Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's not the years, but rather the Miles......

ALCON - (Military shorthand for "All Concerned")

There are times when you are up against the bricks. I managed to wrench my arm through no fault of my own and have been on the mend for the past week. The Docs here have taken good care of me BUT the chassis of the 49 year old vehicle doesn't take kindly to being bounced around like it used to in the younger days.....

No my friends, this is the stage of life where you find out that the parts of that were put on at the factory have a shelf life, and as I have told my children, it's not the years but rather the miles on the old body that add up....

I managed to do a number on my lower back in 2003 while on deployment which lead me to seek the services of a neurosurgeon. A learned man he was with many sheepskins lining his walls and all the trappings of someone who had many people seeking his knowledge and time. He went through the scans and examined them with the look of someone who was looking for the right words to sum up the totality of his knowledge as it related to my bad back.....He said, " Listen to me - You're not Superman....knock it off, will ya??" And in those words, he basically laid it down to me.
As an "Old Goat", I needed to stop trying to do the stupid things I had gotten away with in my past. I had to understand that the parts that I thought were made of cold-rolled steel were rusting and showing their age.....

This week was another abject lesson in that using my arms like they were strong enough to do the things i WANTED to do did not mean they were strong enough to do the things I intended to do.....NO, Mother Nature & Father Time had conspired against me and managed to show me that there was no going back, and that the road ahead held more potholes than Boston, Providence & New York combined.

So I'm on the mend - I'm trying to take it easy and I am nursing a sore left arm....you will forgive me if I don't high five as easily as a used to when you do see me as I will be guarding my wounded wing for some time.....Yes Boys & Girls, the cracks are starting to show and the paint is peeling, but this "Old Goat" still don't know the meaning of the word " Quit" - no sir, this old Seabee is going to keep on going down the road till they take the keys away.......

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Time to GO for the unqualified hack at HOMELAND SECURITY - Time for President Doofus to put the needs of the country ahead of his allegiance to this bumbling fool.....pack your bags Janet -

THE SYSTEM WORKED??? The only thing that worked was the passengers tackled the idiot ...

Jonah Goldberg from The National Review hits the nail on the head........

Fire Napolitano [Jonah Goldberg]

Understandably, the White House is trying very hard to get out in front of the would-be Christmas bomber story. The head of the Department of Homeland Security isn't helping. I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the previous appearance. It is her basic position that the "system worked" because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was "foiled" by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically. I would wager that not one percent of Americans think the system is "working" when terrorists successfully get bombs onto planes (and succeed in activating them). Probably even fewer think it's fair that they have to take off their shoes, endure delays and madness while a known Islamic radical — turned in by his own father — can waltz onto a plane (and into the country). DHS had no role whatsoever in assuring that this bomb didn't go off. By her logic if the bomb had gone off, the system would have "worked" since it has done everything right.

Napolitano has a habit of arguing that DHS is a first responder outfit. Its mission is to deal with "man-caused-disasters" after they occur. It appears she really believes it. If the White House wants to assure people that it takes the war on terror seriously (a term Robert Gibbs used this morning by the way), they could start by firing this patently unqualified hack

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chistmas in Kandahar / A Homecoming with Heart

Merry Christmas to all back home from Kandahar ! It is a different feel here in KAF as the usual holiday hustle & bustle is not in effect and while we have Christmas cheer, it is just another work day here, even if it is a few days before Christmas....

I Send you this post as my Christmas Present - A story by Mike Barnicle about what really, really matters at this time of year...This is a true story from Fitchburg, MA. I hope you find the real meaning of the season in your heart and with your family. I am away from mine this year but I know the true meaning of the day - The Birth of the Savior.

Merry Christmas to you and a happy & blessed New Year !

Author: By Mike Barnicle, Globe Staff Date: 12/25/1997

Maybe Christmas Eve wasn't actually colder then, but it sure seems so; just like it seems you could always depend on snow dropping out of a lead sky the moment shops began to close and people headed home late on the one afternoon when excitement and anticipation arrived together, natural byproducts of the season. It was a period of far less affluence and cultural evil, a time when community meant more.

