Thursday, December 22, 2011

Can the United States Continue to Suffer the Willful Ignorance of her Government and Survive?

Herschel Smith and I have had some lengthy conversations about this current war, the disposition of the enemy, their relationship with the civilian populations amongst whom they operate and the substance of the religion they all claim to adhere to. Fundamentally, we agree. We have had some minor disagreements about strategy selections from time to time but agree that an unintended consequence of 'giving the nod' to the "innocent population" in the AO (Area of Operation) is more dead American servicemen. For me; that is intolerable! As far as I am concerned, the number one responsibility of an American administration, American elected "servants", Sec Def, the Pentagon and the entirety of upper echelon military circles is to declare the security of the United States, it's citizenry and it's Warrior community as primary before choosing which strategy to employ and govern our use of force in the AO.

To that end, it has been my contention that this administration, the past administration and the entire upper end structure of the military machine, has failed miserably. Not only have they chosen the wrong strategy to achieve a definable victory for their nation, they chose one that has been disproportionately brutal for our forces while providing cover for the enemy and the population that has proven, over and over again to be untrustworthy.

History has defined and will continue to define only a miniscule number of opportunities for a theater-wide application of the precepts of Counter Insurgency doctrine to have been efficacious. Even a casual glance at the human terrain in either Iraq or Afghanistan with Syria and Iran to possibly follow, should have given the critical thinker everything they needed to adequately keep COIN under lock and key in the vault of terrible ideas.

But rather than heed history, a bevy of analysts or common sense, and like undisciplined children discovering a new toy, the Generals and their civilian counterparts pounced on COIN and hitched their violated consciences, their personal legacies and the lives of hundreds of thousands of trusting, American Warriors to it.

The fruit of their arrogance is measured in the thousands of American Servicemen who have been sacrificed at the altar of pride and the tens of thousands more who have suffered life altering wounds.

Some legacy!

In the latest piece from the Captain's Journal, Glen Tschirgi does a masterful job in recounting the disastrous failures in judgment, political courage and decision making which have left both operations in this larger war on the edge of failure. In fact to bolster his points, I would say that arrogance bolstered by blind pride are the only things that could allow anyone to describe either theater of operation as anything but unmitigated failures. In addition, we have so bought into our own deception that we have chosen to propagate the fruit of those failures in Egypt, Libya and I fear soon, in Syria and Iran.

Glenn makes an observation about the religion of Islam however that I do not agree with and that is in the parsing of factions within the Muslim community. First of all, if someone can point me toward the ongoing, public record of support for America in either of these operations or the public record of Muslim denunciation of the actions of the "terrorist" or "radicalized" Muslim or Jihad as a war doctrine, Taqiyya as a deceptive practice with the intent of keeping the enemy off balance, please show me?

The clear evidence only suggests groups as defined by those who willingly strap on bombs and those who do not. Unfortunately, we know that from within the second group comes the financial and spiritual support for the first.

Suggesting you can parse these two and do harm to one while garnering support for said harm from the "moderates" simply misses the truth about religion - all religion!

Case in point; There has been a healthy division between the Catholic Church and the so-called Reformed Church movement since the 16th century. There are understandings of certain doctrines in the New Testament which both adhere to that are, in some cases, radically different. Bridging these differences with the hope of bringing these two groups of worshippers together has proven to be an insurmountable task with both sides declaring the other is filled with the lost. However; if you bring in a piece of legislation that appears to attack Christianity or core understandings of the beginning of life or freedom of religion issues, these two seemingly polar opposite, doctrinally divided groups, come together as Brothers.

The point is; regardless of our interpretations of specific doctrines, we are never-the-less bonded as Brothers in unity as followers of Jesus Christ. I will say that the likelihood of a successful destruction of that bond is incalculably small.

Seeing Islam and it's many fractured parts in a different light is naïve. Islam is similar to Christianity and every other great religion of the world on one point and that is, it has as it's focus, a deity. To deny the religion or to deny another Muslim is, effectively, to deny the deity that binds you.

In the piece he states; "A muslim who does not subscribe to the Wahhabist version and rejects militant Islam should be no more offended when we target the Islamists than a 1940's German would be offended by our targeting of Nazis." And this for me is where separating religious ideology and secular ideology is important. Even though the zeal with which some Germans supported Hitler and the Nazi Party may have bordered on worship, the fact is, Nobody thought Hitler was "god". Those supporters simply acted on a perverted understanding of nationalism.

Islam, while carrying within it's structure the seeds of jurisprudence which is defined as Sharia and also containing verses which effectively call it's adherents to arms, is still fundamentally, teaching and admonition from their "god", Allah. Thinking you can cause a Muslim to abandonhis fellow worshipper (and then effectively placing enmity between himself and Allah), for the sake of the vision of a non-submitted, infidel force of foreigners is simply misunderstanding the dynamics of religion; the difference between the spiritual and the secular.

While we can certainly visually define the actions of some as more violent than others, we cannot see into the heart of man. What history has told us is consistent with Gen 6:5; " The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." This was not a statement about a group or faction, the saved and the unsaved, Jews or non Jews. This was an indictment about the condition of the heart of mankind.

We watch the wanton destruction of human life by the forces of Islam and the associated silence from the "moderates" every day. Is it the contention of those who submit to the "two Islams" vision that we should continue to assume the best of a people whose religion is belligerent to non-believers? Are they suggesting we continue to place our Sons & Daughters at undo risk to preserve the lives of those who fundamentally support the destruction of those same Sons and Daughters? Personally, I will never submit to anything that requires our forces be sacrificed for a presumption steeped in willful ignorance of a self-defined enemy!

This country is at a crossroad. Americans are now facing the prospect of a future replete with civilian and military leadership that is hostile to the idea of sole security for our uniquely American documents, ideals, citizenry and security. Is this what Americans want for their Sons and Daughters because this current vision of the world places the United States citizens en par with those who would declare us an enemy and then institutes policies that intentionally endanger American lives with the stated purpose of preserving the lives of those who, endanger American lives!

It is time, we stop playing with the common definitions of ideologies. We must accept Islam at what it declares itself to be, a religion and not just another doctrine of governance. Seeing it as something else forces actions that will always fall short when trying to defend against it's most egregious doctrines; doctrines which were delivered to Mohammed by an entity he believed was a "god" who called himself Allah.

