...well at least for the National Geographic Adventurers of the Year.
Spread the word and get out the vote!
Book Review: "Drone" by Mike Maden
The following book review is provided as a special to BlackFive readers by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the far right sidebar.
Mike Maden’s debut novel Drone is a very fascinating exploration, combining the War on Terror and the War on Drugs. Through captivating characters he examines how the techniques used in fighting terrorists can be used to fight the drug cartels. Drones and their related technology have given the President the ability to identify, locate, and surgically strike enemies of the US, being able to actively engage in warfare that poses an existential threat to peace and stability in the region.
The most interesting character that the readers will wish was real is President Margaret Myers. She is someone who does not look at the political polls when making decisions and her convictions lead her to do what is necessary to protect Americans. Maden told blackfive.net that he based this character on Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir whose married name was Meyerson. “I made Myers a President that I hope people will admire. I based her on Thatcher and Meir because they were tough, visionary, and moralistic leaders. I also wanted Myers to be an accomplished woman with executive experience in the technical field. I see these women as practical, efficient, and economical in their thinking and how to find a solution.”
The male lead is Troy Pearce, the CEO of Pearce Systems, a private security firm whose expertise is drone technologies. A former CIA SOG operative in Iraq Pearce decided to leave the clandestine field after seeing many of his colleagues sacrificed for political correctness. Maden described him as “a Patriot, a premier warrior, and the first libertarian action hero. He is also fierce, loyal, brave, cynical, angry, and frustrated. He sees his challenge as wanting to serve honorably in a noble government that should be willing to use an Old West type of mentality: brutal and bloody justice.”
As with all military thrillers, technology also becomes a character. In this novel, there are the spy cameras, robots, and different types of drones from the mosquito to the RHEX. Maden wanted to use these because he found them fascinating with their many capabilities.
The plot has a pair of drug cartel hit men assaulting and killing a group of American students in El Paso, Texas. As the violence escalates, President Myers is determined to use force combined with economic strategies to support the rule of law. She recruits Pearce to locate and destroy the drug cartel leaders while she uses economic means to promote Mexican leaders who want peace and security for their nation. Maden explained, “President Myers deployed drones to decapitate Mexican cartel leadership and supported the removal of a corrupt Mexican presidency. She wanted to promote meaningful, democratic change rather than ignore the emerging narco-state that was destroying Mexican society and poisoning America's youth. I see them as a terrorist threat since the drug war has killed 1000s of America’s young people literally and figuratively. Remember the Iranians tried to hire a Mexican drug cartel assassin to kill the Saudi Ambassador here in the US. We need leaders who are not going to be gutless politicians but are willing to do the right thing which is always harder and more complicated than doing nothing.”
Maden transfers this mindset to his characters allowing for a very riveting and thought provoking plot. Drone has an interesting mix of current US dangers, geopolitics, and how technology can be used in modern warfare. The readers will find themselves wondering how issues can be settled while the book is only half finished. That is because there are a number of twists and turns as well as an escalation of actions taken to ensure Americans’ safety. Drone is a riveting thriller that is a definite page-turner.
Airborne Assault on Guam...
Two thousand mice dropped on Guam by parachute — to kill snakes
They floated down from the sky Sunday — 2,000 mice, wafting on tiny cardboard parachutes over Andersen Air Force Base in the U.S. territory of Guam.
But the rodent commandos didn't know they were on a mission: to help eradicate the brown tree snake, an invasive species that has caused millions of dollars in wildlife and commercial losses since it arrived a few decades ago.
That's because they were dead. And pumped full of painkillers.
This apparently is what constitutes a useful expenditure of preciously short federal dollars.
Look I get it - introducing snakes into an ecosystem screws things up. They mate and multiply and all sorts of mayhem ensues. This is actually a serious problem and given what's at stake, difficult problems require creative solutions.
The solution is apparently Tylenol.
For some reason, the snakes are almost uniquely sensitive to acetaminophen, the active ingredient in the ubiquitous over-the-counter painkiller. If you can get a tree snake to eat just 80 milligrams, you can kill it. That's only about one-sixth of a standard pill — pigs, dogs and other similarly sized animals would have to eat about 500 of them to get into any trouble.
Brown tree snakes also love mice. It's easy to bait mice with acetaminophen, but how do you then deliver the mice to the snakes?
Operation Jerry Drop!
