Day by Day



09 December 2010

Misguided and Ill Informed Saxby Chambliss does not speak for me...

Below is the response from Sen Saxby Chambliss, who represents me by his
role as Senator, but not in his misguided, and incorrect opinion on DADT.

____________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________

Thank you for contacting me regarding the United States Military's Don't Ask
Don't Tell (DADT) policy. It is good to hear from you.

In 1993, the U.S. Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed into law
the current Don't Ask Don't Tell policy (P.L. #103-160). The current policy
authorizes the discharge of any service member who acknowledges his or her
homosexuality by word or deed.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has held many hearings concerning Don't
Ask Don't Tell. As I stated at those hearings, I am not in favor of
repealing the current policy. I believe that military life is fundamentally
different from civilian life. Military leaders and military law acknowledge
the need to restrict certain behaviors. For this reason, military personnel
are restricted from and punished for certain forms of self-expression that
are permitted in civilian life. This includes restrictions on speech,
appearance, and behavior that do not exist outside the military. Military
leaders acknowledge that these restrictions are necessary to safeguard
morale, good order and discipline and unit cohesion.

I believe that allowing openly gay individuals to serve in the military,
along with the necessary accommodations that would need to take place, may
adversely affect military performance and readiness, particularly at a time
when our military is under great stress and engaged in two major operations
in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recently, the Department of Defense conducted an extensive review of the
current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The intent of the review was to
evaluate the Armed Forces' readiness to transition to a new policy of open
homosexual service and prepare for the accompanying changes it could bring
about with regards to housing and benefits, regulations, fraternization
rules, training, and individual conduct. As a member of the Senate Armed
Services Committee, I thoroughly reviewed this study upon its release.

The study found that a majority of service-members who responded to the
survey believe that repealing the policy would not have an overall negative
effect on their unit's ability to complete its mission. However, the number
believing the effects of repeal would be negative is significantly higher in
war-fighting units and in the Marine Corps particularly. After reviewing
the study, I still remain concerned with repealing this policy, given that
war fighting units expressed significant concern with the repeal and that we
remain a nation engaged in two major combat operations which continue to
greatly stress the force.

Following the release of the study, the Senate Armed Services Committee held
two additional hearings to receive testimony from the Secretary of Defense,
Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the co-chairs of the study. During the hearings,
three of the Service Chiefs stated that they oppose repeal of the "Don't
Ask, Don't Tell" policy at this time. The views of these three Service
Chiefs confirm my own concerns that repealing this policy could have a
detrimental effect on our military's ability to carry out the missions our
Nation asks of them. For this reason as well as the reasons above, I
continue to oppose repeal of the policy at this time.

07 December 2010

Infamy...

It is the memorial date of the attack by the Empire of Japan on the
United States of America's ground and naval forces in the Hawaiian
islands. On this date, in a cunning move, the Imperial Japanese Navy
sought to strike a crippling blow to the US carrier forces.
Unfortunately for the IJN, their attack only served to galvanize
American forces and miss the carriers, which were operating at sea
during the attack. At that time in history, the Japanese were a
homogeneous, xenophobic culture with deep mistrust of foreigners. Their
barbaric actions against neighbors in the region linger on in the
memories of Koreans, Australians, Phillipinos and Chinese alike - far
more deeply than the military assault on the United States.

We may draw some comparisons with the Japanese Empire and the current
enemy which may be classified as Radical Islamist Zealots, (RIZ). Both
Imperial Japan and radical Islam have a deep distrust of outsiders.
They also operate under a hierarchical structure, with a small group of
individuals defining doctrine and policy. Unlike Japan, radical Islam
does not have the aspect of a nation state, although the restoration of
the Caliphate is a significant objective in all of the "organized"
groups. This domain of Sharia and Islamist rule echoes the designs of
Imperial Japan to dominate the Pacific rim.

Ultimately the war with Japan was won when the allied powers,
specifically the United States, revealed the folly of the leadership of
that nation and demonstrated our own will to conclude the conflict on
our terms. The outcome ushered in the atomic age but also heralded a
deep friendship and alliance with our former enemy - which still
respects the vast cultural differences between the East and West.
Although I doubt that there will be a seminal event which undoes the
loosely connected leadership of the RIZ organizations, there is clearly
a willingness to connect with the wider population of "daily Muslims"
who simply would like to practice their faith, raise their families and
have a seat at the world table as an equal.

I sincerely hope we can begin to see the foundation which can be built
upon through the ashes of the start of this current conflict.

30 November 2010

Done deal...

At last, we can put this ridiculous phase of our military history behind
us. Now let us hope the Senate acts with all possible haste. Write to
your Senator today!

Gates, Mullen Endorse Working Group's Report
<http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=61895>
Tue, 30 Nov 2010 15:26:00 -0600

Gates, Mullen Endorse Working Group's Report


By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today
urged the Senate to repeal the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law
this year.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
<http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2010-11/scr_101130-N-
0696M-048a.jpg
>
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conduct a press briefing at the Pentagon
discussing the public release of the "Dont Ask, Dont Tell" Comprehensive
Working Group report, Nov. 30, 2010. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty
Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image
<http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2010-11/hrs_101130-N-
0696M-048a.jpg
> available.
Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
spoke at a Pentagon news conference unveiling the recommendations of the
working group tasked with looking at the issues associated with
implementing a repeal of the law that bans gays from serving openly in
the military.

