I spent today sitting through PowerPoint hell, and enduring a near-endless SERE briefing. Not the full training, this is required for everybody -- military, contractors, DOD civilians, "other" agencies deploying people to the zone -- who are heading to Iraq, as I am on my new contract. Hundreds of people a week, servicemen and civilians, see this briefing.
There's some good stuff in it. I wish every American would see the section on the media, and what to do if a family member is taken hostage. Here's the short version: you are not helping them by getting in the press. Terrorists thrive on press. It is their main strategic weapon. By helping to feed the press cycle on their hostage (your husband/boyfriend/father), you are helping them achieve their ends. Although of course your reasons for going on the news are well-intentioned, you are helping their enemies and hurting the chances of them being released. They're suddenly more valuable to the hostage takers.
With that said, I think it is past time our leadership revisited the SERE issue. As far as hostage taking goes, the advice given is not physically to resist capture in any way; there is also some caution against attempting escape. This advice is backed up by numerous interviews with former hostages who returned successfully.
The problem is, all of these hostage situations were from the pre-9/11 period of terrorism. The game has changed. Almost all the interviews were from the Reagan era; two were from the early 1990s.
Nobody interviewed Nick Berg. You can't -- he's dead. Nobody interviewed the 9/11 hostages. You can't.
I would suggest that our government needs to review the advice it is giving. The Code of Conduct is discussed at length, in a form that reads "I will never surrender" to mean 'Not physically resisting isn't surrendering, but the best form of resistance because it maximizes your chance of release in the long term.' That is an odd reading, one that the makers of these briefings thought was best given the data from ten or twenty years ago. "I will never surrender" was a noble sentiment, but it might get you killed.
In the light of modern experience, "I will never surrender" is not just a noble sentiment. It is the better piece of advice.
OK after some laziness and shiftlessness on the part of one of the hosts of TFFS, we managed to knock one out yesterday. In case we somehow forget to mention it the Green Bay Packers, of which I am part-owner, are 3 & 0 and leading the league. So with an obvious language reminder, but surprisingly just in the title, this week TFFS NFL Week 4
Bush lied about WMDs so we could invade Iraq and steal their oil, that is pretty much gospel here in the Mad City. The problem I always had with it was if we were lying then why didn't we plant some to be found? I realize they think W is a fool, but if you are gonna cheat the system, then plant a few chem or bio weapons and voila. Now we have a leak of a Spanish transcript from W's meeting with Aznar, which has been used to imply that W was hellbent on war no matter what. Well Jose Guardia does a full translation and it actually shows just how hard we were working to avoid war, while maintaining the realistic view that Saddam was not likely to comply. He also notes this important tidbit.
Several areas of interest emerge in this memo, but perhaps the most interesting is this part concerning negotiations being conducted with Saddam. Bush told Aznar:
“The Egyptians are talking with Saddam Hussein. It seems he has hinted he’d be willing to leave if he’s allowed to take 1 billion dollars and all the information on WMDs.”
All the information on WMDs? What would that imply to Bush and to Aznar? And this was coming from Egyptian Intelligence in direct communication with Saddam. Wouldn’t the normal person assume from that that Saddam had WMDs or at the very least was seriously engaged in creating them? Why would he wish to preserve this information if he didn’t have any forbidden weapons programs is something that war critics should reconcile. I guess all the people who are trumpeting this leak will now stop saying that Bush lied and mislead us on the WMD issue. Can’t have it both ways. But I won’t hold my breath.
The billion dollars is interesting but the request to take all information on WMD's is fascinating. If Saddam had no weapons or programs then what was he asking for here? What reason could he have for making this request if he didn't have some naughty stuff either plans or parts? That right there is a stronger piece of evidence saying we had to take him out than anything else I have heard. He had many opportunities to destroy the stockpiles he had in a verifiable fashion and he refused. He was asking if he could take his plans and precursors with him into exile. Any President faced with that information would be duty bound to act on it and irresponsible if he did not.
