Friday, December 31, 2004

While I Was Away

The tsunami is being covered by many blogs. In fact, the blogosphere is doing a much better job than the MSM. I'm ready for the United States to leave the UN and to tell the UN to leave the United States. Find a new home in Russia or China. Call us stingy? The ungrateful, small, nasty people that make up a majority of the UN shouldn't be allowed on US soil. Get out, now. Go. And don't let the door hit you in the ass.

Buster's Top Ten is out. Excellent. Buster is .. Buster, son of The Anchoress, slayer of liberal ideology. There are so many other great recent posts by The Anchoress. She recently started using Trackback and comments to her older posts went the way of .. well, they're gone. I'm forewarned. Tae is probably in therapy. Oh, and did I really miss MoDo's comments??? Dang.

Mudville Gazette has a roundup of MilBloggers on the Mosul bombing and Secretary Rumsfeld's Christmas visit.

Michelle Malkin takes Thomas D. Quinn, Director of the Federal Air Marshal Service, to task. His ridiculous (insane) dress code for the air marshals is a leading indicator that this man lives in fantasy land. Yes, he's got a career in the Secret Service backing him. So what? There are jerks in the Secret Service, too -- one less since Quinn retired.

Six Navy SEALs are suing the Associated Press. You can find the story here.

The SEALs' legal action doesn't strike me as being particularly helpful -- or smart. Hopefully, someone in Special Operations Command will intervene before this gets even more out of control than it already is.

As much as I detest the slanted reporting of the Associated Press, the problem, in this case, lies with the SEAL who sent pictures of covert operations to his wife who further exacerbated the problem by publishing the pictures to her website.

Apparently, she forgot the part about the World Wide Web being WORLD WIDE -- much as her husband forgot the part about covert operations being COVERT.

My assessment still stands: knucklehead.

In Spy Handler: Memoir of a KGB Officer, former KGB Colonel Viktor Cherkashin recounts his "victories" against the United States.

Yet another former KGB officer exposé. I look forward to reading this one. Cherkashin was a master of the game.

Still, I will not be taken in by Cherkashin's account of his intelligence/counterintelligence exploits. I will not be led to believe (falsely) that the "house of mirrors" was owned by the Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti -- as Cherkashin is apt to claim.

The KGB merely shared a lease with the CIA/FBI/NSA. They did not own it.

The DC Cocktail Party Elite, who rip our intelligence community at every opportunity, fawn over the likes of Cherkashin, a high-ranking KGB officer who knew the truth (or were you just stupid, Viktor Ivanovich?), yet sold his soul for trinkets -- a whore for one of the most despotic regimes in history.

I will be skeptical of Cherkashin's account of his handling of Aldrich Ames and Richard Hanssen. With the Venona program in mind (might there not have been other such programs), I will leave room to wonder if the CIA/FBI/NSA might have known of Ames and Hanssen years before they were arrested.

For one look at how the FBI ran circles around the KGB and GRU (post-Venona), I recommend Cassidy's Run. For a sample, you can watch this Booknotes program.

Viktor Ivanovich, when you're done with your chest-thumping; after you've dazzled your audiences with your brilliance; after you've cashed that first royalty check; and as you sit counting your money and polishing your Order of Lenin medallion for the umpteenth time, you are left with these incontrovertible facts:

We won.

You lost.

The United States still stands.

Your beloved Soviet Union -- which President Ronald Reagan so accurately described as the "Evil Empire" -- is no more.

Game. Set. Match.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Off to the swamps!

It's been 16 years (where does time go?) since I last spent Christmas with my mother and I'm excited.

I can hardly wait to see the Christmas tree and the little church with that magical music box inside that you can wind up and it'll play "Silent Night" . . . for at least 75 years it's been doing that. Definitely not made in China.

Lil Sis, I know how it is. You'll be missed if you can't get through the snow and ice. Don't take any chances. I'll eat your share of Christmas turkey & dressing and peas & corn ... and, yes, the sweet potatoes in orange half-shells, sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with melted marshmallows. So don't worry -- it won't go to waste.

Santa Claus, I know you're reading so take note. I will be in the swamps.

Oh yeah, despite what those sniveling, whiny little elves may have told you, I've been nice. Don't make me come find you, old man.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Herbert J. Lloyd: The REAL Man From Hope

Retired Brigadier General Herbert J. Lloyd is a native of Hope, Arkansas. He joined the Army as a private and served as Rifleman, Machine Gun Squad Leader, and Rifle Platoon Sergeant.

As a Sergeant First Class, he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a Lieutenant of Infantry in 1964.

He served two tours in Germany and saw service in Vietnam in 1962-63, 1966-68, and 1972.

He served as a Platoon Leader, Company Commander, and G3 Training Officer in the 82nd Airborne Division.

He also served as an Advisor with the Vietnamese Rangers and the Vietnamese 6th Airborne Battalion.

