Veterans Day - For Our Mil-Bloggers On Veterans Day, I want to pay tribute to our Mil-bloggers, past and present.
Often, I realize that I sound irreverent about the Bush administration, and I realize that sort of public talk and behavior is not freely allowed within the ranks of active American military service. My irreverence is wholly packed with the punch of the truth from my standpoint of individual conscience. I am grateful for the fact that our men and women of the armed forces serve our nation trustingly and loyally and to them, I am reflecting that essence for which I know they risk everything. By exercising the right and privilege to speak as a free and honest American citizen, a large part of my goal is to watch over these soldiers and to ensure they are being given a fair shake by the government (and people) they serve to protect. I know that their lives depend upon the stability and wisdom of their commander in chief.
Today, I honor the following websites--all written by members, past or present, of our Armed Forces:
A big shout out to my co-blogger at Syracuse Progressive - milblogger Fred Bieling, who's currently serving with the New York State Army National Guard. I'm so glad Fred and I have become acquainted. He has a lot of writing talent. Check him out.
http://cbftw.blogspot.com/ - Colby (aka CB) was stationed in Mosul with the Stryker brigade. He writes with the heart of the philosopher. He was cut off from blogging by the powers that be for a short time, but now he's back with a book called My War. He's my favorite 'Charlie Bravo.'
http://docinthebox.blogspot.com/ - Sean is a Navy medic. He's articulate and his writing is very well thought out. (Even though he dreads what his high school English teacher might think if she were to gaze upon his blog).
http://lt-smash.us/ - Iraq war veteran and war blogger, now he's a stateside citizen. He has a group called Protest Warriors. Go here for a sample of his thoughts and the discourse that follows in the Comments section.
The Daily Brief (SSDB) -A collaborative blog discussing the conflict day-today. Pay Stryker, Kevin Connors, Sgt. Mom, and Sparkey a visit. Good, honest writing.
http://www.dogtulosba.com/ I got to know Chad when he came to Iddybud to straighten me out on my military terminology. (I suck at it). He's the expert, and I deferred to him. I also became a fan. Note: Chad gets my vote for the category of 'Best blogger smile'. ;)
http://www.cimoli.com/blog/cimoli_blog - Gordo is a US Army Aviator. He's been in the Army since August 1988 and has been all over the world from Panama to Canada. In iraq now, Gordo recently expressed concern that his unit's embedded reporter, CBS Bob, is leaving to head back to the states. He was their link to the world--he had the sattelite internet connection and could keep the soldiers up to date on what was going on in the world.
http://scrimshaw.blogspot.com/ -91 Ghost- A literary vet, who recently wrote: "Say a little prayer that our enemies shall be defeated, that our Republic shall flourish in the light of its Constitutional intentions and guidances, and that our leaders, whomsoever they may be, will have the wisdom and discretion to do the right thing, whatever that may be...and say a little prayer that our politicians, on either side of the aisle, will defer to our war chiefs when it comes to making war decisions...because this situation we are in, is not a football game. Say a little prayer, above all, for the soldier walking point tonight, and for the soldier laying up in Walter Reed tonight, and for those whose last sight on earth was of a mzzle flash in some slum in Iraq, and not the fields they called home."
"If the coalition were to just pick up and go would the insurgency stop altogether? I mean these people have some plan right? I only wonder what their objective mission is? Seems to me that they are killing more of their own people then ours. If I take CNN's word for it, they killed 40 of their own and just 1 US Soldier today. So is it about the Coalition being there? Now when I say one of their own, I mean of Arab descendent. We all know that the insurgency is not just Iraqi's.
I couldn't imagine what goes through their thick stinking skulls as they are planning this shit. Do they really justify killing woman and children? Do they chalk it up as a casualty of war and Allah will compensate them when they go to Heaven?
I wonder what would make it all go away? I can bet that if we just left it wouldn't!"
http://www.hackworth.com/ -David Hackworth's military career as a sailor, soldier and a military writer has spanned several dozen wars and conflicts, from the end of World War II to the first Gulf War to the present situation in Iraq -- which he described as “the biggest military miscalculation in our nation’s history.” David Hackworth died earlier this year and we will miss his voice.
http://www.ivaw.net/ -Iraq Veterans Against the War(IVAW) is currently working on a nation wide speaking tour and in 2004, they participated in a Vigil in Washington D.C., with speakers including Lila Lipscombe, who was a mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq. I saw the entire event on CSPAN and found it to be very moving, but it never made the news, curiously. Other than CSPAN, the media was dead-silent for far too long. Some of them have been supporting Cindy Sheehan, mother of fallen soldier Casey Sheehan.
I'm including a blogging "Soldier's Angel" named Holly Aho and Patti Patton-Bader, mother of Sgt. Brandon Varn who served in Iraq, Soldier's Angels, who asks this of you:
Soldiers are truly enduring the horrible. We must pull together as a country. I ask, you no I get down on my knees and I beg you support a soldier TODAY. Do something now to help, Adopt A Soldier,. Write a letter, go to your local veterans association, see if there is a wife with a husband deployed and mow her lawn, watch her children, give her a hug.. Help the wounded, DO SOMETHING to support these precious heroes.
