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February 2010

CPAC's lack of foreign policy discussion

Except for a few minor instances, the CPAC event here in DC was notably lacking much talk about foreign policy and national security. Obviously the economy and health care and the rest are dominating much of the attention, but as Frank Gaffney points out that shouldn't be to the detriment of a focus on our security.

With a few notable exceptions - including powerful addresses by former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton and former Sen. Rick Santorum - the program was bereft of the focus one would think 10,000 people who cherish the memory of Ronald Reagan would have demanded, especially in the midst of a global war with two active combat fronts.

Incredibly, there was but one panel held in the plenary hall that had as its principal subject the question of national defense. Titled "What is a Conservative Foreign Policy?", it featured remarks by a junior (but promising) member of Congress, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah; an old Reaganaut, Don Devine, who urged America to emulate President Reagan's abandoning of Lebanon and the use of force only in tiny Grenada; and Joanne Herring, the colorful Texas patriot/philanthropist best known for her persona played by Julia Roberts in "Charlie Wilson's War."

With all due respect to the participants, it is inconceivable that CPAC's organizers could not have arranged a more formidable program to address this and related topics. We are entitled to know why they did not do so. Watch this space for the answer.

Well to be fair, there was at least one panel that talked about foreign policy and how transnational organizations threaten US sovereignty and Frank spoke on that panel. Here is Warrior Legacy Institute's paper on how Universal Jurisdiction causes sovereignty issues for our counterterror efforts.

The blame game

Herschel Smith over at Captain's Journal is also looking at the current round of armchair Generalling going on and wonder if this should be farther up the food chain.

So via the AR 15-6 process, we are on another head hunt in order to exonerate decisions made at the very top.  Listen carefully to me.  I have previously said that COP Keating did indeed serve a purpose, i.e., to interdict fighters flowing from Pakistan into Afghanistan along this route.  That is what makes this so ugly.

McChrystal has a right to decide, stipulate, caveat, circle back around, and whatever else he wants to do.  His giving up the countryside in favor of population centers is wrongheaded, and I do not now and have never concurred with the idea of population-centric counterinsurgency when applied as an exclusive use doctrine.  Nor do I believe in holding terrain.

But again, listen carefully to me.  What neither McChrystal nor any of his reports has a right to do is leave U.S. warriors in poor terrain, with lack of adequate force protection, in inadequately garrisoned outposts, with poor logistics and little outside assistance.  McChrystal DOES have a right to issue deployment / garrisoning orders.  He DOESN’T have a right to forget or ignore basic military doctrine like force protection – not for interdiction, not for politics, not for any reason, ever.

I am not certain any of those things happened, but I don;t have a solid feel for that event and am still investigating it. These questions certainly do need to be asked to make sure we don't leave our troops flappin' in the breeze.

Victory defined

Can we achieve victory in our current conflict? Although our president won't use the term "victory," we at least owe it to our troops to remember what it means and to keep charging forward. Victor Davis Hanson illustrates:

Victory has usually been defined throughout the ages as forcing the enemy to accept certain political objectives. “Forcing” usually meant killing, capturing, or wounding men at arms. In today’s polite and politically correct society we seem to have forgotten that nasty but eternal truth in the confusing struggle to defeat radical Islamic terrorism.

Humans have been fighting wars since before Moses was a corporal - and always will - because it's basic human nature for one group to want something they don't have, or want to eradicate people they don't like. And while we would prefer that wars could be executed with technology, non-lethal ammunition, and negotiations, the truth is that war will always be decided by soldiers and Marines with guns.

In the case of our current conflict, the U.S. military is defending against (albeit with either one or sometimes both hands tied behind our backs) a supremacist movement that wants to kill/convert/subjugate those who don't practice their form of Islam.

