...and can't believe it's been about 16 months since I last visited here.
So much for having an audience anymore.
22 May 2010
23 January 2009
07 October 2008
Yes, I am still alive! Two folks have gotten on the IV's case in the last 48 hours wondering if I still have a pulse. Indeed, I do!
So, this is a fine time to fire off a short missive confirming that I'm still irritated as ever and also am getting ready for tonight's Round 2 between Obama and "The Maverick."
Judging by McCain's performance two weeks ago (snarling, refusing to look at Obama, changing the subject with every question), I would not be too surprised if McCain enter's tonight's town-hall meeting and becomes visibly upset at some point. The question is, is he ticked that Obama's starting to trounce him, or is he really coming to regret his choice of campaign staff and his VP choice?
I hope to be back later this evening with some observations on both candidates during the debate...and I've added another rule to the debate drinking game: Every time McCain says he loves the vets, helps the vets, ALWAYS stands up for vets, I'm downing a beer.
Gawd knows I was positively hammered after the Sarah Palin show last week. And that was just from watching her interview with Couric.
Perhaps I will be a bit squiffed when I return, but such is par for the course when McCain takes his stand-up act on national TV again.
I'll catch ya later.
12 July 2008
Jeez, I'm trying to figure out if I ever really left the Army. I sure move often enough to think I'm still in. More often, really.
My wife and I are headed for the political wilderness (or zoo) known as Washington, DC, over the next couple weeks. It's going to be a bit of adjustment for this small-town guy, but my wife - a big-city girl - will be in heaven as far as she's concerned.
I will too, I bet: There may be no better time to see how our nation really works, up-close, by living in perhaps the most important metro region in the world. I've got a lot on my plate for now: Moving, new job, grad school in the near future (next year) and a host of other opportunities I'll likely be knee-deep in before too long.
It should be an interesting journey, and I swear I'm going to try to keep this site alive. Yeah, I know, it's CPR-time for this thing, but I think I can keep it going.
Well, stay in touch. Maybe I'll redo the site after the dust settles and keep a running commentary on the election, the wars, the state politics and patriotism and the world in general from the IV's perspective.
Meanwhile, I comment on VetVoice fairly regularly (when I'm not loading boxes and such), so take a trip over there and see what the great minds of that organization are saying.
Until next time...
09 May 2008
"Any station, any station, this is IrritatedVet, over..."
Ah, geez, here I am again. Trying to revive this place after, uh, a month and a half of inactivity.
Yeah, good luck with that, eh?
Not much happening here at the ol' IV, other than this recent gem of a comment (for a July, 2006 posting). Thanx Gary, it's good to know that someone out there still drinks the Kool-Aid. I lost my taste for it several years ago.
Been spending a lot of time trying to get things lined up for the future - as in grad school - and working with various groups, namely VoteVets, to effect positive policy change as regards Iraq.
And Hillary's on her last gasp - attempting to do everything possible to whine, cajole and threaten her way to the Dem nomination and destroy the party in the process. Because that is EXACTLY what would happen if the DNC hands it to her.
On Thursday night, an open letter from Clinton to Obama began making its way around the net, and it's just a hoot.
My favorite line of her (not well edited) letter:
One of the foremost principles of our party is that citizens be allowed to vote and that those votes be counted. That principle is not currently being applied to the nearly 2.5 million people who voted in primaries in Florida and Michigan.
Um, uh, let me think for a sec here. Oh, yeah, I remember. Seems that Sen. Clinton, Obama and all the rest of the hopefuls agreed with the DNC last year that those two state's Dem committees had violated the rules, therefore their respective primaries would not count. The people of Florida and Michigan should be raising hell with their state committees, that's for damn sure.
That's what was agreed to, hence the fact that Obama and the others spent little time campaigning in those states. I've corresponded with DNC chief Howard Dean about this (here's his response, for the record).
Since then, it's become apparent neither state will hold another primary. It's become an integrity issue more than anything else - Sen. Clinton has demonstrated that she has little when it comes to abiding by the previous agreement, and the DNC has every opportunity now to demonstrate that they do have the integrity to uphold the ruling and agreement.
So let's see how things go over the next week - and hopefully, by then, the DNC will be geared toward fighting John McCain, not each other.
And on the next fun-n-happy edition of "CSI: IrritatedVet," we solve more of the mysteries of my favorite Middle East tourist destination, Iraq.
24 March 2008
As I promised some time back, I would post the reply from the DNC re: the Michigan and Florida issues as relates to the Obama-Clinton standoff.
And, get this: It wasn't a form letter! Holy cow!
Without further ado....
March 12, 2008
Thank you for writing to the Democratic National Committee. I am glad to hear that you participated in the Democratic caucus in Maine.
I understand your concerns regarding the delegates from Folrida and Michigan. As of this time, both states remain in non-compliance with a 100% loss of their delegates. The results of the January primaries in either state cannot count towards the nomination because the January dates violate the DNC's rules. However, if Florida or Michigan chooses to hold new primaries or caucuses they may regain their delegates. This is a move the DNC would welcome because we know how inportant it is to the Party that these two states play a meaningful role in the nominating process. If they do not hold new primaries or caucuses then this issue will ultimately be resolved by the Convention Credentials Committee after we have a nominee.
Thank you for writing and for your brave service to our country. Please feel free to contact us again in the future.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D.
Well, there you have it. We know now that FLA and MI will not have a re-vote, but I'm waiting for Sen. Clinton - who went into this fully expecting that the nomination was already hers - to find another way to have those states counted. I wonder if she's gonna pull an Al Gore and go to court over this...and I think that it's pretty clear that her case would be pretty weak.
After all, she, Obama and the other candidates agreed to the FL and MI penalties in the first place.
Sorry, Hillary, the coronation is off.
15 March 2008
Whether that's a good thing or not depends on your perspective, I suppose.
