Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Culiacan, Mexico--Rufino Aispuro Soto a commander with the State Ministerial Police (PME) was found dead of asphyxiation by the river Tamazula. His head was covered with duct tape and placed inside a plastic bag.
Durango, Mexico--A headless body was found with a pigs head by the pantheon of Los Sabines, by-the-road to Parral, according to the Vanguardia Press.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
“It is our desire to learn also how one should fight the media war.” said the glint eyed master of ceremonies to his 30 assorted surrender journalists from various national and international media outlets to North and South Waziristan. This "news" should come as a major shock to DOD who only recently got it's gold thumb out of their tuckas and started a blog. The Orcs have had them for years.
“The Taliban have not been very advanced as far as the media war is concerned. But we are making efforts to catch up with the latest methods, and we will soon be available on YouTube,” a senior PIO of the Taliban’s media cell told Daily Times.
Orc Biggie Taliban Pakistan Chief Baitullah Mehsud initiated the big suck up with western media by inviting 30 surrender journalists from various national and international media outlets to North and South Waziristan for a major pow wow to sooth any hard feeling after the recent unpleasantness at Express TV.
Baituallah calmed timorous reporters by assuring them the recent murder of Express TV’s Bajaur, Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, correspondent was ‘unforgivable’. Baituallah told "journalists" that he , would personally “hang the killers” of Ibrahim if, (there is always an Orc IF), if they were identified beyond all reasonable doubt and the journalists nodded and concurred that if this was the case why they would stick around and listen to what else he had to offer or say.
Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, a senior TV journalist, was killed last week after interviewing Maulwi Omar, spokesman of the Pakistan Taliban Movement. Orc Media critics are very nasty, brutish and short tempered.
The Orc Taliban Media cell has big plans to begin releasing Orc family videos on YouTube .
The Orc family videos will feature the Orc kids firing point blank head shots into blindfolded men while other kids behead other "unbelievers". YouTube should have no problem with hosting these horrific family Orcs videos. After all isn't it all about family? Whatever it takes to advance the cause of Islam and keep the Orc family together.
The WaPo has yet to publish this letter to the editor I ripped from American Diplomacy. The letter is in response to Mike Allen's article-"Expert on Terrorism To Direct Rebuilding" which included this slur against the FS:
"Then Perle needled the man from Foggy Bottom. "He's aggressive by foreign-service standards," Perle said. "I've seen hummingbirds that are aggressive by foreign-service standards."
Subject: Defending the Foreign Service
Below is the text of a letter to the editor of the Washington Post that AFSA submitted on May 2. Although the Post has so far not published it, we thought that our members would be interested in our rebuttal to yet another attack on the career Foreign Service. We also e-mailed the letter to Mr. Richard Perle along with an invitation for him to attend the annual AFSA Memorial Plaque ceremony on May 9. He has not replied.
Your May 2 news article "Expert on Terrorism To Direct Rebuilding" included a shameful slur against America's career diplomats by Pentagon advisor Richard Perle. Discussing President Bush's selection of Foreign Service Officer L. Paul Bremer to direct the rebuilding of Iraq, Perle characterizes Ambassador Bremer as being "aggressive by Foreign Service standards (but) I've seen hummingbirds that are aggressive by Foreign Service standards."
It is unfortunate that Mr. Perle does not understand that our nation's diplomats do indeed aggressively promote vital U.S. interests, often in harsh or dangerous places. As Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate committee on April 30, "I send young State Department officers out to the most difficult places in the world to serve their country, taking their families with them where there may not be any hospital care, there may not be any school for their kids, or where they're separated from their families for a longer period of time than the average soldier gets separated from his family. And they go willingly because they're happy to serve the American people."
Indeed, I invite Mr. Perle to visit the Department of State this coming Friday, May 9, to witness the addition of six more names to the AFSA Memorial Plaques honoring American diplomats who have died in the line of duty while serving our nation abroad. Those plaques now contain 215 names. As a Pentagon advisor, Mr. Perle might be particularly interested in the fact that, in the last half century, more U.S. Ambassadors than generals and admirals have died in the line of duty.Sincerely,
John K. Naland
President, American Foreign Service Association
Monday, May 26, 2008
The DOD is blogging! WTF!
Is this so totally out of character for the hidebound-don't bother us we are the Fossils from DOD and hell bound for Death, Defeat and Disaster" Before Change gang. Blogging! I lived long enough to see the DOD acquire DAS BLOG and started BLOGGING! What next?
"I'm gonna tell you about my blog, and I DON'T wanna hear "act of God!"
Welcome aboard DOD! What kept ya.!
Memorial Day. The Day of Remembrance. I was at Phu Bai, Oct '67 when the word got back that Perkins had been killed in an ambush. He was a photographer with Third MarDiv. I knew who he was and had seen him once or twice, I was First MarDiv and didn't travel the same circles. The word we received was that Perkins was killed in an NVA ambush. Truck convoy ambush. Never heard any more than that little bit. Today, while recalling the names of Marines who didn't finish out their 13 month tours, I found out that Perkins received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
William T. Perkins, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam in 1967, was born 10 August 1947 in Rochester, New York. In elementary school he moved with his family to California and graduated from James Monroe High School, Sepulveda, California, in 1965.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve 27 April 1966 and was discharged to enlist in the Regular Marine Corps 6 July 1966.
Upon completion of recruit training with the 2d Recruit Training Battalion Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California, he was promoted to private first class 22 September 1966. Transferred to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, California, he underwent individual combat training with the 3d Battalion, 2d Infantry Training Regiment.
From October 1966 to January 1967, he served as a photographer with Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Supply Center, Barstow, California. He was promoted to lance corporal 1 January 1967. For the next four months, Lance Corporal Perkins was a student at the Motion Picture Photography, U.S. Army Signal Center and School, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. In May 1967, he was transferred back to Headquarters Battalion, Barstow, California.
In July 1967, Lance Corporal Perkins served as a photographer with Service Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3d Marine Division and was transferred to the Republic of Vietnam. He was promoted to corporal 1 August 1967. While serving as a combat photographer with Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division during Operation Medina, he was killed in action on 12 October 1967.