Gates said any change causes short-term disruptions, but that the
military can handle longer-term impacts. He added that he's recommending
repeal of the law after fully studying the potential impact on military
readiness, including the impact on unit cohesion, recruiting and
retention, and other issues critical to the performance of the force.

"In my view, getting this category right is the most important thing we
must do," the secretary said. "The U.S. armed forces are in the middle
of two major military overseas campaigns - a complex and difficult
drawdown in Iraq, a war in Afghanistan - both of which are putting
extraordinary stress on those serving on the ground and their families.
It is the well-being of these brave young Americans, those doing the
fighting and the dying since 9/11, that has guided every decision I have
made in the Pentagon since taking this post nearly four years ago. It
will be no different on this issue.

"I am determined to see that if the law is repealed," he continued, "the
changes are implemented in such a way as to minimize any negative impact
on the morale, cohesion and effectiveness of combat units that are
deployed, or about to deploy to the front lines."

Gates acknowledged concerns from troops in combat units raised in a
survey on the potential impact changing the law, but added that he
believes they can be overcome if a repeal is handled properly.

"In my view, the concerns of combat troops as expressed in the survey do
not present an insurmountable barrier to successful repeal of 'Don't
Ask, Don't Tell,'" the secretary said. "This can be done and should be
done without posing a serious risk to military readiness. However, these
findings do lead me to conclude that an abundance of care and
preparation is required if we are to avoid a disruptive and potentially
dangerous impact on the performance of those serving at the tip of the
spear in America's wars."

The working group, co-chaired by Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of
U.S. Army Europe, and Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson,
took nearly 10 months to research and analyze data in drawing its
conclusions. The mission was to determine how best to prepare for such a
change should the Congress change the law.

Gates said he wanted the group to engage servicemembers and their
families on the issue - not to give servicemembers a vote, but to get an
idea how best to implement the changes.

"I believe that we had to learn the attitudes, obstacles and concerns
that would need to be addressed should the law be changed," he said. "We
could do this only by reaching out and listening to our men and women in
uniform and their families.

The survey results found more than two-thirds of the force do not object
to gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform, Gates said. "The
findings suggest that for large segments of the military, repeal of
'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' though potentially disruptive in the short
term, would not be the wrenching, traumatic change that many have feared
and predicted," the secretary said.

But the data also show that servicemembers in combat arms specialties -
mostly in the Army and Marine Corps, but also in the special operations
from the Navy and Air Force - have a higher level of discomfort and
resistance to changing the current policy, Gates said.

"Those findings and the potential implications for America's fighting
forces remain a source of concern to the service chiefs and to me," he
said.

The working group also examined thoroughly all the potential changes to
the department's regulations and policies dealing with matters such as
benefits, housing, relationships within the ranks, separations and
discharges. The report says that the majority of concerns often raised
in association with the repeal - dealing with sexual conduct,
fraternization, billeting arrangements, marital or survivor benefits -
could be governed by existing laws and regulations.

"Existing policies can and should be applied equally to homosexuals as
well as heterosexuals," Gates said. "While a repeal would require some
changes to regulations, the key to success, as with most things
military, is training, education, and, above all, strong and principled
leadership up and down the chain of command."

The secretary called on the Senate to pass legislation the House of
Representatives passed earlier this year, which calls for the president,
defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to certify
that the military can handle repeal without a lessening of combat
effectiveness before a repeal takes effect.

"What is needed is a process that allows for a well-prepared and
well-considered implementation - above all, a process that carries the
imprimatur of the elected representatives of the people of the United
States," he said. "Given the present circumstances, those that choose
not to act legislatively are rolling the dice that this policy will not
be abruptly overturned by the courts."

The working group's plan, with a strong emphasis on education, training
and leader development, provides a solid road map for a successful full
implementation of repeal, assuming that the military is given sufficient
time and preparation to get the job done right, the secretary said.

"The working group surveyed our troops and their spouses, consulted
proponents and opponents of repeal and examined military experience
around the world," Mullen said. "They also spoke with serving gays and
lesbians."

The chairman called the working group's recommendations "solid,
defensible conclusions."

Mullen said he was gratified that the working group focused their
findings and recommendations "rightly on those who would be most
affected by a change in the law: our people."

The chairman recommended repeal of the law during testimony before
Congress in February, and he called for research into how best to do
this. "For the first time, the [service] chiefs and I have more than
just anecdotal evidence and hearsay to inform the advice we give our
civilian leaders," he said today.

Mullen said strong military leadership will be key in implementing any
repeal of the law throughout the ranks.

"We all have our opinions, and those opinions matter. This is without
question a complex social and cultural issue," Mullen said. "But at the
end of the day, whatever the decision of our elected leaders may be, we
in uniform have an obligation to follow orders.

