Required Viewing for EVERY Member of Congress

If I had my way of course.

Powerful and needed words from an actual supporter of Veterans….unlike the posers and imposters with their window stickers and their lapel pins.

I implore VSO’s to turn this into a television commercial and buy up as much air times as they can. I’ll donate as much as possible, if they do.

Perhaps it’s time for Bonus Army 2.0. I’ll bet you the ‘eviction operation’ has a far, far different outcome this time around……

In Memoriam

Remember the Fallen Warriors this day. Visit a gravesite if you can……read about someone who made the ultimate sacrifice if you can’t.

But above all, when you’re relaxing or grilling, or doing whatever it is you do on a day not at work……please remember the solemn reason why it is, that you’re not at work*

*I know, many folks are working today. Generalized statement.

Definitely grilling some cow today, and raising a dram (or three) of my best Whisky to remember my friends, and those I never knew, who cannot do the same today.

The Fall of Kabul….in Six Points

The latest fall of that city and it’s sort-of-nation. A good read from Jonathan Schroden at War on the Rocks, details the six factors that led to the fall of the Ghani regime, laid out by the May 2022 Interim Report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Bookend excerpts below, but I recommend the full read for anyone who is interested in the topic….or who has trafficked in political narratives for partisan gamesmanship.

The Taliban’s takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15 of last year cemented the complete collapse of Afghanistan’s security forces, which the United States and its partners built over twenty years at a cost of nearly $90 billion. Last week, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction placed primary blame for that collapse on the shoulders of the United States, saying that the “single most important factor” behind it “was the U.S. decision to withdraw military forces and contractors from Afghanistan through signing the U.S.-Taliban agreement in February 2020 under [President Donald Trump], followed by President [Joe] Biden’s withdrawal announcement in April 2021.”

This finding aligns with views espoused by some U.S. military leaders, such as the former commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie. He similarly traced the collapse of Afghanistan’s security forces to the signing of the U.S.-Taliban agreement. But this runs squarely against statements by Biden, who placed the blame on Afghan security forces themselves, saying, “We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future.”


This report — and others that will follow, such as those from the Afghanistan War Commission — have the ability to drive that accountability. But to do that effectively, their framing is critical. The special inspector general and his team deserve credit for the work that went into this report. But its identification of the U.S. withdrawal decision as the “single most important factor” behind the Afghan security forces’ collapse enables the blame for that disaster to be placed singularly on Trump and Biden instead of forcing us to grapple with the more complicated reality that a whole web of people and institutions were responsible.

The answer to “who is to blame” for what happened with Afghanistan’s security forces is complex. Framing six factors as equally important avoids oversimplifying that complexity and is more likely to enable the type of accountability we really need: not just of presidents, but of critical leaders and institutions at all levels. As the special inspector general concludes, “Unless the U.S. government understands and accounts for what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how it went wrong in Afghanistan, it will likely repeat the same mistakes in the next conflict.” On that at least, the special inspector general is absolutely correct.

No Mama, No Papa, No Uncle Sam

The Bataan Death March began on April 10, 1942, when the Japanese assembled about 78,000 prisoners (12,000 U.S. and 66,000 Filipino). They began marching up the east coast of Bataan. Although they didn’t know it, their destination was Camp O’Donnell, north of the peninsula.

The men, already desperately weakened by hunger and disease, suffered unspeakably during the March. Regardless of their condition, POWs who could not continue or keep up with the pace were summarily executed. Even stopping to relieve oneself could bring death, so many chose to continue walking while relieving themselves.

Some of the guards made a sport of hurting or killing the POWs. The Marchers were beaten with rifle butts, shot or bayoneted without reason. Most of the POWs got rid of their helmets because some by Japanese soldiers on passing trucks hit them with rifle butts. Some enemy soldiers savagely toyed with POWs by dragging them behind trucks with a rope around the neck. Japanese guards also gave the POWs the “sun treatment” by making them sit in the sweltering heat of the direct sun for hours at a time without shade.

