Saturday, June 30, 2007

'Blogger' Marine General James "Hoss" Cartwright " Next Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

The first post I had on Marine General Cartwright was two years ago March 2005 when I included his requirements for officers and enlisted posting to his blog. Apparently, the general was upset that he had too many minders weeding out the "appropriate" questions/answers. I read his explanation of what he wanted at Winds:

“The metric is what the person has to contribute, not the person’s rank, age, or level of experience. If they have the answer, I want the answer. When I post a question on my blog, I expect the person with the answer to post back. I do not expect the person with the answer to run it through you, your OIC, the branch chief, the exec, the Division Chief and then get the garbled answer back before he or she posts it for me. The Napoleonic Code and Netcentric Collaboration cannot exist in the same space and time. It’s YOUR job to make sure I get my answers and then if they get it wrong or they could have got it righter, then you guide them toward a better way…but do not get in their way.”

General, USMC

I thought the idea of a blogging general "Awesome" and pretty cool. Impressive. Especially the "do not get in their way." part. You really begin to understand resistance trying to convince others that round wheels work better than square ones. Now that the blogging general is going to be the next Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs more info (Arms Control Wonk) and In From the Cold is coming out on the nuts and bolts of blogging. Not quite as simple as you might think for those of us who just need a gmail account. For example, for a four star Marine you might think the process of integrating a new blog would be an order of "let it so be written--let it so be done". However, from STRATCOM a link to General James Cartwright answers to questions at the IFPA Fletcher Conference - Washington, DC on December 15, 2005 comes quite another perspective:

QUESTION: The question is, how do we pick up the pace? What are you doing in the command to get that message down through frankly a bureaucracy that doesn't want to understand it?

If I could just add something else, and this is really a personal note. I do a lot of work in the technical community. I know that we're getting information on something happening in Iraq that's not going to be down to the people that can do something about it and we're losing [inaudible] because of it.

So I commend what you're doing and honestly, I think it's one of the most important things that we can be talking about this morning.

General Cartwright: Thank you.

Trying to push this down so that every individual in the organization and every individual associated with the organization has the opportunity to contribute is a challenge that culturally certainly gains the most resistance.

We have a very disciplined approach necessary for military operations so the transition difference between military operations and business operations -- You can move the information, but then the authorities associated with the information becomes problematic.

I'll give you an example, and I've used this several times.

But when we started the activity with blogging, the first thing that I got was nobody would blog except for the very senior people. I wondered why not? Well, they had basically ordered their people not to blog.


I said, well your choice is to be fired or get them to blog.


Then what I got was a period of what I'll call tethered goats. Lance Corporal Cartwright answered all of General Cartwright's mail to make it look like Lance Corporate Cartwright was doing something. That has eroded over time, and now people are becoming more and more comfortable.

But in that sphere you also see the crossing of the military dynamic, command and who's in charge in an environment where it's kind of free-wheeling. People worry, oh gosh, what if somebody says something bad? What if somebody says something bad about the boss? Will I get fired over that? How will it play in Washington, so to speak?

The reality is this is a very quickly self-policing environment. If you say something stupid in a blog, it's global, and there's no hiding it, A.

B, the way we do it anyway, it is associated with your IP and you're not going to say that I'm Fred and then log on as somebody else. We know who's blogging and who isn't. That's part of it.

But what we have also done in the tools that are out there, and I got this, I guess it's okay to say this in this room, but Union Pacific and the insurance companies gave me an idea about how you can take some tools and you can understand who's contributing in your dialogue.

So that if you run into a problem say in a particular sensor and you're trying to figure out who's really talking about this? If I ask my staff to give me an answer, what I get is the senior person.

The reality is, it's not the senior person that's day in and day out working that sensor and trying to understand it. You can within a millisecond find who's really talking about this and who's really involved in it, and go straight to them.

That cuts out an awful lot of the chain of command. It's fast, but the comfort zone that you have just entered is very nervous.

The more we do that, though, and the more people see success associated with that, the more compelling it becomes to allow people to contribute.

So there's a little bit of trying to show where there is opportunity to be successful and contribute, and showing that value as quickly as you can so that you get the culture to move in the direction.