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Monday, December 19, 2011

US - Taliban Talks Said to be at Critical Point…Really?!

Today, Stratfor reported that secret talks between US officials and the Taliban, which have purportedly been underway for sometime have now reached a critical juncture. According to the story, tentative agreements about the disposition of EPW Taliban at the Guantanamo Bay facility are being ironed out. If this passes muster with the Taliban, the US would release an untold number of known Taliban operatives back to the Afghan government and then, presumably, back to Afghan society. The report also stated the US official would expect some kind of token act from the Taliban in kind; to show "good faith".

There are so many facets of this story that are wrong-headed that it is difficult to know where to begin. First of all, these alleged talks have proceeded for a significant period of time without direct participation by Kabul or Karzai. Apparently, US officials have felt "progress reports" to Kabul would suffice. While I am no fan of Hamid Karzai or his administration, it strikes me as presumptuous that any agreement between US officials and the so-called insurgency, the Taliban would be acceptable on it's face to the "legitimate" government in Kabul. If these talks have any chance of acceptance by the parties who will have to live with them, it is hard to imagine that happening without both parties sitting directly across the table from one another.

Another problematic point is that we have not only participated in talks with a unrepentant belligerent like the Taliban, but have offered to return hardened militants back to them and then, in all likelihood, back to the same battle space where our forces are still operating. This goes far beyond naiveté or even simple incompetence; this is laying the groundwork for future murderous acts which will certainly be perpetrated against our sovereign American forces.

Where do we find people like this? That an American would even consider returning known murderers back to the killing field from whence they were taken and upon which fellow Americans are still operating defies logic, common sense and compassion! It is certainly a criminal act in a parallel universe where they still understand the difference between right and wrong!

It will be interesting to find out what token action the Taliban will present as their sign of good faith. Is there truly anything they could offer to offset such an inexplicably generous offer by the US representative (unnamed)? Can anyone give a reason why the Taliban should take this seriously considering they are looking at the final months of US operations in Afghanistan? One thing that is absolutely certain at this point is there is probably no amount of evil the Taliban can perpetrate from now until 2014 that will cause any kind of shift from this administration's current plan to draw down - and the Taliban know it!

We have unilaterally chosen to not hold them responsible by virtue of our self-administered restraints in the hopes of motivating an unresponsive civilian population to be cooperative, if not proactive in their "liberation" from the blood-lusting Taliban "insurgency". Now we are holding talks with them, in an attempt to cause them to want to normalize relations with a sitting government placed there by us. Let's not forget, we are the ones who forcibly removed them from the seat of governance in Kabul ten years ago - an act of mercy for the average Afghan, if you truly buy into the narrative and an act of retribution for their participation in the planning phases of the attacks on US soil on 9/11. Now, somehow, the enemy that was unseated but not held accountable, that is still actively engaged in combat with us, is supposed to feel motivated to cooperate.


The better plan would have been to consider US interests and US interests alone. If the Taliban truly aided Al Qaeda in the planning, equipping and carrying out of the slaughter perpetrated on 9/11, then destroying them to a man would certainly have been a reasonable response. However, mounting an incursion into sovereign Afghan space to experiment with a historically failed strategy like COIN, the precepts of which define elements on the ground - which do not exist in Afghanistan, not only amounts to sloppy planning and a brutal failure to understand the human terrain, it was also a negligent waste of American lives and treasure.

If anyone still believes that any kind of positive gain can be measured from our ten year venture in this latest nation building fantasy, then stand by because it looks like we are preparing for more exciting adventures in the reshaping of the human psyche in yet other Islamic lands!

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Analyzing Egypt's "Wondrous" Transformation!

Does anyone still remember when the proponents of the "Arab Spring" erupted with glee over the prospect of a 'blossoming democracy' in the midst of tyranny in Egypt? How about the thunderous applause and shrieks of adulation when the 'rebels' in Libya so bravely took on the hordes of Khadafy's hell hounds?

Does anyone remember the support from the West for the Muslim Brotherhood and their even-handed and reasonable concern for the poor and abused masses in both of those countries? Do you remember the Muslim Brotherhood's declaration that they were not interested in political power but only for the breaking of the chains of tyranny in Egypt?

Is anyone still alive that can recall Egypt's population being defined as "secular" rather than ideological? Can you recall the elitist academics declaring that Christians and Jews had nothing to fear from the hope of a burgeoning democracy in Egypt? If you can't, then maybe you can remember that many of us warned that what would emerge from the ashes of a crushed Mubarak Regime would be nothing short of a foreign policy nightmare for the United States, U.S. citizens and the West in general. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist candidates won 42 of the 52 individual seats contested in runoffs for the first stage of Egypt’s multiphase parliamentary elections.

Are you feeling good about the seers and academics who promised you Roses and Doves in Egypt now?

Many of us had commented that their (Egyptians) first act as free men would be to cast a vote that would drive them right back into slavery but this time to a Sharia centric theocracy. This democracy, such as it is, is proving to be everything we do not want and that the nation of Israel doesn't need on it's border. What is proving to be true is that the general population in Egypt is far from Secular and is in fact as ideologically motivated as any of the worst of the Islamic populations in the region.

You think not? Then you will have to explain why the people of Egypt used their one vote to elevate the ideologically driven Muslim Brotherhood to power rather than seek a more moderate or secular representative government.

In the meantime, Libya's NTC is still struggling to determine who will "guide" that country toward "free" elections. They can't even agree on who should remain armed and who should lay down their arms. Tunisia is concerned about the armed factions on their border, the NTC is being led by a known Al Qaida Operative and an undisclosed number of surface to air missiles are still missing. We haven't even been told which country supplied those missiles or which generation of missiles they are. What we do know is that an undisciplined gaggle of "rebels" were provided air support by the United States and allies; air support which, by the way, has been withheld from our own forces in Afghanistan, to help soften up Khadafy's forces even though we knew they had Al Qaida operatives in their midst! And now; missiles which could further jeopardize Americans operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and possible Iran in the near future, are "missing".

So a question remains; to what level of inanity is this administration and our legislators going to be allowed to stoop to before the American people wake up, and shake up the status quo? Current polling suggests more of the same. Those rising in the polls in the GOP are known "insiders" when what is truly needed is someone who is not beholding to any specific interest group or who has any baggage that needs explaining.