But I have not abandoned this little soapbox in the vast wilderness...but have been spending a lot of time at VetVoice.com, the online blog of VoteVets.org.
For those of you who are looking for a great place to vent frustrations about the war in Iraq - and more importantly, GET INVOLVED in ending it and restoring a decent, well reasoned and beneficial set of foreign and military policies.
I had the awesome opportunity to go to DC earlier this month and meet fellow VoteVets members - about 25 of us - and spend a couple days getting familiar with VoteVets' core mission.
In short, we are a pro-military organization - with around 15,000 Iraq and Afghanistan vets (and thousands of spouses, family, supporters and everyday civilians) - that takes issue with the current administration's policies that led to a disastrous, failed war in Iraq while the real war on terror was ignored and military readiness has fallen like a stone.
While our nation pursues two separate wars, no serious effort has been made to upgrade, expand and prepare our military to fight the protracted conflicts that will undoubtedly continue over the next decade at least.
We also support and endorse veterans running for Congress and state-level office who seek a better way in terms of our nation's policies.
Unfortunately, my time is short tonight. Just wanted to drop by and shout into the ether for a few minutes and let you all know I'm alive.
And tired. Heading for sleep.
22 February 2008
Well, I couldn't help it.
After thinking about the latest issues regarding Ickes' call - on behalf of Hillary Clinton - for the DNC to go back on its word and reverse last year's vote re: Florida and Michigan (a move that was subsequently agreed to by all Dem candidates), I had to write the DNC Chairman, Dr. Howard Dean and share my feelings about this matter.
I post it here for everyone's benefit, now that the DNC has received it and has had some time to digest it.
February 19, 2008
Howard Dean, M.D.
Chairman, Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
Dear Dr. Dean:
I write you to share my concerns about a crucial debate and decision that, in my estimation, will dictate the future of the Democratic Party.
I am an Iraq War veteran, a former independent voter, and a newly minted member of the Democratic Party. I changed my affiliation on Feb. 10 in order to take part in the Maine caucus, and am very glad I took the time to participate in that process.
However, my newfound excitement at being a Democrat has been tempered in recent days, stemming from what appears to be a growing call from certain DNC members to overturn last year’s decisions by majority vote to strip Florida and Michigan of their delegates over those states’ early primaries in violation of established party rules and policies.
My concern is that the party, if it were to overturn the previous decision this far into the primary/caucus process, would send a signal that it cannot abide by its own decisions; such a move will be widely interpreted by members of both major parties – and the American public in general – as a signal that the DNC can’t enforce its own policies.
The backlash of such a move, I am convinced, will be catastrophic for this party. I believe it will drive Independents away from casting a vote for the Democratic candidate, and it will further polarize the Democratic Party itself. In light of the trying times we face - and the common belief that there needs to be a leadership change in Washington - this is not the time for a major rift to be opened among Democrats.
Furthermore, the opposition will exploit such a decision for maximum effect throughout the remainder of the campaign – including pointing to such a move as evidence that the DNC cannot abide by its own decisions and policies, therefore making the Democrats incapable of holding the highest office in the land.
We have seen what the opposition can do in terms of exploiting lies about others for political gain. I shudder to think what they can do with a situation like this, should it come to pass.
Our party cannot risk losing this election, and I’m convinced that if the DNC reverses its prior decision, such a result will become much more of a likelihood.
I’m speaking neither in support of (or on behalf of) nor against either major Democratic candidate for the presidential nomination. (I’d also like to add I am not actively involved in any campaign.)
I have my own preference, but the process of choosing our delegates and our nominee – and the integrity of that process, abiding by all previous DNC decisions – is more important to me.
And integrity is so sorely needed in Washington now, more than ever!
I’d also like to make clear that in no way do I seek to disenfranchise any voters in the primary process – but the decision has very publicly been made by the DNC. I submit that the DNC must abide by that decision, enforce it and choose a presidential candidate based on the will of the voters in the rest of the nation – whomever that candidate may be.
I write to you as a voter, a new party member, and a concerned American citizen who desperately seeks an alternative to the Republican party that since 2001 has put our nation’s military, economy and very future at risk with policies based on lies.
I respectfully submit that the DNC must remain bound to the decision it made last year regarding the 2008 presidential candidate nomination process.
If I receive a reply, I'll let you know. If it's a form letter, rest assured I will send it back and demand - on behalf of all voters - an honest, original reply.
17 February 2008
Looks like one of Sen. Clinton's guard-dogs, Harold Ickes, a former deputy Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton and a current DNC member, is having a change of heart about the DNC's move to bar Florida and Michigan's delegates.
Let me get this straight: Ickes voted as a DNC member months ago to disallow those delegates after those states' parties committed scheduling violations for their primaries. He, along with other DNC bigwigs, including Howard Dean, vowed to uphold and enforce this decision.
So far, so good! But wait, there's more!
Now that Ickes is deep into the campaign as a member of the Clinton camp - and Clinton's certainly not having the easy time she so confidently predicted many months ago - he's now calling to overturn a national-level decision that he himself played a key role in authorizing?
WHOA! Back the truck up, Chief!
Isn't that a conflict of interest? Major-leaguer, big-time?
It's like voting to make something illegal, then pushing to have that rescinded or repealed when you realize your son or friend is about to get busted under that statute.
NOTE TO DNC: Wanna lose the election AGAIN? Go back on your word on this and see what happens. And we, America, cannot afford another four years of the current administration's policies.
If the Dems allow this, it will prove that the party has no real interest in the actual process of democracy. Yup, there's the democratic process, and then there's the Democratic process.
I truly believe, to my very core, that if the DNC reverses its previous decision with regard to Florida and Michigan, it will be suicidal to the party. The Democrats have struggled for years - a decade, really - to regain the sense of party unity of pre-1994.
