Category: National Guard


Myke Cole wrote an intriguing piece over on Jim C. Hines blog the other day.

It was entitled Uniform in the Closet: Why Military SF’s Popularity Worries Me. In it Myke opined that there is a widening gap between the citizens of this nation and our military. Which is especially troubling when you consider the concept of the citizen soldier and how ubiquitous it has been until these recent phases of U.S. history. Military service members, current and former, are increasingly being considered a breed apart. Myke posits that Military SF’s growing popularity is really a manifestation of people’s fascination with the ‘other’ that the actual military is becoming in our culture.

I couldn’t agree more.

One reason for that growing separation is the fact that so few of our nation’s citizens serve in the military. One reason for that, I think, is the legacy of the Vietnam war. So much political hay was made of the military during that period, so much of it blatantly negative propoganda that the stigma was ingrained into an entire generation and is being passed on today.

Returning vets in the 60s and 70s were greeted with everything from harsh words to oven cleaner in the eyes by so-called ‘peace activists.’ Today I have received almost universal thanks and compassion for my service, usually from people who would never ever consider serving themselves. Which is the very problem Myke describes.

“Love the soldier but hate the war” does nothing to help the reputation of the military as a whole since we are the one’s prosecuting the war that is being used as political leverage.

Myke talks about wearing one’s uniform in public. He’s right. It used to be common place. It isn’t anymore.

I myself have, in the past, been very annoyed when I saw soldiers trundling their luggage through the airport in uniform. American soldiers are all taught not to do that. Travel in civilian clothes, don’t draw attention to yourself or your mission. It is the baseline SOP to travel incognito.

When soldiers travel in uniform today most (not all) of them are doing it in the hopes that someone one will give them attention or buy them lunch. That pisses me off. Being in the service is not a license to beg or show off.

But if it became common place, sanctioned and encouraged by the military leadership for CONUS travel, all that would change.

Myke gives the two big reasons why it is discouraged: OPSEC and Force Protection.

OPSEC: If every single traveling soldier traveled in uniform it would be very difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions about operations or troop movements out of the noise. Frankly, the news organizations are more than capable of betraying all that anyway, not to mention the social networking sites.

We would lose nothing and perhaps, if Myke is right, gain a great deal by increasing the visible presence of our military in the general population. Certainly worth a try. (Though I am loathe to give up the comfort of traveling out of uniform)

Force Protection: If you are a soldier traveling CONUS incognito, you are less likely to be a target. The implication of this, of course, is that some other poor schmuck will end up being the target, probably a civilian.  There is an argument to be made that this is the moral parallel of putting your bomb factory next to an orphanage.

If some bad actor wants to target Americans and would choose a soldier over a civilian, good. Make it easy for him to target a soldier instead of a civilian and see where that gets him. It’s our job to take those kind of risks so joe civilian doesn’t have to. Why then are we hiding ourselves among joe civilian on our home territory in hopes that the bad guys will choose someone else?

Of course, with our current crop of enemies, they’d much rather hit civilians than someone trained to defend themselves. Less risky that way.

I’m pleased as punch that Military SF is growing in popularity. I want to sell books and I can write that. I hope it’s not a sign of bad things to come. But it could easily be.

 

Roswell-UFOI’m in Capitan, New Mexico right now. The birth and final resting place of Smokey Bear. (Not Smokey THE Bear just Smokey Bear. Get it right you soft-shoed urbanite.)

I’m learning  how to track people. When I’m done I’ll be able to wear a patch that say “Tactical Tracker” on it. My inner boy is so excited he can hardly breathe. I think it’s pretty cool too.

70 miles away is Roswell, NM, site of the infamous Roswell UFO Incident. The town apparently has no bars of note, and no clubs, so I will not be going.

I will, however, point out that an old religious leader of mine, a mormon bishop, claimed, in all seriousness, to have been one of the Air Force MPs mobilized to provide security around the crash site on that fateful day.

If the government really is covering up the recovery of an alien spaceship, well, somebody is going to pay, someday.

If by no other method than hordes of aging and disappointed SF fanboys hunting them through the streets like Han Solo after a TaunTaun on the Orient Express. There will probably be other groups involved in the gutting too.

dangerous_vet

Or should I say Irresponsible News Media? Or even Cynically Deceptive News Media?

They all fit.

One weekend while I was in Afghanistan (during my second straight year of combat deployment in 2003) my wife and children attended an event put on by the Utah National Guard for soldier’s families. The Utah Guard tries hard to support families and mitigate as best they can the negative effects of their husband’s/family member’s absence in service.

While there my wife was approached by a reporter from a local news organization. The reporter, a woman, told my wife she was grateful for my service and wanted to get the message out about what a soldier’s family goes through during a deployment. A human interest piece.

