Military Archives

Change? Did I Say "Change?"

A few links covering much of the non-change the Obama administration is giving us.

* The Audacity of Patience on RedState, noting status quo in cabinet appointments, the Bush tax cuts, but mostly the closing (or not) of Gitmo.

* The Washington Times:  "Don’t ask, don’t tell"?  Don’t hold your breath.

* The New York Times (yes, that New York Times):  Reality rears its ugly head regarding Iraqi forces.  I like this line:

“I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary — likely to be necessary — to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq,” Mr. Obama said this week as he introduced his national security team.

Yes, I’m sure that’s the catchy way he said it in all his speeches.

Back to the Future

This was the title of a post on Redstate by Aaron Gardner, regarding where the Republican Party goes from here.  Gardner started, as his foundation of what the Republicans need to stand for, from the party platform of 1980, when Reagan was swept into the White House with 489 electoral votes.  He made some of his own modifications, but overall the (lengthy) statement stands as a good starting point.

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Women in Combat; Time to Reconsider?

The military and its use in defending the country are one of the powers expressly enumerated in our Constitution.  Unlike other responsibilities that some would like to give to it (e.g. health care, as I’ve discussed here before), this particular duty is spelled out quite clearly.  Our founding fathers, in attempting to limit the federal government’s powers while leaving the rest to the states or the people, made sure that this power was indeed a federal issue.  Defense of its citizens and interests is a proper role of government.

Over time, aspects of the military have changed, but none more controversial than its makeup.  When a racially-integrated military was suggested, initial reactions against it were mostly due to racial prejudice than anything else, either on the part of the person reacting or on the assumption that such prejudice existed in the ranks.  As racial views changed, that integration became far easier.

Over time, another type of integration took place; that of including women in combat.  The concept was not entirely new (it goes back to ancient times), but in the US, while the controversy was heated in earlier decades, as women were included more and more the issue isn’t considered that big a deal anymore, on par with racial integration.  However, I think that recent events should give us pause to consider the question again.

There have always been the straw arguments that proponents of women in combat have attributed to the other side that either were never actually presented or were extreme minority opinions.  One of those was that women weren’t as patriotic as men or willing to die for freedom.  This was typically presented as the claim that women were just as patriotic, with the implication that the other side didn’t think so. 

However, there are a number of arguments against women in combat that represent real physical and psychological concerns, and not always on the part of the women themselves.  Wikipedia presents some of these arguments, including physical differences and the reaction of men to wounded women.  The tradition and seeming instinct of protecting women plays into this.  The cry, "Women and children first", was never taken to be a call to arms.  The Wikipedia article notes, regarding experiments with women in integrated units in the Israeli Defense Force:

The reason for removing female soldiers from the front lines is no reflection on the performance of female soldiers, but that of the male infantrymen after witnessing a woman wounded. The IDF saw a complete loss of control over soldiers who apparently experienced an uncontrollable, protective, instinctual aggression.

Say what you will about the male and the protection instinct, it’s real and it’s there (and it’s not a bad thing).

Another issue has been that of romantic relationship within the unit, causing a couple to perhaps become more concerned about each other than the remainder of the unit, or a love triangle which would create less concern between some.  Unit cohesion is paramount in combat, and adding this dimension can easily cancel out any other gains.  (Incidentally, this is, at least to me, the main reason to be against gays in the military.) 

It’s this sexual angle to the inclusion of women that can be the most destructive.  And to some, it can be far worse than an issue with a jilted lover.

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20/20 Foresight

If you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that a vote for the surge in Iraq and its strategy changes would dramatically reduce the amount of violence and deaths, giving the Iraqi government breathing room to get 15 of 18 benchmarks completed, would you vote for it?  If it was a certainty?

Obama wouldn’t have.  The man of Hope and Change(tm) would have kept the status quo.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is playing politics with the war and the lives of our soldiers.  Bailing out at all costs — big costs, to Iraq if not to us — is irresponsibility at its highest.  That’s not the kind of man I want as President.

