Military


Apparently our, ahem, Commander-In-Chief doesn’t take his responsibilities quite so seriously. Otherwise, why would he be pushing for such dramatic budget cuts and downsizing of forces in his plan to save money? Could it be that cutting the military is the political equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel? I mean, making hard decisions regarding cutting back social “benefits” and “entitlements” would only serve to inflame the passions, and not in a good way, of his core constituency — the layabouts and goody-grabbers. And in an election year, that’s like taking a big simultaneous gulp of NyQuil, Tylenol and Quaaludes. It just won’t end pretty.

So, our White House-bound Captain Courageous isn’t likely to suggest any cuts in social programs. None at all! It doesn’t fit with his “fundamental transformation” of America from a meritocracy to a cesspool of government-individual co-dependency, so why risk re-election chasing rainbows while all hopped up on phony virtue? But cutting the force size of the military and curtailing military spending — that’s a casual swipe at the ‘Easy Button’ of politics. But it seems that our misguided POTUS, and the Congress if it lets him do this, are shirking the only actual, authentic constitutional prerogatives that they have: The defense of our nation.

Now, Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States…,” and nothing more regarding his powers is mentioned. There is no ability to cut the size of the force, nor alter the budget of the armed services. Only the Congress may do these things. In fact the majority of the actual, authentic duties and powers of the Congress relate to the military. Article I, Section 8 details these powers: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States…To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water…To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years…To provide and maintain a Navy…To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces…To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions…To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress…To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.”

These very limited powers of the presidency and expansive powers of the Congress in regards to the military begs the question: Is Obama overstepping his constitutional authority when he ostensibly makes “cuts” to the military? We don’t need Supreme Court justices to come up with corrupt and contemptible “rulings” based on some specious and politically self-serving interpretation of the Constitution when we can trust our lying eyes having read the passages in question ourselves. We need our elected and appointed representatives to step up to the plate and act in strict accordance with the Constitution as well as in our very best interests.

I propose that gutting our military in favor of preserving the welfare state is not in our best interests. This action will serve to put us in double jeopardy: It will serve to bankrupt us in the long run by preserving programs and benefits that do not contribute to the financial viability of our nation and it causes us to be vulnerable and open to threats from foes worldwide. These two situation do not indicate to me that our president, Mr. Obama, takes his oath of office very seriously: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

If anyone can claim Obama’s faithful execution while holding a straight face, they are quite an actor or actress. I hope and pray that even the most ardent Obama supporters see this folly for what it is — the weakening of the United States and the commencement of our downward slide towards third-world mediocrity. My only hope is that we leave our children something that they can rescue and call a nation themselves, although each passing day I doubt this more and more.

God bless America. God bless our brave and courageous military. God help us all…

I was in Boston yesterday having lunch with my wife in the Seaport district and afterwards, as we frequently do, we went to the end of the commercial pier to watch the planes take off and land at Logan Airport located just across the narrow channel. On the way to the airport viewing location, we have to pass the Boston Ship Repair Depot on Drydock Avenue. In for (what appears to be) de-rusting and re-painting in the drydock was an enormous cargo ship named the USNS Watkins (T-AKR-315). As it turns out, the Watkins is a large, medium speed, roll-on, roll-off (RORO) prepositioning ship for the Military Sealift Command: It is an impressive vessel due to its sheer size.

Now, knowing from past experience that most of these ships are named after Congressional Medal of Honor (CMH) winners, I immediately wanted to do some research on the eponymous Watkins. It turns out that the “Watkins” on the ship was Master Sergeant Travis E. Watkins, and he was indeed a CMH winner from the Korean War. He was KIA near Yongsan, South Korea in 1950 at the age of 30.

Travis Watkins was born in Waldo, Arkansas, on September 5, 1920 and he was raised in Troup, east Texas, and enlisted in the Army in 1939. He served in the Pacific during World War II and earned a Bronze Star during the Guadalcanal Campaign.

