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Reposted from 2004, we received this letter from a Marine Corps Officer to his father, responding on what he would write to America...it might even be more important today than back in 2004. From then First Lieutenant Brown, USMC: September 11, 2004 Dear America, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -George Orwell The Marine Corps is tired. I guess I should not say that, as I have no authority or responsibility to speak for the Marine Corps as a whole, and my opinions are mine alone. I will rephrase: this Marine is tired. I write this piece from the sands of Iraq, west of Baghdad, at three a.m., but I am not tired of the sand. I am neither tired of long days, nor of flying and fighting. I am not tired of the food, though it does not taste quite right. I am not tired of the heat; I am not tried of the mortars that occasionally fall on my base. I am not tired of Marines dying, though all Marines, past and present, mourn the loss of every brother and sister that is killed; death is a part of combat and every warrior knows that going into battle. One dead Marine is too many, but we give more than we take, and unlike our enemies, we fight with honor. I am not tired of the missions or the people; I have only been here a month, after all. I am, however, tired of the hypocrisy and short-sightedness that seems to have gripped so many of my countrymen and the media. I am tired of political rhetoric that misses the point, and mostly I am tired of people "not getting it." Three years ago I was sitting in a classroom at Quantico, Virginia, while attending the Marine Corps Basic Officer Course, learning about the finer points of land navigation. Our Commanding Officer interrupted the class to inform us that some planes had crashed in New York and Washington D.C., and that he would return when he knew more. Tears welled in the eyes of the Lieutenant on my right while class continued, albeit with an audience that was not very focused; his sister lived in New York and worked at the World Trade Center. We broke for lunch, though instead of going to the chow hall proceeded to a small pizza and sub joint which had a television. Slices of pizza sat cold in front of us as we watched the same vivid images that you watched on September 11, 2001. I look back on that moment now and realize even then I grasped, at some level, that the events of that day would alter both my military career and my country forever. Though I did not know that three years later, to the day, I would be flying combat missions in Iraq as an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot, I did understand that a war had just begun, on television for the world to see, and that my classmates and I would fight that war. After lunch we were told to go to our rooms, clean our weapons and pack our gear for possible deployment to the Pentagon to augment perimeter security. The parting words of the order were to make sure we packed gloves, in case we had to handle bodies. The first Marine killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom was in my company at The Basic School, and was sitting in that land navigation class on September 11. He fought bravely, led from the front, and was killed seizing an oil refinery on the opening day of the war. His heroism made my emergency procedure memorization for the T-34 primary flight school trainer seem quite insignificant. This feeling of frustration was shared by all of the student pilots, but we continued to press on. As one instructor pointed out to us, "You will fight this war, not me. Make sure that you are prepared when you get there." He was right; my classmates from Pensacola are here beside me, flying every day in support of the Marines on the ground. That instructor has since retired, but I believe he has retired knowing that he made a contribution to the greatest country in the history of the world, the United States of America. Many of you will read that statement and balk at its apparently presumptuous and arrogant nature, and perhaps be tempted to stop reading right here. I would ask that you keep going, for I did not say that Americans are better than anyone else, for I do not believe that to be the case. I did not say that our country, its leaders, military or intelligence services are perfect or have never made mistakes, because throughout history they have, and will continue to do so, despite their best efforts. The Nation is more than the sum of its citizens and leaders, more than its history, present, or future; a nation has contemporary values which change as its leaders change, but it also has timeless character, ideals forged with the blood and courage of patriots. To quote the Pledge of Allegiance, our nation was founded "under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." As Americans, we have more freedom than we can handle sometimes. If you are an atheist you might have a problem with that whole "under God" part; if you are against liberating the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Asia, all of Europe (twice), and the former Soviet bloc, then perhaps the "liberty and justice for all" section might leave you fuming. Our Nation, throughout its history, has watered the seeds of democracy on many continents, with blood, even when the country was in disagreement about those decisions. Disagreement is a wonderful thing. To disagree with your neighbors and your government is at the very heart of freedom. Citizens have disagreed about every important and controversial decision made by their leaders... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
It is always easier to requite an injury than a service: gratitude is a burden, but revenge is found to pay. - Tacitus I understand and agree with everyone that wants to see ISIS f@#$%ed up like polio. But there needs to be a plan to take them out...and that plan would have far reaching effects, not just into Iraq and Syria, but in every nation allowing it's citizens to fight for ISIS (and I lost count after 30). It would have to be GLOBAL and would not end within President Obama's tenure or maybe even his lifetime. First, let us bring in four brief (not all encompassing) but important lessons learned from the last foray into Iraq (and Afghanistan). We didn't pressure Turkey enough to allow use of their territory/airspace. We didn't go after Iran for killing our troops and Iraqi civilians. We didn't surge soon enough. We needed more troops during almost every major initiative. So, questions for the President about our defense would start with: A. Will you continue to cut the military even as operations and optempo increase substantially? Will you increase funding to counter building threats? B. Will you continue to say there won't be boots on the ground (our military) but instead send contractors in the thousands to Iraq? C. What does victory against ISIS look like? D. Are we fighting an organization, nation, or idea? If it is the latter, how will you (globally) address the Islamic State murdering and enslaving thousands upon thousands of people? E. Who will lead this fight against radical Islam? How will you involve Iran and Saudi Arabia in the discussions to stop the flow