2006 was not all I had hoped for, but all of my family is happy and well and that is how I score things. My extended family, all y'all and all those who play the game, didn't have that good a year. We took some hits and some good folks are hurting. Remember the Angels and anyone else helping out. We can't dwell on the costs or we would never honor those who knew them and paid them. Much love to any and all who felt the sting during 2006. But we all know they require that we soldier on, and that means we laugh instead of crying, or at least after.
So in honor of that I introduce the newest X-treme sport, Whale Bellyin', oh yeah baby! All you need is mid-sized waves, a whale-belly, a little rum from the islands and no concept of gravity. We held the first ever Montego Bay Invitational and shockingly I dominated. The tale of that and other adventures to follow but here is a taste of the master at work.
Well, the New Year fast approaches. Jenny and I have a busy day ahead. Rather, I do and Jenny is intent on supervising as I clean, start cooking, and do all manner of things. Yet, we still want to take the time to wish all our friends here a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year; and, to wish quick and appropriate solutions to the enemies of freedom everywhere.
If you want a good laugh to day, Chris Muir does it again with this revealing look at our uneducated and mistaken troops...
If you want to do something good for all who serve, and particularly for those injured, go make a donation to Soldier's Angels. I think a good resolution for the new year might be to send a small amount each month, don't you?
So, let's be careful out there as we move forward into the new year.
J. R. Salzman, who writes at Lumberjack in a Desert has been injured by an IED. His right arm has been amputated below the elbow, his left arm and hand are injured, but he notes that he is "in high spirits" (his sense of humor is still there) and that he "will be ok." Get on over there, let him know that he is in a lot of thoughts and prayers. He has, as he notes, a long haul ahead of him. Hat tip goes to Tammi on this one.
Thanks!, again, to all the bloggers and readers who contributed to our Project Valour-It competition this year.
Update from Blackfive 2:MaryAnn of Soldiers' Angels Germany actually visited him in Germany last week. He was recovering from surgery and still out it, but she left a goodie bag and phone card for him.
Update from Laughing Wolf 3: I've just heard from his mother and have asked her permission to share her reports with you. For now, what I will share is that he has had what they hope will be the last surgery on his lost arm, and that despite pain and all, he remains in high spirits. Thanks are sent to everyone who has offered thoughts, prayers, and good wishes. As for me, while the competition may be over, go hit the buttons to donate to Soldiers Angels, and hit it again for Project Valour-It.
Update from Blackfive 01-01-07: Talked to JR and his wife on New Year's Eve to wish him a successful 2007. More here.
When you decide to go to war, make sure you go ball’s deep. In my segment on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday, I focused on the frustrations that I hear from milblogs to MSM reports to reports from my own sources that the ROEs have devolved to the point of absurdity and our forces are more fearful of UCMJ violations than they are of enemy insurgents. This devolution of the ROEs in Iraq originated from an institutional CYA instinct by the DOD and senior commanders resulting from sensationalist media coverage of such events as Abu Ghraib, CIA "secret prisons", and various manufactured Gitmo abuse claims.
The Ethiopian Army has imposed no such constraints on itself and is doing to islamist forces in Somalia in days what the UN, and the US weren’t able to achieve in years. Reports from the front indicate that the Islamic Courts who had been administering sharia law in Mogadishu have surrendered and fled the city in advance of the Ethiopian assault. Obviously, the Ethiopian Army’s combat power, training, and capabilities are a mere fraction of ours and yet they are decisively defeating a fanatical and entrenched enemy in an urban environment. Why?
Off the top of my head, I would say that Ethiopia is not afflicted with a pernicious and defeatist media machine that is capable of manipulating public opinion, and even if it was, it doesn’t look like the Ethiopian president would give a damn in any case. The word that comes to mind is resolve. When a leader resolves to send men into battle, he is obligated to withstand the criticism of the media so that the troops who are withstanding hostile fire from the enemy are able to decisively defeat that enemy. This is the area where the President, Rumsfeld, and the Generals have been found wanting. Wars cannot be won with restrictive ROEs that allow the enemy to use our self imposed limitations against us. If the situation dictates that ROEs of this type must be employed, then it has not yet reached a point where combat troops are warranted.
This vicious cycle, in my opinion, is a primary reason for our difficulties in Iraq and the reversal of these policies, meant to protect military commanders and administration officials from criticism, would end up being the best "way forward" strategy that we could employ.
...Some foreign officers surmised that the false sense of isolation felt by many Americans propels our civilian government to precipitous behavior bathed and bleached by bright stage-lights. Under pressure from a packed house all too willing to suspend disbelief, our civilian leaders pretend they have a crystal ball and magic wand, knowing that if they do not, we’ll vote for a better set of actors who can persuade us they do...
