Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘army’

A great Memorial Day weekend picture

Posted by Richard on May 29, 2011

This is Memorial Day weekend, so it's appropriate for us to be thinking of our armed forces, right? Ever since Colorado allowed liquor stores to open on Sunday, I've received an email each Saturday night from Total Beverage about their Sunday specials. It always includes an appropriate photo, usually of a famous person whose birthday is that date. Here's this week's picture:

Welcome home 

Is that great, or what? After I figured out just what I was looking at, I got a great big grin on my face. I hope you did too.

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Jasser condemns Ft. Hood report

Posted by Richard on February 10, 2010

The founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Dr. Zudhi Jasser, thinks the Pentagon's report on the Ft. Hood massacre embodies the paralyzing culture of political correctness and utterly fails to confront the threat that political Islam presents:

As a former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, I know the culture of the U.S. military. While I served my 11 years pre-9/11, the culture of political correctness was pervasive. This travesty of a report is front and center evidence of that paralyzing culture.

As a Naval physician and former chief resident at Bethesda Naval Hospital, I can also speak to the inadequacies in the counterterrorism, counter-radicalism and insurgency training of commanders like those being held to blame for Hasan’s promotion and movement up the chain of command. … As we have all heard, his commanders were seriously concerned about his actions and the role his faith played in his everyday interactions with patients. Had they brought those concerns to his review process, they would have been vilified as Islamaphobes. …

As a Muslim, I am most fearful that our entrenched mindset of victimization and political correctness is precluding a vitally necessary open discussion of faith-based issues both inside and outside of the military. The current military and governmental culture precluded Hasan’s superiors from questioning anything relating to his faith.

… 

How can we hold these soldiers responsible for not preventing Hasan’s actions if we aren’t giving them the environment and the tools they need to confront Islamist radicalization? The military cannot allow the mantra of victimization of Muslims to dominate how it handles force protection. Islamist radicalization is real and it cannot be confronted unless we are honest about the threat it represents. Hasan is not the first soldier to be radicalized and he won’t be the last if we do not address the real issues.

Read the whole thing

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Happy 234th birthday, Army!

Posted by Richard on June 15, 2009

A belated Happy Birthday to the United States Army, the oldest of the uniformed services, which was born on June 14, 1775.

U.S. Army 234th birthday coin

As the coin indicates, the Secretary of the Army has designated 2009 as The Year of the NCO. As the son of an officer, I can attest to the fact that NCOs are what makes the Army work. I'm sure my dad would have agreed. 

The occasion merits an inspirational story about a soldier. If this one (HT: Mrs. Greyhawk) doesn't move you, you're not human: 

Even when half your skull is missing, life goes on.
 
For ex-soldier Erik Castillo, gravely wounded by mortar fire in Iraq in 2004, life is going better than expected.
 
Five years have passed since he woke up drooling and paralyzed in an Army hospital with a coconut-sized hole in his cranium — an injury from which doctors said he would never fully recover.
 
The road back to some sort of normalcy has been rife with pain and indignity. He's been stared at by strangers, coped with countless surgeries and infections, and battled rage, self-pity and depression.
 
Through it all, he kept hoping he could reach a point where life seemed worth living again.
 
Finally, he has.
 
"I'm happy with who I am now," said Castillo, 25, a 2001 graduate of Rio Rico High School who now lives in Tucson.
Today, Castillo can walk unassisted — a feat that took more than three years to achieve. He owns a house and plans to go to college next year after more surgery later this year to repair his right eye socket and realign a droopy eye.
 
"I'm making the best of my life," he said. "No matter what, I'm not going to sit around and complain about my suffering."
 
Doctors say his progress represents a triumph of determination over despair, something that isn't unusual among wounded veterans — even those as severely injured as Castillo.
Damn, we've got some amazing young people in this country. Read the whole thing

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Winter Soldier update

Posted by Richard on August 15, 2007

I hope you've been keeping up with the story of Scott Beauchamp, who wrote under the pseudonym "Scott Thomas." On July 20, I wrote about his article in The New Republic, "Shock Troops," in which he painted himself and his comrades as callous, brutal, and depraved. I wasn't persuaded:

I'm no expert on military mess halls, children's skulls, or Bradley Fighting Vehicles, but the stories told by "Scott Thomas" in the New Republic article strike me as not even remotely credible. …

Since then, we've learned his true identity and that he's an aspiring novelist who admitted to joining the military for Kerryesque resumé enhancement purposes, a former Howard Dean campaign worker, and the husband of a TNR staffer. The army investigated his claims and interviewed every soldier with whom he served, and they concluded categorically that there is no basis in fact for his allegations. He recanted in writing and faces administrative discipline. And he now refuses to speak with any journalists, including his employers/abettors at TNR.

Various bloggers looked into his other TNR stories and found them just as obviously bogus as "Shock Troops." In one, he wrote of soldiers stopping to change a flat in a "river of sewage" — their vehicles have run-flat tires. In another, he claimed some "square-backed" cartridges prove that Iraqi police committed murder — in the known universe, there's no such thing as a "square-backed" cartridge.

Despite all this, TNR stands by the fraudulent articles and claims they've "fact-checked" and corroborated them. Of course, they won't name any of the "experts" they've consulted (to confirm the "plausibility" of Beauchamp's claims) or the one person who purportedly corroborates the events in "Shock Troops."

In the face of overwhelming evidence and testimony discrediting the story of how he publicly ridiculed a disfigured woman, TNR claimed their careful "fact-checking" uncovered only one "minor" error: the incident didn't happen at a forward operating base in Iraq, it happened in Kuwait before Beauchamp ever got to Iraq. Never mind that there's no evidence (beyond their anonymous source) of it happening there either. And never mind that this "minor correction" destroys the primary thesis of "Shock Troops," that the brutality of war dehumanized Beauchamp and his buddies. Apparently the flight from Germany to Kuwait dehumanized him.

Lots of bloggers have done yeoman work on this story, including Michael Goldfarb (who got the ball rolling), Confederate Yankee, Ace of Spades, and Michelle Malkin . Just run through their posts of the past couple of weeks if you want all the fascinating details. If you just want a one-stop executive summary that will bring you up to speed,  with a special emphasis on TNR's continuing fraud, read this Confederate Yankee post. And in a fascinating post last week, Michelle Malkin mirrored my recollection of the Vietnam Winter Soldier fraud and recounted other instances of Winter Soldier Syndrome.

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10th Mountain Division

Posted by Richard on August 2, 2007

They came together at Camp Hale, high in the Colorado Rockies near Leadville, to participate in the largest ski school ever. Many had never seen snow. They became one of the most storied and gloried military units of all time, one that played a critical role in defeating the Axis in Europe:

Following two years of rigorous training, the Tenth Mountain Division was ordered to Italy in 1945 to spearhead an advance of the U.S. Army. In a series of actions that included Riva Ridge and Mt. Belvedere, the Tenth Mountain Division breached the supposedly impregnable Gothic Line in the Apennines and secured the Po River Valley to play a vital role in the liberation of northern Italy. By the time the Germans surrendered in May 1945, 992 ski troopers had lost their lives and 4,000 were wounded. This was the highest casualty rate of any U.S. division in the Mediterranean. 

Actually, I believe it was the highest casualty rate of any U.S. division, period — more than 30 percent. The 10th also earned more medals than any other division. 

After the war, members of the 10th Mountain Division created the U.S. ski industry. Among their numbers were Monty Atwater (Alta, Utah), Friedl Pfeifer (Aspen Mountain), and Pete Seibert (Vail). And a fellow named Bob Dole, who'd been badly injured and thus had an excuse for pursuing the law and politics instead of a more honorable winter sports career.

Several hundred of the remaining WWII veterans of the 10th are gathering together one last time in Denver today through Sunday:

The final reunion for the first division in the country to specialize in mountain warfare begins Thursday at the Denver Marriott Tech Center. But Tripp and Kentz already had their final meeting in the spring.

Kentz's 84-year-old heart gave out in May. The nearly 88-year-old Tripp drove up to Tennessee Pass near Leadville to place a wreath for his friend at a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division. The last thing he hopes to do for him is to make the long climb to the top of Mount Sopris this summer with Kentz's family to scatter his ashes.

"We are dropping like flies," Tripp says of a division that once numbered nearly 16,000 but has dwindled to 1,500. The surviving mountain soldiers range in age from 81 to more than 100.

They're dying at the rate of one a day. The National Association of the 10th Mountain Division put it this way:

 … This will be the last official National Reunion organized by the WW II Veterans. Future reunions may be organized by the Descendants, veterans of the Division serving after WWII or others. We are hoping most of our WW II Veterans will attend this special reunion

The Last Ridge by McKay Jenkins tells the story of the 10th, and has earned high praise. Now, there's a documentary of the same name based on the book. It's being broadcast on PBS stations, and a DVD is available (the link has both air dates and DVD ordering information).

