26 August 2007

Clear Explanation

Finally George finds the right damn message.

Dadmanly addresses it in enough detail that I have little to add.

Same thing with Kagan's analysis of the declassified portion of the National Intelligence Estimate recently released.

Some days I wonder why I bother rehashing what other folks have to say, when I have little or nothing to add.


The Democracy Project is the best source for the slow disintegration of Jack Murtha and the Anti-Victory Left's pet "war crimes" case, the so-called Haditha Marines. All of the junior NCOs and enlisted Marines have had an Article 32 hearing which resulted in recommendations of dismissal of charges. General Mattis has acted favorably on several of those recommendations, others are still pending.

Remaining is the case of Staff Sergeant Wuterich, who was apparently the senior Marine on the scene at the time of the incident. As such, he will be held to a higher standard as to what sort of judgment he should have exercised. As an NCO myself, I have to agree to that higher standard. It's a serious responsibility to lead American Soldiers in combat--and with both the increased professionalism of the NCO Corps and decentralization of decision-making, frequently we are making decisions that a Captain or Major would have made in World War II or earlier. It is only reasonable that we be held to the same standards. Now, if they'd pay us like it. . . but that's a separate gripe, gospodin.

Now we come down to the real issue. If Staff Sergeant Wuterich is cleared of the accusations, then there will be precisely one recommendation for further legal action, against the Battalion Commander. The BC will have the excellent defense that you can hardly prosecute a man for inadequately investigating an incident when after years of investigation and legal maneuvering, no one else has found enough evidence to take to trial. Ooops. Failing to adequately investigate a non-crime is a far cry from the accusations of "massacre" hurled reckless around by a certain Semper I Senator.

Price of Failure.

“Dear Excellency and Friend, I thank you very sincerely for your letter and your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people, which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection, and we can do nothing about it. You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under this sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is too bad, because we are all born and must die one day. I have committed this mistake of believing in you, the Americans. Please accept, Excellency, my dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.”

--Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak

23 August 2007

Mike Yon is going to al-Anbar. That rocks.

The Mudville Gazette has an interesting rebuttal of an opinion piece sent to the NYT by a group of my fellow NCOs, although with the input of a SPC or two. Again, this does not entirely line up with ground reality in Tal Afar, or al-Anbar. Baghdad is Baghdad, and my experience with Baghdad was driving through it once. I reserve judgement.

I'm amused by the growing numbers of folks going off-script within the Democratic Party. One wonders whether they are going to apologize to Liebermann for kicking him to the curb when he said the same thing.

But never fear, dear leftists, you still have Ms. Boyda.

Having a fascinating discussion with my runner here on Staff Duty. Rather like many of the young Soldiers I am meeting, he's the son of a Soldier--his father was even WIA in Iraq back in the beginning of the war. I'm constantly amazed by the kids we get these days. I joined when life was pretty easy in the Army. These kids joined for a war.

You know, for all the crap my Joes put me through (and Lord knows I've got some Special Children) I'm really in love with this job and the greatest privilege associated with Soldiering is the honor of leading these kids.

16 August 2007

Three Articles

Left-wing thoughts on gun control.

Right-wing thoughts on gun control.

Notice the difference?

Which one cites case law, the Founding Fathers, recent studies on the subject, and time-honored tradition?

Which one is shotgun emoting and sweeping generalizations?

Thinking people cannot be persuaded by Sarah Brady and her ilk.

Interesting article on use of indig forces. Including 'turned' insurgents/terrorists. I like it. It lines up with what I have read on the subject elsewhere.

I've been working too much to do serious blogging lately. Teaching Driver's training is all-consuming.

I'm somewhat amused by the lack of response to some of my latest articles. Although it does continue a trend I first observed on Livejournal.

No one EVER argues with me when I quote the Quran. Reality is that people who have a warm and fuzzy opinion of Islam either have never read it, or skipped over all the killing stuff. I have yet to have someone argue the black and white of the text. It is Received Truth on the Left that anyone who disapproves of Islam is "obviously" ignorant of how wonderful Islam really is. My current theory is that Leftists can't see posts where this Received Truth is refuted.

12 August 2007

Al-Anbar Province, Illegal Immigration, and Flying While Arabic

On Ramadi, Badger Six. For your clicky-linking pleasure, Badger 6 conveniently provides a link to the infamous Washington Post story wherein it is explained that al-Anbar Province is a lost cause and it's all George Bush's fault.