Upon returning to the United States at the end of the war, Watkins married Madie Sue Barnett on April 15, 1948 and they had two daughters. He settled with his family in the east Texas town of Gladewater. [In an odd connection to Boston, in the 1930's, Gladewater was the home of the Gladewater Bears, a minor league team franchised to the Boston Red Sox.]

Sgt. Watkins remained in the Army during the peacetime between WWII and the Korean War, and in 1950 he was deployed to Korea as a Master Sergeant with Company H, Ninth Infantry Regiment, Second Infantry Division.

On August 31, 1950, Watkins and 30 men from his unit were separated from the American forces by an enemy advance, and they were subsequently surrounded near Yongsan, Korea. Watkins took command¬†and set up perimeter defenses to repel the frequent enemy onslaughts. He dodged heavy enemy fire to visit each foxhole and troop emplacement, giving instructions and encouragement to the soldiers. When the group’s ammunition ran low, Watkins shot two enemy soldiers outside the perimeter and went to retrieve their ammunition alone. Three other enemy soldiers attacked and wounded MSgt. Watkins once he had left the defensive perimeter. Watkins killed those three, recovered arms and ammunition from the five enemy soldiers, and returned to his command.

Eventually, Watkins’ position was attacked by six enemy soldiers with grenades. Watkins left the safety of his fox hole to engage the attackers with rifle fire and was shot, but he continued firing until the attackers were killed. Paralyzed from the waist down as a result of his wounds, he collapsed. He refused all food in order to provide more for his men. By September 3, Watkins the intensity of the enemy attacks convinced Watkins that waiting out the siege was hopeless. He then ordered the remaining men to escape to the safety of the American front line. He refused to be evacuated himself as he knew his condition would greatly slow the other troop’s treat. Watkins was cheerful and encouraging as he bid his men good luck in their escape. He died of his wounds shortly after they departed.

Watkins’ cool leadership and demonstrated valor throughout the ordeal helped to keep his men alive while roughly 500 enemy soldiers were killed. In January 9, 1951, MSgt. Travis E. Watkins was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor — presented to his wife by President Harry Truman in Washington D.C.

His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Master Sergeant Travis Earl Watkins (ASN: RA-6295287), United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company H, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2d Infantry Division, in action against enemy aggressor forces at Yongsan, Korea, from 31 August to 3 September 1950. When an overwhelming enemy force broke through and isolated 30 men of his unit, Master Sergeant Watkins took command, established a perimeter defense and directed action which repelled continuous, fanatical enemy assaults. With his group completely surrounded and cut off, he moved from foxhole to foxhole exposing himself to enemy fire, giving instructions and offering encouragement to his men. Later when the need for ammunition and grenades became critical he shot two enemy soldiers 50 yards outside the perimeter and went out alone for their ammunition and weapons. As he picked up their weapons he was attacked by three others and wounded. Returning their fire he killed all three and gathering up the weapons of the five enemy dead returned to his amazed comrades. During a later assault, six enemy soldiers gained a defiladed spot and began to throw grenades into the perimeter making it untenable. Realizing the desperate situation and disregarding his wound he rose from his foxhole to engage them with rifle fire. Although immediately hit by a burst from an enemy machine gun he continued to fire until he had killed the grenade throwers. With this threat eliminated he collapsed and despite being paralyzed from the waist down, encouraged his men to hold on. He refused all food, saving it for his comrades, and when it became apparent that help would not arrive in time to hold the position ordered his men to escape to friendly lines. Refusing evacuation as his hopeless condition would burden his comrades, he remained in his position and cheerfully wished them luck. Through his aggressive leadership and intrepid actions, this small force destroyed nearly 500 of the enemy before abandoning their position. Master Sergeant Watkins’ sustained personal bravery and noble self-sacrifice reflect the highest glory upon himself and is in keeping with the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army.

It is fitting indeed that I saw this ship this weekend. Life is funny in the things that it brings a person’s way. And the coincidence of seeing the very large ship, and fitting tribute to MSgt. Watkins, Watkins in that Boston drydock was a humbling experience for me after my research. Reading about MSgt. Watkins left me with the question: Where do we get men and women like this?

