Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why I Want The Draft Back - Or They Take But Never Give

As I write this post I'm sitting in my room looking at the memento's of a life and career in the Army. Each worn and fading object representing a different moment in my life, a different person or persons, place or event that has touched and changed my life in some way. It is a warm comfortable feeling that settles in me as I contemplate these objects because I know that each and everyone of the people and events these objects represent affected me and the course of my life. Some of these gentle and sometimes not so gentle touches were for the good and some for the bad but in the end I can say all for the best. And as I look from one to the other and see the often battle scarred faces and places they represent I like to think that perhaps I have made some small positive difference in their lives. All in all it has been a life I would not trade for all the gold or treasures of the world.

You know, not one part of a soldiers life is easy. Yes, for 20 or 30 years, not one part easy. It seems to cover the whole spectrum from teeth grinding boredom to muscle paralyzing fear and everywhere in between. Did you ever think about that? Did you ever think what must be going on inside of a soldier as they check and double check and recheck their vehicles and gear before going through the gates on yet another patrol or convoy? Did you ever wonder what it's like to be walking a dusty side street in a god forsaken dirty desert town not knowing what's in the next doorway or what's around the next corner or on the next roof? Did you ever wonder what's going through their minds as they ride down some dusty street not knowing which bump is going to be an IED that's going to send shrapnel and vehicle parts trough their bodies and rip off their arms and legs?...........Do you know what's not on their minds? Medals aren't on their minds. Ribbons and plaques are not on their minds and ticker tape parades are not on their minds. If they're smart and lucky the sounds and smells and sights of the moment are on their minds because that's all that is going to keep them alive for this one more patrol. If they're unlucky, their moms and dads and wives and children are on their minds and because they are on their minds they'll make a mistake and they won't go back to see those they love or at least they won't go back in one piece. Think about that for a moment. Can you just imagine how hard it must be? Can you imagine how hard it must be to make yourself not think about those you love; to not think about those you love just when that is what you want and need so badly it hurts down in your guts?

These are the things that I think about every single day. Every day I think about soldiers, sailors, and airmen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Europe and all over the world. I think of them in stifling desert heat and sand and waist deep mountain snow. I think of them in rocky holes in high mountains and knee deep mud in tropical swamps. I think of them with their families on a post or base in Kentucky, Texas, Georgia or North Carolina and I think of them alone on the deck of some ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I think about them, their families and friends think about them, and if you're reading this you probably think about them but, believe it or not there are thousands if not millions who do not think about them. They do not think about them because they do not have to think about them. These are the same thousands if not millions who are reaping the bounty of these soldiers' sacrifices. These are the same thousands if not millions who choose to not think about the soldiers because they and their little world are safe and neither they nor their children have to serve or sacrifice.

This is the folly of not having a national service obligation. This absence of an obligation to serve allows people to become lazy and disconnected from the broader world. It allows them to retreat into their consumer world of Wal-Mart and Target or into their neighborhood mall and not think about the thousands of innocent people who are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan or the thousands of soldiers who are bleeding and dying for them around the world. It allows them to ignore the poverty right here in America and certainly the rest of the world. It allows them to suffer the elements by standing in line for days to buy the first new video game system but not to stand in line to vote. They think that it is their God given right to mindlessly shop and drive and to burn precious fuel because "that's why God put it here"; he put it here just so I can drive to the mall. These people are so lazy and self absorbed that they cannot find the intestinal fortitude or presence of mind to take the one action most readily available to them and every other American and the one action in their immediate possession to defend the constitution and that act is the simple act of voting.

It is my thought that the absence of a national service obligation has created an elitist attitude among a large number of people in this country who believe it is the responsibility of someone else to defend the nation and it is the responsibility of someone else to fight terrorism. This lack of national service obligation has created, not an atmosphere of shared responsibility, but a self-serving atmosphere of you go and die for your country or send your child but leave me and my child alone. And, this atmosphere of self-centered elitism was, if not created then certainly fueled by George W. Bush and his administration. It is also George W. Bush and his administration along with the other elitist that hold a lions share of the responsibility for our being in Iraq today and for our failed foreign and domestic policies.

I must add that I believe it is the millions of non-voters who have, by their inaction, allowed the radical minority to determine the fate and direction of our nation. In the day of the volunteer military it is perhaps reasonable that people choose not to serve in the military and perhaps it is even reasonable that they not serve their nation in some civil capacity but it is absolutely unforgivable that they would not walk out their door and go to a voting booth and at least cast their vote in defense of the constitution and this is the very reason I champion national service. We citizens of this great nation who do defend our country and our constitution deserve to have that gift and burden shared. We deserve to have it shared by all and that includes those elitist who think it beneath them as well as those who are so apathetic and unpatriotic as to not vote. I believe this is true even if it means a mandatory national service obligation for ALL citizens of this great nation.

Those Are The Sergent Major's Thoughts On That.

Where The Brave Have Fallen - Bush In Vietnam

Do you feel it George? Like a cold chill it starts at the back of your neck and radiates down through your body. It is the breath of the many brave soldiers who fell where you now stand. It is the sound of your conscience trying to get the attention you so callously and cavalierly refuse to give it. It is the cold breeze of guilt George; you know the guilt you felt when you chose the easy way and the guilt you should feel now. I know you felt the guilt back then George because that was why you drank wasn't it? You had a conscience back then and the alcohol helped numb it didn't it. At least for a little while George but only for a little while.

Do you remember that day back on May 27th, 1968? I know you remember it because that's the day you raised your hand to take an oath you'd never live up to isn't it. I remember that day very well George, because I was in infantry training and on my way to Vietnam doing what I raised my hand and swore to do. But mostly I remember because many of my friends were dying in Vietnam on that day. They were there where you stand today but they were bleeding and they were serving their country and fulfilling the oaths they took.

Why George? Why did you run away? Why are you still running away George?

Do you feel it George? It's the breath of those many brave soldiers who fell and are falling in Iraq; that place you are talking about today. It is the sound of your conscience still trying to get the attention you continue to refuse to give it.

Those Are The Sergent Major's Thoughts On That.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

You Can Call It Hubris - I Call It Uncaring Criminal Arrogance

As I read the newspapers, online and off line, and listen to the pundits and uniformed lapdogs that call themselves "Generals" I grow more angry and dismayed. It is my belief, having paid some attention, that anyone who lived through the 2000 election, the events of September 11, 2001, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq should be able to deduce and understand that this country was led to war by the Bush administration through blatant deceit.

In numerous posts in the past I have tried to contemplate, discuss, and share thoughts that I believe to be of some significant consequence to citizens, soldiers, and their families. I have spoken of leadership, courage, honor, trust, faith, and dedication to nation and constitution. These are all concepts, ideas, and beliefs that I believe have helped to forge this great nation. Yes, it is true that our history is filled with these honorable concepts, ideas and beliefs but it is also filled with the deepest depths of depravity, malice, and injustice as evidenced by our historic treatment of Native and African Americans and seemingly any other minority that has had the poor misfortune to cross our path. Please understand that I am not making light of what we have, as a nation, done to these peoples but that I am at this moment focusing on that aspect of our national Psyche that strives for the better. That being said, the one thing that I have always believed has made America truly great and made it stand out among all nations is our continuing struggle to achieve a higher moral goal and to try to live by those greater ideals. I believe that in spite of our weak individual human failings we have, as a nation, always been moved, inspired, and drawn to struggle to achieve the hard right and just.

