Memorial Day Open Thread

Sorry for not having this up earlier – and for not having anything interesting to write about this important day. My internet connection got some gremlins last night and I was unable to really get anything done.

At all events, do take some time today to remember our fallen – those who really did give the last, full measure of devotion to our nation. We owe our existence as a people to them and we can never repay the men and women who gave all for us.

A Retired Admiral’s Take on Benghazi

The following is a letter that was re-printed in a military newsletter I get from a retired navy admiral to Bill O’Reilly regarding the entire Benghazi affair.  I originally posted this at the end of the recent Benghazi thread.

Mr. O’Reilly,

I am mad as hell because the truth about how combatant commanders and the department of state can and should protect embassies is not being clearly explained. The fact is that there are policies, precedent, resources and procedures that could and should have prevented the embassy in Benghazi from coming under attack, or defended it if it did come under attack, or vacated it if the threat was too high. The ongoing discussion on your show and elsewhere that centers on the video and subsequent cover up is necessary as is the discussion about whether or not we should have responded during the attack. But those discussions have not brought to light the fact that none of this should have happened in the first place.

Fact: The combatant commanders, in this case AFRICOM, have access to our national inventory of intelligence community resources as well as international resources in order to thoroughly understand the risks and threats in any part of their Area of Responsibility (AOR). The complete picture of what was happening in Libya should have been known by AFRICOM leaders and this should have been briefed up the chain daily.

Fact: The first two cornerstones of AFRICOM’s mission are (1) Deter and defeat transnational threats posed by al-Qa’ida and other extremist organizations and (2) Protect U.S. security interests by ensuring the safety of Americans and American interests from transnational threats… In other words it is the mission of AFRICOM to prevent exactly what happened at the embassy in Benghazi.

Fact: The policy is for AFRICOM leaders to work in-conjunction with the state department’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) to establish the threat and then work with the Joint Staff and inter-agency to quickly provide plans and resources to deny that threat.

Fact: There are units specifically designed to bolster security in embassies. The USMC has three companies of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) and one of these companies (or units from it) could have been deployed to FASTEUR in Rota, Spain, as the risk materialized. Each company has six platoons of 50 men each.

Fact: In July 2003 when I was the J3 at European command (AFRICOM had not been created yet) we had a similar situation develop in Liberia whereby two warring factions were threatening the embassy in Monrovia. The EUCOM team began planning for embassy support PRIOR to Ambassador Blaney’s request. When he did ask for help, we responded immediately, worked with his staff and received SECDEF approval to deploy a single FAST team platoon from Rota to the embassy to provide security. We worked with the Joint Staff and created the mission and structure for Joint Task Force Liberia, an anti-terrorism force based upon USS Iwo Jima and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Fact: Elements from the MEU arrived and relieved the FAST platoon. The warring parties signed a cease fire, the embassy in Monrovia was secured, no Americans were hurt.

So, the questions are:

1. What was the assessed level of threat in Libya prior to the September attack?

2. If it was not considered high then what were the intelligence failures that lead to that wrong conclusion?

3. If the threat was considered high then why wasn’t a FAST team or other resource deployed?

4. What did Ambassador Stephen’s see as his threat and what did he ask for? If he asked for help and was not provided it, that is inconceivable to me. My two bosses at EUCOM, General Chuck Wald (USAF) and General James L. Jones (USMC) would have bent over backwards to provide anything the ambassador asked for and more. They would have leaned on the Joint Staff to provide the authority to deploy and, in fact, during the Liberian situation described above, they were pushing me every day to provide solutions for the Joint Staff to approve. And should anyone forget, this was July of 2003. We were already in Afghanistan and had invaded Iraq just four months before. We were busy but not preoccupied.

Very Respectfully,
Hamlin Tallent
RADM, USN, retired

The admiral raises a lot of good points.  I guess we’ll see where this goes.  At least the right guy is chairing the select committee.  If Congressman Goudy doesn’t have the cajones to get to the whole truth in this matter, then I doubt that anyone can.

 

 

 

Navy Yard Shooting

We don’t really know anything about it other than someone started shooting.  We’ll let the MSM tie themselves up in knots getting it wrong for a while and then see what the full details are.  But here’s my first take on it:

One or maybe two or three shooters shut down an entire US Navy base.  That is disgraceful regardless of whatever facts relate to this case.  Our enemies are now taking note:  if you want to go to war with the United States, you start with a few three-man commando teams attacking major US military bases – it will paralyze our military for hours, at least.

