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March 2010

The First Amendment and Military Funerals

I realize we talked about this, but we're just not done.

The father of a fallen Marine is telling a US Federal Court to go jump in the lake over its demand that he pay the court costs of Fred Phelps and his band of... ah, whatever they are.  The more I think about this, the less I can understand why Phelps is let anywhere near a military funeral

A funeral ought to enjoy at least as much first amendment protection as a protest designed to disrupt the funeral. It is, normally, an act of religious expression; and even where it is not, atheistic funerals are accorded the same protections (e.g., the atheist 'symbol' for government headstones is a protection designed to respect atheist's non-religious beliefs in this area usually associated with religion).

I'm not sure why Phelps' band would be entitled to a 1A right that disrupts someone else's right; or why it's OK to put protestors in a "free speech area" at a political convention to protect the feelings and images of two-bit Congressmen, but not at a military funeral where it would protect the feelings of the honestly suffering family of those who died in our service.

Let them have a protest area, if they must, removed from the family.  I trust they can draw the same flies there as elsewhere.

Refueling Tanker Goat Rope extended

I don't think many would argue that our Defense procurement system functions as if it were serving up a soup sandwich to a guy in a chicken wire canoe as he swung his football bat while wearing bowling cleats and trying to open the screen door on his submarine. How's that for a mixed metaphor?

But this tanker debacle has been going on since Christ was a corporal ( I can't stop). Our current tankers have been upgraded from their original design of a 55 gal. drum strapped to the back of a pterodactyl.  Now it will be extended again?

Military Roundup

ACLU project endangers CIA interrogators: The CIA says that the ACLU-backed "John Adams Project" endangers CIA interrogators. The Washington Times states the Project "has photographed covert CIA interrogators and shown the pictures to some of the five senior al Qaeda terrorists held there in an effort to identify them further."

On 29 Mar, 20 photos of CIA interrogators were found in the cell of a detainee believed to be a financier of the 9/11 attacks.

Some CIA officials are said to be concerned over Justice Department officials who formerly represented Guantanamo inmates. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder admitted nine DOJ appointees represented GTMO detainees or contributed to amicus briefs on their behalf, but would not provide further details. Holder also admitted, however, that he didn't survey the entire Department, just large offices. There could be many more former terrorist litigators in our "Justice" Department. Andrew McCarthy has more.

Photo of the Day: U.S. pilots flying Russian helicopters?

Cheonan incident: South Korea's president placed the military on alert, said the sinking could have been due to a North Korean mine. 46 crew members are still missing and it is unlikely any will be recovered.

START Treaty: Russia claims they will have upgraded 80% of their nuclear arsenal by 2015. Meanwhile, the U.S. is paying to dismantle their old weapons systems - allowing the Russians to spend on new weapons systems instead. The U.S. has not introduced a new system in 15 years. Advantage: Russia. Big time.

Afghanistan/Pakistan: U.S. forces set sights on Taliban bastion of Kandahar

Ralph Peters: Gen. McChrystal's "look out, here we come" warnings to the Taliban may be backfiring; terrorists turning on terrorists in AfPak; Obama's midnight ride to Afghanistan sends the wrong message.

The good news? We're not only killing terrorists in Pakistan -- they're starting to kill each other. The bad news? Afghanistan isn't a war. It's a politically correct experiment -- conducted with our troops -- by an administration with higher priorities.

Somalia: Pentagon considers sending surveillance (unarmed) drones, special operations units to Somalia in fight against al Qaeda-linked terrorists.

U.S. Navy E-2 aircraft crashes in Arabian Sea. Three of the four crew have been rescued, search underway for the fourth.

Let's Get Out There And Support Jorge "El Conquistador" Rivera - Veteran and MMA Fighter!

Jorge Rivera visits the troops in Korea

Tomorrow night, March 31st, Ranger Up's Jorge Rivera will take on Nate Quarry on Spike TV's UFC 21.

We featured some of El Conquistador's wisdom here a few weeks ago.  We are admirers of the former US Army Cavalryman and supporter of our troops, and, at 38, he's just hitting his stride in MMA.  No matter what, every fight with Jorge Rivera is a fight you don't want to miss. And his fight against Nate Quarry will be amazing.

And now, to our surprise, we just found out from the guys at Ranger Up that Jorge Rivera will be wearing a Soldiers Angels shirt at tomorrow's fight.  So add one helluva good man on top of all the other accolades and admiration we have for him.