"When those orders involve significant change such as this would," he
continued, "we need to find ways to lead the way forward. Our troops and
their families expect that from us, and I think the American people do
as well."

The admiral added that today's troops expect the force to maintain high
standards of conduct and professionalism throughout the process.

"No special cases, no special treatment, if we're going to continue to
comport ourselves with honor and hold ourselves accountable across the
board to impeccably high standards, repeal or no repeal," he said.

Mullen added that the implementation of a repeal of the law would not be
without its challenges, and that he supports the process taking place
through the Congress instead of the court system.

"We can best address those challenges by having it within our power and
our prerogative to manage the implementation process ourselves," he
said.

Biographies:
Robert M. Gates
<http://www.defenselink.mil/bios/biographydetail.aspx?biographyid=115>
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen <http://www.jcs.mil/biography.aspx?ID=9>


Related Sites:
Special Report: Don's Ask, Don't Tell
<http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0610_gatesdadt/>


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23 November 2010

Not good...

Pentagon Monitors Korean Situation With Concern
<http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=61817>
Tue, 23 Nov 2010 10:41:00 -0600

Pentagon Monitors Korean Situation With Concern


By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2010 - The Defense Department affirmed its alliance
with South Korea and is closely monitoring the situation on the Korean
peninsula in the wake of today's North Korean artillery attack on South
Korea.

"We will honor our alliance obligations to the South, and ... we are
determined to promote peace and security on the peninsula," Pentagon
Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today in an interview on MSNBC.

The attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong is reported to have
killed two and injured at least 15.

Secretary of Defense Gates Robert M. Gates is monitoring the situation
closely and will be in contact with his South Korean counterpart this
morning, Morrell said.

"We take this very seriously, just as we took the sinking of the Cheonan
earlier this year very seriously, [in which] the North murdered some 40
South Korean sailors," Morrell said.

Morrell said Gates responded to a reporter's question yesterday about
North Korea by saying, "To any question beginning with 'Why?' with
regards to North Korea, my answer is the same: I don't know."

North Korea's government is extremely unpredictable, and "they do things
you could not possibly have predicted in a rational world," Morrell
said.

Morrell said U.S. sanctions in place against North Korea have been
strengthened since the March sinking of the Cheonan.

"It's hard to pile more sanctions upon the North than are already
there," he said, "and yet it seems they are not foolproof. But we've
always known they aren't foolproof."

North Korea's government "is determined to bypass the sanctions [and] to
not abide by its international obligations," the press secretary said.

North Korea's irresponsible behavior also is "demonstrated by the fact
that it's trying to be a proliferator of weapons, that it's dealing with
countries that are also under sanctions ... unfortunately, this is not
out of keeping with their belligerent and unpredictable behavior,"
Morrell said.

The Defense Department views North Korea's actions "with concern,"
Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters today.

The North Koreans "certainly increase tensions on the peninsula," Lapan
said, "and so any type of military incidents between North and the
Republic of Korea are viewed with concern, because of contributing to
instability in the region, and especially on the Korean peninsula."

Meanwhile, he said, the U.S. government is monitoring the situation and
conferring with allies.

"At this point it's premature to say that we're considering any
[military] action," Lapan said.

The White House issued a statement earlier today strongly condemning the
attack and calling on North Korea to halt its belligerent action and to
fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement.

Related Articles:
White House Condemns North Korean Attack
<http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=61812>


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Kim Jong Illin'...

After sinking a South Korean warship, the DPRK (Democratic Peoples
Republic of Korea) aka North Korea, has begun shelling a South Korean
Island. This is in retaliation for "war games" staged by the US and
South Korea. The same games which have been staged for many, many
years. The only difference is that North Korea has nuclear weapons
which it has threatened to use on the South. A nuclear strike by the
North would invite massive retaliation by the South and the United
States. It may even drag China into a conflict it neither wants nor can
afford. This hotbed of friction is one of the many leverage points
remaining in the world from the failure of post World War II diplomacy.
The collective intransigence of the east and west left the world
savagely divided and we are only now beginning to untangle this
post-Cold War mess.

In Germany the reconciliation has been remarkably successful and
peaceful. In the Mideast, less so. It is on the Korean peninsula where
the real danger to the globe slumbers. Until China takes a firm hand in
controlling their defective southern cousin, we will be faced with
continual brinksmanship and chaos. I think the remainder of the world
would actually welcome a Chinese invasion and occupation of North Korea.
I am sure the people of that impoverished land would also be better off
under Chinese control.

As shocked as I am to even suggest that China act militarily against its
neighbor, we have seen the positive effects in Cambodia of Vietnam's
invasion. Although bloody, it ended an even worse transgression by Pol
Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia's return to sovereign rule was
overseen by the UN and has been lauded as the model for conversion from
an occupied state to a free nation.

15 November 2010

Christopher Hitchens: 'You have to choose your future regrets' | interview | Books | The Observer...

The interview with Hitchens is critically important to read as a point of understanding the philosophical view of the conflict between the rational and irrational. I was truly impressed and agreed with much of his world view. The planet will be poorer upon his passing.

