Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Police Officer Deaths 2009

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer Larry Margasak, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Law enforcement deaths this year dropped to their lowest level since 1959, while the decade of the 2000s was among the safest for officers — despite the deadliest single day for police on Sept. 11, 2001.

The drop in deaths, cited in a police group's report Monday, was tempered by an increase in firearm deaths. In one horrific November shooting, four officers were executed as they discussed their upcoming shift in a Lakewood, Wash., coffee shop.

Through Dec. 27, the report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found:

_124 officers were killed this year, compared to 133 in 2008. The 2009 total represents the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 108 a half-century ago.

_Traffic fatalities fell to 56, compared to 71 a year ago. The report said the decline was partly attributed to "move over" state laws, which require motorists to change lanes to give officers clearance on the side of a road.

_Firearms deaths rose to 48, nine more than in 2008. However, the 39 fatalities in 2008 represented the lowest annual figure in more than five decades.

_Thirty-five states and Puerto Rico had officer fatalities in 2009, with Texas the only state in double figures. Texas had 11 fatalities, followed by Florida, 9; California, 8; and North Carolina and Pennsylvania, 7.

_Six federal officers died in 2009, including three Drug Enforcement Administration special agents killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan while conducting counter-narcotics operations.

_One female officer was killed in 2009, compared with 13 the previous year. There was no explanation for the decline.

_An average of 162 officers a year died in the 2000s, compared with 160 in the 1990s, 190 in the 1980s and 228 in the 1970s — the deadliest decade for U.S. law enforcement. Seventy-two officers died on Sept. 11.

"To reach a 50-year low in officer deaths is a real credit to the law enforcement profession and its commitment to providing the best possible training and equipment to our officers," said the Memorial Fund chairman and chief executive officer, Craig Floyd.

"But we cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a state of complacency. There are nearly 60,000 criminal assaults against our law officers every year in this country, resulting in more than 15,000 injuries. And, over the past decade, more than 1,600 officers have been killed in the line of duty."

Fifteen deaths occurred in five incidents during the year, showing the potential danger in domestic disturbances, traffic stops and serving arrest warrants.

In March, four Oakland, Calif., officers were killed after a traffic stop and subsequent barricade incident.

Three Pittsburgh officers, responding to a domestic disturbance, were ambushed in April by a heavily armed gunman wearing a bullet-resistant vest.

That same month, two Okaloosa County, Fla., sheriff's deputies were gunned down while trying to arrest a domestic violence suspect.

In July, two Seminole County, Okla., sheriff's deputies were shot and killed while trying to serve an arrest warrant.

Domestic disturbance calls were particularly dangerous for officers in 2009, resulting in 11 deaths, while unprovoked ambushes led to the deaths of six officers.

The report was issued in conjunction with a second police group, Concerns of Police Survivors.

__

On the Net:

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund: http://www.lawmemorial.org/researchbulletin


My comments: High number of assaults where, fortunately, officer's aren't dying.
I'd like to know how many officer shootings there were this year and compare it to others.
I was speaking at length about this yesterday with a colleague. There are a lot of close range shootings. Officers need more CQB training, and cannot hesitate to kill in order to survive...or rather, use deadly force in order to stay safe. I believe officer's have many more chances than not to use deadly force, but they (some) fail to use it because of a host of reasons, most notably Monday morning quarterbacking and problems with legals issues, department issues, media and stress that follows. Our officers need more support when they make the right decision or more tragedies will follow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day Terrorist Attack

I wasn't surprised to hear about an attack on an airplane on Christmas day by an al Qaeda terrorist. It's a Christian holiday. I believe there must have been at least three other attacks that didn't occur for one reason or another. After all, al Qaeda doctrine is to attack in fours. They figure, quite rightly, that one might chicken out or another might get thwarted for one reason or another. Most people aren't aware that when Richard Reid, the infamous Shoe Bomber, tried to light his shoe bomb he did so in conjunction with another guy on another plane who got....excuse the pun...cold feet.

So, what is it that saved the plane bound for Detroit? (Note: Dearborn, Michigan outside of Detroit is home to the largest Islamic populations in the US.)

But first let's take a look at why terrorists chose an airplane on Christmas day.

Remember they're looking for the spectacular. They want something that will spread mass fear and chaos. They want to hit an economic target. I submit there is nothing better than blowing up a commercial airplane in midair.

Nevertheless, there are some other interesting soft targets that wouldn't require sneaking past security or risk that aspect of being caught.

Attacking a mall wouldn't be smart, because there aren't any large crowds on Christmas day...though watch out from here on out! The same goes for attacking airports prior to the so-called secure side -- there's simply not enough people on Christmas day. But an airplane. Now that'd leave a lasting impression whatever the day.

Folks, it's just a matter of time. I've been saying that ever since I was an air marshal. I told several people that in NYC just a few weeks before the London Bomb Plot was uncovered. Remember that? That's when terrorists wanted to blow up several planes over the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily, it didn't happen.

Ever since the Bojinka Plot and the rehearsal prior to it on the Philippines airliner that left a gaping hole in the plane and killed a Japanese student and injured or killed some others, if I recall correctly, al Qaeda has recognized blowing up planes in midair as a great thing to do.

Where are some questions to ponder -- some with answers and others rhetorical:

1) Why didn't the terrorist just go to the lav and blow himself up there? Q: He likely didn't have enough explosive so he stayed over the wing.

2) What will happen now with all the innocent, law abiding passengers, just trying to get from one destination to another hassle free? Will the TSA make life even more hectic for them? Please remove your shoes, your belts, your wallet...?

3) Surely Western intelligence and law enforcement professionals have done a good job in many instances. I believe we do not hear about many attacks because they are quietly handled, thankfully. But I pose this last question: Was it Divine providence, in conjunction with quick-acting citizens, that thwarted this horrific terrorist attack? I answer: Yes, absolutely.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

TSA gives away more secrets

Why doesn't the TSA just release all the names and photos of the undercover Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) too? Duh...

The TSA (and the FAMS managers) has given away more secrets and sensitive information to the public than should have ever been allowed. Aside from the TSA recently publishing information online about the security screening process -- thus giving any terrorist or kook information on how to defeat screening -- they recently also gave away more information about the secretive air marshal program. Unfortunately, it's not anything new. The FAM Service under Tom Quinn gave away so many secrets it was unreal! Glad I'm not there any longer.

The public is not safe...


To see the latest blundering faux pas, click here: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/tsa-security-cops-blast-release-handgun-information/story?id=9403793

Friday, December 18, 2009

Please Remove Your Shoes -- the Movie

Please Remove Your Shoes is a powerful documentary film about aviation in-security. It's totally shocking. It debuts in 2010. Check out the links and trailers here:

PS I was invited to be interviewed for this film and I happily participated. The bulk of the film creates a powerful story of many patriotic individuals that will truly knock your...um...shoes off.

http://www.pleaseremoveyourshoesmovie.com/home/

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Free US Navy SEALs - Warning Graphic


This is a petition sponsored by Human Events ( http://www.humanevents.com/ ) to have the charges dropped against Navy SEAL operators SO2 Jonathan Keefe, SO1 Julio Huertas, and SO2 Matthew McCabe. These are the guys who captured Ahmed Hashim Abed – the terrorist who was responsible for the ambush, torture, murder, and desecration of the bodies of Scott Helvenston, Wesley Batalona, Jerry Zovko and Michael Teague all Blackwater employees in Fallujah Iraq on March 31, 2004. It seems that after his capture, Abed complained of having a bruised lip.

These SEALs are just the latest victims of a perverse U.S. Government witch hunt to persecute those who are on the front lines of defending America. Please sign the petition and pass on to your address book contacts.

http://www.paramountcommunication.com/NewsLetters/eagle/petition.aspx?mhash=%%QS_mhash%%

Here's one AP pictures I took from the Internet the day after the attack of the mutilated bodies of the BW contractors attacked and immolated, then strung up over a bridge I would eventually cross over a few years later during my military deployment. Interestingly, a buddy of mine was asked to go on that mission with another contracting company.

We must never forget that our moral code is completely different than theirs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

False Post

http://www.usnwc.edu/Academics/Faculty/David-Kaiser.aspx

Thanks to a wise reader for letting me know that the last posting was falsely attributed to Dr. Kaiser.

