Friday, April 23, 2010

'Corroborate and "the truth will set you free"!'

Corroboration is a tool we all seek in determining validity. What follows shortly is a first-hand accounting of the cost of the failed policies of this administration and the last in Afghanistan. I want to give full credit to Herschel Smith at 'The Captain's Journal' for bringing this to light. The contacts he has fostered have led to this piece which I believe to be of particular significance and pivotal to the discussion.

For the past several months I have been making the case, in this Blog, for my fellow Warriors - especially for the actively employed but also the retired, that the current strategy in Afghanistan is doomed to failure. Doomed because the assessment of the enemy, the local government and civilian population has been skewed by wrong - if any, historical analysis. We are also back in the cycle of the socialist world view which precludes specific national interests and imperils our Warriors, a national asset, for the purposes of rebuilding a foreign nation. The lives of our Warriors have been trumped by the lives of a civilian population that has no understanding of the freedoms we now perilously take for granted. Because the concept of personal freedom is anathema to the Koranic principles the Afghans willingly apply to their lives, families and culture, they lack any motivation to fight for freedom or any change. Because they will not fight for it; they do not deserve it. 'They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.' Benjamin Franklin. In essence, we are wasting the lives of our precious national resource; our Sons and Daughters for the purposes of freedom for those who neither understand it, nor want it and who are not covered by the oaths sworn by our Warriors.

Our civilian 'servants' inside the DC beltway are equally culpable in this squandering of this most precious asset. What follows is the witness of an imbedded reporter and his experiences with our forces, on the ground, in Afghanistan, which corroborates everything I have been saying about the Commanders Intent, Vision, Strategy, Assessment of the Enemy, Human Terrain and ROE since I launched this Blog in October of last year. The negative feeling expressed by our Warriors in this piece is but one of the fruits of the failed vision of this and the past administrations in shifting focus in Afghanistan:

"From the comments section in An Open Letter to Milbloggers, journalist Ben Shaw gives us this very depressing perspective from Afghanistan.

As a journalist (and combat veteran) currently embedded with US forces in Afghanistan, I have found that roughly 95% of the troops on the ground in no way believe in their mission, have no confidence that their efforts will bring about lasting change to Afghan security, stability, governance, or a decreased influence of radicalism. In truth, they fight simply to stay alive and want nothing more than to go home. A recent quote:

“I joined to defend and fight for the United States, but now I feel like I’ve been tasked out to fight for Afghanistan. Yet the people don’t even care, and make no effort whatsoever to help us help them. They don’t WANT help.”

The nature of freedom is that those who are unwilling to fight for it personally will never realize it. As it stands, nothing is more important to Afghans than survival, even at the expense of all self-dignity, nationalism, tribalism, and whatever ideals may at one time surpassed the will to simply “get by.”

I have also discovered that if I publicize these findings (that literally 95% of troops don’t believe in their own mission), the Soldiers who I cite will be charged, potentially relieved of command, and I will be asked to disembed from these units.

As a recent example, I filmed approximately 75 minutes of combat footage, knowingly exposed myself to concentrated enemy fire, and learned two days ago that if I post this footage, the Soldiers on film will be charged and/or relieved for uniform violations, improper wear of personal protective equipment (ballistic glasses, fire-retardant gloves, etc), and that low-level commanders have already begun this process. In an attempt to preserve the careers of the Soldiers I am trying to advocate, I am unable to tell (or show) the US public what they’re experiencing and what they think of it. The military only wants good news to flow from embedded journalists – not facts.

The reality is this: the current tactical directive leaves US troops on the ground increasingly vulnerable, often unsupported by air assets or indirect fire, and as a consequence their personal mission is to keep each other alive and come home. Under this current “soft war” policy, the war cannot be won.

After all, Pashtun Islamic culture sees any sort of kindness and mercy as a weakness – and immediately exploit it. The Taliban, knowing the restrictive nature of the current ROE/Tactical directive, use it against US forces regularly.

US troops feel abandoned by their chains of command, bilked by military recruiters, and participants in a conflict that history will not treat kindly.

They will return to the US and to civilian life full of disappointment, bitterness at their commanders, and unwilling to serve again. And military commanders here are doing their very best to ensure that this never reaches the public. In their pursuit of mission accomplishment, they have altogether neglected their second purpose: troop welfare. The former, however, will never be realized without an equally dedicated concentration on the latter.