It's more art than science, but it is effective. And trying to find where you can gain the leverage and show people opportunity that they really feel like they can go after, rather than risk that they're worried about, you really start to change the dynamic.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"AQ cells leaving an area are not the main game—they are a distraction. We played the enemy’s game for too long: not any more. "

David Kilcullen Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser, Multi-National Force—Iraq-at SWJ Blog
provides the essential perspective that MSM can not seem to fathom. “I know some people in the media are already starting to sort of write off the “surge” and say ‘Hey, hang on: we’ve been going since January, we haven’t seen a massive turnaround; it mustn’t be working’. SWJ

The Q and O blog spotted the bone the MSM would chew on here: "failure".

One week after American forces mounted their assault on insurgent strongholds in western Baquba, at least half of the estimated 300 to 500 fighters who were there have escaped or are still at large, the colonel who is leading the attack said Monday.

Today in the NYT, Michael Gordon, who Michael Yon has generally praised for his coverage of Babuqua, talks about "failure" there. When I first saw this mentioned a few days ago, I knew as sure are there are stars in the sky that this would become the dominant MSM meme for the operation there.
Col. Steve Townsend told a group of journalists that his soldiers had wrested control over most of the area from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, deprived the insurgent group of its nominal capital and made headway in protecting the residents from reprisals by militants.
But he acknowledged that his forces had not killed or captured as many of the insurgents as he had hoped.
David Kilcullen points out the real goal:
The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

a.) The enemy needs the people to act in certain ways (sympathy, acquiescence, silence, reaction to provocation) in order to survive and further his strategy. Unless the population acts in these ways, both insurgents and terrorists will wither, and the cycle of provocation and backlash that drives the sectarian conflict in Iraq will fail.

(b.) The enemy is fluid, but the population is fixed. (The enemy is fluid because he has no permanent installations he needs to defend, and can always run away to fight another day. But the population is fixed, because people are tied to their homes, businesses, farms, tribal areas, relatives etc). Therefore—and this is the major change in our strategy this year—protecting and controlling the population is do-able, but destroying the enemy is not. We can drive him off from the population, then introduce local security forces, population control, and economic and political development, and thereby "hard-wire" the enemy out of the environment, preventing his return. But chasing enemy cells around the countryside is not only a waste of time, it is precisely the sort of action he wants to provoke us into. That’s why AQ cells leaving an area are not the main game—they are a distraction. We played the enemy’s game for too long: not any more. Now it is time for him to play our game.

(c.) Being fluid, the enemy can control his loss rate and therefore can never be eradicated by purely enemy-centric means: he can just go to ground if the pressure becomes too much. BUT, because he needs the population to act in certain ways in order to survive, we can asphyxiate him by cutting him off from the people. And he can't just "go quiet" to avoid that threat. He has either to come out of the woodwork, fight us and be destroyed, or stay quiet and accept permanent marginalization from his former population base. That puts him on the horns of a lethal dilemma (which warms my heart, quite frankly, after the cynical obscenities these irhabi gang members have inflicted on the innocent Iraqi non-combatant population). That's the intent here.

(d.) The enemy may not be identifiable, but the population is. In any given area in Iraq, there are multiple threat groups but only one, or sometimes two main local population groups. We could do (and have done, in the past) enormous damage to potential supporters, "destroying the haystack to find the needle", but we don't need to: we know who the population is that we need to protect, we know where they live, and we can protect them without unbearable disruption to their lives. And more to the point, we can help them protect themselves, with our forces and ISF in overwatch.

The True Heavy Lifting comes much later and most likely away from the MSM with bleed deadlines:

The really decisive activity will be police work, registration of the population and counterintelligence in these areas, to comb out the insurgent sleeper cells and political cells that have "gone quiet" as we moved in, but which will try to survive through the op and emerge later. This will take operational patience, and it will be intelligence-led, and Iraqi government-led. It will probably not make the news (the really important stuff rarely does) but it will be the truly decisive action.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What is best in life: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.

Iraq assault kills 90 linked to al Qaeda Iraq — U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed 90 al Qaeda fighters across Baghdad in the past five days during one of the biggest combined offensives against the Sunni Islamist group since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S. officials said yesterday.

U.S. air strikes yesterday killed seven fighters suspected of belonging to al Qaeda in Tikrit in Salahuddin province and near the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

Iraq Report: Arrowhead Ripper and Wider Operations

Operation Arrowhead Ripper, the name of the U.S. and Iraqi offensive in Diyala province remains the hottest front in Operation Phantom Thunder, the overarching operation in the Baghdad Belts. Since the start of the operation on June 16, U.S. and Iraqi forces have killed 59 al Qaeda operatives, captured 40, destroyed 28 roadside bombs and 12 booby-trapped buildings, and uncovered 16 weapons caches in Baqubah and the surrounding regions. U.S. and Iraqi forces have begun to distribute aid to civilians in the city.