He was Chief of Tower Committee and Chief of Operations in the Airborne Department at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Additionally, he has served as:

Tactical Officer, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
Brigade Executive Officer, 8th Infantry Division, Germany
Commander, 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry, 5th Infantry Division, Fort Polk, LA
Deputy Chief of Staff, 5th Infantry Division, Fort Polk, LA
Commander, 2nd Brigade, 5th Infantry Division, Fort Polk, LA
Chief of Staff, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, NY
Assistant Division Commander, 2nd Infantry Division, Republic of Korea

Lloyd & Love - Colonel Herbert J. Lloyd with his righthand warrior, Command Sergeant Major Ivanhoe Love

He is a graduate of the US Army War College, the Command & General Staff College, Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Ranger School, Pathfinder School, Northern Warfare Mountain Climbing School and Jungle Warfare School. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from Auburn University.

Here are just a few of his awards and decorations:

2 x Silver Stars
1 x Soldier's Medal
7 (not a typo - SEVEN) x Bronze Star Medals (with "V" device for Valor)
2 x Purple Hearts
Combat Infantryman's Badge
Master Parachutist Badge (with 3 Gold Stars for combat jumps)
Ranger Tab

Herbert J. Lloyd: American Samurai & Greatest Warrior of the 20th Century

He has so many awards and decorations that when he wore his Army Dress uniform, his Combat Infantryman's Badge very nearly rested on top of his left shoulder.

In 1986, while still on active duty, then-Colonel Herbert J. Lloyd was inducted into the OCS Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia. OCS graduates will understand what an extraordinary honor that is -- especially considering who the other inductees are and that most are inducted long after they have left active duty.

Herbert J. Lloyd is one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met. Any soldier who has ever served with him can attest to the life-changing influence he has had on them.

In my humble opinion, he is the greatest warrior we've had in modern history.


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Tuesday, December 21, 2004


(scroll down for Updates)

At least 19 American soldiers are dead. Over 50 wounded.

What happened? ... well, they don't know yet. First, the military thought that it might have been a rocket or mortar attack. Now they have backed off those early reports (by the way, first reports in combat are almost always wrong).

Update from Defense Department Operational Update Briefing, 22 December: Shortly after noon yesterday, anti-Iraqi, anti-coalition forces attacked the dining facility located within the Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, killing 22 people, including 13 U.S. military, five U.S. civilian contractors, three Iraqi security force members and one non-U.S. person. An additional 69 people were injured in the attack, including 44 U.S. military, seven U.S. contractors, five Department of Defense civilians, two Iraqi civilians, 10 contractors of other nationalities and one of unknown nationality and occupation.

What happened? Soldiers died needlessly due to negligence.

Someone, somewhere in the chain of command forgot that these soldiers were in a combat zone. Some commander(s) somewhere in the chain of command is negligent.

Terrorists may have been the bombers, but the high death toll is directly attributable to the chain of command.

How can I say this?

Look at the pictures. Just about any soldier or marine can tell you what's wrong with these pictures.

No tactical feeding. They were bunched up in a mess tent where one explosive device can take out most of your unit.

No Kevlar helmets. Instead, they're wearing we're-in-the-rear-with-our-gear softcaps -- except that there are no rear areas in this combat zone.

It makes me sick. It pisses me off. I want the chain of command to answer for this massacre.

Meantime, do not use mess tents to feed troops in a friggin' combat zone. Conduct tactical feeding. Make the troops spread out .. 5-10 meter interval between each soldier. Just like every damn field manual, tactical SOP and common sense tell you.

If you thought the mess tent was a morale booster, what do you think now?

And get rid of the damn softcaps. Burn 'em. Get your soldiers in their Kevlar helmets ... and with the chinstraps snapped. The helmet is standard headgear in a combat zone -- for a damn good reason. It greatly reduces the chance that flying shrapnel will pierce your skull.

And where is their LBE (load bearing equipment) that contains a couple of things mightily vital in a combat zone -- a first aid kit and ammunition?

No Nuclear-Biological-Chemical protective masks - a standard part of a combat uniform. It is always with you. You sleep with it just as you sleep with your weapon.

At least they had their weapons, but with a situation this screwed up I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have ammunition for their weapons. Not that it would have helped in this situation, but what if the bombing or whatever was followed by a ground attack?

An old boss of mine, one of the most decorated soldiers in our Army's history, taught us many things about combat. One of the things that Herbert J. Lloyd taught us:

"Laid back commanders have laid out troops."

That's what happened here.

UPDATE #1 (11:00pm CST):

Associated Press:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A 122mm rocket slammed into a mess tent Tuesday at a military base near the northern city of Mosul, ripping through the ceiling and spraying shrapnel as U.S. soldiers sat down to lunch. Officials said 22 people were killed in one of the most devastating attacks against Americans in Iraq since the start of the war.

The dead included 20 Americans - 15 of them servicemembers and five civilian contractors. Two Iraqi soldiers also were killed. Sixty-six people were wounded, including 42 U.S. troops, Capt. Brian Lucas, a military spokesman in Baghdad, said early Wednesday.