Of course, this comes on the heels of the "need" to cut paratrooper units. So, it does seem pretty funny that this solution hits the wires so soon after the airborne unit cuts are announced.
And, it is also appropriate that such a topic requires a relink to Blackfive's ubiquitous "ULTIMATE" Differential Theory of the U.S. Armed Forces (Snake Model)
Godspeed Edward "Babe" Heffron and Earl "One Lung" McClung
U.S. Army and World War II Veteran Edward "Babe" Heffron, known from the book and television miniseries "Band of Brothers," died December 1st at the age of 90. Heffron served with the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, better known as Easy Company. He fought in major battles during the European campaign, including the Allied landing at Normandy, and the Battle of the Bulge.
Earl "One Lung" McClung died on November 27th. McClung was one of the scouts for Easy Company (2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division) and was also a sniper/marksman. He parachuted into Normandy and fought alongside the 82nd Airborne until he could reunite with the 101st for the assault on Carentan. He received his nickname, according to Marcus Brotherton, this way in Normandy:
So [the lieutenant] just put the machine gun by me. I wasn’t very happy about being made a machine gunner. As far as I know that machine gun is still there. When I woke up there were some strong adjectives being thrown around. So Rogers [who was known for writing funny poems] wrote a poem about it with a line that went:
Who hung the gun on One Lung McClung?
See more at: http://www.marcusbrotherton.com/honor-earl-mcclung-1923-2013/#sthash.hgliAuK4.dpuf
Pentagon Floats Plan to Ax All US-based Commissaries
Once again...the fate of the US treasury rests on the backs of US Military and their families...http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/12/02/pentagon-floats-plan-to-close-us-commissaries/
Now, i'm sure there's room for efficiency and any discussions should be focused on making this work better.
But given the number of Cabinet Depts that don't even need to exist, cutting commissaries is a cynical act designed to punish a segment of US society that works because decision makers lack the courage to take on the real problems.
Photo: Fort Hood Air Assault School
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Stanton, left, instructs two students from Fort Hood Air Assault School as they prepare to rappel 85 feet out of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 20, 2013. Stanton is an air assault instructor. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ken Scar
Photo: TEN MINUTES!
Army Master Sgt. Raymond Geoghegan gives the 10-minute warning to paratroopers as they approach Luzon Drop Zone and prepare to conduct airborne training on Fort Bragg, N.C., Nov. 21, 2013. Geoghegan is a jumpmaster assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 782nd Brigade, Support Battalion. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Armas
Photo: Marine Jump
U.S. Marines wait on a C-130 Hercules before participating in jump training at night over Yokota Air Base, Japan, Nov. 21, 2013. The training also enabled the Yokota aircrews to practice flight tactics and timed-package drops. The Marines are assigned to the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. U.S. Air Force photo by Osakabe Yasuo
Photo: Aussies on Patrol
Australian soldiers patrol near Multinational Base Tirin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, Nov. 6, 2013. The Australian soldiers are assigned to the U.S. Army 2nd Cavalry Regiment Task Force. Australian Defense Force photo by Cpl. Mark Doran
The Patented Blackfive Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
[This post is an annual event here...]
Blackfive: "How To Cook A Turkey"
1) Go buy a turkey.
2) Take a drink of whisky.
3) Put turkey in the oven.
4) Take another 2 drinks of whiskey.
5) Set the degree at 375 ovens
6) Take 3 more whiskeys of drink.
7) Turn oven the on.
8) Take 4 whisks of drinky.
9) Turk the bastey.
10) Whiskey another bottle of get.
11) Stick a turkey in the thermometer
12) Glass yourself a pour of whiskey.
13) Bake the whiskey for 4 hours.
14) Take the oven out of the turkey.
15) Take the oven out of the turkey.
16) Floor the turkey up off of the pick.
17) Turk the carvey.
18) Get yourself another scottle of botch.
19) Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey.
20) Bless the saying, pass and eat out.
[Updated] Must Read: "A Sailor's Dying Wish"
[Updated post from November 11, 2013]
Via our own Mr. Wolf, if you read one thing today, you should make it this piece from I Drive Warships...and have a box of tissues handy.
After signing my Pop, EM2 Bud Cloud (circa Pearl Harbor) up for hospice care, the consolation prize I’d given him (for agreeing it was OK to die) was a trip to “visit the Navy in San Diego.”
