Posts Tagged ‘Veterans’

Veterans March on DC – Palin, Cruz, Lee Run Interference

Monday, October 14th, 2013

In Washington DC on Sunday, an unknown number of veterans(we’ll never get an honest estimate out of DC officials) together with Governor Sarah Palin, Senators Ted Cruz(R-TX) and Mike Lee(R-UT) gathered to visit the World War II memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and later, the vets marched to the White House and the Capitol, depositing and discarding a pile of “Barry-cades” at the White House.  According to a report on Shark-tank.net, Palin and her contingent were greeted by riot police who were there to attempt to shut down the event.  Gov. Palin reportedly thanked the officers for their service before joining in the barricade removal and continuation of the event.  Senators Cruz and Lee joined her in making remarks to open the event. Here’s video posted on youtube:

A clip repeating a small segment of Sarah Palin’s remarks with Senator Cruz’s remarks:

A clip of Greta Van Susternen talking with Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee at the event:

Not surprisingly, this group of leaders show up for the important things.  Other so-called leaders were nowhere to be seen.  Certainly, President Obama wasn’t around, and Marine 1 was seen leaving the White House during the extended event that included veterans carrying and depositing sections of “Barry-cades” at the White House, notably, one double-amputee on a Segway who loaded a section of the barricade and carted it with him.

These are the men and women our President and Harry Reid choose to dismiss.  These are the people who are “radicals,” “extremists,” and “zealots” in the estimation of the Washington DC elitists.  The simple truth is that men and women who have given their service honorably and often at great(or ultimate) personal cost to this country should never be barricaded from memorials.  Never in any previous shutdown have these memorials been barricaded, and the truth is that it costs more money to barricade them than to have left them open.  This spectacle was brought to you by none other than Barack Obama, along with his cronies and henchmen, all attempting to bring unnecessary pain to the American people.

Naturally, it wasn’t over there.  Vets carried barricade section up to the White House, and riot police soon filled the area, along with mounted police.  There were alleged to have been a few minor scuffles, with protesters chanting everything from “Obama must go” to “Shame on you.” Here’s a video clip:

As police v. protester “clashes” go, this one was pretty mild, thankfully, and you could hear in this and similar video clips the veterans urging one another to remain “cool” and to otherwise prevent the situation from getting out of hand.  These are America’s vets, mobilized, honorable, and patriotic.  Meanwhile, the DC elite bring out the riot police to try to close down an event that should never have been necessary but for the President’s insistence on closing down memorials that have never been closed before.

I would like to thank all my honorable brothers and sisters, young and old, who showed up for this event.  I also think we owe significant thanks to Governor Palin, along with Senators Cruz and Lee, for running interference and making it more difficult for the riot police to attempt to sweep this up and bury it.  The media did its level best to either ignore or mock the event.  The truth is that American veterans and patriots rallied on Sunday in defense of our liberties and against a tyrant, and whether the mainstream media covered it or not, you should know of their efforts. This must be the beginning of taking our country back.

 

Veterans Administration Proposes to Strip Veterans of Gun Rights

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Helping Veterans?

It was inevitable.  When I posted my concerns about how the government could use claims by veterans of PTSD and other combat-related issues, I have long suspected the Obama administration would act to curtail the Second Amendment rights of veterans on the basis of such claims.  A story being reported by Jim Hoft via the Gateway Pundit reveals that the VA is already mailing out letters that are threatening some veterans with precisely that sanction.  The story originates with Red Flag, in a post written by constitutional attorney Michael Connelly.  At present, this seems to be aimed at people who the VA considers incompetent to handle their own affairs, because they’ve asked for help with their benefits.  While I’d like to know more about the specifics of these classifications, and how that determination has been made, let it suffice for the moment to consider that the Veterans Administration’s policy in this matter is an extension of an overall move by the Obama administration to strip veterans of the right to keep and bear arms.

I have warned veterans in previous posts about how they would be targeted, and it has been suspected by wary veterans for some time that the VA first approved claims for PTSD as the future means by which to strip rights from veterans, but few took notice. We already know that the Department of Homeland Security headed by Janet Napolitano considers veterans a threat, and viewed through the lens of leftist revolutionaries, it’s perfectly understandable.  Veterans are a generally patriotic group who had sworn an oath to the US Constitution, so that their loyalties ought generally to be in favor of our republican form of government.  They will be viewed necessarily as potential counter-revolutionaries if the left succeeds in pushing their “fundamental transformation” to its completion.  Skilled in arms, and generally understanding at least rudimentary guerrilla tactics, US Military veterans comprise a significant potential danger to leftist designs.

In 2010, the Veterans Administration began approving claims for PTSD more easily than in previous years.  This was not accidental.  By making claims of PTSD easier, the VA created a new open door for borderline claims that enable more veterans to find an easier path to compensation.  That is the enticement, and it worked because more veterans than ever have used the new rules to file such claims and derive compensation.  The problem is that the PTSD classification carries with it the immediate potential of such judgments as are being made about veterans’ basic competence.  On that basis, to consider a veteran incompetent to handle his or her own affairs, and thus strip them of the right to keep and bear arms is but a short step.  As previously stated on this site, I would never discourage any veteran from seeking help actually needed, but I would caution all those who would consider making a claim for PTSD to think long and hard about what they may be giving up.

Consider the ease with which the VA will make this argument: Persons suffering with PTSD can be volatile and sometimes unstable or violent.  Sometimes, they are suicidal.  In any of these cases, one would not ordinarily entertain the notion of permitting such persons to own firearms, irrespective of their service records.  Making the leap to declaring these persons “incompetent” on the basis of their inability to pursue the VA processes (to the extent they ask for help) is an easy method by which to get veterans classified in this way.  A determination of incompetence is the death knell of one’s Second Amendment rights.  Veterans pursuing claims of PTSD (or anything else) with the VA should think long and hard about the consequences because while we certainly do not want veterans to go without the assistance they need, it would be awful to awake and find that the VA is painting with an overly broad brush and subjecting most veterans to this kind of classification.

Consider the cases involving veterans with the PTSD classification who have committed acts of violence even after returning to civilian life.  How difficult will it be to sell to the public that their veterans are dangerous time-bombs waiting to explode?  Nobody in the Obama administration will think even twice about characterizing veterans in this way, which is why Napolitano did not issue an apology for classifying veterans as potential terrorists until after extended heavy criticism.  Finding a way to control veterans’ right to keep and bear arms has long been an object of the radical left.  As evidenced by the sort of letters now being received by numerous veterans, calling into question their competence to lead their own lives, including their right to possess firearms, it must be understood that the left wants to disarm as many veterans as possible.

