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Military Affairs

Ft. Hood, Hasan And Some On The Left’s Tone Deafness

You can’t beat the left for not getting the message or understanding the problem, can you:

[Montel Williams, on his Air America program] suggested on Monday that the Fort Hood backlash against Muslims could be so great we would put Muslims in internment camps like the Japanese under Franklin Roosevelt:

WILLIAMS: We pulled something like this back in World War II when we decided to round up all Japanese Americans and put them in internment camps. This is something that I think before we can blink, the [anti-Muslim] rhetoric, Doc, could get out of hand. What do you think?

FRANK FARLEY, psychologist, Temple University: I agree totally. I mean, the possibilities of prejudice and racism and so on are incredible here. You know, we should be treating this as a unique incident and look at the factors involved in this very unique and specific incident, and not overgeneralize. Unfortunately, we tend to overgeneralize all the time. The idea that all Muslims are the same is ridiculous….

Everybody’s got their own personal qualities and individual differences and let’s just treat this as a very specific incident and try to figure out why this particular person did this particular thing.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. No matter what it comes out to, at the end of the day, even if it comes out in the last five months and all his anxiety around his impending deployment, he decided his frame of reference was his religion and that was what was giving him, you know, the power within himself to make his stand, that doesn’t mean that the religion is to blame.

FARLEY: Absolutely, it’s his interpretation of everything, and his interpretation [of Islam] may vary dramatically from his fellow Muslims.

Wow. As much as I cautioned people to give the facts a chance to come out before coming to conclusions about Hasan, this is just an example of some incredible denial going on here. We now have facts – lots of facts – and informed conclusions can be drawn.

And let’s deal with the internment camp nonsense. That happened because a liberal Democratic president signed an Executive Order (Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942) which enabled US citizens of a particular national background to be interned (a total violation of their civil rights). Is he really suggesting that because we have a liberal Democrat president again in the White House that history may repeat itself. Or is he as ignorant of history as most and assuming it was done by mean, nasty right-wing types?

Something else that sort of hits me here – if there was no “backlash” against muslims after 9/11, why do these yahoos think there will be one now? Who is it who will be involved in this backlash and why is this incident so different from 9/11 that it will spark the backlash 9/11 didn’t?  I don’t know.  But I would think that the American people, who sorted that out the last time, will sort it out this time as well.

Are there prudent steps to be taken in light of what has happened at Ft. Hood as concerns muslim soldiers? Yes. Given Ft. Hood, the Little Rock incident and the fragging incident in Iraq, all involving muslim soldiers or muslims attacking soldiers, I’d say that it would be prudent to screen the reported 3,500 muslim military members (discretely and unobtrusively as possible) given the deadly action of two (as I recall, the left was all for a purge of the military to look for neo-nazis and white supremacists) . And yes that means, given the unique situation our military is in (fighting in two muslim countries) and the possible conflict that may bring to the minds of some who are of the dominant religion of those two countries – that we’re “profiling”. But then, while it is the antithesis of political correctness, it is the smart thing to do.  Show me a compelling reason to screen the rest of the military for those who might be in a similar situation and I’d be for that as well.

Should there be procedures put in place that would encourage the reporting of language or actions that appear to support a radicalized person – be it through religion or ideology? Yes, there should. And the chain of command must be made to take such reports seriously, investigate them thoroughly and act if necessary. Or said another way, political correctness and the fear of being censured if you do report such utterances or actions, must be banned from the military.

Finally, people like Williams and Farley must be pointed out and ridiculed because it is their sort of denial which leads to incidents like Ft. Hood. We all need to grow up a bit, quit taking everything as an insult and understand that your feelings don’t take precedence over someone else’s life. Yes, we’re diverse. Yes, we’re an amalgamation of peoples.

However, if you are consistently being bitten on the leg by dogs, you don’t go looking for cats or chickens. We have to learn to honestly and forthrightly address the threat.  Radical Islam has been attacking us since the embassy takeover in Iran 30 years ago.  They are the ones we should be looking for right now – and you’re not going to find them among Christian, atheist or Jewish military personnel.

The threat appears to be a segment of Islam that becomes violently radicalized and strikes out at those it considers “infidels”. In the case of Hasan that was obviously anyone within reach.  And, as experts say, self-generated jihadis are not unusual and are, as we’ve found out, more dangerous than those with organized connections (those with organized connections are easier to find and track). Given all I’ve read about Hasan – and it has been a lot – that’s what I believe he is. A self-generated jihadi who became increasingly radicalized over the years to the point that he finally decided he must act.