The party has proven on many occasions since 2001 to have a limp dick when it comes to challenging the GOP, and flip flopping on this issue is not exactly the Viagra it so sorely needs now.
If the Democrats are to be trusted with the executive office, they had better adhere to their own decision - lest they prove that - like GWB and Co. - they are not capable of following the rules.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess I am a new Democrat (as of 10 FEB 08, the day of the Maine Caucuses).
The Dems will make the decision soon as to whether they keep me or lose me. It's not about Clinton/Obama. It's about enforcing party policy. Accountability, you might say.
Yes, I voted Obama. I cannot vote for someone who voted for the Iraq War, period. No way, no how. That includes Clinton and McCain.
***On a side note, this marks the 100th posting here. Yah, whoop-tee-friggen'-doo!
Geez, I better get with the program and start cranking out more here. I've been hanging out at VoteVets way too much - which is a good thing! Go check it out!
16 February 2008
Have been reading with much amusement the extent to which our GOP members of Congress have been going lately to distance themselves of the pressing matters of the day.
Take, for example, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who has over the last couple weeks seemingly become a one-track guy: Going after the NFL over the 'Spygate' issue.
OK, for you non-football types: it was found that the N.E. Patriots had used videotape to spy on opponents and divine their coaching calls during games, which is a form of cheating. Yes, the Pats were properly punished.
At any rate, this happened in September...now that the snow flies and the Super Bowl is over, Specter - an ardent Eagles fan - seems to forget that there's a war or two going on, and is fixated on trying to force the NFL to punish the Pats further.
Two questions, Sen. Specter: A) Since when does Congress regulate the NFL's rules, and B) Don't you have, uh, more pressing needs to attend to?
Same goes for this whole sham of the baseball steroids hearings. This is a matter for MLB and the courts, NOT Congress! Seriously, gang, what's more important, Clemens taking a jab in the butt so he could win one more game, or the fact that our nation is still losing blood and traesure in Iraq?
But I save the best for last...
In the truest spirit of the GOP's reputation for toughness, most of the Republican House members decamped the House chamber Thursday in search of safe haven - led by Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) - when it became apparent that the Democratic majority was going to commit the ultimate act of treason:
They held Bush administration officials in contempt for REFUSING to tell the truth.
So, knowing that the motion would pass, Boehner bravely stood up to the challenge and led his fellow yellow elephants out of the room in "protest."
Mr. Boehner, that has got to be the all-time most pusillanimous, spineless, shameful thing I've ever seen on the House floor.
He and his colleagues, as I noted at VetVoice yesterday, have given a new meaning to the old phrase, "When the going gets tough, the 'tough' get going."
In their pants, apparently. Truth hurts, doesn't it? Go change your Depends, Boehner.
Shame on them. They abandoned their posts, and no longer deserve to be called leaders. Just try that in the military and see what happens.
08 February 2008
Until yesterday, I was undecided...as to whether I would take the time to participate in the Maine Dem Caucus this Sunday.
Seriously, I thought things would be pretty cut-and-dried by then, so what would be the point, other than being able to say I participated in it.
Not so fast, all! As we all know, things are clear as mud right now, and apparently Maine just became a key state for both Sens. Obama and Clinton...so much so that BOTH of them will visit our fair state this Saturday.
What I'm saying to those of you in Maine and the other 20 or so states yet to caucus/primary, your vote apparently does matter, and I urge you to participate.
Who knew that my humble little state could suddenly matter? It's nice to know that my vote may actually mean something!
(As a colleague of mine recently quipped: "I'm gonna rock out with my caucus out!!!")
ON A RELATED NOTE:
Am curious as to how many readers here have had problems with primaries/caucuses (waiting in line for hours, finding out that voter rolls were inaccurate, elections officials running out of ballots, etc.)
This is an issue that were all going to need to be hyper-aware of as we go through this process - especially those of you stationed in Iraq, A-stan, etc.
I had a pissing match with my local election board in 2004 while I was in Iraq - we received absentee ballots for the municipal elections a full week AFTER the election was over.
I sent mine back with a letter urging the board to get absentees ballots out to Iraq asap for the November elections, lest those of us defending the right to vote be disenfranchised in the process. (I got mine on time and was told that my vote for Kerry WAS counted in my county's results.)
I know it happened in 2004, and I think we can make a concerted effort to try and prevent that this year. Just a heads-up.
(Cross-posted at VetVoice.com)
24 January 2008
It seems like the Democrats, as can be expected, are up in arms about El Presidente's latest attempt to present himself as having a strong bond with the so-called Iraqi government - one that will keep American troops there for as long as John McCain thinks they should be.
Among the top critics is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). She has used the past two Democratic presidential debates to blast President Bush for his effort, as she put it Monday in South Carolina, "to try to bind the United States government and his successor to his failed policy."
Her concerns have been echoed by Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and other Democratic lawmakers who are focusing their fire on the administration's plans for a long-term commitment to Iraq, after gaining little traction for their efforts to force a faster withdrawal of U.S. combat troops there.
(Somewhere, in the back of my mind, a little voice tells me how easy I was told the Iraq operation was supposed to be. We were supposed to be down to 30,000 troops there by the end of 2003. The President, after all, stood in front of a banner proclaiming to the world, "Mission Accomplished!"
Another little voice reminds me that I spent most of 2004 in Iraq, as casualties mounted, the Iraqi economy declined and my nation got sucked deeper into a quagmire, and it hasn't gotten any better, surge or no surge. Thanks for the reality check, other little voice!)
So here we are in 2008, nearly five years after the Iraq War started, and the Bush administration - one which equates rational problem-solving with defeat - is doing everything it can to basically say "not OUR problem!" They are setting up the next administration - assuming it's Democratic - for failure.