I emailed my friend and former Marine sergeant, Mrs. Mandy McCammon, who’s currently serving as a Navy Public Affairs Officer, at midnight on 28 May. I asked Mandy if she had enough pull on any of the bases in San Diego to get me access for the day so I could give Bud, who served on USS Dewey (DD-349), a windshield tour...
But that's not exactly what happened. Go to IDW and read about what the crew of the Dewey did for Bud Cloud.
Update 11-27-13: FoxNews has a report on this visit today.
Home for the Holidays...A Combat Controller and Spouse You Should Know
When Erin Chambers answered the phone at 6 a.m. Nov. 16, she wasn’t surprised to hear her husband Josh’s voice. The telephone is an important link between Erin, a second-grade teacher at a private school in Seattle, and Josh, a 2000 Homer High graduate deployed with the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan.
This call was different, however.
“He asked if I could get on Skype,” said Erin of a computer program that allows the couple to see each other while talking. “So I got on Skype and he said he had good news and bad news.”
The good news: Josh was coming home.
The bad news: He had been shot in the leg...
Go read the whole story about looking at the bright side (of what life throws or the Taliban shoots at you). By the way, Josh and Erin were married last June.
You can send Josh and Erin Chambers well wishes by mailing them to 30212 5th Avenue South, Federal Way, Wash., 98003.
Iranians will go Click-Boom
Go over to Commander Salamander's and read what he had to say about a nuclear Iran in 2006 and what he says now (hint: not much difference).
Photo: The Code Talkers Recognized
Wallace Coffey, chief of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, left, and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Chief Gregory Pyle stand during a ceremony in which their tribal citizens received the Congressional Gold Medal in Emancipation Hall at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 2013. The U.S. Congress awarded the medal as an expression of the nation's profound gratitude to the code talkers for their valor and dedication during World War I and World War II. DOD photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp
A Time for Thanksgiving
[This is a repost from 2005. It's still appropriate...Javier Alvarez is Someone You Should Know]
Randy sends this email, a must read if ever there was one, that he received from Captain James Eadie today:
A Time for Thanksgiving
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I eagerly anticipate the plates of turkey and stuffing, the moments of camaraderie around the TV watching football and the sharing of stories amongst friends, but it is the soldiers’ stories of bravery and courage that should be shared on this day of Thanksgiving.
I had the rare chance to talk in depth with one of my CCATT patients on our last flight, a young 24 year old Marine from Camp Pendleton, California. It is Javier’s story hangs with me this day. Javier gave me permission to share his story with you, a true story of heroism, and sacrifice that deserves to be told on Thanksgiving.
On the morning of 16 November 2005, the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were taking part in operations along the Iraq-Syrian board to clear the towns of insurgents.
Javier [Alvarez], a strong and sturdy looking square jawed Marine Corporal was on his third deployment to Iraq. He had seen heavy combat in his previous two deployments, and had been injured once before earning him a Purple Heart. On this day he was in command of a Squad of fourteen men. I knew just by talking to him that his men were fortunate to have him leading them into battle. He spoke with clarity and confidence of a man twice his age. In the truest essence, he was a Marine.
On this morning Javier’s Squad was providing tank security (I still don’t fully understand how infantry provides security to tanks, but that’s why I am in medicine).
The morning of the 16th started like many – early. The operation was going well. The Marines were taking some fire, but were successfully clearing the town they had been assigned. Urban warfare is extremely dangerous. Each house must be searched before it can be “cleared.” US and Iraqi Security Forces have taken heavy losses in past urban offenses such as Fallujah. Javier had no intention of letting that happen to his men today.
As the tanks were rolling down the street they began taking heavier fire. The Squad broke into a brisk jog to keep up with the tanks as they pushed forward into the fire fight. Ahead was a house that seemed to be the focus of the fight. Lying in the doorway to the house was a downed Marine. He laid motionless spread across the sill. Further in there lay another Marine.
The Platoon Sergeant grabbed Javier and told him to send his half of his Squad to the house to pull out the downed Marines. Normally, the Squad leader would stay back to coordinate the assault, but Javier told me ‘I could not send my men into harms way without me.”
Taking point, Javier led his five man team towards the house. Shots rang out around them as they advanced. They could see the downed Marines ahead. A young Lieutenant lay face down outside the house. Javier did not know if he was still alive. They would have to act quickly if they were to save him and the others.
As they approached the house the enemy fire intensified and Javier felt a sudden sting and burning in his right leg. He looked down at his leg. Damn, he thought, “I’ve been shot.” He indeed had taken two bullets to his thigh, but he pushed on.
