (U.S. Army), Col. Thomas Spoehr's(U.S. Army) negative statements about Dragon Skin in his recent news briefing are either ignorant (showing a lack of knowledge of the available ballistic data), outright lies, or deliberately deceptive.

The only other possibility (and this would be giving the total benefit of the doubt to the Army), would be that civilian "experts" like Karl Masters, Steve Pinter, James Zehng, Janet Ward and others at U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center/Soldier Systems Center and PEO soldier who providing the information to the green suiters (Army officers), are responsible for the U.S. Army receiving inaccurate information about SOV/Dragon Skin's true performance capabilities.

OK, the Army's opposition to Dragon Skin is more than fishy. It stinks.

By the way, these civilians in the system seem to have built quite a little empire/fiefdom for themselves over the years. This is due to the fact that the military has (for years) outsourced these types of positions ... to such civilians, instead of maintaining them within the military. Unlike military personnel these civilians do not have the same level of oversight or controls on them to maintain the typical checks and balances necessary to ensure true and unbiased evaluation of performance-based products (like SOV/Dragon Skin, for instance) for the protection of the America's soldiers.

Imagine dragging one of these civilians to the mean streets of Baghdad and offering him a choice between wearing Interceptor armor and wearing Dragon Skin. I'll give you one guess as to which one he'd pick.

My question for the Army: what's happened in the last year with the comparison between Interceptor armor and Dragon Skin?

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8/31/07 Update: I stand corrected.

A high school senior in Texas managed to get offers from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Although his accomplishment impresses me, he clearly isn't too smart. He's going to Annapolis.

CENTCOM's news problem

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It's been almost a week since I suggested simple solutions to CENTCOM's difficulties in spreading good news from Iraq and Afghanistan. CENTCOM has seen my post, but as far as I can tell they've done nothing. The solutions I suggested are free and easy to implement. CENTCOM has three people dedicated full time to getting out the news online. I'm no tech geek, and it only took me one hour to tweak my site in the way I recommended to them. It's taken CENTCOM 295 hours and counting.

What's the hold up, CENTCOM? You don't have to get General Abizaid's permission to change the way your news feeds work, nor do you need his permission to e-mail Yahoo News and Google News with a request to include your feeds in their search engine results. I was once a junior officer myself, and I know a top-heavy staff structure can stifle your initiative ... but only if you let it. Ask forgiveness, not permission. I identified your problem and gave you a free and simple solution. By failing to take action you are derelict in your duties.

You are fighting a war in the news media, where enemy propaganda has already severely eroded public support for our military's efforts. Without public support, our government will pull our troops out of Iraq before we achieve victory. For the public to support the war, they must hear the truth about our successes. Your mission is to get the truth out. You are failing to accomplish your mission.

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UPDATE: BizzyBlog's Tom Blumer is still waiting for a response from Google News.

**UPDATE: Tom's still asking questions, and so am I.**

BizzyBlog's Tom Blumer wonders why Google's and Yahoo's respective news search engines miss almost all of CENTCOM's news, and asks for help figuring it all out. No problemo, Tom: I dug around and found a few relevant facts that might interest you.

I found a link on CENTCOM's home page that offers access to all five of CENTCOM's news feeds. Then I started probing Yahoo and Google to see if the URLs for those feeds turned up anywhere.

Yahoo! NewsI note with some satisfaction that three valid CENTCOM news feeds are available (log-in required) for inclusion on anyone's My Yahoo! page. Of course, you have to log in and drill down to a particular sub-page to search for those feeds, or you have to manually type in the entire URL of a feed to add it yourself. Now, I did this myself over two months ago, but I'm unusual. Want to venture a guess as to how many people have done the same? I'll bet it's a very small number. Most folks have neither the time nor the inclination to decipher the finer points of manually adding news feeds to their My Yahoo! pages.

Newspaper and coffeeFortunately this is one (small) problem that CENTCOM can fix by adding chiclets to its home page and its news pages. Or CENTCOM can do what I did and add one easy-to-click link that lets FeedBurner's web site handle the whole chiclet thing automatically ... for free!

OK, so Yahoo has an obscure way to keep track of CENTCOM's news releases via RSS feeds. That's nice, but I'm nearly certain that nobody uses it. Worse, CENTCOM's feeds apparently aren't included in Yahoo's news site, nor are they available in its news search engine ... which is where the vast majority of Yahoo's news-reading users will go. Yahoo has yet to regularly crawl any blogs or RSS feeds for inclusion in their news search results (although at one time they did so).

Yahoo really doesn't need to do much to add CENTCOM to its search results. After all, Yahoo always has fresh content from my puny blog available in their search results within moments of publication. That's because I have FeedBurner set up to ping Yahoo whenever I post something new. The price? Zipski. It's free. If CENTCOM would just take advantage of a free service like FeedBurner to publish their news feeds, they would get more attention. More importantly, by taking care of the feed updates and pinging ahead of time, CENTCOM would have an easier time persuading Yahoo to add them to the news search engine.

Now on to Google.

Google NewsGoogle's blog search engine actually does include CENTCOM news in its results, but almost nobody would think to look there for news from a major organization like CENTCOM. Since Google already keeps track of RSS feeds from thousands of sites, it should be a snap for them to include CENTCOM's news releases in Google News' search results (note to CENTCOM: FeedBurner pings Google too, so my puny blog's even listed there). Google News includes posts from blogs like RedState, TownHall.com, Power Line, The Jawa Report, and The Huffington Post. Those sites are hardly unbiased. CENTCOM certainly has a stronger claim to being a news source than those blogs do, and if CENTCOM adopts the same approach to Google as outlined above for Yahoo, it shouldn't be long before things improve.

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Update: BizzyBlog and NixGuy keep connecting the dots. And don't forget the enemy's propaganda successes, either. One Oar In The Water pulled on a loose thread and exposed a propaganda lie published by the L.A. Times, in which an American airstrike supposedly killed a slew of Iraqi civilians. How many more stories like that have slipped through? You'd be surprised.

Update 2: Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report asks pointed questions about shady Iraqi stringers reporting "news" of American atrocities. To top off the cavalcade of happy news, Rusty throws in a story about a terrorist instruction manual that explains how to wage jihad by manipulating Google. C'mon, CENTCOM ... get serious.

Charlie Rangel is an asshat

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Just click the image of Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) to find out why:

Charlie Rangel

I'm a veteran, and I'm outraged.

I joined up in 1990 because I wanted to serve my country. I had a full ride scholarship waiting for me at a civilian university, but I dedicated my life to the military because I wanted to protect my family, my friends, and even stupendously condescending jerks like Charlie Rangel. I am white. I came from a middle class family. I got a 1430 on my SAT, and that was in 1989 (before they dumbed it down). I have a law degree and have only a few credits between me and a master's degree in bioethics. My four brothers are (respectively) a doctor headed for a fellowship in cardiology, a hydraulic equipment salesman, a petroleum engineer, and an undergraduate physics student headed for med school. My mother and stepfather have MBAs, are former executives in a Fortune 500 company, and are successful small business owners. My father has an MBA and is a successful CPA and financial advisor.

I had tons of options, and I chose the best: serving my country in the military. Charlie Rangel can kiss my ass.

John Abizaid is the new George McClellan

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John Abizaid George McClellan
General John Abizaid General George McClellan

Senator McCain just asked the CENTCOM Commander, General John Abizaid, why he opposed sending more American troops to Iraq. Abizaid's reply:

I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the core commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American Troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is because we want the Iraqis to do more. It is easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.

President Bush says that he wants to finish the job in Iraq. Fine. But it's now obvious that refusing to adapt our strategy to defeat the rising sectarian militias would be foolish. At least if we adopt the Democratic cut and run policy, we'll stop losing troops in Iraq. Now, I oppose cutting and running for obvious reasons. But pinning our hopes on the Iraqi military and police forces now, before they're ready, is just another way of ensuring defeat.

We ought to send more troops to Iraq as soon as possible, and their primary mission should be to kill the leaders and members of every militia, jihadist cell, and Baathist insurgent group in Iraq. Wars are won by applying overwhelming force, not by trying to field just enough troops to do the job. Abizaid advocates standing pat with current strategy. He's wrong. President Bush should fire him and find someone who will fight.

Once upon a time, another Republican President faced an unpopular and protracted war, and his top general refused to engage the enemy. Frustrated, the President wrote a letter to the general:

My Dear McClellan:

If you are not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a short while.

Yours respectfully,

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln eventually fired George McClellan and found two generals who attacked the enemy and won the Civil War: Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. McClellan retired and ran against Lincoln for President as (what a shock) a Democrat. Thank God that McClellan lost.

Today we need a new Sherman or Grant or Patton. President Bush should find a real fighter who will ignore the media's whining and the Democrats' sniping. John Abizaid is not that man.

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More blogging:
Jeff Emanuel
Dan McLaughlin
"Thomas" (very pessimistic)

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11/16 Update: Rush Limbaugh accurately identifies Abizaid's strategy as "stay the course."

Now that's what I call sharp

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You definitely need to see this video of the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard Drill Team.

Hat tip: Andy's Angle

It's fitting that today, on the 231st anniversary of the birth of the U.S. Marine Corps, President Bush announced that Jason Dunham will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor.

When the citation is published, you can find it by clicking the banner below:

Uncommon Valor

Here's more on Cpl. Dunham.

Note: Don't call it the "Congressional Medal of Honor" ... that's not its name. And please, never make the mistake of calling someone a "winner" of the MoH. "Recipient" is the proper term.

The troops got the message

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The results of the election continue to ripple outward, and the troops in Iraq react.

Hat tip: A Rose By Any Other Name

I'm no fan of federal spending in general, but some things require it. It is right and good for the U.S. government to fund our military, and it is also proper for it to care for the veterans who have been injured or wounded in the line of duty. That's why I'm asking for your help with a government program that needs more spending, not less (I know, I know ... it's out of the ordinary to hear that from me, but please pick your jaw up off the floor and read on).

More than 2,000 brave men and women have lost their lives in the war on terror and over 20,000 have been wounded. This is a sobering reminder of the risks our troops face every day and the tremendous sacrifices they make for our country. Despite these great sacrifices, Congress recently tried to cut the budget for the VA's traumatic brain injury care centers, which so many of our wounded troops are counting on.

Our veterans should not have to fight for the high quality health care they've earned.

Congress needs to know that anything short of fully-funded health care and benefits for our veterans is unacceptable ... especially when VA claims backlogs have reached a record high of over 800,000! Those claims represent hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families who are waiting for the health care and benefits they need to survive. These are real people who did their duty for our country. But, unfortunately, the country is not holding up its end of the bargain.

That's why the VFW has launched Healthcare for Our Heroes, a month-long Veterans Day campaign to demand full funding of veterans health care and benefits. Join the campaign today by signing the Healthcare for Our Heroes Petition to Congress and help the VFW reach their goal of gathering 20,000 signatures to deliver to Congress by Veteran's Day.

Let us honor the men and women who've served our country by calling on Congress to fully fund health care and benefits for our veterans.

Sign the Healthcare for Our Heroes petition today.

When it comes to disdain for our troops, Sherrod Brown stands with John Kerry:

Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat leading in late polls in his bid to unseat Republican Sen. Mike DeWine, said Republicans are merely trying to change the subject. "The people who should apologize are George Bush and Mike DeWine for sending our troops into battle without body armor and without examining the cooked intelligence," he said.

So according to Brown, this wasn't an insult to our troops:

That's right, folks. In Sherrod Brown World, it doesn't matter what the troops fighting in Iraq heard. Those dolts misinterpreted an obvious joke about their Commander-in-Chief and thought it was an insult directed at them. Any idiot would have understood. They're either too dumb to get the joke, or they're just acting like eeeeevil Republicans when they take John Kerry at his word.

Sherrod Brown knows darn well that Kerry's insult revealed yet again his inherent disdain for the U.S. military. Brown shares that attitude, and today's quote demonstrates the point. This hair-on-fire pacifist lefty wants to have a bigger say in American national security and foreign policy. Do Ohio voters really want a small man like this representing them in the U.S. Senate?

Contribute to Mike DeWine and keep Sherrod Brown away from the reins of power.

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt

The troops in Iraq respond to Kerry

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Seen on FreeRepublic:

Hat tip: NixGuy

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Update: Direct hit!

Kerry's lonely press conference

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John Kerry is defiant in his response to America's anger over his slur against our troops, but there's more to it than that. Watch his press conference closely and see if you notice what I noticed.

Did you catch it? None of his fellow Democrats are standing behind him. Cowards.

Remember that the Democratic Party is the home of politicians who despise our troops. Vote accordingly next Tuesday.

John Kerry says our troops are idiots

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Are you sitting down?

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and do your homework, and make an effort to be smart, uh, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq.
-- John Kerry
[audio here]

Video hat tip: Michelle Malkin

And this guy wants to make another run at the presidency? I'll make the call right now. Kerry's run in 2008 is D.O.A.

The only difference between this colossal twit and Hillary/Obama/Feingold is that the other contenders know better than to reveal their disdain for our troops. As a veteran, I'm disgusted but not surprised.

Michelle Malkin has the mother of all round-ups of blogosphere reactions.

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Update: "I apologize to no one." (Hat tip: RedState)

Please, John. Keep talking.

My USCG Academy classmate LCDR Russ Bowen has just published a very well-reasoned thesis on the need to create Coast Guard Special Operations Forces. Here's the foreword written by Air Force Lt Col Michael McMahon (click the graphic to download the thesis):

Russ Bowen's thesisThis paper examines the Coast Guard's historic participation in special operations and posits a requirement for the Coast Guard to designate a special operations force today--Coast Guard SOF. Lieutenant Commander Bowen advances a timely argument for the formation of additional SOF units, Coast Guard (CG) SOF units, at a time when USSOCOM is under pressure to expand SOF capabilities. Bowen argues that the Coast Guard has considerable experience fighting terrorists, insurgents, and criminal networks, all of which have the cellular, compartmented structures that describe the current threats in the global war on terrorism. These are the same threats that US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) seeks to thwart by means of its global campaign plan to synchronize the counterterrorism efforts of the Department of Defense.


