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December 2012

Dec. 31 in U.S. military history

1775: The Continental Army suffers its first major defeat when an American invasion force commanded by Maj. Gen. Richard Montgomery unsuccessfully assaults the British at Quebec. The attack yields fewer than 20 British casualties at the cost of over 50 killed – including Gen. Montgomery – and over 400 captured.

1862: USS Monitor, the U.S. Navy’s first ironclad ship, sinks during a storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., along with 16 of her crew.

1942: Emperor Hirohito permits Japanese forces on Guadalcanal to retreat after five months of fighting.

1946: Although noting that “a state of war still exists,” Pres. Harry Truman proclaims an end to American hostilities in World War II. Treaties with Germany or Japan are not signed until 1951 and 1952, respectively.

1995: The 1st Armored Division crosses the Sava River into Bosnia-Herzogovina to begin a NATO peacekeeping operation.

Image of the Day: A tight formation of "Short Little Ugly F---ers"

A New Age Dawns

Perhaps it is because it is the last day of a dying year, with the birth of a new one just before us.  Perhaps it is because it is the end of this President's first term, with his second just to come.  Whatever the reason, the New York Times has finally felt liberated to publish a piece explaining just what their class thinks of the Constitution.  Here are the opening and closing propositions:

...[blame] the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.... we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.

Little in the piece surprises:  disdain for the Founders, repeated references to America's legacy of slavery (that original sin that taints the country forever), and a desire that government should be liberated from all bonds so that it can pursue whatever good it settles upon.  The only thing that surprises is the professor's assumption that a government, so liberated, will be inclined to pursue good at all.  

For example, he writes that we should continue to be bound by the strictures he likes -- freedom of speech, religion, equal protection under the law, and a few others -- "out of respect, not obligation."  Doubtless a government so respectful of these things that it required no obligations would be pleasant, but I have never seen it.  There is a reason that lawsuits on these topics regularly reach the Supreme Court, which is that the government already fails to respect even these principles on a regular basis -- and that with the obligation in place.

Even more amazing is the claim that, under his proposed non-system, "The president would have to justify military action against Iran solely on the merits, without shutting down the debate with a claim of unchallengeable constitutional power as commander in chief."  It's bad enough that a professor of Constitutional law doesn't realize that Congress has a very strong Constitutional claim against the 'unchallengable power' he cites:  the power to declare war.  What is worse is his notion that a President freed of Constitutional constraints would bother to justify military action at all.  

Of course, the President might find himself forced to justify the action to one group under the new system:  the military that would be liberated from any Constitutional duty to obey his orders.  I wonder what that system might look like?  I wonder, too, why it never occured to the professor to ask.  His faith in government extends to the assumption that only things he approves of are possible if the government is liberated from Constitutional control.  Somehow, something will keep everyone abiding by the parts of the system the professor likes.

Kindness, I suppose.

A Great Way To Spend A Day


Or even several days. A couple of weeks ago, I posted this tease about a wonderful day set-up for me by a regular reader (Thank You Dave!).  Through those good offices, I got to meet Frank "Frankie" McRae, who is the director of training (and a bit more besides) for Raidon Tactics.  Those of you who have served in Special Forces might remember him as NCOIC for of the US Army Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance Target Analysis and Exploitation Techniques Course (SFARTAETC) at Ft. Bragg N.C., as well as a member of the 1st Special Forces Group. 


Since leaving the service, he works with Raidon Tactics and with Range 37, two separate but synergistic businesses not too far from Ft. Bragg.  Raidon concentrates on providing world-class Shooting, Close Quarters Battle, Counter-Terrorism driver and medical training -- in short, close-quarters tactical training. They have quite the crew of instructors, and each is a subject matter expert in the task at hand, though not all are military.  Most are, and like Frankie they have been there and done that, so you get to learn from true pros. 