With those thoughts in mind and simply said, the Bush administrations actions in Iraq were not and are not part of our national struggle to achieve the hard right and just. It has not been and is not part of our continuing struggle to achieve a higher moral goal. Invading Iraq was neither right nor just nor was it in the best interest of the United States but to the contrary it was in all likelihood probably a criminal act. As the titular head of of the nation we expect our President to move boldly but with a large measure of moral caution. We expect our President to act with the moral grounding which we as a nation strive to achieve. I believe that the invasion of Afghanistan was both bold and morally cautious and I do believe it was a legitimate part of our great struggle not only to fight global terrorism but also to do the right and just thing. But then in his arrogance and greed, and perhaps with a smidgen of vindictiveness, the President turned our nations might in the wrong direction. The President did this at the reckless peril of us all, and while using blatantly false information to justify his unilateral and preemptive invasion. This single malicious act has resulted in our now being bogged down in an unnecessary civil war and on the verge of perhaps having caused the complete destabilization of a region that is, at this moment in history, of almost incomprehensible strategic importance to our nation.

As we struggle to find a way out of Iraq that does not leave a destabilized country and region it is important that we realize that this situation was caused by one person and their administration. It was caused by coercion, lies, and deceit perpetrated by the President and Vice President of the United States and members of their administration. Yes, we Americans share part of the responsibility because even after the 2000 election we reelected this administration and allowed the continued ravaging of a nation but ultimately the responsibility lies with the President and he should be held accountable by the Congress and the citizens of this great nation. Unfortunately we must maintain a stable Middle East because until we achieve energy independence we are strategically vulnerable. So yes, struggle we must, and sacrifice, and even fight to return stability to Iraq and the entire Middle Eastern region but let us not forget who was and is responsible for the carnage. Let us not forget whose inability to lead brought us to this point. Let us not forget whose inability to face the reality of the situation even today, continues to cost this nation its treasure in the form of human life, limb, and blood and continues to cost Iraq the lives, limbs, and blood of its citizens.

It is time for the President and his administration to face reality. It is time for the Senate and Congress to quit playing political games and bring trust and honor to Washington. It is our nations very survival that is at stake. As our soldiers continue to fight, bleed, and often die so must the citizens of this nation fulfill their obligation to the nation and fight for the hard right and just. We citizens must hold our newly elected Congress and Senate to task. We have no time for infighting and backstabbing. We have elected these men and women to go to Washington to do a job and not to collect money from lobbyist and squabble over committee seats. I say to Congress and the Senate, 'get to work' and to the President I say, admit your gross errors and arrogance and get to work cleaning up your mess. That is if you have the moral fiber Mr. President.

Those Are The Sergeant Major's Thoughts On That.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

As I Sit And Ponder - Or A Matter Of Trust

As I sit and ponder the state of our nation and my military career and service I am "disheartened"; in much the same way a certain General recently said he is "disheartened" by the situation in Iraq. Why you might ask am I pondering the state of our nation and my career these many years later. Well, simply put, I am where I am as a result of observing where our nation stands today and how we arrived at where we are but mostly it's a matter of pondering a trust lost. The Sergeant Majors thoughts are below the fold.

Today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Germany, and a thousand other geographic points there are thousands upon thousands of American soldiers, sailors, and airmen serving their country. Why do you think those soldiers serve? I have heard any number of answers to that question over the years. They join for the educational benefits. They join because it's the only way out of abject poverty. They join because they want "adventure". Hell they even say they join because the judge told them that was the better of two choices. Well you know what? They join for all of those reasons and many many more but I know why they stay. They stay because it's a hard life of service to their country and the constitution and because they trust their leaders.

In my military career one 'most desired' and 'respected' virtue always stood out more than any other and that virtue was "trust". You were expected from day one to be trustworthy and to trust. Regardless of what aspect of military life you looked at it was all based on trust. You began to see it as a young soldier in basic training/boot camp when it was driven into your very soul that you take care of your buddy. That person who would share your foxhole for the "duration". Everything depended on the knowledge that your buddy would take care of you and you would take care of your buddy. You trusted each other more than brothers or sisters. The second part of that shared knowledge was that your leader would take care of you and your buddy and you would take care of your leader. It was about trust. My leader could trust that I would follow orders and I could trust my leader to give me the correct order. This concept, this sacred blood bond, was driven into your very being that you could trust your leader to never ask you to do something he or she would not do themselves and that they would stand right beside you and be the first up the hill and your shared survival and that of your nation depended on trusting one another. Any soldier, sailor, marine or airman understands this reality without question.

As I read this article it became crystal clear to me that our soldiers have come to realize that this most sacred of bonds has been and is being broken. They have come to realize that they cannot trust their leadership. This thought hurts and frightens me down to my core. It is important to understand that for a soldier to fight and fight well he or she must trust their leaders to not just provide them with the necessary tools to accomplish the mission such as armored vehicles, body armor and bullets but they must also be able to trust their leaders to take care of their families.

This trust has been violated one time to many and now the truth is obviously spreading through the ranks of our military. Our soldiers are coming to realize that this administration, this Presidents has not and is not supporting the troops. The reason the American military has been successful in its over two hundred year history is one that no, and I do mean no, other countries army has had and that reason was trust based on a constitution that guaranteed a government of the people and by the people. Well they no longer have that trust based on that constitution because the Bush administration has systematically destroyed that constitution and through repeated lies and deceit destroyed that trust.

On November the seventh the American electorate spoke loud and clear and our Congress and Senate have been changed and as if by punctuation this past weekend many Americans observed Veteran's Day. As we move forward I hope and pray that the Congress and Senate understand that the American people want leadership that they can trust. It is time this President understands that he is accountable to the American people and that our precious treasure is not one to be squandered on self centered idealogical and radical goals.

Those Are The Sergeant Major's Thoughts On That.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Deep Abiding Pain - But He Doesn't Feel It

As I read this article it hurt. I mean it really hurt. When Gilda ran from the room and into the hall screaming I was screaming with her and my guts just plain hurt and the lump in my chest wouldn't shrink enough for me to breath. I was loosing one of my soldiers again and again and again.

As I read this article I understood Alex. Alex the marine. Alex the leader. Alex the husband. Alex the son. I understood him because he was, as all soldiers are, different yet so very much like every marine, every soldier, every sailor and every airman. He was doing what marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen do....he was serving his country. He was doing what his "country" asked him to do. He was fighting a war.

That is what soldier do you know.......They fight wars. That's what they're trained to do. They are trained to accomplish the mission by fighting and winning and surviving and taking care of their buddy. They are trained as leaders to accomplish the mission by fighting and winning and surviving and taking care of their soldiers. You read it in every quote....how is my soldier? Did he make it? Is she okay? Leaders leading, soldiers fighting and caring and sometimes giving everything for their country. What a hell of a marine he must have been. I won't say I wish I had known him because in my heart I know I did.

As of just a few minutes ago 2,754 American soldiers had given their lives for their country. As of just a few minutes ago 20,687 American soldiers had sacrificed part of their bodies for their country. As of just a few minutes ago arguably 600,000 Iraqis had died as a result of war in Iraq.

Mr. Bush you lied to us and took us to war.....look at the price we have paid.
Mr. Bush you lied to us and took us to war.....look at the price Iraq has paid.
Mr. Bush you lied to us and took us to war.....look at the mothers crying.

Why Mr. Bush?

Mr. Bush, for this old soldier, for the fathers and mothers, brothers and sister and all of the families of the soldiers and all of the Iraqis.

Mr. Bush stop this war!

*Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.*

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Leaders and Lapdogs - Or The Consequences Of A Hollow Force

You might have noticed that in my post I rarely link to articles or quote directly. That's because I don't consider myself to be a very complicated person and I simply want to share my thoughts on world events as seen through the eyes of an old soldier. Having said that I must also say I do occasionally link to an article and I will insert a few here because they are indicative of and germane to the point of today's post.
Readiness Link 1
Readiness Link 2
Readiness Link 3

I joined the military in 1968. Specifically I joined the United States Army as a volunteer and as an Airborne Infantryman. I was a wet behind the ears 18 years old boy from the Deep South and I was poor and a high school drop out. (And apparently not too smart hence Airborne Infantryman) That probably sounds rather gloomy to many of you but, it wasn't the worst that was happening about that time in our history nor was it the worst situation to be in in the south in America at that time. Now the Army that I joined wasn't in much better shape than I was in. We were buried in a war that was based on lies and we were loosing many too many American soldiers as well as American and Vietnamese civilians every day. Also because of the protracted war and the cultural/social agonies that our country was going through the United States Army was becoming an ever more dysfunctional reflection of a dysfunctional society.