My wife agreed and they set a time to meet at my home and record an interview.

During the interview the reporter asked a lot of questions and the film crew recorded the entire thing. They were very ‘feely’ questions and my wife cried a couple of times. She was going through a lot that year. As you can guess, a soldier’s deployment is not easy on the family at home. She was frankly grateful that the reporter wanted to tell her story.

Problem was the reporter DIDN’T actually want to tell my wife’s story. She had her own story to tell.

When the piece aired my wife was shocked and horrified. The reporter had brutally cut and edited her tearful answers to innocuous questions so that they looked like answers to completely different questions. Then they’d play some footage of a soldier madly firing a machine gun and screaming. They deliberately made my wife look as though she was afraid I was going to come home and murder the children and maybe the neighbors.

And that was the story they told. It wasn’t a human interest piece. It was a story on how soldiers in the Global War on Terror were going to come home ticking time bombs and murder someone.

Which is why this story cuts so deep. That dishonest and sensational narrative gets endless play in the News Media and it’s a lie.

My wife’s story goes further. Having calmed down about the dishonest and disrespectful way she had been treated by that reporter she made a phone call. She called the reporter and told her how much she had liked the story. She gushed about it. Then she asked the reporter if she could pretty please have a copy of the full original interview footage for our family archives.

The reporter told her she’d need a subpoena to get that footage and hung up on her. The reporter knew exactly what she had done and had clearly done it on purpose, with malice aforethought.

You can see why I am refraining from naming the reporter or the news organization. A woman and an organization that cynical would have no qualms about breaking my little family in half for speaking the truth about them on this subject. I realize that it’s unlikely they’d care enough to target us but I remain cautious.

So, go out and hug a veteran today, or something. They won’t bite. Probably. 😉

Enlisted men

“Enlisted men are stupid, but extremely cunning and sly, and bear considerable watching.”

U.S. Army’s Officer Guide, 1863

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He spotted a man below and reduced enough altitude to where the man could hear him and shouted:  ‘Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but i don’t know where I am’. The man below replied, “You’re in a hot balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude”
“You must be an NCO”, said the balloonist

“I am, replied the NCO, “How did you Know?”

“Well, ” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and I’m still lost. I won’t get to where I’m going with the information you gave me.”

The NCO below responded, “You must be an Officer”

“I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

” Well,” said the NCO, “you don’t know where your are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now somehow, it’s my fault.”

UdairiRangeI am a religious man, who fails to live up to his ideals every day. I’m working on it.

This happened in the Kuwaiti desert. It’s a story I’ve told to close friends and family.

Here it is for the rest of you.

After a week long exercise in the desert, the Udairi Range for those in the know, we had just finished the culminating event. The ODAs had performed a hit on a quarry and we were all standing around in the dark.

We were expecting the word when it came down. “You’ve been compromised, your vehicles are disabled. Here are the grids for your extraction point and for the route you’re to take to get there.”

My team leader, Mitchell, tapped in the first grid coordinate as fast as he could and we punched out into the night.

I had volunteered to carry the satellite radio. A little bit smaller than a kitchen drawer, it was very dense and heavy. I had my ruck built up already though, with a pocket for the radio close to my back and strapped in high.

The night was  cold, even colder than was typical for a desert in Kuwait, the sky clear. Once we were about a kilometer out into the desert we stopped and performed a SLLS halt. (Stop, Look, Listen, Smell, prounounced ‘sills’) The purpose of such a halt is to get a feel for the area. To try and determine what is normal. To discover if you are alone.

All was well. Once the SLLS was complete, while the other five of us pulled security, Mitchell punched in the rest of the coordinates for our route. I heard him swear softly. We’d been given the longest route of anyone participating in the exercise. 47 kilometers. We had until the next night to get to our extraction point and traveling during the day was verboten.

I was worried. It had only been a klik or so, but I was already feeling the weight. I suspected that I might have over-estimated how many pounds I could carry. But what was I going to do? Ask someone else to do it? Not a chance.

We stood up and went on, curving out into the desert along the prescribed route. I pounded along, keeping up as best I could. Hot spots were developing on my feet.

A few hours later I was even more worried about my situation. I was keeping up alright but I was having trouble keeping my balance through the alternating bands of sand, softball sized rocks, and gravel. I knew that if I started falling it would be the end. I would have disgraced myself and my team.

Desperation was a growing pressure in my chest.

I muttered a prayer, asking God for help of some sort. It came to my mind that I should ask for a walking stick. I grinned to myself. Why not? If I was asking for help from a divine being, why not a walking stick in the middle of the most barren landscape I had ever seen?

