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November 2005

Lively discussion on gays in the military

Double Secret Probation Update 28 Jan: Andrew Sullivan has linked here and I think you will see what he promised:

If you're interested in hearing a frank, smart, honest discussion of the gays-in-the-military issue among actual soldiers, gay and straight, then click here.

Well you're here. I started a new post and thread for comments here for folks joining now.

Again, for clarity, Uncle Jimbo started this ruckus not Matt/Blackfive. I figured a piece supporting removal of the ban against gays in the military would spark a lively debate and we got one.

UPDATE: One point I haven't made is that the policy prohibiting gays is not due overriding special consideration because it is the status quo. We are not judges looking at Stare Decisis, we are citizens determining the composition of our military. The prohibition was based on an idea that openly serving gays would undermine readiness, but I am unaware of scientific evidence supporting this assumption. If it exists, and is credible and current, then I would change my position. If it doesn't then we should look at this decision from the perspective of what best serves America, and we have pretty strong ideals against discrimination. If there is no proven need to ban homosexuals then shouldn't the default position be inclusion, and the burden of proof on those who wish to exclude?

Personal beliefs, religious beliefs, anecdotal evidence and anything beyond credible proof of harm to readiness have no bearing on a decision about an institution that serves and ought to be composed of all Americans fit and desiring to serve.


The main point of contention is the simplest, yet most difficult to resolve. Does the mere presence of openly gay troops undermine morale, camaraderie, and esprit de corps?

My view is that since there are currently a number of gay troops and little difficulty due to their presence, there is no need for the ban. We have effectively progressed beyond the point where most members of the military even care about sexual orientation in any way that would preclude them working side by side with gay people.

The opposing view is one I probably would have argued 10 years ago, and the first thing I would point out is that it is absolutely not a hater-based or homophobic argument. It is a pragmatic view that sexual tension of any sort undermines the bond needed to form a cohesive combat unit. The homophobic charge resonates to me with as much import as the chickenhawk one, reasonable people can differ without a need to belittle them. The most effective and diligent opponent of removing the ban was Chris Roach, who writes the Man-sized target blog at AFF's online mag Brainwash. He puts out the main reasons detailing the difficulties this could cause and defends them well in the ensuing discussions, which I have excerpted after the break.

I would like to note that I received a number of emails similar to this from Rachel, a college student working on a military R&D project:

"I'm reading the comments on the post at blackfive about gays in the military, and have to say I'm stunned at how civilized the discussion has been.  While I was thinking this, I also thought that this is one of the things that makes me happy I live in the US.  I feel that I am seeing a rational discussion of both sides of an issue that hasn't degraded to name calling and spiteful comments.  Oh there may be a hint of snark here and there, but it is within some invisible, magical boundary that is keeping the conversation from turning into a cat fight."

Amen to that sister. When I wrote it I hoped we could air the issues and see how they play today, using the smart folks who read and write in the blogosphere to tighten up my own opinions. Having heard and digested the thoughts of many I still believe it should be changed, but have a better feel for the specifics necessary to make it happen.

Continue reading "Lively discussion on gays in the military" »

4 million visits

If Matt isn't going to blow his own horn, I will. Blackfive has crested 4 million site visits and that is incredible. Congrats to Matt and as a reader for several years, thanks for all the good news we never would have heard without your voice.

Why can't gays serve proudly?

Hater alert, this is Uncle Jimbo sending, not Matty O' Blackfive.

In discussing the mindset of the Rational Hawk and where it comes from, I mentioned my belief that the ban on gays serving openly in the military is wrong. I made the statement:

"If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don't care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there."

That sentiment fits not only gay troops, but any other group that experienced discrimination. The military has been the leader in leveling the playing field for women and minorities for a long time, and it is well past due that we terminate the farce of "Don't ask, don't tell". I have received a fair amount of feedback from military, former military and related folks and I have heard almost no one saying the policy is correct or even needed. That is far from conclusive, but it is certainly indicative.

Whatever need their once may have been for this prohibition, it has long since passed. I think that when the many gay troops who served honorably and often heroically in Iraq return home they should be able to live honestly. Let's tack an obvious good act onto an already happy return and push the administration and Congress to set this right. I have added the names and info on all members of the House Armed Services Committee at the end and if you don't have a Rep on it, I suggest Duncan Hunter, CA who is a powerful friend of the military and who could probably make this happen.

Continue reading "Why can't gays serve proudly?" »

If you're in the Topeka Area

Thanks to ArmyWifeToddlerMom for alerting us to this opportunity to foil an evil man.

Think about helping prevent Fred Phelps from destroying a funeral for a Fallen Hero in Topeka.  Sergeant Sacco should be laid to rest in diginity and peace...on Friday, December 2nd.

LoveMyTanker has the details.  Please help if you are in the area of Topeka, Kansas.

From the Albany, NY Times Union:

Soldier 'looked out for his men'

Sgt. Dominic J. Sacco, killed Sunday in Iraq, is recalled as someone who put others first

  By RICK KARLIN, Staff writer
First published: Wednesday, November 23, 2005

ALBANY -- Sgt. Dominic J. Sacco's luck was running out.

Two weeks before he was killed in Iraq, his Abrams tank hit a roadside bomb and he suffered a concussion, said his sister, Lisa Livingston of Schenectady.

He got a Purple Heart, but was ordered back on patrol the next day, despite cuts and headaches from the blast, she said.

On Sunday, it wasn't a bomb, but a bullet, that killed Sacco, 32.

Although the hatch on Sacco's tank was shielded by armor plates on the front and back, Sacco caught a round from the side, possibly from a sniper, Livingston said.