(emphasis added)

This is the part that is just maddening:

Like most mess halls at U.S. bases in Iraq, the dining area at Base Marez is covered with a tent. Insurgents have fired mortars at the mess hall more than 30 times this year, Redmon said. (Jeremy Redmon, a reporter for the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch embedded with the troops in Mosul)

Mortar attacks on U.S. bases, particularly on the huge white tents that serve as dining halls, have been frequent in Iraq for more than a year. Just last month, for example, a mortar attack on a Mosul base killed two troops with Task Force Olympia, the reinforced brigade responsible for security in much of northern Iraq.

I don't know what to say .. other than this is unacceptable. You don't have to be on the ground in Iraq to know that this is just flatass wrong.

If this part of the report is true -- that we're using mess tents at most U.S. bases in Iraq -- then Generals Abizaid and Casey have some explaining to do.

I'm stunned.

UPDATE #2 (2:15pm CST):

ABC News is reporting that it was a suicide bomber.

Nothing official from CENTCOM or DoD.

I want to be clear about something. I know General George W. Casey, Jr. He's a fine officer and a good man. I know General Abizaid by reputation only -- and he has an exemplary one.

But they need to explain to the American people why some of the bases in Iraq have a military posture not far removed from a stateside garrison.

I think I know some of the answers that would be given, and I'd be curious to know if I'd be standing alone in my bewilderment.

UPDATE #3 (3:10pm CST):

Suicide Bomber

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that from investigations into Tuesday's blast in a mess tent on the base, "it looks like it was an improvised explosive device worn by an attacker."

The explosive was apparently packed with pellets the size of BBs that ripped across the tent when it exploded, Brig. Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of Task Force Olympia - the main U.S. force in nothern Iraq - told Bill Nemitz, a columnist with the Portland (Maine) Press Herald who was embedded with the troops at Marez.

At a Pentagon press conference, Myers defended Ham over security measures at the base. "We know how difficult this is, to prevent people bent on suicide and stopping them," Myer said. "I think he has a very good plan for force protection. This is an insurgency."

"As we know someone who's attacking can attack at anytime using any technique," Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said, speaking alongside Myers. U.S. personnel "have to be right 100 percent of the time. An attacker only has to be right some of the time."

I disagree with General Meyers' assessment of BG Ham's force protection plan.

I agree wholeheartedly with Secretary Rumsfield. We have to be right 100% of the time.

But what does right look like?

It ain't clustered troops in softcaps in a combat zone.

UPDATE #4 (12/23/2004, 3:10am CST):

Excerpts from the Defense Department Operational Update Briefing, December 22, 2004.

Question: Can I do a follow-up, Mr. Secretary, on that same issue? Do you and General Myers think it's unwise or was unwise to put 400- plus servicemen and civilians and others in a huge tent the size of a football field on a base in a combat zone, a base that had been hit by mortars and RPGs? And if you do think it's unwise, are either one of you or both going to sound off to Generals Casey and Ham, or take them to the woodshed?

General Meyers: These are the calls that the combatant commanders make. And any judgment that General Ham is up there and not worried about force protection is ludicrous. This is a man that's -- I don't -- can't remember when General Ham first went in up there -- that has been working the security up there in that region for the Iraqi people for many, many months, at great personal sacrifice to himself and his forces. He has led them well.

We have had a suicide bomber, apparently, strap something to his body -- apparently a him -- and go into a dining hall. We know how difficult this is, to prevent suicide -- people bent on suicide and stopping them.

We understand how difficult that is. But I think -- this was the insurgents that did this. It's not General Ham that attacked his dining hall. I think he has a very good plan for force protection. I know what some of the long-range plans are up there.

This is an insurgency. And I think if you step back a minute and you think about insurgencies versus conventional warfare, in conventional warfare at some point you're going to get to an unconditional surrender, and in many cases you have very neat front lines. We have no front lines. The front line can be the dining hall, it can be the road outside the base, it can be the police station or the governor's office or the mayor's office down at Mosul. That's their territory. They operate all over that. They can wear -- and they do -- wear clothes like every other Iraqi. It's a much different thing and the mindset has to be much different.

What it tells us is -- and we know this from our history with insurgencies -- it's going to be very tough. And as this insurgency has changed in its nature and is character and has become more intense, our resolve just has to be all that tougher. And I know the Iraqi resolve is hard and tough and I know that our resolve is hard and tough.

Question: Would you not agree, both of you, however, that putting 400 people in a huge tent is a tempting target for the insurgents or anybody else?

General Myers: There are lots of congregations like that of various formations where it's, for a(n) individual bent on suicide with a VBIED -- vehicle-borne improvised explosive device -- or one strapped to their body -- we've seen in other countries -- and so, I mean, it's not a viable strategy to ask everybody to separate. So I think commanders are very much aware of that and try to prevent that.