Well even if the left is unable to believe Saddam had WMDs he believed it. I wonder where all that WMD info he was going to take with is now? Hmmmmm.
Woo Hoo! While Kev and I were gearing up to talk football, the phone rang. It was the best of news, all charges dropped against MSG Anderson and CPT Staffel for the shooting of a known terrorist in Afghanistan. This was swift justice and sent a clear message about the actions they took. Our troops must know they have the support of their command when they make life and death decisions based on the rules of that same command. Enjoy your weekend BBQs gentlemen you earned them. We will follow up on just how charges of murder came up in the shooting of a terrorist.
And then we had a bit of minor street theater as one of my usual suspects anti-war types decided to return his service medals to Donald Rumsfeld at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, and no I don't know why Rummy. Several of the folks who tried to abridge my freedom of speech on Memorial Day make appearances as well. I really need to help these people juice up their events, new chants, a light show, maybe some hip hop dancers something. If you haven't seen the Memorial Day bit I recommend it highly.
UPDATE: All right chill out everyone. I listened to the clip at the link below which has at least 3 minutes or so before he says the phony soldiers bit and there is no context that would lead you to understand his use of the phrase. If there is a longer clip and it does show he meant the Macbeths of the world, then I owe a huge apology. I man up when I'm wrong. So Rush, I am sorry I said you owed an apology. You do not. I am gonna stick with most of the names I called you though except "stunningly stupid" and "foolish and disrespectful" as those referred to this non-incident. Audio at Flopping Aces
First things first, I haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh in 20 years or so. The only time I remember, I was driving cross country and there are patches where he was the only thing on the radidio. I decided then that even though I agreed with most of his positions he was such a pompous, jackass windbag that I couldn't stand to listen to him. Bill O' Reilly affects me the same way, honestly they remind me of the things I like least about myself. The problem with running your mouth full time in public is you will eventually say something stunningly stupid. Rush managed that on his show in a confusing exchange (reproduced below) that boils down to one simple thing, Rush said that troops who favor withdrawal from Iraq are "phony soldiers"
That is a foolish and disrespectful statement and Rush Limbaugh owes an apology. Just because these whelps have the audacity to disagree with the giant clown they are somehow phonier than him? BS, if they get blown up by an IED they die every bit as much as a freaking dittohead troop. What an ass. I know we have plenty of folks who listen to him and I understand why. He is a tremendous advocate and an entertaining smart ass. But the one thing we hold, despite the left's false claims, is the moral high ground. We are the ones who defend to the death everyone's right to say what they want. And the opinion of a loudmouth with no skin in the game sure doesn't change that. That is the worst inversion of the chickenhawk argument I've ever seen. The bloated bloviator sitting on his ass calls serving troops "phony soldiers"? Oh Hell No!
This ought to be an easy call people, Rush needs to apologize pretty deeply. I looked at his website and it wanted me to join RUSH 24/7 to email the buffoon, not likely. If anyone knows contact info comment or ping me and I will post it. And I guess you can call his show, tell him I said to man up.
During the September 26 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh called service members who advocate U.S. withdrawal from Iraq "phony soldiers." He made the comment while discussing with a caller a conversation he had with a previous caller, "Mike from Chicago," who said he "used to be military," and "believe[s] that we should pull out of Iraq." Limbaugh told the second caller, whom he identified as "Mike, this one from Olympia, Washington," that "[t]here's a lot" that people who favor U.S. withdrawal "don't understand" and that when asked why the United States should pull out, their only answer is, " 'Well, we just gotta bring the troops home.' ... 'Save the -- keeps the troops safe' or whatever," adding, "[I]t's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people." "Mike" from Olympia replied, "No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media." Limbaugh interjected, "The phony soldiers." The caller, who had earlier said, "I am a serving American military, in the Army," agreed, replying, "The phony soldiers."
