Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's not the years, but rather the Miles......


ALCON - (Military shorthand for "All Concerned")

There are times when you are up against the bricks. I managed to wrench my arm through no fault of my own and have been on the mend for the past week. The Docs here have taken good care of me BUT the chassis of the 49 year old vehicle doesn't take kindly to being bounced around like it used to in the younger days.....

No my friends, this is the stage of life where you find out that the parts of that were put on at the factory have a shelf life, and as I have told my children, it's not the years but rather the miles on the old body that add up....

I managed to do a number on my lower back in 2003 while on deployment which lead me to seek the services of a neurosurgeon. A learned man he was with many sheepskins lining his walls and all the trappings of someone who had many people seeking his knowledge and time. He went through the scans and examined them with the look of someone who was looking for the right words to sum up the totality of his knowledge as it related to my bad back.....He said, " Listen to me - You're not Superman....knock it off, will ya??" And in those words, he basically laid it down to me.
As an "Old Goat", I needed to stop trying to do the stupid things I had gotten away with in my past. I had to understand that the parts that I thought were made of cold-rolled steel were rusting and showing their age.....

This week was another abject lesson in that using my arms like they were strong enough to do the things i WANTED to do did not mean they were strong enough to do the things I intended to do.....NO, Mother Nature & Father Time had conspired against me and managed to show me that there was no going back, and that the road ahead held more potholes than Boston, Providence & New York combined.

So I'm on the mend - I'm trying to take it easy and I am nursing a sore left arm....you will forgive me if I don't high five as easily as a used to when you do see me as I will be guarding my wounded wing for some time.....Yes Boys & Girls, the cracks are starting to show and the paint is peeling, but this "Old Goat" still don't know the meaning of the word " Quit" - no sir, this old Seabee is going to keep on going down the road till they take the keys away.......

Sunday, December 27, 2009

TIME TO GO JANET...

Time to GO for the unqualified hack at HOMELAND SECURITY - Time for President Doofus to put the needs of the country ahead of his allegiance to this bumbling fool.....pack your bags Janet -

THE SYSTEM WORKED??? The only thing that worked was the passengers tackled the idiot ...

Jonah Goldberg from The National Review hits the nail on the head........

Fire Napolitano [Jonah Goldberg]

Understandably, the White House is trying very hard to get out in front of the would-be Christmas bomber story. The head of the Department of Homeland Security isn't helping. I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the previous appearance. It is her basic position that the "system worked" because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was "foiled" by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically. I would wager that not one percent of Americans think the system is "working" when terrorists successfully get bombs onto planes (and succeed in activating them). Probably even fewer think it's fair that they have to take off their shoes, endure delays and madness while a known Islamic radical — turned in by his own father — can waltz onto a plane (and into the country). DHS had no role whatsoever in assuring that this bomb didn't go off. By her logic if the bomb had gone off, the system would have "worked" since it has done everything right.

Napolitano has a habit of arguing that DHS is a first responder outfit. Its mission is to deal with "man-caused-disasters" after they occur. It appears she really believes it. If the White House wants to assure people that it takes the war on terror seriously (a term Robert Gibbs used this morning by the way), they could start by firing this patently unqualified hack

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chistmas in Kandahar / A Homecoming with Heart

Merry Christmas to all back home from Kandahar ! It is a different feel here in KAF as the usual holiday hustle & bustle is not in effect and while we have Christmas cheer, it is just another work day here, even if it is a few days before Christmas....

I Send you this post as my Christmas Present - A story by Mike Barnicle about what really, really matters at this time of year...This is a true story from Fitchburg, MA. I hope you find the real meaning of the season in your heart and with your family. I am away from mine this year but I know the true meaning of the day - The Birth of the Savior.

Merry Christmas to you and a happy & blessed New Year !


A HOMECOMING WITH HEART
Author: By Mike Barnicle, Globe Staff Date: 12/25/1997

Maybe Christmas Eve wasn't actually colder then, but it sure seems so; just like it seems you could always depend on snow dropping out of a lead sky the moment shops began to close and people headed home late on the one afternoon when excitement and anticipation arrived together, natural byproducts of the season. It was a period of far less affluence and cultural evil, a time when community meant more.

So again we spin the dial back to December 24, 1951. Harry Truman was in the White House. The Dow Jones closed at 228. ``Your Lucky Strike Hit Parade'' was the No. 1 show on a thing called television; an appliance few owned on the day Eddie Kelly stepped off the train at half past 11 in the morning.

Kelly was 22 and tired. He was of medium height but appeared smaller, hunched beneath the weight of a seabag he carried as he walked along Main Street, past people who thought they recognized him but were not quite sure because he was 40 pounds lighter and his eyes held dark secrets that had not been present prior to his departure for Korea in the summer of 1950.

By winter of that long-gone year, he was with ``Chesty'' Puller's Marines at Chosin Reservoir, surrounded by thousands of Chinese who charged through snow in a murderous mass, blowing whistles and bugles. It cost 2,651 Marine casualties and took 14 days of combat with men using rifles, entrenching tools, and their hands rather than concede defeat or leave anyone behind as they walked, on foot, 40 miles to Hungnam and safety. As a result, Kelly was hospitalized from January until December; in Japan, then at Philadelphia Naval, where he recuperated until boarding one train for South Station and another for the place everybody wants to be on this night: Home.

Four blocks from the depot, the lunch crowd stood two deep in the Beacon Cafe as Eddie pushed through the door and dropped his seabag by a stool. The old barroom went chapel-quiet. Then, after five seconds of a complete and awed silence, the patrons burst into endless applause.

They bought him drinks and begged for stories, but he had no thirst and there was very little he wanted to repeat or even recall. He stood in the warmth of a familiar setting, waiting to meet his mother, who worked 7 to 3 in a paper mill and did not know her boy had returned for Christmas.

He was the older of two kids. His father died when Eddie was 11. His younger sister, Eileen, was born retarded, and to keep things going his mother had to institutionalize her only daughter in a state hospital that people called ``The Nut House.''

When Eddie was in Korea, his mom sent him a picture of Eileen taken at the hospital. In the snapshot, she was smiling, waving and wearing a white Communion dress. Eddie taped the photograph inside the shell of his helmet. Now, as afternoon grew full of beers and cheers, Eddie Kelly brooded about the little girl who had been left behind. So he asked Roy Staples if he could borrow his car to visit Eileen. Staples insisted on driving and both men left the bar as snow began spitting from the sky.

At the hospital, Eddie waited at the end of a quiet corridor until an attendant came holding Eileen's hand. She recognized her brother instantly, never noticing the trauma and change that had settled into his skin. She threw her arms around his neck and would not let go, and she asked him to take her with him.