He points out that Title 46 of the US Code established the Coast Guard's Maritime Safety and Security Teams to respond to terrorist activity. These teams are a rapid response force capable of deployment in response to various threats against seaports and waterways, and they provide protection for strategic shipping, high interest vessels and critical infrastructure. Plus, Coast Guard teams are active on the high seas as well. With its maritime assets fully committed, augmentation by properly trained and assimilated CG SOF could advance USSOCOM capabilities in difficult mission areas.

Bowen suggests that forces of a CG SOF component could fill the gap he finds in maritime control and interdiction. While we have a few highly qualified teams that can do this type of work, many more are needed, and they can be made available from the Coast Guard. In this paper he writes that maritime security response requires prolific, robust, all-weather, day-night, opposed boarding capabilities with highly discriminate use of force to respond immediately to real-time, all-source intelligence.

Especially useful could be the Coast Guard experience and involvement in Foreign Internal Defense (FID) and the potential that CG SOF hold for augmenting USSOCOM's mission requirement in maritime environments around the globe. Indeed, Lieutenant Commander Bowen relates current Coast Guard special purpose force capabilities to six of the nine SOF Core Tasks--including FID and Civil Affairs Operations.

A Coast Guard SOF component in USSOCOM could potentially enhance SOF operations with both tactical maritime and law enforcement capabilities, particularly in the demanding environment of homeland defense. One of the conundrums of military support to homeland defense operations is the Posse Comitatus stricture that, by law and augmenting DoD policy, circumscribes the use of Federal armed forces for domestic police work--search, seizure, arrest and the like. But countering radical extremist groups that are intent upon killing Americans at home is both a military and a law enforcement concern. Lieutenant Commander Bowen's paper suggests that CG SOF can address both requirements since CG SOF can be at once badge-carrying law enforcers and counterterrorist fighters.

Lieutenant Commander Bowen steps to the front rank of military thinkers who approach our most difficult military challenges with new ideas and fresh concepts for future operations. The reader will agree that his vision for a CG SOF is worth consideration.

Lt Col Michael C. McMahon, USAF
Director, Strategic Studies Department
Joint Special Operations University

Now I have zero SOF experience, but it sounds to me like LCDR Bowen is suggesting that a USCG Special Operations Force would span the gap between the Navy SEALs' counterterrorism mission and the Green Berets' mission to train, advise, and assist foreign military or paramilitary forces:

The research suggests two critical ways in which the Coast Guard can contribute to the global counterinsurgency:



  • with a credible, kinetic counterterrorism (CT) capability at knife-fighting distances in the nation's Tier One ports

  • by using its influence and access abroad, integrated with theater special operations command campaigns, to build the capacity of foreign forces, deny sanctuary to terrorists, and provide early warning on the strength or collapse of maritime security forces around the world


Some may counter that the Coast Guard is not the place for special operations, but in point of fact, the Coast Guard has been a place for special operations and must be a place for special operations if it is to contribute the full weight of its authority, expertise, and capability to help the nation defeat the radical-Islamist insurgency.

This makes sense to me, but I'll be publicizing this thesis with milbloggers who know more about this subject than I do. I can't wait to hear what they think.

Two retired Army Major Generals, John Batiste and Paul Eaton, showed up on Capitol Hill again yesterday to grandstand for the cameras and demand that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resign.

Sound familiar? Yep, we've been here before. The Senate Democratic Policy Committee meeting was not an actual Senate committee meeting. Only one Republican showed up, and he wasn't even a Senator. What was Representative Walter Jones of North Carolina doing there, I wonder?

At any rate, allow me to refresh everyone's memory about the deafening chorus of retired generals and admirals calling for Rummy's head. The folks in blue represent the five or six identified gadflies, multiplied by two because I'm feeling generous. The folks in green represent all of the other retired flag officers.

Of course, I'm being unfair. I failed to mention that Generals Batiste and Eaton had retired Colonel T.X. Hammes sitting beside them.

Feel better now, Democrats?

War as the Israeli soldier knows it

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One word: hell.

Rest In Peace, Corporal Joseph Tomci

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He was a good Marine and a good man. Semper Fi.

Hat tip: A Rose By Any Other Name

Hezbollah's Siegfried Line

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Doug Hanson of The American Thinker follows the IDF's fight to clear what he calls "Hezbollah's Siegfried Line" here and here. If you're unfamiliar with the comparison, just read a little history here.

Previous:
Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa ... Lebanon?

*Updates below*

The more I hear in the news about the battle in southern Lebanon, the more I think back to World War II. I wonder if there are any significant similarities between: 1) Hezbollah's reliance on bunkers and tunnels, and 2) Japan's island-defense strategies between 1943-45?

In the Battle of Tarawa, the Japanese employed their early-WWII strategy of trying to stop the U.S. Marines at the water's edge. That strategy changed at the Battle of Peleliu to a more elastic defense geared toward drawing out the bloodshed and inflicting maximum casualties on the Marines. The Battle of Iwo Jima amplified that effect, and by the time the Battle of Okinawa really got going, the Japanese had refined defensive warfare into a bloody science of attrition.

Now I keep hearing news reports of surprisingly stiff Hezbollah resistance against Israeli incursions in southern Lebanon. On the plus side, Israel enjoys air superiority, and it has also effectively cut off the Hezbollah fighters from resupply and reinforcement, much like our Navy did to each Japanese-held island we chose to invade. Granted, this isn't a full-scale invasion (yet) and the defenders have reportedly chosen to build their bunkers in urban areas, so the parallels to our own WWII Pacific Campaign aren't that strong yet. But I wonder how this battle will develop, and if there might end up being more similarities to 1943-45 than we see so far. If the diplomatic busybodies "international community" actually sits still long enough to let this fight play out, I will be paying very close attention to how Israel ends up rooting out and killing these Islamist fanatics.

Here's hoping we end up with a decisive win for the West and a crushing, humiliating defeat for Islamism.

Update: Great reading on the Pacific War:

Utmost Savagery

Joseph Col Alexand...

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Goodbye, Darkness

William Manchester...

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Update: Even though it's a quote from a story by DEBKA (which is notoriously unreliable), how did I miss this?

Last week, Israel's army chiefs believed they had encountered Hizballah's primary war tactic -- Viet Cong-style guerrilla warfare out of hundreds of small bunkers scattered across the country. This week had scarcely begun when a still more formidable impediment was discovered: Hizballah camouflage techniques borrowed from the Japanese in the 1945 Iwo Jima battle. To stop the rockets coming, Israeli special forces must continue to blow up the tunnels and also adopt the methods the US Army's methods for overcoming the Japanese dug in at Iwo Jima and other Pacific islands at the end of World War II. Without regard to losses, they stormed Japanese dug-in positions and camouflaged units, using flame throwers and gasoline to burn the foliage concealing the enemy ...

In the first ten days of the war, therefore, the Israeli air force bombed out empty Hizballah premises in South Beirut and Baalbek, but missed the moving woods and vegetation which concealed the rocket launchers -- which explains why the blitz continued notwithstanding heavy Israeli air force assaults on Hizballah's centers and strongholds.

I'll be watching the news for more reports like this to see if more reliable sources confirm it.

Honor the fallen

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Click the image below and read the citations with asterisks.

Uncommon Valor

When you find some quiet time this Memorial Day weekend, take a moment to offer a prayer of thanks for the selfless service of Nate Bruckenthal.

On April 24th, 2004, Damage Controlman Third Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal, USCG died from injuries sustained in the waters off Iraq in a suicide bombing attack by Islamic terrorists. He was the first Coast Guardsman to be killed in action since the Vietnam War. Petty Officer Bruckenthal left behind a wife, Pattie, and their only daughter, Harper (born seven months after her father's death).

From the web site of the Nathan Bruckenthal Memorial Trust:

The U.S. Coast Guard has a new top dog. Admiral Thad Allen assumed command yesterday as the service's 23rd Commandant. This is his official photo ...

allen01.jpg

... but I think most folks remember photos like this.

allen02.jpg

Go get 'em, Admiral!

*Update below*

My very good Colorado-born friend e-mailed me a revolting story from TheDenverChannel.com:

The mother of a U.S. Marine was grieving for her dead son when she found that his savings account had been claimed by the director of the funeral home.

It was money that he had no right to and despite a court ruling, the funeral director refused to pay. What's even more puzzling is that he's not just any debtor, he's the mayor of the small town and a member of a City Council that has financial responsibility for the city's budget.

...

Jason's body was returned to Colorado for burial. Records show that the funeral was paid, in full, by the Marines. But after closing out her son's accounts, Jason's mother realized that the probate court had sent the proceeds of Jason's savings account to the funeral home, which is run by Jim Bostick.

...

In addition to his duties as mayor and member of the Ft. Lupton City Council, [Jim] Bostick also owns two funeral homes. In his role with the city, he is heavily involved in overseeing the finances of the town.

OK, milbloggers. Let's close ranks and charge.

Bostick Funeral Home
106 N 10th Ave
Brighton, CO 80601
(303)659-8465

Bostick Funeral Home
806 Denver Ave
Fort Lupton, CO 80621
(303) 857-2290

City of Fort Lupton
130 S. McKinley Avenue
Fort Lupton, CO 80621
(303) 857-4707/-6694
(303) 857-0351 [fax]

Fort Lupton City Council: LuptonCouncil@aol.com
Barb Rogers, Fort Lupton City Clerk: cityclerk@frii.net

--

Update: The original story ran on April 28th. Today, an encouraging follow-up was posted by TheDenverChannel.com.

John Donovan asks us to "gently and politely remind Mr. Mayor Bostick to follow through - and that means we need to follow-up. A gentle heat, that would be 'simmer' on your blog-stove. Why? Because Bostick would appear to be a deadbeat." Sounds like a good plan. Trust, but verify.

Navy SEAL recruiting commercial

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I was watching the Military Channel tonight when I saw a recruiting commercial for the U.S. Navy SEALs. It's very brief, but it's by far the most creative and thought-provoking ad I've seen in a long, long time. Check it out.

Cliff May has some direct questions for SecDef Rumsfeld's critics:

The question is not whether Donald Rumsfeld should resign. The question is not even who should replace him. The question is: What goals would a new Secretary of Defense set, and what strategies would he implement to achieve them?

If Rumsfeld's critics believe America's military has met its match on the battlefields of Iraq, they should say so forthrightly. But they should talk, too, about the ramifications of an American defeat in the heart of the Arab Middle East.

...

A separate question � one well worth asking � is whether a Pentagon reshaped by Rumsfeld will be all that it can be; whether it will be capable of employing organized violence more effectively than America's adversaries (which is, after all, the mission).

...

Retired generals should be welcomed into the debate on military transformation. But they can't make much of a contribution until and unless they start asking the right questions.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

So much for Iranian "super torpedoes"

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It turns out that Russian-designed supercavitating torpedoes aren't really the threat they're made out to be.

Below you'll find links to stuff I've read lately about the so-called "revolt of the generals."

  • Richard Halloran asks (without answering) if retired military officers should publicly question the decisions of civilians in charge of the military.
  • Charles Krauthammer emphatically replies "no."
  • Unfortunately (but not at all surprisingly) the L.A. Times uses the generals' complaints as an excuse to hunt for unflattering quotes from deployed military members in the war zone. The Times only found one officer, and that coward declined to be identified ... rather than taking the principled approach and either resigning his commission or retiring.
  • Oliver North repeats an increasingly common theme and wonders why the generals waited until now to complain, rather than resigning.
  • David Mastio sees parallels between the current controversy and a seemingly unrelated incident from World War II, namely General Patton's famous slapping incidents.
  • Cassandra at Villainous Company cautions civilians not to read too much into the controversy, suspects that at least one of the disgruntled generals is actually longing for President Bush's head on a platter, and handily debunks the charge that the "swift-boating" of the generals has begun.
  • AcademicElephant thinks SecDef Rumsfeld has taken the wind out of his opponents' sails, and that now is the time to press the P.R. advantage.
  • Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice restrains political speech by active-duty commissioned military officers.

General Zinni contradicts himself

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Covering the "revolt of the generals" against SecDef Donald Rumsfeld, Fox News' heavy hitter Brit Hume found two contradictory quotes from the revolt's leader:

Former Clinton CENTCOM commander, Anthony Zinni � the most prominent of the retired generals attacking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld � now says that, in the run-up to the war in Iraq, "What bothered me ... [was that] I was hearing a depiction of the intelligence that didn't fit what I knew. There was no solid proof, that I ever saw, that Saddam had WMD."

But in early 2000, Zinni told Congress "Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region," adding, "Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions ... Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months."

Oops. This kind of thing tends to hurt one's credibility.

How many generals oppose Rumsfeld?

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Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, relishes the controversy over a few retired generals who have called for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign. Joining the media dogpile, Vanden Heuvel asks:

Batiste. Eaton. Newbold. Riggs. Zinni... Is there a retired general left in the States who hasn't called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to fall on his sword? While The Nation suggested he resign in April, 2003, an unanticipated and unprecedented cast of characters has joined the growing chorus.

So far something like six of these guys have sounded off. Heck, I'll be generous. Let's say a full dozen are out there talking to the mainstream media and urging Rumsfeld's ouster. Where does that leave us? Right here, Katrina:

The dirty dozen Everybody else












































Yes, that's a giant chorus of condemnation. This is only based on the estimate that there are roughly 4,700 retired generals and admirals, so do your own math. Maybe it'll be more persuasive.

--

Update: Welcome, readers of Hugh Hewitt, PoliPundit.com, TKS, Ed Driscoll, Right Wing News and RedState! Enjoy your stay here at Brain Shavings, and be sure to drop by the Buckeye Bloggers before you go.

A large part of the anti-military and anti-war bias of the mainstream media stems from the typical journalist's stubborn ignorance about basic military matters. Jack Kelly offers new yet familiar examples.

