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October 2011

Relief Or Regret?

I have been thinking of how to pen this for awhile now, and even after alot of thinking and about 12 re-writes, I still don't know if I got it right.  Now that I am no longer in the military, for the first time in my life I get to reflect on a few things that I am certain have struck any number of other warriors when they find themselves in this place.

This place being, on the outside looking in....

I was cruising through the cable channels not long ago and happened upon Kill Bill Vol. 2. and the the following interaction took place:

Budd: They say the number one killer of old people is retirement. People got 'em a job to do, they tend to live a little longer so they can do it. I've always figured warriors and their enemies share the same relationship. So, now you ain't gonna hafta face your enemy on the battlefield no more, which "R" are you filled with: Relief or Regret? 

Elle Driver: A little bit of both. 

Budd: Bullshit. I'm sure you do feel a little bit of both. But I know damn well you feel one more than you feel the other. The question was, which one? 

Elle Driver: Regret. 

And I thought about what my answer would be....

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Hiring our Heroes

The US Chamber of Commerce will be holding job fairs for veterans in the following cities in the next 10 days:

Upcoming Hiring Fairs

Rogers, AR*
October 31

Oakland, CA
November 1

Hattiesburg, MS
November 2

Anchorage, AK
November 2

Little Rock, AR*
November 3

San Jose, CA*
November 3

Philadelphia, PA*
November 3

Seattle (Bellevue & Tukwila), WA*
November 3

San Diego, CA*
November 3

Salt Lake City, UT
November 4

Des Moines, IA
November 8

Chicago, IL
November 8

Bloomington, IL
November 9

Belleville (St. Louis), IL
November 9

Wichita, KS
November 9

Los Angeles, CA*
November 9

Boise, ID
November 9

Augusta, ME
November 10

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington-Irving, TX*
November 10

Orland Park, IL
November 10

Click the link for info and to register (yes, one doesn’t have a link.  Go here to see if it is updated.  If not, you may want to contact the US Chamber – see their website). 

Good luck.

SuperCommittee v. HASC

Rep.  Buck McKeon is a friend of the military.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.   As head of the House Armed Services Committee, he has drawn a line in the sand about cuts to the military budget.  As much as any politician out there, he’s made it his business to learn the business of the military.  And he understands completely their vital role in our national security.   He’s personally involved.   And he gets a bit emotional when he thinks about the disastrous cuts that may be in the offing if the SuperCommittee doesn’t do its job.  Or, its just as possible that the SuperCommittee might come up with even deeper cuts itself.

McKeon isn’t about to take any of that lying down:

If the Super Committee or anybody else in America wants to know how important keeping faith with the troops is to Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, all they need do is watch the webcast of today's readiness hearing.

They will see a fairly rare occurrence: one of the top defense lawmakers near tears, choked with emotion-- as he speaks about ensuring troops are paid decently, trained well and aren't jerked around on their pensions.

Excepting House Speaker John Boehner, I don't think I've ever seen a professional politician react with such genuine emotion -- and certainly not on a defense issue. But McKeon's reaction, watched in real time, was clearly unplanned and heartfelt. He spoke at the end of a hearing about readiness,called to signal the Super Committee and other interested parties about why defense cuts beyond the $450 billion already planned over the next 10 years, would be parlous.

Its good to have a man like that in the Chairman’s chair.

As we’ve learned over the decades cutting military spending is always the easiest and, in the long run, most expensive thing we can do.

It’s easy because less than 1% of voters are effected and not all of them.  It’s easy because its discretionary spending and politicians can pretend like they’re actually taking action on the deficit while leaving the long-term entitlement problem to fester.  

It ends up being expensive because we let the military degrade when we cut its budget.  And then at some point in the future we wake up and realize the weakened position we’ve put ourselves in and that fuels a very expensive re-building effort.  We’ve done all that a few times.   You’d think we’d learn.   Each time we’re told we just don’t need the military we have and each time we’ve rebuilt it back to similar levels because the realities of the world situation have again demanded it.

No one can really argue that we don’t need the force we have today, given the present world situation.  Yet we’re seeing all sorts of plans produced to cut deeply into the force structure and armaments of the military.   With a national election next year there is a need for politicians to be seen doing something to address the mess they’ve spent us into.  And, as usual, the military is a big, fat easy target.

When I see talk like this I’m always reminded of Rudyard Kipling’s “Tommy”:

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Thanks to the Buck McKeons of the world and those like him (to include Adam Smith, his Democratic counterpart). He gets it.  And to those who can’t quite figure it out; who continue to think that national security is something to be toyed with;  who want to spend money on social engineering instead of defense engineering; they’re playing a fool’s game.

If we want “Tommy” to be the “savior of ‘is country” we better darn well be sure “Tommy” has what he needs to fight in any type of combat environment, from high intensity to low, and in any part of the world that our national security demands.  And we need to make sure he has the best weaponry and support we can produce for him (and her).