Then people wonder why I despise the media.

On Illegal Immigration, Hillbilly White Trash. I like the way he thinks. I'm still in favor of permitting more legal immigration, and also slapping huge flaming fines on companies that employ illegals, like $10K per worker for the first 10, $20K per worker for the next 10, $30K per worker for the next 10, and so on indefinitely. These penalties would be cumulative through the fiscal year, so that if you have 10 illegals working for you this month you get fined $100K. If INS comes back the following month and you have 10 at that time also, that's $200K.

Small businesses can't afford that after a while.

Finally, Tigerhawk on the issue of Flying While Arabic.

Technically, what was objected to was not actually flying while Arabic, but flying while wearing inflammatory T-shirts. . .

Deliberately so, given the context.

Personally, I'm unhappy with everyone in this case EXCEPT JetBlue.

You have Read Jarrar, the other passengers on the jet, the TSA, JetBlue, and the ACLU. I think those are the main players in this little drama.

Oh, let's not forget the terrorist cell in the UK which had been arrested 2 days prior. But they are important as background information.

Raed Jarrar is, effectively, a terrorist supporter. He works for the American Friends Service Committee, an organization which opposes taking any action what so ever to prevent terrorists from killing people. Full stop. The "Friends" are total pacifists and as near as I can tell, would object to shooting concentration camp guards during an escape from Auschwitz. I could be wrong. A pacifist, I don't understand. I can respect an individual pacifist. HOWEVER, anyone who advocates removing my ability to defend myself and my society from the bastards that exist in the Real World [tm] needs to spend a couple years putting their theories into practice in some third-world hellhole so they can experience what happens when defenseless people run into folks who want to rape, torture, and murder others.

Raed Jarrar, in his blog, accuses US troops of "hiding behind Iraqi children" because of a suicide bomb detonated in a crowd of kids who were gathered around a US patrol handing out candy. So really, if Mr. Jarrar gets beaten to death by a crowd of irate airline passengers, it wouldn't break my heart. Anyone who refers to al-Qaeda in Iraq as "the resistance" needs to take his punk ass BACK to Iraq.

Two days after 21 Muslims were arrested in Britain for planning to blow up airliners, he decides to wear a shirt with a small English legend "we will not be silenced" and some writing in Arabic. I presume it says the same thing in Arabic, but I don't read pasta.

I find it vanishingly unlikely that Mr. Jarrar, who had lived in the United States for over a year at that point, was unaware that being a military-age male of Middle Eastern descent wearing an Arabic language t-shirt in an airport would make his fellow travelers highly nervous. In fact, it is my fixed belief that Mr. Jarrar was attempting to provoke a confrontation with airline employees or TSA employees or both. The similarity to the Case of the Flying Imams is obvious.

The passengers on the flight. Wow. Where to begin? Some weedy pipsqueak wearing a tshirt prompts hysteria? T-shirts have great difficulty hiding suicide vests. He wasn't even carrying a carry-on or laptop. Wallet, cell phone, and boarding pass according to the complaint.

WTF? He can't really hide enough explosives to matter. And if a guy like that tried to take over a plane, he'd get monkey-stomped into the afterlife. Guys, grow up. Act like Americans. If there were six or eight of them, I'd understand. If they had carry-ons, I'd understand. But fartin' Mohammad on a pogo stick, one scrawny dude with a goatee in his SHIRTSLEEVES is not a terrorist threat.

TSA. Where to begin with the TSA? The standards of training and professionalism are slim to non-existent. It is my personal belief, based on the experiences I have had with TSA "agents" in the past that TSA agents are hired from the unemployment line based on their ability to find the ON switch on a metal detector four out of five times. They can't frisk competently. They can barely operate the X-ray machine. A drunken chimpanzee that really wanted to could get a weapon into an airport. "Inspector Harris" reacted with stupidity and panic to a dude who, while he is a terrorist supporter and an agent provocateur, isn't really a terrorist operative. He's a punk-ass bitch. There's a difference. And being a punk-ass bitch is NOT illegal in this country. Otherwise, we'd have to imprison most of Hollywood. Except Denzel Washington. He's cool.