Over the objections of the nurse, Eddie carried his sister to the waiting car. It was 5 o'clock, snowing, and dark when they got back to the Beacon Cafe. Eddie removed his coat and wrapped it gently around Eileen. Then, to the cheers of all barside, they headed into the storm, past the shops on Main Street where everyone had been alerted by word of mouth that Eddie was carrying Eileen home for Christmas.

He had walked like this before, through cold and dark and danger, but now he had this light load in his arms: A girl -- young and innocent forever -- who would not let go, and her clench felt warm to his soul. When they got to the bottom of the hill by their apartment, the whole block knew what was happening, and the neighbors stood on the slippery sidewalk as a mother ran to meet her children on a whole street filled with tears of joy simply because it was December 24, 1951, the day Eddie Kelly and his family were finally home on Christmas Eve.

Been Busy / Harsher measures to follow

Been busy...time goes by when you're having FUN - and our FUN METER has been pegged here in AFGHN

Time to allow the words of another to fill the void - Good Gouge from Neptunuslex.com

This is the logical outcome of having Men & Women serving together in close quarters in isolated areas ...These notes are from a guy who knows the "lay of land" and what the real issues are...as a sailor with a heart of oak, hoary, stout and old, I have learned early on to avoid the issues that he details, if nothing but for self preservation sake.... Got the feeling that upon return to homeport, the deeds would be written on my face as sure as if it had been put there with a Black Sharpie Marker.

Harsher Measures to Follow

As the operations officer of the world’s finest warship, I had a number of fine young officers working for me. One of whom was an unusually fetching lass who – prior to completing her degree and intelligence officer school – had taken a rather non-traditional route to commission as an aromatherapeutic massage technician. Late one night at the end of a seemingly endless number of days at sea I was sitting alone in my office hoping to noodle through the immensity of all that we were trying to accomplish when I looked up to see her standing at the door, having something or other official to report. I took her report, asked in an off-hand way how she was bearing up in her first deployment and – duties official and formulaic completed – looked back to my desk at the egregious load of 3M documentation requiring my review and signature, and myself an FA-18 pilot for heaven’s sake.

A moment or two passed and I looked up again to see the young lady – she really was very pretty – still casually standing there, her head laying on an arm propped on the door frame in such a carefully calculated pose as made evident the graceful line of her neck as it joined her shoulder, as well as the non-naval curvatures of her frame. The moment stretched nearly as much as her protesting blue coveralls, and her penetratingly blue eyes looked into my own with a half-smile playing on her lips.I blinked twice while my mind raced quickly through various courses of action, most of which were swiftly rejected as much for mere survival as for any conscience thought of duty or even morality, before finally asking in my most neutrally official tone of voice, “Was there something else?” That challenging half smile was replaced by a frown, a different kind of light came into her eyes and she replied, “No, sir,” before spinning on her heel and striding out of the office, leaving me feeling both sadly older and wistfully wiser.

Now, all sailor men have hearts of oak, but while some of us are hoary, stout and old, others are yet saplings, liable to sway in a stiff breeze. And of saplings we had no few, to such an extent that a few months later, the ship’s senior intelligence officer had the sad duty to inform me that our graceful young lieutenant junior grade was with child. The actual fracking war being but a few weeks away, this news was both unwelcome and untimely, and it fell to me to inform the carrier’s commanding officer that unless certain provisions were made the ship would soon have its very own “son of a gun.” Or daughter, maybe. Depending on the breaks.

The Old Man was driving himself to the brink nearly of exhaustion ensuring that his old ship would complete her assigned duties with honor, and I did not relish adding to his burdens. “Skipper, I’ve got some bad news.” “What is it,” he asked tiredly.“LTJG ——– is pregnant.”With a shocked look, he asked further, “Are you the father?”“No, of course not!” I replied with as much heat and indignation as I could in good conscience muster. Which, truth be told, was no very great quantity.

Being as much conscious of relief as otherwise, and the awareness of having averted catastrophe by margins whose width or narrowness did not bear scrupulous contemplation. Which we had been at sea a very long time, and I wasn’t so old or wise as all that. Walking back down the many ladders to my office, I had a few thoughtful moments to consider the CO’s second question, wondering whether it reflected some hidden opinion on my character, before cutting us both a break: The loss of one lieutenant junior grade was certainly unfortunate, but really “bad news” would have been the loss of the ship’s operations officer right before the war kicked off. We went, did our duty and came home of course. But the army is still over there, and one senior officer has had quite enough of it all:

A US Army general in northern Iraq has defended his decision to add pregnancy to the list of reasons a soldier under his command could face court martial. It is current army policy to send pregnant soldiers home, but Maj Gen Anthony Cucolo told the BBC he was losing people with critical skills…It is the first time the US Army has made pregnancy a punishable offence…“I’ve got a mission to do, I’m given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them.” “So I’m going to take every measure I can to keep them all strong, fit and with me for the twelve months we are in the combat zone,” he said.


A two star general officer is as much – if not more – above my retired pay grade as I was above that libidinous LTJG. But he reports to a four star, who reports to the president and Congress, and it will be interesting to see where this policy goes.
No comments:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Grading on the curve...Washington D.C. Style

Must be nice....I'll go see my Boss and tell him I want to rate myself on my performance review....That should go over big....

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama, in remarks aired late Sunday, awarded himself a B plus for his first 11 months in office, stressing in an interview with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey that there was still much to be done.

"A good solid B plus," Obama said during an hour-long, intimate soft-focus ABC network Christmas at the White House special, when Winfrey asked what grade he would give himself.


Then I'll tell him my best friend in the media wants to do a gushy show to show everyone how good I am.....and show off how much I have spent at the White House while people can't afford to keep their homes at Christmas, let alone have a tree or presents -

Too Bad the American Public sees it MUCH differently....must be because the majority are hurting because of lower wages, higher taxes and watching idiots get big bonuses on Wall Street while their 401K has tanked....imagine... I guess that B+ was graded on the curve....a really BIG Curve.

I would say he gets a C- at best....and only because he listened to Gen McCrystal and will do right by the warfighters in AFGHN...other than that, he would be in the " D " zone.....for Doofus.


Daily Presidential Tracking Poll
Monday, December 14, 2009

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 24% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty-two percent (42%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18.




Friday, December 11, 2009

The Things You See in Kandahar


Life here in the Sandbox can be very routine....The Term " Groundhog Day" not only applies to the movie with Bill Murray, but also can be very descriptive when you observe the ebb & flow of time here in the sandbox.

The day-to-day routine becomes predictable...I get up at the basic same time each day, go to Breakfast at about the same time, work the same basic hours, have supper in the evening at the same time and try to end my day around the same hour each night, etc.

Then there is the unexpected things that make you go “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot????" What is with that??? Something occurs or is seen that throws the norm right out the window.......

