Category: War


PTSD, Interesting

ScienceDailyLogoThis links to an article on a study done in Denmark. The study was carried out on Danish soldiers who served in Afghanistan.

The main thrust of the article lines up with my own experience and gut feelings on PTSD.

Michael Yon brought it to my attention with this post.

I’ve done no actual research into the matter and, as I said, only post this because it lines up with my own gut feelings on the matter. I’d be interested in your thoughts on PTSD. Please, comment freely.

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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.

 

13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

In the days after the 9/11 attacks I was treated to footage of ecstatic crowds on the ‘arab street’ celebrating our tragedy. This joined the many years of footage from places like Israel and Lebanon depicting the joy with which the ‘arab street’ greeted suicide attacks, bombings of innocent civilians, and the murder of men in wheelchairs.

I saw this unseemly glee condemned by responsible members of the muslim world who were, unfortunately, extremely thin on the ground and very short on action or even calls to action against the responsible groups. I was told again and again that the atrocities committed by the few extremist jihadis, were not in line with the teachings of the Koran and should be condemned by all true muslims. Yet the attacks continued unabated and evidently unopposed by the nations and communities from which the jihadis sprang and operated. In fact, quite the reverse, in ‘Palestine’ the people put the murdering terrorist group Hamas into power in a popular election. And other murderers enjoyed a kind of Robin Hood status in muslim communities around the world, their faces adorning boxes of children’s candy and cereal like a wheaties sports hero among a hundred other things.

This soured in my soul.

However, during my service in the Middle East, in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan I met and worked with local people in all three countries who were brave and committed to the principles of peace, personal responsibility, and the rule of law.  They exist.

Now we have this story. Syrians putting their lives on the line to resist the murdering regime and fulfill their human duty to correct the reprehensible actions of other members of their community.

I salute those Syrians fighting for freedom. I would gladly deploy again to help them in their struggle.

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.

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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binladen-xGlad to finally be able to put UBL into the ‘good’ category.

As wigg1es so aptly put it on Boing Boing, “If only this actually meant anything……”

What does it mean?

That the vast majority of Americans will now be able to tell themselves that all is right with the world, the boogey man is no more, and that this actually does change something.

I hope and I pray that they are right, that it will change something. I doubt that UBL’s fellow travelers will now shrug their shoulders and walk away into obscurity, but I hope they do.

I also hope and pray that the believers in Democracy and the Rule of Law around the world who depend on American might will not now be abandoned in an orgy of political expediency among our politicians.

Edit: Buried at sea? Really?  – No pictures yet? Really? – Is our government TRYING to minimize the positive effects of this action?

Edit 2: So we’ve had two years of the left telling birthers that insisting on proof, documentation, of an event is stupid, in order to defend Obama’s failure to produce an official birth certificate. This thought pattern is so ingrained that now we must laugh to scorn those who ask for proof, like a high-res photo, of UBL’s dead body? Folks, as a friend of mine said, “There are people who still believe Elvis is alive, and we’re not producing a picture of UBL dead? WTF?”

Bonus links:

Fareed Zakaria on the death of Bin Laden

My Uncle!

That’s my uncle!

He presents a paper that is a brilliant examination of the relationship between the Indian Wars the United States fought in its early life and the current terror wars we’re fighting now.



Fareed Zakaria

Fareed ZakariaJust found a guy named Fareed Zakaria.

I’m really impressed. This article, which he wrote for Newsweek in the aftermath of 9/11, was amazing. In its tone and basic ideas I feel vindicated that it says many of the same things I’ve been saying for years. And Mr. Zakaria has actual creds to his name, not just seat of the pants armchair theorizing like me.

While the fact that I agree with him is nice for me, more importantly he speaks to and integrates many of the root ideas that other people skate around in favor of rhetoric. He doesn’t gloss over anything that I could see. While not claiming to be perfectly unbiased (impossible) he does present a solid, clear look at both sides of the issues he’s discussing.

I’ll definitely be looking for and reading more of his stuff.

Wikileaks two

Lots of people out there on the web pooh poohing the idea that wikileaks is costing lives.  They don’t claim that wikileaks hasn’t cost lives. Most of them simply claim that it pales in comparison to the number of lives lost due to actions by the governments wikileaks targeted. A fair point. And, if you assume that the west, the United States and Britain in particular, is corrupt and murderous by nefarious design, you can stop thinking at that point and simply wave your placard. I don’t share that view and find those that do a little long on the yammer and short on the hammer. They speak, confidently, from under the umbrella of freedom, security and prosperity those very governments provide.

There’s another necessary half of the argument, usually left implicit by these rhetoricians. You must also believe that the threats of terrorism and rabid jihad the west is facing and fighting are largely nebulous and illusory. I direct your attention to the New York of nine years ago. You may then stepping stone your way to the present over countless incidents of violence and cruelty deliberately perpetrated against innocents by the very same individuals and their groups that are so necessarily (for this particular argument to hold water) illusory.

The west has not been perfect in its prosecution of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. There are plenty of examples of western soldiers and leaders doing wrong. Such incidents are few and far between, as evidenced by the attention they get when they do happen.

The massive and pungent irony of the whole wikileaks situation is that wikileaks targeted only the side it is safe to target. Exposing the inner workings of Al Quaeda and like groups is, after all, awfully difficult and dangerous.

As for wikileaks being treasonous, no. It’s only treasonous for Bradley Manning. For folks of other citizenships it’s called espionage.