I thought that this was interesting. The USMC has had the most liberal policy with regards to tattoos on it's Marines. Some of that is changing...
The fight over body armor approved by the DoA and the DoD continues to heat up. It's been ugly, but appears to be getting uglier.
Here is where it sort of began in the Internets. Dragon Skin versus IBA.
Slab at Op-For writes about the body armor issue - I think he makes solid points, especially addressing concerns in the Comments. More here, here and here. (FYI - the Professional Soldier thread is gone but the oringinal analysis by Reaper is still posted. I 100% concur with Slab's eval of Reaper's creds and intent).
The Captain's Journal has a good piece about the "controversy" today. I think he's got it right - that, to put this issue to bed and to ensure that our troops have the best possible equipment, somebody (*cough* Congress!) needs to pay for an independent panel.
So here in the Mad City the Vets for Peace and the usual suspects decided the way to honor our war dead, on the one day a year we set aside for that, was to have an anti-war peace rally. I wish it was surprising but I have come to the conclusion that they absolutely do not understand and they proved it today in every way.
My buddy Don came up from Chi-Town on a Yamaha motorcycle as big as a truck and we rolled out to the show to see how the left would honor those who today was for. They had anti-war BS and every flavor of agit-prop, but not a single solitary moment in 2 1/2 hours mentioned the sacrifices of all the men and women since 1776 who made it possible for them to whine, and whine they did. I filmed most of it and it was drivel. If anyone has a single moment where our war dead were honored in this I will recant, 'cuz I didn't hear any, and that chafed my cones.
The speakers were unimportant and showed that in their ignorance and naivete, I will link to the local paper's story on this once they post it UPDATE , the reporter's name is Matt DeFour, and as much as I slag the MSM, he was there the whole excruciating length and he sought out the voices of all interested, BRAVO . Although, Once again I scoop(ed) them (Fools, Mwah ha, oh never mind, yawn).
But the local Free Speech coalition was fun.
Will Williams is a well known anti-war etc. Vietnam vet always reslpendent in a black beret. I had interviewed him once prior and apparently he was unhappy with how wrong he sounded and accuses me of editing him. Nope, you are what you are. Today he acts the fool, and suspects my vids go straight to the NSA, Duh!
Bald Iraq vet guy- This one reminded me of Tom Cruise, crazy and unaware how crazy he is or seems. I lament the lack of video to show him tweaking, it's 'cuz I shut the film off when I thought he was gonna hit me. Now I was totally cool with taking a shot, but I am not Jackass so my gear is precious. I shut and moved the cam and then had a nice tet a tet with bald Tom Cruise- verdict, Unhinged, but not dumb enough to hit me.
Acid Man- This guy called me a fascist, pig, nazi, neo-con, traitor, and many more lovely things. He is just a perfect "never left the 60's" freak.
Nuff Said, in their own words, well..... up until I jump up on their stage and Punk 'em. Language warning, mostly them, but a little me. HotAir understands.
The Uncle J YouTube channel is here for subscriptions or browsing.
Once, a long time ago, I wrote the only thing I've ever written about Cindy Sheehan:
Cindy Sheehan is a grieving mother. I sympathize entirely with the motivation. I cannot imagine what the loss of my son would do to me; I would be grateful to the world, I think, if it refused to judge any action I took for at least a year or two afterwards. And so, applying the Golden Rule, I shall refuse to judge her. I hope she finds the peace she needs.
I have no use for those who are using her to further their ends -- nor those who are so heartless as to speak ill of her, in the depth of her pain.
Yes, I know she was a radical before the war began. That means nothing. She is a Gold Star mother, and so she is due a full measure of kindness from us. May she find her peace. May those who are trying to use her get what they deserve. As for those who have sneered at her character -- no one asks you to approve of her, or what she thinks, or how she feels. All I ask is that you let her rage, and pass on, without judgment. That, at least, is only what we should want for ourselves if, under an evil star, we should find ourselves brought to her fate.
Others felt otherwise, and took her for a ride now ending.
I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called "Face" of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such "liberal blogs" as the Democratic Underground. Being called an "attention whore" and being told "good riddance" are some of the more milder rebukes.... I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost.
I don't have anything bad to say about Cindy Sheehan. Those of you who used her, though, as long as her grief was a useful weapon to you -- you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. She deserved, as does any mother of a fallen Marine, better than she has had.
UPDATE: I see from the comments that I had misremembered Casey Sheehan's service; he was a Soldier, not a Marine. I regret the error, but in truth, I would naturally extend the same courtesies to the mother of a fallen Soldier as I would to that of a fallen Marine.
UPDATE 2: BlackFive composed a Someone You Should Know post about Casey Sheehan. You can read it here.
[Bumped up for Memorial Day Weekend]
First, if you are relatively new to Blackfive, you should read this story about a Memorial Day four years ago - Mathew Schram's Memorial Day.
And, unfortunately, we've posted many memorials to our Fallen Americans.
I posted this in 2005:
The words to "Taps" are:
Gone the Sun,
From the Earth,
From the Hill,
From the Sky,
All Is Well,
God Is Nigh
When Taps is played at dusk, it has a completely different meaning than when Taps is played during the day. No soldier really wants to hear it played during daylight. For when the bugle plays Taps in the daylight...that means a soldier has fallen...There is a belief among some that Taps is the clarion call to open the gates of heaven for the fallen warrior and letting them know to "Safely Rest"...
Of course, Memorial Day is about remembering the sacrifices that our military men and women have made over the last 229 years. We are still a young nation, but one that has made many sacrifices to remain free. We should also take time to remember the families who have lost loved ones.
We have focused on just a few of the fallen over the last few years. I've lost three good friends during the War on Terror. And I write about the others to ensure that we don't forget their sacrifices - I do that for me as much as for anybody.
I can't speak for the friends of the many others who have fallen, but for Mat, Cooter, and Mike, I can say this:
It is important to remember them, and it is just as important to enjoy yourself this weekend. To spend time with your family and friends. Have a beer while grilling Wisconsin brats (Schram-bo!) in the backyard while watching your kids play tag.
What better assurance to them that they did not die in vain?
Enjoying your freedom and understanding it's value is the best way to honor the sacrifices of my friends.
That's the way they'd want you to spend Memorial Day.
Remembering them, and being a good dad and husband and an American is the best way that I can honor their memory.
I'll close with this heartfelt letter, written by Rick Kennedy, that I received via Seamus about Taylor Prazynski - a Marine who recently was buried at Arlington.
On Saturday morning May 21st I flew to Washington, D.C to meet my daughter Mary with grandchildren Calista and Lindsey, and her husband Joe Teller to drive with them to Chesterfield Virginia to attend a ballet recital for Callie that evening. Joe and Mary were in Washington for the burial services of Lance Corporal Taylor Prazynski USMC the 20 year old son of Joe’s cousin John Prazynski. Taylor was killed by enemy fire in Fallujah on May 9th while serving in combat with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment, and 2nd Marine Division. Mary and Joe, along with 50 other family members attended the burial service for Taylor on Friday at Arlington National Cemetery, and when I met them they remained emotionally overwhelmed and forever moved by the elegant display of military reverence, and efficiency at Arlington. They were deeply saddened by the loss of this young Marine.
Earlier in the week Taylor’s body arrived at the Greater Cincinnati Airport by commercial jet. All passengers were instructed to remain on the plane until Taylor’s body was removed by a contingent of Marines. A military helicopter followed the Marine vehicle as it motored to the funeral parlor. Police and fire trucks were stationed at the overpasses and along the highway and saluted at Taylor passed by. At the funeral parlor no civilian was allowed to touch the body. The Marines prepared the deceased...A Marine color guard followed by a rider less horse accompanied Taylor’s body down Ohio Highway 4 for funeral services at Fairfield High School gym. Over 1500 people were in attendance of the funeral service at the school where the young Marine graduated in 2003, and played football and ran track. Pastor Dave Workman of the Vineyard Community Church presided. He gave a sterling tribute to this fallen hero that gave his life to his country. The pastor praised Taylor for his work with the church’s youth group, and his volunteer work with a multiple-disabilities class while in high school.
At Arlington on May 20th, the seven pall bearers dressed resplendent in the Marine dress blues uniform marched with the flag draped casket with military precision. When they reached the gravesite they abruptly raised the casket above their shoulders for 30 long seconds, giving the fallen Marine salute, and then rested the casket on its conveyor belt support over the grave. The military chaplain in civilian clothes gave the last rites, and presented the family Taylor’s posthumously awarded Purple Heart Medal.
