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August 2009

Osprey Sunset

Osprey hires_090819-M-6001G-222b

A MV-22 Osprey soars into the sky, escorting Marines after successfully completing a company size raid during a raid course on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 19, 2009. The Osprey crew is assigned to Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 162, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and the Marines are assigned to Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alex C. Guerra

Ted Kennedy - CBS Needs to do some Fact Checking

Senator Ted Kennedy was a veteran of the US Army.  After getting kicked out of Harvard for cheating, he was drafted he enlisted.  After serving his three two years, he went back to Harvard and you probably know the rest of the story.  

CBS News interviewed staffers and family and did not investigate this claim [emphasis mine].

And, even when he was out-voted, Kennedy was willing to take unpopular stands. He was one of the first politicians to oppose the 2003 American invasion of Iraq.

But Kennedy supported the soldiers who served in Iraq, and their families -
especially those from his own state.

"He's gone to the funeral of every soldier who's come home from Iraq in a casket, whether it's up in Massachusetts or at Arlington Cemetery. And it's hard. But he knows it pays respect for giving the last full measure that these young soldiers have given. And after he goes to that funeral, he goes up and visits the graves of his brothers," according to long-time Kennedy aide Melody Miller...

I didn't know about this article until a few soldiers from Massachusets emailed me to tell me that they never saw Senator Kennedy at a military funeral.  I'm sure that he went to some, but "every soldier"?

Here's part of an email from a commander:

I've buried two kids myself, Ted wasn't there. We know this is bullshit. I hope u guys look into it.

Email me if you have seen or not seen Senator Kennedy at a military funeral anywhere.

Update: 08-28-09: 

Reader Hognose sends this report:

1. Funeral of SSG Chris Piper in Marblehead MA.

Chris was a member of 7th SFG(A). He'd done a tour with C 1/20th SFG(A) previously, and took a one strip hit to go back to active duty because the SF Guard unit was not going back for five years.

Kennedy did not attend. John F. Kerry did attend with his veteran coordinator and one other aide. He kept looking at his watch, but he did show up. (In Mass, where I lived until last year, Kennedy has an excellent rep for constituent service and Kerry a poor one, so the two were playing against type.

2. Funeral of MAJ Jeffrey Calero, Mass Army National Guard, KIA 10-30-07.
Jeff was KIA on second tour in Afghanistan with C 1/20 based in Springfield MA. No Mass. politicians attended or sent representatives (Jeff was buried on Long Island, New York; his parents live in Queens Village which is where the city meets the island).

3. Not a funeral but a memorial. Later, a training facility was dedicated in Massachusetts, named after Maj. Calero and a young enlisted man from a conventional unit. Unfortunately I have forgotten his name. At the time, they were the only two MA ARNG KIAs (there were six or eight DNHs, suicides, etc). Governor Deval Patrick attended, and Congressman Delahunt, but neither Massachusetts Senator.

 -- the MA ARNG adjutant general spoke and praised Patrick for never missing a MA ARNG funeral. But he wasn't at Calero's, and he wouldn't have been at the other kid's either, because that young man was killed in 2005, before Patrick was governor. I assume he just blew Calero off like Kennedy and Kerry, because the event was outside Boston media coverage.

 -- Delahunt's presence was irritating as he's a stolen valor guy -- he claimed for decades to be a veteran but turns out never to have served. Of course, the chumbolones in Mass. keep electing him.

I can only speak to the funerals & memorials I've personally attended, and I generally only attend those of personal friends. C 1/20 has been lucky so far. May the luck hold.

I wouldn't want Kennedy at my funeral and I think the presence of his old carcass will defile Arlington.

As far as CBS is concerned: they hate veterans, always have, back to the "tripwire vets" fabrications of the 1970s. And they love Kennedys. And they don't care about the facts behind the narrative they sell. I haven't watched network TV in over ten years, and stay better informed than people who do. Not that it's hard.

Finally your statement about Kennedy's tour length is mistaken. He volunteered for four years but the families consiglieris got it changed to two. According to his website, he advanced to the grade of private first class. I think that was when it was still E-2.


Suspicious Activity

Digging hires_090813-A-6365W-089b

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Sadler speaks with Afghans digging a hole in a mountain that looks like a fighting position in Afghanya, Afghanistan, Aug. 13, 2009. Sadler is a civil affairs team chief from the Kapisa-Parwan Provincial Reconstruction Team. Infantry soldiers from the team alerted Sadler of the suspicious activity. The Afghans said they were building a house in that site.
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Teddy Wade

[Note:  I often build a house on the military crest of the ridgeline...]

A military solution for Afghanistan?

Amir Taheri has a good piece today in the NY Post answering the conventional wisdom that there is no military solution in Afghanistan.