Those were the not so good ole days. As the United States mercifully began to extricate itself from Vietnam a group of young officers, that included such bright young men as Colin Powell, Edward Meyer, John Wickham, Carl Vuono, Gordon Sullivan, Dennis Reimer, Eric Shinseki and too many others to mention began to move up through the ranks and these men saw an Army that was broken in every way it could be broken but they instinctively and with understanding and vision began to rebuild it. They began the change by providing a vision and by cleaning out and building up the ranks. They began to rebuild the Officer and Noncommissioned Officer Corps and they made what I believe was an unspoken pact with each other and the nation. That pact was to never allow another Vietnam to happen. These brave men were successful. They built a new Army. They rebuilt the Officer and Noncommissioned Officer Corps that had been decimated by years of war and neglect and they recruited the brightest and the best. I was a privileged and proud member of that organization. I stuck it out studied and worked hard and I met and exceeded the standards and I was able to get a good education and make an incredibly rewarding career in the Army. That was then and now is now and I am sad to say that the amazing results of all those brave men and women’s efforts are being dismantled soldier by soldier, bolt by bolt.

I believe it is intuitively obvious that the administration of George W. Bush has not the least bit of understanding of the purpose of the military other than that of a tool to garner power and bully the world. Neither a Statesman nor a Diplomat would call names (Axis of Evil) or make threats on the world stage without having a clear understanding of the potential diplomatic and military consequences of those statements and threats nor would they do so without the strategic and military knowledge to understand their own and others capabilities. One of the first inklings the public should have had of this administrations reckless attitude with regards to the military came when Donald Rumsfeld decimated the General Officer ranks by firing those who understood and hiring those who would be his lap dogs. Well now even the lap dogs are nipping at their ankles. Unfortunately the rest of the world saw and sees something else that this administration refuses to see and that something is that this administration is wearing out and destroying the American military. Put simply they are over extended, under funded, and wearing out. With 140,000 +/- troops in Iraq, another 12,000 in Afghanistan and thousands more spread out across the globe the active force is stretch to the breaking point. The reserve and National Guard Forces don't have the equipment and manpower to fully staff their ranks or train and respond to war or a national emergency.

As this nation faces the nuclear threat of Iran and North Korea it is with few options and many risks. As a result of the recklessness of the incompetent leadership that is the Bush administration we find ourselves with few options this side of the one option that is most un-thinkable.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Brave Soldiers All - Or Why Are Mr. Bush And Mr. Cheney Cowards

In writing my posts I have often spoken of my family and of the great pride I have in their service to our nation. As I have often mentioned my family has served this nation in every conflict since the Revolutionary War but in this post I want to share a story with you that I believe demonstrates just how much my family really loves this nation.

My maternal grandparents met in Koblenz Germany at the end of World War I. My grandfather had served as a First Sergeant in the American Army and was working with the occupation Army in Germany as a civilian where he met my grandmother who was a young French woman working for the French occupation forces. After a typical war time whirlwind romance they married and in 1921 moved to my grandfather’s small hometown in Florida. They settled into a quiet southern life and raised a fairly typical "American" family. They later weathered the depression and all the hard times it brought; then came World War II. Like all the families of that time the war sent their lives into even more turmoil. Just after Pearl Harbor my uncle joined the Army Air Corps and shortly after that my grandfather volunteered for the Army. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, my grandfather was deemed to old to join for another war and that was when my grandmother decided to do her part. To "show her appreciation" to the country that had so warmly welcomed her when my grandfather was turned down by the Army my grandmother joined that organization that would later become known as the Women’s Army Corps. So the results of all of this patriotic fervor was that my war time mother was left with a son to raise alone and with a husband, a brother, a mother and a brother-in-law all away fighting a war.

I have told you this little story to demonstrate something that I think needs to be made clear to each and every Americans. All of these American patriots were members of the Democratic Party.

So it is that I tell you through this prism of patriotism that I find it particularly repugnant when I read this article. It amazes me that a man such as Mr. Cheney, who so obviously, aggressively, and successfully avoided serving his country, could find the gall and audacity to point a finger of cowardice at another human being much less and entire group of Americans. It is in fact even more repugnant and disgusting to me when I look at the military records of not only Mr. Cheney, but the military records of virtually all of the members of the current administration and I find them to be not just sorely lacking but virtually non-existent. So it is that I must ask myself, who is this person and who are these people to question the patriotism and valor of any American. They are in fact nobody. They are in fact the cowards whose failed foreign policy has brought this nation to the brink of disaster. These are the architects of a cowardly foreign policy that used lies and deceit to take a nation to war. These are the architects that took this nation into an unjust and illegal war that has cost thousands of American and Iraqi lives and wounded and maimed thousands of others for no honest reason. These are the architects of a cowardly foreign and domestic policy that has brought the absolute finest military to the brink of collapse. These are the architects of policies of failure that have emboldened our enemies, alienated our friends and created an unstable world filled with volatile despots.

It is by no means necessary to serve in the armed forces to demonstrate ones patriotism or love of country. It is by no means necessary to shed blood or draw blood to demonstrate ones patriotism but it is certainly necessary to demonstrate honor and integrity to be a patriot and Mr. Cheney neither you nor any of your fellow members of this administration demonstrate either of these traits.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Scarred - Or Soulless Ice

“It is in the nature of soldiers who have been to war and returned to not share these thoughts but I believe these are “times that try men’s souls” and these things need to be said.” – Archibald MacLeish

Each day when I go to my computer the first thing I do is go to the Iraq war casualties website and check on the numbers of soldiers killed and wounded in action and the numbers of Iraqi’s killed. Today those numbers were 2,732 soldiers killed in action, 19,910 soldiers wounded in action and 43,546 – 48,343 Iraqi’s killed. Day in and day out the numbers go up and up and as they do I ask myself that eternal question, why?

It seems to me that in almost all of my posts I write these numbers and even though I have no definitive answer as to why they are dying I do have an answer as to why I write the numbers. I do this in hopes that someone will – really - understand what these numbers mean. That, that someone will “get it”, and repeat it and then another someone will understand and then another and still another and finally the 300 million people that are estimated to be breathing in this country this month will all understand. That they will understand that with each of these deaths a piece of us dies and with each of these wounds we are wounded and it is only they who can stop the killing and maiming.

To that someone who might be listening let me share this with you. Regardless of the circumstances; “justly” or “unjustly” the taking of a human life is an act that never leaves you. Knowing that you were personally responsible for taking a human life leaves an eternal, deep, and painful scar on your soul; at least I believe that if you are human it does. Let me share one other thing. The eyes are indeed windows into the soul and I know that when I look at the faces and into the eyes of those who are orchestrating the war in Iraq I do not see scarred souls but instead I see the soulless ice of those who do not care.

Each day as I look at my newspaper it is not the reality of stories of dying soldiers and civilians I see spread across the page but the sad soap opera that is our administration in Washington D.C. It is stories of corruption, graft, and moral bankruptcy that I see and then, even further back after the ads for cars and furniture and every other consumable good, I see the lone article with the number of lives given and taken, buried in the pages of tomorrows fish wrap, without ceremony or homage and before their bodies have hardly grown cold.

I close with another quote from Archibald MacLeish – “We are deluged with facts, but we have lost or are losing our human ability to feel them.”

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Soldiers Shame – Or Why I Won’t Wear My Uniform

The day I retired from the United States Army I had my dress uniform cleaned and pressed and I hung it in the closet ready to put back on. I have only worn it on a very few special occasions since that day. One memorable time was a proud day that I was privileged to participated in my older daughters’ graduation from training in the United States Navy. The other occasions were of course very special events and celebrations of national and military honor and tradition. You see, I believe that one of the great privileges of being a soldier is that after you retire you can put that uniform back on and celebrate with great pride yours and your nation’s accomplishments.

Today I am taking an oath to not put that uniform back on. Let me explain why.

I have endured much in my life. Please don’t misunderstand because I say that with great and humble pride. I have endured much because that is what my family has always done since the revolutionary war. You see my family just happens to be one of those families that have chosen to serve the nation by serving in the military. That is simply what we do. I will not go into all of the details because I have mentioned them in several posts before but suffice it to say that for well over 200 years virtually every generation of my family has served in the United States military in defense of our constitution; that would be the Constitution of the United States of America. We have done so in peace and war and with pride and humility and we have all walked tall because we have always viewed our nation as a beacon of liberty in a world all to often filled with despots and tyranny. But today all of that has changed.

Today I hang my head in shame and I take a sworn oath and I take it as freely and solemnly as I took my oath of enlistment. Today I swear that I Sergeant Major Myers, United States Army Retired, will not put on my uniform again, for any reason what so ever, until George W. Bush is removed or leaves office and the abomination that has just passed the Congress of the United States is struck down by the Supreme Court or rescinded by an Act of Congress.

It has not been enough that this President has taken this country to war with a web of deceit and lies and it is not enough that he has by his actions and lack of leadership, in the words of former President United States and Noble Laureate Jimmy Carter, "brought discouragement and sometimes international disgrace to our great country," but now he would compound our disgrace and remove the rights of Americans as defined in our constitution and defile humanity by attempts to legalize torture of other human beings. I must also say that what is just as disgraceful and humiliating to this nation is that there are members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate, that would go along and support, no, even encourage such efforts for obviously crass political, personal, and economic gain.

No, enough is enough and this tired old soldier has one more fight left in him and it will be to do all that is in my power to defeat this blatant assault on our nation from within and I say to Mr. Bush, you sir are an abomination for a President and an abomination for a Commander in Chief. Your actions have removed any mantle of moral authority you may have had. You have in every way, imaginable and possible, broken the oath you took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I love my country sir but I possess not one iota of respect for you.

I say to you sir, in spite of you, this nation will DEFEAT TERRORISM NOT SACRIFICE LIBERTY.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Of Soldier's Little Children and Uncaring Presidents

You know soldiers don’t have it easy and it’s a fact that every war throws a different set of miseries at them that scars, cripples and all too often kills. Bullets are one obvious and common misery to all but there is a whole other set that is not so obvious; like the cold muddy fields of Europe during World War II and Korea that left fingers and toes frost bit or missing and then the glue like mud and wait a minute vines of Vietnam that left you with trench foot, crotch rot and bloody scratches and now it’s the blistering heat and sand of the Middle East that infest you with biting insects, strange bloody rashes and grinding grit between your teeth. But did you know there is another group that has suffered along with these soldiers and have had their own debilitating and scaring and varied miseries. That unheralded and suffering group is the families and friends waiting back home.

The reality is that most people not only don’t know or understand combat and its miseries that soldiers must endure but they also don’t know or understand the stressed despair of loneliness that is suffered by those left behind. They don’t understand that hollow painful void in a mother’s heart as she thinks and waits for her son or daughter or the worried headache of a father thinking of a son or daughter in imminent danger. They don’t understand that aching throb that is the lump in the spouses chest every time they think of their husband or wife and the danger he or she face or that sinking feeling of despair when they contemplate the unthinkable life without them ever again and they don’t understand the emptiness in a young child’s stomach when they miss their mommy or daddy and can’t understand why they’re gone or why they don’t come home everyday like all the other kids mommies and daddies do.

No, many people don’t understand these things because today fewer and fewer have ever experienced it and or don’t care and you know what; it shows all over this country. It shows in our government and in our society. It shows in the way our government treats our soldiers and it shows in the void that should be an outcry from those who should understand and care but don’t or won’t. It shows when after our country has been attacked a President says go shop and doesn’t say we must all sacrifice and here’s what I’m asking you to sacrifice. It shows when in the midst of a great struggle against terrorist the only sign of support for the troops and their families that you see is a magnetic ribbon on a bumper.

It is my thought that there will be an awful price to be paid by our country for not understanding and or not caring what the leadership of this nation is doing and that price is beginning to be paid. We have a military that is not only not ready but one that continues to be decimated through gross mismanagement.

When George W. Bush became President he inherited a military that was not only combat ready but the absolute finest in the world bar none. This was graphically demonstrated during the invasion of Iraq. It was a military that was not only ready but one with moral among soldiers and family member that was the highest it had been in decades. In a few short years he has successfully broken it materially and morally. He has created a rush to exit of the finest soldiers’ ever enlisted and begun to replace them with those less qualified intellectually, physically, and morally.

Over the last few days you have seen a continuing line of America’s finest officers come before the Democrats of our Congress and give testimony to what I have said here. These are soldiers who care and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they speak the truth. It takes great courage to stand and be counted and these soldiers have done it on the battlefield and now they are doing it at home.

Somewhere today a soldier’s spouse is hurting, a soldier’s mother weeps, a soldiers baby cries, and a soldiers fathers eyes are blurry.

Last word for today – It’s time that those who don’t understand and or don’t care woke up and smelled the roses. Your nation is bleeding and it’s bleeding to death.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Of Soldiers And Punctuation – Or Why I’m Not A Comma

"Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that’s the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there’s also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there’s a strong will for democracy." George W. Bush to Wolf Blitzer, CNN - Emphasis mine.

2,703 dead American commas, 19,910 wounded and maimed American commas, 35 – 40,000 dead Iraqi commas.

What do you think it feels like to be a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq?

What do you think it feels like to be an American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq without the proper body armor to protect you?

What do you think it feels like to be an American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq without the proper armored vehicles to protect you?

What do you think it feels like to be an American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq on your third tour and to not know when you’ll go home to your family because you’ve been involuntarily extended….again?

What do you think it feels like to be an American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq on your third tour and 24 hours before you’re suppose to go home you find out you’ve been involuntarily extended….again?

What do you think if feels like to be a soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq and know that fully two thirds of American combat units are not combat ready?

What do you think it feels like to be and American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq knowing that the Chief of Staff of your Army withheld submitting the budget to fund you and your equipment because the Secretary of Defense slashed $25 billion off of your budget?

What do you think it feels like to be an American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq knowing that the National Guard back at home doesn’t have the equipment it needs to train to replace you and to help your family when another Katrina strikes?

What do you think it feels like to be an American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq knowing that your President wants to modify the Geneva Conventions and jeopardize your life and treatment and those of your comrades who follow you so that his administration can torture other people?

What do you think it feels like to be an American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq knowing that the Taliban are coming back in Afghanistan as strong as or stronger than ever taking large swaths of country your comrades bled and died for?

Now…..What do you think it feels like to be an American soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq on your third tour and to not know when you’ll go home to your family because you’ve been involuntarily extended….again and your Commander in Chief has just referred to you and what you are doing in Iraq as a COMMA?

What do you think it feels like to be a mother, father, husband, wife, brother, sister, son, or daughter of an American soldier killed, maimed, or wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq and your President referred to your mother, father, husband, wife, brother, sister, son, or daughter as a COMMA?

For nearly three decades I was that soldier and today many of the soldiers I trained are those American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq and I will say this for myself and if I maybe so bold for those soldiers.

Mr. President I’m no damn comma!!

I am an American soldier and if you have no more respect for me than that, then I say to you sir that your words and indeed your deeds can only lead me to believe you are ignorant at best and a coward at worst and certainly not deserving of my respect and since you are in fact the President of the United States I must say I tend to believe you must be the later.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Have We All Become Such Cowards – Or What Is In Washington DC Is Not What This Soldier Fought For

During the course of my military career I received training on how to survive being a Prisoner of War (POW). In a very controlled training environment I was subjected to “torture” that included humiliation (being kept nude), physical abuse such as slaps, belly slaps, punching, sleep deprivation, hypothermia, threats of electrocution, and even water-boarding. We, I and my fellow soldiers, were exposed to this in training because it was made clear to us that as soldiers, should we ever become a POW we should be prepared for and expect this kind of treatment from the “bad guys”.

This treatment was put upon us in a controlled environment and we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that no matter what we would not be permanently or irreparably harmed in any way and yet it was still a life altering, horrendous and humiliating experience.

The training was particularly poignant to us in that it was conducted in conjunction with our training on the Geneva Conventions. It was made clear that we as American soldiers were expected to conduct ourselves in a morally upright and honorable manner no matter what ours or our comrades in arms treatment was at the hands of an enemy. We were given detailed in depth training on the Geneva Conventions and we were given extensive hands on training in how to treat prisoners of war should we be faced with that situation. I believe that we all, to a soldier, learned our lessons well because I can say without equivocation that in the ensuing nearly three decades of my military career, which included several combat tours, I never treated a POW, nor did I personally witness a POW being treated in any manner that could ever be construed as inhumane.

As a young soldier that training taught me something much deeper than just how to expect to be treated as a POW or how I should treat a POW. It taught me that America was a nation founded on the rule of law and a nation that still strived to achieve and maintain the moral high ground no matter how the enemy conducted themselves. It taught me that we weren’t a nation built on religious fanaticism but one build on human dignity and justice. We didn’t gauge how we treated others by how we were treated but how we as human beings expected to be treated.
Today in Washington DC we have an administration that has lost touch with America. It has lost touch with American and all that this great nation has stood for better than two centuries. The conduct of the war in Iraq has been and continues to be an embarrassment to this nation and has undermined our moral standing in the world to the point of making us virtually irrelevant. From the falsehoods that took us to the preemptive war in Iraq, to the atrocities of Abu Ghraib, to the shame that is Guantánamo Bay, and on to the injustices put upon innocent victims of rendition such as the Canadian Citizen, Maher Arar, and many others currently incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay, this administration has ceded the moral high ground. Indeed the chaos that is Iraq today serves only to shine a bright light on what I believe is this administrations ineptitude and moral depravity.

The debate that is occurring in Washington DC is one that should never occur and is a simple continuation of a policy that is lost. It is indeed a needless exercise that can only result in the further deterioration of what is left of our standing in the international community and jeopardize the well being of every American Soldier for generations to come. Torture simply does not work. This has been proven time and time again and I can personally witness to that fact and Senator John McCain can certainly attest to that fact even more strongly than I. Torture is not and instrument of extracting truth but is more accurately an instrument of revenge and extractor of fiction.

Have we become a nation of cowards who seek revenge at all cost? Have we become a nation that would resort to physical and psychological torture to extract information from another human being? These are the acts not of just and honorable people but of cowards and people of no moral stature. If the answer to these questions is yes then the constitution and nation that I and millions of other Americans dedicated their lives to and shed our blood for no longer exist.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Failures Of Diplomacy – Or What Price Lies

As a soldier I understand the consequences of failures in diplomacy. We soldiers all understand because the consequences of failures in diplomacy have all too often been a liberal spilling of our blood. And even at such a costly price we can accept the consequences when they are the results of “honest” failures. We can accept the consequences because we know that all other options have been exhausted and now we must do the difficult right thing. But what I and most other soldiers have great and real difficulty with is failures of diplomacy that are a result of dishonesty and that result in the dishonorable letting of American blood.

As I have witnessed in recent weeks the Bush administrations machinations as it has tried to un-lie the lies that were told to take us to war in Iraq and connect this dishonest and illegal Iraq war to a disingenuous and impossible “war” on terror I have become physically ill. I have become physically ill not just because of what they have said or because of my extreme dislike for this president and his dishonest and immoral cohorts in crime. I have become physically ill because of the gullibility and blatant ignorance and selfishness of a broad swath of the American people who glibly follow George W. Bush. I have become physically ill because this same group of Americans seem to fail to fully comprehend or show real understanding of the sacrifices of the American military and the carnage that has been put upon the Iraqi people as a result of the bald faced, in your face, lies told by George W. Bush and the members of his administration. I have become physically ill because this same group of American people sit blithely by in their overstuffed recliners in front of their 42 inch plasma screens as a Republican controlled House and Senate not only allow but in fact enable this administration to become an autocracy as a result of their own greed for wealth and power.

Are these people so engulfed in their own narcissistic delusions that they have lost the capacity to understand that this president and his Neocon henchmen are taking this country down the path to global isolation and irrelevance? Are they so engulfed in their own narcissistic delusions that they have lost their understanding of moral rightness and human compassion? Are they so engulfed in their own narcissistic delusions that they have lost their desire to maintain the laws, moral stature and democratic principals of the nation that was so graciously bequeathed to us by the founding fathers as set out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

As I look around I cannot believe that this is the same nation that I and my ancestors have fought, bled and died for since the Revolutionary War.

To those of you who follow George W. Bush; I ask you at what price? Think about 2,687 dead American soldiers. Think about 19,399 wounded and maimed American soldiers. Think about untold thousands of killed, wounded and maimed Iraqis. Think about thousands of killed, wounded and maimed innocent men, women and children.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Geneva Conventions – One Soldiers Perspective

Art. 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions: (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. (2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

This article does not and has never held any ambiguity for me and I do not believe it has ever held any for the millions of American soldiers (to include the OSS and CIA operatives) who have served in our armed forces since the United States signed these conventions. I make this statement without reservation and with the backdrop of having served in the United States Army for nearly three decades including several combat tours of duty. I also say to you that I proudly carried the “Geneva Conventions Card” in my pocket every single day of my military career from the day it was issued to me in basic training. I carried that card proudly because it represented the moral stature of my nation. It said to me that no matter what, no matter how I was treated, if I was captured or if I captured an enemy soldier I knew what my country expected of me and what my country stood for and I would never violate that trust. I would never violate the trusts placed in me by the citizens of our great nation, my comrades in arms and yes, even my enemy.

I thought not to write this post. I thought not to write it because I have become convinced that Americans, at least that vast multitude that continue to allow themselves to be deluded by the Bush administration, don’t care about anything but themselves much less the Geneva Conventions and I would therefore be posting to the wind. I still believe that and unfortunately I believe it with all my heart but in spite of that stolid belief I had an overpowering need to express my utter disdain and contempt for George W. Bush and the actions of his administration. So I say to you that in my opinion, this administration possesses not one iota of common decency, honor, or moral character and these attempts on their part to change the United States interpretation of the Geneva Conventions are just one more example of an administration with no moral compass. This is to me just one more example of a Commander in Chief who has removed his cloak of moral authority and I say God help us all if our elected officials in the House of Representatives and Senate allow this grotesque interpretation of the conventions to become the law of the land because that will be just one more nail in the coffin of our democracy.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What If They Walked Away

As you know I write about the military. I write about the pride that I felt as a soldier and as a retired soldier and I write about the pride I feel as the descendant of a long line of soldiers and as an American citizen. Virtually every time I write a post I get at least several and sometimes many not so nice comments about soldiers and the military. I’ll expound on this below the fold.

As I said I get some not so nice comments and this post is for those who write those not so nice comments but those of you who write nice comments or even don’t write comments at all are invited to read this too.

We are an imperfect nation of imperfect people. Yep, we are imperfect. We have, from our inception, done really, really bad things and really, really good things. We have done bad things on purpose and bad things not on purpose. We have done good things on purpose and we have done good things not on purpose. In other words we have been doing a lot of things good and bad. (My token paragraph for those who use Bushian speak.)