Coast Guard gets it done in Katrina's wake

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This is a major reason why I'm proud to be a retired Coastie. Semper Paratus!

--

9/20 UPDATE: Here are more (non-Katrina-related) reasons to be proud of the USCG. Meanwhile, check out these CG photos from the Katrina effort ... or search on the keyword "Katrina" here (log on with user name "uscg" and password "uscg").

Blogathon for the troops

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Ever wondered what 24 hours of non-stop blogging does to a person? On Saturday you'll find out ... and you'll also have an opportunity to support some fine charities that look out for our troops. Here are the details:

Four Days Left Until the "Rear Echelon" Blogathon Outshines "Live 8"

Well, outshines Sir Bob Geldof's little shindig in terms of helping the men and women who serve in our armed forces, anyway.

On Saturday, July 2nd, while David Gilmour and Roger Waters are choking back their bile, WordGirl and I will be venting our spleens for 24 glorious hours of bloggy goodness.

Why risk caffeine overdose and Karpal Tunnel Syndrome, you ask?

Why, to raise money for the Armed Forces Relief Trust, of course, a wonderful charity supporting the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Marines charities. I served nearly 10 years in the military, and let me tell you, I never darkened the door of a Lamborghini dealership on military pay. These folks are very poorly compensated for saving the world, and the charities under the AFRT umbrella do yeoman's work in helping our troops and their families make ends meet, particularly in wartime.

Please join us this Saturday, 12 am to 12 am Sunday. It beats watching Paul McCartney crank out Dino Rock for effete Europeans, doesn't it?

For every $25 you donate, one of the sleep-deprived bloggers will post on any topic you choose. Please drop in on Saturday and make a donation.

No more underwater jihadis

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Let's say you happen to be an intrepid Warrior of Allah™, and you've been thinking of putting your scuba training to good use by blowing up infidel port facilities. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but the U.S. Coast Guard is ready to cut your dogpaddling jihad short. Witness the Underwater Port Security System.

Not too long ago I created a bumper sticker:

Support the troops

The point I was trying to make is now back in the news. It turns out that NPR's Bob Sommer isn't the only lefty who's feeling prickly about yellow ribbons and "Support The Troops" stickers. UMass student Thomas Naughton's self-described guilt spurs him to tear yellow "Support The Troops" ribbons from other people's cars, as he explains in his The Daily Collegian column:

Guilt can only weigh on a person's mind for so long before they crave the act of purgation; to get the weighty feelings of shame and responsibility out of the mind -- or at least the guilty parties attempt to find some kind of peace if they cannot rid themselves of a screaming conscience that implicates and indicts its possessor.

That said, perhaps some readers will understand why my friends and I rip yellow ribbon "support the troops" magnets off of cars or wherever people have affixed them. By ripping off these ribbons, we find a way to deal with our guilt, as though with each ribbon swiped we take back a life that was taken by this senseless war started by our senseless president and those who support him.

I will never say, "support the troops." I don't believe in the validity of that statement. People say, "I don't support the war, I support the troops" as though you can actually separate the two. You cannot; the troops are a part of the war, they have become the war and there is no valid dissection of the two. Other people shout with glaring eyes that we should give up our politics, give up our political affiliations in favor of "just supporting the troops." I wish everything were that easy.

...

We say, "support the troops" so that we won't feel guilty about saying "no" to war. We reason that if we say that we support the troops, somehow we aren't monsters for not saying a word when the death tolls of U.S. soldiers climbed above 1,000. Those ribbons are yellow for a reason, they are not the mark of armed forces support, they are the mark of cowards.

Pundits on the radio advise their cowardly listeners to approach men and women in army uniforms and say "thank you." I cannot do that. Every time I pass a person in uniform I look long and hard at them and all I can think inside to say is "I'm so sorry." I want to apologize to them, to their families and to their friends. I feel sorry that we, the people, couldn't control our own government at the outset of this conflict when most of us knew deep inside that it was a mistake.

Where are we now? Are we in a better place? Is the world safer for democracy? No, it is not safer and we are not in a better place. In this war that we are fighting to somehow avenge the deaths of the Sept. 11 tragedy, we have amassed a field of body bags, the number of which almost matches the number killed in the terrorist attacks four years ago.

Naughton's column caught Michael Medved's attention today, and his invitation to Naughton to come on the air has so far gone unanswered. No big surprise there.

When I created my bumper sticker I pointed out the same brand of self-serving lefty illogic that Naughton chews on. Though he and I come down on opposite sides in the debate over the war (not to mention respect for property rights), we both understand that in this war it's not possible to meaningfully support the troops while also believing that the troops are engaged in a criminal military adventure.

My recommendation? Get two stickers and give one to a liberal relative or friend.

More blogging:
QandO
Marine Corps Moms
Angry in the Great White North
Mark Nicodemo
This Untamed Fire Of Freedom
Precinct 333
Grim's Hall
Clear and Present
Joobo the King of Wisdom
A Word From The Right
The Eyrie
A Logical Voice (agrees with Naughton)

Main battle tank video: Merkava 4

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Here's a kick-butt advertising clip from Israel circa 2002, hawking the Merkava tank. Reminds me of the jihadi rifleman's nightmare. Even this Coastie's impresseed.

Hat tip: Target Centermass

Harsh military language

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General Mattis is in good company. Nice find, Beth.

Now if only the Mainstream Media would stop dogpiling General Mattis and look at Eason Jordan a wee bit more closely ...

Bigger Army and Marine Corps needed?

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The Weekly Standard just published a bipartisan open letter urging an increase in the Army and Marine Corps. An excerpt:

The United States military is too small for the responsibilities we are asking it to assume. Those responsibilities are real and important. They are not going away. The United States will not and should not become less engaged in the world in the years to come. But our national security, global peace and stability, and the defense and promotion of freedom in the post-9/11 world require a larger military force than we have today. The administration has unfortunately resisted increasing our ground forces to the size needed to meet today's (and tomorrow's) missions and challenges.

So we write to ask you and your colleagues in the legislative branch to take the steps necessary to increase substantially the size of the active duty Army and Marine Corps. While estimates vary about just how large an increase is required, and Congress will make its own determination as to size and structure, it is our judgment that we should aim for an increase in the active duty Army and Marine Corps, together, of at least 25,000 troops each year over the next several years. There is abundant evidence that the demands of the ongoing missions in the greater Middle East, along with our continuing defense and alliance commitments elsewhere in the world, are close to exhausting current U.S. ground forces. For example, just late last month, Lieutenant General James Helmly, chief of the Army Reserve, reported that "overuse" in Iraq and Afghanistan could be
leading to a "broken force." Yet after almost two years in Iraq and almost three years in Afghanistan, it should be evident that our engagement in the greater Middle East is truly, in Condoleezza Rice's term, a "generational commitment." The only way to fulfill the military aspect of this commitment is by increasing the size of the force available to our civilian leadership.

The administration has been reluctant to adapt to this new reality. We understand the dangers of continued federal deficits, and the fiscal difficulty of increasing the number of troops. But the defense of the United States is the first priority of the government. This nation can afford a robust defense posture along with a strong fiscal posture. And we can afford both the necessary number of ground troops and what is needed for transformation of the military.

In sum: We can afford the military we need. As a nation, we are spending a smaller percentage of our GDP on the military than at any time during the Cold War. We do not propose returning to a Cold War-size or shape force structure. We do insist that we act responsibly to create the military we need to fight the war on terror and fulfill our other responsibilities around the world.

Makes sense to me. But hey, what do I know? I was in the Coast Guard.

Godspeed, Lieutenant Hoe

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The Washington Post has a story on the price of freedom, as paid by 1st Lt Nainoa Hoe of Hawaii. It's moving and well-written. With soldiers like Noe and his platoon, we can only lose if we give up.

Hat tip: INDC Journal

So they say they "support the troops"?

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Every time I argue with some liberal who whines about the war in Iraq, they always feel compelled to mouth platitudes about supporting the troops no matter what. But after hundreds of incidents like this one, I have a reply.

Bull.

I just created my own support-the-troops bumper sticker, which you can have for yourself by clicking on the image below.

Support the troops

Buy two and give one to a liberal relative or friend.

--

UPDATE: I knew it would hit a nerve. Check the comments here.

Hose him down

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If you like things that go boom, you'll be impressed by this footage of helicopter miniguns in action.

Hat tip: Argghhh!

Rafael Peralta: a good Marine

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By all rights, we should know Rafael Peralta's name. The man died a bona fide hero during the Battle of Fallujah. Here's an excerpt from Rich Lowry's column on the sergeant:

Sgt. Peralta, 25, was a Mexican American. He joined the Marines the day after he got his green card and earned his citizenship while in uniform. He was fiercely loyal to the ethos of the Corps. While in Kuwait, waiting to go into Iraq, he had his camouflage uniform sent out to be pressed. He constantly looked for opportunities to help his Marine brothers, which is why he ended up where he was on Nov. 15. A week into the battle for Fallujah, the Marines were still doing the deadly work of clearing the city, house by house. As a platoon scout, Peralta didn't have to go out with the assault team that day. He volunteered to go.

Eagle, globe and anchorAccording to Kaemmerer, the Marines entered a house and kicked in the doors of two rooms that proved empty. But there was another closed door to an adjoining room. It was unlocked, and Peralta, in the lead, opened it. He was immediately hit with AK-47 fire in his face and upper torso by three insurgents. He fell out of the way into one of the cleared rooms to give his fellow Marines a clear shot at the enemy. During the firefight, a yellow fragmentation grenade flew out of the room, landing near Peralta and several fellow Marines. The uninjured Marines tried to scatter out of the way, two of them trying to escape the room, but were blocked by a locked door. At that point, barely alive, Peralta grabbed the grenade and cradled it to his body.

His body took most of the blast. One Marine was seriously injured, but the rest sustained only minor shrapnel wounds. Cpl. Brannon Dyer told a reporter from the Army Times, "He saved half my fire team."

Semper Fi, Sergeant Peralta. You were a good Marine.

CG Clips

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Leave it to a Coast Guard cook to make better recruiting videos than the Coast Guard itself can. He's posting them at CG Clips. Way to go, Jimmy Z!

Hat tip: Brown Hound

Rejected chemical weapon ideas

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A few years back, our military tossed around ideas for new non-lethal chemical weapons:

Most bizarre among the plans was one for the development of an "aphrodisiac" chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale, the proposal says.

The brainstorming sessions apparently went no further, and the ideas were rejected. Makes you wonder what they're dreaming about today, doesn't it?

America's humanitarian military

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Think our Navy SEALs are just a bunch of bloodthirsty blow-em-up Rambo types? Wrong.

Hat tip: Cheese & Crackers

USMC sniper makes 1000 yard shot

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Via Cheese and Crackers and Blackfive comes the following story of a frighteningly good Marine sniper:

Coast Guard responds to tsunami

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Though the Coast Guard is a much smaller and less technologically-advanced service than the Navy, the world's experts in search and rescue are still stretching their resources to the limit and taking emergency supplies to Thailand.

Help equip a blogging sniper

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The anonymous milblogger over at American Soldier is getting ready to deploy to Iraq as a sniper in January. If you're feeling generous, consider helping him purchase the extra equipment he'll need to do his job and come home to his family.

Godspeed, soldier, and good hunting!

Loyalty given, returned

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The Banty Rooster has a heartwarming e-mail relating an encounter between Donald Rumsfeld and a wounded soldier in Iraq today.

Chaplain in Iraq needs encouragement

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A chaplain in Mosul, Iraq was in the thick of the recent attacks there that killed several of our soldiers. Here's an excerpt of his thoughts:

I found Betty on a stretcher being tended by nurses. I introduced myself and held her hand. She looked up at me and said, "Chaplain, am I going to be alright?" I said that she was despite the fact that I could see she had a long road to recovery ahead of her. Most of her hair had been singed off. Her face was burnt fairly badly, although it didn't look like the kind of burns that will scar. What I do know is that it was painful enough to hurt just by being in the sun. I prayed with Betty and moved on.

...

After a few tense moments people began to move around again and the business of patching bodies and healing minds continued in earnest. As I stood talking with some other chaplain, an officer approached and not seeing us, yelled, "Is there a chaplain around here?" I turned and asked what I could do. He spoke to us and said that another patient had just been moved to the "expectant" list and would one of us come pray for him. I walked in and found him lying on the bed with a tube in his throat, and no signs of consciousness. There were two nurses tending to him in his final moments. One had a clipboard so I assumed she'd have the information I wanted. I turned to her and asked if she knew his name. Without hesitation the other nurse, with no papers, blurted out his first, middle, and last name. She had obviously taken this one personally. I'll call him Wayne. I placed my hand on his head and light stroked his dark hair. Immediately my mind went to my Grandpa's funeral when I touched his soft grey hair for the last time. And for the second time in as many hours I prayed wondering if it would do any good, but knowing that God is faithful and can do more than I even imagine. When I finished I looked up at the nurse who had known his name. She looked composed but struggling to stay so. I asked, "Are you OK?" and she broke down. I put my arm around her to comfort and encourage her. She said, "I was fine until you asked!" Then she explained that this was the third patient to die on her that day.

...

As SGT Crawford and I walked away at the end of the day I saw another chaplain and a soldier standing among the silent rows of black body bags. The soldier wanted to see his friend one more time. We slowly and as respectfully as possible unzipped the bag to reveal the face of a very young Private First Class. His friend stared for a few seconds then turned away and began to cry.

The last count was 25 dead, and around 45 wounded. Nevertheless, Our cause is just and God is in control even when the crap is a yard deep. I'm where God wants me and wouldn't change that for anything, even if it means death. After all, "to die is gain".

Read the whole thing, and leave an encouraging comment for him and his flock.

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt

Raw combat footage from Fallujah

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Geoffrey Huntley's got it. My thanks for the tip go out to John over at Argghhh!

Groan alert

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Harrison Ford will soon star as General Jim Mattis in a movie telling the story of the Battle of Fallujah. BlackFive reprints an e-mail to Ford from a Marine wife who wonders if the actor will treat the Marines respectfully in the movie.