Guess you can believe everything you read...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

History Unfolding by Dr. David Kaiser

"My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it."
- Barack Obama

History Unfolding
I am a student of history. Professionally, I have written 15 books on history that have been published in six languages, and I have studied history all my life. I have come to think there is something monumentally large afoot, and I do not believe it is simply a banking crisis, or a mortgage crisis, or a credit crisis. Yes these exist, but they are merely single facets on a very large gemstone that is only now coming into a sharper focus.

Something of historic proportions is happening. I can sense it because I know how it feels, smells, what it looks like, and how people react to it. Yes, a perfect storm may be brewing, but there is something happening within our country that has been evolving for about ten to fifteen years. The pace has dramatically quickened in the past two.

We demand and then codify into law the requirement that our banks make massive loans to people we know they can never pay back? Why?

We learned just days ago that the Federal Reserve, which has little or no real oversight by anyone, has "loaned" two trillion dollars (that is $2,000,000,000,000) over the past few months, but will not tell us to whom or why or disclose the terms. That is our money. Yours and mine. And that is three times the $700 billion we all argued about so strenuously just this past September. Who has this money? Why do they have it? Why are the terms unavailable to us? Who asked for it? Who authorized it? I thought this was a government of "we the people," who loaned our powers to our elected leaders. Apparently not.

We have spent two or more decades intentionally de-industrializing our economy. Why?

We have intentionally dumbed down our schools, ignored our history, and no longer teach our founding documents, why we are exceptional, and why we are worth preserving. Students by and large cannot write, think critically, read, or articulate. Parents are not revolting, teachers are not picketing, school boards continue to back mediocrity. Why?

We have now established the precedent of protesting every close election (violently in California over a proposition that is so controversial that it simply wants marriage to remain defined as between one man and one woman. Did you ever think such a thing possible just a decade ago?) We have corrupted our sacred political process by allowing unelected judges to write laws that radically change our way of life, and then mainstream Marxist groups like ACORN and others to turn our voting system into a banana republic. To what purpose?

Now our mortgage industry is collapsing, housing prices are in free fall, major industries are failing, our banking system is on the verge of collapse, and social security is nearly bankrupt, as is medicare and our entire government. Our education system is worse than a joke (I teach college and I know precisely what I am talking about) - the list is staggering in its length, breadth, and depth. It is potentially 1929 x ten... And we are at war with an enemy we cannot even name for fear of offending people of the same religion, who, in turn, cannot wait to slit the throats of your children if they have the opportunity to do so.

And finally, we have elected a man that no one really knows anything about, who has never run so much as a Dairy Queen, let alone a town as big as Wasilla, Alaska. All of his associations and alliances are with real radicals in their chosen fields of employment, and everything we learn about him, drip by drip, is unsettling if not downright scary (Surely you have heard him speak about his idea to create and fund a mandatory civilian defense force stronger than our military for use inside our borders? No? Oh, of course. The media would never play that for you over and over and then demand he answer it. Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter and $150,000 wardrobe is more important.)

Mr. Obama's winning platform can be boiled down to one word: Change. Why?

I have never been so afraid for my country and for my children as I am now.

This man campaigned on bringing people together, something he has never, ever done in his professional life. In my assessment, Obama will divide us along philosophical lines, push us apart, and then try to realign the pieces into a new and different power structure. Change is indeed coming. And when it comes, you will never see the same nation again.

And that is only the beginning.

As a serious student of history, I thought I would never come to experience what the ordinary, moral German must have felt in the mid-1930s. In those times, the "savior" was a former smooth-talking rabble-rouser from the streets, about whom the average German knew next to nothing. What they should have known was that he was associated with groups that shouted, shoved, and pushed around people with whom they disagreed; he edged his way onto the political stage through great oratory. Conservative "losers" read it right now.

And there were the promises. Economic times were tough, people were losing jobs, and he was a great speaker. And he smiled and frowned and waved a lot. And people, even newspapers, were afraid to speak out for fear that his "brown shirts" would bully and beat them into submission. Which they did - regularly. And then, he was duly elected to office, while a full-throttled economic crisis bloomed at hand - the Great Depression. Slowly, but surely he seized the controls of government power, person by person, department by department, bureaucracy by bureaucracy. The children of German citizens were at first, encouraged to join a Youth Movement in his name where they were taught exactly what to think. Later, they were required to do so. No Jews of course.

How did he get people on his side? He did it by promising jobs to the jobless, money to the money-less, and rewards for the military-industrial complex. He did it by indoctrinating the children, advocating gun control, health care for all, better wages, better jobs, and promising to re-instill pride once again in the country, across Europe, and across the world. He did it with a compliant media - did you know that? And he did this all in the name of justice and.... change. And the people surely got what they voted for.

If you think I am exaggerating, look it up. It's all there in the history books.

So read your history books. Many people of conscience objected in 1933 and were shouted down, called names, laughed at, and ridiculed. When Winston Churchill pointed out the obvious in the late 1930s while seated in the House of Lords in England (he was not yet Prime Minister), he was booed into his seat and called a crazy troublemaker. He was right, though. And the world came to regret that he was not listened to.

Do not forget that Germany was the most educated, the most cultured country in Europe. It was full of music, art, museums, hospitals, laboratories, and universities. And yet, in less than six years (a shorter time span than just two terms of the U. S. presidency) it was rounding up its own citizens, killing others, abrogating its laws, turning children against parents, and neighbors against neighbors. All with the best of intentions, of course. The road to Hell is paved with them.

As a practical thinker, one not overly prone to emotional decisions, I have a choice: I can either believe what the objective pieces of evidence tell me (even if they make me cringe with disgust); I can believe what history is shouting to me from across the chasm of seven decades; or I can hope I am wrong by closing my eyes, having another latte, and ignoring what is transpiring around me..

I choose to believe the evidence. No doubt some people will scoff at me, others laugh, or think I am foolish, naive, or both. To some degree, perhaps I am. But I have never been afraid to look people in the eye and tell them exactly what I believe-and why I believe it.

I pray I am wrong. I do not think I am. Perhaps the only hope is our vote in the next elections.


Dr. Kaiser is a professor in the Strategy and Policy Department of the United States Naval War College and has previously taught at Carnegie Mellon, Williams College and Harvard University. Kaiser's latest book, The Road to Dallas, about the Kennedy assassination, was just published by Harvard University Press.
David Kaiser is a respected historian whose published works have covered a broad range of topics, from European Warfare to American League Baseball. Born in 1947, the son of a diplomat, Kaiser spent his childhood in three capital cities: Washington D.C,; Albany, New York, and Dakar , Senegal. He attended Harvard University, graduating there in 1969 with a B.A. in history. He then spent several years more at Harvard, gaining a PhD in history, which he obtained in 1976. He served in the Army Reserve from 1970 to 1976.

Monday, December 7, 2009

LET THEM FIGHT

I'm outraged. How in the world can we win the war against terror when our US Navy SEALs are brought before a military tribunal for accusations of punching bonafide terror suspects? These same terrorists are lethally dangerous. They've killed US soldiers. Terrorists won't hesitate to sever off your head or ram planes into crowded buildings. Why in the world are operators subjected to this kind of treatment?

Now, I'm not saying any warrior should have carte blanche to go beyond what is civilly right in jus in bello, or how we should fight as a civil people, but we must remember that we cannot win an amoral enemy by adopting a pacifist mindset. We cannot win terrorists when we bring the so-called mastermind of 911 to NYC to be tried as if he has the same rights that have been afforded to US citizens! We cannot win the global war when we bring terrorists into the US and hope to treat them like they are common criminals.

If America ceases to understand the enemy, America will cease to win.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Terrorists in Our Backyard

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/24/us/24terror.html?emc=eta1

My Little Brother

Although he looks a lot like me (and I hope I've adapted his kindness of heart and other great qualities), this is my little brother, Greg. I'm proud of him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Me, A Patriotic Rebel? I'd Kill to Preserve My Freedoms

In recent days and months I've had private conversations with influential men, colleagues and dearly trusted friends whom I would trust with my very life about the direction our country is headed. It is almost as if I speak with them surreptitiously, quietly and with stealth, away from the listening ears of the growing tide of a government that is beginning to swell out of control. It is as if I joined the ranks of the noble characters of those once passed, who vowed to give their very lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Yes, I would fight and rebel in order to preserve the right that is inherently ours to have as human beings.

