Target Centermass

10/3/2006

Sew Much Comfort

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:27 pm

Here’s a new-to-me charity that is dedicated to assisting some of those who have suffered and sacrificed in our military efforts.

American military personnel are serving our country in a variety of dangerous situations and locations. As a result of discharging their duties, a number of them are seriously wounded or injured. Modern medical technology is having great success saving the lives of these hero’s; however, medicine doesn’t address some of their basic needs, such as clothing that will accommodate medical devices and situations – braces, fixators, casts, prosthetics and burns. Many of the wounded troops are left with a hospital gown as their only clothing option.

[…] Our mission is to design, create and deliver customized clothing for these brave troops. Adaptive clothing accommodates their medical devices and situations, provides ease of use, personal independence and minimizes the visual impact of their medical condition. The goal is provide each soldier with an individually designed and tailored wardrobe of adaptive clothing, in order to provide them comfort and maintain their dignity, thereby facilitating the healing process.

Hat tip to Sgt. Hook, who dramatically demonstrates the need that the fine folk at Sew Much Comfort work to fulfill.

9/28/2006

Beijing Secretly Fires Lasers to Disable U.S. Satellites

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:51 am

If this is accurate, then it is a surprisingly huge provocative move by the Chinese.

China has secretly fired powerful laser weapons designed to disable American spy satellites by “blinding” their sensitive surveillance devices, it was reported yesterday.

The hitherto unreported attacks have been kept secret by the Bush administration for fear that it would damage attempts to co-opt China in diplomatic offensives against North Korea and Iran.

Sources told the military affairs publication Defense News that there had been a fierce internal battle within Washington over whether to make the attacks public. In the end, the Pentagon’s annual assessment of the growing Chinese military build-up barely mentioned the threat.

“After a contentious debate, the White House directed the Pentagon to limit its concern to one line,” Defense News said.

The document said that China could blind American satellites with a ground-based laser firing a beam of light to prevent spy photography as they pass over China.

According to senior American officials: “China not only has the capability, but has exercised it.” American satellites like the giant Keyhole craft have come under attack “several times” in recent years.

Although the Chinese tests do not aim to destroy American satellites, the laser attacks could make them useless over Chinese territory.

The American military has been so alarmed by the Chinese activity that it has begun test attacks against its own satellites to determine the severity of the threat.

Satellites are especially vulnerable to attack because they have predetermined orbits, allowing an enemy to know where they will appear.

“The Chinese are very strategically minded and are extremely active in this arena. They really believe all the stuff written in the 1980s about the high frontier,” said one senior former Pentagon official.

There has been increasing alarm in parts of the American military establishment over China’s growing military ambitions.

Military experts have already noted that Chinese military expenditure is increasingly designed to challenge American military pre-eminence by investing in weaponry that can attack key systems such as aircraft carriers and satellites.

At the same time, China is engaged in a large-scale espionage effort against American high-tech firms working on projects such as the multibillion-pound DD(X) destroyer programme.

While at times the Chinese may find itself on the same side of an issue as the U.S., that in no ways paints them as friends or even tepid allies. One could argue that this is just a response eventually to be expected by a historically secretive China, but Taiwan and any other nations currently enjoying a relatively stable Asia Pacific should be sweating, especially coupled with the recent Chinese effort to modernize their military. Taiwan’s security is based solely upon the ability to fend off any invasion; should China be able to establish a toehold on the island and defend its logistical lines, if only briefly, then Taiwan is lost. The ability of the U.S. to support Taiwan in such an engagement lies only in prevention — our naval and air forces can only defend the island and our current military can not evict the Chinese from a conquered Taiwan.

Key to all of this is either complete surprise by the Chinese or an established ability to withstand an initial American naval response. China is now working to blind our eyes in space and they have already confronted our intel gathering by air on their borders, and their ability to successfully confront the U.S. Navy on and below the high seas is increasing.

Yes, their intentions are not good. No, we are not keeping pace with or even really seeming to realize their rapidly growing challenge.

9/27/2006

Nato ‘Must Speed up Reaction’ to Taliban

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:31 pm

The British defense minister, deservedly peeved at the lack of timely support coming from the bulk of the non-English-speaking NATO members while his countrymen fight, criticized the alliance today for its inability to rapidly respond in the Afghan theater.

Nato takes too long to build forces for its missions and needs to be able to respond more rapidly to requests for troops, Des Browne, the UK’s defence minister, said on Wednesday.