Hat tip: The Daou Report

Outgunned

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"Ya gotta go out ..."

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Via Brown Hound:

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crashed in the Bering Sea during a rescue of a drifting tanker's crew. Six of the ten people aboard are still missing in 43-degree waters, 30-knot winds and 20-foot waves; the other four were rescued. The crash happened at about 6:15 PM last night, Alaska Time.

Average survival time in those conditions: roughly three hours.

In an ironic twist, the rescue swimmer assigned to the helo was left behind on the drifting tanker with its captain, so that the helo could carry one more civilian to safety. The two men were carried to safety within an hour by another helo. Immediately afterward, the tanker ran aground and broke in half.

Pray for the missing men, and thank the Lord for our Coast Guard.

Army sneaking women into combat?

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Mack Owens reports on the Army's possible backdoor attempt to sneak women into combat, as unearthed by Elaine Donnelly's Center for Military Readiness:

The U.S. Army is quietly making a radical change in its personnel policy that may well see the 3rd Infantry Division redeploy to Iraq early next year with mixed-sex support companies collocated with combat units. The move violates not only Defense Department regulations, but also the requirement to notify Congress when such a change goes into effect.

...

The Army's defense of its actions has been disingenuous. On one hand, the Army claimed in May that there were "insufficient male soldiers in the Army to fill forward support companies," and therefore it "cannot support elimination of female soldiers from all units designated to be UA elements." But if the Army knew about this back in May, why didn't it ask Congress for more recruits at the time? One cannot escape the conclusion that the Army's position appears to be that we don't have enough young men to fight our wars, so women must be integrated into fighting units by subterfuge and sleight-of-hand.

But then, on the other hand, an Army spokesman recently told Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times that the policy of prohibiting women from serving in units supporting ground-combat formations is outdated. Today, said the spokesman, the threat is "asymmetrical... There is no front-line threat right now" since all soldiers, support or combat, face rocket, mortar, and roadside-bomb attacks, as well as ambushes.

First and foremost of my objections: if these allegations are true then the Army is breaking the law. Even if I agreed with the Army's goal (which I don't), I'd oppose their methods here. The senior officials responsible for this sleight-of-hand need a public and permanent reminder about civilian control of the American military.

Now that's leadership

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When's the last time you heard of a Major and a First Sergeant standing guard duty at the main gate of a forward base, while a Lieutenant General serves chow to Lance Corporals and Privates who have the night off? It happened in Fallujah on Thanksgiving.

It's no wonder I'm almost as fond of the Marine Corps as I am of my beloved Coast Guard.

Should the wounded still serve?

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The following idea looks good at first, but turns out to be a nightmare waiting to happen. Via Intel Dump, I found a Washington Post story about the military's changing attitude toward mandatory medical retirement of the severely wounded and disabled:

In a shift in military culture, the U.S. armed forces have recently announced new efforts to keep seriously wounded or disabled soldiers on active duty. Although there is no clear written policy, the sentiment is being echoed down from the White House.

"When we're talking about forced discharge, we're talking about another age and another" military, President Bush told wounded soldiers at Walter Reed last year. "This is a new age, and this is a new [military]. Today, if wounded service members want to remain in uniform and can do the job, the military tries to help them stay."

Military commanders cite advances in medical technology as the main reason for the shift. Better prosthetics -- such as Rozelle's $7,000 leg -- are allowing some of the wounded to regain their fitness and continue to serve. Others say the military's new attitude toward the disabled is simply mirroring society's.

...

In April, the Army formed the Disabled Soldier Support System, or DS3, a resource network available to soldiers who are 30 percent or more disabled -- paralysis or the loss of a limb or an eye. The DS3 helps soldiers weigh their options regarding retirement or trying to stay on active duty. The Army estimates that almost 900 of those injured in Iraq are eligible for the program.

My first reaction to the story was "sounds reasonable to me." Wounded vets deserve thanks and recognition, and it also struck me as a good way to keep motivated and experienced personnel around to pass on knowledge to others.

Then I reconsidered.

At first I came up with lots of hypothetical situations where a combat unit's logistics effort would be severely hampered by having to account for extra medical supplies, hyper-specialized prostheses, and additional medical staff (or at least more medical training for regular troops already overstretched by training requirements). But let's set all that aside for now. I'll be generous and grant that it might be a net "Good Thing™" to let a 100% combat-ready sevicemember get back into the fight if he can completely hold up his end ... even if his injury would have meant an automatic medical discharge in days gone by.

I'd rather take aim at another possibility, as suggested by Intel Dump:

I'm glad to see the military adopting an enlightened attitude on this issue, so as to retain some of its wounded warriors who might otherwise be cast aside due to the inflexible application of personnel rules. If a soldier is fit to fight, he or she should be allowed to stay in uniform. Similarly, if a soldier is not fit to fight, but is fit to do some staff job, then he or she should be allowed to stay in that limited capacity, so as to free some other soldier to serve on the front line. We owe these wounded vets a great debt, and I think giving them the opportunity to continue their service is a great way to pay them back

If wounded servicemembers aren't fit to fight, but are allowed to hold non-combat jobs, I can think of several problems that might result from letting them stay in:

  • Non-combat billets would become somewhat harder for able-bodied servicemembers to fill, because the wounded would all be in those selfsame jobs by definition. This would increase the regular troops' chances of being sent into battle ... which would breed resentment and cause morale problems.
  • The wounded troops would presumably be drawing a VA pension, making them paid more highly than regular troops at the same rank. Again you'd breed resentment, and could also create an unexpected financial incentive to become "lightly" wounded or disabled. Think of your typical guardhouse lawyer (sea lawyer for us maritime types), and imagine the possibilities for potential malingerers.
  • Would all injured troops be eligible to remain on active duty, or only those wounded by enemy action ... and why? At the moment, I can't think of a non-arbitrary way to solve this issue.
  • What level of disability would be considered "too disabled"? Do we use a VA disability percentage as a cutoff, say above 50%? Do we instead base the decision on what jobs to keep open to the wounded by looking at which ones can be altered with "reasonable accomodations" (ADA lawyers reading this will shudder)?
  • What kind of career development damage could a wounded servicemember suffer if he knows he'll never need certain skills/knowledge again? An amputee who used to be a Damage Controlman on a frigate isn't going to work on his shoring and patching/plugging skills under wartime shipboard conditions, so how can he hope to compete with his able-bodied peers for promotion?
  • In a related vein, must there be parallel career tracks for every specialty, one for wounded personnel and one for the rest? If so, does the military really want to instantly double its HR headaches and overhead?

These are just ideas I came up with off the top of my head. I'm sure there are plenty more I haven't thought of.

So it seems my second impression's the more reliable one. If the wounded cannot recover fully and resume their original combat-ready, deployable status, then the sensible thing to do is to retire them with a big thank you and a pension. Being nice to the wounded ought to take a back seat to keeping our military prepared to kill people and break things in the most effective way possible.

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Disclaimer: I'm a medically-retired vet, rated at 100% service connected disability. I wasn't wounded, just injured in an accident.

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UPDATE: Posse Incitatus is on the same page as Intel Dump, but I'm still not convinced.

An e-mail from Fallujah

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Lt Col Dave Bellon sent another e-mail to his folks from Fallujah, dated November 19th. It relates some of what he saw in the battle there, and includes some photographs.

Immediately following 3/5's attack on the apartment buildings, 3/1 took the train station on the north end of the city. While the engineers blew a breach through the train trestle, the Cavalry soldiers poured through with their tanks and Bradley's and chewed an opening in the enemy defense. 3/1 followed them through until they reached a phase line deep into the northern half of the city. The Marine infantry along with a few tanks then turned to the right and attacked the heart of the enemy defense. The fighting was tough as the enemy had the area dialed in with mortars. 3/5 then attacked into the northwest corner of the city. This fight continued as both Marine rifle battalions clawed their way into the city on different axis.

There is an image burned into my brain that I hope I never forget. We came up behind 3/5 one day as the lead squads were working down the Byzantine streets of the Jolan area. An assault team of two Marines ran out from behind cover and put a rocket into a wall of an enemy strongpoint. Before the smoke cleared the squad behind them was up and moving through the hole and clearing the house. Just down the block another squad was doing the same thing. The house was cleared quickly and the Marines were running down the street to the next contact. Even in the midst of that mayhem, it was an awesome site.

The fighting has been incredibly close inside the city. The enemy is willing to die and is literally waiting until they see the whites of the eyes of the Marines before they open up. Just two days ago, as a firefight raged in close quarters, one of the interpreters yelled for the enemy in the house to surrender. The enemy yelled back that it was better to die and go to heaven than to surrender to infidels. This exchange is a graphic window into the world that the Marines and Soldiers have been fighting in these last 10 days.

Read the whole thing at The Green Side.

As always, you can get your Fallujah data dump at The Adventures of Chester, Winds of Change, and here.

Good news from Fallujah

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I saw this photograph earlier today on USAToday.com ...

Sacked out

... and I realized that there's no way I could imagine how good these guys must have felt to sleep on a mattress with a pillow. Then I read an e-mail sent to Rich Lowry at National Review Online:

I am also a professor at a military-related institution, and my little brother is an enlisted Marine (a sniper with 1-3) in Fallujah. This weekend he called for the first time since the battle began. He informed us that a large number of the residents of Fallujah, before fleeing the battle, left blankets and bedding for the Marines and Soldiers along with notes thanking the Americans for liberating their city from the terrorists, as well as invitations to the Marines and Soldiers to sleep in their houses. I've yet to see a report in the media of this. Imagine that.

Additionally, he said their spirits are high, but they would certainly appreciate any "care packages" that folks in the States would care to send their way (preferably consisting of non-perishable food items, candy, deodorant, eye-drops, q-tips, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lip balm, hand/feet warmers, black/dark undershirts, underwear & socks, and non-aerosol bug spray).

Amazing. If you want to send stuff to the troops, click here.

I'm thankful for every single one of our troops. Godspeed, folks.

A tribute to U.S. Armed Forces

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REO Equipment Outfitters came up with a great tribute to our troops that you ought to see. Turn up your speakers, and be prepared to get a little misty-eyed.

Hat tip: Conservative Revolution

American crimes in Iraq

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Alas, the quagmire that is Iraq threatens to swallow arrogant America whole. Woe is us. We're doomed ... doomed, I say!

Happy to hear a Western kufr who's sorry about his government's foolish adventure in a sovreign country overseas? Rejoice, noble warriors. Now that you're here, my dear Yahoo and Google searchers from the Middle East and Europe (yes I noticed the spike), let's look at what's going on in Iraq.

First, Margaret Hassan. This British interloper claimed to be an aid worker for a charity, and claimed to be a Muslim. But everyone knows she was really a spy for the Mossad, the evil organization responsible for the September 11th attacks, Yasser Arafat's poisoning, and itchy wool sweaters (damned jooooooos). Margaret Hassan got what was coming to her. Praise be to Allah, here's the video.

An American correspondent captured footage of a U.S. Marine shooting someone in a mosque, which is now being broadcast all over the Arab media. What possible reason could there be for shooting a motionless man lying on the ground? Here's the video of the Marine committing unjustified murder, my Middle Eastern friends. Watch it and seethe.

There's also news that the U.S. Marine Corps has re-opened its investigation into the disappearance of Wassef Ali Hassoun, the Marine of Lebanese descent who disappeared earlier this year and appeared in a hostage video, only to return to his unit unharmed. Why a renewed investigation? Some of his personal effects, including his passport and identification card, turned up in Fallujah. Maybe he's a mujahideen in secret? We dhimmis-in-waiting can only hope.

Now, as news finally begins to get past the oppressive John Ashcroft and his Crusaders in the Zionist American Government, we see that the poor residents of Fallujah hate their American oppressors. But then, I'm not surprised, since the mujahideen who ruled Fallujah had made such bold steps toward reestablishing the caliphate. Anybody would be upset to lose such enlightened leaders.

It's now more clear than ever that America should have trusted the United Nations to administer international relations with Iraq. After all, France has been such a wonderful example of multilateral nuance ... we could learn so much from them.

Onward Muslim soldiers! Celebrate your impending victory by watching this raw footage of your jihad's success.

Marine shoots wounded(?) terrorist

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NBC correspondent Kevin Sites, embedded with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, videotaped a Marine on Saturday shooting an apparently wounded and unarmed terrorist in a Fallujah mosque.

On the video, as the camera moved into the mosque during the Saturday incident, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.

The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner lying on the floor of the mosque. The video shown by NBC and provided to the network pool was blacked out at that point and did not show the bullet hitting the man. But a rifle shot could be heard.

The blacked out portion of the video tape, provided later to Associated Press Television News and other members of the network pool, showed the bullet striking the man in the upper body, possibly the head. His blood splatters on the wall behind him and his body goes limp.

Sites reported a Marine in the same unit had been killed just a day earlier when he tended to the booby-trapped dead body of an insurgent.

Here's Sites' description.

The Marine in question stands accused of violating the rules of engagement, and has been removed from the front pending an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Before we all rush to judgment, let's calm down a little bit. This is a combat zone we're talking about, and a very dirty one at that. Keep in mind that our side isn't the bunch that decapitates hostages, targets civilians, fakes white flags, and lures the opposition in with fake wounded. There could very well be a satisfactory explanation tht mitigates what seems (at first glance) to be a war crime. Give the NCIS time.

Not everything, including this ...

Colonel Loan executes a VC prisoner

... is what it seems.

More blogging:
Winds of Change
Wizbang
Right On Red
Blogs of War
Armies of Liberation
InTheBullpen.com
Conservative Revolution
ISOU
Say Anything
The Shape of Days
PoliPundit
Ace of Spades
American Soldier

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UPDATE: More on treatment of enemy wounded in Fallujah, courtesy of The Command Post. Also, see cameraman Kevin Sites' blog.

Raw footage from Fallujah

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I found this footage on The Drudge Report. God bless our troops and grant them victory.