Christopher Hitchens: 'You have to choose your future regrets' | interview | Books | The Observer

11 November 2010

Service...

To all my brothers and sisters in uniform, past and present. I raise my
glass. To my Marine Corps comrades - Happy Birthday. How reassuring to
know your origins spring from a tavern located in the city most
associated with freedom in our nation, Philadelphia.

It is also fitting that the DADT survey was leaked today indicating that
the armed services will integrate all those willing and able to serve
with no regard for their personal orientation. It is often the military
which provides the model for our greater society. We racially
integrated first and perhaps will demonstrate the absurdity of
discriminating against our fellow humans simply based on who they choose
to love. I am grateful to those service members who have paved the way
for our nation and the world at large and I am eternally indebted to
those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their brothers-in-arms.

It is ultimately for one another that we serve. It is for the promise
that our nation represents and continues to fulfill throughout the
world. One day we will be able to stack arms and reflect that our
sacrifices were not in vain but in truth given for all those who dwell
on this planet and seek the freedom which is humanity's inherent right.

21 October 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Care, redux...

Gays Allowed to Enter the Military - Marc Ambinder - Politics - The Atlantic

Are we at the end of this ridiculous policy? I certainly hope so. Since the President and Congress couldn't get thier act together, it took the Log Cabin Republicans to force this absurd restriction into the light. Hopefully it will wither and die.

15 October 2010

When it counts...



Okay - maybe too hardcore for a recruiting ad, but it sure captures the spirit of the Corps.

Semper Fi.

12 October 2010

Remember the Cole...

I had the distinct privilege of supporting the rebuilding of the USS
Cole (DDG 67) in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was horribly damaged by a
small boat attack in the port of Aden, Yemen ten years ago. The
camaraderie and dedication of the civilian / military team working on
her was uplifting. The ship was refit and back in action after what had
been crippling damage.

Navy Honors Killed, Injured in USS Cole Attack
<http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=61238>
Tue, 12 Oct 2010 15:33:00 -0500

Navy Honors Killed, Injured in USS Cole Attack


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2010 - Navy officials, current and former crew
members and families of the fallen gathered today at Norfolk Naval
Station, Va., to remember the 17 sailors killed and 39 others wounded in
the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole 10 years ago today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
<http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2010-10/scr_101012-N-
000x-776.jpg
>
The guided-missile destroyer USS Cole arrives in Naples, Italy, for a
scheduled port call while deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of
responsibility, Feb. 23, 2010. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd
Class William Pittman
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image
<http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2010-10/hrs_101012-N-
000x-776.jpg
> available.
Suicide bombers launched the surprise Oct. 12, 2000, attack on the
Arleigh Burke-class, Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyer as it was
anchored in Aden, Yemen, for a routine refueling stop. The attackers
detonated an explosive-laden boat against the ship's port side, tearing
a 40-by-40-foot hole in the hull and sending seawater gushing into the
engineering compartment.

The attack was the deadliest assault against a U.S. naval vessel since
the Iraqis attacked the USS Stark on May 17, 1987.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, the Cole's commander during the attack,
recalled the impact of the blast.

"There was a thunderous explosion. You could feel all 505 feet and 8,400
tons of guided missile destroyer violently thrust up and to the right,"
Lippold said during a recent radio interview. "Lights went out, and
within a matter of seconds, I knew we'd been attacked."

During today's ceremonies, Navy Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr., commander of USS
Fleet Command, saluted the Cole crewmembers' quick response and valor as
they fought to keep the ship afloat and tended to the wounded while
defending against a feared follow-on attack.

Harvey said the attack underscores the importance of always being
trained and prepared, and he praised the sense of vigilance that has
been passed down to subsequent USS Cole crews.

After 14 months of upgrades and repairs following the attack, the USS
Cole made an overseas deployment in November 2003. The ship later
deployed to the Middle East in June 2006.

The USS Cole, which recently returned to its Norfolk homeport after a
deployment that took it through the Gulf of Aden, shows no visible
evidence of the deadly attack that occurred a decade ago. But below its
decks are regular reminders, including a blackened U.S. flag that
survived the attack and 17 gold stars that line the ship's "Hall of
Heroes" passageway.

As a ship's bells rang 17 times during today's ceremonies, the names of
the fallen 17 sailors were read aloud:

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, a hull
maintenance technician from Mechanicsville, Va.;

* Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, an electronics technician
from Morrisville, Pa.;

*Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, a mess management specialist from
Woodleaf, N.C.;

* Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, an information systems technician from
Rice, Texas;

* Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, a signalman from Rex, Ga.;

* Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Va.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, an engineman from Fond du
Lac, Wis.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, an electronics warfare
technician from Vero Beach, Fla.;

* Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego, Calif.;

* Seaman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, an engine room fireman from
Churchville, Md.;

* Seaman Patrick Howard Roy, 19, a fireman from Cornwall on Hudson,
N.Y.;

* Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, an electronic warfare
technician from Portland, N.D.;

* Petty Officer 3rd Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, a mess
management specialist from Kingsville, Texas.;

* Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, an operations
specialist from Ringgold, Va.;

* Seaman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, a fireman from Rockport, Texas;


* Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Miss.; and

* Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Md.