Now our forefathers sat down in Philadelphia some 225+ years ago and drafted some documents that created the basic outline and laws of our nation. You know the constitution. They tried, based on their limited intellect to create a really good country. Since that time a lot of really, really good and really, really bad people have controlled and governed this nation. It has been kind of a mix for the most part but generally a little bit of both but leaning more to the good. (I know that some of you believe that a group of nare-do-wells control the whole thing and that may or may not be true, I just don’t know.) The point is that our founding fathers created this entity we call the United States and left it to their progeny to manage into the future.

Now I believe that in the this country regardless of who is elected or who is in office, or even if the nare-do-wells are in control, that we as a nation have an incredible amount of freedom and an incredible amount of access to information which allows us to remain informed and educated on not only our nation but also the world. We have an incredible ability to educate ourselves and organize and to choose our path in the world. Some of us choose to teach, some choose to drive a truck, some choose to pursue elected office, some choose to be firemen, some choose to be policemen and generally everyone chooses to be or do something. Some even choose to be soldiers. Some also, unfortunately, choose to not be or do anything, but that’s another story. We all seem to generally choose to be and to do something within the realm of this nation state we call the United States of America. Most importantly though is that we all have the opportunity to choose to make a difference. We who blog here on this site are choosing to voice our opinions. We are choosing to organize and cajole and to put forth our opinions and influence people to become active and activist in order to make a difference. At least I think that is what most of us are trying to do.

What I am saying here is that we citizens, both born and naturalized, all share in the inherited and adopted responsibility for this nation. We are not helpless sheep being led to slaughter. We are cogent humans with an ability to make change and whatever this nation was, is, or is becoming we are responsible for it and how we go about fulfilling that responsibility is of our own choosing.

Now, about those soldiers. Today soldiers generally choose to become soldiers. That is how they have chosen to fulfill their lives and to contribute to this nation. It is my belief that unfortunately we live in a world occupied by nation states and entities and people who would do us and millions of other people harm. It is, in my mind, a simple fact and because of that fact we must have a military. Now you may disagree with me on this point but I’m afraid that I still prefer that we maintain a military just in case you’re wrong and there really are people out there who want to harm us. You might say that I want to error on the side of “our” safety. It is also unfortunately true that when it is necessary to maintain a military you subject that military to the control of the government that you put in office. Yes I said you put in office. Remember the “we are responsible” bit I mentioned above; well if the people in office aren’t very nice people then it’s our fault and we put the military under the control of those not so nice people and it doesn’t matter if we voted for the person or not it is still our fault. It’s still our fault because “we are responsible” and we should have worked harder to get different people in office.

Now this is directly for those who write the not so nice comments trashing the military and soldiers. Soldiers join our military to serve and defend the Constitution of the United States. If they are sent to say Iraq by your President then it is your responsibility because it is your President. It is your government and it is your country. Get it? If you don’t like it you should change it. If you want the soldiers brought back from Iraq then you need to do something about it. Write your Congressmen. Write your Senators. Write your friends and relatives. March in the street. March with a group or march alone. Do something but do me a favor and don’t blame soldiers or trash them because they are in Iraq spilling their precious blood and leaving their limbs behind. It’s called citizenship. And don’t say you don’t do that on Dkos or MLW or MyDD or any other blog because you do. You are the people out there who don’t assume responsibility and find it easier to wax philosophically about how nation states shouldn’t exist and Marx said this or Lock said that or some other BS. It is what it is and that’s reality. You have one other option if you choose not to do anything and that is move to Iraq.

Now that we’ve established who is responsible for this great nation let’s talk about what happens if “They All Walk Away”. Think about it. What if every soldier, sailor, and airman walked away?

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight; nothing he cares about more than his own personal safety; is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

I would add this. The battle field is not always one of dirt and blood but it can be and is sometimes the halls of government.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I fought for God – Or Did I?

Did you ever wonder what soldiers fight for? Well I’m pretty sure the radical Christian right thinks that every soldier is a red blooded American boy (sorry girls) who goes out to fight for God and Country. I’m just as sure that every Neocon thinks that every soldier goes out to fight for the spread of Christian Democracy. Well you know what? They aren’t just red blooded American “boys” and they don’t just fight for God and Country and the spread of Christian Democracy. I’ll tell you who I think they really are and what they really fight for below the fold.

So who are American soldiers? During my 27 years in the United States Army I discovered that beyond the uniform soldiers had a lot in common but they also had a lot not in common. I found that if you took off the uniform you discovered soldiers are men and women; they are black, white, red, brown and every shade of ethnicity in between. They are tall and short and every other height. They are married and single and something else. They are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles. They are gay and straight and not so straight. They are from Angola, Greece, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Indonesia, Ghana, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt, Iran and every other country on the National Geographic map. They are educated, uneducated, smart and sometimes ignorant and some times yes just plain stupid. They are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Latter Day Saints, Agnostic, and Atheist. They are brave and not so brave. They are scared and some even cowardly. They are honest and dishonest and something in between. Most of all, the soldiers I know are, or want to be, American.

Now just what is it that American soldiers fight for? During my 27 years in the United States Army I discovered that there was one thing that every soldier was fighting for and it’s summed up very well in the oath that the soldier takes on the day they join the military. Here is the oath that they take when they join the Army and it is essentially the same, with very minor variations, for all branches of the service and all ranks.

"I, (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

This oath and my experience tell me that soldiers fight in support of and in defense of the Constitution of the United States of America or in other words they fight for FREEDOM. It’s that simple. Contrary to what a lot of people would like to believe the American soldier doesn’t join and fight for God or against terrorism or communism or Marxism or any other ism. American soldiers take and oath and fight for freedom as it is expressed in the Constitution of the United States of America. It is my humble opinion that the great men who gathered in Philadelphia to form our American government and ultimately write the constitution intended it so. Freedom was their focus. I have searched through the constitution and, believe it or not, I do not find the word God anywhere in the document nor do I find anti-Marxism, anti-communism, or anti any other ism. I do however find that every word of it and the construct of every phrase and sentence of that great document is focused on guaranteeing the freedoms of every citizen of the United States of America. It is this for which the American soldier fights and nothing else. This document does not guarantee a religion nor demand the spread of democracy outside the borders of our nation but it does guarantee every citizen’s freedoms and rights.

It is my belief that when you are elected to public office and you take an oath of office to uphold the constitution of the United States that you have incurred a solemn obligation and duty to obey the laws of the land an perform the duties of your office in the most honorable and faithful manner possible. If they believe in God they swear or affirm to God to do so. If they don’t believe in God they still swear or affirm to do so. The President along with the Vice President, members of Congress and all officers appointed by the administration take oaths of office. Below is the oath taken by the President and members of Congress.

The oath of President of the United States.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The oath of members of Congress of the United States

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

I have included these oaths so that you may more fully appreciate and understand that the focus of our government is and always has been on freedom and the freedoms guaranteed to each and every citizen of this country under our constitution. It has never been on the establishment or endorsement of any religion or on the spreading of Jeffersonian democracy. When one views our government through the prism of our constitution one can truly appreciate and comprehend the gross failures of the President and Republican controlled Congress in upholding their oaths of supporting and defending the constitution and in guaranteeing the citizens of this great nation their constitutional rights and freedoms.

President Bush along with the Republican controlled Congress has sent our troops to fight the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons and they have done so through the use of lies and deceit. The President has added further insult to injury by denying the American people their rights to a free and open government by concealing the resulting carnage of his misguided war and further violating their rights under the 4th amendment to the constitution by authorizing illegal wiretaps.

American soldiers once again find themselves in the unenviable position of fighting, not for American freedom, but for Executive and Congressional hubris. It is self evident that there are grounds for impeachment of the President and it is time that the Congress did its job. Each day that Congress continues to shamelessly avoid their duty more American blood is wasted into the Iraqi sand, not for freedom but, for arrogance and political gain.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Honor, Integrity, Compassion, Courage

As the only “career” soldier in my family I have had the honor of inheriting most of the awards, decorations, and military memorabilia ever given to the soldiers, sailors, and airmen of my family. It is really quite a collection because as I have mentioned before every generation of my family has served in the armed forces of our great nation since the Revolutionary War.