We need to change this – our bases have to be fully armed with people who know how to shoot to kill in an instant.  No US base should be shut down because of an attack – and no one should flee their post, nor should a “shelter in place” (translation: cower in fear) order be issued.  The strength of any military force is expressed by its instant readiness for war.  There are no rear areas for the military and there is no peace time.  Violent enemies are always out there, always seeking to kill…the military must always be ready.

UPDATE:  Seems that the killer is going to fall in to the “nut” category.  Here’s the bit of news which caught my eye this morning over at The Telegraph:

Exclusive: The Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis played violent video games including Call of Duty for up to 16 hours at a time and friends believe it could have pushed him towards becoming a mass murderer.

Going through the whole article and seeing other things in the news about him, he appears to have been a dog’s breakfast of oddities.  There has emerged so far no hard center for the man – adrift on the tides, grasping some lifelines, but ultimately over the edge in to madness.  Naturally, most people will not blame what he saw and did prior to the attack.  Blame will be assigned in two ways:

1.  Anti-gun nuts will, as always, blame the gun.

2.  Rational people will almost all just blame the killer.

Me?  I blame the entire situation.  As I’ve said again and again and again these things used to never happen.  Now they do.  The dividing line is that school shooting in San Diego back in 1979.

It is everything that went in to the killer which caused him to kill – our broken morality, our glorification of violence, our attacks on masculine virtues (men not taught to be properly manly often wind up as brutes); all of this and more caused this to happen…and, yes, someone who plays violent video games for long periods of time is feeding in to his brain things which can come out in very bad ways.  As always in these situations, I’ll just point out that until we decide to change entirely, we’ll just get more and more of this.

Women in Combat

It was, perhaps, inevitable that women would be allowed in to combat roles – though as we’ve gone along this line of liberal nonsense, there still is the fact that women will only be in combat roles if they volunteer for them.  This is a secret acknowledgement that most women don’t want to and cannot perform the role of combat soldier.  Men in the military, of course, go where they are sent.

Any military force, if it is guided by anything akin to wisdom, seeks to be the most powerful it can be.  There is a reason for physical fitness requirements in soldiers – because while technology can do a lot, when it gets down to bullets flying and all is confusion, blood and fear, you need soldiers who have the physical strength to endure the strain.  It isn’t easy and even the strongest physical specimens can break down under the burden, even if not actually harmed by combat.  Right now, our army has done very well on this – you can see it in the soldiers:  they are often massive bruisers, far larger than, for instance, yours truly.  Even in my younger days, I probably couldn’t have measured up to the physical requirements of today’s troops.  Today’s soldiers are, in my view, better trained and more able than any soldiers we’ve ever placed in the field – and this is stated in knowledge that my Dad joined the Marines in 1944 while my uncle, when asked, stated he “earned” his VA benefits at a little ridge named “Heartbreak” in Korea.  And I like the fact that today’s soldiers outclass not only myself, but my Dad and my uncle…and, heck, even my grandfather and all his brothers (all of whom served in World War One and all of whom were wounded in action, some of them quite seriously).  My worry about this ruling is not so much that women will be in combat, but that the requirements for being a combat soldier in the United States Armed forces will be lowered so that women can participate.

In a population as large as ours, there will be some percentage of women who can actually meet the current physical requirements for being a combat soldier.  I can’t say what the percentage would be, but it would be fairly small – and out of that percentage of women who can do it, you would only get those who also wanted to do it, which would be the merest fraction of the total percentage who possibly could (in spite of intensive recruitment efforts among women, their percentage of the military has been stuck at 15% for ages; most women just don’t see the military as the place to be).  But what if there are women who want it – let’s face it, being in a combat role in the military is the path to advancement – but who can’t measure up?  Will standards be lowered so that they may participate?  We’ve already seen physical requirements lowered for police and firefighters in the United States so that women can participate – will that now become the rule for the military, as well?

If women are to serve in a combat role it must only be if the can meet the actual physical requirements currently in place.  Period.  If we do anything else – any mealy-mouthed, lying liberal excuses to lower standards – then we will be deliberately creating a weaker military just so we can make leftist feminists happy.  And that weaker military will pay in blood for being weaker when it could have been stronger.  I do not want Americans to wind up dead simply because we put in to combat roles people who can’t take the strain.

 

Intervention in Syria?

