Thursday, June 22, 2006

Iran Pisses Off Canada

Iran has managed to piss off Canada. Now, as someone that lived in Canada for about 20 years, and as someone that's seen how difficult Canada can be to rile, I have to say, this is quite a feat. Apparently, Iran has selected as a UN"human rights delegate" a man implicated in the death of a Canadian photographer. Tehran's chief prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, was selected as a delegate to the new UN human rights council. Said Canadian Foreign Minister Peter Mackay,

"The presence of Mr. Mortazavi in Iran's delegation demonstrates the government of Iran's complete contempt for internationally recognized principles of human rights,"

and

"The government of Canada expresses its disgust at the fact that Iran would choose to include such a person in its delegation to a new U.N. body intended to promote the highest standards of respect for human rights."

Seems two official investigations have have found that Mortazavi ordered the arrest of the Canadian photographer, Zahra Kazemi, and then falsified documents to cover up his involvement. She later died in detention in Iran.

Link to the story here:

http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=910502006

You really have to wonder who's running things over in Iran right now, a bunch of monkeys with typewriters? I think even most Canadians will agree that Canada is usually fairly slow to anger or take offense to anything. If Iran can even piss off Canada, you'd almost think they were trying to alienate the rest of the world on purpose. Oh well, maybe Iran'll piss off enough people that someone besides the US, UK, and Canada will actually step up to the plate.

Monday, June 19, 2006

War Quotations

I'm kind of busy today, so I thought I'd just put out some of my favorite quotes about war.

"Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the dogs of War." - William Shakespeare ("Julius Caesar")

"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men." - General George Patton Jr

"War is the continuation of policy(politics) by other means."- Karl von Clausewitz

"Retreat might give us a moment of respite but years of repentance at our weakness would, I believe, follow."- Tony Blair's address to the nation (20 march)

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"- Edmund Burke (1729-1797), British statesman and philosopher

"Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?"-Gunnery Sergeant Dan Daly, 4 june 1918.

"For God and the soldier we adore, In time of danger, not before!The danger passed, and all things righted, God is forgotten and the soldier slighted." - Rudyard Kipling

"It is better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep."- Italian proverb

"Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for"- Unknown

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight... is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself".- John Stuart Mill

"Beware lest in your anxiety to avoid war you obtain a master."- Demosthenes

"The best defense against terrorism is a strong offensive against terrorists. That work continues."-President George W. Bush, October 13, 2001

"this will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome except victory."- President George Bush, addressing the nation 20.march 2003

"Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place. We are in a conflict between good and evil, and America will call evil by it's name. By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it."-President George Bush

"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it"-Daniel Webster

"The two highest achievements of the human mind are the twin concepts of 'loyalty' and 'duty'. Whenever these twin concepts fall into disrepute - get out of there fast! You may possibly save yourself, but it is too late to save that society. It is doomed"-Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Myths about the US Military

Over the last few years, I've read and had repeated to me by anti war, anti military elements, many myths about today's Military. Predictably, I've also seen plenty of these myths advanced by the MSM as well. I thought I'd share a few that I'm sure we've all seen and heard numerous times, and then give you the actual facts that contradict these myths. The next time you have someone come up and start spitting any of these at you, hopefully you'll remember this post, and be able to hit them with real facts.

All or most soldiers are rednecks from the South.
In reality, at the end of fiscal year 2003, there were 176,408 soldiers in the force. Of these, 100,467 came from the North or West. 75,941 Came from the South or South West. From my own experience, in my battalion, the only "Southern" states that were highly represented were Texas and Virginia. I personally was born in Michigan, and lived in Canada for about 20 years until I joined the Army. A large number of the people I knew were from Ohio or California. There were two, yes two soldiers from states other than these in the South. In fact, many Virginians don't even consider themselves Southerners. The fact is, the Military is not made up of a bunch of "good ol' boys" from the South.

Minorities are being used as "cannon fodder" on the front lines.
I've heard this one plenty, and in my opinion, it's the dumbest one. It's simply a ploy to call up the Vietnam war, when minorities actually were overrepresented in frontline combat positions. This calling up the ghost of the Vietnam war is a favorite of the anti-war crowd. First off is the obvious fact that it's an all volunteer force, so people sign up on their own, and choose their job on their own.

But let's look at some other facts. The fact is that as of 2006, white Americans made up well over half of the total military force, coming in at 67%, and have so far suffered 74% of the deaths in the GWOT. Minorities make up 33% of the total force, and have suffered only 26% of the deaths in the GWOT. This is due to the fact that an even higher percentage of white American's, over 70%, choose a combat arms role in the Military, and the percentage of white Americans in Special Operations is even higher, over 75%, while for whatever reason, minority soldiers tend to go into support occupations such as health services, which tend to feature valuable job training over bonuses. This is not to say anything about any particular group.