In a bold effort to rid themselves from brutal oppression, the inspired creators of the Declaration of Independence, solemnly wrote the following words: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

At the conclusion of the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Forefather’s wrote the following: “…And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

Ezra Taft Benson, a one-time Secretary of Agriculture and an influential ecclesiastical leader, explained the future of these men. He said, “This Declaration was a promise that would demand terrible sacrifice on the part of its signers. Five of the signers were captured as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary War; another had two sons captured.” (“Our Divine Constitution,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 4.) Certainly the loyalty to their “cause which was just” was unmatched.

In the Saint John’s Church in Richmond Virginia, Patrick Henry eloquently and profoundly asked, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” (Speech before the 2nd Virginia Convention, March 23, 1775.)

I rue the direction our current leaders are taking this country. I will do all in my power to preserve and uphold the sacred and cherished documents of this country I so dearly love, even the United States of America and her heavenly banners, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Taps - Full Version

video

Another dear friend of mine called today. We were on the same tight knit military tactical team together, along with Johnny. Our mutual friend, Johnny Linde, didn't make it home. Here is an amazing trumpet version of Taps...just for my red-headed buddy who died two years ago on November 5th.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Police Pursuit Overseas

video

Media in War -- Photo of a Dead Marine

John Bernard is a retired Marine First Sergeant. I was introduced to him recently by his closest friend, retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major Jim Sauer. John's son, Joshua, who joined the Marines like his father, gave the ultimate sacrifice – his life.

The young lance corporal was hit directly by an RPG. Half of his body was blown apart. An AP photographer snapped pictures of the entire bloody and gruesome scene. His cold, pale, expressionless face was plastered on every major news outlet, against the wishes of his parents, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Imagine seeing the body of your son as if you were in war yourself. A mother could hardly stand the sight.

With instant communication and immediate image transmissions made available in the 21st Century, such defiantly, heartless decision-making by the Associated Press begs the question, is our society on the cusp of loving violence? Can we not get enough gore? When will it stop? Are we so yearning for bloody entertainment and so excited to see it that we go to extremes to view it on television, play it on video games, or in the case of Joshua Bernard, watch it as if death, war or killing were fun? It's despicable. It's dishonorable. It's uncivil at heart. By doing so our own media is unconsciously feeding propaganda to our enemy and breaking the hearts of our tender mother's who should in no way be exposed to the deaths of their sons in such manner.

Joshua was a good Christian who read the Bible, said his prayers and did his best to follow Jesus Christ. He received the call-sign of "Holy man" from his teammates – not because he was some overzealous do-gooder, but because he quietly, honorably lived his faith at home and in the battle zone.

Joshua's father began writing to members of the government weeks before his son's death. He wrote and told them about the dangerousness of some aspects of the counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) with the new Rules of Engagement (ROE). He wrote about the crazy rules that were allowing the Taliban to escape for reasons like they were dressed in burkas, and the ROE wouldn’t allow Marines and Soldiers to stop women – or guys in drag. Also, the troops were being denied supporting fires. These ROE went against the better judgment of sound doctrine and battle-proven tactics. It was as if they were being denied the opportunity to win.

Mission Orders: Fight and win.

Caveat: Tie one hand behind your back and blind-fold yourself. Pretend the enemies will fight fairly or with the same moral beliefs any civil society will.

Results: You lose. You cannot put your moral code on an amoral enemy. You cannot believe they are anything less than terrorists with an entirely different mindset. You cannot think that fighting with trepidation or half-heartedly will ensure success. If you do, you'll lose every time.

I understand it was an aspect of those particular caveats John foreshadowed – too much friendliness to enemies who are seeking to kill and murder and maim our troops – that eventually got his son killed. Joshua's death was a direct result of being led into an ambush by their loosely vetted Afghan interpreter.

We cannot afford to cover our eyes and pretend there are no terrorists among us (like the FBI's uncanny announcement within moments of the shooting at Fort Hood, saying terrorism wasn't a factor). We cannot afford to let rulers and leaders of this Republic sit comfortably on their thrones while Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen die – whether on this land or on any other.

In order to do win, we must act wisely, deftly and, in times of war, viciously. We cannot afford to pacify or placate our enemy, or pretend he doesn't exist. We must root out the enemies among our elected officials who, whether by deliberate deceit or unconscious reason, tear down our beloved Constitution and guarantees of freedom. There's only two ways to ensure freedom: (1) Be good. There is great strength in a nation on its knees; and, (2) although paradoxically difficult for any moral person or civil society, we must fight and win.

Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard was the epitome of a brave Marine fighting to ensure our freedom. Yet his legacy, vicariously implemented by the AP, shows more of his real blood and guts instead of his noble-red blood and patriotic, courageous guts – the true inspired genius of any American Patriot, to include our Founding Fathers.

May God grant that our troops come home…and not in body bags.

Finally, I believe the Lord is very aware of some of the tragic decisions those in our great country has made of late and He puts good, honorable and wise men in positions of influence to help keep our troops safe, preserve our Constitution and our way of life, which is being attacked from multiple angles. May God grant each of us peace and comfort during this time of war, crisis and contingency, and may we all strive to be instruments in His hands to bring about good and lasting purposes.

For further reading, picture viewing or watching interviews of John Bernard, click on the links below:

http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/26208503/over-the-line.htm

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/04/gates-assails-appalling-decision-ap-release-photo-dying-marine/


http://www.nypost.com/t/John_Bernard


http://www.tampabay.com/incoming/article1033549.ece

http://news.aol.com/article/ap-photo-of-marine-lance-cpl-joshua-m/656039

John Bernard's personal blogspot, Let Them Fight or Bring Them Home:


http://www.letthemfight.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Air Marshal Misconduct - Rape Overseas

EXCLUSIVE: Backlash feared from sex trial of air marshal - Washington Times

Source: www.washingtontimes.com

The director of the Federal Air Marshal Service is warning that a criminal trial in Britain could have serious implications for the agency's international mission, including the possibility of its agents being barred from some overseas flights.


Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/06/exclusive-backlash-from-air-marshals-sex-trial-fea/

Veteran's Day Thank-You's

Thank you all for your expressions of appreciation. It really means a lot to me. Those kind words truly melted my heart, especially over the days and weeks following my return from Iraq when the memories of one of my best friend's -- who didn't make it home -- was still fresh in my mind.

Suffice it to say, my wife surely deserves a medal for the year alone with all of our little kiddos. My oldest daughter, 10, wrote me a note in crayon today, which simply said, "Thank you. Happy Veteran's Day. I love you." That brought a big smile and nearly a tear.

God bless all our troops.

Veteran’s Day Letter


The following letter was written by Austin Hamner who was serving in Iraq in 2004. The letter is to his daughters, Mary, Laura & Sarah.

Hello girls, I have something very important to tell you about this war and the meaning of Veteran’s Day. We should never forget that Veteran’s Day used to be called Armistice Day. This particular day was chosen because that was the month, day and hour that World War I ended which was November 11, 1918 at 11:00am . This was supposed to be the “war to end all wars”, but of course we know that it was not the last one.

Sometimes on Veterans Day, we lose connection to the real meaning of the day. I’ve written a few words that may help you to understand what it is all about. Sweethearts, I’ve just returned from the memorial service that was held for two very special soldiers. These two men were taken from this world on Monday of this very week protecting our unit. They were very brave men who protected generals and your dad too.

The first man’s name is Specialist Don Allen Clary. He would have celebrated his 22nd birthday on the last day of this year, December 31. His mother must have wondered if she was to have a New Year’s baby when he was born in 1982. That’s the same year as your big brother John. Specialist Clary had a girlfriend, but they hadn’t married yet and so that part of the story will never be known. What we do know is that he built a house before he left and that he loved to fish. He was a tall man who worked with his hands and he was good at most everything he did. He was excited for the future, but first he wanted to serve his country.

The second hero’s name is Staff Sergeant Clinton Lee Wisdom. This hero just turned 39 in August. He was married and had three children who attended three different levels of school, namely: high school, middle school and elementary school just like our family. He also loved to fish even more than Specialist Clary, but he always took one of his children along so they could have ‘quiet time’ with dad. He wanted to run for mayor of his town once he returned to Kansas .