So, in the Comments, let's show some support for Jorge "El Conquistador" Rivera and let him know we're in his corner!

Presidential Bomber Jackets


As the only regular author here with decent fashion sense -- or at least better than Matt -- I feel compelled to point out that Barack Obama looks just as stupid in his leather bomber jacket as Dubya did.  


Except of course that when Dubya wore a bomber jacket, the Daily Show made fun of him.

Carry on,

Uber Pig

PS:  We're up to 148 members for our group petitioning Democratic Leaders to condemn MoveOn.org for its anti-military bigotry.  If you're on Facebook, go ahead and get some.

Could this be the end of U.S. air superiority?

From Air Power Australia's assessment of the Russian Sukhoi PAK-FA (emphasis mine):

Detailed strategic analysis indicates that the only viable strategic survival strategy now remaining for the United States is to terminate the Joint Strike Fighter program immediately, redirect freed funding to further develop the F-22 Raptor, and employ variants of the F-22 aircraft as the primary fighter aircraft for all United States and Allied TACAIR needs.

If the United States does not fundamentally change its planning for the future of tactical air power, the advantage held for decades will be soon lost and American air power will become an artefact of history.

U.S. air power may become an artifact of history? I understand that this is primarily an Army blog, but I bet that both Blackfive authors and readers alike have directly benefited from U.S. air superiority. I imagine we can agree that losing it would be a very bad thing.

Today, the independent Australian think tank published another piece, "Why the F-22 and the PAK-FA have the “Right Stuff” and why the F/A-18 and the F-35 do not." Their analysis makes a great case for why improving the capabilities of the Raptor is a must and identifies shortcomings in the JSF. The report concludes that "resting on the laurels of the F-22A is not an option."

Granted, today's irregular warfare restricts most of our incredible technology. But if we found ourselves in a conflict with a more technologically-advanced enemy in the near future, we would be in a world of hurt if we depend on the F-35 - which is not an air superiority fighter - or if our designers have an over-reliance on 'stealth' technology.

Military analyst W. Thomas Smith, Jr. has more on the F-22 and F-35 at Human Events.

APA illustrates their findings with an scenario, and there are also charts and pictures, if you are into that sort of thing.

Those who believe in the absolute impenetrability of ‘stealth’ create a deadly delusion: ‘you can’t see me, so you can’t fire at me, so I don’t need to care about terminal endgame countermeasures’. The problem is, the enemy can see the F-22A close up, can see the F-35 from quite a range, especially side and rear on, and can fire missiles with radar and infra-red seekers. So when these missiles close on an aircraft without effective terminal endgame countermeasures, they kill. The F-22A’s kinematics give it a fair chance of escaping a missile shot – the F-35 JSF very little chance. How does a Mach 1.5 JSF (JORD spec is Mach 1.5 S&L @ 30 kft ISA) escape a Mach 2.25 Sukhoi, especially when the Sukhoi has fuel to burn?

Anyone who has seen "Top Gun" knows that an over-dependency on technology - as we experienced during Vietnam with abandoning dog fighting for missiles - is a bad thing. Hopefully, the Pentagon will learn from history rather than repeat it.

Why are we observing such a single-minded rejection of the need for effective endgame defences on Western combat aircraft? It is a direct by-product of a steadfast belief in Western military bureaucracies that most if not all future air combat will occur in the Beyond Visual Range (BVR) domain. There is no real evidence to support this idea, as the heavily “asymmetrical” conditions observed in air campaigns fought from 1991 through 2003 were unique and very unlikely to be repeated in the future. The advent of very long range “anti-AWACS” missiles, advanced conventional fighters like the Su-35S, and the stealthy PAK-FA, will result in far more “symmetrical” air campaigns, where the conditions permitting frequent or predominant Beyond Visual Range missile engagements will arise infrequently. Most air combat engagements will devolve into close combat, where “traditional” fighter virtues will be paramount. What follows then?

Last year, Congress capped the number of F-22s at less than 200. Meanwhile, the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians show no signs of limiting their military.

Our military may be the finest the world has ever seen, but we must remember that our combat supremacy isn't a birthright.

American Legion picks up tab for lawyers in Phelps case

Good news for the father of a fallen Marine who had sued the reprehensible Fred Phelps and his Church of the eternal dung beetle. The American Legion has got his back.

UPDATE: Been authorized to pay it out, build a shell for donations, and to help draft the Amicus Brief for the Supreme Court.  So, we are in whole hog.