All seven Marines removed the American Flag from the casket. They raised the stars and stripes above the casket pulling the flag rigid like a drum. Then they tightly folded the flag step by step in a triangle with the ends tucked firmly in place. One of the Marines did an about face and presented the flag to the Marine Sergeant standing alone to the rear of the casket, and saluted the flag.. The Marine in charge carrying the flag proceeded to the seat of the father John Prazynski. The Marine knelt down and bowed his head and presented the flag to the grieving father as the final gesture of sympathy and appreciation by the United States Marine Corps for the brave service of this young Marine.
Seven Marines standing away from the proceedings fired their rifles in three volleys representing a 21 gun salute, and you could hear muffled screams of sorrow from the youth in attendance as a lone bugler in Marine dress blues played the sad haunting sound of “Taps’ that echoed across the green rolling plains of Arlington on to the endless stream of white stones in this section called” Iraqi Freedom”. This was the Marines way of sending a signal to God to open the gates of Heaven for the arrival of [Corporal] Prazynski who gave his life for his country and our fight against terror throughout the world.
Remember Them. And have a great Memorial Day.
Today is a special and unique holiday. It is a day of giving thanks, not for all blessings, but for one. It is a day not of fireworks and revelry, but of quiet celebration. It is a day not focused on an event, but on the people who have made the events of our lives, and the freedom in which we -- and others elsewhere -- live them, possible
It is not a day for politics, causes, or debates and any who would make it so do nothing but show ignorance and contempt for those Men, male and female, who are the focus of this day. Such creatures who would hijack and defile this day with such crass self-interest and -absorption are but soulless shells bereft of dignity, integrity, courage, and honor. They are unworthy of any strong emotion, even contempt; are worth contemplation this day merely for comparison to and with those we honor; and, deserve only pity, for they too could have been Men.
For today, we honor those who have stood in defense of our freedom; and, most of all, we honor those that fell so doing. Most have indeed been male; but, more than many realize have been female. From Molly Pitcher to the women who masqueraded as males to fight in that war between the states; from those that disguised themselves to sail on ships of wood and sail to those that fight this day we have always been blessed with women of courage, integrity, and bravery. Gender matters not; nor does it matter if one stepped forward or was summoned, for all answered the call. They joined that thin coloured line, and stood fast.
What cowards would abandon, and tyrants destroy, they saved. Their shoulders have truly held our skies suspended, and their blood has paid the price of freedom for us and for others.
The ideals, the slogans, and ultimately even home and hearth were not why they stood. When the bugles call, the bullets fly, and the bombs burst such things become of minor import. What matters then is love and duty. Not a duty to some higher power or state; rather, the duty one has to one's brother in arms. What shell they inhabit means naught at such a time, and what they were before means less than nothing at all. The only thing that matters then is that they are with you and you with them, and the love and duty that exists between at that moment is all. They will not be failed. So Tommy steps forward unto the breech, Molly takes over the cannon and fires, and unsung heroes step forward into the fire.
Some walk among us now. Others lie with Brothers amidst peaceful grass. Still more rest where they fell, unmarked on land or sea.
Today is not a day for torrents of praise or empty posturing. It is a day for but two words and two actions.
Those two words are "Thank You"; and, the two actions are to say them to those who have stood and stand among us, and to remember those who stand in memories forever green. They saved things not for the sum of pay, but for each of us and all who come after. They saved them for the higher things, and for that Band of Brothers to which they for eternity belong.
Take the time today. Quietly say the words to those who serve, be they old or be they young. Take time throughout the day and remember their sacrifice, and most especially remember those who have paid the ultimate price for freedom and are not here in flesh to hear your words.
UPDATE: Hugh was kind enough to link to my response, and I agree that we agree on a fair bit of this. I will elaborate on our disagreements in detail on Tuesday as tomorrow has a more important theme. I think he sees a possibility of the holes in our game i.e. immigration from our allies, and actual closing of our borders as possibly being fixed, and I don't.
Hugh Hewitt interviewed HLS Sec. Chertoff about the immigration bill and it's possible granting of probationary status on millions of illegals, which could include terrorists. Hugh asked CT folks to answer whether this was a serious problem. Yes the possibility exists that a potential terrorist could gain some documents this way, but this bill doesn't change the threat in any appreciable way. Here is my response to him.
