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May 27, 2006

Memorial Day 2006 - The Funeral.

Continuing my Memorial Day series from yesterday.

Tony picks up the story:

All that follow is beside the point above and perhaps more for my sake than yours. However, I know friends have questions and I'll try to answer as best I can. I'll move on to what I'm sure is the number one question on your mind - how was the memorial in Culpeper?

I can't really explain this weekend without explaining a little about Culpeper. This is a place that still has a thriving Main Street. This is a place where banks still occupy Main Street corners with big stone buildings. This is a place where the magnolias are taller than the houses they shade.

A.P Hill is a local boy done good and very much alive in conversation and pride. Hooker, Stewart, and Davis are contemporaries that inspire with their prowess and ideals of loyalty and devotion to higher calling.

Main Street on Friday night is packed with cars...because that's what you do in a town like Culpeper on Friday night. It's a place where you stop your car in the middle of a country lane to help a turtle across the road and the 30ish lady behind you rolls down her window to tell you thanks. BTW - Yes I did and yes she did.

It's a place where the owners and workers of floral shops, bed and breakfasts, hotels, funeral homes, media recognize values and heroes. It's a place where a Virgie Atkins comes out from behind the counter to give your wife a hug and sit through some sobs with her.

Everybody knows everyone and family reputation is borne as a matter of honor through the generations. It's a place two 9/11 flight attendants called home; a home with the values of the vast majority of the American land mass. The limos taking us to the church didn't fly funeral flags - they flew American flags. People noted and took as a good sign a hawk circling the steeple.

The ceremony was a town event; hero falls in battle. The mayor (ex-Special Forces) had American flags lining Main Street a la Fourth of July. The Governor had the state flag at half mast for the week. People just flat bent over backwards to honor Leonard's name and his country's cause and his service.

I really don't know how many hundred people attended but the local paper's Saturday morning edition headline described the preparations...and the fact that they really weren't sure if the plan to run sound and video to the outside tents was going to work.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry. Part 3, the Burial, is here.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on May 27, 2006 | Something for the Soul
» Techography links with: Remember
» Stop The ACLU links with: Memorial Day Weekend Linkfest
» HomefrontSix links with: Memorial Day
» Sneakeasy's Joint links with: MilBlogs Ready to Inform
» Small Town Veteran links with: All Gave Some, Some Gave All

May 26, 2006

Memorial Day 2006 - The Notification

Do not stand by my grave and weep ...
I am not there;
I do not sleep.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds circling in flight.
Do not stand by my grave and cry ...
I am not there.
I did not die.
-- Royster

I am the great-grandson of a soldier of the Civil War.
I am the grandson of a soldier of the Great War.
I am the son of a soldier of Korea, and Vietnam.
I was a "Brat".
I was a soldier.
I am still a soldier, albeit in the Retired Reserve.

In a different life, now seemingly long ago and far away, I answered a ringing doorbell. I opened the door, and there stood the Western Union man. I was 12. I knew this was Not Good. Mom came up. She saw the Western Union man. She froze. The Western Union man looked miserable. I took the offered envelope. Opened it. Mom was a statue, frozen in her own private hell. The Western Union man was fidgety, and downcast.

I opened the envelope. Read it out loud.

"The Secretary of the Army regrets to inform you that your servicemember, LTC Timothy H. Donovan, was wounded in combat in the Republic of Vietnam.

He was shot while flying in a helicopter. The a/c did not crash or burn."

That's it. Dad was wounded, not dead. Mom could breathe again. The Western Union guy was all smiles.

All smiles. Here we had definitive proof that Dad had been wounded in combat and that didn't strike any of us as a Bad Thing. Because we were giddy, too. Because it was a telegram, not a Notification Team.

No military sedan in the driveway. No somber-faced officer and Chaplain. Just the Western Union guy. But sometimes the Army screwed up - and it *was* the Western Union guy who essentially was the notification guy, hence the tension.

Now, over 2000 times since the crossing of the LD for Operation Iraqi Freedom, teams of officers have made visits like that one.

Only there were no giddy smiles and tears of relief, but rather tears of grief, fear, and not infrequently, anger.

Since the Founding of the Republic, some form of this process has played out 2,623,552 times, give or take.

America's Wars Total (Less conflicts after Gulf War 1)
Military service during war 42,348,460
Battle deaths 651,008
Other deaths in service (theater) 13,998
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 525,256
Nonmortal woundings 1,431,290

Joseph Stalin observed: "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."

Those are the statistics. Read now the story of one soldier, his wife, and his family and friends - the impact of the death of one man, a soldier, Leonard Cowherd, Second Lieutenant, United States Army.

I am starting Memorial Day today. There will be a key post each day through Monday - that chronicles how Memorial Day suddenly, sadly, explosively, numbingly takes on a wholly different texture for military families during a time of war. All of these posts will be long. But however long it seems for you, it's way too short for the body in the casket and a never-ending ache for those standing around the grave site. This is the story of 2lt Leonard Cowherd, Sarah Cerri Cowherd, and the Cowherd and Cerri families, as seen through the eyes of my Scorpion brother-in-arms, Tony Cerri, and in the final post, the Cowherds. This is a great country. And this is just one proof. This is the price of freedom, hope, and the fight for the future. As has been asked before - where do we find such men? Answer: look around you - they are everywhere. You just don't notice them. It is not my intent to exalt 2LT Cowherd above other casualties of this or any war.

It is just to let the story tell itself.

This is the story of two military families dealing with the death of a soldier. This is the story of bravery, fortitude, family, love. It is a story that plays out across all the services, the differences only reinforce the similarities.

It's real, it's true. It happened. And will happen again, as long as warriors have to man the ramparts and look outward to guard against what lurks in the darkness. As long as there is darkness.

Two years ago, a notification team made one of those visits to the home of one of my Army buddies, whose daughter's husband had just been killed in Iraq.

I have fought a good fight
I have finished my course
I have kept the faith.

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,

which the Lord, the righteous judge,

shall give me at that day:

and not to me only,

but unto all them also that love his appearing.