of recruits? F. Will you seek authorization from Congress? G. Outside of ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Iran: What about the Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Lithuania etc? Will we only exert economic pressure over Russian interference and invasion? What will you do about China's rapidly expanding Navy (aiming towards dominating the Pacific rim)? H. How do we prevent weaker minded countries from joining ISIS (or Russia for that matter - those countries in G above excepted)? I. Last, if we are going to engage the enemy on many fronts, what kind of rules of engagement will you support? ISIS can not be contained, it must be destroyed, wiped form the face of the earth. To do that, a global strategy is needed to confront the threats that are, seemingly, everywhere, while GREATLY strengthening those who will stand with us. Mr. President, we don't doubt that our military, our nation, and our friends are up to the challenge. Over the last six years, you have given us plenty of reason to doubt your resolve or understanding of the world. We cannot abandon our allies again. It's time for you to do your job as Commander-in-Chief. It's time for Congress to do its job. Put partisan politics and f#cking optics aside and vigorously defend our way of life...or be forever doomed as the leader who let it slip away. Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. sailors prepare to launch an E-2C Hawkeye from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf, Sept. 1, 2014. The Geocarrier is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. The sailors are assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 124. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Stephens Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar. Ice Shear, M. P. Cooley’s debut novel, is very impressive. She moves the plot along through the dialogue. Action comes from the character’s words and not from gun shoot-outs or bloody chases. But make no mistake this police procedural is far from dull and mundane. The story begins with June Lyons, a former FBI agent, who is now part of the Hopewell Falls New York police department. Working the night shift her duties seem limited to driving drunks home and handling the homeless. This small town in upstate New York hardly knew what the word murder meant until June discovers a young woman’s body, the daughter of a powerful local Congresswoman, impaled on an ice shear in the frozen Mohawk River. Trying to discover the murderer the local police finds clues leading to the involvement of a notorious biker gang and people running a meth lab. This brings in the FBI where one of the agents, Hale, is an old friend from a past June would rather forget. To make matters worse, she is chosen as the liaison between the FBI and local police since she is a former FBI agent. Cooley skillfully weaves the storyline between revenge, retribution, greed, corruption, jealously, turf fights, and power as the search for the murderer continues. Cooley commented to blackfive.net, “June had grand plans for her life and now feels she has lost everything: her husband, her career, and her home. She knows she made the right decision returning home, but she still feels the loss of her old life. While June would never describe herself as a hero, I think she is, showing up for her family, friends, and city while doing the right thing, day after day. June doesn’t share her thoughts and feelings with most people. Being in her head, the readers may know more about her than a lot of her friends and family. Her family has given the strength and hope to get past her husband’s death and solve the murder of Danielle Brouillette. From her father she got a strong sense of duty and a refusal to give up a case until it is solved. Her daughter gave her a reason to live and a reason to hope. Even grieving, she works to make sure her daughter feels safe and loved, and that includes solving the crimes that could destroy the town where they live. Law enforcement understands the gravity of pulling the weapon, and I used that sense of responsibility in developing the character of June.” Noting about biker gangs Cooley stated, “I went on the message boards and talked to bikers. They consider being in a gang as having freedom and a brotherhood. They believe they are living their values. I had a bit of luck when a group of bikers started coming into my favorite coffee shop on Thursday evenings. They wore full leathers, big Harleys, the whole deal. I wouldn’t have expected Peet’s to be a biker hangout, but they sat next to me one day and we started talking. They called themselves “The Saints and Sinners”, and were a sober biker gang. A lot of them had been part of the Bandidos or Hell’s Angels, but decided to leave when their lives got out of control, and the booze and drugs became too much. But getting out wasn’t easy. They lost their friends and family, their whole life, and to exit they had to be beaten by the entire gang. If they lived through the beating, they could leave. A lot of what they told me became the basis of Marty. I actually plan on bringing Marty back if the series continues.” But it is also a story of grief as seen through June’s eyes. She left the Bureau when her husband became gravely ill, eventually dying. She thinks about him often and leans on her dad, the retired police chief of Hopewell Falls, to help raise her young daughter. Although likeable and smart June keeps to herself putting her personal life on the back burner because of her unhealed anguish. She is still silently mourning the death of her husband while trying to raise her daughter and hold down a fulltime job on the local police force of the town where she grew up. Cooley also dealt with grief. “Two years before writing this book I lost my dad who was someone important to me. I also lost my career as a book editor. For me, grief is making peace with the loss, letting go, and making a new life. I wrote June in a similar path. Marty also suffered grief when he lost his wife. Yet, where as Marty gets pulled back into his past June is able to move forward. Grief had cut me off from other people, which is similar to June in the beginning of the book. She is able to get a high from her job but puts her private life on the back burner.” Ice Shear has a complex plot with many twists and turns. This novel is not just a rural thriller but has themes of power, corruption, and cover-up. Through her well-developed main character, June, she has created an old fashioned hero, a detective anyone can identify with and root for. Mystery readers should look forward to many books in this series that show the make-up of a true champion that can overcome personal obstacles while professionally making sure the bad guys never win. Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar. Inside Marine One by Colonel Ray “Frenchy” L’Heureux offers insight into his personal interaction with Presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. There are no political discussions but just glimpses of his personal stories, a behind the scenes with the Presidents. The first part of the book talks about his life as a US Marine. Because he was running low on college funds and saw a recruiter at his college, he joined the Marines. His life changed forever after seeing President Ronald Reagan land on his way to a fundraiser. Choosing to pursue a career with the squadron that flies the President in Marine One, he researched what he had to accomplish to become a part of that elite group. In 1991, he joined HMX1 flying Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. In 2006, until his retirement in 2011, he was Commanding Officer flying Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. After reading the book and interviewing him it became obvious that the Colonel has a special personal bond with President George W. Bush. He told blackfive.net that he still stays in touch with the President as they write letters to each other. “It all goes back to that day where I was invited to mountain ride with the President. It was like we were two regular guys mountain biking. He goaded me into writing this book.” He also commented that President George W. Bush was a strong supporter of the military and cared about those serving personally. “He even invited my son, Ray, who is serving, to come up to the White House for a brief discussion. President Bush was the first President that came to the Squadron to say thank you and goodbye to HMX-1. He hung around for quite some time after his remarks and took photos with the Marines. I could not have been more proud to introduce the President of The United States to my Marines in their “house.” On the flight back from Quantico to the White House, the president came into the cockpit to tell me just how much he enjoyed his time with the Marines. ‘Frenchman, that was awesome. Thank you so much.’” Another President the Colonel feels a bond with is Bush 41. He refers to the story of how President Bush played volleyball with the pilots and admonished them to play hard against him. “It was then that Mrs. Bush came by and chided us for not wearing a jacket. She also gave us a hug for keeping her husband and family safe.” He also addressed some of the criticism of the book noting to blackfive.net that some information is classified for security concerns so some details could not be discussed. He did emphasize that the helicopters are used within a forty-mile radius because “Helicopters offer a lot of flexibility since setting up a motorcade involves getting a whole flotilla of vehicles into place and securing a route. The security situation is easier to handle. The speed of a helicopter beats ground travel, and it allows the President to get in and out of stops quickly.” Inside Marine One is a fun and easy read. Anyone that wants a few anecdotes about the Presidents served should definitely read this book by Colonel L’Heureux. Continue reading
Posted Aug 29, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
Annnd, we knew they were a threat A YEAR AGO! This is just them finally having to admit it.
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2014 on America's Junior Varsity leadership at BLACKFIVE
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The following interview with author and co-creator of "The Last Ship", Hank Steinberg, is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. [Most of us around here are big fans of Adam Baldwin and of "The Last Ship".] You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. Hank Steinberg the co-creator, executive producer, and a writer for the thrilling TV series The Last Ship discussed his new show. With great characters and plots the show has the crew of a US naval destroyer forced to confront the reality of a new existence when a pandemic kills off most of the earth's population. The blackfive.net interview with Hank Steinberg is below. Elise Cooper: Rumor has it you will be attending the Military Book Fair (www.militarybookfair.org) in San Diego on November 8th at the USS Midway. True? Hank Steinberg: I’ve had the pleasure of working on the San Diego Navy Base extensively with the Commanders and crews of the USS Halsey and USS Dewey during production of "The Last Ship." We created characters in the show based on the real-life dedication and strength of leadership that we have seen first hand. I am happy to be a part of the Military Book Fair events and book signings on Nov 8th as a way to recognize and thank our active military, veterans, and their families for their incredible service. EC: The show is based on the novel of the same title by William Brinkley. Did you read it? HS: Yes. I brainstormed with Steven Kane about the storyline. This book was written in the 1980s about the Cold War era. The concept has a nuclear war destroying much of civilization with the only survivors being those on board this one ship. Both the show and the book are about survival. EC: Why did you decide to come up with this premise? HS: I was asked to come on board after the rights to the book were bought. I was always attracted to apocalyptic ideas and how it challenges characters. One of my favorite books in high school was On The Beach by Nevil Shute. There is something primal existential about these worlds. I was always drawn to these stories. EC: What changes did you make from the book? HS: We needed to modernize it yet keep the central idea of the lone ship. We wondered what could wipe out the majority of the planet in this day and age. The idea of the plague felt much more current and provided more material for the story. The book and the series does not have a ready antidote. The key to the series is having someone, a doctor, on the ship potentially coming up with a cure. EC: What is the theme of the show? HS: How does the crew stay together through adversity and the challenges they need to overcome? How does it manage when the Navy does not exist anymore and the only thing holding them together in this chaotic world is the Captain’s moral authority, military discipline, their belief in each other, and the hope for the future? EC: Is this art imitating real life? HS: We decided to have a rogue Russian bad guy before Putin became somewhat of an enemy once again. Unfortunately the Ebola outbreak made our show feel more grimly realistic. The fear of flus and pandemics has always been out there. This new strain and being in the headlines along with a Russian bad guy makes our show seem more relevant. EC: It’s a nice change that the good guys come out ahead. Was that intentional? HS: I have always been attracted to having heroes in a story. It is interesting to watch how these people deal with impossible circumstances and find the strength and courage within themselves. For me, I am interested in the ongoing struggle and how they evolve to become noble people, without making them too old-fashioned because we do give them flaws. The main characters are trying to do the right thing and are up against incredible odds. Every time they have a win it is painted with some kind of sacrifice or loss. This is what makes the show have a bittersweet feeling about it and adds a complexity. The good characters are noble, trying to do the right thing, generous with their crew, and are upstanding people. EC: Can you discuss the bad guys since they are based on the real bad guys of today? HS: We are not trying to make political statements. It