Tag: Military

Book Review: “Smoke ’em” Shows Military’s Role in Masculine Rite

 

Anyone serving in the U.S. military before 1980 remembers the cry opening every break: “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.” Almost everyone, from the lowest private to the most senior officer present, would light up a cigarette.

Smoke ‘em if You Got ‘em: The Rise and Fall of the Military Cigarette Ration by Joel R. Bius examines the link between the military and cigarette smoking. He shows how cigarette consumption and the military were connected.

In 1900 cigarettes were a surprisingly small fraction of tobacco consumption. Around 7 percent of all tobacco products were retailed in the form of cigarettes. Cigarette smoking was viewed as unmanly and un-American.

Don’t Take My Name In Vain

 

On this Veteran’s Day it is good to consider those who served, for those of us who served to reflect on our service, and for the nation to enjoy a moment (rare as it is) of unity of purpose. Not all who served did so with honor, and some have dishonored themselves after service, but — for the most part — veteran identification says something meaningful about an individual. It is this honor, and the nation’s gratitude, that some in the State of Washington hope to make the means to their nefarious, dishonorable ends.

As I was walking into the grocery store today I saw the table set up. It seemed a little early for the paid initiative signature gatherers to be stationed already (the election was last week for crying out loud!), but there she was. Some poor sap with no idea what she was asking of people stood behind a table with signs imploring people to “Support Veterans!” As a veteran I was interested to learn exactly how this particular initiative would support me and my cohort, so I stopped to read the initiative (something almost no one in this state does before signing the petition.) To my horror I discovered the measure has nothing to do with veterans; rather, the initiative reinstates affirmative action in the state.

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The latest figure I’ve seen is that the caravan, better called an invasion, is up to 10,000 people. President Trump asked the Mexicans to halt the flow; unfortunately, the Mexicans have made only a half-hearted attempt to stop them: Mexico’s Interior Department said in a statement that federal and Chiapas state authorities were providing assistance […]

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Operation Gothic Serpent: 25 years ago today

 

On October 3, 1993, we watched in horror as dead US Servicemen were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, pushing a place most Americans knew nothing about into the forefront of our military, our media, our policies, and our conversations. Today, both publicly and privately, survivors and service members will remember this event. One way many acknowledge this day is running a “Mogadishu Mile.” A run commemorating the fact that a handful of soldiers had to run out of the city being left behind by the rescue vehicles after fighting an entire city all night. Others will gather and talk of the battle and those we lost. Myself, I will raise a glass tonight to those who fought and stayed true to never leaving a man behind — I walk among giants.

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TOCradio Site Link: http://tocradio.libsyn.com/ or direct Episode 5 Link  Matt Schoenfeldt and Wyatt Harper are joined by LTC Mike Barnett, who is the 8th Army Knowledge Manager. We discuss how the Army goes through the whole process from acquisition, capture, organization, storage, sharing, and application of knowledge. Mike takes us through the Human Dimensions and […]

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     Another little blurb barely made the mainstream news recently when President Trump announced the development of a “U.S. Space Force”, which as I understood to mean a new branch of the military!  If you blinked, you may have missed it, but this is not exactly an announcement that Chic Filet can now serve […]

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Celebrating the Fourth With Brits

 

Growing up, I read some military history. One book I remember, well the topic but not the title, was on north Atlantic convoys during World War II. One of the stories that stuck out was of a convoy celebrating the Fourth of July. It was, in today’s vernacular, a coalition convoy. I don’t remember details, if some allies were stationed on each others’ ships or if it was just a mixed fleet of protecting warships, but I remember trying to imagine myself amongst Americans celebrating the Fourth with the British. Twenty-five odd years later I was able to celebrate the Fourth with some RAF officers.

In May 2013, I deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia with its own Facebook page. None of my predeployment training mentioned that it was an undisclosed location. At the time, Al Udeid was practically Davis-Monthan Forward so everyone knew where you were going. It wasn’t until I arrived at the ‘Deid that I was told it was undisclosed and not to mention where I was. Then Secretary of Defense Hagel visited us in December 2013 and it was officially disclosed.