-- 2 Timothy 4:7, 8

So, let it begin (and yes, I have the family's permission to share this with you).

Friends---below are a series of emails, edited only to delete all the headings, from my good friend LTC(R) Tony Cerri...His son in law 2LT Leonard Cowherd was killed last week in Iraq. Leonard's death puts a face on the growing list of young men killed in Iraq. I think you will find these emails will touch your hearts....

We will carry the torch for you, Leonard.

The story of two families coping with the death of a soldier is contained in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on May 26, 2006 | Something for the Soul
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 05/26/2006
» The Discomfort of Thought links with: Memorial Day
» Stop The ACLU links with: Memorial Day Weekend Linkfest
» Sneakeasy's Joint links with: MilBlogs Ready to Inform
» All Things Beautiful links with: No Regrets
» Fuzzilicious Thinking links with: Meditations for Memorial Day
» Small Town Veteran links with: All Gave Some, Some Gave All
» Michelle Malkin links with: FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

May 25, 2006

H&I Fires* 25 May

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

Let's start with a little moment of Gunner Zen. Click here. -The Armorer


OMFG, too funny for words! Your Air Force in Action! "Glad I already had that one concussion..." Kudos to all concerned for a professional demeanor, however. I suspect that Guidon Bearer had a rough rest of the day... -The Armorer


I have a comment... For every story like that one there are dozens like this one, which won't make the MSM because it just isn't news to them. American troops saving people in the middle of a firefight isn't news because it's... normal? Whereas, American troops possibly shooting noncombatants *is* abnormal...

Coalition Forces Save Abandoned Boy

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces saved a young boy from imminent danger during significant fighting that resulted in the deaths of over 25 terrorists May 14th in Yusifiyah. In one incident during the course of the hours-long operation, several terrorists abandoned a two-year-old boy in an attempt to save themselves.

Upon initiating the attack, the troops immediately killed two terrorists in response to hostile activity emanating from a suspected safe house and an associated vehicle.

Only trying to preserve their own lives, escaping terrorists literally threw a toddler inside a vehicle near a burning van filled with ammunition and anti-aircraft rockets (the safe house and vehicle were previously struck by Coalition forces to neutralize the threat). The troops made the choice to save the child in lieu of pursuing the terrorists, rescuing the boy just before the rockets exploded.
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The troops took custody of the two-year-old and provided him security for almost an hour before they could safely return him to his mother. The boy and his mother were residing in a nearby safe house from where the terrorists originally fled and had abandoned other women and children.

Coalition forces previously reported that three females - one child, one teenager, and one adult - were injured in the initial raid; the youngest only required on-site treatment, the two older females were medically evacuated. As troops transported the two injured females and an unharmed maternal escort to the hospital, the terrorists attempted to shoot down the departing medical sortie (there was no red cross, the helicopter was being used as a medical evacuation transport to expedite care).

The pilots averted the small arms fire and safely delivered the two injured females and their escort the 10th CSH where the wounded were provided further treatment. Both females received additional medical care and were released from the hospital May 15th.

Just sayin'. Story came from the CENTCOM website.

Additional info here. Cross-posted by the Armorer at Milblogs. -Kat.

Sgt. Elijah Allen is one of the many milbloggers I met at the DC Conference who will remain in my mind and heart for many years to come. As a wounded Soldier, and recipient of a Valour-IT laptop, I was thrilled and honored to meet him. He's got an early Memorial Day post up that you should all read. Once you do, you'll understand why I stand here before you, John, Bill, Dusty, Sanger, Sgt. B, 1SG Keith, Jon, Lex and the many others I am forgetting, and simply say... Thank You. ~AFSis


Hot Air covers two different governments dealing with the press

Howard Fineman worships at the altar of Gore. I don't care for Al Gore either way, but this seems to me like just a little too much lovin' - FbL


Hit and run journalism. Under the headline, "Marine Corps to Probe Civilian Deaths," we learn that General Hagee fears "that some Marines could become 'indifferent to the loss of a human life.'" I don't know about you, but I heard the whisper "cold-blooded killers" in that opening paragraph.

In the fourth paragraph we finally get the "Indifferent to human life" phrase in context:

Many of our Marines have been involved in life or death combat or have witnessed the loss of their fellow Marines, and the effects of these events can be numbing," Hagee wrote. "There is the risk of becoming indifferent to the loss of a human life, as well as bringing dishonor upon ourselves.

Ah, I see. Instead of mechanistic killers trained for a horrible task "getting off their leash," it's a matter of hearts of flesh in danger of being hardened by horrifying experiences. To my mind, that casts warfighters in a very different light. But I'm not saying anything the readers here don't already know.

Overall not a bad article, considering what it could be. But then we get to the second-to-last paragraph:

On May 17, Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., a decorated former Marine, said...that U.S. troops killed innocent women and children "in cold blood." He said that nearly twice as many people were killed than first reported, maintaining that U.S. forces are "overstretched and overstressed" by the war in Iraq.
Maybe it's a sublte connection, but I see an attempted tie between the opening phrase of "indifferent to loss of human life" and "in cold blood." To say that leadership is (rightly) concerned that the horrors of battle not numb the combatants to their sense of honor and morality is a whole different ball of wax from calling those same combatants cold-blooded killers. And with the attendant connotations of that last phrase that would smear warfighters as a whole, I fear ex-Marine Murtha is going to be with us for a long, long time. Hey, Murtha! Thanks for handing our enemies within another club with which to beat our armed forces.

Update: General Hagee's full statement can be found here. - FbL

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on May 25, 2006 | General Commentary
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Star Chores: The Crystal City

Y'know. We need a bandwidth waster.

I think this will do.

Lawyers should never ask a Southern grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.

In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand. He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The defense attorney almost died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows ME, I will send you to the electric chair."

Marines may face a court...

...over what can only be called a war crime, if the events are as thus far depicted - remembering the defense has not been presented.