I am Jim Hanson, Uncle Jimbo from Blackfive, and I have been studying global terrorism for most of my adult life, around 25 years now. I served as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant and operated in many countries around the Pacific Rim, more than two dozen worldwide. I have conducted counter-terror, -insurgency and -narcotics missions as well as training the counter-terror and hostage rescue teams for numerous US allies. I have helped prepare operations plans for anti-terrorrism and force protection for US facilities overseas and within the US. One of my specialties was designing live-fire hostage rescue exercises that demonstrated all the difficulties that a live terror attack would have. In the course of this we spent scores of hours of planning and scheming scenarios about how, when and where terrorists could hit us.
As far as securing the US from terror attacks by closing our borders or instituting sufficient administrative controls to foil an incident, that assumes we can trust travelers from say, Londonistan. The EU countries are chock full of disaffected, unassimilated Muslims all of whom get special visa status because the Brits and Old Europe are our friends. Even if we hermetically sealed our southern border, are we going to do the same with Canada, and then again what about all those legal visitors? In addition, if illegal immigration in anticipation of laying low and then making an attack was such a threat, then what has been up for the past six years? My greatest fear on 9/11 was what was planned for 9/12. It seems obvious that if AQ had any sleeper cells they would have used them, and If AQ had a good understanding of the American psyche, they would have had follow on attacks planned, but not in NY or LA. No, the move that would have really terrified us would have been shootings in four midwestern cities at mall food courts.
Sure knocking down the towers was epic and they scored a huge victory in doing so, but they didn't terrorize us so much as really piss us off. They galvanized the country in angry response, but they did not terrorize us. I don't know a soul here in Madison who could even imagine a terror attack here.
But I only steal the best.
I'm stealing this from Mrs. GreyHawk in the Dawn Patrol today. Because I am not technologically capable enough to find it on LiveLeak by myself, and because the gracious and charming Mrs. G does so much better a job at finding real news and real stories than all the rest of us guys anyway.
Thanks, Mrs. G.
And let's all keep our lives in perspective please. You'll never really know whose life is harder than yours, now will you?
Well.... Maybe you will.
PS, OK, So I'm borrowing it. Who wouldn't?
What can I say, he's on a roll.
Dr. David Kilcullen, well known to readers of this page (see especially here), was the guest in the DefendAmerica.mil Blogger's Roundtable this morning. Audio and a transcript will be (but as of this writing are not yet) available here.
I was invited to participate in the Roundtable (which, I found out when I got there, is being run by an old friend of mine -- a military contractor named Tim Killbride, who has recently done some writing of his own on the topic).
I got to ask the first question, and I asked about Dr. Kilcullen's assertion of the importance of "the Rule of Law" in securing Baghdad and Iraq. How close were we to seeing an judicial/police structure that could be effective in a COIN role, as the US Marshals were in putting down the insurgent/terrorist groups like the KKK during Reconstruction?
Dr. Kilcullen answered that he thought we had a "fair way to go" before we'd see really effective law enforcement/judicial systems like that, 'months or years.' Right now, the existing police/judicial systems can't be trusted either to (a) not mistreat prisoners turned over to them, nor (b) not just turn loose dangerous prisoners with whom the locals are allied. Kilcullen made sure to emphasize that he thought we'd get there, but that it was still a long way off.
This is consistent with what I've heard from deployed Marines since 2004 -- that the Iraqi Army shaped up fast, but that the police lagged behind both in effectiveness and trustworthiness. It's an important piece of the puzzle, though: the rule of law is really what finally can end an insurgency. (See the debate here, starting with the comment posted at 6:21 and following down).
Dr. Kilcullen also added that we should not expect to see anything looking quite like the US system; the Iraqi system that finally develops will be their own. There's nothing wrong (and quite a bit right) with that -- I mentioned the Reconstruction experience only to give the doctor a clearer idea of what kind of COIN assistance I was asking after. The Iraqi model in evidence in Michael Totten's Kirkuk trip is demonstrative of what we can expect to see in Iraq -- and also just how important that will be when we do see it.
In the extended entry, I've posted my full notes from the discussion. That will be of use to any of you military men (or interested civilians) who are trying to track the discussion. I've also added links to background information or deeper analysis on the subjects mentioned in the podcast, as well as some additional thoughts on COIN, Iraq, and the war.