Archive for the ‘USMC’ Category

Congress Repeals ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

December 18, 2010

Congress Repeals 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

The Senate voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in the U.S. military. The policy forced 14,000 men and women to leave military service since 1993. 10,000 of these personnel were language specialists, so it’s no wonder that we have no idea what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“I don’t care who you love. If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you should be able to serve as you are. Today the Senate has the opportunity to be on the right side of history. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a wrong that should never have been perpetrated.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Both houses of Congress have passed the measure, and it will now go to the White House for the President’s signature.


Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Rolling Thunder 2009

May 23, 2009

Rolling Thunder 2009

Rolling Thunder is back. The annual motorcycle event, originally conceived to draw attention to the plight of Vietnam-era POWs and MIAs (“Operation Rolling Thunder” was the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam) but it has grown into a roaring tribute to all of America’s military veterans.

Contingents of cyclists come from across the country, and salutes roar past armed service monuments. The largest tribute starts at Noon Sunday at Arlington Cemetery, crosses the Potomac over the beautiful Memorial Bridge, circles the National Mall, and stops near the Vietnam Memorial, where many riders will dismount, then quietly look for the names of fallen comrades and loved ones on The Wall. Music and oratory will complete the afternoon.

Many Washingtonians bring cameras to the DC end of Memorial Bridge to shoot “The Ride for Freedom,” but many hesitate to photograph dismounted riders at the Vietnam Memorial — it feels emotionally wrong, an invasion of privacy. But do go to The Wall. Unlike the triumphal military monuments spread across the Capital City, it does not glorify war, but memorializes sacrifice in a profoundly human way.


For more on the meaning of the National Vietnam Memorial, read The Last Firebase, by Lydia Fish.

Image by Mike Licht.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

G.W. Bush — A Veteran’s Next Job?

November 11, 2008

G.W. Bush -- A Veteran's Next Job

In just a few weeks, George W. Bush will declare “Mission Accomplished” and leave Washington for Texas. What will he do after January 20th?

Daughter Jenna told Larry King her father wants to be Baseball Commissioner, but the President’s controversial  investment history with the Texas Rangers franchise makes that unlikely. And our best MLB players tend to be Latino immigrants, who might worry that a Commissioner Bush would surround team dugouts with a 20-foot-tall steel fence.

Mr. Bush loves to clear brush, so we have another job suggestion: caretaker of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, 11463 State Highway 195 at Chaparral Road, about six miles south of U.S. 190, in Killeen, TX. Mr. Bush has introduced thousands of young Americans to such facilities; this job would give him daily opportunities to admire his handiwork.


The Seamy Side of the “Surge”

September 19, 2008

The Seamy Side of the Surge

There is talk of the “success” of the “Surge” in Iraq, as if keeping more tired American boots on that dusty ground has magically reduced violence. The reality appears to be somewhat different.

Repeating a horrendous error made by the first U.S. occupation authority, gangs of local thugs have been assembled, armed, and paid to terrorize their Iraqi neighbors into tranquility. This has merely atomized the violence, breaking it up into smaller bits out of the sight of most Americans.

 ” . . . the strategy of the surge seems simple: to buy off every Iraqi in sight.”
Nir Rosen, Rolling Stone, March 6, 2008


The Human Voice of War

May 26, 2008

The Human Experience od War

Over the past three days, Americans have commemorated and reflected on the human cost of war, remembering those lost in combat on behalf of our country. The Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress allows you to hear the words of those who served, their lives changed forever by the experience of war. Collected and archived under the auspices of the American Folklife Center, you can listen to these voices right now, right here.

 The Human Voice of War

Graphics: Veterans History Project, Library of Congress.

Less Robust

May 2, 2008

Less Robust

President George W. Bush, responding to recent reports, denied that four thousand U.S. troops had perished in Iraq. They are just “not as robust as we would like it,” he said.

He also spoke about the economy

Counter courtesy of

Government Jobs — Without High School!

January 25, 2008

Government Jobs — Without High School!

High school dropout? One of the 7.7 million Americans without a job? Work for the Federal Government!

That’s right! For some reason, the US Military is having difficulty filling jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their problem is your opportunity!

No diploma? No problem. 30 percent of new hires don’t have them, either! Read about it here; details here.

Image by Mike Licht. Close cover before striking. Keep out of reach of children. Do not light filter.

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Unasked, They Told . . . and Still Serve

January 9, 2008

Unasked, They Told . . .  and Still Serve.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has become “wink-wink” as more openly-gay and lesbian people are serving in the military, according to the Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today.


Iraqi Police Failure: APB for CPA

September 7, 2007

The Policeman is your friend, insha'Allah . . . .

The independent commission led by retired Marine Corps General James Jones will recommend the disbanding of the Iraqi National Police, the branch directly under Iraq’s Ministry of the Interior. It is too riddled with Militia members to be effective. How could the Militias infiltrate the Iraqi National Police? CPA Order 91, June 2004. 

The young Americans running the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) developed a “transition and reintegration strategy for disbanding or controlling Militias,” issued as CPA Order 91 in June 2004. The strategy:  recruit Militia members into Iraqi security forces, retire some Militia members with veterans’ benefits, and reintegrate others “through education, training, and job placement . . . . “ 

The CPA estimated that 60,000 Militia members would “transition” into Iraqi security services—the Iraqi Armed Forces, Iraqi Police Service, or the Kurdistan Internal Security Forces — by October 2005 (Page 66 GAO-04-902R Rebuilding Iraq). Nice work, folks.

Cheney’s Quagmire and the USMC

August 21, 2007

Mr. Cheney: Quagmire or not?

 In 1994, ex-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney spoke with C-SPAN’s Bruce Collins about why U.S. forces did not go on to Baghdad during the first Persian Gulf War: “How many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? It’s a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.”

Innocently retrieved from the C-Span archives last month, this snip of video has Desert-Stormed the Web, with over a million views on YouTube and counting. Mary Ann Akers gives the best account of this video resurrection, but there is more to this episode than the current Vice President’s embarrassment by his past video posturing.

It may not be the C-Span archives, but I was poking around a favorite information source, the free book bin outside Capitol Hill Books  (the used book store across from Eastern Market) and found a volume of readings from the 1993 U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College for the course Operations Other Than War (OOTW). It is an amazing compendium, and includes a message from Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin L. Powell, excerpts from the Small Wars Manual, and articles by Michael Schoelwer (“The Failure of the U.S. Intelligence Community in Low-Intensity Conflict: The Pattern of Warfare in the Modern World”), Colin Gray (“Combatting Terrorism”), Camille Rougeron (“The Historical Dimension of Guerilla Warfare”), and Dennis M. Drew (“Insurgency and Counterinsurgency: American Military Dilemmas and Doctrinal Proposals”). There are also documents and articles on Peacekeeping Operations.

The volume brings home the absolute appropriateness of the first Gulf War decision from a purely military perspective, without even examining legal and diplomatic considerations. I cannot imagine the agony of Marine officers who took this course and then had to execute George W. Bush’s instructions and order those under their command into combat in Iraq. Those officers certainly knew those Marines were headed straight into Chaney’s bloody “quagmire.”

In an interview on February 23, 2007, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Chaney: “Back in 1991, you talked about how military action in Iraq would be the classic definition of a quagmire. Have you been disturbed to see how right you were?”

Chaney responded: “Well, I stand by what I said in ’91. But look what’s happened since then — we had 9/11. . . . You wish there was never a casualty, Jonathan. Always regret when you have casualties, but we are at war.”