Saturday, October 31, 2009

J.L.Smith, author, To Donate Royalties From "Reporting for Doodie" To Project Valour IT

A Big CSquare Thank You!
J.L. Smith, the author of "Reporting for Doodie" left word in the comments that from now until Veteran's Day she will donate a percentage of her book sales to Project Valour IT.
Sounds like a plan! Next week, the season of madness will be upon us--already--stores are setting out Christmas decorations and such. Books are excellent Gifts. Shaaazaamm!! Save yourself a bit of wear and tear by doing two great deeds with one purchase--buy Reporting for Doodie here and J.L.Smith will include a donate to Project Valour IT.
All right then, CSquare followers and Readers---Action Stations!

From: No Sheeples Here: True Winners

“It was the first time I felt whole since I’d woken up wounded in Landstuhl.”—Major Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, on using a voice-controlled laptop

"Running through November 11th, the 2009 Soldiers' Angels Valour-IT fundraiser is a spirited competition which raises money for technology that reconnects wounded warriors and supports their recovery.

The Valour-IT Veterans Day Fundraising Competition was developed as a fun way to raise money for a very serious project. Teams are purely for the sake of friendly competition, building on the natural inter-service rivalries of the U.S. Military. Competition winners get "bragging rights," but the true winners are the wounded warriors who benefit from the results of the friendly competition.

All funds raised go into the same Valour-IT account and are used to assist any wounded service member in need of Valour-IT's support, regardless of his or her service branch."


Capt. Jason Condon, Air Officer, One Five, marks the LZ for incoming chopper Oct. 15, 2009
USMC photo

Friday, October 30, 2009

B-4 LAR Off to the Front

Bravo Company Fourth LAR is off to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for more training before starting their tour of duty in Afghanistan expected in November.

Bravo Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion has Marines from Maryland and other nearby states.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

death of a Marine...

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Lance Cpl. Cody R. Stanley, 21, of Rosanky, Texas, died Oct. 28 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

This is Your Mail--Being Sorted

Cpl. Corey L. Gosey

Your mail. Your mail to your hubby, lover, husband, boyfriend, brother, is being sorted the old fashion way--one at a time and by one Marine. Odd isn't it. Sorting--going back to Benjamin Franklin--the inventor of the US Post Office. That's the way of it in these 21st century times with our beloved country which leads the world in cutting edge space age technology gets down to brass tacks and sorts mail the old fashion way. Yes. BUT. NOT. WITH. OUR. WOUNDED.

s there to make that shift change. And that is why, when one of our own gets wounded and needs a bit of extra help to communicate to his loved ones--- Project Valour IT--technology for the wounded--- is there
to provide the best of the space age technology available. And your can be there too. With your contribution--no matter how small--the latest in space age tech will be available to our Marines.
Project Valour IT needs your contribution, no matter how small, to provide what ever it takes to over come the wounded Marine ability to resume communication. Please contribute by hitting the thermometer link, today.

The battalion mail clerk,

Cpl. Corey L. Gosey, Headquarters and Service Company, One Five, FBO Geronimo, Oct. 13, 2009. USMC photo Lance Cpl. John M. McCall

Today's Marine of the Day-Project Valour-IT

Via Villainous Company:Marine of the Day: Some Random Officer

In keeping with our practice of interspersing interviews of active duty Marines with inspirational stories, today's Marine of the Day is some random officer who generously agreed (much to my surprise) to be interviewed. We hope the combined format will provide a more rounded view of the Marine perspective:

1. What is your rank and MOS in the Marine Corps?

Colonel - 8041 (ground colonel), 0802 (field artillery officer), 8848 (Management, Data Systems Officer, not sure how this got in my record), 8840 (Manpower Management Officer - my Naval Postgraduate MOS), 9702 (joint specialty officer)

2. How long have you served?

I'm in my 29th year of service.

3. What made you join the military? And why the Marine Corps?

I wanted to serve my country, I needed a job to support my family, and I wanted to serve in the best Service in the military.

4. Have you ever been deployed?

Yes - to Japan twice on 1 year unaccompanied orders each time, to Iraq on a 1 year Individual Augment assignment, currently in Afghanistan. I have made shorter education and training deployments in CONUS as well.

5. What was the most rewarding thing you ever did as a Marine?

The most rewarding thing I did was serve in 3/11 as the FSC, OpsO, and XO (Fire Support Coordinator, Operations Officer, and Executive Officer). The next was serving as EA in PP&O (Plans, Policies & Operations).

