ADV: Travels to Al Qa’im and Beyond
I am pleased (and somewhat relieved) to announce that the second volume in the A Different View series is now out in trade paperback and on Kindle. This new volume showcases day-to-day life of Marines at Al Qa'im on the Syrian border while I was with them on the last part of my first embed. It then transitions to Germany and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where I introduce readers to a very special ceremony for arriving wounded. I'm honored that MaryAnn Phillips of Soldiers' Angels Germany and Michael Z. Williamson agreed to write the foreword and introduction, respectively.
Here's a taste of what people who have seen it have to say:
“A Different View is a personal and vivid narrative of the author’s experience in a combat zone, showing not combat but the mundanity, humor, and boredom that make up ninety-nine percent of life ‘inside the wire.’ The author’s photos and narrative illustrate how service members cope and adapt to the surreal conditions, and how injury and death are still close by. This is a valuable book, and anyone who cares about America’s troops and the fight in the Middle East will find it worthwhile.”
Larry Bond, bestselling author of Shattered Trident
Carry The Load: Ruck March/Relay
Last week, I saw a post on Facebook that caught my attention. It was about a relay coming through the Atlanta area for an organization called Carry The Load. The word was going out for people to sign up and join in to help the charity, remind people of the meaning of Memorial Day, and get in some exercise. Well, that was my take on in when the president of Ranger Coffee (a former ranger) challenged everyone on a particular leg to bring a ruck and make it a ruck march. Liking the concept and needing some exercise, I agreed.
Was There Any Doubt About The Outcome?
Well, it appears that TRADOC is now well into the process of attempting to destroy the greatest armed force that the world has ever known.
Training and Doctrine Command has launched “two major efforts in support of this full integration of women soldiers.” TRADOC has started a scientific review working with U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine and Army Research Institute to assist in the development of gender-neutral physical standards for all Areas of Concentration for commissioned officers and military occupational specialties for enlisted soldiers.
In addition, the “TRADOC Analysis Center is examining the institutional and cultural barriers related to integrating women soldiers into previously all-male specialties and units in order to develop strategies to overcome these barriers,”
I am curious how the armed forces, particularly the US Army (and by extension the US Marines) are going to "gender norm" the physical standards.
My argument is, the standards are already gender neutral...
In Memory Bright, Black Knights
Quoting a friend, who was their LT:
Remembering Alex Varella, Travis Haslip, David Behrle, Joeseph Gilmore, Jean Paul Medlin, Christopher Moore, and "Caesar II" today.
KIA Ameriyah, Baghdad, Iraq
19 MAY 2007
1 PLT/A CO/1-5 CAV/1 CD
Six years ago today.
Long-time readers may well remember these fine men, and Lt. Hickey. For those that don't go learn more about them, and previous things that showed their character, at this post that was part of Operation Puppy Love.
Please join me in remembering and honoring them today.
Army South Best Warrior Competition
Bonus: Day two photos below the fold too.
U.S. Army South is holding it's Best Warrior Competition, hosted this year at Camp Bullis, Texas. U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH) has responsibility for 31 countries (and 15 areas of special sovreignity) covering the Carribean, Central, and South America. The Warrior Games(corrected) Best Warrior Competition is an Army-wide competition that tests basic skills and knowledge through simulations and drills, demonstrations of basic skills, board reviews, essays, and other activities relevant to modern operations. Here are some photos from day one of the competition, which wraps up tomorrow.
Photo Essay: Going for the Gold at the Warrior Games
Army Spc. Elizabeth Wasil wins gold in the 1500-meter wheelchair race during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 14, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans will compete in the games, which run through May 16. The military service with the most medals will win the Chairman's Cup. DOD photo by EJ Hersom
The Marine Corps sitting volleyball team celebrates a point and went on to defeat Army, earning the number one seed during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 13, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans will compete in the games, which run through May 16. The military service with the most medals will win the Chairman's Cup. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jimmy D. Shea
Marine Corps Cpl. Kyle Reid wins the men's 200-meters open race during the 2013 Warrior Games track and field competition in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 14, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans will compete in the games, which run through May 16. The military service with the most medals will win the Chairman's Cup. DOD photo by EJ Hersom
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jim Castaneda throws the shot put during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 14, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans will compete in the games. The military service with the most medals will win the Commander's Cup. DOD photo by EJ Hersom
Book Review: John Sanford's Silken Prey
The following book review and exclusive interview with John Sanford is provided as a special by Elise Cooper for BlackFive readers. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right sidebar.
John Sandford’s latest book, Silken Prey, is a fascinating insight into the world of politics. He has the ability to blend strong characterizations with a very powerful plot. His dialogue is very realistic and often times funny. For anyone who is disgusted with politics as usual this is a must read book.