IN Kabul these days, those wishing to sound knowledgeable fire one phrase at visiting reporters: "This has no military solution!" One hears it from President Hamid Karzai, UN "experts" and diplomats. Yet they appear stuck when asked: What precisely is the "this" that has no military solution?

While it is true that pacifying Afghanistan can't be done solely by military means, it cannot be done without first defeating the insurgents in order to safeguard the populace. Then you can focus on all of the quality of life issues that will seal the deal.

The Afghan experience could be divided into three phases. In the first phase, the US, backed by the Afghan Northern Alliance, managed to flush the Taliban out of Kabul, gain control of the country and establish a new regime.

The second phase, between 2004 and 2008, saw America and NATO focusing on such nonmilitary issues as creating a new administrative machine, raising a new Afghan army and police and inventing a new judiciary.

All that was done under the assumption that the UN-backed NATO presence was a peacekeeping, rather than a peace-enforcing, mission. The bulk of NATO forces behaved more like the Salvation Army than a fighting machine in a real war.

This flies in the face of the argument that W took his eye off the ball with his excursion into Iraq. But it has the advantage of being true. Bush was involved in that thing he is always accused of not doing, multi-lateralism. He worked with our NATO allies and divvied up responsibilities for building a functioning society. This proved a bigger challenge than hoped and progress was minimal.

Add to this Pakistan's abdication of control for the tribal areas and allowing the Talibs & AQ a place to call their own and you have a recipe for failure. Starting in 2006 a full scale resurgence of the insurgency began and we have been seeing an increase in violence ever since. We began to actively counter this and with an increase of our troop strength to 68,000 have begun to take the necessary steps to defeat it. But we need to add 5-8 more brigades if we are going to move the extremists out of all the places where they now are operating. All the civilian surge and other smart power activities are dependent on a security environment that will get the risk-averse State and other agency folks outside the wire.

Walking In


The other day, in this post, I told you of the ceremony that happens to the wounded arriving at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. There is something else that happens on arrival, that I can only tell you about, for it was not meet that I should photograph it.

Some who arrive at Landstuhl are ambulatory, some are in a category that falls between ambulatory and critical.  There are those from both groups who refuse (or try to refuse) a stretcher.  Then there is a special group that no matter what, make a point of doing something as they approach the doorway into the hospital.

This group refuses to be wheeled into the facility.  They will leave wheelchair or stretcher, and walk through that doorway.  They may have to get back onto or into that stretcher or wheelchair, but they are by God walking through that doorway no matter what.  It is a sign of defiance against what has happened, a matter of will to beat this new challenge they face, and -- for many -- it is a promise to themselves that they will walk out again under their own power. 

It is an intensely private and personal moment for them, and it is not mine to share in pictures.  That belongs to them.  For all those who walked in and for those that did indeed walk out, I simply share with you this image one of the many doors at Landstuhl. For it is not the doorway that is important, but the spirit that goes with walking through the doorway of challenge with pride, hope, and determination. 


The political battle for Afghanistan

 From the WaPo- President Obama is caught between two important constituencies as he recalibrates his policy in Afghanistan -- the generals who want more troops, and the base of his own party, whose tolerance for a worsening conflict is quickly evaporating.

McChrystalAStan This is going to be a telling moment for President Obama. He made a lot of bold statements about Afghanistan and now he is at the point where he has to back them up. He is also in the position where the success or failure in Afghanistan will be seen as his responsibility. Had he not been so vocal during the campaign about Afghanistan I think it would have been politically tenable for him to shut down the war there and claim it was Bush's fault. Instead he used hawkish rhetoric about Afghanistan as political cover for a cut & run position on Iraq. He could not oppose both wars without risking being called a pacifist and now he is stuck.

As the debate about Iraq played out we had a situation where the war was going badly, domestic support for it was flagging and many in Congress wanted to "end" the war. Then we had a fresh General with a new idea who said give me some more troops and we can win this thing, and he was right. Now in Afghanistan the war is going badly, domestic support is flagging, and many in Congress want to "end" the war.. We are about to get a report from a fresh General with a plan based on the lessons learned from the new idea and he is going to say give me some more troops and we can win this thing.

The argument about this war will be played out in Congress and in the media (including us) and the real difference will be that Obama and not the hated W will be the architect of our strategy. His problem is that he has spent all the political capital he could beg, steal and borrow on his grand plan to nationalize our society. Plus I don't believe he ever really had his heart into fighting a long, hard war in Afghanistan anyhow. Add to that the disenchantment from his left wing with the fact that he hasn't done enough on their pet causes and you have an interesting problem for the President/Commander in Chief. It would be near impossible to go against the advice of the Petraeus/McChrystal axis if they come back with a request for 25,000 or some more troops. But it will completely alienate his MoveOn cohorts if he does so.