Hell, I always thought the guys that didn't go into the infantry or other combat arms must have been smarter than we were. They sure didn't have to jump out of a perfectly good airplane then go slogging through the mountains or desert for weeks on end with 100+ pounds on their back!

Soldiers are uneducated, or less educated than their peers outside the Military
Pretty much completely untrue. Between 93 and 95% of current soldiers have a high school diploma, compared to 75% for their civilian counterparts. And according to numbers released by the Defense Department, “Nearly two-thirds of today’s recruits are drawn from the top-half of America in math and verbal aptitudes.” Additionally, soldiers are all taught to be leaders, and to operate independently.

From my own experience, I had one soldier who was previously a registered nurse. Two others in my company had IQ's over 150 and were members of Mensa. Two more were had law degrees. Several were published authors and poets. And that was just the enlisted soldiers. One of the Platoon Leaders was a mormom, a graduate of BYU, and had been a missionary in tPhilippinesnes. One was a Russian, who had served in the Russian Army, then came here and completed college. Of course, most were West Point graduates, which is one of the most selective schools in the nation. And these were all Infantry guys. Imagine the soldiers in a computer field or something equally technical. In truth, soldiers of today have to know so many skills that it's ridiculous to think that they are in an way "uneducated."

Recruiting is down
Actually, it's not. In four of the last 5 years, the Army, which usually struggles a little more in recruiting, has met and exceeded it's goal for active duty recruits. For 2004, the Army's active duty goal was 77,00. They exceeded that by nearly 600. During the same 5 year period, The Navy, Airforce, and Marine Corps met or exceeded their recruiting goal. Oh, by the way, they've all done that every year since the terrorist attacks of September 11th. As for the numbers for this year. The Army made 104% of it's goal for March. The Air Force and Navy, 100%. The Marines, 102%.

These are the ones that I hear the most. As you can see, they're all pretty much rubbish. I'm sure you've noticed that the anti-war/anti military crowd thinks they've found something, they like to stick with it, even if it's proven to be completely untrue. So hopefully the next time one of these people come up to you and give you one of these lines, you'll have the ammo to at least shut them up for a few seconds.

Edit:The comments section is freezing my computer. So I'll just end my comments here. Besides, I don't know why I was arguing on my own blog anyway.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Operation Mountain Thrust

For the Canadians out there, Bill Roggio is currently doing an embed in Afghanistan. He has been with Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He has been giving updates about Operation mountain Thrust.

http://counterterrorismblog.org/2006/06/three_days_of_operation_mounta.php

http://counterterrorismblog.org/2006/06/the_road_to_tarin_kot.php

Bill Roggio, Michael Yon, and others are the journalists that get out there with the troops and tell the public the real story. I only wish that we would have had journalists of this caliber, courageous men and honest men, when I was in Afghanistan or Iraq. Unfortunately, only one person came out to embed with us, the lamentable Geraldo Rivera. He wasn't with us very long however, maybe four days before he was booted from our operation and our unit for doing something that was really pretty damn stupid. We had just set up our company patrol base for the night. It was dark and no one was smoking and doing quite a good job of maintaining light discipline, and guys were just starting to bed down. Suddenly, the entire patrol base was illuminated by floodlights! He and his crew had set up studio lights in our perimeter so they could get a nice, light filled shot! It was unbelievable. Our CO put an end to that pretty quickly, but we still spent the rest of the night expecting to take some indirect at any moment. Needless to say, he was put on a Blackhawk out at first light the next morning.

So when there are good journalists out there like Mr. Roggio and Mr. Yon, we have to support them. So head on over to their sites(I have the links, "Counterterrorism Blog" for Mr. Roggio, "Michael Yon" for Mr. Yon). If you can spare some cash to help the costs of their embeds, I'm sure they'd be grateful. Even if you can't, head on over there and just read what they have to say. These guys are doing everything they can to get the true story out about Iraq and Afghanistan, and we should all do whatever we can to help them in their endeavors.

"Hearts and Minds" in Afghanistan

I hate using the above phrase, but I couldn't think of anything better. To me, the image conjured by those words is the Vietnam war, which the anti war crowd has tried so hard to tie the current war to, as an "unwinnable quagmire." I see no similarities whatsoever to the current wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, but I couldn't think of a better way to describe what I'm trying to say.

