Target Centermass


Memorial Day 2007

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:14 am

Memorial Day 1958

Click for larger version. Also, see my photoblogging of my visit to the USS Arizona Memorial.

“Here Rests
In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
Known But To God”

U.S. Memorial
The Day’s Background
Arlington National Cemetery
The Tomb of the Unknowns
Texas National Cemetery Foundation
Texas National Cemetery Memorial Plans and Fundraising

Tomb of the Unknowns: Changing of the Guard (embossed)
The Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknowns

If you have not seen the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, I’ve witnessed it more than once and highly recommend it.

The guard is changed every hour on the hour Oct. 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5 to 7 p.m.

An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony.

The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknowns who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, “Pass on your orders.” The current sentinel commands, “Post and orders, remain as directed.” The newly posted sentinel replies, “Orders acknowledged,” and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.

The ritual is slow. It is determined. It is meticulous. It is touching.

The majesty of the ceremony lies in its detailed, determined nature. It shows that our honored dead are not remembered only one day a year by our military — their memory is unfailingly revered . Their sacrifices receive tribute constantly from both comrades and strangers. Such is as it should be, both in the military and among all of the citizenry that value the freedoms and security that have been bought and paid for in blood and sacrifice. Our heroes deserve their special day, but their honor deserves our hearts throughout the year.

(On a side note, the above photos were taken by my then-girlfriend-now-new-bride. The photo of the ceremony was perfect in every way but one, a slight discoloration I was unable to overcome. In desperation, I tried the embossed effect and was quite happy with the outcome.)


Links o’ the Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:18 pm

Just some links for y’all, as I’m currently packing for a weekend excursion to College Station to watch the surprising Texas A&M men’s basketball team match up against Baylor. My Aggies are currently ranked #8 and #9 in the polls, and that was more than enough reason for a guys’ weekend away with some old friends.

Anyway, on with the links.

Victory Caucus

The Victory Caucus

We support victory in the war against radical Islamists. We supported the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and we believe victory is necessary in both countries for America’s self-defense.

We believe that the radical regime in Iran, while not representative of the Iranian people, is a menace and that it cannot be allowed to obtain or build nuclear weapons.

We believe that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans and which waged war against Israel in violation of every law of war this past summer, and will do so again in the future.

We believe Israel is our ally and friend and deserves the full assistance of the United States in its battle with radical Islamists. We believe that Israel has repeatedly shown its willingness to negotiate a just and lasting peace, but that its enemies do not want peace, but the destruction of Israel.

We believe that the American military is the finest in the world and indeed in history, well led and superbly trained, and populated at every level by America’s best and brightest.

We support the troops, and those organizations which assist the wounded in their recoveries and support the families of those who sacrificed everything.

We support leaders who support victory.

Part blog, part message board, still getting its feet wet.

The Danger Room

A blog about what’s next in national security. Hat tip to Op-For.

Pin-ups for Vets

I always loved the beautiful pin-up photos and paintings from the World War II era that American soldiers took overseas with them to boost their morale. The troops often carried these “cheesecake” pictures with them into war to help remind them of what they were fighting for back home. One of the most famous pinup shots was taken in the 1940’s of actress Betty Grable, in a bathing suit, looking back over her shoulder.

With these old glamorous pictures as inspiration, I decided to try to recreate the feeling of these nostalgic pin-ups in my own photo shoots, and then assemble my pictures in a calendar for a fundraiser to benefit the programs that support the hospitalized Veterans, injured in ALL wars, past and present.

A one-woman good cause worthy of your time. Both the cause and the lady are certainly worth a gander.

Appeal for Courage

Received in an email request:

Hello from Baghdad.

I and a Vietnam vet friend of mine have launched a new site, which allows active duty military to (legally) tell Congress and the media that they should support our mission, and that their criticism does hurt our morale while emboldening our enemies.

This site is partly in response to the leftist site AppealForRedress [edit: Grayhawk has more about this over at the Mudville Gazette]. It was created by a big money group and given a free pass by the media. I don’t have any money for advertising, and I don’t expect the media to help.

If you folks could help publicize it in other websites and to your military friends, I think we could get thousands of signatures and have an impact at this crucial juncture in the war. Thank-you for your help.

LT Jason Nichols, USN
MNF-I, Baghdad

Consider it done, sir.