As an example, when I was in Iraq, we had a Gunnery Chief, who was in charge of all the weapons for all the Seabees, and he used to walk around camp with an inflatable sheep under his arm....we would ask him " What's with the Sheep Chief??" and he would reply, " To hell with the rest of you, the Sheep is mine..." or some other saltier Chiefly remarks that can't be repeated here due to decorum....

Here in Kandahar, certain things tend to stand out. I am driving down the road the other day and I spy something that catches my immediate attention. An antique BMW Military Motorcycle (Model R71) with a sidecar attached, parked by the side of a building. It is in pristine shape and painted up in period correct colors. This would be like finding a beautiful old 57 Chevy sitting untouched at the local gravel pit....I am unsure who it belongs to but it is without doubt the coolest vehicle I have seen here.....lots of nice military rigs here but this one beats all others hands down for style and just out & out coolness..... It looks like Steve McQueen should be coming out to take her out for a ride....I would like to take it for a ride…and I’m not the biggest motorcycle guy in the world.

Then there is the Military compound decorated with a pair of "Hang Ten" feet painted on their Building and an elevated sign above their compound....I can't snap a picture for obvious reasons (it is strictly verboten to photograph certain military areas) but it stands out like a lady bug at a duck picnic.

On a regular basis in the evening, you can observe a fighter jet heading out at high velocity with his after burner firing full blast....in the darkness the afterburner lights up the sky and the roar of the plane can almost drive you deaf.....I like that we have a constant airshow going on for our entertainment (and punishing the bad guys along the way.) Those things are to be expected but sometimes, the pilots push it with a low level flight or other feats of incredible flying acrobatics…

Other than that, most other things here are very very routine, mundane, dusty and grey. This is good as dull & mundane means that nothing really really bad is happening to people on base....and that's the way we like it......

Sunday, December 6, 2009

7th of December....another time and place


As I write this in one of the most desolate places in the world, where there are likely places where the last human to trod on the dirt was Ghenghis Khan over 1500 years ago, I am transported mentally to another place and time.

68 years ago Monday, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and other military installations on the island of Ohau were attacked, including Wheeler Army Air Field and Hickam Air Force Base.

The attack which came from the North side of the island stated at about 7:55am. All 7 of the active battleships were in the harbor, and one was in dry dock. They were all sunk or crippled, however the harbor being as shallow as it was allowed all but two, the Arizona and Oklahoma, were eventually repaired. I have been to the Arizona Memorial several times and it leaves me in awe each time. Many do not know that when the ship went down, it took over 15 sets of brothers with it, and 29 sets of Fathers & Sons. This information has been kept quiet as the country was reeling from the shock and this would have only compounded the grief.
Our planes at Wheeler field, Hickam Air Force base, and on Ford Island; which were aligned wing tip to wing tip, to prevent sabotage, were devastated.

I have spent many hours sitting on Ford Island, on a little beach that faces the Arizona Memorial. It is a solemn and beautiful place. The men on that ship are my brothers, as is every other Sailor & Marine. We all have worn the uniform of our country and serve proudly defending our flag, and for some who pay the ultimate sacrifice, coming home with the flag draped over them in honor.

Today, I sit in the middle of the Afghanistan desert, in a another place locked in a struggle for good over evil. We beat the Japanese by taking them on one battle at a time and showing them that we were the last best hope for the world.

Here, we are engaged in a fight that is wholly different, and very similar. We fight an entrenched enemy, who is fanatical beyond reason, and views us as inferior. They are allied with a enemy that engaged the attacks on 9/11. The Japanese saw us the same way and we understood that they would fight to the death. The enemy we fight is not in a uniform and will not surrender willingly or easily. They will strike us where we are vunerable, and target women & children.

FDR Stated :

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory....

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

We need to follow through on this fight, and do our best.....we know the enemy will do their worst. We will win by the "unbounding determination" of our splendid military and our allies...so help us God.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

“The difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a little longer."

Here at Kandahar, life is dusty and involves negotiating your way through the day by trying to help the people and get them what is needed.

The pace at the dusty end of the world is hectic and runs at a frenetic pace. Each person you encounter has a mission and is trying to get the essential items they need to get where they are going, and accomplish their daily tasks. In many respects, some of the items are simple (food, a place to stay, a phone call home). Places to stay are the most important of these items as there are basic accommodations, (tents) shared by 40-50 people packed into with cots (no privacy, little comfort) and then there are CANS - Shipping Containers modded into basic dorm rooms. The CANS also have a shower room (common use) and a bathroom(also common use).

Accommodations are split with one compound having Males and another separate one for Females. The best of these are the WET CANS which means a Dorm room with separate private bathroom/shower attached. Mostly these are for the Females and occasional VIPs who might need to be here short term. I was lucky that when I arrived, a HR person had just checked out, and I inherited his CAN. It is a Basic CAN but beats the life out of co-workers who I traveled in with who got the Tents and are still there awaiting openings in the CANS.

Some items needed/ desired are more complicated like computers, access to the network, cell phones and vehicles. These are the real tough items as they are in short supply and HIGH demand. The ability to have these items is controlled by who you know and who's looking out for you. If your supervisor/Dept head has the access, and get these items set-up, life can be better for you. If not, there can be many frustrating days of "doing without" which can make the time here very very very aggravating. Try doing your job without the basic tools - This would be like sending a carpenter to build you a shed without a hammer, nails or a saw. You will have a pile of wood sitting there and he'll be asking where are the tools. All you can do is give him the basic answer " They are enroute.." or hopefully, find the items here and source them from whatever place possible....It is a hit or miss proposition. This place is like Captain Kirk asking why there are no Photon Torpedoes and the acting Captain telling him " They'll be here Tuesday".

I'm getting used to this place but the disconnects between what is needed and what we are getting can make it frustrating. We are expecting hundreds more based on what the Customer (US Army) wants and what we will need to accomplish to keep them happy. It is a work in progress...and progress is fought for one meeting, discussion and e-mail at a time.

Oh yeah, did we forget to tell you there are 30,000 more warfighters coming in here between now and summer?? Sorry that little detail was left out of the SITREP you got a week ago....seems like some guy in Washington D.C. added that to the list of things to accomplish ASAP. Days are long and mine starts at 06:00 (up at 5:15- out to work starting at 06:00) and ends at 20:00 with a ride back to my CAN.....Somehow a sign stating " CAN SWEET CAN" on the wall would just be too weird. Nothing is easy over here....

The US Navy Seabees have a saying, “The difficult we do at once, the impossible takes a little longer." ...That goes double for anything over here.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Welcome to Mos Eisley Spaceport

Hello to all back in the states -

I'm sitting at a computer in the hotel at 1:25 AM Tuesday Kuwait time because I've napped and I'm unable to force myself to sleep anymore....still dealing with the effects of jet lag and a body clock that won't get off East Coast time....

