Thursday, June 30, 2011

IDF sailor refused service: Restaurant ordered to pay

From Israel National News:

Restaurant Insults IDF Soldier and Will Pay

by David ben Yacov

Haifa Magistrate Court Judge Shimon Scher ruled that the Arab owners of the ‘Azad’ restaurant must compensate IDF naval serviceman Raviv Roth with the sum of 15,000 NIS, in addition to 2,000 NIS in legal fees, after refusing to serve him or even allow him into the restaurant while he was wearing his uniform.

Roth approached the ‘Azad’ restaurant on Masada street in Haifa, and was told by the shift supervisor that serving anyone in a uniform is against the policy of the restaurant....

Another restaurant gets to eat humble pie!

Go read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Islam, ALL children are Suhana

Nine-year-old Pakistani girl Suhana was on her way to school when the militants allegedly seized her and drugged her, she said in a news conference broadcast by CNN affiliate GEO TV.

Did you miss this story?

Monday, June 20, 2011

9-year old Girl Caught Wearing Suicide Vest

20 June 2011 VOA News In the Lower Dir tribal area, police Monday said they have detained a 9-year-old girl who was wearing a suicide vest and told to blow up a security checkpoint.

The young girl told reporters at a news conference that she was abducted from the northwestern city of Peshawar on Saturday. She said her captors strapped the bomb on her and dropped her off at the checkpoint near Timergarah, the main town in Lower Dir. Police say the girl was wearing eight kilograms of explosives when she was taken into custody.

Authorities are trying to confirm the girl's story and search for her captors.

Suicide bombings carried out by young girls or women are extremely rare in Pakistan....(More here)

They may be rare in Pakistan(so far, and take a look at this article for a promise of more of the same in Pakistan) but they are not rare across the Islamic world. From Afghanistan one week later: Islamist Attack on Afghan Police Delivered by Unknowing 8 yo Girl .

The only person killed in that attack? The poor 8 year old child. This just one day after the cowards sent a suicide bomber (aka murderer) to attack a hospital, which killed dozens of pregnant women and children. It has been long known that the terrorist groups within Islam don't give a damn about their children. From 2007:

In Lebanon, kids are trained to be suicide bombers.

In Iraq, women and children are used as suicide bombers. In March 2007: Iraq insurgents used children in car bombing.

Take a look at this:

And this is the Religion of Peace? Not so much. As a soldier who sees what this stone age - despicable - culture does to their kids every day ( and who often gets to pick up the pieces of the kids and their dead targets) when the story about the 8 year old would-be suicide bomber surfaced, said:

[...] just want to offer some advice. If you think about this type story too much it will drive you nuts. Our enemies are sick bastards & evil & leave it @ that.

The point I wanted to make was the general civilian world honestly doesn't have to hear all the evil these guys do...just that they are evil sick bastards. We try to track down the ones responsible for doing the evil to kids & take them out. They do this stuff to try to break our resolve & it just fans the flames.

I have enormous respect for all our troops, and this soldier in particular, but I have to disagree with him on one point. I believe that we in the 'general civilian world' must read this stuff. I believe we must be aware of what these animals do to their children. If we turn away, refuse to acknowledge what Islam does to children, this will be what our own children will face. In our own countries we already see - if we choose to - what creeping Islam is ready, and willing, to inflict on us, and our children. As a respondent to the soldier above so rightly said:

I know, but I just post these stories to make people aware. I know what the Taliban do and al Qaeda, but most people don't know, and they need to be aware. It's coming here sooner or later. We've had 10,000 beheadings along the Texas border, and the Taliban are here. It's only a matter of time.

We are all familiar with the Hamas terrorist training camps in Gaza where even pre-schoolers are taught that Jews must be killed. As Golda Meir once famously said:

I cannot forgive ANY 'religion' that proves daily that they are willing to sacrifice - kill - their own children, and use them as instruments of death, in the name of their sick 'religion':

That from here, where the tag line says: Afghan kids 'play' suicide bomber.

