Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The TRUTH: "Incident in New Baghdad"

This last weekend a movie nominated for an Oscar under the Documentary category, gave a version of what happened in one specific incident in Iraq. "Incident in New Baghdad" has been promoted as the reality behind a film Wikileaks released that became known as 'Collateral Murder'.

Only one problem with this movie: it's not the truth of what actually happened that day.

War On Terror News has this:


Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Michael

1st Battalion, 9th Marines
1st Battalion, 9th Marines
U.S. Marines

This weeks post is a little different. Rather than an individual service member, or a group, Wednesday Hero is profiling an entire battalion. 1st Battalion, 9th Marines (1/9) aka "The Walking Dead". Activated on March 1, 1942, 1/9 has had a long and distinguished service history. Seeing deployments in WWII, Vietnam, Somalia and Iraq. During the Vietnam War they earned the nickname "The Walking Dead" because of their extremely high casualty rate. 1/9 was deactivated in September 1994 but were once again called back into service in 2005. There has also been four Medal Of Honor recipients from 1/9; Pfc. Frank Witek, 2nd Lt. John Leims, Sgt. Walter Singleton & Cpt. Wesley Fox.

You can read more about 1st Battalion, 9th Marines here and here

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 Wednesday Hero. 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, February 28, 2012

Grandmother Inspires Soldier to Volunteer

By Army Capt. Marvin J. Baker
120th Infantry Brigade, Division West

FORT HOOD, Texas, Feb. 27, 2012 - When Army Capt. Latoya James of the 120th Infantry Brigade received the Volunteer of the Quarter award during a Feb. 16 ceremony here, it was a family affair.

Army Capt. Latoya James, right, poses for a photo with her grandmother, Lonnie Evans, left, mother, Carroll Johnson, and daughter, Chloe Amani James, after James received the volunteer of the quarter award during the Hood Hero awards ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 16, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Marvin J. Baker

James' mother and grandmother were at the ceremony, and so was her 5-month-old daughter.

"My mother and grandmother are the most giving people I know. It means a lot to me that they are all here," James said. "I want to teach my daughter that when you give you are blessed, and you can bless others."

James said her grandmother, who still volunteers regularly, inspired her to give back.

"When I was 8 years old, my grandmother loaded up her car ... near Thanksgiving time with [dinners] of spaghetti, corn, bread and salad. Then she took me to the Salvation Army shelter in Fort Worth, Texas, where we served meals to people in a line that seemed to go forever," James said.

"From that point on, I was inspired," she added. "I saw the expressions on their faces and said to myself, 'When I get old enough, I will follow in my grandmother's footsteps and help others.'"..

Read the rest here.

Thank YOU for your Service, Captain.

Body armour saves British soldier from Taliban bullet

From the MoD:

An Equipment and Logistics news article

27 Feb 12

A British soldier's body armour saved him from a Taliban gunshot during a fierce fire fight in Helmand province recently, enabling him to shrug off the impact and carry on with the mission.

Soldier holds out damaged bullet

Trooper Daniel Griffiths with the Taliban bullet which struck him in the back
[Picture: Sergeant Mark Nesbit, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Brave Trooper Daniel Griffiths, from 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (QDG), was shot by insurgents while on Operation EAGLE'S SHADOW, a two-day operation targeting known insurgent 'safe havens' on the edge of the Nad 'Ali district.

The operation's mission was to disrupt insurgents' ability to attack or lay improvised explosive devices against Afghan security forces and soldiers from the International Security Assistance Force.

23-year-old Trooper Griffiths, from Wrexham, had been working to identify an insurgent firing point after another part of his patrol came under fire from AK-47 assault rifles. But, as he moved to try to see where the insurgents were, another group opened fire from another location, pinning Trooper Griffiths and two more soldiers under fire. He said:

"I was at the front or 'point', and as we turned the corner of the compounds we were opened up on from another firing point. We all hit the deck as the rounds pinged all around us."...

Much more here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New York overhauls emergency response capabilities post-Irene

From Homeland Security News Wire:

Emergency response

27 February 2012

Last week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a series of major initiatives to bolster the state’s emergency response capabilities; the proposals specifically incorporate lessons learned from the state’s response to Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee

Downed power lines were only part of the difficulty in responding to Irene // Source:

“We learned from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee that we must be ready and have the capabilities to respond to all emergencies. Our state’s first responders are second to none, but they need a highly coordinated network to support them,” Cuomo said. “Today we are launching a series of new actions to ensure that our first responders are properly equipped to respond quickly and effectively in an emergency anywhere and anytime.”

To that end, Cuomo has proposedcreating five Regional Disaster Logistics Centers that will stockpile necessary equipment and serve as staging areas for multiple state and local agencies and the National Guard. These staging grounds will help ensure that critical equipment and resources are in place before an emergency hits....

More here.


Exercise ARCTIC RAM is the name of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group’s inaugural training exercise which is being conducted in the Northwest Territories from February 14 to 26, 2012.

It is the biggest and most complex Army-led exercise ever undertaken in the Canadian Arctic. It will allow our soldiers to reacquire winter soldier skills and improve the Canadian Army Arctic capabilities. We need to be able to shoot, move and communicate in harsh Arctic conditions.

The cancer of 9/11

February 25, 2012,
Help might finally be on the way for heroes of 9/11 who have fallen ill with cancer. The disease has slowly been overtaking all too many of the first responders at Ground Zero.

Now a federal panel has advised that a $2.76-billion program for people sickened by World Trade Center toxins ought to be expanded to include cancers.