6. If you could tell a young man or woman contemplating military service just one thing, what would that be?

It is a great profession that offers great opportunity with a dedicated group of like-minded individuals.

7. What does being a Marine mean to you?

It means being part of a organization rich in tradition, able to meet any challenge, that holds itself to a higher standard.

8. What are the best and worst things about your job?

The best things are having a stable, rewarding job that sends you around the world on different assignments. The worst things are time spent away from your family and not being able to put down roots.

9. Some people say wars never solve anything. What do you think?

I think the only thing worse than war is giving into the will of someone else. There are times when war is necessary and there needs to be an organization designed to fight that war filled with people dedicated to winning that war.

10. Do you think the Marine Corps made you a better person, or would you be the same no matter what career you chose?

It made me a better person just as my wife has made me a better person - both taught me that there is more to life than just yourself.

Posted by Cassandra at October 29, 2009 08:55 AM

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Listen Up,CSquare People

The Goddess of Blogs and Villanous Company Tech Wench will now speak a few words at you as to the who, what, why you need to dig deep into your hearts and wallets in support of Project Valour IT.

Project Valour IT is simply this: grateful Americans, providing voice-activated laptops and other helpful tech gear to severely wounded troops.

Project Valour-IT began when Captain Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss was wounded by an IED while serving as commander of a tank company in Iraq in June 2005.

During his deployment he kept a blog. Captivating writing, insightful stories of his experiences, and his self-deprecating humor won him many loyal readers. After he was wounded, his wife continued his blog, keeping his readers informed of his condition.

As he began to recover, CPT Ziegenfuss wanted to return to writing his blog, but serious hand injuries hampered his typing. When a loyal and generous reader gave him a copy of the Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred software, other readers began to realize how important such software could be to CPT Ziegenfuss' fellow wounded soldiers and started casting about for a way to get it to them.

A fellow blogger who writes under the pseudonym FbL contacted Captain Ziegenfuss and the two realized they shared a vision of creating libraries of laptops with voice-controlled software that could be brought to the bedsides of wounded soldiers whose injuries prevented them from operating a standard computer. FbL contacted Soldiers' Angels, who offered to help develop the project, and Project Valour-IT was born.

In sharing their thoughts, CPT Ziegenfuss and FbL found that memories of their respective fathers were a motivating factor in their work with the project. Both continue their association with this project in memory of the great men in their lives whose fine examples taught them lasting lessons of courage and generosity.

Fathers have a lasting impact on us. Mothers teach, nurture, and sustain us but fathers are our first bridge to the outside world. They are the ones who challenge us, who take the training wheels off and show us how fast we can go and what the rules of the road are. They don't let us rest on our laurels - they constantly prod us out of our comfort zone; inspiring us to reach deep down inside and find qualities we never knew we had. They teach us to compete with others instead of folding, to try just a bit harder, not to give up when the going gets tough. They encourage us when our confidence is flagging.

Like Chuck Ziegenfuss' father and Fbl's, my father and father in law served in Vietnam. Over the next ten or so days I'll be giving you lots of reasons to support the Marine team and more importantly, to support Project Valour IT. But my first two donations will be made in honor of my Dad and my husband's Dad.

If you're a blogger, you can join a team here. You will get button code so your readers can make donations (see below) that will be credited to your team.

There's a blogroll in my sidebar for Marine team members. I will send you the code upon request. Some folks have enough blogrolls on their sites. I don't want to burden folks who don't want it, but this is another way to raise your 'rank' in the ecosystem if you aspire to Flappy Mammary status or higher.

If you wish to donate, simply click on the "Marines" link below:

You can pay by credit card or electronic check. You can also mail a check (with MARINES in all caps on it!) to this address:

Soldiers Angels Project Valour-IT
1792 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

High Fives and Many Good Lucks

A former B 4LAR War Pig Marine, Steve Rose, two tours to Iraq. The first in the War Pig and the second in a SURC ( a powerful jet pump powered boat) as a mean, green, riverine DSU-3 and now off to Afghanistan as a Warrant officer for 4th LAR Bn. Crikey! All the best and many good lucks.

Working w/the CH-53 Chopper Pilot

1st Lt. G. Kosh, H/S Company, FOB Geronimo Oct. 19, 2009.
USMC photo photo by Lance Cpl. Phillip

Soldiers' Angels Valour-IT 2009 fundraiser Oct 26-Nov 11

From Facebook Project Valour-IT

Technology for the wounded, Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries.