What we need is a "Servant". Someone who actually understands in the depths of his soul that political service is a divinely endowed gift to serve those from whose numbers he has been called. Someone whose primary focus is the preservation of this nation, as it was envisioned by it's founders and who-will-not-falter in carrying out the very specific and narrowly defined mission embedded within the words of the oath taken at the inauguration ceremony.

Can anyone out there tell me who that person is? I can tell you the gentleman who currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is not he. The current resident is clearly beholding to those who would, with zealous rage, destroy the seat and substance of this nation. But I can also tell you that I do not see, in a single candidate, one whose focus is to keep the vision of the Founding Fathers alive or who is primarily concerned with the welfare or it's citizens. I have not heard a definitive cry to eliminate the Income Tax. I have not heard an unquestionable intent to defend these shores and the citizenry from foreign pestilence. I cannot discern among their number a single man who understands that when Americans are in harm's way, the priority of the day is their well being and victory for their mission!

So while we watch two more abysmal failures of foreign policy vision unfold before our very eyes in the very much touted "secular" Egypt and another in the ashes of Libya, we should be asking ourselves what is for us a defining question; Are we determined to demand a man who will in fact deliver to us the country and governance envisioned by our Founders or are we going to settle, once again?

The fact is; our true servants, those who from among our number have elected to jeopardize their lives, their future and our posterity, continue to languish in a sand box filled with demonically inspired forces, led by the uninspired who are dictated to by men of ill intent, voted into office by the American populace. This-must-not continue!

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One Officer Shown the Door after Investigation of Ganjgal Travesty!

It has taken two years and two months for an investigation to determine that the dereliction of duty on the part of at least one Officer led to the deaths of four Service members at Ganjgal. For those not familiar with the story, this is the same engagement that yielded a Congressional Medal of Honor for Corporal Dakota Meyers and is likely to see another member of the ill-fated mission
honored with yet another.

Questions concerning fire support or better, lack of fire support have been asked ever since but have not produced truthful answers. What is clear is that once the Task Force came under overwhelming fire, they requested supporting arms fire which they had been promised during the planning phase of the operation. The command element that denied them supporting fires did so citing the tightened Rules of Engagement that were initiated by General Stanley McChrystal just months earlier.

Those rules were put in place to reduce civilian casualties which had the "unintended" consequence of increasing risk to our forces. We have argued this point over these past nearly three years now as being short-sighted, ineffective and immoral and largely because they were set as a direct result of a strategy that never had any chance of success; COIN.

Many have argued that orders to withhold fire support from that and other engagements were, and are correct and necessary in order to properly support COIN. Of course, those who argue this last point do so because they have bought into the fantasy that employing this strategy, in this environment, could succeed. The sad truth is, those who support COIN as a legitimate strategy
cannot envision an environment in which it cannot succeed. Add to this an absolutely baseless understanding of the people in Afghanistan, their willing adherence to Islam, their level of support for the Taliban in the face of a perceived Infidel occupying force and what you have is a recipe for dead American Servicemen.

Given this prevailing mindset within the military community and the political structure here at home, it is truly remarkable that this investigating board would finally render a ruling ending the career of one Officer and possible another. For me, it is far less than what these Officers deserve. Anyone tasked with delivering supporting arms fires to Marines and Soldiers needing them, who
then denies them, deserves not only expulsion, but prison.

There are many others guilty however, because the decision to hold back supporting arms fire - artillery and air, was promulgated by the restrictive ROE put in place by General Stanley McChrystal. And that was put in place because the Command structure had determined the best way to proceed with the Afghan operation was within the paradigm of COIN doctrine. Coin doctrine was selected given the Op Order produced by the Pentagon which got it's assessment from Sec Def. Sec Def was poisoned by a politically correct and academically stunted body politic who could not, and cannot, stand the truth about either Afghanistan or the teachings of it's prevailing religion. So if these Officers are guilty of the deaths of those service members, so is the entire command/political structure that created the situation in the first place.

There is absolutely no question that the Officers given charge of those supporting arms assets are guilty of poor judgment that day and I know there are those reading this who will argue the point. The problem for those who see it differently, however, is that the UCMJ does not give any of us "wiggle room" to declare our actions as correct just because we are "following orders". Anyone who wears the uniform is held to a higher standard and that requires the individual to assess the orders he is given and disobey orders that are illegal. While that standard may not always be easy to determine, it is never-the-less, the standard. Any Officer who would deny
providing an asset designed to protect the lives of our service members - especially under these circumstances, is not worthy of the uniform. And yes providing either artillery or air that day may well have increased the risk of civilian casualties and for those Officers, their careers may well have been shortened anyway but I will bet they would be sleeping a whole lot better!

And what of our Politicians who, for the most part have been sitting idly by while we have watched incident after incident unfold in which American Servicemen have been killed or brutalized? How many times must we write these stories or call them demanding they take action before we declare the entire system irrevocably corrupted and their lack of action, criminal? How many more Servicemen need to suffer - not the pains of war but wounds inflicted by a flawed strategy born of a stubborn adherence to a faulty understanding of the enemy born out of
politically correct tripe?

Burn these Officers? You bet! But throw those in congress, and the administration and Sec Def and the Pentagon who allowed this to happen to begin with, into some cold, damp pit of a prison until eternity as well!



Monday, October 24, 2011

Karzai's Gauntlet; Unfortunate Rambling or Veiled Truth?

For well over two years now I and others, have been questioning the wisdom of conducting a Counter Insurgency effort in the center of an ideologically monolithic society. The problem with COIN is that it assumes a much flatter playing field than what we, as a non-Shariah compliant society, can expect when conducting military operations in countries where religious adherence to Islam is above 98%.

The truth is, if we had chosen to understand the religion and the dedication of it's adherents in a way that is consistent with how they have identified themselves -over and over again, COIN would never have been on the table in the first place. Instead; we chose to ignore the obvious in deference to our westernized vision of "harmony among all peoples" and this, to our detriment.

This is also an indictment of the very "nation building" nonsense that has plagued this country at least since the end of World War II. Here's a little wisdom for the folks inside DC:

1. No nation on earth is responsible for the political vision of another people.

2. No nation is responsible to eradicate the evil that another people have brought upon themselves.

3. No nation is responsible to "convince" another society to "play nice with others" unless that society is jeopardizing that nation.