And why should this struggle be so "confusing?" Our enemies have done us the favor of identifying themselves. All we have left to do is acknowledge their declarations of war and return the favor. We aren't fighting Muslims as many have wrongly suggested, otherwise we would have long since bombed U.S. mosques and Islamic centers. We are fighting jihadists. It's just that simple.

What stopped the imperial German army from absorbing France in World War I and eventually made the Kaiser abdicate was the destruction of a once magnificent army on the Western front — superb soldiers and expertise that could not easily be replaced. Saddam Hussein left Kuwait in 1991 when he realized that the U.S. military was destroying his very army. Even the North Vietnamese agreed to a peace settlement in 1973, given their past horrific losses on the ground and the promise that American air power could continue indefinitely inflicting its damage on the North.

When an enemy finally gives up, it is for a combination of reasons — material losses, economic hardship, loss of territory, erosion of civilian morale, fright, mental exhaustion, internal strife. But we forget that central to a concession of defeat is often the loss of the nation’s soldiers — or even the threat of such deaths.

Our enemies know they have no chance on the battlefield, which is precisely why we are fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, and not fighting Iran and Saudi Arabia in a conventional war. But while we are beating them on the battlefield, little damage has been done to our enemies on other fronts. When your enemy is committed to an ideology that treasures death more than life, then "material losses, economic hardship," etc. will have far less effect than it would on say, Germans. But this is no reason to throw in the towel. The more mujahideen we kill, the more suicide bombers blow themselves up, the more resources our enemy expends, the less they have.

And as we kill the jihadists on one hand, on the other we are helping the non-jihadist Muslims wherever our troops operate. Our enemy can't maintain their populations in a perpetual dark ages, surrounded with death and destruction, while the U.S. is constructing roads, schools, and dams. Sooner or later people will realize that the jihad means death while cooperation means prosperity.

Victory is most easily obtained by ending the enemy’s ability to resist — and by offering him an alternative future that might appear better than the past. We may not like to think all of that entails killing those who wish to kill us, but it does, always has, and tragically always will — until the nature of man himself changes.

All that remains is for us to maintain our resolve and to show our enemies that we will not compromise with supremacists.

Juicebox Mafia Report- Keeping COP Keating open

Attackerman has been discussing the decision to keep COP Keating and several other outposts open prior to the Afghan elections. This was done at the request of the Afghan government for political reasons. He posts some comments from a reader who makes some good points about politics and military decisions. I concur w/ the commenter.

Also an In the Crosshairs video about whether Congress is broken.

The Battle of Iwo Jima: 65 years ago

Iwo_jima1249331714 On Feb. 19, 1945, thousands of Marines landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima, the first U.S. assault on Japanese home islands. For over a month, the Marines fought an epic fight with Japanese troops before declaring the island secured on March 16, 1945. Of the thousands (estimates run as high as 22,000) of Japanese troops defending the island, only 216 were captured. The rest were either killed either in battle or by ritual suicide.

The fighting produced over 26,000 U.S. casualties. Nearly 7,000 Marines (and 300 sailors) were killed. After the battle, Admiral Chester Nimitz said, "Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Indeed, 27 Medals of Honor were awarded to Marines and sailors for their actions at Iwo Jima. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting their citations at Unto the Breach.

Christmas from Iraq

I don't know if any of you remember, but a couple years back there was a blog called "Jack's Texas Music," written by a police officer out in, of course, Texas.  It was the best blog covering that world I've yet seen.  "Jack" humanized police officers in a way no law enforcement PR flack could ever do; he could pull your heart out with a sad story one minute, and then make you laugh while he shoved it back down your throat the next.  For one reason or another, though, "Jack" stopped blogging and shut it down a few years back. 

I considered it a tragedy.  

Luckily, "Jack" stayed in touch with me and a few of his other groupies.  And he has recently informed me he's back in business.  This time, from somewhere in Iraq.  So here's a link to a short piece he put up, one I think you'll like, unless you're opposed to the occasional f-bomb.  And if you do like it, I'd consider it a favor if you'd drop him a quick comment, so he'll think twice before shutting it down again, leaving me without a fix.    