So let it be. If there's sufficient evidence, charge 'em and let them present a defense (since the case is already being tried in the media and halls of Congress). If their defense isn't a good one - they can come take long tours here at Fort Leavenworth, where they would belong. If their defense holds up... well, it won't make any difference to the Usual Suspects anyway, so screw 'em.

I have no problem with it. It *is* a major difference between us and our military foes, even if our political foes can't see that.

A dozen Marines may face courts-martial for alleged Iraq massacre

By Gayle S. Putrich

A key member of Congress said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if a dozen Marines faced courts-martial for allegedly killing Iraqi civilians Nov. 19. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., told Marine Corps Times that the number of dead Iraqis, first reported to be 15, was actually 24. He based that number on a briefing from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Mike Hagee on Wednesday.

Hagee visited Capitol Hill in anticipation of the release of two investigation reports, which are expected to show that among the 24 dead civilians, five of the alleged victims, all unarmed, were shot in a car with no warning, Murtha said. The killings took place in Hadithah, 125 miles northwest of Baghdad.

At least seven of the victims were women and three were children.

“If the allegations are substantiated, the Marine Corps will pursue appropriate legal and administrative actions against those responsible,” said Col. David Lapan, a spokesman at Marine Corps headquarters.

“The investigations are ongoing, therefore any comment at this time would be inappropriate and could undermine the investigatory and possible legal process,” he said. “As soon as the facts are known and decisions on future actions are made, we will make that information available to the public to the fullest extent allowable.” Murtha, an outspoken war critic and retired Marine colonel, has maintained for several weeks that the reality of the Hadithah incident was far more violent than the original reports suggested.

Read the rest here, in the Marine Corps Times.

Let the chips fall where they may. In war, shite happens. And when it crosses an admittedly fuzzy, vice bright, line, then you deal with it.

I miss...

...getting paid to do stuff like this.

A U.S. Army soldier with the 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division fast ropes from a helicopter during a rapid-insertion exercise in Djibouti City, Djibouti, on May 18, 2006.  DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Nic Raven U.S. Air Force.  (Released)

A U.S. Army soldier with the 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division fast ropes from a helicopter during a rapid-insertion exercise in Djibouti City, Djibouti, on May 18, 2006. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Nic Raven U.S. Air Force. (Released)

Defense Planners Eye Unified Medical Command Concept

This is a loooooooooooooong overdue idea. *However* The potential downside I've always seen to a consolidated DoD MEDCOM is HillaryCare-style thinking on the part of the politicians.

Where the DoD MEDCOM gets absorbed by the Public Health Service... and DoD users join the PHS customer base.

I suspect for many on the left side of the political spectrum, *that* represents a huge, fat, juicy piece of low-hanging fruit.

Defense Planners Eye Unified Medical Command Concept By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, May 22, 2006 – Defense Department officials are weighing the potential benefits of creating a single, unified medical command that would oversee all military health care as well as the training and education of military medical professionals and military medical research and development activities. The concept, if adopted, would bring together the Army, Air Force and Navy medical medical departments and services, enabling DoD to provide better care while keeping costs in check, Dr. David Tornberg, deputy assistant secretary of defense for clinical and program policy, told American Forces Press Service.

The DoD medical community is generally supportive of such a realignment, which Tornberg said would make more efficient use of health-care assets and programs and eliminate redundancies. It would also boost DoD's buying power so it gets more goods and services for its acquisition dollars, he said.

While bringing the military health-care system new efficiencies, the plan "would also recognize that each of the services has service-unique requirements and cultures," Tornberg said.

The concept of a unified DoD medical command isn't new; in fact, it was first raised in 1942 and has resurfaced off and on over the years.

With Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pushing "jointness" to new levels, along with his transformation efforts, Tornberg said there's a strong indication the idea of a unified medical command may move beyond the talking stage.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Afghan Violence Reflects Afghan Troops' Progress, Taliban Frustration

Afghan Violence Reflects Afghan Troops' Progress, Taliban Frustration By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, May 23, 2006 – The recent surge in violence in southern Afghanistan reflects the fact that Afghan security forces are extending their reach and that the Taliban, in desperation, are trying to stop them, a senior military official told Pentagon reporters today. Army Brig. Gen. Carter F. Ham, deputy director of regional operations for the Joint Staff, called the "significant fighting," particularly in the south, a sign that the Taliban wants to stop "the expansion and the filtering of the reach of the Afghan national government."

"My suspicion is that the Taliban ... recognize that if they don't try to do something about that now, then they may not have a chance to do something about it later," Ham said.

"One of the reasons I believe that there are more incidents in the south is that the Afghan forces are going more places," he said. "They are going places where they didn't go before and certainly meeting some resistance."

Read the rest in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

May 24, 2006

H&I Fires* 24 May

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

In local news - the guys who went on the POW rescue mission that was the subject of the movie The Great Raid, will be having a reunion near where I live next month! I'm trying to get permission to attend and talk (heh, mostly listen) to these guys.

Marsha Goff, a writer for the Lawrence Journal World whets my appetite thusly:

By the end of January 1945, as Allied forces advanced against Japanese positions in the Philippines, the writing was on the wall for any Japanese military leader who cared to read it.

But as American forces neared Japanese POW camps, circumstances became more dangerous for the men. That fact was demonstrated at the island of Palawan when more than 150 Allied POWs were herded into air raid shelters, doused with gasoline and burned alive by their captors to prevent them from being liberated.

Concerns grew about the welfare of 512 survivors of the Bataan Death March imprisoned in a camp at Cabanatuan in the Philippines. A daring raid by an all-volunteer force consisting of 120 members of Col. Henry A. Mucci’s 6th Ranger Battalion, a dozen Alamo Scouts and more than 200 Filipino guerrillas — led by Captains Juan Pajota and Eduardo Joson — was engineered to rescue the POWs. The camp was 29 miles behind enemy lines through rivers and across roads that carried heavy Japanese military traffic.

The intelligence capability and firepower of the Filipino guerrillas — designated to protect the Ranger force’s flanks and cover their return with the rescued POWs — and the aid and intelligence provided by Filipino civilians were essential to the success of the mission. Without a friendly civilian population, the raid would have been impossible.

