The Tomb…..Up Close

For the 100th Anniversary of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery allowed members of the public to lay flowers at the Tomb. People were allowed within a few feet of the Tomb, normally only accessed by dignitaries laying wreaths on occasions of remembrance, and of course the Tomb Guards and Sergeants of the Guard from the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).

Like many, I had visited the site over the years and watched the changing of the guard, or just sat in solemn thought, from the marble steps overlooking the Tomb. Nothing was going to stop me from participating in this (literally) once in a lifetime event. Living within driving distance helped quite a bit.

So, reminiscent of countless days serving in uniform, my wife, youngest daughter and I……spent right around 5 hours commuting and standing in line…..for about a 45 second walk across the marble.

Absolutely worth it.

Snapped a couple of photos afterwards.

The Tomb Guard on the opposite side of the Tomb, due to the occasion. Will certainly never see that again.
Hopefully this kid remembers this Veterans Day.

The Cheapening of Veterans Day

Not just Veterans Day to be fair, but nearly everything that we (used to) hold in humble reverence.

This week is when we start seeing social media awash in memes and proclamations, exhorting that “if you support Veterans” you’ll share/repost some meme or another……that may or may not actually depict U.S. service members to begin with.

This is garbage.

If you support Veterans, go visit somebody at a care facility; go tidy up a forgotten grave site; attend a short commemoration hosted by a Veterans group, or a church, or the Boy Scouts; give a couple of dollars to a worthy charity. Heck, lobby your elected Representatives to lower the drinking age for serving military, to the age of enlistment. If you’re old enough to fight and die in the name of your country, you should be able to legally crack a cold one.

But good grief, stop proliferating the cycle of lazy, numbed garbage. It’s bad enough that we’re inundated with the commercialization of these remembrance days.

I’m fortunate enough to have the honor of participating in a once in a lifetime event today, and I’ll plan to post about it tomorrow.

Damn Girl……One Shot, One Kill!

A female Montana Army National Guard Soldier graduated from the U.S. Army Sniper Course at Fort Benning, Ga on Nov. 5, becoming the first woman in history to complete the course.

The Soldier began the U.S. Army Sniper Course in Sept. 2021. This intensive seven week course trains selected individuals assigned to sniper positions in the skills necessary to deliver long range precision fire and the collection of battlefield information.

Link

A momentous achievement. This course is not for the faint of heart, will or body. As a graduate of the Army Sniper School in 1992, I can attest first hand on what it takes to complete the course, and graduate to be qualified as a Sniper. Good on her!

Me on the Sniper School stalking course, 1992. Rifle is on front of me, in the drag bag.

Rest in Peace, General Powell [Updated]

We lost a solid military leader today, and an inspiration to many people that I know. If not for the stain of being complicit in the false justifications leading up to the invasion of Iraq…..I wouldn’t be able to think of anything unkind to say about him. Gen. Powell was part of a cadre of officers who helped rebuild the military, the U.S. Army in particular….and the Vietnam War…..and propel the force and strategies for victory in Grenada, Panama and Iraq [Desert Storm].

He will also be remembered for a list of pre-requisites that should be followed [but won’t be] prior to any armed engagement overseas: the “Powell Doctrine”.

The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:

  1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
  2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
  3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
  4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
  5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
  6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
  7. Is the action supported by the American people?
  8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Blue Skies and Airborne All The Way, Sir…….

***To no great surprise, Dear Leader [former POTUS] has issued a public statement on General Powell’s passing, through his spokespuppet:

He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace!” – President Donald J. Trump

The insecurities and low self-esteem of a guy [not a Man] who couldn’t be bothered to actually serve his country….is hardly unexpected. Stay classy Donnie….

Gilbert and Sullivan Come to Afghanistan

Having several conversations online with multiple people of differing perspectives and ideologies, regarding Afghanistan….one theme has struck me as consistent: Most Americans don’t really understand the factors of our involvement [from invasion to regime change to nation building to peace negotiations to withdrawal]. Most have no knowledge of Divestment and Foreign Military Sales [much of the reason behind the boon of armaments that the Taliban found in their lap]; or the tribal/clan culture in the region [not necessarily the nation] of Afghanistan; or the tactical and operational considerations behind our actions, for better or for worse.

Part of this can be easily explained away…..our media [both Left and Right oriented] do a consistently abysmal job of education our society on that which our government and military does in it’s name. But the blame shouldn’t just lie there. There are plenty of sources to dive into, to gain a comprehensive understanding, from the layman’s point of view. And plenty of Veterans to query. It takes a bare modicum of effort to increase one’s knowledge on a given topic these days.

But, as to be expected, political narratives usually win the day….exemplified in the photo meme I posted the other day. Sad, but not unexpected.