Both men had the job of leading convoys and protecting generals and other high ranking people so that they would be safe. This was a frequent mission to take several high ranking people to the American Embassy in the International Zone. A suicide bomber aimed a truck for the convoy and the VIP vehicles. These two soldiers placed their own vehicle between the suicide truck and the rest of the convoy to protect the riders. The truck detonated and instantly took these two soldiers away from this world. One of the men who was saved was appointed by President Bush and who is now returning to submit testimony before the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. This high ranking man said that he owes his life to these two heroes and hopes that he can live to be worthy of the great sacrifice these two men made. I am sure that neither he nor the people with them that day will ever forget these two heroes.

Sooner or later all of us will pass on from this life, but those who willingly give their lives for others certainly are true heroes. Jesus once taught the world that, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13. That is one way to know that these two men were real-life heroes.

We had a memorial this morning for these two heroes. You might think that Army soldiers are tough and don’t need to have time for this. It is exactly the opposite sweethearts. We too, need time to grieve over the loss of friends and family. A British soldier played the bagpipes as we assembled for the service. The memorial stand had two pairs of empty desert combat boots with M-16 rifles pointed down beside the shoes. Their Kevlar helmets were placed on top of the upturned rifles. The unit that lost the men was called to attention and then role call was made. Each man responded to their individual names. Only silence responded to the names of the fallen heroes. The names were called out three times according to custom before the name is marked as ‘not present’. Shortly afterward, a wonderful trumpet played the mournful notes of “TAPS” while the entire unit saluted. Upon conclusion, each soldier in the entire unit then had a chance to march up to the temporary memorials and render one final salute to their dear friends. Some spent time on their knees in quiet remembrance of their friends. There were many tears among this ‘band of brothers’ today. Yes girls, soldiers cry too.

Within another week, there will be another similar memorial, back in the state of Kansas . The difference this time will be the individual families that will say, “Goodbye.” Specialist Clary and his girlfriend and family along with the wife and children of SSG Wisdom and their close friends and family will say their final farewells. There will be a military funeral which includes a 21-gun salute. Once that is over, the respective families must then adjust their lives without their real heroes being with them anymore.

This is what we memorialize on Veteran’s Day. We remember the sacrifice of the soldiers themselves along with their grieving families. These men were just two of the more than a thousand heroes who have been taken during this conflict. This is the day to also remember all wars that have been fought on behalf of our country. It is important that we remember who these heroes are and that they are not forgotten. It is not just words spoken softly on one day of the year, but that we remember each time we see the wonderful flags flying along the light poles in Greenwood . Each one helps us to remember others who are no longer with us to enjoy the freedom that was given to us as a gift from those who sacrificed earlier in our country’s history.

I am nearing the end of my time here in Baghdad, Iraq and I am so looking forward to seeing you three as well as your brothers again and being together. I will give you extra hugs and kisses because I know that there are children who will not get them from their dad who was taken away on Monday.

Maybe we can visit the Soldier’s and Sailor’s memorial in downtown Indianapolis and remember the other families and heroes so that they are never forgotten too.

Love you,

Papa

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We've Already Had Our Cyber-Pearl Harbor. Yikes!

"If I were an attacker and I wanted to do strategic damage to the United States, I would either take the cold of winter or the heat of summer, I probably would sack electric power on the U.S. East Cost, maybe the West Coast, and attempt to cause a cascading effect. All of those things are in the art of the possible from a sophisticated attacker," McConnell explained.

"Do you believe our adversaries have the capability of bringing down a power grid?" Kroft asked.

"I do," McConnell replied.

Asked if the U.S. is prepared for such an attack, McConnell told Kroft, "No. The United States is not prepared for such an attack."

"It is now clear this cyber threat is one [of] the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation," President Obama said during a speech.

Four months after taking office, Obama made those concerns part of our national defense policy, declaring the country's digital infrastructure a strategic asset, and confirming that cyber warfare had moved beyond theory.

"We know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid, and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness," the president said.

President Obama didn't say which country had been plunged into darkness, but a half a dozen sources in the military, intelligence, and private security communities have told us the president was referring to Brazil.

Several prominent intelligence sources confirmed that there were a series of cyber attacks in Brazil: one north of Rio de Janeiro in January 2005 that affected three cities and tens of thousands of people, and another, much larger event beginning on Sept. 26, 2007.

That one in the state of Espirito Santo affected more than three million people in dozens of cities over a two-day period, causing major disruptions. In Vitoria, the world's largest iron ore producer had seven plants knocked offline, costing the company $7 million. It is not clear who did it or what the motive was.

But the people who do these sorts of things are no longer teenagers making mischief. They're now likely to be highly trained soldiers with the Chinese army or part of an organized crime group in Russia, Europe or the Americas.

"They can disrupt critical infrastructure, wipe databases. We know they can rob banks. So, it's a much bigger and more serious threat," explained Jim Lewis, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies....

"In 2007 we probably had our electronic Pearl Harbor. It was an espionage Pearl Harbor," Lewis said. "Some unknown foreign power, and honestly, we don't know who it is, broke into the Department of Defense, to the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, probably the Department of Energy, probably NASA. They broke into all of the high tech agencies, all of the military agencies, and downloaded terabytes of information."

How much is a terabyte?

"The Library of Congress, which has millions of volumes, is about 12 terabytes. So, we probably lost the equivalent of a Library of Congress worth of government information in 2007," Lewis explained.

"All stolen by foreign countries?" Kroft asked.


http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/06/60minutes/main5555565.shtml

See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/technology/27compute.html?emc=eta1

Think about the threats to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Think about the possibilities of a Y2K-like terrorist disaster on a 12 million person city. No water, no electricity, no plumbing, no food. The looting and carnage would be insane. A well-planned, well-executed three-pronged attack could spin a city the size of Los Angeles into so much chaos it would make the Rodney King riots look like Romper Room. And, you could leave it to the FBI spokespersons to quickly say there's no link to terrorism within the first five minutes, just like they did directly following the November 5th shooting at Fort Hood. Pshaw. If that solider-killer isn't a terrorist, then I don't know who is.

November 5th was the day Johnny died while we were in Iraq two years ago. He and I served together many years ago on the police Special Reaction Teams on US Army posts in South Korea and at Fort Carson, Colorado.

I spoke with a senior instructor at the DOD Police Academy today who trained the lady cop who was shot -- and who shot -- the so-called Army Major who went on a shooting rampage. She's in good spirits, I'm told. Is it wrong to say I wished I could have shot the guy?

War as PlayStation: death by joystick

War from Cyberspace by Richard Clarke

http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=22340

I only have one word about this enlightening article: Whoa....

In Iraq, after having returned into the military after era of maps and compasses for navigating, I was shocked at the amazing large screen GPS and computer capabilities within each gun truck! I was surprised at the immediate real-time feed of video surveillance from Predator and Reaper drones, and aghast that the reliance of computer systems and networks in a war zone that had become so heavily relied upon. My feelings then and today are if it's electronic, it can break.

Suffice it to say, the Internet and Secret as well as more cryptic data lines, occasionally went kaput when the weather wasn't just right or when something electronic went bankrupt. The fully dilapidated buildings we worked from were paradoxically outfitted with the latest and greatest super computers, video monitoring devices and communications technology. What a sight that was! Still, when I arranged for my troops to have compasses and maps (not the digital types) as back-ups, they said, "Sir, we don't use those anymore." Au contraire mon frere, we need to be prepared. We need to have plans in layers. The acronym PACE helps line up what plans ought to be made in war:

Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency.

Now, I'm not ignorant and I'm not necessarily caught in the past. I've graduated from the type writer to the electric type writer. And today I obviously use computers and the Internet. Some kid made fun of me recently when I called the Enter button on my laptop a Return button. "What's that?" he said with a sneer after I explained it.

When I worked for the government, I was issued a PDA instead of a notebook and pen, but I still carried the latter as a back up.

I choose to wear simple and easy-to-use analog watches. While digital watches, that can come with digital compasses, barometers and probably James Bond-type death ray lasers, are cool, they just don't do anything for me. Besides, they're not as nice as the indestructibly rugged Rolex anyway. I must confess I don't have one of those either.

When I went sky-diving, I liked the good old fashioned altimeter -- I didn't need one on my wrist that also recorded my heart BPMs, was solar-powered, probably had an internal staple gun hidden somewhere in its complex micro elements, had cellular phone capabilities and which was supposed to serve as "just a watch."