I understand and appreciate the attempts to warn us off of using too broad a brush.  That was one of the points of my previous post that generated so much discussion. But it is no longer a secret that there are radicals among the religion of Islam who find it to be their duty to do similar acts to those of Hasan. Pretending Hasan wasn’t one of those stretches credulity to the max. The first day of the shootings – yes, a perfectly acceptable argument. We had few facts and much of what was reported we subsequently found out was wrong.  However now, given the veritable avalanche of information which has been provided about this man and verified, it is more than a little lame to pretend he might have been something our experience and the facts tell us he’s not.

Willams and Farley do a disservice to us all by claiming those who have concluded his religion radicalized him and was the reason he did what he did are “overgeneralizing”. Not anymore. Sure it was a “specific incident” as Farley claims, but so was 9/11. And after we learned about each of the radicals who committed that atrocity we found men not unlike Nadal Malik Hasan, didn’t we?

~McQ

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Ft. Hood – Intel Failure A Contributor?

One of the jobs of intelligence services is to “connect the dots” and paint a picture with them of looming threats.

Does anyone remember what one of the supposed lessons of 9/11 was?  That intelligence agencies, law enforcement and the services all need to talk and share what they know.  It was the compartmentalization of intelligence which some blame the tragedy of 9/11 on.  The dots were there, but each agency and service was holding them close to their chest and not sharing.  As it turned out, what each had wasn’t enough for that agency or service to positively identify the threat, but when put together, after the fact, painted a pretty clear picture that they should have seen.

Almost 9 years later, if what we’re hearing about Ft. Hood is true, the same problem, at least to some degree, still exists:

Pentagon officials said Tuesday that no one in the U.S. intelligence or law-enforcement community, despite all the new ways information is shared, warned them that accused shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had been in contact with a radical Islamic cleric living in Yemen who had known three of the 9/11 hijackers. The officials said that information was provided to them only after Thursday’s shooting spree.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was tipped about Maj. Hasan based on his communications with the cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, was probably in the best position to flag officials at the Army or the Pentagon. But the FBI says communications between the men were innocuous and didn’t warrant more than the basic assessment it performed. Without directly pointing any fingers, the bureau also says members of the military served on two separate FBI-led counterterrorism task forces that reviewed the contacts between Mr. Awlaki and Maj. Hasan.

The content of the pair’s communications didn’t raise red flags because terrorism task-force members checked with the military and found that Maj. Hasan was an Army psychiatrist who conducted research and was working on a master’s degree, FBI officials said.

So assumptions were made by the FBI that apparently made them decide this wasn’t information which needed to be shared with the organization with whom Hasan worked. However, had that information been added to the already growing information the Army was acquiring about Hasan internally, would it have made a difference?

I, nor anyone else, can answer that question. However, the fact remains, given the existence of this information, that the Army’s information about Hasan was incomplete. And, it can be suggested, had it been provided, the Army may have taken a much more critical look at Hasan than it apparently did.

That’s not to say Hasan would have been removed, forced out of the Army or anything else by the disclosure of this information. He may have been. But it does give you an idea of what an intelligence failure – in this case the failure to share information that we now know may have connected the dots the Army already had, or prompted them into a more thorough investigation – can cost lives.

There are many, many more things to discuss about this massacre, but that’s one that shouldn’t be among them. This was supposedly solved by all those commissions and a intelligence czar and regulations and laws which required everyone share intel. Now we have a prima facia case where we find out that isn’t the case. And the results were deadly.

This also points to what may be a wider problem and one that could be – again – just as deadly, if not more so, in the future. This needs to be fixed once and for all, and if heads need to figuratively roll to reinforce the point and make it happen, then get to choppin’.

~McQ

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Happy Veteran’s Day

I wrote this in 2006, and it is as true today as then. Our combat troops are the best the world has ever seen – but without those who support them so well they wouldn’t be anywhere near as effective as they are.

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Anyone who doubts all veteran’s are heroes need read no further. But for the vast majority of you who do, I’d like to take a little different slant in my tribute than you might read elsewhere. Most of the time when you read tributes to vets, they’re filled with the stories of those who’ve suffered in combat and we see pictures showing the battle-weary combat vets which pointedly make the argument about the sacrifices our veterans have made and continue to make.