More, initially, they will use test cases to see how far they can press the matter, and I expect that the first round of recipients of such letters represent the testing of this procedure.  They will begin with veterans who have more obvious cases and who may be incompetent in some respect, with a few more questionable cases thrown in to test the limits.  They will make the initial cases based on the public danger aspects, and once they succeed in making the procedure appear perfectly rational and sensible, they will begin processing wider and wider groups of veterans in the same manner.  The first run through this procedure will be mostly actual cases of concern, because the early object of this will be to legitimize and normalize the process.  Once it has become perfectly normal to strip a handful of veterans with real problems of their rights, the process will be widened to include more and more veterans, until a soldier who once stubbed his toe on a parade field will be subject to this classification.

To my brothers and sisters who have served, I urge caution.  To those currently serving, I want you to beware of what seem to be easier paths to compensation.  If you need help, get it.  If you can live without it, avoid it. Know that contrary to what you have been told, the Veterans Administration is not necessarily your friend.  As an arm of government, the administration of which is now dominated by leftists, the VA is an adjunct of their policy preferences, and those preferences include particularly the disarming of America, especially its veterans.  There is no organization on Earth better positioned to accomplish that goal with less muss and fuss than the VA, and as is evidenced by the case brought before us by Jim Hoft and Michael Connelly, they intend to use it to maximum effect.

Service in the Military is about…Service

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Good of the Service?

One of the most frustrating things revealed about American culture these days could be seen in the wake of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s move to include women in front-line combat.  Media outlets immediately sought out comments particularly from women, and particularly from veterans and current service members. The responses portrayed were almost uniformly positive, but most of the responses I saw or heard in media were entirely vapid.  In local media, one younger man was asked his opinion, and his response was approximately that it’s “a good thing that women will be treated equally.”  Two things about this exercise are particular despicable to me, and I don’t know which is worse:  The degree to which the media helps drive public opinion, or the simple fact that public opinion is so easily driven. To me, it’s obvious that far too many of our citizens no longer think before speaking, because that sort of assessment misses the entire point of military service, and the purpose of the military altogether.  Simply put, service in the military isn’t at all about you.

To those who may be somewhat confused, let me preface the discussion with a few simple facts.  The purpose of the military is to be the war-fighting appendage of the nation, and its role ought to be nothing more or less than to obtain victory in the missions into which the chain-of-command thrusts the services, with the goal of victory at minimal cost.  Victory first, cost minimization second.  Everything else the military does is pointless if it doesn’t accomplish these things, in this order.  We could have a much larger military spending our entire GDP in support of it, but that would defeat the purpose of defending the country, since nobody would have the funds for any other purpose.  Let us admit then that we wish to spend roughly that which it takes in blood and treasure, but no more, in defending the country and carrying out the war-fighting missions of our nation.

Naturally, a military unable to defend the country, or to obtain victory, is pointless in most respects.  If the military force we fund is unable to protect the nation, one must ask: Why fund it at all?  Do we like parades so well that we will support them with hundreds of billions of dollars, in perpetuity, with no hope that the force we’ve built can defend the nation and win its wars?  This would be preposterous, both from an economic and a moral standpoint.  Let us then admit that the first mission of the military, and the most critical end for which it is formed is to fight our battles, win our wars, and to do so while spending as little in blood and treasure as we’re reasonably able.

Having said this, let us examine the notions advanced by the vast bulk of those approving publicly the notion of women in combat as a matter of fairness and equality to women.  Let it be noted at the outset that the purpose of the military is not fairness, and not some contrived notion of radical egalitarianism, but the defense of the nation, and any policy imposed on the force must meet the singular test posed by the premise that the purpose of the military is to win our wars, and to defend our country while exacting the lowest reasonable cost in lives and money.

If a policy is implemented that doesn’t serve that end, or improve that goal, we must ask why our leaders would undertake it.  I would like for one military logistical analyst or one combat veteran to explain how either of the two goals explained above are augmented by including women in front-line combat.  There may be a good deal of emotionally-charged political grandstanding, but the factual answer is that combat effectiveness of units will be degraded by the mass-inclusion of women in combat roles.  You may not like reading these words, but they are no less true for your opposition.

Women do not meet the same rigorous physical standards as men.  Don’t take it from me, but instead take it directly from the Army’s Physical Fitness Test scoring system.  For the purpose of this discussion, I have built a table with data from the scoring tables available elsewhere. This table is a condensed representation of the difference in standards between male and female soldiers, aged 17-21, as currently in use by the United States Army. The Army uses three events to rate the fitness of soldiers, being the push-up, the sit-up, and the two-mile run, performed in that order by official scorekeepers. The first two events are time-limited to two minutes each. I have placed the top and bottom passing scores possible for each sex, in each event. Please direct your attention to this table:

Push-ups
Sit-ups
2-Mile Run
Repetitions
Points
Repetitions
Points
Time
Points
Male Maximum
71
100
78
100
13:00
100
Male Minimum
42
60
53
60
15:54
60
Female Maximum
42
100
78
100
15:36
100
Female Minimum
19
60
53
60
18:54
60

The entire APFT(Army Physical Fitness Test) is based on a minimum passing score of 180, and a maximum of 300 points. In the Army, this has a bearing on promotions particular from E-4 to E-5 and from E-5 to E-6. I would like readers to observe particularly the vast performance disparity in both Push-ups and the 2-Mile run. Notice that the Maximum Score for women is obtained in Push-ups at the minimum passing score for men, and that the Maximum Score in the 2-Mile Run for women is just eighteen seconds faster than the slowest time acceptable for men.

One can argue over how much these differences would matter in support units(although they could, and probably do,) but on the battlefield, and in combat units, this is an unmitigated disaster. What’s worse, the actual difference in the Push-Up event is much greater than these scores reveal, because the average woman is shorter and lighter, both qualities placing the individual at mechanical advantage in the event. A 5’10″ male weighting 170 lbs. will on average find it easier to obtain a high score in the push-up event than a 6’2″ male,perhaps slightly more muscular, but weighing 190 lbs. Due to physiological differences between men and women, these vastly differing standards describe a significant disparity in capacity. We can wonder about how much that might matter in a rear area driving a truck, but in a forward area, heaving 100-lbs 155mm artillery projectiles around, it is bound to be quite inhibiting. Climbing in and out of the foxhole, pulling oneself up over walls and barriers, or having to carry a wounded comrade would quickly expose the difference.

What one cannot seriously argue is that the average woman serving will always obtain the top scores, or that the average man serving will only obtain the bottom.  This disparity describes a vast variance in capability that can be lethal on the battlefield.  It is not to say that there is no variance among men, but it is to say that the difference between the average man in the force and the average woman in the force is certain to be substantial.  Since the military can only make rules that ultimately describe the average, perhaps rewarding those substantially above the mean, while ejecting those well below it, we must deal with the average, but not the exceptions.