A complete list of his medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with one bronze star, the Vietnamese Military Merit Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Corporal Perkins was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William T. Perkins, Sr. of Northridge, California, and one brother.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps, Company C, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. Place and date: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, 12 October 1967. Entered service at: San Francisco, Calif. Born: 10 August 1947, Rochester, N.Y. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a combat photographer attached to Company C. During Operation MEDINA, a major reconnaissance in force southwest of Quang Tri, Company C made heavy combat contact with a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force estimated at from 2 to 3 companies. The focal point of the intense fighting was a helicopter landing zone which was also serving as the Command Post of Company C. In the course of a strong hostile attack, an enemy grenade landed in the immediate area occupied by Cpl. Perkins and 3 other marines. Realizing the inherent danger, he shouted the warning, "Incoming Grenade" to his fellow marines, and in a valiant act of heroism, hurled himself upon the grenade absorbing the impact of the explosion with his body, thereby saving the lives of his comrades at the cost of his life. Through his exceptional courage and inspiring valor in the face of certain death, Cpl. Perkins reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country .
Friday, May 23, 2008
Colonel Ewers was one of the investigators of the Haditha incident from the GET-GO. He is the leading witness the prosecutors plan to call in its case against LtCol Chessani.
As a result, the Military Judge ruled that he found evidence of the “mortal enemy of military justice.”: unlawful command influence.
Col Ewers admitted that he was present during at least 25 meetings in which LtCol Chessani’s case and the other Haditha cases were discussed with the Generals and other legal advisors.Sonia Hennies Tutu's! Have you any idea how much of a monkey wrench this admission creates. Check this out.
"Generals who controlled the disposition of the case were apparently or actually impermissibly influenced by Marine lawyer Colonel John Ewers, who was permitted to attend numerous, closed-session meetings in which LtCol Chessani's case was discussed...Consequently, he should not have been involved in any of the meetings in which the disposition of the Haditha cases was discussed with the Generals who convened the court martial."The case is not over. The case has not been resolved in favor of Lt. Col Chessani.
However, the media driven, political correct stampede to prosecute the colonel now has to prove their findings are not tainted with "unlawful command influence".
“The taint of unlawful command influence started from the inception of the investigation, when high-ranking Pentagon officials decided to make LtCol Chessani a political scapegoat to appease a liberal anti-war press and politicians", Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.
Prosecutors now have to prove they were not tainted by "unlawful command influence"by demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that:
(1) the facts upon which the unlawful command influence is based are untrue;
(2) those facts do not constitute unlawful command influence; or
(3) the unlawful command influence will not affect the proceedings.
Thomas More Law Center - News:
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Democrats and Our Enemies - WSJ.com: "Democrats and Our Enemies
By JOSEPH LIEBERMAN
May 21, 2008
How did the Democratic Party get here? How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?
Beginning in the 1940s, the Democratic Party was forced to confront two of the most dangerous enemies our nation has ever faced: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In response, Democrats under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy forged and conducted a foreign policy that was principled, internationalist, strong and successful.
This was the Democratic Party that I grew up in – a party that was unhesitatingly and proudly pro-American, a party that was unafraid to make moral judgments about the world beyond our borders. It was a party that understood that either the American people stood united with free nations and freedom fighters against the forces of totalitarianism, or that we would fall divided.
This was the Democratic Party of Harry Truman, who pledged that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
This was the Democratic Party of Harry Truman, who pledged that "it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."
And this was the Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy, who promised in his inaugural address that the United States would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of freedom."
This worldview began to come apart in the late 1960s, around the war in Vietnam. In its place, a very different view of the world took root in the Democratic Party. Rather than seeing the Cold War as an ideological contest between the free nations of the West and the repressive regimes of the communist world, this rival political philosophy saw America as the aggressor – a morally bankrupt, imperialist power whose militarism and "inordinate fear of communism" represented the real threat to world peace.
It argued that the Soviets and their allies were our enemies not because they were inspired by a totalitarian ideology fundamentally hostile to our way of life, or because they nursed ambitions of global conquest. Rather, the Soviets were our enemy because we had provoked them, because we threatened them, and because we failed to sit down and accord them the respect they deserved. In other words, the Cold War was mostly America's fault.
Of course that leftward lurch by the Democrats did not go unchallenged. Democratic Cold Warriors like Scoop Jackson fought against the tide. But despite their principled efforts, the Democratic Party through the 1970s and 1980s became prisoner to a foreign policy philosophy that was, in most respects, the antithesis of what Democrats had stood for under Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy.
Then, beginning in the 1980s, a new effort began on the part of some of us in the Democratic Party to reverse these developments, and reclaim our party's lost tradition of principle and strength in the world. Our band of so-called New Democrats was successful sooner than we imagined possible when, in 1992, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were elected. In the Balkans, for example, as President Clinton and his advisers slowly but surely came to recognize that American intervention, and only American intervention, could stop Slobodan Milosevic and his campaign of ethnic slaughter, Democratic attitudes about the use of military force in pursuit of our values and our security began to change.
This happy development continued into the 2000 campaign, when the Democratic candidate – Vice President Gore – championed a freedom-focused foreign policy, confident of America's moral responsibilities in the world, and unafraid to use our military power. He pledged to increase the defense budget by $50 billion more than his Republican opponent – and, to the dismay of the Democratic left, made sure that the party's platform endorsed a national missile defense.
By contrast, in 2000, Gov. George W. Bush promised a "humble foreign policy" and criticized our peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.
Today, less than a decade later, the parties have completely switched positions. The reversal began, like so much else in our time, on September 11, 2001. The attack on America by Islamist terrorists shook President Bush from the foreign policy course he was on. He saw September 11 for what it was: a direct ideological and military attack on us and our way of life. If the Democratic Party had stayed where it was in 2000, America could have confronted the terrorists with unity and strength in the years after 9/11.
Instead a debate soon began within the Democratic Party about how to respond to Mr. Bush. I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.
Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.
In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.
John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America's friends and America's enemies.
There are of course times when it makes sense to engage in tough diplomacy with hostile governments. Yet what Mr. Obama has proposed is not selective engagement, but a blanket policy of meeting personally as president, without preconditions, in his first year in office, with the leaders of the most vicious, anti-American regimes on the planet.
Mr. Obama has said that in proposing this, he is following in the footsteps of Reagan and JFK. But Kennedy never met with Castro, and Reagan never met with Khomeini. And can anyone imagine Presidents Kennedy or Reagan sitting down unconditionally with Ahmadinejad or Chavez? I certainly cannot.
If a president ever embraced our worst enemies in this way, he would strengthen them and undermine our most steadfast allies.
A great Democratic secretary of state, Dean Acheson, once warned "no people in history have ever survived, who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies." This is a lesson that today's Democratic Party leaders need to relearn.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Laura and I are delighted to be in Egypt, and we bring the warm wishes of the American people. We're proud of our long friendship with your citizens. We respect your remarkable history. And we're humbled to walk in the ancient land of pharaohs, where a great civilization took root and wrote some of the first chapters in the epic story of humanity.