While technology is wonderful, we can't rely that it will work forever. Cyberspace has been attacked and is destined to fail -- at least intermittently -- in the future. Not that we shouldn't use it, but we must develop better defensive and offensive cyber-warfighting capabilities. We must have multiple layered plans for when things go awry, and certainly they will.

...Nevertheless, I now prefer using our tiny GPS in the car whenever going somewhere unfamiliar. Maps are just too expensive, cumbersome and, well, confusing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Best Fictional Book Ever!!!



Watch out Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, I couldn't put down SHADOWLAND by Steve Williams. I can hardly wait for the rest of the series. Shadowland is like "24" on steroids. Wow!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gun Control - dark humor, but enlightening



The sign reads:

My neighbor next door wants to BAN all GUNS!
Their house is NOT armed.
Out of respect for their opinions I promise not to use my guns to protect them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SWAT breaching -- The Wall Banger

video

Low-Light Shooting Techniques, part 2

The Graham Combat low-light flashlight shooting technique is the best technique for shooting with a flashlight, bar none. I've owned a Combat Loop for a while now. I love it. Again, it beats any other technique or specially designed flashlight out there: Harries, Chapman, FBI, Ayoob, etc.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Religious Freedom Follow-Up

I posted a quote from Elder Dallin H. Oaks' talk given on Religious Freedom recently, which has gotten a lot of attention as of late. I recommend any and every reader of this blog to read or listen to the talk in its entirety.

The likes of Keith Olbermann and his ilk have declared Elder Oaks among the worst people in the world because of it. Yet, I agree with every point and aspect of Elder Oaks' talk.

Keeping Things Civil - Orson Scott Card

This writing by Orson Scott Card, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is one of the most brilliant, inspired and -- dare I say, prophetic? -- pieces I've read in a very long time. It follows:

Afterword to novel Empire


The originating premise of this novel did not come from me. Donald Mustard and his partners in Chair Enterainment had the idea for an entertainment franchise called Empire about a near-future American civil war. When I joined the project to create a work of fiction based on that premise, my first order of business was to come up with a plausible way that such an event might come about.

It was, sadly enough, all too easy.

Because we haven't had a civil war in the past fourteen decades, people think we can't have one now. Where is the geographic clarity of the Mason-Dixon line? When you look at the red-state blue-state division in the past few elections, you get a false impression. The real division is urban, academic, and high-tech counties versus suburban, rural, and conservative Christian counties. How could such widely scattered "blue" centers and such centerless "red" populations ever act in concert?

Geography aside, however, we have never been so evenly divided with such hateful rhetoric since the years leading up to the Civil War of the 1860s. Because the national media elite are so uniformly progressive, we keep hearing (in the elite media) about the rhetorical excesses of the "extreme right." To hear the same media, there is no "extreme left," just the occasional progressive who says things he or she shouldn't.

But any rational observer has to see that the Left and Right in America are screaming the most vile accusations at each other all the time. We are fully polarized -- if you accept one idea that sounds like it belongs to either the blue or the red, you are assumed -- nay, required -- to espouse the entire rest of the package, even though there is no reason why supporting the war against terrorism should imply you're in favor of banning all abortions and against restricting the availability of firearms; no reason why being in favor of keeping government-imposed limits on the free market should imply you also are in favor of giving legal status to homosexual couples and against building nuclear reactors. These issues are not remotely related, and yet if you hold any of one group's views, you are hated by the other group as if you believed them all; and if you hold most of one group's views, but not all, you are treated as if you were a traitor for deviating even slightly from the party line.

It goes deeper than this, however. A good working definition of fanaticism is that you are so convinced of your views and policies that you are sure anyone who opposes them must either be stupid and deceived or have some ulterior motive. We are today a nation where almost everyone in the public eye displays fanaticism with every utterance.

It is part of human nature to regard as sane those people who share the worldview of the majority of society. Somehow, though, we have managed to divide ourselves into two different, mutually exclusive sanities. The people in each society reinforce each other in madness, believing unsubstantiated ideas that are often contradicted not only by each other but also by whatever objective evidence exists on the subject. Instead of having an ever-adapting civilization-wide consensus reality, we have became a nation of insane people able to see the madness only in the other side.

Does this lead, inevitably, to civil war? Of course not -- though it's hardly conducive to stable government or the long-term continuation of democracy. What inevitably arises from such division is the attempt by one group, utterly convinced of its rectitude, to use all coercive forces available to stamp out the opposing views.

Such an effort is, of course, a confession of madness. Suppression of other people's beliefs by force only comes about when you are deeply afraid that your own beliefs are wrong and you are desperate to keep anyone from challenging them. Oh, you may come up with rhetoric about how you are suppressing them for their own good or for the good of others, but people who are confident of their beliefs are content merely to offer and teach, not compel.

The impulse toward coercion takes whatever forms are available. In academia, it consists of the denial of degrees, jobs, or tenure to people with nonconformist opinions. Ironically, the people who are most relentless in eliminating competing ideas congratulate themselves on their tolerance and diversity. In most situations, it is less formal, consisting of shunning -- but the shunning usually has teeth in it. Did Mel Gibson, when in his cups, say something that reflects his upbringing in an antisemitic household? Then he is to be shunned -- which in Hollywood will mean he can never be considered for an Oscar and will have a much harder time getting prestige, as opposed to money, roles.

It has happened to me, repeatedly, from both the Left and the Right. It is never enough to disagree with me -- I must be banned from speaking at a particular convention or campus; my writings should be boycotted; anything that will punish me for my noncompliance and, if possible, impoverish me and my family.

So virulent are these responses -- again, from both the Left and the Right -- that I believe it is only a short step to the attempt to use the power of the state to enforce one's views. On the right we have attempts to use the government to punish flag burners and to enforce state-sponsored praying. On the left, we have a ban on free speech and peaceable public assembly in front of abortion clinics and the attempt to use the power of the state to force the acceptance of homosexual relationships as equal to marriages. Each side feels absolutely justified in compelling others to accept their views.

It is puritanism, not in its separatist form, desiring to live by themselves by their own rules, but in its Cromwellian form, using the power of the state to enforce the dicta of one group throughout the wider society, by force rather than persuasion.

This despite the historical fact that the civilization that has created more prosperity and freedom for more people than ever before is one based on tolerance and pluralism, and that attempts to force one religion (theistic or atheistic) on the rest of a nation or the world inevitably lead to misery, poverty, and, usually, conflict.

Yet we seem only able to see the negative effects of coercion caused by the other team. Progressives see the danger of allowing fanatical religions (which, by some definitions, means "all of them") to have control of government -- they need only point to Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Taliban, or, in a more general and milder sense, the entire Muslim world, which is oppressed precisely to the degree that Islam is enforced as the state religion.

Conservatives, on the other hand, see the danger of allowing fanatical atheistic religions to have control of government, pointing to Nazi Germany and all Communist nations as obvious examples of political utopianism run amok.

Yet neither side can see any connection between their own fanaticism and the historical examples that might apply to them. People insisting on a Christian America simply cannot comprehend that others view them as the Taliban-in-waiting; those who insist on progressive exclusivism in America are outraged at any comparison between them and Communist totalitarianism. Even as they shun or fire or deny tenure to those who disagree with them, everybody thinks it's the other guy who would be the oppressor, while our side would simply "set things to rights."

Rarely do people set out to start a civil war. Invariably, when such wars break out both sides consider themselves to be the aggrieved ones. Right now in America, even though the Left has control of all the institutions of cultural power and prestige -- universities, movies, literary publishing, mainstream journalism-- as well as the federal courts, they feel themselves oppressed and threatened by traditional religion and conservatism. And even though the Right controls both houses of Congress and the presidency, as well as having ample outlets for their views in nontraditional media and an ever-increasing dominance over American religious and economic life, they feel themselves oppressed and threatened by the cultural dominance of the Left.

And they are threatened, just as they are also threatening, because nobody is willing to accept the simple idea that someone can disagree with their group and still be a decent human being worthy of respect.

Can it lead to war?

Very simply, yes. The moment one group feels itself so aggrieved that it uses either its own weapons or the weapons of the state to "prevent" the other side from bringing about its supposed "evil" designs, then that other side will have no choice but to take up arms against them. Both sides will believe the other to be the instigator.

The vast majority of people will be horrified -- but they will also be mobilized whether they like it or not.

