Saturday, May 31, 2008

Prayer/Good Wishes/Letters Request

As some of you have already heard, IVAW member Tomas Young slipped into a coma recently when a blood clot went from his lungs to his brain. For those of you who are not aware, Tomas Young is a severely wounded servicemember and the focus of the documentary "Body of War".

I would hope that everyone reading this, whether for the war or against it, can send at the very least their prayers and good wishes for this veteran who was wounded in America's service while he undergoes further testing.

For those of you who wish to send something more tangible, letters can be sent to:

Tomas Young - patient
Saint Luke's Hospital
4401 Wornall
Kansas City, MO 64111

I would ask that if you disapprove of an IVAW member and want to send something nasty, please send all your nasty letters to me instead-I'll even give you the CMR if you like. Tomas is in a hospital and I would ask that please only the positive items be sent. I shouldn't have to ask this, but please be decent human beings, everyone.

Friday, May 30, 2008

IVAW Winter Soldier on the Hill-Jason Lemieux

Alright. This was going to be one long post profiling everyone who testified, but it kept being put off more and more, and I realized over a mouthful of alcoholic ice cream (yes, Bailey's mit eis is zehrgut) that it wasn't going to get done at all, if I didn't get cracking on it in a little bit different way than I've done before.

So, here's starting off with Jason Lemieux. Everybody's favorite marine, he's the kind of guy I would kill to have in my squad if he would only sign back up with the Army. He's smart, disciplined, and honorable. Unfortunately, a little too honorable for the unit he was deployed with. Three deployments, folks. And for those of you bloggers keeping track, he states his unit very clearly at the very beginning of his speech.

One thing that's hard about what Jason talks about is that a lot of it is stuff that isn't really either black or white.

Like, for example. The chain of command promising to "take care of" Marines caught in wrongdoing. There are two things both tied together there-one good, one bad. I don't know about Marines, but I know that Army NCOs, at least, want to take care of their soldiers. And sometimes minor rules get broken. They always do. Everyone in the Army has broken or ignored at least one minor rule at some point in their career. Often it's to take care of a troop.

Now extend it. Where does the line get drawn? At what point do you find the perfect balance between rules that must not be broken and soldiers or marines that must be cared for?

These are hard decisions they are being forced to make-but I think it is important to say these are decision they are forced into. Everyone in Iraq right now is forked, involved in a chess game where they must lose one of two crucial items. It is very hard to leave intact.

I will also agree with Jason that I find it hard to believe that his XO wouldn't completely understand that Marines are often quite happy to use a nuke instead of a flyswatter, if given the option. Army is much the same, in many ways. Few really consider the cost of the rounds. It's often a pleasure simply to shoot.

For all of you watching, I want you to consider Jason Lemieux's story of the XO, and put other words in it. How many times have you heard an XO or a CO say, "This can't go up to battalion like this." Or even, on smaller levels, a platoon sergeant say, "I can't send this to the first sergeant" when evidence materialized that someone in their unit had done something flagrantly wrong. Higher leadership covers up stuff all the time. Whether it's a first sergeant shifting the numbers of his PT failures so it doesn't show on the battalion powerpoint slides or an XO altering a report to show that more incoming rounds were fired than actually were, it's been going on for years, and I can't believe others aren't aware of this as well.

I'm also very glad that Lemieux pointed out that the focus on counterinsurgency is destroying the ability to perform conventional warfare. We do need to be aware of it, but we don't need to completely ignore everything else we've done for the last twenty years.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Winter Soldier On the Hill

The original blogpost was thoughtful and considered. It was a marvel of blogging style and wit. Unfortunately, Mozilla crashed, and it is lost to the ages.

Thus, you get this one.

I am burning through yet more of my leave days to attend and assist with Winter Soldier on the Hill. How is this possible, you ask? Well, before joining IVAW, I was a leave miser, and started out with enough that I would have had use-or-lose by FY09. IVAW is providing me with an excellent opportunity not to have a use-lose situation.

I am not testifying, but there are nine excellent IVAW members who are. The hearing will be on the 15th of May, 0930-1230, at the 2261 Rayburn House Office Building.

Testifying will be:

Jason Lemieux: One of my favorite conservative voices in IVAW, this three-tour marine will be testifying on loose rules of engagement, the killing of innocent civilians, and the hiding of those killings through falsified reports and cover-ups.

Scott Ewing: A man who's had enough tragedy in his life for ten lifetimes, this cav scout, will be testifying on the killing of innocent civilians, random detainments and house raids, destruction of civilian property, and misrepresentations of the war in the media.

Geoff Millard: Oh, come on! You all know Geoff. What you don't all know is that he's served nine years, two more than me, though he, like me, joined at 17. I joined one month short of my eighteenth birthday, and according to TSO, still have the bunnies and kittens in my eyes. Geoff Millard definitely does not have bunnies and kittens. He will be testifying about racism during his tour, including among high-ranking officials.

Kristofer Goldsmith: Kris Goldsmith served as a forward observer with the Third Infantry Division. He's also a mean man in a mosh pit, and a great guy to have at your back. He served in Sadr City and Baghdad, and was stop-lossed after getting back from Iraq. He will be testifying on low morale and the psychological consequences of the "troop surge", as the breakdown of Iraqi infrastructure.

Casey Porter will be video-testifying from Baghdad. He's an active duty soldier and fairly okay guy, even if he does love shoving cameras in my face. He's an integral part of my team, and the GI outreach video correspondent with the mostest. I don't know what he'll be testifying about, but I'm sure it will be good.

Vincent Emanuele was a Marine rifleman, and also a very good guy. He served in Al Qaim and Al Asad. He will be testifying on the killing of civilians and livestock, the use of drop weapons, racism, and the destruction of property.

James Gilligan served six years with the Marine Corps as an infantryman and Combat Engineer. He was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. I don't really know him too well, but I'm looking forward to hearing his testimony on the abuse of civilian detainees, looting, destruction of property, racism, equipment shortages, media misrepresentation, and "search and avoid" missions.

Adam Kokesh: Once again, everyone knows Adam. Blogging from Revolutionary Patriot, he will be testifying about the creation of internally displaced refugees during the siege of Fallujah, changing rules of engagement, taking war trophy photographs, and abuse of detainees.

Sergio Kochergin: Another member I don't know but look forward to hearing, Sergio will testify on loose rules of engagement, killing of civilians, dehumanization, and the use of drop weapons.

Luis Montalvan will also be testifying on fraud, waste, and abuse perpetrated by US contractors, negligence and dereliction of duty on the part of commanding officers, and misreporting on the "troop surge".