According to the headline number in the Washington Post/ABC poll, the American people say “no”:

In general, 73 percent say the U.S. military should not get involved in the conflict.

But the bad news is in the details:

But almost exactly as many say they’d support U.S. military involvement if Syria were to lose control of its chemical weapons, as do 63 percent if the Assad regime used these banned weapons against its own people – an action that Barack Obama has warned would “cross a red line.”

Now, I agree with the 69% who, later in the poll, say that if the Assad regime were to attack an ally, we should intervene – but for me the word “ally” in that area of the world only means “Israel”.  You’ve got to be the most obtuse sort of State Department pinhead to actually see Turkey as an ally these days – they aren’t quite as far gone down the route of Islamism as Egypt, but they’re heading there quickly.

For the duration of the Obama Administration you are going to find me to be the most dovish of people – because Obama is a foreign and military policy idiot and I simply don’t trust him to run either thing…and as during wars blood gets shed, I’m even more wary of Obama as Commander in Chief than I am as him being director of our foreign policy.  Short of absolutely surrendering our national honor, I want peace at any price at least until January 20th, 2017.

But this poll shows that if Assad does what he may well do – ie, go nuts –  then Obama has a ready-made public support for military action.  At a time when our military is already strained and we’re absolutely bankrupt.  What we’re likely to get, if Assad does go nuts, is a half-assed intervention along the lines of the mess we’ve made out of Libya…at a time when the non-Islamists of Syria are already mistrustful of us because of our dithering with the UN over the Syrian Civil War…and, of course, at a time when the Islamists of Syria are moving from victory to victory and likely to take over as soon as the barbarians can settle which particular batch of savages will get to be in charge.  There is no good we can do in Syria other than providing some medical and food aid to alleviate some of the worst of the suffering – and even that should be done by third parties we supply so that we don’t have to put Americans (ie, “targets”) in to the area.

Obama’s foreign and military policies have made the United States weaker than at any time since 1940 – and all we can really do is hope the fool doesn’t lead us in to a major war before he gets out of office.  And even then the damage he’s done and doing might make war inevitable once he’s out of office.

Stay out of Syria.  Get out of Afghanistan.  Bring the boys and girls back home and let’s hunker down for the remaineder of the Error of Obama.  (As an aside to you pinhead liberals out there – if Obama does order intervention then you’re not going to see me out there holding anti-war demonstrations and slandering Obama about the conduct of the war – I’m not, in short, going to be like you:  when the guns go off and our boys and girls are in harms way, then Obama is my Commander in Chief and I back him 100% in the pursuit of victory…I just hope the dolt can deliver it; or that the military can carry it off in spite of him).

Calling all military, former military ,retired military and their families and friends

I never plagiarize another person’s words or ideas without attribution, but there was no source on this email that I received this morning from another retired military friend. This is short and to the point and dead on in it’s importance and relevance to this most vital election in our lifetimes.

From: Subject: Please forward to everyone you can

Date: August 24, 2012 4:43:47 PM EDT

More than 1,000 America soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan in the last 27 months. This is more than the combined total of the nine years before. Thirty have died in August. The commander in chief is AWOL. Not a peep, although he ordered the White House flag flown at half mast for the Sikhs that were killed. There is a deep disgust, a fury, growing in the ranks of the military against the indifferent incompetence of this president. It has taken on a dangerous tone. No one knows what to do about him, but the anger runs deep as the deaths continue with no strategic end in sight to the idiocy of this war. Obama has had 4 years to end this futile insanity, during which time he has vacationed, golfed, campaigned, and generally ignored the plight of our men and women in uniform. But, there is now a movement afoot in the armed services to launch a massive get out the vote drive against this president. Not just current active duty types, but the National Guard, Reserves, the retired, and all other prior service members. This is no small special interest group, but many millions of veterans who can have an enormous impact on the outcome of the November election if they all respond. The million military retirees in Florida alone could mean an overwhelming victory in that state if they all show up at the polls. It might not keep another one hundred U.S. troops from dying between now and November, but a turn out to vote by the military against this heart breaking lack of leadership can make a powerful statement that hastens a change to the indifference of this shallow little man who just lets our soldiers die.

In many countries around the world a problem such as ours would be solved by the military simply forcibly removing such a threat to national security, sovereignty and economic liberty.  The principles of honor and duty and the rule of law prevent that from happening in this country.  Still, Obama needs to be disposed of in a way consistent with our Constitution.  November 6th is only 72 days away.