It got worse. Clouds rolled in, the wind picked up, and the temperature dropped.

Through the dust ahead of me I picked out a fenceline. I grimaced and steeled myself for the ordeal of either climbing over it with my pack on, if it was low, or taking the bloody thing off and putting it back on again on the other side. Neither prospect thrilled me.

I wondered, though, if one of the posts might not be persuaded to come loose and be pressed into service as that walking stick I’d been asking for. I’d seen fences in kuwait, some of the posts were made from lengths of PVC, others metal, others lengths of rattan. I was hoping for rattan.

As we got closer to the fence I realized it wasn’t a fence. There was only the one post. The men ahead of me walked on, past whatever it was sticking out of the sand.

I stopped, sweating there in the dark, and stared. It was the bottom half of a HMMV’s radio antenna. The half with the big brass threaded nut on the end. It stood there in the sand, heavy brass end down. It wasn’t even partially buried, it was balanced upright. I extended a finger and tapped it. It fell over.

I looked up and all around. The other men were dark hunchbacked shadows moving through the night.

I squatted down just far enough to snag the antenna and picked it up. Grasping it by the heavy brass end, tip on the ground, it reached to just above my waist. A perfect walking stick.

I muttered a brief prayer of incredulous thanks and moved on through the desert, aided by my walking stick. The wind and the weather got worse.

In the end we made good time and were the second of seven elements to reach the extraction point. I had blisters that covered the entire heel and ball of my foot. I walked very daintily for days after that exercise.

The “walking stick” is still in my equipment room.

Complaints.comOn Thursday before my last drill weekend my wife started looking for a couple of twin mattresses and box springs for my two boys. We’re changing their sleeping arrangements. She found two for sale on KSL.com. A deal was struck. She and her mother showed up at the seller’s house with her dad’s pickup truck.

The seller rolled up his garage door to reveal a plethora of mattresses in heaps and rows filling his garage. There were the two twins on the front row.

But, lo and behold, a Certa  King mattress presided over one corner of the stack.

“How much for that one?” my wife asked.

Because it had fallen on the ground at some point it was slightly smudged. For this reason, the seller said he would let it go for $95. An excellent price.

“I’d like to buy that one too,” says wife.

“Excellent,” says the seller.

“I only have the $100 dollars for the two twins but I can get you the other $95 later today.”

“Excellent,” again. Money was offered and received.

The two twins and the King, sadly, would not all fit in the pickup my wife and her mother had brought.

“Not to worry,” says the seller. “I will deliver all three tomorrow and you can give me the $95 for the king then.”

“Wonderful,” says my wife. “Thank you so much.”

“No problem,” says the seller.

The next day, Friday, comes and goes with many phone calls between wife and seller but no delivery.  Wife starts to get a little nervous because she has paid $100 but has no mattresses.

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smallpox victimAt one time, small pox was a big thing. It was horribly contagious and it was usually fatal. It needed to be stamped out. Vigorously.

As a culture we did that. We campaigned against it, vaccinated everyone we could and were ruthlessly efficient about it. As it’s prevalence began to fade we pursued it into the dark corners and vaccinated it out of existence. We never rested until it was gone gone gone.

We wiped it out. Not only did we wipe it out, we still have the vaccines and occasionally groups of people still get vaccinated against it. I, for one, have been inoculated and I bore the third eye for two weeks as proof. We have not forgotten.

I see racism following a very similar path.

Racism is by no means stamped out. We are not at the end of that struggle and since racism is an idea instead of a physical organism we may never see the end as we did with small pox.

But it is in the later stages of the stamping out process. I think we’re over the hump. Racism is retreating to the dark corners and we are pursuing it, ruthless as ever. I fervently believe that someday we’ll get it all.

Unfortunately we’re seeing a phenomena with the struggle against racism that we did not see with the one against smallpox. There are people who make a profit from the struggle rather than the cure.

Some folks take donations to help further their cause in the political fight against racism.

Some people sell things that purport to further the cause. Things that promote diversity and expand other people’s minds. Books, Music, Magazines, etc…

Some people simply enjoy a bit of positive notoriety and media buzz because of their penchant for speaking loudly and voluminously about the evils of racism.

All of these people, as truly angelic as some of their intentions may be, have a vested interest in racism as a going concern. They make money as long as racism is something that must be trumpeted from the rooftops and rabbleroused against.

Such people tend to see racism, or at least say they see racism, where there is none.

This is as damaging to the struggle against racism as it would have been had the pharmaceutical companies attempted to turn every cold, every flu, and every sniffle into a smallpox outbreak.

People would have stopped listening. They would have started to doubt the dangers of smallpox. Let’s not go there folks.

