From Burning Draft Cards to Drafting Women?

 

It was 22 or 23 years ago, I think, that I wrote in the Air Force Times a cautionary article on the combat exclusion that prohibited women from joining front line combat units. My concern then, as now, was that lifting the combat exclusion would removed the only remaining barrier to our daughters, wives, moms, and sisters being eligible for a military draft.  

Asked about the issue yesterday, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta conceded that his lifting of the combat exclusion could indeed make women eligible for the draft. With characteristic grit and determination, he added that he doesn’t know who runs the Selective Service, but predicted that they will, “…have to exercise some judgment based on what we just did.”  

In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled in Rostker v. Goldberg, that the requirement for males to sign up for Selective Service was constitutional precisely because women were excluded from serving in front line combat units. “The court ruled that the Selective Service process is designed to assemble combat-ready people, and right now women are excluded from combat arms,” said Professor Anne Coughlin, of the University of Virginia School of Law in Charlottesville.  “Therefore,” she said, “they can’t participate in the very thing that the draft is for.” But that was then. Now, retired Colonel Peter Mansoor, a former US Army brigade commander and veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, currently a professor of military history at Ohio State, says, “If women are acceptable to serve in combat, they are acceptable to serve whether they volunteer or not. You can’t have the frosting on the cake and not the cake underneath.”  

Say, does anyone remember the part of President Obama’s little presentation of The Life of Julia, where she gets her draft notice?  What about the part where draftee Julia is involuntarily deployed to some hellhole in the Mideast where the beneficent and diligent attention of Secretary of State John Kerry has germinated a fresh crop of Islamic fanatics? I can’t remember seeing the slide of her poorly defended position being overrun by said fanatics while her commander pleads for assistance that, pace Benghazi, never arrives. But, as Hillary Clinton said, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” It’s merely a bump in the road of progress.  

It speaks volumes that the party of young men who once gleefully burned their draft cards has degenerated into the party of old men who declare their daughters and granddaughters eligible for the draft. But to do so in Orwellian tones of, “…moving forward with a plan to eliminate all gender-based barriers to service,” adds injury to insult. Progressives, who once accused Republicans of waging a war on women for declining to force others to pay for Julia’s sexual proclivities, now wage a literal war on women complete with the possibility of involuntary combat assignments. 

Were the American people consulted on this? Did their representatives in Congress have a chance to weigh in on an issue that affects over half the population? To echo Ms. Clinton, “What difference does it make?” What difference indeed, to the man who, at his inauguration only a few days earlier, described us as, “…a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.” But apparently, this generation can’t be trusted to choose its own light bulbs or toilets, let alone deal with weighty issues like making our daughters eligible for involuntary military service.  

Personally, one of the reasons I spent 20 years in uniform and volunteered to go to very unpleasant places was so that my daughter, my sisters, my mother and grandmothers might never have to taste the bitter cup of life under such inhumane and inhuman conditions. It seems now that my service in that regard might have been squandered. Which brings me to the question of what has become of our military leaders?  

The peculiarities of my work on active duty required that my immediate supervisor had to be a colonel or higher. As a result, I worked directly for literally dozens of colonels, brigadier generals and major generals during my career. Of these senior leaders, there were maybe a half dozen that I felt routinely put the interests of their troops over that of their own careers. Of these half dozen, there were two that I would gladly follow to storm the gates of hell itself. They never made it beyond the rank of brigadier general. The worst of the bunch progressed to three and four-star rank. The problem, as I saw in the Air Force at least, was that promotions in the senior ranks were highly political affairs. Combat prowess and a devotion to duty as well as to the troops, took second place to checking off various requirements for progression through the ranks.

“Everything you write is correct, Sergeant Carter,” a colonel on the verge of retiring said to me one day when I presented a letter for his signature. The letter detailed the disastrous effects of a new policy and advocated a change in direction. “But I can’t sign it,” he said, “because it would put me in a ticklish situation.” The guy was two weeks from retirement and, even at that late stage, couldn’t be persuaded to take a stand. Such fecklessness, such foolishness from people who have been decorated for valor under fire, is as beyond comprehension now as it was then.  