(Emphasis added)

Entire briefing

"We have no front lines. The front line can be the dining hall, it can be the road outside the base, it can be the police station or the governor's office or the mayor's office down at Mosul."

Exactly! All the more reason not to cluster troops. All the more reason to burn the softcaps and wear Kevlar helmets. All the more reason for wearing LBE with ammunition, first aid kit, NBC protective mask, etc.

I don't want to hear that wearing all that combat gear is a pain in the ass. I already know that it's a pain in the ass.

It's also a pain in the ass to be wearing all that combat gear plus a 90-pound rucksack on a 12-mile forced march -- through mountains -- at night -- in sub-freezing temperatures. And just when you think you can't take another step, it's your turn to carry the 23-pound M60 machine gun.

Pain is relative.

Wearing only the Kevlar and LBE doesn't sound so bad now, does it?


Welcome to readers of The Anchoress

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Unauthorized Disclosure

That's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

The origin of that line is debatable (Dr. No?), but all we cared about as young guns was that it worked (No, really. It did -- to varying degrees of success) on the babes at the "Triangles" club down the road from Fort Huachuca.

I suppose we could have said, when queried about what we do:

That's classified. I could tell you, but then I have a personal, moral, and legal responsibility at all times to protect classified information, whether oral or written, within my knowledge, possession, or control. Further, I must follow procedures that ensure that unauthorized persons do not gain access to classified information. I have been advised that any unauthorized disclosure of classified information by me may constitute a violation, or violations, of United States criminal laws, including the provisions of Sections 641, 793, 794, 798, 952, and 1924, Title 18, United States Code, and the provisions of Section 783(b), Title 50, United States Code.

... but the former phrase was considerably easier to remember and recite in a state of blissful inebriation while working towards hormonal convergence. And the "Triangles" babes were quite taken with it.

Sooooo...what are we to make of the recent disclosure of classified information by 3 Democrat senators?

If you haven't heard, Senators Jay Rockefeller, Dick Durbin and Ron Wyden -- Rockefeller and Wyden are members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- disclosed, without authorization, classified information.

Not just any classified information, either. Nosireebob, they went whole hog.

To get to the seriousness of what they disclosed, let's look at some definitions.

Classified information falls into 3 categories:

1. Confidential - unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security of the United States.

2. Secret - unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security of the United States.

3. Top Secret - unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.

The information the 3 senators disclosed falls under category 3.

Examples of "exceptionally grave damage" include, but are not limited to, armed hostilities against the United States or its allies, disruption of foreign relations vitally affecting the national security, compromise of national-level cryptographic systems, exposure of intelligence sources or methods, and substantial disruption of the capability of the National Command Authority (i.e. the President/Secretary of Defense) to function in times of peace or crisis.

It gets worst.

Top Secret information is further protected by compartments -- that is to say, certain programs are so sensitive that access is restricted to a relatively small number of folks who:

a. hold a Top Secret security clearance
b. work on the program, or
c. have a need to know about the program

There's even a name for it. Top Secret - Sensitive Compartmented Information, aka Top Secret/SCI or simply TS/SCI.

Now at this point, we haven't necessarily entered the "Black" world. Not all Top Secret/SCI programs are "Black", but ALL "Black" programs are Top Secret/SCI.

Black programs are off the books. Unacknowledged. Don't show up in the intelligence budget.

An even smaller number of people are cleared and have a need-to-know.

Some refer to Black programs as "Above Top Secret". Legally, that is not accurate -- but it is true.

Black programs are officially known as Special Access Programs (SAP) and not just anybody with a Top Secret clearance is gonna be allowed to know anything about them.

Those who work on the programs or have a need-to-know about the programs must never acknowledge there is such a thing as, say, Project X.

If queried about Project X, "That's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you" is not an acceptable answer. Neither is, for that matter, "no comment". You don't even try to be cute. There are acceptable responses, but if I told you ...

Further, if someone cleared for a Black program is questioned by a non-cleared person, a report to the appropriate security official is mandatory. A process follows to determine if the program has been compromised. You would rather be nibbled to death by ducks than to go through that process.

A lot of money, time and energy (less if we would be smarter) are spent on protecting these programs. Often the cover is elaborate and includes a disinformation plan.

Now, I realize this may all sound a bit like James Bond -- or worse, Maxwell Smart -- but it is very serious business.

As a democratic society, we've not come up with a better way of protecting our most sensitive secrets from the likes of China, Iran and North Korea.

There is oversight on the Black world -- to include congressional oversight. Americans should not want it any other way.

But we should expect those who oversee the Black world to not behave like idiots.

Senators Rockefeller, Durbin and Wyden did not get permission to disclose the information before they blabbed about it. There are established procedures to do that. They ignored the procedures.

Well, maybe they knew that the answer would be no and felt so strongly about it that they were willing to risk criminal referrals. Maybe so.

But before we let the press make them out to be martyrs, the chance of U.S. Senators being prosecuted is nil. And the senators know this.

