Tag: Army

Jim is back! Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the Axios assessment that Republicans seem to have momentum in the battle for the U.S. Senate thanks to shifts in a couple key races. They’re also concerned as the U.S. Army reports it fell 15,000 soldiers short of it’s recruiting goal in Fiscal Year 2022. That’s 25 percent below the target and the other branches posted disappointing numbers too. And they shudder as more and more signs point to gas prices rising again soon, including OPEC threatening significant production cuts.

Jim and Greg also reflect back to the D.C. snipers, whose killing spree began 20 years ago today and claimed the lives of 10 innocent people in the area.

Luther Abel joins the podcast to tell us why he joined the Navy, and to speculate about why fewer young people are interested in joining the U.S. military these days.

Ben and Me


Ben, on the right, always seemed to have a cigarette in his hand. So did I, but I never looked as cool as Ben. That’s El Duomo in the background. We were visiting Florence at the time, on leave from our post in Germany, sometime in 1959.

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The Battle at Wounded Knee is a significant battle in American history, as it put an end to the Indian Wars and is marked as the last official defeat of the Native Americans. But what’s not taught in history lessons is that Wounded Knee was one of the first federally backed gun confiscations in the […]

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Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, Life Goes On…


Four years ago today, a US Army Special Forces Team was attacked in Niger, West Africa, leaving four Americans dead, two wounded, and a political wake almost as bad as the attack itself. My son was on the team and, by the grace of God, survived. I wrote a lot about it, if you care to know, here, here, here,  here,  and here.

Pictured left from left to right are those we lost. Bryan Black. I have a friendship with his parents and they are truly great people. His Dad single-handedly stays in touch with all the other families which is how I know what is to follow. Bryan’s wife and two boys are doing well and she wrote a book about the experience that I enjoyed and I fully endorse.

Next JW Johnson. His family is fairing OK and I hear little about them. LaDavid Johnson. I keep tabs on LaDavid Johnson’s family (a wife and three kids) and his parents. They are recovering slowly but steadily and opening up to the Black family’s continued attempts at a relationship. Both Johnson’s recently received honorary Green Berets due to this incident. Dustin Wright. Dustin Wright’s family is managing as well, although his father struggles. The Wrights have set up a foundation in his name to assist veterans. Good on em’.

Me and Sergeant Combs


In 1958, I was working for Bell Telephone as an installer when I was drafted into the Army. I didn’t want to go.

I wasn’t cut out to be a soldier. I was a bowler, a pool player, a wiseacre — a civilian to the core. So it was with a heavy heart that I showed up at the appointed time at the muster station in downtown LA. Almost before I could adjust myself to my new surroundings, I and five or six other schmucks were told to drop our trousers and grab our ankles. With the bedside manner of Nurse Ratched, an Army doctor came down the row sticking his finger up our rears. He never did tell us what he was looking for.

Whatever it was, my happy civilian life had taken a sharp turn for the worse.

Railguns Fried, Fizzle Before the Fourth of July


U.S. Navy image of railgun prototype firing

Military.com reports the Navy has finally ended the railgun program. What caught my eye was a reference to other services’ abandoned futuristic weapons. What each had in common was strong support over many years from the military-industrial complex: a uniformed proponent, Congressional support, and defense contractors. I started my military career in the 1980s just as the Sergeant York air defense gun system collapsed under spectacularly bad testing results, so can sympathize.

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The United States Army, the fighting force that began with citizen militiamen on a New England green, the Grand Army of the Republic which fought a devastating war to save a fragile Union, sent Doughboys to foreign soil and liberated Europe from the scourge of socialism has a new recruiting ad. If the Marines follow […]

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US Military’s ‘Extremist Briefing’: An Inside Take


My daughter is active-duty Air Force and she is currently deployed overseas. She works in a direct mission career field which requires a top-secret clearance. Her work schedule on deployment is much more intense than it is when she is stateside. She works with all sorts of people: ages 19-50, all races, all genders, officers, NCOs, and enlisted. Her field is highly technical and competencies are more important in some aspects than how many stripes you may have. Her unit was tapped for the required “Extremist Briefing” recently and this is her report.