America is a much younger nation, but we've made our mark by advancing ideals as old as the pyramids. Those ideals of liberty and justice have sparked a revolution across much of the world. This hopeful movement made its way to places where dictators once reigned and peaceful democracies seemed unimaginable: places like Chile and Indonesia and Poland and the Philippines and South Korea. These nations have different histories and different traditions. Yet each made the same democratic transition, and they did it on their own terms. In these countries, millions every year are rising from poverty. Women are realizing overdue opportunities. And people of faith are finding the blessing of worshiping God in peace.
All these changes took place in the second half of the 20th century. I strongly believe that if leaders like those of you in this room act with vision and resolve, the first half of 21st century can be the time when similar advances reach the Middle East. This region is home to energetic people, a powerful spirit of enterprise, and tremendous resources. It is capable of a very bright future -- a future in which the Middle East is a place of innovation and discovery, driven by free men and women.
In recent years, we've seen hopeful beginnings toward this vision. Turkey, a nation with a majority Muslim population, is a prosperous modern democracy. Afghanistan under the leadership of President Karzai is overcoming the Taliban and building a free society. Iraq under the leadership of Prime Minister Maliki is establishing a multi-ethnic democracy. We have seen the stirrings of reform from Morocco and Algeria to Jordan and the Gulf States. And isolation from the outside world is being overcome by the most democratic of innovations: the cell phone and the Internet. America appreciates the challenges facing the Middle East. Yet the light of liberty is beginning to shine.
There is much to do to build on this momentum. From diversifying your economies, to investing in your people, to extending the reach of freedom, nations across the region have an opportunity to move forward with bold and confident reforms -- and lead the Middle East to its rightful place as a center of progress and achievement.
Taking your place as a center of progress and achievement requires economic reform. This is a time of strength for many of your nations' economies. Since 2004, economic growth in the region has averaged more than 5 percent. Trade has expanded significantly. Technology has advanced rapidly. Foreign investment has increased dramatically. And unemployment rates have decreased in many nations. Egypt, for example, has posted strong economic growth, developed some of the world's fastest growing telecommunications companies, and made major investments that will boost tourism and trade. In order for this economic progress to result in permanent prosperity and an Egypt that reaches its full potential, however, economic reform must be accompanied by political reform. And I continue to hope that Egypt can lead the region in political reform.
This is also a time to prepare for the economic changes ahead. Rising price of oil has brought great wealth to some in this region, but the supply of oil is limited, and nations like mine are aggressively developing alternatives to oil. Over time, as the world becomes less dependent on oil, nations in the Middle East will have to build more diverse and more dynamic economies.
Your greatest asset in this quest is the entrepreneurial spirit of your people. The best way to take advantage of that spirit is to make reforms that unleash individual creativity and innovation. Your economies will be more vibrant when citizens who dream of starting their own companies can do so quickly, without high regulatory and registration costs. Your economies will be more dynamic when property rights are protected and risk-taking is encouraged -- not punished -- by law. Your economies will be more resilient when you adopt modern agricultural techniques that make farmers more productive and the food supply more secure. And your economies will have greater long-term prosperity when taxes are low and all your citizens know that their innovation and hard work will be rewarded.
One of the most powerful drivers of economic growth is free trade. So nations in this region would benefit greatly from breaking down barriers to trade with each other. And America will continue working to open up trade at every level. In recent years, the United States has completed free trade agreements with Jordan, Oman, Morocco, and Bahrain. America will continue to negotiate bilateral free trade agreements in the region. We strongly supported Saudi Arabia's accession to the World Trade Organization, and we will continue to support nations making the reforms necessary to join the institutions of a global economy. To break down trade barriers and ignite economic growth around the world, we will work tirelessly for a successful outcome to the Doha Round this year.
As we seek to open new markets abroad, America will keep our markets open at home. There are voices in my country that urge America to adopt measures that would isolate us from the global economy. I firmly reject these calls for protectionism. We will continue to welcome foreign investment and trade. And the United States of America will stay open for business.
Taking your place as a center of progress and achievement requires investing in your people. Some analysts believe the Middle East and North Africa will need to create up to 100 million new jobs over the next 10 to 15 years just to keep up with population growth. The key to realizing this goal is an educated workforce.
This starts early on, with primary schools that teach basic skills, such as reading and math, rather than indoctrinating children with ideologies of hatred. An educated workforce also requires good high schools and universities, where students are exposed to a variety of ideas, learn to think for themselves, and develop the capacity to innovate. Not long ago the region marked a hopeful milestone in higher education. In our meeting yesterday, President Karzai told me he recently handed out diplomas to university graduates, including 300 degrees in medicine, and a hundred degrees in engineering, and a lot of degrees to lawyers, and many of the recipients were women. (Applause.)
People of the Middle East can count on the United States to be a strong partner in improving your educational systems. We are sponsoring training programs for teachers and administrators in nations like Jordan and Morocco and Lebanon. We sponsored English language programs where students can go for intensive language instruction. We have translated more than 80 children's books into Arabic. And we have developed new online curricula for students from kindergarten through high school.
It is also in America's interest to continue welcoming aspiring young adults from this region for higher education to the United States. There were understandable concerns about student visas after 9/11. My administration has worked hard to improve the visa process. And I'm pleased to report that we are issuing a growing numbers of student visas to young people from the Middle East. And that's the way it should be. And we'll continue to work to expand educational exchanges, because we benefit from the contribution of foreign students who study in America because we're proud to train the world's leaders of tomorrow and because we know there is no better antidote to the propaganda of our enemies than firsthand experience with life in the United States of America.
Building powerful economies also requires expanding the role of women in society. This is a matter of morality and of basic math. No nation that cuts off half its population from opportunities will be as productive or prosperous as it could be. Women are a formidable force, as I have seen in my own family -- (laughter and applause) -- and my own administration. (Applause.) As the nations of the Middle East open up their laws and their societies to women, they are learning the same thing.
I applaud Egypt. Egypt is a model for the development of professional women. In Afghanistan, girls who were once denied even a basic education are now going to school, and a whole generation of Afghans will grow up with the intellectual tools to lead their nation toward prosperity. In Iraq and Kuwait, women are joining political parties and running campaigns and serving in public office. In some Gulf States, women entrepreneurs are making a living and a name for themselves in the business world.
Recently, I learned of a woman in Bahrain who owns her own shipping company. She started with a small office and two employees. When she first tried to register her business in her own name, she was turned down. She attended a business training class and was the only woman to participate. And when she applied for a customs license, officials expressed surprise because no woman had ever asked for one before.