The story begins when Lucas Davenport, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent (BAC) is asked by the state’s Governor to investigate a campaign scandal. Senator Porter Smalls is running for re-election and is accused of having child pornography on his office computer. The trail leads to the disappearance of a political fixer, the involvement of the Minneapolis police department, and more troublingly, to the dirty tricks of his opponent, Taryn Grant. She has hired as bodyguards two trained killers who will protect her at any cost. This book is not a “who done it,” but more in the tradition of Colombo, a “how they done it.”
Sandford told blackfive.net that he wrote it because, “In a nut shell I was fed up with both sides, Republican and Democrat. The problem with politicians is that they are stuck with an ideology and can’t get around it, which explains why nothing ever gets done. They can’t seem to compromise for the better good. There is no longer any grey, only black and white. There is a take no prisoner attitude surrounding politics, that it is no longer congenial, with the fighting both political and personal. They have no respect for each other on the other side of the aisle. People are spending a large amount of money and there are no limitations on what they will do to get elected, so I just pushed that to its natural conclusion.”
He wrote the book to entertain but also to get his readers to think about politicians, how they have blind spots and are out of touch with the average working person as they live in their own Washington DC world. This message is emphasized with his powerful character development.
Taryn Grant could give Machiavelli lessons with her ideas about the way the world should work through her use of money, ruthlessness, and desire. Grant has a narcissistic personality with an oversized ego, extravagant plans for her political future, and someone who wants one day to be the first woman elected President. She is a new type of politician: smart, attractive, ambitious, and very wealthy. Sandford is hoping that readers will find “Taryn likeable. I gave her qualities you would want in a politician: tough, independent, and smart; but she is also a killer. I tried to balance readers going from admiring to hating her.”
Her opponent, Senator Porter Smalls is an old-school politician who has a clear agenda. He is more of a supporting character with the main characters being the hero, Lucas Davenport and the antagonist, Grant. Davenport is a cool headed investigative officer that is intelligent, sexy, a family man, someone who takes things to its limits and can connect the dots.
Sandford commented that he is pondering Davenport’s future since he is very dependent on the good graces of Minnesota Governor Elmer Henderson. “I thought about what Davenport might do after he leaves the BAC. Maybe the current Governor will become Vice-President and the new Governor makes Lucas feel uncomfortable so he leaves his position. Thanks to the Vice-President he becomes a free lance US Marshall and is able to just take cases of his choice. He tracks down unsolved cases and can travel anywhere in the world.”
Another character in the book who makes a cameo appearance is Virgil Flowers. Sandford intentionally puts him in the story to remind people of the Flowers series, with a new book due out in the fall. Blackfive.net was given a heads up about the plot. It will be a comedic satire surrounding a Minnesota minister who steals a stone while on an archeological dig in Israel. A number of groups are trying to buy it from the Turkish Government to Hezbollah as Israel attempts to get it back. Lucas Davenport will also have a small role in this next book.
Since Silken Prey is his 23rd thriller featuring Lucas Davenport, how does he continually come up with such fascinating plots? Sandford responded, “Pay attention to the news. For example, the three girls kidnapped in Cleveland allows for a great crime scenario. I enjoy playing off of a story by taking an idea from the news and using it as an inspiration for a plot. Of course, it should not to be too specific so that it interferes with real peoples lives. You don’t want them to think you are writing an entertainment book out of their misery. You put a riff on it which allows for the feeling of the plot being real without really being real.”
Silken Prey is one of those plots that appear realistic. It is a very suspenseful book that combines murder and politicians. A riveting story that anyone, regardless of party affiliation, will want to read if they are disgusted with todays politics and want a thriller with many twists and turns.
Captain Wales' Walk
RE: Prince Harry Will Not Go To Iraq (2007)
RE: Good On Ya Harry (2008)
RE: Prince Harry: Playboy or Soldier? (2009)
RE: The Prince and the Marine (2010)
RE: Captain Henry Charles Albert David Wales Reporting for Duty (2012)
Captain Wales recently took a walk in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery. A friend of mine posted the note below on Facebook, and I asked if I could share it with all of you. If you read another post today, read the one above about Harry and Todd Nicely ("The Prince and the Marine").
From Maas, second generation paratrooper:
I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. They call him the Warrior Prince
After seeing the day at Arlington my gf asked why do you guys like him so much.
That’s an easy answer but it’s difficult to explain. I told her there were thousands of 28 year old pilots in US military doing the deed everyday through out our history. And not one of them laid a wreath at Arlington. That’s a high honor for a very young CPT.
There is a historical bond in the military between the British and us. We based our ranks, organization off them. We also sent soldiers to fight with them more than once.
If there was any guy in the world who could pick another job, it’s him.