We did not have any responsibility to cause Afghanistan to "transform" itself into any vision or version of a "democratic" society and it is the height and breadth of ignorance to think we could overcome what is for far too many, the core religious belief that all men are not created equal but instead either compliant and brothers, or apostate and worthy of death.

Many of us have tried to convince Congress to review the selection of COIN in this theater of operations and the Office of the Secretary of Defense's willful ignorance of the historical and spiritual truths of Islam but largely, to no avail. The fruit of this systematic dereliction of the duty of the various offices of the Federal government to protect the populace of this country and it's holdings with a clear understanding of this current enemy, ripens every day.

There is no more clear evidence of our failure to understand this enemy than in the most recent statement by Harmid Karzai this past weekend. From the story and Karzai's own mouth:

“Against all the Pakistan establishment has done to Afghanistan, Afghanistan is still a brother,” he said. “Afghanistan will never forget, will never forget the welcome, the hospitality, the respect and the brotherhood shown by the Pakistan people to the Afghan people.”

His comments ignited a wave of angry calls to radio talk shows in Kabul on Sunday. Many Afghans, particularly in the north, consider Pakistan the source of much of its current troubles. One caller said, “When the president calls them brother and the nation calls them enemies, then there will be a conflict between the president and the nation.”

It is clear that many who live near the Pakistani border disagree with Karzai's comments for practical reasons. However, the most substantive element of that comment is what needs to be understood; “Against all the Pakistan establishment has done to Afghanistan, Afghanistan is still a brother,” And that is what we have been trying to hammer home these last nearly three years.

While there is no doubt that there are Afghan's who live a more secular life, the fact is the vast majority of Afghan's, as all other Muslims, see the world through the prism of Islamic teachings and in the end, the brotherhood of Islam trumps fanciful and temporary arrangements with the Infidel community of the world.

Saying this is no different than saying all Christians see things through the prism of Biblical teachings. While it is true that many Christians do not live a life that is completely in lockstep with Biblical teachings, all Christians never-the-less, see the world as taught through Scripture. The difference is, there isn't one single New Testament Scripture that commands, recommends, alludes to or tolerates the murder of another person - especially for non-compliance with Biblical teachings. There is also no teaching which abrogates earlier Biblical truths as there is in the Koran. If a "Christian" murders, he has done so without authority of Scripture and is in fact, in violation of it.

It is also unlikely that one "Christian" nation will project it's military might in defense of another "Christian" nation based simply on religious compliance. Karzai's "brother" comment, clearly says he sees things differently and in spite of all of the "help" we have given him in eradicating the "unwanted" Taliban and in spite of our unilateral restraint and associated increased cost in American lives, through COIN.

Karzai's comments tell a story which exemplifies what is exactly the core of the argument against assuming a less robust role in a country of this type. Here; religion inevitably trumps all other alliances. Assuming you can exploit tribal differences indefinitely and in your favor, is to simply ignore historical and ideological proof to the contrary.

The whole point of this discussion has not been to simply cross swords over differing understandings of this religion but to remember that our "theories" about the religion hold dire ramifications for those ordered to perform under COIN and it's damnable ROE. It is also to remind those who are making decisions about strategy and will not have to face the dangers of IED's set by the local population or ignored by them, that someone will pay the ultimate price in this environment because of our less aggressive posture under COIN.

And in case the most salient point in this is missing on some; I will spell it out: This latest statement from Karzai, whether immature prattle or doctrinal exhortation, will surely make the environment in Afghanistan far more lethal for our Warriors. Let's keep in mind that an ever growing percentage of our footprint there is now dedicated to training ANA and ANP and they, technically, answer to Kabul.

Whether the average Afghan soldier or policeman actually sees himself as a patriot or not isn't going to be as great a factor as his shared distaste for the "pigs and swine" of the "Great Satan" he is forced to train with.

In a land where acts of treachery are commonplace and even seen as signs of reverence for your deity, this new exclamation of support for things "not American" is certainly going to make things even less stable than they have been for our Warriors.

If that is possible…

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Al-Awlaki Exterminated and Ron Paul Mourns!

There are many things for which President Obama will be held accountable in the 2012 election. He initiated, approved of and presided over many decisions which have been and will be injurious to the economy of this country and it's security. The citizenry of this nation have never felt so exposed and unsure. Because of those decisions, the future hope of this country, on many levels and without definitive course correction is bleak.

The killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki however, was not one of those decisions.

A few voices are beginning to ring out in dissension over Awlaki's being vaporized by US Predator drones last week which is astounding on many levels. I fully expect some knuckle-head to recommend a statue to this guy at ground zero any time now. The only legitimate argument against his killing is that he was born on American soil. However, being born on American soil does not guarantee ones actions or words will be in concert with the goals, aspirations and vision of either the Founding Fathers or the US Constitution they ratified in 1789.

While I agree that the first amendment guarantees freedom of speech, there are certainly legal statutes which limit our behavior as it affects the lives and well-being of fellow Americans. Awlaki broached that line with the temperament of an Islamic zealot having actively participated in renouncing the United States, United States citizenry, the US Constitution by his adherence to the doctrines of Islam and his repeated calls for Jihad against the United States.

Anyone not fully understanding the ramifications of that call, needs to "tune up" their understanding of the doctrines of the "religion of peace" and do a little research on this character in particular. By actively calling for volunteers to take up arms against the United States, he challenged the sovereignty of the US - through rhetoric and physical threat, effectively denouncing his citizenship! By definition he is a traitor! If nothing else resonates with those who agree with those dissenting voices, you should know that Awlaki looked forward to his own death by taking on the mantle of a Jihadist.

Would any of this stand up in a court of law? I don't know. What I do know is legal decisions have a lot more to do with influence, ideology and money than they do right and wrong..

Ron Paul saw fit to condemn the killing as "denying" an "American" his constitutional rights. Of course, once again, a dissenter is doing so from a comfortable environment while wearing the costume of a businessman rather than the uniform of a combatant who is sworn to the defense of that same Constitution. Mr. Paul might want to consider the fact that the former reprobate known as Al Awlaki was calling for the killing of American citizens and was, at least by proxy, responsible for the killing of Americans - from foreign soil, thereby effectively denying them their Constitutional rights.

