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June 2011

Politics, Economics or Victory- What Everyone Ought to Know about the troop withdrawal

With the Presidential decision to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan, the mission of the initial Counter Insurgency (COIN) plan of the surge just shrunk tenfold.  Back in 2009 when the surge was initiated the extra troops allowed NATO to push to the north & south of Afghanistan constricting the enemy into stalemate. Now with the reduction of the limited 2 year “surge” forces, US troops will have to withdraw from those northern & southern positions to fall back and reduce operations which will release the pressure on the enemy. To think a Counter Insurgency (COIN) fight would only last 2 years is unrealistic. In fact COIN wars usually last much longer than 10 years. This isn’t a “shock & awe” type of war.

 

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Interview w/ "Buck" McKeon on Libya

UPDATE: In the audio I posted "Buck" McKeon states that one of his colleagues was told by a US commander in NATO that we were actively trying to kill Qaddafi. Josh Rogin confirms this and names the officer.

House Armed Services Committee member Mike Turner (R-OH) told The Cable that U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the NATO Joint Operations Command in Naples, Italy, told him last month that NATO forces are actively targeting and trying to kill Qaddafi, despite the fact that the Obama administration continues to insist that "regime change" is not the goal and is not authorized by the U.N. mandate authorizing the war.

Had a chance to sit on a small roundtable today w/ the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee "Buck" McKeon. We were supposed to talk Libya and Afghanistan, but he got called to the floor for votes on authorizing the use of force in Libya before we talked about Afghanistan. The video has my questions to him about the President's attempts to subordinate US force to multinational groups like the UN and NATO and whether our mission is actually to kill Qaddafi. Rep. McKeon passed on the news that according to one of our military commanders, NATO has said it is. This points out the problem Obama has made for himself as the rationale for our actions is a UN resolution on protecting civilians, but the alliance he has placed our forces under believes we are trying to kill a tyrant.

Josh Rogin from Foreign Policy, who was also at the roundtable,  has an excellent report on the over all bipartisan disgust in Congress w/ the President and his complete disregard for its role in warmaking.

The House of Representatives, in a culmination of over three months of Congressional frustration with the Obama administration's handling of the Libya intervention, voted against authorizing the war 123-295 and is set to vote for cutting off most of the funding for the mission......

"It's crazy that we're fighting over this the way we are," Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) said in a roundtable with reporters just now.

The scene here at the Capitol on this sunny, summer Friday morning is surreal, as the three-hour debate continues. Lawmakers, who must still vote a resolution to cut off all funds for the war sponsored by Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), are continuously unleashing statements on why the Libya war represents a threat to the Constitution, a plundering of the Treasury, or an overreach of U.S. power.

The President seems to have alienated just about everyone, including those who would have been inclined to support a mission to take out Qaddaffi. But he didn't have the stones to actually go to our Congress and ask for their support for such a mission. Instead he is hiding behind the coat tails of the UN and NATO and pretending that we are not actually involved in hostilities so as to weakly attempt to avoid the War Powers Act. If the War Powers Act is unconstitutional, the the President should have stated this. Instead he has ignored the advice of his own lawyers and the Defense Department's and is tap dancing around saying that we are not actually warring when any sentient being can see that we are.

I don't believe that the War Powers Act is a good thing, but trying to pretend it doesn't apply is BS. In addition the lame pretense that because NATO has the lead role in this and we are just support is an insult to those of our troops pulling down combat pay for participating. It also reminds everyone that NATO is a Potemkin alliance and beyond some Euro Generals, all of the muscle is supplied by Uncle Sugar. That is unfair to the Brits, Canadians and a few others but facts are facts. We have the only truly expeditionary military and if NATO wants to play war, then they need our ball and our balls.

Obama has well and truly screwed the pooch with this attempt to allow multi-nationals to volunteer our forces for use in whatever humanitarian debacle they decide to intervene in. The only upside of this is O may have shown the American people just what folly it is allowing our military to be a play toy for the progressive wankers.You can make a case that toppling Qaddafi is in our national security interest, and you can make a case that saving Libyan civilians is a worthy cause. Obama has made neither. He has also managed to point out the blatant hypocrisy of ignoring the slaughter in much more strategically important Syria or why intervene in Libya and not Yemen plus a myriad of other examples. The incoherence of this adminstration's strategic policies, and its incompetence in implementing them, is mind-numbing and soul-crushing. Bravo Mr. President, a more complete goat rodeo would be hard to imagine.