...Bush and his advisers express the private conviction that any presidential successor will find it hard to disengage from Iraq, no matter what is said on the campaign trail. One senior official, not authorized to speak publicly, said Clinton or any another would-be president will eventually welcome the agreement that the Bush administration intends to negotiate with the Iraqis.
"Is the next president going to say, 'I don't want to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq'? Maybe," this official said. "But I think they are going to want to, and we will give them the proper authorities."
I'm calling bullshit on this one. What this guy is really saying is that the only administration capable of working on a deal with Iraq is the current one, and what they are doing is locking Bush's successor into an agreement that won't give him/her any wiggle room to end the war.
Besides, "al-Qaeda in Iraq?" Really? No such animal existed until 2003, and even then, it's still a stretch to assume everyone there is AQI.
So, without further ado, I challenge all of our Senators and Congresspersons - of BOTH PARTIES - to challenge the administration on this.
BushCo's gone too long unchallenged, and when they are, it seems that all too often Congress caves.
It's time for this to end.
If the Dems are so up-in-arms about this, they must carry out their Constitutionally mandated duty and force the administration to run this agreement - which sounds more like a treaty - through the Senate.
Random thought of the day: Mayday is May 1, which happens to be the anniversary of the infamous speech on the deck of the USS Lincoln.
Has anyone given any thought to rebranding Mayday as 'Mission Accomplished Yet?' day ?
Also, I saw this little gem on the MNF-I Web site:
In August, electrical production of megawatts exceeded 5,000 for 25 days – producing enough power for approximately 450,000 homes.
That's it? After nearly five years?
Mission Accomplished, my ass.
17 January 2008
Yeah, sure, I'll take 12 months over 15 months any day, but the fact remains that our policies in Iraq - the Mission that Has Not Yet Been Accomplished - is still requiring men and women to go over again and again.
GEN Casey tries, I think, to sound magnanimous about this, but the statement he gives the AP gives me pause:
Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the Army, said that as the number of brigades in Iraq comes down from 20 to 15 over the next several months, officials will be able to begin increasing the amount of time soldiers spend at home between tours.
But Casey cautioned that he is "not going public with that or final with that until I'm sure we're not going back'' on it.
So, if he's not going public, why in hell's he talking to AP about it?
And it seems that our intrepid reporter from AP didn't ask the pertinent questions regarding our previous commitments in Afghanistan (anyone remember that?), or the fact that President Bush seems hellbent on firing up yet another war with Iran. Let's see what that does for rotation schedules, General!
America's current rotations are barely tenable as is - I know of a Navy officer doing ground duty in Iraq because there basically wasn't an Army/USMC person to fill that billet - and now GWB is doing all he can to falsely ratchet up the stakes in the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz, as evidenced last week.
With the new, contrived threats showing up on the military's radar screen - and sooner rather than later, methinks - I'm gonna go back to a long-held position of mine and see if it passes the IV test:
(From the AP story)
Plans are to increase the number of the active-duty Army, Army Guard and Army Reserve by 74,000 overall, with the active-duty force growing by 65,000 to a total of 547,000. In October, top Army leaders said they planned to move faster to increase the size of the force - adding the full 74,000 soldiers by 2010, two years sooner than originally planned.
OK...America's fighting two wars. One's got a pretty large contingent in one nation (Iraq, about 130,000 troops, plus contractors, diplomats, engineers, etc.).
The other war, the GWOT (or the RGWOT, Real Global War On Terror, as Brandon Friedman of VoteVets accurately calls it) requires about 30,000 US troops plus attendant CIV personnel in Afghanistan, plus others (hard to tell how many thousands) deployed worldwide in fights against Abu Sayyaf and other anti-US groups.
Keep in mind the US is done with one surge in Iraq, and is trying to mount another in Afghanistan (the "oh, yeah, that war!" response).
The current state of the Army and USMC - end-strength, equipment, OPTEMPO (operational tempo) and strain on soldiers/Marines and their families is running those services into the dirt.
And the Navy and USAF, I fear, are not far behind.
All the while, our nation - involved in two separate and distinct wars - chooses to increase the Army by a paltry 74,000 Soldiers over three years? While the specter of a new war hangs over America's head?
Seriously? War with Iran will force America to institute a full-scale, no-holds-barred draft. As in all males 18 to 45. Because it won't just be Iran that America fights - it will be World War III. The implications are global.
GEN Casey, SecDef Gates and (most of all) the President are more out of touch than we really realize.
It's indicative, yet again, as to how little planning went into the Iraq War. It's coming back to bite our nation - you and me - in the butt.
28 December 2007
...and it's getting worse by the minute, methinks.
With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan on Thursday, I'm not sure whether this event will go down in history like the death of Kennedy...or the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in 1914.
An already precarious situation has just gone critical - with all parties in Pakistan already furious with Pervez Musharraf's conduct this year - and conditions are ripe for the populace to make a serious stab at removing Musharraf from office.
The big question, of course, is who will come out on top after such a coup (or all-out civil war) - and who will control Pakistan's scores of nuclear weapons?
John Yaukey of Gannett News Service published an analysis today that covered the bases pretty accurately, and I quote below:
Bhutto's assassination also could crush hopes for democratic reform in Pakistan and could badly damage relations between Washington and Islamabad -- especially if anti-Western forces prevail in the chaotic aftermath, experts said.
Indeed, the followers of Bhutto have been - for the most part - peaceful, civilized and working for democracy in a nation that is known more for coups and corruption than any semblance of democratic rule. It even makes America's current leaders look downright good.
There's going to be more violence in Pakistan, and that will come very soon (I'm checking reports as I write this). The nuclear issue is definitely the most troubling. I've mentioned on this blog here, here and here that a nuclear-armed Pakistan in the hands of Taliban-style mullahs is a scenario that should make anyone shake in their boots, and I fear it will happen sooner than later.
Pakistan also has an estimated 50-100 nuclear weapons that could fall into radical hands if the government and army lose control of the country. But analysts say the military has firm control of the weapons, at least for now, and retains close ties with the United States.
