Sunday, May 23, 2010

The President Practices (nay, exalts) Revisionist History

The NY TIMES reports on the President's remarks at West Point this weekend:

Mr. Obama all but declared victory in Iraq, praising the military, but not Mr. Bush, for turning it around. “A lesser Army might have seen its spirit broken,” he said. “But the American military is more resilient than that.”

Funny how he practices ( nay, exalts) revisionist history as the NY Daily News reported back in 2008.....

NOW, as in then, there were those of us who left our sweat, blood & tears on the ground over there who were the one who PAID the price, while JACKARSES like our " Fearless Leader" sat on his fat arse and carped about how the SURGE was doomed to failure....

TOO BAD the Internet is forever and we have the means to call him out when he tries to shine the bull-crap......

I can sum this all up with an old Irish saying

" The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. "- George Bernard Shaw

Barack Obama purges Web site critique of surge in Iraq

BY James Gordon Meek


Monday, July 14th 2008, 8:10 PM
WASHINGTON - Barack Obama's campaign scrubbed his presidential Web site over the weekend to remove criticism of the U.S. troop "surge" in Iraq, the Daily News has learned.The presumed Democratic nominee replaced his Iraq issue Web page, which had described the surge as a "problem" that had barely reduced violence. "The surge is not working," Obama's old plan stated, citing a lack of Iraqi political cooperation but crediting Sunni sheiks - not U.S. military muscle - for quelling violence in Anbar Province.

The News reported Sunday that insurgent attacks have fallen to the fewest since March 2004. Obama's campaign posted a new Iraq plan Sunday night, which cites an "improved security situation" paid for with the blood of U.S. troops since the surge began in February 2007. It praises G.I.s' "hard work, improved counterinsurgency tactics and enormous sacrifice."

Campaign aide Wendy Morigi said Obama is "not softening his criticism of the surge. We regularly update the Web site to reflect changes in current events." GOP rival John McCain zinged Obama as a flip-flopper. "The major point here is that Sen. Obama refuses to acknowledge that he was wrong," said McCain, adding that Obama "refuses to acknowledge that it [the surge] is succeeding." With Richard Sisk

Taliban win £1600 bounty for each NATO soldier killed

This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder why WE are getting accused of how we conduct the war, treatment of combatants when the Taliban can brazenly offer a bounty on our soldiers.....

May our warriors find these bas-trds and punch their ticket for the meeting with Allah...


From The Sunday Times
May 23, 2010
Taliban win £1,600 bounty for each NATO soldier killed
Miles Amoore

TALIBAN rebels are earning a bounty of up to 200,000 Pakistani rupees (£1,660) for each Nato soldier they kill, according to insurgent commanders.

The money is said to come from protection rackets, taxes imposed on opium farmers, donors in the Gulf states who channel money through Dubai and from the senior Taliban leadership in Pakistan.

So far this year 213 Nato soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, including 41 British troops, bringing the potential rewards for the Taliban to £350,000.

Taliban commanders said the bounty had more than doubled since the beginning of last year.
The insurgents, who employ “hit and run” tactics against foot patrols and convoys, use paid informants, media reports and the local population to confirm the deaths of Nato soldiers.

“We can’t lie to our commanders: they can check to see if there was a fight in that area. We get money if we capture equipment too. A gun can fetch $1,000 [£690],” said a commander from Khost province who controls about 60 fighters.

The money usually reaches commanders via the traditional hawala transfer system found in many Muslim countries. They then share it among their men and sometimes celebrate with a feast.
“It’s a lot of money for us. We don’t care if we kill foreigners: their blood allows us to feed our families and the more we kill, the more we weaken them. Of course we are going to celebrate this,” said a commander from Ghazni province.

The increase in rewards for Taliban fighters comes as the Afghan government prepares to present its strategy for ending the insurgency. This aims to lure less senior insurgents away from the fighting by offering them jobs in farming and engineering, vocational training in carpet weaving and carpentry, education and assimilation into the Afghan security forces, including the secret police.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

At the tip of the Spear

For those who have served in combat, life is different. The idea of what your life means along with how precious life really is are magnified in the lens of combat. When the reality of the situation hits you, and the concept that you could very well " be there one minute and gone the next" sets in, you find life is altered and will never be the same.

