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January 2009

F-22 Flare


A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor shoots out a flare during an air-combat training mission over Japan, Jan. 15, 2009. The F-22 is deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, from the 27th Fighter Squadron on Langley Air Force Base, Va., in support of U.S. Pacific Command.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clay Lancaster

Democracy in Iraq

Sunnis and Shia voting in the first election with all interested parties taking part.  Historic. 

Of course, some of the media writes stories with titles like:

I wonder if there were any injuries during our last election? There are reports of mortars being either fired or set off (IED style) outside of a polling place in Tikrit.

But others get the impact of it, despite ignoring that President Bush and our military got us to this point:

Fifteen million Iraqis are voting today.  Because of the strong turnout, the voting time was extended.  And I saw a stat on one of the cable channels that there are over 400 women running for office in this election.


[Re]Introducing Military Motivator

Many of you have asked, "B5, please find out what happened to the Military Motivator site." 

So, I tracked down the proprietor who was recently promoted to a position where he could no longer maintain the site and abide by the rules of his organization.  He wanted you to know that he is very satisfied that so many of you liked and enjoyed the site.  He wishes he could continue it.

So, he offered to let Blackfive have the hundreds of military motivational posters and publish them here.  Soon, we'll start taking submissions of new "motivational" posters.  Of course, I'm partial to Airborne themed ones, but we'll take all comers. We'll figure out format and submission method in the near future.

In the meantime, we'll create a new category and begin posting the posters.  Some will touch your heart.  Others will make you laugh.  And some will have you nodding your head in agreement with the sentiment.

Thank you, Military Motivator, we hope to continue your good work.

I skimmed through a few hundred today to begin posting them.  This one stopped me in my tracks.

Here's the first:


Iraq tosses Blackwater- Who wins?

The Iraqi government has refused to renew Blackwater's contract in Iraq and so Dyncorp and Triple Canopy will be picking up the slack. Noah Shactman of Danger Room at Wired wonders if they will simply pick up the same BW contractors who have been doing the work. He has a more skeptical view of the over all professionalism of these folks than I do, and is concerned that the end result will be "same as it ever was". I think they will pick up some, but not the best and most-experienced as Blackwater has their loyalty as well as work all over the world for them to do. So I agree with him that it is a net loss for State and the Iraqis, but not because the contractors for BW were bad guys, because the best will move to new gigs.

SERE torture techniques training facility

Anyone who wonders about the ideological diversity of our military should read some of the work of David J. Morris, former Marine officer who now is a journalist and author. He is a classic born-again liberal whose service and subsequent stints as an embedded reporter convinced him that the military and especially W's use of it is evidence of man's inhumanity to man. He parrots all the agit-prop about how Abu Ghraib was an example of US policy, that Haditha and other incidents are systemic and how all in all our efforts to replace dictators and liberate people from oppression are having the opposite effect.

It is not difficult to look at the horrors of war incident by incident and feel they cannot be justified, especially if you ignore the larger context. Or even more so if you buy into the left's view that any collateral damage in war causes so much bad will, that even freeing 50 M people does not justify it. Mr. Morris has already made up his mind that our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and our use of the military overall is a bad thing. He views events through a prism of bad intent causing bad actions and that we need a kinder, gentler approach to war.

He has a piece now in Slate bemoaning the SERE course (Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape). He attended and describes accurately the training there. But then he hops on the evil intentions train and decides that the course actually teaches our troops how to torture, not how to survive captivity. He even goes so far as to posit that the course ought to teach sweetness and light and how to make friends with your captors.

In fact, our soldiers need training from SERE based on an entirely different premise, as illustrated by the experience of Michael Durant, the helicopter pilot who spent several weeks in captivity when he was captured by Somali fighters during the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" raid. Durant survived by befriending his captors and forcing them to see him as a fellow human being. SERE conditions servicemen to expect nothing but the worst from their captors; Durant's life depended on his ability to understand his captors and find ways to manipulate them psychologically.