He might also want to consider using his rhetorical skills to speak for those who have willingly suspended their rights so he can exercise his to defend the indefensible. For all of his supposed libertarian posturing, I have yet to hear much from the good Congressman about the plight of American Warriors unduly exposed by the insanity of COIN in an environment as naturally hostile to Americans as the Serengeti to a rabbit.

While he may find these wars - or all wars personally offensive, he should never-the-less be showing at least a little more concern for the American Serviceman already in harm's way than he does  humanity in general and this because he dares suggest to be the right man for the Office of President of the United States.

He can argue for the Constitutional rights of the indefensible, the right to life for the ideological murderers of the world and the legality of wars big and small from now until the Second Coming, BUT; his first loyalty in this narrow discussion should be to the American Serviceman in harm's way. Instead, he speaks to NPR, the Christian Science Monitor, various domestic and foreign news agencies and anyone else who will listen as he castigates the decision makers involved in the killing of a man who intentionally separated himself from American society and then planned, plotted and carried out the killing of American citizens through his ideological laity!

In this piece, he tries to compare the actions and ideology of Awlaki with that of Timothy McVeigh. Again; it is astounding that someone could not understand the difference between one man and his friend acting out of anger, frustration and probably insanity - on American soil and the actions of an ideological leader of a faction dedicated to the perpetual death and destruction of everything that disagrees with them.

There simply is no comparison.

While Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols committed a single act of multiple murder and the destruction of a federal building on American soil, Awlaki joined a religiously motivated militant movement. This movement is destined to force the entire world into submission or destroy it in the process. Awlaki's decision in joining that movement and his follow-on actions made him an enemy of this country while McVeigh's and Nichols' actions made them uncommon criminals.

Muddying the waters with political tripe is not helpful. Attempting to demonize a government agency or individual for the killing a self defined enemy of this nation is unconscionable. It is an especially deplorable act when that agency is already forced to balance acts of security with the perverted need to not "offend", the offensive zealots of the world.

It looks like we are at yet another crossroad; are we willing to hold these ideological murderers accountable or are we now preparing to lay down our arms and submit to Allah?

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Our "Allies" and Enemies are More Forthright than Our Leadership!

In the war of ideologies, there is no more frustrating battle than the battle for truth. In the battle for truth, there is no more frustrating effort than trying to enlighten the hard-headed. Our enemy has been telling us for decades who he is and what his intent is. He has shown us over, and over again that he is committed to defeating us and has used every means at his disposal to that end.

In just as frustrating a fashion, our leadership has seen fit to ignore those facts as if seemingly to  muse; "oh, you're just funnin' us!". As discussed here in the past, the Pentagon actually hired an expert on the subject, who delivered a message that was apparently "too much to bear" and who was summarily fired for his effort. As this operation ages, two things will continue to be  true; one, the ROE will become increasingly tighter and deadlier for our troops and, two, that Stephen Coughlin's warning about Islam was dead-on-the-money!

Even as we have watched our Afghan allies turn their weapons on their trainers - our Warriors, on a seemingly regular basis, we have chosen to discount those reoccurring incidences as aberration rather than heed them as omens.

Andrew Bostom sent me the link to a story that should cause the "see-no-evil" stalwarts in our government to question their "faith in all mankind" attitude. After the latest incident that left yet another American contractor working for the CIA dead from gunshot wounds, Waheed Mujhda, of the Afghan Analytical and Advisory Center in Kabul was quoted as saying:

"This is a big security concern for the Americans and it shows they can't fully trust their Afghan staff. But the Americans never want to accept that there are serious trust and cooperation issues and they have encountered that in their security operations with Afghan forces."

Also keep in mind that recently, the Taliban claimed not only collusion with the Haqqani network but that Haqqani was in fact Afghan. This is important in that our intelligence has them slipping back and forth across the Durand line with one of their last, missions being the attack on the American Embassy in Kabul. Add to this Admiral Mullen's admission/allegation that Haqqani has been working hand-in-hand with the Pakistani ISI, and what you have is a particularly virulent enemy with the backing of a legitimate state agency - a country we have deemed an "an ally" in the "war on terror". It seems we may have to declare Pakistan a terrorist haven instead!
This story ties the Pakistani's directly to the killing of an American Army Major just moments after a meeting with Pakistani officials, in 2007, in Teri Mengal. As the story states, the reasoning seems to be for revenge. How that mitigates the egregious nature of the attack on Americans by a presumed "ally" is beyond my ability to reason as is Washington's intent to keep it quiet. What is clear, is that the nature and scope of the enemy is more publicly obvious now than it has been for all of these last ten years.

Will the American public finally begin to realize this and hold this government more accountable? I guess we will see in the next 15 months.

A better question is how our intelligence apparatus could have so completely screwed up the analysis of what is so complex a threat? Or is it that our intelligence agencies have been ignored or their reports downplayed in an effort to massage some unholy alliance either with foreign players or with internal minorities? What is certain is that more reports and evidence of collusion between those we have chosen to trust and our "enemies" is surfacing by the day.

If there is a glimmer of light emanating from down the long hallway of insanity, it is that some of our agencies, at least, seem to be planning for what is apparently not politically palatable - or correct. This FBI training video, while dry, makes it clear that the agency understands the threat to be larger than the small cells our politicians seem to be focused on. Even the British have been forced to face the reality of working with a duplicitous "ally" and a report to that extent is strongly recommending each and every British Soldier working with the ANA or ANP - be armed…You think??

Of course if one can apply Newton's Laws of Motion to the seeming randomness of actions from within our government, then you would need to find an opposing force to the FBI's apparent epiphany. One need not look further than the DOD's Defense Science Board Task Force and their report dated April 25 2011. From the report, page four:

 "…the final report of the DSB Task Force on Defense Intelligence, Counterinsurgency (COIN) Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Operations study. The Task Force was asked to identify how Department of Defense (DoD) intelligence can most effectively support COIN operations."

So for all of the studying, daily revelations of collusion between state agencies, Islamic militant groups, cross-border operations and a dissipating confidence in the trustworthiness of the ANA and ANP recruits we are training, COIN support appears to be alive and well - regardless!

What's that old adage about beating your head against a wall?

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Legitimizing Cold Blooded Murderers; The New Rave!