You want to read the rest - right here. -The Armorer


On this day in History, the British Battleship HMS Hood met it's fate.


On this day and this blog, someone forgot to sign their work... in other news, someone who's *really* peeved with the VA (I already have a credit watch in place because Sears suffered a Rectal-Cranial Infarct so I'm ahead of the game) over the idiot data-analyst who thought that taking home all that personal data would be a Good Idea. Who? The Crusade - who came to the attention of the Army even, and made it into the Stand-To blog mentions. Congrats, Crusader! Bitter? No, he's not bitter. Not the least. Nope. Not at all... - The Armorer


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on May 24, 2006 | General Commentary

Whatziss, answered!

Old Fat Sailor - I name you Brainiac of Argghhh! You got it right.

If our Ozzie OFS hadn't gotten it, I would have offered up this as a clue today, followed quickly with this.

If that was insufficient (I'm thinking it would have been enough) - I'd have offered up this.

But I don't have to do that. Because OFS identified it - it's a stand of quilted grape.

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In this case, a replica of Revolutionary War-era stand of quilted grape, in the six-pounder version. An early form of "Improved Conventional Munitions," grape was used against attacking infantry at greater ranges. Comprised of a wooden base, or sabot, with a wood rod protruding from it, they were stacked round with iron balls, held in place by the cloth and twine wrapping, which was then doped. The wrapping and sabot kept it all together for easy loading, and the paint helped waterproof it, prevent rot of the cloth, and provided some more rigidity.

The ones you find in museums have usually been painted black or red. This one is au naturel, to show the basic construction better. Made this way to speed loading (that infantry is looking pretty determined), the twine and cloth gave way upon firing, turning the gun into a giant shotgun. Grape, with it's larger balls, had a greater range at the expense of fewer projectiles. Canister is grape's short-range cousin, being smaller balls, usually lead musket balls, loosely loaded into a container (canister) and fired when the infantry had gotten annoyingly close and looked like they were still interested in killing artillerymen. Of course, once you started shooting this at infantry, the infantry became notoriously uninterested in taking prisoners, either... infantry sucks that way.

Why is is called a Stand of Grape? In fortress use especially, but also in the field, you stood them up on the wooden sabot, so they wouldn't roll around. Larger guns oft times fired grape made of larger iron balls held together by iron plates and rings, like this stand of 12-pounder grapeshot.


Providence! Here I am, groggy after two nights of crappy/no sleep, wondering what I'm going to put up this morning, since I'm kinda Jesse'd out. (There are things working behind the scenes to put together a process for vetting [ooo! a pun!] these guys, btw) Night before last we lost power for several hours - and since I use a CPAP there wasn't a whole lot of sleeping that night, and last night sucked, too. Like you all care. Moving on...

Oh, yeah - what's the Post of the Day going to be? Well, I open up the email to go through the overnight comments and find troll-scat in a bag on the apron of the portcullis, which a few late-night visitors stepped in because the troll musta broken out the light. Steve must have surprised the troll, because he forgot to light the bag, and the email got dumped by my spam-filter.

I stuck his missive [with my annotations] in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry for your viewing pleasure. I deliberately altered the link to this troll's website because I refuse to allow dunderheads like that to use this place to try to capture some traffic.

As for the substance of the troll's post... I think that Pinch Sulzberger and Justice Ginsberg and Robert Rubin would be rather *shocked* to find themselves on a list of supporters of President Bush.

This is simply a list of prominent Jews, in government and out. And as useful as a list of prominent Catholics, or Irish, or African Americans. In other words, except as an indicator of the biases of the author, not useful at all.

Ergo, the prima facie evidence is simple anti-semitism, vice anything else useful. Not that the nick of "Imaginary Holocaust" wasn't an indicator.

I visited the website. Castle Argghhh! will not send traffic that way, nor do we support this form of Moonbattery. If this is all you've got, IH, please stay up in the rafters as a lurker. Don't soil the comment space with pointless drivel like this. But do wander through the pics of the collection. You'll especially like the well-marked Israeli Mauser and battlefield capture Arab pieces (with the exception of the Turk pieces, which aren't battlefield captures...)

Any further postings of this nature from this source will simply be deleted. Any further postings of this nature will simply be deleted. The only reason it survives is because it gives me a platform to make the statement that this space does not entertain this viewpoint, and is not provided to promote it. Oh, and please, as this space is private property and non-governmental, the First Amendment does not apply internally, only externally. Well, externally at least until John McCain has his way.

If you'd like to pile on this hoser, you may do so in the comments. *All* the rulez apply. If all you have to say is "#$%*^" or " #*$%^" or "!(@%^," just mutter it to yourself and move on... Oh, I'll allow mild personal snarkage if it's clever and witty. This is an exceptional case, I'll allow exceptional behavior. No spittle-flecked rants, please, unless you are going to clean up after yourself! Absolutely NO poop-flinging. It's expensive to clean the tapestries.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

May 23, 2006

H&I Fires* 23 May

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

1533 King Henry VIII declares marriage to Catherine of Aragon null & void. Ended up founding his own church, too. The Church of England, Well, the Anglican Church, really. Catholic Light, 1/3rd the guilt, More fulfilling!

1618 The Defenestration of Prague sets off the Thirty Years War. Toss a few politicians out a window into a dung heap, not hurting them, and start a war that lasts 30 years. And the Dems think we're over-reacting to 9/11? Oh, wait - these people weren't Democrat politicians, so only a police response is appropriate.

1775 Patrick Henry says "Give me Liberty or give me death!" [As Longwatch so gently pointed out, right guy, right speech, right year, right day... wrong month. D-oh!]

1873 Canada's North West Mounted Police force established - Happy Birthday to the Mounties! And my, how things have changed in the RCMP -but they still get their man... h/t, The Spectral Flea.