But not all sacrifices are made on the field of battle. While infantry, armor and artillery are the combat arms – the tip of the spear – they, better than anyone, know how important the team that makes up the rest of the spear are to their success on the battlefield.

Those F-16s don’t show up on target at the right time unless that kid flying the boom of a KC10 tanker at 30,000 feet at 2am doesn’t do his job. That sabot round from an M1A1 fired at a threatening T72 isn’t there unless the truck driver hauling ammo day in and day out gets that ammo where it needs to be when it needs to be there.

Veterans are the guys like the cook who gets up every morning at 3:30 am and begins to prepare breakfast for his guys and gals. The kid below deck on an aircraft carrier who makes sure the F/A 18 he’s responsible for maintaining is in perfect shape and ready to fly. The nurse who holds a dying soldier’s hand as he takes his last breath, wipes away the tears, straightens her uniform and heads out to do it again.

He’s the kid in the fuel soaked coveralls who hasn’t slept in 2 days gassing up another Bradley from his fuel tanker. The company clerk who makes sure all of the promotion orders are correct and in on time, or the instructor in basic training who ensures those he trains get his full attention and who puts his all into helping them learn important lessons that will save their lives. He’s the recruiter who’d rather be where the action is, but does what is necessary to make sure he gets the best and brightest available for his branch of service. Or the MP at the gate who shows up every day, does her job to the very best of her ability and never complains.

Most vets have never seen combat in the sense we think of it. But every single solitary one of them has contributed in vital ways to the success of our combat efforts. Without those who support the combat troops, success would impossible. Without the wrench turners, truck drivers, fuel handlers, cooks, clerks and all those like them, the greatest military the world has ever seen is an “also ran.”

It doesn’t matter what a vet did during his or her service, it matters that he or she chose to serve and do whatever vital job they were assigned to the best of their ability. It isn’t about medals, it isn’t about glory, it isn’t about what job they did. It is about the fact that when their country called, they stood up and answered. They are all, every one of them, heroes.

To all the vets out there – Happy Veteran’s Day.

And thank you for your service.

Serving

As Uncle J at Blackfive says, this is  “the most realistic depiction of life during wartime you may ever see short of enlisting yourself.”

Gotta agree with him about that:

Best description I’ve ever heard?

98% pure boredom punctuated by 2% stark terror.  This covers 98% of the experience.

~McQ

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Help Valor IT Reach It’s Goal

Folks I normally don’t ask for donations or money.  But I’m making an exception today for one of the best organizations I know and for one of the best causes I know.  The organization is Soldier’s Angels.   The cause is their “Valor IT” fund raiser – now heading into its final weekend.

Soldier’s Angels is an organization of volunteers which adopts individual soldiers and keeps them in the things they need during their deployments. They also work extensively with the wounded and the families of the wounded. They have representatives in Germany who care for our wounded when they arrive from the theaters of war. They fly families there to be with their loved ones. They are, in short, one of the most magnificent volunteer organizations going.

Valor IT is their brain child. Back a few years ago, they hooked one of our wounded who was not doing as well as everyone hoped with a lap top and software that could translate his spoken word. As he later said, it made him feel whole again and reconnected him to the world and his loved ones. More importantly, it made all the difference in the world to his recovery.

So now SA has a drive every year to buy and give laptops with that voice capability (if necessary) to our wounded warriors. And the difference it makes is, as with the first one, unbelievable.

With today being the birthday of the United States Marines (Semper Fi Marines) and with Veteran’s day on tomorrow, I ask you to consider a small donation to the cause. You can go to Soldier’s Angels here.  Just click on the laptop icon and you’re on your way to helping to change the life of one of our badly wounded warriors.

If you’ve already given thank you for doing so. If you haven’t, please consider doing so – you don’t know how much good it will do and how very much it will be appreciated.  And, as mentioned, it is the perfect way to say “thank you” for Veteran’s day.

~McQ

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When, If Ever, Will Obama Begin Acting Like The Commander In Chief?

I am not impressed. You may say I was set up not to be impressed simply because of my ideological preferences and the fact that Barack Obama is the antithesis of those preferences. But this has nothing to do with politics. No I don’t agree with most of what he stands for on the political scene, but that really has nothing to do with him acting like the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. And a photo op at Dover doesn’t fulfill the role. Nor does a substitute visit to Walter Reed when soldiers are hurting at Ft. Hood and 13 are dead.