Let's hope that cooler heads in Pakistan's military are able to safeguard the knowledge needed to use such weapons, prevent terrorists/extremists from accessing the sensitive materials that could be used to make a "dirty bomb" or other such device, and can somehow prevent such forces from initiating a wider or nuclear war, which would involve - at the very least - India, Iran, Afghanistan and the U.S.
But there's one more BIG issue that no one in Washington has dared mention: The United States Armed Forces are not large enough - and are too bogged down in Iraq - to adequately provide any security in Pakistan should things get bloody very fast.
The War on Terror has just taken a turn for the worse. A BIG turn for the worse.
And because of America's connection to these events, the ongoing war in Iraq and the uncertainty of what the victors in the Pakistan fight will do, America finds itself in a very precarious situation.
And under the "leadership" of George W. Bush, America finds itself completely impotent.
America's bullied itself into a corner.
24 December 2007
I'll be in and out over the next few days, what with Xmas and such.
I'm actually enjoying three days off for the first time in quite a while. Just wish I could say the same for the folks in Iraq/Afghanistan.
If you are looking for something to do over the holiday - if you have even a scant few minutes to kill - head on over to VetVoice.com, read what people are saying, and take the time to weigh in yourself.
I've a feeling that VetVoice - part of VoteVets.org - is about to take off and become THE place for Vets, families and concerned Americans to stay truly informed about the war in Iraq and what it has done to our nation and Armed Forces.
But it's not just Iraq - it's Veterans' issues, Afghanistan, the 'War on Terror,' what our leaders and candidates are telling us, as well as various discussions on the state of our Armed Forces and sharing ideas on what to do at this critical juncture in America's history and future.
I'll be posting here again soon, but until then, I invite you to take a side-trip to VetVoice.com.
You may see a familiar name there.
And to all, Happy Holidays and good night.
17 December 2007
(Also posted at VetVoice.com)
This is an interesting piece in the WP for Monday morning.
It seems remotely possible that administration leaders - under pressure from the military and other political forces - are awakening to the fact that the US has neglected the justified, neccessary war in Afghanistan while pursuing folly in Iraq.
I'm not sure where US forces will come from, as the surge winds down and units return to base to rest/refit/retrain. I foresee some serious shuffling of the latest Pentagon deployment schedules in the near future.
What struck me, though, was the description of the usual foot-dragging in cases like these:
Administration officials said the White House could start to debate the future of the American military commitment in both Iraq and Afghanistan as early as next month.
Time to quit pussyfooting around and get to it! The surge has been on for nearly a year, while Afghanistan's been going to heck in a handbag. The time to debate was before the Iraq surge.
I was also struck by this:
Bush's decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan could heavily influence his ability to pass on to his successor stable situations in both countries, an objective his advisers describe as one of the president's paramount goals for his final year in office. They say Bush will listen closely to his military commanders on the ground before making any decisions on troops but is unlikely to do anything he believes could jeopardize recent, hard-won security improvements in Iraq.
Administration officials say the White House has become more concerned in recent months about the situation in Afghanistan, where grinding poverty, rampant corruption, poor infrastructure and the growing challenge from the Taliban are hindering U.S. stabilization efforts. Senior administration officials now believe Afghanistan may pose a greater longer-term challenge than Iraq.
Given Mr. Bush's track record in listening to his military commanders, I've gotta see it - and results - to believe it. And this bit about Afghanistan posing a greater challenge than Iraq? Yeah, I seem to recall something about guys with airplanes a few years ago who trained in Afghanistan. Most of them were Saudis, but I won't delve into that right now.
And I've seen little evidence that he wants to pass a more stable situation on to a successor - especially if he/she is a Democrat.
Richard Holbrooke, at the bottom of this story, summed up the mindset of this administration very well, in that it just can't deal with reality-based criticism:
A new White House emphasis on Afghanistan would probably expose Bush to even more criticism from Democrats, who have long accused him of taking his eye off the hunt for Osama bin Laden with the invasion of Iraq.
"It's about time they recognized the problem" in Afghanistan, said former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke, a Democrat, who says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley called him last spring to say that a newspaper column he wrote raising concerns about conditions in Afghanistan was too pessimistic.
While I'm glad the administration is starting to refocus on its priorities (and actually concentrating on Afghanistan again), it will never, ever admit that it's in a real pickle right now, and has yet to take any real action to mobilize the nation to help get the job done.
10 December 2007
The administration's in a bad spot right now. It really is. The NIE fiasco has caused it to backtrack and stumble all over itself in trying to explain what the heck they are really up to these days, while the American Armed Forces are already mired in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now that the administration can't use the threat of Iranian nukes as much as they would like - and that the US Intel community has essentially rebuked the administration - I wonder what's next.
Three words: Gulf of Tonkin.
With America's beefed-up naval presence in the Persian Gulf, the administration could seek to induce a greater level of tension that may include actively pursuing low-level hostilities with Iran's navy; such an incident would certainly fan the flames for retaliatory strikes against Iran, precipitating a wider war with them. It would be 1964 all over again.
But has the administration considered its true military options in the Gulf? Surely, Navy and Air Force assets in the region could do some serious damage to Iranian infrastructure; likewise, Iran has been preparing for just such a thing since 1979 - there is no doubt they are prepared.
But can America marshal a ground response to a war with Iran? I contend America can not do so at this time - and would not be able to within five years. Our nation is overcommitted as far as ground troops are concerned - I'm talking Army and Marines here - and the key to winning a war with Persia, if it can be done, is on the ground.
The administration - and Congress - must step back from the abyss and take a hard look at not only the implications of a war with Iran, but also the benefits so far of the war in Iraq. Having been there and having followed that war closely since my tour there, I daresay America's none the better for it. Sure, that may change, but I'm not feeling really good about it right now.