There was about 90 personnel in attendance. The briefing was two hours in length, despite their tight mission schedule. The briefing room required masks and chairs were positioned two feet apart. The briefing started with a video on the big screen with speeches from the SecDef, a four-star, the Chief MstSgt of the USAF, Commander of Air Combat Command, and on down the command structure until the video featured my daughter’s immediate command. She said that the way it drilled down to a face she knows made it feel very personal. The talking heads kept using the term “extremists” and “extremism” but the terms were not specifically defined, and that the terms were used very generally. (Kind of a “we all know it when we see it” kind of way). She said the video was creepy and made her feel uncomfortable. As a “Hunger Games” book fan in middle school, she said that she felt like it was a scene out of a Hunger Games book where the “Capital District” was telling everyone in other districts what the reality was, but that the ones out of touch with reality were on the screen.

After the video and some PowerPoint slides (can you have a briefing in the military without PP slides?), my daughter said they were broken up into smaller groups and a “facilitator” (another military person) then asked questions of the group members such as “Tell me about a time in your military career that you saw or experienced extremism.” The groups were told that the facilitators were required to write down their responses and would be sending them back into the SecDef. One group member tried to pin down the facilitator about what did they mean by “extremism?” (Still no clear definition.) One group member, a black airman, stated that he may have experienced a couple of jerks during his AF career who were racist, but when were they going to be asked about the thousand other incidents of his colleagues going out of their way to support him professionally and personally? Another group member wondered why they were not talking about extremism in the context of Antifa and Portland. Another black female airman said that the AF was a melting pot and, although she came from an all-black neighborhood, she had met and worked with great people of all walks of life. No one in the group offered any examples of “extremism” despite the lack of definition.

2016 Documentary, Citizen Soldier, Freshly Relevant with News


45th Infantry Patch ThunderbirdCitizen Soldier is an excellent documentary, from soldiers’ perspectives, made freshly relevant by the infuriating revelations that top Department of Defense officials were blatantly violating their oaths of office and actively lying to the civilian elected leadership, President Trump and the Congress, about troops these excrement heaps in suits were keeping in harm’s way. President Eisenhower was entirely right to warn of the deeply corrupting congruence of profit and career in the name of our national security. To understand on whom the Department of Defense are really imposing costs, watch Citizen Soldier.

I finally viewed Citizen Soldier this past Friday with a group of friends who are not veterans. We were all a little skeptical when we popped the DVD in the player, worried that it would be amateurish and not the subject matter that lends itself to being so bad it is good. Everyone gave the movie a thumbs up. We had briefly talked about the forsworn, lawless leadership at the Department of Defense. This movie captured deployment at the height of the Obama Afghanistan surge. The comments after the lights came up were not entirely printable about the top Pentagon leadership then and now.

Citizen Soldier feels like a multiplayer first-person shooter, always from the perspective of one of the soldiers. The view over gun barrels will look very familiar if you ever played or saw a bit of a game being played on a computer screen. This is because the footage comes from small, light video cameras, like GoPro, mounted on the soldiers’ helmets. So, this was an intentional project, from before their deployment, to tell the story of a company company of “citizen soldiers,” the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, known since World War II as the “Thunderbirds.” A thunderbird is on their diamond-shaped unit patch.

My Husband, the Veteran


It is Veteran’s Day and, as usual, we’re going about our daily lives. We spare a thought for those who died and those who served. I have a particular fondness for a certain veteran, but I think about all of them. I think of the ways they have sacrificed for our country as well as other countries and I feel a sense of borrowed pride.

I have no claim to the pride myself; I never chose to enter the service. My life would be vastly different if I had. I suspect that I would have had much more opportunity, been promoted more quickly, learned new and exciting things that are not regularly taught in nursing school, and at least have my school loans paid off. I might even have a house of my own with one of those fancy VA loans.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome NPR’s admission that it failed listeners in its favorable interview of a radical author who thinks property ownership is a form of white supremacy, although they wonder why such a person was ever invited onto NPR in the first place. They also roll their eyes as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warns President Trump he would need an army to return safely to New York City. And they try to figure out why Nancy Pelosi decided to launch a conspiracy theory about her flouting of the San Francisco COVID restrictions instead of just letting the story die.

QotD: McVey on Reporters


Take it from me, America was a better place when its reporters were moody drunks with a high school education who learned to type in the Army.—Gary McVey

What could I say to improve on this? Gary nailed it. Reporters, uh, excuse me, journalists, or perhaps that should be spelled journalistes, with master’s degrees from high-end journalism schools have done the country no favors. Let’s go back to more guys (and gals) with practical real-world experience and shoe-leather reporting. James Lileks, Byron York, Salena Zito: these are some of the few good, old-style reporters we have today. Far better if we had ten of these for every Chris Cuomo.

Army Rolling in Homeland Defense


This is how we are not Italy. This is part of why we were ranked #1 in the world for pandemic preparedness. As Navy hospital ships prepare to leave their docks, Army field hospital units have been given deployment orders. Ride to the sound of the sirens?

Join us for three Iran-related martinis for you today. First, Jim and Greg are glad to see the likes of Russia and China offering nothing but word salad as no nation commits arms or manpower to Iran in the wake of the Soleimani strike. They also cringe as the Pentagon has to walk back a letter stating the U.S. Army would leave Iraq, only to have Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley explain the letter was just a poorly worded draft that doesn’t accurately express our policy and was never intended to go public. And they unload on California Rep. Ro Khanna for suggesting that Pres. Trump retaliating against Iran could warrant another article of impeachment, with Jim wondering if the Democrats are starting an impeachment of the month club.

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There’s a story out of Seattle about Dick Clarke, an 85-year-old man who for the last 18 years rang a bell for the Salvation Army during every holiday season, collecting money for the homeless outside of Nordstrom’s downtown store. During those years he raised more than $100,000 for the cause. He also gained a whole […]

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Doodads and Army Duds [Updated with a fun puzzle!]


I had long thought the doodads festooning veteran organizational caps to be a bit silly and something of the past. This Veterans Day, I took another look and came to a different conclusion. Looking at veterans’ uniforms in a parade and watching the pudgy weasel almost popping out of his blue Army Service Uniform in Congress, I discovered two things.

The first realization was of a linkage between military and veteran customs. Look at any military member’s uniform and you will see a shorthand career biography. If you take the time to look up the various ribbons, badges, insignia, patches, crests and whatnot, you get a glimpse into where they served and some tokens of what they did.*

It should be no surprise that veterans would carry over the military habit of visible tokens on their uniform. On closer examination, those “funny” caps have been serving the same function as a uniform jacket. Since the cap is the whole of a veterans organization uniform, that is where various tokens of a veteran’s service are displayed. 

Memory and Forgetfulness:Part 2


Seventy-five years ago, Operation Overlord was launched, opening a third land front in the strategic counteroffensive against Nazi Germany. The Germans were already reeling back from their high-water mark in the east (Stalingrad), and had squandered the cream of their veteran force in the Battle of Kursk during the summer of 1943. Predominantly American forces were slowly slugging their way up the length of Italy, where terrain favored competent defenders. It was finally time to open a western front with the sort of maneuver room found on the eastern front. We ought to pay tribute now, while there are still veterans of that great crusade with us.

The note here, dated July 5, was written by General Eisenhower, in case the D-Day landings failed. He praised “the troops, the air, and the navy,” and took total responsibility for the failure: “If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.” His message was ready for transmission to the Allied nations. Mercifully, it never needed to be sent.

Calling out the deeds and identities of World War II heroes, both lost and living, is especially fitting on this, “The Last Longest Day.”

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Starting on 10 May 1969, American soldiers, light infantry, fought for ten days to seize a hill in Vietnam. The fighting was so brutal that it quickly was named Hamburger Hill, as it was like advancing into a meat grinder. VFW Magazine has an article commemorating the battle, and the Washington Post actually has a […]

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Several years ago I had a small gathering of family and friends, and part of our reasons for coming together was to have a brief discussion on why we loved this country. My husband and I were the hosts, and my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, another couple who were friends of ours, and my aunt and uncle attended. […]

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