The Zadroga Act, which covers asthma, breathing problems and other ailments, excludes cancer from the list of illnesses eligible for treatment and compensation.

This must change as soon as possible. As we have urged before, those who have been sickened from working on the pile of toxic debris - police, firefighters, emergency workers and others - deserve government-backed health care and financial support.

Remember they were initially misled by officials to believe that the dust on the ground and in the air was safe.
To this point, the list of covered illnesses has remained limited, partly because federal lawmakers were concerned about runaway costs and illegitimate claims.

But there is no question that known carcinogens - including asbestos, benzene-laden jet fuel and other toxins - were present among the nearly 300 chemicals that Ground Zero workers handled and inhaled day after day.

For some, the results have already been lethal. ...

This is the TRUTH. Read the rest of this one here.

CounterView on Afghan Violence

From War On Terror News:


CounterView on Afghan Violence

760211 032

As Americans observe the current round of violent Afghan protests, and prepare to receive the remains of Americans whose lives were taken training Afghans to defend their own country, it is easy to say: "Screw them all!" It's understandable that many are saying exactly that, because the rioting crowds seem to encompass the entire Nation. After all we've done to bring Freedom, Peace, and Prosperity to a people living in the 14th Century, how could they possibly turn on us over this incident.

The first thing to remember is that those aren't "average Afghans" in the streets, and while the crowds seem large, the biggest riots numbered only in the thousands, in the capital of Kabul. Elsewhere, there were crowds, numbering in the hundreds, in places like Jalabad & Konduz. These are cities of tens of thousands to millions of residents.

Americans have rightly asked: When will President Karzai apologize for the Afghan troops that have murdered OUR Troops. When will he condemn Taliban attacks on HIS civilians. The answer is that he HAS apologized for the attack on Our Troops and he routinely condemns attacks on Afghan Civilians by the Taliban. So, the question should be: Why doesn't the MSM report those apologies and condemnations? Why does it only report Karzai's words when Americans are going to take offense at them?

The general American reaction to the current events, seems to be: "Screw it. Let's pick up our toys and go home." Some of those I would least expect to express it, are doing so. Again, I understand the sentiment, but this is a (normal) reaction that fails to look at the bigger picture.

The "Koran burning" will have a negative effect on the overall perception of American Troops in Afghanistan. "Somebody" was really stupid in how they handled that and politicians seem to have compounded the issue. BUT none of that justifies the current violence in the streets.

There has however been a huge increase in attacks on US and ISAF Troops by Afghan Troops and Police Officers since 2008. ...

Read the rest here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Military Wives: In My Dreams

on Feb 23, 2012

Order the Military Wives' debut album, In My Dreams. Amazon: HMV:

The official video for Paul Mealor's In My Dreams featuring Military Wives and JonJo Kerr.

Proceeds from the album In My Dreams will go to The Military Wives Choirs Foundation which will help all military communities to establish their own Choirs across the UK.

In My Dreams
Words & Music: Paul Mealor

As I lie here, at night,
As my eyes give-in to sleep,
As I dream of you, here in my arms,
I'm holding you, loving you.

As you sleep there, my love,
As your eyes give-in to rest,
As you dream of me, there in your arms,
I'm holding you, loving you.

In my dreams, you're in my arms,
In my dreams, my heart is holding you; Feeling you; loving you,
In my dreams, you're always there,
In my dreams our love will never die; always you; always love; In my dreams.

All alone here, I lie,
As the darkness falls around,
As I think of you, and your warm embrace; I'm home again; ever safe.

In my dreams, you're in my arms,
In my dreams, my heart is holding you; Feeling you; loving you;
In my dreams.

Order now:


Find the Military Wives on:

Video directed by Razor Edge:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Afghan Insurgent Reintegration Effort Works, Official Says

From DoD:

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2012 – The Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program, established and run by Afghans since 2010, resolves grievances that lead to fighting and delivers peace at a local level, a senior coalition officer said today.

British Royal Marine Maj. Gen. David A. Hook, who directs the force integration cell for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, spoke with Pentagon reporters via video conference from ISAF headquarters in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The peace program, which the Afghans implement locally but direct and coordinate nationally, gives insurgents a chance to leave the battlefield peacefully and permanently and rejoin their communities with dignity and honor, Hook said.

“Any counterinsurgency strategy includes a nonmilitary solution that reaches out to insurgents with the goal of peaceful reintegration where everyone benefits,” he added. “This program ambitiously seeks to do this and to deliver peace at a very local level.”

Reintegration is an essential element in the comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign that ISAF Commander Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen is implementing, he said. A cornerstone of the local approach, he added, is resolving grievances that led people to fight or become insurgents in the first place.

“The overwhelming majority of those fighting in the south and other areas are fighting for nonideological reasons,” Hook said. … Addressing their grievances can draw them back into society.”...

Read the rest of this here...

British Airways handler fired 'for being muslim'?

From MailOnLine:

BA baggage handler 'who was groomed to be a terrorist' claims he was sacked for being a Muslim

By Eddie Wrenn

23rd February 2012

A 'terrorist sympathiser' linked to a notorious airline bomb plot is claiming he was unfairly sacked as a British Airways baggage handler because of his religion.

Counter terrorist police found an apparent plan to groom Shahzada Khan to place a package on a plane bound for America.

During an investigation into Rajib Karim, who was jailed for 30 years last March for plotting to place a bomb on an airplane heading to America, police discovered emails between Karim and Khan, as well as emails between Karim and hate-preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

Cracking the heavily-encrypted emails, police suspected Karim and al-Awlaki were grooming Khan to help them smuggle a bomb onto an American-bound plane....