Children 'play'? No, no, NO! I will never accept that it is just a cultural divide that makes it okay for ANY child to be playing at suicide bombing. THIS is what children playing looks like, no matter what part of the world you happen to be born in:

courtesy ISAF:

Afghan children play on refurbished playground

A young boy gives the thumbs up while several other Afghan children play on a new swing set during recess at the local school house in Musa Qal’eh, Oct. 17. According to Capt. Charlie Chiang, civil affairs team leader, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, local nationals recently refurbished the playground by building swings, replacing the teeter-totters, goal posts and flags. The playground equipment was also repainted the colors of the national flag, building national pride amongst the students.

THAT is how children the world over SHOULD be playing, embracing life, not courting death. But a culture that believes it is okay to strap bombs on their kids, whose kids are expendable, and that it is also just fine to throw acid in girls' faces as they go to school, is what our troops face every single day as they fight the GWOT on the frontlines of the sandbox. One of the sites I found that last story on was a Canadian unofficial army site, and the question was posed "Do Some Still doubt why we are there?" No, I am very sure that our troops know why they are there, just as I do, but a lot of politicians, and most of the 'general civilian population' choose to stay ignorant.

From War on Terror News:

Friday, April 01, 2011

Troops Make Playing w/ Iraqi Kids a Normal Event

Bringing smiles to Iraqi kids

by Staff Sgt. Ricardo Branch 25th ID, JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq

A group of excited, young Iraqi children jumped up to swarm 1st Lt. Jae Kim, dashing around his feet, in an attempt to catch the soccer ball he kicks around playfully at the Joint Base Balad Morale, Welfare and Recreation building March 26.

One year ago, interacting with Iraqi kids only occurred in fleeting moments when U.S. Soldiers took small breaks on patrol to play with the kids, said Kim. These days, units operating from Joint Base Balad regularly host events, such as the Iraqi Kids Day, bringing service members together with the local community.

Kim, a native of Fort Lee, N.J., said after numerous missions outside the base, playing with kids can bring joy to even the most battle-tested Soldiers.

“Some of these kids come from some economically depressed areas, so you don’t see a lot of fun activities where all the kids get together,” said Kim, Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.

“The simple things we take for granted, you just don’t see a lot of here, so it’s good to just get a bunch of the kids together for some fun.” ... (more here)

Fun? In the last few days stories such as these have been dismissed by a reader as 'puff pieces.' That is ridiculous, of course, for at least two reasons: 1) stories like this should be told, if for no other reason to dispel the myth of our troops as Rambos-on-steroids running amok, and 2) I know from first-hand exposure (I was very young then) to US troops interacting with the civilian kids, that the lifelong effects on every kid, of even a few minutes of kindness, joyful - carefree - playing, are indelible.

A picture such as this is an integral part of interacting with little kids in our culture:

Courtesy ISAF: MAIDEN SHAHR, Afghanistan--Turkish Army Sergeant 1st Class Ramazan Cagliyan interacts with a child at the Wardak central Market during a tour of the province with members of the Turkish Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) . [...] ISAF photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez (RELEASED)

And then there is this:

Courtesy ISAF: COMISAF Visits Shahdarak Market

KABUL, Afghanistan - At the end of his first full day as Commander of
the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which included
overview meetings with the commander of the NATO Training
Mission-Afghanistan, his three-star commanders, and a number of ISAF's
staff sections, General David H. Petraeus decided to take a break and
visit the Shahdarak Market in Kabul, Afghanistan. He walked from the
ISAF Headquarters to the market, where he met with local businessmen,
purchased and shared bread with the locals, and even found time for a
little football match with a few local Afghan children. (ISAF Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bradley A. Lail) (released)

Throughout this GWOT, there are many documented instances of our troops playing soccer, distributing toys, or playing in playgrounds with local kids; all normal every day events to our kids, but all too scarce events to these kids for whom life is a struggle every day.