JetBlue. Well, JetBlue is pretty much the only folks I don't want to slap the crap out of in this little psychodrama. They've got panicky customers on one hand, and near-hysterical TSA "agents" (who are supposed to be counter-terrorism professionals, hahaha) on the other. They've got a pissy Arabic man ranting about his Constitutional Right to frighten their customers. Where to go from there? Frankly, I don't see a Happy Resolution. They stick him in the back of the plane, with a different shirt that they purchased for him. Not the perfect solution. But it allows them to get the plane off the ground. I'm unimpressed by his claim to a right to free speech on the airplane. You don't have an unlimited right to free speech on the grounds of a business or on private property. The property-owner or business operator can eject you based on offensive language. Let me tell you, no one comes in my home wearing an expression of support for terrorists. I bet a huge "Nancy Pelosi is a Bitch" could also be grounds for being asked to cover up your 'free speech'.

Finally, the ACLU. Well, the ACLU has a hard-on for anyone who is offensive or an asshole, and this is no exception. I find it amusing that they wait a year, so that folks forget the context of the case, the fact that it happened 2 days after a major terrorist plot was foiled. The ACLU provides some unintended comedy, however.

"It is a dangerous and slippery slope when we allow our government to take away a person's rights because of his speech or ethnic background," said Reginald Shuford, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Racial Justice Program. "Racial profiling is illegal and ineffective and has no place in a democratic society."

juxtaposed with:

The ACLU said it was clear Jarrar, a U.S. resident since 2005 and the husband of an American citizen, was "not a security threat." It said the TSA official and JetBlue should have simply assured any uncomfortable passengers there was no safety or security risk.

So, ummm, profiling is bad when a person is identified as a security threat, and good when it is used as an argument as to why a person is not a security threat?

The argument is internally inconsistent.

How do we fix this?

Arabs in America need to stop supporting terrorists and rattling cages to provoke confrontations.

The rest of America needs to grow some balls and some self-confidence.

The TSA needs to be disbanded and replaced with an actual professional organization that trains security folks to do an effective job, to include PROPER profiling. America is not threatened by black grandmothers from Detroit, the Future Farmers of America, or the Swedish Bikini Teams. But goatee-wearing geeks in t-shirts aren't much of a threat either.

11 August 2007

Riffing off a comment

OK, the bones of this post is something I said in the comment section on a previous post.

I've long been dissatisfied with the term 'war on terror' or 'global war on terror' but unable to come up with a usable alternative either.

We are not really at war with 'terror' any more than we were at war with 'naval aviation' on December 8th, 1941.

We don't get to pick who we are at war with, either. It only takes one side to make a war. The other side gets to either fight or surrender. We don't get to define who we will treat as enemies and who we will treat as friends. Our enemies have selected themselves and made themselves known. So have our friends. Those who stand on the sideline are few.

Islam--at least the militant, politicized form of Islam which has historically been the predominant form of Islam--is, has been, and eternally will be at war with the 'Dar al-Harb'. Whether it was the Roman Empire, the Austrians, the Carolingian Franks, the Spanish kingdoms, Russia, it didn't matter. Non-Muslim, bordering a Muslim state, you were at war perpetually unless strong enough to decisively crush the Muslim state. Even then, you still have sheep stealing on the borders indefinitely.

This has been the case at least since the Ninth Sura of the Quran was put forth by Mohammed the pseudo-prophet.

Surah IX, v5: Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them, and besiege them, and prepare for them the ambush.

Surah IX, v41: Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah!

Surah IX, v9: How can there be a treaty with Allah and with His messenger for the idolaters?

Surah IX, v73: O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is in hell, a hapless journey's-end.

Surah IX, v123: O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty.

Surah IX, v.29: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

Today, that model of defeating Islamic states in battle and forcing them, by terms of peace treaty, to end attacks upon their non-Muslim neighbors is partially obsolete because most of the 'ghazis' are not able to be controlled by state actors. Those that are controlled by state actors operate through unofficial linkages or linkages difficult to prove and which render their control suspect and hazy. ObL's organization is patronized by members of the Saudi royal family in their private persons, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alternates between ignoring them and cracking down on them, depending on how much pressure we put on them that week. Should the state actors stop supporting the terrorists, the terrorist organizations would continue to exist, although they would be more limited in operations.

To say that we are at war with al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda alone, is dishonest. For one thing, al-Qaeda is as much an idea as an organization. Invading Afghanistan toppled the central command structure, killing many al-Qaeda leaders and sending others into hiding. Now we have al-Qaeda in Iraq. AQI is losing their war as well, as Iraqis are uniting against the foreign-led butchers cloaked pious Islamic phrases.