Fullbore Friday

One of my favorite recurring features in the blogosphere is the weekly posting of Fullbore Friday, brought to you by CDR Salamander. Each week, he brings a little piece of military history, usually naval and often focusing on a gallant performance by a particular ship. As a little sample, here’s a recent posting about an engagement that fascinated me when I first read about it as a little child — the clash of the British cruisers Exeter, Ajax and Achilles against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate. After that, be sure to keep an eye out tomorrow for the next Fullbore Friday feature.

UPDATE: While I’m plugging CDR Salamander, I thought I’d take a quick moment to discuss a recent visitor to Target Centermass. Click the “more” for the curious Site Meter listing.


Murtha! Murtha! Murtha!

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:58 pm

With apologies to the Brady Bunch for the headline, here’s a link dump about pro-retreat Congressman John Murtha (D-IsForDefeat) and his plans to control (read undermine) our military efforts in Iraq. Oh yeah, there’s a little thrown in along the way about Nancy Pelosi and the bulk of the Congressional Democrats.

Not the ‘Real Vote’

REP. JOHN MURTHA (D-Pa.) has a message for anyone who spent the week following the House of Representatives’ marathon debate on Iraq: You’ve been distracted by a sideshow. “We have to be careful that people don’t think this is the vote,” the 74-year-old congressman said of the House’s 246-182 decision in favor of a resolution disapproving of President Bush’s troop surge. “The real vote will come on the legislation we’re putting together.” That would be Mr. Murtha’s plan to “stop the surge” and “force a redeployment” of U.S. forces from Iraq while ducking the responsibility that should come with such a radical step.


Mr. Murtha has a different idea. He would stop the surge by crudely hamstringing the ability of military commanders to deploy troops. In an interview carried Thursday by the Web site, Mr. Murtha said he would attach language to a war funding bill that would prohibit the redeployment of units that have been at home for less than a year, stop the extension of tours beyond 12 months, and prohibit units from shipping out if they do not train with all of their equipment. His aim, he made clear, is not to improve readiness but to “stop the surge.” So why not straightforwardly strip the money out of the appropriations bill — an action Congress is clearly empowered to take — rather than try to micromanage the Army in a way that may be unconstitutional? Because, Mr. Murtha said, it will deflect accusations that he is trying to do what he is trying to do. “What we are saying will be very hard to find fault with,” he said.

Mr. Murtha’s cynicism is matched by an alarming ignorance about conditions in Iraq.

Unparalleled Perfidy

The party of John Murtha shamelessly seeks to defund and defeat U.S. troops on the battlefield and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Congress the terrorists wanted is doing their bidding.

There’s a reason the founders of this country designated a single commander in chief and placed the responsibility to wage war in the hands of the president. We saw recently the futility of having 100 commanders in chief when the Senate tried to pass a resolution of disapproval of the war in Iraq and couldn’t agree on the terms of our surrender.

Now it’s the House of Representatives’ turn, led by Rep. John Murtha, who believes the fine young men and women we send to defeat terror and our sworn enemies are cold-blooded killers. While the House works on its own nonbinding resolution, Murtha has bigger plans and considers such a resolution only a prelude to the real battle in March over appropriations for the war.


As we’ve noted on several occasions, Democratic talk of “redeployment” has encouraged terrorist groups around the world.

Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said before the 2006 vote: “Americans should vote Democratic,” adding that “it is time the American people support those who want to take them out of the Iraqi mud.” The statement could have come from Murtha, Kerry, Hillary or any number of Democrats.

We find it scary that the Democratic and terrorist game plans are indistinguishable.

Hat tip to the above goes to Chap, who throws his own pondering into the mix.

My pondering is as follows: is Murtha’s legislation regarding training, rotations and equipment going to apply to the Afghan theater? You know, the campaign the Dems supposedly support. I don’t see how he’d be able to separate the two without setting himself up for a constitutionally-backed debacle. He may be able to affect funding policy, but it’s highly unlikely that he could do so only in a particular theater without blatantly overstepping the established role of the president as commander in chief.

But wait, there’s much, much more.

War Power Game: The coming constiutional crisis

There is a straightforward way for Congress to end a war: Cut off its entire funding. Congress has the power of the purse, the most important lever of legislative influence in the Anglo-American tradition. But House Democrats don’t want to wield this power because they’re afraid it will expose them to charges of defunding the troops. So they are resorting to an unconstitutional expedient instead.