felt right to go to Guantanamo Bay and have it deserted except for a few terrorists. We had the ship in the Arctic so it followed that the bad guys should be Russian. EC: Why did you start the show off in the Arctic Sea? HS: We needed the ship away from the mainstream world for months. We wanted them to remain radio silent because they needed to avoid the Russians knowing they were there. From that followed the Russian decision to attack them. EC: Did you consult with the military? HS: Yes. There are many military advisors on the set who are former SEALs. They tell us how to do the action stuff. We also have people from the Navy who arrange things logistically from being able to film on the ship to providing help with the dialogue, the way people move, and how they act. We want to be as realistic as possible. EC: Do you have scientific advisors as well that work with Rhona Mitra, Dr. Rachel Scott? HS: We have several. Some come to the set to make sure we have the correct props and equipment. They work with Rhona to teach her how to use the equipment. Rhona is a very dedicated actress and she is deep into the character. She has done a lot of research about Virology. She asks a lot of questions from... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. Air Force Capt. Andrea Delosreyes inspects the boom with Airmen 1st Class Christopher Morgan and Jacob Manuel before an in-air refueling mission over Iraq, Aug. 12, 2014. Before each mission, the aircraft commander does a walk-around inspection to validate the safety of the aircraft. Delosreues, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, and Morgan and Manuel, KC-135 Stratotanker engine mechanics, are assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr. Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd is a great read. Not only does it have a riveting mysterious plot but it also has details about English society during World War I. Since this month marks the 100th anniversary of the war people might want to read this book to immerse themselves in that era. The plot begins with World War I nurse Bess Crawford on leave to accompany a wounded soldier, Sergeant Jason Wilkins, to Buckingham Palace, where he’s to be decorated by the King. Her duties include escorting him back to the hotel and prepping him for his journey back. The next morning she checks in on him only to find he has disappeared. Bess is baffled because the missing Sergeant was presumably badly injured, confined to a wheelchair, and unable to walk out of the hotel by himself. A soldier is then found murdered outside of London a few days later and someone has recognized Sergeant Wilkins as the perpetrator. Bess must face a number of ramifications for the Sergeant’s actions. Both the Army and the nursing service hold her negligent for losing the war hero. Scotland Yard comes calling to Bess’s door, and accuses her of irresponsibly for leaving her patient, allowing him to go AWOL, and possibly murder someone. She enlists her good family friend Simon to help solve the mysterious disappearance, restore her reputation, and clear her name. She is somewhat hampered by what she can do and to gain access to information. The authors show through the characters the restrictions on women. A woman during that era was not free to travel alone. They are basically subservient to men including having to turn over any of their own property when married. Another interesting part of the book is the comparison with that era and current times. How easily people take for granted the way detectives solve crimes today. During that period intuition, questioning, and connecting the dots were the tools used instead of DNA, ballistics, and fingerprints. Readers are able to see the differences between serving then and now. The Todds explained to blackfive.net, “During World War I everywhere you went there were wounded. Think about the statistic that in England alone five million people died, and that number does not include those wounded. There was much more of a connection between the civilians and the military. That is why we put in the book, ‘Everyone was in uniform. Even the wounded had special ones to wear while recuperating to show the world they had done their duty.’ The wounded had special blue uniforms to show that they had served proudly and should be treated with respect. Consider that and compare it to the poor Vietnam vet who was treated so shamefully.” They also commented, “Since this book deals with the subject of deserters, readers need to understand that during those times they were shot, pure and simple. Someone who did not carry out their duties was considered disgraceful. They were shunned by their family as much as the country. Women handed out white feathers to cowards who were not serving in the military. Even Rutledge who suffered from PTSD did not tell anyone how he felt because he was afraid he would be seen as a coward.” An Unwilling Accomplice not only has an enthralling plot but also provides historical insight into the time period. As always there are wonderful plot twists, and an ending you might not expect. This book is a mystery, historical novel, and psychological thriller all rolled into one. They also hope that fans will attend the Military Book Fair on November 8th on the USS Midway in San Diego, California. “We are looking forward to it. This family loves ships and has seen a lot of World War II vessels. It is going to be nice to meet people from the military who read our books, since military issues are the background of our novels. We hope people will come by and at least say hello.” Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar. The Sixth Extinction by James Rollins is another winner. On the tenth anniversary of this series Rollins is able to look into his crystal ball and see the future; although not too distant a future. Consider the current outbreak of the Ebola virus that is spreading faster than it can be controlled spurring New York City to conduct a massive bioweapons drill. On the tails of the Ebola reality, this novel combines pure science with a very believable storyline that can easily be played out on the world stage, showing the dangers of bio-labs that are attempting to create life-threatening viruses. The plot is intense from the very beginning. After receiving a distress call from a bioresearch scientific lab in California, Park Ranger Jenna Beck and her partner Nikko, a Siberian Husky, investigate only to find a dark cloud of fire and smoke engulfing them. This cloud brings death and destruction, through a bio-engineered virus, to anything in its path. If this unknown force is not stopped the sixth extinction, the elimination of the human race, would prevail. Sigma Force is called in to prevent this from happening, and find the key to destroying this threat, which lies beneath the Antarctic ice. While the government’s point person, Dr. Raymond Lindahl, leans heavily into using a nuclear option to destroy this organism Jenna and the Sigma team race to the Brazilian Amazon to find an eco terrorist, Elwes Cutter, that is at the root of the problem. He initiated this terrorist act to advance his cause of creating new life through death of existing life. Sigma races the clock