Children in Delaram, Afghanistan, are playing soccer and wearing jerseys that were given to them by the Marines with the Police Mentoring Team, Regimental Combat Team 8, and the Afghan Uniformed Police, Feb. 15. The PAT and AUP donated the soccer supplies to the Delaram Boys School. Photo by Lance Cpl. Clayton Vonderahe

And I have to include one of my most favourite pictures of one of our guys with the kids:

(Used with permission) The soldier in this picture told me:

We all kinda put on shows when kids are around, goes along way on the hearts & minds & we genuinely love them...& if I go a coupla days without hearing kid's laughter I get cranky.

Do I need to belabour the point that that right there is the difference between our culture and theirs? I didn't think so.

Look at the joy in those kids' faces in all these pictures as they are - being kids.

On one of the UK military sites today, I found this picture, and as I look at this I have to wonder (as I know some soldiers have) : is this child going to be a future threat to our troops?

As the soldier quoted above says:

They are taught from an early age that we [all the West] are responsible for all the evil that befalls them... [...]It's a simple matter of survival for them...and a boatload of see that in a child's eyes wearing explosives that you gave your lunch to earlier puts ice water in your veins. I try to dispel their opinion of us but it's hard to convince them we're the good guys trying to help them, it just doesn't sink in for them...

On the UKForcesAfghanistan site where I found this (and other great pictures of kids) they say this:

Like children the world over, they are cheeky and inquisitive and are always intrigued by a soldier with a camera,...(go look here for more on The children of Helmand)

'Cheeky and inquisitive.' Yes, kids the world over are cheeky, they are inquisitive, but within Islam, for kids the world over, their future looks very bleak. Islam actively promotes - and loves death - more than they cherish their children, and as long as this is so, I see no carefree childhoods for any of their children, no peace for any of our children.

There are some who will tell you that we should just leave the barbarians to it, and bring all our troops home; that what they do 'over there' is not our business. To me, that is such a shortsighted view of the world, and Islam's well-documented plans to dominate our world. As one of the comments above reminds, ignoring the problem and hoping it won't come to our own shores, is a failure to grasp the real threat we all face, globally. Yes, I know very well that more than a few of the coalition countries are in the process of withdrawing their troops from Afghanistan, as has happened in Iraq already. Not only is this folly for the children left behind in those hellholes, run by cowardly neanderthals, it is also catastrophically stupid for all of us.

Every week it seems there is another story of Islamists killing their own children who they deem to have 'dishonoured' their 'faith'. Yes, even far away from Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, or any of the other predominantly Islam countries. (Insert your own *spit* here. )

Remember Aqsa Parvez? No? Well you really should be paying closer attention. I last wrote about her in June 2010:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Aqsa Parvez: Rest in Peace

Aqsa Parvez was a victim of the 'religion of peace.' Living in Canada, she was murdered by her father and brother:

Father, son plead guilty to Aqsa Parvez murder

Mississauga, Ont., teen strangled in 2007 after argument over hijab

Last Updated: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | 6:27 PM ET

The father and brother of Aqsa Parvez, 16, have pleaded guilty to killing the Mississauga, Ont., teenager in 2007.

Muhammad Parvez and Waqas Parvez pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday and now face automatic life sentences.

Initially it was believed by police that Muhammad Parvez had killed his daughter, but in court it was revealed that the brother had strangled Aqsa.

"[Muhammad Parvez] decreed she should be murdered, but Waqas Parvez is no less guilty. He had so many opportunities in those days to stop his father," said Crown prosecutor Mara Brasso inside the Mississauga court.

"The plan was in play at least two or three days before it happened. He never warned Aqsa. He never warned police. Even when they got to the home he obviously didn't falter on the threshold, on the doorstep and he carried on and murdered her," said Brasso.

"Home," said Brasso, "was the most dangerous place for her."...

"Home...was the most dangerous place for her..."

As it still is today in Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other country where cowards use their 'religion' of Islam to keep children and women under their jackboot control.