A colleague earned his combat chit the other day in Bagram when the airfield was attacked and the perimeter was with all other descriptions, this will give you a little insight, but until you have actually been there, under fire, no words will fully provide you with the visceral experience.


We had a noisy night last night. This place is always noisier than KAF. I am much closer to the runway. There is also an aerial gunnery range which is sometimes open at night. I guess I was awakened at about 3:30 AM by gunfire, both automatic and single rounds. It was closer and different from the range, so I went outside at about 4:00 AM. I went up to a vantage point on the third deck of the housing. We are on the West side of the base, only about 100 yards from the perimeter. At one point there was firing on both my left and right. I think the firing on the left was watchtower guards getting spooked and shooting at shadows.

The main attack came on my right (North) at about 4:30 AM, about a half to one mile away. By that time there were some Apache gunships up scouring the trees outside the perimeter. I saw two RPGs fired at the helicopters. They backed off and opened up with heavy machine guns - either 50 cal ot 20 mm. LTC (Name Removed), decked out in PPE, approached me and commented that I was not wise to be standing in an exposed location (in my shorts and baseball cap). COL (name removed) was nearby, also in PPE, musing as whether or not she had any ammunition for her pistol. LTC (name removed) also told me that we had gone to Code Blue alert, meaning the perimeter had been breached. We saw smoke rise from one large explosion inside the perimeter to my right.

There was sporadic gunfire after that, as it became light. We had all types of aircraft overhead, Apaches, Blackhawks with troops on board, fast movers, Predator, and others. The base was locked down most of the day. I heard from good sources that five individuals got inside the perimeter. Four of those had suicide vests and were killed, but the fifth got away and was inside the base. It was late morning before he was found and killed. I think the other enemy KIA were outside the perimeter.

The base remained locked down until late afternoon. When we could move around the DFAC started handing out MREs.



Friday, May 14, 2010

Our K-9 Friends....and the limited time we have with them

I have recently come to the sobering conclusion that “ Time ” is the most precious commodity we have.

No item you can obtain is more valuable, more needed, desired and more irreplaceable. Each of us is allotted a certain amount ( by a Heavenly Timekeeper) and when that allotment is up, it is up….there is no way to add time back on to the clock…..

I recently got to spend two great weeks at home with friends & family….now back in the AFGHN, I am feeling the full implication of how valuable the time I had at home is (and was)…my next break is likely not for another 5-7 months….ugh.

Some of this introspection was brought on by the news of the loss of a friend’s beloved K9 companion….I also have a friend who will likely lose his K-9 friend in the next few months due to cancer….Dogs come into our lives and leave well before we are ready to let them go….such is as it ever was…

Man and the ancestors of our K-9 friends made an unwritten, unspoken agreement 15000 years ago….we would provide warmth along with ready access to food & shelter – in turn, they would protect us from the things that lurked in the darkness that wanted to have us for dinner….it is likely the longest unbroken agreement in history as it has been honored by both sides without fail ever since.

My wife and I lost a beloved K-9 family member a number of years ago – the enclosed poem was a comfort to me at that time of loss….If heaven doesn’t include our K-9 friends, I don’t want to go.

She’s just my dog.
She is my other eyes that can see above the clouds;
My other ears that hear above the winds.
She is the part of me that can reach out into the sea.

She has told me a thousand times over that I am her reason for being.
By the way she rests against my leg.
By the way she wags her tail at my smallest smile.
By the way she shows her hurt when I leave without taking her.

( I think it makes her sick with worry when she is not along to care for me.)

When I am wrong, she is delighted to forgive me.
When I am angry, she clowns to make me smile.
When I am happy, she is joy unbounded.
When I am a fool, she ignores it.
When I succeed, she brags.

