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America's First Region...
Retired Army Officer; Currently a Defense Analyst focused on Cyberspace Operations
Recent Activity
On July 4th you'll often see exhortations about how "freedom is not free". These normally accompany images of the US Military and/or First Responders. The images and message are important, however I think they are slightly off the mark. Freedom is Free. Freedom is not granted to anyone - it is inherent in every person. No one can make you free. You are. However, in many places, and to varying degrees, freedom has been wrested away or outright stolen. Whether you think it derived from God, a god, or some non-deist source, being free and exhibiting freewill is an inherently human activity. Even in those places (like the US) where we are essentially "free" there are dark forces seemingly on an endless quest to interrupt freedom, usurp it, or deliberately steal it for their own nefarious purposes. It is the maintenance of freedom in our Nation where the cost truly exists. It is a cost that many are not paying . We are seeing the rot that neglecting such maintenance begets. It is axiomatic that our Active and Reserve military forces are an important cost of freedom maintenance. They keep the wolf from our door and respond to crises abroad and here. They are the vanguards of what we, as Americans, think of freedom. Its readiness - personnel, equipment, policy, strategy - are costs of freedom that have been allowed to languish. It is also why, parenthetically, activists seek to change the nature of the US Military to achieve their questionable ends. The activists understand that our Servicemen and Servicewomen represent the best of America, and they seek to include their activism within it. The cost here is the maintenance of principles and standards. It is fair to say that there is significant conflict on what this means. The Military is suffering as a result. In much the same way, Law Enforcement, Fire Fighters, and other Emergency Personnel - the First Responders - are a more local (and visible) cost of freedom. Here we see a mix of costs not paid - again with activists impeding on reasonable law enforcement, police who act badly giving rise to doubt by their protected, and the inability of local politicians to keep these vital services properly funded. But this is only the surface. Below the surface, a far great cost of freedom maintenance remains significantly underpaid. The citizenry writ large refuses to do its job. They either elect charlatans and frauds into political office, or don't bother to participate at all. This ensures that the loudest - not necessarily the wisest or most qualified - get their way. We see this at all levels of political life; the laws and policies we must live under reflect such neglect. Peeling one level lower - in our job sites and other organizations and groups - this same abuse of localized power manifests daily. Employers mistreating their talent. Local organizations and groups are "led" by recurring cabals that cannot or will not be removed from their mini-fiefdoms. People treating other people badly to gain advantage or wield some sort of control. Frankly, it is becoming a depressing activity to read even local news, for the nonstop drumbeat of bad behavior. Maintaining freedom is the part that is always most difficult. I remember the scene in the HBO series "John Adams" as the delegates vote to ratify the Declaration of Independence. Gaunt faces are displayed on these men as the votes are tallied and they realize that this, as hard fought as it was to craft, was really the easy part. Likewise, after the surrender of British forces at Yorktown and the work to build this new government began, the real cost of freedom is seen - making the system work. That's why the real test was not the First President, but the Second. You, each where you sit or stand, have the chance to pay part of the that maintenance cost each day. Understand the issues, vote, ask fair minded questions. Those who lead should do so with care and empathy. Those who have advantage should seek to lift up others not hold them back. Understand why what occurred 240 years ago was necessary then, and that the spirit of that is still needed today. We still are the "Shining City on the Hill" and it takes all of use to do the work necessary to keep it shining. As you celebrate our 240th year of Independence - and well you should! - remember that the easy part was declaring it. More difficult was (re)gaining it. Most difficult is keeping it. I ask that you focus your energies on what you can do to maintain freedom - for that is certainly not without fee. Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2016 at BlackFive
Ghost Fleet. PW Singer & August Cole, (2015). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. New York, NY: 404 pages If you've ever wondered what an operationalized version of Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” might look like, noted national security analysts Peter W. Singer and August Cole have a book just for you. A true triad of military, bureaucrats, and corporations overthrows a long-running government to form an uneasy alliance to run a rather large country. Singer and Cole throw us the first of many curves by teeing this up, not in the US, but China...or, as they now call themselves, "The Directorate." This first fiction effort by the duo delivers wide-ranging action at a frenetic pace. The story begins in outer space and, in mere moments, the action plunges far below the Pacific Ocean's surface. Throughout the story, as venues change, the reader gasps for breath and delves back in as the action continues. This is a Tom Clancy-esque thriller with most of the pieces one would expect: people unexpectedly thrust into difficult situations; well-researched, accurate portrayals of current capabilities; imaginative exploration of new, emerging, or desired technology; as well as good old fashioned palace intrigue and political gamesmanship. For those making the Clancy connection, you’ll find this book of the Red Storm Rising genre - a look at how a world war type scenario would likely go. Ghost Fleet looks at how the "Pivot to Asia” could go - and it can go bad pretty fast. It also plays on many of the fears that serious analysts ponder regarding military procurements, military readiness and other economic tradeoffs. Buoyed by the massive changes spurred by their recent revolution, the Directorate decides that it is time to achieve their "Manifest Destiny" in the Pacific. A major energy discovery gives them the opportunity to challenge US supremacy in the Pacific and even take on the US militarily, with the tacit assistance of Russia. What ensues is a massive and coordinated sneak attack that cripples US capabilities throughout the Pacific Rim, most notably in Hawaii. The Directorate, now occupying US sovereign territory and positioned to prevent response either from space or across the vast ocean, looks to turn America into a third-rate client state. To counter this the US decides to reactivate ships (and some aircraft) mothballed by the significant cuts that US politicians foisted upon itself. This is the rebirth of the Ghost Fleet that gives this story its name. It also evokes a slightly different comparison: this is the Navy's version of "Team Yankee". Team Yankee was a very popular "must read” in the late 1980s, especially popular with the mechanized/armor community of the Army. It is about warfare at its base level, but with existential impact. In this case, the crew of a one-of-a-kind ship – rejected by the Navy when cuts were made – is being brought back to life by a crew trying desperately to make it work in very trying circumstances – fights the battle of its life for a noble cause. Singer and Cole introduce a number of characters including a Navy Officer whose transition to retirement is rather violently interrupted; a Marine thrust into the role of guerilla; a Sun Tzu-quoting Chinese Admiral; and a seductive assassin. The story explores the very tempestuous relationship between father and son bonded in a moment of crisis while wrestling with demons of the past. The duo’s style offers some nice bonuses. The reader gets a murder mystery. The idea of "privateers” in the 21st Century is presented. For the geopolitical thinkers, Singer and Cole skewer a lot of the shibboleths of current alliances and ask “who will really ‘step up’ when the going gets tough?” The authors present some very interesting ideas of what could happen and what could emerge if all the geopolitical knowns were to suddenly change. Rather than distract, these threads are woven into a complex but compelling story that is both provocative and frightening. What this book does do well - and in a scary way - is show how pervasive a wired world could be and what would happen if a major actor were to severely upset the proverbial apple cart. Among the discoveries in the opening salvos of The Directorate’s aggression are the vulnerability of so much of the electronics used both in military equipment as well as the networks that course through the US. Ghost Fleet explores the extent to which autonomous systems change life and warfare. . Can we trust the electronics we buy from overseas? Do we depend too much on automatic, autonomous and “linked” systems in our basic and daily lives? What if a major competitor played on those fears with ruthless precision and execution? This will confirm the worst fears of the Luddite or conspiracy theorist. Those that are on the fence about the impact of autonomous systems will likely find that this book tips them one way or the other. Two things that one would expect to find in such styled books are not found in this one. One is probably the book’s only serious flaw. The story does not give time stamps and the reader may not realize that the scenario has advanced in time as it changes chapter. Without this context, the reader may become confused on why or how things changed so fast within the story. The other creative difference is a positive: there is very little discussion of the machinations of the American politicians. Singer and Cole - in a choice very likely calculated to avoid the politics of the moment - do not really describe much, if anything about the moves, motives, or response of the President, or most of the National Security apparatus. While the Secretary of Defense is omnipresent, no one else is - nor are there any real discussions on the national politics at play. Some may be greatly disappointed by this while others may find it a welcome departure in the genre. Although cyberspace capabilities are a significant aspect of the storyline,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2015 at BlackFive
USArmy AH-64 Apache helicopter pilots, assigned to 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, conduct aerial gunnery operations during Joint/Combined Training Exercise Furious Talon on Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, in the Republic of Korea, May 6, 2015. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jesse Smith and Pfc. Chung Il Kim Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2015 at BlackFive
