2007 was a hard year for me, but one that ended much better than expected, I have very high hopes for 2008 and they are fairly well grounded. Best wishes to all for a year they will be happy to tell their grandkids about. Now in honor of beautiful un-groundedness, Hollywood Ramp Jump Productions says "Free Bird" have a year to remember. z
A very timely and proper reminder of the role SeaBees play in making order out of chaos. Seems like a useful skill in the near future eh?
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, the accused leader in the 2005 killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, will face voluntary manslaughter charges but not more serious murder charges, the U.S. Marines said on Monday. (h/t AP)
The initial reactions to this will likely be outrage that he is a fall guy. I disagree and I think that the charges may be the proper answer. I am not speaking from a legal perspective, I am talking about what would be best for justice and the Marine Corps. My most comprehensive look at this incident is here.
The charges against all the junior enlisted men involved in the incident have all been dropped and rightfully so. They were shown to be lawfully following the orders of their squad leader SSGT Wuterich. The question now is did SSGT Wuterich lawfully make those orders and were his actions appropriate. Two of the most questionable killings happened when he opened fire and another Marine close to him joined in assuming, as they are trained, that his opening fire designated a valid target.
There were several junctures where the senior man had an obligation to evaluate the situation and determine what actual threats they faced. There is no evidence that they took any fire at all after they entered the first building. The charges reflect the possibility that SSGT Wuterich was either temporarily or inherently incapable of making good decisions under the incredible stress of combat, remember this was his first live action. If his actions and decisions were within the regulations covering this it was just barely, D- level.
I don't know SSGT Wuterich and I bear him no ill will; actually I hope he is acquitted of the charges and think he will be. But the Marines are right to hold the combat leader to a higher level than those acting based on his judgments. The main questions to be asked in the trial all revolve around what SSGT Wuterich perceived the threat in each instance to be. There doesn't actually have to be a threat if he honestly and reasonably believes there is one. I think that is why he will be acquitted by a jury of his peers, because every one of those Marines wants the benefit of the doubt in that situation. If he is convicted it will be because those Marines believe he is lying, if they believe he saw threats he will walk.
You can contrast this with my thoughts when MSG Anderson was tried for Murder for a shooting in Afghanistan and that is fair. First of all I know MSG Anderson personally and he qualifies as a good MoFo, which many of you understand is the highest praise. All the facts in this case pointed to a 100% righteous shoot and there was little question what had happened and why. I heard the story direct from MSG Anderson and his version tracked perfectly with all the facts I had learned independently. There have been many and important questions about what happened and why in Haditha. The evidence and testimony thus far has rightfully exonerated the junior enlisted folks. A Squad Leader is held to a higher standard and we will now see if SSGT Wuterich's peers believe he committed any crimes.
Both MSG Anderson's case and this one illustrate what a fine line our combat troops are forced to walk. I hope the result in both cases reinforces the idea that anyone operating in good faith and eliminating perceived threats deserves deference since they and their troops were the ones who would be dead if they didn't shoot when they should have.I have also just learned that LTG Kearney who brought charges against both MSG Anderson and a Marine Spec Ops Company is being investigated regarding that.
On December 27th, SPC Rick Rzepka of the 1st BCT, 101st ABN DIV (AA) witnessed some payback and took the photos:
COB SPEICHER, Iraq – U.S. Forces in Northern Iraq destroyed a storage facility containing explosives used in the making of vehicle-borne bombs, and a weapons cache in the open desert near Bayji this morning.
They said intelligence sources informed them of this target, which had been under suspicion for the last few days.
“We have the capabilities to strike anywhere at anytime,” said Lt. Col. Peter Wilhelm, commander of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment. “This week’s VBIED attack in Bayji destroyed more than a hundred innocent civilian lives. It is a top priority to disable the enemy’s bomb-making capabilities in this area, so we can deter these kinds of vicious attacks like this from ever happening again.”
The GMLRS from Detachment 1, Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery Regiment from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, were in support of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) operations, who maintain the peace in the restive city.
UPDATE: I was wrong about The Donovan authoring the new FM 3.0 Doctrine for Dummies. It was written by as yet unidentified funny guys at the School for Advanced Military Studies. If anyone can locate them I would love to credit them. It brilliantly illuminated the challenges of modern combat, but I was challenged by it's "War and Peace" length at 5 pages and it's complete lack of any pictures or video. So I trimmed it a bit and added the needed media. I humbly ask the author's indulgence.
The full transcript outlining my proposed revision of FM 3.0 for video format is after the jump.