Related Sites:
USS Cole <http://www.cole.navy.mil/default.aspx>
10th Anniversary Video
<http://www.navy.mil/navydata/featurePlay169.asp?id=110>


Click photo for screen-resolution image
<http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2010-10/scr_101012-MC
-000X-721.jpg
> Military Sealift Command's fleet ocean tug USNS
Catawba tows the USS Cole from the port city of Aden, Yemen, Oct. 29,
2000, after a terrorist attack that caused the ship heavy damage and
killed 17 sailors. U.S. Marine Corps photo
Download screen-resolution
<http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2010-10/scr_101012-MC
-000X-721.jpg
>
Download high-resolution
<http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2010-10/hrs_101012-MC
-000X-721.jpg
>

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11 October 2010

The Futility of Finding Physical Explanations for Homeopathy...

The Futility of Finding Physical Explanations for Homeopathy

This post from Quackometer, covers the broad arguments against any efficacy from homeopathy. In the United States, billions of dollars are spent on un/dis-proven, fraudulent or dangerous medical therapies. Homeopathy falls into the category of disproven. No evidence exists of its effectiveness, save anecdotal testimony from patients and practitioners.

Sadly, there remain many folks who continue to espouse this waste of time, resources and possibly delay of meaningful diagnosis and treatment. Take some time to read the post and then travel to the magical land of the homeopathic believers.

Ironically, one of the most popular posts of mine is a critique of the effectiveness of a "homeopathic / herbal" cold remedy known as Sinupret.

20 September 2010

Farewel, brother...

Operations continue in Afghanistan to secure that nation for some form
of sustainable self-government. Despite the criticism that the Karzai
leadership receives, it is critical that the citizens of Afghanistan be
able to take the reins on their destiny and not be subject to the
prevarications of outside forces.

DOD Identifies Marine Casualty
<http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=13898>
Mon, 20 Sep 2010 14:04:00 -0500


________________________________

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 850-10
September 20, 2010

DOD Identifies Marine Casualty


The Department of Defense announced today the death of a
Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

1st Lt. Scott J. Fleming, 24, of Marietta, Ga., died
Sept. 17 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province,
Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment,
3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of
Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

For additional background information on this Marine, news
media representatives may contact the Marine Corps Base Hawaii public
affairs office at 808-257-8838.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

On the Web: http://www.defense.gov/releases/
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11 September 2010

Nine years...


It has been nine years since that fateful morning. I was at my civilian job, hosting my boss' boss and a collection of international scientists and engineers. I received a call from my command at the time and was told to "stand by".

We watched, mesmerized, as the images flooded through the television. We really didn't understand it at the time. In a way, we still don't understand the events of that day. We are a nation of vigorous, passionate yet peaceful disagreement. It is impossible for us to reconcile the cognitive dissonance of the actions of that day.

This anniversary is marked by frustration and anger. It seems to stem from the lack of resolution from the attacks of 2001. To this day we still have not captured Bin laden, the success in Iraq is unsatisfying and we are reminded constantly that a segment of Islam would like to see us destroyed.

The United States, for all of its flaws, is tolerant, open and welcoming to all types of individuals. We have physical and social room enough for everyone. There is no nation on the planet with the level of freedom, opportunity or openness to rival that of the United States.

Some of my dearest friends would contest this statement, however, any challenge brought is easily disassembled or refuted. The Scandanavia nations are often held up as a model, and yet they are a largely homogeneous culture with only a few million citizens and limited access for immigrants. The United Kingdom is cited for their acceptance of homosexuals and yet their continuing class segregation and troubling presence in Northern Ireland remains a substantial hindrance to true social freedom.

This is not an unhindered, jingoistic worship of our nation. It is merely an acknowledgement of the numerous real belssings we enjoy. A recognition of the many real challenges we have still to face as a nation and the expression of my hope and belief that we will rise to the best of our ideals.

It is important to remain ever forgiving and never forgetting.

12 August 2010

New clothes, again...

Navy Testing Two New Camo Uniforms

The Navy is adding a field grade camoflage uniform to its stable of uniforms. We spent time reducing the total uniform count to support a smaller seabag and cost to the Navy. We are the last service to utilize the old NATO woodland pattern for field units (SEABEES, etc.).

Although I really like the "digi-blues", there is clearly a need for a revised field uniform. It seems that we could provide some efficiency by adopting the Army or USMC model and simply implement.

13 July 2010

Ask and Tell...

It is ironic that one of the most controversial aspects of the ongoing
debate over Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) is the comprehensive force
survey being conducted by the working group. The Advocate has a fairly
tough analysis of the DoD response,
http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/07/12/Transcript_DOD_Defend
s_DADT_Survey/
. Oddly, I was one of the 400,000 force members who was
invited to participate. I will report my findings as well as opine on
the charges of bias.

16 June 2010

CNO DADTcast...

CNO POdcast

ADML Gary Roughead, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) makes a pitch for sailors and families to speak up during the DoD review of DADT. In my opinion, this policy's usefulness has ended. What started as a measure to provide more access to all qualified citizens, became a political third rail with connotations beyond its intent.