My prediction is that when the request comes through he will give almost as many as asked for, but he will put a timeline in place for our efforts there. I think he will make the calculation that he cannot be seen as not supporting Petraeus and the troops, but that it will take too long to achieve anything that could be called victory. So he will give himself an out that comes before 2012 that allows him to pull the plug in time to get the left back on board for his re-election. I hope I am wrong, but that calculation makes the most sense politically and that is what he will use to make the decision.

Mr Wolf at American Legion Update 4

0930:  BREAKING:  The Legion is releasing a presser on the 'death book' that has caused so much consternation in the health-care reform debate.

I've just been handed the first copy of the press release, before even their internal staff receives it. Cdr Rehbein states: "we are certain that the VA made this controversial pub available with the best intentions... however elements of the booklet 'Your Life, Your Choices' can be misconstrued and appear insensitive.  Like the Homeland Security report; this release shows poor planning and coordination, no matter how well intentioned.''

Ouch.  That's going to leave a mark.  For those that have not followed this, this booklet details out 'options' for veterans in their 'end days' and how to go about them.  While not an 'official' publication, it's been distributed and made available by the VA; so, doesn't that make it 'officially unofficial'???  It's an ugly attempt on a serious topic.  Similar publications and information is seen as a central meme in the national healthcare debate, which seems to push seniors to 'hurry up and die' in order to cut costs.

I'm in NO hurry to depart this earth anytime soon.  And anyone that purports to want to HELP me do so, should be considered murderous.  Insanity.  Just go look at some of the writings of PBO's science czar.

0745--  Today is a bit of a 'lighter' day as far as material I'll cover here.  I don't think you want to hear a bunch of committee verbiage on what was going on, but I'll tweet some of the more interesting comments and activities over on Twitter: @warriororg. 

In the meantime, I hope to catch up on what I could not get posted up yesterday due to all the hubbub going on- so many featured guests it was hard to keep up IN PERSON let alone live-blog it.  Some of the items I hope to catch up on:

Photos; Comments by ADM Mullen; Comments by Sec'y Shinseki; Photos; Awards; Miss America; Comments by GEN Petraeus; Photos; Comments by the Nat'l Commander.

I also had an interview yesterday with the person nominated to be the new National Commander, and I'll have his views and comments up as well.  Very, very interesting day yesterday.  Oh, and the Sec'y of Labor Hilda Solis never showed up as scheduled.  Not sure what happened there, but, given how much time Sec'y Shinseki needed to address all of his material, its probably a good thing she didn't.  

Stay tuned.

Mr Wolf

Cooking For The Wounded: News and News!

There is news to share this morning on the upcoming cooking for the wounded project at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.  I am pleased to announce that this event will now be held at the USO facility there, on Sunday 20 September.  The USO is even distributing some flyers about it.  In addition, there are some conversations underway with the Red Cross, and those are looking interesting indeed.

Even better, this effort will not be a one-off.  A week or so ago, the Lafayette Journal & Courier ran an article about this effort (a short version is here), and that resulted in my getting an e-mail from Katy Gunderson, owner of The Yellow Bowl Bakery in Lafayette.  It seems that she and her cohort in crime, Molly (a CIA-trained pastry chef), were very interested in the trip.  In point of fact, they are interested in not only doing another trip to Landstuhl, but in doing some things here in the U.S. for the wounded.  They also believe that we can get a few others to pitch in on such efforts.  We are now plotting and planning, so stay tuned for updates.  If you are in the Lafayette area, I can vouch for these two wonderful chefs, so give their business a try. 

Things are going, and if you haven't already donated, please do so at Soldiers' Angels noting that it is for "Cooking with Laughing Wolf."  I actually have found my chef's coat and it still fits, so it is out for getting Laughing Wolf upon it and cleaning.  Now to make sure TSA doesn't freak over the knife bag I will have with me... 


who also notes that Soldiers' Angels is now CFC #25131 in the Combined Federal Campaign... 

Update:  Have spent a good chunk of time since 0500 navigating the hell that is United's voicemail system and dealing with one helpful and one condescending customer service rep.  And they wonder why I fly with them as little as possible, for they do much more than just break guitars -- they also take months to respond to media queries from mere bloggers.  Finally got an answer on if they still require chefs to check their knife bags for flight in the cockpit, not sure it is the full  or correct answer, but have an answer... 

Update II:  Need to note that flight crews and check-in people have been enormously helpful, friendly, and good.  In fact, I can't say enough good about them.  Now if the corpororate side/everyone else in the company would live up to that example...