So again we spin the dial back to December 24, 1951. Harry Truman was in the White House. The Dow Jones closed at 228. ``Your Lucky Strike Hit Parade'' was the No. 1 show on a thing called television; an appliance few owned on the day Eddie Kelly stepped off the train at half past 11 in the morning.

Kelly was 22 and tired. He was of medium height but appeared smaller, hunched beneath the weight of a seabag he carried as he walked along Main Street, past people who thought they recognized him but were not quite sure because he was 40 pounds lighter and his eyes held dark secrets that had not been present prior to his departure for Korea in the summer of 1950.

By winter of that long-gone year, he was with ``Chesty'' Puller's Marines at Chosin Reservoir, surrounded by thousands of Chinese who charged through snow in a murderous mass, blowing whistles and bugles. It cost 2,651 Marine casualties and took 14 days of combat with men using rifles, entrenching tools, and their hands rather than concede defeat or leave anyone behind as they walked, on foot, 40 miles to Hungnam and safety. As a result, Kelly was hospitalized from January until December; in Japan, then at Philadelphia Naval, where he recuperated until boarding one train for South Station and another for the place everybody wants to be on this night: Home.

Four blocks from the depot, the lunch crowd stood two deep in the Beacon Cafe as Eddie pushed through the door and dropped his seabag by a stool. The old barroom went chapel-quiet. Then, after five seconds of a complete and awed silence, the patrons burst into endless applause.

They bought him drinks and begged for stories, but he had no thirst and there was very little he wanted to repeat or even recall. He stood in the warmth of a familiar setting, waiting to meet his mother, who worked 7 to 3 in a paper mill and did not know her boy had returned for Christmas.

He was the older of two kids. His father died when Eddie was 11. His younger sister, Eileen, was born retarded, and to keep things going his mother had to institutionalize her only daughter in a state hospital that people called ``The Nut House.''

When Eddie was in Korea, his mom sent him a picture of Eileen taken at the hospital. In the snapshot, she was smiling, waving and wearing a white Communion dress. Eddie taped the photograph inside the shell of his helmet. Now, as afternoon grew full of beers and cheers, Eddie Kelly brooded about the little girl who had been left behind. So he asked Roy Staples if he could borrow his car to visit Eileen. Staples insisted on driving and both men left the bar as snow began spitting from the sky.

At the hospital, Eddie waited at the end of a quiet corridor until an attendant came holding Eileen's hand. She recognized her brother instantly, never noticing the trauma and change that had settled into his skin. She threw her arms around his neck and would not let go, and she asked him to take her with him.

Over the objections of the nurse, Eddie carried his sister to the waiting car. It was 5 o'clock, snowing, and dark when they got back to the Beacon Cafe. Eddie removed his coat and wrapped it gently around Eileen. Then, to the cheers of all barside, they headed into the storm, past the shops on Main Street where everyone had been alerted by word of mouth that Eddie was carrying Eileen home for Christmas.

He had walked like this before, through cold and dark and danger, but now he had this light load in his arms: A girl -- young and innocent forever -- who would not let go, and her clench felt warm to his soul. When they got to the bottom of the hill by their apartment, the whole block knew what was happening, and the neighbors stood on the slippery sidewalk as a mother ran to meet her children on a whole street filled with tears of joy simply because it was December 24, 1951, the day Eddie Kelly and his family were finally home on Christmas Eve.

Been Busy / Harsher measures to follow

Been busy...time goes by when you're having FUN - and our FUN METER has been pegged here in AFGHN

Time to allow the words of another to fill the void - Good Gouge from Neptunuslex.com

This is the logical outcome of having Men & Women serving together in close quarters in isolated areas ...These notes are from a guy who knows the "lay of land" and what the real issues are...as a sailor with a heart of oak, hoary, stout and old, I have learned early on to avoid the issues that he details, if nothing but for self preservation sake.... Got the feeling that upon return to homeport, the deeds would be written on my face as sure as if it had been put there with a Black Sharpie Marker.