Quote of the Day: “Come On, You Sons of Bitches, Do You Want to Live Forever?”

 

Commemorating the start of the Battle of Belleau Wood, 100 years ago today, and Sergeant Daniel Joseph Daly, who is credited with shouting these words to his men, just before charging the Germans. It is reputed that Daly was twice offered a commission, and that he responded, on both occasions, that he would “rather be an outstanding sergeant than just another officer.”

I’ve been well schooled by my nearest and dearest, over the past forty years, on the unique position enjoyed by the word “outstanding” atop the United States Marine Corps hierarchy of merit. And I have a sense that the soon-to-be Sergeant Major was using the adjective correctly in reference to himself. He is one of only seven Corps recipients of two Medals of Honor (there are nineteen such across all the service branches), and he and Major General Smedley D. Butler are the only two Marines to have been awarded their Medals for separate actions, in different years.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a bit of the fog of battle about the origin of the quote itself. Some claim that those weren’t exactly Daly’s words, that they were either even more salty, or slightly less so; others say that, perhaps, they were shouted by someone else. Still others say that a similar cry was first given breath by Frederick the Great, at the battle of Kolin in 1757.

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Tropical storm Alberto is on its way, and will soon be bearing down upon the Florida Panhandle. The path of landfall looks like it might be headed for my neighborhood… so I went out earlier and put away the outdoor porch cushions and pried up the assorted sizes of American flags that were flying in […]

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Memorial Day: Meaning and Memory The last Monday of May is Memorial Day in America. How does this differ from Veterans’ Day, or other patriotic holidays? Why do we have both Memorial and Veterans’ Day? How ought we to observe the day? If you are looking for music for the occasion, how might you distinguish […]

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Missteps, Military Failings, and Issues, Oh My

 

So “leaked” reports came out yesterday referencing the investigation into the ambush in Niger that left four Americans dead. The classified version is done and in the process of being briefed to Congress and the families. A redacted/unclassified version will be made public. Meanwhile “Military Officials” leaked information from the massive 6,000-page investigation resulting in headlines that read “Pentagon Cites Multiple Missteps That Led To Ambush Of U.S. Troops In Niger,” “Classified Report Slams Military Over October Deaths in Niger,” and “Classified Niger probe finds multiple flaws in deadly mission: report.”

Complacency? Patently untrue — I know firsthand. Since the US has been there post-9/11, this is the first attack of this magnitude to happen in Niger. Being shot at is routine — having a full-fledged, planned, and well-executed ambush — nope. Unexpected, yes; complacency, no. The team maintained their security and left when it became apparent that something was not right.

Lack of training? Really? All I can see is some investigator with a full night’s sleep, a full belly, and plenty of water saying “that’s not what I would have done, they shoulda’….” Again, first-hand, these guys reacted textbook despite 30 hours without sleep in an oven of a desert in a full-on ambush. You engage and try to get out of the kill zone. And that is exactly what they did.

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As some of you know, I was gone for a month. Thanks for the texts and emails telling me I was missed. I know how horrible it must have been for all of you without me. Ha. Anyway, this month’s Group Writing is about Feats of Strength. Today I’m going to tell you about my […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America relish enjoy watching the credibility of the Steele dossier implode even further now that disreputable Clinton fixer Sid Blumenthal is being implicated for feeding information to Steele.  They also shake their heads as President Trump says he would love a government shutdown unless he gets his way on border security just weeks after Republicans successfully convinced Americans that funding the government should not be contingent upon passing an immigration bill.  And they have no problem honoring the U.S. military with a parade as President Trump wants to do, but Jim says there are more pressing national security concerns, including long-term funding and pay raises.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America focus squarely on the media in this episode of the Three Martini Lunch awards.  They begin by discussing two massive stories that media either ignore or are severely downplaying – one overseas and one here in the U.S.  Then they switch gears to reveal which stories received far too much coverage in 2017.  Finally, they choose what they see as the best stories of the past year.