In fact, prosecution is very difficult even if the defendant is not a U.S. Senator. You end up disclosing more about the program and intelligence methods and procedures than you would if you just leave 'em be. Maybe a shot across the bow (criminal referrals, in this case). Publicly disgrace them (but that assumes they are moral men). Anyway, that's about all that will probably happen to the SOB'ing senators.

If I were King, they would, at a mininum, be removed from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and their security clearances would be revoked.

But alas, I'm just a Monk.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Merry Mad Monks of the DMZ

This post is born through encouragement from one of my favorite bloggers and Dennis who actually lives in a monastery 9 months out of the year. Thanks for your interest.

Our lineage dates back almost 600 years to Kim Chong-so, a powerful warrior/councilor who secured fame in establishing six military garrisons in northeast Korea under King Sejong's "expansion of the frontier region of Chosun".

Chosun Warrior (Seoul Art Center)

In 1953, after the Korean War, a small group of highly trained American soldiers unofficially became part of a Korean miltary order that traces its lineage back to Kim Chong-so and his Chosun warriors.

Initially garrisoned with Korean soldiers in austere quarters near Munsan-ni, a few miles south of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), they were nicknamed the "Merry Mad Monks of Musan-ni" by other American soldiers who marveled at the lives these men led.

While officially known by another name, they adopted the moniker Merry Mad Monks.

In May 1957, the nickname was changed to the Merry Mad Monks of the DMZ.

In 1961, the unit moved even further north and was garrisoned at Camp Kitty Hawk. A new facility, appropriately named The Monastery, became a home away from home for the Monks living on the DMZ.

The Monks lead a highly specialized, hand-picked, 600-man American/South Korean military force which protects members of the Military Armistice Commission, visiting Heads of State and other dignitaries. It also guards the truce village of Pan Mun Jom and conducts ambush and counterinfiltration patrols in the DMZ.

While most Americans are not familiar with the Merry Mad Monks, Pan Mun Jom, or the DMZ, the South Korean government officially recognizes these men as national treasures.

On "Conference Row" aka "Death Row". The "MP" armband is a requirement of the Armistice Agreement. These are infantry soldiers, not MPs.

Eyeball To Eyeball -- My friend Jorge "Ranger" Rangel keeping a watchful eye on North Korean guards peering into the Military Armstice Commission building at Pan Mun Jom. It's an intense place. Stay alert, stay alive.

Sniper Practice. One shot, one kill.

Patrol returning from mission. In the background is a North Korean guard tower. These types of daytime patrols are multipurpose: provide security to the villagers of Taesong-dong, the only South Korean village in the DMZ; conduct reconnaissance; show force.

The most infamous incident involving the Monks was the 1976 Pan Mun Jom Axe Murders.

In August 1976, two of our Monks -- Major (promoted posthumously) Arthur G. Bonifas and First Lieutenant Mark T. Barrett -- were, without provocation or warning, attacked and massacred by a superior force of axe and pike wielding North Korean troops.

Click on photo to enlarge

The incident nearly re-started the Korean War. American and South Korean forces were put on the highest state of alert. As 2nd Infantry Division and 1st ROK Division combat units maneuvered into the DMZ,  US aircraft carriers took up positions in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan.

Faced with the reactive and combined forces of the United States and its Korean Allies, Kim Il-Sung issued his first ever and only apology.

Besides the brutal deaths of Major Bonifas and First Lieutenant Barrett, 59 other Americans and 377 ROK soldiers have also made the supreme sacrifice in defense of freedom and democracy in Korea since the Armistice.

In 1984, a firefight occurred at Pan Mun Jom when Vasily Matauzik, a Soviet citizen visiting North Korea, ran across the Military Demarcation Line (boundary between North and South) to defect.

North Korean guards immediately started firing at him and ran across the line in pursuit. JSA soldiers returned overwhelming fire against the North Koreans, killing 3 and wounding 5. One JSA soldier, Corporal Jang Myung Ki, was killed and one, Corporal Michael Burgoyne, was wounded.

Jang Myung Ki -- Killed in the line of duty while protecting the lives of his comrades and a Russian defector on 23 November 1984.

One of the 3 North Korean soldiers killed turned out to be Captain Pak Chol. In 1976, he had ordered the murders of Bonifas and Barrett. Captain Pak, aka "Bulldog", was taken out by a JSA soldier firing a 40mm grenade launcher. It was a direct hit.

In 1986, Camp Kitty Hawk was re-named Camp Bonifas.

The poem below was read August 18, 1986 by Mrs. Arthur Bonifas, widow of Major Arthur Bonifas, at the ceremony memorializing Camp Bonifas in honor of her late husband.

There he stands, that man of mine,
out on that lonely plain,
In a country strange and different --
it's hard to say its name.
Does that country ever value
how much he sacrifices,
To guard their lives, their hopes, their dreams
in the face of their world crisis?