This past weekend I had some quiet time to spend looking through this collection that includes such things as documents signed by my ancestor who was an officer during the Revolutionary War, a copy of my great-great grandfathers Civil War military records and even the scratched and worn “dog tag” that was my grandfathers and worn in France during World War I and even my fathers wings from World War II. I started with the oldest and picked them up one by one turning them in my hand. And as I touched each one I found myself thinking about each soldier who wore, carried or was represented by each of the items. I found myself remembering my father’s stories of World War II and my grandfather’s stories of World War I and the stories he passed on to me about the Civil War that were told to him by his father and grandfather. I also remembering that not once did my father or grandfather ever tell stories of the death associated with war but seemed to always focus on the camaraderie and the patriotic reasons they or their fathers, brothers or uncles served their country. It seemed to me that it was always about the ideals that our country was founded on and the need that every citizen sacrifice for the preservation of those ideals. It was never about their individual heroism or personal sacrifice but always how brave their friend was and how much their friends sacrificed. It was always obvious that they not only loved their country and respected the ideals on which it was founded and built but they really cared about their fellow soldiers and citizens.

I found that as I touched each of these mementos of my families’ history and as I reflected on my family both those long departed and those still on this earth two things began to occur. First, deep in my soul, the memories of my families’ shared and common experiences were stirred and as they were I grew very, very sad; then as I dwelled on all of their individual sacrifices I grew very, very angry. I grew sad and angry not because they were gone or because they sacrificed or suffered. No, I have long since mourned their parting and basked with pride in their accomplishments. I grew sad and angry because unfortunately we have a government that has lost touch with the sacrifices of past generations and are shaming our nation with their arrogance, intolerance, and false pride. I became sad and angry because all that I and my family and millions of other Americans have sacrificed and fought for and believed in is being systematically destroyed by those who know no honor, those who have no integrity, those who have no compassion, and those who have no courage.

Honor, integrity, compassion and courage. Dwell for a moment on the definitions of these four powerful traits. Take just a moment to read and think about them and then ask yourself this simple question. Which member(s) of the Executive branch, the United States Senate, Congress, and Judiciary Branches of our government can I describe using any one or more of these words?

Honor – Principled uprightness of character; personal integrity.

Integrity – Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.

Courage – The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

Compassion - Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

As of this writing 2,448 soldiers have been killed in Iraq. As of this writing 17,869 soldiers have been wounded in Iraq. As of this writing somewhere between 35,101 and 39,258 Iraqi’s have been killed in Iraq.

Five, Ten, Fifteen, Twenty years or more from now a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, or uncle will be opening a box of military mementos. They will be taking the items out one by one and turning them in their hands. They will begin remembering the stories that their brother, sister, father, mother, grandfather or grandmother told them about World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the First Gulf War or the war in Iraq. What will their thoughts be? What will they feel and what will the country they live in look like and represent to the world? What will this generation have left them?

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

As Rome Burns – Or It’s Not Just George That’s Fiddling

Last night, at the end of The News Hour, I watched sixteen young faces materialize and then dematerialize on my screen. They were almost all between 18 and 22 years old. Young, innocent faces much like my youngest daughter who is just 22. As their young faces faded from my screen I thought to myself, ‘thank dear God that none of them were my little girl’. And then I felt horribly guilty.

2,228 KIA – Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
17,869 WIA – Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
39,258 Civilian – www.iraqbodycount.org

How much blood Mr. Bush? How much American and Iraqi blood is enough Mr. Bush? When will your thirst be quenched Mr. Bush? It isn’t your children is it Mr. Bush?

How much blood Mr. Cheney? How much American and Iraqi blood is enough Mr. Cheney? When will your thirst be quenched Mr. Cheney? It isn’t your children is it Mr. Cheney?

As the nation raptly follows the Republican soap opera that is Washington D.C. today our children die. The Bush Administration and the Republican Party as a whole have brought corruption, radicalism, and political and economic failure to the nation’s capital. These are not melodramatic hyperbole statements but simple and pure fact. Our children are dying both at home and abroad because this administration and the Republican Party in control of our government lack the capacity to develop and strength of character to implement a rational and cohesive domestic or foreign policy. And the Executive Branch in particular lacks the leadership and managerial skills to operate our government. That is simple reality.

I want everyone who reads this to understand that this is a partisan post. I am unashamedly pointing a partisan finger and placing blame and guilt at the feet of the Republican Party.

What is happening in this country today is a Republican fiasco. Republican…..purely Republican…..and nothing but Republican. Republicans are in charge of the Executive Branch. Republicans are in charge of the Senate. Republicans are in charge of the House of Representatives and Republicans are mostly in control of the Supreme Court so yes this is a Republican scandal and fiasco and the citizens of this nation are morally obligated, by any moral standard, to hold the Republican Party responsible. They are in charge. No if’s, no and’s, and no but’s. Each Republican member of the House of Representatives, each Republican member of the Senate, and each Republican member of the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch are responsible for each one of those young people’s deaths. These individual Republicans and the collective membership of the Republican Party are responsible for the climate of corruption, lying, and deceit that is Washington D.C. today.

I am angry and each time I see the faces of those soldiers and I think of the children of Iraq I grow more angry and any American who doesn’t feel that same anger and sadness and moral outrage needs to hang their head in shame.

I read this today and then I could only think….Damn you George W. Bush!!!....Damn you Dick Cheney!!! DAMN YOU anyone who voted for them!!! You have no soul.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

It Is Your Government And Your Laws And Your Military And Your War

We have often discussed where the guilt of war might lie. It is at this point I must admit that I often become quite emotional about this issue because of my personal commitment to this country and it’s military. Having said that, I want to share a few thoughts with my friends who sometimes openly “pray” for the complete collapse of the United States military and sometimes denigrate the soldiers serving in it.

It is my observation that the world is a very hostile place. It is filled with dictators, petty tyrants, and governments that believe in every form of vile governance and acts against man and beast. If I am not mistaken I believe there are about 169 very diverse nation states in the world today and unfortunately many of them are of the perpetual vile type. The history of mankind is filled with instances of grotesque atrocities pitting one of these nation states against another and even one ethnic group within a nation against another ethnic group within that same nation. Uganda and Darfur come to mind readily as immediate examples and many others in history too numerous to name. Because of this unfortunate circumstance in the world of Homo sapiens it is a cursed reality and necessity that nations must maintain armies to defend against aggressor nations and groups and therefore I believe that it is because of this condition that the United States must maintain a strong military.

The United States military is unlike most if not all other militaries in the world in that our constitution places the military under the strict control of the civilian government. It is not only a constitutional requirement but it is a well established condition of which this country is fortunate to have a 250 year tradition of adherence to. This requirement of the constitution creates a very special relationship between the civilian government and it’s military. It creates a relationship in which the civilian government is solely responsible for the establishment of laws and treaties and absolute authority in determining when and where to use military force and the military is responsible for defending the nation and winning wars while following the orders of the government and obeying the laws and treaties created by and entered into by the government of United States. This is a very important distinction in that it squarely places very specific responsibilities on these two entities.

Based on the Constitution of the United States it is the Congress’s responsibility to declare war and or authorize the use of military force and it is the Presidents responsibility to serve as Commander in Chief. And based on the Constitution of the United States if the President were to request and the Congress were to authorize the use of military force then that force would in fact be “legal” under United States law. This can, and possibly in the case of Iraq may some day, be challenged but it is none the less at this point in time apparently “legal” under United States law. Whether such an act is legal under international law, with regards to Iraq, is I believe yet to be determined and I’m not sure that it has even been challenged.