1958 Mao Tse tung starts "the Great Leap Forward" in China, millions
. Just like just about any well-run communist dictatorship of the proletariat... millions die. But lefties don't give a flying flip. Because they 'meant well' so it's okay. They had good motivations. And its all Bush's fault, anyway. Shoulda been termed "The Standing Broad Jump Into The Grave." Boy, I'm grumpy this morning. Gotta quit reading the news, I guess.

1960 Israel announces capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. I don't remember people squawking when they hung this mass-murderer, though. Oh, okay, I admit it, I wasn't really paying attention, I was kinda young. Betcha Bill was paying attention to it.

I'd be ever so much more impressed with her Brave Speaking Of Truth To Power if she'd use a Muslim icon...


"Democrats say it is inevitable that, in a campaign that could return the former president to the White House, some voters would be concerned and even distracted by the Bill Clinton's political role and his potential for the kind of episodes that led the House to vote for his impeachment in 1998."

Oh for heaven's sake. That alone is reason to hope she tanks in the primaries. Not that I think she will. I'm just wishing. H/t, Drudge. -The Armorer


Good morning. I couldn't resist a moment of "heh" when I read two articles in local papers about Phelps' group having to protest in a ditch at one funeral and getting a rougher reception down near Dodge City. As a legal and moral precaution for me and this blog, I do not advocate or condone violence against protesters, even vile ones. Defeat bad free speech with more free speech. Ask the Patriot Guard how it is done.

Want more "local" news? Find out about initiative to teach the blind about the symbolism of the flag and patriotism (no, not talking about the KOS kids going back to remedial American history) or the new "lighter, urban" war head for JDAMS (guess the Air Force doesn't want to be left filling "individual augmentee" billets in our new urban guerilla warfare paradigm)at my place. Oh, and a little something about information warfare, blogs and the Mushy Muslim Middle. - Kat


How do you like your MacBeth? Chewy? Or quick-fried, to a crackely crunch? [humming to self] ...and, another one's gone, another one's gone, another one bites the dust! -The Armorer


Over at Real Clear Politics, the boring story about Katrina that the media didn't find interesting. H/t, CAPT H. -The Armorer


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on May 23, 2006 | General Commentary
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: The Lion of American Bravery

Jessie's Balls?

From a nameless drudge who slogs in the cubes of the Few, the Proud, the Journalists, comes this cover of Rick Springfield...

Hiding down there in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

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A new Whatzis?

While we wait on some more clues from Murray for his offering, I"ll give ya this one.

1. The scale is off, on purpose.

2. It is a quintessential Castle Artifact.

That'll get ya started. More clues standing by as needed.

So - whatizzit?

I won't be surprised if this one gets figgered out pretty quick, actually.

Project Valour-IT.

Fox News ran a webstory yesterday, dating from the Milblog conference, that highlighted Denizenne Fuzzybear Lioness' role in Project Valour-IT - the voice-activated laptops for wounded troops.

Fuzzy virtually denies it, and hides behind her fluttering fan here.

I left this comment on her post - which I am putting here because she *can't* delete it.

Heh. Don't believe her, folks.

Sure, Chuck Ziegenfuss and his wife Carren were involved. But Chuck said, publicly, that Beth was the force that made it happen. After all, Chuck was wounded, couldn't type that well and was on some pretty good drugs. So Fuzzy caught that lateral and took off downfield. Matt, Lex, and I made the mistake of being in her way.

She's the one who kidnapped Matt, Lex (who even as we speak is corrupting Denizennes Brab and BCR while whining and dining in Seattle) and I, took us to an undisclosed location, and tickled us with feathers and schmeared chocolate on us until we agreed to be her blogslaves and do her bidding for Valour-IT.

Matt and I just did what we were taught in SERE School - survive. Lex spilled his guts and cried like a baby.

Oh, sure, the Great Folks at Soldier's Angels were a big help, as were (and are) all the volunteers, whether live and in person, or fiscally and digitally via the blogs.

But Beth was the driving force, make no mistake.

And anything she says to the contrary is just embarrassing drivel designed to throw you off the scent.

She's the heroine.

Don't let her fool you.

Because when you watch the moving hand, the other one will slip into your heart and empty your wallet for Valour-IT.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

BTW - when was the last time you dipped into your beer/chai money and sent some to Project Valour-IT? Memorial Day is coming up - that sounds like a ready-made holiday to use as an excuse.

Skip a 6-pack this weekend, and send that money instead to Project Valour-IT by clicking on the Cox and Forkum cartoon below. Or skip that Magnum of Mouton-Cadet you were thinking about. Or that keg. Have burgers instead of filets... you know what to do.


Doncha feel better already?

May 22, 2006

H&I Fires* May 22

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Ain't this pretty? And Bill is older'n both of 'em! If you liked that one - you'll really like this one (that's screen saver/wallpaper material there)!

Welcome to the dark side of war - where the bad guys hide among the innocent to better survive themselves. Events like this make for sleepless nights for the targeteers, and even worse nights for the pilots. But if you, as some would have it - totally abjure striking the enemy when he does this... then you might as well surrender and go home. Of course, that's exactly what some would have us do. For those among you who think the strike was illegal under the conventions - as long as the least force practicable was applied against a legitimate target, especially a target using protected areas as sanctuary, it's a legal strike.

Another corrupt incumbent who needs to leave Congress?

Chapomatic is spot on. Look to the small papers.

Heh. A Submariner takes on a "Ranger"... -The Armorer


An open letter to Hilton Corp - FbL


Carnival of the Recipes... Crockpot Edition! -The Armorer


Since I'm home for lunch, and just about *everybody* who is anybody is blogging about Jesse MacBeth - I'll point you to this round up of posts about this poseur.

The only thing I have to add to this (and it's in no way definitive) - there are 7 MacBeth's in the AKO White Pages, which is supposed to have just about everybody in it - including retirees like me, and (unless he had an enlistment contract different from mine) soldiers whose active term ended and they moved into the IRR - like MacBeth claims to be. None of the seven in AKO are named Jesse, and none of them fit any of the other criteria. Just sayin'. -The Armorer.