Now that's what I call a round-up

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Winds of Change has the best Battle of Fallujah round-up I've seen yet.

Veterans Day

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Thank you!

Thank a veteran today.

Keep driving and don't make eye contact

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L.A. Indymedia has video of two Marine LAVs (not "tanks" as claimed) that showed up at an International ANSWER protest outside the Westwood Federal Building on Tuesday. Watch the video to see how compassionate lefties treat the troops they claim to support.

So was this an episode of repression? Did AshKKKroft send jackbooted thugs to crush dissent wherever it sprouts? Uh, not exactly. The Marines got lost on their way to a Veterans Day parade and celebration.

I talked to one Marine with one of the "Striker" vehicles. He told me they had driven the vehicles up from Camp Pendleton the night before (Tuesday) on the freeway. Getting off the 405 Freeway going north, they would have passed Wilshire and Veteran where ANSWER had called a rally to protest the attack on Fallujah in Iraq.

I asked him if he was "rolling around Westwood" Tuesday night. He said, "Yeah, and we drove past that anti-war demonstration. We was lost. We're not from L.A. We didn't know where this place (WLA VA) was. We were trying to find it."

"Did you drive around the block twice?" I asked.

"Yeah, we did. We stopped to ask them (the protestors) directions, but they weren't very nice."

I wonder if the LAV guys need any bumper stickers?

Hat tip: Passionate America

Tonight's last Fallujah round-up

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The Command Post brings you a handy comprehensive briefing on The Battle of Fallujah.

Snapshot: Battle of Fallujah overview

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Carnivorous Conservative outdoes himself with this original graphic combining an open-source satellite photo with info from news reports. It's a very informative snapshot of the situation as of 8:30 PM, EST.

And people wonder why I'm a blog junkie?

Hat tip: Chester (who's liveblogging the battle as I suspected he would).

Operation Holiday Spirit

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Here's something we can all agree on. Let's send some Christmas cheer to the troops fighting to defend us! Soldiers' Angels is running Operation Holiday Spirit, and you can help. Just click on the image below.

Operation Holiday Spirit

You can either make a donation or send a stocking and a phone card yourself. Go and do your part. The deadline for shipping anything to the war zone if you want it to arrive by Christmas is this Saturday, the 13th. The deadline is November 27th for mail shipped on military aircraft when space is available and December 4th for military parcel airlift mail.

Liveblogging the Battle of Fallujah

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I'm just guessing here, but don't be surprised if Chester and Carnivorous Conservative team up again tonight to cover the latest (and hopefully last) developments in the Battle of Fallujah. They started at about this time last night, so stay tuned ...

Happy Birthday, Marines!

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Semper Fidelis!

In the middle of the Battle of Fallujah, the Marine Corps celebrates its birthday. You've gotta love those folks. Happy 229th!

Marine Verse to The Navy Hymn

Eternal Father, grant , we pray,
To all Marines, both night and day,
The courage, honor, strength and skill
Their land to serve, Thy law fulfill;
Be Thou the Shield forevermore
From ev'ry peril to the Corps.

Go get 'em, Marines!

Endgame?

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Look at this map from GlobalSecurity.org, then read The Belmont Club's description of what sounds like the endgame in Fallujah.

Remember the Highway of Death?

Fallujah, so far

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Winds of Change has a multi-week roundup on The Battle of Fallujah.

Battle of Fallujah round-up

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Our troops are advancing faster than we'd planned, killing more of the enemy than we'd expected, losing fewer of ours than we'd feared, and might be wrapping up Fallujah more swiftly than we'd dreamed.

To sift through what bits of information manage to leak out of Fallujah, read The Command Post.

If liveblogging with on-the-fly analysis is your bag, then The Adventures of Chester is your one-stop shop.

The Belmont Club pulls some loose threads together to make educated guesses about the unfolding battle.

Want maps and satellite photos? Two words: Carnivorous Conservative.

For your inspiration, Blackfive has video of Marines singing in Fallujah.

And please ... say a prayer today, OK? Froggy Ruminations has an appropriate one.

Kicking ass in Fallujah

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Wretchard at The Belmont Club collects some late-breaking accounts of our troops' exploits in Fallujah. Sounds like the average life expectancy of a Fallujah jihadi is pretty doggone short.

Hat tip: Power Line

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UPDATE: A NY Times article that's a must-read; be sure to check the multimedia links on the right (like this slideshow).

Correct me if I'm wrong ...

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... but isn't that urban camouflage on these Marine Corps AAVs getting ready to enter Fallujah?

AFP/Patrick Baz

Original AFP photo here.

RPG airbags

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StrategyPage.com reports another victory in the fight against stupid military procurement procedures:

Rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) are the typical weapons of choice when insurgents decide to attack trucks and armored vehicles. RPGs are cheap, simple to operate, and if used properly can inflict significant damage on Stryker and Bradley armored vehicles. Unarmed and armored Hummers are especially vulnerable, since the various armor kits for the Hummer are designed to protect occupants from small arms and machine gun fire, not anti-tank grenades.

One quick fix to protect the Hummer is a unique airbag system developed by a small California company that deploys a "curtain" down outside the side of the vehicle being attacked. Four bags are needed to protect all quadrants and are held in place with simple Velcro straps. A small radar detects the incoming RPG or RPGs and inflates the airbag with a carbon dioxide gas cartridge. The RPG is literally "caught" by the airbag like a pillow and slowed enough so the nose-mounted fuse doesn't detonate the warhead. Instead, the RPG ends up collapsing upon itself, shredding the secondary self-destruct fuse and looking like a stomped-on beer can. Currently, the airbag and cartridge have to be replaced after one use, but the designers are working on a reusable airbag that can simply be rolled up and put back into place.

Cost for the system is expected to run between $5,000 to $7,000 dollars and weighs around 50 pounds. The Army is in the process of awarding a contract with the goal of getting systems to Iraq within 6 months, at a initial product rate of 25 systems per month. Other systems are being refined for use on canvass-topped vehicles and the Stryker.

That's the spirit! Get this kind of innovation out to the troops and save some lives. Rock on.

Hat tip: Castle Argghhh!

Dispatches from Fallujah

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The Green Side posts e-mails from a Marine just outside Fallujah who's girding up to go in. It's compelling reading, and I'll be stopping by frequently while following the coming battle in the news.

An excerpt:

Coast Guard on TV

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If you're looking for something to watch next Thursday night, tune in to the History Channel to see "Battle History of the Coast Guard" ... I'll be watching, for sure.

My wish list for the next four years

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Now that we've won the election, it's time to capitalize. I offer three lists as starting points for thinking about what to do next.

Here's my off-the-cuff list of top political priorities that President Bush and the Republican Congress ought to pursue between now and 2008.

  1. Redouble the war effort. It's no quagmire. We have the initiative now, so let's exploit it.
    • Reaffirm the Bush Doctrine. Then beef it up by repealing Section 2.11 of Executive Order 12333, which forbids assassination as a foreign policy tool.
    • Stick Osama's head on a pike. No arrest. No trial. Sure, as a martyr he'll be an inspiration to terrorists, but he already is. His continued respiration makes us look weak. Kill him, kill his followers, and humiliate his fans.
    • Crush the insurgency in Iraq. That means flattening Fallujah for starters.
    • Seal our borders.
    • Use profiling to catch the enemy here. That means looking more closely at:
      • People from countries that support terrorism
      • Muslims
      • Men of Middle Eastern appearance between the ages of 16 and 40.
    • Topple the governments in Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Use diplomacy, sanctions, and internal instability if possible. Otherwise use force.
    • Field new weapons systems tailored for this war.
    • Kill obsolete weapons systems. Pork be damned.
  2. Stop worrying about offending American leftists and don't let them drive your policies. Unabashed conservatism wins and "the new tone" loses. We won, so start governing like it.
  3. Stop worrying about the media's opinion of you. They'll never like you, so get over it. It's our votes you need, not theirs. Besides, the blogosphere's here to stay, and the media dinosaurs will either evolve or die ... and either way, you win.
  4. Appoint and confirm conservative judges.
  5. Cut taxes, regulation and especially spending.
  6. Pass the Federal Marriage Amendment.
  7. Boost military pay (especially combat pay).
  8. Replace the tax code with a national sales tax (or at worst, a flat tax).
  9. Expand the majority in the Senate and House in 2006.
  10. Europe is about to come crawling for our forgiveness, because they're realists and they know we're in the driver's seat for good. Be polite, give them some of the financial action, but never defer to their judgment on anything.
  11. Move the federal budgeting process to a two-year cycle.
  12. If the Partial Birth Abortion Ban dies in the Supreme Court, pass it again and keep fighting.
  13. Consider a newer, better GI Bill; ask the troops what they want.
  14. Leave the United Nations. It's rotten to the core, and has long outlived its usefulness. This will help with #10, above.

As for the military, there's still a lot of work to be done.

  1. Add at least two divisions to the Army.
  2. Ease up on deployments for the Reserves & National Guard.
  3. In recruiting, continue the shift from "here's what you'll get" to "here's how you can serve", because we want warriors and not half-hearted mercenaries.
  4. Get sophisticated in your recruiting. If your efforts look half-assed, then you'll get the recruits you paid for.
  5. Keep women from combat.
  6. Cultivate frontline warriors among noncoms and junior officers. Get the combat lessons they've learned into institutional memory now, before they leave the service.

Last, a list for the conservative blogosphere.

  1. Destroy the credibility of the mainstream media.
  2. Repeat #1.

I'll add to the lists and expand them as things come to mind.

Ah, movement!

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In a recent post on ceramic body armor, frequent commenter Chet asked why military procurement takes so darn long. Looks like the Army's starting to do something about it, and a major milblogger's in on the ground floor. Hooah, John!

Saved by ceramic

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The Questing Cat has a combat medic story that'll bring the war in Iraq home to you. Thank God for Interceptor body armor. Check out this story on prototype armor too.

Hat tip: Mudville Gazette

Iraqi SWAT

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Backcountry Conservative has an exclusive look at an Iraqi SWAT recruiting poster, and links to a story about the Force Recon Marines training the Iraqis as very effective shock troops.

Iraqi SWAT

The Arabic script translates as "Iraqi SWAT." Go get 'em, fellas.

Take your draft and shove it

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Hey, Congressman Rangel: not only is your draft bill dead on arrival (thanks in part to your vote against it)... it's utterly unneccessary.

Now kindly shut up and sit down, you unethical hack.

Combat Infantryman's Badge

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John at Castle Argghhh! points out that the arbitrary standards for awarding the CIB really need to change since we take armor crewmen and artillerymen and employ them as infantry.

Boots and body armor

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Before you fret over troops in Iraq and Afghanistan being "forced" to buy their own boots and body armor (shame on you, Senator Edwards), read this. It's been going on for decades, and does not indicate any kind of shortage. What you're seeing are supplemental purchases made by the troops to make their lives in the field more comfortable.

Here, look.

UPDATE: More illustration of my point.

The Army has one airborne division, the 82nd. They used to have a battalion of light tanks that accompanied them into battle. Used to.

I'm a Coastie, so my expertise in Army matters is roughly nil. However, my father was in the 82nd and told me all about it when I was a kid, and I've always loved reading military history ... concerning all branches, not just my own. So I may not know much, but I do know the 82nd Airborne needs some light armor ... and an M1 Abrams is too darn big and heavy for their purposes.

Enter the M8 Buford.

A flying WALRUS

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Need to move 500 tons of cargo, troops, and equipment 6,000 miles in 4 days? Try a blimp.

For the record: Kerry defense cuts

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As several 24-hour news cycles pass by after the Republican National Convention and blur our memories of who said what at which point in time, a reminder can come in handy.

Lest anyone forget that John Kerry wanted to cut numerous military weapons systems that Zell Miller recited in his RNC speech, I offer two photocopies of a Kerry campaign flyer from the 1980s ... which advocates cutting those very systems.

Page 1

Page 2

Kerry boosters claim that Miller misrepresented their man's vote on a single defense budget bill. According to the lefties, Kerry would have voted for all of these systems, but because the appropriations bill had other really bad stuff hidden in it, poor John was forced to vote "nay."

Now you know better.

Hat tip: Citizen Smash

Chip in $5 for a deploying MilBlogger

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Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette is deploying to Iraq and needs a laptop and a digital camera to blog from the sandbox. Without 'em, the Mudville Gazette will come to a halt.

Go chip in five bucks using the "Make A Donation" button on the right side of this post. You'll appreciate the news coverage that results.

Freefall in progress; crater imminent

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John Kerry's performance on national security (the only issue that matters this time 'round) always left a lot to be desired. Since the Democrat convention, those chickens have been coming home to roost, to the tune of an 18-point drop in the polls on that issue. Or would those be doves instead?

The new poll found that a slight majority of registered voters -- 53 percent -- say Bush is more qualified than Kerry to be commander in chief, while 43 percent say they prefer the Democratic nominee. At the end of the Democratic convention, Kerry enjoyed an eight-point advantage over Bush on that question.

Incidentally, the polls also indicate Bush leading Kerry in honesty and trustworthiness by six points.

Hat tip: Captain's Quarters

Hooah, Sergeant Clements!

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After an Iraqi roadside bomb nearly killed her, Staff Sgt. Jessica Clements spent days in a coma with half of her skull gone, and the surgeons estimated she had a 2% chance of survival (much less full recovery). But this amazing Akron, Ohio reservist turned out to be the soldier who refused to die.

Be sure to have some Kleenex handy.

Needed: more Coast Guard bloggers

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These are the only other bloggers I'm aware of who are current or former Coasties:

Surely there must be more of us. Anybody know of any?

Backcountry Conservative asks the military members and vets in the blogosphere to stand up and be counted. Roger that, Jeff. Here's a bit about me:

U.S. Coast Guard: 1990 - 1999, Deck Watch Officer. Retired.

FYI, I know that John of Brown Hound is currently on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Semper Paratus,
Puddle Pirate

Annyonghi gaseyo, South Korea

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We'll see you ingrates later. Have fun with your neighbors up North ... we'll be busy elsewhere.

