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.
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.
According 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.
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
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.
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.
I saw this photograph earlier today on USAToday.com …
… 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.
I found this footage on The Drudge Report. God bless our troops and grant them victory.
Winds of Change has the best Battle of Fallujah round-up I’ve seen yet.
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
The Command Post brings you a handy comprehensive briefing on The Battle of Fallujah.
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).
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 …
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!
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?
Winds of Change has a multi-week roundup on The Battle of Fallujah.
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.
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
UPDATE: A NY Times article that’s a must-read; be sure to check the multimedia links on the right (like this slideshow).
… but isn’t that urban camouflage on these Marine Corps AAVs getting ready to enter Fallujah?
Original AFP photo here.
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.