My wayward bag finally made it to my hotel this evening - quite a bit of luck and persistence on my part made it get here - the bag went with me to Wash DC but was then shipped back to DFW - United Airlines then had to ship it BACK to WASH DC & then on to me in Kuwait. This bag has all my extra gear (gloves, hat, extra sox, etc.) Losing this bag would have started things off on a bad foot....I would have been an unhappy camper to say the least.

We will head out to our destination Tuesday AM. A 5 hour plane ride and then some more hurry up & wait likely....nothing gets done easy on this side of the world....

I have spoken with a number of the managers who i will be working with and the job will be a challenge - lots of work and not much else to do but work...no worries as I have been sitting on the bench for the past 5 months so working long hours will even things out.....

The landscape where I will be somehow invites comparison to Tatoonie in Star Wars ( I apologize in advance to all non-Star Wars Geeks for this portion of the message)

Take a read of this description of Tatooine & substitute "Afghanistan" instead

Tatooine rests in the distant Outer Rim, beyond the reaches of Republic and Imperial law. Even the Trade Federation lacked a presence on the desert planet. Poor, with very little industry to boast, Tatooine is a mixture of hard-working locals attempting to extract a living from the unforgiving environment and transients visiting the world for illegal ventures. Tatooine is controlled by the Hutts, and their shady operations bring many spacers, bounty hunters, thieves and other malcontents to the planet's few port cities.

Tatooine has a seemingly endless desert environment cooked by the intense energy of twin yellow suns. Rocky mesas, canyons and arroyos break up the monotony of kilometers of shifting dunes. The days are hot and the nights are frigid. The air is dry and the soil is parched. Yet life persists on Tatooine, in varied, hardy forms.

Not too far off eh? I think I will place a small sign near my work area that says " Welcome to Mos Eisley Spaceport " and see how many make the connection.


Hope all is well back there - seems the media is fixated on Tiger Woods & the Dubai Mess....meanwhile American Soldiers, Marines, Sailors & Airmen (and some civilian contractors) are attempting to make an effort on the far side of the world to assist the Afghan people.....President JAFO will make a speech Tuesday evening.....Looks like he took the "Go Heavy" advice & tweaked it....we will see where that leads....I am glad to see that there will be more military in my neck of the woods soon.....no complaints from me - I LIKE having them around.....Like the AMEX Card, don't leave home without them.....

All for now from "Middleboro Jones"....Thanks for reading....send me a note - You can't imagine how cool it is to read about the regular things going on back home.....it really makes my day

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lost Bag Blues

I want to tell you a story about the " Lost Baggage Blues"...My sea bag got lost on the way overseas.

I have been trying to locate the lost sea bag which is like telling someone you are looking for a lost needle in a stack of needles......arrrrrrggghhhh. The airline takes the report and you get a lot of "we're sorry" but NO info on when the bag will be returned.....

The bag had all my extra gear in it - extra boots, poly pros, extra sox & underwear, goretex jacket, three extra pairs of jeans, towels, pillow, gloves, winter hat, sheets, etc - All the extras that will make life liveable...I still have the bag that I was living out of but the extras were there to make life in the sandbox livable...

I will have to wait to see what the "Lost Luggage" Gods decide and see if I ever see my sea bag again....

All I can say is "AAAAAARRGGGH"......somehow saying that makes me feel a little better.



Friday, November 27, 2009

Half way there.....Kuwait City

Took a flight and got half way there. Landed in Kuwait only to find out one of my bags was left behind in Washington D.C. - UGH! I guess it is better than not knowing where it is but that means I need to stay in Kuwait for a few days....Bag has most of my "incountry gear" - extra socks, towels , etc. Better to have that one delayed than the one with all my toiletries & regular stuff.

Got a decent meal, learned the exchange rate ( $3.25 US = 1 Kuwait Dinar) and had some time to kill as I will be here for a few days until my bag catches up with me. Then, I get to get on the last leg of the journey in country. I guess I shouldn't complain as that means a few more days of good hotel living before I get to camp out for a YEAR.....

Hope all had a good holiday and enjoyed Thanksgiving day dinner with family. I will look forward to next year's celebration. Had the chance to speak with some folks from texas before leaving DFW about being from SE Mass and living close by to Plymouth Plantation, etc. They thought it was very interesting and would like to visit up our way.

All for now from Middleboro Jones.... further updates as they are available.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE MAN'S GYM


The sign posted (lower left) at one of the gyms on FOB Ramrod in AFGANISTAN:

THE MAN'S GYM


-Open to the public
-Open 24 hrs

Rules


-No posing
-No standing around chatting while real men lift
-No whining about lack of equipment, real men make do
-Profanity highly encouraged
-Grunting and gutteral sounds of pain highly encouraged

Sunday, November 22, 2009

For 'Chosen Few,' victory at Wanat came at a high price

From the Honolulu Advertiser....A tribute to the brave men who fought at the Battle of Wanat in Afghanistan


November 22, 2009

For 'Chosen Few,' victory at Wanat came at a high price

By William Cole Honolulu Advertiser Military Writer


On the morning of July 13, 2008, the men of Chosen Company hauled themselves up before dawn, preparing for another hot and sweaty day of labor constructing a new combat outpost in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.


After more than a year of fighting a resurgent enemy, the American platoon was tantalizingly close to going home.

All that remained between them and a flight out was this last-minute mission in the tiny village of Wanat, home to 50 families and a handful of brick and mud structures.

Unknown to the 49 U.S. troops, a force of up to 200 well-armed and well-trained enemy fighters had encircled the American camp and was about to spring a deadly trap.

The Americans spotted the movement of five to 10 enemy fighters and prepared to fire a 120 mm mortar into the hills.

"We better kill these guys before we get hit," Sgt. Brian Hissong, one of the "Chosen Few," remembered saying. But the enemy beat the Americans to the punch.

At 4:20 a.m., a torrent of rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire cascaded down on the U.S. camp from the surrounding hills. The intensity of incoming RPGs was so great that the U.S. soldiers wondered how the insurgents could have stockpiled so many.

"Allahu Akbar!" (God is great), an enemy fighter shouted in a shaky video taken by the militants of the attack from higher ground.

First Lt. Jonathan Brostrom of 'Aiea, commander of Chosen Company's 2nd Platoon, was at a rudimentary "command post" the soldiers had built in the five days since they arrived in Wanat.
Hearing calls for help on the radio from soldiers being hit at "Topside," an observation post about 300 feet up a terraced hill, Brostrom left the cover between a Humvee and a wall, and along with one of his soldiers, Cpl. Jason Hovater, 24, made a dash for the lookout.


"We have to do something We have to reinforce them!" Brostrom had said. On the way up, Brostrom was hit by enemy fire but still made it to the lookout to back up the soldiers who were fending off a storm of RPG and machine-gun fire.