In that column here, I referred back to an earlier column I had written about Aqsa on Tanker Bros when she was murdered in 2007:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What happens over there...

...has nothing to do with us"? How many times have we heard this? How many times have the complacents among us said "we should all just leave the middle east alone, and they won't bother us?" "Not our business, since it is not here in our countries.."

How many times? Well, folks, as I have been saying all along, What is happening "over there" has EVERYTHING to do with us.

(The rest of this column here) You may try and tell yourself that such things as 'honour' killings like this one in Iraq, could never happen here, so we should just leave those Islamist countries, and stay home safe within our own borders. Not so fast. Aqsa's story, and many other such stories, clearly show that these cowardly killers are already here among us, and have brought their unacceptable culture with them. Remember the tv producer who beheaded his wife in February 2009? No? Refresh your memory here.

Some statisticians are predicting that within one generation, at the current rate of immigration and reproduction, the Islamists will be the majority here in our own countries. The Pew Research Center, for one, tracks these trends. Statistics are all well and good, if you are counting known residents (ie legal), but is there anyone still unaware that among all the Mexican border runners on the US' southern border, there is also a good percentage of Islamists sneaking in to settle down and do goodness only knows what in America? They bring their belief systems with them, folks.

Yes, I am sure that readers who don't know me will scream that I am a racist, or an Islamophobe, (and I'm okay with that) but take a look at this story, and tell me you cannot see the stark, undeniable difference between a culture that persists in blowing its own kids apart, as well as using them to blow others up, and the culture represented by our troops, who replaced the limbs of a dismembered child:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Afghan Boy lost arms to Insurgents' IED, US Army replaces them

Young Afghan amputee gets new arms

Written by By U.S. Army Sgt. Scott Davis Regional Command-East Public Affairs

110301-a-x1111-002 Saturday, 26 March 2011 BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – After being struck by an insurgent’ improvised explosive device earlier this year, a 12-year-old Afghan boy lost both of his arms and captured hearts, resulting in a collective effort to get him new limbs.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Allyson Lawson, the discharge coordinator for Afghan patients at Bagram Airfield’s Heathe N. Craig Joint Theater Hospital, made it her mission to get better prosthetic limbs than what is currently offered in Afghanistan.

A prosthetic arm’s functionality is displayed. An Afghan boy had two similar arms donated to him after he was injured by an improvised explosive device earlier this year thanks to a few service members’ efforts. (Courtesy Photo)

“The International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan does not make a functional hand, just a hook. I thought (the hand) would help him more,” said Lawson, a National Guardsman from Colorado Springs, Colo. “I wanted this young man to be able to continue his education and ease the difficulty he will face in doing so.”...

(Go read the rest here.)

As always, there are some who will quietly insist that these murderous cretins do not represent the true Islam, and they deny the immorality of a 'religion' that uses kids as weapons. Really? Tell that to any of the children sent off to 'play' the very real deadly, terminal game of suicide bomber.

Just today, this story:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Taking the Moral High Ground? Fazal Saeed "won't target" innocents, Pakistan military

'We abhor killing innocent people through suicide attacks and bomb blasts, attacks on our own army and destruction of social infrastructure,' a statement quoted him [Fazal Saeed] as saying in the Afghanistan Sun.

Fazal Saeed, a former commander of the terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has decided that killing innocent people/civilians AND attacking the army of Pakistan is unjustified morally. According to Saeed, the targeting of "Muslims" is forbidden by Islam. Saeed was a commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in the Kurram Agency, a part of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

After supposedly asking the leadership of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to stop targeting these two groups of people, Saeed had enough and quit, forming his own group, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Islami. "The new organization will not attack our own security forces," he claimed... (More here)

Maybe so, and this leader talks a good story, but the children of Islam need a heck of a lot more than just talk, to ensure them a future free from fear of the absolute immorality of being called upon to blow themselves up. They need a future - period.