Harsher Measures to Follow

As the operations officer of the world’s finest warship, I had a number of fine young officers working for me. One of whom was an unusually fetching lass who – prior to completing her degree and intelligence officer school – had taken a rather non-traditional route to commission as an aromatherapeutic massage technician. Late one night at the end of a seemingly endless number of days at sea I was sitting alone in my office hoping to noodle through the immensity of all that we were trying to accomplish when I looked up to see her standing at the door, having something or other official to report. I took her report, asked in an off-hand way how she was bearing up in her first deployment and – duties official and formulaic completed – looked back to my desk at the egregious load of 3M documentation requiring my review and signature, and myself an FA-18 pilot for heaven’s sake.

A moment or two passed and I looked up again to see the young lady – she really was very pretty – still casually standing there, her head laying on an arm propped on the door frame in such a carefully calculated pose as made evident the graceful line of her neck as it joined her shoulder, as well as the non-naval curvatures of her frame. The moment stretched nearly as much as her protesting blue coveralls, and her penetratingly blue eyes looked into my own with a half-smile playing on her lips.I blinked twice while my mind raced quickly through various courses of action, most of which were swiftly rejected as much for mere survival as for any conscience thought of duty or even morality, before finally asking in my most neutrally official tone of voice, “Was there something else?” That challenging half smile was replaced by a frown, a different kind of light came into her eyes and she replied, “No, sir,” before spinning on her heel and striding out of the office, leaving me feeling both sadly older and wistfully wiser.

Now, all sailor men have hearts of oak, but while some of us are hoary, stout and old, others are yet saplings, liable to sway in a stiff breeze. And of saplings we had no few, to such an extent that a few months later, the ship’s senior intelligence officer had the sad duty to inform me that our graceful young lieutenant junior grade was with child. The actual fracking war being but a few weeks away, this news was both unwelcome and untimely, and it fell to me to inform the carrier’s commanding officer that unless certain provisions were made the ship would soon have its very own “son of a gun.” Or daughter, maybe. Depending on the breaks.

The Old Man was driving himself to the brink nearly of exhaustion ensuring that his old ship would complete her assigned duties with honor, and I did not relish adding to his burdens. “Skipper, I’ve got some bad news.” “What is it,” he asked tiredly.“LTJG ——– is pregnant.”With a shocked look, he asked further, “Are you the father?”“No, of course not!” I replied with as much heat and indignation as I could in good conscience muster. Which, truth be told, was no very great quantity.

Being as much conscious of relief as otherwise, and the awareness of having averted catastrophe by margins whose width or narrowness did not bear scrupulous contemplation. Which we had been at sea a very long time, and I wasn’t so old or wise as all that. Walking back down the many ladders to my office, I had a few thoughtful moments to consider the CO’s second question, wondering whether it reflected some hidden opinion on my character, before cutting us both a break: The loss of one lieutenant junior grade was certainly unfortunate, but really “bad news” would have been the loss of the ship’s operations officer right before the war kicked off. We went, did our duty and came home of course. But the army is still over there, and one senior officer has had quite enough of it all:

A US Army general in northern Iraq has defended his decision to add pregnancy to the list of reasons a soldier under his command could face court martial. It is current army policy to send pregnant soldiers home, but Maj Gen Anthony Cucolo told the BBC he was losing people with critical skills…It is the first time the US Army has made pregnancy a punishable offence…“I’ve got a mission to do, I’m given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them.” “So I’m going to take every measure I can to keep them all strong, fit and with me for the twelve months we are in the combat zone,” he said.

A two star general officer is as much – if not more – above my retired pay grade as I was above that libidinous LTJG. But he reports to a four star, who reports to the president and Congress, and it will be interesting to see where this policy goes.
No comments:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Grading on the curve...Washington D.C. Style

Must be nice....I'll go see my Boss and tell him I want to rate myself on my performance review....That should go over big....

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama, in remarks aired late Sunday, awarded himself a B plus for his first 11 months in office, stressing in an interview with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey that there was still much to be done.