Commentary from the Sharp-Horned middle of the road - RINO Sightings are up at DANEgerus. -The Armorer


Heh. Data on 26.5 *million* veterans, including name, DOB and SSN, were stolen from the home computer of a VA employee dipstick (and I only slam the 1 guy, *my* interactions with the VA have been generally favorable, if intially slow - the check arrives on time, however). The *home* computer of this cretin. Well, one can only hope that charges are pending, and that the only reason he hasn't been fired yet is because Due Process must be observed.

Even if the data is never used, there are several legal violations. You may press charges in my name.

Fortunately, because Sears Credit suffered a cranial infarct, a Fraud Alert for my name and SSN is already in place.

26.5 million? That's got to be pretty close to the entire veteran population of the nation.

The story is here. -The Armorer


Fuzzybear made Fox News! Along with some other guys. -The Armorer


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by Denizens on May 22, 2006 | General Commentary
» Fuzzilicious Thinking links with: Fuzzy on FOX (Ack!)
» High Desert Wanderer links with: Wallpaper material

Yo, MSM-bubbas!

Ry comments thusly on the Jesse MacBeth story:

THe pogue: Makes me wonder what these reporters are doing. van Stanwyk has a point. Why aren't major news orgs tapping into the veterans for fact checking and the like on these types of stories? I wouldn't know to what to look into to double check the guys story either, but John apparently ended this whole thing in 3 minutes without having to do a photo analysis(like at B-5). The fact that they don't makes me laugh SO hard when they talk about 'diversity in the newsroom'.

To which I reply:

...about the MSM, several reasons come to mind.

1. The story supported the reporter's conscious or subconscious thesis, so what checking is required? It sounded right, right?

2. The MSM is still leery of blogs that are not "their own kind".

3. Heck, the PAOs are leery of us. I got into a credentialing discussion with a PAO on just that issue. Who vets the milblogs? The PAO can blame Fox/MSNBC/CBS etc for their journalists. They can only blame themselves if they come to us.

4. That said, there are some milblogs that have good reps, certainly. It wouldn't hurt the MSM to ask. But let's face it - about the last thing they want to do is become beholden to us on the right - because then they'd get savaged from the left, a place many of them are more comfortable with.

That said - reporters are free to ask me for info on background. I can at least point them in whatever direction they ought to head for some fact checking.

I'm also available for photo analysis... of course the process I went through there might not give them too much comfort, since I changed my mind when I realized I had gotten target-fixated... of course, I publish my corrections a bajillion times faster than they do theirs...

The Da Vinci Code

Saw it yesterday, after I dropped SWWBO off at the airport. Haven't read the book.

The movie is Dogma without Jay and Silent Bob (returning to a theater near you in Clerks II!), and suffers for it. Well, there *is* the water walking scene... I'd say it poses about as great a threat to the Catholic Church or Christian Faith in general as Dogma did (i.e., slim to none). I left with my faith as intact as it was when it went in. Though I'd look good in a Templar Suit.

People whose faith is already twitchy or warped and not well grounded will find fodder, certainly. But they'd have found it anyway.

Just as West Wing, Seven Days in May, JFK and other movies of that ilk have not brought about the downfall of the US Gov, Pope Benedict can, I think rest easy.

It was not Hank's best performance, but it was certainly better than the snippets in the trailers I saw and the reviews led me to believe it would be. Jurgen Prochnow's talents were wasted, and Jean Reno did the usual workmanlike job he does in all the movies I've seen him in. Audrey Tautou is not my cup of tea, but she recites her lines well enough. Ian McKellen chews the scenery for my taste, but I've liked Alfred Molina as a villain since he played Satipo in Raiders of the Lost Ark - and who can forget Boris 'The Butcher' Blavasky of The Man Who Knew Too Little?

As for all the catcalls and hoots coming from the Chattering Classes at Cannes and elsewhere, I share Ron Howard's opinion - the movie going public will like it, and yet won't march on Rome to overthrow The Council and dismember Opus Dei, nor start a Mary Magdalen cult (beyond what may already exist).

Nor did I leave the movie thinking that albinos are freaks, easily manipulated and prone to self-flagellation (Some albino advocacy groups are annoyed with the movie). I left it thinking that Silas' life certainly sucked, and he really needed spiritual help (and counseling, lots of counseling) rather than shabby manipulation - but hey - they were Bad Guys doing the manipulating, whattaya expect?

But I'm sure the Chattering Classes thought that Hank's character's Act of Faith at the end of the movie was just amusing as all get-out - imagine that - Faith in something other than a Secular Hedonism, or some New Age Gaia worship (while in the same breath decrying the validity of Christian Spirituality as rank superstition). Oops. They should have been kewl with it, as it *did* involve pyramids and crystals... Actually, they should be all over this - it's a Chalice thing (in the way the story intends the meaning). If that last line didn't mean anything to you - read the book or see the movie.

Now, my good conservative Catholic/Protestant buds won't be thrilled with Hanks' acceptance of The Priory's premise... but then, again, so what? The Sekrit is Safe. And so is the Scion.

It's a movie, and a story, and not a bad yarn, with an intriguing mix of jumbled history. Check your prejudices at the door, grant Howard & Co the necessary Willing Suspension of Disbelief, and you'll enjoy the movie, with it's themes of redemption and belief, however different from current practice and doctrine they are. Don't go for instruction, nor good documented history.

Besides, like I said, I like the Templar Suits.

But I don't think the movie is worthy of all the angst.

I'll not be buying it on DVD, but I don't mind having paid $4 for the early matinee.

Update: Heh. Apparently I didn't see the same movie Michael Novak did. It looks familiar, but I just didn't see the vitriol and hate. Especially not hatred of Christ. A distaste for some aspects of Catholic history, and of a mythical element of the current Catholic Church, as envisioned in the movie, yes. The rest of it? Nope. I musta gone to the can during that segment.

National Maritime Day, Part 2, the Present.

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National Maritime Day Proclamation 2006

A Proclamation

by the President of the United States of America

The United States Merchant Marine plays an important role in ensuring our national security and strengthening our economy. As we celebrate National Maritime Day and the 70th anniversary of the Merchant Marine Act, we pay tribute to merchant mariners and their faithful service to our Nation.