to stop Cutter and save not only their teammates, but all of mankind. He commented to blackfive.net, “The starting point for this novel is the bio-punk movement where labs are set up in people’s garages. Because the technology has gotten faster, cheaper, and easier they can do some amazing things in these make shift labs. What is scary and startling is the lack of oversight. I have read about vials of Smallpox being found in the back closet of the National Institute of Health. Nature can build some really indestructible things. The labs have taken that and made these organisms nastier, tougher, easier to spread, and harder to kill which is the point of this novel.” Although Rollins classifies his novel as a scientific thriller it is much more. By blending science, technology, and history with a fast action plot he has created a very riveting, realistic, and gripping story. With great character development, including the newly introduced Jenna and Nikko, Rollins is able to warn readers of the dangers of these scientific labs. A quote from the book hammers the point home, “Right now there are fifteen thousand scientists authorized to work with deadly pathogens, but there are zero federal agencies charged with accessing the risks… there’ve been countless reports of mishandling of contagious pathogens, of vials gone missing, of poor records. So when it comes to an accident like this one, it was not a matter of if but of when it would happen.” Rollins warned, “Regarding the terrorists, there is a very real fear that a terrorist organization can sneak someone into these postdoctoral programs. They can learn how to create or obtain one of these organisms because there is a lack of oversight. They then can use it for a weaponization. We should not reign in the scientists but we do need to be looking over their shoulders with some government policing.” As with all his recent novels Rollins includes amongst the characters man’s best friend. Rollins, who used to practice as a full-time veterinarian, writes great dog characters, Nikko included. The author uses his past experiences to create heart-wrenching likeable animals that play an intricate part to the story. He noted to blackfive.net, “After I had written about five or six books a reader pointed out that I included animals as intricate parts of the story. There was the orphan Jaguar cub, a search and rescue dog, a military dog, Kane, and now Nikko. I realized at about the time I started weaning myself from my veterinary practice and writing full time that animals were seeping into my stories. I guess the side of my brain that loves animals brought out these characters. Nikko’s character came about from a picture. I ran a contest last year when The Eye Of God came out. Whatever picture I liked that person would be made a character in this book. The woman who won was Jenna Beck and in her picture was her Siberian Husky, Nikko. She became the main character in the entire book. BTW: I might have Nikko run into Tucker and Kane sometime in the future since I like to mix up my characters.” He also always gives a shout out to those in the military since many of his characters are former and current military personnel. This year he will also be helping those defending America through his charitable actions. Anyone who buys this book between August 1st and August 16th at a Barnes and Noble and gives this code “11412806” will help support veterans, since 20% of the proceeds will go to USA Cares. In addition on November 8th he will be attending the Military Book Fair (http://militarybookfair.org) being held on the USS Midway in San Diego California. Besides a new novel, on the eve of his tenth anniversary of the Sigma Series, Rollins has just signed a new book deal with William Morrow. Fans can look forward to more stories like The 6th Extinction where Rollins takes truth and stretches it to create an intense and believable plot, combining pulsating adventure, intriguing history, and cutting-edge advances in science and technology. Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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Paratroopers parachutes off the ramp of a C-130 Hercules aircraft during an off-site training sortie on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 1, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chad C. Strohmeyer Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. sailors guide an F/A-18C Hornet on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf, Aug. 8, 2014. The carrier is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. The Hornet is assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 15. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lorelei Vander Griend Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
If you haven't read this post by Jack Murphy at SOFREP, go check it out: The Massacre of Sinjar. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
Attention: GEN Joe Dunford and GEN Ray Odierno, please read this link! Over at Havok Journal is a really great piece of writing - unfortunately, it's about a true warrior being thrown out of the USMC: ...One of my Marines, who I will call Frank, selflessly exposed himself to blistering enemy fire to search for targets with his MK 11 sniper rifle in order to alleviate pressure on the Marines in the kill zone. Frank was able to positively identify an enemy fire team moving through the trench to flank the Marines in the kill zone with three RPGs, an RPK and a PK machine gun. With no regard for his personal safety, Frank ignored the fire being directed at his position, controlled his breathing, relaxed, and began engaging targets. Frank destroyed two RPG gunners with rounds to the head and another with a round to the sternum. In return, an enemy machine gunner targeted him with long barrages of machine gun fire that impacted within a foot of his position. Frank made corrections for wind and distance and killed him with a single round to the torso. At this point the RPK gunner attempted to break contact but Frank was able to strike him down with a round from his MK 11 before he reached cover, killing him with his second round... Go read the whole thing because that's not all that "Frank" did in combat, and, again, it's a helluva post. It's a damn shame to let the Franks go home and promote the guys with the best creases in their uniforms. RELEVANT: From Commander Salamander RE: Navy promotions. Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. and Colombian paratroopers track during a free fall as part of Fuerzas Comando 2014 at the Colombian National Training Center on Fort Tolemaida, Colombia, July 30, 2014. The U.S. service members are assigned to Special Operations Command South. The jump symbolizes the strong partnership between both nations. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Edward Lauer Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. Shadow Maker by James R. Hannibal brings back the fascinating characters of Nick Baron and his covert unit, the Triple Seven Chase team. Besides the fast action scenes this novel delves into the motives behind the Jihadist terrorists. Hannibal, through a figurative and literal chess match, brilliantly intertwines within the plot a cat and mouse game between the protagonists and antagonists. Within the first chapters of the book the reader is exposed to the intense action as Nick, his wife, toddler son, and father escape serious injury when a suicide bomber blows himself up near the Health and Human Services building in Washington, D.C. While tending to the injured, Nick receives an eerie invitation from a chess app on his phone, where a mysterious figure, going by the name The Emissary challenges him to a chess game. This unknown opponent has resurrected an ancient order of assassins: the legendary Hashashin, where the heart of the Islamic insurgency was born during the eighth century. The Triple Seven Chase team soon finds out that any wrong move leads to deadly consequences. Nick must become the chess master to prevent the Jihadist terrorist from achieving checkmate, the apocalypse of Jerusalem. The author explained to blackfive.net, “The Emissary is based on the leader of the terrorist group in Iraq, ISIS. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is the Sunni version of my character. I came up with the big chess allegory after I saw the current rise in the number of extreme Jihadists. Originally 5000 Al Qaeda types took up the cause so the chance of having a ‘chess master’ was low. But now there are approximately 100,000 active terrorist fighters. That means there is a massive pool from which to draw a ‘big brain, a Bobby Fischer of terrorism.’ Similar to the chess brains, I gave my antagonist the ability to have the ‘dynamic evaluation look ahead.’ He can predict what would happen, like predicting the next move on a chessboard. This enables him to influence actions and consequences.” Hannibal is among the new generation of thriller writers who have their protagonists as heroes but without super natural abilities. In Shadow Maker there are many scenes where Nick is put into a situation and escapes, not by shooting fifty men or jumping over a subway train, but by doing something most anyone could do. In one scene he causes a distraction by turning over a magazine stand. As with those serving in the military, Baron is a true vulnerable hero that readers cheer for because he is seen as an everyday person whose love of family and country is the connecting chord for his actions. Another great feature of this novel is Hannibal’s subtle commentary about political correctness. Through the character’s voices he points out the Jihadist’s brazen tactics and why they should always be seen as evil. A book quote exemplifies this, “The infidels did not have the stomach to kill the children of their enemies. That was one of their most exploitable weaknesses… the nature of the special defense of this house, because Masih (the child) was the defense. His own son was his blessed shield.” Hannibal cleverly shows the current terrorist has the same philosophy of the ancient order of assassins from the eighth century. Then, as today, they are not above using Mosques and civilians for strategic value. After finishing the book the reader is encouraged to download a free Stealth Ops App. This adds a third dimension to the story line. Fans can read mission files of the characters and weapons, as well as zoom in with satellite imagery to find out the backstory of lesser characters and the places traveled. There is also the challenge of cracking a code from the first book in the series, Shadow Catcher. As of yet no one has accomplished the decode. Shadow Maker has an intriguing story. Besides plenty of nail biting moments the plot incorporates the chase with a chess game. Through his military experience and counter-terrorism background, Hannibal is able to create realistic characters within a realistic setting. This book is a must read for those who enjoy political thrillers. James Hannibal gave a heads up he will be discussing his books and this app at the Military Book Fair on November 8th on the USS Midway in San Diego, California. “I am excited about attending since this is such a fantastic idea. I hope this becomes a long-standing tradition to support our veterans. (www.militarybookfair.org)” Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. Army Sgt. Megan Smith fills a syringe during a patient transfer in Afghanistan, July 22, 2014. Smith is a medic assigned to the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade.U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sandra Welch U.S. Army Sgt. Megan Smith prepares a patient for landing during a patient transfer in Afghanistan, July 22, 2014. Smith is a medic assigned to the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sandra Welch Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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Cirque, a service dog for the Ohio Task Force 1, goes through a decontamination procedure at the hands of his handler, Craig Veldheer, after searching for survivors in radioactive rubble during Vibrant Response at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex, Ind., Aug. 4, 2014. U.S. Northern Command conducts the field exercise to train troops and civilians to respond to a catastrophic domestic incident. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. John Healy Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. Days Of Rage by Brad Taylor superbly blends historical facts with a fictional storyline. He writes a very complicated and intriguing plot with intense characters. The new cast of characters brings the focus of the book upon events that the reader can truly imagine. The plot takes off from the very beginning where the US, Russia, and Israel are competing for the retrieval of a thumb drive that includes relevant information about the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics and a diabolical Russian plan. Eventually some Israeli Mossad agents join forces with Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill to thwart the Russians. This sinister plan is to draw the US into another war that will have detrimental financial consequences while attempting another massacre of Israelis. A secret Russian unit is plotting to use a Nigerian terrorist organization to accomplish their goals. By providing Boko Haram, part of a Nigerian extreme Islamic sect, with a nuclear device, the former Soviet zealots can watch as America and Israel are drawn into another disastrous situation. The plot has a lot of action as Logan’s unauthorized team chase around the globe to stop the ruthless Russian former KGB agents. Some of the true-life events include the 1972 Munich massacre. A quote in the book rings true today as Israel is fighting not only the terrorists but a public relations battle, “The world received the news in horror and shock but managed to recover soon enough, not even stopping the Olympic games.” Taylor noted to blackfive.net, “Munich had a profound affect on Israel. I researched this period of time when Israel was going back to Germany, the land of the Holocaust. The world seems to have forgotten who are the true bad guys. Travesty as a whole does not seem to affect people. Unless you are directly affected there is a short attention span. I pointed out this attitude in my second book with the quote, ‘if they would