SFC Paul Smith to receive Medal of Honor

Sergeant 1st Class Paul Smith will receive the Medal of Honor (posthumously) next month. For all Medal of Honor citations, see the incongruously-named Congressional Medal of Honor Society. There’s more general info at Wikipedia.
I’ll bet President Bush mentions Segreant Smith in his State of the Union address tonight.
Hat tip: Michelle Malkin

UPDATE: Can anybody tell me what the Medal of Honor Flag looks like?
UPDATE 2: A study in contrasts.

Bigger Army and Marine Corps needed?

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.

Army sneaking women into combat?

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.

An e-mail from Fallujah

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

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.

Battle of Fallujah round-up

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.

Buying the Buford sounds like a no-brainer to me

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.

Raw newsfeed from Iraq

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!

More camouflage uniform changes

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.