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 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.