Nor does an insensitive and tone deaf “shout out” prior to finally getting to the horrific news of Ft. Hood cut it either. The tragedy at Ft. Hood was a moment and a chance for a president, about whom the armed forces aren’t yet sure, to step up and assume one of the most important roles he has – that of commander in chief. And, frankly, he blew it. Even the liberal Boston Globe understood he’d blown it:

“It takes more than scripted eloquence for Presidents to connect with fellow Americans. It requires a visceral ability to grasp the scope of tragedy, calculate its impact on the national psyche, and react swiftly. Obama missed the first moment to show he understood how much it hurt.”

Even with that, he had a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the military. There were a lot of hurting people at Ft. Hood who would have appreciated a visit from their CiC. Instead he left it to a former Commander in Chief to fulfill the role while he took “R&R” at Camp David for the weekend.  As the Globe puts it, he seems to have completely missed the “scope of the tragedy” and its impact. More importantly he seems indifferent to his duties as CiC.

One of the best bloggers on the net when it comes to this sort of a subject is my friend Cassandra at Villainous Company. She has a must read essay in which she eloquently points out why Obama simply doesn’t “get” the military, and most likely never will. In my opinion, given what I’ve seen thus far, he appears to be totally unsuited to be the Commander in Chief.

Eloquence or style are no substitutes for leadership. An effective Commander in Chief leads. He doesn’t vote “present”. He doesn’t outsource his job. He doesn’t give it lip service. When those he’s leading are hurting, he’s there immediately. He acts like a leader, he empathizes like a leader and he makes decisions like a leader. And what he gains is one of the hardest things in the world to earn and keep – respect.

At the moment I have absolutely no respect for the Commander in Chief of this nation. And I suspect that feeling is shared by a very good portion of our military and military families. My title is a rhetorcial question.  Unfortunately, given his performance so far, I’m pretty sure I know the answer.

~McQ

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Open Thread – Ft. Hood Tragedy (updated)

It is way to early to come to any conclusions about what happened today at Ft. Hood.  What we do know is that 12 are dead – the shooter (MAJ Malik Nidal Hasan – a psychiatrist with the military there), a civilian policeman and 10 soldiers.  31 were wounded. Hasan was a convert to Islam and worked for 6 years at Walter Reed Hospital.  It is reported that he received a bad Officer Efficiency Report and was transferred to Ft. Hood.  Colleagues say he was a “loner” and against our presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  He apparently was against being deployed but was scheduled to deploy at the end of the year.  He was engaged with the chain of command trying to get the deployment canceled. He used two non-military handguns (9 mm) during his shooting spree.

There are reports of two other suspects in custody but what if any role they had is not known.  At this point, they are being said to be held for questioning. (update: AP reports both have now been released, confirmed by Rep. John Carter who represents the district in which Ft. Hood lays.  Rumor has it they had tired to stop the shootings.)

UPDATE: Shooter’s cousin says he has always been a muslim, not a convert. Claims Hasan underwent extreme harassment and wanted to get out of the military. His worst nightmare was being deployed. Says family is in total shock. Thinks impending deployment is what triggered this.

UPDATE II: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson says he was shooting people he knew.

UPDATE III: Rep. John Carter says Ft. Hood authorities have taken a 3rd person into custody.  He also claims reports of automatic weapons fire at the scene of the shootings.

UPDATE IV: A bit of a shocker – Per Commanding General of Ft. Hood, shooter is alive and in custody.

More updates as they become available.

~McQ

War Crimes?

Here’s an interesting twist:

A U.N. human rights investigator warned the United States Tuesday that its use of unmanned warplanes to carry out targeted executions may violate international law.

Philip Alston said that unless the Obama administration explains the legal basis for targeting particular individuals and the measures it is taking to comply with international humanitarian law which prohibits arbitrary executions, “it will increasingly be perceived as carrying out indiscriminate killings in violation of international law.”

Alston, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s investigator on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, raised the issue of U.S. Predator drones in a report to the General Assembly’s human rights committee and at a news conference afterwards, saying he has become increasingly concerned at the dramatic increase in their use, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan, since June.

June. So the Obama administration has one of its favorite excuses – blame Bush – preempted.

And the administration’s response?

He said the U.S. response — that the Geneva-based council and the General Assembly have no role in relation to killings during an armed conflict — “is simply untenable.”

“That would remove the great majority of issues that come before these bodies right now,” Alston said. “The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions are not, in fact, being carried out through the use of these weapons.”