Imagine one day you find government vehicles waiting in your driveway, and you know why they are there. And this is the worst moment of your life. But, you know your son died doing what he wanted to do, and you are so very, very proud of him.

And as you get ready to lay him to rest, people from halfway across the country protest outside the cemetery, and you think, this is the very worst moment of my life. As if saying goodbye to a cherished son were not horrific enough for one lifetime, zealots with no sense of taste, decorum or class use your private moment of grieving to pass on their belief that your son died because “God Hates Faggots”.

But, you won’t give in without a fight, because your son didn’t either. So you file suit in court, and first you are awarded vast sums of money for the damage that these miscreants had done to you. But, on appeal, the next court sees the situation differently. See, to you it was never about politics, it was about seeing the blood of your blood go to his silent, eternal rest.

But, it’s not enough that you just lose the case, now you find out that you have to pay these same individuals $16,500 in lawyers’ fees. You see, the protestors themselves are lawyers, allegedly committed to seeing truth and justice prevail. But, to you this isn’t as much about the law as it is seeing that no other family has to go through the pain that you did.

Well, not on our damn watch. This man has suffered enough. So we want to make sure he doesn’t pay one red cent, even though someone will have to. So The American Legion is starting a fund to pay this off, and judging from our previous fund raising experiences here, I anticipate getting all the cash we need. I have already received promises of $200, and I haven’t even posted this yet.

Well done Legion.

The Battle of Wanat- First Hand

Last night we heard an amazing story from two gentlemen who were there. They are only speaking up now because what was a tough day but ultimately a victory has been turned into a case where they are portrayed as victims.

The Battle of Wanat was fought right at the end of the 2nd of the 503rd, 173rd Airborne's 14 month tour. The Taliban had begin returning from their safe havens in Pakistan and they came in force. 2nd Platoon of Chosen Company was building a patrol base so that the unit coming to relieve them would have good eyes and ears on their area of operations. They got hit by 200+ Taliban and although they took some serious losses, they held their ground. 9 good men died that day and 27 were wounded including the two we spoke with last night SSG Ryan Pitts (nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross) and SGT Mike Denton (Awarded the Silver Star). Both have since been medically retired due to the injuries they suffered that day. They wanted to discuss the battle and how it has been reported and also to object to the letters of reprimand issued to their Company Commander CPT Matt Meyer and their BN Commander Col Ostlund. Both feel that these officers acted honorably and should not be made scapegoats.

We talked with them for 90 minutes and I would like to thank Twana & Yankee Mom for allowing us to hijack their show. Their story is riveting and should go into the storied history of the Airborne as a hard fought battle and a victory. Godspeed to the men who were lost and who fulfilled the motto Airborne, All the Way.

The audio is here.

CPT Myer and COL Ostlund are both appealing their letters of reprimand and the case rests in the hands of the FORSCOM Commander Gen. Campbell. Here is his email of the Deputy Public Affairs Chief. If you write them be polite and let them know that pressure from the media and Congress should not end the careers of two good officers.

[email protected]

Damn the evidence, full speed ahead!

An update on the SEAL 3 courts-martials: the prosecution's paper-thin case has taken several more blows recently, but the prosecution limps forward, nonetheless. From The US Report:

At a Scottsdale, Ariz. rally on Saturday, Petty Officer Matthew McCabe - the only SEAL actually accused of striking the detainee - announced that he passed an independently-administered polygraph on March 16.

Additionally, one of the two charges against fellow SEAL Jonathan Keefe has been dropped, as the investigator failed to inform Keefe of his right to remain silent. The same NCIS investigator admitted that he also failed to inform Julio Huertas - the third charged SEAL - of his right to remain silent, so his charges could be dropped as well.

And McCabe's attorney also informed me that last week the defense's key witnesses - four SEALs and a Navy Corpsman - were granted immunity and would testify on behalf of the accused SEALs.

All that remains now is the word of a terrorist, who is trained to fake abuse, and a Master-at-Arms Third Class who has given five conflicting statements.

WBC: So Much For My BP Meds

Well, the blood pressure meds were working until I read about this court decision.  I have to wonder why the court decided to do this, given that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the issue and the issue of payment potentially could be moot.  My thanks to Sondra K. Like her, I link to this information on Mr. Snyder.

I will refrain from further comments at this time, as Blackfive might not use soap on my mouth if I do so.


UPDATE:  Stand by, as there is a rumor that Blackfive hisownself will have more to say on this, and a little birdie has shared that there may be some very good news to post in addition...