Najaf 101

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If you're curious about the city where the Marines are wiping the floor with Moqtada al Sadr and his Iranian backers, then GlobalSecurity.org is your one-stop-shop for Najaf.

If you just want maps, try here or here.

According to someone who was there, CNN's report of a minor skirmish that killed 12 "Iraqi insurgents" in Mosul is a wee bit inaccurate.

Hat tip: Bill of INDC Journal

Kerry screws the troops again

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President Bush just signed this year's Department of Defense Appropriations Act, which appropriates $391 billion toward such worthy goals as more body armor, more armored Humvees, more ammunition, more fuel, more spare parts, and critical funding for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House passed the bill by a margin of 410-12, and the Senate voted "yes" by 98-0.

Take a wild guess who one of the two missing senators was. That's right ... John Kerry couldn't be bothered to vote on funding our military. I hope some minimally competent reporter skewers him the next time he bloviates about supporting our troops.

Happy Coast Guard Day!

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U.S. Coast Guard sealToday is Coast Guard Day, the 214th anniversary of the founding of America's oldest continuous seagoing service. The Coast Guard is a full fledged armed force on a par with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and is charged primarily with defending our shores from foreign attack. The Coast Guard has taken part in every major American conflict, including The Civil War, World War I, World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, The Gulf War, and The War On Terror.

Unlike the other armed forces, the USCG has law enforcement authority, and it has a long history as the undisputed champion in saving lives at sea. Our unofficial motto is "You have to go out, but you do not have to come back."

I was proud to serve for 9 years as a Coastie, and this is one retiree who'd jump back into uniform if he could. If you see any Coasties today, wish 'em well.

Semper Paratus, shipmates!

The Cutters Baranof, Walnut, and Boutwell
The Cutter

When she steams into the harbor
People don't flock 'round like bees;
For she ain't no grim destroyer,
No dark terror of the seas,
And there ain't a load of romance
To the guy that doesn't know,
In a ship that just saves vessels
When the icy northers blow.

But men that sail the ocean
In a wormy, rotten craft,
When the sea ahead is mountains
With a hell-blown gale abaft;USCG non-rate insignia
When the mainmast cracks and topples
And she's lurching in the trough,
Them's the guys that greet the "Cutter"
With the smiles that won't come off.

When the old storm signal's flyin',
Every vessel seeks a lee,
'Cept the "Cutter," which ups anchor
And goes ploughing out to sea,
When the hurricane's a-blown'
From the Banks of old Cape Cod
Oh, the "Cutter," with her searchlight,
Seems the messenger of God.

-- Author unknown

 

Kerry and the Marines

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REUTERS/Jim Young

Can't you just see the headlines? "Kerry bonds with servicemen." "Marines for Kerry." "Help is on the way." Heartwarming, huh? Wrong.

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt

Raw newsfeed from Iraq

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There's a new MilBlogger in Iraq: DogHostage. He's been running a small blog since 2001, and started out as a civilian. But that changed. Here's how he describes himself:

Some guy who moved from Austin, Texas to the "North Country" of New York, discussing and documenting his life. The young man has been a bank teller, graphic designer, website builder, volunteer firefighter. In early 2003, he became a Legal Specialist in the United States Army. And right now he's in Iraq...

Go check him out.

Hat tip: John of Castle Argghhh!

US Olympians breathe a little easier

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American Special Forces (Delta, for sure) will be at the Olympics in Athens, Greece this summer ... and they'll be carrying their own weapons. It's highly unusual for any country to permit armed foreign troops on its soil. Sounds like the Greeks have tacitly admitted the inadequacy of their own security measures.

Hat tip: Drudge

Here's your cannon, John

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As requested:

Coasties with fangs

Happy now?

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is safe

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AP reports that Cpl. Hassoun is back in U.S. custody:

A U.S. Marine who was reported missing in Iraq more than two weeks ago is alive and at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, where American officials are meeting with him, authorities said Thursday.

...

NBC reported the Navy was investigating whether his disappearance may be part of a kidnapping hoax. A Marine spokesman confirmed the Navy investigation remains open.

"I don't think they're ruling that out. It would be fair to say they're not ruling that out," Maj. Nat Fahy said earlier Thursday.

A spokesman for the Bahrain-based U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet said the "matter is under investigation by Naval Criminal Investigative Service" and referred further questions to the service in Washington. A call to the service seeking comment was not immediately returned.

This ought to be interesting. If this guy pulled some kind of stunt or hoax, just imagine the circus that would develop. I'd bet my eyeteeth that five minutes after any negative results crop up in the NCIS investigation, the Council on American Islamic Relations will rush to Hassoun's aid against "Muslim-bashing right-wing extremists."

Is Wassef Ali Hassoun dead or not?

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Now there are claims from the terrorists that Marine Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is alive and has either been released or moved somewhere "safe."

What gives?

--

UPDATE: Reports indicate Cpl. Wassoun has reportedly been freed, is in Lebanon, and has called the U.S. Embassy there asking to be picked up.

You ask why I like the Marines?

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Here are two reasons: they're resourceful, and their families contribute mightily to the war effort.

Marine slaughtered

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As you've probably heard by now, the predictably savage muslims holding Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun have cut off his head. Backcountry Conservative has the roundup. Jeff does a fine job at a task I don't envy.

After the Marines find and kill these vermin, it would be appropriate to find where they stayed in Iraq, leave no stone standing atop another, burn what can't be moved, and then salt the earth.

--

UPDATE: Why "militants"? Can't we at least call terrorists what they are?

--

UPDATE 2: Backcountry Conservative links to speculation that Corporal Hassoun might have been lured away from his post and into a honey trap.

--

UPDATE 3: More news is seeping out ... now there are denials of Hassoun's death, and the military has not confirmed it either.

--

UPDATE 4: Now the rumor is he's alive and either "safe" or free.

A new Coastie blogger

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Motor Lifeboat

USCG sealSay hello to Brown Hound, another Coast Guardsman who's joined the unruly ranks of the blogosphere. There aren't many of us, but we're out there toiling away.

Ya gotta go out, but nobody ever said ya gotta come back.

Semper Paratus!

Hugh Hewitt has posted an open letter from a friend in the Marines to the Islamozoid savages holding Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun. They ought to read it while they're still exchanging oxygen.

Before the current politically correct climate enveloped our culture one of the recruiting slogans of our band of brothers was "The Marine Corps Builds Men." You will soon find out just how true that is. You, on the other hand, are nothing but a bunch of women. If you were men you would show your faces, and take us on in a fair fight. Instead, you are cowards who hide behind masks and decapitate helpless victims. If you truly represented the interest of the Iraqi people you would not be ambushing those who come to your country to repair your power plants, or sabotage the oil pipelines which fuel the Iraqi economy. Your agenda is hate, plain and simple.

When you raise that sword over your head I want you to remember one thing. Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun is not alone as he kneels before you. Every Marine who has ever worn the uniform is there with him, and when you strike him you are striking all of us. If you think the Marines were tough on you when they were cleaning out Fallujah a few weeks ago you haven't seen anything yet. If you want to know what it feels like to have the Wrath of God called down upon you then go ahead and do it. We are not Turkish truck drivers, or Pakistani laborers, or independent contractors hoping to find work in your country. We are the United States Marines, and we will be coming for you.

Matt Maupin has been murdered

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I was out on the road when I heard the news. My fellow Ohioan, Army Specialist Matt Maupin, has been murdered by his captors in Iraq.

Bastards.

Jeff over at Backcountry Conservative is doing a great job of keeping the story alive, despite the apparent indifference of many in the media.

According to emerging reports, a U.S. Marine has been captured by terrorists in Iraq. His name is Wassef Ali Hassoun.

Arab television broadcast videotape Sunday of two men of Pakistani origin taken hostage by militants: a driver for an American company and a blindfolded man in military fatigues described as U.S. Marine lured from his base. Insurgents threatened to behead them both.

...

Corporal Ali

Al-Jazeera said the militants demanded the release of all Iraqis "in occupation jails" or the man would be killed. The group claimed it infiltrated a Marine outpost, lured the man outside and abducted him.

...

Earlier Sunday, the Pakistani driver was shown on a tape broadcast by a different Arab television station, Al-Arabiya. ... Four masked men holding assault rifles across their chests said they would behead the Pakistani within three days unless Americans freed prisoners held at Abu Ghraib and three cities of central Iraq -- Balad, Dujail and Samarra.

...

The [civilian] hostage, who gave his name as Amjad, urged Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to close the Pakistani Embassy in Iraq and to ban Pakistanis from coming to Iraq.

"I'm also Muslim, but despite this they didn't release me," he said, bowing his head. "They are going to cut the head of any person regardless of whether he is a Muslim or not."

Haven't these Islamofascist goons heard of the concept of "no worse enemy"? If that Marine turns up dead, which is pretty likely given recent beheadings in the Middle East, those bastards are going to get an e-ticket straight to Hell, courtesy of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children.

USMC

Pray for Corporal Hassoun, and for the Pakistani man the goons grabbed. I suggest asking God to arrange for some good intel to end up in the hands of Delta Force, DEVGRU, or the SAS.

Watch Backcountry Conservative for updates.

--

UPDATE: The U.S. military confirms that a Marine has been missing from his unit for a week.

--

UPDATE 2: They've murdered him.

--

UPDATE 3: ... or maybe not.

--

UPDATE 4: OK, now almost certainly not murdered. Perhaps even free and coming home?

More camouflage uniform changes

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This time, it's the Army getting a new combat uniform.

New Army uniform

 

The Army will be fielding a new combat uniform designed by NCOs and tested by Stryker Brigade Soldiers in Iraq since October.

...

Uniform changes include:

1. Mandarin collar that can be worn up or down

2. Rank insignia centered on the front of the blouse

3. Velcro for wearing unit patch, skill tabs and recognition devices

4. Zippered front closure

5. Elbow pouch for internal elbow pad inserts

6. Knee pouch for internal knee pad inserts

7. Draw string leg cuff

8. Tilted chest pockets with Velcro closure

9. Three-slot pen pocket on bottom of sleeve

10. Velcro sleeve cuff closure

11. Shoulder pockets with Velcro

12. Forward tilted cargo pockets

13. Integrated blouse bellows for increased upper body mobility

14. Integrated Friend or Foe Identification Square on both left and right shoulder pocket flap.

15. Bellowed calf storage pocket on left and right leg

16. Moisture-wicking desert tan t-shirt

17. Patrol Cap with double thick bill and internal pocket

18. Improved hot-weather desert boot or temperate-weather desert boot

19. Two-inch, black nylon web belt

20. Moisture-wicking socks

It looks like this one was created the right way, by listening to the guys at the tip of the spear, although that mandarin collar looks mighty uncomfortable to me. I have yet to hear anything positive about the Air Force's frankly silly-looking creation. The Coast Guard has updated its utility uniform, if not its camouflage, and of course we can't forget my second-favorite service, the Marines, who started the whole thing.

At this point, only the Navy is still wearing a circa 1980s combat uniform (well, my USCG still does too, but only Port Security Units and MSSTs wear them regularly), but since the SEALs are basically the only Navy personnel likely to be found crawling in the dirt, and since their uniform regulations and procurement methods are vastly more flexible than the rest of the Navy's, I don't foresee any significant pressure from the rest of their fleet to update their combat duds.

--

UPDATE: It turns out that the mandarin collar is designed to shield the neck from the Interceptor body armor vest collar. Nice idea, come to think of it.

Dream on, Waffles

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John "Waffles" Kerry seems to think he's the candidate our military wants:

"You'd be amazed at the number of active duty personnel who are coming up at events around the country, greeting me in ropelines or coming to rallies and telling me how important it is for us to stand up and fight for those who are not able to speak out for themselves right now for obvious reasons," Kerry said.

Why would we be amazed at the existence of a few dozen uniformed lefties, Senator? I wonder if your party will block their absentee ballots along with the rest, like last time?

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee added: "But the numbers of active duty people quietly coming and saying we need a change, we need to build a modern military, we need to do the things necessary to protect our troops, we need to have all our allies on the ground in Iraq ... that's what this race is about."

No, this race is about defeating Islamists and preserving America's culture of responsible liberty. You are woefully underqualified for the job you seek.

According to Denver Post columnist Reggie Rivers, our soldiers are slaves. Brad Torgersen rides to the rescue.

I think Reggie took one too many hits when he played for the Broncos. Perhaps you could politely suggest he backtrack on his outlandishly absurd and insulting comparison? Try regrivers@msn.com

Happy Memorial Day!

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Honor the dead as you enjoy your weekend. There'll likely be no blogging during mine, so I'll see ya Tuesday.

Here's the proposed USAF camouflage utility uniform ...

Blue tiger stripes

... and here's Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi arriving in Brussels on April 27th with his Grrrrl Squad.

Photo by European Commission/Reuters

Need I say more?

--

UPDATE: OK, I have to pass this joke on. Hat tip to John of Castle Argghhh!

A new oxymoron: blue camouflage

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Perhaps inspired by other services (Army, Marines, Coast Guard) that are revamping their uniforms to meet their changing needs, the Air Force is testing out a new camouflage uniform:

Blue tiger stripes

Ohhhhhhhhhhkay.

Here's the first question in the "Test Utility Uniform FAQ". The answer leaped out at me:

Q1. Why are you switching to a new uniform?

A1. The need for a distinctive Air Force utility uniform comes from years of feedback from airmen on our current battle dress uniforms. They have complained of poor fit, the desire for better material, more functionality and more distinction from the other services. Our current uniform is supplied through Army sources and as the Army looks at changing its uniform to meet mission requirements, we are looking at changes that meet the changing needs of the 21st century airmen and our mission. [Emphasis added]

I never got the memo about "uniqueness" and "not looking like the Army" becoming primary factors in combat uniform design. If I were an airman, the only answer to the question above that I'd want to hear is: "It makes you harder to shoot."