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Did anyone catch this story about the Russian war games this past September, 2017? Was it, according to sources in The Sun, a dry run for a larger invasion of Western Europe?  https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5177666/russia-military-drills-invasion-europe-vladimir-putin/ In an earlier post, I told the story of Ryszard Kuklinski, a quiet Polish officer who found himself in the middle of […]

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Recorded on December 11, 2017
As the US Navy carries out high-profile missions in the Persian Gulf and off the Korean coast, China’s navy quietly continues its expansion: a maritime silk road stretching across the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Aden. Admiral Gary Roughead, former US Navy chief of naval operations and Hoover’s Robert and Marion Oster Distinguished Military Fellow, discusses the stakes in the Middle East and Indo-Pacific theatres and assesses the US Navy’s current operational, maintenance, and shipbuilding needs.

Objects in the Binocular Lenses May Be Smaller Than They Appear

 

In the late 1980s, I witnessed the Reagan buildup of the American military, with entirely new generations of equipment overlaid on a lot of older supporting systems. The Air Force got B-1 bombers, F-16s, and F-15s. The Navy got new carriers, submarines, F-14s, and F/A-18s. The Army got the M-1 Main Battle Tank, M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, MLRS artillery systems, AH-64 and UH-60 helicopters, Patriot Air Defense Missile systems (fielded to break massive air strikes, not shoot-down missiles), Stingers, and a new generation of trucks for all the logistics. All of this equipment was fielded, along with new doctrine and systems of training, to change the calculus in Europe.

The Soviet-controlled Warsaw Pact was seen as an offensive juggernaut, poised to come crashing through the Fulda Gap into West Germany. It was widely believed that the only means of stopping such massed formations of tanks supported by mobile infantry and integrated fires from tube artillery to penetrating fighter-bombers was tactical nuclear weapons. But nucs are nucs, so duck and cover, there go the homelands. The Reagan buildup took advantage of a great leap forward in precision lethality of non-nuclear forces, to signal to both European populations and the Kremlin that we planned to stop the tank armies without triggering Armageddon. Then the unexpected happened and the Warsaw Pact disintegrated without a single artillery round fired in anger.

With East Germany and Czechoslovakia free of both Moscow and their own communist masters, we got a look at the vaunted Soviet war machinery and found bad wiring and the rust of neglected maintenance. A corrupt system that pretended to pay workers and insisted they live a lie was vulnerable to workers pretending to work and write readiness reports based on lies. The 10-foot-tall Soviet soldier was the Dread Pirate Roberts entering the castle.

My Lens Has Been Upgraded

 

Ah, Thanksgiving, that time of year we slow down to reflect on the multitude of blessings that are bestowed upon us each and every day. I practice gratitude a fair amount — acknowledging often a God and family who love me (a miracle in and of itself). Food, water, shelter, check — life gets pretty crappy, pretty fast if those are in the negative column. The blessing of this country, our freedoms however infringed, and our politics, however seemingly upside down; I firmly believe we are still better off than most.

And then all the little things like hot water delivered at the turn of a handle, illumination at the flip of a switch, easy travel, information at our fingertips, disposable diapers and wipes (yep, I’m an “all in” grandfather, ya know), hot espresso, good rye whiskey, I could go on and on. But this year’s Thanksgiving will be just a little more meaningful, taking less for granted and cherishing my people just a little more.

‘Twas October 4th of this year, I had just gotten home from my daughter’s house conducting Poppa shenanigans with the grandkids. I was surfing through Ricochet in amazement, yet again, of the vast amount of knowledge and thought-out opinions on virtually any subject, when the phone rang. It was a long-time family friend who lives in the area that we don’t see enough.

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When I was in the Army, the Commander-In-Chief was a guy named Jimmy Carter, and everyone hated him. However, you couldn’t admit it in a very loud voice, because trashing someone in your chain-of-command will get you – not might get you – will get you in a lot of trouble, up to and including […]

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