And yet with hard work and determination, she turned her small company into a $2 million enterprise. And this year, Huda Janahi was named one of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in the Arab world. (Applause.) Huda is an inspiring example for the whole region. And America's message to other women in the Middle East is this: You have a great deal to contribute, you should have a strong voice in leading your countries, and my nation looks to the day when you have the rights and privileges you deserve.
Taking your place as a center of progress and achievement requires extending the reach of freedom. Expanding freedom is vital to turning temporary wealth into lasting prosperity. Free societies stimulate competition in the marketplace. Free societies give people access to information they need to make informed and responsible decisions. And free societies give citizens the rule of law, which exposes corruption and builds confidence in the future.
Freedom is also the basis for a democratic system of government, which is the only fair and just ordering of society and the only way to guarantee the God-given rights of all people. Democracies do not take the same shape; they develop at different speeds and in different ways, and they reflect the unique cultures and traditions of their people. There are skeptics about democracy in this part of the world, I understand that. But as more people in the Middle East gain firsthand experience from freedom, many of the arguments against democracy are being discredited.
For example, some say that democracy is a Western value that America seeks to impose on unwilling citizens. This is a condescending form of moral relativism. The truth is that freedom is a universal right -- the Almighty's gift to every man, woman, and child on the face of Earth. And as we've seen time and time again, when people are allowed to make a choice between freedom and the alternative, they choose freedom. In Afghanistan, 8 million people defied the terrorist threats to vote for a democratic President. In Iraq, 12 million people waved ink-stained fingers to celebrate the first democratic election in decades. And in a recent survey of the Muslim world, there was overwhelming support for one of the central tenets of democracy, freedom of speech: 99 percent in Lebanon, 94 percent here in Egypt, and 92 percent in Iran.
There are people who claim that democracy is incompatible with Islam. But the truth is that democracies, by definition, make a place for people of religious belief. America is one of the most -- is one of the world's leading democracies, and we're also one of the most religious nations in the world. More than three-quarters of our citizens believe in a higher power. Millions worship every week and pray every day. And they do so without fear of reprisal from the state. In our democracy, we would never punish a person for owning a Koran. We would never issue a death sentence to someone for converting to Islam. Democracy does not threaten Islam or any religion. Democracy is the only system of government that guarantees their protection.
Some say any state that holds an election is a democracy. But true democracy requires vigorous political parties allowed to engage in free and lively debate. True democracy requires the establishment of civic institutions that ensure an election's legitimacy and hold leaders accountable. And true democracy requires competitive elections in which opposition candidates are allowed to campaign without fear or intimidation.
Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail. America is deeply concerned about the plight of political prisoners in this region, as well as democratic activists who are intimidated or repressed, newspapers and civil society organizations that are shut down, and dissidents whose voices are stifled. The time has come for nations across the Middle East to abandon these practices, and treat their people with dignity and the respect they deserve. I call on all nations to release their prisoners of conscience, open up their political debate, and trust their people to chart their future. (Applause.)
The vision I have outlined today is shared by many in this region -- but unfortunately, there are some spoilers who stand in the way. Terrorist organizations and their state sponsors know they cannot survive in a free society, so they create chaos and take innocent lives in an effort to stop democracy from taking root. They are on the wrong side in a great ideological struggle -- and every nation committed to freedom and progress in the Middle East must stand together to defeat them.
We must stand with the Palestinian people, who have suffered for decades and earned the right to be a homeland of their own -- have a homeland of their own. I strongly support a two-state solution -- a democratic Palestine based on law and justice that will live with peace and security alongside a democrat Israel. I believe that the Palestinian people will build a thriving democracy in which entrepreneurs pursue their dreams, and families own their homes in lively communities, and young people grow up with hope in the future.
Last year at Annapolis, we made a hopeful beginning toward a peace negotiation that will outline what this nation of Palestine will look like -- a contiguous state where Palestinians live in prosperity and dignity. A peace agreement is in the Palestinians' interests, it is in Israel's interests, it is in Arab states' interests, and it is in the world's interests. And I firmly believe that with leadership and courage, we can reach that peace agreement this year. (Applause.)
This is a demanding task. It requires action on all sides. Palestinians must fight terror and continue to build the institutions of a free and peaceful society. Israel must make tough sacrifices for peace and ease the restrictions on the Palestinians. Arab states, especially oil-rich nations, must seize this opportunity to invest aggressively in the Palestinian people and to move past their old resentments against Israel. And all nations in the region must stand together in confronting Hamas, which is attempting to undermine efforts at peace with acts of terror and violence.
We must stand with the people of Lebanon in their struggle to build a sovereign and independent democracy. This means opposing Hezbollah terrorists, funded by Iran, who recently revealed their true intentions by taking up arms against the Lebanese people. It is now clearer than ever that Hezbollah militias are the enemy of a free Lebanon -- and all nations, especially neighbors in the region, have an interest to help the Lebanese people prevail. (Applause.)
We must stand with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and other nations in the region fighting against al Qaeda and other extremists. Bin Laden and his followers have made clear that anyone who does not share their extremist ideology is fit for murder. That means every government in the Middle East is a target of al Qaeda. And America is a target too. And together, we will confront and we will defeat this threat to civilization.
We must stand with the good and decent people of Iran and Syria, who deserve so much better than the life they have today. Every peaceful nation in the region has an interest in stopping these nations from supporting terrorism. And every peaceful nation in the region has an interest in opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. To allow the world's leading sponsor of terror to gain the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)
The changes I have discussed today will not come easily -- change never does. But the reform movement in the Middle East has a powerful engine: demographics. Sixty percent of the population is under 30 years old. Many of these young people surf the web, own cell phones, have satellite televisions. They have access to unprecedented amounts of information. They see what freedom has brought to millions of others and contrast that to what they have at home.
Today, I have a message for these young people: Some tell -- some will tell you change is impossible, but history has a way of surprising us, and change can happen more quickly than we expect. In the past century, one concept has transcended borders, cultures, and languages. In Arabic, "hurriyya" -- in English, "freedom." Across the world, the call for freedom lives in our hearts, endures in our prayers, and joins humanity as one.
I know these are trying times, but the future is in your hands -- and freedom and peace are within your grasp. Just imagine what this region could look like in 60 years. The Palestinian people will have the homeland they have long dreamed of and deserve -- a democratic state that is governed by law, respects human rights, and rejects terror. Israel will be celebrating its 120 anniversary as one of the world's great democracies -- a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people.
