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October 2009

History Lesson - The Iraq Surge

Let's start with the most excellent Cox & Forkum from January, 2007:


Back at Cox & Forkum, there are a few cartoons depicting the trouble over the Iraq Surge.

Here at Blackfive, we collected the wisdom of the left as they staked out debate territory instead of focusing on a way forward. I thought it might remind or inform on the debate happening right now and especially on the pandering to interest groups, lobbyists, and party bases.

Here's what they said about the Iraq Surge:

But right now what we have is, I think by all accounts, a disaster unfolding in Iraq. We all have a responsibility, Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the White House, to make sure that we can come up with the best strategy. I don't think the president's strategy is going to work.” - Senator Barrak Obama on the Surge on MSNBC January 23, 2007

"I think it is very difficult for the President to sustain a war of this magnitude without the support of the American people, and without the support of the Congress of the United States. That's why Congress will vote to oppose the President's escalation." - Nancy Pelosi

"This whole notion that the surge is working is fantasy." - Senator Joe Biden

"The reality is: Despite heroic efforts by US troops, the Bush surge is not working." - Senator (D-IL) Dick Durbin

"In Iraq, his new plan is a plan for more door-to-door fighting, more civil war, more civilian casualties, more troop deaths, more wasted money, more destabilization in the region and more separation from the world community. The President wants to send more troops to Baghdad, where they will work to quell a civil war. Only a small portion - less than 20 percent - of the new effort will be spent in al Anbar, to fight al-Qaeda. Does anyone in this Administration have any sense left at all? They are sending more US troops into the middle of a civil war!

"Congress needs to take a stand against the President and take the necessary steps to bring our troops home. We need to begin talks with Iran and Syria -- and not blame them for our misguided war in Iraq. Diplomacy is the only way to avoid a widening war. If we follow the President's path of war, we will get . . . more war." - Dennis Kucinich

"This country needs a dramatic change of course in Iraq and it is the responsibility of this Congress to consummate that change" - Congressman John Murtha

"This escalation is the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Viet Nam." - Senator Chuck Hagel

"I believe ... that this war is lost, and this surge is not accomplishing anything..." - Harry Reid

"it is too early to provide a definitive assessment of the US 'surge' but it does not look likely to succeed." - The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, urging Prime Minister Brown to withdraw British troops

I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” - Senator Barrak Obama on MSNBC on January 10, 2007

"It's working. We're just years too late in our tactics.  We can't be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war. We have to win.  I think the best way of honoring their service is bringing them home." - Senator Hillary Clinton to the VFW

"The Bush Surge will backfire" - General (RET) Wesley Clark

President must delay Afghan decision until after runoff

It is imperative that President Obama delay any decision on Afghanistan until after an upcoming runoff between current President Hamid Karzai and his oppponent Abdullah2 because A2 has very diffferent views about US presence in his country and will likely call for a withdrawal of our forces.....Oh wait.

Afghanistan's opposition candidate backed Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendations for more troops Sunday, saying "the future of the country is at risk" without a "dramatic increase" in troop levels.......

Abdullah reiterated on CNN that he shared the assessment of McChrystal, who has reportedly recommended a surge of 40,000 troops, that the situation is deteriorating and that more international troops are needed “at this stage.” Abdullah also said that it is also important to consider a “road map” of drawing down U.S. and other international troops.

President Obama has been aware of just exactly what was and is going on and at stake in Afghanistan for almost a year now. He has seen three separate assessments, Lute, Seidel and now McChrystal that say go big or go home. Now we have 14 troops die in helicopter crashes and 8 more in IEDs in two days. He has shown no leadership and plenty of weakness to our enemies and our allies. More meetings and more coffee sipping isn't going to change a damn thing on the ground except to watch it deteriorate. If anyone wonders why I hate politics and politicians this is a perfect example. There is no legitimate way to frame this as a decision made on strategic national security concerns. Get off the dime sir, better men and women than you are dying. Reinforce them and try to win or bring them home now!

Head Count

Head count hires_091012-A-1748J-220b

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Scott Lund conducts accountability of soldiers before boarding a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Logar province, Afghanistan, Oct. 12, 2009. Lund is assigned to the 10th Mountain Division's Company A, Brigade Support Troops Battalion. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Richard W. Jones Jr.