At Topside, Spc. Tyler Stafford, who had joined the Army just a couple of years before and was on his first deployment, had taken shrapnel in his stomach, legs, arms and face, and was fighting to stay alive.

Stafford couldn't see where Brostrom was but remembers hearing the desperate communication between Brostrom and another soldier, Cpl. Pruitt Rainey.

Rainey, from Haw River, N.C., was a big guy, a wrestler and mixed martial arts fighter. At one point, Rainey shouted that they needed air support.

Brostrom "was screaming at Rainey and I could hear them shouting back and forth together," Stafford recalled. "I don't remember who said it, but they said, 'They're inside the wire!' And then I heard a bunch of gunfire and Rainey screaming, 'He's right behind the f------ sandbag! He's right behind the f------ sandbag!' "

Soon after, Brostrom and Rainey were dead. Brostrom had been shot several times.
His father, David, who lives in 'Aiea, said his son could have saved himself by staying at the more protected command post near the village center. But that just wasn't his nature.


"When (Topside) called that, 'Hey, we're taking casualties,' nothing was going to stop my son from going up there," David Brostrom said. "He would not be able to live with himself today if he hadn't gone up there."

Rainey, nicknamed the "gentle giant," was dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
Hovater, who charged up the hill with Brostrom, was lying on his stomach at Topside, likely trying to load a new magazine into his rifle, when he was shot in the head, the bullet traveling through his body and killing him.


Brostrom and Rainey may have been killed while trying to operate an M-240 machine gun. They were likely taken by surprise from the side or rear by an enemy fighter who breached the Topside defenses, according to an Army report on the battle.

The three young Americans were killed in the first 30 minutes of the Battle of Wanat. By the time the major fighting was over in just two hours, six more Americans would be dead.

Brostrom, a University of Hawai'i graduate, was the platoon leader and a surfer who won the respect of his men while not losing his ability to joke around with them. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his bravery.

Hovater, known as Hovy, was a deeply religious man who had married just six weeks before going to Afghanistan. He was "one of the best people I have ever met," recalled Stafford, now a sergeant and an Army recruiter in Colorado. He was "one of those people that you just look up to because of their kindness and genuineness."

Hovater was a nutritionist and a fitness trainer who gave the other soldiers weightlifting advice. Hovy could crack up his fellow soldiers with his imitation of comedian Will Ferrell and the battalion leader, Lt. Col. William Ostlund.

Rainey, who had hoped to become a teacher, had collected about $15,000 in winnings playing poker on the deployment. The 22-year-old was on the same basketball team in Italy with Stafford, and Rainey once racked up nine consecutive three-point shots to bring the team back from a 30-point deficit.

Withering fire

Once the quiet was broken on the morning of July 13, 2008, the enemy swiftly executed a plan to overwhelm the 49 Americans and 24 Afghan National Army soldiers at Wanat. They targeted a Humvee mounted with a missile launcher in the main encampment, slamming three rocket-propelled grenades into the vehicle and setting it on fire with three soldiers inside.
The soldiers escaped the Humvee and took cover at the command post.


When their Humvee exploded, two burning TOW missiles were lobbed into the air. They came down amid a group of Americans hunkered in the sandbagged command post. One rocket, whose motor was hissing as if ready to fire, landed in a soldier's lap. Another of the Chosen soldiers used a burlap sack to grab the heated rocket and toss it away.

A Chosen soldier manning a .50-caliber machine gun on top of one of the Humvees was ankle deep in spent shell casings; he had fired his way through 10 ammo cans, each holding 100 rounds.
Enemy forces fired from a bazaar, a hotel and a mosque in the village, and from the hills surrounding the Americans. The soldiers' rifle barrels turned red hot, weapons jammed and ammo ran low.


Several Humvees and a 120 mm mortar pit were hit by RPGs. U.S. positions and vehicles were on fire.

Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips was pouring out fire and went through three rifles until each jammed, according to a 248-page Army Combat Studies Institute report on the battle.

An exploding RPG hit Spc. Sergio S. Abad, 21, in the shoulder and legs as he manned the mortar pit. Another soldier helping the incapacitated Abad to the command post was shot through both legs and also went down. Soon after, Abad died, leaving a pregnant fiancee back home.

At the Topside observation post, soldiers were being battered and bloodied by RPGs that arrived in volleys of up to three at once. Eight of nine fatalities that day occurred at the observation post.
A tree directly above the post was being shredded by incoming fire. Branches, leaves and chunks of wood rained down on the Americans.


As the RPGs and machine-gun fire continued to tear their defenses apart, more and more men were getting hit and screaming for help.

Stafford, the soldier who had heard Brostrom's desperate warnings of an insurgent right behind the sandbags, started to respond to the incoming fire. He swung his machine gun up toward a house to the east, "and that's about all I got done," he recalled.

RPGs hit at least every three seconds for the first five minutes, he said.

"I got hit in the first volley, and then right after, no more than four to five seconds after the first one, I got hit again, and then I got thrown down into the lower terrace," Stafford said. "My helmet got knocked off. I put my helmet back on and I looked up and saw (Cpl. Matthew) Phillips get hit by an RPG."

Phillips, 27, suffered a perforating wound from shrapnel that went in one side of his chest and exited another. He died slumped over with his chest on his knees. Stafford had watched helplessly, screaming, "Phillips! Phillips!"

"It really freaked me out, scared me a lot," Stafford said. "Then, after about 10 seconds of me freaking out, I snapped out of it, and I was like, s---, if you don't do something, you are going to die, too."

Stafford's hands were "just mush," and he had shrapnel wounds in his stomach, legs, arms and face.

Even with injuries and death all around them, the Topside soldiers never wavered in the fight.
"(Cpl. Jonathan) Ayers was just going perfect, and Rainey was trying to control his rate of fire," Stafford said. "We were just trying to get suppression down on them, because that's the whole point in the first part of the battle — win fire superiority."


Stafford, now 25, remembers the concussive effect of the RPGs, whose Poof! and Shooo! noises as they were fired meant more deadly explosions coming his way.

He said it was like the scene from "Saving Private Ryan" where Tom Hanks lands on the beach in Normandy and is stunned into momentary deafness and disorientation by exploding shells.
Machine-gun fire poured in from several sides, and enemy fighters climbed trees to fire at the Americans over sandbags and dirt-filled barriers. The fighting was so close in, hand grenades were being hurled by both sides. At one point, enemy fighters tossed rocks at the Americans, hoping they would be mistaken for grenades in a bid to draw the soldiers out of their semi-protected positions.


The Chosen soldiers kept their positions from being overrun. But the odds were stacked against them.

Near the beginning of the Topside battle, Ayers and Spc. Christopher McKaig would pop up in unison from behind sandbags to fire at the insurgents.