There is barely a day that passes without the drone-like reminder that the world we now live in is riddled with the carnage left by the blood lusting and demonically influenced hordes in our midst. One would think that after 10 years of studying and fighting this enemy, we might actually have  a firm understanding of him and have determined how best to defeat him.

We certainly should have been able to determine what doesn't work.

Instead, we unilaterally placed a "governor" on our force projection which presumed to increase trust and goodwill amongst the Afghan population by reducing civilian casualties. In so doing, we necessarily extended the need for US forces there into perpetuity. And we did this based on a faulty presumption; that the average Afghan did not agree - to greater degree, with the Taliban. It also almost by necessity assumes then that the average Afghan does not see us as anything other than good people coming to the rescue.

Both of these assumptions are wrong and have been proven wrong, over and over again. All COIN has left us with is a river of blood - American blood. It is needless and will prove to have been for naught because without a discernable victory, there can be no definable end.

We have been so sure of our perception of this enemy that we have extended it to other countries where he resides and other situations. From the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and their venomous propaganda in Egypt to revelations that Al Qaeda agents are "guiding" the NTC in Libya, we are reminded, daily, that this administration and this government in general, has chosen to blind itself to this self-defined enemy and has recklessly endangered our Warriors in the process.

This is fruit of what I believe to be a deliberate effort to ignore the low probability of a trustworthy cooperation between not only the Afghan government and us, but certainly, the Pakistani government and us as well. If suggesting you can massage a snake long enough to safely extract venom without eventually getting bit is risky business then blindfolding yourself in the process is foolish.

The argument that the killing of civilians during combat operations or even the night raids which were all but halted by the ROE, drives "innocent civilians" into the arms of the Taliban, further exposes the lie that the average Afghan hates the Taliban. Herschel Smith did an excellent analysis of the story by the Christian Science Monitor. And while this article dares to suggest that night raids have continued, they have largely been conducted by Afghan forces. Our involvement was curtailed by a decision made over 2 years ago.

The follow on argument deals with the conduct of open combat operations against the Taliban. As the argument goes; "You can't kill your way to Victory". I beg to differ. You will have to explain that to the men who fought in the last war this country actually won and, I might add, in two different theaters of operation and against uniformed armies no less determined. The suggestion that there is no limit to the number of recruits the Taliban can raise ignores one main point; even the devout wince at pain!

Of course, you have to be willing to deliver the pain.

Even while "the fight" against the Taliban continues in Afghanistan, the United States has facilitated the opening of a Taliban "office" in Qatar by "blessing" it.  And even though the Haqqani network along the Afghan Pakistani border, saw fit to launch an attack against the US Embassy in Kabul, last week, we are still reaching out to them. The "open channel" was buffered by remonstrations by Hillary Clinton who demanded the Pakistan government attend to the situation, but it is certainly made hollow by the universal knowledge that this administration sees conflict resolution as sharing tea and goat meat at a "peace table" with all elements of the Taliban, Kabul and the US present rather than punishing those who aided in an assault against the Embassy or these shores.

For those who can't follow the logic; let me help you: Reaching out to the Haqqani Network, right now, after so brazen an attack in Kabul, against Sovereign US territory, would be akin to reaching out to Al Qaeda one week after the Trade Towers were blown back to the earth.

The thing that is most troubling is that while the Pakistani government is pressuring the US to end the war in Afghanistan, they are simultaneously demanding that it be done in a way that "meets their needs". Of course, they also want assurances we will support their security needs along their border with India.

Now why in the world, would anyone side with someone proven untrustworthy who is at war against a nation we have a good, healthy relationship with?

The audacity of Pakistan in all of this could only be missed by the completely ignorant or naive. We have had problems with cross border raids from Pakistan since we first invaded Afghanistan and attacks on logistic trains which run north from Karachi and through the Khyber Pass have been allowed to continue, unabated for as long. Their entire intelligence apparatus is so corrupt that even Islamabad can't tell you who they actually trust.

Cooperation has been a one way street and none of this should have been or should be a surprise for if the Pakistani government, the Afghan government or the Afghan or Pakistani population can be depended on for anything, it is treachery; at least where dealing with us is concerned.

After all, they still have far more in common with each other than they ever will with us, and they have a shared religious ideology that in the end, trumps all it's presumed ties.

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering; on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11.

(To be given on a memorial service in North Reading Massachusetts this coming Sunday. Unfortunately, I will not be present to deliver it. BTW By coincidence; this is my 100th entry)

About eight months ago, I agreed to an interview with Paul Hair, a Conservative Blogger who writes on Islam, the US Military and Politics. He is also continuing to serve his country in the Army Reserve after a 6 year tour of active duty which included combat in Iraq.

Here is the last question he asked me:

"The World War II generation is called the Greatest Generation. Yet when that generation fought they fought with a generally united nation and when the Draft existed. What do you think of your son’s generation who fights today when a large portion of the nation doesn’t support American troops and no Draft compels service?"
I will give you my answer at the end.

Ten years ago, today, 19 Al Qaeda affiliated hijackers stole 4 jets and flew them into the World Trade Center Buildings, the Pentagon, along route 95 and attempted to crash a fourth into some as yet unknown target. That fourth plane never reached it's "reassigned" destination. In all, 2998 people perished at the hands of those 19 zealots of a seventh century, demonically inspired ideology.

I refuse to call them terrorists.

Terrorist is but one of many misnomers that has been associated with a segment of the world population that believe the actions of that day were righteous. Make no mistake about it; the nineteen men that committed that atrocity on American soil that we remember today were but the tip of the sword.

As Americans, we have grown to respect the concept of self determination, freedom of speech, the right to assemble and freedom of religion. We cherish a live and let live attitude that has drawn many to these shores, seeking refuge from a world seemingly gone mad. Over the many centuries since that small group of exiles landed on the east coast of what would become the United States of America, escaping religious persecution from their own homeland, this country has stood as a beacon of freedom, and a haven of rest.

However, as is all too often true of people, this country has been lulled into a coma, comforted by the fact that we have been insulated from the ravages of war and the abuses of tyrants for all these years. Except for a very few isolated incidents, including the events of September 11 2001, we have been blessed with relative peace on these shores. What the apathetic forget, however, is that peace has been bought and paid for. As the old adage goes; "Nothing is free"; not even freedom.