It's the lesson of Yugoslavia and Rwanda. If you were a Tutsi just before the Rwandan holocaust who did not hate Hutus, who married a Hutu, who hired Hutus or taught school to Hutu students, it would not have stopped Hutus from taking machetes to you and your family. You would have had only two choices: to die or to take up arms against Hutus, whether you had previously hated them or not.

But it went further. Knowing they were doing a great evil, the Hutus who conducted the programs also killed any Hutus who were "disloyal" enough to try to oppose taking up arms.

Likewise in Yugoslavia. For political gain, Serbian leaders in the post-Tito government maintained a drumbeat of Serbian manifest-destiny propaganda, which openly demonized Croatian and Muslim people as a threat to good Serbs. When Serbs in Bosnia took up arms to "protect themselves" from being ruled by a Muslim majority -- and were sponsored and backed by the Serbian government -- what choice did a Bosnian Muslim have but to take up arms in self-defense? Thus both sides claimed to be acting in self-defense, and in short order, they were.

And as both Rwanda and Bosnia proved, clear geographical divisions are not required in order to have brutal, bloody civil wars. All that is required is that both sides come to believe that if they do not take up arms, the other side will destroy them.

In America today, we are complacent in our belief that it can't happen here. We forget that America is not an ethnic nation, where ancient ties of blood can bind people together despite differences. We are created by ideology; ideas are our only connection. And because today we have discarded the free marketplace of ideas and have polarized ourselves into two equally insane ideologies, so that each side can, with perfect accuracy, brand the other side as madmen, we are ripe for that next step, to take preventive action to keep the other side from seizing power and oppressing our side.

The examples are -- or should be -- obvious. That we are generally oblivious to the excesses of our own side merely demonstrates how close we already are to a paroxysm of self-destruction.

We are waiting for Fort Sumter.

I hope it doesn't come.

Meanwhile, however, there is this novel, in which I try to show characters who struggle to keep from falling into the insanity -- yet who also try to prevent other people's insanity from destroying America. This book is fiction. It is entertainment. I do not believe a new American civil war is inevitable; and if it did happen, I do not believe it would necessarily take the form I show in this book, politically or militarily. Since the war depicted in these pages has not happened, I am certainly not declaring either side in our polarized public life guilty of causing it. I only say that for the purposes of this story, we have this set of causes; in the real world, if we should ever be so stupid as to allow a civil war to happen again, we would obviously have a different set of specific causes.

We live in a time when people like me, who do not wish to choose either camp's ridiculous, inconsistent, unrelated ideology, are being forced to choose -- and to take one whole absurd package or the other.

We live in a time when moderates are treated worse than extremists, being punished as if they were more fanatical than the actual fanatics.

We live in a time when lies are preferred to the truth and truths are called lies, when opponents are assumed to have the worst conceivable motives and treated accordingly, and when we reach immediately for coercion without even bothering to find out what those who disagree with us are actually saying.

In short, we are creating for ourselves a new dark age -- the darkness of blinders we voluntarily wear, and which, if we do not take them off and see each other as human beings with legitimate, virtuous concerns, will lead us to tragedies whose cost we will bear for generations.

Or, maybe, we can just calm down and stop thinking that our own ideas are so precious that we must never give an inch to accommodate the heartfelt beliefs of others.

How can we accomplish that? It begins by scorning the voices of extremism from the camp we are aligned with. Democrats and Republicans must renounce the screamers and haters from their own side instead of continuing to embrace them and denouncing only the screamers from the opposing camp. We must moderate ourselves instead of insisting on moderating the other guy while keeping our own fanaticism alive.

In the long run, the great mass of people who simply want to get on with their lives can shape a peaceful future. But it requires that they actively pursue moderation and reject extremism on every side, and not just on one. Because it is precisely those ordinary people, who don't even care all that much about the issues, who will end up suffering the most from any conflict that might arise.

http://www.hatrack.com/osc/articles/empire_afterword.shtml

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Religious Freedom

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a former Judge and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently addressed students at Brigham Young University-Idaho. While reading his remarks I pulled just one paragraph that I've been pondering a lot lately. It follows:

The greatest infringements of religious freedom occur when the exercise of religion collides with other powerful forces in society. Among the most threatening collisions in the United States today are (1) the rising strength of those who seek to silence religious voices in public debates, and (2) perceived conflicts between religious freedom and the popular appeal of newly alleged civil rights.


--Source: "Religious Freedom,"Transcript of Elder Dallin H. Oaks speech given at BYU-Idaho on 13 October 2009.
http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/news-releases-stories/religious-freedom#_edn5#_edn5, retrieved October 18, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

PSD Contractors in Iraq beaten by Iraqi Army/Police

I received the below report recently. It's disturbing. If you knew PSD (and have done it, like I did though in Israel/Palestine) and have worked and lived in Iraq (and knew the culture, like I have with the US Army Reserve), this really makes a lot of sense. The bottom line: this is a quagmire!

I heard it's WPPS security contractors from DynCorp. Since that's who I worked with previously, I know a lot of those guys. I hope they're all okay. No matter the company--DynCorp, Blackwater (Xe), Triple Canopy, SOC, Osen-Hunter, Armor Group, etc., there are troubles when dealing with high risk situations and guys with guns (some of whom do not behave well, e.g. the local Armor Group fiasco in Kabul). The idea for my second book revolves around this issue. I plan to call it, Leaders Wanted: from the War Room to the Boardroom. From there, I plan to do a lot of leadership consulting and training.

I won't go into detail here; you make your own conclusions. Here's the report I received:


The Entry Control Points (ECP) into the International Zone (IZ) have been
increasingly difficult to deal with. It is nothing that is intolerable.
However, in an increasing basis Protective Security Detail (PSD) teams have
been instructed to exit vehicles for search, download weapons and such. That
is okay, because after all, Iraq, like it or not, is its own country and
sets the ground rules.

Well, a few days ago the antics were ratcheted up again. As a team was
entering ECP4 (old CP12) the last vehicle of the motorcade was stopped,
which is not unc ommon. This time though, the vehicles crew was harassed to
give over smoke grenades. Lately IA's/IP's have been asking PSD teams for
everything from water, to ammunition, to money. In following the guidance
from the Department of State (DOS), Regional Security Officer (RSO), the
vehicle commander of the vehicle attempted to find out the name of the Iraqi
in charge of the ECP.

He did this, but by all reports went about it in the wrong manner, which in
no way reflects on the rest of the team who are true professionals. However,
he raised his voice towards the Captain and was generally less than polite.
He was told by the Captain to get back in the truck and move on. After
another warning to leave, he returned to the truck and being the idiot he
is, tried to sneak a photo of the Captain. This not so bright idea wasn't
well received. The IA Captain saw the camera, and, with the windows down
because the crew was answering questions, reached in and grabbed the camera.

This is where the wheels fell off and the incident began to spiral out of
control for the PSD members who quickly put up their windows and lock the
doors. This in turn causes the Iraqi soldiers present to start beating on
the doors of the now buttoned up Suburban. As the Suburban moves forward the
T72 Tank that sits at the halfway point in the ECP turns it DSHK Heavy
Machine-gun towards the Sub, and pulls out in front of it blocking its exit.
As a result, the Suburban and its crew stop.

Apparently, while this was going on the IA Captain put out a net call to his
counterparts that an American assaulted him. The story he related was that
the PSD member in the rear seat, the medic, took a photo of him and when he,
the Captain took the camera away, the medic punched him, which didn't
happen. Because of this report, more Iraqis show up and began beating on the
Suburban with their rifles.

At around this time, the Tactical Commander (TC) from the lead vehicle
showed up and approached the Captain in an attempt to de-escalate the
situation. The Captain promptly drew his pistol, pointed it at the TC and
fired 2 rounds over the TCs head. The TC, without missing a beat says,
"Habibi" and reaches his hand out to shake the officers, who unable to shake
hands due to having a pistol in it, holsters his sidearm and shakes hands.
The TC then talks down the situation; the tank rolls back into its normal
position and people begin to chill out.

Well just as everything starts to look okay for the PSD members an Iraqi
Colonel shows up. Accompanying the Colonel are 5 - 6 vehicles full of Iraqi
Army personnel with DSHK's. In addition, Iraqis were swarming down the
street in large numbers loading AKs and strapping on body armor as they
arrived.