Without her, I am only another person.
With her, I am all-powerful…..and complete.
She has taught me the meaning of love and devotion.
She is loyalty itself.

With her, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.
She has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.
Her head on my knee can heal my human hurts.
Her presesence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things.

She has promised to wait for me……Whenever……Wherever.
In case I need her.
And I expect I will – as I always have.
She is my dog.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dining-in speech at U.S. Military Academy 2003 by LTC Guy Lofaro

LEADERSHIP 101 - For all that need to "understand", truly understand why LEADERSHIP is the "make or break" quality that is SORELY NEEDED in our world....

Dining-in speech at U.S. Military Academy 2003 by LTC Guy Lofaro:

"Let me say before beginning that it has been my pleasure to attend several dinings-in here at West Point and hence I have some basis for comparison. You people have done a fine job and you ought to congratulate yourselves.

Imagine you are a brand new second lieutenant on a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula. You are less than a year out of West Point, and only a few weeks out of the basic course. You are standing at a strict position of attention in front of your battalion commander, a man you will come to realize was one of the finest soldiers with whom you've ever served, and you are being questioned about a mistake - a big mistake - that you've made. You see, your platoon lost some live ammo. Oh sure, it was eventually found, but for a few hours you had the entire battalion scrambling. Your battalion commander is not yelling at you though, he's not demeaning you, he's simply taking this opportunity to ensure you learn from the experience. And you do- you learn that people make mistakes, that those mistakes do not usually result in the end of the world, and that such occasions are valuable opportunities to impart some higher lessons.

Then, out of the corner of your eye, you see your platoon sergeant emerge from behind a building. He's an old soldier - a fine soldier though - whose knees have seen a few too many airborne operations. He sees you and the colonel - and he takes off at a run. You see him approaching from behind the colonel and the next thing you see is the back of your platoon sergeant's head. He is now standing between you and your battalion commander - the two are eyeball to eyeball. Your platoon sergeant says, a touch of indignance in his voice "Leave my lieutenant alone, sir. He didn't lose the ammo, I did. I was the one who miscounted. You want someone's ass, you take mine." And you learn another lesson - you learn about loyalty.

It's a few months later and you are one of two soldiers left on a hot PZ on some Caribbean island. There's been another foul up - not yours this time, but you're going to pay for it. It's you and your RTO, a nineteen-year-old surfer from Florida who can quote Shakespeare because his Mom was a high school literature teacher and who joined the army because his Dad was a WWII Ranger. The last UH-60 has taken off on an air assault and someone is supposed to come back and get you guys. But the fire is getting heavy, and you're not sure anything can get down there without getting shot up. You're taking fire from some heavily forested hills. At least two machineguns, maybe three, maybe more, and quite a few AKs, but you can't make out anything else. You and your RTO are in a hole, hunkered down as the bad guys are peppering your hole with small arms fire. Your RTO is trying to get some help - another bird to come get you, some artillery, some attack helicopters - anything.

But there are other firefights happening elsewhere on this island involving much larger numbers. So as the cosmos unfold at; that particular moment, in that particular place, you and that RTO are well down the order of merit list. You feel a tug at your pants leg. Ketch, that's what you call him, Ketch tells you he got a "wait, out" when he asked for help. The radio is jammed with calls for fire and requests for support from other parts of the island. "What we gonna do, sir?' he asks. And all of a sudden, you're learning another lesson. You're learning about the weightiness of command, because it's not just you in that hole, it's this kid you've spent every day with for the last five months. This kid you've come to love like a kid brother.