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Shire Network News #121

Shire Network News #121 has been released. The feature interview is a continuation of the discussion from last week with retired Green Beret Lt Col Gordon Cucullu, who is worried about the increasing cultural gap between western military forces and the civillian population.  This week’s show comes to you, not from London, and not even from our emergency backup studio in Australia. No, Shire Network News this week is hosted by Meryl Yourish in Richmond VA!  Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

I did not have a commentary this week.

Shire Network News #120

Shire Network News #120 has been released.

This week’s feature interview is with former Green Beret Lt Col Gordon Cucullu, who says there’s a growing cultural rift between the US military and civilian society, which is endangering preparedness to face unexpected challenges, such as the Venezuela/Colombia War of 2008.

What’s that? You hadn’t heard about that potential regional conflict which might drag the US in? Precisely the Colonel’s point.

Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to "Consider This!"

Barack Obama is campaigning to be the nominee from the Democratic Party for President of the United States.  A video was released on YouTube in which he enumerates the defense policies he would like to enact should he be elected President.  In the interest of the public service, I will be translating what he says into practical terms, so that all those listening can truly understand what he is saying and can make an informed decision, should he be on the ballot.  Here, then, is Senator Barack Obama.

I’m the only major candidate who opposed this war from the beginning, and as President I will end it. 

Translation: I’m the only major candidate who thought that liberating Iraqis, and cutting off the flow of funds to terrorists from Saddam Hussein, was a waste of time.  Shooting at our aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones was no big deal.  As President, I vow to remove all troops from Iraq, where the enemy is, but keep them in countries in Europe where the enemy isn’t.

Second, I will cut tens of billions of dollars of wasteful spending. 

Translation: I will sound vaguely conservative.

I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems.  I will not weaponize space.  I will slow our development of future combat systems.

I will be fiscally "responsible" by shirking my duty to defend the country from new threats and new technology. 

And I will institute an independent Defense Priorities Board to ensure that the quadrennial defense review is not used justify unnecessary spending.

I will create a new committee to make sure that the other committee’s report isn’t used to stay ahead of the bad guys.  If we drop our weapons, it stands to reason that they will drop theirs.

Third, I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. 

See previous translation.

To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear weapons, I will seek a global ban on the production of fissile material,…

Which, I am sure, Iran, North Korea and China will be more than happy to join me in.  I trust them implicitly.  Oh, and al Qaeda.  I will endeavor to bring my Swiss Army Knife to all gun battles.

…and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert, and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal.

I trust Vladimir Putin, and his hand-picked successor, implicitly.  Thank you, and sleep tight.

This has been a public service by Shire Network News, and the McCain for President committee.  OK, McCain doesn’t know we’re doing this, but tell me with a straight face that he wouldn’t like it.  Consider that.

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The Governmental Right to Harass?

Of course not, you might say.  No government has the right to do that.  Agreed, but one particular government, of a very specific political persuasion, seems to think that it does.  Read "A Libertarian Perspective on the Berkeley v. Marines Showdown", especially the part where he puts the shoe on the other foot.  (I wouldn’t call myself a libertarian, but we do agree on many things.)

Shire Network News #102

Shire Network News #102 has been released. The feature interview is with Reut Cohen, a student at UC Irvine, who documents anti-Semitism on campus. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network New, asking you to “Consider This”.

This is a Blogosphere News Roundup; a BNR on SNN. My own little version of the Blog News segment but missing the wonderfully funky segue music.

First up is a new movie from Brian De Palma, entitled “Redacted”, which attempts to paint all US soldiers in a bad light by highlighting, in gory detail, the rape of girl and the murder of her family by 5 soldiers. De Palma calls this “the reality of what is happening in Iraq”.

This incident is horrifying, no doubt about that. But isn’t calling that “the reality” sort of like looking closely at an ant hill in my 1-acre yard and thus, by extension, condemning my house since it must be overrun by ants? De Palma blames the US for this atrocity, which may be fair enough, but he also blames the US for the beheadings by al Qaeda. Heads, it’s our fault. Tails, the fault is ours. After all, if only we weren’t in Iraq, all these al Qaeda types would instead be sipping lemonade by the pool, and their new motto would be “Live and Let Live”. And if you believe that, I’ve got a couple of towers in downtown Manhatten I’d like to sell you.