Undeterred, Javier continued to lead his men towards the house. With increasing fire, they took up a defensive posture against the house wall. Slightly protected there, he began tending his wounds with direct pressure as the others returned fire. He could see several downed Marines only arm lengths away, but they could not be reached safely. Gun fire continued to rain down on them. Another member of the squad was hit. They were in a bad position.
What happened next was recalled to me by the Medic that they called Doc. During the barrage of fire, with their backs literally up against a wall an enemy grenade was thrown out of a window landing in the middle of the five men. Doc told me “It was amazing. I was applying pressure to one of the injured soldiers when someone yelled out GRENADE. Javier just dove at the grenade. I have never seen anything like it.”
Javier grabbed the grenade with his right hand. He told me “I knew I only had three to five seconds before it would go off.” With his body shielding his men from the grenade, he made a valiant effort to heave the grenade away. As the grenade left his hand it exploded.
Javier’s right hand was immediately amputated at the wrist. Shrapnel from the grenade penetrated his left thigh. Others in his group took shrapnel to their arms and legs, but no one lost their life.
Doc told me on the plane that he was convinced that they all would have died if it were not for Javier’s heroic actions.
The fighting continued. As more Marines approached the house to provide covering fire, Javier now with two gun shot wounds to his right leg, shrapnel to his left leg and an amputated right hand worked to get his injured men clear. With the aid of his Platoon Sergeant, Javier and his men walked out of the kill zone to the casualty collection point away from the fighting.
Doc stayed in the fight for a while despite being hit with shrapnel from the grenade. He tended to the downed Marines and at one point crawled into the house to pull out the Marine who lay inside. Unfortunately, most of the Marines they came to help had been fatally injured. There was little that could be done. Doc continued to care for the downed soldiers until others noted his wounds. Doc was finally escorted out of the fight to attend to his injuries.
In all told, Javier’s Squad took heavy injuries. We air lifted out 6 members who had sustained shrapnel injuries and one who lost his leg. Javier clearly took the brunt of the injuries, but miraculously no one lost their life. Javier’s selfless action had saved the lives of many men.
I spoke at length with Javier on the flight to Germany. Perhaps it was the awe that I felt talking with him that kept me coming back, or maybe the fact that his men admired him so much. In the end, I think I was drawn in by him because he was just like you and me. He was real. A soldier who had done everything asked of him by his country. He fought with honor and dignity, and led his men with courage. Above all, he put his men’s life above his and protected them from harm.
He didn’t ask for honors or special treatment. His biggest concern when we were loading him onto the plane was his fellow soldiers. He would not lie down until he had visualized and spoken with all of his troops on the plane.
When I arrived home from the mission, I opened the paper. There before me in simple bullet format read the names of the most recent US deaths in Iraq. I generally do not look at these lists. They are just names with no personal connection. But this day, halfway down there were five Marines listed including a young Second Lieutenant all from the 2 nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment from Pendleton, California who had died on 16 November, 2005. These were the men that Javier and his Squad gave everything to try to save.
I stared at the paper for many minutes, recalling the story Javier and his men had told me. I marveled at the sacrifices they made and felt a tremendous sense of loss for these men whose names now stood out from the paper as not mere records, but as living, breathing men who gave everything their country asked of them.
As I get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Iraq, I have so much to be thankful for. My wife is amazing, we have been blessed with a child on the way, and I feel like I have the greatest family and friends that one could ever wish for, but there is more. I see around me everyday soldiers giving everything they have with the full belief that their actions do make a difference. That their sacrifices are for freedom and will one day improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
When I sit down on Thursday to my thanksgiving meal, I will be holding these soldiers and their families close. We as a country have so much to be thankful for.
For me, on this Thanksgiving Day, I will be thankful for Javier. He has given the gift of life to his men and their families. I often ask myself if I was in his position, what would I have done? I don’t know, but I certainly hope that I could be like Javier.
My warmest wishes to you all for a wonderful Thanksgiving, we truly have a great deal to be thankful for.
James S Eadie, Capt USAF MC
332 Expeditionary Air Evacuation Squadron
Critical Care Air Transport Physician
The men who died that day were Lance Corporal Roger Deeds, Lance Corporal John Lucente, Corporal Jeffrey Rogers, Corporal Joshua Ware, and 2nd Lieutenant Donald McGlothin - all from the Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 13th MEU, 1st Marine Division.