The 2009 Soldiers' Angels Valour-IT fundraiser, running October 26 to November 11 competition raises money for technology that reconnects wounded warriors and supports their recovery.

Voice activated laptops and tech equipment for our wounded heroes supplied includes:

•Voice-controlled Laptops - Operated by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, they allow the wounded to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.

•Wii Video Game Systems - Whole-body game systems increase motivation and speed recovery when used under the guidance of physical therapists in therapy sessions (donated only to medical facilities).

•Personal GPS - Handheld GPS devices build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

The experience of Major Chuck Ziegenfuss, a partner in the project who suffered serious hand wounds while serving in Iraq, illustrates how important these laptops and other technologies can be to a wounded service member's recovery.

And we're back!

The wind changed direction here at Baghdad By the Bay and blew out our internet connection. What a pain. 48 hours, ugh! So we are a post behind in raising money for Project Valour-It competition. To play catch up we are posting Cassy Fiano interview with her Marine of The Day interview at Cassy Fiano's Smoking Hot Commentary. (Psst! Cassy. What's Matt's last name?)


MY Marine Corps hero!

For the Project Valour-IT competition, the Marine Corps team is doing all kind of fun stuff. We’re going to have trivia and games, and we’ll also be spotlighting Marine heroes throughout the competition. To get the ball rolling, Cassandra asked me to kick things off by interviewing my Marine, my boyfriend Matt. I’m ridiculously proud of him, of course, and brag about him whenever I can as it is. And as if I don’t yak about him enough on here already, I get to feature even more fun stuff about him now, too.

In all seriousness, Matt truly is a hero to me, just like the thousands of other Marines out there. I can say without any bias that he loves what he does, he loves the Corps, and he loves his country. He’s willing to fight and die for America and for all of us. I may be his girlfriend and I’m certainly biased, but it’s still a pretty incredible thing.

So, with all that said, check out me and Matt’s “interview”, and there are a few pictures of him at the end as well. (Sorry they’re all with me, too, but I don’t have many pictures of Matt in uniform that doesn’t have me in them, too.)

What is your rank and MOS in the Marine Corps?

- Corporal, 0311 (Infantry Rifleman).

How long have you been serving?

- Five years, and I just reenlisted in September of 2008.

Why did you join the Marine Corps?

- Because it was the hardest branch, and I wanted to challenge myself. From what I saw during my time in the Army, the Marine Corps was stricter and had more rules. That was what I wanted. I also wanted to go to Iraq and fight for my country, I wanted to get deployed. I felt like everyone else was doing their part; why shouldn’t I?

What was serving in Iraq like?

- In the beginning, when I first got to Iraq, it was worrisome because I thought I could just be attacked at any moment and was scared of dying. But after taking mortar fire for a couple of weeks, I got used to it and wasn’t scared anymore. I knew if it was my time it was my time. All I cared about was getting home to my family, and I was more concerned about how they’d feel if I was gone. I got to see Saddam Hussein during his trial, because I was guarding the embassy in Baghdad. I got to sit in during his trial. When I came back the first time, we landed in Maine, and everyone was real friendly and really happy about us coming back. Retired Marines were coming up to us, shaking our hands, and it was great.

The second time I went, I was more familiar with the country and I wasn’t worried at all. We would do convoy missions, and we were in some very well protected vehicles called MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protectant), and they can take small arms fire without doing any damage. It can take a 7.62 round without penetrating the armor, and that’s the primary round of our enemy, with the AK-47s. We were worried more about IEDs, so it was like fighting a silent enemy. You can’t find them, you just hope you don’t get blown up. Most of the other Marine units on patrol got hit my IEDs, but we didn’t. We were very fortunate. But every day, when you got into your truck and started riding out, you never knew what would happen. You would get these guys coming up to you with their arms in the air yelling “ALLAH AKBAR!”, which is what they yell when they’re about to blow themselves up. So you would grab your M-16 and just get ready to shoot them if they were going to try anything. For the most part we just tried to have fun. We would pass a lot of the times doing stupid shit and making up dumb jokes. A bunch of us, for example, got one Marine to drink a ChemLight to see if his pee would glow. He threw up, and his pee definitely did not glow. When we got back, it was in Massachusetts. It wasn’t as great of a homecoming, because we had just returned to our own country for the first time, and no one greeted us. We were in uniform, and everyone just stared. No one smiled or said thank you or anything. You wanna talk about not feeling welcome in your own country? We didn’t feel welcome. We felt like no one cared. We got treated better in Ireland drinking beer in the airport. It was a real shitty homecoming, until we got back to Camp Lejeune and got to see our families and everything.