-- Uber Pig

Medal of Honor History: Wesley L. Fox

41 years ago today First Lieutenant Wesley L. Fox's heroic actions in the A Shau Valley, Vietnam earned him the Medal of Honor. A veteran of both Korea and Vietnam, Fox retired as a Colonel, having served in each pay grade from Private to Colonel except for Sergeant Major. Fox's citation can be viewed at Unto the Breach.

Image source: Mishalov.com

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle / System Poll


No offense to InstaPinch, but fighter planes*, like Kelly McGillis of Top Gun fame, are now known to be gay. So are Bombers. And cargo planes exist only through the benevolence of paratroopers. And so it is that I ask you, the infantrymen of Blackfive, which of the new generation of Unmanned Aerial vehicles (or Systems, if you're a nerd) has most captured your imagination, leaving you sweaty and warm during long winter nights:

* the A-10 Warthog is neither a fighter, nor a bomber. Rather, it exists in a nether world of hypermasculine studliness, approached only by Leatherman tools and Skoal chewing tobacco.


-- Uber Pig

Honor Defined

If you haven't read David Bellavia on Victory, you absolutely HAVE to read this. A better description of why Victory is important and why we fight, and how to Honor for our Fallen, I cannot find so well expressed anywhere else. From the guy who was there, and knows what we seek in our service to our country, and sacrificed for our comrades, I can find no finer testimonial.

Read it all.


A Quick Bleg for Cooking with the Wounded


Okay, kicking off fundraising for the year one day before the Haiti earthquake was not the best timing in the world.  The initial effort fell far short of what we had hoped for, even in these, frankly, hard times. 

Yet, some things continue to amaze me.  The person who won the autographed photo of Phyllis Diller has declined the prize, asking that it instead be auctioned instead to raise more money for the cause.  The person who earned the signed Christmas card from Ted Nugent has also declined to keep it.  Just a thought, but you might want to keep an eye out for some things happening in that regard in April/May, especially if a couple of celebrities step up as indicated.  We may just have a really good auction...


On Friday, I sent out the word via social media that we needed help.  At that time, the online effort had not earned enough to buy even a single ticket to Landstuhl, and the team from The Yellow Bowl Bakery is now scheduled to go in March.  On Sunday 21 March, one way or another, we WILL be cooking and having a dinner at the USO Warrior Center.  The feature will be desserts by Katy and Molly (seen above at the practice event at WR in November), and I will be doing some beanies-are-for-weenies chili and fixings as a lead in. 

All good, but we need to buy tickets this week to get a decent price. 

On Friday, I challenged all the members of the CwtW cause and group on Facebook that if each could find a way to donate $5, we could easily afford a ticket (there being a fair bit of crossover), and if all gave $10 we had two and a bit more. 

I know we ask you for a lot here.  You've heard before that we rarely ask you to give to something that we ourselves haven't given to.  I won't go into the time and money I'm putting into this, or that I even bought a new printer just to better handle some of the graphics and color for our materials.  Oops, sorta did, oh well. Well, another plug is that you can now follow CwtW on Twitter (and find links to chefs and foodies). 

If you can, please help us out.  Go to this site and use the link there for donating (and if there is a field for comments be sure to add that it is for #CwtW!).  $5 is a good start, and very much appreciated for I know all too well what that means to many of us these days.  Times are tough, jobs rocky, and salary/benefits cutbacks are likely.  So, anything you are willing to do is appreciated.

Thanks for putting up with my semi-constant badgering on this. Know that I'm badgering companies and businesses, local and national, even more than I am you. Fact is, it's going to take grants and some serious sponsorships to do what Katy and I want to do with this.  I also want to thank Patti for allowing us to try some new and different things in our marketing plan, and if you have a company I've got some sponsorship info you want to see for the short- and long-term ROI...