Learning about the valor, bravery and ultimate sacrifice of Travis Watkins personalized the concept of Memorial Day for me once again. We are a free country, with citizens able to speak and act as they please, because of the sacrifice of men and women like Travis E. Watkins. So tomorrow, on Memorial Day 2011, bow your head in reverence and respect for MSgt. Travis Watkins, and for all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and security of our nation.

God bless Travis Watkins. God bless America.

It’s official. Scott Brown has transformed from the darling of the few Republicans in Massachusetts to a full-fledged pink RINO. Now all we need is that “I didn’t leave the Republican party, the Republican party left me” Arlen Specter moment and his transformation will be complete. Sure, Brown promised to be an “independent thinker” during his campaign against “Marsha” Coakley, but who would have expected him to cede his thinking to the Democrat caucus in the Senate?

I supported Brown last year. In fact I made contributions to his campaign and held signs for hours in the freezing cold on voting day last January. At that time the future held so much promise, and it looked like ‘Brown 41′ could have made a great impact on the direction of the country, and have had a moderating influence on this congressional lame duck session. Well, experience has shown not so much. Now, our future, at least for Republicans in Massachusetts, looks like the legislative dealings of the RINO twins (Snowe and Collins) from Maine. So far, Brown has done nothing but capitulate on the important issues confronting the Senate, and he has helped to sabotage the unified front of opposition that was required to put a stop to the runaway lame duck session. The latest, and most unforgivable capitulation, is his support and vote for Obama’s START Treaty folly. Unfortunately, your actions of this week regarding the military have traded our strategic and nuclear weapons for a difficult-if-not-impossible social system to implement in the military with your support for the repeal of DADT.

Well Sen. Brown. I’m a supporter of you no more. There is nothing you can do in the future to redeem yourself in my eyes, short of announcing you will not run for re-election in 2012 (that is definitely something I CAN support you on.) Because in 2012 I will not be supporting YOU. If you do not have a credible Republican primary challenger, I will use my vote for a safe bet from my perspective: I’ll be selecting “None Of The Above.” I can’t vote for a Democrat…and I can’t vote for you. So I’ll choose the only viable option left to me when I exercise my right to vote.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal could have chosen a better way to voice his dissatisfaction with his commander-in-chief and his posse. The article in Rolling Stone was, as the president said, a tremendous lapse of judgment. As the point man appointed by Obama to lead our military effort in Afghanistan, he should have maintained a public fealty to his boss, President Obama, while he held his rank as general. The way the good general should have handled his dissatisfaction and disagreement with Obama, his administration and his policies was to tender his resignation. At this point, as a former warrior, he would be free to voice his opinions and to call out his former commander-in-chief.

But at some level I can understand what McChrystal did and why (I speculate) he did what he did. The general is the point man for a crazy policy with rules of engagement that put the lives of our troops in constant jeopardy. Insane rules like patrolling without rounds chambered in their rifles might make a true warrior like McChrystal a little crazy. Not insane crazy, but rather crazy with self doubt. How can the man charged with winning the Afghan war win it with unloaded guns…and avoidance of civilian collateral damage at all costs…and troops being picked off one-by-one with almost impossible to detect IEDs?

McChrystal (and his top aides) is (are) voicing his (their) dismay, contempt and anger towards the ridiculous and oppressive political rules that have been thrust upon him. He and his staff have been dealt, basically, a no-win situation by his civilian leaders. Making things worse is the fact that McCrystal and the military view these civilian “leaders” as inept and distrustful of the military. How can they possibly respect and professionally serve individuals who would dream up such inane rules of engagement.

If I were Obama, I would accept the reported resignation of General McChrystal. It would be for the simple reason that the general has lost credibility in the eyes of his boss. And he has proven himself “disloyal” to his commander.