"They said he died instantly," she said.

Sacco stuck his head out of the tank to make sure it was on course during a patrol in Taji, Iraq, a town north of Baghdad that previously was home to a missile plant.

Sacco was the kind of sergeant who put his troops first and tried his best to make sure they were safe, his sister said.

"He always said he looked out for his men," Livingston said, recalling talks with her brother about Army life and the perils of serving in Iraq. "He was very proud of that."

It was that sense of pride, along with his easygoing nature, that Sacco will be remembered for, said Livingston and Bryan Swim, who had known Sacco since they were in first grade together at the old School 23 on Whitehall Road.

"I still consider him my best friend," Swim said.

Desert Protectors Meet Miss Al Qaeda


(click on thumbnail for larger version) Ubaydi-A suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist was captured in an Ubaydi hospital dressed in women's clothing. The terrorist was discovered by a Desert Protector, specially trained scout unit of soldiers recruited from the Al Qa'im region. Desert Protectors are part of the 1,000 Iraqi Army soldiers taking part in Operation Steel Curtain in the Al Qa'im region.

Photograph was taken on 11-21-2005.

[Nice dress!  I heard that ladies in New York were paying top dollar for that.]

Bill Roggio on the Iraq-Syria Border

Thanks to many of you, Army veteran Bill Roggio (a good friend of Blackfive.net) was able to make the trek to Iraq to embed blog with the Marines. 

First, he has the story behind the fight known at Operation Steel Curtain.

Today, he reports from the border of Syria...on a night patrol with the Jackals of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines.

How the Marines See the War

The Christian Science Monitor talks to a few Marines from Ohio that some friends in combat.  It's a must read.

...Yet the Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies...

Time and time, again, this is what I hear from our troops that have come home...

Go read Mark Sappenfield's article.

Beyond Neocon- Rise of the Rational Hawk

I spend considerable time writing about Iraq, the War on Militant Islam, and US Security & Foreign Policy. I have always understood intuitively what my reasons were and why they made sense, but I had no ideology to hang my hat on. Even though I held many positions consistent with the neo-con view, I am not Jewish so the media would only allow me to be a fellow traveler or associate cabalist, and I require a primary role in any scheme for global domination. So I was a man without a cloak for myself and the like-minded, and I thought about who I had the largest number of important beliefs in common with.

It became apparent that there is one group which cuts across all the segments of society minus the very rich and the very liberal, that is current and former military and their families and friends. That is not to say that there is ideological lockstep among these people, no happily there is plenty of disagreement but it is never taken to the extreme of harming the mission. There is an implicit and explicit understanding that together we were engaged in something more important than ourselves and that every situation has a time where it is proper to shut your mouth, salute and move out sharply. Beyond that it requires the embrace of the idea that you may give your life, not just to save a buddy in combat, but for the much more ethereal ideas of Duty, Honor & Country. This environment requires tolerance and I have no doubt society at large would take a large step to be as inclusive as the military family.

Rational Hawk Culture

Colleges nationwide cheat to artificially create a diversity that the military has long been a shining example of (the current policy against gays serving openly excepted, so lets change that). Working, living and dying in the close proximity of all races, religions and flavors of people renders the need to classify them using these descriptors irrelevant. In the military the only classification that matters is competence. If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don't care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there.

Continue reading "Beyond Neocon- Rise of the Rational Hawk" »

Major Tammy Duckworth - Someone You Should Know - Follow Up

    "I'm not letting some guy who got lucky one day in Baghdad decide my future." - Major Tammy Duckworth, KATU 2 (Portland, OR)

One of the most popular requests for follow-ups or an email address has been Major Tammy Duckworth.  Major Duckworth is an Illinois Army National Guard helicopter pilot who lost both of her legs to an RPG in Baghdad.  Her recovery and attitude is nothing less than miraculous and courageous.

Recently, there's been a lot of buzz about her running for Congress as a Democrat in Henry Hyde's (R) district here in the suburbs Chicago.  Congressman Hyde is retiring.

I have received more than a few emails expressing concern about Major Duckworth being a Democrat.  Personally, I don't know her political leanings, but the Democrats need people like Duckworth perhaps more than the Republicans do.  And I'm sure Major Duckworth would be a fine Congresswoman.  She's a leader and has always been a very caring citizen in uniform and out - she'll be a leader in Congress, if that's what she wants to do. 

Al sends the follow up article on Major Tammy Duckworth about her recovery and outlook on life.

Undying valor

Posted Sunday, November 27, 2005

WASHINGTON — On the morning of Nov. 12, Army Maj. Ladda “Tammy” Duckworth lies half-awake in her bed. An IV pumps antibiotics into her right arm.

Before the treatment is finished, a ringing telephone ends any chance of falling back to sleep. Fellow Black Hawk pilot Dan Milberg is on the line, his first words a reminder of the life-altering moment they shared 12 months earlier.

“It’s almost 4:30 in Iraq,” Milberg says, skipping the normal pleasantries. “In five minutes you’re going to be shot down.”

Duckworth, a 37-year-old member of the Illinois National Guard, looks at the clock and realizes it’s true. At this moment exactly one year ago, a rocket-propelled grenade ripped through their helicopter and forever changed their lives.

The insurgent attack took both of the Hoffman Estates woman’s legs and shattered her right arm. She lost nearly half her blood, but miraculously survived. Milberg was among those who saved her and who sustain her still. There are many others, and on this, the anniversary of her trauma, she thinks of them...

Be sure to read the whole article