The rest? Here.

H/T JihadWatch

Thursday, February 23, 2012

NYPD monitoring of Muslims

NYPD monitoring of Muslim students sparks pledges to work more closely with law enforcement against jihadis -- no, wait...

Does the NYPD have any reason to be concerned about the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Students Association? Check this out from Discover the Networks:

Yes, really. Go read the rest here at Jihad Watch. . EVERY police department should be aware of - and monitoring - ANY domestic threats to the citizenry. No apologies.

Veterans Writing Project: Helping Veterans Heal

Owning your story: How writing helps veterans heal

By Jacqueline Hames
Soldiers Magazine

WASHINGTON (2/22/12) -- "You can tell the extroverted writers; they are the ones that stare at your shoes while they are talking to you, while the introverted writers stare at their own shoes," Ron Capps, founder of and instructor with the Veterans Writing Project, joked during a weekend seminar.

Dario DiBattista, a Marine veteran and instructor with the Veterans Writing Project, guides a seminar discussion on war poetry. (Photo by Jacqueline Hames)(Released)

The borrowed classroom on the George Washington University campus here was filled with both varieties of writers. The lunch hour consisted of quiet discussions among men and women of all ages--some staring at their shoes, others staring at someone else's -- all discussing their experiences in the military with each other.

"The basic idea behind the project is working writers, who are graduates of Master of Arts or Fine Arts programs and veterans -- you have to meet all three of those criteria -- come and give away what we know to others," Capps said, about the VWP.

"Veterans, family members, active and reserve [component] servicemembers, anybody who wants to write about the military experience" are welcome to join the seminar....

Go read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I protest the killing of Christians: Die, Muslims, Die!

The international airwaves quivered with outrage yesterday as news leaked out of US Troops disposing of - among other things - Islam's "Holy Book."

From the land of Perpetual Outrage came word of protests outside Bagram:

Video Source: france 24, International TV Network
Afghan protests erupt over Koran 'burning' at US Bagram air base AFGHANISTAN, Thousands of Aghans protested at Bagram Air Base, the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan, on Tuesday, as local laborers found out that NATO personnel had been burning Korans at the base. With news of the protest still coming in, MSNBC is reporting that the base saw 2,000-3,000 protesters today. "Afghan demonstrators used slingshots and fired guns in the air while U.S. helicopters responded with flares," reads the MSNBC report. "The demonstrators — shouting "Die, die, foreigners!" — started gathering in the morning after learning of the incident." According to MSNBC and The New York Times, local Bagram employees reportedly found the charred remains of Korans in the trash.

NATO Commander Gen. John R. Allen has already issued an apology for burning. "ISAF personnel at Bagram Air Base improperly disposed of a large number of Islamic religious materials which included Korans," Allen said, referring to NATO's International Security Assistance Force, in The New York Times report, which politely went with Allen's "disposal" euphemism in its headline. "When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities."

Take careful note of the idiot near the beginning screaming 'I urge all Muslims to sacrifice themselves..."

Everybody and their dog (but not Bratdog) have rushed to camera to apologise to all the Afghan people, from General Allen, to Panetta to - of course - the Mouth In Chief himself. A directive has also gone out for extra (sensitivity) training for our US Troops on the correct disposal of such reading material.

I reported on this last night on War On Terror News here, and This Ain't Hell has this.

According to the Beeb this morning, at least four protesters have followed the suggestions of the guy in the video telling them to 'sacrifice' themselves. So far, 4 dead and many injured as the second day of the 'any excuse to blame the infidel foreigners and joooooos' noise gets underway.

Over at Jihad Watch is this:

General Allen clearly has now idea how weak and pusillanimous his repeated apologies in this video will make him appear to many, if not most, of "the noble people of Afghanistan." He should know enough about Islamic culture to know that it respects strength and sees apologizing and attempts at conciliation as weakness, only to be despised.

Note also the General's eager endorsement of Sharia provisions regarding treatment of the Qur'an, and unquestioning acceptance of the fundamental proposition that the burning of these Qur'ans was something heinous and to be apologized for in the first place. He makes no attempt whatsoever, even in the gentlest way, to suggest that rioting and calling for killing people because of the burning of these books is irrational, unjustifiable behavior.

And even though his assumption of a duty to enforce Sharia in this case is a matter of tactics, not belief, it is unwise: it will not win the hearts and minds of Afghans, and it sets yet another bad precedent for the responsibility of Infidel authorities vis-a-vis Sharia....


What if 2,000 Americans rioted and protested against General Allen's imbecility? Would we get an apology, too? An apology for the waste of the "nation-building" exercise in Afghanistan, and for the U.S. Government's bowing to Sharia? Are violent and irrational voices the only ones that U.S. authorities heed?...

Good question, and go read the rest of that here.

So MY question is this: When are we going to see all those *moderate" muslims angrily rallying against burning of Christian Holy Books (ya, know, like the Bible), and when are we going to hear reported - breathlessly and earnestly by the msm, of course - on "thousands rallying chanting "Die, Muslims, Die!" for the depraved killings of children and the ongoing murder of Christians around the world by demented disciples of the religion of peace and followers of the Koran?

Here, let me start the rallying protest cry: Die, Muslims, Die!

(Yeah, that makes about as much sense as the pathetic but dangerous *protests* in Bagram today, and that IS my point. )

Falkland island named after last British casualty

From Merco Press:

February 21st 2012 -

Island named after last solider killed in the Falklands’ conflict

On a June morning 30 years ago, Pte Craig Jones was killed by a shell as British troops made their final push in the Falklands War. He was the last soldier to die in the conflict as a ceasefire was declared the following day.