What do we offer as an alternative to al-Qaeda's hatred and terror in the name of Islam?

1) I will support and defend the Constitution of Iraq.
2) I will cooperate fully with the Iraqi government.
3) I will guard my neighborhood, community and city.
4) I will bear no arms outside my home without coordination of Iraqi Security Forces or Coalition Forces
5) I will bear no arms against the Government of Iraq, Iraqi Security Forces or Coalition Forces.
6) I will not support sectarian agendas.

That is the future of Iraq, and eventually of the entire Middle East if the Middle East is to have a future.

This campaign in Iraq is not likely to be the end of al-Qaeda. There are al-Qaeda linked (or merely 'inspired') organizations through out the world. We have the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Phillippines, and outfits in Indonesia, Algeria, and,of course, England and New Jersey. Anywhere you find a group of discontented Muslim radicals who desire to effect violent change through a deliberate policy of blowing up non-Muslims, you have a potential al-Qaeda "linked," "affiliated," or "inspired" cell. And of course, since you at least quadruple your media air time if you use the term 'al-Qaeda' both the terrorists and the law enforcement officials who bust them are happy to use it.

The status quo ante bellum will never be restored. A future containing large numbers of Muslims who believe God commanded them to kill unbelievers is not an option. Simply put, eventually we will get tired of it. And we are very, very much better at war than they are. Ask the Japanese. We bombed them into isolationist pacifism. We (meaning the US, UK, AUS, NZ, and the Chinese) had to kill a bit more than 3% of their population to do it, but we did it. The Germans lost 8.7% of their population, not counting the Jews and Gypsies and others they killed off themselves.

130.5 million is 8.7% of 1.5 billion, the often-quoted number for adherents of Islam. That's the population of Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq combined, plus an additional 2.2 million. Just to put this in perspective.

What's the alternative to either perpetual war or exterminating all those who potentially support it?

The idea of a non-politicized Islam supported by secular, democratic, modernizing states is the only alternative I see to simply making the Middle East go away and drilling for oil through the glass. Unfortunately, that requires toppling states which are founded on politicized Islam (Afghanistan under the Taliban, Saudi Arabia, Iran) or who use politicized Islam to their own ends (Ba'athist Syria and Iraq). Rebuilding a state from, essentially, nothing is not easy.

I have departed from my original topic. "War on Terror" is imprecise. However, there ain't a good alternative. It certainly is a war. For reasons of Political Correctness, we aren't saying "Islamic Terror" which to me is synonymous with "Political Islam". Everyone goes out of their way to say we aren't at war with Islam itself--though many adherents of that religion disagree. I am not sure what alternative answers you can come up with.

10 August 2007

Engineering and Body Armor

Jim Spiri is hanging out with E/2/7 Cav, an engineer company out of Ft. Hood with 1st Cavalry Division. Mr. Spiri tagged along with a route clearance mission. You want to know what I'll be doing when we deploy, read it a bit.

I found most amusing Mr. Spiri's question of "I wonder exactly what the recruiter tells the prospective enlistee when he signs him up for this job...?"

Recruiters don't talk folks into a particular MOS. That's the job of some counselor at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station). Lord knows what they tell kids these days. They told me I'd play with explosives and work with land mines. I have, but that doesn't begin to address the fullness of the Essayons spirit. The Corps of Engineers is such a versatile outfit that you never know precisely what you'll be doing as a MOS 21B Combat Engineer. Route Clearance is a mission we are spending more and more time on, as Mobility is a traditional Engineer mission that has been adapted for the conditions in Iraq.

But basically, if it's too complicated for an infantryman, requires you to get out of your armored vehicle (disqualifying the tankers), and requires you to potentially see an enemy (disqualifying the cannon-cockers), we do it. No matter what it is. :) I've seen 21Bs build bridges (not our job--that's 21C), blow up houses, clear IEDs, patrol a sector, clear houses, raid villages, do ordnance destruction missions (technically EOD's job), set up Observation Points, build combat outposts, run CLIV points, rebuild Entry Control Points, serve on Small Kill Teams, dig fighting positions with earthmovers, knock down buildings with bulldozers (technically 21E or 21J, not B), and serve as clerks, armorers, supply sergeants, carpenters, mechanics, and truck drivers. Sometimes, all of the above within a space of 12 months.