I invite comments and criticism at

Photos from my current embed can be found online at

My own website is

And then further:

As of today, my photos, videos, and writing have been so closely monitored by the command that I have elected to remove all imagery for fear of jeopardizing the troops on the ground. Commanders are using the images and footage to threaten Article 15s for Soldiers photographed out of uniform, and also threatening to relieve platoon sergeants and first sergeants for allowing such things to happen. Professionally, I have been bound and gagged – that is unless I’m willing to burn an entire troop (or squadron) of Soldiers in the process of telling the US public what’s happening – which would be counterproductive.

My next step will be to file a formal complaint with commanders who use media resources to incriminate their own subordinates. This command, I have determined, is far more concerned with looking pretty than accomplishing their mission. I also think that, somehow, the US public needs to know about it."

There will undoubtedly be those who will condemn this piece by the reporter as well as the troops and lower echelon officers for ‘failing’ to remain stoic in face of challenge. To those I say, strap on a 120 pound pack, 30 pounds of armor, grab an A4 or M4 and ship yourself to Marjah, Now Zad, Korengal, Khandahar, Farah or anywhere else where Marines and Soldiers have been told that their lives are meaningless and that the 'strategy' is now the goal instead of the method. Do this in 100 degree plus temperatures, in the midst of a people who don't want them there and their civilian leadership back home is more concerned about re-election than the lives of Warriors. Traverse IED littered streets, day in and day out, while being fired upon by rebel snipers whom you can't engage unless every dot and tittle of a directive bearing the most murderous ROE imaginable has been met. Do this for 7 months to a year straight, come home for a few months and then go back and do it again under even more stringent conditions and then - - - ONLY THEN; dare to tell me that my Son, his Brother Marines, the many thousands of Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen, all of whom are someone's Sons and Daughters are acting in a way that doesn't meet your delicate sensibilities and understanding of professionalism. Ben Shaw hit-it-right-on-the-head; THEY DID NOT SIGN TO DEFEND THE INDEFENSIBLE. They signed to defend the 'Constitution of the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic'; not to rebuild a country that has never known peace, has never sought peace, has never lived well with others, that bears an ideology of one of the most hateful religions known to the history of mankind and; oh yeah, doesn't want us or what we have.

What else can I say; LET THEM FIGHT OR BRING THEM HOME before you destroy, completely, the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

'Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' John 8:32

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard


  1. Well John, after reading this I can't understand why one hell of a lot more 'leaders' aren't fragged in their sleep. One thing is for damn sure. I would never let any of my children join the military nowadays without reading this, and a lot of other blogs first. Then I bet they wouldn't join; not even if desperate for college money.
    I hate obama. He is one ignorant, hateful, queer for muslims, dude. And I do believe that he hates our men in uniform.

  2. Also, maybe I could do the publishing for you....if I edit out faces and name-tags it might be do-able. You got my email.

  3. This is not our great troops fault, but no one is going to change Afganistan. Our ignorant leaders should of known that nation building was doomed to fail, on day one. It is time to bring them home, and end all Muslim immigration.

  4. Gregory;

    Just keep in mind that the O5 and lower community are only carrying out what they're handed from above. I don't give any room to the O6 and higher. They have a lot more political clout and should have a lot more room to exhibit moral indignation than they apparently want to. There is a gulf of difference between having to follow orders and being the one writing those orders. Just because the Commander in Chief issues an order, edict, Commanders Intent etc does not relinquish the moral requirement of those receiving those orders to speak up when they know something is wrong. O1-O5 largely are in an untenable situation; obey or stand to be charged and tried by Courts Martial. General Grade Officers and Colonels have a far easier road; resignation with the world of media in their slip-stream. They can literally change the course of history by courageously sacrificing their future service in uniform and serving something far greater; the truth.


  5. Christopher;

    I could-not-agree-more! We have the finest Warriors in the world. They swear an oath without reservation and without an agenda; just to serve. They do so trusting that those in leadership know what they are doing and are doing so for the better of this country. I know this because that was what I believed when I signed at the age of 17. I no longer trust anyone graced by the trust of the people to secure this nation without ample proof of their intent as defined by their actions. The troops and lower grade officers, on the other hand, I trust implicitly, I know their hearts and I know this countries politicians are squandering this great gift given us by those young men; their pure desire to serve and, their very lives .


  6. Recently, I posted an emotionally-driven comment on a small blog I found on the internet (, making several derogatory claims about military commands and commanders, US foreign policy in Afghanistan, and the merits of the conflict itself.

    Soon thereafter, these remarks appeared on this blog, without my permission, publicizing them widely. The more I look at my own writing, the more I logically examine every claim I made, the more I realize that my statements are altogether out of line and demand a retraction and apology. Below is that piece:

    Dear Sirs;

    Recently, in an attempt to advocate US servicemembers deployed in Afghanistan, I have committed a series of grave errors. Rather than maintaining any sort of journalistic integrity, I chose instead to write based on my own opinions and emotions, and wrongly presented that material as fact.