Over at the Unz Report, there’s a long comparative article, illustrating both Saigon and Kabul, and our social view of overseas military engagements. I’ve left out the Vietnam analysis as not being strictly germane to the current issue, but am posting the following, as I think it’s pretty insightful.

America invaded a country of another race, utterly different culture, practicing religions GIs had never heard of, speaking a language virtually no Americans spoke, a country exceedingly sick of being invaded by foreigners, most of them white. in Afghanistan the designated evil was terrorism, in in Viet Nam communism, but the choice of evils doesn’t matter. You have to tell the rubes at home something noble sounding.

Then the Americans did as they always do, training the ARVN, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, to fight the communists to impose democracy, which the Viets had not asked them to do. But when you ask some Viets (Bodes, Laos, Iraqis, Afghans) to fight other Viets (Bodes, etc.) to kill their own people for the benefit of the invaders, they are not greatly charmed. With a predictability that makes sunrise seem chancy, they desert, fight lackadaisically, with officers charging the US pay for soldiers who do not exist, and probably go over to the other side en masse when the collapse comes. Which latter the Afghan army just did. Duh, as the kids say.

The speed of the Taliban advance took Americans by surprise because officers are liars and had been hiding the deplorable state of the “Afghan” army, its numbers, morale, degree of training, and phenomenal rates of desertion. Often the American officer corps thinks that if it can just have a little more time, they can win, so lying is a part of the war effort. Biden bought into this, announcing that the Afghan army vastly outnumbered the Taliban and was better armed and trained and the insurgents couldn’t possibly do what they proceeded to do.

Another reason is that the American style of war recruits its enemies. Soldiers are not the Boy Scout defenders of civilization that so many like to imagine. They kill a lot of civilians, many tens of thousands in the bombing of cities such as Baghdad and Hanoi. Ground troops come to detest the natives whom they designate gooks, zipperheads, sand niggers, camel jockeys, and the like. They commit war crimes that, when discovered, are called “isolated incidents,” when in fact they are common.

Fragmentation bombs produce such things as a little girl crying with her belly torn open and intestines falling out while her mother goes stark raving bugfuck mad watching her daughter bleed to death and she can do nothing about it. But it is for democracy and American values, and anyway the ragheads breed like flies, and besides, CNN won’t air it. Today drone strikes hit weddings and other gatherings. When you kill people in a village, the young men join the insurgents, wanting revenge. When a few thousands were killed in Nine-Eleven, Americans exploded in rage. Three thousand is a small fraction of the numbers killed in, say, the attack on Baghdad. The Iraqi soldiers killed in a hopeless attempt to defeat the Americans were sons, fathers, husbands, brothers of other Iraqis. How much love do we think it engendered in Iraqis? This seems not to occur to Washington.

Militaries at bottom are amoral. Afghans know of the torture operations at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Americans seem to dismiss such things as minor. They are not. Afghans seeing Moslems lying in pools of blood at Abu Ghraib, or being paraded around naked in hoods, are going to want to kill someone. Guess who.

American wars last a long time because no one has an incentive to end them. American casualties are low, especially now with the killing mostly done from the air against peasants with no defenses. No important American ever gets killed. American wars are all class wars, with the dying being done by blue-collar suckers from Kansas or the deep South, not by Bush II, Hillary, the other Clinton, Bolton, Bannon, Obama, Blinken, Biden, Cheney, Kamala, Trump, and the rest of those not required to fight. The US public has little idea of what goes on in its wars because the corporate media hide them. the Pentagon having learned that the media are their worst enemy, not the Taliban. It would not surprise me if one unfettered camera crew, filming the corpses and mutilated children and devastation, could force an end to such a war.

Americans are not heartless but calculatedly uninformed. Wars are also extremely profitable for those who provide the bombs, fuel, vehicles, and so on. If the US loses a war, the contracts stop, and equally if it wins. Keeping it going for decades provides a steady revenue stream. What’s not to like?

Finally, or as much as I am going to worry about, there is the 1955 Syndrome, the engrained belief that America is all powerful. This is arrogance and self-delusion. In the Pentagon you encounter a mandatory can-do attitude a belief that the US military is indomitable, the best trained, armed, and led force in this or any nearby galaxy. In one sense this is necessary: You can’t tell the Marines that they are mediocre light infantry or sailors that their aircraft are rapidly obsolescing, their ships sitting ducks in a changing military world, and that the whole military enterprise is rotted by social engineering, profiteering, and careerism.

But look around: The US has failed to intimidate North Korea, chase the Chinese out of its islands in the South China Sea, retrieve the Crimea from Russia, can’t intimidate Iran, just got run out of Afghanistan, remains mired in Iraq and Syria, failed to block Nordstream II despite a desperate effort, and couldn’t keep Turkey from buying the S-400. The Pentagon plans for the wars it wants to fight, not the wars it does fight. The most dangerous weapons of the modern world are not nukes, but the Ak-47, the RPG, and the IED. Figure it out.