One of the biggest difficulties faced in Afghanistan is the remoteness of the country. By this I mean that with the country as spread out and isolated as many of the people are, and with the difficulty in even getting to many of these remote villages, it has been extremely difficult in getting the coalition message out, in helping those people, thus, in "winning their hearts and minds." Several times in '03 and again in '05, we arrived in villages that had never seen a US, Canadian or any other coalition soldier before. Of course, I can understand why. We had to drive about 5 hours to get to a point where we only had to hump another 3 hours through the mountains to get to the village. But this is truly a very real, and in my opinion, a very major problem with bringing democracy to the country.

In several of these villages, the interpreter told us that the villagers had been told by Taliban insurgents that we had invaded the country because we wanted to destroy Islam, because we wanted to murder Afghani's, because we wanted to destroy their country. In these isolated enclaves, they have no radio, no television, no newspaper. So it's all word of mouth. And if no one has told them otherwise, why wouldn't they believe the people that come to their village, that look like them, that speak their language? I actually saw an old woman break down and begin to sob because her son had believed we were invaders there to destroy them, and he had gone away to fight against us with the Taliban. She felt that her son would never return, and for what? For a lie, for propaganda.

How do you combat this problem? You really can't without getting boots on the ground. But many of these villages don't even show up on a map. They're way up in the mountains or in some valley that even the helicopters never see. And really, getting boots on the ground in all of these places would require more soldiers, which honestly doesn't seem forthcoming. Certainly there have been increases in troop strength. But how many of these are soldiers that actually go out on patrols and missions, and how many of them are support troops that never leave Bagram and Kandahar, or troops from other countries that have been told by their countries that they are not to leave the bases? There are far less boots on the ground in Afghanistan than most people actually realize.

I honestly have no solution to this problem. I wish I did. How do you get the word out to these severely isolated areas? How do you convince people you're there to help when they see coalition forces actually face to face and giving them aid once in four years? This isn't an indictment of the way the war has been handled. I'm not trying to say what should have been done. I'm simply saying that it's a very difficult problem to tackle. We are certainly winning the war in Afghanistan. And even with this problem facing military planners, make no mistake, the war will be won, and Afghanistan will be a better place for it. We will reach our goal. We may simply have to take a longer path to get there.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Haditha

I don't feel like doing a long post with a lot of my own thoughts and opinions today. Hell, I figured I'm not getting paid for this, so I can pretty much make my own rules. Anyway, I just wanted to get a quick thought out. At this point I won't express any personal opinion on what did or did not happen at Haditha. If these Marines are found guilty, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. But we all need to wait and find out the facts before rushing to judgement, unlike the dishonerable Jack Murtha. Let's not forget 2Lt. Ilario Pantano(warning:link takes a while to load)

http://euphoria.jarkolicious.com/journal/2005/05/13/345/#more-345

And for the Canadians out there, let's not forget Cpl. Rob Furlong.

http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/canada/article.jsp?content=20060515_126689_126689#

This is how lives and careers are destroyed for nothing more than political correctness.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Transforming the Force

The militaries of both the US and Canada are changing. They are becoming lighter, faster, more self sustaining, more deployable, and more lethal. And I for one am glad.

Now I've never been a big believer in a lot of the new technology that soldiers are always being told to use. I hate most of the new sites and gadgets. They're just extra weight that never gets used. I hate all the laser's that are stuck all over everyone's M-4. Give me a nice CQB site and a back up iron site and I'm pretty happy. Hell, give me some good old iron sites and I'm happy. And I hate the change for the sake of change that goes on during these periods of transition. I never touched any of the MOLLE gear. My modified ALICE worked just great, and I wore my Tactical Tailor MAV chest rig that I ordered from lightfighter from the beginning(of course, I guess that's kind of change for the sake of change as well, but at least no one was trying to force me to wear it!).

But for the missions and wars of this generation and the next, this transformation is absolutely essential. Don't listen to retired generals in the US that scold Mr. Rumsfeld from the safety of retirement. Change is always hard on those who built their lives and careers around a certain way of doing things. Now how will they be able go on CNN and tell everyone what they would have done? They've become outdated, and they don't like it. Make no mistake, the initial invasion of Iraq was brilliant. It will most likely be taught at Military schools and college's for decades to come. And it was done with a fraction of the man power and material that the General's and so called "experts" insisted was necessary.

This new modular force is exactly the kind of thing leaders, from the team leaders like myself, to the Battalion and Brigade commanders, have been hoping for for a long time. Each unit is more self sustained, lighter and more mobile, more easily deployed, and has far more assets at their immediate disposal. The US military is the best it's ever been. People like Jack Murtha would have you believe otherwise for political gain, claiming the military is "worn out" Don't believe a word of it. With the new technologies, new weapons systems, new and better training, and most important, the experienced and courageous soldiers, the US military can and will fight this war and any other they are called upon to fight, and they will win.