However, I cannot hold this transgression against the General. He is and has been a soldier’s-soldier. The troops who report to him in his chain of command respect him and they are highly motivated to serve him. Although he could have channeled his criticisms of Obama in a more politically adept manner, he did what he did and now must accept the consequences like the man and warrior that he is.

In the final analysis, the result is a stain on the Obama administration for embracing policies and rules of engagement that would drive a good man like McChrystal to even contemplating what he did. If this situation involving the General were the only controversy encountered by the Obama administration, I might fall towards the side of Obama in this occurrence. But because Obama and his administration have shown a consistent and almost magnetic attraction for controversy (to the point of contrarianism), I have to side with the good General if and until other information comes to light.

Friends, we are witnessing an administration unraveling right before our eyes. Stanley McChrystal is a symptom of a larger sickness that pervades the Obama administration. We are now going to endure an executive branch that has gone from idolatry to unfavorability…and from passive dismissal of criticism to political desperation.

God help us all as we live through the consequences and repercussions…

With the ongoing Russian occupation of Georgia after Georgia’s ill-fated dealings with the breakaway republic of South Osseita, and the disgraceful handling of this situation by the west, including the USA, another geopolitical question begs to be asked. When will China invade and re-take Taiwan by force?

Given the impotent and moribund actions by the US and NATO regarding Russia’s actions, and the subsequent thumbing of their nose at the rest of the world with impunity by Russia, China must be taking copious notes and changing their plans regarding Taiwan. It appears that in order to eventually bring Taiwan back into the Chi-Com fold, they have taken a long view of the situation. This long view was necessitated by the apparent fact that there are strong US-Taiwan relations that exist (and existed), and that any hostilities directed towards Taiwan would prompt a strong diplomatic or even military response from the US.

But with the events that have unfolded in Georgia, and the failure of the until-then assumed American military power supremacy, the world has changed. Russia now occupies large swaths of Georgia and is taking its sweet time withdrawing its troops back to Russia according to the agreed upon time table. This foot-dragging isn’t an oversight…it is a lingering poke in the eye to the US and NATO. Russia feels newly-empowered to engage in diplomacy-by-force because of the ineffectual response by the rest of the world to its activities in Georgia. And you can bet your lucky stars that China is watching this situation with more than casual interest.

With their participation in the world economy, both Russia and China have experienced tremendous growth in government revenues — Russia from the export of its considerable oil reserves to Europe, and China from the dependence upon it by the West (in particular by the USA) for the low-cost goods it manufactures. These new-found revenues are finding their way to each nation’s military. Both Russia and China have been spending tremendous sums of money over the past 5-8 years to modernize and revitalize their armed forces. Russia now manufactures and exports world-class fighter jets and naval vessels, and China has been engaged in a virtual Asian-based Manhattan project to modernize their military. While the Chinese military still lags the capabilities of the US and of Russia, they are catching up quickly. Aiding their progress is a ubiquitous international military and industrial espionage campaign. If they can’t develop the technology natively, they will steal it! And further aiding their military capability is the strength of their numbers — their at-arms military population dwarfs any other country on Earth.

Given these factors, it won’t be long before China is emboldened enough to take the last step in the “reunification” of Taiwan with the government of the mainland. In what must be a delightful turn of events for China, the time scale for this absorption of Taiwan changes from decades to a closer time of their choosing.

And the USA and the west will be similarly impotent to do anything about this action.

Military Cemetery Normandy

On Memorial Day it is truly a time that we should pause in what we are doing, bow our heads in respect and remember those brave men and women who have sacrificed everything in order to make or keep us free.

To me, graveside markers and lofty monuments of their sacrifices simply aren’t enough of a tribute or remembrance. We need to keep their memories alive in our hearts and in our living history, lest we diminish or forget their contribution and sacrifice to us and our country.

Each soldier, sailor, Marine or airman earned this respect from us with their sacrifice, and we should be correspondingly mindful of the true gravity of the observance of Memorial Day. It is not merely a day of marching bands, speeches, parades, barbecues and a day for displaying the new American flag…although all these things are important for our observance of this day. It should never be forgotten that this is a day borne of blood, suffering, death and loss — loss both personal and national. It is a day that should draw out our humility and our reverence. It is a day that should demand that we remember who we memorialize.