One Week of Operation Phantom Thunder

An update on the Battle of Iraq

Operation Phantom Thunder, the corps coordinated operation across three theaters in the Baghdad Belts, has completed it seventh day. Ground forces commander Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno gave a briefing on the operation. To date, Coalition and Iraqi forces have killed 159 al Qaeda fighters and other insurgents, wounded 41, and detained 721 suspects. Coalition and Iraqi forces found and destroyed 304 roadside bombs, seven car bombs and 128 weapons caches.

Now for the BAD News. Ready?!
U.S. commanders have begun to tamp down expectations of a large fight against al Qaeda believed to be trapped in the city. On Friday, ground forces commander Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno stated that it was thought about 80 percent of al Qaeda senior leaders escaped the city, while a large majority of the mid-level commanders and fighters remained.

Why they must have been good married men for they turn tail and run......Marshal Reuben J "Rooster" Cogburn

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fred Thompson Passed the CAIR TEST

Listening to the Fred Thompson Report ,today, had the crystallizing effect that pushed, me, Jack Burton, away from "ho-hum bug interesting" observations of Fred Dalton Thompson and toward--hot damn! We got a winner here!

Fred Thompson passed the CAIR test.

Up to now CAIR has managed to sashay and pull the wool over the most so called astute players in the business even to the point of getting invitations to the White House and tasked with giving advice to the FBI in the fine art of sensitivity regarding Muslims. Sensitivity that's a hoot.

This from an organization whose membership is not shy about refusing to call Hamas a "terrorist organization". Prefers to render vague generic proclamations against terrorism instead. Why is that Wang? Shy? No way. CAIR is not reluctant or shy about stating their intended purpose in America:

"Omar Ahmad, CAIR’s chairman, announced in July 1998 that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran . . . should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” Front Page

Fred Thompson says it all and in sharp contrast to the Governor of Ohio is not tongue-tied about calling out the bridge builder on their latest works---my kind of future POTUS.

I’ve talked before about the Council on American-Islamic Relations — most recently because it filed that lawsuit against Americans who reported suspicious behavior by Muslims on a U.S. Airways flight. Better known just as CAIR, the lobbying group has come under a lot of scrutiny lately for its connections to terror-supporting groups. This time, though, The Washington Times has uncovered some very good news about the group.

For years, CAIR has claimed to represent millions of American Muslims. In fact, they claim to represent more Muslims in America than … there are in America. This has alarmed Americans in general as the group often seems to be more aligned with our enemies than us — which isn’t surprising as it spun off from a group funded by Hamas. As you know, Hamas has been waging a terrorist war against Israel and calls for its total destruction. It also promises to see America destroyed. Nowadays, Hamas is busy murdering its Palestinian political rivals.

Even with this history, and CAIR’s conspicuous failure to condemn Hamas by name, it has been treated as if represents Muslim Americans by our own government. The good news is that the financial support CAIR claims to have among American Muslims is a myth. We know this because The Washington Times got hold of the group’s IRS tax records.

CAIR’s dues-paying membership has shrunk 90 percent since 9/11 — from 29,000 in 2000 to only 1,700 last year. CAIR’s annual income from dues plunged from $733,000 to $59,000. Clearly, America’s Muslims are not supporting this group — and I’m happy to hear about it.

Of course, every silver lining seems to have a cloud; and this cloud is that CAIR’s spending is running about $3 million a year. They’ve opened 25 new chapters in major cities across the country even as their dues shrank to a pittance. The question is; who’s funding CAIR?

CAIR’s not saying. The New York Times earlier this year reported that the backing is from “wealthy Persian Gulf governments” including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Obviously, we have a bigger problem here than the one with CAIR.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Unleash Hell---Kill or Capture Orcs--Details at the 4th Rail

Bill Roggio and DJ Elliott have the latest on the biggest slice of hell since Day One of Last Dance for Saddam Hussein. Pillars of heaven are shaking and the poison arrows are flying as Vampire Orcs seek shelter from the largest offensive yet. Commanders Intent: Kill or Capture.