The question then becomes:  What does a military combat unit gain and/or lose by including women in direct combat roles?  The simple truth is that in terms of the mission, and the likely costs of achieving it, this is an equation that spells potential or even probable disaster.  The notion being advanced by those who advocate the idea is that the rewards achieved are social and/or individual.  It is said by some that women add something intangible to the force by virtue of their presence, that justifies the additional losses in blood and treasure that their presence will on average impose.  That may seem like a nifty argument unless it’s your blood or your treasure being unnecessarily expended, in which case it’s not such a good idea after all, and all the mystical-sounding social “wisdom” loses its ephemeral sheen.

The other argument is purely individual, and it is made in terms of notions of equality of opportunity.  Let me explain this in simplest terms so that the brutally thoughtless might grasp it:  The Armed Services do not exist to hand out opportunities for self-actualization, career advancement, personal gratification, or anything else of the sort.  One might obtain some or all of those things through military service, but at the very least, this is and ought remain a tertiary concern for the chain of command.  Again, chief concerns must be mission accomplishment and minimal cost, and in that pursuit, the services ought to retain every tool of discrimination at their disposal.

Some will misunderstand my usage of “discrimination” as meaning wanton, arbitrary rejection of some people for irrational cause(s.)  This is not the meaning I intend, instead applying the usage that describes making a rational choice for rational purposes in the manner one shops for automobiles or smart-phones.  In this sense, we all discriminate daily, many times over, and to good effect because it generally results in improved products or services since we will tend to opt for those most likely to satisfy our purposes.

Constructing a fighting force is no different, in fact, but  just as Samsung can’t sue you for discrimination because you opted for Apple’s “iPhone” instead of the former’s “Galaxy,” the military is usually immune from lawsuits by merely stating their decisions in the context of the best interests of the service involved.  What so many people don’t seem to understand is that military service is not an ordinary workplace, to which one can apply at will, and resign at whim.  In the civilian sector, one has every remedy under the sun available if there is irrational discrimination, but under the martial authority that is the military, and as an institution for the nation’s defense, such concepts are foreign and irrelevant.

It highlights the misunderstanding of what military service is, and isn’t.  Too many people in our culture are now possessed of an entitlement mindset, a notion that they too readily apply to the most farcical situation.  There is no entitlement to be an infantry soldier.  You can sign up for the infantry if you like, and if the Army will let you, but if after completing your initial training, the DoD decides that for the moment, they need more cooks, you’d better prepare to learn the ins and outs of a DFAC(Dining Facility – formerly known as the Mess-hall) because irrespective of the MOS(Military Occupational Specialty) for which you enlisted, you serve the needs of the Army first – not your own.

How many very good and able persons have wanted to be pilots in the military only to be told that since their vision requires corrective lenses to be at least 20/20, they are ineligible for that role?  Will the Americans With Disabilities Act now be taken to apply to military service?  There are people advocating such notions already, but what mustn’t be lost in all of this is the reason the military is given extraordinary power to discriminate on the basis of factors that would not be legally acceptable or morally proper in the civilian population:  The function of the military is to keep the rest of us safe.

This is why I am so thoroughly disgusted by the coverage of this change in policy given by the media.  It ignores the fact that this is a politically-based decision that merits no consideration whatever in a professional military.  A professional military would study, objectively – without subservience to politicians’ whims, the impact of replacing approximately half of its combat forces with the average female enlistee.  It would not consider the exceptional few who would describe the upper tail of the bell-curve on physical performance, but instead the median performer.  Under that scrutiny, this entire notion would be abolished in one minute, because it does not serve the interests of the mission, or the minimization of the mission’s costs in blood and treasure.  Our forces must accomplish their missions with as many as possible able to come home alive and in one piece, and that should be the enduring criteria of every person charged with command over troops in combat, from Lieutenant to Commander-in-Chief.

What we must not do is to permit the armed services of the United States to be degraded further in its capabilities for the sake of contrived notions of equality that have no relevance on the battlefield.  We don’t seek equality on the battlefield with our enemies, but instead seek every advantage, as they do.  That’s the nature of war, where a single moment in a single battle can change the fortunes of nations, so that every advantage is precious.  How many advantages do we wish to yield to our present and future enemies in pursuit of a nonsensical notion of equality?  After all, the only real equality that exists on a battlefield is the one obtained in death.

Sadly, if we adopt policies that place more service-members in disadvantageous positions in combat, we will see more equality of the fatal sort too, but that must be the inevitable result when policies are not based on the realities of war, but instead on the basis of the wishes of some impractical, egg-headed “constitutional scholar” in the ivory tower at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the legion of nit-wits he has convinced to believe that military service is about them.  There’s a reason it’s widely considered a “sacrifice.”  Notions of equality that interfere with or hamper the military’s mission are among the things one voluntarily surrenders.

Editor’s Note: You should not be surprised that this story broke just in time for the Wednesday evening news cycle, because the whole purpose for which this story was pushed to the media at that time was clearly to remove Hillary Clinton’s wretched  testimony in the Senate from the position as top story. This is naturally an important issue, but it is news only in the respect that it’s been pushed to the surface as a way to change the subject.  Period.  Now we’ll argue over this instead of the disgusting dishonesty of Hillary Clinton on behalf of the Obama administration.

Obama to Stand Down On Military Pay and Benefits

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Forgetting Them Again

My son-in-law is getting set for deployment to Afghanistan. His departure is imminent, and while I am proud of the young man’s continuing service to this country, this being his second deployment, I am startled by the manner in which the current administration treats all our soldiers.  The truth is that the Obama administration doesn’t even like the military, and except for instances in which they can be used as a campaign prop, they haven’t any regard for the men and women who volunteer to serve this nation.  One Obama-friendly group has come out with its proposal for trimming military pay and benefits, and it’s shocking to realize how little regard they have for our service-members based on what they’re advocating.  The Center for American Progress, a completely maniacal left-wing cohort of Obama’s, largely funded by George Soros, has actually suggested that our government should cut the pay and benefits of soldiers dramatically.  It’s disgusting.  It’s despicable.  It’s another example of how the left doesn’t understand or appreciate our military men and women, but if Obama is re-elected, it’s probably the blueprint for what will happen.  It’s time to consider the disastrous consequences of another presidential stand-down.

They’ve actually proposed cutting military retirement, and they’ve also proposed changing the rules for when one can begin drawing a military retirement.  Rather than commencing retirement benefits upon retirement, the madcaps at the Center for American Progress are pushing the notion that benefits shouldn’t commence until 60.  I want those of you who haven’t served in the military to think about this very carefully.  If a young man or woman serves twenty years in the military, on average, it’s not like working in the civilian world for two decades.  The abuses of one’s body, the toll it takes on one’s family, and the miserable conditions under which two decades of life are conducted is something for which there are no direct analogs in the civilian world.  One person I know, a police officer, who works hard and is dedicated to public safety, likened his profession to the military, and I stopped and corrected him.  There is a vast difference, and it comes down to this: Our service-members live under martial authority.  It’s not like being a cop, much as I respect so many in that profession.