If we don’t do that, we’re the “bloomin’ fool”.

Honor and Courage

What kind of man accuses an Army Officer of assault and then flees the country before talking to investigators under the guise to cover a flood?

What kind of man (1) kills a man, barehanded, in a bar fight (2) is SF qualified and (3) self promotes that he's been in more combat than any reporter, but is AFRAID that a professional NCO might kill him somewhere in Afghanistan?!

What kind of man goes to an open forum of serving and retired SF Soldiers and pisses all over them after they give him a chance to voice his opinion?

I don't question his courage.

I question his honor.

What a giant P.O.S.

USAF SSgt Robert Gutierrez - Air Force Cross Recipient and SYSK


Good friends SSgt Robert Gutierrez, Air Force Cross recepient and TSgt Ismael Villegas, Silver Star recepient.

Watch this video of SSgt Robert Gutierrez receiving the Air Force Cross today.

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Staff Sergeant Robert Gutierrez, Jr., United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States in Heart Province, Afghanistan, on 5 October 2009. On that date, while assigned as a combat controller to an Army Special Forces Detachment, Sergeant Gutierrez and his team conducted a high-risk nighttime raid to capture the number two Taliban leader in the region. During the initial assault, the team was attacked with a barrage of rifle and heavy machine-gun fire from a numerically superior and determined enemy force. Sergeant Gutierrez was shot in the chest, his team leader was shot in the leg, and the ten-man element was pinned down in a building with no escape route. In great pain and confronting the very real possibility that he would die, Sergeant Gutierrez seized the initiative and refused to relinquish his duties as joint terminal attack controller. Under intense fire, he engaged Taliban fighters with his M-4 rifle and brought airpower to bear, controlling three "danger close" A-10 strafing runs with exceptional precision against enemy forces just 30 feet away. After the first A-10 attack, the team medic performed a needle decompression to re-inflate Sergeant Gutierrez's collapsed lung, allowing him to direct the next two strafe runs which decimated the enemy force and allowed the team to escape the kill zone without additional casualties. Throughout the four-hour battle, Sergeant Gutierrez's valorous actions, at great risk to his own life, helped save the lives of his teammates and dealt a crushing blow to the regional Taliban network. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Sergeant Gutierrez reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

The Military Times and FoxNews has more.

Michael Yon vs. Professional Soldiers - And the winner is...

This all begins with Mike Yon's essay about arming medevac birds and removing the red crosses.  I'll put the responses from the ISAF PAO (in Afghanistan) after the jump.

Now, pull up a seat and go over to the excellent forum at Professional Soldiers and read the whole thread discussing the article about medevacs.  "Team Sergeant" is MSG (ret) Jeff Hinton who has the utmost respect from us here at B5.  A lot of the commenters are active duty SF, too.  Just do yourself a favor and read the whole thread.  The best summary is one of the last comments:


I don't know you (aside from some of your writings) and I don't know many of those here on PS for that matter. Although there are some names that I recognize from another website.

When I read your current article (being discussed here) I thought it was rather interesting and while I may have agreed with some of it in principle, everything that you have written here has completely altered what I thought about you previously.

You have essentially called into question the integrity of professional SF personnel who have served more than a lifetime in special operations. You then attempt to deflect another members claims that he had you bounced from his AO by alluding to the fact that someone in his command may have been involved in a murder.

I have to really wonder about your motivations. To me you are no better than the sleazy reporters who make up their own news and facts just to be heard.

In short you pissed off guys here who it seemed were more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and then to top it off you insult them and make accusations. I'll reiterate what others have said. Who is more credible here? You or someone who has spent numerous years in special operations doing the deed. Guys that are in leadership positions who have dedicated themselves to their work and this country.

I am pretty sure that you can answer that question yourself without my assistance.

I agree with that.  Yon had an opportunity to win over an influential group and he let his professionalism drop.  It turned out ugly for Yon with verification that he'd been escorted off an SF FOB in Iraq.  So now he's licking his wounds on his own forum on FB:

Thank You for the Messages

Some big fights ahead. Sometimes those little messages from troops downrange are like a gulp of water on a very dry day. I know y'all will keep going. Don't you worry about me. I got your back so long as I can hold a pen or pull a trigger.

Or pull a trigger?


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Hiring Our Heroes

I’m in contact with the US Chamber and endeavoring to get the schedule of these events.  If you’re a vet and looking for work, this may be the thing for you.  They recently held an event in Boston:

The march toward 100 veterans hiring fairs moved through Beantown today for Hiring Our Heroes – Boston.   In partnership with the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training (DOL VETS), Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), and local chambers, the Chamber conducted its 40th hiring fair for veterans, Guard and Reserve members and eligible spouses at the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts – Boston.   Thus far the nationwide campaign has connected more than 38,000 veterans with more than 2,000 different employers, helping 2,900 veterans land jobs.