A look at the largest offensive operation in Iraq since 2003 now at the 4th Rail

Four days after the announcement of major offensive combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and its allies, the picture becomes clearer on the size and scope of the operation. In today's press briefing, Rear Admiral Mark noted that the ongoing operation is a corps directed and coordinated offensive operation. This is the largest offensive operation since the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom ended in the spring of 2003.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Because We're Here Boy, No One Else; Just Us."...

The practice of quoting from movies, to make a point to your mates, may have started during the Vietnam War. Actually, all I know about the practice is that in 1965, as a Trainee Undergoing Recruit Disciple at MCRD San Diego, I started reciting a line from the movie Zulu (an film account of a 1879 battle between 100 British troops against a Zulu impi that had just massacred a British regiment of 1200 men )

As it so happens, the reason for quoting from "Zulu" comes from the fact that the San Diego recruit depot is bordered on one side by a tall hill covered in civilian apartments and houses filled with sleeping civilians. Apparently, the news that we were now at war with the Cong 16,000 miles away had not impressed the San Diego civilians who, united in their outrage against being awakened at 0500 Hrs by the cacophony of 10,000 screaming Marine recruits, at once, presented a petition to the CG in protest of their loss of sleep. The official word soon filtered down through the ranks.

When we got the word: our DI's were forbidden to scream-"I can't HEAR you!" and we, in turn, we were forbidden to scream out our latest orders contrary to all our previous training. "Looks bad in the newspapers and upsets civilians at their breakfast." became our watch words. We were constantly chewed out to keep the noise level down. At one shot, we became worse than mimes. Trained to respond to all commands with full lungs and loud renditions we became hapless whispering recruits. Do not run. Do not slam doors. Do not respond to commands by repeating the orders out loud. Some recruits actually whispered.

The situation was simply intolerable. We tiptoed around the base until 0630hrs. and whispered our orders to each other for a miserable confusing week until finally someone came to their senses and rescinded the ridiculous order. I, for one, felt deeply resentful of the order. I thought that if the country felt that my tuckass was necessary in South Vietnam the very least the civilians could do is sacrifice a little sleep toward getting me there. Little did I appreciate that all this was just the beginning of a schism that never really ended.

Old resentments aside, while mucking about the internet, I was mystified to discover a link to a blog at SWJ with the odd name "Because We're Here Boy, No One Else; Just Us."... The blog is owned by Carl, a pilot who works in central Africa. His blog is about him:" Now I fly people who do good things for others, around central Africa."

The name of his blog is a line is from Colour Sgt. Bourne, in the movie Zulu, to one of his men on the verge of catching a case of the vapors from the parish minister who is "drunk as a lord".

I ran Colour Sgt Bourne through the search engines and discovered to my amazement that he lived until VE day 1945. What's more he left an after action report of the Rorke's Drift battle:"An account by Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Bourne, OBE, DCM transcript of a radio broadcast published in the Listener, dated 30th December 1936." at Rorkes Drift VC

The Kaffir War ended in June 1878 and we were moved to Pietermaritzburg, Natal, to assist in raising the curtain on the Zulu drama. On January 11 (1879) we crossed the Buffalo river at Rorke's Drift - into Zulu country. Our Commander-in-Chief was Lord Chelmsford. Our strength was four thousand five hundred men, including thirteen Companies of my Regiment, the 24th, now the South Wales Borderers. One company was left behind at Rorke's Drift, to guard the Hospital stores, and the Pontoons at the Drift on the Buffalo River. This was my Company, and at the time I was bitterly disappointed. We saw the main Column under Lord Chelmsford engage the enemy at once, and I watched the action, along with my four Sergeants, from a little hill by Rorke's Drift. Then we saw them move on again, and they disappeared.

And now I must tell you what happened to them during the next ten days.

They made their Camp under a hill called Isandhlwana, about ten miles away. Then days later, on the twenty-first, Lord Chelmsford learned that the enemy was in force ahead of the Camp, and he moved out on the morning of the twenty-second with nearly half his force to attack them. But as he advanced they disappeared, and in his absence his Camp was attacked and overwhelmed by four thousand Zulus. So swift was the disaster that the few survivors who got away could give no reliable account of it, but the evidence of the dead who were afterwards found and buried where they lay told the unvarying tale of groups of men fighting back to back until the last cartridge was fired. After the war, Zulu witnesses all told the same story. 'At first we could make no headway against the soldiers, but suddenly they ceased to fire, then we came round them and killed them with our assegais'. According to one account, the last survivor was a Drummer Boy who flung his short sword at a Zulu. This was the last occasion that Band or Drummer Boys were taken on Active Service, as it was also the last occasion that the Colours were carried into action (This is not strictly correct. Some Regiments are believed to have carried Colours into action as late as 1881 or even 1882.) Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill lost their lives that day trying to save the Colours. Fully twelve hundred men were killed. And by half past one no white man was alive in Isandhlwana Camp.