Badger 6 now has an embed in his BN as well, a journalist from the Idaho State Journal, who apparently has been to Iraq before, according to his blog. Watch this space for more Engineering goodness.

And finally, Stars and Stripes is reporting some Marine unit has requested permission to start downgrading body armor. Wow. I mean, wow. If you haven't been over there, and suffered through the whole 'must upgrade armor' fetish the chain of command has, it's hard to explain. DAPs, Side SAPIs, ESAPIs, blahblahblah ad nauseum. I swear, some days you figure you'd be better off in a suit of Gothic plate.

It speaks volumes about how much quieter al-Anbar must be that the Marines are even considering this.

03 August 2007

They Have Names, Barak Obama Loses His Mind, And Hillary

They Have Names is an interesting website. It is dedicated to putting names, faces, and biographies to the folks listed blandly in the AP reports which form the core of most reporting on the subject of Iraq.

For example, see the stories on SPC Graves, and SGT Holtom. SGT Holtom was one of the Soldiers killed on 08 FEB 07, just about the same time I left Ramadi.

Jen and I have both written about the depersonalization of Soldiers by both the Left and the Right in this country, and I think that this website is a good step towards addressing that issue.

For the next story, h/t to Dadmanly, who dissected the speech in more detail than I care to.
Meanwhile, Obama made a speech in which he announced that his security strategy would be:

"When I am President, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland."

I might be confused, but I'm sure he just suggested invading Pakistan.

"I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

Oh, yeah. That's a call to invade Pakistan.

Population - 27,499,638
Few Mountains.
Inhabited mostly by Arabs and (friendly) Kurds.

Population - 124,741,924
Many Mountains.
Inhabited by Punjabis, Pakhtuns, Sindhis, Seraikis, etc.

OK, if you are running for President of the United States and you cannot keep in your head a list of the declared nuclear powers on this planet, you are too ignorant for the position you wish to fill.

If you are running for President of the United States and you make invading a declared nuclear power a cornerstone of your flippin' security strategy, you are too stupid for the position you wish to fill.

He wishes to give up fighting a counter-insurgency that we are winning in favor of invading a nation with four times the population, worse terrain, and considerably more martial inhabitants?

I understand he's on the campaign trail, and therefore he is going to talk out both sides of his mouth, but could he keep from making contradictory statements in the same paragraph?

Pakistan's value as an ally and commitment to the War on Terror (a phrase Obama studiously avoids using) is questionable. I have questioned it many times in the past, especially in relation to the Waziristan problem. My favored solution is to tie military aid and other aid to demonstrated progress towards fighting al-Qaeda. You know, using that whole "engaging the world" thing that Obama claims to favor?

So let me see if I understand his position correctly:
Obama would let al-Qaeda have Iraq.
Obama would "engage" with Syria, Iran, and other sponsors of state terror.
Obama would invade a declared nuclear power which is a wavering ally of the United States.
Obama would use meaningless phrases strung together to make Americans feel good while offering no actual concrete actions other than those listed above.

Yeah. I can so TOTALLY get behind that platform.

I love how the Left, including Obama, loves reminding us that "Most Muslims" are nice people who would never blow themselves up in a shopping center. This may be true--although you really have a hard time proving it based on the actual behavior of any Muslim government or group. EDIT: By the term "group" I mean specifically politically-oriented organizations, especially those intended to influence the West. In other words, every time I see a CAIR spokesman on the TV, I know that some Muslim has killed some non-Muslim, not that a Muslim has done something beneficial to society. /Edit

It is, as a short blurb on Gathering of Eagles reminds us, utterly irrelevant.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

"Communist Russia comprised Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majorities were irrelevant. China’s huge population, was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people."

"The average Japanese individual prior to World War 2 was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel and bayonet."

Meanwhile, Mike Yon's still writing about the war that the Media is ignoring. Yeah, for all the coverage that you might be seeing on network news, there are few journalists out there in real combat zones. Generally, you get some Arab stringer who goes out and shoots some "B-roll" which gets sent back to the journalists in a hotel in Baghdad, where they do a voice-over by reading the latest AP reports or paraphrasing a military press release, followed by some snarky commentary as if any reporter over there has the expertise to provide commentary. Of course most journalists are Democrats, and actually reporting positive news (regardless of the truth) is ideologically incorrect as long as Bush is in office.

Meanwhile, we got a better look at Hillary's mind than I wanted. Ewwww.

And finally, I leave you with a cartoon. . .