And Canadians, don't listen to those in the government and media that seem to believe that the CAF should only be used as "Peacekeepers," or worse, that that's all they're capable of. The Jack Layton's of Canada(Is it something with the name "Jack" that makes these people insane or what? I'm sure there's a research study there somewhere) would like Canadians to believe that the CAF should only be used in missions where there's no chance of anyone actually having to do anything that might be construed as "violent." Apparently they feel that would offend too much of the world's delicate sensibilities, and Canada might not be viewed as everyone's buddy(except the US of course. Can't make it seem like Canada actually likes America or anything). But don't be fooled. The CAF is a viable, highly trained, highly motivated force. They are truly capable of executing any mission, anywhere, at any time. They are courageous warfighters, who are doing a very important job, and doing a damn good job of it too.

They are involved in a tough fight, but don't believe everything you're force fed by the media. Most of the "Taliban offensive" in the South of Afghanistan is really offensive operations by the Canadians and other NATO forces. The media is simply dressing it up as a buildup by the insurgency because there have been more frequent engagements. But the Canadians and NATO forces are initiating most of these contacts as they hunt down these cowards in their homes and along the border. For too long the CAF has been underfunded, ignored, and cut back. Hopefully with the force transformation, that will change. Because these men and women deserve better.

So take heart, all you military supporters and lovers of freedom. All those that feel that islamofacism may well be the single greatest threat to our way of life that has ever been seen. All those that feel the cut and run isolationism that's being preached by so many far left liberals at the moment is pie in the sky lunacy at it's worst. Because the men and women that are willing to put there lives on the line to defend our way of life and the ideals we hold dear are only getting stronger. And that must be a scary thing for our enemies.

Getting Something off my Chest

Ok, a little warning. This post has nothing to do with current military matters. But I've just got to get this off my chest. As a former member of the 82nd Airborne, it really grinds me that anytime anyone talks about Airborne units in WWII, anytime anyone mentions Airborne units period, anytime anyone makes a movie, a TV series, or a movie about Airborne units, it's always about the 101st. Now, is this a little jealousy on my part? Sure, probably. But come on, the 101st isn't even airborne anymore!

For all you current and former Puking Buzzards, don't take me too seriously here. It's just a little professional rivalry and mocking. But I've been thinking of this for awhile, and I just have to rant a bit here.

I realize that the whole Bastogne thing is very courageous and inspiring and all. You know, surrounded and cut off, standing up to the odds, "Nuts" and all that. But in reality, how much did the stand at Bastogne really affect the overall outcome of the Battle of the Bulge? Here's an excerpt from an article on the Bulge by Wesley Johnston over at the Dad's War website. You can find the same info in a number of books on the subject.

....Even when the 7th Armored Division had reached St. Vith, it was the troops on the northern shoulder and the newly arrived 82nd Airborne Division that kept a very narrow escape route open for the virtually surrounded defenders of St. Vith. But once the defense of St. Vith was set up, that defense also bolstered the defense of the northern shoulder, as both defenses forced the German columns off of their planned routes and led to considerable congestion as the Gemran columns were then funneled in between the northern shoulder and the St. Vith salient.
But what about Bastogne? In popular thinking, the Battle of the Bulge is synonymous with the Battle of Bastogne. This is very unfortunate, since it ignores the real military keys (holding the northern shoulder and holding St. Vith) to the defeat of the Germans. Journalists hungry for some sign of American success at stopping the German onslaught played up the defense of Bastogne, where Gen. Anthony McAuliffe (101st Airborne Division) said "Nuts" to a German surrender demand...... This was truly heroic stuff. But from a military strategy point of view, while Bastogne was a strategically important major road junction for sustaining the attack, it was on the periphery of the attack and well behind the initial front lines. The German plan was to have the panzers bypass Bastogne...... And the panzers did succeed in bypassing Bastogne, so that their plan in that sector was on schedule..... from a strategic perspective, the German fate had already been sealed at St. Vith, when they could not take that critical supply center on Day 2 - nor on Days 3, 4, 5, and most of 6. Bastogne did not become surrounded by forces intent on taking it until the night of December 21, Day 6 of the Battle of the Bulge. And the famous "Nuts" did not come until December 22, Day 7. Heroic as the deeds of the defenders of Bastogne were, the defense of Bastogne is a very important secondary element but not one of the true strategic keys to the German failure.