Of course, back at Rorke's Drift we knew nothing of this disaster, although my Sergeants and I on our hill above it could hear the guns and see the puffs of smoke. But an hour later, at two o'clock, a few refugees arrived and warned us of what to expect. One man whispered to me 'Not a fighting chance for you, young feller.' Up to that time we had done nothing to put our small post in a defensive position, as our Force in front was nearly five thousand strong and had six guns, and the last thing we expected was that we should be the saviours of the remainder of that Force. The strength of our small garrison at the Drift was two combatant and six departmental Officers, and one hundred and thirty-three Non-Commissioned Officers and men, thirty-six of whom were sick, leaving about one hundred fighting men. Remember that twelve hundred men had just been massacred at Isandhlwana. Can you then be surprised that, flushed with their success, the Zulus were making for our small post, confident that we should be easy victims to their savagery?

Having had the warning - but only two hours in advance, as it turned out - we set to work to loophole the two buildings and to connect the front of the Hospital with a stone cattle kraal by sacks of Indian corn and oats, and to draw up two Boer transport wagons to join the front of the Commissariat Stores with the back of the Hospital. These proved excellent barricades, but by no means impregnable.

The native has always been credited with deep cunning, but luckily for us if the Zulu possessed any, he did not use it, for as the sacks connecting the Hospital had to be laid on a slope of the ground he could safely have crept along, cut the sacks open with his assegais, the corn would have rolled out and he could have walked in and I should not now be telling the story. When Lieutenant Chard of the Royal Engineers joined us he approved of what we had done, but considered that our inner space was too big, and suggested a line of biscuit boxes. This was done and proved of great value when the enemy set the Hospital on fire.

I was instructed to post a man as look-outs, in the Hospital, at the most vulnerable points, and to take out and command a line of skirmishers. Shortly after 3.30 an Officer commanding a Troop of Natal Light Horse arrived, having got away from Isandhlwana, and asked Lieutenant Chard for instructions. He was ordered to send detachments to observe the Drift and Pontoons, and to place outposts in the direction of the enemy to check his advance.

About 4.15 the sound of firing was heard behind the hill on our front; the Officer returned and reported the enemy close upon us. He also reported that his 100 men would not obey his orders and had ridden off. About the same time another detachment of 100 men belonging to the Natal Native Contingent bolted., including their Officer himself. I am glad to say he was brought back some days later, court-martialled and dismissed from the service. The desertion of these detachments of 200 men appeared at first sight to be a great loss, with only a hundred of us left, but the feeling was that we could not have trusted them, and also that our defences were too small to accomodate them anyhow.

We knew now that whatever might happen we had to fight it out alone, and about 4.30 the enemy, from 500 to 600 strong, came in sight round the hill to our south, and driving my thin red line of skirmishers, made a rush at our south wall. They were met, and held, by a steady and deliberate fire for a short time, then, being re-inforced by some hundreds, they made desperate and repeated attempts to break through our temporary defences, but were repulsed time and again. To show their fearlessness and their contempt for the red coats and small numbers, they tried to leap the parapet, and at times seized our bayonets, only to be shot down. Looking back, one cannot but admire their fanatical bravery.

About 7 o'clock they succeeded, after many attempts, in setting fire to the Hospital. The small number we were able to spare defended it room by room, bringing out all the sick who could be moved before they retired. Privates Hook, R. Jones, W. Jones and J. Williams were the last to leave, holding the door with the bayonet when all their ammunition was expended. The Victoria Cross was awarded to these men, and they fully deserved it.

The Zulus had collected the rifles from the men who they had killed at Isandhlwana, and had captured the ammunition from the mules which had stampeded and threw their loads; so our own arms where used against us. In fact, this was the cause of every one of our casualties, killed and wounded, and we should have suffered many more if the enemy had known how to use a rifle. There was hardly a man even wounded by an assegais - their principle weapon.