What was the homecoming like?

- Homecomings are always great when you have a woman there that cares about you. When I got home, my girlfriend was there waiting for me. She could’ve been standing out there for hours for all I know, but she was there when I got off the bus. The feeling of knowing that someone is going to be there waiting for you, someone who cares so much about you, made the homecoming worth something, worth more than it did the first time. That’s what every Marine wants to come home from deployment to, a good woman who’s faithful to you and who cares about you. Also you realize you were taking for granted everything the United States has to offer before you left, especially coming back from a place like Iraq. You walk into a store and they have fresh food, fresh fruit, fresh water. In Iraq sometimes water is even hard to get.

Do you think Americans appreciate your service?

- I think most of them do. I always appreciate it when someone comes up to me and says thank you, but I feel more inclined to say thank you for them being supportive. There’s a lot of people who want to serve but can’t, for whatever reason. As long as they’re supportive, I’m more thankful for them than they should be for me, personally.

There are some people, especially on the Left, who don’t support the military. How do you feel about that?

-They have the right to say what they want. They’re Americans, and that’s their right. Of course, the only reason they have that right is because the military isn’t willing to fight for it. They can put it down all day long and sit around at home being a coward, but at the end of the day, it’s thanks to the military that they can put us down. It’s thanks to the military that they aren’t speaking Japanese or German or Russian.

What does being a Marine mean to you?

- Being a cut above the rest. It’s not always about physical ability, sometimes it’s more mental. It sounds cliched, but it’s the whole “the few… the proud” thing. We’re very proud of who we are because of our training. I feel like we get better training than any other branch.

What about America is worth fighting for to you? The Marines have been known as the best fighting force the world has ever seen, but what is it that you are actually fighting for?

- Opportunity. People have more of an opportunity here than in other countries. It is a country that’s been through some hard times, but so have a lot of countries. What makes this country so great is… you can call it freedom, but it’s not what people usually think. It’s not the freedom to do whatever you want. The freedom to have a job, to raise a family, to not have a communist dictator running your life. The freedom to speak up and not have repercussions from your government, with them dragging you outside your house and shooting you, or raping your wife right in front of you. People like to put down this country, but it’s a lot better than most other countries. It’s a melting pot. If it’s so bad here, then why do so many other people leave their countries to come live in the United States? I fight for the Constitution. The Constitution was made for the United States, for the people, by the people. A document was signed that freed Americans from tyranny, and I’m not fighting for the president or my mom or my girlfriend. I fight for the Constitution, I fight for everybody.

Some people wonder all their lives wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Third Platoon, Charlie Company Two LAR in Khan Neshin

A UK paper, the Times Online, has a story on Charlie Company in Khan Neshin. Blighter can't tell the difference between soldiers and Marines, so what else is new. "Morale dips for American marines in Afghanistan"
The story line should be taken with a humongous grain of salt as the Times Online maybe a leftover Bush hater or is aka New York Times lookalike. But, be that as it bhah, bhab may, it is a story line about our WAR Pigs and they have several names. I really doubt the tripe. But read for yourself. Tried to check out the paper but could not find anything definitive. Plenty of room at the Hotel California, though. With the Sultans of Swing.

Distributor of the UGR's-Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in a box

Lance Cpl. Johnathyn Bales, H and S Company, One Five, Oct. 4, 2009.
photo by Lance Cpl. Phillip

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Voting with their household furniture

Loaded down with all their worldly possessions Afghan families are moving back to Helmand Province. They are placing their bets on the American Marine promise to clean out the Taliban. This Afghan family approves of the work by U.S. Marines of the One Five by loading up the tractor and and starting a new life in the Helmand Province-Oct 16, 2009. USMC photo

Friday, October 23, 2009

Coming Monday the 26th


First LAR At 29 Stumps Oct 17-30

photos/Story by Lance Cpl. Andrew Thorburn
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 7 are working round the clock to make sure the 1st Tank Battalion and 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion have the supplies they need to complete a pre-deployment exercise here, Oct. 17-30.