The Colonel, believing the Americans had assaulted one of his men was more
than excited. Not listening to anything anyone else had to say, he demanded
the PSD open the vehicle and surrender, which the team, seeing the
seriousness of the situation refused to do. The Colonel, realizing he was
getting nowhere with the team in the Suburban ordered the tank crew to run
over the Suburban. The tank then started up its engines again and promptly
rumbles out into the road for a second time.

Luckily for the PSD members the tank driver wasn't very good at his job, so
it took him some time to try and line up for the drive over Suburban smash
ing. As he was lining up, the PSD crew, understandably fearing for their
lives, decided to try and drive out again. However, as the driver put the
vehicle into gear, the automatic door locks on the front doors popped, the
doors unlocked, and the Iraqis had them open in a flash.

The Iraqis still mistakenly believing the medic had assaulted one of their
own focused on him in the rear seat. However the rear doors were still
locked and they were unable to get to him. The Colonels solution was to
stick his pistol to the head of the Suburban's driver. Seeing this, the
medic decided he didn't want his team member shot on his behalf, so he
opened the vehicle and exited, at which time the swarm of Iraqis began
beating him with fists, feet and rifles. The same pretty much happened with
the rest of the crew; they were all jerked form the vehicle and promptly
flex cuffed and beaten.

While this was going on, due to the firepower and sheer numbers of Iraqi
Army present (about 80 at this time), our QRF team who was on scene was
unable to do anything more than video the incident as best they could and
try to keep an accounting of the team members being beat down. Had they
tried to intercede more than they did, the situation could have easily
escalated into a full-blown shoot out, in which all PSD members and many
Iraqis would have most likely been killed. One member of the QRF did
cautiously approach and he was quickly cuffed and beaten.

Somewhere as the beatings were happening, the military showed up on the
scene in the form of the useless IZ police. Rather than calling for
reinforcements, or senior leadership word from those on the ground was that
the IZ police said something to the effect of "You're contractors, you're on
your own" and left. An Army convoy pulled out of FOB Prosperity located next
to the incident and drove by leaving the contractors to the Iraqi mob. Two
army Majors, or Lt, Colonels, did try to get involved and were promptly
pushed around by the Iraqis.
The Blue Force Tracker, our emergency beacon, was activated early in the
incident sending out a distress call. From reports, other contracting
companies in the area were ready to help. However, help of an armed sort was
not needed at this time. What was needed was diplomacy and someone who could
bring diplomatic sense to bear. Unfortunately, the US Department of State
RSO decided, because we are only a Department of State contractors and not a
DOS Chief of Mission contract that we were on our own. So he didn't lift a
finger. As a matter of fact, DOS took the radios we had, which enabled us to
speak with the RSO TOC in the case of an emergency, and the RSO has severed
all ties with our program, even during times of distress.

Eventually, after physically beating the PSD members, the Iraqis loaded them
into their vehicles, putting one in the truck/boot of the vehicle. They then
drove away to an Iraqi base in the IZ with an Iraqi sitting on the hood
waving his arms up and down, screaming a victory cry as they traveled
through the IZ.

At the Iraqi base, the team members were split up and beat some more. Some
of the PSD members were beaten with weight bars from the Iraqi gym. The
Medic was beaten so bad that he was covered in blood and began projectile
vomiting from the head injuries he was receiving. One person beating him was
an Iraqi General who repeatedly punched him with his Madhi ring encrusted
hand.

Eventually, the powers to be arrived and met with the very General who had
been beating the Medic. They worked things out and secured their release.
The freed men were transported to the Army Combat Surgical Hospital (CSH) at
Victory Base for evaluation. All were released and doing well considering
the possibilities. The medic suffered from a concussion and possibly other
injuries, which may have to be treated in the US.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Star-Spangled Banner...Better With Every Passing Year

A buddy of mine who served in the war posted this link not long ago. Thanks JP!

Friday, October 2, 2009

An Airplane Will Explode

It's just a matter of time before an airplane gets blown out of the sky by a suicide bomber. As an air marshal, that's what I suspected the most.

The below link shows how that would be easily possible. Drug smugglers--"mules"--have hidden contraband in body cavities for decades. Now, the suicide bomber has something to mimic. One al Qaeda member sneaked past air port security overseas with ease prior to detonation.

Mark my words: An airplane will get blown out of the sky.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/09/28/eveningnews/main5347847.shtml

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Let Them Fight or Bring Them Home

This writing below is from a friend and colleague of mine, Jim Sauer. He's a retired US Marine Corps Sergeant Major with a lot of overseas experience. In fact, that's where we met. Having studied counterinsurgency and low-intensity conflict for my master's degree (and in the proverbial sandbox, Iraq) I can very much appreciate his perspective. This is a great read. Thanks Jim!


There have been some phony arguments put forth for another “surge” in Afghanistan. We need not a surge of troops, we merely need to let our forces there do what needs to be done – kill the enemy.

There is this misconception of Afghanistan in particular (and Islam in general) that somehow we can bring Central Asia (and the rest of the Islamic world) kicking and screaming into the 21st Century through good will. This is simply not the case. There is no amount of money to spend, infrastructure to build, schools to provide, hospitals to heal, or good will that Americans can display toward the Afghan people that will produce a lasting effect. I was once told by an accomplished Afghan intelligence analyst that, “you can rent an Afghan, but you can’t buy him.”

The hard fact is that the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan “people” are not for sale! The descendants of “The Great Khan” and their tribal cousins have no interest in being Westernized in any way. And, the human sewers that serve as their political leadership can only be rented. Americans are interlopers in a land where interlopers generally have their heads lopped off.

Nobody read their Kipling. (I know, “who or what was Kipling?” Look it up.) Americans do not know their OWN history (except the spun trash that passes for “social studies” in our heavily socialistic high schools) much less the history of Afghanistan. And, this includes our political leadership! Ask an American on the street – or a congressman in the House – to point to Afghanistan on a map, and they will probably start with their finger cautiously orbiting somewhere over Rhode Island.

This writer spent thirty years listening to and deciphering military acronyms and idiotic jargon. The catch phrase today is “COIN” – Counterinsurgency doctrine. Our political and military leadership act like this is some sort of secret knowledge – Gnostic esoteric knowledge – that is now coming to light. That is crap. There is nothing new here.

Counterinsurgency predates Rome. In modern times, the first COIN doctrine called Small Wars Manual was written by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1935 with the final edition being published in 1940. The first few decades of the 20th Century saw Marines intervening as “State Department Troops” from Central America and Hispaniola to China and the Philippines. The Small Wars Manual is a compilation of information describing nation building, establishing “constabularies”, civil affairs, infrastructure repair, election management, donkey packing and inspiration, river crossing, intelligence gathering, psychology and ethnicity of native peoples, disarmament of the populace, force composition, supply and logistics chains, public image (both in the target nation and in the United States), and everything else it takes to drag a Third-World backwash into the current day and age. There is even a section on inspecting the feet of native troops for bunions, corns, and severe trichophytosis (athlete’s foot).

The manual is also full of contradictions. If one were to summarize in a sentence or two the center of conflicting mass, one might say, “Try to be nice, but if they don’t go along with the program manipulate them. If that doesn’t’ work, kill them – every one of them.” It reminds one of a quip from Vietnam that went, “Let us win your hearts and minds or we’ll burn your damn huts down.”

It seems our current crop of political and military geniuses think that COIN can be conducted in a sanitary manner. This belief is insane. The “small wars” of the 20th Century were every bit as dirty and brutal as any conventional war ever fought.

Legendary Marine Corps hero and two time Medal of Honor recipient Major General Smedley Butler wrote of his “COIN” experience a short tome titled “War is a Racket”. It spelled out the misuse of American forces and the waste of American lives during the first three decades of the 20th Century. General Butler was an unlikely critic of the use of military force – the more reason to heed his caveats.

Though published in 1940, the intervening years of conventional war (World War II and Korea) saw the Small Wars Manual fade into disuse.

The formation of the U.S. Army Special Forces in the 1960s led to an attempt to bring COIN doctrine to Vietnam. While this effort met with some success against the Viet Cong, the introduction of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) forces diminished the strategic effectiveness of the Special Forces effort. Further, as the NVA entered the fray and the war progressed, the Viet Cong themselves, although diminished by the Special Forces effort, became more sophisticated with regard to their remaining cell structures, logistics, and weapons employment.