From Cairo, Riyadh, Baghdad to Beirut, people will live in free and independent societies, where a desire for peace is reinforced by ties of diplomacy and tourism and trade. Iran and Syria will be peaceful nations, where today's oppression is a distant memory and people are free to speak their minds and develop their talents. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas will be defeated, as Muslims across the region recognize the emptiness of the terrorists' vision and the injustice of their cause.
This vision is the same one I outlined in my address to the Israeli Knesset. Yet it's not a Jewish vision or a Muslim vision, not an American vision or an Arab vision. It is a universal vision, based on the timeless principles of dignity and tolerance and justice -- and it unites all who yearn for freedom and peace in this ancient land.
Realizing this vision will not be easy. It will take time, and sacrifice, and resolve. Yet there is no doubt in my mind that you are up to the challenge -- and with your ingenuity and your enterprise and your courage, this historic vision for the Middle East will be realized. May God be with you on the journey, and the United States of America always will be at your side.
Friday, May 16, 2008
WASHINGTON, May 15, 2008 – While members of the allied air forces delivered millions of tons of food, fuel and vital staples in the Berlin Airlift almost 60 years ago, one American pilot stood out as a favorite of the sweet-toothed children in the German capital.
Halvorsen is expected to be on hand at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 17 as U.S. and German officials honor the Berlin Airlift as part of the base’s annual Joint Service Open House.
The idea grew out of a chance meeting with a group of hungry German school children gathered near Tempelhof Airport in Berlin to watch the giant airplanes land and unload, Halvorsen recalled in a February 2007 interview with Air Force Public Affairs. “They were just grateful that we were bringing in the supplies,” he said.
“They had been through Hitler, and were going through Stalin,” he continued. “After a while, I realized I had talked to these kids for an hour and they hadn’t asked for anything. I found out there hadn’t been any candy in months.”
Halvorsen gave the two pieces of gum in his possession to the kids, half expecting them to fight over the rare treat. Instead, he recalled, the children split the sticks into miniature morsels, and those who didn’t get any gum were given small strips torn from the foil wrappers so they could smell the confection’s sweet residue.
The pilot promised to bring the children more gum and candy on his next flight into the airport. Though the decision could have earned him a court-martial for breaking flying regulations, Halvorsen vowed to drop the goodies as he passed over them before landing.
So they’d know which of the huge airplanes was his, Halvorsen said he told the children he would “wiggle” his wings as he approached their position.
When he returned to his quarters at Rhein-Main, Germany, then-lieutenant Halvorsen requested his fellow pilots donate their candy rations to disburse to the children. His Air Force comrades warned him of the consequences of throwing unauthorized objects from an aircraft in flight, but he refused to be swayed from delivering on his promise.
After attaching makeshift parachutes of handkerchiefs and string to each chocolate bar, Halvorsen brought the airworthy goodies onboard and kept his oath to the children during his missions over the following three weeks.
Upon returning to Rhein-Main after a flight into Berlin one day, Halvorsen found a message waiting for him. He was to report to the colonel’s office, post-haste.
In the midst of chewing out the young lieutenant for what felt like an eternity, Halvorsen recalled, the colonel produced a German newspaper with a feature article about “Uncle Wiggly Wings,” a nickname the children of West Berlin had given Halvorsen.
“It turns out that the general had seen the article before the colonel,” the maverick pilot said. “He called the colonel into his office asking which of his pilots had been dropping parachutes into Berlin and the colonel said none of us were.
“The general then told him, ‘You’d better wake up, Colonel, because one of your pilots is dropping parachutes,’” Halvorsen recalled. “I think the colonel was more upset that the general found out before he did than he was at what I did.”
Local newspapers picked up the story, and Halvorsen’s fame started to spread. At his home base, Halvorsen began receiving mail from other pilots who wanted to help. Donors sent candy, volunteers made handkerchief parachutes and the tiny parcels began to fall all over Berlin.
On a brief trip back to the United States, an interviewer asked Halvorsen what he needed to continue his popular “Candy Bomber” operation. He jokingly remarked, “Boxcars full of candy!” Sure enough, shortly after his return to Germany, a train car loaded with 3,000 pounds of chocolate bars arrived for “Uncle Wiggly Wings.”
Sixty years after the Berlin Airlift, or “Operation Vittles” -- the largest humanitarian effort in Air Force history -- the mission is remembered for relieving some 2.5 million beleaguered West Berlin residents and striking a blow against the communist Soviet government depriving them of essential goods.
Many also remember the American aircraft that dropped more than 23 tons of candy to the children of West Berlin during the Candy Bomber operation, later renamed “Operation Little Vittles.”
For performing an act of valor and self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest, Halvorsen received the prestigious Cheney Award in 1948, named for 1st Lt. William Cheney, who was killed in an air collision over Italy in 1918. Established in 1927, it’s awarded to an airman for an act of valor, extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest, performed in connection with aircraft, but not necessarily of a military nature.
“It’s called service before self,” Halvorsen told schoolchildren during a February 2006 appearance at an elementary school assembly. “Look at me. I’ve had a lot of great things happen and met a lot of people, but really it’s all because of two sticks of gum.”
(Compiled from articles by Air Force Tech Sgt. Ben Gonzales and Ed Drohan published on the U.S. Air Force Web site.)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The fourth session of the new Human Rights Council was held in Geneva from 12 to 30 March 2007, but high hopes that the Council would find a way forward on Darfur were dashed when the Council declined to act on the report of a High-Level Mission to Darfur led by Nobel prizewinner Jodie Williams because of obstruction by the Sudanese government. And the Council further reverted to type when Pakistan pushed through a resolution “combating Defamation of Religions” against numerous objections from the western democracies.
Every year from 1999 to 2005 the Organization of the Islamic Conference, representing the 57 Islamic states, presented a resolution to the UN Commission on Human Rights, called “Combating Defamation of Religions”. While the text of the resolution referred to all religions the preamble made it clear that the sponsors’ concerns related primarily to one religion: Islam. The resolution was adopted every year by typically a two thirds majority. By 2005, the Commission for Human Rights had become widely discredited. In the words of then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan “.. the selectivity and politicizing of its activities [were] in danger of bringing the entire UN system into disrepute”. The Commission was abolished by vote of the UN General Assembly in 2006 and replaced by a shiny new Human Rights Council which met for the first time in March 2006. Hopes were soon dashed however that the newly elected 47 member states of the Council – each pledged to uphold international human rights law - would behave any differently from the 53 members of the old Commission. Of the first four resolutions passed by the Council, three were resolutions condemning Israel. Whatever breaches of human rights law Israel may have committed, it beggars belief that these were the only violations of human rights on the planet worthy of condemnation by the Council. By way of contrast, the Council adopted a resolution which inter-alia congratulated the Sudan for its efforts to bring peace to Darfur.