Ayers' helmet stopped one glancing round. On another volley of return fire over the sandbags, he wasn't as lucky, and the 24-year-old was killed instantly.

McKaig found that in the moment, time did strange things.

"Ayers got killed next to me," McKaig said. "When he got shot, I was staring at him and it seemed like an eternity, but I know it was only like 30 seconds."

Now a 35-year-old sergeant, McKaig thought he would have to use his knife to fight back. He thought he, too, was going to die.

"There was no doubt in my mind they were doing everything they could to overrun us," said McKaig, who is still with the 173rd Brigade in Vicenza, Italy. The unit is preparing for a return to Afghanistan.
"They just would not break off. We shot everything we possibly could at them, and they just kept coming," McKaig said.


As Topside continued to endure a withering enemy fire, another attempt was made to reinforce the tiny lookout.

Sgt. Israel "Ira" Garcia, 24, was in a second group of soldiers fighting their way into Topside. Garcia made it to the lookout, where he was punched through the gut below his body armor by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Garcia, who had grown up in Long Beach, Calif., and was an avid soccer player, was on his third deployment and was a very savvy sergeant, Stafford said.

"He had the most infectious laugh but was all business when the bullets started flying," Stafford recalled.

Garcia was mortally wounded by the RPG but didn't die right away.
Sgt. Ryan Pitts, a 6-foot-4 soldier described as the "ultimate badass" of the unit, crawled over to Garcia and held his hand until he died.


Pitts, who found himself momentarily alone at Topside with the enemy so close he could hear them talking, fired his M-203 grenade launcher straight up in the air so the explosives would land just yards away. Although wounded, he survived.


The 24 Afghan soldiers fighting with the Americans stayed in their positions in the middle of the outpost and to the south of a traffic control point — out of the direct RPG fire — and four were wounded.

Some of the Chosen soldiers questioned the defensive support provided by the allied Afghan soldiers, but there is no evidence they turned on the Americans.

Chosen Company began to receive artillery support from Camp Blessing, about five miles away, almost immediately after the attack began, and a total of 96 155 mm shells were fired, some landing "danger close" to U.S. troops.


But the Chosen soldiers began to regain control only when Apache gunship helicopters started to arrive. The first two copters to reach Wanat started gun runs at 5:23 a.m. — just more than an hour after the attack began — and a four-Humvee "quick reaction force" arrived at 6:01 a.m. from Camp Blessing, the Army's Combat Studies Institute report said.

The worst of the fighting was over in two hours, but skirmishes continued for two days. An Army timeline shows just how quickly things went bad:
• Within five minutes of the attack, Abad was wounded.
• Within eight minutes, the TOW missile Humvee was destroyed.
• Within 10 minutes, the Topside observation post had reported four casualties.
• Twenty-five minutes after the attack, Brostrom and Hovater attempted to reinforce the observation post.


Military historian Douglas Cubbison, who wrote the Combat Studies Institute report on Wanat, said not a single Chosen Company soldier faltered. The Army estimated that 21 to 52 enemy fighters were killed, and at least 45 were wounded.

"The individual exploits of bravery are too numerous to document," Cubbison said.
"I don't know if they (the enemy) didn't think we were going to be that stubborn, or if they didn't think we'd put up that good of a fight," McKaig said. "But thank God we did."


Cubbison said the American higher command in Afghanistan, Combined Joint Task Force-101, "transformed this tactical victory into an operational and strategic defeat" by abandoning Wanat and the Waigal Valley two days after the fight.

The U.S. has not occupied the valley since.

Additional Facts

The Wanat Study

The Battle of Wanat is the subject of a 248-page study — still in draft form — by Douglas Cubbison, a military historian with the Army's Combat Studies Institute, a military history "think tank" based at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Leaving Texas - next stop, Sandbox !

A late night call was answered and I was informed that I will be leaving Texas today. It is interesting as Nov. 19th is my oldest son's Birthday (he is turning 27) and the anniversary of my wife Karen's & my first date when she came to James' 6th birthday party, 21 years ago at my dinky apartment in Brockton....times have changed. Karen & I knew we were good for each other on that day and it has been love, laughter & some interesting times.

I didn't expect to be put on the "A1 ready-to-go- list" quite so soon, but in all respects, this is what I was coming here for, to get ready to go. I will be OK and I will go out to do my part in support of the troops as that is the primary mission of my company. We support the Warriors, plain & simple. While the company is making a profit, and some question the arrangement, civilian contractors have been supporting the armed forces for years. The origin of the Seabees was having civilian contractors do the construction at the start of WW2. They eventually brought them into the Navy, but they were civilians when they started up. Many of the jobs we do have no military counterpart, and the expertise needed is not available in the military.

My thanks for all the support, kind words and prayers. All are gratefully & humbly accepted.

Wednesday, Paratrooper Ben Sherman was brought home to Plymouth, and the town showed their support for this splendid warrior. His wish was that if anything happened, he wanted his funeral at our church and to be laid to rest there in the Manomet Cemetery. The wake will be today and the funeral on Friday at the 2nd Church of Plymouth. I hope to help support his brothers and mine, because as a Veteran, he and all others in uniform are my brothers (and sisters).

I do not read the Bible as much as I should but I have a few favorite psalms, and I wanted to share this one with you. I will be back and will look forward to seeing my friends & family when I get back for next Thanksgiving. I'll keep in touch and I'll probably have some more silly stories to share about the dusty side of the world.

All my best and I'll be in touch.

-----------------------------------------------

Psalm 63

1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
3 Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
8 My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
9 But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
10 They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ben Sherman comes home to Manomet

Ben Sherman is coming home to Manomet today. He will be brought home by his family and honored by the community & friends who salute his service to our nation. It is true that the tree of liberty must be regularly watered with the blood of patriots, as this has kept our nation safe for 200+ years.

His Mother, Denise Sherman made a powerful statement last week regarding her son and the course of our wars overseas:

“I am requesting,” she said, “because we are one nation under God, that you ask our nation to come together in prayer, to pray for all those who are missing to persevere, to pray for his comrade’s family (for him) to be found safe and returned home, for those who have gone before us and have made the sacrifice (for) this country, and for those who serve our great nation to be guided and protected…I pray for the leaders every day that they are guided to make good decisions.

“This is to the President of the United States: It is time. It is time to make a decision. "


“I think it is time that a decision is made that this country comes together and supports our troops or whatever (President Obama) decides. God will guide him. But it is time. It is time,” she said.

Earlier in my blog, I ran a copy of a column from another blogger, Neptunus Lex, who wrote about this same subject. It said:

" The time for half measures and dithering is over. It’s time to go heavy, or go home.
There is no middle path." -
http://www.neptunuslex.com/2009/10/04/the-cost-of-muddling-through/


Ben Sherman was the tip of the spear.