In New York City, today, all of the families of the victims, of those 19 True Soldiers of Allah, the Politicians of that City and a representative contingent of Politicians from Washington DC, will gather at the World Trade Center site to remember the events of that day.

Notably absent will be those who stood shoulder to shoulder with others who willingly sacrificed their own lives in an attempt to save those trapped in those two towers, that day. They will not be there, because they were not invited.

The Apathetic have forgotten.

While today is a memorial for those who died in those attacks, it is imperative that we also never forget that many were not in those buildings that day to make money, they ran into those buildings to save lives and that selfless act ultimately cost some of them their lives.

Since that day, hundreds of thousands of United States Service members, have been compelled, by this government, into harm's way to hold responsible those who plotted those attacks. Tens of thousands have been wounded, some with life changing effect. Nearly five thousand have died doing the same.

Their combined sacrifices are a direct result of the actions of that day and yet, they are neither remembered nor their brothers, invited. We compound this injustice by perpetuating an insidious act of political cowardice by not naming the enemy who inspired those attacks, cheered the attackers and with whom we are still, presumably, locked in battle.

If America wants to know what a real memorial looks like we need not look further back than the few short years following a similar event which occurred on December 7th 1941. That generation had absolutely no problem naming their enemy or delivering them a mortal blow. The devastation that was rained downed on Germany and Japan in answer to the events of that day, were a grand manifestation of the righteous anger, the resolve and the moral courage of not only a focused nation, but true, leadership.

What we are witnessing today, in the Halls of those great political institutions in DC will be chiseled in stone to be viewed by future generations as the meanderings of the feeble minded, the self-centered and the cowardly. For anyone who declares himself a Leader and then abandons the selfless hero on the field of battle and forgets him at the Memorial, is no leader. He is a scourge on his nation!

I was on a jobsite in the serene mountains around Rangeley Maine when word of the first plane hitting the first tower came in. I instantly knew the ramifications of the impact of that plane. I also knew my Marine Corps Reserve unit would be buzzing, even before I got the first call. By the end of that day was I angry, like every other American. The transformation I witnessed in the attitudes in this country over the next few weeks, was hopeful. I still believe, America can be as it once was, but not if it continues to flush the blood of it's heroes, down the toilet bowl of history.

My admonishment to you it is this; never forget to uphold those who have been willing to pay for your freedom with their very lives, even as you mourn your victims.

My encouragement for you is in the answer I gave to that question from Paul Hair. It is encouragement because as long as it is true; we still retain a remnant of the hope those Pilgrims brought with them from their 
estranged homes:

"That generation rose to the occasion. I believe there is a segment of every generation that is great and it is measured by acts of selflessness. There is very little in society or even life in general that could be defined as acts of selflessness. The Armed Services of this nation will never have to wonder about that. The very act of joining ensures you will be acting apart from self. Those who have served are the best of their generation; PERIOD!"
My prayer is that while we remember those lost on that day, ten years ago, we also remember, with humility, those who have sacrificed their very lives, and hopes, and dreams that we might continue to live in the relative peace and comfort we have been blessed with, these many years.

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Monday, September 5, 2011

The "First Fruits" of our Support of the Arab Spring Endeavour in Libya!

The fruit of our "compassionate support" for the "oppressed" Islamic peoples of the world is now starting to show. In the past two weeks, both the United States and France have reached out to the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and predictably, the NTC turned it's back on those very same nations that came to their rescue.

The US State Department reached out to our "new friends" in Libya, hoping to retrieve Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the mastermind behind the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing and the NTC said no. The no was neither tentative nor was it contingent on some prerequisite understanding or action. They said no with emphasis. The NTC spokesman said; " [We] will not give any Libyan citizen to the West…". So much for thanks, the spirit of cooperation, any understanding of right and wrong or any semblance of a common understanding of human rights, just; no.

Days later, the NTC dismissed a report that they, presumably, had promised 35% of it's oil production to France. One would have to assume that since France was under the opinion they had a deal; they then, had a deal. While political conditions in Libya probably won't gel into it's final form for months, if not years, there are rightful expectations by members of NATO and others who supported this "Arab Spring" version of an election, for at least a spirit of cooperation; and fair play.

For those who choose to immediately dismiss these as the "growing pains" of a new regime protecting it's interests, let me say that this continued naïveté toward the Islamic mind and their collective vision of the west and all non-compliant nations, is delusional! These are not the actions of righteous people whose vision includes a belief that all men are created equal. These are the actions of a people who deem all men are either submitted to Allah or they are not; and there are consequences for non compliance.

Naïve or not, the United States and our NATO friends, embarked on a mission to help secure freedom for the Libyan people, as though freedom is a universally understood concept. The US Constitution generally defines freedom as every individual's God given inalienable right to self determination. The Bible describes freedom as freedom from the bondage of sin. What the Koran teaches is anathema to any constructive understanding of personal freedom. Rather it teaches submission and it's adherents, to propagate, by the sword if necessary.

This is not a new revelation, this is an age old truth as defined in the Koran, the Hadith and the very words of the Islamic Scholars. So what continues to give hope to our western minded "leadership" that what these various rebellions are seeking is indeed, freedom? And what gives them the idea that supporting their efforts will in the end support our unilateral interests to defend these shores, and our Constitution? Please… tell me.

Something new was revealed, however, from a news source that would never be confused as "friendly" to the west, the United States, the John Locke/Jeffersonian view of freedom or that which Patrick Henry exhorted his fellow Congressmen to take up arms for. Al Jazeera reported (gleefully, I expect) that Al Qaida operative, Abdul al-Hakim al-Hasadi, had taken control of the Tripoli Military Council (TMC) which effectively puts the power behind the NTC in his hands. So what we all knew and a few members of this administration, suspected, is now known fact and even supported by the Islamic propaganda machine; Al Jazeera.

Feeling all squishy about this administration's wonderful insight into the world of Islam; now?

So this administration finds itself in yet another awkward position - created by itself; first "battling" Al Qaida in one country while throwing in with them in another. What makes this so incredibly insane is that this administration and, I am ashamed to say, members of the supposedly more rational right wing, applauded the removal of Ghadaffi by these Al Qaida operatives.