The Death Marchers received almost no water or food, further weakening their fragile bodies. Most POWs only received a total of a few cups of rice, and little or no water. Sympathetic Filipinos alongside the road tried to give POWs food and water, but if a guard saw it, the POW and the Filipino helper could be beaten or killed. Some POWs had the water in their canteens poured out onto the road or taken by the Japanese just to be cruel. Although thirst began to drive some of the men mad, if a POW broke ranks to drink stagnant, muddy water at the side of the road, he would be bayoneted or shot. Groups of POWs were often deliberately stopped in front of the many artesian wells. These wells poured out clean water, but the POWs were not allowed to drink it. Some were killed just because they asked for water. The POWs marched roughly 65 miles over the course of about six days until they reached San Fernando. There, groups as large as 115 men were forced into boxcars designed to hold only 30-40 men. Boxcars were so full that the POWs could not sit down. This caused more to die of heat exhaustion and suffocation in the cars on the ride from San Fernando to Capas. The POWs then walked seven more miles to Camp O’Donnell. At the entrance to the camp, the POWs were told to lay out the few possessions they still had; any POW found with any Japanese-made items or money was executed on the spot.

That was 80 years ago. No Death March survivors are still with us, sadly.

The Army ROTC Department at New Mexico State University began sponsoring the Bataan Memorial Death March in 1989. The memorial march was to mark a page in history that included many native sons and affected many families in the state. In 1992, White Sands Missile Range and the New Mexico National Guard joined in the sponsorship and the event was moved to the White Sands Missile Range.

The full event is 26.2 miles in length.

In 2002, I was fortunate enough to take a team from Ft. Lewis to compete in the Military Heavy category, and a survivor was at the finish line to shake the hand and give a coin to each finisher. A truly humbling experience.

This year, due to real world events support, the entire event was virtual, with participants tracking their race via an app….which worked out surprisingly well. Mrs. CI and myself competed in the 26.2 miler yesterday and did remarkably well……though there’s no shortage of muscular agony this morning.

All it takes is remembering what the actual Death March participants endured…to soften that pain a bit. I finished the day with a Glenfiddich 18….those Battling Bastards of Bataan, got a handful of rice, if they were lucky.

Raise a wee dram in their memory.

“Demo Dick” Passes On……

Loved him, hated him….just confused about him? Regardless of how you felt, Richard “Dick” Marchinko, has passed on, on Christmas Day, at age 81.

For those unaware, he can legitimately be spoken about with the same reverence as Charlie Beckwith of Delta Force [1st SFOD-D]. Dick Marcinko stood up the now legendary Seal Team 6…..first as a ‘Red Cell’…then as a nascent Tier 1 anti-terrorism unit.

He’s had his share of controversy, authoring self-laudatory books and trouble with the law……but his service in Vietnam and after…..is to be commended and remembered.

For a more thorough write-up, visit The War Zone.

Fair Skies and Following Seas, Commander Marcinko…….

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.

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….

Patriot Day?

Tomorrow marks 20 years since the national travesty known as Operation Enduring Freedom and later, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Tomorrow also marks the cost of those 20 years:

American Service Members killed in Afghanistan through April: 2,448. American Contractors: 3,846. That doesn’t include the number of wounded, limbs lost or Veteran suicides.

And for what? To fight against an insurgency that didn’t attack us? To fight another nations civil war?

9/11 was planned in an apartment in Hamburg, Germany…..and in Florida. Yet we followed Osama bin Laden’s strategy to the letter.

We’ve spent $21 trillion on foreign and domestic militarization in those 20 years, and the number of terrorists and their backers/sympathizers has grown exponentially since 2001. It’s as if the term blowback is in a foreign language….

But tomorrow….is Patriot Day?

*edited to correct Patriot’s to Patriot, as the singular is the correct title, and there is a state level holiday [in a handful of states] that commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, as Patriot’s Day.