Stupid People

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Watada Discharged:

The Army discharged Lt. Ehren Watada on Friday, writing the final chapter on the case of the most prominent military officer to refuse a deployment to Iraq.

Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek confirmed that Watada, who had refused to deploy to Iraq in 2006 with his Stryker brigade because he believed the war was illegal, finished outprocessing shortly before noon Friday.

The Department of Justice dropped an appeal in May against a judge's dismiss key charges against the lieutenant, effectively leading to Friday's dismissal. Watada submitted a resignation request "for the good of the service in lieu of general court martial" at the end of June, Piek said.

The Department of the Army approved that request in September, and the remaining pending charges against Watada were dismissed late last week.

Piek couldn't confirm the type of discharge, citing privacy laws, but Watada lawyer Kenneth Kagan said it was granted under "other than honorable conditions."

Why aren't we allowed to call it a "dishonorable" discharge any longer?

I expect to spend a chunk of my allowance on good whiskey when we finally get rid of one of our other problem children.

Sig

Will I remember?

The American and Soviet armies were still massed in Europe, trained and ready to fight. The ideological trenches of the last century were roughly in place. Competition in everything from astrophysics to athletics was treated as a zero-sum game. If one person won, then the other person had to lose. And then within a few short years, the world as it was ceased to be. Make no mistake: This change did not come from any one nation. The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.

Sometimes I think I ought to spend my writing time exclusively documenting things that I know, so that thirty years from now, when the political machines have finished rewriting history, I'll still have something true and good to read about my nation.

The quote above comes from my commander in chief--via a column by Liz Cheney--who apparently believes that the world cast aside the Soviet regime and its policies much as children on a playground may reject a rope swing in favor of a basketball--"This no longer amuses; let's do something else." In doing so, he dismisses the thousands and thousands of Americans (and our allies) who dedicated (and occasionally lost) their lives to our security during the Cold War.

The disconnect from reality is stunning--or would be if the last few months hadn't made me somewhat numb to it.

In April, I posed a question on the bulletin board I used to frequent asking whether our President had so far turned out as everyone had hoped. I think it a little telling that other than "hope" comments, the highest praise offered him at that time was that he wasn't W and thus wasn't in the news all of the time for his gaffes. Apparently, the bar for our nation's leadership is pretty low.

Sig

Perverse thoughts

I've recently subscribed to Victor Davis Hanson's feed after seeing him constantly quoted in some of the other blogs I read. I appreciate his ability to succinctly summarize some of the same problems I keep running into:

I do not understand at all this going into debt for almost another trillion dollars, and then immediately promising to balance the budget soon (like blowing off your foot near an emergency room), or how “stimulate” differs from “borrow”, or why the more noble victim is the one who sought to borrow too much for too much house and then defaulted, rather than he who chose to borrow less for less house and paid his mortgage on time each month and now subsidizes the less responsible. (The former apparently will still have the larger house, the latter the smaller.)

That from Perverse Thoughts About This Perverse Recession, which I recommend in its entirety.

We live in interesting times.

Sig

E-mail to a Lieutenant

CCed to the company commander and the outgoing readiness NCO, because we're nipping this problem in the bud right now.

Ma'am,

Regardless of how unhappy you may be with whatever situation in which you find yourself, heaping verbal abuse on my SPC is inappropriate and unprofessional. In the future, if you feel the need to swear at us over the phone, please request that SPC [name] pass the phone back to me so I can hang up on you instead.

Alternately, if you would prefer to communicate politely, I can try to resolve your problems.

Thanks,
SSG [Sig]

Next week should be fun.

Sig

Destimulation

This is where a large federal government takes you. This is where you go when you say that nothing is beyond the reach or responsibility of the national government. It's why we had a federal system in the first place. It's not robbing Peter to pay Paul; it's robbing Peter and Paul to fund community-based law enforcement initiatives to prevent robbery.

E-mail scams, post-OIF

At least it's novel. I was getting tired of the huge sums of money being offered to me, a random intarweb stranger, and I think it's rather telling in this economy that the scammers are promising not free money, but lucrative post-war reconstruction contracts.