Here's to Ross Myers, Tara Sue Clark, and Jerry McClough of North Carolina who, along with their help with the Military WebCOM Video Conferencing Program and the VFW's Operation Uplink, enabled and facilitated a Milbloggers session at a Blog Conference in Nashville this year.
"Do the math. Mosul is 1.1 million, Baghdad is about 6 million, Kirkuk is about a million. All are highly mixed ethnically, and all are tinderboxes. If you put 50,000 US troops into each of those three cities and just abandoned Anbar province, you still could not control them."
- Juan Cole
John McCain's Impractical Iraq Ideas
Read Juan Cole to understand how John McCain's Iraq strategy is impractical. More troops? No way. Cole compares McCain's ideas to the Soviet concept for military occupation of Afghanistan - and you know how well that turned out!
In response to Mr. Cole's opinion, Michael Pollak says that the reality of the problems that come with controlling the countryside magnifies Cole's criticism:
How to control the countryside afterwards - that is the soul of the question facing the government. To say "And then we move on to control the countryside" is like saying "And then voila a miracle happens."...But this doesn't undercut your criticism, it only magnifies it. The problem with invoking the oil spot theory now is that the oil spot theory assumes you already control the cities. And it assumes that you already have a strong state. Neither of which is at all true now in Iraq. Iraq and Afghanistan are 4th generation wars, which are entirely different. Now you don't have weak forces trying to wrest control from a state. Rather the guerrillas are trying to stop a state from coming into being, which is much easier. In the entire history of colonialism and the cold war, a steady flow of random terrorism never accomplished the first. But in the world of post-cold war failed states, it can accomplish the second. It can stop strong states from coming into being.
I will continue speaking in support of a Federal shield law. In my future writing, I intend to call attention to the internal and external threats to our country’s freedoms – Al Qaeda and other forms of religious extremism, conventional and W.M.D. terrorism, and growing government secrecy in the name of national security – subjects that have long defined my work.
I find it to be ironic that, as Judith Miller's star falls, Ahmed Chalabi is honored once again by his White House friends. It's quite sickening. Chalabi and the war planners within the Bush administration were perpetrators of the biggest fraud ever palmed off on the American people. Justice is nowhere to be found. Only a lost national vision, a disillusioned public, and a once-popular journalist disappearing from the mainstream for the part she unwittingly-yet foolishly and unprofessionally played. I'm sorry for my nation that it has all happened this way.
Rev. Brown counsels a 'Camp Edwards village' resident photo credit - Harvard Gazette
"I have never been involved in this kind of volunteer effort before ... This was the worst disaster in recent U.S. history, and it exposed an ugly side of the American ethos and [an] underside of American society, when talking about issues of race, poverty and class."
I started out with thoughts of attempting a Veteran's Day memorial-post effort. My father is an Air Force and Korean War veteran and he'd once worked on a radar project at Otis AFB (now Air National Guard base) on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. When researching Otis Air National Guard Base , I found an inspirational story about something that has recently happened there - at a makeshift village called "Camp Edwards."
There's a Boston Globe story by Sally Jacobs about an inspirational leader, Rev. Jeffrey Brown, who was placed at the right place at the right time - and made a difference in 235 lives. It isn't a fairy tale - real life is too untidy for such notions. According to the Globe article, about 20% of the "villagers" had a serious mental illness - four times the national average. Two dozen were homeless, and several were illiterate. Most had been poor back home, and were poorer now. Among the last to leave New Orleans, they were, as one state official put it, "the people society left behind."
This wasn't a job for anyone seeking glory. It was the kind of job where you roll up your sleeves; get ready to hear (and face) the bald truth; bury your judgement; get some hard work done - while showing compassion and care for some people who are in a struggle for their very existence. Not an easy task. Rev. Jeffrey Brown is a special person - and our society would be lost without leaders like him.
It was, by definition, an extraordinary place. It brought together 235 human beings whose lives had been in some measure destroyed, and settled them upon a barren stretch of pine forest in a place few of them had ever heard of. During the 47 days that it existed, each of those lives would be recast.
.There were 35 children (under the age of 18), 157 adults, 43 elderly people (age 59 and over). There were 14 familes with children. For many of the evacuees, the care and attention they'd received in the village was like nothing they had known before in their lives. It was not a perfect place. By the end of tis past September, the mood in the village had flattened. There were not enough blankets, and the road trips had dropped off. The search policy offended many. No one knew how the FEMA housing money would be distributed, making it almost impossible for leases to be signed, and the solutions did not come overnight. It took time to care for these people, but as Ms. Jacoby has written, the pieces of their future were eventually "snapping into place." 100 decided to remain in Massachssetts. The majority of the rest headed back toward their native South.
Like many nameless Americans across the nation who helped Katrina refugees through a tremendously difficult time, Reverend Brown and the Camp Edwards crew and volunteers played a part in making these jarring transitions, after the trauma of rooftop rescues and near-drownings, a caring and healing experience. I'd like to take a moment to thank them and tell them that they are truly appreciated. I hope that Reverend Brown will take all that he learned from his selfless experience and lead us to understand how we, as citizens, can play a part to never again ignore the nameless, faceless numbers of our fellow Americans who suffer from poverty, homelessnes, mental illness, social isolation, or discrimination.