The radical muslim culture delights in death and destruction; our culture celebrates life, nurtures the joyful potential within all children. However, the sad fact is that in the all too near future, none of our troops will be close by to 'ease the difficulty' any of these kids face. Coalition countries have lost the political will to stay the course, and BHO says he will focus on the nation at home.

My hope? That BHO - at least - is voted out before the Islamists which he is welcoming into his administration - and the country - become too firmly entrenched. All too soon it will be all too late for the Suhanas, and the rest of our children.

In Islam all children ARE Suhana.

Wednesday Hero

Lance Cpl. Matthew Kirkman

U.S.Marine Corps

Lance Cpl. Matthew Kirkman, a radio technician with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, is the newest member of the 2nd MLG Color Guard and currently serves as a rifle bearer. Kirkman is a native of Birmingham, Ala., and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2009.

Photo Courtesy Taken By Sgt. Justin J. Shemanski

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so others may get to enjoy freedom. For that I am proud to call them Hero.
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
Wednesday Hero Logo

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

IDF: Will not apologise for defending Israel

IDF in Arabic Video: This is a Flotilla of Hate

by Gil Ronen

Major Avichay Adraee, IDF Spokesman in Arabic, issued a video message Monday stating Israel’s resolve to block any flotillas headed toward Gaza.

The IDF “will not apologize for doing everything it can to defend Israel’s borders from terror organizations and the countries who sponsor them, who seek to harm the Israeli home front,” Adraee said.

“We’ve seen enough attempts to smuggle weapons via the sea in an effort to arm extremist terror organizations – for instance, the Victoria, the Karin-A and the Santorini. All sailed under a foreign flag, seemingly innocent. So it is no wonder that Israel must examine all vessels sailing toward the Gaza Strip…”

The “aid groups” taking part in the flotillas are “groups working to undermine Israel’s legitimacy to defend its borders by land, air and sea. These organizations serve as a cover for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.”...

Much more, plus videos, here.

And yes, the IDF is acting on PM Netanyahu's orders:

Netanyahu Orders Navy to Interdict Flotilla

by Gavriel Queenann

Prime Minister Binyamin ordered Israel's defense establishment Monday to interdict the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla 2, Voice of Israel radio reported.

Netanahyu gave the order during a meeting of his Security Cabinet dedicated to preparations Israel was taking in advance of the new flotilla expected to set sail for Gaza this week. The Cabinet voted in favor of a Navy plan to prevent the upcoming flotilla from arriving in Gaza and granted the IDF authority to prevent the ships' arrival by any means necessary.

Earlier Monday, Israel and Egypt agreed to the arrangement whereby ships taking part in the flotilla could opt to unload cargo at El-Arish. Ships that instead try to force their way to Gaza, however, will be boarded, searched, and have their passengers arrested.

Israel's Navy has been gearing up to stop the flotilla, which says it plans to run the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“We expect the flotilla to set sail later in the week,” IDF sources said. “We are preparing for various scenarios, from no violence to extreme violence.”

The Navy says it plans to stop the flotilla far from Gaza, after issuing a warning that the territory is under a sea blockade. “If the ships continue sailing after being warned, then we will have the right to stop them even if they did not yet enter Gaza’s territorial waters,” a navy official explained....

More here.

No other commentary needed from me, except: I STAND WITH ISRAEL.

To Japan with love

Because every child needs a teddy bear...

06/27/2011 - A collection of stuffed animals sit ready to be sent June 27, 2011, to Japanese citizens affected by the March 11, 2011, 9.1-magnitude Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Listeners of the “Ron and Don” show on KIRO, Seattle, Wash., radio donated the stuffed animals. The Pacific Northwest-based radio program organized and shipped more than 96,000 pounds of donated clothing, toys, food and other items destined for orphanages and other areas affected by the natural disaster. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Matthew M. Bradley, U.S. Navy/Released)

One of America's Best: Air Force Capt. Sarah Eccles

As my regular readers know, every week I share one of America's (and sometimes, our coalition's) Every Day Heroes. These are people that most of America never gets to hear about, as they serve day in day out. It is always hard to choose just one example of the men and women who serve, so I have decided to also start another series: One of America's Best. No particular day for these, as I'll just share them as I find them:

Air Force Capt. Sarah Eccles, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, is serving in a career-broadening assignment as an air liaison officer in the 682nd Air Support Operations Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Daniel Phelps

Face of Defense: Pilot Supports Ground Fighters

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Phelps
20th Fighter Wing

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C., June 27, 2011 – Like many aviators, Air Force Capt. Sarah Eccles, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot from San Antonio, caught the flying bug at a young age. On her 15th birthday, her father surprised her by taking her to a Wright Flyers Aviation flight school.

As she sat in the cockpit with the instructor, operating the controls and soaring through the air, Eccles said she realized she'd found her passion.

She began taking flying lessons soon after that test run. At age 17, on March 20, 1999, she experienced her first solo flight.

"It was a little intimidating going airborne, being in charge of this machine," Eccles recalled. "It's a huge responsibility, but such a confidence builder. I thought, if I could do this, what's next?"

After her high school graduation, Eccles attended the Air Force Academy and then two years of pilot training, where she fulfilled her dream and earned her wings as an F-16 pilot. After flying the F-16 for four years, she reached a time all Air Force pilots come to: their Air Education and Training Command lead-in fighter training, forward air controller and air liaison officer tour, also known as an "ALFA" tour.

This tour is a time when Air Force pilots take a break from flying to serve in other, career-broadening roles. Fighter pilots may become instructor pilots, operate remotely piloted aircraft or serve as air liaison officers, providing planning, coordination, and execution expertise to multiservice combat operations.

"The tour is designed to bring experienced flyers away from their main weapons system to other jobs to use their experience and to gain some experience," Eccles said. "The point is for pilots to broaden their careers."...

Go read more about One of America's Best here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Robert Gates: On the record about his record

As Robert Gates prepares to leave the office of Defense Secretary in the US, the DoD - via American Forces Press - has published a series of articles about him. I posted the first over at WOTN the other day:

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gates Thanks Troops in Kandahar, Bids Farewell

DefSec Robert Gates to troops in Kandahar: “I’ve come out here to thank you for the last time for your service and for your sacrifice. More than anybody except the president, I’m responsible for you being here. I’m the person that signed the deployment papers that got you here. And that weighs on me every day.”


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – It’s 110 degrees in the shade, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is answering questions from about 200 soldiers at a bleak U.S. installation near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in mid-June.

At the end of the session, he tells them he has one more thing to say: “I’ve come out here to thank you for the last time for your service and for your sacrifice. More than anybody except the president, I’m responsible for you being here. I’m the person that signed the deployment papers that got you here. And that weighs on me every day.” It’s tough for the secretary to get through this statement. He steps away from the microphone, and there are tears in his eyes. The soldiers in the audience -- from the 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade -- are moved, as well. Gates receives prolonged applause. As he hands out commemorative coins to the troops, they thank him for his service and all he has done for them.

“I’ve told friends that I would be more than happy if the only legacy I took away from this job is those kids out there in the field knew they had someone who was looking after them, all the time,” Gates said in a recent interview with American Forces Press Service during his last trip to visit deployed troops....

This a great read, with insights into the man who has held the office through such tumultuous times in America's history. Go find the rest and read it here.

Part 2 focuses on Iraq and Afghanistan:

Gates Overcomes Obstacles in Iraq, Afghanistan

"“All the evidence we have, all the political leaders in Iraq -- with the exception of Sadr -- want us to stay for training and to have a presence,” Gates said, “and we’re prepared to do that.” The secretary added that he believes it will happen.

“It’ll be ugly, it’ll be at the last minute, and it’ll create all kinds of hassles for us logistically, but I think they see it as very much in their interest, and so do we,” he said. “It’s just a matter now of getting the ball across the goal line,..."

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – The whole time Robert M. Gates has served as defense secretary, the nation has been at war on two fronts.