A little long I know. But the point is, even though the defense of Bastogne is thought of as the main part of the Battle of the Bulge, it was really a secondary element. In fact, the Germans succeeded in taking their initial objective in that area. With as much press as the Screaming Chickens get for Bastogne, you'd think they won the whole battle themselves. Clearly, this is a somewhat mistaken viewpoint.

But I can't lie. When I was going through OSUT and Airborne, I wanted to be in the 101st. Of course, at that point I didn't realize that they didn't really jump anymore. So once I found that out, it was much to my relief when I was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I suppose I could say more on the issue, but most of it would just end up as a rambling rant(not that this wasn't). But I'll leave all you air assault troopers with this little cadence "Stand up, hook up, slide down the rope, air assault troopers ain't nothin' but a joke!"

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Afghanistan: Progress

So this is my first entry, and I've already decided to steal an idea from a fellow blogger. Celestial Junk Blog has been one of my favorite blogs and the first one I started reading on a regular basis. Their current entry deals with the Afghan National Army, or ANA. Since this is something I have a bit of experience with, I figured it was as good a place to start as any.

In the years since the start of the war in Afghanistan, the ANA has gone from a rag tag group of mostly boys with little to no skills and no real leadership(save the Special Operations advisers that were training them, who are outstanding) to a cohesive military. The following is part of what I posted in the comments section over at CJunk:


It's great to see the ANA continue to become an effective fighting force. I remember being there in '03. The ANA were more like a group of children playing than a cohesive military. The AMF did most of the fighting for the Afghani's. I have to say, at that point, I was concerned about the future of the Afghan military.When I redeployed in '05, it was a completely different force. The ANA were able to plan and execute their own missions and patrols, with little to no help from any of the allied military units(except air cover of course) And their soldiers were capable of fighting and defeating the enemy.


The ANA has truly come a long way since their first faltering steps(some of you who have been deployed there may disagree. This is only from my personal experience, and I know some have a far different opinion on the effectiveness of the ANA). They are still are still a long way from being truly able to manage and defend the country, but they have made great strides. They have come to trust the US military, and are understandably concerned with the planned handover of the South to NATO control. However, I believe that they will come to trust the Canadian troops in the same way. This is another part of my post to CJunk:
The Afghan people are a tough people. They have been through wars for a very long time. They know the price of failure in this one.....Having met and worked with many Canadian units, and having many Canadian friends in the military......I have no doubt that the ANA will develop the same trust in the Canadian military. Canadian soldiers are some of the best warfighters in the world, and I wish that more of the Canadian public would support them on this important endeavor, and not just wish for a more "noble" peacekeeping mission.
I believe this to my very core. Canadian infantrymen are some of the most well trained, highly motivated soldiers out there(maybe not the best equipped, but that's a post for another time. Hopefully SH sees the needs of the CAF and at least attempts to fix them with whatever means he has at his disposal) A Canadian even holds the current record for longest confirmed kill. These soldiers deserve to be mentioned with the elite militaries today. Of course Canadians are known as exceptional peacekeepers. They are very good at it. But they are also tremendous war fighters. I truly believe if the majority of the Canadian people could see the exceptional abilities of the Canadian soldiers, and they and the American public could see the progress that Canadian and US forces are making, they would support the mission wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately, the media(Canadian especially, but the US certainly isn't immune) are too busy with the "Death Watch" to get out and get a truly accurate picture of the country. Of course, this goes right along with their defeatist attitude, and the fact that they seem to want their predictions of impending doom to come true. Most of the Afghani people are happy we're there, and want us to stay. Sadly, this majority is not as interesting or as "news worthy" as the vocal minority. An interview with a mullah or government official that talks about throwing out the American invaders and killing infidels, is much more interesting(or at least that's what the media believe) than an interview with a goat herder that tells you how much better life is now.
I remember a conversation I had with an afghani man in a small village. At this point we were working with the Canadians(sorry, can't remember what unit) and I was talking with one of my Canadian mates. An afghani wandered over and we started talking to him. He spoke remarkably good english. He told us he was going to enlist in the ANA in a couple of days. He also said, and I'm paraphrasing here, but the gist of his words were "The Americans and Canadians must stay in Afghanistan. Our lives are much better. We don't live in fear anymore. If you leave before the country and military are completely back on their feet and able to stand on their own, the Taliban will come back, and it will start all over again. You must stay, even if it takes 10 years. Please, you must stay. You are great friends to the Afghani people" I have to admit, my friend and I were slightly choked up after this conversation. But the point remains. The Afghani people are truly happier and better off now than they have been in a long time. I know that Canadian and US troops, as well as the Afghani people, have the will and the courage to stay the course and finish the job. I just hope that the general public in the US and Canada have the same will and courage.