"A good solid B plus," Obama said during an hour-long, intimate soft-focus ABC network Christmas at the White House special, when Winfrey asked what grade he would give himself.

Then I'll tell him my best friend in the media wants to do a gushy show to show everyone how good I am.....and show off how much I have spent at the White House while people can't afford to keep their homes at Christmas, let alone have a tree or presents -

Too Bad the American Public sees it MUCH differently....must be because the majority are hurting because of lower wages, higher taxes and watching idiots get big bonuses on Wall Street while their 401K has tanked....imagine... I guess that B+ was graded on the curve....a really BIG Curve.

I would say he gets a C- at best....and only because he listened to Gen McCrystal and will do right by the warfighters in AFGHN...other than that, he would be in the " D " zone.....for Doofus.

Daily Presidential Tracking Poll
Monday, December 14, 2009

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-two percent (42%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Things You See in Kandahar

Life here in the Sandbox can be very routine....The Term " Groundhog Day" not only applies to the movie with Bill Murray, but also can be very descriptive when you observe the ebb & flow of time here in the sandbox.

The day-to-day routine becomes predictable...I get up at the basic same time each day, go to Breakfast at about the same time, work the same basic hours, have supper in the evening at the same time and try to end my day around the same hour each night, etc.

Then there is the unexpected things that make you go “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot????" What is with that??? Something occurs or is seen that throws the norm right out the window.......

As an example, when I was in Iraq, we had a Gunnery Chief, who was in charge of all the weapons for all the Seabees, and he used to walk around camp with an inflatable sheep under his arm....we would ask him " What's with the Sheep Chief??" and he would reply, " To hell with the rest of you, the Sheep is mine..." or some other saltier Chiefly remarks that can't be repeated here due to decorum....

Here in Kandahar, certain things tend to stand out. I am driving down the road the other day and I spy something that catches my immediate attention. An antique BMW Military Motorcycle (Model R71) with a sidecar attached, parked by the side of a building. It is in pristine shape and painted up in period correct colors. This would be like finding a beautiful old 57 Chevy sitting untouched at the local gravel pit....I am unsure who it belongs to but it is without doubt the coolest vehicle I have seen here.....lots of nice military rigs here but this one beats all others hands down for style and just out & out coolness..... It looks like Steve McQueen should be coming out to take her out for a ride....I would like to take it for a ride…and I’m not the biggest motorcycle guy in the world.

Then there is the Military compound decorated with a pair of "Hang Ten" feet painted on their Building and an elevated sign above their compound....I can't snap a picture for obvious reasons (it is strictly verboten to photograph certain military areas) but it stands out like a lady bug at a duck picnic.

On a regular basis in the evening, you can observe a fighter jet heading out at high velocity with his after burner firing full blast....in the darkness the afterburner lights up the sky and the roar of the plane can almost drive you deaf.....I like that we have a constant airshow going on for our entertainment (and punishing the bad guys along the way.) Those things are to be expected but sometimes, the pilots push it with a low level flight or other feats of incredible flying acrobatics…

Other than that, most other things here are very very routine, mundane, dusty and grey. This is good as dull & mundane means that nothing really really bad is happening to people on base....and that's the way we like it......

Sunday, December 6, 2009

7th of December....another time and place

As I write this in one of the most desolate places in the world, where there are likely places where the last human to trod on the dirt was Ghenghis Khan over 1500 years ago, I am transported mentally to another place and time.

68 years ago Monday, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and other military installations on the island of Ohau were attacked, including Wheeler Army Air Field and Hickam Air Force Base.

The attack which came from the North side of the island stated at about 7:55am. All 7 of the active battleships were in the harbor, and one was in dry dock. They were all sunk or crippled, however the harbor being as shallow as it was allowed all but two, the Arizona and Oklahoma, were eventually repaired. I have been to the Arizona Memorial several times and it leaves me in awe each time. Many do not know that when the ship went down, it took over 15 sets of brothers with it, and 29 sets of Fathers & Sons. This information has been kept quiet as the country was reeling from the shock and this would have only compounded the grief.
Our planes at Wheeler field, Hickam Air Force base, and on Ford Island; which were aligned wing tip to wing tip, to prevent sabotage, were devastated.