quit I would too, but if I quit they would still kill.’” There is also the authentic characterization of the Russian Special Forces. Taylor states about the FSB officers, “Even the aliases used by my Russian characters are real. I try to blend history and fiction in all of my books.” He also explained why he chose the true terrorist organization of Boko Haram instead of Afghan or Middle Eastern Islamic Jihadists. “I also wanted to pull away from the ‘usual suspects’ of Al-Qaida. When I started writing there was this unknown group that intelligence has been following but hadn’t yet made it to the world public stage. Now, of course, they’re on the nightly news from their heinous capturing of schoolgirls.” The high tech gadgetry utilized in the book is also very realistic. Taylor found out that DARA had done a study showing how a car can be hacked. Using a Ford Escape they showed that any car with a computer able to control the steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator could be manipulated. “If there is a computer system in a device it is hackable and can be attacked. Barnaby Jack in my story was not a fictional character. He died a few days before a conference where he was going to warn how pacemakers and insulin pumps cannot be protected from outside interference.” Also very convincing are the characters themselves. Through their dialogue and banter readers see them as “normal” people, not superheroes. Jennifer saves Logan, a successful ex-Delta, Army special forcers operator, as seen in the book’s quote, “She pulled me out of the pit. You asked why she’s with me, but you don’t understand the relationship. I’m with her.” It is obvious that this is a book about redemption with Jennifer being the focal point since she helped to restore Pike’s moral compass. All the characters compliment each other. The Israeli Mossad agent, Shoshana, is the female equivalent to Pike while the other Mossad agent, Aaron, is her moral compass. The interaction between these four characters is at times humorous, sarcastic, and their chemistry is electric. Although the Israeli characters will not be in the next book, Taylor is considering them for future stories. The next novel, No Fortunate Son, due out December 30th, also has a terrorist theme where the plot has a powerful political figure’s son kidnapped by Jihadists while fighting for the US military. Taylor explores the question, is one life worth a counter-terrorism mission that might cost many lives? Days Of Rage is a reminder that there are real security threats to America and its allies. Taylor’s background in Special Forces allows for very realistic scenarios and characters. This is a fast-action, suspenseful thriller. Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar. Auto Biography: A Classic Car, An Outlaw Motorhead, And 57 Years Of The American Dream, by journalist Earl Swift, shows the importance of the automobile to American life. The author takes the reader on a journey telling how this car affected the life of its fourteen owners over a span of fifty-seven years, ending on August 1st of this year. Swift told blackfive.net he believes the ’57 Chevy is one of the most beloved cars ever and it’s usually ranked among the best-looking vehicles. This classic car is a four door, six-passenger station wagon, and a family workhorse. Swift is hoping the book appeals to car enthusiasts, but wants to emphasize that it is also a people story. “I did not set out to tell the story of a ’57 Chevy. There were a number of criteria needed in order for me to write the story: a cool car owned by a succession of interesting people, and the people had to be old enough to tell a story. After all this car had 128,000 miles that is part of the American dream.” The plot includes a piece of history as he traces the shifting dreams and fortunes of those who owned it from a retired boilermaker; cash strapped single mother, a gay couple, and a born again Christian garbage man. It is a portrait of middle class America from the mid-fifties to the present day. Swift noted to blackfive.net, “I wanted to describe how America has changed since 1957. Where we live, how we live, where we work. This was all impacted by the car.” But the book also describes how an auto restorer is similar to an art restorer, the need to recreate it to the original condition as attention is paid to the detail. They must eliminate the effects of time and wear. A good auto restorer must be an expert painter. This car appears to be doomed to the scrap heap until it is rescued by Tommy Arney who sees it not as junk but as a piece of history. Seen as an unlikely restorer, Arney is described by Swift as a “rough customer, a 5th grade dropout, a felon who curses like an sailor; yet, he is intelligent, funny, and as hard a worker as I have ever seen.” The car’s lifeline is dependent on this man, as he is determined to save himself by saving the car. The renovations include rescuing it from its wretched shape: the sun-bleached paint with an interior stripped to bare and rotting steel, floorboards chewed away, and birds using the driver’s seat as a nest back to its classic form. Auto Biography: A Classic Car, An Outlaw Motorhead, And 57 Years Of The American Dream tells the story of a man’ quest, a classic machine, and its many owners. It is the tale of an American automobile and through its owners’ readers will learn a portrait of the US that covers a span of five decades. Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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Paratroopers perform a heavy equipment drop and parachute assault during training on Malamute drop zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 23, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. sailors and divers from New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada, Japan, Australia and Chile recover their boats into the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage after conducting night dives off the coast of San Diego during Rim of the Pacific 2014, an exercise in the Pacific Ocean, July 18, 2014. The U.S. sailors are assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Scott Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book reviews are a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the ride side bar. Stuart Woods will release two new books in the next few months. Out this July is Cut And Thrust, and being published in October is Paris Match. Both books have as the main character Stone Barrington with a supporting cast of recurring characters. In many ways Paris Match is a continuation of the main plot of Cut And Thrust. Political junkies will love the story in Cut And Thrust since it is a true “political” thriller. This novel is a realistic glimpse of the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing at a political convention where no candidate has enough delegates to secure the nomination. The First Lady and CIA Director Kate Rule Lee is trying to win the nomination while competing against the vice-president and a senator from New Mexico. This is an entertaining tale that has all the elements of political intrigue including a candidate that Americans would want as the first woman President. Although