Let’s be blunt about it: If you are a police officer, and you arrive at a scene, and your Sergeant or Lieutenant tells you to carry out some ludicrous order that puts you in danger, you can refuse.  The worst thing that can happen to you is that you will be fired.  In garrison, or on the battlefield, a soldier really has no such discretion, because failing to follow orders can get you dead.  You see, in the military, there really isn’t room for such discretion, and those who volunteer to serve have set aside the ordinary right to refuse all of us in the civilian world enjoy, in favor of the mission set forth by their commanders, but since they do not get to pick the term of their enlistments according to who is in command at the time, either nationally or locally, they simply must comply.

To get capable, smart, qualified people to do the jobs we ask our service-members to do in peacetime at their miserable rate of pay is hard enough, but multiplied and magnified by the rigors of war-fighting, and a simple existence under martial authority, we need to offer an enticement.  That’s why we offer at least somewhat enticing retirement benefits, but this is also why the left, despite all their previous anti-draft protesting, is very much pro-conscription:  They wish to be able to force people to serve in these conditions.  Imposing the pay and benefits cuts that CAP proposes would assure that the United States would either impose a draft to fulfill its defense needs, or simply cease to defend the nation.  Either is acceptable to leftists, but in truth, they’d like to have both.

Remember, if a young person 17-21 volunteers for military service, assuming they carry out a twenty year career, that means they will return to the civilian world in their late thirties or early forties, and despite the propaganda to the contrary, most will be effectively starting over.  You see, very few specialties in the military actually translate directly to civilian uses.  Working on artillery pieces doesn’t really translate to working on Fords.  Some of the underlying skill-sets may, but the truth is that it’s not a simple transition in most cases.  There aren’t really many positions for infantrymen in the civilian world.  Therefore, you have a group of people transitioning into a civilian workforce who may well have delayed their higher education, and otherwise set aside those developments in order to protect us.  Then, having completed two decades, they exit the military into a civilian workforce where they may be at significant disadvantage.  There is discrimination against veterans in many cases, and they step into this world precisely in what ought to have been their peak earning years.   The Center for American Progress thinks we should delay their retirement benefits until they’re sixty.  The truth is, we should pay them upon retirement because it’s the ethical thing to do in helping them catch up, and in order to thank them for their honorable service.

I’m not going to touch the part about active military pay, lest I launch into a stream of profanities over CAP’s proposals, but I think it’s time we understand, all of us, that when we ask young men and women to serve, we’re asking that they do so in our stead.  How much is that worth?  As my son-in-law prepares to fly to a distant and God-forsaken land, to help a people who may not want it, and to defend them against their own, knowing that most deaths in that country are the result of our alleged allies turning on our people, I can’t help but reflect on my own military service, and all the things I saw.  I wonder if the day will ever come when the American people will universally understand what it is we ask of these young people, and whether there will ever be a time when the left is willing to pay the costs of maintaining the defenses of the liberties they so blissfully enjoy in brutally indifferent ignorance.  If Barack Obama is re-elected, the undue suffering of our men and women in uniform will increase dramatically.  As I prepare to see my son-in-law depart on another deployment, we must take care of affairs here at home.  We must prevent this.

Marine To Be Given Boot Over Obama Remarks on Facebook

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Do Servicemembers Have Free Speech?

I know most people who read this story will want to side with the Marine, and I would like to do so as well, but there’s a reason I would urge you to reconsider, and it’s important that for those of you who have no military service experience to understand why his conduct, much as it is heartening in many respects, is intolerable for the chain of command.  Part of the problem is that the full and specific text of his remarks haven’t been disclosed, but when Marine Sgt. Gary Stein, a 26-yo, 9-year Marine made his remarks, he did so in a public way that poses a problem to military discipline.  I don’t like Barack Obama’s policies either, and I would hope that no Airman, Marine, Sailor or Soldier would ever follow an unlawful order, but to post remarks on what constitutes an unlawful order, in the context of the sitting chain of command, is a serious problem for the military.

Sgt. Stein is in trouble, and he says he’s surprised it’s a big deal, or that they’re seriously considering kicking him out of the Marine Corps, (note to Barack Obama: That’s pronounced like “core,” not like “corpse,”) but as a Non-Commissioned Officer of the United States Marines, he must know such things are not to be tolerated, and for very good reasons.  Were he a discharged veteran, there would be no problem.  He runs a Facebook page I have seen, but I wince because I know what will befall him.

I hate this sort of case, because I’m placed in the position of the “bad guy,” telling people some important truths they may not wish to hear.  The fact that this young Sergeant made these remarks about a politician who I find to be detestable shouldn’t deter me from recognizing why it’s important that no service-member say such things, certainly not publicly, and why a non-commissioned officer must never say them so that his subordinates may hear or read of them.  I realize that tempers flare, and that our service-members are entitled to their own political views, as they should be, but they are in the military to protect our freedom of speech, but not there to practice it.  When every service-member enlists, or is commissioned, they swear an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States, and to obey the orders of the President and those who the President appoints over them.  The presumption is always that these will be lawful orders.

The military must function with a chain of command that conveys both martial authority and delegates responsibilities.  When a service-member rises to become a non-commissioned officer, there are two things of note that occur:  The newly minted NCO is now entrusted with additional authority, and a higher standard of conduct is applied to all his or her actions, on duty or off.  This is because in function, to carry out a mission, the NCO will need the authority to issue orders, but with that authority comes a greater universe of responsibilities that extends to a higher standard of service and allegiance to the chain of command, and to the mission.  This is the professional standard expected of Non-Commissioned Officers, and it is a demanding one.

It must be this way because in combat, or in a war-time mission, the NCOs are the element of leadership that becomes most important in the organizational structure.  There are too few officers for them to be in every place at once, and NCOs are the professional core of the enlisted ranks upon which all military operations ultimately depend.  If you have poor NCOs, it won’t matter if you have great officers, and great junior enlisted personnel, because the force will suffer a vacuum of leadership that will ordinarily be crippling.  It is for this reason that the services spend billions of dollars each year developing its enlisted leaders.  The idea of a professional NCO has been an important core of the American fighting force throughout the nation’s history, and when a Sergeant makes comments that seem to disparage the chain of command, it is a highly unprofessional bit of conduct.

Now, as to the substance of what this particular Sergeant said, it’s not altogether clear how bad his transgressions may have been. There is little reported on the substance of his remarks, but rather some generalizations.  Here’s what is reported:

“Sgt. Gary Stein, a nine-year veteran, put comments on a Facebook page called the Armed Forces Tea Party page that said he would not follow unlawful orders from President Obama such as ordering the killing of Americans or taking guns away from Americans. He also criticized comments made by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta about Syria.”