John Kerry on Afghanistan- Allow me to disconcur

John Kerry spoke today at the Council on Foreign Relations on his cunning plan for A-Stan. He is not a bright or wise man and his plan basically involves kicking the can down the road and then cutting and running sometime before the next election, or 2012 at the latest. It would be nice if we could just train up some Afghan security forces, magic up some competent, non-corrupt government and then hand them the keys. Problem is that ain't possible with the Taliban whacking folks. We either smack them to gain some breathing room for some Afghan institutions to grow, or we are better off packing our bags now and saying screw 'em. Anyhow I cut together a little call and reply with me answering Jacques since McChrystal and Petraeus can't say what they think. Fixed video link

UPDATE: I said it in the comments to a PRT member who had worked in Afghanistan and will add it here. In the rant I disparage diplomats and civilians as never leaving the wire or their hotels. I apologize to those who do, they take great risks and do much good. I will double down on my dislike of the risk-averse mentality of the State leadership and bureaucracy and their consequent drag on any civilian surge.That I have seen personally and still hear about regularly. Remember I do these rants unscripted so I will revise and extend my remarks as required to be fair. Here is a piece asking if Kerry's speech announces Obama's decision. Let us hope not.

Valour-IT - TEAM ARMY - Please visit these Army blogs

Hooah Wife & Friends
This Ain't Hell
Laughing Wolf
Mail Call!Supporting the Troops
Pure Surplus
Righty in a Lefty State
The Thunder Run
From My Position... On the Way!!!
Love, Mom (Notes From The Fridge)
The Sniper
Military Families Voice of Victory
You Betcha I'm a Proud Army Mom
Long Island girl's blog
A Soldier's Perspective
Delta Bravo Sierra
Warrior's Story
Great Reader
Jig's Old Saws
Assoluta tranquillita
Knotties Niche
The Albrecht Squad
Bouhammer's Afghan and Military Blog
Political Byline
Little Drops Into The Pool Of Life
Veritably Bare
My Army Wife Life
The Jury Talks back
Gazing at the Flag
Winds of Change.NET
The Snooper Report
11W to 11B with Love
Proud Liberal Army Wife
Void Where Prohibited

Valour-IT Kickoff! TEAM ARMY!


Today kicks off the annual Valour-IT fundraiser to get laptops with specific software capabilities into the hands of our Wounded Warriors.  This year, we are leading the kick-off again, and Blackfive is leading Team Army with over 40 other sites.

For those of you not familiar with Valour-IT, here is a short history of what it is:

Project Valour-IT began when Captain Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss was wounded by an IED while serving as commander of a tank company in Iraq in June 2005.

During his deployment he kept a blog (an online personal diary, opinion forum, or news analysis site-called a milblog or military weblog when written by a servicemember or about military subjects). Captivating writing, insightful stories of his experiences, and his self-deprecating humor won him many loyal readers. After he was wounded, his wife continued his blog, keeping his readers informed of his condition.

As he began to recover, CPT Ziegenfuss wanted to return to writing his blog, but serious hand injuries hampered his typing. When a loyal and generous reader gave him a copy of the Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred software, other readers began to realize how important such software could be to CPT Ziegenfuss' fellow wounded soldiers and started cast about for a way to get it to them.

A fellow blogger (blog author) who writes under the pseudonym FbL contacted Captain Ziegenfuss and the two realized they shared a vision of providing laptops with voice-controlled software to wounded soldiers whose injuries prevented them from operating a standard computer. FbL contacted Soldiers Angels, who offered to help develop the project, and Project Valour-IT was born.

In sharing their thoughts, CPT Ziegenfuss (now a Major) and FbL found that memories of their respective fathers were a motivating factor in their work with the project. Both continue their association with this project in memory of the great men in their lives whose fine examples taught them lasting lessons of courage and generosity.

In the years since its founding in 2005, the project has acted to meet emerging needs and its mission of supporting the the severely wounded has expanded.  In addition to voice-controlled laptops, Valour-IT now helps provide active and whole-body video games such as Wii Sports, which is used to great effect in physical therapy,  and personal GPS systems that help compensate for short-term memory loss and organizational/spacial challenges common in those with brain injuries.

Valour-IT has 4 teams- Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.  The software and hardware afforded to the wounded thru this effort allows our wounded to access the internet, write family, and basically function online in ways they could never imagine before.  I've used this stuff, seen how it works, and it's TRULY amazing.

This year, Team Army would like to raise $250,000 dollars in order to help 250 wounded get the software they need and the laptop required.  The VALOUR-IT goal is over a million dollars to help over 1,000 wounded- with this kind of purchasing power we can get discounts that afford more software and more hardware.  This is theraputic as well as functional help for our wounded.  DONATE NOW to the team of your choice (but hey, this is a plug for TEAM ARMY, huh?).