There is only one way out and that's through the bad guys. You see, you are on a peninsula that rises about 100 feet from the sea. The inland side is where the bad guys are. You figure you are safe in this hole, so long as they don't bring in any indirect fire stuff, but if they come down off those hills, onto the peninsula, then you're going to have to fight it out. And that's what you tell your RTO. We either get help or, if the bad guys come for us, we fight. He looks at you. You don't know how long. And he says only four words. Two sentences. "Roger, sir. Let's rock." Appropriate coming from a surfer. Then he slithers back down to the bottom of the hole. Staying on the radio, your lifeline, trying to get some help. You are peering over the edge of the hole, careful not to make too big a target. You're thinking about your wife and that little month-old baby you left a few days ago. It was two o'clock in the morning when you got the call. "Pack your gear and get in here." You kissed them both and told them to watch the news. Hell, you didn't know where here you were going or why, but you were told to go, and you went.Then all of a sudden it gets real loud, and things are flying all around and then there's a shadow that passes over you. You look up and find yourself staring at the bottom of a Blackhawk, about 15 feet over the deck, flying fast and low, and as it passes over your hole you see the door gunner dealing death and destruction on the bad guys in those hills. It sets down about 25 meters from your hole, as close as it can get.

You look up and see the crew chief kneeling inside, waving frantically to you, the door gunner still dealing with it, trying to keep the bad guys' heads down, who have now switched their fire to the bird, a much bigger, and better, target. You look at Ketch and then you're off - and you run 25 meters faster than 25 meters have ever been run since humans began to walk upright. And you dive through the open doors onto the floor of the Blackhawk. There are no seats in the bird since this is combat and we don't use them in the real deal. And you are hugging your RTO, face-to-face, like a lover, and shouting at him "You OKAY? You OKAY? You OKAY?" but he doesn't tell you he's OKAY since he's yelling the same thing at you -- "You OKAY? You OKAY? You OKAY?" And then the pilot pulls pitch and executes a violent and steep ascent out of there and had you not been holding on to the d-rings in the floor and the crew chief not been holding your legs you might have fallen out. Then you're over the water, you're safe, and the bird levels out, and you roll over to your back and close your eyes - and you think you fall asleep.

But then you feel a hand on your blouse, and you open your eyes and see the crew chief kneeling over you with a head set in his hand. He wants you to put it on so you do. And the first thing you hear is "I-Beamer, buddy boy. I Beamer." You were in I-4 while a cadet, and that was your rallying cry. And you look up to where the pilots sit and you see a head sticking out from behind one of the seats. He's looking at you and it's his voice you hear, but you can't make out who it is because his visor is down. Then he lifts it, and you see the face of a man who was 2 years ahead of you in your company. He tells you that he knew you were there and he wasn't going to leave an I-Beamer like that. And you learn about courage, and camaraderie. And friendship that never dies.

It's a few years later and you've already had your company command. You're in grad school, studying at Michigan. You get a phone call one nigh t, one of the sergeants from your company. He tells you Harvey Moore is dead, killed in a training accident when his Blackhawk flew into the ground. Harvey Moore. Two time winner of the Best Ranger Competition. Great soldier. Got drunk one night after his wife left him and took his son. You see, staff sergeants don't make as much money as lawyers, so she left with the lawyer. He got stinking drunk, though it didn't take much since he didn't drink at all before this, and got into his car. Then had an accident. Then got a DUI. He was an E-6 promotable when this happened, and the SOP was a general-officer article 15 and a reduction one grade, which would really be two for him because he was on the promotion list. But Harvey Moore is a good soldier, and it's time to go to bat for a guy who, if your company command was any sort of a success, played a significant part in making it so. And you go with your battalion commander to see the CG, and you stand at attention in front of the CG's desk for 20 minutes convincing him that Harvey Moore deserves a break. You win. Harvey Moore never drinks again.
He makes E-7. And when you change command, he grabs your arm, with tears in his eyes, and thanks you for all you've done. Then the phone call. And you learn about grief.