President Obama has nominated current US Marine Corps Commandant General Joe "Fighting Joe" Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). As such he would be the President's top military advisor and would replace General Martin Dempsey. The anecdotal reporting from multiple vectors is that General Dunford is the right pick and that the President should be lauded for this selection. #CreditWhereDue General Dunford's a "proven combat leader who had distinguished himself as commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan in 2013-2014 as foreign forces shifted responsibility for fighting the Taliban to Afghan troops. Dunford also commanded a Marine regiment early in the Iraq war." h/t: Washington Post With all the big ideas that the JCS has to wrestle with, I found this article on Dunford a particularly odd take on the nomination. In it, The Hill's Cory Bennett opines that the President opted for a "strategist" rather than a "cyber expert" to execute the recently published DOD Cyber Strategy. Apparently, despite all his other qualifications, including being the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the cyber zealot class things SecDef Ashton Carter was selected for his cyber expertise. (He was a physicist, not a computer guy, but what do I know?) The article presents a view point that a number of recent DOD appointments were "cyber" focused. (Umm, ok..) President Obama’s pick to become the nation’s next top military officer, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., bucks a recent trend of cyber-focused appointments. “He’s not a cyber expert,” said Peter Metzger, a former CIA intelligence officer and Marine who served with Dunford on four occasions. “But he doesn’t need to be.” Cyber military specialists believe the Obama administration is seeking an operational expert and relationship builder, not a technological savant, to carry out Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s recently unveiled cyber vision. “They went with a strategist,” said Chris Finan, a former military intelligence officer and adviser to the Obama administration on cybersecurity policy. “An operational artisan.” I agree with Metzgar and Finian that there is a need for a "strategist" in the role of CJCS. I am amused at the degree to which Bennett rates the Cyber Strategy on the Chairman's agenda. While cyberspace in undoubtedly important, apparently Mr Bennett is unaware that there are two able four-stars (USSTRATCOM's Commander as well as Commander of USCYBERCOM/DirNSA) that are more than capable of focusing on the the implementation of the cyber strategy. And, if one understands the strategy, every Service Chief and all of the other Combatant Commands will also be keenly focused on this, particularly in terms of policy and resourcing. The Chairman has much larger fish to fry, including the "pivot to Asia" (however that manifests itself), the continuing struggles with ISIS/AQ et al, and Iran's territorial ambitions - as well as a shrinking force, an aging fleet, and a recalcitrant air power Service insisting on going their own way. Cyberspace is important, but it isn't the Chairman's biggest issue. Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2015 at BlackFive
Found this on Facebook today. Some folks are saying...well, she barely made it and needed encouragement.... Says I: Standard met = "Go" at this station. CPT Sarah Cudd from Public Health Command, Fort Knox is only 1 of the 46 candidates who earned the EFMB yesterday at Fort Dix, NJ..27 April 2015. This is her last few seconds of the 12 Mile Foot March. The Foot March is the last event of the Expert Field Medical Badge (EFMB), and must be completed within 3 hours. If you want it, you have to go get it. Watch this video. This EFMB candidate wanted it, and she got it. It took heart, guts, determination, falling down and getting up, and a little motivation from the crowd to get across the finish line. Check this out. Check out her effort here Kudos to young Captain Cudd. That's probably the toughest thing she ever did her life and NO ONE can take that from her. We need to see more of this in our military. Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2015 at BlackFive
Yesterday I posted about a story attributed to a discontented Naval officer who is opting to resign her commission. The point was that the picture used by Task and Purpose (link not provided) was NOT of the authoress, one "Anna Granville". T&P opted to use a stock DOD photo of a saluting Naval officer to highlight their post. As a reminder: the problem is the pictured officer is NOT "Anna Granville". Her name is Ltjg Shaina Hogan. As I surmised, she was rather livid as being connected with the writing of Ms "Granville". So, she took to her Facebook page to set the record straight. I've quoted her in full and unedited: This is a picture of me. I do not know why Anna Granville’s editor chose to use a picture of me, but I did ask him if he would remove the image. His compromise was removing my name from the image. I think Anna would have wanted a picture of herself with her views, but for some reason it was decided to use a picture of me. I did not want the publicity – especially all of the negative publicity. Thank you and for removing my picture or making it extremely clear that the views were not mine in your responses to Anna. These are a few of the reasons I’m staying Navy: 1. I’m having a lot of fun 2. The people are (for the most part) pretty fabulous 3. The opportunities are endless 4. I don’t have to pick out an outfit every morning 5. I have and continue to travel the world 6. I’ve been selected to promote 7. I get time to work out – thank you CNO 