Help us get this moving!  DONATE NOW to TEAM ARMY!

Mr Wolf is watching you...


Be sure to follow #TeamArmy and #valourIT on Twitter!  Spread the word and be sure to use these hashtags!

The Passing of a Giant

First, I need to start with a disclaimer:  The following is my personal account and thoughts, and in no way represents the official position of Purdue, the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, the College of Engineering, Marketing & Media, or any other person, entity, or institution. 


In this life, we are sometimes blessed to know people who are more than simply unique.  These are people who challenge the status quo, our assumptions about the world and even about what we can do, and do so in a way that is a joy to watch and be a part of.  These are people who literally change the world, and the greatest of them also change those around them in powerful and positive ways as well. 

For the last five years, I've had the honor to be a colleague of one such person.  Made frail by time, effectively blind, he still showed up for work every morning at 0430 for the majority of the time I knew him.  A man who did not care what position or title you held, but what ideas you held and how hard you were willing to work.  Focused on one thing and one thing only:  changing the world for the better by improving the lives and health of people.  Doing that one thing, he changed the face of modern medicine and made possible the modern implantable medical device industry.  More than that, he shaped the minds of those around him and somehow, someway, taught others to think outside the box.

That man, was Leslie Alexander Geddes

Continue reading "The Passing of a Giant" »

Pentagon wargames Afghanistan plans

As you would assume they have been, the Pentagon is reported to have wargamed the two most likely scenarios for Afghanistan.

The exercise, led by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, examined the likely outcome of inserting 44,000 more troops into the country to conduct a full-scale counterinsurgency effort aimed at building a stable Afghan government that can control most of the country. It also examined adding 10,000 to 15,000 more soldiers and Marines as part of an approach that the military has dubbed "counterterrorism plus."

Apparently Biden's Magic Ninja option didn't make the cut. The military thought so much of his strategerizing that they refused to even write up a treatment of it.

People familiar with the internal debates say Mr. Obama rejected a strictly counter-terror approach during White House deliberations in early October. One official said Pentagon strategists were asked to draft brief written arguments making the best case for each strategy, but the strategists had difficulties writing out a credible case for the counter-terror approach -- prompting members of Mr. Biden's staff to step in and write the document themselves.

Back to the wargaming.

Both options were drawn from a detailed analysis prepared by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the senior commander in Afghanistan, and were forwarded to President Obama in recent weeks by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

The Pentagon war game did not formally endorse either course; rather, it tried to gauge how Taliban fighters, the Afghan and Pakistani governments and NATO allies might react to either of the scenarios. Mullen, a key player in the game, has discussed its conclusions with senior White House officials involved in the discussions over the new strategy.

They do not release the results, but the answer is not tough to glean from this.

One of the exercise's key assumptions is that an increase of 10,000 to 15,000 troops would not in the near future give U.S. commanders the forces they need to take back havens from the Taliban commanders in southern and western Afghanistan, where shadow insurgent governors collect taxes and run court systems based on Islamic sharia law.

The folks who do this for a living have made it pretty crystal clear that we either make a full effort on this, or we ought to quit. Throwing a few more troops into play for a strategy that has little chance of success would be shameful, spineless politics. It would take more guts to pull out if Obama is not going to aim for a win. If he is not resolved to try he should do that, if not he should listen to his Generals. Make the call!

Godspeed, Chris Rudzinski...

Blackfive asked me to stand up and post this for him- Chris' father Mike wrote in with the details of Chris' services.  Previous postings are HERE and HERE.

Even the Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn, paid respects.  Matt's always said he's a good guy.  Even ordered flags to half-staff for 3 days: see that order here.

Here is video and info on Chris' procession:

The motorcade:

More on the procesion:  http://illinoishomepage.net/media_player.php?media_id=389321

And here, some on the visitation for Chris:




Mike adds:

On behalf of our family, we again would like to thank you for all you
have done to honor Chris' life and offer consoloation to of his family
and friends.  We will lay Chris  in his final rest next to his sister
Jacqui tomorrow.

Mike, we will keep him in our thoughts and prayers for you.  From all of us at Blackfive...

Mr Wolf

Ospreys Over Egypt

Ospreys egypt hires_091012-M-1645M-062-213357a

MV-22B Ospreys fly over the Egyptian coastline during Exercise Bright Star in Egypt, Oct. 12, 2009. U.S. Central Command conducts the multinational exercise, which is designed to improve readiness, interoperability, and strengthen the military and professional relationships among U.S., Egyptian and participating forces. The Ospreys are assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin M. Martinez