There are several things to consider:

1. With the exception of Malaysia, there have historically been very few – if any – real, long lasting counterinsurgency success stories.
2. Wars are like fingerprints and snowflakes – no two are alike
3. The sophistication of the insurgency with respect to tactics, weapons, as well as ethnic loyalties to and from the populace, can negate COIN efforts.
4. The subtleties and grace of Tae Kwon Do are nice, but there’s nothing like a good punch in the mouth.

COIN may be a legitimate strategy in a limited sense when the “insurgents” are seen as outsiders – or at least trouble makers with a foreign ideology – by the native population in a fixed geographic region. However, the insurgency we face is not limited to Afghanistan. It is a global movement. Civilian casualties must be avoided whenever possible – not at all costs. There is no excuse for the wanton slaughter of innocents. However, if a COIN strategy is to succeed, our political and military leadership must demonstrate the willingness to adjust the tactics used in the battlespace in order to allow our troops to kill the enemy.

When The Great Khan rode through Central Asia in the early 13th Century, he did not take into consideration public opinion. He had lands to conquer, people to rule, and resources to exploit. He spread fear and misery across Persia and into Europe. Whether an Afghan is Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, or Turkmen, some – the real Afghan warriors – still have the spirit of the Mongol Horde in their blood.

That having been said, their blood has been thinned by time and centuries of misery. The current crop of Afghanistan’s “Warriors” is almost exclusive to the opposition. The true believers are fighters – cowards too, but fighters nonetheless. By contrast, the bulk of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) are not fighters, nor are they “true believers”. They are simply cowards – frauds – corrupt to the core by any standard and an apostate to their own faith. They are slovenly, drug-addicted, dimwitted, and totally unreliable at any level. Like the Taliban, they are brutal to their own countrymen. They thrive on their petty powers and refuse to shoulder any burden or responsibility. Does this sound too harsh? Not for the Marines and Soldiers who have been killed by the treachery of ANA and ANP who have purposely led them into ambush.

According to the great military minds of our time, these ANA/ANP forces can be trained and formed to fight their own war. At what cost? How many American lives? How many taxpayer dollars? It would take decades if it were simply a matter of sophistication and military training. However, the obstacle is the way and philosophy of life in the Islamic world.

Iraq is a case study in deception. You have been told by the media and our politicians that the Iraqi Army is now capable of maintaining order in Iraq with limited U.S. support. Well, read the news. Iraq is still in chaos. As we withdraw it will become worse; Sunni v. Shitte, Kurd v. Sunni and/or Shitte. Arabs are as brutal as Central Asians. However, they are even worse soldiers, and bring new meaning to the term cowardly. An American colonel who tried to train an Iraqi brigade regularly quips that his greatest accomplishment in twelve months was to get the Iraqis to use the toilets. He was not exaggerating. Americans have no idea how screwed up the world is east of Greece. Iraq is not yet a success story. The insurgency is just laying low. The Muslim mind thinks in terms of years, decades, and centuries – not election cycles. You will hear optimistic talking heads speak otherwise. They will tell you of the great success in Iraq. You will even hear this occasionally from Soldiers, Marines, and “Operators” who have had good experiences with the Iraqi forces. However, their experience is the exception.

Americans have been conditioned and have become accustomed to tiptoeing about, fearing to offend anyone – even those who are offensive to the bulk of humanity. Thus, there is not an American politician or a media guru who will speak the truth clearly.

Although this writer has read extracts from the Koran, there is no claim from this quarter to any real Islamic theological scholarship. My understanding from Muslim acquaintances is that a true Muslim understands the Koran as literally as an Evangelical Protestant understands the Bible. Those who do not are apostates. Relying on the New Testament we believe that “By their fruits ye shall know them.” This is how we know them:

· Dismemberment of American soldiers in Somalia while Somali Muslims danced in glee – October 1993.
· The celebrations in “The Arab Streets” (include all of Islam from Gaza to Indonesia) after the bombings of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the downing of United Flight 93, animating Muslims throughout the world to joy and celebration – September 11, 2001 and the weeks following.
· Dismemberment of Americans from Blackwater in Fallujah complete with the hanging of burned bodies from a bridge to the delight of the Muslim crowd – March 31, 2004.
· Decapitations of Nick Berg, Daniel Pearl, Kenneth Bigley, and others at various times and places.

Lest we think that this barbarism is reserved for Westerners, Islam promotes:

· Honor killings of girls and women not only in Islamic nations, but right here in the good ‘ol USA.
· Child brides.
· Conversion killings of anyone even thinking about leaving the Islamic faith.
· Child abuse and indoctrination via children’s cartoons (Muppets no less!) that make sport of killing Americans and Jews and portray us as pigs and dogs. (You can find them on YouTube!)
· Punishing children for petty theft by having their arms broken beneath the wheel of a truck. (You can find this gem on YouTube as well!)
· Slavery in all its glory. Both for labor and sexual purposes. This is rampant in the Islamic world particularly among our Saudi “allies”. Victims are Indonesian, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Indian, and from any country where one could be lured with the promise of an escape from poverty. Some victims are from the West.
· Cruelty in all its forms to one and all.

Having spent the best part of five years in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel (Gaza/West Bank), I can tell you that I have personally seen an adult man take off his shoe and beat a toddler around the head and shoulders with its heel. The little boy was wearing only a dust soaked shirt that came up above his belly. Yet, not a tear fell on his dirt-smudged cherubic face. He fell down breaking his fall with his tiny hands, but would not – or could not cry. I have seen an adult man suddenly and repeatedly strike a burka-wearing woman with a stick when she tried to exit a compound through a gate without a male escort. I have seen a man beat a donkey on the legs and back with a club until the panicked, pleading, and bleeding animal fell to the ground.

Kabul has astounding traffic tie-ups. Road rage is limited because one never knows if the other guy may have a flamethrower in his vehicle, but the cursing and honking is legendary. In the spring of 2007, during a massive, two-hour traffic jam on Jalalabad Road, I watched as an Afghan driver and his assistant got out of their flat bed truck in an attempt to beat the heat by lying down in the shade under the tires. The truck was hauling two large containers of medical supplies marked with a Red Cross. The driver apparently forgot to put out the tire chalks, and the truck rolled over both men crushing their heads like peas. Nobody – nobody – lifted a finger to help them. Their bodies were simply pulled to the side and the honking and shouting went on as usual. Life means nothing.

Apologists will bring up the crimes of the West – especially the Crusades. The fact is that the Crusades were waged to counter the Seljuk advance on Byzantium and the atrocities inflicted on Christians and Jews in the Holy Land. The Crusades were waged during a period of time when life in general – not to mention war – was totally barbaric. That degree of barbarism is unimaginable to modern Western sensibilities, but still considered absolutely reasonable by Muslims. Had the Crusades not been waged; had the Habsburg Monarchy not turned back the Ottoman tide at the end of the 17th Century; had Isabel of Castile not driven the Moors from Grenada, you would not be reading this diatribe. You would be illiterate, ruled by a tyrant, and squatting on the dirt floor of a mud-brick shack picking your nose.

On September 24th, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He basically put the world on notice. Israel will not tolerate any more nonsense from the Islamic world. In contrast to the incoherent rambling of Gadhafi, the rancorous rants of Ahmandinejad, and the lame political oration given by President Obama, Netanyahu made his points with force, conviction, and clarity. Speaking of Islam he stated:

“In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times. Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.”

With cessation of the draft in the early 1970s America cultivated a professional warrior class. For over thirty years we have trained and equipped the most lethal fighting force ever known to mankind. They have sworn an oath to our Constitution that they take seriously. The question is whether or not their political leadership takes their own oath seriously. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are worthy of competent leadership that they can trust. Our president has demonstrated his contempt for America on foreign soil. In speeches around the world he has apologized for our history and failed to recognize our contributions. His personal history is littered with questionable personal friendships and professional associations. He has denied our Judeo-Christian heritage and stated that “Victory” is not in his vocabulary. We need to ask ourselves if he is worthy to be trusted with making policy that may mean the lives of our brave Warriors.

President Obama and General McCrystal need to review their history. When you treat the Afghans with kid gloves, they will bite off your hand.



Jim Sauer is a retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major and combat veteran with over thirty years of service. Since retiring he has worked in support of U.S. Government efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel.

Source: Personal email from Jim. Originally posted here, but also posted on author Diana West's blog, here.