Target Centermass


Quote of the Week, 13 DEC 06

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:57 pm

People know what they should do and they have the courage and confidence in each other to do it. … They will do anything even though they feel that life and society have dumped all over them; they can still drive on and fight like demons, march like Jackson, and soldier like the very dickens when they have to … it fills me with inspiration. They are truly the great people of this war … the forgotten civilians who will probably never receive their due for their valor on the fields of battle.

—Major Alexander Hottell, 1969 journal entry during the Vietnam War


Remember Pearl Harbor!

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:57 am
Destroyer USS Shaw explodes, 7 DEC 1941

December 7, 1941, a date which will always live in infamy for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Last year on this date, I wrote the following:

As a small child, I constructed a model of the USS Arizona. I was young and knew of its history only from books. Since then, I have learned life’s lessons of death. Come May 2006, I will be paying my tribute at the USS Arizona Memorial.

My new bride and I did indeed visit the memorial on our honeymoon. Below are our pictures of that solemn, stirring place of honor and remembrance.

The memorial sits astride the sunken hull of the famed vessel and is only accessible by boat from the site’s visitor center. Here is a picture taken while approaching the memorial (as with all of the photos, click for a larger version):



Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:59 pm

Here’s hoping you have as many blessings to be thankful for this year as I do.


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.

Quote of the Week, 20 NOV 06

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:33 pm

In no other profession are the penalties for employing untrained personnel so appalling and so irrevocable as in the military.

—General Douglas MacArthur


Remembering November 18, 1999

Filed under: — Gunner @ 2:42 am

2:42 AM



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.

The Will to Win

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:22 am

Have we, as a nation, lost it? More importantly, have our civilian and military leaders lost it, and have Americans forgotten the need to continue the fight, not only because of our enemies today but our potential enemies tomorrow?

Yes, it’s a link dump questioning our will to fight and win, presented in three parts. Here’s hoping y’all read each of them in their entirety.

Ralph Peters: Politically Correct War [emphasis in original]

Have we lost the will to win wars? Not just in Iraq, but anywhere? Do we really believe that being nice is more important than victory?

It’s hard enough to bear the timidity of our civilian leaders – anxious to start wars but without the guts to finish them – but now military leaders have fallen prey to political correctness. Unwilling to accept that war is, by its nature, a savage act and that defeat is immoral, influential officers are arguing for a kinder, gentler approach to our enemies.

They’re going to lead us into failure, sacrificing our soldiers and Marines for nothing: Political correctness kills.

Obsessed with low-level “tactical” morality – war’s inevitable mistakes – the officers in question have lost sight of the strategic morality of winning. Our Army and Marine Corps are about to suffer the imposition of a new counterinsurgency doctrine designed for fairy-tale conflicts and utterly inappropriate for the religion-fueled, ethnicity-driven hyper-violence of our time.

We’re back to struggling to win hearts and minds that can’t be won.

The good news is that the Army and Marine Corps worked together on the new counterinsurgency doctrine laid out in Field Manual 3-24 (the Army version). The bad news is that the doctrine writers and their superiors came up with fatally wrong prescriptions for combating today’s insurgencies.

Astonishingly, the doctrine ignores faith-inspired terrorism and skirts ethnic issues in favor of analyzing yesteryear’s political insurgencies. It would be a terri- fic manual if we returned to Vietnam circa 1963, but its recommendations are profoundly misguided when it comes to fighting terrorists intoxicated with religious visions and the smell of blood.

Why did the officers in question avoid the decisive question of religion? Because the answers would have been ugly.


The politically correct atmosphere in Washington deems any discussion of religion as a strategic factor indelicate: Let our troops die, just don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

So the doctrine writers faked it, treating all insurgencies as political. As a result, they prescribed an excellent head-cold treatment – for a cancer patient. The text is a mush of pop-zen mantras such as “Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction,” “The best weapons do not shoot,” or “The more force used, the less effective it is.”

That’s just nutty.