If the Administration is truly committed to war with Iran, and I believe that Messrs. Bush and Cheney are, they absolutlely MUST be ready to expand America's Armed Forces to a sufficient level in which it can meet such goals.
Given the fact that the Army and Marines are hitting their operational limits in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no end in sight, I've got my doubts that Bush and Cheney will take any action to ensure this nation is well-equipped to meet any other goals that may be dictated in the near future.
In short, here's my prognostication: Navy 5th fleet has a 'Stark'-like incident, in which a missile hits a US ship, causing many casualties. Needless to say, Navy/Air Force assets are called in to strike Persian Gulf coast military bases. Iran then sends ground forces to strike American bases/FOBs in Iraq (more importantly, Iran calls on Iraqi Shia forces to declare war on Americans), a full-on civil war in Iraq takes hold within 24-48 hours, and America has no other option but to continue air strikes versus Iranian forces....and how long would it be until the nuclear option is exercised?
07 December 2007
RIP Tyler Curtis, 22 NOV 2007, Maine.
Tyler Curtis, 25, died on 22 NOV 07 in Livermore Falls, ME of wounds suffered figthing a war in Iraq.
Curtis, having been home from Iraq several months, took his own life.
There is a problem out there, and I don't think the government - at least this administration - wants to face up to those facts.
Men and women are coming back, as they do from all wars in foreign lands, with unseen scars. My father still comes to tears on occasion when he thinks of of Vietnam, and his tour was nearly 40 years ago. That point was driven home to me in 2004 when I came home on leave from Iraq. It was hard on him, and he's not one to tear up in front of others.
My grandfather does not talk about his participation in WWII as a Naval aviator. At 87, I don't know if he ever will.
I tear up on occasion when I think guys in my unit who didn't come back, or when I see the pictures of the funerals that pop up on the news wires every day.
I rarely went on any patrols. I never killed anyone. Hell, I never fired my weapon in anger.
But it was a life-changng experience, for better or for worse.
For Tyler Curtis, it was worse. I just wish he would have reached out more.
But the men and women who planned the Iraq War - and I use the term 'planned' loosely - failed to consider the effect on the Armed Forces in general or what it might do to the average Joe, like Tyler Curtis, during their time in-country.
How many Tyler Curtises will we have from this war?
04 December 2007
Gage posted a great question re: Blackwater/other mercenaries in Iraq, as follows:
Hi, I.Vet. I have another question, off the subject that I'd like to ask. I'mGage, first my apologies for the late reply.
wondering about how the average GI feels about outfits like Blackwater. I know
that in Nam there were some Australian mercinaries, but to my knowledge, the
U.S. hasn't ever used private armies in a theatre of war before now. (Maybe we
have, but I don't know of any.) I know the mercinaries are very well paid
compared to an enlisted man, and I can imagine the GI's grouse about that, but
the money isn't really what I'm asking about. I'm wondering in general how the
GI's feel about the presence of private armies in Iraq. How do they feel about
the fact that these armies aren't accountable to the same chain of command that
the enlisted are, and do the mercinaries make things easier or harder for them?
Just wondering. Blackwater's been in the news a lot lately and it seems that the
Iraqis hate them a whole lot more than they hate the regular GI's. To me,
though, it seems outfits like Blackwater make life a hell of a lot more
dangerous for our guys in Iraq. True or not?
Next, excellent question. I never had to deal with those guys in Iraq myself, and I admit that my perspective is a few years old (3 as of 29 DEC 07). However, as a taxpayer and a vet, I'll give you my unvarnished opinion, as always....
First, it never made sense to me that our nation would rely on mercenaries - paid upwards of $80,000/year - to do the same job we pay $30,000-$40,000/year to do. I'm not talking about care and feeding of anyone, just straight up salary. Our nation has a rich tradition of charging the government a lot more than a part/service/humanoid costs, so who's to say Blackwater and their peers aren't doing the same now?
What I'm getting at is this: Say a Blackwater guy costs $100,000 in wages. There's also care and feeding/housing...there's also equipment (weapons, ammo, kevlar, vehicles, IBA/flak jacket, clothing, electronics, etc...). Per peson, I'd wager this comes to a total of maybe $200K/person (wages plus feeding plus supplies).
So we're paying $200K for someone we already trained (most are ex-military) to do something that the military pays about $80K-$100K to do (again, total costs) over a one-year tour.
(That said, I always had problems with KBR contractors who got paid five times as much as me - while they worked 4 hours a day and did what they pleased.)
Furthermore, Blackwater, etc., is not beholden to military Rules of Engagement (ROE) or Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This leads to - as we saw recently - paid mercenaries acting outside the stated goals of the military's justification/ground rules for conduct in Iraq, possibly with little course for retribution.
The short answer: If we are going to fight this war, we fight with the professionals who are trained to fight AND are subject to a high standard of conduct....all at the same general price.
The administration has erred greatly (depending on who you ask...the Blackwater Corp. is making TONS of money) in hiring others to do the jobs the military should be self-sufficient enough to do.
BOTTOM LINE: If the administration felt it would come up that short in terms of enough soldiers to fight the war, it should have taken steps BEFORE the war to fill the ranks out and go in with enough to do so.
The current administration - and its enablers of both parties in Congress - have been remiss throughout in guarding this nation's blood and treasure, and it has resulted in great detriment to both our military and our economy.
Hope that answers your question.
24 November 2007
If you are an Iraq/Afghan vet in Maine (or VT/NH) and are as sick of what's going on, politically and strategically speaking, as I am, I'd love to hear from you! Drop me a line (either through comments or my email address), and maybe we can get together and share views over a beverage of choice.
I'd also direct you to VoteVets.org and its newly launched blog, VetVoice.com. The blog has been "live" since 20 NOV, and seems to be gathering a lot of steam in its infancy.