In my earlier writings I have attempted to draw a distinction between orders on the battlefield and orders to go to war. I did this for a very explicit purpose. As I said before the military in general and soldiers in particular are required and conditioned to follow orders and question those orders when necessary but, it is the constitutional responsibility of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches to ensure that the orders the military receives to go to war and to conduct military operations adhere to the constitution and laws of the United States and adhere to international treaties lawfully entered into by this nation. It is not the responsibility of the individual soldier to do this. It is the responsibility of the individual soldier to fight the war and adhere to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and obey the laws of the land and tenets of the Geneva Conventions and it is the responsibility of their superior officers to ensure that those laws are lawful, adhered to and charges brought when they are not adhered to.

Because of this constitutional and traditional relationship and because the United States military is so very disciplined they diligently strive to follow their orders with not blind obedience but with just and balanced obedience. So it is when the Congress passes laws and the President signs those laws they become the law of the land and the military, like every other individual and entity, must obey those laws. It is really that simple and in this way the military is simply a tool of the government which is elected by and serving as the representatives of the citizens of the nation.

I believe that the military is a necessary tool for the survival of the nation. That is simple fact. You can wish it were not but it is still fact and reality. How that military is used is the responsibility of the United States government as the representative of the citizens of the United States. So I say to those who denigrate the military of this nation that these are your sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and neighbors doing the business you asked them to do. You can say I didn’t vote for him or her or I protested against this or that but the bottom line is this. This nation’s government is elected by its citizens and we citizens have access to more information than can be digested so the government in office is there because we put them there and it’s our fault and not that soldiers fault so you need to get over it and do something about it. The soldiers in the field are fighting for their lives because we put them there and we should be fighting for theirs and our lives here on the protest lines and in the voting booths and where ever else we can fight for America. The only way I see of bringing them home is to vote these fools and buffoons out of office so let’s get on with it. And while we’re fighting for America lets fight for the Iraqi’s too. It’s their land that’s being decimated.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Of Duty, Honor And Confusion

I have read quite a few posts and received quite a few comments on my own posts with regards to soldiers obeying and disobeying illegal and legal orders. One thing has burned through on all of these writings is what I believe to be a deep misunderstanding of the definition of and reality of an illegal order as opposed to a legal order. I am also getting the impression that many of the authors of these comments are confusing our presence in Iraq with obeying an illegal order. Let’s pontificate on this issue a little.

Let me start by saying that I have a deep appreciation for these posts because it shows a desire to connect with a soldier’s world that one does not often see and I sincerely appreciate such efforts. Now here’s my short take on this issue. It is my belief that the founding fathers probably thought of this nation as being in a constant state of orderly/disorderly revolution through the electoral process. I believe it was for this reason that they rightly placed the military always and forever in civilian control and made the President the commander in chief. I believe that they looked to and intend for the citizenry, and not the military, to control the government and that the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branch would also keep each other in check and from running amuck. I do not believe that they ever had any intention that the military would defend the constitution from within. It is because of this that I must disagree with some comments and writing in that I do not believe there is any conflict in a soldier’s oath with regards to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Soldiers not only take an oath to support and defend the constitution but also to follow the orders of the officers appointed over them and they take that oath in the belief that those orders will be constitutionally legal and that those orders will in fact be steps in and of themselves in defense of the constitution. We must remember that in addition to their soldier/military side there is another side to the soldier and that is the citizen side that has all the rights of any citizen to protest and vote and take any other action that is within the law to bring about change in our government. I would add that soldiers do this every day and with zeal.

Now let’s clarify a couple of very different dynamics that may or may not be occurring in Iraq that I believe are adding to or even creating some of the confusion. If a soldier is given an order that is obviously illegal, i.e. shoot that civilian or torture that prisoner, then that soldier has not only a right but an obligation to disobey that order. And order such as that is rather obvious in nature and could more readily be interpreted as legal or illegal by most people with common sense. But if a soldier (General) is ordered to invade another country by the commander in chief and with Congress’s apparent approval then the officer must believe that in the absence of Congress’s objection and in the absence of judicial interdiction that the order is legal. Therefore to disobey the order to invade the country would in effect be a blatantly illegal act. This would hold true for the Generals subordinates as well since they also have no reason to believe the order to invade and conduct combat operations is illegal. We must not confuse the reality that we are in Iraq “legally” with our individual perception of being in Iraq illegally. If the citizens of this nation perceive and believe we are in Iraq illegally, as I do, then it is incumbent upon us, the citizens, to change the Legislative and Executive Branch and it is not, that is a capital NOT, the military’s responsibility as a military entity to take such action. Thank God!

Let us not take the incidents that occur at Abu Grahib, Gurantanimo Bay, or anywhere else in Iraq or Afghanistan out of their context of individual instances of possible illegal orders and overlay them on the invasion of Iraq. These are two very different and separate things. So to those of you who point the finger of guilt at the soldiers I say look in the mirror. The guilty person is looking back at you unless you voted for Gore and or Kerry. ;-) The military is doing its job and it is not doing it illegally yet (Sans Abu Grahib and some other highly suspect operations such as certain activities at Gitmo). If the Supreme Court or Congress says or determines that the invasion of Iraq is illegal then I am sure all of the soldiers will be glad to come home but until then they have no option but to defend themselves and the nation as ordered to do with the greatest honor and dignity possible which is what I believe 99.9999 percent are doing.

It’s not your soldiers but your government.

Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Generals All – Or The Burden Of Duty And Conscience

Today I sat down and read through the comments of the General Officers who are now speaking up about the planning and execution of the Iraq war and subsequent occupation. As I read through their comments several things became crystal clear to me. The first was that these are soldiers whose conscience has come home to roost. I don’t want you to misunderstand what I am saying here. I am not denigrating these soldiers but simply recognizing their positions.

Generals are like Sergeant Majors in many ways but in at least one way they are painfully alike. They have both achieved or are beginning to realize the achievements of their life’s dreams. I have always believed that a soldier is the consummate professional. They take an oath when they join the military to support and defend the constitution and they dedicate their lives to that oath. Achieving the rank of General or Sergeant Major is, to these individuals, the recognition of having fulfilled that oath to the ultimate degree. But that is not all there is to it.

When you enter the military you are assimilated into a culture that dictates and requires that you dedicate your life to a belief that it is “mission first” and “soldiers always”. In other words accomplishing the mission and taking care of your soldiers are synonymous. One simply cannot happen without the other. And by doing this you are fulfilling your oath. Because of this it is my belief that these officers have fought the good fight and done their best to accomplish the mission assigned but have come to realize that they are not being heard and they can no longer bear to watch as their soldiers pay the ultimate price for the incompetence of this administration. It is only something so painfully ingrained in these officers that could drive them to break their discipline of silence as they have done. One must understand this in order to understand the gravity of what is occurring.

As I continued to contemplate these officers’ remarks another thought became crystal clear. Though not clearly spoken I believe that these soldiers are very, very concerned that Iran could be next. I believe this could well be the second major driving force behind them speaking up and I believe this should signal to the American people the gravity of the situation. These are not the kind of people who take talking to the public lightly. It is important to the military that they stand behind the civilian leadership. That is part of the bedrock of our constitution and these officers take that very seriously. So the mere fact that they are stepping forward and breaking their silence is more than significant.

As important as these officers coming forward is, I unfortunately do not see that it will be enough to bring about any real change. The Bush administration has shown a perpetual pattern of poor judgment and dishonesty along with a severe lack of foreign policy and military skills of any kind and they carry no credibility what so ever either at home or abroad. In an environment such as that I do not believe that simply the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld will bring about any significant change and besides Rumsfeld is not the root of the problem but simply a member of an incompetent band of Vulcan and Neocon Radicals that are bullying the nation and the world. I have no doubt that should Rumsfeld resign he would simply be replaced by more of the same arrogance and narrow mindedness that dominates this administration. The reality is that it will take an electoral change to make a real difference. Until the American people, Republican, Democrat, Independent or what ever political affiliation, wake up and demand change nothing will change and we will continue down the path to eventual total failure.
Those Are The Sergeant Majors Thoughts On That.