He didn’t become a community activist, he didn't order the Naval Special Operations team to kill OBL, and he didn’t marry a woman who for the first time felt pride in our country was only when her husband got elected. He grew up being proud of his country. Just like every military family.
He served one tour on the ground and another as a pilot. And from a buddy flying MEDEVAC with the Brits covering, I was told that he was deadly serious about his job.
And while this may make a few of my family cringe...He rated everyday naked in Vegas.
There is a picture of him walking among the graves. Politician’s lay wreaths and family members visit the one grave . Only Warriors do that walk. That’s why we like him.
He’s one of us. And if in 5 years he’s still alive and naked in Vegas we’ll only love him more.
Carry The Load Relay
Tonight, the Carry the Load relay will be in the Atlanta/Marietta area. Anyone care to grab a ruck and join me for Leg 193 up into Smyrna proper? This is a chance to show support, get some exercise, and maybe help raise some money and awareness for a charity.
The Price of Answers....
The furnace surrounding Benghazi needs to be hotter on the players involved here, and we are seeing this becoming an indictment of not only the Administration and its leaders, but an indictment of the Media as well (as Crush has pointed out). I have been watching the hearings and the press regarding Benghazi and I have no doubt that a scandal of this magnitude would have ended the Bush Presidency (hell, it would have ended the Coolidge presidency). Benghazi taking place in 2006 for instance; would have seen the Lamestream Media running nothing but breathless reports and "breaking news" and endless coverage of the hearings about how the evil Bushitler left brave Americans to die and that Vice President Dick Cheney personally approved the "stand down" order and 6 weeks prior to that he had personally signed the supply requisition that provided the matches and mortar rounds to the terrorists so they could kill those men.
That tripe, thankfully, to those of us who have a brain, is old and busted. New and Hot is "What Difference Does It Make?"
I could go into chapter and verse about what difference it makes Madame Secretary, but my guess is that you know exactly what difference it makes and you were counting on all of this to go away as you lied to the faces of the families of these men about what happened there. Jonah Goldberg does a great job with Shrill Hill here, and Bing West at NRO has this to say as well, but that ain't what I want to talk about. I want answers about this:
Later, Hicks testified, he asked military commanders to send a Special Forces attachment led by one Lieutenant Colonel Gibson back to Benghazi, but was denied by the brass at U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM):
"People in Benghazi had been fighting all night. They were tired. They were exhausted. We wanted to make sure the airport was secure for their withdrawal. As he and his three personnel were getting in the cars, he stopped, they called them off. He said that he had not been authorized to go."
"Lieutenant Colonel Gibson was furious. I had told him to bring our people home. That is what he wanted to do."
"Hicks quoted Gibson as saying then that it was the only time in his career he saw a diplomat have “more balls” than the United States military."
I have never been an officer, so I can't speak to this; I have one question to ask:
What is the price of disobedience to your career?
Today's Democrat Party views the United States military as nothing more than a political tool to further their agenda. And after Benghazi we see that our troops and intelligence operators are expendable if Democrats think sacrificing them is in their best political interests.
But don't take it from me; just look at what they do.
Instead of preserving the world's most effective combat force, the Democrat Party views the U.S. military as a massive source of funding (defense budget cuts), an opportunity to shore up political support through social engineering (allowing openly gay service members), and a means to further their liberal internationalist agenda (so-called “Responsibility to Protect” operations like Libya).
They know that the military community tends to vote strongly Republican, which partly explains their open contempt of the men and women that serve in the Armed Forces – whether falsely labeling them cold-blooded murderers (Rep. John Murtha), comparing them to Nazis, KGB, and the Khmer Rouge (Sen. Dick Durbin), joking about their intelligence (Sec. John Kerry)... the examples of the Democrat Party's distaste for the military could easily fill an entire article.
But throughout American history, our troops knew at least if they were wounded, in danger of being overrun, or even killed, our military will do everything in its power to get rescue or recover you.
No one gets left behind. At least that's how it used to be.
That is, until Benghazi, which has become one of the most dishonorable events in American history. When our consulate was attacked and overran, President Obama left Americans to die. Any rescue attempt was cut off – not by our enemies, but by the Obama administration.
Even worse than the tragic and preventable deaths of four Americans, Washington's reaction over the last eight months shows the utter disregard the Democrat Party and media have for not only the fallen, but for all of our troops and operators.
I am not saying that each and every Democrat politician wanted those men to die. But can you name any Democrat politician that has said we need to get to the bottom of Benghazi? Has any Democrat even so much as distanced themself from their party's callous disregard for the fallen? Washington can say they support the troops all day, it's time they show us how they support our troops.
Since day one, the Democrat Party – primarily the Obama administration – and their media allies have sought to make the story go away. Since that didn't work, they have resorted to distracting the American people and redirecting the focus by claiming Republicans are only making this an issue for political gain.