“The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits uniformed personnel from making comments critical of their chain of command, including the commander-in-chief, or engaging in political activity in a context that suggests that are acting as military members.”

Stop. This is enough to land him in trouble.  By specifying specific individuals in and policies of the chain of command, Sgt. Stein would have violated his obligations as an enlisted service member and particularly his station as a Non-Commissioned Officer.  Unfortunately, they don’t offer any direct quotes for analysis, but if this reflects the actual nature of his remarks, they have a case, and he’s in trouble for good cause. The story continues:

“An investigation into Stein’s comments was ordered March 8 by the commanding officer of the weapons and field training battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. On Wednesday, the Marine Corps announced that rather than file charges against Stein, the matter is being handled “through administrative action.”

“Stein, who hoped to reenlist, told the Associated Press that he plans to fight the Marine Corps’ intention to dismiss him.”

“I’m completely shocked that this is happening,” he told the AP. “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve only stated what our oath states: That I will defend the Constitution and that I will not follow unlawful orders. If that’s a crime, what is America coming to?”

I’m sorry to be placed in the position of disagreeing with Sgt. Klein, but if he indeed criticized Panetta by name or position, and the specific policy as it applies to Syria(or anything else,) he has indeed violated the trust with which the military had privileged him.  An NCO simply cannot go about disparaging the chain of command.  No soldier should, but when it comes to NCOs, they are expected to exhibit a higher standard of professionalism, and this isn’t it.  The remark about Obama and unlawful orders might not have been so bad, in isolation, because in that sense, he is stating a general premise about not obeying unlawful orders, although calling out this specific president conveys a certain lack of support for this particular chain of command that is unseemly for an NCO.  They are and must be held to a higher standard, and again, Sgt Klein here fails to maintain that standard.

Understand that my appraisal here is that of a man who was a Sergeant at roughly the same age that this young man is now, and I note with some sadness that when I was an up-and-coming NCO, I had a pretty solid chain of command, so I wouldn’t have suffered from such doubts.  With that in mind, however, I cannot fail to mention that he should not have said these things, and certainly not broadcast publicly on the Internet.  I’d urge all soldiers to hold their tongues on political matters, precisely because this is harmful to the United States, whether you agree with this President’s policies or not.  I realize that none would carry out unlawful orders if they were issued, but the presumption of a soldier, particularly a mid-career Marine NCO, must be that the orders he will be issued will be lawful.  To spout about non-existent, highly speculative future unlawful orders in the context of a particular president is not prudent, and exhibits a lack of professional judgment, even if I agree with is political views.

In combat, or even in training, the military relies heavily on its non-commissioned officers to carry out the mission, and it cannot tolerate, not even in minor ways, what constitutes the threat of mutinous conduct, or rabble-rousing in its ranks.  I know.  He said “unlawful orders.”  Fine.  The problem is that under certain circumstances, the President may order the killing of Americans or the seizure of guns. Those are limited circumstances indeed, but the discretion to determine which instances constitute an unlawful order lies not with a Marine Sergeant make conjecture about some unknown future order.  There are only very limited circumstances where such discretion is left to the individual service-member.  Sgt. Klein knew or ought to have known better than to let his public pronouncements go this far. Whether the punishment fits the crime is a matter of judgment on the part of local commanders, and the problem we have in assessing it is that we don’t have the full facts, or even the full text of Sgt. Klein’s remarks.  Let us hope that military authorities are not over-reacting here.  Chances are that they are not.

I realize there are those of you who will take issue with me over this, and that’s fine, but the problem is that I also understand how important the integrity of the corps of military Non-Commissioned Officers is to the safety of our nation.  Our military must not be undermined, neither from without or from within, and the conduct of Sgt. Klein threatens to do so, whether he sees that or not.  While I agree with his general assessments, to the degree they have been presented, that doesn’t mean I endorse the fact that he pronounced them publicly.  My advice to service-members who have similar views is very simple, and I know that most of them will understand me as I explain it:

For the term of your service, keep your mouth closed in public, and on the Internet still your fingers in saying or writing things publicly that would tend to place you in such a situation.  In other words,  while you are right to practice politics via your vote, as long as you are in the services, you need to be as apolitical as you are able, although in your talks with family, friends, and others in closed circumstances, you might still enjoy some of your limited freedom of speech, but you must do so with caution and an abundance of reverence for the oath you swore, that did not specify the party or politics of the Commander-in-Chief.  In other words, brothers and sisters, you must not permit your expressions to compromise your ability to lead, or shake the confidence of those who serve under you, in the chain of command.  Please remember this, and serve out your time in honor, and with respect for your oaths.  For those of you who are entrusted with positions of leadership, please remember that yours is an important role, and to undercut it with loose talk about the politics of the chain of command is to undermine yourselves.

I know the vast majority of our servicemen and women know and practice all of this, and it’s unnecessary to say it to most of you, but for those who are frustrated most with what you see coming out of Washington, I ask you to keep your cool.  This presidency and this particular chain of command is not permanent, so if you’ll wait around a while, it will change.  Whether you like that or not is your affair, but how you give voice to it is a matter of military discipline.  We need good and patriotic Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers, and you had better believe that if things ever do go to hell in this country, we will have special need of you then.  Keep the faith, and stay strong, but do not put your careers at risk for temporary expressions of your frustrations.  We need you to stay strong, and I will do what I am able to support you.

To my friends in the Marine Corps, “Semper Fidelis.”

To those of you who are non-veteran civilians, I would remind you that you have a special responsibility too.  These young men and women in whose hands we place the security of our nation need your support too, and part of that is knowing not to ask or urge them to make statements of this sort publicly.  If they make them to you privately, that’s one thing, but do not expose them to legal liability on this basis.  Instead, as family members and friends, go be their voice.  They’re serving your security interests, and the least you can do is to try to represent their interests and support them.  Veterans, you will know precisely what I mean, and because you do know, having served, and because you now have your freedom of speech restored, you have a special responsibility because only you can express to those who do not know, what it is that soldiers must give up to serve their country.  It isn’t always measured in blood and lives, but more commonly the right to speak out publicly.  Let we veterans resolve particularly to be their voice so that our active-duty brethren feel no need to expose themselves to trouble, and so that our non-veteran neighbors can know the special meaning we hold the trust to which they have entrusted our fighting forces.

 

Marines Disarmed for Panetta Visit: Why?

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Panetta Addresses Troops

On Wednesday, the story came out that Marines in Afghanistan had been disarmed for the visit of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.  Many were puzzled or disgusted over this, for the implications about which it speaks volumes.  If the Secretary of Defense is that worried about our own troops, perhaps he should not be serving in that post.  Of course, I have a feeling I understand the real reason for this policy, and it may not be about our troops, or at least not all of them.  Could it be that Secretary Panetta doesn’t want to be scored as another victim of military “workplace violence,” should another Muslim soldier angry about recent events try to act out his or her anger? I offer this only half in jest, because the behavior of leadership in this case is perplexing. I don’t understand why the Marines were treated in this way, and it can hardly inspire confidence in our service-members if they are led to doubt whether they have the full trust of the chain of command.