20 November 2007
An interesting day indeed!
VetVoice launched today with posts from several of our presidential candidates, including Senators Edwards, Clinton, Obama, Biden and Dodd, Rep. Paul and Gov. Richardson.
While all the participants outline a number of ideas in terms of rebuilding and retooling our nation's priorities and policies concerning veterans' care, the Armed Forces, Iraq, the War on Terror and the other issues discussed here and on many other blogs, one stark fact jumped out at me.
All, save Rep. Paul, are Democrats. Ron Paul was the only GOP hopeful (and all were invited, as VV is a non-partisan group) to participate in the forum.
I, for one, am particularly peeved that the vast majority of the GOP candidates would not respond to the valid concerns of a growing number of veterans who believe that our nation's policies are not carrying us in the right direction.
It underscores the obvious: The GOP has no intent on leading a nation "Of the People" through actually hearing from the very people (taxpayers) whom they supposedly serve.
I have one hard, fast maxim when it comes to politics: If a candidate chooses not to debate the issues or listen to his/her potential constituents, that candidate chooses not to get my vote.
As of today (unless one of the following changes position), Giuliani, McCain, Hunter, Huckabee, Romney, Tancredo and Thompson are completely out of the running in my book.
Of course, McCain's nonsense in Baghdad earlier this year sealed the deal on that one already. If you have to walk while wearing a flak vest, it's not safe. Duh!
McClellan confirms obvious
President Bush's former press secretary, Scott McClellan, now writes that Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby (he of the presidentially commuted sentence) and Andy Card were definitely behind the Valerie Plame issue.
There is still no accoutability - zero - within the Administration; we've reached the point in which impeachment is almost moot....unless of course, Mr. Bush wants to take us to Iran.
Who in Congress has the stones to stop him? Anybody...anybody? Bueller....Bueller?
Also - any vets in or near the Lewiston/Auburn, ME area who want to get together and discuss the issues over beverages of choice (any choice, of course)? Drop me a line and we'll get in contact soon.
I have a lot of hope for this project, in that it can become a great place for reasonable discussion among vets and our supporters (and those who pine for a rational 'strategery' in the Middle East).
I've spent too much time on this blog in the past using four-letter words and other turns of phrase that I certainly would not use on TV or in front of an elected/appointed official, and my word to the wise is simple: Let's keep it clean, well thought out, rational and with a focus on pressure and change. Using 'rough' terms isn't going to help - leave that for your own blog posts about "that time when we were downrange..."
I'd also caution editing posts/using spell check before you send, as well as staying away from military-speak (the type of stuff you have to explain to others when you use that term). The broader the audience we can connect with will translate into more success down the road.
Just my quick two cents.
So if you get a chance, head on over and see who's got something to say. I've heard around the campfire that some big names will make an appearance soon.
As for me, I will launch a new diary soon there.
Also - just wondering if anyone out there is familiar with American Military University, and if so, what you have to say about it, good, bad or ugly. I may take a class or two there toward my Masters, and the more input, the better.
19 November 2007
17 November 2007
Here we go again...the chickenhawks, going bullshit with rage over not getting their way, slam Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) over his post-vote comments that the administration's "days of a free lunch are over." This after competing Dem and GOP military spending bills failed to clear the Senate on Friday, setting up a possible budget crunch for the Pentagon if nothing happens in the next month or so.
I was struck by Rep. Heather Wilson's (R-N.M.) comment that Schumer should immedately apologize to the troops for his 'insensitivity.' "Sen. Schumer only wants to fund pay, body armor and chow for the troops if he can put conditions on the money so that they cannot do the mission they have been ordered to do," she said.
Right...this after a GOP-led Congress signed billions and billions of America's dollars over to the administration, which has made a career of fighting an ill-begotten war in Iraq that is systematically destroying America's Armed Forces and leaving our flanks exposed to another 9/11 and/or inability to fight if, say, something really bad happens with Pakistan, North Korea, China or Russia...not to name any of a dozen other potential combat scenarios worldwide.
The Democrats have an extremely valid point: Yes, the military must be funded well, trained well and...here's the part the Bush faithful have yet to grok: USED IN A REASONABLE MANNER THAT BENEFITS AMERICAN INTERESTS.
Then again, if 'American interests' mean chucking blood and treasure into unneccesarry operations, destabilizing the Middle East and leaving America vulnerable, then I guess Rep. Wilson and her colleagues have done a damn fine job.
In slightly better news, the Army is taking the unusal step of having a theater commander, GEN Petraeus, (perhaps the last, best hope among senior officers) help select some of out Army's future leaders. This story is a small glimmer of hope that the Army is starting to listen to officers and NCOs who know well that things are a bit different where the bullets fly and the IEDs detonate than they are in a well-secured palace in Iraq. At least SOMEONE out there is thinking of the Army's future.
I don't see much thought of the future coming out of the current administration. Besides, it won't be their problem...they'll just blame someone else, as they always do! Accountability be damned!
I'll be posting soon on a new intiative coming out of VoteVets.org, which is launching VetVoice.com next week. I haven't looked at it much yet, but I think it's going to be a good place for those of us who are in the know - and care about it - to share ideas on what needs to be done in Congress and the Executive as this nation faces God-knows-what in the coming years.
Long post...time to hang it up and go nighty-night.
14 November 2007
Yeah, it's been a while...time to get this old warhorse going again and hopefully bring back some readers. It's been an incredibly busy year - getting married, moving, changing jobs and coming to grips with some of the anger issues I've been dealing with since 2004.
I've recently come to the realization - a moment of clarity, if you will - that I've spent entirely too much time in recent years being frustrated about the past, without making any real effort to change things in the future.