You can’t help but appreciate the irony. They can, as would have the previous administration, stick with their claim that the UN’s Human Rights council has absolutely no jurisdiction or say in the issue (something I happen to agree with) and risk being branded “war criminals”, or they can capitulate to the “legal” argument and submit justification for using these weapons in combat against terrorists (thereby giving said council legitimacy and a say in how the weapons can and can’t be used).

Apparently the UN Human Rights council has yet to issue the same sort of warning to the Taliban who, when blowing up buildings in Pakistan and Afghanistan are, in fact committing “arbitrary executions” and “extrajudicial executions” with the use of their bombs.

But then, other than arbitrary in their application of anything (especially if it is a blow to the US) what would you expect from the UN?

~McQ

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Senators Divert Funds For Military Training, Ammunition and Fuel To Pet Projects (Earmarks)

They’re shameless when it comes to building personal monuments to themselves or to boosting their re-election chances – they’ll even take funds designated for a military fighting two wars to do it:

Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill: $25 million for a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat.

Senator Tom Coburn expresses my sentiment in a much more moderated tone than I’m feeling right now:

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, called the transfer of funds from Pentagon operations and maintenance “a disgrace.”

“The Senate is putting favorable headlines back home above our men and women fighting on the front lines,” he said in a statement.

Come on Senator – there’s an election approaching. Diverting money from training, fuel, maintenance and ammunition accounts to help their chances to retain power is much more important that the lives of our troops in combat.

Honoring a dead Kennedy certainly takes priority over teaching some young warrior how to avoid being killed in combat. Another museum in a key state is much more important than ensuring soldiers are able to maintain the equipment necessary to their survival. And, of course, they don’t need that much ammo – do they?

I’ll stop here, but my disgust for the political pigs engaged in this sort of looting knows no depth or bounds. They’d steal the coins off a dead man’s eyes if they thought it would help them politically.  And that disgust extends to those who do the same thing without endangering our troops. It is just a matter of degree, not kind.

~McQ

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AfPak: Indecision May Negate Possible Strategic Success

Pakistan’s army is on the march against both the Taliban and al Qaeda in South Warziristan where there is a large concentration of both:

The Pakistani army pushed farther into a mountainous Taliban and al-Qaeda haven Sunday, as civilians continued to flow out of an area that has become a full-fledged battleground.

On the second day of a ground offensive in the restive border region of South Waziristan, the military said at least 60 militants and five soldiers had been killed. The Pakistani Taliban, which the government says has plotted a cascade of recent attacks on security forces from its base in the area, told the Associated Press that its fighters had inflicted “heavy casualties” against the army.

The fight in South Waziristan is a key test for Pakistan’s military, which is tasked with shattering a rising Islamist insurgency that has killed nearly 200 people in bombings and gunfights in the past two weeks. American officials, who have urged Pakistan to get tougher on militants operating on its soil, say the region is also a hub for militants who plan attacks on U.S.-led forces across the border in Afghanistan.

According to reports we’ve been asking for and encouraging the Pakistanis to take exactly this sort of action since the Obama administration has been in office.

Question: How long do you suppose the Pakistanis will commit to such operations and continue to push back against the Taliban and al Qaeda if we continue to dither about our commitment? Here we have a desired result in action.  You’d think that would be extremely useful against the very target candidate Obama said we’d taken our eye off of with Iraq – namely Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Are we conducting  a complimentary and supporting NATO operation right now?  And if not, why not?

I’ll tell you why – the administration is instead worried about the results of a run-off election in Afghanistan and can’t manage to separate that from the supposed strategic goal that candidate Obama laid out as our purpose for being Afghanistan in the first place.

All things being equal, it would be wonderful to have a popularly elected government free of corruption and connected across the country with provincial and local governments. But what has that to do with that primary goal of defeating (i.e. eliminating) al Qaeda and those who support it who are now located between Kabul and Islamabad? Eliminate the threat, go home, and let the Afghan’s sort out who they want in charge and what sort of government they’d prefer.

In the meantime, we’re undermanned to do what we claim, or at least claimed, was our goal – kill al Qaeda and its supporters. We’ve finally seen Pakistan get off its collective posterior and do what we’ve been asking them to do for years and we’re unprepared to support the operation even though we’ve had 10 months in which to make a decision (IOW, why aren’ t we engaged in an operation that supports theirs?).

If Pakistan’s losses mount while we (and NATO) sit on our rear ends, how long do you imagine Pakistan will commit to proactive and costly offensive combat?

~McQ

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