He stands and he feels loneliness,
alone there standing guard,
To see that our flag of freedom
flies from that fragile lanyard.
And does our country realize
that we too share that post with him?
For our sons are growing up without him
and his parents' eyes grow dim.

So please don't take for granted that man
who patiently stands,
Away from home and family
serving in a foreign land.
He has, and will continue
to strive to ease our pain.
For the tears that fall from your eyes
are reflected in the same.

Yes, there he stands, that man of mine,
out on that lonely plain,
In a country strange and different,
and we scarce can endure the pain.

The "Merry Mad Monks of the DMZ" remain active. The traditional lifting of vintage snake wine to welcome newly joined Monks and to bid farewell to those departing can be heard throughout the halls of the Monastery on frequent occasions.

The north wind moans amid the bare boughs
the moon shines coldly on the snow.
I stand, great sword in hand
on the furthest frontier fortress.
I whistle; and the long loud sound
hangs unanswered on the air.

Kim Chong-so (1390-1453)

Thursday, December 16, 2004


Bill Kristol and Senator John McCain want a new Secretary of Defense.

I want a new 500 horsepower, 8.3-liter, Viper-powered V10, Dodge Ram pickup truck. I prefer fire engine red. I'm short by about $46,000, though. If you wish to give me one of these fine machines, please leave contact info in comments.

Secretary Rumsfeld has performed a great service to this nation in very difficult times -- under pressure that most of us can only imagine.

He serves at the pleasure of the President of the United States. President Bush wants him to stay on longer. When President Bush decides it's time for change, he'll accept Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation and nominate someone else for Secretary of Defense.

I put a heckuvalot more trust in President Bush on this matter than I do William Kristol or Senator John McCain.

And Lord, help the military if John McCain were to become the next DoD chief. Some of the same generals whining to the press about Rumsfeld would gain a new appreciation of "Don't ask, Don't tell." Bend over buddy.

Rumsfeld took charge of a Pentagon that had, for 8 years, suffered from the lack of adult civilian supervision. Bill Clinton, the draft dodger, didn't want to be viewed as an anti-military Commander-in-Chief. He appointed weak Secretaries of Defense and let the generals run the place. That suited the generals just fine.

Contrary to popular myth, a lot of Pentagon generals are adverse to risk. They may not have been that way in their younger days as studly Captains and Majors, but after multiple tours at the Pentagon and other staff jobs -- jobs that take them away from troops -- something happens. They lose the edge as they gain rank and prestige. Too many worry about punching the ticket to the next billet. Don't rock the boat. Play it safe.

Not all generals. Too many.

That's why we bombed Serbia from 15,000 feet. It's why we launched cruise missiles at aspirin factories, unoccupied Iraqi intelligence headquarters, and empty tents in the Afghanistan sand.

Most of these generals sat on their thumbs as Clinton and Congress (Senator McCain's buddies, the Democrats) decimated the military ranks. Don't rock the boat. Play it safe. Get that next plum assignment. Get that next star.

Not all generals. Too many.

They played it safe, got their way and they got used to getting their way.

Enter Donald H. Rumsfeld.

He took charge and left little doubt who was boss. He did more than ruffle some feathers -- he rocked their world.

And the world of the Pentagon generals needed rocking.

He hadn't been in the job 3 months before some generals started whispering to the Washington Post: Rumsfeld was mean. Why Rumsfeld acted like he ran the place!

Before September 11, 2001, Washington conventional wisdom had Rumsfeld being replaced by year's end.

But that all changed. Rumsfeld stood tall in the storm. He showed uncommon strength and purpose. The American people responded positively to Rumsfeld's daily briefings -- they loved him.

For a long while the whispering generals let Rumsfeld be. They could read the situation. They're not stupid, afterall -- just political.

Again, not all generals. Too many.

I don't know that the generals are whispering to the press about Rumsfeld today. Some of that is probably still going on. This latest criticism of Rumsfeld seems to come mostly from politicians and pundits.

As you listen to the criticisms of Rumsfeld -- not enough troops, not enough up-armored HMMVs, forces stretched too thin and on and on -- keep in mind what he inherited.

Bill Clinton and the liberal Democrats decimated our military. They cut the Army from 18 divisions to 10 .. sent 300,000 soldiers packing. They cut the Navy in half .. from 600 ships to 300. The Air Force was equally decimated. Overall, the active duty military lost 700,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.

[PAUSE] . . . and consider those numbers.

They tried to have Defense on the cheap, shifting assets, that were best left in the active duty lineup, to the Guard and Reserves.

As Clinton and Congress slashed and hacked our military strength, Clinton increased our operational tempo (deployments) by 300% -- sending us to deal with such "national security threats" as Haiti and Bosnia and Kosovo (we're still there carrying the Europeans' water).

And there's more .. 20 out of 22 of our Army training centers were rated at the very lowest level of readiness. Political Correctness ran rampant. "Consideration of Others Training" came close to trumping combat training .. and on and on.

