Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Commander in Chief's Speech

I just watched President Bush's speech. I'm really glad this man is my Commander in Chief. No only for what he says, but for what he does. Tonite was probably the best speech I have heard from him. I hope other Americans feel the same way.
My favorite parts were at the end...
"In this time of testing, our troops can know: The American people are behind you. Next week, our Nation has an opportunity to make sure that support is felt by every soldier, sailor, airman, coast guardsman, and Marine at every outpost across the world. This Fourth of July, I ask you to find a way to thank the men and women defending our freedom — by flying the flag … sending letters to our troops in the field … or helping the military family down the street. The Department of Defense has set up a website — AmericaSupportsYou.mil. You can go there to learn about private efforts in your own community. At this time when we celebrate our freedom, let us stand with the men and women who defend us all."
I have a great support system back home. Some other troops are not as lucky.
"To the soldiers in this hall, and our servicemen and women across the globe: I thank you for your courage under fire and your service to our Nation. I thank our military families — the burden of war falls especially hard on you." (emphasis added)
HouseholdSix can really attest to the difficult burden of war. I constantly admire her courage and dedication to raising SixPointFive without me around.
"I thank those of you who have re-enlisted in an hour when your country needs you. And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces. We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our Nation's uniform. When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom."

He gets it. He's just a man and has his faults like we all do, but he understands. It was really nice to hear him say these closing words:
"Our enemies are brutal — but they are no match for the United States of America — and they are no match for the men and women of the United States military. Thank you. And may God bless America."

Thank you, Mr. President. And may God bless you, sir.

This might get interesting

No sh*t, there I was...
... standing in the line at the commissary. I saw that the new Army Times was out. On the front page, the tagline read "Tracking Bloggers: War-zone web loggers ordered to register."
I wondered if Joe Chenelly had quoted me in his article, so I bought it. Sure enough,
Another soldier, who goes by "Six" on his blog, www.watchyoursix.blogspot.com, isn't in Iraq yet. But he is slated to deploy soon. He plans to keep blogging, but not register.
"I'm taking a risk by doing it, but I don't think that I can be objective if the Army knows who I am and can censor me at any time," he wrote in an e-mail exchange. "I work hard to make sure that I don't compromise operational security, but I know the Army won't trust me to make that judgment."
Some people could interpret my quote as a "come and get me" dare, but that's not how I meant it. I'm not daring the Army to try and find out who I am, I'm just hoping that whomever reads my site can tell that I never violate OPSEC or good order and discipline. I'm just a harmless little fuzzball trying to tell it like it is.
Why did I respond to Mr. Chenelly's questions and why will I quit before I register my blog? see a couple of posts down.
If the Army Times article generates a lot of traffic for WatchYourSix, this could get interesting.
of course, Blackfive beat me to it. He saw the article and blogged about it first. Matt's pretty quick.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Jihad Manual

One of my sources tells me that the "jihad manual" that the Marines found last week contains, among other things, moral justification for killing innocent Iraqis. The manual basically said that there is no problem killing innocent Iraqis to further the cause of jihad.
My source said that this manual will be released to the press this week. More importantly, excerpts from the captured manual will be distributed to Iraqi citizens in the hope that they will see that the "insurgency" is really not on their side. The foreign jihadists who are running the insurgency have their own agenda to destroy Americans; Iraq is just the convenient excuse and the current battlefield.
I hope the Iraqi people realize that they are being duped.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Intel Dump recalled

Phil Carter is the person who originally forwarded me the MNC-I policy letter that I just blogged about below. He is the author of the milblog Intel Dump and has been recalled out of the IRR to active duty. He will deploy to Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 101st Airborne Division.
Good luck, Phil. See you downrange.

