• Category Archives War
  • Wikileaks two

    Lots of people out there on the web pooh poohing the idea that wikileaks is costing lives.  They don’t claim that wikileaks hasn’t cost lives. Most of them simply claim that it pales in comparison to the number of lives lost due to actions by the governments wikileaks targeted. A fair point. And, if you assume that the west, the United States and Britain in particular, is corrupt and murderous by nefarious design, you can stop thinking at that point and simply wave your placard. I don’t share that view and find those that do a little long on the yammer and short on the hammer. They speak, confidently, from under the umbrella of freedom, security and prosperity those very governments provide.

    There’s another necessary half of the argument, usually left implicit by these rhetoricians. You must also believe that the threats of terrorism and rabid jihad the west is facing and fighting are largely nebulous and illusory. I direct your attention to the New York of nine years ago. You may then stepping stone your way to the present over countless incidents of violence and cruelty deliberately perpetrated against innocents by the very same individuals and their groups that are so necessarily (for this particular argument to hold water) illusory.

    The west has not been perfect in its prosecution of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. There are plenty of examples of western soldiers and leaders doing wrong. Such incidents are few and far between, as evidenced by the attention they get when they do happen.

    The massive and pungent irony of the whole wikileaks situation is that wikileaks targeted only the side it is safe to target. Exposing the inner workings of Al Quaeda and like groups is, after all, awfully difficult and dangerous.

    As for wikileaks being treasonous, no. It’s only treasonous for Bradley Manning. For folks of other citizenships it’s called espionage.


  • wikileaks

    wikileaks founder and head prima donna Julian Assange
    wikileaks founder and head prima donna Julian Assange

    I find this whole wikileaks phenomenon endlessly fascinating while at the same time a little pitiful.

    In theory, I approve of the mission statement wikileaks touts. Government transparency is good in most cases. Protecting their sources, also excellent. Vetting of stories before publishing? Essential. But for all the bluster they’re surprisingly mercenary.

    They claim to be a source for good in the world. Yet they’re constantly targetting the biggest sources of good in the world. It grabs them headlines to accuse the US and leak classified documents from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it also has the advantage of being very safe for them. Though they make a show of ‘being afraid’ they know very well, as does the rest of the world, that the US and Western European countries don’t go in for the kind of extra-legal retaliation they claim to be afraid of.

    Who does go in for that kind retaliaion? The kill your family and cut your head off on TV kind of retaliation? The very groups and countries wikileaks fails rather conspicuously to report on. The very groups the US and Western Europe (along with other notable allies) are in violent conflict with right now. Let’s see some juicy leakage of the operational details of AlQuaeda or Hamas or Sendero Luminoso. How about North Korea for heaven’s sake. China anyone?

    If you want to be seen as a force for good in the world you ought to do something other than throw stones at the side that doesn’t deliberately kill women and children as a matter of policy.

    As for protecting sources, perhaps you also ought to protect those innocents you put at risk with your leaks. Locals working for the US in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing nothing but what they think is right, yet you put their lives at risk by publishing their names where the jihadists can find them. There are good reasons to classify documents and protecting sources is one of them. Strange how that cuts both ways and how wikileaks doesn’t seem to care.

    And vetting your stories before publishing? Please. How about Collateral Murder? What a joke.


  • 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.


  • Gays in the Military

    Is ‘gay’ the right term nowadays? I can’t keep track of the changing currents of politically correct speech. We’ll go with it. If you’re offended, it’s your own fault for I mean none.

    GayActivistFromWhitehouseFenceI was perusing Drudge when I came across this picture. I felt a flash of what can only be called malice and anger. I identify with my brother’s in uniform, and to see cops cuffing one raises my ire. What the hell? I think. Were I to see this on the street I’d immediately go find out what the heck was going on.

    And I’d discover, no doubt, that the cops were perfectly justified in arresting this fellow for trespassing. Then we’d all get on with our jobs. It’s that initial reaction I’m interested in.

    I’m assuming that guy has every right to wear the desert uniform he’s got on. I’m also assuming he’s gay.

    There are huge problems associated with gays serving openly in the military. Problems that range from ‘what do you do about shower facilities’ to ‘sexual harassment anyone?’ to ‘there are a lot of ignorant people in the military who have a problem with gays’ and everything in between. Almost none of these are addressed by those who crusade for the cause of gays serving openly in the military. To even bring these concerns up gets you called a homophobe and/or a bigot as rational discussion is immediately, and often deliberately, shut down.

    So, what about gays in the military?

    I don’t have a solution to the logistical, ethical, or social objections raised by the idea. I do have my gut reaction to a fellow soldier being handled by the police though. That’s my brother, man, back off.

    Postscript: It pains me to have to bring the question up but, if that dude getting cuffed did NOT earn that uniform (and the way he’s got that beret pulled down to his ears makes me question just a little) he can go fly a kite.


  • 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.


  • Veteran’s Day 2010

    FlagsOne thing the Democrats, or at least the Obama’s PR machine, do well is organize people over the web. While I was reading an article lamenting the fact that Obama is in Indonesia, remembering Indonesian veterans, on Nov 11th I received an email claiming to be from his wife.

    This email led me to a well put together and, seemingly, fairly effective site designed to help people so inclined to volunteer and help military families. Military families need the help. They are unsung heroes in our wars.

    My father tells a story. One day while my father was serving in the jungles of VietNam his own father, my grandfather Marcus, was going about his business as on any given day. A messenger arrived with a telegram. My grandfather received it, stared at it for a while without opening it and then found a place to take a seat. He faced, grimly, the fact that his life was now over. His son was dead.

