This year has been nothing but amazing. Never thought that I'd be on TV or Radio talking about Military Bloggers. Never thought that Blackfive would be where it is with over 4 million visits and two consecutive best MilBlog Awards. Never thought that my Uncle Jimbo would be helping out (Hey! What's that Green Bay Packers bumper sticker doing on the fridge?!). Or Grim or Cassandra or Subsunk, too. Never thought that I would be authoring and editing a book about MilBlogs and the war for Simon & Schuster (and it's going very well in case you were wondering).
With 2005 nearly over, I wanted to get some business out of the way and need your help. Here's two questions:
1. What you like to see more of or less of on Blackfive in 2006?
As with my troops, if you complain about something here, I ask that you give me at least two solutions or alternatives to help me solve "the problem". Since I've gotten many requests to "fix" the About page, I will definitely work on that so suggest what you'd like to know "about".
The usual requests have been a better "About" page, a photo gallery of readers wearing the Blackfive t-shirt, put the "Paratrooper of Love" back in the title, more profile stories, more pictures, more live blogging from St. Patrick's Day, etc...
2. What were your favorite Blackfive posts of 2005?
I need to create a Best of 2005 Index so suggestions would help.
Speaking of saying "Thanks", here's my inadequate attempt at thanking you all for supporting us. I'm sure I'll leave someone out so I'll apologize right now.
Thanks to Panera for the free WiFi for me to blog and to write the MilBlog book. Oh yeah, and thanks for the ten extra @#$%ing pounds I've gained from spending hours and hours eating your food and drinking your delicioso coffee...hhhmmm, think I'll get an orange scone...back in a minute.......okay I'm back. Sorry.
Of course, I owe a lot to the otherMilBloggers out there. You are the ones doing the hard work and making the sacrifices to keep us all safe.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to Soldiers' Angels. You've helped thousands. Thousands! Your support means so much to our troops!
Thanks to the regulars who read Blackfive every day! You know who you are...Blackfive is nothing without you. Words are so insufficient. Thanks for letting me do what I do.
Thanks to all who've worn the uniform - past, present and future. And thank you to all who love them.
Last, thank you to my wonderful and beautiful wife for supporting me. Today is the 10th anniversary of our first date. And the strike of Midnight will be 10 years since our first kiss - the moment when I knew I would spend the rest of my life with her...so you'll have to excuse me while I go give her another kiss.
Well this is a pleasant change of pace ,and I realize she works for the WaPo and it was the NYT that broke the NSA story, I'm just hoping for prosecutorial mission creep as Priest has leaked far too many things. It would be nice for Mr. Risen to have to hold his book signings in prison too though.
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush's secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday.
The officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, said the inquiry will focus on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Now instead of watching a farce conducted about the non-outing of a non-covert operative, we can eyeball the consequences of disloyalty and possibly criminal behavior to those who have made themselves W's and our enemies. Many executive branch agencies have sizeable components opposed to current policies and they have shamelessly sabotaged many of them. Leaks from all of these hampered efforts to gain international support prior to the Iraq war, efforts to fight it and ultimately damaged us greatly worldwide.
If Karl Rove deserved being frog-marched off in chains for mentioning Hollywood Joe Wilson's wife, I can't wait to hear what the retribution will be for these actual compromises of programs.
First I think some Ozzy Osborne for a day or so to loosen 'em up, oops I'm sorry just daydreaming again, that lovely vision of orange-jumpsuited reporters cavorting in the balmy breezes of Club Gitmo.
I held a security clearance for 15+ years and the Washington Post's Dana Priest seems to have read more classified documents than I ever did. She is a one woman wrecking crew doing her level best to eviscerate our ability to conduct covert operations. The anti-W wing at CIA has used her as the tool they needed to ensure that no tactics that wouldn't be appropriate in Elementary School are used against the mass-murdering jihadis.
The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War, expanding in size and ambition despite a growing outcry at home and abroad over its clandestine tactics, according to former and current intelligence officials and congressional and administration sources.
The only outcry heard anywhere is the caterwauling by the media and the usual suspects on the far left. The rest of America thinks spying on people who destroy skyscrapers is wise.
"The broad-based effort, known within the agency by the initials GST, is compartmentalized into dozens of highly classified individual programs, details of which are known mainly to those directly involved."
Apparently far too many of these details are known to a WaPo reporter perfectly willing to sacrifice our collective security to salve her conscience, and maybe catch some glory too...eh?
This is probably the biggest bunch of horse @#$% that I've read in a long time. See article below. Okay, Readers, in the Comments you should place links (be sure to include the full URL with http:// ) of stories about extreme valor and heroism from Iraq or Afghanistan:
By Tom Vanden Brook USA Today American
troops have been fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for more
than four years, but just one soldier from those wars has received the
Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor for bravery.
lack of such medals — by comparison, two were awarded for fighting in
Somalia — reflects today’s unconventional warfare and the superior
weaponry of U.S. forces, military experts say. It’s not that today’s
troops lack valor, but they lack opportunities to display it in the
extraordinary way that would merit the Medal of Honor...