Racism is real. Let’s keep it that way.

“You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.
You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.” – Adrian Rogers, 1931

So, the paragraph below is what I first posted after that quote. I, frankly, hadn’t had enough time to do more than peruse the headlines on the matter. My mother shortly reached down my gullet and yanked out the liberal talking points I had swallowed. It honestly never occurred to me, even after all these years, that the left and their puppets in the media would lie so blatantly. Fool me a hundred times I guess.

The Tea Party and its fellow travelers may have picked a poor time and place to make a stand on taxes and the debt limit. By my understanding the obligations which the debt limit had to be raised to meet were already extant, already on the books, already spent. People were owed money and had to be paid. Paying our debts was the right thing to do, as it always is.

In point of fact the government  (read presidential administration) could have started cutting programs and firing people, or, more pragmatically, directed their underlings to do so all the way down the chain, and crested under the debt ceiling. They chose not to do this and instead excoriated with vast sprays of scorn those who suggested that perhaps we ought not to be spending so much money.

Bloody ridiculous. When you’re spending so much you’re approaching your credit limit you stop the spending. You cancel the cable. You tell little Susie she’s going to have to practice the violin at home for awhile as lessons are out of reach. Maybe you sell the violin. You don’t simply raise your credit limit. Unless you’re stupid.

“But where do you cut? Which children do you send away hungry?” Excellent question. Better start figuring it out now ’cause things are not going to get better with more government spending. See the above quote.

The root problem is still the same, the government spending far far more than it takes in. (Notice I did not say ‘makes.’ The government does not make money.) And that problem has not even been touched. The current administration is spending more, faster, than any administration previous and they make the argument everyday that the only answer to the economic problems of the country is to spend yet more. I don’t buy it.

In spite of all the obfuscation streaming from the left and the right alike, spending more than you make is unsustainable. The solution to approaching the credit limit on your credit card is to stop spending so much bloody money, not raise the limit. If you have to raise the limit to make your mortgage, do so, and then put your house up for sale and start looking for apartments that you can actually afford. If you start badgering your employer for a raise because you can’t afford your lifestyle, he’s likely to laugh in your face and tell you the same thing. Stop spending so much money. Unfortunately, our government does its badgering of its employer, us, from behind a gun, and they want their money.

The cold heart of the matter is that we are looking at the approaching end of our way of life and government because that government won’t stop spending too much  money, much of it on ridiculous bullshit programs.

I’ve had friends yell at me and accuse me of killing innocents over this issue. The first place the left reaches to cut the budget is always defense, one of the most clearly appropriate venues for the spending of taxes. I suspect they do this because they know the military doesn’t vote for them and largely places the welfare of the country over their own personal convenience. And the other folks on the payroll?: GS drones, welfare recipients, academia, etc…overwhelmingly vote democrat. When you must pay for votes to stay in power, cutting spending is unlikely at best. See the quote above.

Currently I’m suckling from the government teat. I’m in the National Guard on full time orders. I’ve deployed to combat three times. My full time job with the guard also involves me risking my life for this country. I’ll volunteer again. Cut my job. Do it. I dare you. If it’s part of reigning in the insanely out of control spending we’re perpetrating right now I’ll welcome it with open arms.

And you know what? I’ll land on my feet with another job, probably making more bloody money, and I’ll still vote republican because as ridiculous as they are lately they’re still better than the left.

A MODEST PROPOSAL

Stop all foreign aid. All of it. Every dime. Our house is not in order and we, frankly, need to put that first. Take all the foreign aid money and start shoveling it against the debt. Anybody know how much we spend in foreign aid every year? I don’t. I don’t have time to figure it out either. I’ve got a bloody job.

 

Sorry folks, this is going to be a long one.

When I was in college ROTC I met a guy with the unlikely name of William Waddoups Jacobsen Jr. He didn’t tell me about the Waddoups right away, he was just Bill.

Bill was older than the rest of us. At least he felt that way to me. He was only one year ahead of me in school but he was a mentor, a steadying influence, and a friend through all the strange disquieting times that come upon a freshman in college away from home for the first time. He lifted me up and pushed me down in turn, as I needed it.

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And a good time was had by all.

We actually got back a couple of weeks ago but life  has been too busy to post here.

So, apparently there’s a push coming down from on high that units in the Utah NG and elsewhere provide ‘proof of training’ beyond the word of their officers and NCOs. As a result the command had a photographer/videographer along on our AT in Montana. Thousands of pictures and videos are promised to the men of the unit but so far all we’ve gotten is this teaser video.

Note that the guy twisting in the wind at 1:30 is our company commander. He may not know how to exit an aircraft but he sure knows how to put on good training.