Some things are just funny, and you need to get over it.

My wife shared an item, and then I saw the Slashdot article on it: Sniping Could Be the Next Killer iPod App. Basically, it's a rail-mounting system for an iPod with ballistics calculation software on it, so you can have it mounted on your rifle.

Kind of cool. Not something I would likely spend my precious coinage on, although I wouldn't mind having the rifle.

As is usually the case, Slashdot is good for lots of knee-jerk reactionary commentary, with the occasional insightful remark. And, of course, lots of jokes in poor taste--that is to say, funny jokes.

The reactionary stuff is the most entertaining, though. A typical example:

Anyone who has ever taken a human life doesn't crack jokes about it. unless they are a cretin or a sociopath, or have never actually taken a human life

so if you found the headline funny, please self identify as moron or psychopath or ignorant, and go about the rest of your day, content in the fact that you know a little bit more about your personal failings

In response, I can only give the following:

Q: What's the first thing you feel when you shoot a civilian?

A: Recoil.

Humor at its finest.

Sig

Afghanistan, NATO, and Bill Arkin

People who have perused my site--or talked to me for more than 3 minutes--know that I can occasionally be a little bitter about the whole state of "the other war." I didn`t go to Iraq--I went to Afghanistan. When I was preparing to go back in late 2005, a lot of people were astounded to learn that we were still there. Wasn`t that a done deal?

In a way, I`m somewhat gratified to see that it`s making a comeback in the public consciousness, though I really wish it were for a different reason.

This morning my Google News page was infested by a piece by Bill Arkin. Where have I heard that name? Oh yes. That`s the asshat that prattled on about our obscene amenities last year. Today, he`s prattling on about Afghanistan. I`ll say this for Bill: he makes his opinion clearly and unambiguously.

Afghanistan: America Wrong, Europe Right
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is again beating up on Europeans for not doing more in Afghanistan, a now familiar theme in his blame-anybody-but-us strategy.

It goes on to talk about the recurring theme in Afghanistan--a lot of troops not doing a hell of a lot of actual fighting--and then lambasts SecDef Gates for seemingly trying to apply the Iraq methodology to Afghanistan when in fact these are completely different, and what Afghanistan needs is more non-kinetic ops.

I`m reposting my reply here because I have no confidence that it will still be there later:

I spent some time with a small American detachment working on a Canadian-run FOB near Kandahar in late 2006. Under their NATO commander, the Canadians could not engage in any "offensive" operations, meaning that they sat on the FOB and watched insurgents move and transport equipment through their area.

The Americans, under a US Army captain, would do "recon by fire"--that is, finding the bad guys by driving around until we were attacked--at which time we could call for a quick reaction force. This was the only time the Canadians could do anything other than purely defensive measures. I don`t know what the commanders thought, but the joes loved us for it. They could see what was happening right in front of them.

Non-kinetic operations cannot take place in the absence of security. Security requires boots and the ground and active engagement of the Taliban remnants. You won`t build any nations in a place where people are beheaded for selling Americans cigarettes, and letters are spread promising death to entire families should anyone accept humanitarian aid.

We saw what happened early last year when NATO decided not to hold the previously-secured Musa Qah`leh. A "gentleman`s agreement" with the local Talibs resulted in the town becoming a major Taliban stronghold--from the same district center that we had occupied (and fortified) weeks earlier. Taking it back required a price paid in blood.

If Secretary Gates were advocating some other strategy, no doubt you would be castigating him for not heeding the lessons learned at such cost in Iraq.

I`ve bitched about NATO in Afghanistan before. Here, I talk about Musa Qah`leh, which had to be retaken after it was essentially given back to the Talibs. Comments posted later at Blackfive about the Dutch approach resulted in this exchange.

I am a lowly E-5. Far be it from me to advise SecDef Gates on what he should push NATO to do. But it doesn`t take a rocket scientist to see that a lot of countries are not interested in shouldering a fair share of the dirty work--not even a model rocket scientist.

Sig

Why it matters

In which Sig discusses Scott Thomas at some length.

Intolerance notes

A long boring post about CoG, political intolerance, and proposition 8.

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