But this Saturday, August 4 at 2 PM, the Colorado Historical Society is presenting a special showing of The Last Ridge at the Colorado History Museum. McKay Jenkins and film producer Abbie Kealy (a 10th Mountain descendant) will speak and sign copies of the DVD and book. Tickets ($7 or $15) include museum admission, so you can also see the Soldiers on Skis exhibit. A pretty sweet deal for anyone near Denver who's interested in military history.

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Military madness

Posted by Richard on May 3, 2007

This may be the single stupidest decision to come out of the Pentagon since the Vietnam War days. It's so short-sighted and ignorant and insanely counter-productive that it causes weird conspiracy theories like the ones I sometimes have about the Stupid Party to cross my mind: Could this be the work of someone trying to ensure failure and defeat? Someone deliberately silencing the most knowledgeable, articulate, informative, effective, moving, and persuasive voices in support of the War Against Islamofascism? It might as well be; the effect is the same, regardless of the motive.

It's too late and I'm too tired to write up the lengthy but unfocused rant that's been bubbling up since I first heard this news. So I'll just let Hugh Hewitt fill you in:

The Pentagon has issued new regulations effectively shutting down all active duty military blogs. 

I find this decision to be so amazingly ill-informed about how the milblogs have served the war effort and the cause of the military as to raise real doubts about the military's ability to ever get ahead of the enemy in the information war.  Really, if such a blunder can happen without anyone even asking about the ill effects on the effort to keep information flowing from people in the know to combat the ceaseless propaganda from the enemy, then the brass involved cannot possibly understand how the information war is playing out.

Another story:

The new rules (.pdf) obtained by Wired News require a commander be consulted before every blog update.

"This is the final nail in the coffin for combat blogging," said retired paratrooper Matthew Burden, editor of The Blog of War anthology. "No more military bloggers writing about their experiences in the combat zone. This is the best PR the military has — it's most honest voice out of the war zone. And it's being silenced." 

In my mind, it's anybody's guess as to who's more interested in silencing milbloggers, the Islamofascists or the Democrats. Michelle Malkin has lots more info. The 2007 Milblog Conference is this weekend, making this story even more ironic and infuriating.

I can't even think clearly about what should be done — maybe tomorrow. Some moron with stars on his shoulders ought to be horsewhipped. Express your outrage to somebody somewhere who might make a difference. You are outraged, aren't you? 

UPDATE: The online firestorm this ignited seems to be having an effect. The Army is backing offsort of. Maybe. It sounds to me a bit like, "Well, the regulations don't really mean what they say. Unless your CO decides they do." I suspect we'll be hearing more about this.

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Greetings to Gitmo troops

Posted by Richard on December 19, 2006

A number of organizations, including Soldiers’ Angels, Any Soldier, and Move America Forward, have organized efforts to get cards, letters, and gift packages to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I hope you’ve participated. But what about the troops in Guantanamo? They’re forced to treat with kid gloves some of the vilest and most dangerous men on the planet. They’re routinely bombarded with feces and urine and attacked with improvised weapons. And they’re pretty much forgotten by all the "support the troops" folks.

The prisoners at Gitmo, on the other hand, seem to be fondly remembered by some. According to a retired Army officer on the Bill Bennett show this morning, the 430 or so inmates have received 15,000 cards and packages from "well-wishers."

If you’d like to honor the troops at Gitmo — to send some sweets or just a card saying "Thanks and Happy Holidays" — remember that, due to security concerns, the USPS no longer accepts mail addressed to "Any Soldier" or the like. Address your card or package to:

Col. Wade Dennis (for any troop)
JTF GTMO
APO
AE09360

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Give today to help injured troops

Posted by Richard on November 10, 2006

Tomorrow is Veterans' Day, and if you look in the right sidebar, you'll see that the Project Valour-IT Army team is still well short of the fundraising goal we want to reach by then. At this writing, the "scorecard" shows the Army team far behind Navy and barely ahead of the Marines.

Project Valour-IT (Voice Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops), sponsored by the Soldiers' Angels Foundation, is a great cause, in my humble opinion . In honor of Veterans' Day, please click the donation button on the right and help out. Whether you give $1700 like Charles from PA or $1 like Robert from WA, every donation helps. Thanks!

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Flag Day

Posted by Richard on June 14, 2006

Today is Flag Day — the 229th anniversary of the day that the Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the Republic.

It’s also the 231st birthday of the United States Army.

So I want to salute my dad and all the other men and women who’ve worn the uniform of the U.S. Army in defense of our flag and what it stands for. Thank you all!
 

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