Woods says he modeled her on Hillary Clinton she appears to be the antithesis with actual accomplishments from being on the front lines. To make sure Kate receives the nomination, Stone enlists Santa Fe lawyer Ed Eagle. However, political maneuvering is not the only problem they have to deal with since a death threat was sent to Kate’s Secret Service detail and Eagle’s murderous ex-wife, Barbara, is out to get him as well. During the course of all of this Kate announces she is pregnant. A line in the book fully explains the pandemonium that erupts, “Think of the royal baby, and multiply that by a hundred.” The next book, Paris Match, continues the story of the Presidential election and Kate’s pregnancy as more of a sub-plot. The main story has Stone returning to Paris for business dealings regarding a hotel but encounters a group of Russian oligarchs and a jealous brother who attempt to kill him. Helping him to survive this peril is the CIA including his love interest, Holly Barker. Unfortunately this book has more sex than action. Instead of an open marriage it appears Stone has open relationships. Readers will wonder ‘is there any female Stone will not sleep with?’ In answer to that question Woods directly commented to blackfive.net, “An ugly woman since he likes attractive ones. Each woman has an individual relationship with Stone and is not concerned about the other women in his life. I would describe him as a serial monogamist. Holly is the best thing in his life, but is pre-occupied by her CIA job.” It is interesting how Stone writes about very high powered and intelligent women except when it comes to bedtime. He gave a heads up about his next books. They will be based on the Stone Barrington character but will always have one of the strong supporting cast members intricately involved. “Characters like Holly, Kate, Ann, and Ed will continue as an important part of the Stone books. I have not abandoned them. In the next book Kate and Holly will be included although Holly’s part is more prevalent. The plot includes Holly making a life change that will keep her very busy.” As with most of his books both Cut And Thrust and Paris Match have very humorous banter between characters. Anyone that wants a good “political” thriller should definitely read Cut And Thrust. Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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A F-22 Raptor performs a high-speed pass during the Arctic Thunder Open House on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, July 26, 2014. The base hosted the biennial event, which featured more than 40 Air Force, Army and civilian aerial acts, and was expected to draw more than 200,000 people. U.S. Air Force photo by Capt Joel Cooke Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. Remains Of Innocence has J. A. Jance once again writing a great storyline. Before starting this book readers might want to download the novella, The Old Blue Line, that offers a backstory on Joanna Brady’s husband Butch Dixon. Both involve murder mysteries that are very suspenseful. The Old Blue Line has Butch being a person of interest when his ex-wife is found murdered. It also explains how the relationship between Joanna and Butch began. What makes the story even more interesting is Jance’s incorporation of technology into the plot. She shows the positives, helping the police find a killer, and the negatives, showing how computers are basically open books for anyone who cares to find out information about someone. This novella is also a shout out to seniors since many of the characters are retirees or at least have their AARP card. Jance stated to blackfive.net, “I have written three now. This one is the second to be published. Someone asked me if I could write about knocking off someone’s ex, so I did it. Writing Novellas are like going on vacation. You don’t have to worry about bringing in a lot of information. It’s writing 15,000 words as opposed to writing 100,000 words. I gave a shout out to seniors because this country cannot afford to neglect the brainpower of older people. I would say and actually did say there is age discrimination in this country. A lot of seniors read my books. Although my novels appeal to all age demographics I think the seniors like my stories because they don’t have a lot of violence, bad language, sex, and definitely not unprotected sex.” Remains Of Innocence also continues with the senior character theme, showing the importance that age group contributes to society. The plot has two stories going at once, which in many ways are only slightly connected. Arizona Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady is working on two perplexing cases. The first case has a mentally disabled man found dead at the bottom of a glory hole along with a puppy and kitten that were brutally mutilated. Brady struggles to come to terms with an apparent serial killer in the small town of Bisbee, Arizona since it appears someone is going on a killing spree of animals and humans. The other case involves the murder of the county’s medical examiner. Brady ties that into a case that takes place clear across the US. An old woman, a hoarder, has died in Great Barrington Massachusetts. After her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines she is threatened and her friends are killed. Trying to escape her pursuers she travels to Bisbee, Arizona with the help of an abused woman’s underground railroad. Although each case takes a turn of its own, these two sub-plots are compelling and gripping throughout the book. Jance commented to blackfive.net, “In real life police don’t follow one case to the very end without anything else impinging. I thought that having Brady handle more than one case at a time is more realistic and more fun for me to write. The idea that these two cases had to cross over would be more coincidence than I could stand to write. I have received feedback from many in law enforcement, such as a retired woman police chief who came up to me and told me ‘thank you for how you portray women in law enforcement.’ That makes me feel good.” She also noted, “I was speaking at a luncheon and found out the most dangerous times for women of domestic violence are when they decide to leave the abuser. They cannot go on public transportation because there will be a paper trail and could be found. I thought that creating the Underground Railroad was an inspirational way to get my character out of town without anyone being able to follow her. I based it on the real Underground Railroad of the 1850s, which is why I called it ‘Underground Railroad 2.0.’” As in all Jance books besides a riveting plot she includes issues that the reader can learn about. This book discusses the training of a deaf dog that learns to recognize hand signals and the dangers abused women must endure. In all Brady books there is always a slight reference to how professional women must operate in a predominately man’s field. Remains of Innocence has a realistic plot, wonderful relatable characters, and believable scenes. It is a first rate murder mystery that also delves into the family life of its characters. Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at BLACKFIVE