As we know, the Obama administration has done its best to sweep Army Major Nidal Hasan’s act under the carpet by labeling it as “workplace violence” rather than as an act of terrorism, despite all of the evidence demonstrating the link between Hasan and militant Muslim extremists.  I was astonished to learn about the details of Panetta’s visit, and that our own Marines were disarmed allegedly because our Afghan allies who were in attendance were likewise disarmed.  As an Army veteran myself, I could see why the security details of dignitaries might have some concern, particularly in the aftermath of the incident last weekend with the soldier who went on a shooting rampage, killing sixteen Afghan civilians, but I also know that was an aberration and says nothing about the entire force.

Still, I find it incredible that the Secretary of Defense would take this view of his own military.  I wonder if he was worried about another act of “workplace violence.”  After all, isn’t that what the Obama administration calls it?  When a lone attacker plowed through a fence and into a ditch at the airbase where Panetta was about to arrive, I would have classified it as an act of terrorism, but with Panetta being part of the military hierarchy, wouldn’t this merely be classified by the Obama administration as another act of “workplace violence?”

I wonder if the Obama administration knows how much contempt it has wrought by that classification.  This sort of thing has ramifications not only for soldiers in the field, but the whole force structure’s confidence in the chain of command.  Perhaps that is part of the trouble here:  Being near a large military base, I’ve heard an unusual number of grumbles about the chain of command and its general temperament with respect to the military.   That’s never a healthy proposition for the military, and I know the lower end of the chain of command struggles to tamp down that sort of thing.  Still, I’m certain the Obama administration is conscious of the growing displeasure from some wider body of the military.  The budget cuts, the ridiculous rules of engagement, and all the over-tasking our service-members now endure are adding to the strain.

I wonder if this was the idea of Panetta, or his own staff, or whether it was the product of an abundance of caution on the part of local commanders.  Either way, it signifies a break-down in the long-established and traditional notion of trust between civilian leadership and the uniformed services, and I find it atrocious on all counts.  I remember being visited in the field as a young soldier by dignitaries including the Secretary of the Army, John Marsh, under Ronald Reagan, and we didn’t put our weapons away.  Of course, that was a different environment, or under different global conditions, but it was also a far different chain of command that viewed its fighting men and women with reverence.  Unless they had real and specific concerns, this will only serve to have widened the gulf in confidence between civilian leadership and our military, and that is never a happy development for the United States, or its Armed Services.

 

 

Video Reminder of the Tea Party’s Fight – Video

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Time to Take America Back

I’ve attached a video to this post as a reminder of the things our departed friend Andrew Breitbart had supported, because while he has passed, the movement he defended and supported goes on.  The Tea Party is still here, and conservatives are still here, so why don’t we take a moment to remind ourselves of where we were just two years ago.  This video went viral at the time of its initial posting on Youtube, but let us not forget this as part of our modern Tea Party heritage.  It’s easy to become dispirited, and it’s easy to forget how much worse others have had it.  It’s time to kick some ass, and we do so, we should remember why we fight:

Making Mess of Mess-Halls

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Approval of the Queen?

You can’t call them “Mess Halls” any longer, but the term may be making a comeback, since the Army has taken to restructuring its dining facilities so as to make them healthier. Here we have a bunch of do-gooders inflicting their ideas about nutrition on the Armed Forces. Living nearby Fort Hood, I’ve had an opportunity to ask a few soldiers about their view of all this, and it isn’t generally pleasant. Gone are the days of basic training mess-halls in which the object was to get in, consume all you could in as short a time as possible, and get out before some Drill Sergeant decided a soldier was taking too long. No, now they have “dining facilities” and the food is label with color-coded warnings as to its nutritional value. According to CNS News, the same people who didn’t like our color-coded Terror Alert system are now inflicting it on soldiers’ meals.

Of course, you might have guessed by now that Michelle Obama has been involved, and true to form, the First Lady is happy to project her own notions about nutrition on others.  In this case, dietitian Lt. Colonel Sonya Cable is pushing a different “green initiative,” as it is her job to see to it that the old mess-halls become richer in vegetables, and poorer in fried foods.  This is the sort of nonsense we now have in the military, as the truth is that trainees in Army Basic Training should be consuming calories at a rate that makes vegetables a poor choice for the new recruits.  They need to pack in all the calories in a meal they can get, except for the relative handful that should be viewing basic training as an opportunity to burn off excess.

Cable’s thinking is to come up with a color system to label foods that pushes healthy food, with a system of labels.  Red is for the fried foods, and sweets, amber is for the middle-of-the-road dishes, and green is for the things that are viewed as the best alternatives, but even with this system, there’s some realization that this may not be entirely feasible:

“I had some folks say to me, ‘Well, why on earth did you even include the red ones to begin with?’  Two reasons – one, we’ve got soldiers who have racehorse metabolisms that they needed every calorie I could get into them.  And by taking off the ‘red’ we just found that we couldn’t get enough calories in them.”

No kidding.  Welcome to the real Army, Colonel.  Of course, reading some of her other thoughts, it became clear to me that this is one Army officer who probably doesn’t understand much about soldiering from the perspective of the recruits going through Basic Training at Fort Jackson or elsewhere.  Trainees don’t sit on their duffs for eight hours, do physical training once or twice per week, and then go home to sit on their backsides for the evening.  Why this didn’t dawn on Lt. Col. Cable is another matter, but then you realize she’s in tune with Washington-speak, when she reflects on her previous visit to Ft. Jackson:

“My eyes got opened very quickly that it really is a community,” she said, about her visit to Fort Jackson, S.C. seven years ago to observe its dining facilities.  “We talk about a village that raises a child.  Well a community develops a brand new soldier, too. And that’s what we found there.”

Now the liberal planners are designing nutrition programs for the Army.  Perfect!  That explains a great deal, because they’re more interested in fads popular with DC social circles than in what actually works.  Cable took the First Lady on a guided tour of a dining facility at Ft. Jackson in January, and she reports that this program that started with basic training sites has now spread to other training facilities.  In short order, this will spread throughout the services, and one more part of Obama’s fundamental transformation will have been completed.  The liberal mindset must tinker with everything, and that Michelle Obama is even distantly involved should encourage us to pause on the subject in reflection about the direction of our military, and its purpose.

U.S. Spells ‘Us’ – Patriotic Song and Video

Monday, January 30th, 2012

I ran across this via Twitter, and I must say it’s well done, and tasteful. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and while you enjoy it, the artist(ColinAmerica) is apparently selling his song on iTunes, so if you’re interested, definitely take a look. All the proceeds go to Veterans of Foreign Wars(VFW.)

That’s a cause I can heartily support!

A Note About The Marine Incident

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

A Forgotten Border

Much has been made of this incident on which I reported Friday, and it reminds me of something else I witnessed many years ago.  I was serving in the Army in Germany, and the year was 1985.  I hadn’t been in my unit there very long when an opportunity arose to see a bit of the German countryside.  Of course, the area I was able to look at on this trip wasn’t something most people younger than 35-40 really remember or understand, and it wasn’t a pleasure trip.  Periodically, the battalion would charter a bus and take all the new people who’d arrived over the last ninety days on a tour of the border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia.  It was a part of the unit’s effort to show us the ground we would likely defend, and the nature of the enemy we would face if a war broke out between the Soviet Union and NATO.  On that fateful trip, our tour triggered an “international incident” due to the behavior of one of my fellow soldiers.

At various points along the path, the bus would stop, and we would unload and be told about the things at which we were looking.  One of those stops took us right up to the border, onto a road that runs parallel and on the west edge of what had been the frontier between East and West.  We could see the fences, and the razor-wire were hung with dew on the cold, damp, dreary morning.  In easy earshot, never mind rifle shot, of a guard tower, we unloaded and looked around.  We were under strict instructions to do no pointing or make any gestures of any kind, because they could be taken as a sign of hostility, and could lead at the very least to a serious incident, since the guard towers had not only machine-gun emplacements, but also cameras with which to document our tour.  One of the geniuses in my unit thought it would be a great idea to walk off by himself and drop trow facing East, and take a whiz facing directly at the tower.

The public affairs officer who had us on the tour saw this and fairly tackled the guy.  It was too late, as we could hear the rapid shutter snaps as a pictures were taken.  It was nearly a three hour ride by bus back to our installation, and nobody said a word.  As we pulled up at the Headquarters building, our Battalion Commander and our Sergeant Major(the battalion’s highest ranking enlisted man) were waiting on the sidewalk.   The incident had been reported already up the chain on the Eastern Bloc side, traveled through diplomatic channels, and down through our chain of command, beating the bus back to our post by more than two hours.  The Sergeant Major stuck his head in the door of the bus as fast as it opened, and pointed at the offending soldier and said simply his name and “You’re with me, NOW!”  He and the Lt. Colonel disappeared through a crowd of suits I hadn’t noticed before, but our comrade in arms was effectively gone.  This incident began the end of his short Army career.  Even in 1985, the Department of Defense didn’t take lightly the notion of giving the “adversary” a propaganda victory.

The reason I recount this to you is because on Friday, after Congressman Allen West’s statement made mention that the Marines in the current incident should receive Field Grade Article non-judicial punishment, and there was murmuring from some quarters that nothing should happen to them at all.  I wanted you to know that such a punishment was precisely the first step in disciplining a soldier back in 1985 when our unit’s urination incident occurred.  While it’s easy for you and I to say that yes, “Hooah, piss on those corpses,”  more is at stake in this situation than four Marines’ momentary indiscretion.  At present, our government is negotiating with the Taliban, and whether you or I, but particularly those Marines like it or not, they are servants of this nation’s foreign policy, no matter how much any of us think that policy is mistaken. Soldiers don’t make foreign policy, but must serve the chain of command in implementing it.

My fellow veterans will know precisely what I mean, because they understand that once you put on that uniform, you are not a sovereign individual for the length of your service.  This is one of the reasons I chastise police officers who occasionally like to think of themselves in terms of a military organization.  As I point out to them, if they’re in the midst of a stand-off, they can surrender their badge and walk away, and other than the difficulty they might have in ever working in that field again, they face no real consequences.  If a soldier tries that on the battlefield, he may well be shot.  It’s for this reason, this matter of unit discipline that these soldiers must be prosecuted and punished in some form by the chain of command.  I don’t like it in this case, and I wish it weren’t so, but that’s the truth of the matter, and I owe it to tell you so, much as any person among their chain of command might feel sympathy for their position, but must nevertheless contend with the issue at hand.

It’s for this reason that I understand Allen West’s statement all too well.  It’s the mark of a solid leader that he understands what must happen in this case, despite the fact that he may well not like it. These four Marines are in for a hard time over this incident, and you had better prepare to read of their eventual punishment.

On the other hand, I suspect the Obama administration may seek to make an unduly harsh example of these four, and I hope that isn’t the case.  Since the State Department has been negotiating quietly with the Taliban for some time, I expect this will now become a new sore spot.  While I believe that we shouldn’t be negotiating with these people, it is nevertheless current US foreign policy, otherwise known as “elections have consequences.”  I just hope for the sake of these Marines that they’re not dealt with in a severe fashion in order to appease the Taliban.  That’s the biggest worry they now face, and I hope this will serve as a reminder to service-members everywhere that you are an instrument of US foreign policy, so it’s best not to do these things, and it’s certainly not a good idea to record it, much as I suspect I’d have felt and perhaps acted in much the same way had I been among them.

Note: For those of you who are too young to really remember the Cold War, or in fact, for anybody who wishes to refresh their memory, I’d encourage you to check out this site, from which the image above was gathered, as the gentleman who runs the site seems to have served there contemporaneously with me, and you can learn a good deal about what it was really like.

Hooah: Allen West Responds to Marine Urination Incident: War is Hell

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Allen West (R-FL)

The Weekly Standard is reporting on a statement via email from Congressman Allen West(R-FL) on the incident involving Marines who urinated on three Taliban Corpses.  West is known particularly for his own service, having retired from the Army  as a Lt. Colonel.  His statement reflects the view of a military realist, who understands the real nature of war, and the things that sometimes happen on the battlefield.  I think the hand-wringers would do well to listen to West on this one, as his statement comports well with my own statement on the matter.   I wish all of our veterans in government were willing to be this blunt:

“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?

“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.

“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

I have but one thing to say to this: “Hooah!

Veteran’s Day: Our Service Does Not End

Friday, November 11th, 2011

What Veterans Should Remember

Occasionally, when people find out that I’m an Army veteran, they will thank me for my service.  I always thank people for their kindness, but assure them that at least for me, no thanks are necessary.  Many people view military service as a sacrifice, but I do not.  There were hardships, and I underwent all of the same difficulties as most everyone else, but I have always considered that I got much more than I gave.  In the long march of history from our nation’s founding until now, my own role was insignificant, but I took from that service many lessons that have served me in all the years since, and one of those lessons has been that it had been my privilege to serve.  Rather than you thanking me, I should be thanking you.  The opportunity to wear my nation’s uniform in defending her against our enemies was the most important experience in my life.  Despite hardships, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and for that, I would like to thank you, the American people.

When I entered service, I was first a “No-Go.” That’s what they called we National Guardsmen who went to Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  Less than two years into that service, I decided to go on active duty, and enlisted in the Army.  I had an opportunity to pick up a new MOS(Military Occupational Specialty) with that enlistment, and so I stayed in the same general field, but switched to something a little different and a bit more specialized.  As it turned out, in the units to which I would be assigned with my new MOS, the older secondary would always be complementary and useful. This permitted me to develop my skills in a broader range of uses, and this aided my ability to move up, lead, and direct people from the earliest time in my active duty service.

My service also resulted in my being packed off to Germany.  I had a great opportunity to see Europe, and learn about the  cultures there.  As many of you now know, my wife is German, and our child was born there.  On the morning I arrived in Germany, a car-bomb exploded as I exited the terminal at Rhein-Main Air Base.  We lost more of our brothers that day.  I spent my first night in Germany on guard duty around the perimeter of the scene.  The incident delayed every low-ranking person’s processing into theater by one day, and it re-shuffled assignments.  Rather than going to Augsburg, I would go to Ansbach.  Since this was the town in which I would ultimately meet my wife, it turned out that even an act of terror by leftist thugs, punctuating my arrival in Germany, helped to establish the course of my life.  This taught me that even when the best-laid plans are scrapped due to circumstance, still you can exercise initiative in the eventual outcome, and that sometimes, you just happen to get lucky if you’re prepared to notice it.

I served with amazing people.  There were people from the country, suburbia, and the inner cities.  They came from rich, poor, and middle-class families.  They were as diverse as our nation, but when we were in the field, we were unified in purpose.  It really was amazing to see that people arriving from every possible subset of Americana could be so thoroughly assimilated into one culture, with singular focus, and it was this lesson that has always provided me hope for the future of our nation: When engaged in a shared mission, each exercising his own efforts within his particular specialty, all of our superficial differences faded from view, irrelevant to that purpose for which we had been assembled.

One of the worries I’ve had in the last decade or so is coming to pass, and it’s this:  Our nation loses track of our history because we fail to teach it.  I entered service when Ronald Reagan was the Commander-in-Chief, and the Soviet Union was the biggest, baddest bully on the block.  How many of you would be shocked to learn that in the history texts of your schools, the entirety of the so-called “Cold War” is barely more than a foot-note, and that the Soviet Union is barely mentioned, it’s crimes against humanity ignored, and that the pervasive stench of communist evil has been sanitized out of existence?  Sure, people like me would have taught their own children, but even at that, how much have they retained?  We wonder how it is that we can be marching our nation toward that statist cliff, having defeated such a foe less than two decades ago. I’ll tell you:  As a nation, we have forgotten what it was against which we had been fighting.  Worse, too many of us have failed to teach subsequent generations what our purpose had been.

If you wish to thank a veteran, one ought to know the context of his service, but for so many these days, that context seems lost.  To my fellow veterans, I would urge you to remind them, not as a rebuke, but as a lesson born of your love for the country you had served, and still serve.  There shouldn’t be a child born in America who doesn’t learn the history of despotism that we have risen to combat, defeat, and oppose, and it isn’t merely the tyrants we should remember, but also their philosophies and how they came to be.  If we veterans won’t teach these lessons, it seems that nobody else will, so I urge my fellow veterans to reach out in their communities, particularly to the young, that all we had learned in our various conflicts, hot or cold, is never forgotten.  Our military service may have ended, but our oath does not conclude with the issuance of a DD214.  What our service should have taught us is that the oath we first uttered as young men and women extends from that moment to the last moments of our lives.  The fraternal fellowship we have shared is honored best when we remember that solemn promise in all our days, thankful that we had been permitted to serve the nation we so dearly love.

Many good men and women have given far more in their service than had I, and naturally, I witnessed some of this.  It’s why I shy from the thanks that so many gracious people offer for my service, because in truth, I was of small consequence to the matter at hand, yet there were those who gave so much more, and in so many sad cases, all they had.  Let us remember their purpose, and the missions for which they served.  Let us teach our children and their children the meaning of their deeds, and the extent to which our nation’s prosperity has been built upon their honorable service. Let us lead the way in remembering them.  It is in their honored memory that we should all give thanks.  It is in their names that we must accept thanks, and it is to them that we owe the duty to remember always that oath and teach our young of their deeds.

Injured Former Marine Honorable?(Updatedx2)

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Borrowed Honor?

When a former Marine, Scott Olsen, was injured during a police response at Occupy Oakland, a number of people were upset, including other veterans.  The problem with this is that in so doing, we are assigning this guy supposed credibility and virtue on the basis of his prior service to our nation.  Being a veteran myself, I know that there are all sorts of people in the service, and not all of them are so deserving of our presumptions about their personal virtues.   I think it’s becoming clear that Olsen may not have been the oh-so-virtuous veteran who the media and their darlings in OWS have been trying to portray him to have been. Rather than being a case of his being dishonored, it seems clear to me that he dishonored the US Marine Corps.

Instead of being an heroic Marine, it turns out that he’s the founder of the website IHateTheMarineCorps.com, where he posted the following:

Screen Capture of cached site Owned by Scott Olsen

The website isn’t up any longer, but you can view the web-cache of it here. You can verify ownership of the domain name here.  He included the following keywords with his domain name registration:

Keywords: screw the maqrine corps, i hate the marine corps, how to get out of the marines early, veerp anyone, fart mesuring unit, actual honesty mediafire marines, what is the njp punishment for insubordination

It seems unlikely that he was much of a Marine with this attitude. It’s being reported by WeaselZippers.com that he is a hero among the Moveon.org crowd. Why am I not surprised?  I don’t think talking this way reflects well on his service.  It can’t be that somebody who hates the Marine Corps as much as this guy professes could possibly be a good Marine.  I think veterans should be concerned when a veteran is given the presumption of credibility and honor when in truth, the veteran in question isn’t up to the standards others have met, and worst of all, defames the institution in which s/he served.  It’s easier to understand, given this attitude, how this guy could have come to be injured.  Apparently, he didn’t like following lawful orders. That’s not the kind of Marine I knew when I was in uniform. They would have been embarrassed to have been associated with a guy like this.

Update: From MercuryNews.com

In 2010, the Marines issued Olsen an “administrative discharge.” Maj. Shawn Haney, a Marines spokesman based in Quantico, Va., declined to discuss Olsen’s discharge, but said his departure could have been for anything from a medical condition to a punitive measure.

Editor’s note: We millions of veterans know well the meaning of a less-than-honorable discharge, and veterans who complete their service with honor are generally proud to have done so. I am.

Update #2: From a Commenter  The claim is that Olsen may not have registered the domain Ihatethemarinecorps.com  I remain skeptical because the domain was registered in 2009, and to have somebody registering such a domain fraudulently in 2009 in order to “smear Olsen” in 2011 after an event nobody could have predicted seems implausible on its face. I will await further facts before drawing conclusions on this aspect of the story.