• Category Archives Terrorism
  • Babykiller

    That’s a new one on me, but not my father.

    Although the actual word ‘babykiller’ was not used it was a sobering experience the other night when a ‘friend’ equated the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the murder of innocents. It was done offhandedly, as though it were a given. Having served in both theaters, I can assure you (as I tried to assure him, to no effect) that the comparison is ridiculous. Yet there are people out there who actually think that. Apparently, I know such a person. Not something I was expecting to discover among my circle of friends.

    On a more palatable note, Brad Torgerson has a very nice blog post up today about some of the other kinds of experiences we who serve in the military have at home. Pleasanter ones.


  • Staff Sgt. Giunta MoH


    Staff Sgt. Giunta
    Staff Sgt. Giunta

    Well done sergeant Giunta. I’m sorry for your loss.

    This story was very interesting to me. Read it for yourself though. Here I talk about my own take on things.

    An ‘L’ ambush. Well designed and executed by the Taliban in the Korengal valley, Afghanistan. An ambush is THE most devastating attack in any infantry unit’s repertoire, and an ‘L’ ambush is the best of the ambushes. This is because of the shape.

    An L ambush is just what it sounds like. You pick a bend in the road and set up your main ambushing element along one side of the road before the bend and then another element AT the bend where they can shoot ALONG the section of road your first element will be shooting into. Usually you put your machine gun at the bend and open the ambush with that since it’s the ‘most casualty producing’ weapon.

    L-Ambush
    L-Ambush

    Getting caught in this kind of ambush was absolutely crappy for Sgt. Giunta’s unit. And it’s almost impossible to avoid.  Ambushes are hard to detect, and even harder to survive. The only response to being ambushed that has any hope of success is to immediately turn and rush your attackers, hoping to get in among them and start killing them back before you’re all dead. An ‘L’ makes this response tactic even less effective than it already is (I mean seriously, rushing into to the teeth of the enemy’s guns is the best you can come up with? Yes it is.) because no matter which of the two elements you choose to rush, there are still guys in the other shooting into your flank. Wicked awful. Entire patrols get wiped out like this.

    Except, apparently, when it’s the Taliban ambushing Americans. The CBS account of the ambush is harrowing to read. Miserable. It leaves the impression that the Taliban kicked American butt. But you have to realize that if it had been Americans doing the ambushing, everybody would have been dead. EVERYBODY… except those the Americans wanted to take prisoner.

    The truth is that the Taliban ambush was surprisingly ineffective.   But you have to know something about the subject to realize it.

    I mourn for those killed and wounded in this ambush, as with every action where my brothers are hurt or killed. Sgt. Giunta’s actions were heroic. That he believes every one of his comrades on that patrol would have done the same for him only speaks to the caliber of the American fighting man; it doesn’t lessen his actions.

    Bonus link.


  • Elizabeth Moon and the Ground Zero Mosque

    Elizabeth Moon
    Elizabeth Moon

    I know Mrs. Moon. Not particularly well. We’ve sat across from each other at dinners, talked while we walked around a con, and so forth. She’s a very nice lady. We differ on many political issues.

    She wrote a blog post this year about the proposed mosque at ground zero. I thought it was well written, thoughtful, and I largely agreed with it.

    Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Elizabeth Moon was disinvited as Guest Of Honor from WisCon because of the contents of that post. She is being described as a bigot and a racist. In a shallow search of the internet the negative response to her post was vociferous and ill-informed. By that I mean that the vigor of those decrying her words seemed inversely proportional to how well they understood what she’d actually said in the post itself.

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. For decades now ideologues have been preying on individuals who can’t be troubled to fully understand any given issue. If the soundbite doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, like a kindly revolutionary, well, you must be against that. If the soundbite doesn’t resonate with your own fears, give you a sense of belonging to the in-group, well, you must be against that. Carry on, wave your placard, dump your trash on the ground for the workers to pick up.

    Mrs. Moon’s post was largely a call to active citizenship, to responsibility, to personal accountability. A democratic republic cannot function properly if the citizens are worried only about themselves. The well-being of the group, the nation, the country, must figure largely into a good citizen’s responsibility equation. Mrs. Moon is well entitled to make that statement having served in the Marine Corps among a great many other things. Presumably she did at least a few good things that got her the Guest of Honor invitation to WisCon in the first place.

    Part of being a good citizen here in the United States is a willingness to openly consider ideas that may be different from your own. Discuss them on their merits. Examine your own ideas in their light to see if, perhaps, you can learn something. It is the mark of intellectual cowardice and dishonesty to refuse to examine, refuse to discuss, refuse even to entertain, ideas that may be different from your own.

    I’m looking at you WisCon.


  • Not going to war

    InsideACanofWhoopAssNot going to war, for most people, is a good thing. Not all.

    What could I possibly mean by that, you may ask with a suspicious and horrified look?  Who is this ‘all’ you speak of in the negative?

    Surely, war is bad. Yes it is. There are still worse things.

    Surely, no one sane would WANT their country to go to war. Absolutely true. No one sane wants their country to go to war. In the same way no one wants to have to shoot a burglar in their house.

    Surely, no one sane wants, personally, to go to war. Meh, yes and no. I’m sure there are people who would very cogently and succinctly make the point that I am not sane. For I want to go to war.