Continue reading "SERE torture techniques training facility" »

Fire Fight


Firefighters from the U.S. Air Force Base 374th Civil Engineer Squadron and the Tokyo Metropolitan Fire Department work together to fight a fire at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Japan building that caught fire at about 6:30 p.m. on Yokota Air Base, Japan, Jan. 20, 2009.    U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Sean Martin.


Illinois gets a good man for Governor

Governor Pat Quinn, who just replaced disgraced ex-governor Rod Blagojevich, is a good man.

I've met him only once, but I've dealt with his staff more than once on behalf of Illinois veterans.  In fact, staunch Republican voting Army Reserve and National Guardsman speak highly of him.  He's a legend for going above and beyond for our veterans. 

A few years ago, a LTC had a soldier who was evicted over Thanksgiving while he was deployed.  He called Pat Quinn and it was taken care of.  There are a thousand stories about our former Lt Governor.  As I said, I've only met him once, but a few months ago on my way home from work, I saw him trudging down Michigan Avenue in the cold rain and I yelled "Thanks for taking care of our vets, Pat!"  He shouted "thanks!" and kept walking.

I've said it before, Illinois is one of the best states for veterans benefits in the US.  And a big reason for that is Pat Quinn.  But you wouldn't know it because Rod Blagojevich and Tammy Duckworth tended to take credit for initiatives that Quinn's staff made happen...and Quinn was too honorable to get in the gutter with them.

He's not flashy, quite the opposite in fact.  He doesn't have a war chest so his chances for re-election are slim.

But for now, Illinois has a decent man at the helm.  Finally.

And he's a Democrat.

Update: TSO at This Ain't Hell recalls me talking about Pat Quinn in the past and links to an article about our new Governor's support of our troops.

War has never solved anything

Pw_sign_1 Credit to Protest Warrior for the best sign ever.

Let's hope some day we can add Islamism to the list, but for now let's be happy that Palestinian extremism and terrorism are considering joining the isms of the discredited.

Many media outlets. lefty talking heads, academics and terrorist apologists have claimed that the Israeli actions in Gaza were war crimes, a new holocaust and many other ridiculous accusations. But most all of these same folks said that, even worse, they would do nothing at all to change the dynamic in the region. Now I can understand their pessimism, the quote that "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" has been all too apt for all too long. But the thing about military action and wars is that they can eventually change minds and force antagonists to admit defeat. It looks like some in the Hamas leadership have looked around and counted the dead relatives and friends they have sacrificed on the altar of "From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free", and decided that it doesn't look like those pesky Jews are budging.

Senior officials in Hamas are indicating a willingness to negotiate a deal for a long-term truce with Israel as long as the borders of Gaza are opened to the rest of the world.

"We want to be part of the international community," Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told The Associated Press at the Gaza-Egypt border, where he was coordinating Arab aid shipments. "I think Hamas has no interest now to increase the number of crises in Gaza or to challenge the world."

Three Hamas leaders interviewed by AP said they would accept statehood in just the West Bank and Gaza and would give up their "resistance" against Israel if that were achieved.

"We accept a state in the '67 borders," said Hamad. "We are not talking about the destruction of Israel."

This Hamad doesn't seem to be a softy according to wikipedia. Of course this is not all of their leaders, some continue to maintain their facade.

"We won this war," said Hamas politician Mushir Al-Masri. "Why should we give in to pressure from anyone?"

Al-Masri spoke to the AP while standing next to a chair that used to serve as his seat in the Palestinian parliament, now reduced to rubble by Israeli bombing. Surrounding him were cracked cement, broken bricks, shattered glass and microphones covered in ash.

That is some great imagery, and evocative of the progress Palestinians can expect if they follow these hate-filled, extremists.The fact that members of Hamas leadership are willing to discuss living next to and recognizing Israel is a major step and may actually allow negotiations to happen. I have always said diplomacy is an iron fist in a velvet glove. The Gazans have just felt the iron fist and perhaps they would prefer the velvet glove and some peace.

Oaths Changing from a Pledge to the Constitution to a Pledge to President Obama?