And now the US comes home, leaving Afghanistan in ruins for decades. Use and discard.

*Post title from the sub-title of the linked article

Hiatus Break: Syria “Invasion”? No

Just no. Rightwingers are trafficking a narrative that on day 1 of the Biden Administration, we apparently “invaded Syria”. They rest this false narrative on a news article that spoke of a convoy travelling from Iraq to Syria.

It is adorable however, if somebody thinks that the DoD can move so quickly on a such an endeavor. But sadly for the surface-skimming types…..this was a regular logistic convoy to our current and well-established bases in eastern Syria [where we are, I might add, without the consent or invitation of the host nation government].

Much was made of Trump’s previous announcement of a “withdrawal” of forces from Syria a while back…..but less seem educated on his reversal and stated intent to use our blood and treasure to “protect the eastern Syrian oil”. So, this apparent ignorance [in the age of Google], coupled with a single news report that they can shoehorn into their partisan narrative……and viola! We have a “Biden invasion”……

The simple fact of the matter, as Google will easily confirm, a National Guard Brigade is currently taking over from the 82nd ABN Brigade that has been here for the last 9 months. These handover/takeovers, or Reliefs in Place [RIP]….necessitate incoming and outgoing equipment and personnel moves. Convoys, air traffic, etc.

Period. Don’t think we should be in Syria? Great! I agree. And if Biden doesn’t divest us from Iraq & Syria, shame on him. But shame on his predecessor as well. Quit making the most rational issues hyper-partisan because you have the sadz that your guy didn’t win re-election.

Another “Endless War” on the Horizon? *Updated*

So, the Administration is “demanding” that the UN resume sanctions against Iran for non-compliance to the JPCOA (Iranian nuclear agreement).

There’s a glaring problem however…..this Administration removed itself from the agreement. When you remove yourself from an internationally agreed framework, you lose the right to dictate terms.

And of course, Iran was complying with the agreement until the Administration declared it null and void. Now, however, Iran is ramping up uranium enrichment…….and why not?

This is occurring against the backdrop of inserting mechanized infantry units into northeast Syria…..where Trump has simultaneously stated that “we’re not in Syria anymore”, “except for the oil, we’re there to guard the oil”. None sense.

There are several “October Surprise” scenarios being trafficked amongst speculators…….I fear another endless Middle Eastern war ranks among them……with our Armed Forces being caught in the middle as expendable cannon fodder for political gain……again.

From ZeroHedge: Things are moving fast in relation to Washington’s unilaterally imposed ‘snapback’ sanctions on Iran, which oddly enough the Trump administration is claiming the authority to imposed based on the JCPOA nuclear deal which it backed out of more than two years ago.

#BREAKING: US believes Iran may have enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb by end of the year, US official says

Will we witness a little ‘shock and awe’ in the weeks before November?

Could the stage be set for an October Surprise in the form of a Bush-style preemptive attack on Iran?

Yep, I think it’s coming, and just in time for me to be in a front row seat (again)…….

Infantrymen: Pride & Arrogance

Infantrymen: Pride & Arrogance

Infantrymen: Pride & Arrogance
— Read on mywarjournals.com/2018/11/12/infantrymen-pride-arrogance/

Infantrymen have a pride and arrogance that most Americans don’t understand and don’t like.

Even soldiers who aren’t infantrymen don’t understand. The pride doesn’t exist because we have a job that’s physically impressive.

It certainly doesn’t exist because it takes a higher level of intelligence to perform our duties.

It’s sad and I hate to admit it, but any college student or high school grad can physically do what we do.

It’s not THAT demanding and doesn’t take a physical anomaly.

Nobody will ever be able to compare us to professional athletes or fitness models.

And it doesn’t take a very high IQ to read off serial numbers, pack bags according to a packing list, or know that incoming bullets have the right of way.

The pride of the infantryman comes not from knowing that he’s doing a job that others can’t, but that he’s doing a job that others simply won’t.

On Veterans Day

cute

Another year gone by, and our longest war still carries on….with no end, or solution in sight. And crass patriotism continues to be consumed like pornographic pablum by a society that knows this day, as a day off from work and mattress sales….

This Veterans Day, remember not only those who wore the uniform…but also those with a fur coat. No truer comrade than ‘man’s best friend’.

If you have the opportunity, find a WWII veteran, and introduce yourself and especially your children. As we commemorate the 11th hour of the 11th day of 1918…we do so with no living witness to that carnage. The day will come very soon, where we say the same when we observe V-E and V-J days.

 

photo h/t: https://maddmedic.wordpress.com/2018/11/10/dog-days-766/