Tarheeltalker

Two Generals and the President

Now that the White House has traded Gen Stanley McChrystal for Gen David Petraeus ( formerly known by liberal Democrats as Betray us, compliments of Moveon.org ) what does it all mean?  Oh and other assorted and sundry Democrats  named Reid and Clinton chimed in with their unflattering comments  as well.

First of all, Obama had to fire McChrystal. I believed that even before I heard it from Glenn Beck or my informal survey of several retired military friends. It brings to mind, just a little, mind you, of Truman  firing McArthur. But no Obama has not risen to Truman’s level with the firing even though Wolf Blitzer says that now he is the commander-in-chief. No, Wolf, he held that title from day one of his inauguration. now if you mean he finally acted like the commander-in-chief, you would be much more accurate.

There are many interesting things about this action, some of which will not materialize until some  time  has passed. Just a few. Petraeus actually is replacing a guy who reported to him in his role as CentCom Commander. So, does that not leave us  a general short?  Petraeus cannot do justice to the job in Afghanistan and run CentCom  at the same time. ( Imagine moving from Tampa to Kandahar?) So, one would think that someone needs to be promoted, right?

Ok, next up, why in the world did a four star general even agree to an interview with Rolling Stone magazine? You have to figure that nothing good will come from it and possibly something very, very bad. And so it did. That would be like, oh I don’t know, say  a Rush Limbaugh interviewing with them only worse. So, an obviously smart and capable military man does this for what reason? At some point, when things have settled down, I hope that he is forthcoming with his reasons.

Finally, was it just 2-3 years ago when Senators Obama and Biden at different times and in different public settings blasted Gen Petraeus for his lack of competency in Iraq?  Indeed it was, Obama at a Senate hearing in which he gave the general no time to respond and Biden in an interview with Tim Russert.

If you are Obama, would it not be a nightmarish scenario to have McChrystal make the  rounds of the talk shows or maybe even write a book? Can you say, bete noir? After all, McArthur had his triumphant parade in New York City.

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June 25, 2010 Posted by | military, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thanks but no thanks, Rev. Graham

Evangelist Franklin Graham was to be the keynote speaker at the Pentagon’s May 6 National Day of Prayer service. Now, he isn’t. Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins announced that the invitation had been rescinded due to the nature of comments Graham had previously made about the Muslim faith. Collins said that Graham’s remarks were “not appropriate” since we are an all-inclusive military and try to honor all faiths.

Graham’s invitation was extended by the Colorado based  National Day of Prayer Task Force which works with the Pentagon chaplain’s office. The disinvite was applauded by the Council on American Islamic Relations( CAIR) which is no surprise. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was also pleased, adding that Graham should never have been invited in the first place.He hopes someone more “inclusive” will be  picked as  a replacement. Oh, I’m certain that any mullah will be a better choice from their perspective.

Weinstein founded the group in 2006 to rebuild the wall of separation between church and state in the military. Based on that position  why would his group want the Pentagon to participate in any kind of National Day of Prayer event anyway.

As for Graham, he was very gracious and said he wuld continue to prayer for  the troops. Hope that will not get him in trouble.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | military, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The System Worked ?

So said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in commenting on a failed terrorist attempt to take down Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam  to Detroit. No,wait a minute. Yesterday, she said that it failed miserably. So, which is it? Did it fail or not ? If one measures that by the new security measures and  the additional U S marshals assigned to aircraft, I’m going with failure.There are lots of  ways to look at this event that could have , but thankfully, did not have tragic consequences. The alleged bomber, who

is in custody, is Nigeria, although funded from Yemen  and claims that there are more like himself on the way. Comforting thought, is  it not? Yemen  itself does seem to be developing into fertile ground for Al-Qaeda. Although it is located at the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula, it isn’t  that far from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan,etc.We sorta know about them and terrorists,do we not?

The President issued  a statement today from Hawaii, 3 days after the near bombing, if you are counting. What he said sounded good. We’re gonna get ’em, not just words but”every element of our national power.” No matter where they are, he added.

Imagine, if you will, thoses words coming from Bush, war mongerer, etc. And, if he had waited 3 days before speaking on the issue. Wonder if there will  be any criticism of the President  in that regard?

We have been providing support, both overt and covert to Yemeni  forces and that support is slated to increase even more next year. Senator Lieberman, who has been there recently thinks that Yemen could be the next battleground, not that it hasn’t  been before. In October, 2000, the USS Cole was victimized by a suicide bombing.And, there is even a 9/11 connection.

So, let us hope that the President backs up his rhetoric in an appropriate fashion.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | International politics, military, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The enemy on the Banks of the Hudson

Located  50 miles north of New York City on the banks of the Hudson River  is the United States Military Academy. Founded in 1802, the Academy has graduated over 50,000 cadets into the service of our country. We know many of the names. Grant, Lee, Eisenhower, Pershing, and McArthur are just a few of the honored alumni. Six members of Congress have direct connections to the Academy. Four were faculty members and three Republican congressmen; Geoff Davis  and  Brett Guthrie of Kentucky, and John Shimkus of Illinois are graduates, as is Sen Jack Reed, D, R I.