The clip"Future TV" presenter Sahar Al-Khatib, aired on LBC TV on May 9, 2008: has been viewed over 300,000 times. transcript from MEMRI:
Sahar Al-Khatib: I would like to say something personal, even though I am known for being objective, and members of the opposition itself will attest to that. With regard to the conduct of the army – if only it had not intervened at all. It has been said that the army took a neutral stand, but that was not the case. Today, we should very objective, and say exactly what happened. The way I see it, we were driven out of the "Future TV" building, when all that we were doing was to make our voice heard. They accept that all we were doing was to broadcast the events. We were doing nothing except making our voice heard. For many wise reasons, Allah made the human voice untouchable, so the hand cannot reach out and strangle it.
They forced us to leave the "Future TV" building, while they looked on. Two hours earlier, the army was already there. I was there along with 'Imad 'Asi. The [army officers] said to us: "Let us stay here today, otherwise they will enter the place. We will protect the premises." We trusted the army to do just that. After more than two, three, or four hours – we lost track of time, because it was so stressful that time stood still for us – the officer returned, and I saw him saying to Hussein: "Either you stop broadcasting or else they will burn the place down, or move in and wreak havoc inside." He was delivering this message to us. I wish the army had not come. This image will remain engraved in our hearts. We had really thought them to be neutral. One can be neutral only when there is a clash between two rivals, but there wasn't any clash, and there was no need for them to stand outside. One party was the aggressor, and another was watching from the sidelines. They were both on one side, and we were on the other side. That's what I wanted to say about the army.
Obviously, I am very emotional. Let me tell you something. I hadn't had a minute's sleep for 48 hours. I was at "Future TV" the entire time. We were trying to broadcast news briefs that presented the pain, and at the same time, we did not want to surrender, because it was very important to deliver our message to all the people.
Let me say something personal to the leaders of the opposition, who were my guests and whose voices I made heard for a year and a half. For a year and a half, I have borne this with objectivity, despite all the pain, and despite all the criticism I met from many people, including my family. I have borne the pain, in order to make the voices of all Lebanese heard. Let me tell them: The voice cannot be strangled or stopped. The voice cannot be reached by an evil hand. You will see that this voice will not be silenced.
Let me tell you something. For a year and a half I used my voice to make your voices heard. I made the voices of the people in the [Shiite] Dhahiya suburb heard, as well as in South Lebanon, in Baalbeq – the voices of the opposition, of [Aoun's] FPM, and of the Al-Marada movement. Who today will make our voices heard? I am asking who represents my own voice, after I represented your voices? My voice, the voices of the people of Beirut, the voices of the people who fled their homes, the voices of the people who said "There is no god but Allah," when you were wearing ski masks on the streets of Beirut. What for? People who are proud of their actions do not wear ski masks.
I want to continue shouting that our voice will not be stopped. Let them know this. That's what objectivity is about. It means not keeping silent in the face of injustice. That's what objectivity is about. When I felt the unity of Lebanese was in danger, I courageously presented your questions. Who represents my voice now? Who represents the voice of Beirut? You tell me. Imagine yourselves in this situation. Right now, I don't want to address the political parties. I am addressing the people whose voices I made heard. Imagine that the people of Beirut, who opened their homes to you during the July [2006 Israeli] invasion... They took you into their hearts.
We read out the names of each and every martyr on the air. In the Mar Michael area, I read out the names of the martyrs one by one, and tears from my broken heart filled my eyes on the air. Did you read out the names of our martyrs today, one by one? Answer me. Do any of you even know the names of those who fell? Who is responsible for their blood? I was objective, but I'm sad to say, you have made me regret my objectivity. I felt I was a victim of my objectivity, when I was defending you for a year and a half. Is there a conscience out there to defend us?
You are silencing our voice – the voice Allah made untouchable. Have you asked yourselves why? You are defying the will of Allah. Allah made only two things in the human body untouchable – the soul and the voice. This is the wisdom of Allah. Did you really think about what you are doing? You did not just break the law, but you also broke with the hearts of the people. You broke with hearts that truly loved you, even when your political leaders kept telling me that we hated you. No! Today, you abandoned people like me, and there are many like me in the Mustaqbal movement. This is the voice whose offices you came to destroy. We prepared food for you with love during the July 2006 aggression, yet you threw it on the ground.
Why do you hate us? I don't understand. I believe in Allah but not in sectarianism, yet you have awakened sectarianism in me. Look at the victims of your actions. One victim after another – you kill the people who build this country. Your voice cannot be heard alone, nor can our voice be heard alone. In the face of injustice, our voice will be heard, and whoever hears this knows what I am talking about. We will not keep silent. Even though a decision was made to evacuate Future TV, I said to them: Let's stay. Let them come in. We will start the cameras rolling and stand still. Let us show the world what they are doing to us. You and we are one and the same. You have shattered this image in me. How will you fix it?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sponsored by Masjid At-Taqwa "Serving the Ummah since 1985"
Yasin says that the
government was behind the 9/11 attacks. US
• Yasin claims that AIDS was invented at a
government lab and spread by Western governments through UN agencies and Christian missionaries. US
• Yasin advocates for the death penalty for homosexuality.
• Yasin justified the terrorist bombings in
Balibecause of years of Western oppression.
• Yasin says that the Quran permits wife-beating and that equal rights for women is a “delusion” and “foolishness”.
• Yasin calls the beliefs of Christians and Jews “filth”.
• Yasin says that Muslims cannot have non-Muslim friends.
• Yasin rejects any separation between Islam and the state and openly advocates for the reestablishment of the caliphate.
• Yasin visited Jemaah Islamiah terrorist leader Abu Bakar Bashir in prison.
• Yasin has lectured with Hizb-ut-Tahrir hatemonger Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was banned from the
in 2006. UK
• Yasin was in Saudi Arabia on 9/11 soliciting the support of Al-Qaeda front Al-Haramain Foundation, which was designated a terrorist organization in 2004 by the US government, to help finance his Islamic
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Islamic Hatred in the Heartland by Patrick Poole,
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Remarks to the Heritage Foundation (Colorado Springs, CO)
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Tuesday, May 13, 2008
For starters, I should note that, despite my job description, I may not actually be the best person to speak at a conference titled, “The Military Beyond Iraq.” I say this because for much of the past year I’ve been trying to concentrate the minds and energies of the defense establishment on the current needs and current conflicts. In short, to ensure that all parts of the Defense Department are, in fact, at war.