As George Orwell said: People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

We as a nation owe a debt of gratitude to Ben Sherman and others like him who stand on the wall, and make sure nothing will harm you as you go about your life at home.

Rest in Peace, Ben Sherman. Patriot, Paratrooper, Son, Father-to-be, Brother & Leader.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Observation

An observation made by an anonymous posting I read on the web....from a New Yorker.....

Just something that occurred to me today while trying to cross Fifth Ave in Manhattan during the Veteran’s Day Parade:

The towers fell in New York on 9/11/01, Kabul fell to American led forces on 11/14/01. That’s 65 days.

President Obama’s hand-picked replacement commander in Afghanistan, GEN McChrystal, delivered his Afghanistan war plans to President Obama on 8/30/09, and President Obama hasn’t acted on his General’s recommendations as of today, 11/11/09. That’s 73 days, and waiting.

Damn...I hate to admit that I agree with a New Yorker.....at least about one thing.

Red Sox / Yankees, Patriots / Jets, etc..... I bet him and I would likely have words.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

TEXAS

Dallas/Ft. Worth - arrival went well and the weather here is nice...had a thundershower which was something I would not see at home.

Nice accommodations and the preparations seem well organized....

Going to meet with some people this evening and then watch the Patriots / Colts game.

Take The PATS as this is their game to win (or lose)....

Friday, November 13, 2009

And the count down begins.....

Like many things in life, events start to take on a progression.....Having deployed before, I know how the days/hours/minutes start ticking away and soon you are feeling the time is coming to make the big jump.

I can hear the voice of the launch control official in his basic tone saying " We are at T-minus 48 hours and counting, all systems are nominal and the count down is proceding as planned...."

Sunday Morning I will be getting on a plane and starting a year overseas to take on my new job. This will be a tough year for me and for those I leave behind.

Like many things, you have to take the good with the bad. I'll do my best to make things work and I know my family will do so too. It is a process and you just have to get on with it. the sooner you do so the sooner you get to come back and finish.

Final preparations are under way....."The Astronuats enjoyed a good breakfast including Tang...mission control will be briefing the media later on as the countdown procedes"

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step......Yeah.....right......

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sage Words from a Brother-in-arms....

From Neptunuslex, a great military blog - www.neptunuslex.com

I couldn't had said it better -

Veterans Day

At 1100 on the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns finally fell silent, but not before 10 million young men fell, never to rise again, with another 20 million maimed, and nearly 8 million missing, forever. The world got its first look at modern, industrial warfare on a massive scale and turned away revolted. Promised those left behind that this would be it, the war to end all wars.
It was a promise that went sadly
unfulfilled.

On Memorial Day we lay flowers on the graves of those that fell. Today we give humble thanks to those that served, and returned again with honor to take up the plow, hammer or pen. Or to those who fell back into the ranks vowing to keep the sword bright and sharp for the next time, grimly aware that there will always be a next time, that only the dead have seen the last of war. Having seen for themselves the real nature of man, knowing as they do that weakness is provocative to savagery and that the surest path to peace is to be prepared for war.


Some march in parades, and see the battle pennants streaming from the colors. For them these are not mere gaudy flashes, for they have a memory of the time before they were in place, remember the streamers fresh and new, remember what it cost in human terms to tie them to the flagstaff.

Others will gather in taverns and VFW halls, hoist refreshments in memory of their youth, offer toasts to those forever young, and wonder how they will ever be able to explain any of it to anyone who wasn’t there, while knowing that for those who were, no explanation will ever be necessary.
Some will wake up in the middle of the night seized with nightmares or private guilt, some few will try to self-medicate, fall down a deep tunnel and end up wandering the streets muttering dark and unintelligible dirges of innocence lost and the human connections that cannot be restored once one has seen the whole world turn violently mad.

Military service is hard, even in peace time. People are asked to surrender a portion of their freedoms to better ensure the freedoms of the rest of us. Discipline is enforced; great exertions are called for, there are separations and privations. They are taught to run towards the sound of the guns, to stand in the hatch and fight the fire, to shove the throttles up and fly into the maelstrom. In short, they are conditioned to willingly go towards things from which every fiber screams to flee. They are taught, and most of them eventually come to believe, that there is something more important than themselves. That some things really might worth dying for, whether those be noble principles, those they left at home, or those on their left and right.

These are hard teachings, but they have the
example of heroes to testify to the truth of them.
In this land we are graced with a vibrant political culture, but it was Washington’s guns and musketeers who gave it to us. We enjoy the remote fastness of our island home, but it was Decatur, Farragut and Porter who scoured the seas to defend our ocean ramparts. We have human freedom and increasing dignity here at home, but not before three million boys in blue and butternut contended the terms of that freedom. We have liberal democracies here and abroad, but not before millions more marched forth asking for nothing but a patch of earth to be buried in, should it come to that.


There are many blessings in this land, but although we tend to treat them as birthrights, transferable to our heirs in perpetuity, the reality is that all of them have been fought over. Perhaps the greatest blessing of all is that in each generation there have been those who answered their country’s call when it came and said, “I’ll go. I’ll do it. Pick me.”

They are the veterans, and this is our day to thank them.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Fairer and Fiercer Warriors - Women in Uniform

As many might know by now, the Ft, Hood shooter was stopped by Police Sergeant Munley, a brave and valiant female police officer. I can tell you that she is a hero along with all her sisters in uniform, police & military.

When I was in Fallujah, you knew you could count on the Female Marines because they HAD to be twice as good to get recognition. As a Supply type, I had a counterpart on the USMC side who was ALL MARINE, and happened to be of the fairer sex. She was a good shipmate and she liked that as a Older Seabee, she could talk to me like a Father figure as many of the younger types would look to hit on her.

Follow this link to an article from Glamour Magazine (not that I read it regularly) called ” The war’s deadliest day for U.S. women ”

Three Female Marines killed and 11 wounded, all while outside Fallujah doing the duty they dedicated thier lives to -Read the article and be in awe of these splendid Warriors – SEMPER FI !!!

http://www.marine-corps-news.com/2006/05/the_wars_deadliest_day_for_us.htm

Thursday, November 5, 2009

WARBIRDS a.k.a. PLANE PRON

Some great pictures of Old Warbirds - Bernard Zee is an awesome photographer -
View his website and see some great photography !

http://home.comcast.net/~bzee1b/bombers/bomber.html

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

U.S. official resigns over Afghan war

A man of principle to say the least - That is the way they make them in the USMC. I hope his assessment turns out to be incorrect as if this is the start of a group of similar proclaimations, the road ahead will be even tougher than we expected.....


U.S. official resigns over Afghan war
Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting


By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Matthew Hoh joined the Foreign Service early this year, he was exactly the kind of smart civil-military hybrid the administration was looking for to help expand its development efforts in Afghanistan.

