Archive for US Military

Stolen Valor

It makes no difference to me if you want to claim you were under fire in Tuzla, or to report that a chopper (sorry, bird) you were flying in took an RPG hit. As a decorated combat war vet myself (As an eight-year-old, I took the garage, alone, from the entrenched forces of my older brother and his friends, using dog poop grenades to flush them out), I have learned that there’s more than enough valor to go around.

But you know who gets all touchy about that kind of thing? Veterans.

So then, why…

Robert McDonald, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, misrepresented his military record in a recent TV appearance, falsely stating that he was in an elite special operations division.

McDonald, a West Point grad who served with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s, has issued an apology for the misstatement.

The story was first reported by the Huffington Post’s David Wood. There was no suggestion in Wood’s story of any pattern of misstatements by McDonald. The comment in question came while McDonald was being filmed by a CBS News crew as he toured Los Angeles during a count of homeless veterans, one of whom told McDonald he had served in special ops.

McDonald replied: “Special Forces? What years? I was in Special Forces.” The segment aired Jan. 30.

“Special operators are a close-knit community deeply hostile to outsiders who try to claim the coveted mantle of special operations,” wrote Wood, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for his reporting on the “physical and emotional challenges facing American soldiers severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan during a decade of war.”

Wood reported that McDonald, the former chief executive of Procter and Gamble who was brought in to shape up the embattled VA, completed Army Ranger training but “never served in a Ranger battalion or any other special operations unit.”

In a statement provided by the VA, McDonald said: “While I was in Los Angeles, engaging a homeless individual to determine his veteran status, I asked the man where he had served in the military. He responded that he had served in special forces. I incorrectly stated that I had been in special forces. That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”

I guess he gets a pass. He did serve, and the story says he completed Army Ranger training. It was a brain fart, not a pattern of lying. But for the VA Secretary to do something so stupid, so offensive to the veterans he was appointed to serve? I wouldn’t expect them to be as forgiving.

PS: Or is there a pattern of lying?

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It’s Not Whom You Kill, But How

Unlike many military experts and crazy leftists, I am not much bothered by the targeted blasting from the sky of our sworn enemies. No one gets hurt (no one who counts), we create awesome fireballs out of willing martyrs, and the munitions industry makes a killing (ha-ha). Not much to complain about there—and I complain about everything.

I am in no position to tell a Nobel Peace laureate how to conduct a war, but if we’re actually trying to accomplish something more than useful than toasted terrorists and war profiteering, we might have to reconsider (drat):

Coalition aircraft have struck more than 4,800 targets in Syria and Iraq over the past six months, destroying vehicles, tanks, fighting positions and training camps, according to U.S. Central Command. The Pentagon said the strikes have weakened the group’s leadership structure.

Defeating the organization in Iraq and Syria will require a ground force, not just air attacks, analysts and military officials acknowledge.

“Air power is not something that takes and holds ground,” said Jeffrey White, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former Defense Intelligence Agency official. “Control is about a man on the ground with a gun.”

So they’ve been telling us from the beginning. But we’ll always have Kobani!

The article notes how ISIS is expanding “despite” US air raids, but I wonder if we’re not lost in a Fox Butter Field. Maybe ISIS is winning because of US air raids:

The Islamic State’s offensive into Iraq marked a meteoric rise for the organization, which emerged in Syria in 2013 after splitting from al-Qaeda.

Last January, the organization seized towns and cities in Anbar province, a Sunni region in western Iraq, shocking Iraq’s government and Washington policymakers equally. In June, the group expanded into Mosul and other parts of Iraq, imposing a strict form of Islamic law and brutal tactics on the towns and cities it controls.

It demonstrated global aspirations, eclipsing al-Qaeda as the world’s leading jihadist organization. “At the end of the day, success is sexy,” Clarke said.

To avoid being blasted from the sky, one is well advised to disperse on the ground. ISIS and and other affiliated jihadis have proliferated across the Arab world and into Europe. Without boots on the ground—preferably Egyptian, Jordanian, and other Arab boots—the continued success of ISIS looks like a safe bet.

But we can still drop our cool bombs if we like. And I do.

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Here Comes Mr. Jordan

Amman is the man!

Jordan has deployed “thousands” of ground troops to the Iraqi border, a source close to the Jordanian government told ABC News today, in its latest move to counter the advance of the Islamic State group.

The Jordanian source says the troops will likely stay on their side of the border in a defensive posture, for now, and will not enter Iraq without approval from the Iraqi government.