CLB-7 is joining forces with CLB-5, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to deliver supplies by convoy to the training battalions partaking in Operation Steel Knight.

Operation Steel Knight is a battalion level training exercise which allows battalions to come together under scenarios similar to those likely to be encountered in theater.

"This is great experience for the new guys working in the desert and Afghanistan," said Lance Cpl. Salvador Portillo, a Transportation operator for Support Company, CLB-7. To assist 1st Tanks and 1st LAR with their mission, the Marines of CLB-7 set up a forward operating base to help coordinate the convoy's objective during the operation. Within the FOB, the logistics Marines plan the routes for the convoys and the supplies they will be carrying.

Marines with the Motor Transport Co. were given details on convoy routes and safety prior to kicking the plans into motion. After loading the necessary supplies onto Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements, the convoys set off into the desert.

"The convoys have to keep a lookout for [notational] IEDs [improvised explosive devises] the closer we get to Oct. 24," said 1st Lt. Jeremiah Hartley, watch officer for CLB-7, Headquarters and Service Co. Hartley explained as the exercise draws closer to its end date, the battalion can expect higher chances of notional IEDs being added to the mix.

"The convoys have been taught what to do in case of an IED and know that it's a possibility during the operation," he said.

The element of surprise may add to the authenticity of the training since the drivers have no indication of any notional IEDs during the training operation.

"We have already been doing this for about a week and it's been the same thing everyday," said Lance Cpl. Emery Langley, a motor transportation operator with Support Co., CLB-7. "I hope things change up a little bit."

As Operation Steel Knight runs its course, CLB-7 will continue to offer support to units expecting to deploy in the near future.

A loud explosion outside the berm

Sgt. William Bartlett, H and S Company, 10/07/09 FOB Geronimo.

mud wall

Lance Cpl. Christopher Bray, Bravo One Five 10/18/09.

Skyline Check

Cpl. Joshua Nicholson and Lance Cpl. Mathew Cote, Bravo One Five 10/18/09.
photo credit

Probie POTUS Pronouncements On Our Constitution

VIA Jumping in Pools

Probie Obama's senior seminar paper at Columbia entitled Aristocracy Reborn. Ten out of 44 pages were offically released to the public. Long paper short- our "so-called Founders" were con men Flim-Flam men-Masters of Back-Stabbing, Cork-Screwing and Dirty-Dealing-Dealing.
American Constitution: "... the Constitution allows for many things, but what it does not allow is the most revealing. The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Probie's Progress:"the abandonment of missile defense ... a strategic blunder and a breach of good faith.

On Wednesday night, October 21, former Vice President Dick Cheney received the Center's 20th Keeper of the Flame Award.

Thank you all very much. It’s a pleasure to be here, and especially to receive the Keeper of the Flame Award in the company of so many good friends.

I’m told that among those you’ve recognized before me was my friend Don Rumsfeld. I don’t mind that a bit. It fits something of a pattern. In a career that includes being chief of staff, congressman, and secretary of defense, I haven’t had much that Don didn’t get first. But truth be told, any award once conferred on Donald Rumsfeld carries extra luster, and I am very proud to see my name added to such a distinguished list.

To Frank Gaffney and all the supporters of Center for Security Policy, I thank you for this honor. And I thank you for the great energy and high intelligence you bring to as vital a cause as there is – the advance of freedom and the uncompromising defense of the United States.

Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place by others who came before. You deploy a military force that was planned and funded by your predecessors. You inherit relationships with partners and obligations to allies that were first undertaken years and even generations earlier. With the authority you hold for a little while, you have great freedom of action. And whatever course you follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave no doubts about the credibility of your country’s word.

So among my other concerns about the drift of events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a breach of good faith.

It is certainly not a model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone calls. It took a long time and lot of political courage in those countries to arrange for our interceptor system in Poland and the radar system in the Czech Republic. Our Polish and Czech friends are entitled to wonder how strategic plans and promises years in the making could be dissolved, just like that – with apparently little, if any, consultation. Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion.

You hardly have to go back to 1939 to understand why these countries desire – and thought they had – a close and trusting relationship with the United States. Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia, under the orders of a man who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Anybody who has spent much time in that part of the world knows what Vladimir Putin is up to. And those who try placating him, by conceding ground and accommodating his wishes, will get nothing in return but more trouble.

What did the Obama Administration get from Russia for its abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic, and for its famous “Reset” button? Another deeply flawed election and continued Russian opposition to sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In the short of it, President Obama’s cancellation of America’s agreements with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making two NATO allies walk the plank won’t be felt only in Europe. Our friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America will abandon them as well.

Big events turn on the credibility of the United States – doing what we said we would do, and always defending our fundamental security interests. In that category belong the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to counter the nuclear ambitions of the current regime in Iran.

Candidate Obama declared last year that he would be willing to sit down with Iran's leader without preconditions. As President, he has committed America to an Iran strategy that seems to treat engagement as an objective rather than a tactic. Time and time again, he has outstretched his hand to the Islamic Republic's authoritarian leaders, and all the while Iran has continued to provide lethal support to extremists and terrorists who are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic continues to provide support to extremists in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, the regime continues to spin centrifuges and test missiles. And these are just the activities we know about.

I have long been skeptical of engagement with the current regime in Tehran, but even Iran experts who previously advocated for engagement have changed their tune since the rigged elections this past June and the brutal suppression of Iran's democratic protestors. The administration clearly missed an opportunity to stand with Iran's emocrats, whose popular protests represent the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic since its founding in 1979. Instead, the resident has been largely silent about the violent crackdown on Iran's protestors, and has moved blindly forward to engage Iran's authoritarian regime. Unless the Islamic Republic fears real consequences from the United States and the international community, it is hard to see how diplomacy will work.

Next door in Iraq, it is vitally important that President Obama, in his rush to withdraw troops, not undermine the progress we’ve made in recent years. Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with President Obama, who began his press availability with an extended comment about Afghanistan. When he finally got around to talking bout Iraq, he told the media that he reiterated to Maliki his intention to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq. Former President Bush's bold decision to change strategy in Iraq and surge U.S. forces there set the stage for success in that country. Iraq has the potential to be a strong, democratic ally in the war on terrorism, and an example of economic and democratic reform in the heart of the Middle East. The Obama Administration has an obligation to protect this young democracy and build on the strategic success we have achieved in Iraq.

We should all be concerned as well with the direction of policy on Afghanistan. For quite a while, the cause of our military in that country went pretty much unquestioned, even on the left. The effort was routinely praised by way of contrast to Iraq, which many wrote off as a failure until the surge proved them wrong. Now suddenly – and despite our success in Iraq – we’re hearing a drumbeat of defeatism over Afghanistan. These criticisms carry the same air of hopelessness, they offer the same short-sighted arguments for walking away, and they should be summarily rejected for the same reasons of national security.

Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission.

President Obama has said he understands the stakes for America. When he announced his new strategy he couched the need to succeed in the starkest possible terms, saying, quote, “If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” End quote.

Five months later, in August of this year, speaking at the VFW, the President made a promise to America’s armed forces. “I will give you a clear mission,” he said, “defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That’s my commitment to you.”

It’s time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.

Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.

Recently, President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it.

Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.

It’s worth recalling that we were engaged in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, supporting the Mujahadeen against the Soviets. That was a successful policy, but then we pretty much put Afghanistan out of our minds. While no one was watching, what followed was a civil war, the takeover by the Taliban, and the rise of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. All of that set in motion the events of 9/11. When we deployed forces eight years ago this month, it was to make sure Afghanistan would never again be a training ground for the killing of Americans. Saving untold thousands of lives is still the business at hand in this fight. And the success of our mission in Afghanistan is not only essential, it is entirely achievable with enough troops and enough political courage.

Then there’s the matter of how to handle the terrorists we capture in this ongoing war. Some of them know things that, if shared, can save a good many innocent lives. When we faced that problem in the days and years after 9/11, we made some basic decisions. We understood that organized terrorism is not just a law-enforcement issue, but a strategic threat to the United States.

At every turn, we understood as well that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. We had a lot of blind spots – and that’s an awful thing, especially in wartime. With many thousands of lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

The intelligence professionals who got the answers we needed from terrorists had limited time, limited options, and careful legal guidance. They got the baddest actors we picked up to reveal things they really didn’t want to share. In the case of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, by the time it was over he was not was not only talking, he was practically conducting a seminar, complete with chalkboards and charts. It turned out he had a professorial side, and our guys didn’t mind at all if classes ran long. At some point, the mastermind of 9/11 became an expansive briefer on the operations and plans of al-Qaeda. It happened in the course of enhanced interrogations. All the evidence, and common sense as well, tells us why he started to talk.

The debate over intelligence gathering in the seven years after 9/11 involves much more than historical accuracy. What we’re really debating are the means and resolve to protect this country over the next few years, and long after that. Terrorists and their state sponsors must be held accountable, and America must remain on the offensive against them. We got it right after 9/11. And our government needs to keep getting it right, year after year, president after president, until the danger is finally overcome.

Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after 9/11 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America … and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.

Eight years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed. So you would think that our successors would be going to the intelligence community saying, “How did you did you do it? What were the keys to preventing another attack over that period of time?”

Instead, they’ve chosen a different path entirely – giving in to the angry left, slandering people who did a hard job well, and demagoguing an issue more serious than any other they’ll face in these four years. No one knows just where that path will lead, but I can promise you this: There will always be plenty of us willing to stand up for the policies and the people that have kept this country safe.

On the political left, it will still be asserted that tough interrogations did no good, because this is an article of faith for them, and actual evidence is unwelcome and disregarded. President Obama himself has ruled these methods out, and when he last addressed the subject he filled the air with vague and useless platitudes. His preferred device is to suggest that we could have gotten the same information by other means. We’re invited to think so. But this ignores the hard, inconvenient truth that we did try other means and techniques to elicit information from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and other al-Qaeda operatives, only turning to enhanced techniques when we failed to produce the actionable intelligence we knew they were withholding. In fact, our intelligence professionals, in urgent circumstances with the highest of stakes, obtained specific information, prevented specific attacks, and saved American lives.

In short, to call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program’s legal underpinnings and safeguards. Such accusations are a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country’s name and in our country’s cause. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of half-measures, is unwise in the extreme. In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.

For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings – and least of all can that be said of our armed forces and intelligence personnel. They have done right, they have made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Last January 20th, our successors in office were given the highest honors that the voters of this country can give any two citizens. Along with that, George W. Bush and I handed the new president and vice president both a record of success in the war on terror, and the policies to continue that record and ultimately prevail. We had been the decision makers, but those seven years, four months, and nine days without another 9/11 or worse, were a combined achievement: a credit to all who serve in the defense of America, including some of the finest people I’ve ever met.

What the present administration does with those policies is their call to make, and will become a measure of their own record. But I will tell you straight that I am not encouraged when intelligence officers who acted in the service of this country find themselves hounded with a zeal that should be reserved for America’s enemies. And it certainly is not a good sign when the Justice Department is set on a political mission to discredit, disbar, or otherwise persecute the very people who helped protect our nation in the years after 9/11.

There are policy differences, and then there are affronts that have to be answered every time without equivocation, and this is one of them. We cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and turning the guns on our own guys.

We cannot hope to win a war by talking down our country and those who do its hardest work – the men and women of our military and intelligence services. They are, after all, the true keepers of the flame.

Thank you very much.

Steaks On the Grill at One Five

Standing room only for dinner of steaks flown in for One Five Marines at FOB Geronimo 10/14/09 photo credit

Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon

Lance Cpl. Jordan Christie, Bravo One Five, working the, Master of Diplomacy, the SMAW

"The SMAW aka a 83mm man-portable weapon system consisting of the MK153 Mod 0 launcher, the MK 3 Mod 0 encased HEDP rocket, the MK 6 Mod 0 encased HEAA rocket, and the MK217 Mod 0 spotting rifle cartridge. The launcher consists of a fiberglass launch tube, a 9mm spotting rifle, an electro-mechanical firing mechanism, open battle sights, and a mount for the MK42 Mod 0 optical and AN/PVS-4 night sights. "
photo credit

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Death of a U.S. Marine

DOD Announcement: Today, the news of the death of a U.S. Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom was released.

Lance Cpl. David R. Baker, 22, Painesville, Ohio, died Oct. 20 while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

On your Six, America.

From Diana West:Thilo Sarrazin, 64 year old Bundesbank director, calls out the Reign of Islamic Correctness by
criticizing the unwillingness of Turkish and Arab immigrants to assimilate into German society.
His reward has been death threats, body guards and prosecution for "racial incitement" including being fired from his job for saying what 51% of Germans believe the current state of affairs in Germany today.

Jasper von Altenbockum, an editorialist of the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
“Civil courage is more than just courage. It is also a service to the state, whose legal constitutions and social achievements are worth defending.” Mr. Altenbockum criticized those who accuse Sarrazin of acting irresponsibly and foolishly. “In a civil society it is not considered foolish to risk one’s own existence when one defends the civil society and its freedoms and security. What is foolish, is for the civil society to punish those who act thus.”

Check it out, America. This is soon to be our lot. Look at how easily Yale showed the white feather.

India 3/11

Sgt. Raphi Mercado,
photo credit


First Lt. Jason Louks, Helmand province, Oct. 13, 2009.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sergeants of H and S Company One Five

Staff Sgt. Peter Cuadros and Sgt. Salvador Sanchez, 10/08/09

And Now for something completely different

A CSquare Reader, Ahmad, wants to know where he can submit a bid for job DSN 359-2088 at FOB Geronimo. Appreciate your question, Dude. Flattered Jack Burton is. Wrong turn you made. Jack Burton only prints the rock delivery pictures. Jack does not know Jack. Totally. Have. No. Frickin. Idea. Problems of an entrepreneur in Afghanistan are many. Can't help you, Sundance.
Tks for stopping by. jb

The Bear Necessities of a U.S. Marine

inside a guard tower at FOB Geronimo 10/07/09

The A.O. Officer of H and S Company

Capt. Charles Rinehart, FOB Geronimo, 10/05/09

Re up at H and S One Five

Lance Cpl. Benjamin Lacelies 10/14/09 Helmand province
photo Lance Cpl. Jeremy Harris

Bravo One Five

Cpl. Jeremiah Jones,Helmand province, 10/13/09

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back From Iraq NewsHawaii
"Over 100 marines are back home from Iraq Sunday. The soldiers of "America's Battalion" touched down at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Sunday afternoon. After a short walk, they we're re-united with their loved ones; "America's Battalion" operated in Al Asad, Iraq."

With the Two Eight in Afghanistan

Sgt. Jeffrey Haertling

Lance Cpl. Kyle Heston

Lance Cpl. Matt Kues

Lance Cpl. Matt Kues 10/08/09

Lance Cpl. Scott Stys
All photos credit Sgt. Pete Thibodeau

Nothin' says Home-Like the Mail Truck

Bravo One Five Marines 10/11/09 FOB Geronimo

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

From 3/11 Fire Base Fiddler's Green

Cpl. Matthew Esquivel, left, and Lance Cpl. Edgar Carachure 09/23/09

Lance Cpl. Edward Gilmore 09/23/09

Lance Cpl. Edward Rodriguez, left, and Sgt. Glenn Mucci 09/23/09

Cpl. Nguyen Kim, foreground, and Sgt. Angel Sifuentes

Friday, October 16, 2009

Death of a US Marine

DOD announcement:Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Taylor, 27, of Bovey, Minn., died Oct. 9 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

On Your Six

Marine Benjamin Lascelles, with Headquarters and Service Company, One Five
USMC photo

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Punt The NFL--Game Is OFF

Moltenthought: Calls for a punt-"Since Roger Goodell wants to bend over for Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the other bigots and race-baiters among the sportswriter community by shafting Rush Limbaugh, we ought to return the favor by punting the NFL this season..."I will not watch ONE MINUTE of NFL games or coverage this season—including the Super Bowl.”

Yes to dog torturer Michael Vick. No to Rush Limbaugh. DONE. GAME IS OFF!

All In A Days Work--Marine Fights and Meets and Greets

Sgt. Timothy Eannarino, Bravo Company, One Five, returns fire at the Taliban after receiving incoming rounds during a patrol.. Afghanistan, Oct. 8.

Sgt. Timothy Eannarino, Bravo Company, One Five, visits with Afghan students at a newly opened school in the Nawa district of Helmand province.Oct. 8, 2009
USMC photo Cpl. Artur Shvartsberg

Sole Survivor

Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman Clarence Connor rushes the sole survivor of a family murdered by the Taliban to a stretcher at Forward Operating Base Geronimo. The child sustained two gunshot wounds to his legs. USMC photo Lance Cpl. James Purschwitz.

Bing West Visit

Sgt. Hugh Styborski, Jump Platoon, escorts Francis J. ‘Bing’ West, author of The March Up: Taking Bagdhad with the First Marine Division, and Lt. Col. William McCullough, commander One Five. USMC photo

Echo 2/8

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thanks Operation Shoebox

Sgt. Christopher Valezquez, Bravo Company,One Five, expresses his gratitude for care packages received from Operation Shoebox in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Sept. 30, 2009. Operation Shoebox is an organization that sends care packages to troops deployed overseas. photo Cpl. Artur Shvartsberg