We should all live our lives in a way that shows gratitude and remembrance for service and sacrifices of our military. And we must NEVER forget why.

God bless each fallen hero who made the ultimate sacrifice. God bless all those who served in conflict but were not called home. And God bless all our noble troops fighting today for our freedom and liberty.

There has been a story circulating on television and on the Internet regarding an Army sniper in Iraq who used a Koran for target practice. The story details the desecration of this book in great detail — in my opinion way too much detail for the “crime” that was committed.

It appears that this story is being told in such detail in order to prove some point. I think the point that is trying to be driven home is that the US military is bad. And that the mission in Iraq is bad…and doomed to failure. The “murder” of this Koran proves this point in spades, apparently.

But to me, the actions of a single US troop does not prove some point or make any particular statement. This desecration could have been done out of frustration (after all there is a one-sided policy of religious respect between Islam and other western religions), or as a joke. Or as an act of bravado. Or by a deranged individual. Or any combination of the previous.

But in the end, regardless of the religious and political indignation in the Muslim world, it was still just a book and minor news at best.

There is a vastly more important story occurring in Iraq that is getting little or no play in the mainstream media (MSM). That story describes the incredible turnaround in combating Al Qaeda and ethnic Iraqi insurgents on a daily basis. Attacks on US troops and Iraqi civilians have decreased by over 70% over the past six months since the troop surge has been in place. And more importantly, Iraqi military units have stepped up in defending their country. One of the more impressive actions by the Iraqi military has been the occupation and securing of the Sadr City section of Baghdad. This one action has been tantamount to pacification of one of the more troubling insurgent areas in all of Iraq.

These are impressive milestones. However, there hasn’t been commensurate coverage of these successes in the MSM. In fact, they seem to employ a “hold on and wait for bad news attitude.” If I had to guess, this strategy would be in play to bolster the anti-war political position of their darling and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate (and president, if they have anything to say about it!), Barak Obama. What else could explain this egregious dereliction of duty when it comes to reporting the news? Because good news and progress in Iraq IS news! It is big news. But is isn’t the foregone conclusion that the MSM and the other anti-Iraq war and anti-Bush left wingers want. So, it just won’t be reported…as though it never happened.

That is until the next Koran is found with bullet holes in it.

In one of the most contemptible acts of egotism and hubris, the smiling generals in Myanmar have ratcheted up their hypocrisy in regards to providing aid to the survivors of the aftermath of the devastating typhoon. We now have members of the junta, in full view of foreign media and television cameras, handing out foreign aid packages to hand-picked recipients in elaborate ceremonies. The kicker is that they are putting labels on the foreign aid packages that declare “Courtesy of General…”. They are trying to make political hay out of human tragedy and suffering! This action now defines a new low in despotic governance, and trust me there have been many historical low points in our world history.

And to add insult to injury, the aid is not reaching those areas most in need of assistance. This is so primarily because the ruling military junta is following through with historical political grudges and they are “featherbedding” in those areas that have shown support for their regime.

If you couple this contemptible behavior with the facts that the Myannmar military capability for responding to a crisis is antiquated and limited and that they are still reticent to accept foreign aid with any terms attached (like having foreign aid workers come to Myanmar to equitably distribute the aid), then you have a looming disaster of epic proportions that will surely be visited upon the hapless Burmese people.

People that were outraged by the US response to Hurricane Katrina should be similarly outraged and sickened by the needless loss of life caused by the intentionally feckless response by a totalitarian leaders. The Katrina response was caused by ineptitude at all levels of government in the US…but the post-typhoon crisis is caused by wanton and callous disregard for human life by the country’s leadership.

If the world allows this tragedy to unfold before its collective eyes without doing something to force these despots to help their countrymen, then we all share culpability in the ensuing suffering and deaths in Myanmar.