Another outfit I've discovered more in depth lately is VoteVets.org. Sure I've heard of them over the past couple years, but never really took the time to 'get to know them,' so to speak. Of course, they regained national attention after the Rush Limbaugh "phony soldiers" fiasco, panning the so-called 'pro-military' radio rambler's dismissal of Iraq Vets who criticize the war as 'phonies.'
(My favorite response to Rush and his ilk comes from Army of Dude, a blog much greater than mine.)
Anyway, I think VoteVets is gaining steam and will have an impact on the outcome of the 2008 elections - getting the word out that being pro-military doesn't necessarily mean toeing the GOP/GWB line at all times.
Pro-military means supporting a strong defense, using the military in a smart, well-planned, well-reason fashion - and only as a last resort. It also means ensuring the military is staffed, funded, rested, trained and ready to respond to the needs of defending the nation. Furthermore, pro-military means supporting care of our veterans who have answered the call to service, not turning their back on them as the Decider did on Monday, the day after paying lip service to vets.
Pro-military, to most of the GOP, means hiding behind the flag and calling into question the patriotism of those who dare to challenge this administration's flawed policies.
I'm saying stuff that's been said ad nausem in many other ways by thousands of others, but the reminder needs to be there that those of us who truly love our country and are alarmed by current policies must take a stand. Bumper stickers just don't cut it.
Fed up with W's careless and reckless policies? His administration's complete lack of accountability? The endless lining of Halliburton's pockets? The slow destruction of our military?
Write your Senators and Congressman! I did.
This is America, and the more we participate in it, the better off we may be.
28 September 2007
05 August 2007
Still here, folks, ranting when I can.
Was sent an NPR link a couple days ago re: Army Basic Training at Fort Jackson, SC. I was taken aback at how "mellow" the Drill Sergeants were, allowing privates to do things I never would have dreamed of, such as refuse a direct order to pick up headgear. (The private cited in that case was discharged). My recollection is that if I would have done the same thing, I would have had an Article 15, made to repeat Basic and had a black mark on my record for the remainder of my enlistment.
Hey, I know the Army's hard up for folks to serve in a war zone. Note to Pentagon: Let's cut the touchy-feely shit and get these guys and gals up to speed for the war zones, and if they don't want to do what THEY SIGNED UP FOR, make them face real, lasting consequences.
War zones are stressful, kids! Let's make sure our new soldiers can handle it. Kid-gloving isn't doing anyone any good.
I went through Jackson back in 1994, during the drawdown/early Clinton years, and - while it certainly was challenging - it just didn't leave me feeling like a warrior. No, I felt like an Army 'employee' more than anything else. (I look back and refer to Basic as "Bill Clinton Summer Camp")
Just after I left Jackson, co-ed Basic was instituted there. I have been, and remain, dead-set against this. It's certainly nothing against women in the military - my mother was an Army nurse in Vietnam - but Basic is the one time where Soldiers (sailors, airmen, Marines, etc.) MUST be focused on training and nothing else. (The same argument can be applied to a war zone, for sure).
At any rate, the upshot of the gender integration of Army Basic at places like Jackson was that by the end of 1995, discipline and physical fitness problems were becoming apparent with young privates reporting to permanent-duty stations (I was at Bragg with a year under my belt during that time).
Sure, there are bad apples everywhere, but in my observations, the problems definitely increased, especially, I believe, in support units such as the one I was in.
A brief rant, but much-needed. I'll be back when I can, as time permits.
27 July 2007
From NYT, 27 JUL 07, "Saudis’ Role in Iraq Frustrates U.S. Officials"
This concisely encapsulates the obvious - that US policy has undermined our (ahem) 'alliances' in the Middle East, and that a proxy war is in the making between Sunni (Saudi) and Shia (Iran), drawing in other ME players (UAE, Syria, eventually Jordan and Turkey).
Still awaiting our friends at NYT an WP to make the Pakistan connection. Just got done suggesting that to Ms. Cooper.
I doubt that Cooper will get back to me, I'm sure she gets enough mail daily; I just hope she sees what I see. I hope I'm wrong...well, wrong in that my vision of how this unfolds is worse than what comes to pass...but I fear I'm not far off th mark. I am convinced that the worst thing that can happen, politically, right now is for Pak to suffer another coup, giving the madrassa-trained zealots a chance to put their finger on the nuclear button. Question is, will they go after US forces in Iraq or the people of Mumbai/Calcutta/New Delhi?
Unfortunately, I think that they will have access to enough - and to the techs who can do this - to launch against both...with Iran caught in the middle (and they will, in true Muslim fashion - blame the Americans).
China will be none too happy about this, neither will Russia. I think China's stable enough to keep itself under control, provided no nukes hit them or overfly their turf...Russia's the wild card. GWB has fouled up with Russia, and Russia's military is still populated with senior officers who still think of US as the bad capitalists (plus, they've been embarrased in Chechnya - their own back yard - twice so far. It's like the US Army getting kicked hard in, say, Arkansas).
Yeah, yeah, full of good tidings as always, but back in the saddle with my views on the world today. Pakistan, of all places, makes me lose sleep.
17 July 2007
Folks, changes are in the air soon. The IrritatedVet is working up an OPORD to relocate to a new AO in cyberspace. This after our friends at Google/Blogspot are caving in to the demands of a certain UNNAMED dude in Florida and taking down certain of my posts that seem to somehow get under his skin. Some folks 'just can't handle the truth.'
Along with that, I read on the Guardian's Web site last night that Deadeye Dick Cheney is making progress with the Decider as far as military options against Iran are concerned.
So, Dick, when's the invasion, and who will we use to do the invading? The Salvation Army Reserve? The Moral Majority? The VFW Ladies Auxiliary.
I don't see the United States Army or Marine Corps taking the lead on this one, and the Navy and Air Force are ill-equipped to sustain occupations of more than two acres at a time. BTW, Dickie, an air campaign just won't cut it.
I could go on, but not now. However, the IV will be reborn soon in another AO.