Remember these headlines?

Click on photo to enlarge

"An Army In Decline -- What Clinton-Gore accomplished that our enemies could not"

President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld inherited a mess. What took 15 years to rebuild after Vietnam, the Democrats decimated in Clinton's first term.

By the middle of Clinton's second term, the military readiness situation was dire. Plans for further cuts were shelved. Secretary Of Defense William Cohen tacitly admitted that the cuts had been too deep. The Defense Department initiated a program to try to get recently cut junior officers and noncomissioned officers to return to active duty. The service chiefs from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines were dispatched to Capitol Hill to ask for more resources.

The Clinton administration learned too late that it is easier to tear the military down than it is to build it back. With a stroke of the pen you can cut the force, but it takes years to train replacements. It takes years to build the Staff Sergeants, Sergeants First Class, Captains, and Majors -- those mid-level ranks that run the military -- the ones who took the brunt of Clinton's cuts.

Then before President Bush had even completed 8 months in office, with our military force structure dangerously thin, with our operational tempo still hovering around 300% over norm, with our military stretched to the breaking point .. two terrorist-guided commercial jets brought down the twin towers, another crashed into the Pentagon and another, aimed at either the Capitol or the White House, crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when brave passengers said "Let's Roll!" and attacked the terrorists.

We have been at war ever since.

Believe it or not, Rumsfeld's critics are using this recent statement to beat up on him:

"As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

What am I missing?

Oh. My new 500 horsepower, 8.3-liter, Viper-powered V10, fire engine-red, Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Syria Doesn't Believe Us

A powerful editorial in today's Wall Street Journal, makes it painfully clear that Syria is our enemy.

I'll take it another step.

Syria is waging war against the United States. We need to acknowledge it and start fighting back.

The dithering diplomats at the State Department have had their chance. They have failed.

We needed Condi as Secretary of State about 2 years ago.

Peters on Intel Reform: Ralph!

In his latest NY Post column, Ralph Peters blows off some steam and just about blows his cookies. He's frustrated about the lack of true intel reform.

I share most of his concerns, although his statement -- "Having been inside that world, I can tell you that the No. 1 use of classification markings is to mask inadequate performance." -- is an unfortunate instance of hyperbole. But that's Ralph sometimes.

Unlike Ralph, I am no fan of Senator John McCain. Ralph refers to him as one of the "good guys" who wants to fix the intelligence system. Grandstander is more what I think.

That aside, it's another fine article from one of the brightest thinkers in the national security arena.

Having worked in intelligence for more than two decades, I was fascinated by all the lying as Congress wrestled with intelligence reform. So much of the intel world is hidden from the taxpayer's view that unscrupulous politicians, cynical bureaucrats and defense contractors can make any wild claims they wish with little fear of exposure.

The good guys, such as Sens. McCain and Lieberman, wanted to fix our intelligence system. Their opponents sought to protect power and funding. The good guys won a partial victory. But the intel community's mandarins remain committed to a system that is outdated, inadequate and very, very expensive.

Our national intelligence capabilities are not as bad as sensation-seeking critics tell us. The problem isn't that our intel system is inept. It's just mediocre. For 40 billion bucks a year, we should get occasional bursts of excellence. But we don't. The system plods on, devouring money and crushing talent, producing moderately helpful tidbits.

The issues at play are straightforward. For decades, we favored technology and slighted people, buying incredibly expensive satellites and other systems that were going to solve all of our intelligence problems, while minimizing the irksome human factor.

But we live in an age when the human factor is paramount — despite the siren song of technology. Ours is an age of fundamental hatreds, of religion reduced to bigotry and superstition, of a struggle over the fate of civilizations. Our intelligence community's approach has been to buy more systems that can locate warships, tanks and buildings, as if the Soviet Union had never dissolved.

Now the vested interests within the intel world, the same men who refused to regard terrorism as a significant threat, want to buy yet another $9.5 billion satellite. It wouldn't be useful in Iraq, or against terrorists, or even against the underground nuke sites in North Korea and Iran. It's a Cold War relic.

Our intelligence system needs people: analysts, agents, linguists, interrogators, special operators and counter-intelligence specialists. 9.5 billion bucks would buy a lot of talent. But the insiders are fighting to purchase that "stealth" satellite, even though it's a case of yesterday's technology designed to find yesterday's enemies.

Why can't this satellite scam be killed? First, because the shabby details of all the errors of judgment made by intelligence executives remain hidden behind classifications above the top-secret level. Having been inside that world, I can tell you that the No. 1 use of classification markings is to mask inadequate performance.

Our intel system continues to measure success the way the Soviets did, by fulfilling norms of volume, rather than concentrating on utility. During my own service, I found that our intel executives understood systems architecture, but had only a superficial grasp of actual intelligence work. You get to the top by buying stuff, not by thinking hard.

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Christmas and the MSM

For Vox Blogoli VI, Hugh Hewitt asks: What does Newsweek's story on Christmas tell us about MSM?