Pte Craig Jones with his parents before leaving for the Falklands

Three decades on, his family has followed in the footsteps of Pte Jones and the Parachute Regiment which helped liberate the islands that had been occupied by Argentina.

The family's journey ended at an islet they have been given which had previously gone by the name of Little Rabbit Island. There they held a ceremony to mark its name change to Craig Island - in memory of their son.

“There will never be any permission to build on the island, so it's going to remain what it is now - a haven for wildlife,” said Pte Jones's mother, Pam.

“It's a tribute to Craig, and not only Craig, because he was one of more than 260 men who were killed - so it's a tribute to all of them.”...

Much more here.

Afghanistan chapel dedicated to fallen Marines

Maj. Gen. Glenn M. Walters (right), 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) commanding general, speaks during a dedication of the Flightline Memorial Chapel at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, Jan. 31. The ceremony was in remembrance of the U.S. Marine lives lost while supporting Marine Corps aviation in Afghanistan.

From earlier this month:

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) Story by Cpl. Justin Boling

CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan - A newly-constructed chapel at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, was dedicated in a ceremony Jan. 31 to Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.

During the ceremony, troops gathered at the chapel to read scripture, sing songs and watch the placement of polished wood plaques bearing the names of their fallen brothers.

“Originally, the chapel was just going to be called the 'Flightline Chapel,’” explained U.S. Navy Capt. Rondall Brown, the command chaplain for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). “After reflecting on the loss and the sacrifice of these men, this chapel had to stand for something more.”

The Flightline Memorial Chapel is now dedicated to all members of the Marine Corps aviation community who have lost their lives serving in southwestern Afghanistan...

Much more here.

MCpl. Tyler Latta recognised as a Hero

From Ottawa Citizen:

Canadian soldier praised for bravery in Taliban attack

Tyler Latta, 28, 'seized the moment' in repelling assault on NATO headquarters in Kabul, colonel says

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Post Was Suggested By Cindy

Col. John Glenn
Col. John Glenn
90 years old from Cambridge, Ohio
U.S. Marines

We all know John Glenn the astronaut. Monday marked the 50th anniversary of his historic flight where he became the third American in space and the first to orbit the Earth. And John Glenn the U.S. Senator from Ohio. But what many may not know is that before that he had a distinguished career in the United States Marine Corps during which time he saw action in WWII and Korea and was the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, US Navy Presidential Unit Citation, China Service Medal and many other awards.

You can read more about John Glenn's time in the military and NASA Here, Here and Here

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 Wednesday Hero. 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, February 21, 2012

Feeling safer since 9/11? At what cost?

From Stars and Stripes:

Terrorism expert says Americans safer in post-9/11 world, but at cost of personal liberties

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — An expert on counter-terrorism intelligence gathering, in noting the mistakes that led to the Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 attacks, said Americans are safer today than they were, but at a cost of some personal liberties.

"I think we have moved toward greater security at the expense of liberty," said Erik Dahl, assistant professor of national security at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. "We have fewer civil liberties."

Dahl's comments came at a meeting of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., last week. He said increased airport security is one example of giving up personal freedom for greater safety.

"There is greater scrutiny," he said. "What concerns me is that law enforcement is looking at all of us more closely, and we don't know what it all entails."..

Much more here.

No jihad threat in the U.S.? Really?

From Jihad Watch:

The facts beyond this widely publicized nonsense. "Muslim Moroccan on Way to Capitol Building for Suicide Mission Arrested," from the American Freedom Law Center, February 20:

Now, here’s an interesting story that developed over the weekend. A homegrown Muslim Moroccan, who thought he had been armed by Al Qaeda operatives, was actually faux-armed by the feds, thank God. But, think about this story–Muslims IN THE US, living here, having grown up here, waking up one day and deciding to join the jihad to destroy American and the West. Think about this. . . .

On July 10, 2001 (yes, that’s right, 2001), the New York Times published an op-ed by a former State Department “counter-terrorism expert” who says Americans are too fixated on the threat from Muslim terrorists.

On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 Muslim jihadists murdered 2,985 people on American soil.

On Feb. 7, 2012, the New York Times published a news article hyping a pseudo study by some university professors with an agenda claiming that Muslim terrorism in the US is overblown and hardly a threat.

But, let’s look at just the first graphic of this so-called study of “jihad risk” in America:


And there is much more here.

The truth IS out there. Pay attention.

Egypt/Israel Border Attack Foiled

From Israel National News:

Alert Soldiers at Egyptian Border Foil Mega-Bomb Attack

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Soldiers at Egyptian Border Foil Mega-Bomb Attack

Alert soldiers Monday night foiled a massive bomb attack on Israelis by discovering a huge bomb that terrorists were smuggling across the Egyptian border.

Bombs and weapons smuggled into the mostly barren southwestern Negev can easily be carried by terrorists to urban targets, with the city of Be’er Sheva being the closest.

The IDF said soldiers spotted the smuggling in progress and that during an attempt to arrest the terrorists, one of them threw a package, which was not found in the dark. Soldiers and police found it in the morning and discovered that it was a huge bomb that, if exploded in an urban area, could have caused mass casualties.

Sappers neutralized and detonated the bomb, and no one was injured. The IDF did not report any arrests, and the terrorists apparently escaped into Egypt.

“This additional incident again exposes the smuggling route on the western border that is exploited by terrorist organizations against Israeli civilians and soldiers,” military spokesmen said.

The IDF recently has beefed up patrols along the border and have added new unit to patrol in the southern Negev and Arava.

The government has ordered a speed-up ion construction of a fence that officials hope will significantly reduce smuggling of terrorists and weapons as well as drugs and African infiltrators seeking work in Israel.

(c) INN

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Musings on a Holiday

One of our Warrior/Writers who is IN Afghanistan shares some important insights:

Old Blue | Friday, February 17th, 2012

Most probably know this, but Friday in Afghanistan is like Sunday in the United States. It’s the day when shops and businesses are closed, when many people go to the Mosque to worship. We on the team use Fridays for getting caught up on planning, administrative details, logistical issues and so on. It’s a light day, but we usually schedule some sort of training for sometime in the day. This week was unusually light because of an Afghan holiday celebrating the day in 1989 that the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan.

The Soviets had 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and 15,000 Soviet troops lost their lives.

I have stood on ground walked upon by Soviets before me. Not by Brezhnev or Gorbachev, but by soldiers who were doing their jobs. I have seen sites where some of them suffered the worst days of their lives. I have seen the sites where some of them experienced their last moments on earth. Even now, some of them remain, having deserted to melt into Afghan society.

AGAIN 998 300x224 Musings On A Holiday

A trackless Soviet T-55 remains a monument to dark days.

Others in Russia and the former Soviet Socialist Republics that are now independent states suffer the ignominy of having fought a losing war. They sacrificed and lost friends for nothing.

My feet crunch on the gravel of the base and I shift my gaze to the mountains to the south. Seven thousand miles from home, I’ve given years to this effort. I’ve missed half of my youngest son’s birthdays. I’ve lost friends here. I’ve seen things and done things that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I haven’t had it as bad as a lot of men who’ve been here, but I ask; is this all for nothing?...

If you read nothing else this weekend, read ALL of this here, and be sure to also bookmark Old Blue.

Troops’ Top Concerns in the face of Defense Dept cutbacks

From the DoD:

By C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2012 – The senior enlisted advisors for the four military services met on Capitol Hill yesterday to discuss with lawmakers the top issues on service members’ minds.

It turns out that for many, it's the same as what’s on lawmakers’ minds: the budget.

"I was asked questions, beginning in April, all the way to September -- 'What do you mean the Army can't pay me?'" said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, relaying the words of soldiers who had been concerned about the "continuing resolution" last year. Without an approved Defense Appropriations Act, some soldiers mistakenly believed that they might not get paid.

Chandler joined Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West, Sgt. Maj. Of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on military construction, veterans affairs and related agencies.

Budget concerns still weigh on service members’ minds as lawmakers try to find a way to balance the federal budget. Lawmakers who were part of the "super committee" last year were looking to find $1.2 trillion in savings within the budget, and were unable to reach a compromise. Now, as much as half of that amount could automatically be cut from the Defense Department through "sequestration," and service members are concerned what that will mean for them.

"It's a very eye-opening experience," Chandler said. "I think the concerns raised in media about the impact of the election year and whether or not there will be an appropriations and authorization bill signed, is on people's minds. The last thing we want to have is for some soldier, sailor, airman or Marine deployed in harm's way, being concerned about whether or not they are going to be paid. That's something we don't need these young people to be concerned about."

Barrett said that when he had talked to Marines about the effects of a continuing resolution, some of those Marines had considered visiting "the snakes" to make ends meet -- a term Barrett said they use to refer to the "predatory loan industry" prominent outside military installations. "They are still finding a way to put 400 percent on top of a loan for you to pay it back," he said.

Service members also are concerned about their retirements, with rumors of changes being considered as part of budget-trimming efforts. The senior enlisted advisors said retirement is not something that should be on the minds of a young people in uniform.

"It is a distractor," Roy said. "We have young airmen focused on retirement. I don't need young airmen focused on retirement. I need young airmen focused on upgrade training. I need young airmen focused on mission. I don't need them to be worried on their retirement and compensation.

“That is the No. 1 thing I hear from airmen and from families,” he added. “There is uncertainty out there and we are trying to keep focus on the mission."

Across the world's oceans, America's sailors are worried about their futures in the military as well, West said.

"They're talking about the retirements. They are talking about the future of the force, with the budget cuts, with all the personnel,” he said. “We've had to make some tough choices. With our folks, it's no different. The budget cuts as of late -- some folks will tell you, personnel didn't join the Navy for the retirement. Maybe they didn't initially. But once they get in and see the contributions they make to the nation, they start thinking about some of that."

Impact on Retention

Service members who want to stay in uniform also are going to find it harder to do so. The Army and the Marine Corps, for instance, are cutting personnel. That means, for both services, fewer fresh faces coming in the front door, older service members possibly retiring before they expected to retire, and service members in the middle of their careers finding it tougher to meet the standards to re-enlist.

"They want to know who we are going to go fight next," said Barrett. "They want to know about advancements in full-spectrum battle equipment, [and] they want to know what they need to do to stay in the corps."

The senior enlisted advisor told lawmakers what Marines ask him about most when he visits them. To the last question, he answers, "You'd better bring your ‘A game’ every single day."

Retention, the sergeant major said, is going well -- the service is meeting its goals. But, he said now "the best get to stay. We get to be choosey -- very choosey."

The Marine Corps is operating on a "tiered rating" system, he explained, with tier I through tier IV.

"We're only keeping tier I and tier II," and that, he said, means having the best fitness scores, performing well in the martial arts program, having education in order, and shooting well on the range.

Inside the larger of the two ground forces, the Army, "the privilege to serve will become more difficult," Chandler noted. Standards will increase, he said. And to draw down the force, the Army will use multiple tools -- including fewer new recruits, tougher retentions standards and early retirements.

For those who will leave, he said, the Army will "have an orderly transition plan starting a year before they leave the service." That, the sergeant major said, will make sure both soldiers and their families are ready, and are able to leave the Army "with dignity and respect."

Civilian Life

What a service member will do after military life is also a concern. Chandler said there are "tremendous concerns" among soldiers leaving the service given the state of the economy and the job market. The Army and its sister services are working to make the transition smooth for service members.

"That is a major focus for me personally and the rest of the Army this year is to really refine our transition assistance program with the help of [the Veterans Affairs and Labor departments], and to put our kids in the best place we can to make sure they have a dignified transition out of the service and back into the rest of American society," Chandler said.

The Marine Corps is developing a program where Marines, from the moment they enter the corps, are prepared for an eventual return to civilian life -- as either college students, vocational students, entrepreneurs or an employee at a job.

"You're going to be kind of taught along the way, well, which path do you want to take when it comes time for you to leave," Barrett said. "So from the second you join to the time you want to leave, you're being educated on what pathway that you want to take, so when it comes time to leave you are better prepared."

(c) DoD

Friday, February 17, 2012

DUSTOFF crews: "Nothing more noble..."

From KXAN:

'Dustoff' crews featured in documentary

Filmmaker records troop rescues in Afghanistan

'Dustoff' crews featured in documentary:

AUSTIN (KXAN) - At an airfield in Afghanistan, a tall Army major addresses his troops.

There is in his voice, a solemn air, an earnestness that soaks up the attention of the pilots, crew chiefs and medics he commands. As Austin documentary filmmaker Pat Fries rolls his camera, Maj. Patrick Zenk is delivering a history lesson about another time, another war:

July 1, 1964, Vietnam.

Charles Kelly was the first Dustoffer killed in action,” Zenk lectured. “There was enemy fire in the area. He landed his aircraft and immediately they began to take volleys of fire.

“The ground forces on the ground told him, ' Dustoff, get out of here! Leave!'

“And he said, 'I'll leave when I have your wounded.’ The next words he spoke were, 'My God,' as the bullet passed through his chest and he died. And that's the legacy we carry today.”..

H/T to my pal Mary for pointing me to this story. Go read the rest here.

It's no secret that I love our medics, and I am happy to see movies like this made so that the general public - us civilians, ya know - get some real understanding of what our DUSTOFF's do every single day.

There is an ongoing debate about our MedEvacs, and a lot of rhetoric is flying around (yes, pun intended) as a certain 'independent photographer/faux journalist/not a blogger/personal advisor to high ranking US military; - now add: worldwide expert on all things DUSTOFF' *cough cough* would have us all believe that if only the US Army would remove the Geneva Convention- mandated Red Crosses from the MedEvac choppers, not one wounded US Soldier would die in war. Without the Red Cross, if you follow along the illogical - uneducated, flat out wrong! - ramblings of previously mentioned supplier-of-books-as-door-stops to the White House, the MedEvacs would be so much faster, they'd probably be at the hot zone almost before the enemy wounded our Troops! Those Red Crosses must be really heavy, is all I'm saying here.

Yes, I am being absurd, but make no mistake, this whole 'debate' on Red Crosses on choppers, and to arm or not to arm them, is a matter of life and death, but not perhaps in the way some would have you believe.

I have written about our MedEvacs more than a few times, and shared various expert commentary on this whole issue. Today comes another clear explanation of the pros and cons of the latest crusade.

Time To End The Misguided MEDEVAC Arming Agenda

February 16 2012 — By Marcus

There is a huge push to arm Army MEDEVAC helicopters and remove the red crosses that identify them as such. The idea being that in arming the helicopters and removing the red crosses, these assets can get to our wounded much faster. The movement has even gained the attention of 17 (out of 535) Congressmen and forced both the Army and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to respond.

Photo by Spc. Austin Berner

The latest regurgitated story comes out of the Washington Post and I’d like to take a few moments to respond to this particular story since it incorporates many of the inaccuracies of the others.

But the rescue aircraft was unarmed, as are all Army medevacs. And the pre-dawn pickup zone in the Zhari district of Kandahar province was considered “hot,” or dangerous, meaning the medevac could not swoop in for the pickup until another chopper with firepower arrived to provide cover.

The reality of war is that troops are trained in lifesaving measures because, during combat, it won’t always be possible to extract the patient right away. Even if the MEDEVAC bird were armed, it wouldn’t have “swooped in for the pickup” until the LZ was cleared. The theory, I suppose, is that the armed MEDEVAC bird would seek out and destroy the enemy prior to landing and picking up its patients.

This, for those of us that have served in combat, is obviously nonsense. Once a theoretically armed MEDEVAC lands to extract patients, those guns are no longer a viable presence. Because they are door guns, the patients would very well be in the line of fire. So, now you have an armed MEDEVAC chopper sitting there, with less space to carry passengers and fewer resources to treat patients, gunners idle.

Even arming MEDEVAC birds, they can’t travel alone. They still need an escort. So, assuming all MEDEVAC birds are armed, now you’re using TWO of them to extract patients instead of one with another armed platform. This raises the risk that if another MEDEVAC bird is needed elsewhere, it won’t be available because it’s now providing cover for its own...

There is much more HERE, which is all a must read.

Other columns that educate:

The Difference between MedEvac & CasEvac: Video Update

Why are members of Congress listening to idiots like Mike Yon?

For the Record: Army statement on MEDEVAC issue

Is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs a Liar?

Fighting for a Life; Fighting to Bring Home Every Body He Could

That last column is based on things our friend SSG Brian Cowdrey told War On Terror News. Brian was determined that the public would understand what he did, how much pride he, and all DUSTOFFs, have in saving every life possible.

Be sure to go read all of these links (including the comments, where the debate continues.)

Fastest man in Africa joins the Navy

A People In Defence news article

16 Feb 12

A former Nigerian sprinter, who is the holder of the African record at 100 metres, is among the latest recruits to qualify as a Royal Navy logistics specialist at HMS Raleigh.

Able Seaman Fasuba (right) during Exercise Daring Leap

Able Seaman Fasuba (right) during Exercise Daring Leap, one of the three extended exercises in the course of his 10-week initial naval training course
[Picture: Dave Sherfield, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Logistician (Supply Chain) Olusoji Fasuba joined the Royal Navy last May. After his 10-week initial naval training course, he transferred to the Defence Maritime Logistics School in October 2011 for his 12-week professional course and is now ready to take up his first posting within the logistics department at HM Naval Base Devonport.

The 27-year-old took up running from a young age. He became a champion in his teen years and was part of the Nigerian team that took the bronze medal in the 4 x 100m relay at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Fasuba won gold medals at the All African games in 2007 in both the 100 metres and as part of the 4 x 100m relay team. He also took the gold medal at the Indoor Championships at 60 metres in 2008. Fasuba achieved his personal 100m best of 9.85 seconds, and established a new African record for 100m at the Doha Grand Prix in 2006.

Looking for a more settled life for himself and his wife, Ngozi, a fellow athlete, and daughter, Annabelle, aged seven months, Fasuba decided to hang up his track shoes for a career in the Royal Navy.

Now living in Plymouth with his family, Fasuba said:

"I've had a very good career in athletics and been there with the big boys, but I was looking to the future and wanted to settle....

Go read the rest of this here. Thank you for your service, Sir.


Cyber Warfare: Who?

Are YOU paying attention?

And now today comes this from BFBS:

on Feb 16, 2012

In our series on cyber warfare, we look at the risk to the UK. Criminals, hostile states, terrorists and 'hacktivists' all pose a threat, with the potential for a virus to paralyse key utilities like water and transport. The government has committed to spend £650 million over four years on the problem, and big business is also being encouraged to take cyber crime seriously. A key element of the government's cyber defence strategy is the Defence Cyber Operations Group, due to start work in the next few weeks. It will work alongside GCHQ, which currently takes the lead in identifying and combating online threats.

Top nursing award for TA mum

I have written about this amazing woman before, as one of my Every Day Heroes. From the MoD comes this:

15 Feb 12

Army medic and mother-of-three Lieutenant Colonel Sharon Stewart recently became the recipient of one of the nursing profession's highest honours. Report by Sarah Goldthorpe.

Lieutenant Colonel Sharon Stewart

Lieutenant Colonel Sharon Stewart
[Picture: Soldier magazine]

"Women never have a half-hour in all their lives to call their own without fear of offending or hurting someone."

When nursing hero Florence Nightingale uttered these words in the 19th century, she probably never imagined her battlefield successors would be dealing with the same sort of social pressure more than 100 years on. But for women like Lt Col Sharon Stewart, the pioneer's comment still rings true.

As well as balancing a full-time job and raising three children, the 207 Field Hospital volunteer deployed to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 13.

Now she has been decorated with one of the nursing profession's highest honours for her dedicated work during that time - a Royal Red Cross (Associate).

The award is given for exceptional service to military care to individuals who display extreme courage and devotion to their duties. But the accomplishment did not come easy, as Lt Col Stewart from the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps explained.

Overseeing the wards and staff of Camp Bastion's Role 3 hospital, the servicewoman was faced daily with injured children and soldiers suffering pain and trauma:

"My team dealt with a lot of amputees and gunshot wounds," Lt Col Stewart recalled. "Some of the injuries were awful and seeing things like that was quite shocking.

"Being apart from my children was hard too. My son would often be in tears down the phone."...

Go - NOW - and read the rest of this story HERE!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shine Your Light.

Just because.....

Shine your light down on me
Lift me up so i can see
Shine your light when you're gone
Give me the strength to carry on

Sean Penn: That is the Falkland Islands, NOT the Malvinas!

Sean Penn proves what an ignorant POS he still is as he attempts to meddle in matters that are NONE of his business. From the Daily Mail comes this:

Get out of the Falklands yourself, Mr Penn...and stick to the acting

By Melissa Kite

15th February 2012

I used to quite like Sean Penn. And by that, I mean Sean Penn, the actor.

I’m not at all keen on Sean Penn the international statesman, if that is what he thinks he now is.

Penn has branded Britain “colonialist” for refusing to hand over what he calls “the Malvinas Islands of Argentina”.


Apparently we are “ludicrous and archaic”. Oh, are we? Well, Mr Penn, there are a few people here who think you are pretty ludicrous and archaic yourself now.

I know he likes throwing his weight around film sets but has he not heard of democracy?

The people of the Falklands elected to remain British. They didn’t want a fascist dictator, thank you very much....

That they did. Read the rest of this op/ed here.

Flt Lt Mike Anderson DSC

Flt Lt Anderson’s citation read: 'Anderson’s courage, and his calm, highly professional display of captaincy enabled the entire crew to conduct a textbook helicopter medical evacuation in the face of a bold, determined and coordinated enemy.'
Photo: PA

Out of England, comes a story of amazing bravery. It includes Chinooks, Blackhawk MedEvacs, and Afghan children.

