There will be some adjustments and some reinforcement of exactly how the Rules of Engagement should be employed, but there will be no major changes to our strategy in Afghanistan. Nor should there be if we want to actually win. I have only one question for everyone who thinks we should loosen the ROE, what happens after we start killing more Talibs and civilians? How do we actually get to a place where the Afghan people trust us and can handle their own business? I don't see it and that is why I support the COIN strategy and the ROE to make it successful. That doesn't mean we can't kill plenty of bad guys. We killed or captured 121 Taliban leaders in just the past 90 days. We got many of them because the people have started to trust us and feed us info about who the bad guys are. This also ends up saving more of our troops lives by getting the civilians invested in helping us. The more we get them in the game, the better chance we can get out.
A Missouri VA hospital is under fire because it may have exposed more
than 1,800 veterans to life-threatening diseases such as hepatitis and
John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis has recently
mailed letters to 1,812 veterans telling them they could contract
hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after
visiting the medical center for dental work, said Rep. Russ Carnahan.
Carnahan said Tuesday he is calling for a investigation into the
issue and has sent a letter to President Obama about it.
I've had a fair amount of experience with the VA. They took care of me with a significant heart problem I've been dealing with for the last few years, and for which I was uninsured. The San Francisco VA is, from what I've seen, pretty advanced in terms of cardiac techniques, though it's pretty big and I wouldn't say it's particularly patient friendly.
The much smaller San Bruno VA clinic, however, is just outstanding. The doctors are mostly doing fellowships at Stanford and UCSF medical schools, and both I've had seemed totally competent and reassuring. The phlebotomist who drew my blood got it right in one take -- I have small veins, and an inexperienced Kaiser phlebotomist once took three stabs before he got it right. And the woman who runs the scheduling there, Estelle, is really on top of her game. Once she even called me back to make sure I had the right time for an appointment because it had been rescheduled a couple of times already and she wanted to make absolutely sure. I don't know which experience is more representative, mine or that of the 1800 exposed veterans; but I wanted to make sure credit is given where due.
In this jump, I was not only climbing out of the aircraft, but
pulling myself far enough up on the strut – away from the fuselage right
where the strut connects to the wing – that my feet had to leave the
In other words, I was hanging onto the airplane with
my bare hands while my legs where flying behind me: I know it sounds
almost like a stuntman move (harkening back to the days of barnstorming
and flying circuses), but it was a jump-technique I learned that we
would be required to make – with some nervous amusement – about an hour
Increasing this sensory overload was the fact
that Alley – a former U.S. Army Special Forces operator and current
contract-soldier with at least 5,000 military and sport jumps under his
belt and literally more bullet holes in his body than one might count on
two hands – expected me to now look back into the aircraft where he
would either give me a green light to let go of the strut, or a red
light to try and make my way back into the plane if he saw something
wrong with my rig. [...]
"Royal Laotian Airborne wings are
among the many foreign jump wings earned and worn by U.S. military
Despite being on a first-name basis with my USAF commander (he called me Chris and I called him Colonel), my repeated requests to attend jump school did not succeed. The Air Force for some reason is a bit stingy with their jump school slots and he informed me that there was no benefit having Airborne-qualified firefighters. I disagreed. Perhaps I should have talked to the Laotians. Though make no mistake - as W. Thomas Smith Jr. tells me - there's big difference between paratrooper (one who goes through three weeks of Airborne training and carries a rifle) and parachutist (one who might not).
NOTE: Smith also tells me - in a phone conversation -
that Maj. Gen. Khambang Sibounheuang, a former Laotian Army commando
officer who today serves as pres. of the Royal Laotian Airborne corps,
is now an honorary member of the new U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory
U.S. Army Spc. Newton Carlicci travels on his way back to Command Observation Post Charkh after a patrol to the village of Paspajak in the Charkh district in Afghanistan's Logar province, June 20, 2010. Carlicci is assigned to the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest.
The Long War Journal has sent Bill Ardolino to Afghanistan for a while to report while embedded with the Marines. I had a chance to sit and talk w/ Bill before he left and as always I look forward to his excellent reporting from in theater.
I'm currently embedded with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, in Musa
Qala, Helmand province, Afghanistan. After traveling through JFK,
Frankfurt, Kabul, Camp Leatherneck, and Delaram, I've finally settled
in. Several pieces are in the works, but here are some first impressions
of Musa Qala.
Security is variable, hinging on how far one moves from the District
Center (DC). The DC can be very roughly described as 'downtown,' since
it contains government buildings, the densest press of people and brick
and mud-daub structures, and the district's sole legal bazaar. The
remainder of the district stretches north and south in a kidney-shaped
area of small villages, farms, and individual compounds littered along
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.