Murtha repeatedly says in the webcast that his proposals are meant to “protect” the troops. But he is frank about the not-so-ulterior motive of keeping more troops from heading to Iraq, explaining that “they won’t be able to do the work.” Because his provisions can be sold as guaranteeing the readiness and quality-of-life of the troops, Murtha believes that they “will be very hard to find fault with.”

Only if one ignores our constitutional scheme. The president, not Congress, is the commander in chief. Congress was never meant to, nor is it suited to, direct tactical military decisions, as Murtha seeks to do with his restrictions.

Arguably, his maneuver will be the most blatant congressional intrusion on the president’s war-making powers in the nation’s history. Congress choked off the Vietnam War in the 1970s, but only after U.S. ground troops were mostly already out of the country and chiefly as a matter of cutting off aid to South Vietnam.

Just as disturbing is Murtha’s cynical reliance on failure in Iraq as a political strategy.

Hat tip to Blackfive, who calls it a must-read. I agree, if only for the disheartening notion later on in the column about what political fallout may result from this constitutional end-around.

Novak: Murtha in Command

After 16 undistinguished terms in Congress, Rep. John P. Murtha at long last felt his moment had arrived. He could not keep quiet the secret Democratic strategy that he had forged for the promised “second step” against President Bush’s Iraq policy (after the “first step” of a nonbinding resolution of disapproval). In an interview last Thursday with the antiwar Web site, he revealed plans to put conditions on funding of U.S. troops. His message: I am running this show.

Indeed he is. Murtha and his ally House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were humiliated last Nov. 16 when the Democratic caucus overwhelmingly voted against Murtha as majority leader. Three months later, Murtha has shaped party policy that would cripple Bush’s Iraq troop surge by placing conditions on funding. That represents the most daring congressional attempt to micromanage ongoing armed hostilities since the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War challenged President Abraham Lincoln.

Peters: Cowards Give up on GIs – & Give in to Evil

PROVIDING aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime is treason. It’s not “just politics.” It’s treason.

And signaling our enemies that Congress wants them to win isn’t “supporting our troops.”

The “nonbinding resolution” telling the world that we intend to surrender to terrorism and abandon Iraq may be the most disgraceful congressional action since the Democratic Party united to defend slavery.

The vote was a huge morale booster for al Qaeda, for Iraq’s Sunni insurgents, and for the worst of the Shia militias.

The message Congress just sent to them all was, “Hold on, we’ll stop the surge, we’re going to leave – and you can slaughter the innocent with our blessing.”

We’ve reached a low point in the history of our government when a substantial number of legislators would welcome an American defeat in Iraq for domestic political advantage.


And a word about those troops: It’s going to come as a shock to the massive egos in Congress, but this resolution won’t hurt morale – for the simple reason that our men and women in uniform have such low expectations of our politicians that they’ll shrug this off as business as usual.

This resolution has teeth, though: It’s going to bite our combat commanders. By undermining their credibility and shaking the trust of their Iraqi counterparts, it makes it far tougher to build the alliances that might give Iraq a chance.

If you were an Iraqi, would you be willing to trust Americans and risk your life after the United States Congress voted to abandon you?

Emphasis in original. Ralph Peters is perhaps my favorite columnist and, as I’ve repeatedly said, I’m always happy to link to his incisive efforts.

Steyn: Why the Iraq war is turning into America’s defeat

The Middle East is a crazy place and a tough nut to crack, but the myth of the unbeatable Islamist insurgent is merely a lazy and more neurotic update of the myth of the unbeatable communist guerrilla, which delusion led to so much pre-emptive surrender in the ’70s. Nevertheless, in the capital city of the most powerful nation on the planet, the political class spent last week trying to craft a bipartisan defeat strategy, and they might yet pull it off. Consider this extraordinary report from the Washington Post:

“Democratic leaders have rallied around a strategy that would fully fund the president’s $100 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but would limit his ability to use the money. . . . The plan is aimed at tamping down calls from the Democrats’ liberal wing for Congress to simply end funding for the war.

“The Murtha plan, based on existing military guidelines, includes a stipulation that Army troops who have already served in Iraq must be granted two years at home before an additional deployment. . . . The idea is to slowly choke off the war by stopping the deployment of troops from units that have been badly degraded by four years of combat.”