Where are the flag officers who refuse to take part in the further destruction of our force? Where were the commanders that refused to  be complicit in our surrender and defeat in Afghanistan? What in the world has gotten into the heads of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that they give their imprimatur of approval to a policy that can’t help but detract from combat effectiveness and puts in jeopardy the very people our troops fight to defend? Is there not a single one prepared to resign in protest over the shabby treatment of the people under his command? Just once, I’d like to see a senior military leader actually lead something other than own career interests. Just once, I’d like to see them subordinate their interest to that of the troops who have trusted them with their very lives. The nation deserves better than this.  

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar

    My trust in officers above the rank of Lieutenant Colonel will not be restored until I see even one very publicly resign in protest over this madness.  Have they all gone corporate?  Forward! 

    • #91
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Black Prince

    Judithann Campbell

    It’s about destroying masculinity and feminity, and making everyone totally androgynous.

    So, realistically, what do you propose to do about this?  As I’ve alluded to in previous comments, the momentum is definitely not on your side. · 0 minutes ago

    Edited 0 minutes ago

    It is the job of conservatives to stand athwart history yelling “Stop”. Many or most female college graduates were pressured into their careers by their parents; many or most either drop out of the work force when they have children, or they allow themselves to be Mommy tracked. Many never would have pursued careers in the first place if they hadn’t been put under great pressure to do so. Conservatives should stop trying to appeal to feminists who will never vote for them, and pay more attention to traditional women.

    You say that you accept the world as it is. If America were taken over by white supremacists, would you accept that, or would you fight it with every breath?

    • #92
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    I have to comment about women who fought in wars in the past. Someone here needs to start reading their history.

    An least 400 women disguised as men fought in combat roles during the civil war. Women fought during the Revolutionary war on the battlefield and sometimes on their property defending their homes and family.

    Women fought in the Greek-Trojan War, wars of rebellion against Romans in territory they conquered,  in the rebellions against  Assyrian rule, and countless other ancient wars.

    Today Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Sweden are countries that allow women in combat roles. Russia has had a history of women in combat during the Revolution and during world wars.

    The Israeli military has women in combat positions and they are drafted. Australia has women serving on the front line in Afghanistan. South Korea is opening combat roles to women. Women serve in Eritrea’s military since its war of independence from Ethiopia in 1991.

    I’m not claiming that women have played a huge role in wars or died in the same numbers as men. I am saying that some are capable and willing to take successful combat roles.

    • #93
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    @SimonTemplar

    The dirty little secret is that the fix is in as far as generals & admirals are concerned.  The President nominates one – three star generals for promotion and the Senate confirms.  So Dear Leader picks only those generals for promotion that will go along with his fundamental transformation agenda, then Harry Reid and company rubber stamp it.  Those who won’t play ball are eventually forced out.  As standard “tours” are 2 years with possibility of one year extension, by now all generals and admirals (except for one stars) are beholding to Dear Leader for both current and future jobs/promotions. Forward!  

    From About.com US Military:  General officers are nominated for promotion by the President of the United States, and confirmed by the Senate. You can’t get more “political” than that. The services hold in-service promotion boards to recommend officers for general officer promotion to the President. When vacancies occur (a general officer gets promoted or retires), the President nominates officers to be promoted from these lists (with advice from the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the applicable service, and the Service Chief of Staff/Commandant).

    Found at:  http://usmilitary.about.com/od/promotions/l/blofficerprom.htm

    • #94
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    @Foxfier
    Judithann Campbell

    Many or most female college graduates were pressured into their careers by their parents; many or most either drop out of the work force when they have children, or they allow themselves to be Mommy tracked. Many never would have pursued careers in the first place if they hadn’t been put under great pressure to do so. Conservatives should stop trying to appeal to feminists who will never vote for them, and pay more attention to traditional women.

    I can offer evidence that “I want to be a mom” and “I want to be like my mom” was met with quite a bit of institutional resistance– and that’s with a mother with a BS that minored in education. My “potential” meant I was only allowed to consider goals that involved six years in college and massive amounts of debt; I opted for the Navy, technical training and not a single day on a traditional campus, and haven’t regretted it.

    • #95
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Sweezle: I have to comment about women who fought in wars in the past.

    Thanks for all the examples…I knew that women in combat wasn’t something new, but I just didn’t have the historical knowledge to back it up.  Have a good night!

    • #96
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    @

    Foxfier; it is so awesome that you were able to resist the pressure that you were under. We should be encouraging young women to not buckle under, especially when they are being pressured to go into combat.

    • #97
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    @Sweezle

    Dave,  I believe you will always be active in fighting for America. For yourself, your family and that beautiful grandchild you shared a photo of recently. You care too much not to share in the struggle our country is in. And your voice is needed.

    Dave Carter

    Sweezle: Dave –  I am grateful and in awe of your military service and gentlemanly ways. I have been married to a southern man for 42 years and I appreciate him daily.

    Women of my generation might not have been able to fight along side men but I’m not so sure that is a good reason to prevent it in the future.

    Patriotism in our military plays a very important role. Even more when we are asking people to die to protect us. But what we view today as shared cultural value depends less on sexual orientation and gender roles that it once did.

    Thank you sincerely.  As to what sort of shared cultural value we are building today, it seems to be shaping up to be one hell of a paradise, and they may build it if they wish.  But it will be without my assistance.   · 59 minutes ago

    • #98
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar
    Sweezle: I have to comment about women who fought in wars in the past. Someone here needs to start reading their history.

    An least 400 women disguised as men fought in combat roles during the civil war. Women fought during the Revolutionary war on the battlefield and sometimes on their property defending their homes and family.

    Women fought in the Greek-Trojan War, wars of rebellion against Romans in territory they conquered,  in the rebellions against  Assyrian rule, and countless…

    I’m not claiming that women have played a huge role in wars or died in the same numbers as men. I am saying that some are capable and willing to take successful combat roles. 

    And an apple is not an orange.  Compare what those women did to what we now expect/demand our grunts to do.  Not in the same ballpark.  Have not heard anybody saying that women are not in your words, capable and willing to take successful combat roles.  But a combat role is not the same as the infantryman’s role.  I still think that this is a wildly successful heads I win tails you lose head fake to distract from Benghazi & Fast & Furious. 

    • #99
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Simon Templar

    I still think that this is a wildly successful heads I win tails you lose head fake to distract from Benghazi & Fast & Furious. 

    Can you explain what you mean by this?  Are you referring to the fact that “Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta conceded that his lifting of the combat exclusion could indeed make women eligible for the draft” or something else?

    • #100
  11. Profile Photo Inactive
    @jetstream
    Robert E. Lee

    Judithann Campbell

    The only way to achieve total equality is to make men and women exactly alike. I like the fact that men and women are different.

     I too like the fact that men and women are different.

    I think of equality as equality of opportunity.  Everyone is different.  But having the opportunity to do something, without artificial restriction, is what I think equality means. · 1 hour ago

    Robert, what kind of accommodations do you think the NVA would have provided female pilots at the Hanoi Hilton?  And how do you think videos of American women at the Hanoi Hilton would have played on the nightly news in the late 1960s and early 1970s?

    • #101
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Robert E. Lee

    Pencilvania: So suppose there’s a military action and several of our male & female soldiers are captured, by some of today’s current savages.  They decide to release the men – after torturing the women in front of them.  How demoralized an army would we have? 

    Why, it’s almost as cruel as sending a gay official into a danger zone in a Muslim nation. · 0 minutes ago

    Compare the statistics: the number of American military women sexually assaulted by the enemy, the number of American military women sexually assaulted by their own comrades in arms, and the number of American military women assaulted by their fellow officer cadets at our military and naval academies. · 1 hour ago

    I’m really curious about this…can you direct me to any resources with this information?

    • #102
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Judithann Campbell: Foxfier; it is so awesome that you were able to resist the pressure that you were under. We should be encouraging young women to not buckle under, especially when they are being pressured to go into combat. · 14 minutes ago

    I just got lucky– they used the wrong kind of pressure.  Pushing like that just makes my family push back, even against teachers, if we are right.  Not a lot of kids get that kind of upbringing.

    See also, why there are a lot of guys who would’ve loved to be mechanics and would’ve been good ones, but instead have a decade of college debt and no idea what to do with their lives.  It’s a very sad thing that the useful, building-block roles are so slandered.

    • #103
  14. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar
    Black Prince

    Simon Templar

    I still think that this is a wildly successful heads I win tails you lose head fake to distract from Benghazi & Fast & Furious. 

    Can you explain what you mean by this?  Are you referring to the fact that “Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta conceded that his lifting of the combat exclusion could indeed make women eligible for the draft” or something else? · 16 minutes ago

    Edited 12 minutes ago

    Yes.

    • #104
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @RobertELee
    jetstream

    Robert, what kind of accommodations do you think the NVA would have provided female pilots at the Hanoi Hilton?  And how do you think videos of American women at the Hanoi Hilton would have played on the nightly news in the late 1960s and early 1970s? · 12 minutes ago

    Things would be even worst than if it happened, and it did happen, in the First Gulf War.

    Prisoner abuse happens.  Sexual abuse of prisoners happens and can happen to men as well as women.

    See my post #102 above for links to how likely women are to be sexually abused.

    • #105
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Foxfier: one of my cousins is an RN, married to an engineer. Their teenaged son has no interest in college, and has decided to go to trade school to be a mechanic, with the goal of someday opening his own shop. Both of his parents support his decision 100%. If only more parents were like that.

    • #106
  17. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Black PrinceWhat inherent quality do women posses that gives them such an elevated status in society? 

    We’re the only ones that can make new people.

    That you can imagine a sci-fi plot that’s otherwise doesn’t change the current facts.

    • #107
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    Simon Templar  –

    I am not comparing apples to oranges and you are missing, or deflecting, from my point. And I think you are exaggerating the importance of grunts/infantrymen/ in today’s military compared to the contribution of women in past wars. Or at the very least you are attempting to dismiss the role that smaller overall numbers of women have taken in wars. On the field of combat, in battles that were brutal, bloody and required killing another person (sometimes your countrymen) in close hand to hand combat.

    I am confused by your comment on this being a “head fake to distract from Benghazi & Fast & Furious.” It sounds a little dismissive of the issue and somewhat paranoid. I think the decision to allow women into combat roles is more than a plot to distract us from recent political failures. There has been a great deal of active work on the part of many people for more than a few decades to open up combat roles to American women who serve in the military today.

    • #108
  19. Profile Photo Member
    @Sweezle

    According to British medical research scientists they are getting close (within a decade) of creating a baby without a man or a woman. Something to do with their ability to create both eggs and sperm in the laboratory from stem cells. It may not be science fiction in the near future. Scary and amazing.

    Foxfier

    Black PrinceWhat inherent quality do women posses that gives them such an elevated status in society? 

    We’re the only ones that can make new people.

    That you can imagine a sci-fi plot that’s otherwise doesn’t change the current facts. · 5 minutes ago

    • #109
  20. Profile Photo Inactive
    @user_140230
    Black Prince

    Liz Wirth: However, face to face with a man pointing a weapon, who I know is also someone else’s son, brother or husband it might cause me that split second of analysis that proves deadly to myself and others I would be with.  

    …come on now…be honest…we’re all friends here…you can’t really be serious.

    There’s been some interesting and controversial research indicating that people are very reluctant to kill others even when in life-threatening situations like war. Lt. Col Dave Grossman, drawing from work done by S.L.A Marshall states:

    Marshall’s  study of World War II veterans …. provided the shocking statistics that only -% of American soldiers were willing to deliberately aim at an enemy and shoot them dead.

    From Marshall’s wikipedia page:

    Marshall claimed that of the World War II U.S. troops in actual combat, 75% never fired their personal weapons at the enemy for the purpose of killing, even though they were engaged in combat and under direct threat. (Later research has cast doubts on his methods, but research into killing ratios of other wars, including the U.S. Civil War, has supported this claim.)

    • #110
  21. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Sweezle: According to British medical research scientists they are getting close (within a decade) of creating a baby without a man or a woman. Something to do with their ability to create both eggs and sperm in the laboratory from stem cells. It may not be science fiction in the near future. Scary and amazing.

    They were also saying such things when I was in junior high.  They’re still trying to figure out why it is that IVF children have such a higher risk of various problems, for that matter, and those folks don’t spend even a significant part of their development in a dish.  Then there’s the known problems of a lack of human contact during infancy…. Shockingly, reproduction isn’t quite as simple as the old dystopian scifi plot points had it.  (Thank God!  We’ve enough of a Brave New World without that.)

    Hm.  Which is easier: recognizing basic biology, like girls make babies, and coupling it with wars need bodies to come to the conclusiondon’t kill your girls, or some sort of theoretical techno-fix?

    • #111
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    @

    Robert E. Lee: you are correct in pointing out that both men and women can be sexually assaulted, but only women become pregnant as a result of sexual assault. If (when) a woman ends up in the Hanoi Hilton for five years, there is no was for the U.S. military to guarantee that she will have access to birth control. If (when) she becomes pregnant, what happens to the child? Either an abortion-possibly a forced abortion-will take place, or her captors will either allow or force her to give birth, and then God knows what will happen to the child.

    I once saw a movie about British special forces who were taken prisoner during the first Gulf War; one of them looked at the other and said, “Well, at least they can’t make us pregnant.” Caused me to think about it in a whole new light.

    • #112
  23. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Foxfier
    Sweezle: Simon Templar  -And I think you are exaggerating the importance of grunts/infantrymen/ in today’s military compared to the contribution of women in past wars. Or at the very least you are attempting to dismiss the role that smaller overall numbers of women have taken in wars. 

    The point being discussed is not “can women ever fight.”  It is “should we seriously be talking about using women as cannon fodder and grunts.”

    For history to support your notion, you’d have to find examples of organized groups with equal numbers of men and women integrated into highly physical combat.  Not a special female group, and not a few female warriors, nor something like women taking up arms in defense of their homes or to avenge their honor/their family’s honor.

    Israel, last I heard, was not as has been claimed; 2008:

    One controversial suggestion is to expand women in combat roles, where they are no more than 3.5 percent of personnel. These positions are voluntary for women, who today hold a variety of roles that include administrative, intelligence, technology and combat support.

    • #113
  24. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar
    Sweezle: Simon Templar  –

    I am not comparing apples to oranges and you are missing… And I think you are exaggerating…

    You, priests, and philosophers think, but Marines know.  And I one thing that I know for sure is that, even in this modern era, grunts still carry backbreaking loads for days on end and then when completely exhausted have to close with and destroy the enemy; and yes, that still means mano a mano from time to time.  I am not exaggerating the importance of the grunt in today’s military.  I am intentionally focusing on it because I was a Marine Infantry Officer for almost 25 years, and I see military things through that prism.  I love women.  I love women a lot, just don’t necessarily want one to be going toe to toe with a couple of Taliban while she is guarding my 6.  One of the Cold War missions of the USMC was to defend the European northern flank in case of war.  Our training included ski-marching with 100+ pound packs in the mountains all night every night for weeks at a time in up to -29 below zero weather. 

    • #114
  25. Profile Photo Inactive
    @jetstream
    Sweezle: I have to comment about women who fought in wars in the past. Someone here needs to start reading their history. …

    Sweezle, if you can find just one marine who was at the Battle of Khe Sanh in 1968, who thinks it would have been a good idea to have female marines on the perimeter, then I’ll listen to your theories.

    It doesn’t have to be a majority, just one.

    btw, the fighting on the perimeter was often hand-to-hand and the tons of bombs dropped around the base was higher than the explosive power of The Bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

    • #115
  26. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell.

    You say that you accept the world as it is. If America were taken over by white supremacists, would you accept that, or would you fight it with every breath?

    Judithann…don’t put words in my mouth.  I didn’t say that I “accept” the world as it is…I said that I “respond” to the world as it is—there’s a major difference.  People with weak arguments always break out the “Hitler” and “white supremacist” references…you can do better than that.

    • #116
  27. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar

    Continued from #96:

    At -30 below we went into survival mode.  If and when a woman can qualify and complete the USMC’s Cold Weather Mountain Leader Course, I would probably be willing to let her participate in some sort of infantry-person pilot program.  Just a few of the joys of the Mountain Leader’s Course are tasting your own blood every time that you eat because your lips split open – again.  Having your fingers split open because of the cold and dry climate every time that you use them.  Sleeping in a snow cave and providing arctic sentry for your buddies, and God only knows what the wind chill is.  A couple of your arctic sentry duties are to make sure that the candles stay lit in everyone’s snow cave – because if that candle goes out he may not have enough oxygen to stay alive and/or sound the alarm and be the first one on the scene in case his snow cave collapses on him.  Then there is the desert – sand gets everywhere.  Now on the other hand, when I was conducting riverine counterdrug missions in the jungles of Colombia…  Then again, maybe you’re right.

    • #117
  28. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Black Prince

    Judithann Campbell.

    You say that you accept the world as it is. If America were taken over by white supremacists, would you accept that, or would you fight it with every breath?

    Judithann…don’t put words in my mouth.  I didn’t say that I “accept” the world as it is…I said that I “respond” to the world as it is—there’s a majordifference.  People with weak arguments always break out the “Hitler” and “white supremacist” references…you can do better than that. · 12 minutes ago

    Edited 2 minutes ago

    But you have decided to respond to the world as it is by helping to further feminist goals. which causes me to believe that you accept the world as it is. you are intelligent and articulate; you could respond by making the case against feminism, but you choose not to do that. Why?

    • #118
  29. Profile Photo Inactive
    @BlackPrince
    Judithann Campbell

    But you have decided to respond to the world as it is by helping to further feminist goals. which causes me to believe that you accept the world as it is. you are intelligent and articulate; you could respond by making the case against feminism, but you choose not to do that. Why?

    Again, Judithann, don’t put words in my mouth.  I never said that I wanted to further feminist goals—I’m just not going to stand in their way and get shot down in the process.  Why don’t I make the case against feminism?  Because it won’t do any good…and it especially won’t do any good on Ricochet where I’d be preaching (mostly) to the choir.  Sadly, we (as a country) are going to have to learn our lesson the hard way.  I don’t like it, I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but I’m at peace with it.  (BTW: “peace”, in this case, doesn’t mean “acceptance” or “agreement”).

    • #119
  30. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SimonTemplar
    jetstream

    Sweezle: I have to comment about women who fought in wars in the past. Someone here needs to start reading their history. …

    Sweezle, if you can find just one marine who was at the Battle of Khe Sanh in 1968, who thinks it would have been a good idea to have female marines on the perimeter, then I’ll listen to your theories.

    It doesn’t have to be a majority, just one.

    btw, the fighting on the perimeter was often hand-to-hand and the tons of bombs dropped around the base was higher than the explosive power of The Bomb dropped on Hiroshima. · 5 minutes ago

    Feel like I’m beating my head against the wall here or maybe it is my thinking that needs to evolve.  When I was a 1stLt, my Company Gunny had been at Khe Sanh.  Great American, generally quiet and humble, but the Marines knew better than to cross him.  Marine Corps’ Combined Action Platoons (CAP) program had a good shot at being successful, until General Westmoreland decided to end it in favor of his Dien Bien Phu II.     

    • #120
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