A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.

But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department's head of personnel. "I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."

The reaction to Hoh's letter was immediate. Senior U.S. officials, concerned that they would lose an outstanding officer and perhaps gain a prominent critic, appealed to him to stay.

U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry brought him to Kabul and offered him a job on his senior embassy staff. Hoh declined. From there, he was flown home for a face-to-face meeting with Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/26/AR2009102603394_pf.html

Monday, October 26, 2009

SEMPER FI - Marines Win Top Sharpshooter Prize

SEMPER FI GENTLEMEN...Here is hoping you get to use those skills to find a few "Prime Targets" in the mountains of Waziristan....SOON !

Marines Win Top Sharpshooter Prize
October 26, 2009
Military.com|by Bryant Jordan

The Marine Corps earned bragging rights during the 9th annual U.S. Army International Sniper Competition at Fort Benning, Ga., last week, when Leathernecks from the Corps' Scout Sniper School (West) in Camp Pendleton, Calif., claimed the title of top marksmen.

But because of the nature of their work the top-scoring Marines -- Team 3 of the Pendleton school -- will not be doing any public bragging.

Those Marines, along with most other winners -- Marine and Soldier alike -- are keeping their names confidential, according to Benning spokeswoman Brenda Donnell, who told Military.com today that only two Army team members are being identified. Donnell believes the secrecy is related to the commands the snipers are with.

In all, 31 two-man teams took part in the week-long event that, in addition to the Overall place won by Pendleton's Team 3, featured 1st- 2nd- and 3rd-place winners in the Service Class and Open Class categories, according to a Benning announcement.

Service class teams were Marines or Soldiers who fire 7.62 NATO or small rounds as a primary or secondary weapon system, while those competing in the Open Class were snipers whose primary or secondary weapon fires a round larger than the 7.62, the Army said.

In addition to winning in the Overall category, Pendleton's Team 3 won 1st Place in Service Class.

Other winning teams in the Service Class were:

2nd Place - Team 24, D Company, 2nd Battalion, Special Warfare Training Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.

3rd Place - C Troop, Team 6, 1st Bn., 73rd Cavalry, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg. Team members were identified as Ian Erickson and Justin Chavis. Donnell did not have their ranks.

Open Class winners were:

1st Place - Team 10, A Company, 2nd Bn., 46th Infantry Regiment, 194th Armor Brigade, Fort Knox, Ky. Team members were Staff Sgt. Kevin Wildman and Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Johns, Donnell said.

2nd Place - Team 23, D Company, 2nd Bn., SWT Group, Fort Bragg.

3rd Place - Team 21, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg.

Friday, October 23, 2009

YOU OWN IT NOW MR. PRESIDENT

I don't mind showcasing superior writing when I see it (and/or read it)

Peggy Noonan steps up to the plate and smacks one out of the park.

" President Obama, in office a month longer than Bush was when 9/11 hit, now owns his presidency. Does he know it? He too stands on rubble, figuratively speaking—a collapsed economy, high and growing unemployment, two wars. Everyone knows what he's standing on. You can almost see the smoke rising around him. He's got a bullhorn in his hand every day.

It's his now. He gets the credit and the blame. How do we know this? The American people are telling him. You can see it in the polls. That's what his falling poll numbers are about. "It's been almost a year, you own this. Fix it."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704224004574489530713762884.html#printMode

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

President JAFO is AWOL

From the WSJ...

Obama Goes AWOL On Afghanistan, "voting present" would be an improvement.

By JAMES TARANTO

...we suppose it's easy to sit on the sidelines and snark. Barack Obama is President of the United States, and he is juggling all kinds of urgent responsibilities. Such as this one, reported by the New York Times:

Mr. Obama will fly to New York on Tuesday for a lavish Democratic Party fund-raising dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for about 200 big donors. Each donor is paying the legal maximum of $30,400 and is allowed to take a date.And hey, if you don't like it, " grab a damn mop!" As Obama said just last week at . . . uh, another lavish Democratic Party fund-raiser.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports from Washington that "frustrations and anxiety are on the rise within the military" as the president dithers over Afghanistan:

A retired general who served in Iraq said that the military had listened, "perhaps naïvely," to Mr. Obama's campaign promises that the Afghan war was critical. "What's changed, and are we having the rug pulled out from under us?" he asked. Like many of those interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from the military's civilian leadership and the White House.Shouldn't it be the enemy that fears reprisals?

During the presidential campaign, Obama's opponents mocked him for frequently voting "present" on difficult questions that came before the Illinois Senate. This is even worse. The commander in chief is absent without leave.
------------------------------------------------------

He is AWOL...as we would say in the military when you were confronted with something that made no sense "WTF, over?"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Make a decision President JAFO

As President JAFO plays politics with the Afghanistan issue, I feel that we are only fiddling while our best & brightest burn....we (and they) cannot wait until the WH decides whether the political climate is right for a decision...Men are dying in the field...

While I understand the need for boots on the ground, and the whole hearts & minds thing, we should not be holding back in areas where we have clear tactical advantage, i.e. hitting the caves/desolate outposts with the guided munitions.

While we need both types of battle, we should be maximizing the use of finding the places where they are training/ resupplying in the wilds of Waziristan and hitting those caves/camps with everything we got.


Using the surveillance drones to make sure we are not hitting the WRONG places and making sure that we are hitting the RIGHT places. NO bombing weddings accidentally, just hitting the bad guys as they are getting trained up in the SH-Twilds

The area along the PAK/AFGHAN border is too rugged to control with troops on the ground and by now, we should be able to use our superior tactical advantage to smoke them out of the holes….Find em and send them to Allah…


I thought the whole issue with the Kamdesh firebase that was attacked and almost overrun would have made the perfect test for the right application of this type of battle. After we left this base and made it unusable, the Taliban announced to the world that they had taken over the base and were flying their flag over the base.

Really?? Well someone at CENTCOM should have told them ” Stay right there..” as a C-130 flew overhead and dropped a Daisycutter on the spot as we knew exctly where they were and what they were doing. As the side of the mountain sheered off from the blast, we could have taped it and played the film at a news conference over & over again….Then we would conclude the news conference by quoting John McCain who stated, ” We will chase you to the gates of Hell..” as this will be the only way the Taliban Cockroaches stop what they are doing and run for their miserable lives…

I’m sorry to sound harsh but these extremists will only stop when we make them….It is about time we use our superior advantage to it’s optimum ability and make them stop.

I lost a buddy at WTC and another on the USS Cole, along with many shipmates in Fallujah….we have suffered enough loss of our best, it is time we take out their worst.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

LEADERSHIP - Old School Style


A great picture that provides one of the key lessons for all who supervise others.