So “the Murtha plan” is to deny the president the possibility of victory while making sure Democrats don’t have to share the blame for the defeat. But of course he’s a great American! He’s a patriot! He supports the troops! He doesn’t support them in the mission, but he’d like them to continue failing at it for a couple more years. As John Kerry wondered during Vietnam, how do you ask a soldier to be the last man to die for a mistake? By nominally “fully funding” a war you don’t believe in but “limiting his ability to use the money.” Or as the endearingly honest anti-war group put it, in an e-mail preview of an exclusive interview with the wise old Murtha:

“Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president’s foreign and national security policy.”

“Undermining”? Why not? To the Slow-Bleed Democrats, it’s the Republicans’ war. To an increasing number of what my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls the White-Flag Republicans, it’s Bush’s war. To everyone else on the planet, it’s America’s war. And it will be America’s defeat.

Whew! When these columns and editorials are taken as a whole, that’s an awful lot of sudden double-takes by the media at the efforts of Murtha. Well, maybe not so sudden for Peters and Steyn at least.

It’s also a lot of words that should inspire a great deal of anger in the reader. Hey, why not relax a bit from the news and opinions with a look at the comics section. Flopping Aces brings the related editorial cartoons. Yeah, they don’t look too highly on Murtha and the Dems either. Hat tip to Hyscience.


Rangel Renews Call for Draft

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:35 pm

During my election night thoughts a few weeks ago, I pondered how the Democrats would lead congress. One point I specifically made was to challenge Congressman Charles Rangel to once again bring forth his legislation calling for a reinstatement of the draft. Well, apparently he intends to do just that.

The incoming Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said yesterday that he will push to renew the military draft, as lawmakers in both parties sharpened their criticisms of the situation in Iraq and struggled for consensus and solutions.


Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) has long advocated returning to the draft, but his efforts drew little attention during the 12 years that House Democrats were in the minority. Starting in January, however, he will chair the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Yesterday he said “you bet your life” he will renew his drive for a draft.

“I will be introducing that bill as soon as we start the new session,” Rangel said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He portrayed the draft, suspended since 1973, as a means of spreading military obligations more equitably and prompting political leaders to think twice before starting wars.

“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” said Rangel, a Korean War veteran. “If we’re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can’t do that without a draft.”

Rangel has drawn modest support for his draft proposal in recent years and it has been unclear whether its prospects might improve in the 110th Congress.

Let’s make one small matter clear before we get to the heart of the issue. The WaPo folks are practically redefining the term “modest” when describing support for earlier versions of Rangel’s legislation. “Scant” or “pathetic” would have been far better terms. In fact, when the Democrats raised the spectre of a possible draft during the 2004 presidential campaign, the Republican leadership craftily brought Rangel’s legislation to the floor for a vote. The result? A 402-2 shellacking against, including a “nay” from Rangel, who then whined that the Republicans were merely playing politics.

Well, if the Republicans were playing politics by actually voting on legislation submitted by Rangel, then what was the point of the legislation? As Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee makes evident, the Rangel’s motivation is all disgusting politics and class-dividing garbage.

Lets be very, very clear: Charles Rangel doesn’t give a damn about the “equitably” of service in our nation’s military, which to date, is over-represented by soldiers who are more rural, wealthy, and better educated than their peers. He instead clings to often disproven lies that the military is disproportionately made up of minorities and the poor.

Rangel willingly lies, but lies with a purpose.


Rangel’s tactics are particularly loathsome in that he seeks to use our all-volunteer military as the whipping boy for his anti-war politics. He would attempt to pit draft-age Americans and their family members against those who honorably joined the military of their own volition.

I entirely agree. When I first blogged about the vote on Rangel’s legislation [see link above], I condemned the man for his willingness to politicize the military by proposing the draft legislation with no regard whatsoever for the bests interests of the military but instead based solely upon his own class-based and anti-military motives. Indeed, I contend that any of our elected federal officials should be despised for any military-related legislation put forth whose true intent is not meant to add to either the lethality, effectiveness, medical welfare or financial security of our fighting forces or to designate where said forces can ply their trade.

Gateway Pundit, meanwhile, is also sick of Rangel’s class-warfare draft motivation but is focusing his attention elsewhere — specifically, on the mainstream media that is continuing to carry Rangel’s tripe unquestioned.