8. I get to serve my country A number of people have recommended that I seek legal advice regarding any defamation of my character and the invasion of my privacy based on the use of the above public domain photo. However, I have exactly 45 days until I deploy and leave my family for 6 months, so I once again respectfully request that people stop using the photo for personal profit, I prefer to spend my time in peace with my family, not explaining to my Mom why she is reading mean comments about me because of something I didn’t even write. I am happy to lend whatever support I can to help LT Hogan set the record straight from the actions done by the editors at T&P (which, I am certain were not intentionally malicious). Today, let us wish fair winds and following seas to LT Hogan for defending her honor publicly and for her continued and cheerful Service to the Nation. BZ, as they say in the Navy. As to "Anna Granville" - I use this name in quotes since it may (or may not) be a pseudonym for someone who (may) (may not)/(is) (was) a serving Navy officer. That is a story for another day. Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2015 at BlackFive
A recent piece making the rounds of the interwebs has a junior Naval Officer sharing her reasons why, in her frustration, she must resign from the US Navy. In it she lays out her rationale, which has drawn both support and (significant) derision. There have been a number of rebuttals, the most eloquent of which came from the Duffellblog. At the top of the piece is the picture of a female Navy officer, saluting. Here's the problem: the woman pictured is NOT Anna Granville, the discontented officer and authoress. Apparently the original publisher (Task and Purpose) opted to use stock DOD footage to headline the public resignation. And many of us presumed the saluting woman was the writer. This was brought to my attention by a colleague, Ben Armstrong, who shared the following (emphasis added by me): You know who I feel bad for? The saluting Lieutenant in the DoD stock photo which Task & Purpose decided to use to "illustrate" the most recent "why I'm leaving" article. The woman in the photo isn't the author of the uber-hyped article. But now Duffleblog used the same stock photo and her face is all over FB for something she hasn't done, said, or was even involved with. Maybe DoD's fair use policy is nice for pictures of ships and planes, but when it comes to people the Media can really hose somebody for no reason. One would have to surmise that the pictured officer (still serving) is not very happy about this. As bloggers we use cool photos for our posts because, lets face it, it adds pizzazz. And, as Ben notes above, while that's no issue with ships and planes, we ought to be much more careful when we use pictures of people - particularly where an association between pictures and content may be made. Shared for your consideration and comment. Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2015 at BlackFive
Ok...everyone I'm calling time out. None of these comments have anything to do with Bowe Bergdahl. And the Hillary stuff have gone way off azimuth. So i'm going to shut down comments on this one.
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2015 on What Difference Does It Make - take 2 at BlackFive
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Perennial media darling (and President-anointed in waiting) Hillary Rodham Clinton weighs in on Bowe Bergdahl. Among her erudite comments was this gem: "If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values," Clinton told Sawyer. "And one of our values is we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn't matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.” What is insane about all this are two competing, yet compelling problems: (1) The circumstances under which Bergdahl was captured were essentially manufactured by his own stupidity. That said, it is in our charter to bring back everyone we send to a combat zone. And if there is dishonorable conduct, we have methods to deal with that, upon recovery. (2) The circumstances that led to the release involved an onerous penalty that included release of five notorious AQ operatives and (maybe) some transfer of funds. We paid ransom. This would be a scandal if the detained person/POW were captured in otherwise honorable conditions. Either one of these is bad. When the two situations are merged, it should be cause for removal of exective leadership. For the former Secretary of State cum presumptive Dem nominee to rationalize the second action under the guise of the first is doubly damming. But this is the world we live in these days. Someone said it during Slick Willy's administration and it is still true. HRC is like a soap opera villainess. They never die, even when they get killed. In the sane world that we used to live in - before being transported to this dystopian world we currently occupy - this woman would have been relegated to the dustbin of history years ago. It is unreal how she remains not only omnipresent, but still touted in many circles as damn-near inevitable as the next President of the US. Washington Post story linked here: Hillary - What Difference Does it Make (again) Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2015 at BlackFive
Just saw this posted elsewhere...may pertain to some who frequent this site: OPERATIONS IN SOMALIA CAMPAIGN PARTICIPATION CREDIT. Announcement is made confirming campaign participation credit for the following units for operations involving Somalia under the provisions of AR 600–8–22, paragraph 7–18: 1. Designated Area of Operations: Limited to units deployed abroad to Somalia in support of Operations RESTORE HOPE and UNITED SHIELD Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 at BlackFive
Army Capt. Will Swenson received the Medal of Honor for his bravery while defending his country. The small act of kindness caught on video shows his real nature, even in the middle of combat. Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2014 at BlackFive
Patriotism is not a part of our DNA — it must be learned. A healthy patriotism is rooted in a willingness to serve a cause larger than the self. It is demonstrated in the ability to sacrifice one’s own comforts, even one’s own needs for the greater good of others. This is at the heart and core of military service. Those who serve the nation, who lay their lives on the line for the defense of the nation, for the security of its people are the embodiment of healthy patriotism. Apparently he wanted to do this at the D-Day Memorial but was unable to gain entry. Instead, with his dad, he went to Omaha Beach. The story can be found here. Project Vigil Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2014 at BlackFive
Remember when Dr Evil was talking about Lasers? Well.... Boeing and the U.S. Army have proven the capabilities of the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) in maritime conditions, successfully targeting a variety of aerial targets at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The interesting part is that they were able to hit targets through sand, rainy and foggy conditions. Read the story here. (No word if sharks were involved) Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2014 at BlackFive
Let the anti Contractor/antiPMC/Halliburton/Blackwater/Xe/TripleCanopy/KBR/DynCorp et al screaming reach a new cresendo. In place of 'boots on the ground,' US seeks contractors for Iraq Wary of putting combat troops in Iraq, the U.S. government is gauging contractors’ interest in advising the Iraqi Defense Ministry and Counter Terrorism Service in a range of capacities, including force development, logistics and planning and operations. The cynical will see this as naked wordplay to do what is needed without doing what is needed. And of course, the advantage of using contractors is that, should anything go haywire, they can be ignored, denied, or flat out left hanging. For those of you interested, there has been some professional writing done on the subject, such as this this and this from TX Hammes Here's another story on same theme: Contractors In Iraq? <Those of us who've seen the classic movie "The Wild Geese" will know that leaving contractors (mercaneries if that is your preferred term) to twist in the wind with the change of political (or business) priority is a bad idea. > Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2014 at BlackFive
Frank Caliendo, rendering the famous "You can't hand the truth" speech from "A Few Good Men" Charles Barkley... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2014 at BlackFive
This is a neat little article I saw this morning and thought I'd share. Although focused on the Army, I'm sure all 5 Services (yes, even the Coast Guard!) have these groups or variation on this theme. As you read this, I'm sure you'll look back and put names to each of these categories. Enjoy! Click here for "Five People You Meet In the Army" Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2014 at BlackFive
I whole heartedly support this call to ban the incidious AR 670-1! The "gun zealots" have finally gone too far and produced an incidious new...... <ok... that's about all i can do with a straight face....> Yes....this is real...satire... A well done bit from a group called "Mom's Against Everything" that's been having some fun with the latest over the top, anti-gun protest group "Moms Demand Action". (For those not not in the know, "AR 670-1" is Army Regulation 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia) Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2014 at BlackFive
This one's been making the rounds lately..from Billings, Montana... Some B1B bombers, stationed in Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota were operating around the Billings, Montana area. The story goes like this: One bomber was doing practice approaches and touch and go’s. On one of the landings the pilot lands long and in attempting to stop, sets his brakes on fire. He taxis in, and the airport parks him on a taxiway and then puts cones around him until parts and mechanics can be brought in from Ellsworth AFB the next day....and provided an opportunity for an enterprising practical joker.. The next day is a Saturday, which doesn't have much going on, so we get to laughing in the tower that maybe somebody should hang a For Sale sign on the plane. We convince one of our guys who's well known for doing things like this that it would be a good idea. So he takes off for the hardware store to buy a For Sale sign. On the way back he stops at a car dealer and gets one of those "As is/No Warranty" signs that hang in all used cars. On that sign was written something like low miles, new engines, needs brakes and tires. Those signs were taped together, and off goes our hero. He climbs over the fence, leaving some skin on the barbed wire, and makes his way the 1000 feet or so to the aircraft. As he's doing that, we see a couple of airport vehicles starting to gather with the recently arrived mechanics as well as the plane's crew. Not looking good for our intrepid airplane salesman. He gets to the nose wheel and tapes the sign to the nose strut. Then he starts to make his way back from the plane as the