This was driven home to me just a couple of weeks ago during a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas. That post is undergoing an extraordinary change, with massive amounts of new construction, to include gleaming, new barracks to house the soldiers who will be coming from other posts and countries. In the days before we touched down in El Paso, news broke of scenes of squalor in a barracks at Fort Bragg for paratroopers just returning from Afghanistan. These were experienced, battle-tested soldiers who may be considering whether they want to make a career of the Army – troops we can ill afford to lose.
Then there was the case of the outpatient facilities at Walter Reed. One of the reasons upgrading these quarters had not been a high priority is because the hospital was scheduled to be closed in a few years due to BRAC. So there was a bureaucratic and financial disincentive to spend new money – something that could make budget sense during peacetime, but not when troops are being seriously wounded in combat nearly every day. Young men and women who step forward and join this country’s armed services must have confidence that they and their families will be taken care of if something happens on the battlefield. As I’ve said before, after the wars themselves, we have no higher priority.
A similar dynamic may have been at work in the case of MRAPs, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected – where we are talking about spending more than $20 billion for a vehicle that many people see as not having much use beyond Iraq. In fact, the expense of the vehicles – which are nearly a $1 million apiece – may have been seen as competing with the funding for future weapons programs with strong constituencies inside and outside the Pentagon.
There is a strong case to be made that IEDs and suicide bombings have become the weapon of choice for America’s most dangerous and likely adversaries – and the need to have a vehicle of this kind won’t go away. Even if that weren’t the case, if sending thousands of MRAPs halfway across the world can save the lives and limbs of young Americans, and can demonstrate to those troops, their families, and to the country that everything is being done to protect our servicemen on the front lines – then I think this money is more than well spent.
And in fact, MRAPs have performed. There have been 150-plus attacks so far on MRAPs and all but six soldiers have survived . The casualty rate is one-third that of a Humvee, less than half that of an Abrams tank. These vehicles are saving lives.
In my view, America’s key asymmetric advantage is our people. And getting the present right when it comes to care of our men and women in uniform will go a long way towards making sure we have the kind of force we need in the future.
I use these examples as an introduction to a wider point. There is a good deal of debate and discussion – within the military, the Congress, and elsewhere – about whether we are putting too much emphasis on current demands – in particular, Iraq. And whether this emphasis is creating too much risk in other areas, such as:
• Preparing for potential future conflicts;
• Being able to handle a contingency elsewhere in the world; and
• Over stressing the ground forces, in particular the Army.
Much of what we are talking about is a matter of balancing risk: today’s demands versus tomorrow’s contingencies; irregular and asymmetric threats versus conventional threats. As the world’s remaining superpower, we have to be able to dissuade, deter, and, if necessary, respond to challenges across the spectrum.
Nonetheless, I have noticed too much of a tendency towards what might be called “Next-War-itis” – the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict. This inclination is understandable, given the dominant role the Cold War had in shaping America’s peacetime military, where the United States constantly strove to either keep up with or get ahead of another superpower adversary.
And, certainly, one cannot predict the future with any certainty. Soon after 1900, Winston Churchill said that he could not foresee any “collision of interests” with Germany. In the 1920s, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he said that there wasn’t the “slightest chance” of war with Japan in his lifetime. Today, rising and resurgent powers with new wealth and ambition are pursuing military modernization programs. They must be watched closely and hedged against.
But in a world of finite knowledge and limited resources, where we have to make choices and set priorities, it makes sense to lean toward the most likely and lethal scenarios for our military. And it is hard to conceive of any country confronting the United States directly in conventional terms – ship to ship, fighter to fighter, tank to tank – for some time to come. The record of the past quarter century is clear: the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Israelis in Lebanon, the United States in Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Smaller, irregular forces – insurgents, guerrillas, terrorists – will find ways, as they always have, to frustrate and neutralize the advantages of larger, regular militaries. And even nation-states will try to exploit our perceived vulnerabilities in an asymmetric way, rather than play to our inherent strengths.
Overall, the kinds of capabilities we will most likely need in the years ahead will often resemble the kinds of capabilities we need today.
The implication, particularly for America’s ground forces, means we must institutionalize the lessons learned and capabilities honed from the ongoing conflicts. Many of these skills and tasks used to be the province of the Special Forces, but now are a core of the Army and Marine Corps as a whole. For example, at West Point last month, I told the cadets that the most important assignment in their careers may not necessarily be commanding U.S. soldiers, but advising or mentoring the troops of other nations.
What we must guard against is the kind of backsliding that has occurred in the past, where if nature takes it course, these kinds of capabilities – that is counter-insurgency – tend to wither on the vine.
There is a history here. During the 1980s, a Princeton graduate student noted in his dissertation that, about a decade after the fall of Saigon, the Army’s 10-month staff college assigned 30 hours – about four days – for what is now called low-intensity conflict. This was about the same as what the Air Force was teaching at the time. That grad student was then-Army Major David Petraeus.
Going forward we must find, retain, and promote the right people – at all ranks, whether they wear stripes, bars, or stars – and put them in the right positions to see that the lessons learned in recent combat become rooted in the institutional culture. Similarly, we shouldn’t let personnel policies that were developed in peacetime hurt our wartime performance.
For years to come, the Air Force and the Navy will be America’s main strategic deterrent. We need to modernize our ageing inventory of aircraft, and build out a fleet of ships that right now is the smallest we’ve had since the late 1930s. These forces provide the strategic flexibility we need to deter, and if necessary, respond to, other competitors.
The American people have been generous when it comes to funding their Armed Forces over the past seven years, and they are likely to be supportive in the future. What we should expect, though, is a heightened level of scrutiny in the Congress, and by the public, for how this money is being spent – particularly when supplemental war funds are no longer available for modernization purposes.
Two points on the subject of procurement:
First, I believe that any major weapons program, in order to remain viable, will have to show some utility and relevance to the kind of irregular campaigns that, as I mentioned, are most likely to engage America’s military in the coming decades. In Texas, I had an opportunity to see a demonstration of the parts of the Army’s Future Combat Systems that have moved from the drawing board to reality. A program like FCS – whose total cost could exceed $200 billion if completely built out – must continue to demonstrate its value for the types of irregular challenges we will face, as well as for full-spectrum warfare.
Second, I would stress that the perennial procurement cycle – going back many decades – of adding layer upon layer of cost and complexity onto fewer and fewer platforms that take longer and longer to build must come to an end.