However, on the other side of the border, the head of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, retired Marine Gen. John Allen told Jordan’s official Petra news agency, “there will be a major counteroffensive on the ground in Iraq” shortly.

First things first:

The White House was ready to share with lawmakers Tuesday its plan to seek authority for the use of military force against the Islamic State group, setting up the first war vote in Congress in 13 years.

Just like Bush!

To paraphrase the German reporter from yesterday:

“President, you said you have not yet made a decision as to whether weapons ought to be delivered to [Jordan]; what would be your red line? What would be the red line that needs to be crossed for you to decide a — an armament of the [Jordanian] army? And what do you think will this hold by way of a promise, because the chancellor said it will make matters worse? What can the Nobel Laureate Obama do more to defuse the situation?”

The Nobel Laureate Obama still hasn’t decided to promote ISIS to varsity.

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Our Man in Damascus

Well, I feel safer. Don’t you?

A day after President Obama’s defense pick struggled to explain the administration’s ISIS strategy, Capitol Hill lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are upping pressure on the White House to give Jordan’s military what it needs to strike back at the Islamic State.

At the Senate hearing on Wednesday, secretary of defense nominee Ashton Carter told Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., he “absolutely” believes the U.S. needs an ISIS strategy. But when asked to define it in specific terms, Carter responded in generalities.

“I think the strategy connects ends and means,” Carter said. While calling for the Islamic State’s defeat, Carter said the strategy in Iraq is to continue to “strengthen” Iraq’s security forces. “On the Syria side,” he said, “our strategy is to try to build the forces to keep them defeated.”

McCain retorted: “Well, it doesn’t sound like a strategy to me, but maybe we can flesh out your goals.”

But it sounds like we might have finally stumbled on a force willing to take on ISIS:

According to U.S. lawmakers who met with Abdullah on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, the king has asked for more military assistance from the U.S.

“They literally need ammo, bombs, and they need fuel,” Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., told Fox News on Thursday. He also urged the Pentagon to embed troops with the Jordanian military and other fighting forces, so they could help call for U.S. airpower as needed.

In the letter from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, they said Jordan’s situation and the unanimity of the coalition battling the extremists “demands that we move with speed to ensure they receive the military materiel they require.”

In the current year, the United States is providing Jordan with $1 billion in economic and military assistance. The Defense Department is also giving an unspecified amount of help to Jordan to secure its border with Syria. Islamic militants have grabbed significant swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.

The senators said Abdullah expressed his gratitude for the U.S. aid, but “we were concerned to hear from the king that Jordan is experiencing complications and delays in obtaining certain types of military equipment through our foreign military sales system.”

I feel no love for Jordan (except for Queen Rania), and I would be hesitant to give them even a single bullet that might ever be aimed at Israel. But if they want to go in all guns a-blazing after ISIS, be our guests. We’ll kill ‘em from the skies, and you guys kill ‘em on the ground. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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He Had a Dream—and He Had a .300 Win Mag

I can’t think of a better way to honor Dr. King than to attend a movie about justice, USA style—and I don’t mean Selma:

Clint Eastwood’s R-rated Iraq War drama “American Sniper” opened in January like a superhero movie in July, taking in a record $105.3 million over the Martin Luther King Jr. four-day weekend.

“It’s become a cultural phenomenon,” said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. “The movie reached an audience that’s very hard to tap into. In both red and blue states, small and large cities, tiny towns — everywhere we went — it broke records.”

Going into the weekend, optimistic predictions for “American Sniper” were closer to $50 million, which still would have been an enormous success, particularly considering how little appetite audiences have had for movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This was maybe the most underestimated film of all time, considering that it did about twice what estimates predicted,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office firm Rentrak. “This just doesn’t happen.”

It’s not movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for which audiences have little appetite. It’s bad, anti-US movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from which people stay away in droves:

The science is now settled: Anti-American films are costly box office bombs at a rate of nothing less than 100%. On the flip-side, pro-American films make money. Many are outright blockblusters. Moreover, almost every the anti-American film produced over the last decade has also been an artistic failure, while many pro-American films have garnered positive reviews.

Let me boil this down for the leftwing-impaired: Lies make for lousy art and can’t be sold to the public.

And here’s another lie Hollywood was spreading a few years back — the lie that in an international film market, Americanism doesn’t sell. Below is the science; an apples-to-apples domestic box office comparison of narrative films (not documentaries) with major stars produced over the last decade about the War On Terror.

Read the lists. It’s hysterical how many forgettable movies (not least because they’re forgotten) Hollywood has turned out with the message war is bad, US wars are worse, Bush’s wars are the worst. For every American Sniper and Lone Survivor (each well over $100 million), there were dozens of Syrianas and Munichs (perhaps the most despicable film I’ve never seen) that lose their shirts.