Today’s event was relatively large, bringing together 72 Boston-area employers with hundreds of local veterans and military spouses.  These companies ranged from America's biggest employers like Wal-Mart and CVS to dozens of small companies from across the state.  Several security-related opportunities in both the public and private sector – including Allied Barton and Massachusetts Department of Corrections  – were present looking for veterans of all levels of rank and experience.

These job events are going to be held in 100 cities around the US specifically focused on hiring vets.  As soon as I get the particulars from the US Chamber, I’ll be posting the schedule and any other info I can run down.

I think we all know the value of a vet to any employer, and this program is helping bring spread that message.  Stay tuned.

Budget axe may kill our military’s edge

One of the things that concerns me with all of the talk about huge budget cuts to defense is the distinct possibility that such cuts will take away the edge our military now has and has enjoyed for decades.

That edge, or advantage, is something that has helped make our military successful in every sort of combat imaginable.   But developing and maintaining that edge are both time consuming and expensive.   Research, development, testing, field and support don’t come cheap.

Yet that seems to be what is being demanded in an increasingly technologically advanced and dangerous world.   The edge we’ve developed technologically over the years is what makes our military so exponentially lethal.  We’ve provided combat multipliers to our warriors and they’ve used them expertly.

But to maintain such an edge, we must also be willing to spend the money necessary to do so.

There are numerous examples of cuts being considered that are dangerous.  They will not only make our military much less capable, but also threaten our national security.  Not only that, the cuts could end up actually costing us more than they save by sticking the military with outdated equipment that requires more maintenance, has more down time and will need continued parts and support.

A few examples would be the Joint Tactical Radio System, the V-22 Osprey, and the F-35.  In all cases, “Plan B” is to continue to use what we have.  But the entire point of the development of these systems was to fix a problem faced by troops in the field.   In the case of the Joint Tactical Radio System, it was conceived to “replace dozens of incompatible communications systems in the field today with a single, secure network.”

The necessity to be able to net with other radio systems is critical in today’s joint combat environment.  War fighters at all levels must be able to talk to other services and interact with the assets they provide on the battlefield.  Our current method of doing that is awkward at best and critically time consuming at worst.   This is a system that is vitally needed to maintain our edge and allow our warriors to operate and efficiently communicate in an increasingly joint combat atmosphere.

The Osprey is a slightly different case.  As Dr. Loren Thompson describes it, “the Marine Corps has fielded a genuinely revolutionary airframe that combines the vertical agility of a helicopter with the speed and reach of a fixed-wing plane.”  And again, it gives us the edge militarily.  It is an airframe that is the Marine Corps future, where speed and agility are going to be critical to battlefield survival.  “Plan B”, in this case, is the aging status quo.  That should be unacceptable to Americans concerned about the survivability of our Marines and maintaining the combat edge that has served us so well up to now.

Finally there’s the F-35 JSF.  Let’s be clear here, there is no viable “Plan B” if this aircraft is scrapped or cut significantly.  When Congress chose to curtail the F-22 Raptor buy and only build 186 of those aircraft, the JSF was “Plan B”.  It was the aircraft that was going to “fill the gap” created with the poorly thought out choice to kill the F-22.  It is the most advanced 5th generation fighter in the world, a developmental concept aircraft brought to the field with technological advances never before seen in a fighter aircraft.   Yet now we hear talk about buying legacy 4th generation aircraft which are supposedly cheaper as a cost cutting measure.  Yet some studies have shown that attempting to maintain a legacy fleet for 3 more decades could cost as much as 4 times the cost of the JSF.   And, we’d be consigning our young pilots to aircraft older than they are, 4th generation fighters in a 5th generation world.

These are the things that should concern us all as we watch a group of politicians with vested interests in other areas, many of whom look at defense spending cuts as a way to pay for other programs they are interested in, get ready to swing the budget axe. 

Do we keep and improve the technological edge which has made our military the most powerful and predominant military in the world for decades?  Or do we refuse to pay the price necessary to keep our military’s edge and continue to make it the most powerful and flexible force in the world and risk our national security?

No one knows how many wars and conflicts our military has been able to avoid simply because we’re as powerful as we are.  But if history is a teacher, as soon as we’re perceived to be in decline militarily, there are those who will test us.  This is one area of the national budget with which we must be very careful.  Budgetary fat is always fair game, but the systems that will be the heart and soul of our national defense capability for decades to come should not be cut heedlessly.  To do so would be a tragic mistake.

Gratitude from Thailand

A child from the local community holds a sign thanking the U.S. sailors from the guided missile destroyer USS Mustin and members from the Royal Thai Armed Forces during a community service event organized by the Princess Pa Foundation, Thai Red Cross Society. More than 40 sailors from Mustin volunteered their time with the local community and members from the Royal Thai Armed Forces with assisting in preparing more than 5,000 packages. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Villalovos.

Some photos of the efforts of the US during the flooding in Thailand after the jump.

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