Douglas Hanson: The Generals’ Fantasy Wars

When consummate Rumsfeld critic Ralph Peters finally comes to the conclusion that maybe the senior level military commanders running the war just might have had something to do with the mess in Iraq, you know an earth-shattering revelation has just occurred. Unfortunately, Peters’ public unburdening has come two years too late to save one of the most effective defense secretaries in history.


One of the major criticisms of the SecDef was his unyielding desire to modernize the military over all else. It may be a shock to some people, but the Army’s deep thinkers have been playing around with alternative warfighting concepts and associated hardware long before Rumsfeld assumed office. Slamming Rummy over his near-religious devotion to all things transformational is the height of hypocrisy.

This whole transformation initiative actually came about in the 1990s, in an effort to cope with drastically reduced end-strength and defense budgets. Digitization, light forces, and post-modern theories on battle were rationalized as the wave of the future. Operations in Bosnia and Kosovo and the air war against Serbia only reinforced false notions of painless conflicts.

Criteria for success consisted of demonstrating proficiency at proving the “no-cost” theory of battle instead of doing what it takes to win wars. Academic credentials replaced tours with troop units, and frankly, a few leaders had no objective grasp of reality about the nature of war, especially if we ever ran into hard-core fanatics who were not interested in sitting at the bargaining table.

Years later, after one of the most successful offensives in military history, our huge advantage in Iraq was frittered away by quickly returning to the 1990s comfort zone. Presence patrols were reported euphemistically as “offensive operations,” humanitarian aid supplies had priority for shipment over spare parts for combat systems, and bartering with the enemy became standard operating procedure.


In Iraq, the response to increasing attacks on both Iraqi security services and US forces was to officially deny the presence of die-hards of Saddam’s Army, while pinning the blame on some mysterious “insurgency” run by Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The problem is, once he was killed, the finest troops in the world went back to their base camps and allowed the cadre of the Special Republican Guard and the Iraqi Intelligence Service to continue their campaign of terror and attrition. They weren’t quitting no matter how many schools or hospitals we built.

The military theorists and think tanks need to gaze into their navels some more. If I understand them correctly, they are convinced President Bush’s remarkable and forward thinking democratization strategy in the region has failed because they didn’t hunt down and kill the enemy with purpose and passion. And that respnsibility falls on … Rumsfeld? Cheney? The President? Maybe they all need to go back to school, or better yet, just go home.


The supreme irony of the campaign against Rummy and the President is that by all indications, both listened intently to their generals in the field and gave them free reign to pursue their post-modern warfighting theories into oblivion.

Hat tip to the Discerning Texan.

Mark Steyn: U.S. must prove it’s a staying power

On the radio a couple of weeks ago, Hugh Hewitt suggested to me the terrorists might try to pull a Spain on the U.S. elections. You’ll recall (though evidently many Americans don’t) that in 2004 hundreds of commuters were slaughtered in multiple train bombings in Madrid. The Spaniards responded with a huge street demonstration of supposed solidarity with the dead, all teary passivity and signs saying “Basta!” — “Enough!” By which they meant not “enough!” of these murderers but “enough!” of the government of Prime Minister Aznar, and of Bush and Blair, and troops in Iraq. A couple of days later, they voted in a socialist government, which immediately withdrew Spanish forces from the Middle East. A profitable couple of hours’ work for the jihad.

I said to Hugh I didn’t think that would happen this time round. The enemy aren’t a bunch of simpleton Pushtun yakherds, but relatively sophisticated at least in their understanding of us. We’re all infidels, but not all infidels crack the same way. If they’d done a Spain — blown up a bunch of subway cars in New York or vaporized the Empire State Building — they’d have re-awoken the primal anger of September 2001. With another mound of corpses piled sky-high, the electorate would have stampeded into the Republican column and demanded the U.S. fly somewhere and bomb someone.