I wish Dr. King had lived, but, as I say, I can’t think of a better way to honor the memory of one American hero than by confounding those racists in Hollywood with box office boffo for a Clint Eastwood movie about another American hero.

PS: And the Left can’t stand it!

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Reporting for Duty

Via Jay Norlinger at NRO:

A former US Army Staff Sergeant who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan is heading to Israel as a volunteer for the IDF.

Brian Mast served his country for twelve years before the catastrophic injury cut his career short. Now a full-time student at Harvard University, Mast said his decision to travel to Israel was partly triggered by the anti-Israel demonstrations he witnessed on campus.

“This past summer I was there studying,” Mast told website Western Journalism. “At the same time, I saw the anti-Israeli protest in the face of the attempted indiscriminate bombardment of Israel. It was then that I decided I needed to find a way to go help however I can and however Israel would have me.”

More:

Mast believes his past experiences will be of benefit to the IDF. “I know what it is to be shot at, to be blown up – literally, to have my brothers die in my arms,” he declared. “I also know the peace my family enjoys each day within our own borders; and that same peace is what I wish on Israel.

Mast, who grew up in a Christian home in South Florida, said that his parents had impressed upon him the importance of the US alliance with Israel. He remains intensely committed, he added, to promoting “liberty and freedom from tyrannical regimes.”

If so, Sergeant, we could use you back at home. When you’re done over there, that is. ;)

PS: Nice to see Harvard is good for something!

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Reunion Video

That’s it, I’m a wreck:

Of course, I’d lose it over a reunion with a goldfish.

Or a dog:

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You Can’t Make Chicken Salad Out of “Chicken[bleep]”

But you can make a pretty good arms deal:

Israel had been struggling to sell the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system abroad, but the Israel Defense website revealed on Sunday that a major purchaser has been found: the United States.

Apparently the US Army will acquire one Iron Dome battery, and based on tests it will conduct on the system decide whether or not to purchase more units of the Israeli defense system that reportedly boasted a 90% hit rate in Operation Protective Edge.

Having seen the system proven in war, the US now apparently is considering deploying it to defend military establishments and US soldiers around the world, as its short-range missile defense capability is not in great demand in America.

Recently cooperation was agreed upon between the Israeli defense company Rafael which developed Iron Dome and the American company Raytheon, by which they will develop Iron Dome together on American soil.

Israel says call me any names you like, just call me. And have your credit card ready.

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The Wartime President

Other than FDR going for his fourth term, I can’t think of a single president who won the office in the middle of a war. Which is to say wartime presidents are made by events, not by choice.

We joked the other day that Obama’s legendary self-confidence might stretch all the way to the military. But that’s the thing with Obama, he’s the biggest joke of all.

I’m a better general than my generals:

Top military leaders in the Pentagon and in the field are growing increasingly frustrated by the tight constraints the White House has placed on the plans to fight ISIS and train a new Syrian rebel army.

As the American-led battle against ISIS stretches into its fourth month, the generals and Pentagon officials leading the air campaign and preparing to train Syrian rebels are working under strict White House orders to keep the war contained within policy limits. The National Security Council has given precise instructions on which rebels can be engaged, who can be trained, and what exactly those fighters will do when they return to Syria. Most of the rebels to be trained by the U.S. will never be sent to fight against ISIS.

Making matters worse, military officers and civilian Pentagon leaders tell The Daily Beast, is the ISIS war’s decision-making process, run by National Security Adviser Susan Rice. It’s been manic and obsessed with the tiniest of details. Officials talk of sudden and frequent meetings of the National Security Council and the so-called Principals Committee of top defense, intelligence, and foreign policy officials (an NSC and three PCs in one week this month); a barrage of questions from the NSC to the agencies that create mountains of paperwork for overworked staffers; and NSC insistence on deciding minor issues even at the operational level.

“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.

War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
William Tecumseh Sherman

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
George S. Patton

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Winston Churchill

If you like your army, you can keep your army. Period.
Barack H. Ohama

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BTL’s Art of War

It’s sophisticated, but see if you can hop aboard the train of thought:

Military and White House officials said Friday that the fierce fighting in the Syrian border town of Kobani has created an opportunity to take out large numbers of Islamic State fighters pouring into the battle.

Though the fighting has raised concerns that the vital town could still fall to the Islamic State, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of U.S. Central Command, claimed Friday that there’s an upside for the U.S. and its allies.