    He opened the telegram and read it. “Happy birthday, Marcus! Love, Vance.” My grandfather thought about it for a moment and realized that it was, in fact, his birthday that day. The telegram was from his brother, Vance, a prankster of questionable taste.

    The soldier very rarely has to live with the imminent possibility of his own death. He knows when he is and is not in danger. His family and loved ones live with it every moment of every day that he is away.

    Bonus link.


  • Elder Eyring, President Uchtdorf, and Soldiering

    The Soldier MoroniAs I grew up I was always sure that I wanted to be in the military. For a while I thought I wanted to be a full-time infantry officer. I enrolled in ROTC in college.  I joined the 19th Special Forces Group (National Guard) as an enlisted counter-intelligence agent. I spent the 9 months of Initial Entry Training watching the active duty military lifestyle at work and play. It made me realize I wanted to stay a full time civilian. I also stayed enlisted, thank heavens.

    From back then until now, 30 years in the LDS church, 4 years at Brigham Young University, 13 years in the national guard, 2 combat deployments; I always had the impression that service in the military was seen as an unwise choice for LDS men. Plenty of us served, but we were looked down upon just a little by the LDS culture.

    It’s not objecively or doctrinally true. Like I said, it was simply the impression I had and it was due to several factors. Some people at BYU (it is an academic institution after all, grubbing after government grants with the best of them) actively look down on the military services, in lockstep with the extreme left. And taking a degree in English exposed me to many such. Also, I’ve lost count of the talks I’ve heard and the testimonies born by single-term servicemen about how the military turned them into sinners when in reality all it did was force them to step away from the apron strings. I also had a long string of sunday school teachers and fellow members who were less than encouraging to my martial leanings. 

    All this has combined to leave me feeling a little at sea, left to find my own soldier specific spiritual guidance in the scriptures. Fortunately, there’s plenty there. It’s looked at as odd and incomprehensible by much of the church’s membership who consider most of Alma to be … off, but it gives me joy to find it.

    Imagine my glee when Elder Eyring gave me a huge blast of it over the modern pulpit at General Conference in April of 2009. In his talk entitled “Man Down!” he tells the story of the two delta operators who lost their lives saving a single helicopter pilot from being ripped apart by the howling ravening enemy mob in Mogadishu Somalia. To my memory that was the first time I ever heard soldiers performing a soldier’s mission held up as good examples by a general authority in my church. Thank you Elder Eyring. Someday I’d like to shake your hand for that.

    Don’t get me wrong, soldiers have been held up as good examples many times, but always for things other than being a soldier. It’s always been for resisting temptation or being brave in difficult cirumstances, and so on, nothing really specific to soldiering. Elder Eyring’s address changed all that for me.

    I got another blast of it last Sunday, October 31, 2010. President Uchtdorf gave a fireside specifically to members of the military and their spouses. I hope somebody recorded it because I’d like to hear and/or read it again. You might think that soldier specific teaching would be guaranteed at such a single purpose fireside. You’d be wrong though. President Uchtdord could easily, and profitably for us, given us an hour and a half of teaching starring soldiers but not specific to soldiers, like so many have before. He didn’t though. He went all out, designating the United States military, by name, as a force for good in the world. We were spiritually well fed, as soldiers, throughout.

    One thing in particular stood out for me though.

    It’s a small thing. Something I should have noticed before, but which I never put together and which he specifically emphasized. President Uchtdorf pointed out, with some satisfaction, that the individual chosen by God to stand atop our temples and announce the Savior when he returns is a soldier.


  • 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


  • Jump tomorrow

    And it’s on a brand new dropzone. The third in as many months.

    Ramp Jump. This guy's screwing up his exit.

    No one in our unit has ever jumped it. I sure hope I can figure out where we are before leading the way out of the plane.

    Edit: Well, we lived and it was one of the nicest jumps I’ve done.

    Soft opening. Sherpas or C-23s usually are since they’re so slow.

    Soft landing. Farmer’s field with dirt like talcum powder combined with very low winds.

    Pretty. The landscape in Western Eagle Mountain Valley actually looks more like the pic on the right than I expected. Put more mountains on the horizon and you’ve pretty much got it. Considering the pic on the right is actually over Germany that’s saying something.


  • The Holy Mill of Murder

    SpartansMankind as it is constituted, is a boil and a canker. Observe the specimens of any nation. Man is weak, greedy, craven, lustful, prey to every species of depravity and vice. He will lie, cheat, steal, murder, melt down the very statues of the gods and coin their gold as money for whores. This is man. This is his nature, as all the poets attest.
    “Fortunately God in his mercy, has provided a counterpoise to our species’ innate depravity. That gift…, is war.
    “War, not peace, produces virtue. War, not peace, purges vice. War, and preparation for war, call forth all that is noble and honorable in man. It unites him with his brothers and binds them in selfless love, eradicating in the crucible of necessity, all which is base and ignoble. There in the holy mill of murder, the meanest of men may seek and find that part of himself, concealed beneath the corrupt, which shines forth brilliant and virtuous, worthy of honor before the gods. Do not despise war, nor delude yourself that mercy and compassion are superior virtues, to manly valor.”

    Polynikes of Sparta – 480 B.C.

    I haven’t traced the origin of this quote. I attribute it as I have above because it matches what I’ve heard over the years. If the attribution is wrong please correct me. And no, I don’t think Steven Pressfield was the first to say this.