I wonder if any of these congressmen or senators will any comments about Chris Matthews referring to Obama’s trip to West Point as maybe going to the enemy camp. Matthews has sais much with which I disagree and I will long remember the”tingles” comment. But to make even a passing reference             (which he sort of backs away from) to West Point as the enemy camp for the country’s commander-in-chief, just totally baffles me. The  more i think of it, the more irritating it becomes. I have to wonder, does Matthews really believe that statement? I have no doubt that there are a number of left leaning journalists who probably do. We support the troops, just not their mission. Yeah, right.

He has since apologized  and  for that I applaud him. Let us hope that it can become a bit of a learning experience. Say, engage brain before operating mouth, maybe. Do you think a little road trip to see the place for himself would be  agood thing? Nah, probably not.

December 3, 2009 Posted by | Media, military | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Eleventh Hour, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Month

November 11,1918 marked the end of the war to end all wars or WWI. Alas, as we know all too well, that was not to be. Truth be told, it had no chance to achieve that goal. Wars have continued and continue; in all sizes and for a multitude of reasons. The day we call Veterans Day remembers those who served, those who returned,those who didn’t and honors those who serve now. We know all too well about those in Iraq and Afghanistan but also South Korea, on ships around the world, in numerous other countries and on bases here at home like Ft Benning and particularly Ft Hood.

The day originated as Armistice Day on November 11,1919,  the first anniversary of WWI’s conclusion, at the urging of Pres Woodrow Wilson. It did not become a national holiday, however,until 1938. The name changed to Veterans Day until 1954 when President Eisenhower signed legislation to honor those who had served in any  and all wars. Appropriately so, since he was the Supreme Allied Commander in WWII.

We have  around 24 million living veterans, about 10% of whom are women and  slightly over 10% are African-American. Some the more interesting  facts I discovered was that about  40% of of our living vets are over 65 but only 10% of  our living vets are from WWII. That is  a number that is rapidly declining. Numbers also indicate that about 1/3 of  veterans live in  just 5 states; California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. I know numbers can be mind numbing but just  a couple more. The number of living veterans   comprises roughly 1/2 of  the veterans that served in wartime since Revolutionary  War  days .

So, today, we salute them all (the approximately 1.5 million on active duty) those who have served and remain  and in particular those who are gone.

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Holidays, military | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Big Day for the Marines

Today is birthday #234 for the U S Marine Corps, one of the more unique branches of our military. And, furthermore, NCIS viewers will recognize it as the birthday of our favorite marine gunnery sergeant, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The jarheads as they are known by some, began their storied history on November 10,1775 before there was an official United States.

Captain Samuel Nicholas formed the first 2 battalions of this elite fighting force that is today known for many things. One is the motto, never leave a man behind. Another is the unique emblem of the globe , trident and anchor. This signifies land, air and sea; any way necessary, the Marines are there.

I remember as a kid hearing the Marine Corps hymn and being fascinated by the Halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli without even knowing what they meant. The more I learned the better it got. Just one thing about that. The shores of Tripoli refer to the  first Barbary War of the very early 19th century and our young nation’s first battle with pirates. Marines under the leadership of  Lt Presley O’Bannon stormed ashore at Derne,Tripoli( now Libya) in the first battle fought by American troops on foreign soil. Interestingly, the sword used by Marines today is modeled on one given to  Lt O’Bannon by the rightful heir to the throne of Tripoli.

They aren’t  the largest branch of our Armed Forces although they may be the most colorful, opinion of course. So, on the day before Veterans Day, we respectfully say Semper Fi to marines everywhere.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | History, military | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wondering Why?

We are just 4 days removed from the massacre at Ft Hood. Major Hasan has begun to talk but what he is saying and to whom is unclear. There seems to be  a gazillon people weighing in. There are those who call Hasan a lone wolf shooter, totally disconnected from other influences. There are many, including the President and Homeland Security Director Napolitano who want to forestall a rush to judgment and/or an anti-Muslim backlash. I suppose we could include Chris Matthews in that group as well as The Nation and even a retired general( Casey).

Others are raising issues about why warning signs were missed or overlooked ( hint”political correctness”) that allowed the major to stay in the army. Others speculate that he was angry about the war or terror as well as his pending deployment to Iraq.

Then we have a number of cases, even in the Ft Hood area, of Muslims applauding what he did. Sort of tough to support that no outside influence theory is it not? At this point, there is not  a lot that we know for certain. Major Hasan is American born- fact, was inexplicably sent to Ft Hood from Walter Reed in Washington-fact. And the worst fact is that 13 people are dead.

I read a statement on another  blog today, WeaselZippers , that with great poignancy maybe says it best.”The death of these heroes was avoidable….I’m sorry that your Country let you down( again) .