Milblogger Regulations

This week, I had an email exchange with Joe Chenelly from the Army Times. Wow, I can't believe that he just emailed little ol' me out of the blue. If you don't know, Mr. Chenelly is the author of the recent Army Times cover story about milbloggers. Anyhow, he wanted to hear my opinion about the Multi-National Corps-Iraq's recent policy letter on soldier-run websites (including blogs).
I think that it is good that the policy actually spells out what prohibited information you shouldn't publish on the web (4.h.). I already comply with that paragraph and am very careful about putting out info that could compromise our mission or get someone killed. Also, I like the part that soldiers are responsible to police their personal blogs (6b). The part that worries me, though, is that commanders are supposed to audit their troops blogs quarterly (6.c.). I don't think that these bloggers can really "tell it like it is" with their commanders leaning over their shoulder periodically.
I responded to Mr Chenelly's questions and basically told him that my anonymity is vital to the integrity of my blog. If I have to let the Army approve everything that I write, then I'm not able to be completely honest anymore and I'm just going to close up shop like Red2Alpha did.
I don't mind expressing my opinions here in my little corner of the blogosphere with 40-ish hits per day, but I am not sure about talking to Mr Chenelly. If my comments make it into the Army Times along with my blog address, I'm afraid it might bring too much attention on me.
Is too much attention a bad thing, you ask? It can be. Too much attention can make the Army want to find out who I really am.
I didn't start this blog to be a major-league milblogger like blackfive or greyhawk. I, like many other minor-league milbloggers, just think that I might have something to contribute as a witness to history. There are hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have seen both wonderful and tragic things during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I hope to let others hear what the main-stream press doesn't show... the thoughts, feelings, and fears of an average citizen-soldier. Maybe the average American will be able to see a little bit of what is going on over there through my posts.
Part of what I am doing is to combat the perception that we are losing this war. If we are losing, it's because the will of the American people is being sapped by constant negative images in the press. War, much like life, is not black and white. There is no such thing as a "good" war or a "bad" war. War is a dirty, nasty, cruel, but sometimes necessary thing. My dad told me when I was a kid never to get into a fight. He also told me that there was one thing worse than getting into a fight and that is losing a fight. I have way too much personally invested in this war to just stand by and watch America lose. That's part of what I'm trying to do here... get the word out and win back some popular support to see this through to the end and not see America "cut and run" too early to make our sacrifices worthwhile.
So wherever the chips fall with the Army Times, I'll do like I always do and make the best of whatever situation I find myself in. Some newfound attention may not be all bad.
For other opinions on the new blogger regs, see Commander Salamander, Castle Arggghhh and the Huffington Post

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Female Marines

Curt from Chaotic Synaptic Activity has a good post about the convoy containing female marines that was attacked the other day in Iraq. The MSM is focusing on the female part of the story and not the marines killed part of the story.

Things Are Still Chugging Along

I know my posting has been thin lately. Our unit is still in post-mobilization training stateside and lately the collective training has been occupying my every waking moment. The training makes it tough to find enough time to get to an internet connection and blog. Frankly, I've been too tired to post during most of the last two weeks. The training has to come first. I wish everyone in my unit felt the same way, though.
I can't understand why some of my fellow soldiers can't seem to get it through their heads that we are headed off to war. The only thing I can imagine is that 10 to 20 years of being a part time reservist is just so imbedded in their heads that they cannot possibly conceive that they might be in a narrow street fighting for their lives soon. They laugh off simulated casualties in training, but don't seem to realize that if we don't take training seriously here we will experience real casualties over there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Milblogger Down

CPT Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss, the author of TC Override, got hit by an IED yesterday. I just added him to my blogroll three weeks ago. He's an armor company commander in Iraq and I enjoy reading his no-nonsense blog. In fact, I was thinking about his post about interpreters during a training exercise just last night.
His wife says that he's going to be OK, he's in stable condition with shrapnel wounds.
I hope he gets well soon so he can get back to leading his troops. I know that's what I would want to do.
click on the last link above and pass on your good wishes if you like.

Well Deserved

The 10 Kentucky nationalguardsmen (and women) who were involved in soundly trouncing over 30 terrorists during an ambush in March got their awards for valor under fire.
hat tip: blackfive.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Killing your own brothers

it's really pathetic when soldiers kill other soldiers. I hope we find out what his motivation was, not like that will bring back the two officers he killed, though.
Hopefully, the soldier who did this will follow SGT Akbar to the gallows.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Academy applications down

The Boston Globe reports that fewer young people are applying to the nation's service academies this year.
I say so what? It's a natural decline after peaked interest following the 9/11 attacks four years ago. Things are just settling back to normal. Remember that only 12% of applicants are actually accepted to West Point anyway, so we are not in a crisis mode here.
This is just the media dogpiling on the armed services recruiting woes...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Surfing the referrals

It may be narcissistic, but sometimes I like to troll through the referrals to my blog that Sitemeter tracks. It's neat to see who is looking at my blog and what other sites bring them here. Sometimes it's a search engine that brings them here, but often it's a link from another milblog. One of the latest milblog referrals was from Curt's blog Chaotic Synaptic Activity. He was a naval officer (as is one of my best friends) but has some interesting opinions on military strategy and how our tendancy is to prepare for the "last war" instead of the "next war"