The jihad crowd know that. So instead they employed a craftier strategy. Their view of America is roughly that of the British historian Niall Ferguson — that the Great Satan is the first superpower with ADHD. They reasoned that if you could subject Americans to the drip-drip-drip of remorseless water torture in the deserts of Mesopotamia — a couple of deaths here, a market bombing there, cars burning, smoke over the city on the evening news, day after day after day, and ratcheted up a notch or two for the weeks before the election — you could grind down enough of the electorate and persuade them to vote like Spaniards, without even realizing it. And it worked. You can rationalize what happened on Tuesday in the context of previous sixth-year elections — 1986, 1958, 1938, yada yada — but that’s not how it was seen around the world, either in the chancelleries of Europe, where they’re dancing conga lines, or in the caves of the Hindu Kush, where they would also be dancing conga lines if Mullah Omar hadn’t made it a beheading offense. And, as if to confirm that Tuesday wasn’t merely 1986 or 1938, the president responded to the results by firing the Cabinet officer most closely identified with the prosecution of the war and replacing him with a man associated with James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and the other “stability” fetishists of the unreal realpolitik crowd.


What does it mean when the world’s hyperpower, responsible for 40 percent of the planet’s military spending, decides that it cannot withstand a guerrilla war with historically low casualties against a ragbag of local insurgents and imported terrorists? You can call it “redeployment” or “exit strategy” or “peace with honor” but, by the time it’s announced on al-Jazeera, you can pretty much bet that whatever official euphemism was agreed on back in Washington will have been lost in translation. Likewise, when it’s announced on “Good Morning Pyongyang” and the Khartoum Network and, come to that, the BBC.

For the rest of the world, the Iraq war isn’t about Iraq; it’s about America, and American will. I’m told that deep in the bowels of the Pentagon there are strategists wargaming for the big showdown with China circa 2030/2040. Well, it’s steady work, I guess. But, as things stand, by the time China’s powerful enough to challenge the United States it won’t need to. Meanwhile, the guys who are challenging us right now — in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere — are regarded by the American electorate like a reality show we’re bored with. Sorry, we don’t want to stick around to see if we win; we’d rather vote ourselves off the island.

As it is, we’re in a very dark place right now. It has been a long time since America unambiguously won a war, and to choose to lose Iraq would be an act of such parochial self-indulgence that the American moment would not endure, and would not deserve to. Europe is becoming semi-Muslim, Third World basket-case states are going nuclear, and, for all that 40 percent of planetary military spending, America can’t muster the will to take on pipsqueak enemies. We think we can just call off the game early, and go back home and watch TV.

It doesn’t work like that.

Hat tip to the Belmont Club.


James Baker and the Desert Storm Legacy

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:39 pm

Austin Bay takes a look at the foundation of mistrust of American determination among the populace and points the finger toward a different point in time than al Queda’s examples of America’s previous bail-outs — Iraq in 1991 rather than Beirut, Somalia and Viet Nam [hat tip to Dean].

Iraqis haven’t forgotten the aftermath of Desert Storm. With Saddam’s troops forced to retreat from Kuwait, Shia Arabs throughout southern Iraq rose up against Saddam’s tyranny. Kurds in the north also rebelled. Many Sunnis in Baghdad anticipated the end of Saddam’s “Tikiriti” despotism. Numerous Iraqis tell me post-Desert Storm they anticipated liberation. Instead, they got a dose of so-called Realpolitik — mass murder and a return to dictatorship.

In 1991, Saddam did not fall. His Republican Guards attacked the Shia towns and massacred their inhabitants. At least 50,000 Iraqis were murdered by Saddam’s defeated army.

In the piece, Mr. Bay pauses to look at a little of his own prescience before spilling out our goals and those who oppose us [emphasis added].

In an essay I wrote for the Dec. 9, 2002, issue of The Weekly Standard, I outlined the rough path to that “end state” in Iraq:

“Pity Gen. Tommy Franks or, for that matter, any American military commander tasked with overseeing a post-Saddam Baghdad. For in that amorphous, dicey phase the Pentagon calls ‘war termination’ … U.S. and allied forces liberating Iraq will attempt — more or less simultaneously — to end combat operations, cork public passions, disarm Iraqi battalions, bury the dead, generate electricity, pump potable water, bring law out of embittering lawlessness, empty jails of political prisoners, pack jails with criminals, turn armed partisans into peaceful citizens, re-arm local cops who were once enemy infantry, shoot terrorists, thwart chiselers, carpetbaggers and black-marketeers, fix sewers, feed refugees, patch potholes and get trash trucks rolling, and accomplish all this under the lidless gaze of Peter Jennings and Al-Jazeera.”

In summer 2003, Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority weren’t prepared to handle the situation that marathon sentence describes. However, by mid-2004 the U.S. military had hammered out a sound security and recovery plan. The campaign plan met guidelines promulgated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546. This resolution is no top-secret document — it’s on the U.N. website.

“Phased withdrawal” of coalition forces has always been the goal. The issue is a realistic “when.”

The Iraqi government confronts extraordinary challenges. Are there rotten Iraqi military units? Yes — but there are also some very good ones. Do Iran and Syria support terrorists and militias? Yes. The dictators want the world to conclude that democracy is culturally and politically alien to the Middle East. They want the world to conclude, like British and French imperialists did in 1919, that Arabs can’t handle democracy.

Of course Iran and Syria do not want us to believe that their region can adapt to and embrace democratic means, as a successful Iraqi democracy could greatly weaken the despotic rulers of these two neighboring states. It should be noted that this goes doubly so for Iran, whose younger population is oft reported to be quite restless under the thumbs of their radical mullah rulers.

This has always been the gamble of the Iraqi campaign — can we offer an inviting alternative and change the nature of the society of the region, a nature that has proved a fertile breeding ground for radical expansionist Islamic barbarians? Should the endeavour fail, there really remain only two alternatives: either continue the fight, only subsequent campaigns must be carried out with extreme Second World War-esque harshness, or retreat, pull in the horns and await the enemy again in our own lands.

Yes, it was a gamble from day one and it may still succeed. Do we have the will? I don’t know, but I had hoped for a stronger spine than I’ve seen to date from the West. Can the Iraqis embrace democracy? Given ample time and support, I’d say yes. It’s not a certainty, but I have some justification in believing so.

Mr. Bay then tries to put his prescience to yet another test by anticipating the upcoming recommendations of the currently-mulling Iraq Study Group.

Enter the James Baker and Lee Hamilton-led Iraq Study Group (ISG). It’s my bet that it will produce nothing original in terms of strategic and operational thinking. It may well produce a set of policy recommendations palatable to Democrats and Republicans — in other words, consensus political cover that allows the sober and wise to continue to support Iraq’s war for freedom and modernity.

Here’s hoping that a palatable course of continued effort will prevail, despite the growing calls of scheduled withdrawal from several among the soon-to-be-in-control congressional democrats.

Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:48 pm

Tired of being beaten over the head with accounts of counts and stories of American military and Iraqi civilian deaths, blogger Chuck Simmins of America’s North Shore Journal has decided to do a little counting of his own.

In recent months, American losses in Iraq and the toll taken on civilians have been in the news. No one seems to be keeping track of the deaths of our enemies. So, I will.

I have created a page called Terrorist Death Watch on which I will be tracking the losses taken by our terrorist enemies. I began the count as of November 1, 2006, to pick a date.


Is this especially bloodthirsty? I don’t think so since so many of the old media have chosen to run as an on-going feature a listing of our losses in the War on Terror. One of the reasons that so many Americans see the War in negative terms is that the media is only presenting one side of the story.

I agree that the Terrorist Death Watch is not bloodthirsty; indeed, it is merely a collection of data from press releases that the press has decided the public doesn’t need to dwell on or even see, as is more often the case. I would say it is certainly less ghoulish than the media’s constant focus on our own sacrifices while ignoring practically anything being accomplished.

Hat tip to Argghhh!!!

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