I have spent many hours sitting on Ford Island, on a little beach that faces the Arizona Memorial. It is a solemn and beautiful place. The men on that ship are my brothers, as is every other Sailor & Marine. We all have worn the uniform of our country and serve proudly defending our flag, and for some who pay the ultimate sacrifice, coming home with the flag draped over them in honor.

Today, I sit in the middle of the Afghanistan desert, in a another place locked in a struggle for good over evil. We beat the Japanese by taking them on one battle at a time and showing them that we were the last best hope for the world.

Here, we are engaged in a fight that is wholly different, and very similar. We fight an entrenched enemy, who is fanatical beyond reason, and views us as inferior. They are allied with a enemy that engaged the attacks on 9/11. The Japanese saw us the same way and we understood that they would fight to the death. The enemy we fight is not in a uniform and will not surrender willingly or easily. They will strike us where we are vunerable, and target women & children.

FDR Stated :

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory....

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

We need to follow through on this fight, and do our best.....we know the enemy will do their worst. We will win by the "unbounding determination" of our splendid military and our allies...so help us God.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

“The difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a little longer."

Here at Kandahar, life is dusty and involves negotiating your way through the day by trying to help the people and get them what is needed.

The pace at the dusty end of the world is hectic and runs at a frenetic pace. Each person you encounter has a mission and is trying to get the essential items they need to get where they are going, and accomplish their daily tasks. In many respects, some of the items are simple (food, a place to stay, a phone call home). Places to stay are the most important of these items as there are basic accommodations, (tents) shared by 40-50 people packed into with cots (no privacy, little comfort) and then there are CANS - Shipping Containers modded into basic dorm rooms. The CANS also have a shower room (common use) and a bathroom(also common use).

Accommodations are split with one compound having Males and another separate one for Females. The best of these are the WET CANS which means a Dorm room with separate private bathroom/shower attached. Mostly these are for the Females and occasional VIPs who might need to be here short term. I was lucky that when I arrived, a HR person had just checked out, and I inherited his CAN. It is a Basic CAN but beats the life out of co-workers who I traveled in with who got the Tents and are still there awaiting openings in the CANS.

Some items needed/ desired are more complicated like computers, access to the network, cell phones and vehicles. These are the real tough items as they are in short supply and HIGH demand. The ability to have these items is controlled by who you know and who's looking out for you. If your supervisor/Dept head has the access, and get these items set-up, life can be better for you. If not, there can be many frustrating days of "doing without" which can make the time here very very very aggravating. Try doing your job without the basic tools - This would be like sending a carpenter to build you a shed without a hammer, nails or a saw. You will have a pile of wood sitting there and he'll be asking where are the tools. All you can do is give him the basic answer " They are enroute.." or hopefully, find the items here and source them from whatever place possible....It is a hit or miss proposition. This place is like Captain Kirk asking why there are no Photon Torpedoes and the acting Captain telling him " They'll be here Tuesday".

I'm getting used to this place but the disconnects between what is needed and what we are getting can make it frustrating. We are expecting hundreds more based on what the Customer (US Army) wants and what we will need to accomplish to keep them happy. It is a work in progress...and progress is fought for one meeting, discussion and e-mail at a time.

Oh yeah, did we forget to tell you there are 30,000 more warfighters coming in here between now and summer?? Sorry that little detail was left out of the SITREP you got a week ago....seems like some guy in Washington D.C. added that to the list of things to accomplish ASAP. Days are long and mine starts at 06:00 (up at 5:15- out to work starting at 06:00) and ends at 20:00 with a ride back to my CAN.....Somehow a sign stating " CAN SWEET CAN" on the wall would just be too weird. Nothing is easy over here....

The US Navy Seabees have a saying, “The difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a little longer." ...That goes double for anything over here.