Since 1775, merchant mariners have bravely served our country, and in 1936, the Merchant Marine Act officially established their role in our military as a wartime naval auxiliary. During World War II, merchant mariners were critical to the delivery of troops and supplies overseas, and they helped keep vital ocean supply lines operating. President Franklin D. Roosevelt praised these brave merchant mariners for persevering "despite the perils of the submarine, the dive bomber, and the surface raider." Today's merchant mariners follow those who courageously served before them as they continue to provide crucial support for our Nation's service men and women. America is grateful for their commitment to excellence and devotion to duty.

In addition to helping defend our country, merchant mariners facilitate commerce by importing and exporting goods throughout the world. They work with our Nation's transportation industry to share their valuable skills and experience in ship maintenance, navigation, and cargo transportation. This past year, the good work and compassion of merchant mariners also played an important role in hurricane relief efforts. Ships brought urgently needed supplies to the devastated areas, provided assistance for oil spill cleanup, generated electricity, and provided meals and lodging for recovery workers and evacuees.

In recognition of the importance of the U.S. Merchant Marine, the Congress, by joint resolution approved on May 20, 1933, as amended, has designated May 22 of each year as "National Maritime Day," and has authorized and requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its appropriate observance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2006, as National Maritime Day. I call upon all the people of the United States to mark this observance by honoring the service of merchant mariners and by displaying the flag of the United States at their homes and in their communities. I also request that all ships sailing under the American flag dress ship on that day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.

George W. Bush

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National Maritime Day, Part 1. The Past.

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War Shipping Administration Press Release, Maritime Day 1945 Military Leaders Praise Merchant Marine

Holt Maritime 62 PR 2277 (W)


Friday Afternoon Papers
May 18, 1945
Radio Release: 7 AM, EWT, Friday, May 18. Cleared and Released
Through Facilities of the
Office of War Information

Maritime Day tributes from the leaders of American armed forces to the men of the Merchant Marine for delivering the goods to the battlefronts have been received, the War Shipping Administration announced today.

These include statements from General George C. Marshall, U. S. Army Chief Staff; Admiral E. J. King, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief Naval Operations; General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander; Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas; and Lieutenant General Alexander A. Vandergrift, United States Marine Corps Commandant.

General Marshall commented on the Merchant Marine's participation in war:

"America's Merchant Marine has carried out its war mission with great distinction, and has demonstrated its ability to meet the challenge of redeploying our full power to the Pacific."

The job being done by the Merchant Marine was praised by Admiral King who said:

"The Armed Forces, with the help of the Merchant Marine, have pushed the fighting 5,000 miles west. Together, they'll go the rest of the way."

Devotion to duty by the men at sea was praised by General Eisenhower:

"The officers and men of the Merchant Marine, by their devotion to duty in the face of enemy action, as well as natural dangers of the sea, have brought us the tools to finish the job. Their contribution to final victory will be long remembered."

The role played by merchant mariners over the globe was described by Admiral Nimitz as follows:

"The United States Merchant Marine played an important part in the achievement victory in Europe, and it is destined to play an even more important role in helping to finish off the Japanese. To move great quantities of war materials principal sources of supply across 6,000 miles of ocean to battlefronts in the Far East is the formidable task now confronting our merchant fleet. We are confident it will be done quickly and efficiently in keeping with the high standards of accomplishment set by the Merchant Marine in every war in our history."

General Vandegrift pointed out how the Marine Corps has been aided in its invasions by the Merchant Marine in saying:

"The men and ships of the Merchant Marine have participated in every landing operation by the United States Marine Corps from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima - - and we know they will be at hand with supplies and equipment when American amphibious forces hit the beaches of Japan itself. On Maritime Day we of the Marine Corps salute the men of the merchant fleet."

If you want the details on the service and sacrifice of the Merchant Marine - click here.

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May 21, 2006

H&I Fires* 21 May

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From CAPT H comes this anecdote from W.F. Deedes, writing in The Telegraph:

A locket found in the wreck of the Titanic has just been sold for £58,000. I don't altogether like the idea of snuffling, like pigs seeking truffles, for treasures in what in reality is a gigantic graveyard. But then again, as some readers of this column will know, I am prejudiced.

I was born a year after that disaster and I grew up with legendary tales of what went on that terrible night on the north Atlantic. It spanned the range of human behaviour - courage, cowardice, stupidity, carelessness and sacrifice. At the age of about eight, I can remember pulling a book about it off one of my father's shelves.

"Put it back," he said sternly. "The man who wrote that book jumped into a lifeboat while women drowned."

I grew up, too, with the psychological consequences of the Titanic disaster. We had been on top of the world, inventive, enterprising and learning how to conquer the air, inspiring Swinburne's line, "Glory to Man in the highest, for he is the master of things". The Titanic disaster made many wonder if that was true.

Indeed. Put that back. The residents of New Orleans should have considered that before re-electing the Empty Suit to the Mayoralty.

If retiring Representative Murtha is your jones for this election cycle, Diana Irey has been suggested as a replacement. (Since she's the only candidate opposing hm, that's rather a d-uh statement). It's not my direct fight (which isn't to say I won't contribute, but I'm pretty sure I'd be annoyed about a lot of out-of-district money suddenly trying to buy my local elections - yeah, I know, it happens anyway and we just don't see it. I'm a naif, I admit it.). However, I find it mildly distasteful that nowhere on her website does she mention her party affiliation. I know, I know, it's obvious enough - it's just a trend in politics that perturbs me. And should *really* perturb the parties. But I say - send some new blood to Congress. Of course, I think we should send new right-wing blood to Congress, too. Knock out the extremists (hey, define that how you like) in the primaries, especially in relatively safe seats. It's not like they aren't already the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Keep the Right in power, but change the hands on the levers. -The Armorer


Heh. Doc Russia makes his opinion of Representative Murtha clear. -The Armorer.


My first gig as guest blogger... So sad to see Cassandra losing her judgement like that.