Citizens should be permitted to serve providing they meet the physical, mental and moral requirements of the armed services. hose moral requirements have nothign to do with sexual orientation. It's time to put aside these childish ways and get back to serving our nation in the manner in which it deserves.

Citizen Deux

14 May 2010

Whither Afghanistan...

Michael Yon, a writer whose opinion I respect, indicates that we are losing the war in Afghanistan.  This is a very concerning prospect, as we have much more to lose by ceding the ground in this volatile region of the globe.  I have a few friends currently deployed and am "on the list" myself (whatever that means) - Note to US Navy - get your mobilization process fixed!  Naturally, I have an interest in seeing the coalition succeed in their efforts.  I also recognize that Afghanistan has never been a nation.  It is a leftover from the post imperial age. 

 
Greetings,

A new dispatch on Afghanistan is up: PENGUINS OF AFGHANISTAN

My intentions were to write several more dispatches about missions, yet there seems to be so little interest in Afghanistan that it hardly seems worth the time to write about real missions.

There is little embedded work coming from Afghanistan.  McChrystal's censorship seems to be working.  (For now.)  He's losing the war and covering it up.  The deception is easy when so few people are paying attention.  We are losing the war.  At this rate it will be lost.

--

Very Respectfully,

Michael Yon

 

 

04 May 2010

Nuke em...

The United States enjoys a truly rare and terrible spot in global
history. For the first time in the history of the world, one nation
holds the power to strike against the remainder of the globe with no
fear of reprisal. In a recent Foreign Affairs article it was detailed
how the United States can now deliver a nuclear first strike against the
balance of the world without any retaliation. This is a stunning moment
in history. In the past, nations and empires which held this power were
quick to use it to enforce their will or conquer desirable territories.
And yet the United States continues to act with restraint and prudence.


Despite the accusations by those who oppose warfare in all its forms,
the armed forces of the United States have acquitted themselves with
distinction and dignity in their operations. There has never been a
more carefully or diligently executed conflict with respect to the
impact on innocents. Certainly the wars are far from perfect. The
enemies faced by coalition forces are hard to distinguish and do not
operate from the same ethical standpoint. Nonetheless, these foes face
a military which despite its restraint, continues to deliver defeat
after defeat.


Nuclear Stockpile Fact Sheet Available
<http://www.defense.gov/advisories/advisory.aspx?advisoryid=3212>
Mon, 03 May 2010 17:41:00 -0500


________________________________

No. 037-10 May 03, 2010
Nuclear Stockpile Fact Sheet Available


"Increasing Transparency in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons
Stockpile" fact sheet is now available on Defense.Gov . The recently
declassified information on the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile is being
made publically available for the first time. The declassification of
the data was approved by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The fact sheet is available at:
http://www.defense.gov/news/d20100503stockpile.pdf .

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

On the Web: http://www.defense.gov/Advisories/
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26 April 2010

You muzzled Kenny! You bastards...

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been censored by their coporate sponsor, Comdey Central, agianst showing an unflattering image of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam. This stems from the murder of Theo van Gogh by an insane, Islamic radical. The "threats" received by Comedy Central overrode their courage to support their artists' rights to free expression.

In the West, where our culture is more advanced, tolerant and flexible (summarize "better") than that of Islamic nations, this sort of discourse is taken for granted. The faithful of satirized religions take these jabs in stride - supposedly recognizing the old idiom about sticks and stones.

Islam, apparently, continues to invoke the older idiom with the use of sticks and stones (in the form of beatings and medieval punishments). Let me be clear, no genuine deity should ever fear mockery by any earthly entity. They are simply above such petty critiques. on the other hand, if they are not a genuine deity - then the mockery is deserved and it is the adherents who should reflect upon their choice of faith.

No matter how you slice it, the deity doesn't care or it doesn't exist.

Op-Ed Columnist - South Park - NYTimes.com

30 March 2010

Now on Salon...

Open Salon is a free service which may prove to be a better venue for
bloggers looking to engage in critical dialogues. They certainly have a
better brand than Blogger. However, will the rash of wannabe bloggers
on Open Salon be poaching grounds to expand the mother site's online
content? The New York Times already does this with some prestigious
paid bloggers - but as sites scramble for eyeballs and hits, will there
become a bidding war for the most popular bloggers? Is the Huffington
Post's model - "We'll publish any ol' thing!" going to be expanded to
this site? Time will tell, the reality however, will be less. More and
more sites allow multiple publishing, making content repeatedly
available anywhere - despite being "published" only once.

05 March 2010

2010... Here we GO!! PARSA...

I wanted to provide a brief plug for PARSA, my Afghan NGO of choice.  They are working hard to build capability among the Afghan people and restore confidence in their nation, government and themselves.  Stop by their site and see what you can do to help.


From: Marnie Hartung Gustavson [mailto:mgustav@marniehartunggustavs.eliteemail.com] On Behalf Of Marnie Hartung Gustavson
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 8:32 AM
Subject: 2010... Here we GO!!

  2010 - Full Speed Ahead Volume I  

Animal Lovers - We NEED You!! 

