It is refreshing and encouraging to see a military leader put some of the civilian leadership in check and do the hard right (putting his career on the line with this administration) vs. the easy wrong (let the OPSEC violations continue to go unchecked).
Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and future commander of U.S. Central Command, sent a letter in early December to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter requesting that the executive branch stop disclosing details of special operator missions for political gain.
Without a doubt, he is focused on what matters and not himself which is a true sign of selfless service. His men will respect the hell out of him for this and walk into the gates of hell and punch the devil if he asks them to do so. Which is needed in the types of missions he will be overseeing.
Recently, the White House announced that approximately 200 special operators were being deployed to the Syrian theater to fight the Islamic State. Secretary of Defense Carter stated to Congress, this “puts everyone on notice. You don’t know at night who is going to be coming into the window.”
But I guess this is what you get when you put non military-respecting community organizers and physicists in charge of our military and not people with true military backgrounds who understand the ramifications of their words and actions.
It is a sad state of affairs for our military when “allowing” them to kill the enemy is considered “good” news.
The Obama administration has loosened the rules of engagement for U.S. forces striking the Islamic State and affiliated groups in Afghanistan, allowing them to target militants just for being associated with the terror network,..
That should be the norm, not the breaking news exception. That is just really sad and disheartening to think that it took the President to allow our men and women serving in a “combat zone” to find, fix, and kill the enemy. I guess the brains in the Whitehouse were not briefed on the primary purpose of the military.
“Now,” a U.S. official told Fox News, “we can kill ISIS in Afghanistan just for wearing the T-shirt or waving their flag.”
It is way past time to “crap or get off the pot” in Afghanistan. Either we are there to kill the enemy and allow Afghanistan to have a chance to succeed and defend themselves or we should not be there. Quit with the half-stepping and do one thing or another.
Mom: How did my favorite lamp get broken? What did you and your friend do?
Kid: Mom, mom, here is what happened. Me and Jimmy were playing the xBox and then I noticed kitty was starting to get sick. Since you asked me to keep an eye on kitty I was doing that.
So I looked over and saw she was about to throw up on your favorite chair. I know you would be so mad if she did that so I jumped up with lightning speed and I know the fastest way to get there in order to save your chair would be to jump over the back of the couch. Even though I knew Jimmy would beat me in the game I knew I had to save your chair. So I jumped over the back of the couch, and somehow my foot caught on the cord to the lamp. I saw the lamp falling but didn’t think out would break plus I saw kitty was about to throw up and I knew I had to get her. So I dove at her, risking myself getting hurt and was able to grab her and take her outside so she didn’t throw up on your chair.
Mom: So when did the lamp actually hit the floor?
Son: Not sure mom, I was so focused on your chair and kitty not messing it up I didn’t hear it. Maybe Jimmy did, Jimmy?
Jimmy: Uhh, I didn’t uhh, notice. He really did try Ms. Mom. Uhh, but I got to go home now so I will see you later. Thanks for inviting me over.
Mom: Well I just looked outside and I don’t see any cat puke.
Son: Oh, uhh, well yeah I cleaned that up too, because I know you don’t like to see that stuff. I do what I can to help you out mom
That is a plausible and probably very common scenario and has been for years, in households across the country if not around the world. Almost any parent in this scenario would roll their eyes and call BS on the son’s story. It holds all the characteristics of a lie; yes I did it, but I did it to help you out and protect your interests, I put myself at risk in doing this for “you”, and no evidence to support it or a valid trustworthy witness.
We now know he was home-schooled, and was very active in the ballet and in fencing. Not exactly the type of person that wants to excel and be part of a high-speed Airborne Infantry Unit, if you ask me. Could it be his fellow soldiers knew of his past and harassed him? Could they have made him feel like an outsider? Who knows, and really it does not matter as what he did (if desertion as PJ implies) is inexcusable. I am confident that as the past comes to light we will see this soldier demonstrated behavior that would be considered outside the norm.
“Outside the norm” has come to light for sure. When I wrote the blog post in July 2009, I was quickly attacked by several in the LGBT community who twisted my words to try and say that I was claiming he was gay and that is why he was “outside the norm” and that was why he deserted. I am still never sure where they made up that info in their heads, but it really didn’t matter at the end of the day. I was also in contact with the family back in 2009 through a intermediary and was getting info from them that was supporting my statements and some that corrected things as per the family. You can check out http://www.bouhammer.com/?s=bergdahl and see all the posts where I talked about this soldier from the moment he went AWOL.