And then you're a major and you're back in the 82d - your home. And one day some SOB having a bad week decides it's time to take it out on the world and he shoots up a PT formation. Takes out 20 guys. You're one of them. 5.56 tracer round right to the gut. Range about 10 meters. And you're dead for a little while, but it's not your time yet - there are still too many lessons to learn. And you wake up after 5 surgeries and 45 days in a coma. And you look down at your body and you don't recognize it - it has become a receptacle for hospital tubing and electronic monitoring devices. You have a tracheotomy, so there's a huge tube going down your throat and you can't talk, but that thing is making sure you breathe. And there's a tube in your nose that goes down into your stomach - that's how you eat. And there are four IVs - one in each arm and two in the veins in the top of your feet. There is a tube through your right clavicle - that's where they inject the high-powered antibiotics that turns your hair white and makes you see things. But disease is the enemy now and it's gotta be done. And there are three tubes emerging from three separate holes in your stomach. They are there to drain the liquids from your stomach cavity. It drains into some bags hanging on the right;side of your bed. And they've shaved your chest and attached countless electrodes to monitor your heartbeat, blood pressure, and anything else they can measure.

They have these things stuck all over your head as well, and on your wrists and ankles. And your family gathers around, and they are like rocks, and they pull you through. But there's also a guy, dressed in BDUs, with a maroon beret in his and, who stands quietly in the corner. Never says anything. Just smiles. And looks at you. He's there every day. Not every hour of every day, but he comes every day. Sometimes he's there when you wake up. Sometimes he's there when you go to sleep. He comes during his lunch break. He stays an hour, or two, or three. And just stands in the corner. And smiles. No one told him to be there. But he made it his place of duty. His guard post. You see, it's your sergeant major, and his ranger buddy is down, and a ranger never leaves a fallen comrade. And you learn, through this man, the value of a creed.

And every four hours two huge male nurses come in and gently roll you on your side. The bullet exited through your left buttock and made a hole the size of a softball. The bandages need to be changed. Take the soiled wads out and put clean ones in. And a second lieutenant comes in. She seems to be there all the time. She's the one changing the bandages. And it hurts like hell, but she, too, is smiling, and talking to you, and she's gentle. And you know you've seen her before, but you can't talk - you still have that tube in your throat. But she knows. And she tells you that you taught her Military Art History, that now it's her turn to take care of you, that she's in charge of you and the team of nurses assigned to you, and she won't let you down. And you learn about compassion. And then it's months later and you're still recovering. Most of the tubes are gone but it's time for another round of major surgeries. And you go into one of the last, this one about 9 hours long. And they put you back together. And you wake up in the ICU one more time. Only one IV this time. And when you open your eyes, there's a huge figure standing over your bed. BDUs. Green beret in his hand. Bigger than God. And he's smiling. "It's about damn time you woke up you lazy bastard" he says. And you know it's your friend and former commander and you've got to come back with something quick - something good. He's the deputy Delta Force commander, soon to be the commander. And you say "Don't you have someplace else to be? Don't you have something more important to do?" And without skipping a beat, without losing that smile he says "Right now, I am doing what I consider the most important thing in the world." And you learn about leadership.So there you have them. Some stories. I've tried to let you see the world as I've seen it a various points in time these 18 years. I hope you've learned something. I certainly have."

Monday, May 10, 2010

In the Mines of Moria....

At times, it feels like those of us out here in AFGHN are on an epic journey....very similar to the one taken by Frodo, Gandalf and the Fellowship of the Ring. I have enjoyed the story since I discovered it as a young reader.

This passage between Frodo and Gandalf while traveling through the Mines of Moria expresses many truisms about life and what we all deal with while on our journey....Food for serious thought..

Frodo sees Gollum following the Fellowship of the Ring through the Mines of Moria and tells Gandalf. Gandalf responds to Frodo:

Gandalf :"It's Gollum, he's been following us for three days…He hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself. He will never be rid of his need for it."

Frodo : “ It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance."

Gandalf : " Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death and others that die deserve life, can you give it to them Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgment, even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play, yet for good or ill. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate many."

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought…”

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Back to work in KAF

Enjoyed a great R&R over the past two weeks and now like anyone else, I have to get back to the business of business.....should be a busy few months ahead.

No worries as work here in AFGHN is plentiful as the war is going full speed ahead.

Hopefully, more Americans will get the chance to get back to work as the unemployment numbers are still grim and show no sign of letting up anytime soon...