Just imagine if your son or daughter was killed in the attack and politicians reacted by saying that anyone trying to find out answers was only using the tragedy for political leverage. That really says something about our nation when the majority party can shamelessly stoop so low – and get away with it.
Free Ice Cream
My short story "A Bride to the Moon" is available for free download from Amazon starting today, for a limited time. Fair warning: If you are offended by war, werewolves, violence, or sex, please don't read it. If you would like to see a rough vignette of a world I hope to explore and share in more detail later, read on. It is rough, and was written as background simply for me -- a practice the late, great Roger Zelazny used and that I have found works well for me. In this case, I thought I would share.
NOTE: If you have a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer, there is a free app you can download so you can download and read books from Amazon/Kindle. You will also want to browse all the free books, book sets, and such. I've managed to snag Kipling and more for free that way.
Big Army Goes Overboard for Political Correctness
The US Army Soldier of the Year is going to be...
That's right. I wish I read it at the Duffel Blog but instead those crazy bastards at the Rhino Den have the scoop and I trust their word over just about anyone's.
It seems almost comical. Perhaps there were a bunch of generals sitting around trying to fluff their OER so they could get another star, maybe it was a PAO prank run amok, or maybe a Duffel Blog writer slipped a note to the Sergeant Major of the Army. Whatever the root cause may be, next year’s Soldier of the Year will be: Everyone. Every single soldier in the United States Army will be Soldier of the Year. The details haven’t been worked out yet how every soldier, to include officers will receive the trophy and commendations that usually go with winning Soldier of the Year, but the basic plan is that everybody’s been doing such a good job, that they want to reward, well pretty much everyone...
Update: best comment so far from the masses has been a lone voice from the lower ranks, "Can I put The US Army Soldier of the Year on my resume?"
A Legitimate Criticism of the Military in the Washington Post
It doesn't happen much, but this one is pretty much straight up. It's about camoflauge. Many of you may remember that we used to have pretty much two patterns: BDUs and DCUs. They were pretty good. Then... well, things changed.
Today, there is one camouflage pattern just for Marines in the desert. There is another just for Navy personnel in the desert. The Army has its own “universal” camouflage pattern, which is designed to work anywhere. It also has another one just for Afghanistan, where the first one doesn’t work.
Even the Air Force has its own unique camouflage, used in a new Airman Battle Uniform. But it has flaws. So in Afghanistan, airmen are told not to wear it in battle....
The Navy spent more than $435,000 on three new designs. One was a blue-and-gray pattern, to be worn aboard ships. Pattern No. 8.
Sailors worried that it would hide them at the one time they would want to be found.
“You fall in the damn water and you’re wearing water-colored camouflage. What the hell is that?” said one active-duty petty officer. He asked that his name be withheld because he was criticizing a decision by the brass. “It’s not logical. It’s not logical at all to have water-colored uniforms.”
Yeah, that last one especially has had a bunch of us head-scratching for a while now.
What Needs to Be Answered about Benghazi
Tomorrow, before a House committee on Benghazi, State Department employees are testifying about the battle. Apparently, these State personnel are whistleblowers who were threatened into silence about the role of their organization and its leaders that resulted in the deaths of 4 and the wounding of dozens of Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
I think that we'll hear about a STAND DOWN order being given, threats of termination of employment or prison from their superiors if they talked about Benghazi, why we haven't heard ONE WORD from the survivors, and possibly a lot more about the handling of the battle.
Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler has five questions that must be answered tomorrow. It's a great piece, a primer really, on what needs to happen tomorrow.
...Three State Department employees whom the House Oversight Committee is calling whistle-blowers will testify before that panel Wednesday; one of them, Gregory Hicks, was the No. 2 U.S. diplomat in Tripoli at the time of the attacks.
The issue has become a cause celebre among conservative media outlets. On his radio show Monday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Hicks will testify that four special operations soldiers in Tripoli were not allowed to board a Libyan military cargo plane that was leaving for Benghazi.
"We now know that special forces were poised and ready and had repeatedly asked for permission to go in and try to intervene, and they were told to stand down," Huckabee said. "I know that Mr. Hicks will testify that his jaw dropped when later Hillary Clinton said she did not know of any requests for assistance and that there were no requests for assistance."...
NPR goes on to post speculation that this is really about Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions and the Republicans attempts to thwart them.
One interesting piece is how anyone challenging the Benghazi military and State Dept story can avoid challenging Admiral (ret) Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who was appointed as head of the investigation into the Benghazi debacle.
Regardless, Admiral Mullen wasn't appointed to investigate the origins of "the YouTube Video Was the Cause" talking points or why we have not heard from ANY survivors.