Thursday, June 09, 2005

quit being so suspicious

I thought all along that this was probably the truth about Pat Tillman's death. I don't believe there was an intentional coverup by the Ranger leadership. The Ranger battalions are composed of some pretty high-speed guys who take their honor very seriously. They didn't want to disappoint the family until they had all the facts. They also had to know that something as big as this would eventually get out.
I wish people outside the military would give people inside the military the benefit of the doubt.
update: The general who investigated the cicumstances after Tillman's death, BG Gary Jones, said in an LA Times story that "There was a view at several levels of the [Ranger chain of] command that it would be best to wait until the conclusion of the investigation before telling the family about any possible fratricide so that the family was not given what one commander characterized as a half-baked explanation of what happened."
That rings true for me.


It's been a busy week here. Lots of individual training for the unit (weapons qualification, driver's training, land navigation, etc.)
The honeymoon is definitely over in this unit, though. We've been active duty for about a month and people are starting to get on each other's nerves.
The prior service soldiers (those who were active duty before joining the guard) are annoyed with the reservists who have no idea how to behave on active duty.
The non-prior service soldiers are annoyed with the prior service soldiers for correcting them.
The prior service soldiers are embarrassed that the unit is so unorganized and sub-standard.
The non-prior service reservists are annoyed with the chain of command for making them act like a team instead of allowing them to be the individuals that they were prior to mobilization.
The chain of command is just making things harder for everyone by inserting unnecessary hurdles into the planning process. Instead of changes taking a hour to work their way down to the lowest soldier (me), they take days to staff their way through a bunch of unnecessary officers & NCOs. Sometimes, we never get the changes until it's too late. Basically, every soldier in the unit has given up trying to plan more than one day out. We just show up at first formation everyday with no clue what the plan is and then we hope for the best.
Jeez, I hope this gets better soon.
I'll bet you $5 that someone takes a punch at another soldier within the week. Tensions are high.

update: Two weeks have gone by and no punches have been thrown to my knowledge. Too bad no one too me up on my bet. you woulda got five bucks.

Friday, June 03, 2005

New SixPointFive Pics

For family and friends, check out Household Six's (HH6's) website for some great new pics of SixPointFive. HH6 has been unable to post pics to her website due to technical problems for the last week or two but we finally worked through them. She posted a bunch of new baby pictures today, so check them out at www.{my wife's first name}.net
apologies to everyone else who doesn't know HH6's first name, but this is part of the price of anonymity. The pics of SixPointFive are very cute. you'll have to just trust me.

Another anonymous milblogger falls

Red2Alpha, a milblogger in Iraq, has hung up his laptop rather than betray his principles. Now that his command has made him "declare" his blog, he's quitting. He felt that to continue would be "untrue to [his] original intention of telling the truth as [he] sees it, of telling one Soldier's story in this war."
His experience is exactly why I choose to remain anonymous. I want to be able to keep telling things the way they are and I'm working hard to make sure that my opinions don't harm "good order and discipline."
hat tip - BlackFive

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Let me clarify

Let me clarify my earlier post
I believe that although there are more liberal reporters than conservative ones in the Main Stream Media (MSM), this is not their primary reason for slanting their reporting. Reporters and editors slant their reporting towards what is sensational and what will make them money (more circulation means they can charge more for advertising space).
Remember how the press dogpiled on the most liberal president in the last 40 years, Clinton? The MSM would sell out their own mothers if it meant a getting a "scoop" on their competitors and better ratings/circulation. If the MSM were truly interested solely in informing the people, we would never hear this on the 6 o'clock news: "3 children were gunned down at a local school today. Stay tuned after the commercial to find out which school." Good Lord, am I really supposed to sit through 2 minutes of commercials to find out if it was my kid's school that got shot up? Those "teaser" statements are designed to get you to stick around and watch the commercials that finance the MSM.
My major beef with the press is that most reporters/editors truly think that they are unbiased. They somehow see themselves as the nuetral referees of the world and "above" the level of the daily fray. They don't realize that they are participants, influencing the events that they report on... (e.g. Newsweek and the riots in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

adding to the blogroll

Meet CPT Charles Ziegenfuss. He's an armor company commander in Iraq and tells it like it is on his blog. Most importantly, he's a funny read and worth a look: TC Override. (If memory serves, a TC's override is feature on the M1A1 tank... nevermind)