Without a fundamental change in this dynamic, it will be difficult to sustain support for these kinds of weapons programs in the future.
A few words about global risk – the threats we face elsewhere in the world while America’s ground forces are concentrated on Iraq.
This is an understandable concern. I remember being a Second Lieutenant at Whiteman Air Force base in the late 1960s. There I caught a glimpse of the impact of the Vietnam War on America’s overall strategic strength: White-haired lieutenant colonels were being reassigned to Southeast Asia to make up for our pilot losses there. Some people have made similar comparisons to the impact of Iraq on the Army.
Today’s strategic context is completely different. While America’s military was being bled in Vietnam, a superpower with vast fleets of tanks, bombers, fighters, and nuclear weapons was poised to overrun Western Europe – then the central theater in that era’s long twilight struggle. Not so today.
It is true that we would be hard-pressed to launch a major conventional ground operation elsewhere in the world at this time – but where would we sensibly do that? The United States has ample and untapped combat power in our naval and air forces, with the capacity to defeat any – repeat, any – adversary who committed an act of aggression – whether in the Persian Gulf, on the Korean Peninsula, or in the Straits of Taiwan. There is a risk – but a prudent and manageable one.
The last point I’d like to address is the strain placed on our ground forces, especially the Army.
Along with Fort Bliss, I’ve visited a number of other military installations over the past year, including Fort Hood and Camp Pendleton – the largest Army and Marine bases respectively. It is a difficult thing to look a family member in the eye whose father or son or daughter is being deployed again – sometimes on a second or third tour. And it’s even harder to do with the families of those who have been killed or wounded.
This is the second longest war in American history since our Revolution, and the first to be fought with an all-volunteer force since independence. To be sure the stress is real. There are metrics that need to be watched – such as the number of waivers granted to new recruits, suicides, as well as incidents of divorce and other signs of wear on military families.
There are a number of measures underway and trends that should ease the strain on this small sliver of our population who have borne the burden of this conflict:
• More and better programs to improve the quality of life for soldiers and their families;
• The ground forces are growing by more than 90,000 over the next five years – with a bigger rotational pool of troops and units individual soldiers and Marines will deploy less frequently; and
• U.S. force levels in Iraq will decline over time – the debate taking place is mostly over the pacing.
As I mentioned before, the discussion about the stress on the Army today is informed by the Vietnam experience – and the terrible shape of the service afterwards, where there was a loss of nearly a generation of NCO leadership and rampant discipline problems. So far, none of those ailments are present today.
Overall, our service men and women and their families have shown extraordinary resilience. Morale is high, as is recruiting and retention – particularly among units either in or just returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldier for soldier, unit for unit, the Army is the best trained, best led, and best equipped it has ever been – skilled and experienced in the arduous complexities of irregular warfare.
But there is a more fundamental point that I will close with – and again, historical perspective is important. It is impossible to separate discussions of the “broken” Army following Vietnam – a conscription army – from the ultimate result of that conflict. At a congressional hearing last year, General Jack Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, recounted the profound damage done to the Service’s “fiber and soul” by the reality of defeat in that war.
The risk of overextending the Army is real. But I believe the risk is far greater – to that institution, as well as to our country – if we were to fail in Iraq. That is the war we are in. That is the war we must win.
| Now that Marine Corps has cashed in its Marine Riverine poker chips retired DSU-3 to the historical archives and left the river to the Brown water Navy,(I am Not making this up,) the Yankee Army wants to horn in on the action with their very own, honest to god, Riverine Patrol. I blame that gold plated flying semi-truck Osprey for this...|
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Kerensa Hardy,
Company A, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), is training to operate boats the unit received, May 2.
“The boats will create new opportunities and capabilities in their operations along the Euphrates River,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Rohling, commander of 3-187th Inf. Regt. “They bring a sense of security, strength and versatility the local populace has not always seen from the water.”
“The boats add invaluable dimensions to the unit’s ability to conduct full-spectrum operations,” said Maj. Curtis Crum, 3rd BCT operations officer. “The boats give the brigade a unique capability that is not typically resident in this type of unit’s arsenal.”
The unit’s predecessors, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, ordered the boats in November 2007 to conduct operations along the Euphrates to deter insurgent activity. The boats were delivered to 3-187th Inf. Regt., in January.
Since river operations are usually outside the scope of Soldiers’ duties, the battalion sent eight Soldiers to Kuwait in January to train on operating the vessels.
“It was excellent, they did great training,” said Pfc. Travis Baldridge of the Army divers and Coast Guardsmen who taught the course. Baldridge said the three-week course in Kuwait taught boat docking, engine repair, man-overboard drills, driving the boat under varying conditions, docking the boat and repairing major malfunctions. Now, almost four months later, Baldridge is in the instructor’s seat passing on the knowledge he gained in Kuwait.
Baldridge is one of five in Co. A, 3-187th Inf. Regt., training other Soldiers in the unit on boat operations.
“It feels really good to be involved in this,” he said. “I’m new to the Army, I’ve been in for two years and it’s nice that they expect me to go above and beyond the standards and to train up other people.”
A training plan was established based on the battalion and company commanders’ guidance and input from the eight Soldiers who certified in Kuwait.
“The first thing in our mind is the safety of personnel in the boat,” said Staff Sgt. Clifton Sanders, lead instructor for a five-day course designed to ensure all Soldiers who man the boats are physically and technically qualified for the task.
The first day, each Soldier has to complete a 50-meter confidence swim while wearing their Army Combat Uniform and boots. They also have to tread water for three minutes wearing ACUs, the improved outer tactical vest, advanced combat helmet and a personal flotation device.
“No weak swimmers or non-swimmers will be allowed on boat operations,” Sanders said firmly.
Those who don’t meet the standards the first day have an opportunity to retest at the end of the course.
The remaining four days of training cover boat preparation, operation of the boat, battle drills and practical exercises that help prepare Soldiers for situations they may encounter during operations on the water.
“Our first mission will be … river reconnaissance,” Sanders, an avid swimmer and certified lifeguard, said.
Before executing any actual missions, Soldiers will identify potential hazards, determine loading and departure points and seek out areas frequented by criminal factions.
“The boats allow the [Soldiers] to deter illegal activity and deter insurgents from potentially using the river to transit weapons and personnel,” Crum said.
“As a BCT, we have added to an already incredible capability, and this ensures, as we continue to assist the government of Iraq and Iraqi security forces in stabilizing acceptable security levels, it will also foster systems that set conditions for long-term Iraqi self-reliance.”
(Story by Sgt. 1st Class Kerensa Hardy, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division)