Obviously, after the number of times that this story has been told and retold over the last 24 hours the media has no intention of correcting Rangel’s assertions that our soldiers come from “low income families”. Here’s the truth[…]

Blackfive‘s Matt responds to Rangel with some constructive criticism, as follows:

If I was Charlie Rangel *cough, cough*, I wouldn’t be playing the draft straw man in front of the world. It was already voted down by a margin of close to 400 against (including Rangel). This is a pure media play…why?…not really sure.

What Charlie Rangel should say is that anyone who supports the war, but doesn’t support troops with increased pay, bonuses, health care, veterans benefits, etc. is hypocritical. And while we’re at it, let’s stand up the 7th Light and a Marine Division and see what happens before the draft needs to be invoked.

I’ve said it before…I would activate everybody (Reserves, NG, Retired, IRR) with the message that you’re in for the duration of the war plus six months. Instead of a draft, this would get most people to understand what is at stake and that we are committed to victory. It’s a WWII mentality, rather than a “police action” mentality.

Fine in thought and intent, and it certainly passes my intended-for-the-military’s-betterment smell test, but alas! I don’t see it as quite feasible … yet. Someday soon it may be so, and our situation against the global Islamist enemy would certainly justify it in my eyes, but unfortunately the American public is generally not aware of the danger. Perhaps someday, which is true to my oft-stated beliefs that nothing should ever be taken off the table for military consideration. That goes also for the draft, as there may again come a day when the need for numbers is so pressing that conscription is actually needed. That said, I am disgusted by Rangel’s toying with the military and am interested in how hard he’ll actually push his legislation. The facts and numbers, as well as the desires of both the military and the American public, are most assuredly not on his side. I hope he is fervent in his endeavour, as it would be entertaining watching his fellow Dems squirm.


Army Strong

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:48 pm

I recently weighed in with my thoughts on the new “Army Strong” recruiting campaign. One thing is certain — it could’ve been far, far worse.

Now Sgt. Hook, one of the best MilBloggers around, is looking for your thoughts on the campaign. While you’re over there, be sure to check out this video of his own creation showing your soldiers in Iraq.


Marine’s Sacrifice Earns Medal of Honor

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:47 pm

Corporal Jason L. Dunham has been named as the second recipient from the Iraqi theater of our nation’s highest honor for an act of bravery that cost his life but saved those of his comrades.

The Marine who President Bush said would receive the Medal of Honor died after he jumped on a grenade in Iraq and saved the lives of two comrades.

Cpl. Jason Dunham of Scio, N.Y., died on April 22, 2004, of wounds he sustained when his patrol was ambushed at Husaybah, in Anbar province near the Syrian border.

“He and his men stopped a convoy of cars that were trying to make an escape,” Bush said. “As he moved to search one of the vehicles, an insurgent jumped out and grabbed the corporal by the throat.”

During hand-to-hand combat with the insurgent, Dunham called out to his fellow Marines: “No, no, no. Watch his hand!”

“Moments later, an enemy grenade rolled out,” Bush said. “Cpl. Dunham did not hesitate. He jumped on the grenade to protect his fellow Marines. He used his helmet and his body to absorb the blast.”

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee presented Dunham with the Purple Heart at his bedside shortly before he died at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland with his parents at his side. His death occurred eight days after he was wounded.

The president told Dunham’s mother and father during the ceremony at Quantico, Va.: “You might say that he was born to be a Marine.”

The following has more details of Cpl. Dunham’s service and ultimate sacrifice.

Dunham was on his second tour in Iraq. He could have left the Marines and returned to his hometown in western New York to pursue his dream of becoming a state trooper, but he extended his tour to stay as a machine gunner with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

“We told him he was crazy for coming out here,” said Lance Cpl. Marke Dean, 22, of Owasso, Okla., who served with Dunham.

“I want to make sure everyone makes it home alive,” Dean said Dunham told him. “I want to be sure you go home to your wife alive.”

On the day he was wounded, Dunham was in charge of a traffic checkpoint set up after the ambush of a convoy. A man leaped out of a vehicle Dunham was searching and grabbed him by the throat. Dunham kneed the man in the chest to break the grip and tackled him as he tried to flee, according to Marine dispatches and “The Gift of Valor” by Michael Phillips.

Three other Marines rushed to help but Dunham shouted, “No! No! No! Watch his hand!” A grenade fell from the man’s hand to the ground.