The scenario I made up at the start of this is pretty much the Bergdahl story as told on the first episode of season two of Serial, the podcast (https://serialpodcast.org/season-two/1/dustwun). Apparently the story he told Mark Boal over a series of phone calls. He has had plenty of time to think of the story he told of a young, very inexperienced (one year in the Army) PFC who knew more about the US Army and its operations in Afghanistan then all the senior leaders over him, of which most had multiple combat tours. A soldier who saw himself as a modern-day, real-world Jason Bourne (yes he really said that). A soldier who realized the mistake the second he got outside the wire and thought he could make it better and maybe not get punished as bad as he thought would happen by spying on and capturing taliban emplacing IEDs. His grandiose plan was do to this while walking over some very hard terrain for 18 miles (as the camel walks) without being seen and only with a knife, some water and a notepad.
The pics below show some of the exact terrain he was going to walk. I was in this same area in 2006-2007.
As you can tell from the pics above, there was no way he was going to do this and be successful. But then again, running 18 miles across indian country at night through unknown minefields, IEDs, and who knows what else so he could create a DUSTWUN (Duty Status-Whereabouts Unknown) and get some “attention” so people would listen to him “maybe even a General”. Then he could tell them how his upbringing in Idaho being home-schooled and one year in the Army has given him the ability to identify real problems in the Army and how to fix them.
I have had soldiers like him in my many years as a leader, to include seven years as a 1SG and Rear-D Squadron CSM, but thankfully none of those “experts” were retarded enough to demonstrate how much smarter and knowledgeable they though they were than their entire chain of command. However I guess (if you believe his made-up story) Bergdahl got what he wanted. He was able to get the attention of a lot of people, to include one of the last Soldier’s soldier, FORSCOM Commander, GEN Robert Abrams (disclaimer- a good friend of mine and past wartime company commander) who just referred Bergdahl’s case to a General Court Martial which could net this misguided soul a lifetime in Leavenworth (http://www.armytimes.com/story/military/2015/12/14/sgt-bowe-bergdahl-face-court-martial-desertion-charge/77300686/).
Why are the ever-evolving US Army uniform guidelines and policies as clear and concise to read as Alaska Fishing regulations or the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) law?
In the release, the Army also clarified name and service tape instructions: When wearing the UCP-colored fleece jacket, the tape patterns should match the fleece and not the pattern of the ACU underneath….
…The new OCP uniform also includes a new darker T-shirt, belts and boots. These can NOT be worn with the old UCP uniform.
Soldiers CAN wear the old UCP belt, T-shirt and boots with the new OCP uniforms.
If you are a vet and you are, or want to write a book this may be the place for you, http://www.BooksByVeterans.com. This has been started by two very close friends and as someone who knows many veteran authors and knows a lot more who would like to be authors but they aren’t sure how to start in order to tell their story, this is great news.
BooksbyVeterans.com will provide an website for readers who want to find a book by a veteran, an outlet for authors who want to write their book, and a blogging platform for veteran writers. But beyond providing these services to veterans and customers, BooksbyVeterans and its parent company, Graybeard Books, strive to help veterans navigate the publishing world, which can be daunting. Besides the traditional publishing houses, platforms like Createspace, Nook, Kindle, Lulu, iBooks, and Smashwords offer authors a self-publishing outlet that can be confusing. Every author has the difficult task of figuring out which platform is right for them and how to use it to their advantage.
“It’s the mission of Graybeard Books to take the veteran by the hand and lead him through the minefield of publishing so he gets to the other side unscathed and with a published book he can be proud of,” Crigger says.
Veterans have great stories to tell. Whether it’s harrowing tales of bravery in the Korengaal Valley, “There I was” accounts of life in Fallujah, or comedic “I can’t believe I survived” stories from basic training, or a great non-military fiction book, veterans have a propensity for weaving tall and excellent tales.
So if you are someone who has or is writing a book or wants to, or if you know someone like that, please check out the website and contact Books By Veterans.
There have been several good friends of mine writing what Veteran’s Day means to them today for this blog. I know Nick is super-busy so I didn’t bother in asking him to write something, but as always he went above and beyond and did a video that is better than writing a post. He didn’t do it for bouhammer.com but I am going to embed it here because it goes with the theme and quite frankly, it just friggen awesome. So here you go, Nick from Rangerup.com explaining the difference between the media’s perception of Veterans and reality.