To all our animal loving friends and families - PARSA needs your help.  After 5 years of rescuing dogs, cats and various other assorted animals from the streets, mountains and trash heaps of Kabul, Marnie and PARSA have decided to start an Animal Shelter at Marastoon.

The Shelter and Rescue efforts will fall under the Healthy Afghan Community Program and will include education of Afghans who are interested in adopting a pet as well as vaccines, spay and neuter services and veterinary medicine for animals.  

We are in dire need of the following items:

  • Medicine
  • Leashes, collars and animal toys
  • Volunteer assistance (a Vet trainee??) 
  • FUNDS

Please contact us for more information about our new project and if you are interested in the idea of helping some of the most vulnerable citizens of Kabul, let us know. 

We are currently home to over 25 dogs plus an additional assortment of animals from cats to donkeys. 

We'd greatly appreciate any help you might offer.  And that includes adopting an animal either here in Kabul or getting a pet to the States.  



The PARSA Wish List!!

A new regluar feature for the PARSA Newsletter.  You will find our Wish List located in the bottom left side of the newsletter.  

As with all Non-Profit and NGO Organizations, we are constantly in need of a variety of items.  Most notably is FUNDS for our various programs and for our general operating fund.  So fast and SO easy...  writing a tax-ductible check for $1.00 - $1000.00 or more is one of the best items we recieve.  You can be assured it will be out to good use for any of or programs as well as rent, funds to purchase wood to heat our buildings and classrooms and to pay our hard working staff people. 

Other items of need we often wish for at PARSA:

  • Printer Ink - please contact us for types of ink
  • Any Animal related items for our new Project within the Healthy Afghan Community Program - toys, food, leashes, collars, flea and worm medicine
  • Soap and toiletries for orphans



Ph. +93 (0) 799020588
PARSA Afghan Training Institute

To kick off 2010, PARSA has moved into training and working with Afghan people with the Afghan Training Institute. 

We are working with Afghans looking for more higher education opportunities allowing them to become capable and have a better chance to be successful as well as helping other Afghans in their daily struggles. 

The goal of the Afghan Training Institute is to grow the AFghan people and give them the skills they need to help each other.  As a developing country it is important to train the Afghan people to fend for themselves and rely less on the International Aid community. 

PARSA Afghan Training Institute is committed to building the capacity of people in Afghanistan. 



Afghan Scouting GOING Strong in 2010

Afghan Scouts Visit the US Embassy in Kabul

This past Saturday, February 27th, PARSA and our Scouts were invited to visit the US Embassy.  We held a Scout initiation ceremony IN the Embassy.  Attending the event were Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Mrs. Eikenberry who welcomed 80 children from the National Orphanages, Alluhoddin and Tai Maskan.  The Scouting Program is part of the PARSA Healthy Afghan Child Program and continues to be a big success. 

In addition, Volunteers from the embassy assisted in our ceremony as we completed initiation of the children into the Afghan Scouts program. 

In addition, we welcomed our the new Minister who will oversee the Orphanages in the country and the new National Director as well as several ISAF soldiers, also Eagle Scouts and Scout trainers participated.  Our goal this year is to be able to run Scout programs for all 750 children in the three orphanages where PARSA staff conducts "Healthy Afghan Child" programs.  Please visit our website for more information about the scout program as well as details about this event.

If you are interested in helping the Afghan Scout Program - we are ALWAYS looking for people, individuals, and groups to take on an Afghan Scout troop.  


A Word From Air Commodore Sean Bell

have to say that supporting the Orphanage was the one thing that kept me going throughout my nearly a year military assignment in Kabul - really raised my spirits to be able to support such a worthy cause, and also such a committed team in Marnie and her son and team. Part of the morale development of those under my command is to ensure they remain fit, are happy in their work, and an extra strand is to encourage charitable work. This was simply an extension of that obligation as a Commander. Part of going our project activities was to chat to Marnie, meet the kids and of course, for us to engage others in the fundraising activities (and also ensure that they were all suitably motivated to get stuff done!!) We played football with some of the kids, sat and chatted to them, but avoided giving gifts at the time or risk getting mobbed every time we went. My aim was to support Marnie in a longer-term project rather than the short-termist drop a few goodies off, feel good about ourselves, and then walk away having changed nothing! Discussions with Marnie proved compelling, so it was evident that with financial support Marnie and her team could deliver what we were seeking to do. So I started “Ringing the Change”-to fund PARSA programs in the orphanages. It was hard work getting things set up, and influencing a LOT of folk, but TREMENDOUSLY rewarding to see the effect, and to support such a marvelous group of folk in Marnie and her PARSA team. (click on picture for an article on his project)/p>


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02 March 2010

MP David Tredinnick is Wrong...

The UK's govevernmental Homeopathy Report is a good mix of science and policy recommendations. It takes issue with the irresponsible expenditure of government funds (read UK citizen tax pounds) on ineffective, non-scientific therapies. MP David Tredinnick, a consummate woo-fan, seeks to discredit this well researched and vetted report.

MP David Tredinnick is Wrong about the Homeopathy Report

22 February 2010

Doing good by acting right...