Just not good enough for their neighborhood (update–progress)

John Gonsalves, who runs one of the most awesome charities I know of, Homes for Our Troops, has a problem.  And its one that will make your blood boil.

Gonsalves and his folks build specially built homes for disabled war veterans who have special needs.  Such as SFC Sean Gittens.

Army SFC Sean Gittens was left paralyzed and unable to speak or communicate as a result of a battle related traumatic brain injury. Deployed for the third time in his career, SFC Gittens suffered multiple concussive traumas throughout his year-long deployment to Iraq from April 2007-April 2008. Upon returning home, suffering from headaches and other head-injury related symptoms, SFC Gittens suffered an aneurism in his brain and a subsequent stroke which left him with paralyzed and non-communicative. Treated at multiple hospitals, both military and civilian, SFC Gittens now receives care from trained medical personnel in his home.

Homes for Our Troops identified a place for the home they wanted to build SFC Gittens and his family and went to work getting buying the property and getting the necessary approvals.

Building on the 2700 square foot home was to begin this Friday. Homes for Our Troops purchased the land in December and preparations for building the home have been ongoing over the past month. These homes are a reflection of the gratitude of the community and are given mortgage free to the veterans once complete.

Homes for Our Troops received building permits for the project and has been working closely with the Knob Hill Board of Directors, making multiple changes to the plans for the home as requested. The written approval came from Knob Hill BOD President Rick Trump on June 2nd.

Everything is cool, no?

No.

Late last week, a lawyer for the HOA served the contractors on site with a cease and desist letter to stop the preparation of the build site. Facing strong opposition from the Property Owners Association, the Knob Hill Board of Directors and the Property Owners Association met again on June 20th, just four days before the planned kickoff of the home build. Homes for Our Troops was then notified that the house plans do not meet the Knob Hill standards and the original approval was thus rescinded. Homes for Our Troops has now been told that it must begin anew the entire approval process and that the house needs to be at least 3400 square feet and multi-level to even be considered.

"Shockingly, it appears that the Knob Hill community has decided it does not want to welcome SFC Gittens and his family, as we were previously told," said Homes for Our Troops Founder John Gonsalves. "Despite our working closely with the Knob Hill Property Owners Association over the past four months, we find ourselves in an untenable situation. We cannot afford to add 700 square feet to the house, particularly under our special adaptive plans. And our experience in building over 100 homes dictates that severely injured veterans need a specially adapted single level home. Frankly, this late action begun by the Knob Hill Property Owners means we must suspend working on the home. The Knob Hill Property Owners Association has now assured that SFC Gittens and his family will not be able to have the home they so desperately need. We have done everything in our power to try to resolve this situation, but it appears that the community is not willing to accept this home, and SFC Gittens and his family into the community."

According to Gonsalves, the Knob Hill neighborhood covenants state that the minimum size for a house in the subdivision is 2,700 sq ft (see Fox News clip).  He also points out that there are many 2,700 square foot homes in that subdivision.  And, as you might imagine, given that’s the minimum size the covenants allow, that is the size of the proposed Gittens home.   In other words, the Knob Hill Property Owners Association (Evans, GA) are not following their own covenants.  Gonsalves was told the home was “too small” and “didn’t fit in” to the surrounding neighborhood (with some homes as large as 5,000 sq. ft).

I’m sympathetic to property owners rights 99% of the time.  But this is that 1% where I’m totally against them.  And that’s because they’re attempting to void their own covenants and not abide by them. Remember, these are their PUBLISHED covenants.  These are the minimum standards they AGREED too when they built their homes in that subdivision.  It is the document they’d certainly use to legally enforce the standards therein if it was necessary.  But now they simply want to ignore the document and impose arbitrary new standards that simply don’t exist other than in their demands.