I checked the FAQ. Either the Air Force didn't think concealment was important enough to be mentioned somewhere in the same discussion as "distinctiveness" (check the definition of that word and then tell me why it's a plus for camouflage), or the airmen aren't worried enough about concealment for the answer to rate a spot on the Frequently Asked Questions page. Either way, I'm glad I'm not a zoomie.

Time to activate the Clue Delivery System©.

U.S. Air Force
Cloud 9
La-La Land

Permit me an emperor's-new-clothes observation. The typical airman is stationed at an airfield, which is in or near an urban area. An airfield has huge flat expanses of grayish or tan concrete, and has buildings that come in shades of grey, brown, or tan. It also has roads of black asphalt or brown dirt. We're talking straight lines and right angles everywhere, plus big expanses of uniform (as in "not distinctive") texture and earth tones. The proposed uniform above is blue, and its pattern mimics the curved lines and sunlight/shade variations found in the dense foliage of a tropical jungle. If I'm wearing it at a Middle Eastern airfield and the bad guys start coming over the fence, how exactly am I going to be hard to spot?

Even my favorite bunch of liberal comedians knows more about camouflage than the United States Air Force.

--

UPDATE: It's worse than I thought.

Abu Ghraib photos, round two

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The Washington Post has released more photos from Abu Ghraib. I'm still disgusted with what these soldiers did, and I'm glad they're being punished.

It's time to find another place to hold detainees ... and burn Abu Ghraib to the ground.

Hat tip: Drudge

--

UPDATE: Abu Ghraib Prison will be torn down

UPDATE 2: Before you complain about how our misbehavior is just as bad as Saddam's, get a reality check.

I recently complained about the apparent SNAFU in Fallujah. Now, Citizen Smash is saying we just won the battle for the hearts and minds of Fallujah's citizens, because an Iraqi general we sent there to take over a 1,500-man Iraqi brigade stood up in a town meeting and defended our troops.

On Sunday, Marines of the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment provided security for the gathering in Kharma.

[Retired Maj. Gen. Mohammed] Abdul-Latif, 66, a native of Baghdad, urged the elders to talk freely, citing the Muslim holy book, the Quran.

...

"We can make them (Americans) use their rifles against us or we can make them build our country, it's your choice," Latif told a gathering of more than 40 sheiks, city council members and imams ...

"Speak freely, Ali ... and try not to stare at the nice men with guns."

No disrespect to Smash, but it seems too early to claim victory.

I'm the furthest thing from an expert on counterinsurgency tactics, but couldn't this just be a case of scared locals biting their tongues in the presence of a former Ba'athist general spouting off, while a cordon of Marines remains strung 'round the city?

Hooah, Specialist McGlothin!

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Here's another story about the return trip of a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Godspeed, PFC Phelps

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I've been meaning to post a link to this. Marine Lieutenant Colonel M.R. Strobl's account of escorting the remains of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps is one of the most moving stories I've read in a very long time.

Make an example of this moral moron

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Lynndie England, the "thumbs-up poster girl" of Abu Ghraib, has taken to the airwaves to proclaim her victimhood in the face of damning photographs.

Any guesses on whether she shows any sense of culpability?

Army Pfc. Lynndie England, seen worldwide in photographs that show her smiling and pointing at naked Iraqi prisoners, said she was ordered to pose for the photos, and felt "kind of weird" in doing so.

It's called a "conscience." Try listening to it sometime.

"I was instructed by persons in higher rank to stand there and hold this leash and look at the camera," she said.

"To all of us who have been charged, we all agree that we don't feel like we were doing things that we weren't supposed to, because we were told to do them. We think everything was justified, because we were instructed to do this and to do that," England said.

You were only following orders ... how original. Ah, the Nuremberg Defense. Works like a charm, that one.

She told KCNC she was looking forward to having her baby and hopefully one day putting the abuse scandal behind her.

You'll have your baby, then you'll spend a long term in Ft. Leavenworth, then you'll be able to get acquainted with your grown child and start "putting it behind you."

Amy Ridenour's National Center Blog has a copy of an e-mail from a soldier fighting in Karbala/Najaf entitled "I Ask That the American People Be Brave" ... read it, and don't believe the gloom and doom reported by our media.

Goodbye, draftees

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Jim Dunnigan analyzes the history of the draft, notes that more people are of draft age than the military could possibly need, and concludes that corruption would inevitably result if the draft were reinstituted. No shock, then, that Dunnigan pronounces it dead.

In the European nations that first instituted conscription in the 19th century, everyone who was physically able was taken for two or more years, and then assigned to a reserve unit when they left active service. The idea was that the active army was basically a training organization for the wartime army of reservists. This meant that huge armies could be maintained at a fraction of the cost of a standing (full of active duty troops) army. The "reserve system" was used in a number of wars in the late 19th century, and then in the two World Wars. After World War II, the availability of nuclear weapons, and lots of other high tech weapons and equipment, made large armies less useful. By the end of the 20th century, it was obvious to all that an army of professional soldiers was far more effective than one that contained a lot of conscripts.

Another problem was that, even in those countries where "everyone went," corruption eventually set in and everyone didn�t. Or strings were pulled and favored sons went in and received special treatment, spending his two years in some pleasant assignment that kept him out of danger and quite comfortable. This sort of thing even went on in dictatorships. By the time the communist governments in Eastern Europe and Russia collapsed, the corruption in their "universal conscription" was one of the reasons for the collapse.

...

Most kids don�t want to go off and be a soldier for a year or two. But there are still plenty of young men and women who want to volunteer. And it's not for the poor and uneducated either. Less than half of those eligible for the draft would qualify to volunteer for the peacetime force. And the army has learned that the volunteers they have been using since the early 1970s make much better soldiers.

...

While most people now realize that an all volunteer force is superior, many still forget why a conscripted force could not compete, survive, or revive. But some politicians are not bothered by reality or historical lessons, and persist in calling for reinstating the draft. It will never happen, as 80 percent of American voters oppose it. Most people in the military would not want draftees either. And the potential draftees themselves are not particularly enthusiastic.

Sorry, Dick Feagler.

Old soldier in a new army

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According to Iraq The Model, the Iraqi Army is starting to change into a real professional force.

Hat tip: Citizen Smash

The NY Times reports that the US Army has launched an offensive against Moktada al-Sadr in the Iraqi cities of Diwaniya and Karbala.

In the lead? The 1st Armored Division, which I predicted would roll right over Mookie's jihadi nutjobs.

Nice going, Eltee

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Not counting the moral midgets of Abu Ghraib, our troops in Iraq make me very proud. Especially this young lieutenant.

Lefties abuse Soldiers' Angels

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Hat tip: BLACKFIVE

Cowardly leftist anti-war kooks are discussing the best way to twist a private charity's good works into a delivery system for their own vile political publicity stunts. Here's the post from Portland Indymedia:

Write a letter to a soldier to let him/her know what people really think of this war. Send a photo of a dead Iraqi civilian. Send a photo or message about an anti-war protest.

I found this organization Soldiers Angels maybe there are others. Outreach to soldiers is the best way to persuade them to stop killing civilians. Maybe they will even begin fragging (killing their officers) like in Vietnam. It's worth a try. At least send your newly adopted soldier some real news instead of the Stars and Stripes propaganda they hear 24/7.

Here's a suggestion: Make nice the first time you contact your soldier. Then send anti-war information or whatever. Once you have the address/name and build a relationship your mail will get through. The first time it may not if it's clearly anti-war that's why it might work best to make nice at first.

Don't let this stand. Blackfive has a great idea about how we can respond.

Reports are surfacing of photos showing Iraqi prisoner abuse by US troops.

If this is true, then the guys who did it need to be punished severely, and the officers who should have prevented this should be tossed in jail, not just forced into retirement with a letter of reprimand. If General Karpinski's culpable, nail her too. Don't tell me that the guards never heard of the Geneva Conventions, or my BS-o-meter will peg out at 100%.

An investigation's been brewing since January, but there had better not be a late and hasty whitewash on this one now that somebody finally lifted up the flat slimy rock it's been hidden under. This is one retired officer who isn't afraid to raise an unholy stink if the Army scapegoats the enlisted troops and gives the officers a slap on the wrist.

This little blurb from the UK Daily Mail (transcribed by Drudge) really frosted my giblets:

CBS executives received an appeal from the chairman of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, two weeks ago to hold the story because of the dangers of a backlash against soldiers in Iraq from outraged insurgents.

If CBS is being up-front here, then shame on you, General Myers. If you failed to drop the hammer on the wrongdoers by mid-April in an explosive and obviously critical investigation that started in January, then it's your fault if the enemy's spine stiffens with the news of our inexcusable behavior.

How in God's name is the Arab world going to believe our claims to occupy the moral high ground when our troops do inexcusable things like this, and the brass sits idly by?

--

UPDATE: The reports say the abuses happened in Abu Ghraib Prison, which Saddam used as one of his main torture facilities. Why is Abu Graib still standing, much less being used by American troops to hold Iraqis? Our using it now is about on a par with using Buchenwald as a prison for Germans after WWII (thank God we didn't). I can almost hear the REMF brass talking it over after Baghdad fell: "Hmm, Abu Ghraib's nice and convenient and ready to go ... shame to let it go to waste." This mess doesn't pass the sniff test, folks.

UPDATE 2: The Taguba Report on the criminal investigation at Abu Ghraib is now available.

UPDATE 3: Islamists have beheaded American hostage Nick Berg, and claim it's retaliation for Iraqi prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. I'm not buying it.

Get yer swag here! Time's running out!

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This is how battles are won

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In Fallujah, U.S. Marine snipers are demoralizing Allah's brave warriors.

In negotiations aimed at ending the standoff in the city, the insurgents have demanded that the Marines pull back their snipers.

Which is proof positive that the snipers need to stay right where they are.

One shot, one kill.

DC3 Nathan B. Bruckenthal, USCG

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Nathan Bruckenthal

Damage Controlman Third Class Nathan B. Bruckenthal, USCG died from injuries sustained in the waters off Iraq in a suicide bombing attack by Islamic terrorists. He is the first Coast Guardsman to be killed in action since the Vietnam War. Petty Officer Bruckenthal, originally from Stony Brook, NY, leaves behind a wife, Patricia, who is three months pregnant with their first child.

He lived up to our creed, and we're both proud of him and sad to lose him.

Creed of the United States Coast Guardsman

I am proud to be a United States Coast Guardsman.

I revere that long line of expert seamen who by their devotion to duty and sacrifice of self have made it possible for me to be a member of a service honored and respected, in peace and in war, throughout the world.

I never, by work or deed, will bring reproach upon the fair name of my service, nor permit others to do so unchallenged.

I will cheerfully and willingly obey all lawful orders.

I will always be on time to relieve, and shall endeavor to do more, rather than less, than my share.

I will always be at my station, alert and attending to my duties.

I shall, so far as I am able, bring to my seniors solutions, not problems.

I shall live joyously, but always with due regard for the rights and privileges of others.

I shall endeavor to be a model citizen in the community in which I live.

I shall sell life dearly to an enemy of my country, but give it freely to rescue those in peril.

With God's help, I shall endeavor to be one of His noblest Works...

A UNITED STATES COAST GUARDSMAN.

Semper Paratus, Nathan!

--

UPDATE: The Nathan Bruckenthal Memorial Trust Fund has now been established.

UPDATE 2: DC3 Bruckenthal will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetary at 11:00 AM on May 7th, 2004.

UPDATE 3: Nathan has been laid to rest in a moving ceremony (photos here).

A little dab'll do ya

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Hat tip: Quibbles & Bits

Our military may soon be using liquid body armor.

More propaganda

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Wait a second. "Join the VC"???

vn-cong.gif

Something's fishy here.

You may fire when ready, Gridley.

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I want you!

As of a minute past midnight (Pacific Time) this morning, the Heroes of the Blogosphere Challenge is on! Open those wallets and help our troops win the war of ideas in Iraq! 100% of your tax-deductible donation (net of credit card or Paypal fees) will be used to fulfill requests like these that Spirit of America gets from Americans serving abroad.

Canada's drooling over this idea

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Senator Chuck Hagel (R-France) wants to restart the draft.

A senior Republican lawmaker said Tuesday that deteriorating security in Iraq may force the United States to reintroduce the military draft. "There's not an American ... that doesn't understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future," Senator Chuck Hagel told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on post-occupation Iraq.

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said, arguing that restoring compulsory military service would force "our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face."

The Nebraska Republican added that a draft, which was ended in the early 1970s, would spread the burden of military service in Iraq more equitably among various social strata.

"Those who are serving today and dying today are the middle class and lower middle class," he observed.

How does forcing rich kids and poor kids into service improve our military? The purpose of our military is to kill people and break things, Chuck, not to make you feel better about the demographics of those who serve.

James S. Robbins aptly summarizes the problem with Hagel's view:

Why should the United States destroy the world's most-effective armed force, delay promising careers of young people who can contribute more to society in the civilian workplace, and establish a mammoth public-service bureaucracy, just to encourage our elected officials to deliberate more soberly about issues of war and peace? If that is the problem, a much-easier way to achieve the same result is to draft better candidates for Congress. Or maybe just have a lottery.

To the last round

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Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt

When cut off in Fallujah and surrounded by overwhelming numbers of Iraqis, the Devil Dogs of Bravo Company fought like ... well, they fought like Marines. There was no repeat of Blackhawk Down this time.

Bravo Zulu!

Spirit Of America Update #2

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Give 'til it hurts!

Take the fight to the craven, cowardly enemy (I hear they wear bloomers!) by clicking on the poster above! Onward, Fusileers!

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UPDATE: For those who are wondering, the painting in the center of the poster is "DOUGLAS A. MUNRO COVERS THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE 7th MARINES AT GUADALCANAL" by Bernard D'Andrea.

Spirit Of America Update

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I want you!

John of Castle Argghhh! reports that the Spirit Of America blogosphere fundraising campaign starts on Wednesday. Don't forget to donate!

See Dick whine. Whine, Dick, whine!