vehicles start to head out from the shop on the way to the bomber. Somehow he makes it without being seen. The vehicles arrive at the plane, and of course notice the sign right away. The Air Force guys are in stitches, funniest thing they've seen in a long time. Airport guys are not sure what to think. Airport management is livid as they've been tasked with security. Pretty soon a camera appears and all the Air Force guys are taking pictures of each other by the sign. Our hero is back in the tower now, and notices the bomber's commander is talking on a cell phone. Our guy gets on the radio to the airport truck and asks for that guy's phone number. As soon as he finishes that call, our guy calls the aircraft commander on the phone. When he answers, our guy says "I'm calling about the plane you have for sale." Aircraft commander about falls over from the laughter. It just so happened that the chief photographer for our local newspaper is a pilot and he may have been called prior to the sign being placed. He was told to get up here with a big lens. Here's one of the pics he got: An article showed on the front page of the Sunday paper. When that came out, the Colonel running Ellsworth called the airport director and read him the riot act, wondering what kind of dog and pony show he was running up there. We were later informed by the crew that the sign was framed and is now permanently mounted inside the aircraft. Hard to have that much fun anymore. Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at BlackFive
I saw this interesting story out of Houston: LCPL Fred Maciel was among 31 Marines killed in a helicopter crash in Fallujah in 2005. He was laid to rest and the family (in Houston, TX area) received his effects...or at least they thought they did. In Hemphill, Texas, a couple walking through a flea market spied an American flag with writing on it. The wording: tributes to Maciel by his platoon mates. The couple ( Lanie Mae and Wally Brown ) undertook the search and found the Maciel family. The Initial Story The flag was presented to the Maciels yesterday (Saturday July 26) at the cemetary where the fallen Marine is interred. Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2014 at BlackFive
COL David Maxwell posted this and I think you'll find it interesting: 6 modern U.S. troops whose extreme heroism didn't get the Medal of Honor By Dan Lamothe July 22 at 8:44 AM Then-Lance Cpl. Brady Gustafson, a machine gunner with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, stands at parade rest on March 27, 2009, after receiving the Navy Cross for heroism in Afghanistan on July 21, 2008. His former battalion commander, Col. Richard Hall, says he regrets that he did not submit Gustafson's actions for consideration for the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for combat valor. Gustafson received the Navy Cross instead. (Photo by Pfc. Michael T. Gams/Marine Corps) Marine Lance Cpl. Brady Gustafson was manning a gun turret in an armored vehicle in Afghanistan when chaos struck. His squad was ambushed from multiple positions by enemy insurgents wielding rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, including an RPG that burst through the hull of his vehicle and delivered a devastating injury to his right leg. Gustafson refused to back down, however. Bleeding profusely, he engaged numerous enemy fighters while a Navy corpsman inside the vehicle cranked a tourniquet onto Gustfason's leg. The hundreds of rounds of gunfire he delivered allowed Marines to evacuate another vehicle after it had burst into flames. The RPG blast knocked the Marine driving Gustafson's vehicle unconscious, but Gustafson shouted at him until he woke up to push the burning Marine vehicle behind them out of the kill zone. With the U.S. war in Iraq over and combat operations in Afghanistan winding down, Gustafson is now part of a select group of U.S. troops who didn't receive the Medal of Honor, but who have advocates who say they should. In Gustafson's case, that includes his former battalion commander, Col. Richard Hall, who says he regrets not nominating him for the higher award. Gustafson was put in for the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for combat valor, and ultimately received the Navy Cross. He left the service as a corporal in 2009. As my story in The Washington Post on Sunday noted, President George W. Bush awarded just five Medals of Honor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, all posthumously. Three were the most obvious of cases, in which a nominee smothered a grenade to protect fellow service members from harm. Those recipients are Army Spc. Ross McGinnis, Navy Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Michael Monsoor and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham. President Obama - and more specifically, the Defense Department under his watch - has awarded 11 Medals of Honor. Nine of them have gone to living recipients, a change since the Bush era that is roundly cheered in the military. Still, there are numerous cases of valor in Iraq and Afghanistan that have not resulted in the award, and they have caused frustrations for years. Consider the following: 2. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe Drenched in fuel, Cashe scrambled into a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle that had hit an improvised explosive device in Samarra, Iraq, on Oct. 17, 2005. He pulled six soldiers from the burning wreckage, suffering devastating burns in the process. He died a few weeks later on Nov. 8 Family and friends have been pushing to get Medal of Honor consideration for Cashe for years, as this Army Times story points out. His former battalion commander, Col. Gary Britto, put Cashe in for the Silver Star, and that's what he got. He has said since that he did not know the full extent of Cashe's heroism at the time, and wants to submit him for an upgrade. Then-Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presents the Air Force Cross to Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez during a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla., on Oct. 27, 2011. Gutierrez was awarded the Air Force Cross, the second highest military decoration, for displaying extraordinary heroism in combat while deployed to Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sharida Jackson) 3. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Gutierrez Gutierrez was on the ground in a Special Operations mission in Herat province, Afghanistan, when he was shot by an armor-piercing round in the left shoulder. The airman thought he was going to die, he later said, but he refused to remove his body armor because he was the only joint terminal attack controller, a position that coordinates air support with pilots overhead, on the mission. Gutierrez stayed calm and worked with an A-10 attack jet pilot overhead to coordinate fires, and did not learn of the full extent of his injuries until arriving in a medical evacuation zone, Air Force officials said. The gunshot wound is said to have damaged his shoulder, triceps muscle and chest, and left a softball-sized hole in his back. The strafing runs that the A-10 ran were so close, they ruptured his ear drums. Gutierrez received the Air Force Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor in the Air Force, on Oct. 27, 2011. At least one columnist has said he deserves consideration for the higher award. 4. Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta Peralta is perhaps the most famous example of a service member who didn't get a Medal of Honor. He was submitted for the award after dying in house-to-house fighting in Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 15, 2004. His fellow Marines say he pulled a grenade under him that day shortly after being hit with a ricocheting rifle round, but his case languished for years due to uncertainty about whether or not he had the cognitive ability to do so despite sustaining a gunshot wound to the head. Two Marines told The Washington Post in February that Peralta's fellow service members concocted a story on the spot to honor Peralta in part because they feared he had been killed by friendly fire. Other Marines there that day have continued to insist that Peralta covered the grenade, citing forensic evidence and their own lack of injuries from the blast. The Navy Department awarded the Navy Cross to Peralta, saying in his award citation that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2014 at BlackFive
Obama hands Perry the GOP Nomination on a platter and Perry punts. *facepalm*
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2014 on Texas Governor Perry wimps out at BlackFive
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First Twitter shot is fired.... Hashag #BigStick
Toggle Commented Jul 18, 2014 on Bring the fun to National Review at BlackFive
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That kind of takes away the effect if i give away the surprise up front. I also read the mystery novel from cover to cover. But i think you got the point... :) Cheers...
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... This would be surreal: After returning home Taylor Harrington was browsing videos of IED attacks in Iraq to use for a training course, when he came across the video of the actual strike on his vehicle. Check Out the Video Here Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2014 at BlackFive
An interesting OpEd in the New York Times that asks some very cogent questions as we ponder the threats we face, an uncertain fiscal situation, and a populace weary of the in-fighting. After seven years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am convinced that we are well along the road to repeating the French mistake. It has been more than 30 years since the last clear-cut American victory, the brilliant and audacious landing at Inchon. Vietnam, the Pyrrhic victory in the Mayaguez affair and the failed Iranian rescue attempt all attest to some deep-seated problems in our armed services. Yet our national defense debate, in Congress and in the press, continues to revolve largely around how much to spend. New ideas, from inside or outside the services, are seldom heard and less often welcomed. A growing number of my Congressional colleagues have come to feel that there is something profoundly wrong. We have joined in what amounts to a military reform movement, an alliance of (mostly younger) military officers, civilian defense analysts and members of Congress. The reformers' goal is to bring our defense priorities back into line with what history tells us is important in winning - and, therefore, deterring - wars. In seeking to determine where we have gone wrong, we must start by looking at the basic building blocks of any military - (1) personnel, (2) tactics and strategy and (3) hardware. Personnel questions are usually discussed in terms of pay, service entrance tests, and so on. But these issues miss many of the most critical aspects of military personnel policy. What's truly remarkable about it is that it was written in 1982. Read the whole piece at the link here: What's Wrong With The Military Hat tip to "Doctrineman" Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2014 at BlackFive