I think the Knob Hill Property Owners Association needs to rethink this entire thing, don’t you?  If you’d like to share your opinion concerning their denial of a disabled vet’s opportunity to live in a home that meets all the standards of their covenants you may want to drop them a line.

Please be polite and respectful, but feel free to make your feelings clear about their actions.  Also remember that, per Homes for Our Troops, not all the people living in that subdivision agree with the board’s decision.  The email address for the board is -  [email protected]

This is not how America should treat its disabled vets.

UPDATE: Just in (1:20 pm).

The president of the Knob Hill Property Owner's Association says plans are moving forward for the construction of a home for Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens.

The homeowners association and Homes For Our Troops have been talking. A list of items Knob Hill requires is being provided to Homes For Our Troops.

Both organizations said they hope to make a joint announcement on Monday, June 27, in regards to moving forward with the plans.

Keep the pressure on, but please, be polite and respectful.

[HT: upinak]

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO


President Obama's Terrible Mistake



From a Blackfive reader "T":

The President addressing the 10th Mountain Division today at Fort Drum:

"First time I saw 10th Mountain Division, you guys were in southern Iraq. When I went back to visit Afghanistan, you guys were the first ones there. I had the great honor of seeing some of you because a comrade of yours, Jared Monti, was the first person who I was able to award the Medal of Honor to who actually came back and wasn’t receiving it posthumously."

As we all know, SSG Sal Giunta, of the 173rd Airborne, was the first living recipient (2011) of the MOH who fought in Iraq/Afganistan. SFC Jared Monti, 10th Mountain Division, was KIA in Afghanistan in 2006. He was posthumously awarded the MOH by Obama in 2009. 

How does the Commander-in-Chief mix these heroes up? He put that medal around Giunta's neck and he stood with Monti's parents as they grieved. These fallen heroes leave such a great legacy, and we should know all their names. The ironic part of the speech, and this comes after the announcement of the politically pressured drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, was Obama's closing remark, "Know that your Commander-in-Chief has your back."

It shouldn't take a teleprompter for the C-in-C to get it right.


Pentagon prowler linked to previous shootings

The clown recently scarfed up skulking about Arlington Cemetery has been linked to the previous rash of shootings of military related buildings in the area.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. --

Law enforcement and military sources say forensic evidence links Marine reservist Yonathan Melaku to last fall’s mysterious shootings at military targets around Northern Virginia, including the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle.

Since it would be wrong, I won't point out that he is a Christian, Right wing extremist Muslim.


Obama to give Re-Election speech on A-Stan tonight

President Obama will announce his plan for re-election/withdrawal from Afghanistan tonight. Our Ditherer in Chief has only one true strength and that is self promotion so the chance to get back to his real job as campaigner in Chief making false promises is a welcome relief for him. All that governing and leading from the rear really cuts into a guy's weekly golf outings, or doesn't. If anyone wondered just how much of a political tool O is, then simply note the fact that his self-fulfilling prophecy on Afghanistan will come to its pre-determined conclusion tonight.

When he ended the Great Dithering of 2009 by announcing a simultaneous surge/cut and run strategy in 2009, I was at a journalism fellowship w/ our own Grim and several dozen reporters. I literally fell on the floor when he announced to the world and especially our enemies that we would be sending some more troops, but that they had return tickets for July 2011. A more stunning example of strategic naivete would be hard to imagine. When fighting an enemy that thinks in centuries and millenniums, announcing that you only have the vision and fortitude to manage a year and a half to oppose them is nearly criminal.

Afghanistan and the larger war against Islamist extremists is one we are quite poorly suited to fight. They have a long war mentality and know this is a clash of civilizations; we are wondering whether there will be parking at the mall. Obama has dim-wittingly reinforced every weakness that al Qaeda and the rest have properly stated about us; we don't have the will or intestinal fortitude as a nation to fight them as they do to fight us. They don't have to beat us to win; they simply have to outlast us (language note and check. Did I just use three semi-colons in a row properly?). They have now done so for the second time in Afghanistan.