Was asked by someone in one of the big media outfits to look into this:

Military to Pledge Oath To Obama, Not Constitution
Published: Jan 29, 2009
Author: Michele Chang
Post Date: 2009-01-29 10:38:14

Defense Robert Gates is extremely frustrated with orders that the White House is contemplating. According to sources at the Pentagon, including all branches of the armed forces, the Obama Administration may break with a centuries-old tradition.

A spokesman for General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, states that the Obama Administration wants to have soldiers and officers pledge a loyalty oath directly to the office of the President, and no longer to the Constitution.

"The oath to the Constitution is as old as the document itself." the spokesman said, "At no time in American history, not even in the Civil War, did the oath change or the subject of the oath differ. It has always been to the Constitution."

The back-and-forth between the White House and the Defense Department was expected as President George W. Bush left office. President Obama has already signed orders to close Guantanamo and to pull combat troops from Iraq. But, this, say many at the Defense Department, goes to far.

"Technically, we can't talk about it before it becomes official policy." the spokesman continued. "However, the Defense Department, including the Secretary, will not take this laying down. Expect a fight from the bureaucracy and the brass."

Sources at the White House had a different point of view. In a circular distributed by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the rationale for the change was made more clear.
"The President feels that the military has been too indoctrinated by the old harbingers of hate: nationalism, racism, and classism. By removing an oath to the American society, the soldiers are less likely to commit atrocities like those at Abu Ghraib."

"We expect a lot of flak over this," ! the clas sified memo continues. "But those that would be most against it are those looking either for attention or control."

The time frame for the changes are unknown. However, it is more likely that the changes will be made around the July 4th holiday, in order to dampen any potential backlash. The difference in the oath will actually only be slight. The main differences will be the new phrasing. It is expected that the oath to the Constitution will be entirely phased out within two years.

My email back to the news exec was that, while I thought it completely false and satirical (all pledges from Demi Moore to President Obama aside), I would look into it.  Using a few of the B5 authors' contacts, we have been able to receive verbal confirmation from sources that this is completely FALSE.  We will post official responses from General Cartwright's office if/when we receive them.

There you have it.

Blackfive.net defends the Obama Administration from slander.  Next up, pigs in flight over the ice flows in the gulf of Mexico.


Update:  For the curious, the "news story" has been popping up at other blogs and email, not just the one linked.  We wanted to keep it from going viral. 

I apologize for any parietal heart attacks or strokes this may have caused.

Update 2:  Just six months ago, I posted this photo:

"...defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies..."


U.S. Army Sgt. Daryl Williams takes the oath of enlistment from his hospital bed at the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, July 9, 2008. Williams is assigned to the Scout/Sniper Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.   U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Zachary Mott.

We fight for each other.  We defend the Constitution.  We swear fealty to no man, but to an ideal.  That all men are free.  Freedom is worth fighting for.   Freedom is worth dying for.  Swearing an oath to a man is not freedom, but the exact opposite.

Perhaps that is why this story got legs (from a civilian perspective) in the first place.  Some part of civilian America is not understanding their own military.

Quite frankly, if this would happen, it would nullify all enlistment contracts, there would be a mass exodus, and most likely, there would be revolt with Chuck Z in the lead tank heading down Pennsylvania Avenue...after all, the military men and women study our history and our enemies more than our civilians do (of course).  It's been pointed out that swearing an oath to the country's leader is something from the Hitler play book.  No, it's not.  Certainly, Hitler used the tactic, but so did every tyrant the world has seen.  And it's been used by every tyrant that the United States of America has put down - the latest being Saddam.  There will be others.

Therefore, this is why the story got legs (from a military perspective) because everyone higher up in the military that we talk to about this is in utter disbelief that the rest of America would even consider it possible.  They are incredulous.  Which is why it is taking us some time to get an official response.

Basra Buddies

Many of you saw this same photo at the awesome Strategy Page.  We get our photos from the same site at the DoD.  Here it is:


A U.S. Army soldier walks down a street with two children in the Hayaniyah district of Basra, Iraq, Jan. 20, 2009. The soldier, assigned to the 793rd Military Police Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, was in the area to deliver medical supplies to a local hospital.   U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Andre N. McIntyre.