• A Soldier and His Dog Come Home for the Last Time

    February 2, 2016 // 8 Comments »

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    There are two ways to look at the video below, and they are both right. It shows the remains of a soldier and his K-9 coming home for the last time from Afghanistan. The circumstances of their deaths are unknown.



    One Way

    If you can get through the video with dry eyes, you may not be human, or may not at least deserve the title. Someone replaced your heart with dry meat. Despite the sappy music, the expression of utter emotion packed into a mundane activity — unloading “cargo” from an airplane — is raw and undeniable and good. Each set of remains is brought from overseas into Dover, Delaware, where the U.S. military operates its largest mortuary and receiving facility. Each container is flag-draped and accompanied by military members, so the soldier is never alone on the long trip off the battlefield.



    At Dover, s/he is cleaned up if possible for an open casket viewing by the family, and the body dressed in uniform with all decorations displayed. At that point, commercial air transport brings the deceased back to his or her home, in this case, Atlanta. Each serviceperson is escorted on the last flight by uniformed military personnel. The process is designed to show respect, and it does. It is only fitting and appropriate that it does so.

    Delta Airlines’ staff at Atlanta have taken things further, organizing their own an honor guard, to add that much more to a final step.



    Another Way

    No. no, the other way has nothing to do with not having this ceremony, or not honoring those who lost their lives.

    This “other way” of looking at all this is to stop turning healthy young men and women into “remains” for causes of unclear purposes. After coming into office promising to end America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as begun with the darkest of hearts by his predecessor George W. Bush, President Barack Obama will leave eight years later having accomplished neither task. After overseeing an “end” to what some now call Iraq War 2.0 in 2011, Obama reinserted American forces back into that country in 2014 for Iraq War 3.0. There is no end in sight.

    Now, in Afghanistan, conditions are such that top U.S. military commanders, who only a few months ago were planning to pull the last American troops out of Afghanistan by year’s end, are now discussing a commitment that could keep thousands of troops in the country for decades, an “enduring presence.”


    Bring them home, Mr. President. Alive.



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Military, Syria

    About That Delta Force Guy Killed in Iraq…

    October 27, 2015 // 23 Comments »

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    The United States does not formally acknowledge the existence of Delta Force, and rarely mentions the names of any of its members, even after they leave the service.

    Unlike the SEALs, who seem to be prolific writers, Delta operators keep to themselves. Most of the unit’s actions abroad are never mentioned publicly, and when an operator is killed in combat, often the death goes unmentioned in the press, or attributed sometime later to a training accident.

    So the very public attention given at the highest levels in Washington to the combat death of Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was more than a little significant.

    Wheeler was not only acknowledged as having fought with Delta, but his photo was widely published. That in itself is usually a no-no, for fear of linking him to others and outing active duty Delta. His place of death, on the ground, deep inside Iraq, on a strike mission, was explicit, with only a little b.s. thrown in about how Delta was present to provide security for the Kurdish raiding forces seeking to free some hostages. Well, well, nobody in their right mind believes America’s finest special forces are sent out to provide security for a bunch of gussied up militiamen.

    That all within the context that the president of the United States has made it explicit that his war against Islamic State would not involve any American “boots on the ground.” Well, Sergeant Wheeler most definitely was an example of boots on the ground. There were an awful lot of reasons to have said nothing about Wheeler, and instead much has been said.



    So why all the public attention to Wheeler’s death, and why now?

    One reason stands out: we, the public, are being readied for a larger U.S. combat role in Iraq and Syria, one big enough that it will be hard to keep hidden.

    The circumstances of Wheeler’s death are picture perfect for such a plan. He was a revered hero simply by the nature of the unit he served with. He was fighting with about the only competent and pro-American force left in the Middle East, the Kurds. He was fighting the most evil enemy of America (for now), Islamic State. He was on a successful rescue mission; hostages were freed, prisoners released, some IS bad guys dispatched. And the whole thing was conveniently videotaped — a videotaped special forces raid. How often do you see that? You don’t.


    The whole could not be more palatable to an American public perhaps just a little bit weary of war in the Middle East.

    Now hear this: in an “exclusive,” meaning the entire story was handed intact to a single reporter to jot down and print, The Hill reports “top leaders at the Pentagon are considering a range of options to bolster the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including embedding some U.S. troops with Iraqi forces… A second option sent to Pentagon leaders would embed U.S. forces with Iraqis closer to the battlefield, at the level of a brigade or a battalion. Some of the options sent to Pentagon leaders would entail high risk for U.S. troops in Iraq and require more personnel.”


    Timing? Couldn’t be better. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford (himself just back from Iraq) will discuss the options when they testify today, October 27, in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee. They will no doubt raise Wheeler’s name.

    I don’t like to traffic in conspiracy theories, but if you can put these pieces together in another way without having to use the word “coincidence” a couple of times, I’d be interesting in what you have to say. Otherwise, hang on, the United States is doubling down in the quagmire of Iraq. Again.




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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Military, Syria

    Back to the Heady Days of Autumn 2001

    May 6, 2011 // Comments Off on Back to the Heady Days of Autumn 2001

    homer screams The WaPo reports on the latest episode of cheese-on-the-brain antics by some idiot American Dad. Ah yes, just like in those great days in Autumn 2001 when every paranoia was catered to.

    Two Muslim religious leaders say they were removed from a commercial airliner in Memphis on Friday and were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard. The aircraft pulled away from the gate, but the pilot then announced the plane must return. When it did, the imams were asked to go back to the boarding gate where they were told the pilot was refusing to accept them because some other passengers could be uncomfortable. Delta officials talked with the pilot for more than a half-hour, but he still refused.

    Meanwhile, bin Laden still dead. Keep fear alive!



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Military, Syria