November 9, 2009 Posted by | Media, military | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Tragedy at Fort Hood

Thus far, there are 13 confirmed deaths,one civilian and 12 military.The alleged shooter is himself  one of the wounded. As we all have heard by now , this alleged shooter is Army major Nidal Malik Hasan, a military psychiatrist. There are also a number of other  wounded, whose fate is still uncertain.

At this point, there are probably hundreds of unanswered questions and theories beyond measure. I have listened to some news coverage and am nothing if  not more confused. I have heard numerous relatives of Major Hasn interviewed, some relatively close, some not so much. Opinions have ranged from him being almost incapable of such action to shock and disbelief and horror.

I will join the Chicago media at being disappointed with the President’s responses. I saw  a video of  a previously scheduled news conference in which his response, coming over a minute into the five minute session was somehow lacking. I could very well be wrong but it seemed devoid of emotion and depth of feeling. This is a moment in which we crave leadership from our President. The Ft Hood community is grieving as is the army ( a kick in the gut it was called) and particularly the families of those killed and injured.

Reagan made  a memorable statement that I still remember when he spoke of the Challenger astronauts slipping the surly bonds of earth and touching the face of God.Of course, nothing brings back those who are gone and there will be  along and painful search for the whys. Beyond saying that we should not jump to conclusions and blame all Muslims, which is true, he has left me lacking.

One final thought. I have  a friend who was  stationed at Ft Hood and has close friends who are still there. The pain is very real  and widespread, We do well to pray for those whose lives will never be the same. While you are at it, say a prayer of thanksgiving for the brave officer who stopped the rampage, Sgt Kimberly Munley. Many  owe her their lives.

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Media, military | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New York

It is the sixth ship to bear the name of our 11th state and could well  become the most historic of the lot. The LPD-21 as it is officially designated was built in Avondale,La and is skippered by a native New Yorker, Cmdr Curtis Jones. It has a succinct but poignant motto, “Never Forget” which needs no elaboration.

The 684 foot, amphibious transport dock weighs many tons but its the 7 1/2 tons of steel in the bow- stern and keel that are most significant. For, this steel comes from ground zero.The New York

Yesterday, it sailed past the Statue of Liberty on its way to being commissioned on Saturday in New York. It will remain in New York through Veterans ‘ Day before traveling to Norfolk where it will be one of many. On this day, it sailed  alone.

Cmdr Jones may have said it best. “We deal with tragedy by rising from it and pushing on. It’s very powerful-awesome in the truest sense of the word-and very, very humbling.”

The ships  complete story can be found at  uss.newyork.com.

We wish it fair winds and following seas!

November 3, 2009 Posted by | military | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

April 12,1945 to August 6,1945

The year 1945 was momentous in an almost unprecedented way. The dates referenced above are not the only events of major significance, but they will suffice for now. April 12 is one of those days that  people would always  remember where they were when they heard the news. President Roosevelt  was dead. The only man to be elected to 4 terms; he was just beginning his 13th year in office when he succumbed to a  stroke and died in Warm Springs, Ga at the age of 63. His death elevated a virtually unknown  man to the Presidency at one of the nation’s most critical junctures. WW II, at least in Europe was drawing to an end but the Pacific theater, another story indeed.

Harry Truman was neither  a Dick Cheney or Joe Biden in terms of power or influence. He was Roosevelt’s 3rd veep  and was not what you would call highly influential or knowledgeable and in fact had only occupied the office for 82 days. Thus he was not really aware of the feverish efforts underway to develop the atomic bomb.

Apparently he came up to speed very quickly since his decision to launch the Enola Gay with the first bomb came less than 3 months after he took office. The decision was made even though it  was by no means universally lauded and was opposed by some 70+ scientists.

I would like to draw  a comparison to the situation in which Mr Truman found himself and  the ongoing process about what should be our next step in Afghanistan. I read excerpts frm  a Eugene Robinson column today that lauded the reasoned approach the President is taking versus the “ready, firm, aim” approach of George Bush. He of course makes the typical comments about  this as  well as Iraq being George Bush’s doing.

I have had the nagging thought for some time about Truman’ s position. It was not his war that he was tasked with completing and it might have been easy or expedient politically to not blame Roosevelt, but  to give either him or his policies part of the “credit” for his controversial decision. I don’t think that he did so. Remember the buck stops here?

My point, which I am not making as well as I would like is not to say the President’s reasoned approach is  all that bad. But, given the fact that this  war was frequently referenced in the campaign, it is not conducive to fall back on the Bush’s war approach.

When he took office, WWII became Truman’s war. We could always the question, if Roosevelt had lived would he have dropped the bomb or bombs?  But it remains a specious question. For good or bad, Afghanistan is Obama’s  war ( hopefully his main adviser is not John  Kerry) and history will doubtless allocate to him the credit if he succeeds.

October 28, 2009 Posted by | History, military, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments