Archive for the war in afghanistan Category

A little bedtime story

Posted in memorial day, the end of times, tribute to troops, war in afghanistan, war on terror on May 31, 2010 by AN Security

It was a clear day out to sea that winter with most of the crew on deck enjoying the sun when we spotted the lone aircraft in the distance. As our convoy moved slowly across the Sea of Japan on what was my first deployment (Westpac for those of you in the know) we all soon realized the aircraft following was Soviet. The pilot began circling then flying low and showing off. There was no official engagement as it was a taunting game except for the crew. The plane turned and headed back toward our ship continuing his game. Laughter filled the air as sailors young and old looked up at the sky and responded in kind. Fists clenched and a multitude of ‘birds’ went up in the air. The rules of engagement were being tested on both sides; the taunting went on, we enjoyed it.

The pilot kept at it for a while before heading out, having made his statement. It was the Cold War and we knew our enemy. How the Soviets played the ‘I can get you now if I wanted to’ game was part of their deception machine. They lied to the world by orchestrating clashes between nations; they lied to their people when Afghanistan quickly went bad on them…

I was 20 years old and Ronald Reagan was president. We had a strong Navy. It was the stuff that made us stand and place a hand over our hearts and smile. We were Americans and we stood for all that was good and honorable. I was sure the other side felt the same about themselves but there were other players involved that most of us in my generation brushed away until they made their presence known.

Before joining the Fleet, the bombing of the Marine barracks brought a sense of awareness we did not have before. Stationed at Camp LeJeune as a young corpsman the desire was to deploy and see cruel reality of what islamic extremism could bring to America someday but that was not to be yet. One Marine named John ended up under my care. He had been asleep when during the attack and medevaced for his injuries. Some of the other corpsman had trouble doing dressing changes on the guy, a soft-spoken admin type with wire-brimmed glasses; he looked more like a college student than a Marine. He was well-adjusted to his injury and I was about the only one on the floor who could stomach taking care of him.

John’s left elbow had been blown out; leaving just enough connective tissue to make it look like his upper arm was still attached to the lower end. He would heal after many surgeries. That was a sobering realization that the world wasn’t all about MTV and that a destructive force was upon us. John took his situation with great courage and was prepared to move on and work for what he wanted. He often talked about college and becoming an officer. He had purpose and his injuries did not seem to cloud his vision of the future. A most admirable attitude.

Ronald Reagan gave his magnificent speech showed the world that when we stand our ground and remain resolute good prevails. The world both admired and feared such strength and frankly many never thought we’d see a time when such inner strength would be considered a liability rather than an asset. Korea still looked like a war zone during our visit with buildings protected with sand bags and razor wire and reality began to take shape. The hope was to see all these struggles go away; the method a most elusive endeavor. Life moved on, we all aged and put that memory behind us.

Closing my eyes time passed and the world is close to being on fire. September 11th marked the end of that grace period. We had plenty of time to observe what been going on in the world, how we grew away from principled leadership and governance and embraced the politics of inaction. National pride was tested but time has a way to make the pain diminish and before long many believed life returned to normal. The quiet times are the most dangerous. Many of us volunteered to serve again in uniform could not and do so in other ways. This is our time and everyone fights. Many came back from the comfort of their retirements to wear a uniform to teach to guide and pass on the knowledge lost during subsequent draw-downs. Waking up to this has been disturbing.

We have people in power who say that restraint is a personal quality in our military. Courage cannot the legislated or manufactured; it comes precisely from within a person’s soul and the decision to make a sacrifice belongs to that person. Offering to reward inaction or ‘restraint’ is designed to dishonor those who willingly serve to protect others and to demoralize them so that a hostile foe can thrive. I know that Reagan and Bush Sr. missed one Memorial Day celebration once each and that is not the purpose of my musings but rather an observation that we’ve gone from being those emulated and turned into the people everyone wants to avoid. For a president to purposely skip this day to get some rest like it’s just some ordinary weekend is a symptom of what had been born twenty or thirty years ago and this is its culmination.

The object is clear; to strip us of our pride and make us more ‘equal’ in accordance with global social justice. Our defenses are being lowered to please those hostile states we defeated time after time in the past. Our leadership treads the dangerous waters of appeasement and conduct business behind closed doors as to not raise questions. This isn’t new. What we have enjoyed in this country is still the envy of the world. Many fought and died, lost their wealth, damaged their reputation to forge this wonderful life for us to enjoy. The time has come for all to roll up our sleeves and make our contribution. What that is I can’t tell you or when you will be tasked but be ready. As many others jumped in to do the right thing, to fight for everyone’s future so will you. Though much of our history is being erased and re-written many of us carry that pride and love of country with us. I assure you that is one book that will never be burned; ever. When you’re done eating that barbecued meal look around and get ready. It’s time for hard work. To me it doesn’t matter where I wake; though some days I wish the Gipper would be around to handle things, but we’ll have to find some way to regain that sense of security once more. It’s about answering the call to duty.

God bless America.

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Is Obama’s Afghanistan strategy too little too late?

Posted in General Stanley McChrystal, Obama, obama war strategy, obama west point, Opinion (Political), troop surge afghanistan, war in afghanistan on November 29, 2009 by AN Security

I’m not sure if Obama’s charisma can take him any farther than a cool photo op at the US Military Academy in West Point but as we all know, the cadets are being groomed to assume roles of leadership perhaps very soon, and they must portray that atmosphere of trust and respect for the office of the president. It’s just military protocol that they will be made available for Mr. Obama’s impactful announcement however I am aware that many in the crowd are supporters and hope that whatever he chooses to do will be of greatest benefit to the United States. Perhaps many are already wondering the motivation for delaying his decision on sending or withholding a troop surge in Afghanistan and if that delay will result in a protracted war, already going strong in its eight year, and if the US will be able to defeat our enemies. I wonder how the background of the military academy can help him deliver a riveting speech that will inspire the American people to follow his leadership. One thing is to be stately and inspire a nation to support a war; another is to actually have the courage to carry it out.

It’s not that making a decision at the same time General Stanley McChrystal’s official request for troops in excess of 68,000 could have been beneficial right away. Nothing happens quickly in a war; it seems that a president can just snap his fingers and recall troops from the field any time and wham, our troops are on their way home. A total pullout can take between two and five years, depending on many variables; is this still a shooting war? Another consideration is who stays behind to maintain security while the other units move out, equipment naturally has to be moved, when you move troops around you have to find places for them to eat and sleep and process out. This isn’t like buying a ticket to Europe for two weeks; you pack your bags and go. It is not the same thing and it would be unreasonable for the folks from Moveon.org to demand that their ‘president’ stop the war, close down the holding facility at Guantanamo (without considering constitutional and other political fallout and it is still not closed) and implement universal healthcare right away. What about the war on terror? Mr. Obama refuses to call it that these days, so what is it, a police action? Ummmm…

I read in the news, I think it was Carl Levin, who claimed that Mr. Obama was entitled time to examine all of his options regarding Afghanistan. That is true, I agree with his statement but there is one small problem with that; while Mr. Bush had several months to study and confer with his war council on a strategy to deal swiftly with the 9/11 attacks and mitigate potential future attacks on our nation, Mr. Obama is not facing the same issues.

First, the war has been ongoing and Mr. Obama is expected to pick up where Mr. Bush left off, he’s not being called on to establish a new war strategy, just to as he says, ‘finish’ the job. Second, Mr. Bush was faced with an attack on American soil and though the decision to invade Iraq came about months later, he had a clear objective. Third, conversely, Mr. Obama was tasked with determining how to improve our chances of winning over the dreaded Taliban in another warfront and keeping that threat from spreading to our shores. Mr. Obama has some of the finest minds available to help him reach these decisions. Though each and every problem Mr. Obama faces, he must bear in mind that they are related but each most be handled separately. Delaying his decision until after the Thanksgiving Day holiday while many of our forces face oblivion in foreign lands sends the wrong signal to the country, our troops, our allies – the few we have left – and our enemies. To consider this delay a form of pragmatism is truly dangerous. Holding off until a consensus is reached for a time is fine but the recommendation from the general came with alternate strategies and outcomes and the time for action has come and gone. If he goes for a troop surge on Tuesday, either way the execution of that order will take about as much time as it will take Congress to implement national healthcare or fuss over the Olympic Games or global climate treaties. His attention shifted to things unimportant and this is where we are stuck now.

Nothing happens overnight and though a military surge will be a much welcome development that will not advance the agenda right away. Much time has already been wasted.

In the case of national healthcare we can do just fine without it for now or the next year but the war goes on and a decision must be made as to what direction it will take.  Neville Chamberlain will always cause historians to fight over whether his appeasement policy worked against British national interests by allowing Germany’s advance on Czechoslovakia because he believed in engaging bullies in dialogue. Anyone who watches the news or has served in Iraq and Afghanistan can clarify this fantasy for Mr. Obama. The people we’re fighting have no ethic or abide by the rules of war. They are not professional armies, carry a flag or pledge allegiance to a unified nation. Their purpose is to terrorize and cause all the damage possible to our way of life and make us give up. That is what allows them to fight to the last man standing and without regard to innocent bystanders. Their objective is clear. I hope Mr. Obama renounces this approach and jumps right into the fight because his future is just as threatened as that of America. He must find his objective quickly and allow the fight to resume. He said he wanted to ‘talk’ and talk isn’t the answer. Actions speak louder than words. It’s time to act.

 I’d like to believe that in spite of not liking his policies that whatever is done will receive support from Americans in one way or another, because our very existence is at stake. That is the kind of ‘victory’ he said he is afraid to be comfortable with but unfortunately it is the very kind of victory that will ensure our survival. I can only hope his effort is not too little too late.

So which is it going to be sir?