Dunham ripped off his Kevlar helmet and slammed it on top of the grenade and then dropped facedown on top of the helmet to smother the blast with his body and chest armor.

“If it was not for him, none of us would be here. He took the impact of the explosion,” said Pfc. Kelly Miller, 21.

Much, much more on this fine American can be found at his memorial page.

Thank you, Corporal Jason L. Dunham.

This would also be an appropriate time to remember the first Medal of Honor recipient from the Iraqi theater, Sergeant First Class Paul Smith.

May our nation treasure their memories and sacrifices always.


A Veterans Day Message

Filed under: — Gunner @ 4:51 pm

[Reposted from 2004, with links updated as needed. More Veterans Day posting to follow later in the day.]

In Flanders fields the poppies blow...I was asked today and have often wondered something about Veterans Day — who is it truly meant to honor? Memorial Day is easy — that is a day to remember and pay homage to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the uniform (though everyday we wake up free should be such a day). I knew the origins of today’s holiday, with Nov. 11 (the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918) formerly being set aside as Armistice Day to honor those who served in that great conflict. In 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to include the veterans of WWII and Korea. Obviously, Veterans Day is a tribute to veterans, but my question was if it was truly meant for combat veterans or those like myself who only served in peacetime?

Well, according to the FAQ on the government’s official Veterans Day site, the answer is as follows:

Q. What is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
While those who died are also remembered on Veterans Day, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.

In light of this confirmation, I would like to thank all who served before me, all who served with me, all who served after me and all who currently serve and sacrifice.

Why the picture of the flowers on my posts about Veterans Day? That’s a pic of poppies from Flanders Field in Belgium, and the significance of that particular flower and its relation to Veterans (formerly Armistice) Day stem from the poem “In Flanders Fields” by WWI Canadian army physician John McCrae. The poem and its history can be found here (hattip to Damian Brooks at Babbling Brooks).


SecDef Substitution: Rummy out, Gates in

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:23 am

One of the chief lightning rods for criticism in the Bush administration has been taken down as President Bush announced the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The winds of change swept from the ballot box into the Pentagon on Wednesday and Americans greeted the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with delight, sadness – and a sense it was long overdue.


Rumsfeld resigned hours after Democrats seized control of the House and came close to capturing the Senate as well, riding a powerful wave of voter discontent over nearly four years of a war in Iraq with no end in sight.

As an architect of the war, Rumsfeld had become a target of congressional Democrats and more recently some Republicans, with increasing calls for his resignation.

President Bush announced the departure at a news conference and said there would have been a change at the Pentagon regardless of the election results. He also acknowledged that GOP losses reflected voters’ “displeasure with the lack of progress” in Iraq. Surveys at polling places showed about six in 10 voters disapproved of the war.

I, for one, greatly admire the man and generally approve of the reformation he was trying to bring to the American military. It is safe to say, however, that he had made enemies with many of the entrenched brass, especially after his decision to axe the Crusader program, and that he had been demonized by political opponents and many in the media over Iraq to the point of ineffectiveness.

Perhaps summing the matter up best was Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) when he said the following:

While Secretary Rumsfeld and I have had our differences, he deserves Americans’ respect and gratitude for his many years of public service.

Bush has named former CIA director and current president of Texas A&M University Robert Gates as Rummy’s replacement.

Appearing with President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld Wednesday, shortly after his appointment had been announced, Robert Gates said this was not a job he had sought.

“I had not anticipated returning to government service and have never enjoyed any position more than being president of Texas A&M University,” he said. “However, the United States is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are fighting against terrorism worldwide and we face other serious challenges to peace and our security.”

Robert Gates served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1991 to 1993 after serving more than 20 years in the spy agency in various positions in which he worked with six presidents. He has served as president of Texas A&M University, the nation’s seventh largest university, for the past four years. The university is only a two-hour drive from President Bush’s ranch near Crawford, Texas, where they met over the weekend, according to the president.

“I had a good talk with him Sunday, in Crawford,” he said. “I found him to be of like mind. He understands we are in a global war against these terrorists. He understands that defeat is not an option in Iraq.”

Gates is one of the key figures from the first Bush administration, and he recently served on the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel established by Congress earlier this year and headed by former Secretary of State James Baker.