Let me be clear; the world will be no worse off with Ghadaffi's head on a pike but supporting a gaggle of 7th century thugs who would have Al Qaida in their number never mind in a position of leadership, will set us all back two decades. It was Ronald Reagan, who last struck Libya in response to the 1986 Berlin Disco bombing. And while this did not halt Ghadaffi's hand in terrorist activity, it certainly curtailed his zeal.

In any case, an aging, withering idiot is a lot less formidable than a young force of zealous Islamic soldiers even if they are a gaggle. How was removing this old relic in favor of new, demonically contaminated blood supposed to serve the national security interests of the United States? This is a question that is never going to be answered by this administration or anyone in Congress or even the former administration. And the reason it won't is because their collective foundational premise is that the religion, at it's core, is pure and peaceful.

The American Politician's inexplicable love affair with the "downtrodden" Islamic citizens of Islamic regimes, around the world, will prove to be the worst foreign policy vision in the history of this nation - if not the world! While Ghadaffi and others may have fostered hatred for western nations and even been heavy handed with their own citizens, they were never-the-less, a known quantity and an aging one at that. The greatest threat they posed was to their own citizenry.

What we are in the process of helping to unleash in regions of the Islamic world that was tethered, is most certainly going to prove to be just as formidable and just as destructive to our national security, western ideals and Israel as anything we have seen to date. Within those nations where the Arab Spring "electorate" live, however, we have helped unleash a zealous, unrepentant, spiritually awakened behemoth with an insatiable lust for blood; infidel blood!

In another era, a nation which miscalculated the side effects of an ill-conjured attack declared; "We have awakened a sleeping giant.".

Let's pray this naïve decision, unabated by the obvious realities on the ground, to continue giving aid and comfort to our demonically bound enemies does not become our "sleeping giant".

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard

Thursday, August 25, 2011

House Amdt #318, Passes! Congress says it is "OK" to defend yourself…In Combat?!

My family and I attended the annual "Run For The Fallen" event in Ogunquit Maine this past weekend. This is the fourth year for the event which honors those who fell combating the more evil elements of Islam in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. The event organizer is a combat veteran from the Vietnam war and a good friend, John Mixon. John and I have visited with three of the four members of Maine's Congressional delegation to Washington over the past several months and have plans to continue the effort with representatives from other States.

Of course our focus of effort has been and continues to be the proper support of troops exposed on the field of combat. The mantra has been that the current operational strategy, COIN was not only poorly chosen but requires a level of restraint not seen before in the annals of American warfare and which has tilted the battle space in favor of the enemy. I have been detailing the many horror stories associated with the more egregious elements of the ROE for the past two years and have made the case before Senators Snowe and Collins and Congressman Michaud, several times.

It was during the Run For The Fallen event that I was approached by Congressman Mike Michaud who told me that House Amendment # 318, which amended, HR # 1540, The National Defense Authorization Act, 2011, had passed. The language in the amendment is as follows:

"An amendment numbered 38 printed in House Report 112-88 to require that the rules of engagement allow any military service personnel assigned to duty in a designated hostile fire area to have rules of engagement that fully protects their right to proactively defend themselves from hostile actions."

I applaud the efforts of those in Congress who crafted the amendment and then voted for the bill in which it is included. I am, however, awe struck by the sheer insanity that dares suggest a formal statement needed to be made by some members of Congress requiring American Political Leadership and the Upper Echelons of the American military establishment, to afford members of the United States Armed Forces the "legal right" to "defend themselves" from the enemy!?

Have we really come to this point, where we can demand sovereign American citizens to place themselves in harm's way while simultaneously denying them a way to defend themselves…from an enemy they are there to confront; presumably with force? Apparently! But if this doesn't stretch your ability to see the leadership in this country as anything more than impotent; when you study the vote, the number of Congressional Representatives who voted against it -will!

I will not take the time to list each and every Congressman who voted against the Bill and the amendment, but I will introduce you to one. (For a complete listing of the vote; follow this link).

Chellie Pingree, Representative of the 1st District in Maine, is among the 77% who voted against the bill although she claims to be a staunch supporter of Veterans - active, retired, wounded etc.

From her website: "We must provide for those who willingly put themselves in harm's way in the defense of our every day freedoms. I am committed to providing our troops with the resources they need to do their jobs, during peacetime and war."

And yet she voted down a bill that would fund the needs of those very same combat troops currently engaged on the field of combat by the institution of which she is a member and in doing so, broke ranks with those who penned the amendment designed to force the Pentagon, the upper levels of military leadership and politicians, to allow United States Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Coastguardsmen, the right and ability to defend their lives and the lives of their fellows from the Islamic hordes they have been forced to face - by these same "leaders"!

While the representative is apparently conflicted about funding a war she doesn't agree with, even though those withheld funds would place the American Fighting Man at even greater risk, she doesn't have any problem legalizing marijuana (see question # 12).

Personally it is comforting to me to see such consistency from this element of society; Send people to war, deny them their very lives, legalize mind altering drugs for the entire population of Americans (which happens with the stroke of a Presidential pen and a doctor's prescription) while giving our sworn enemies moral support - and money; let's not forget the billions of dollars in aid sent to various Islamic countries, including Afghanistan which ends up in the hands of terrorists.

Another notable 'No' vote, came from Ron Paul, "Republican" from Texas…And this guy wants to be President of the United States???

Here's a little plan for you lost souls in DC:

If you are going to "fight" a war; "FUND" the war!

Don't send Honorable men and women into the jaws of death and abandon them there!

Don't send Honorable men and women into harm's way and deny them the right to defend themselves!

Don't you dare tell our enemies that you are representative of this entire nation and then effectively surrender to them! You do not represent my belief in this nation and our inherent right to defend these shores and the rights of men and women in uniform to defend themselves on the field of combat, while confronting the hordes of hell.

And I have some sad news for you; you are not representing the majority of Americans who are dumbfounded by your complete lack of compassion for our American Servicemen in lieu of your new love affair with an incalcitrant, ideologically belligerent and hateful people, hell bent on killing those same American Servicemen.

I would like to thank Mike Michaud for supporting the amendment, and the bill even though he doesn't believe we have any further national security interests in Afghanistan. He never-the-less understands that this war and our men and women need financial support until such time as this country deems it possible to bring them home.

You're "firing on all cylinders" Mike!

Semper Fidelis;

John Bernard