I slogged through that 7-part Newsweek hitpiece and my answer is this:

The MSM fear Jesus Christ and Christians to such an extent as to be anti-Christian.

There's no sugar-coating it.

Al-Jazeera would be proud.

I'll leave it to the theologians (no, I'm not one) to take Newsweek to task -- point by point.

Instead, I'll share the words of our 40th President, the great Ronald Reagan:

Meaning no disrespect to the religious convictions of others, I still can't help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that he lived and that he was put to death by crucifixion.

Where is the miracle I spoke of? Well consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time -- possibly to your own home town. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father's shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father's shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby countryside, walking from place to place, preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most.

He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried, and convicted. There is no court of appeal, so he is executed at age 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing -- the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place for him so he is interred in a borrowed tomb.

End of story?

No, this uneducated, propertyless young man who left no written word has, for 2000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings, emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals; all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived -- all of them put together.

How do we explain that? ... unless he really was what he said he was.

Ronald Reagan
Daily radio commentary (syndicated)
December 1978
from The Quotable Ronald Reagan
by Peter Hannaford

I am currently reading God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life, by Paul Kengor.

I like it a lot.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Today, President Bush awarded retired General Tommy R. Franks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

I wish everyone could meet Tommy Franks. He is one of the greatest warriors in our nation's history ..

American Soldier

and a good man . . .

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Venom of Villains

Doctor: Yushchenko Poisoned With Dioxin

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Dioxin poisoning caused the mysterious illness of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, a doctor said Saturday, adding that the poison could have been put in his soup.

Yushchenko is now in satisfactory condition and dioxin levels in his liver have returned to normal, Dr. Michael Zimpfer, director of Vienna's private Rudolfinerhaus clinic, said at a news conference.

A series of tests run over the past 24 hours provided conclusive evidence of the poisoning, Zimpfer said.

"There is no doubt about the fact that Mr. Yushchenko's disease - especially following the results of the blood work - has been caused by a case of poisoning by dioxin," Zimpfer said.

The 50-year-old opposition leader first fell ill in September and was rushed to the Vienna hospital. He resumed campaigning later in the month but his mysterious illness had left his face pockmarked and ashen.

Yushchcenko also suffered back pain, acute pancreatitis and nerve paralysis on the left side of his face.

He has accused Ukrainian authorities of trying to poison him ahead of Ukraine's presidential vote - an allegation they have denied.

"We suspect involvement of an external party, but we cannot answer as to who cooked what or who was with him while he ate," Zimpfer said, adding that tests showed the dioxin was taken orally.

Zimpfer said Yushchenko's blood and tissue registered concentrations of dioxin - one of the most toxic chemicals - that were 1,000 times above normal levels.

When first seen by the Austrian doctors, Yushchenko was in a "critical stage" but was "not on the verge of dying," Zimpfer said.

"If this dose had been higher, it may have caused death," Zimpfer said.

Dioxin - one of the contaminants found in Agent Orange - is formed as a by-product from industrial processes such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing and pulp and paper bleaching.

The tests showed that Yushchenko suffered from chloracne, a type of adult acne caused by exposure to toxic chemicals, which sometimes takes two to three years to heal, hospital dermatologist Hubert Pehmberger told The Associated Press.

Dioxins are a normal contaminant in many foods, but a single high dose can trigger illness, London-based toxicologist John Henry said last month.

Shortly after the announcement of the diagnosis on Saturday, Henry told British Broadcasting Corp. television that Yushchenko's case was, in his experience, unique.

"We've never had a case like this, a known case of large, severe dioxin poisoning ... It's normally fairly mild. It can cause liver damage," he said. "It's usually low-level, long-term poisoning. A very large dose, nobody has any real idea of what it would cause. Now we do know."

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Somebody Smack That Knucklehead

Better yet, recycle him through the first 8 weeks of Naval Special Warfare Training.

That'll get the knucklehead's attention. He'll never make that mistake again.

What knucklehead? Which mistake?

The knucklehead SEAL who sent look-at-me pictures home to his wife. She then published them to the internet. Or at least that's the story.

Back in the day with the JSA, the monkhood motto was:

"What happens in The Monastery stays in The Monastery."

I know what you're thinking. What the hell is he talking about??


And somebody PLEASE get control of those damn digital cameras!

The last thing we need is pictures of our special ops folks published to the world.

The secret war they are fighting is a major part of the War on Terrorism and very, very few people have a need to know. In fact, besides the President/SECDEF/chain of command, and a handful of congressmen (about 8), no one has a need to know. Not me. Not you. Certainly not our adversaries .. especially the MSM. OK, maybe the MSM are not the enemy, but they certainly do the enemy a lot of favors.

What really worries me is that political correctness has pussified a large segment of our nation. Oh Auntie Em, Auntie Em! They're not being kind to the terrorists!

I guess I shouldn't be blogging. I'm pissed off.

But there it is.