Just a little more research and they could have produced *sigh* a few more:
Godspeed, Major Ahmed Jamil - A Kurd That Fought for A Free Iraq
Posted By Blackfive
The Kurds hold a special place in many of our memories. Their strongholds flourish while others do not. Their schools blossom while others do not. While they have had to overcome many obstacles (and have many more to overcome), their tribe is a strong one.
It is strong because of it's people and because many people have given much to allow the Kurds to determine their own fate. Because they are worth it.
A Kurdish Warrior (which is propbably the most redundant title I've ever written) serving in the Iraqi Army, Major Ahmed Jamil, has paid the price for his peoples' freedom...and his American brothers miss him.
Although I have a lot of Good news abut the elections, I will share that with you in a near future day. In this e-mail, I wish to share something with you that is weighing very heavy on my heart.
I found out hours ago that Major Jamil was killed by an IED, a few miles north of here. As you will recall from my e-mails to you all, during the big operation in Sarai in September (Operation Restoring Rights), Jamil and I became very close and bonded, as though we knew each other for a lifetime.
I very much admired, respected and and treasured this warrior's company and for the love for his country, Kurdistan. He told me, during one of
our many conversations over dinner, that he and his men came to fight in Tall'afar, so the insurgents would never enter his homeland. He wanted to see his son grow up without violence, killings or ever seeing a gun.
His son was four months old when I met Jamil in September, I only hope and pray that his son will come to know one day, what a great sacrifice his father made, as well as what a great leader he was, brave, courages and beloved and respected by the men he led.
Jamil and I often worked on missions together, many times without the knowledge of our higher knowing about it, because we were able to accomplish much without all of the delays of the red tape. What makes his death even more tragic, is the fact that he had just returned from his home, where he went to mourn and bury his brother, sister and his nephews, all killed in a car
I do not know how his parents are facing all of these deaths? I know that when I heard about my friend Jamil, I had to go away from everyone and be by myself. And be alone as I cried and mourned over my fallen friend and comarade.
We promised each other, that one day we would meet up after the war, in Kurdistan, where he was going to open his home to me and my family. In his phone he had placed a photo, our photo, and he was saving it till I would come to Kurdistan and we could take a new one together.
I have a great many photos of him, as well as many gifts that I was bringing to him, the next time I was supposed to see him. God willing, I will be able to visit Kurdistan and pass them along to his wife and his young son.
Please remember his family in your prayers, and remember, that there are many here, besides us Americans,who have also left the safety and security of their families and friends, to sacrifice for their futures.
I share his sacrifice with you, because he was my friend, because I had shared with you about our work together during the Sari operation, and because his death and sacrifice will not be broadcast on CNN. His sacrifice is not something that woud go well with all of the bias that is propogated about this
place and this war. But I believe his sacrifice should be shared, as a
testimony to his courage, his strenght of character and his convictions.
And because he was my friend, and someone I loved and cared for, as did he for me.
There is no greater love than a man
laying down his life for his friends. - John 15:12-13
Godspeed, Major Jamil, Godspeed...
Update 01-03-06: It turns out that Major Jamil was not killed. Another Major Jamil was hit by an IED, but not SSG George's friend. As you can imagine, SSG George is both elated that his friend is alive but is saddened that another died.
Kevin Anderson of the BBC has put together an article featuring some Military Blogs like Blackfive. I was interviewed for the article.
I'll put my email interview in the Extended Section so you can see that the article was fairly written. Mr. Anderson treated us a lot better than most journalists, I think.
Also, Kevin Anderson sends this about BBC Radio interviewing some Military Bloggers today:
also be talking about milblogging on a World Service radio programme that I work
on today, World Have Your Say. We're going to have Sgt Trevor Snyder of The Will
to Exist, Spc Stacy Sanning of My Iraqi Saga and hopefully Brian Kennedy, who
blogs under his Marine pilot call sign Howdy.
discussion will happen between 1800 and 1830 GMT
today Thursday 29 December. You can find out more details
discuss milblogging in general but also specifically about the balance between
operational security and self expression. Sgt Snyder says he keeps a copy o the
new guidelines on blogging on his computer.
Below is the story of Lance Corporal Pascal Cisse - A Marine that you should know.
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Pascal R. Cisse, an infantryman assigned
to 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment,
temporarily assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, poses in Karabilah,
Iraq. The 27-year-old, who speaks five languages, came to the United
States and volunteered for the Marine Corps three weeks after his
arrival. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre
By Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre
2nd Marine Division
CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq, Dec. 16, 2005
— Many people traveling to America arrive seeking personal gain and
economic opportunity. Three weeks after Lance Cpl. Pascal R. Cisse
arrived in the states from Germany, he elbowed his way into Marine
Corps recruit training and eventually into the famed Marine Corps
“The recruiter told me I could go to
boot camp in two months,” said the native of Dakar, Senegal. “I told
him I wanted to join as soon as possible.”