They were slaughtered in the thousands by the Soviets, and yet they simply cringed away, licked their wounds and returned. They were toppled by us in one of the most amazing uses of Special Operations force multiplication in 2001, and yet they simply cringed away, licked their wounds and returned. Now we have again dealt them crippling blows and even finally killed their head goat-raper, does anyone doubt they will again cringe away, lick their wounds and return? Who will stop them, the kleptocracy of the Karzais, the Afghan Security forces, the international community? Hell no!

We will have sent our troops there to make sure that Barack Obama didn't look weak on foreign policy and he will sound the cut and run so that his base does not attack his flank during his path to re-coronation. What a disgrace. If we had left in 2002, we could have claimed a victory and then proclaimed that we will bomb the living hell out of any Islamist bastards who pop their heads up. We didn't and in staying we planted a flag in the ground. now Obama will announce the casing of our colors and will cede the battlefield to those we purported to fight. Well we did fight them and killed them in bunches, but that was a tactical victory for the prowess of American fighters. This battle in the greater war? That we will watch al Qaeda and their allies claim for a win.

Sadly Obama has made my warning in this video from just after his inauguration come true. He had no intention of fighting to victory, only covering his political ass. He needs to go, and the election next year can't come soon enough.


30,000 troops to be pulled out of Afghanistan

I’m all for winding down our commitment in Afghanistan, but it should be for solid reasons to do with the security and stability of that nation and not because of US politics.  Alas I fear what we’ll hear tonight has been decided for exactly that reason and no other.

Barack Obama is set to reject the advice of the Pentagon by announcing on Wednesday night the withdrawal of up to 30,000 troops from Afghanistan by November next year, in time for the US presidential election.

The move comes despite warnings from his military commanders that recent security gains are fragile. They have been urging him to keep troop numbers high until 2013.

The accelerated drawdown will dismay American and British commanders in Kabul, who have privately expressed concern that the White House is now being driven by political rather than military imperatives.

And, of course, they’re entirely right.  Obviously military commanders are going to argue for more, not less – and most people understand that.  They will always say they need more.  But in this case, what they’re arguing is they need to keep what they have.  The so-called “surge” has barely been completed and full deployment of those assets is only months old.  We’re in the middle of a “fighting season”.  Certainly it would be better to announce and begin these withdrawals, whatever their size, in the colder months when the fighting is naturally less.

But to the point – “listening to the generals” is apparently only something Republican Commanders in Chief should do.  Obama has decided, for entirely unmilitary reasons, it is time to pull the plug on any hope of holding our gains in Afghanistan.  Note, I didn’t say get out of A’stan.  30,000 troops isn’t even close to a full withdrawal (100,000 there now).  However, it is a margin of difference between consolidating and keeping what we’ve driven the Taliban out of and being too thinly spread to do that.   In fact, that was the whole purpose of the surge (just as in Iraq) – take and hold.

The withdrawal has created deep divisions in Washington. The defence secretary, Robert Gates, argued for a modest reduction – at one point as low as 2,000 – citing the advice of US commanders in Afghanistan that they need to protect gains made during the winter against the Taliban.

But senior White House staff, conscious that the president has an election to fight next year, argued in favour of a reduction that would send a signal to the US public that an end to the war is in sight.

General Petraeus and his staff have made clear the risk of pulling out 30,000 troops this soon.  Obama has chosen to ignore their advice for political reasons.  Some will attempt to characterize this as a “gutsy call” when in fact it is anything but that.  It is the antithesis of a gutsy call – it is a decision driven by political and not military reasons.  In fact, it would appear the military’s reasons for wanting a much smaller withdrawal weren’t really considered at all.  That is to say, this was a decision made on a timeline quite a while ago, the reality of the situation be damned. 

Interestingly, this was the “good war”, the “necessary war”, the “war we ought to be fighting” when Mr. Obama was a candidate.  As with much he does, he’s taken a swipe at it to satisfy one group of political critics  and is now pulling out to satisfy another. 

The war (or is it a “kinetic event?”)?

It’s a “distraction.”

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Afghanistan: Pre-Speech



JD Johannes is still in Afghanistan and will be there for another month. Below are his thoughts on the state of affairs after being on the ground for almost 3 months.

Another post by JD is longer, but really digs down into one of the main reasons why the Afghan surge has not worked out as well as the Iraq surge.