I really do like to call names when I get wound up, here are my shots in just this bit.
pompous, jackass windbag...stunningly stupid...foolish and disrespectful...giant clown...What an ass...a loudmouth with no skin in the game...bloated bloviator sitting on his ass...the buffoon
And that's in just three paragraphs, good thing I'm always right with talent encoded in my DNA, honed by the adventures that are my life. This is Uncle J from EIB (Expert Infantryman's Badge) Studios saying bugger off wankers.
This will be short, but needs to get on out of the way so I can finish preparing to bring you the real stories from this visit. These things need to be laid to rest so we all can move on to what's really important, in terms of both people and events.
...Since there are some profound and troubling issues that remain, let me make an offer. This fat ol' crip is willing to take a leave of absence, or quit my day job if necessary, to take a trip to embed with the troops. As part of that journey, let's you and I go visit the unit in question, and let the people there tell you the problem with the message. Let's visit a few other milbloggers while we are at it, maybe a few other bloggers period, and see if they can help. I'm willing to put it all on the line right now, especially if the money could be raised to cover the process via PMI, and to ensure I still had a lair to which to return. How about it, are you and CJR willing to put your money where your mouth is? I'm willing to put my body and what meager funds I have on the line for this. How about you?...
A few days ago, I issued a challenge to Paul McLeary and CJR, and Paul has accepted that challenge...
He isn't here, and I haven't heard from him in some time. I e-mailed him in the last couple of weeks before I came over, and never heard back. No one over here I've talked to has heard of him or if he is coming to Iraq to cover any story any time soon.
It is true that I am out with the 1/18 and am at the COP where Scott was/is stationed. I haven't seen him, and to be very frank, he has been peripheral to this long before I came over. He was the spark and Paul the catalyst for my coming over here.
Was there a grain of truth around some of Scott's postings? Yes. In talking with various sergeants and others, there were some bones found. Some were apparently cow bones, and what may be/is a gravesite (not mass) was not disturbed once it was found. The people who control/own this area were not aware of any grave here, so the First Sergeant decided just to leave it be in an abundance of caution. There are a number of feral dogs here, and some have been indeed been shot. If an obviously sick dog, foaming at the mouth, is agressive, then it should be shot. So should anything that poses a threat to the troops.
From what I am seeing and otherwise finding out, there are a lot of feral dogs around here and in Iraq in general. It also appears that distemper, rabies, and a number of other diseases are a problem with wild animals including feral dogs, and it is not unusual to see obviously sick animals, and those that have died from various diseases.
Yet, these are largely side issues. There was concern with some that I was coming to do a hatchet job on Scott, but that isn't why I came. I came to report on the reality of day-to-day life here, for Scott has been irrelevant to that story and the larger stories for some time now. As for what happens to him within the Army, what I do know is that he is under a first sergeant who, according to quite a few people, has a reputation for taking problems and making them good.
To be honest, were I to see Scott I would have to thank him, for without what he did, I wouldn't be here. The same is true of Paul, for without his mistaken posting, my challenge to him to come out and report the reality would never have been issued or accepted. Right now, I also have to thank Paul, because by not showing up he has given me some very good exclusives.
Despite some technical glitches, the real stories will be coming out in the days ahead. If I can get some of them fixed in time, there will be photos, video, and audio with them as they post; if not, I will post the photos, video, and audio later. West Rashid is tipping, and the implications are profound.
There is a Captain you should know, because the tip is largely his doing -- and if the Stars have a brain at all, they will be grooming him for higher command. There is a First Sergeant who epitomizes what a good NCO should be, and if I can catch him for the interview you will indeed get to know him. There are a lot of people you should meet, and I hope to introduce you to some of them as well. Not as many as I would like, for my time here is far too short to do even a fraction of them as well as they deserve. There are some bigger picture items that will be headed to PMI for posting, and the small stuff/personal stuff will be over at my place.
Meantime, I'm going to go out and try to get some more interviews done, experience all I can, and try to share some of it with you. There are some very good stories here, and now that this is out of the way, I and the people here can concentrate on bringing them to you.
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.