“The enemy has made a decision to make Kobani his main effort,” Austin said, claiming “manpower” is streaming into the area.

“Now, my goal is to defeat and ultimately destroy ISIL. And if [the enemy] continues to present us with major targets … then clearly, we’ll service those targets, and we’ve done so very, very effectively here of late,” Austin said.

Maybe it’s not the first thing you think of when you list the reasons you’re proud to be an American, but our ability to vaporize people we deem (correctly or not) to be our enemies is second to none. So, when we find such people in adequate numbers, it’s time to let ‘em fly and hit ‘em high.

Where’s my diploma from The Citadel, you ask? Who died and made me general? Fine, don’t take my word for it. Just recall the many posts from past years in which US forces squared off with Taliban goatherds and the casualty results were 100-0, 150-1, and suchlike. Again, maybe not our best trait, but we can kill with the best of them; when offered the opportunity, we should seize it.

There’s only one flaw in how Obama intends to go about it. Kobani is worth saving from ISIS because there are Kurdish “boots on the ground” (or sandals, flip-flops, rags) to take the ground (sand) that ISIS forces leave when they either explode or retreat. That does not appear to be the case in, say, Baghdad.

So, by all means, kill while the killing’s good in Kobani. (As if I need to encourage Obama to kill indiscriminately from the skies—he’s got a Death Ray, and he’s not afraid to use it!) But Kobani will be small consolation when the former seat of the caliphate returns to something that calls itself the Islamic State. It did no good to slaughter Afghan Islamists by the hundreds if we didn’t intend to hold the territory (by ourselves or through proxies); it’s doubtful the results will be any better in Syria or Iraq.

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Say, How’s That War on the (Non-Islamic) Islamic State Going?

So glad you asked:

On Wednesday, a reporter asked Pentagon press secretary John Kirby what seemed like a simple query: “What would you say about Senator McCain’s assessment that the Islamic State is winning, and the U.S.-led coalition is not?” What followed, however, was a case study in how not to handle a loaded question.

“Well, I’m not gonna, um,” the rear admiral began haltingly. “I would just tell you that — uh — we believe — that — let me put it this way. It’s going to be a long fight. It’s going to be difficult. There’s going to be setbacks. There’s going to be wins and there’s going to be losses. We’re mindful of the complicated nature of this.”

Kirby went on equivocating for another two minutes, claiming he’s “not going to qualify who’s winning and who’s losing today,” that “you can’t judge a strategy based on a day, or a week, or even several weeks,” that “we’ve only been doing air strikes since August 8,” and that the Islamic State is “not getting a win everywhere.”

“So it’s a mixed picture, Phil,” he admitted. “I don’t mean to ramble, but it’s a mixed picture.”

Not exactly “we will fight them on the beaches” material, but that was the Greatest Generation. Ours is somewhat lesser.

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OUT: Boots on the Ground, IN: Choppers in the Sand

Oh [bleep]:

The U.S. military is flying Apache helicopters against Islamic State rebels in Iraq for the first time, exposing U.S. troops to greater risk from ground fire as they help Iraqi forces battle the Islamist group that has overrun parts of the country.

U.S. troops flew helicopters against Islamic State fighters on Sunday and again on Monday as they struck at mortar teams and other units near Fallujah, said a spokesman for Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. forces in the Middle East.

“This was the first time rotary wing aircraft were used in coordination with and in support of ISF (Iraqi Security Force) operations,” Army Major Curtis Kellogg said in an email. “The Iraqi government asked for support with this capability near Fallujah to push back (Islamic State).”

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the helicopters that were used were Apache attack helicopters.

Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for a New American Security think tank, said the military’s decision to use Apaches “demonstrates that they’ve only achieved limited results with the air strikes from fighters and bombers and drones.”

Christopher Harmer, a former Navy aviator who is an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War think tank, said it was a significant escalation in the level of risk being taken by U.S. troops assisting the Iraqi military.

“Fixed-wing aircraft flying at 30,000 feet (9,000 meters) are completely immune from the type of weapons that Islamic State fighters have, but a helicopter is not,” Harmer said.

“When you’re flying a helicopter 150 feet (50 meters) above the ground, that helicopter can be shot with a rocket-propelled grenade or a heavy machine gun … so, yes, it is much more dangerous,” he added.

Obama channeling his inner Jimmy Carter.

Or his inner Bill Clinton:

What will we call the movie of this disaster, Black Chickenhawk Down? Obama swore that he wouldn’t put boots on the ground against ISIS. Chopper pilots will be issued Nike sneakers before every mission.

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