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The obligatory "grumpy curmudgeon columnist" position at The Cleveland Plain Dealer belongs to Dick Feagler, who fussed yesterday in favor of bringing back the draft.

Time to fire up the Clue Delivery System©.

Dick Feagler
The Plain Dealer
1801 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114-2198
It's time to bring back the draft.

Wipe the spittle from your chin, Dick.

That way, every family in America with an eligible teenage son or daughter will have a stake in American foreign policy.

We all have a stake already. 2,819 of us were killed on 9/11, we've lost over 700 people in Iraq, and another 115 in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The rest of us who are at least minimally sentient are well aware by now that foreign policy matters a lot. Join us, Dick. We don't bite.

Nobody with a kid in service will be able to ignore CNN or a presidential press conference and tune to "The Apprentice" instead.

You underestimate the power of pop culture, young Skywalker.

Seriously though, grabbing people's attention by sending their kids off to fight sounds a bit harsh. Don't ya think?

Besides, those bright young apprentices would be drafted and overseas under your grand plan, so I doubt The Donald would be on the tube. Maybe you can watch PBS instead.

The draft would be good for Congress. With a district full of draftees and their parents and wives or husbands, Congress would have to pay more attention to the bloody messes they allow a president to get us into.

If members of Congress are ignoring their vocal constituents (which I doubt), then they'll pay with their jobs come election time. If other constituents would rather sit on their duffs and watch junk TV than stay informed, then we're better off without them gumming up matters of vital national interest.

As for President Bush "getting us into a bloody mess", I have two questions.

One: do you prefer your mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, or in Euclid and Westlake and Parma? There's no third option, because the Islamists are going to keep coming after us until we surrender or they all die.

Two: didn't Congress vote "yes" on this whole War on Terror thing at some point? I seem to recall a debate or two. I'm sure it'll come to me in a moment.

We call what's going on in Iraq a war. And in the real and violent sense, it certainly is. But it isn't a declared war. We haven't had a declared war since World War II. Korea was a "police action." Vietnam - I think they called that one a "conflict." And this thing has some kind of zippy title on it like "Operation Spread Democracy, Iraqi Freedom, Fatten Contractors, Cheaper Gas for SUVs."

It's high time we got back to the days when members of Congress would have to stand on the floor in front of God and C-Span and vote to send our kids off to kill and be killed.

Hey, now I remember!

It is a declared war, Dick. President Bush went to Congress twice and asked for their formal endorsement of his war plans. The members of Congress stood up in front of the cameras and voted to declare war. Twice. Were you asleep on those days, big guy?

I gather you want Congress to use certain "magic words" before you'll treat a declaration of war seriously. You're thinking of our WWII declarations, which are just fine as examples of valid declarations of war. But I challenge you to find the passage in our Constitution that requires us to use those precise words. Heck, find me something in there that requires any format whatsoever for a valid declaration of war, and then show me how the resolutions passed by Congress (here and here) this time around have failed to make the grade.

Knock yourself out. I'll wait.

By the way, the names you've forgotten are "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and "Operation Enduring Freedom." You might want to think about getting a refill of your Cognex.

John Kerry's biggest weakness in this election is going to be that he voted for war. He's going to try to say, indeed has already said, that he voted to give the president the power to wage war but that he doesn't like the way the president did it.

Sorry, but that's a cop-out. When we go to war, we ought to go from the grass roots up. Kerry, by his agreement to let George Bush blunder into Iraq, is as responsible for this mess as the president is. It will be interesting to see how he tries to worm his way out of that responsibility.

I'll be fascinated to watch Senator Waffles try to spin that, too. But what's this "going to war from the grass roots up" stuff? Do you expect us to spontaneously form citizens' militias and clamor to be sent to war? Or are you pushing for a system where our leaders don't take action to defend the country unless they're certain that the winds of public opinion are blowing in the right direction? We had eight years of that already, and that is why we're in such a bloody mess.

Everybody makes fun of Dennis Kucinich.

There's an understatement.

They say he's on some kind of ego trip and has become a ludicrous figure by persisting in a no-chance presidential campaign this long.

They're right. Also, I'd like to point out that The Boy Mayor has been a ludicrous figure since the 1970s.

But I don't agree. I live in Dennis' district and when he beat a pal of mine, Martin Hoke, I groaned. But Dennis is running on conviction. He voted against the Iraq misadventure. For that he deserves credit that Kerry cannot claim.

Credit for voting his conscience? OK. Credit for voting wisely and in defense of our country? Nope.

Those of us who shrilly opposed the war are suffering from a severe attack of cognitive dissonance. That's the marvelous phrase that means you're trying to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time and, while they bang into each other, make them work without an aspirin.

Don't blame us sane people. You did this to yourself. Try dropping one of those contradictory beliefs, and maybe the voices in your head will pipe down.

We never should have gone to Iraq. But, now that we are there, we can't pull out. It's hard to make logic from such thoughts. Maybe Socrates could do it. But there's no Socrates in sight.

It's pretty easy, actually. Your side lost the battle of ideas, and our nation has since gone to war. If we reverse course now and run away, that will be what is known as "losing a war." If that happens, the Islamists will bring the big bloody mess back here to America again. They won't stop until we surrender to Islamist domination or they all die. How many times must you hear that before it sinks in?

Do a little thought experiment, Dick. You're a dogcatcher (or a cop, take your pick). There's a big, rabid dog stalking through your neighborhood. Staying indoors and calling for help won't do, because you are the help. The dog won't go away, you can't reason with him, and you can't guarantee that your family and your neighbors can avoid him forever. Bribing him with doggie treats won't work. He's rabid, remember?

After agonizing over your options, you reluctantly step outside with your gun to kill the rabid dog, ignoring the pleas of your neighbors and your own nagging doubts to "just leave him be, he'll go away" ... because you know he won't.

The rabid dog turns, sees you, and charges.

You are officially committed to battle, just like our nation is now. You aren't completely happy about it (to put it mildly) but you're in it up to your eyeballs. Do you tough it out and kill the dog, or do you turn your back on him and run?

A news report the other day reminded me that the original estimate on troop strength for Iraq was 30,000. At the moment we have 137,000 troops in Iraq, and the Pentagon is asking for more. And they'll get more. They always do. In for a penny, in for a pound.

That's war. After we toppled Hussein, the Islamists flocked to Iraq to fight us. No plan survives first contact with the enemy. But our guys are adapting and adjusting their strategy and their tactics. We're killing more of them than we're losing from our ranks. Eventually the enemy will get tired of it and sue for peace.

That's the great law of a war where there are no front lines,

There haven't been front lines for generations, Dick. We're not fighting the Battle of Verdun. Take comfort from knowing that most of the front-lineless action is over in Iraq and not on East 9th Street (is this sinking in yet?).

no clear objective (other than babbling about democracy)

Try this: "kill the enemy until they stop trying to kill us."

and no exit strategy.

Try this: "leave after victory and not a moment before."

What's "victory"? See our objective, above.

You and I have seen this drama before. Where were the guys who are running this thing? Improving their putting game?

The combat leaders are in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other hot spots, killing the enemy in his own lands. The political leaders are back here where they belong, staying out of the way and ensuring that the combat leaders get the men, weapons and supplies they need to win.

What you seem to want is a President who personally approves the targets and micromanages the war. It doesn't work (not even in Germany).

The headline in USA TODAY read: "Fewer soldiers re-enlist. Army sees dip as war increases need."

What are you and Dave Moniz smoking, Dick? I want some, because it must be fantastic stuff to keep you so far from reality. The doom-and-gloom article reports that the reenlistment rate fell to 96% ... and last year it was 106%. Egad! We're 4% away from our goal! Run for the hills, Esther!

The 96% projection is for the first half of the fiscal year, anyhow. Wait to see what happens with reenlistments between now and September 17th before you claim the sky is falling.

So maybe it's draft time. In my ancient days as a Cold Warrior we all went in. I went in as a ROTC officer because I thought that was smarter than going in as a private. The guys on my block enlisted, too. We all became shareholders in what our government did.

What an arrogant remark. I hope you have the stones to repeat it to the next Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant you bump into.

You're already a "shareholder" by virtue of being an American. Stop reading Robert Heinlein and look around you. We don't restrict political power to veterans in this country.

So I say bring back the draft, and let everybody in on the action. But I want a fair draft -- not like the one in Vietnam when, if you could pay your way into college you got a deferment for studying bugs. And no lottery either. Everybody goes.

So we just draft all 27,143,454 people between 18 and 24? Oh yeah, that'll work wonders. Flooding the services with 27 million kids is exactly what they need to win.

If we are going to cowboy around the world and send our 20-year-olds to do it, let's send them all. Mine, yours, everybody's. A universal draft would make us feel the chill of the draft. And there would be more dishonorable discharges among the old men in charge of shortening the lives of kids they claim to represent.

I see. Because you think our current policy is unwise, you want to implement a colossally unwise and unpopular policy to rake us over the coals for disagreeing with you last year. Brilliant. You're just like the spoiled brat who screams when another kid plays with his favorite toy, then tries to break everybody else's toys out of spite.

Grow up, shut up, and sit down.

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UPDATE: A definitive debunking of the bring-back-the-draft crowd.

More small nukes, fewer city-killers

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The Defense Science Board is re-thinking our nuclear arsenal's structure, and they want us to build more low-yield nukes.

Large, high-fallout nuclear weapons designed to obliterate cities won't deter terrorists who might doubt that a President would use them in response to an attack.

Rather, the task force wants to see the U.S. nuclear arsenal expanded to include more precise, lower-yield weapons -- especially those that could penetrate targets buried deep underground where conventional weapons can't reach. The idea is to give a President the option of incinerating enemy weapons, leaders and command-and-control systems with as little damage as possible to civilians. Having the option of highly precise nuclear weapons with greatly reduced radioactivity would also make the threat of their use more believable to terrorists contemplating attacks on the U.S. or allies.

I love it. It'll make the enemy soil themselves. Why not use small nukes? Talk about catching an Islamozoid's attention!

Buh-bye!

Pray for Matt Maupin

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Now that Rantisi has assumed room temperature, I wouldn't be surprised if the Iraqi kidnappers' offer of a prisoner swap for Pfc. Matt Maupin will be violently retracted in the manner of Daniel Pearl or Fabrizio Quattrocchi. I hope it won't happen, but I expect it will.

Pray for Matt's safe return.

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UPDATE: Looks like Jesse Jackson's getting involved.

UPDATE 2: In light of Nick Berg's awful murder, pray with renewed fervor for Matt.

UPDATE 3: Now we learn that Paul Johnson has been murdered in the same way. Keep praying for Matt's rescue or escape!

UPDATE 4: Al Jazeera is broadcasting a tape that appears to show that Matt has been killed by his captors.

Where are our heroes?

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I just spotted "Why Are Victims Our Only War Heroes?" over at Military.com. The author, a Navy SEAL Reservist and trial lawyer, thinks we're celebrating our victims too much and our heroes too little.

Thus far, we have overlooked perhaps the most important image in our arsenal, that of the hero in war, and of his or her determination. It is an image we have failed to present adequately in our prosecution of this war. In earlier times, the American public could recite names such as Boatswain's Mate Reuben James, Lieutenant William Cushing, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, Sergeant Alvin York, Mess Attendant Dorie Miller, and Sergeant Audie Murphy as easily as they could their own home addresses. The individual heroes of the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, generally are unknown.

That needs fixing.

The global war on terrorism will pivot on the resolve of the American public. The resolve of the American public will pivot on what is held up as worthy -- about itself and those who fight for it. The images we use to tell the story will help America find its way through this conflict.

Sounds alot like John Derbyshire.

The Department of Defense does not maintain an Internet site for new recipients of senior awards for valor. If the personal security of the servicemembers is a concern, then the citations still should be released using noms de guerre.

Perhaps an e-mail campaign is in order ...

Puttin' the smack down on Al-Jazeera

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I want you!

John of Castle Argghhh! is looking for a few good folks to help him raise money so our Marines can build TV stations in Iraq. Somebody has to counter Al-Jazeera's venom, and we're just the people to do it.

Why are you still here? Go and donate!

Kevin, blogging from Baghdad over at Boots on the Ground worries that America's losing heart and might leave the job unfinished in Iraq.

Go tell him you're behind him.

Elements of the 1st Armored Division have been ordered back to Iraq to deal with Muqtada al-Sadr.

Here's the last thing that many, many jihadis will see in coming weeks:

Nighty-night, Muqtada!

According to the Los Angeles Times, Operation Valiant Resolve has begun with Marines rolling into Fallujah to retake the city and pacify it.

Semper Fi, and give 'em hell!

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UPDATE: Fallujah map available here

Bush Welcomes Seven New NATO Members (AP)

Now Estonia can finally ask the Danes to shoo away those pesky MiGs. Just keep those foreign investments rolling in, minu vennad, so that the biggest baddest country on Earth has an incentive to protect you from the next Russkie invasion.

Estonia.gif     Latvia.gif

Seitse jalga kiilu alla!

In an effort to mount some semblance of an actual airborne military presence, the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania recently invited NATO to bring fighter jets to their airspace for patrol duty. Since these three nations will soon be joining the alliance, the big bear next door is getting grumpier.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko was quoted as saying

"It is a pity that NATO overestimated the situation in the region where a security threat is absent, thanks to Russia's unprecedented efforts among other things."

Except for your tanks. And jets. And ships. And ...

Russian Ambassador to Lithuania Boris Tsepov said

"Moscow would have to take adequate measures if NATO aircraft were based in Lithuania to defend the Baltic airspace."

Who says Russia's not a civilized, responsible state? I think they ought to take precautions, because those darn Lithuanians are always invading their peace-loving neighbors to the east. And don't get me started about those warmongering Latvians and treacherous Estonians! I'm with you, Ambassador Molotov ... uh, I mean Tsepov. Perhaps those Baltic upstarts can be "persuaded" to sign another "Pact of defence and mutual assistance." We can't have four Danish fighters near Mother Russia, now can we? They might interfere with Russian jets traipsing happily over Tallinn.

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