From the Telegraph:

15 Feb 2012

Flt Lt Mike Anderson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after he landed his large Chinook helicopter during an intense gun battle in Helmand province.

Flt Lt Anderson’s Chinook was sent to the scene to rescue the children, who, it is suspected, were deliberately wounded by the Taliban to draw in helicopters.

In a substantial evacuation operation, he was accompanied by two American Blackhawk “medivac” helicopters and an Apache attack helicopter.

The American aircraft went in first to assess which of the children were most seriously wounded. But as the second Blackhawk landed, it was met with a barrage of mortar and machinegun fire.

Despite the maelstrom of incoming fire, Flt Lt Anderson, 31, flew into the landing zone, with his two crew members firing the helicopter’s machineguns to suppress the enemy....

What follows is a MUST READ here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

DHS 'mismanage' chemical plant security??? *gasp*

From Homeland Security News Wire:

Lawmakers blast DHS for problems with chemical facility security program
15 February 2012

At a recent Congressional hearing, lawmakers blasted DHS officials for their failure to follow through with a program designed to secure chemical facilities in the United States.

Lawmakers blast DHS for failure to security plan chemical plants // Source:

This is beyond disappointing. You have totally mismanaged this program,” Representative Joe Barton (R – Texas) said to Rand Beers, DHS’ undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). “We’ve spent about $90 million a year, and we have no well-developed direction and no plan.”

According to Fox News, the program in question was originally establishedin 2007 and ordered DHS to review the nation’s chemical facilities to determine which were at risk of a terrorist attack or intentional sabotage. Those deemed to be a high-risk would then be required to work with DHS to develop a security plan.

According to an internal government memo from November of last year, NPPD, which oversees the program, had not conducted compliance inspections and had only recently begun approving security plans with thousands to go....

It gets worse. Go read the rest of this here.

Are you paying attention?

Wednesday Hero

Sgt. John Batemon
Sgt. John Batemon
B-Company 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, 111th Military Intelligence Brigade
U.S. Army

Sgt. John Batemon, B-Company 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, 111th Military Intelligence Brigade removes his shoes and shows off his injuries after the 12-mile march and range portions of the Best Warrior Competition.

Photo Courtesy U.S. Army Taken By Natalie Lakosil

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 Wednesday Hero. 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, February 14, 2012

Some Gave All: Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin

Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin killed in Afghanistan

A Military Operations news article

14 Feb 12

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, of 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment who was killed on the 13 February 2012.

SAC Tomlin was taking part in a partnered patrol to reassure and interact with the local population in the Western Dashte area on the edge of Nad-e Ali district in Central Helmand Province when he was fatally wounded by small arms fire from an insurgent attack.He was evacuated by air to the field hospital at Camp Bastion where sadly he succumbed to his wounds.

Senior Aircraftman Ryan Tomlin, 21, from Hemel Hempstead was born on 29 May 1990. He joined the Royal Air Force in October 2008, completing his Trainee Gunners Course in April 2009 before moving on to the Phase One Field Gunners Course. He was selected to join 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, based at Royal Air Force Honington, in June 2009.

He arrived at an incredibly busy time for the Squadron and launched straight into Afghanistan pre-deployment training. Ryan completed his first tour in Afghanistan in 2010 as a specialist driver on a rifle flight (the RAF Regiment equivalent of a platoon), defending Kandahar Air Base. After returning from this successful deployment, he showed promise and desire to develop new skills.

He deployed on a second tour to Afghanistan with No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing at Camp Bastion in October 2011. From the start of the tour, he and his section supported Squadron operations out on the ground around Bastion with great skill and determination, often deploying for several days at a time through the harsh Helmand winter.

A highly professional and skilful gunner who achieved all he set out to do in his three years in the Royal Air Force Regiment, Senior Aircraftman Tomlin became one of the rising stars of his squadron and regiment, and showed great potential for what promised to be the brightest of futures.

He leaves behind his mother and father, Diane and Kevin, and a sister, Michelle. The thoughts of all in 2 Squadron and No. 3 Force Protection Wing are with them at this most difficult of times.

The family of SAC Tomlin said:

“Ryan loved and lived life to the full. He gave his life at a very young age doing the job he loved. Ryan will be sorely missed by his family and friends and everyone who loved him. We will remember his cheeky grin and great sense of humour. Ryan will be forever young and never forgotten. Our true hero and shining star.”

Wing Commander Jason Sutton OBE, Commanding Officer, No. 3 RAF Force Protection Wing, said:

“Senior Aircraftman Tomlin was one of the finest men on my wing and his loss has come as a terrible blow to all of us, especially his comrades on his beloved 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment. Bright, gifted and an absolute master of his craft, he had the complete trust of those who had the privilege of serving alongside him. When the task was hard, he would immediately rise to the challenge. When those around him were weary, he was the one to lift their spirits, and when the enemy threatened, he was the first to be ready to fight. In our grief, we take comfort that he fell doing the job he loved, protecting his mates and the Afghan National Army soldiers we work to support in our shared task of building a better future for Afghanistan.

“Senior Aircraftman Tomlin had the brightest future ahead of him, and his loss has deprived the Royal Air Force Regiment of one ofLink its very best. In continuing our mission here to protect air operations and the people who work at Camp Bastion, we will strive to do justice to the fine example he set. His loss is deeply felt by us all, but our grief can never be deeper than that of Diane and Kevin and their family, with whom our thoughts and prayers are with at this most difficult time. He will never be forgotten. Per Ardua.”...

Go here to learn more about how this young Hero lived.

Always remembered. Always honoured.