Continue reading "A Great Way To Spend A Day" »

It's Not Me, It's You

But in a good way.  Long story short, between hacking old and possibly new, plus a server migration, plus some other issues, my site The Laughing Wolf is dead.  Well, the software that drove it is dead, stiff as a board, deceased, and other such words. 

So, The Laughing Wolf is reborn with new software.  Sadly, some things happened to keep me from rescuing all the old posts (at least for now), so we are starting over.  

That's where it's all you, and about you.  Comments are once again enabled, but what I need to know is what you would like to see on the site.  Items, features, widgets, and more -- what do you want to see there as the real users of the site?  Where do you want it?  Let me know, and in my copious free time I will do my best to get done what I can so the site is user friendly.  I post, but you are the user, so let me know. 

And, yeah, I was hoping to be in Afghanistan by Christmas, but that did not work out.  As I noted earlier, the high-level PAO now involved says it will be early January before they get things worked out.  Not having heard from them, I presume that is still a go and operating accordingly.  That said, I've also put out th word that I do have ITOs, and if someone else wants an embed to please let me know.  I may have missed Christmas, but New Year's is still possible for a unit that can think and move quickly.  Want to know more, check out this post.  Meantime, let me know what you would like to see on the "new" site. 


Doing the right thing

On this day in 1983, Pres. Ronald Reagan took full responsibility for the October bombing of the Beirut Embassy in Lebanon that killed 241 U.S. troops. Contrast that with the lies, stonewalling, and passing the buck of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

Of course, neither president was directly responsible for the death of American service members overseas; we must not lose sight that both of these attacks were perpetrated by America's enemies. However the policies of both presidents and the actions of their subordinates certainly played a role and is worth further investigation (in Obama's case) and discussion.

Reagan wasn't perfect. No man is. But by taking responsibility for something that happened under his watch, President Reagan displayed a level class that Americans are unlikely to ever see from the man who currently occupies the White House.

I have fought against the restrictive rules of engagement in Afghanistan under Bush and Obama as part of the counterinsurgency doctrine. To be fair, under the Reagan administration Marines were not allowed to have loaded weapons during their peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, and were only allowed to return fire under certain circumstances. Had the Marines pulling security outside the barracks been locked and loaded, then those 241 Marines, sailors, and soldiers probably wouldn't have died.

After the attack, Reagan withdrew the peacekeeping force. But why send combat troops to a country that poses no significant threat to the United States in the first place? When a president feels it is necessary to handicap our military's ability to respond to deadly force in a particular theater, then we probably shouldn't send men with guns in the first place.

In an age of terrorism, I wholeheartedly support counterterrorism. There are plenty of people who not only feel divinely inspired to kill innocent Americans, but also seek to do so. They must be stopped. But when we go beyond intelligence and special operations - putting "boots on the ground" - there has to be a legitimate reason.

We have sent enough young men and women to die in the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and North Africa. No matter how much blood we spill in that part of the globe, they will continue to hate us and themselves.

They can hate us for free. Stop the foreign aid. Stop propping up dictators and tyrants - the Soviet Union isn't around any more. Stop sending our young men and women to die. And for the love of all that is good, stop buying their oil. We have enough energy resources at home that no matter happens in that part of the globe, it's not our problem any more.

Book Review: The Moscow Club

The following is a special report from Elise Cooper for BlackFive readers. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right sidebar or by clicking here. Here is the latest review by Elise Cooper:

9780312934934_p0_v1_s260x420Joseph Finder’s The Moscow Club re-released this past Christmas is a very realistic novel about the Russian coup. If the reader wants a change of pace from the terrorist based Middle East thrillers this is a book to delve into. Originally written as a contemporary novel, it has now become a historical novel since its plot is based on a coup overthrowing Mikhail Gorbachev.

The characters are well developed and interesting. The heroes are Charlie Stone, a CIA analyst and his estranged wife, Charlotte. Both are intellectual, and tough individuals who are able to piece together a conspiracy by a group of Kremlin insiders working with rogue CIA individuals. Stone also finds himself having to prove his innocence after being accused of murder. He decides to get to the truth, which has him traveling across the US, throughout Europe, and ending up in the Soviet Union.