This ought to make your blood boil. And this Marine should receive a commendation for not kicking the living crap out of the guy...seriously.
Marine Sgt Mike McNulty is on activation orders to Iraq (second tour). On December 1st, 2007, Mike went to visit a friend in Chicago before deploying to say goodbye. In order to get to his friend's residence, and keep in mind that Chicago is a myriad of diagonal and one-way streets, the front entrance (right way) to the one-way street was blocked. Mike, being a Marine, overcame and adapted by driving around the block to the other end of the street and backing up all the way to his friend's place.
While saying goodbye, at about 11am, he noticed a man leaning up against his car. Mike left his friend's apartment and caught the man keying his car on multiple sides.
After caught in the process, the man told Mike, "you think you can do whatever you want with Department of Defense license plates and tags". (In Illinois you can purchase veteran, Marine, or medal plates. Mike has Illinois Marine Corps license plates.) During the exchange, he made additional anti-military comments.
Mike called the Chicago police and had the man arrested. A citation against the man was issued for misdemeanor criminal damage to private property.
The police report (and I have copies if needed) states:
Victim related to P/O that as he walked back to his vehicle, he observed the offender leaning up against his vehicle and rubbed/dragged his left arm and hand across the passenger side. As offender walked away from victim's vehicle, victim observed a scratch along the rear trunk and passenger's door area where offender dragged his arm and hand over. Victim and witness stopped offender and confronted him. Victim has military plates and decals on his vehicle and offender made anti war and military comments to victim. Upon P/O's arrival to scene, offender denied scratch victim's vehicle, but did admit to rubbing past it. Victim at this time did not sign complaint, because he is leaving tour for military duty. Offender said they accused him of scratching the car because he is Jewish. Offender's statements/responses to P/O's questions unreasonable.
As it turns out, the man is Chicago lawyer Jay R. Grodner, who owns a law firm in the city and has offices in the suburbs.
After sending the car to the body shop, it was determined there is $2400 in damage, making this a felony. Mike went to court Friday morning to collect the damages against Mr. Grodner and file felony charges. Though the damages are over $300 (the amount which determines felony or misdemeanor) Grodner offered Mike to pay his deductible, $100, and have Mike's insurance pay for it.
The Illinois States Attorneys tried to coerce Mike into accepting the offer. Appalled, Mike said he wanted this to be a felony. The state told Mike that it was not worth pursuing felony damage against Grodner because they don't have the time. In addition, the state prosecutors told him that he would never it 'would be difficult to recover the damages' from Grodner because he is a lawyer.
Instead, the State asked Mike if he would accept probation for Grodner. Mike accepted, probation was offered to Grodner, and Grodner declined the offer, saying within ear shot of Mike, "I'm not going to make it easy on this kid". Mike's next court date is tomorrow, Monday, December 31st, to pursue misdemeanor charges against Grodner.
Mike's leave is over on January 2nd when he reports to Camp Pendleton before heading to Iraq.
Jay Grodner knows this and is going to file for a continuance until Mike is gone and cannot appear in court.
By account of the Illinois State's Attorneys, Grodner is likely to get away with defacing Mike's car with no penalty because, 1) Mike is about to deploy to Iraq and will not be available to appear in court, and 2) Grodner is a lawyer and can get out of this very easily.
So, does anyone have any ideas about how to proceed? All peaceful and rational ideas are welcomed. We are contacting the media about this, too.
Please pass this story on to anyone you know that might be able to help.
Update 12-31-07 1000 CST: The hearing is today. After about four hundred emails offering help, I've taken down the email address for now. If I haven't sent you a reply, I apologize and hopefully will send one soon.
I will post updates as they occur. There are several options and we'll see what happens in court first before Mike decides on the next move.
And, BTW, a sincere thanks to all the Chicago Police Officers for their advice and offers.
Let me be clear. I do not want anyone to harass the lawyer, threaten him, damage his property or propose any other illegal suggestion. We can win this one clean and fair - one way or another...
Update 12-31-07 2000 CST: A Blackfive reader sends this update about the hearing today...
Attn: Black Five
I am writing to produce an update of the results of Sgt McNulty's case against Jay R Grodner. I was present in support of Mike and thought you may be interested in an update for this story.
Sgt McNulty was called forward by the State's Attorney in order to discuss the case. I am not sure what transpired behind the closed doors, however, I overheard the State's Attorney expressing her intent to prosecute this guy to the fullest extent. It seems as if BlackFive is the sole catalyst to this story getting out and I am sure Sgt McNulty has probably heard the effect of yours and other blogs from the results of today's proceedings to include several Marines and civilians who showed up in his support.