I love his take on soldiers' morale at the end of the post.
Be sure to support the next dispatch. Mike needs our support to continue blogging from Iraq.
Timothy Bramhall - 911 Hero & Soldier in Iraq - Someone You Should Know
Posted By Blackfive
Photo by SPC Ryan Stroud
Pfc. Timothy Bramhall, 5-73 Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, pulls guard during a mission in Balad Ruiz, Iraq. On September 11, 2001, Pfc. Timothy Bramhall was on his way to process out of the US Army Reserve in NYC when a plane struck the first World Trade Center tower:
By Spc. Ryan Stroud 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
BALAD RUIZ, Iraq (Dec. 19, 2006) – On the morning of September 11, 2001, Pfc. Timothy Bramhall made his way to downtown New York City to officially end his military career. After proudly serving in the Army Reserves, the Bronx native felt he was at a crossroads in life and needed guidance on what to do with his bright future. Bramhall decided it was time for him to exit the military and start anew.
Little did he know, the guidance on what to do with his life, the guidance he was searching for, was about to hit him like a ton of bricks.
Bramhall stepped off the train at Madison Square Garden station to find the world he knew, the world he grew up in, now searching for his help and his guidance.
On September 11, 2001, a day that will never leave Bramhall’s heart, terrorists attacked both towers of the World Trade Center, causing them to fall and end the life of many innocent people.
“I was getting ready to get out of the Army,” said Bramhall. “On 9-11, I went downtown to be out-processed, but found myself at the World Trade Center doing search and rescue.”
“I just walked out of the Madison Square Garden Train Station, and these Secret Service agents grabbed me and asked if I would help pull security since I was in uniform,” he said. “I didn’t think, I just did what I was asked to do.”
Bramhall, fighting through the chaos from the citizens of NYC, followed his orders and made his way to the Towers to help secure the area. As he was pulling security, Bramhall was asked to help with one of the biggest missions of his life – go into the Towers to help people exit them before they fell.
“While I was pulling security, I was pulled into a mission to start clearing one of the Towers,” he said. “Once again, I followed my orders.”
Though he admits he was scared of what might happen to him, Bramhall bravely entered the second Tower, completely fulfilling one of the U.S. Army’s core values, personal courage. Bramhall put the lives of the people stuck in the Towers over his own. He was driven and knew he had to help.
“At first I was really scared,” Bramhall admitted. “At the time I went into the Towers, people were jumping out of them. I saw one person jump and hit a fire fighter and kill him. After that, I wanted to turn and run.”
“I thought to myself, ‘I’m too young to die,’” he continued. “But then it hit me.
"These people are scared and what would they think if they saw a guy in uniform run from a situation like this? So I regained my composure and went right back to the mission, not really knowing what would happen next.”
Bramhall’s fear hit a new level as soon as he heard the alarm signaling the Tower was about to fall.
“I was inside the building helping everyway I could when I heard the alarm signaling the Tower was falling,” he said. “All I remember after that was running out the building and down this ally. I ducked down and cradled myself to protect myself from falling debris. I felt this huge rushing wind that seemed to pull everything by me.”
After the second tower fell, Bramhall linked up with another Soldier and two Marines, and went to work searching for people in the wreckage.
“Unfortunately, we mostly were pulling out bodies, but kept up the hope that we would find survivors,” said Bramhall...
After a week of searching, Bramhall hit the jackpot...more after the Jump.
Kid Rock serves lunch to U.S. troops on Christmas day in the international zone in Baghdad, Iraq. Rock said, he wanted to spend Christmas with the troops to lift moral and give back to Soldiers as well as set an example for his son. Photographer (both photos): Pfc. Marcus Gable - 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.
Kid Rock meets with Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah, Iraq, on Christmas Day. During Rock’s two day visit, he met with hundreds of troops at six different forward operating bases in Iraq.
By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – It was in Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life” that the saying, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets their wings” was popularized.
During this holiday season, the saying could be, “Every time someone sends a letter to a FOB Falcon Soldier, an angel gets their wings.”
In this case, the “angels” are fellow Americans from the Soldiers’ Angels Organization.
Soldiers with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion’s Supply Support Activity are corresponding with people from all over the United States through letters and e-mails.
“I just wanted someone to write to me,” said Pfc. Marisela Tapia, an automated logistical supply specialist assigned to Company A from Anaheim, Calif. “I went to the internet café and read the story [on the website]. That’s when I decided to sign up, and one week later, I received a letter.”
It was her supervisor, Staff Sgt. Amador Aguillen, an automated logistical supply specialist, who brought most of his team on board with the program.
“It’s really quick, and it’s really good for the Soldiers,” said the San Antonio native. “It’s good that they are supporting what we do here.”...
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.