I feel tremendously privileged to be a veteran. By that, I mean that I’ve been privileged to have the opportunity to serve, and to serve in the capacities that I have. I’m not special. There are millions like me. There are millions of others who have never had the opportunity to serve. Those who wanted to, perhaps even tried to serve, and were denied for one reason or another. It’s an honor to have earned the right to know that I am a veteran. It’s an honor to feel included in the meaning of today.
It’s an honor to have taken part in history, to watch it unfold around me and to try to influence its outcome by my efforts. What others read about… or never realized was happening… I got to participate in. I was lucky in that I had assignments that brought me closer to that. We most often do not get to choose the role that we wind up in when we’re deployed. I’m grateful that I wound up in roles that I don’t regret and I’ll never forget. I got to do and see things that were so incredible, some of it even sounds unbelievable. I was lucky. I never got a scratch from the Taliban.
It’s an honor to have walked with heroes. In August of 2007, in the Tagab Valley of Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, then-Major Bill Myer was in the commander’s seat of his Humvee with his small column of Afghan National Police (ANP) in their Ranger pickups moving along a road at the base of a mountainous ridge. When his column was attacked from the high ground with automatic weapons, the ANP could not remain in the thin-skinned vehicles. They dismounted and took cover in the ditches along the road. The Afghans were not exactly organized in their response, but they did not break and run.
Major Myer dismounted from his vehicle, under fire, rallied and gathered up the ANP… and attacked. He attacked, up a mountain, into the fire; and the ANP followed him. Their attack broke the ambush and the Taliban fled. Major Myer and his ANP chased them until they lost their trail in a village… where they were served tea.
I’ve seen Bill Myer scared. You could tell when he was scared because he’d be grinning uncontrollably. No matter how much he was grinning, he was doing what he knew to be the best thing for him to do under the circumstances. He never failed to act. He never froze. He never panicked, and he never hid. I’ll never forget serving with him. It is an honor to have served with him. For the action I did my best to briefly describe above, he was awarded the Bronze Star with V device.
That same month, Sergeant First Class (SFC) Brian O’Neill was moving down a road, again the lone American vehicle with a small column of ANP. On a narrow road running across a steep hillside, the column was taken under fire with machine guns and RPG’s. The ANP dismounted, took cover and returned fire. SFC O’Neill dismounted and worked to help organize the ANP response. One ANP RPG gunner moved forward and took aim with his rocket launcher. When he fired, the round malfunctioned. The explosive warhead detonated in the tube, leaving his shattered body in the middle of the road but miraculously not killing him.
SFC O’Neill broke cover and ran out onto the fire-swept road to the ANP soldier’s crumpled body. He quickly assessed the man’s wounds and dragged him towards the cover of the Humvee, where he could be treated. SFC O’Neill’s quick treatment of life-threatening injuries saved not only the soldier’s life, but his left arm as well. SFC O’Neill knew that he had to get the man to a hospital as quickly as possible. After applying a tourniquet and treating a sucking chest wound, he fought to gain fire superiority and withdraw from the kill zone. He had to get the ANP, at least the drivers, to get back into the thin-skinned Rangers and move with him out of the kill zone. SFC O’Neill extracted his entire force without any further casualties and got the severely wounded Afghan soldier to the MEDEVAC point in time to save his life. SFC O’Neill was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with V device for his actions that day.
SFC O’Neill would be the first to tell you that if never gets shot at again, he’d be perfectly happy. He’d tell you that he was scared. Again, no matter how scared he was, he always did what he needed to be done. He never broke. He never ran. He never hid. There is no one I’d rather have by my side in any such situation. Led by a grinning Bill Myer.
Those are two of the heroes that I have had the privilege to work with. On Veterans Day, I remember that I am honored to have walked with men and women who are some of the finest, bravest, most honorable people alive. I have gotten to see men tested to the limits of their training and personalities, and I have seen those who have shone under the harshest of lights.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, has been and remains an honor and a privilege.
Old Blue is another retired Senior NCO from the Army like Bouhammer and the two have been friends for about eight years, ever since Old Blue was on the heels of Bouhammer in a deployment to Afghanistan and started writing award-winning blogs. Old Blue has multiple tours both embedded with Afghan Forces and at the COIN Academy in Kabul. They have have been co-writers on blogs together and have both done their best to educate America on what it is like to serve in Afghanistan along-side Afghan Security Forces.