Some analysts believe Robert Gates will represent the views of some of the former president Bush’s advisers, many of whom have been critical of current U.S. policy in Iraq. There is also the possibility that he will work to implement some of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.

Georgetown University professor Paul Pillar, a former senior career intelligence officer, says Gates is also a shrewd political player with a knack for handling bureaucracies.

“I think it is a mistake to think of Mr. Gates primarily in terms of his intelligence background, although he did come initially out of the intelligence community and out of CIA, he did not rise through the ranks, but was kind of catapulted over most of the ranks and made his mark more as a high-level bureaucratic operator, not just in the intelligence community, but also as deputy national security adviser in the first Bush administration,” he said.

Pillar says Gates will likely initiate many changes in the Defense Department in addition to providing a fresh approach to the war in Iraq.

Standing in Gates’ way is confirmation by the senate.

Gates will not assume office until he has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. That, says the current chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John Warner of Virginia, could happen “in the coming weeks.”

Democrats, who made large gains in Tuesday’s midterm election, are not likely to hold up his approval, since leading Democrats have been calling for Secretary Rumsfeld to be replaced for some time and, as President Bush made clear in his introduction of Robert Gates Wednesday, Donald Rumsfeld will remain in place as secretary of defense until the Senate approves Gates for the job.

It will be interesting to see just how obstructionist the senate Democrats, with their majority control just around the corner in January, decide to play with this nomination.

In a special farewell note to Texas A&M, my alma mater, Dr. Gates said conveyed the following:

To the Aggie Family,

By the time you read this, the President of the United States will have announced that he will nominate me to be the next Secretary of Defense. I am deeply honored, but also deeply saddened.

As most of you know, almost two years ago I declined an opportunity to become the first Director of National Intelligence. I did so principally because of my love for Texas A&M and because much of the program we had initiated to take A&M to a new level of excellence had only just started.



A Little Inter-service Rivalry II

Filed under: — Gunner @ 1:10 am

For a very good cause.

Army. Navy. Air Force. Marines. What a great place, it’s a great place to give.

The fine folks at Soldiers’ Angels are again having another drive for their very worthy Project Valour-IT charity.

Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the ‘Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse.

They’ve again decided to divy up the effort among the four branches of the U.S. military, just to add a little fun and incentive to an already noble cause. As is to be expected, Target Centermass has again joined with Blackfive on the Army team, which is currently enjoying a slight lead as of this writing.

Overall, more than $90,000 dollars has already been raised toward a goal of $180,000 for the drive, but there’s obviously still a long ways to go. Please feel free to give in the name of your branch of choice (not-so-subliminal hint: Army) to a very good cause.

I’ve given. Will you?


‘An Army of One’ is out: Service Unveils New Slogan

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:09 pm

The controversial “an Army of one” campaign is now history.

The Army has two words for its new slogan — “Army strong.”

Army Secretary Francis Harvey unveiled the new slogan and television advertisements this morning at the opening ceremony of the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army. The announcement was punctuated by loud applause and cheers from the mostly Army audience.

“Army strong” replaces “an Army of one.”

Created by Leo Burnett Worldwide, “an Army of one” had been the Army’s recruiting slogan since 2001.

“Army strong” is intended to evoke soldiers’ physical and emotional strength, and the advertisement pushes strength of character and strength of purposes.

The Army plans to roll out the advertisements on November 9.

McCann Erickson of New York took over the Army’s advertising contract in March. Some of the company’s other clients include MasterCard, Black & Decker, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft.

The Army contract is estimated to be worth up to $1.35 billion for up to five years.

Sgt. Hook has the new video and is asking for comments. As one who nevered cared for the previous slogan and felt it ran counter to the teamwork nature of the Army, I think it’s a huge improvement. It emphasizes the right messages and the different kinds of strength possessed while coming across as both inspirational and powerful. I dig the music, too.

By the way, the Army Times article goes on to list all of the campaign slogans the Army has used since becoming an all-volunteer force, and they are as follows:

  • “Today’s Army wants to join you”: 1971-73.
  • “Join the people who’ve joined the Army”: 1973-1979.
  • “This is the Army”: 1979-1981.
  • “Be all you can be”: 1981-2001.
  • “An Army of one”: 2001-2006.
  • “Army strong”: Starts now

Looking at the field, it’s easy to see why “Be all you can be” enjoyed such a long run — the others are pretty weak. Now, though, that slogan may slip into second place.

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