When Gates came on board in December 2006, his focus initially was on Iraq, where sectarian violence threatened to rip the country apart. He then shifted his attention to Afghanistan, where the Taliban regained the initiative while the United States was preoccupied with Iraq.

Gates was the man President George W. Bush tapped to retrieve the situation in Iraq. The secretary was familiar with the situation on the ground. As a member of the Iraq Study Group, he had traveled in the country and spoke with U.S. and Iraqi leaders. He had met with the troops doing the heavy lifting and taking the casualties in Baghdad, Tikrit and Anbar province.

The day after Gates took office, he boarded an aircraft for Baghdad and consulted with U.S. and Iraqi leaders. It was the first of 13 visits to Iraq as defense secretary. “I had three priorities when I arrived: … Iraq, Iraq and Iraq,” the secretary said during a recent interview with American Forces Press Service.

As the surge troops arrived in Iraq, violent incidents rose to 500 per week, and American casualties climbed along with them.

The secretary had to convince Congress to stay the course and that it was essential to American security that people not perceive the United States had lost in Iraq. In one instance, he cancelled a trip to Latin America to be available to talk to U.S. senators who were wavering in their support for Iraq.

Despite initial doubt from some, the surge worked. At its height, there were more than 166,000 American service members in Iraq. By the summer of 2007, leading indicators in Iraq showed progress: the number of “no-go” neighborhoods was declining and violence was going down. The “Anbar Awakening” formed the Sons of Iraq security force and gave the Iraqi government breathing room to establish control and provide much needed governance and economic growth.

Now that Iraq is relatively peaceful and fewer than 50,000 American troops remain in the country as trainers for Iraqi security forces, it is easy to forget how dangerous the situation was....

Read the rest here.

Part 3 is a wide-ranging discussion of issues he faced, and which will continue to face our warriors; from wounded warrior care, to TRICARE, to retirement, to DADT, his off-the-record lunches with junior service members, and more.

Secretary Outlines Unfinished Business

“The one thing I have never been willing to do in this job is use troops as props. You’ll never find me in an event with troops behind me on the stage. It always makes me nervous. Another thing I don’t like about town halls is how long they have to be there before I get there. They’d rather be in bed.” [...]

I am more candid with these young people than I am with anyone else,” he added. “It’s because I trust them and believe in them. They are the only thing I will miss about this job.”

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has served for four-and-a-half years -- longer than all but four of his predecessors -- but he still has some unfinished business.

Gates remains concerned about the treatment of wounded warriors. He regularly visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, the site of the Defense Department’s burn center. At Brooke, he said, he noticed the effect of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles he had worked so hard to field quickly.

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (2 L) is welcomed upon arrival at Kandahar Air Base. AFP photo.

(pic courtesy of AFP)

“One of the advantages of the MRAP is, compared to the first year I was in this job, the burn unit is almost empty,” he said. “So many of these kids were getting horribly burned in the Humvees. The last time I was in Brooke there was no one to see in the burn unit.

“It may be the worst ride in the world -- I think it may be like an old buckboard,” he continued. “But it has saved lives.”

Fiscal challenges remain for the department. Health care costs are skyrocketing -- from $19 billion in fiscal 2001 to $51 billion this year. “It’s eating the department alive,” Gates said.

He doesn’t disagree with those who say the significantly lower cost of the TRICARE military health care plan for working-age retirees is one of the benefits of their service. But nobody made any promise that it would never change, the secretary said. Annual premium costs for working-age retirees could go to $520 from $460 and then be indexed to keep the costs at one-seventh, one-eighth or one-ninth what their civilian counterparts pay for health plans, he said.

“I’ve got no problem with retirees paying a fraction as part of their benefit, but there’s nothing to say it has to stay at the same dollar figure forever,” Gates said. “The department simply can’t afford it. There’s just no two ways around it.”

Rumors have the department changing service member compensation as part of its belt-tightening, but this is not true, Gates said....

Read the rest here.

Part 4
reflects on the culture within the Pentagon, and the fiscal cuts being demanded of the military.

Gates Takes Steps to Change Pentagon Culture

[...] “I am determined that we will not repeat what we did in the 1970s and, to a lesser extent, in the 1990s, which is across-the-board cuts that end up hollowing out the force,” he said.

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 – When he first took office, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had no intention of changing the culture of the Defense Department. He was focused almost exclusively on the war in Iraq.

During his two years with the Bush administration, he did tee up “broader issues that needed to be addressed by my successor, and punted those to my successor,” Gates recalled. But he found himself on the receiving end of those punts, he said, when President Barack Obama asked him to stay on as defense secretary.

“The major, more dramatic steps that I took during the first term that went after the institution were really to just try and get things to the troops,” Gates said.

This started with the wounded warrior issue at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and then the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles needed to protect deployed troops from roadside bombs. He also pushed to improve battlefield medical evacuation and to get more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities into the combat theater.

“But I became increasingly frustrated during that period with the inability to get any of those things done within the usual organization,” the secretary said. He began thinking about what needed to be fixed, how to build more agility in the system, how to make people more realistic, and how to impose more discipline in what the department buys.

“So that really teed up the agenda, once I was given renewed lease to begin tackling these broader issues,” he said.

So he went after the culture in the Pentagon, particularly the part of it that developed over 10 years of having an open checkbook...

This is really an interesting look behind usually closed doors. Read the rest of the final part of the series with Robert Gates here.

I must confess that I have only been aware of Robert Gates in the most recent years of his public service career, as Secretary of Defense. Then I found his biography here.

Truth is that, love him or not, disagree with his decisions or no, Dr. Robert M Gates has served America well.

Thank you, Sir!

Welcome Home “Dirt Warriors”!

Another of my favourite stories to start the week:

National Guard “Dirt Warriors” celebrate homecoming in Johnston


Aiden Parmenter couldn’t wait.

The 3-year-old boy broke rank midway through a major general’s speech. He hopped off his father’s lap and ran across the gymnasium floor to his grandmother, Lt. Col. Mary Parmenter, who was just back from Afghanistan, standing in formation next to the podium.

The two had seen each other only once, briefly, in the past 12 months, and she folded him in her arms while 1,200 people watched. Then she handed him a rose and sent him bouncing back across the gym while the crowd roared its approval.

The “Dirt Warriors” came home on Saturday after nearly a year in Afghanistan. The Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team started or expanded six demonstration farms in Kunar Province along the border with Pakistan, underwrote the planting of 70,000 trees for orchards and reforestation, trained hundreds of Afghan men and women in farming and started a paid internship program for young Afghan agricultural professionals...

Much more, with details of the great work they did while deployed. (but no pictures) here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Some Gave All: Master Cpl. Francis Roy

Master Cpl. Francis Roy

CEFCOM NR – 11.005 - June 26, 2011

OTTAWA – Earlier today, Brigadier General Dean Milner, Commander, Joint Task Force Afghanistan announced the name of the Canadian Forces member who was found dead from non-combat related wounds on 25 June 2011.

Master Corporal Francis Roy from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment based at CFB Petawawa, Ontario, was serving in Afghanistan as a member of the Special Operations Task Force.

As the incident is presently under investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, no further details are available at this time.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of our lost comrade. Our primary focus at this time is to provide the best possible support to the family of our soldier and to his colleagues.

-30- (DND)

From the CBC:

[...] Roy, originally from Rimouski, Que., was a logistician responsible for transport of troops and equipment on his second deployment to Afghanistan, said Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, the commander of the Canadian task force. His age was not released.

In his spare time, Roy liked to fish, run and had a passion for old cars, Milner said.

"Our thoughts at this time are with the family and friends of Master Cpl. Roy," he said. ..

More here.

Always remembered and honoured. My heart goes out to all who love this fallen HERO.

Rest in Peace, Sir...

[More from The Medicine Hat News here]