Jay R Grodner was called before court and in his absence, the Judge issued a warrant for his arrest effective immediately. Sgt McNulty was departing the court when Grodner rolled in to the courtroom more pathetic than anyone I had ever seen. The Judge had questioned him on his tardiness and he explained that traffic had been busy and he 'made a wrong turn'. The Judge chastised him for his tardiness, pathetic excuses, and that he was lucky the warrant had not been executed prior to his arrival.
It seems the blogosphere has put the ball in Sgt McNulty's court. Furthermore, it is also apparent that the State's Attorney's Office has decided to take this matter on a much more serious level. A new and very aggressive State's Attorney seems to have a genuine interest in pursuing this case to the extent that it warrants.
A lot of good people deserve our thanks today. Thousands responded with emails and phone calls and some even went to support Mike at the hearing. Thank you. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Blackfive and military blogs have the best readers on the planet - we really are a true community.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to ring in the New Year. Twelve years ago, Mrs. Blackfive (before the "Mrs.") and I had our first date, and our first kiss was at midnight. We have a tradition to maintain.
PB Murray, Iraq - The crowd was small and quietly intense, but the low voices were necessary as people were sleeping nearby. The mix of night-shift and die-hard fans made for a good crowd in the TAC to watch as the New England Patriots ended the regular season undefeated. Business occasionally interrupted, but the game was closely followed by those who rose before 0500 to watch. Congratulations Patriots, and thanks to New York for making it a great game.
...Whacking bad people is dangerous. It’s also hard. It’s easier and safer to whack the bad people if you do it from the air or the ocean. That’s because the bad people can’t afford the super weapons that do stuff from there. That’s why we have to be nice to the Navy and Air Force; so they will whack bad people with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, sometimes the Navy and Air Force get too enthusiastic at whacking people and they hurt Army Soldiers and other not so bad people that ended up in the wrong place. That’s why we have to spend a lot of effort telling them where we are and what we need them to do. We also try to stay out of their way when they are too busy whacking cities and countries and stuff. We also have to do a lot of explaining to civilian bureaucrats about what they need to do to clean up after the bad people get whacked. This is called “unified action” but it’s really like going over to the neighbors to apologize for breaking their window...
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:
As 2007 draws to a close, you should look back with
pride on what you, your fellow troopers, our Iraqi partners, and Iraqi
Coalition civilians have achieved in 2007. A year ago, Iraq was racked
by horrific violence and on the brink of civil war. Now, levels of
violence and civilians and military casualties are significantly
reduced and hope has been rekindled in many Iraqi communities. To be
sure, the progress is reversible and there is much more to be done.
Nonetheless, the hard-fought accomplishments of 2007 have been
substantial, and I want to thank each of you for the contributions you
made to them.
In response to the challenges that faced
Iraq a year ago, we and our Iraqi partners adopted a new approach. We
increased our focus on securing the Iraqi people and, in some cases,
delayed transition of tasks to Iraqi forces. Additional U.S. and
Georgian forces were deployed to theater, the tours of U.S. unites were
extended, and Iraqi forces conducted a surge of their own, generating
well over 100,000 more Iraqi police and soldiers during the year so
that they, too, had additional forces to execute the new approach. In
places like Ramadi, Baqubah, Arab Jabour, and Baghdad, you and our
Iraqi brothers fought—often house by house, block by block, and
neighborhood by neighborhood—to wrest sanctuaries away from Al
Qaeda-Iraq, to disrupt extremist militia elements, and to rid the
streets of mafia-like criminals. Having cleared areas, you worked with
Iraqis to retain them—establishing outposts in the areas we were
securing, developing Iraqi Security Forces, and empowering locals to
help our efforts. This approach has not been easy. It has required
steadfastness in the conduct of tough offensive operations, creative
solutions to the myriad problems on the ground, and persistence over
the course of many months and during countless trying situations.
Through it all, you have proven equal to every task, continually
demonstrating an impressive ability to conduct combat and stability operations in an exceedingly complex environment.
The focus is to bring awareness for the Veteran who has come home. He or she has done their part, but the same system that is in place to help them is failing them. There is no hiding the statistics or facts about it. It truly is, what it is. This documentary will make you the viewer aware of these personal struggles and experiences. These men and women have endured one battlefield and there is no need to make them traverse another one here at home.
There are a lot of good people doing good work at the VA and military hospitals around the world. However, more needs to be done in order to ensure that our vets get the treatment and respect that they deserve. My friend, Matt, will be trying to set things right.
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.