In a speech in North Carolina on the evening of the May 6th presidential primary, Sen. Obama let his real feelings slip about our country and our military. Here is the text of his comments:

“The man I met in Pennsylvania who lost his job but can’t even afford the gas to drive around and look for a new one. He can’t afford four more years of an energy policy written by the oil companies and for the oil companies; a policy that is not only keeping gas at record prices but funding both sides of the war on terror and destroying our planet… He needs us to take a permanent holiday from our addiction for oil by making automakers raise their fuel standards, corporations pay for their pollution and oil companies invest their record profits in a clean energy future. That’s the change we need.”

Sen. Barak Obama

Funding both sides on the war on terror? Suddenly the security interests of the USA puts us on “one side” of the war on terror? I though he was running for president on OUR side? That comment reeks of the feelings of a dispassionate internationalist commenting on our country and its interests. And since when are the oil companies are to blame for the war or terror? As I clearly recall, weren’t several groups of wild-eyed ideologues responsible. Didn’t THEY: wheel a truck full of high explosives into the parking garage in the World Trade Center; steer a Zodiac boat into the US Cole in Yemen; crash jetliners into the WTC and the Pentagon…among many other provocations and overt acts of war. Couple these things with the countless jihadists in Afghanistan who have started and continue the War on Terror, and I find no culpability in the petroleum industry.

But if he couldn’t blame “Big Oil”, then he wouldn’t be able to carve huge chunks of ultra liberal red meat for his supporters from the carcass of the much overworked and much despised (by Democrats anyway) Bush-Cheney-Big Oil trioka.

In Obama’s mind it’s all “Big Oil’s” fault…and our fault. Our military has been reduce to being a side in the War on Terror. They are not our husbands, wives, sons, daughters or loved ones. They are viewed antiseptically by Obama as combatants whose sacrifices may or may not be worthy of our support…and whose goals are less than honorable. As if the interests of the USA could be politicized in such a way for political gain. It is wrong and it is shameless.

Remember, these are his words. What nuanced positive interpretation of these comments could even his most rabid supporters attach to these words? This was not a gaffe. It was a slip of his deepest personally held feelings. Thinking and discerning folks should get a cold chill up their spine with their reading and re-reading of these comments. Not the “tingle” up the leg that the fawning Chris Matthews gets when he waxes on all things Obama.

And where was or is the MSM in the analysis and dissection of Obama’s comments?

Crickets please…

A cyclone may have done in less than a day of destruction what years of political opposition in Myanmar couldn’t do. That would be to expose the military government there to the full view and scrutiny of the world for its iron-fisted hold on the former Burma. There were several TV reports by the BBC and Reuters that showed high ranking military personnel magnanimously handing out relief supplies to their distressed countrymen. The fact that they were handing out relief supplies didn’t bother me — it was the fact that these events were obviously staged for the international media. Smiling generals passing out boxes of government rations to storm-dazed citizens may play well with the ruling junta, but it leaves me re-considering the political hypocrisy that is modern day Myanmar. And it makes me wonder why we’ve left this place in a virtual political vacuum for so long.

Just after the cyclone, the Myanmar government all but refused foreign aid until the true scope of the disaster became clear — perhaps as many as 30,000 people lost their lives in the past three days. Where the leaders were able to turn their backs on foreign assistance in the wake of 2004 tsunami, the sheer magnitude of the human loss and property destruction was overwhelming in its effects.

It seems the smiling despots just couldn’t account for enough relief for these suffering people.

I hope that this tragedy allows the rest of the world to get a close look into this closed society. Sunlight is the best disinfectant in the world, and the government needs close scrutiny under lots of direct sunlight. The Myanmarese people have suffered human rights and other privations at the hands of a few military strongmen for far, far too long. Hopefully those that perished in the cyclone didn’t so so in vain. Their deaths may help to provoke the world to become more involved with this country, and to eventually demand the human rights for the Myanmarese that every person deserves.

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