The villain is Winthrop Lehman who is based on Armand Hammer. Finder told blackfive.net that he wrote the book “to show how Hammer was friendly with Lenin. Here was a billionaire industrialist who had easy access to the White House and was working with the Russians against American interests. I used fiction as a way to tell a larger truth about Hammer. My contacts in the CIA were more willing to talk to me if I wrote a novel. I knew he would make a compelling villain in the story.”

A powerful quote from the book, describes how after Gorbachev is overthrown he will be replaced with “a right wing, neofascist Soviet leadership that will be dangerous.” Finder wanted to point out the way the Russian government worked and that today’s leadership is no different. “I predicted it. I remember having so many arguments as to what will happen in Russia. So many people thought that the bad guys were gone from Russia and the good guys were in control. I kept emphasizing it does not work that way. The people in power want to keep their power. I wanted to show glimpses of what Russia is really like.”

He did that by showing how the Russians broke up families and many times held a wife or child behind as hostages to ensure someone’s cooperation. He also goes into great detail on how the Russians tortured and murdered those who did not agree with the government. The author explores the question of Lenin’s death, which becomes a central part of the plot. Was he poisoned instead of dying a natural death?

An interesting side note is that it was written pre-9/11. There are parts of the book that can never happen today. For example how easy it was to get a fake passport, cross the border between the US and Canada, get a plane ticket at the last minute by paying with cash, and sneaking a gun through the detectors. Finder commented that he actually had someone field test sneaking a gun on a plane from Boston to Washington. The reader can compare how rules have changed in this nation post 9/11.

The Moscow Club is an engrossing spy novel. It is very insightful since it was written about the Russian coup just months before it really happened. It delves into the Russian culture and political scene. The plot is very believable and is a quick read for those who like engrossing thrillers.

God Speed Stormin' Norman...

If you missed the news about the General...

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S. led international coalition to drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991, has died.

For those veterans of our battles today, who may have been watching Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird while this was going on (or maybe your Dad...or Mom {my bad} was serving), this was the man in action.  He laid it out for us and if you have ever worked in a TOC, JOC, or EOC; then you know what the term "briefing slide" means now and where it comes from.


He is something to watch...

"If it had been our intention to overrun the country, we could have done it unopposed."

This is perhaps the textbook way to do a briefing for the media.  He controlled the room, gave definitive answers, and ensured that he could tell them everything he could and most important to me, he let the fifth column leftists in the Lamestream Media who deep down wanted to publicly hate this war (because all wars are started by the U.S. of course) exactly what their place was.  Please take note of each of the whiners that get their hash settled in due course.

I am not sure that there hasn't been a briefing given this way since.

He didn't spend his time hanging out at a firebase somewhere either...

In 1966 he volunteered for Vietnam and served two tours, first as a U.S. adviser  to South Vietnamese paratroops and later as a battalion commander in the U.S.  Army's Americal Division. He earned three Silver Stars for valor -- including  one for saving troops from a minefield -- plus a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and  three Distinguished Service Medals.

Kind of makes that question to the reporter about being in a minefield mean a bit more....

God Bless you General and your service to this nation, God Bless your family and God Speed to you sir.

Swift Security

U.S. Army Spc. Thaxal Potter provides security during a mission in Farah City, Afghanistan, Dec. 26, 2012. Potter is a security force team member for Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah, which trains, advises and assists Afghan government leaders at the municipal, district and provincial levels in Farah province. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroupy

Two Front Teeth?

No, what I want for me is one thing; what I want for all those who can't be home for Christmas this year is to have as Merry a Christmas (or holiday of your choice) as they can.  I hope that each of them can spend at least a moment talking to their families, and sharing in the day via technical means. It's not the same, not by a long shot, but it is better than nothing. 

To you all:  Merry Christmas!