The attack lasted from 4.30 p.m. on the twenty-second to 4.00 a.m. on the twenty-third - twelve exciting hours - and when daybreak occurred, the enemy was out of sight. About 7 o'clock they appeared again to the south-west. But help was at hand; Lord Chelmsford with the other half of his original force was only an hour's march away. On the previous afternoon he had learned of the destruction of his camp at Isandhlwana. A certain Commandant Lonsdale had chanced to ride back to the Camp and had been fired at by Zulus wearing our men's uniform. He escaped by a miracle and was able to report the news to Lord Chelmsford.

Lord Chelmsford at once addressed his men and said: 'Whilst we were skirmishing ahead the Zulus have taken our Camp; there must be ten thousand in our rear, and twenty thousand in front, we must win back our Camp tonight and cut our way back to Rorke's Drift tomorrow'.'All right sir, we'll do it'.

They got back to camp that night, but they found a grim and silent scene as they cautiously approached. The next day they resumed their march and appeared at Rorke's Drift, and our enemy retired.

In his dispatch afterwards, Lord Chelmsford said: 'To our intense relief the waving of hats was seen from the hastily erected entrenchments, and information soon reached me that the garrison...had for twelve hours made the most gallant resistance I have ever heard of against the determined attack of some 3,000 Zulu's, 350 of whose dead bodies surrounded the post.' Our losses were 17 killed and 9 wounded. Theirs 351 killed that we buried. Their wounded must have been 400 to 500, which they removed under the cover of night.

There are two things which I think have made Rorke's Drift stand out so vividly after all these years. The first, that it took place on the same day as the terrible massacre at Isandhlwana, and the second, that Natal was saved from being overrun by a savage and victorious foe.

Seven VC's were awarded to this one Company of the Regiment which is now the South Wales Borderers. I have told you the names of the four men who won the VC; the other three were Lieutenant Bromhead, Corporal Allen and Private F. Hitch. The Victoria Cross was also awarded to Lieutenant Chard, Royal Engineers, Surgeon Reynolds, and Corporal Schiess, but not one, I regret to say, of those VCs is alive today. In fact, there are only six survivors of Rorke's Drift alive today: Ex-Privates W. Cooper, G. Edwards, H. Martin, W. Owens, H. Williams, and myself.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Big Joe Speaks the Big Stick--Bomb Iran

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Lieberman told Bob Schieffer. "And to me, that would include a strike into... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Forty years ago today, Jack Burton and the Six Day War

Forty years ago this week, Jack Burton was totally oblivious to the threat Israel faced against a war against, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. During the entire 96 hour war, Jack and his Marine mates were "in transit"-AKA- military jargon for "waiting for the plane to DaNang". Jack and company were held in temporary cold storage in a deserted Marine transit barracks bereft of all the ordinary amenities as bunks, mattresses, blankets or pillows, towels or hot water for the six day war.
The first day we learned the Arab/Israeli War had started and the lucky few Marines with transistor radios were glued to the tiny speakers. The war news seemed stunningly unbelievable. It was l all what the hell?!! type news that makes sense now only because we know the war lasted six days. Back then, nobody knew that the war could last Six days. Nobody. We just thought the war would go on for years. Like our war. The Vietnam war. On the second day, a rumor started that our orders were being changed. We were no longer going to Vietnam. We were going to help Israel. Israel needed us. Even at that point, the second day, the sitrep seemed to me that Israel didn't really sound like it needed help. More ammo. Maybe. More tanks. Sure. But Marines? The idea that Israel, a tiny country the size of New Jersey, could face off Egypt's 100,000 troops, 1,000 tanks with 45,000 men and 650 tanks and still have enough balls to carry the fight against two more countries-Jordan and Syria-- still seemed entirely plausible to me. Why. Don't ask for explanations. Just did. It's part of the air only twenty-somethings can breathe.
However, the rumor that our orders were being changed seemed to grow in strength and now the ink was somewhere slowly drying on our orders awaiting our receipt. I began to wonder if, in fact, the PFC who knew somebody, who worked with somebody who typed for the general's office had actually seen the manifest. After 96 hours the war ended. Just in time, our civilian plane was found and escorted to MCAS El Toro airfield. Qantas. As we boarded the flight and said hi to the smiling stewardess, I wondered if Israel couldn't come give us a hand. Shorten the War.