    When discussing a command and its supposed shortcomings, it behooves me to confirm every potential accusation, ensure that sources are properly-informed, and where possible interview the person(s) in question. In the case of this recent article, I did no such thing, taking vague conjecture and presenting it as factual. My behavior was both foolish and unprofessional.

    For my statement that lower commanders are making efforts to charge subordinates for uniform and PPE violations, I sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize. I have witnessed no such thing on any occasion, and regret my accusations, which were rooted entirely in personal anger and not fact. Additionally, there was only one Soldier whose PPE choices were in question.

    For suggesting that other commanders are attempting to level these charges against their subordinates, I again apologize. This was unprofessional devolution into hearsay at the total disregard of fact.

    For stating that truly 95% of troops do not believe in their mission, I also offer my apology. This claim was in no way based off of statistically-verifiable surveys and should have been presented as strictly my own opinion. Nor is this statement the result of observations or interviews conducted in the past four weeks of my embed in Afghanistan. It is based on roughly seven years as either a US serviceman, or a writer working on their behalf.

    For bringing undue scrutiny upon units that have exhibited nothing but the most professional conduct, highest integrity, and ferocity under fire, I retract my inaccurate, unverifiable accusations, apologize for the questions they have raised, and ask that commanders dismiss my writing as poorly-presented opinion statements which cannot be confirmed as factual. I take full responsibility for my writing, regret its negative effects, and humbly request that commanders be released from any proximal responsibility they are believed to have. My writing reflected a personal agenda; not facts, and I regret its publication in full. I have violated my own mission of military and veteran advocacy.

    Finally, I apologize to the numbers of Soldiers who brought me into their confidence, who trusted me and cared for me like a brother, only for me to underhandedly level wild accusations against them, their commands, and the United States' military's mission as a whole. I take full responsibility for my actions, and regret whatever loss of confidence I have caused Soldiers to experience in either their commanders or their subordinates.


    Ben Y. Shaw

  7. Hold on, is this site actually claiming that American lives are more worth others? So the rest of the world is populated by what? How ignorant of me to believe that all Human Beings were created equal...

  8. Ragnhild71;

    Actually I hope you aren't suggesting I should hold American Warriors lives in lower esteem than anyone else in the world because that is what is presently happening. If you are not an American, I do not expect you to hold American Warriors lives even equal to that of anyone else; the world has made that clear but as an American Warrior, an American citizen and one who has sworn the Oath, I can promise you that all life on the earth comes in second to our Warriors. I recognize that 'all men are created equal' and can show you many places in the Bible where God says as much; but he also says that they are equal to choose while here on earth. I find it curious that those who do not believe in the truth of the Bible are always ready to quote it. The Bible is clear that even the Devil and his Demons know the Bible (God's word) and they 'tremble', (James 2:19). Most of the people who use the Bible against our arguments use it in this perverse way. You use it, but don't believe it and refuse to accept the God who 'wrote it'. Then you are prepared to see our Warriors murdered by those whose lives you find 'equal' to our Warriors, using the Bible or Biblical commentary to make your case; curious.

    The standard you are demanding by your comment is one way; You want to spare the lives of those whose religion requires murder but are incensed that I would say that our Warriors lives are more valuable than those murderers and those who support them financially, in spirit, through cowardice, intrigue, treachery and; oh yes adherence to taqiyya.

    These have used their religion, the words of the 'Prophet', the Koran and the consensus of the Islamic Scholars, to propagate by killing those who don't agree, after offering them an opportunity to submit to Allah and the Prophet, of course. As Americans, we believe in live and let live. If others see it differently, they will find that the majority of us as Americans, won't comply. If you are asking me if we as Americans have an innate responsibility to die for other peoples of the world - both those who like us and those who would rather see us dead, the answer is no. If you are asking me, if given the option I would rather someone else die instead of our Warriors, the answer is decidedly, yes. I am not looking for any death; this was not a war of our choosing but is just one more battle in a war that is 1400 years long. Stop engaging in Jihad, stop teaching Allah prefers death for the infidel and stop sending your children to commit suicide/murder and this conversation will be over.

    If the killing is to stop, those who perpetrated the first blow will have to agree to stop as well as those who give them aid, comfort and who agree with them ideologically. Short of that, this war will continue for another 1400 years and yes, I then choose the lives of my fellow Warriors and Countrymen above all on the earth - equal or otherwise.