    Surely I have done my part, having already been to war. Surely I could now stay home, honor satisfied, and enjoy my family. Yes, I have, and yes I could. But the war is not over. In some ways it is just beginning. There are still parts to be played, and if not by me, then by who?

    I’m thinking about this because of a good friend of mine, who also wants to go to war. The difference for him is that he has not yet been.

    My unit is a good one. We have deployed companies to the war on terror three times and once an entire battalion. Collectively we have killed a whole grundle of bad men who desperately needed killing, and helped a whole bunch of other people who needed help. We have done well, collecting honors and accolades. We have yet to lose a man to the war.

    The last deployment, though, was a few years ago and the next has been pushed back so far that many of the men in my unit despaired of ever going back and left, seeking other units who ARE deploying soon, or contracting jobs with the famed “military industrial complex.” (My unit doesn’t typically attract the sort who only join the military for the college benefits though most of us have used them to good effect)

    My friend is considering attaching himself to a unit in another state that is deploying but finds itself critically short of men with our expertise. I’m considering going with him. It’s a hard sell for a man in my position, but can I let my friend go alone?

    We would all prefer that there were no wars, no oppression, no murder, no crime. MacArthur was right when he said:

    The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

    Yet, if our country is at war, we want to go. It’s what drove us to join the military in the first place.

    Bonus link


  • 9/11 2010

    So this is the obligatory post. I have lots of thoughts on the events of this nine year old date and their aftermath, but I’m only going to cover one set today.

    Sacrifice. Quite a few people today have talked about honoring the sacrifice of those who lost their lives on this day.

    What exactly is a sacrifice? Dictionary.com says … well, it has a lot of definitions, not all of which apply, but all of which involve some deliberate effort by those performing the sacrifice. Rushing up the stairs of a burning building to save who and what you can, knowing the risk, is a sacrifice. Crashing the plane you are on rather than letting it be used for further atrocity, that’s a sacrifice. Even stepping up and attempting to impose order on the chaos of your co-workers in a crowded stairwell, giving up your place in the rush in order to stand on a bit of high ground and get things moving more smoothly, is a sacrifice. Showing up to work in one of the towers or even the pentagon was not. It was just bad luck. Calling it a sacrifice cheapens the concept and the efforts of those who did, and have been attempting to, actually do something about those events and their consequences.

    So, in the interest of my peace of mind I’ve been busily assuming that all the people yammering about the sacrifice of those those who died on 9/11 are talking about those people who have lost their lives while doing something about those events. I’ll save the honor I have to give for them, thank you.


  • The Hurt Locker, Again

    So, I re-watched the first three quarters of this film last night.  I did this for two reasons.

    First: It’s up for an Oscar and people are both bitching about it and howling its praises to the moon.  I wanted to see how it bore a second watching and if the good things I remembered were actually that good and so forth. I didn’t finish it.  Admittedly it was getting a little late, 11:30 or so but I was not, at all, sucked into the conflict. I knew how it ended and that was enough, I didn’t need to see it again. It wasn’t compelling a second time. Any conclusions I draw from this must, of course, be informed by how often I watch films more than once. It happens. I’ve seen quite a few films more than once and enjoyed them immensely: Soldier, Equilibrium, The Last Samurai, Gladiator, The Kingdom, the list goes on. Wasn’t happening with The Hurt Locker.

    I suppose my perspective is a little different from most folks though by no means unique. I’ve been in combat, in the Middle East. They got quite a few things right in the film. But when they got things wrong, they really got them wrong and I didn’t care to see the ending again.

    Which brings me to my Second reason for watching it twice. There’s a scene where an insurgent, who is undoubtedly the guy who shot and tried to blow up the heroes, is lying bloody on the ground under the care of a US Army medic. The medic tells his Colonel that the insurgent has a survivable wound if he can be picked up in 15 minutes.  The Colonel tells the medic in his crazy voice, “He didn’t make it.” The Colonel then repeats the phrase, with a significant nod, to another soldier, not the medic, standing nearby. Then he walks away and the camera follows him.

    My friends have cast some doubt on whether or not a gunshot rings out as the Colonel walks away. I watched the film a second time to find out for sure. It most definitely does.

    The film makers tried very very hard to give the impression that an American soldier, under orders from his Colonel shot and killed -murdered- an unarmed and wounded enemy combatant. And they did it casually, in front of quite a few other soldiers, a crowd even, not one of whom raised an objection.  To that I say, screw you mister film-maker. That is complete crap and it betrays your underlying motives for making the film and your opinions of the American fighting man, both of which are wrong and nasty if not downright evil.

    Such acts have happened, I’ll not deny it. They don’t happen like that. They don’t happen easily. They don’t happen casually. They don’t happen without objection, especially in front of a medic or a crowd of soldiers. They don’t happen without charges of murder being brought and prosecuted.

    None of which, of course, will or should have the slightest bearing on whether the film wins a Best Picture Oscar. An Oscar isn’t about political opinion or truth in film-making.  I don’t think it merits the award as a work of art, but that’s just me. Now, Jeremy Renner, he deserves an Oscar. I thought his performance was brilliant as were those of the rest of the cast, including the crazy Colonel.

    It being hailed as the best Iraq war film ever made? Well, last I checked the field wasn’t very deep yet. I suspect holding that opinion may have more to do with The Hurt Locker bearing out, subtly and well, the opinions about war and soldiers the mainstream media has been inculcating into the population for the last 60 years.