The Marine recruiter he contacted in Tukwila, Wash., highlighted some
of the job opportunities offered by the Marines, but Cisse (pronounced
‘Seece’) was adamant about becoming an infantryman.
“The recruiter wanted to give me a desk job,” said the 27-year-old. “I
wanted to be infantry and I wanted (its specialized) training.”
Cisse’s response characterized his desire to take on challenges ever
since childhood. In a young age category for the martial art of judo,
the future Marine infantryman became a national champion in his native
country. He left Africa for France at age 19 after completing high
school and tried out for the French Foreign Legion. There, Cisse had a change of heart, opted out and began college studies in Germany.
So the horrifying invasions of privacy and disregard of decency perpetrated by W on decent citizens whose only crime was to be contacted by our sworn enemies are somehow not viewed that way by 64% of Americans. In actuality only 23% of us think it was even wrong, good gravy are we actually less screwed up then I thought?
I write because I get pissed at the woefully inaccurate view of the world put out by the media. The sheer volume of biased info ensures that most Americans have been marketed a leftist tale bearing a striking difference from reality. A group composed of 90+% who have never voted for a Republican is unlikely to shed it's spots when reporting. Consequently many Americans form opinions based only on information shaded negatively about the war in Iraq and the greater war against the jihadis. Somehow we unwashed masses managed to avoid the koolaid and actually believe it was the President's duty to listen in when Johnny Jihad gets a call from Zawahiri.
Bravo Americans, now we can watch the left wing flap the Dems right into permanent minority status as they holler IMPEACHMENT. They are deluded enough to think that since all their friends agree that W must go, preferably frog-marched off in chains, that they can win enough seats to retake the House and payback the Repubs for dissing Mr. Bill. Yeah the 23% of the country that is bats**t crazy too will overwhelm the rest of us and they can get W in the stocks on the White House lawn to be ridiculed by the populace. Somehow I doubt this, but dang it will be fun to watch them frap in tryin'.
Thank you Matt for giving me the opportunity to post about my state.
My name is Karen and I live in Gulfport Mississippi. On August 29, Hurricane Katrina slammed into my city as well as Biloxi, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Bay St Louis, Waveland, and other coastal cities. The destruction is indescribable and brutal. Preliminary estimates show that over 65,000 homes in Mississippi were destroyed and a further 38,000 will more than likely need to be demolished. From my circle of friends and acquaintances, 30 have had their homes destroyed outright . A further 10 had so much water damage their homes are unlivable.
There are Mississippians in Gulfport, D'Iberville, St Martin, Biloxi, Pass Christian, Bay St. Louis, and Waveland that are sleeping in tents while waiting on a FEMA trailer. Small communities in Mississippi such as Waveland, Lakeshore, and St Martin no longer exist.
The national news media has relegated my state to a footnote when Hurricane Katrina is discussed. Even The Weather Channel now fails to mention Mississippi when discussing Hurricane Katrina. The American people have not forgotten us and for that I am grateful. There are so many volunteers that are helping us rebuild our lives.
Over 300,000 Mississippi lives were affected one way or another. Many lost their homes and their jobs. Both Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi and the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport suffered over 30% damage. Keesler Medical Center was damaged to the extent that it's going to take until around July 2007 before it can resume training nurses and doctors. It is currently setup on an outpatient basis. That affects the large number of retirees in the Mississippi Gulf Coast area. The Northrop-Grumman shipbuilding facilities in Pascagoula suffered major damage. The Port of Gulfport has lost it's warehouses and cannot handle the shipments of clothing and food it once did. The seafood industry is in shambles.
A couple of weeks ago my local newspaper published an editorial and urged it to be passed along. It's a plea to the news media not to make our plight a footnote. Below is an excerpt of Mississippi's Invisible Coast.
As Aug. 29 recedes into the conscious time of many Americans, the great storm that devastated 70 miles of Mississippi's Coast, destroying the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands, fades into a black hole of media obscurity.
Never mind that, if taken alone, the destruction in Mississippi would represent the single greatest natural disaster in 229 years of American history. The telling of Katrina by national media has created the illusion of the hurricane's impact on our Coast as something of a footnote.
The awful tragedy that befell New Orleans as a consequence of levee failures at the time of Katrina, likewise, taken by itself, also represents a monumental natural disaster. But, of course, the devastation there, and here, were not separate events, but one, wrought by the Aug. 29 storm.
There is no question that the New Orleans story, like ours, is a compelling, ongoing saga as its brave people seek to reclaim those parts of the city lost to the floods.
But it becomes more and more obvious that to national media, New Orleans is THE story - to the extent that if the Mississippi Coast is mentioned at all it is often in an add-on paragraph that mentions "and the Gulf Coast" or "and Mississippi and Alabama."
Please read the whole editorial. We in Mississippi are not a footnote.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.