Fellow blog readers, yes you two over there. I have a good friend who
is presently deployed. He is a super guy, great piano player and an
Eagle Scout. While working for the Army in Afghanistan, he has started
a seriously great good deed. Read on.


Subject: [NREDJO] Help the Afghan people


Fellow NRED Officers,

I am currently mobilized in Afghanistan and need your help with
something. ISAF has identified certain key areas where the population
can be convinced to support the Government of Islamic Republic of
Afghanistan (GIRoA) with a little focused attention.

There are 3,000 kids in this particular school district. They come back
from winter break in late March for the solar new year and supplies will
be needed. We can purchase school supplies (backpack, notebooks, pens,
pencils, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.) locally in Afghanistan for about
a tenth the cost in the U.S. and we don't pay shipping costs.

I have partnered with U.S. based NGO PARSA, a 501(c)(3) charity, on this
project. If you would do me the favor of passing on this information to
anyone inclined to donate, the website is:
http://www.afghanistan-parsa.org <http://www.afghanistan-parsa.org>
Two options to donate:
Under the donation button, there's a menu with the choice "school
supplies". The site uses PayPal to take credit card info and pay
online.
Else, you can write a check to "PARSA" with the words "school supplies"
in the memo line and mail the check to their PO Box in Seattle, WA.

Time is critical. By agreement with PARSA's Executive Director, Marnie,
everything collected before March 6th will go toward this important
school district. I also have an ongoing partnership with PARSA as I am
assisting them with several Afghan Scout Troops at two local orphanages.
More on that will be in my next blog posting:
http://majorfoobar.wordpress.com <http://majorfoobar.wordpress.com>

Thanks in advance shipmates, for passing this on to everyone you know.
This is the most efficient way to get aid directly to the areas that
will have the most impact on our efforts to stabilize the environment in
Afghanistan.
All my best,
-Steve Michaels, LCDR, USN
IJC Stability Ops SNE, IDC RC(E) Desk Officer
Kabul, Afghanistan


*********** Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead *********

Steve R. Michaels, MSEE, PE
Eagle Scout, B.S.A.
LCDR /USN /1445



<http://geo.yahoo.com/serv?s=97359714/grpId=1877271/grpspId=1705059703/m
sgId=938/stime=1266614382/nc1=5191955/nc2=5733757/nc3=5522124
>

Steve is one of those rare individuals who is a good guy down to his
core. I have had the privilege of serving with him as an Engineering
Duty Officer and consider him a great friend. Stop by the link and
donate.


__,_._,___

08 February 2010

RIP Murtha and Abscam 2010...

Rep. John Murtha, Iraq war critic, dies at 77

I am no fan of Murtha. He represents to me the worst of local interests subverting the needs of the nation. Although the passing of any indivudal is a cause for grief, this may have been his only honorable exit.

03 February 2010

I like Mike...

Well, it seems that ADM Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has
set the bar for DADT. He echoes the ethical position supported by many
of my fellow officers. The issue remains with out civilian authority.
We, as a military, will execute these orders and move forward. It's up
to the President and Congress to do the right thing.


________________________________

From: info114@service.govdelivery.com
[mailto:info114@service.govdelivery.com] On Behalf Of American Forces
Press Service
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2010 12:24 PM
Subject: Mullen's Blog: My View on 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

Mullen's Blog: My View on 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'
<http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=57839>
Wed, 03 Feb 2010 10:51:00 -0600

Mullen's Blog: My View on 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'


By Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2010 - "Over these last two months, the Chiefs and I
have reviewed the fundamental premises behind 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' as
well as its application in practice over the last 16 years. We
understand perfectly the President's desire to see the law repealed and
we owe him our best military advice about the impact this change in
policy would have on the military.

"While the Chiefs and I have not developed our advice, we believe that
any implementation plan for a policy permitting homosexuals to serve
openly in the armed forces must be carefully derived, sufficiently
thorough, and thoughtfully executed. The review group to be headed by
Mr. Jeh Johnson and General Carter Ham will no doubt give us that time
and an even deeper level of understanding.

"My personal belief is that allowing homosexuals to serve openly would
be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact
that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie
about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, it
comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an
institution.

"I also believe the great young men and women of our military can and
would accommodate such a change, but I do not know this for a fact. I
will not deny that during a time of two wars, such a major policy change
will cause some disruption in the force. It also seems plausible that
there will be legal, social, and perhaps even infrastructure changes to
be made. These are some of the issues our review will address.

"But we would do well to remember that this is not an issue for the
military leadership to decide. The current law and policy came from the
American people through their elected officials. We will continue to
obey that law, and we will obey whatever legislative and executive
decisions come out of this debate.

"With Afghanistan, Iraq, and significant security commitments around the
globe, our plate is very full. While I believe this is an important
issue, I also believe we need to be mindful as we move forward of other
pressing needs in the military. What our young men and women and their
families want, what they deserve, is that we listen to them and act in
their best interests.

"Balance and thoughtfulness is required. It's what the President has
promised us, and it's what we ask of Congress as this debate moves
forward."



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