And an update on the Mayor of Tal Afar who wrote that beautiful thank you letter to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He's visiting the U.S. now and his gratitude hasn't faded. He expresses it in typical Iraqi fashion:

Al Jibouri, dressed in a black suit with a lavender tie, said he was glad to be back among them.

"Are you truly my friends?" he asked through a translator. "Yes. I walk a happier man because you are my friends. You are the world to me. I smell the sweet perfume that emanates from your flower of your strength, honor and greatness in every corner of Tal Afar. The nightmares of terror fled when the lion of your bravery entered our city."

Read it all. And don't miss the picture of regimental commander H.R. McMaster with Al Jibouri in Powerline's observations, either.

Greyhawk has an excellent report on Tal Afar, too.

The Italian Embassy hosts a Friday night dinner for the wounded. They really rolled out the red carpet. More here, including a link to lots of pictures. [h/t Greyhawk on Milblogs] - FbL


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by Denizens on May 21, 2006 | General Commentary
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Progressive Hypocrisy
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Not Worthy of Respect

New Whatziss? Challenge.

In the tradition started by Owen, another guest "Whatziss" this time provided by Murray, of Silent Running.

Mind you - I'm clueless on this. Murray is a former soldier of New Zealand, who now works on the worthy goal of eradicating Gnomelessness. He's also working on a new house plaque for Castle Argghhh! which we anticipate will be rather kewl. Ah, our ego knows no bounds!

Anyway - here's the object in question:

What the bleedin' helk izzis?

Another view.

The gridded background in the shots are 10mm squares, btw.

And the rather cryptic clue Murray provided...

What is it, why did it cost $15,000 to replace and what sort of "wings" did I earn doing it?
by John on May 21, 2006 | General Militaria
» Stop The ACLU links with: Sunday Funnies

I'll take two, please.

Via Coast Guard Dad Larry comes this! The Armorer can buy what passes for a Castle here in the States!!!

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And while it *is* in New York, the Armorer could indulge himself by keeping an eye on those tricksy syrup-eating Canajuns, while at the *same time* trying to scarf up sufficient land on the Canadian side of this tract to build an Annex to hold Canadian early-spec deactivated weapons, which are *much* kewler and complete than their American counter-parts. Not to mention that you don't *have* to deactivate artillery and such up there, and stuff like that is a *lot* cheaper in Canada than in the US... so the holdings of the Arsenal could expand - *and* be displayed in... a Castle! Not too mention it's at the end of a 700 foot causeway, so the parties wouldn't disturb the neighbors. Too much. The shooting might... but we could build a range on the Castle grounds that would be safe enough, I think. Oh frabjous day!

Well, okay, the artillery would present a challenge, but the lake looks pretty empty in the pic, donnit?

There's just the problem of that dang lottery ticket, now.

Something you won't see in an Arab Military writing collection.

Thanks to the nature of the MSM - and it's consumer base, and, to a lesser extent blogging, too (we want traffic, boring-but-important-stuff doesn't generate traffic, it's just some of us don't care as much about traffic as others, thanks to Google), what we don't see, absent the pronouncements of the Generals and Secretaries (the post below) there is actually a *lot* of paddling going on under the surface. By those order-taking unthinking Myrmidons the left is so, um, well, you know what I mean. Anyway - here's something you won't see much of in Arab professional journals. No, not the subject matter - the author, and the whole underlying premise tied up therein. And *if* we make that change in the Iraqi military, we will have done some potential, long-term, society-changing good.

Such as this article, *featured* in the US Army Professional Writing Collection.

Winning the Nationbuilding War While I was in Samac, Bosnia, an Assistant Secretary of Defense visited my unit- A Troop, 1st Squadron, 104th Cavalry, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. One of the things he said was, "We have gotten pretty good at killing people." In retrospect, this was an understatement. As Saddam Hussein found out, the United States can reach almost any corner of the world with real power. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be quite as efficient at nationbuilding.

Construction is more difficult than destruction, and nationbuilding operations can be long, complex, and expensive. America's mission in Bosnia has lasted several years, and no U.S. official has yet mentioned terminating operations. U.S. forces also are still in Afghanistan, and U.S. forces in Iraq have suffered more casualties since the end of major military operations than during initial operations.

As a Vietnam-era veteran, I doubt the United States has the financial capability or the political will to occupy large segments of the world semipermanently. Yet, the potential costs of not engaging in nationbuilding might be horrific. How can we shorten the commitment and reduce the cost of nationbuilding? How can the U.S. military be as efficient at nationbuilding as it is at killing people? The answer is to have the right tools, the right people, and the right processes for the job at hand.

Read the rest - and meet the author, Staff Sergeant George E. Anderson III, by clicking here.

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We loooooooooove Nationbuilding now!

Those Brit generals are finally making some headway, though we'll never say so as such.

No Conflict Between Warfighting, Nontraditional Missions, Leaders Say By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2006 – Supporting nontraditional missions and humanitarian crises doesn't detract from the defense mission, but rather, builds important relationships around the world, strengthens capabilities and fills vital needs, top defense leaders said here today.

"When our nation sends its armed forces to tsunami relief in Indonesia (or) to earthquake relief in Pakistan, we are showing the very best qualities of this nation: our compassion, our concern for others, our willingness to reach out and help others," Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace said during a Pentagon town hall meeting. "That's a great thing for our armed forces to do."

"Arguably, what those forces did to help others understand this country, they did in a way that any number of divisions fighting on a battlefield could never do," Pace said. "So it is well worth our time and energy to do the good works of our nation."

The military's primary focus must always remain on warfighting and the ability to counter both conventional and irregular, asymmetric threats, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the audience.

But when disaster strikes or a serious need arises, Rumsfeld said the military force -- with 1.4 million active-duty and 1.2 million reserve-component members - often brings capabilities no one else can match.

He pointed to Hurricane Katrina as an example, with 50,000 National Guard and 20,000 active-duty troops committed to the relief effort within days. "No other institution could have done that," he said.

Still Awake? The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

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