From the Washington Times:

" The official U.S. unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in March to 9.9 percent in April, even as the economy added 290,000 jobs. This happened because a number of unemployed Americans who had stopped looking for work decided to try to re-enter the job force last month. They are called "discouraged" workers. They were not counted as unemployed because, according to the Labor Department, you're unemployed only if a) you're out of work and b) you've looked for work in the previous four weeks. A whole bunch of people who had stopped looking for work started again last month, increasing the size of the labor pool. Not all of them found work, so the unemployment rate ticked up.

That's good news, but that said, a truer measure of U.S. unemployment also increased last month. If you also include all of the people who are still discouraged and all of those who want to work full time but can find only part-time work, that unemployment rate in April was 17.1 percent, a rate that has increased since the beginning of the year and is approaching its all-time high of 17.4 percent, hit in October "

What this means is mainly that the average worker will not see raises, fall behind on paying the bills (as they won't earn more as they need to spend more for the basics), and last but not least, people like me will be forced to continue to work overseas as there is no real prospect of getting paid a decent wage back home....ugh!

This will all be an interesting scenario heading to the Fall Elections....until then, all will persevere to do the best for our families. And so it goes.....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sniper makes his mark in British Military History

Been on a break....nice to get back to home & see Family & Friends...and have a few beers...

Meanwhile, back in the AFGHN, our British friends have been demonstrating what proper " Gun Control" they would say, " Good Show - Jolly Good Show !"

Super Sniper Kills Taliban 1.5 Miles Away

10:57am UK, Monday May 03, 2010
Adam Arnold, Sky News Online

A British army sniper helped save his commander and set a new sharpshooting record after killing two Taliban machine gunners in Afghanistan from a mile-and-a-half away.

Cpl of Horse Harrison sealed his place in military history.

Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison fired his consecutive shots from such a long distance that they took almost three seconds to reach their targets.

This was despite the 8.59mm bullets leaving the barrel of his rifle at almost three times the speed of sound.

The distance to his two targets was 8,120ft, or 1.54 miles - according to a GPS system - and about 3,000ft beyond the weapon's effective range.

The 35-year-old beat the previous sniper kill record of 7,972ft, set by a Canadian soldier who shot dead an al Qaeda gunman in March 2002.

Speaking about the incident, Cpl of Horse Harrison said: "The first round hit a machine gunner in the stomach and killed him outright. He went straight down and didn't move.
"The second insurgent grabbed the weapon and turned as my second shot hit him in the side. He went down, too. They were both dead."

The serviceman then fired a third and final round to ensure the machine gun was out of action.

He said: "Conditions were perfect, no wind, mild weather, clear visibility. I rested the bipod of my weapon on a compound wall and aimed for the gunner firing the machine gun."
He killed the two insurgents as he protected his troop commander, whose vehicle became trapped in a field in Helmand Province and started coming under fire.

Cpl of Horse Harrison, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, was using the British-built L115A3 Long Range Rifle, the army's most powerful sniper weapon.

It is only designed to be effective at up to 4,921ft - just less than a mile - and capable of only 'harassing fire' beyond that range.

To compensate for the spin and drift of the bullets as they flew the length of 25 football pitches, Cpl of Horse Harrison reportedly had to aim 6ft high and 20ins to the left.

In a remarkable tour of duty, he cheated death a few weeks later when a Taliban bullet pierced his helmet but was deflected away from his skull.

During the Taliban ambush, his patrol vehicle was hit 36 times. He said: "One round hit my helmet behind the right ear and came out of the top.

"Two more rounds went through the strap across my chest. We were all very, very lucky not to get hurt."

He later broke both arms when his army vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.
Cpl of Horse Harrison was sent back to the UK for treatment, but insisted on returning to the front line after making a full recovery.

He said: "I was lucky that my physical fitness levels were very high before my arms were fractured and after six weeks in plaster I was still in pretty good shape. It hasn't affected my ability as a sniper."