Speaking the day before a meeting of defence ministers of the 26-member alliance in Slovenia that is set to discuss a military request for more Nato troops in Afghanistan, Mr Browne said Nato faced a short-term test in getting “boots on the ground or the equipment in to support them” in Afghanistan.

He said Nato was rising to the challenge in Afghanistan, where it has more than 20,000 troops in place, but has struggled to find extra forces to meet unexpectedly fierce resistance from the Taliban militia. But he said there were lessons to be learnt from the deployment and he would tell the other ministers that Nato needed to modernise the way it generated its forces.

“It needs to look at its structures and its bureaucracy so that it can generate force in a way that responds in real time to the needs. I think it’s becoming apparent in Afghanistan that the process of discussion is more complex than it needs to be,” he said in a telephone interview from Manchester where he was attending the Labour party’s annual conference.

UK officials said each country needed to look at its own operations but said too many Nato troops were still tied up in headquarters operations, for example.

Mr Browne said Nato’s operations in southern Afghanistan, both those led by the Canadians in Kandahar and the British in Helmand, had been successful, but work was needed in reconstruction to improve the way the country was governed and to build economic opportunities.

Mr Browne said Nato needed to build a more comprehensive approach to its missions, bringing civilian agencies more closely into its operations. Officials said this would require closer co-operation with other bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank.

Frankly, NATO needs a great many improvements that take precedence over any notion of closer cooperation with the UN. After all, we’re talking about an alliance that suffers delays while just creating a rapid reaction force.

9/21/2006

Citizen Soldier: a Slick Short

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:37 pm

I first mentioned the short film “Citizen-Soldier,” a two-minute public relations movie by the Army National Guard that recently ran in about 2,000 theaters, back in August. Until today, I had not had the good fortune to see any of it.

RTO Trainer at Signaleer has almost all of it available, and I must say I’m impressed. Go watch your citizen soldiers, their actions and their motivations. Hooah!

While your visiting, RTO Trainer has also collected several slides demonstrating the planned reorganization for the Guard. You know, if you care about that sort of thing or are just really into slides with colorful states all over them.

9/20/2006

Once More unto the Breach

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:05 pm

The Gun Line‘s Sergeant B is an old Marine, specifically a 41-year-old Marine who is now resurrecting his military career in the Washington State National Guard.

The physical is done (I passed), the paperwork for a few waivers has been submitted, and I shoud be vaulted into the saddle within the next two week… Done deal…

I’ve given this a great deal of thought, and determined that this is the best course of action I can take for all concerned… I’ve got 13 years worth of USMC Infantry experience under my belt, which means that I’m over halfway to racking up the time needed to qualify for a retirement pension from the government (the Guard, however, works on a point system, with means that I might be able to rack up points faster, or it might take a little longer, not sure)…

But that’s not what it’s about, is it?

Not for me, anyway. This is something I should have done five years ago… I’m just a little late gettting to the starting line. There were other things that demanded my time and effort… But now, I can’t think of anything more important than to throw my hat into the ring, and get back in the fight – a fight that didn’t really exist until AFTER I got out of the Corps.

Yep… It’s the right thing to do…

Why, then, in the middle of the night, do I stare at the ceiling, my mind full of questions?

The good sarge has obviously done a great deal of meditating on this monumental decision and is kind enough to share his contemplations with us. I must say that I’ve often wrestled with several of these same thoughts also, so Sergeant B’s post hits particularly close to home for me. [Hat tip to Argghhh!!!]

“… camped Near a good, old-time canteen”

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:01 pm

From Sgt. Hook, here’s a touching piece called “At the Canteen.” I don’t really know what to excerpt from it so I’ll just give you the beginning and let Hook take it from there.

Still dressed in his dusty desert combat uniform, the old soldier bellied up to the bar, resting his elbows on the well worn mahogany wood where countless other soldiers have quelched a thirst.

“What’ll it be sarn’t major?” the uniformed corporal asked with a distinct Scottish accent while wiping down the space in front of his newest customer, recognizing his rank, a star flanked by a wreath, sitting between three chevrons pointing to the heavens and three rockers adjoining from the bottom.

Command Sergeant Major Jesse T. Martin Jr. hadn’t had a cold beer, or a warm one for that matter, in roughly 14 months and said as much.

Corporal Jack Rodgers of her majesty’s famed 1st Battalion, The Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment, draped the white terrycloth towel over his left shoulder with a snap and asked, “I’ve pils or ale on draught?” looking directly into the old warrior’s tired grey-blue eyes.

“Make it a pilsner please corporal, thank you,” Martin replied.

“Pils it is then,” replied Rodgers as he turned to fill the order.