De Palma’s next film will declare that the continent of Africa is devoid of people after filming 100 square yards of Saharan real estate. Working title: “The Bonfire of the Insanities”.

Next up, Senator Hillary Clinton was found to have taken campaign money from a man of questionable ethics. Hmm, fugitive raises money for a Clinton. Eh, never mind, no real news there.

But speaking of the US presidential campaign, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama picked up a key endorsement on Wednesday; the late Fidel Castro. Fidel, from beyond the grave, said that a Clinton/Obama ticket would be “invincible”. Castro should know something about invincibility; not even his death can keep him from writing editorials. (Yes, yes, I know Castro’s death has not been confirmed, but really; a Communist leader who took ill and has not been seen in months? These guys need to get an original script. I hear Brian De Palma has just come into some free time.)

In Sydney, Australia, thousands of Christians protested and set on fire the building where the religious art competition, the Blake prize, was showing off their entries. Among them was a statue of the Virgin Mary in a burqa, and a holographic image that morphed between Jesus and Osama bin Laden, which enrage Christians to the point of rioting. Heh, yeah, right, you knew better than that. Oh, the art exhibits do indeed exist. It’s just that the worst things that happened were a few tut-tuts from a number of folks including Prime Minister John Howard, and some angry phone calls. Hey fellas, I’ve got some Danish cartoons I’d like to enter in your contest. You’re open to all religions, right? Right?

It’s been 2 years since hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans. The flood waters rose, the levees were broken, people were driven from their homes, and now President Bush is visiting there. I believe that according to my reading of the book of Exodus, locusts should be next.

And finally, from the news site The Australian comes this headline: “A nuclear-armed Iran would not be good”. Indeed. A sworn enemy of the West with one of the most powerful weapons on the face of the Earth could ruin your whole afternoon. I wonder if, 2 years ago, there might have been an article headlined, “Bad Storm Hit New Orleans”.

All yours, Brian.

Sunni and Shia Brought Together By…

…the US military.

TAJI, Iraq — U.S. forces have brokered an agreement between Sunni and Shi’ite tribal leaders to join forces against al Qaeda and other extremists, extending a policy that has transformed the security situation in western Anbar province to this area north of the capital.

The extremists struck back yesterday with a suicide car bomb aimed at one of the Sunni tribes involved in the deal, killing three militiamen and wounding 14.

Members of the First Calvary Division based at nearby Camp Taji helped broker the deal on Saturday with the tribal leaders, who agreed to use members of more than 25 local tribes to protect the area around Taji from both Sunni and Shi’ite extremists.

Our fighting men and women in Iraq are not some dumb, poor folks who got “stuck in Iraq” (thank you John Kerry), and they’re not just fighting men and women, either. They’re bringing peace (real peace, not the Saddam Hussein kind) to Iraq, one province at a time. It’s slow going, no question about that, but I do hope the American people will let the military have the time to do the job right, because it is getting done.

Similar agreements in Anbar province have been credited with putting al Qaeda and its foreign extremists on the defensive while bringing relative peace to some of Iraq’s most violent areas.

The Taji agreement, however, is the first involving both Sunni and Shi’ite sheiks, and the U.S. military hopes it will help temper the increasing influence of the Mahdi Army in and around Baghdad.

“A month ago, every single one of these people was shooting at us,” said Sgt. Richard Fisk as he walked through Falahat pointing out places where his troops had been hit by roadside bombs.

Capt. [Martin] Wohlgemuth said the tribal leaders approached the United States for support after a number of raids and detentions, coupled with increasingly brutal treatment of the local population by the group calling itself al Qaeda in Iraq.

The captain said that in some cases he has helped members of the new militia to get relatives released from U.S. and Iraqi custody, provided they were not linked to al Qaeda.

Things are getting better. But will Democrats notice come September?

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Good News from Iraq, But Will Anyone Listen

General Pace sees a lot of good news coming out of Iraq — a “sea change” in the security situation, according to TIME — but when his report comes in September will the Democrats really listen? When Harry Reid declared the surge “a failure” before all the troops had even arrived and put into action, it tipped his hand as to how he’d vote 3 months later, regardless of outcome. He and his caucus have made up their minds. Don’t confuse them with the facts, now or in the future.

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