Jesse Martin hardly noticed the tall, frosted glass of golden beer set in front of him, drifting off as he listened to the juke box blaring the Mamas and the Papas melodically singing, Dedicated to the One I Love.

While I’m far away from you, my baby,
I know it’s hard for you, my baby,
Because it’s hard for me, my baby,
And the darkest hour is just before dawn—

Go read it all.

By the way, my post title is taken from “Fiddler’s Green,” an old poem embraced by American cavalrymen and carried on today by some tankers and scouts. I highly suspect Hook drew at least some degree of inpiration for his story from it.

8/24/2006

Recruiting, Back-door Drafts and “Our” Media

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:43 pm

During a period in which all active-duty components of the U.S. military have reached their recruiting goals for fourteen consecutive months, two of my favorite MilBloggers, Matt at Blackfive and John at Op-For, take issue with a some news stories that try to imply severe manpower issues.

Media Still Doesn’t Understand Recruiting…or Do They?

Yellow Journalism Makes a Comeback

Go read them both. I would like to chip in that I feel Matt’s second linked story about a gang member and murder suspect that tried to enlist to be beyond piss-poor journalism and, instead, leaves no doubt about negative intentions against the military by the journalist involved.

8/21/2006

New Blog: Supporting Troops

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:48 pm

And I mean brand-spanking first-month new.

Supporting Troops is already chock-full of pictures of soldiers receiving care packages and is the most recent endeavor of Brad Blauser. Who is Brad Blauser? Well, he’s a civilian on the ground in Iraq and is the driving force behind an amazing effort I’ve mentioned once before, Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids.

Go check out Mr. Blauser’s amazingly good deeds.

8/16/2006

Farewell Marine

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:07 pm

Here’s a rather touching video tribute.

Honor them.

8/4/2006

Double Amputee Marine Vet and Wife Mugged

Filed under: — Gunner @ 1:03 am

Simply disgusting.

Mark Beyers lost an arm and a leg to a roadside bomber in Iraq, but that didn’t stop a gang of thugs from mugging Beyers and his wife outside a Bethesda, Md., restaurant.

Beyers, 27, a Marine lance corporal from Elma finishing up rehabilitation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., had just left a restaurant on July 22 when the robbery happened.

“Five guys approached us,” his wife, Denise, said in a telephone interview from Washington. “They were asking for a cigarette, we gave them one, and headed toward our car.”

Beyers, fitted with a prosthetic leg and arm, was almost to the car with his wife when the men approached again.

“Two of them came up to me and said “Give me your purse, give me your purse,’ ” his wife said.

Denise Beyers, who was just discharged from the Marines herself last week, wasn’t about to give up without a fight.

“I was swearing at them, retaliating, and holding on to my purse,” she said. “They ended up getting it away from me; they threw me on the ground.”

Dave Beyers Sr., Mark’s father, said his son told him the group knocked him to the ground, and then punched or kicked his wife.

“They busted her lips up,” Dave Beyers said. “I guess she hit the ground so hard, it ripped her knees up. She’s got scabs all over.”

“She got beat up pretty good,” he said. “I talked to her the next day, and she was still shaking, you could tell.”

Mark Beyers escaped the ordeal without injury. The couple reported the robbery to the police, but no arrests have been made.

There was a reason Denise Beyers fought so hard to keep her purse. Her mother had just wired her $500, and this was the couple’s first night away from the hospital in three weeks.

“So I took him out to dinner, and then these guys stole the rest of our money from us,” she said. “It was traumatic, it really was.”

Thankfully, this is not the end of the story.

Dave Beyers said an already scheduled fundraiser for his son on Aug. 12 now has a little added reason for taking place.

The event, set to begin at 2 p.m. at the Akron VFW Post, is expected to draw about 1,000 people for a day of music and fund-raising auctions. At least 100 of Beyers’ fellow Marines are also expected from the Buffalo-based India Company, Third Battalion, 25th Regiment.

The crowd estimate will probably turn out to be on the low side. When Mark Beyers returned home for the first time last Oct. 30, people were lined up three and four deep along Main Street in Alden as his hometown turned out for a parade in his honor.

Beyers, one of three injured Iraqi veterans introduced at center ice in HSBC Arena for the May 26 Buffalo Sabres playoff game with the Carolina Hurricanes, expects to return home from the hospital for good this weekend.

I will post if I find any additional fundraiser info, though I feel it’s a safe bet that the $500, along with a great many other dinners, will already be covered for these two who have suffered after sacrificing for so many.

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