As a thank you to US troops around the world for your ongoing sacrifices and hard work, we will be presenting a special "news log" for our troops and their families, which will appear on Saturdays, hopefully in a regular manner. Sections include: "White Knights" (military heroes of the week), "Officers and Leaders Behaving Badly," "Bits n 'Pieces" and "Humor."
TROOP NEWS for September 4, 2004
Compiled by Cheryl Seal
Army Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli Strives to Change Heavy-handed Tactics Used against Iraqis
By AP's Jim Krane
via Seattle Post Intelligencer
The U.S. military is avoiding once-common arrest techniques like bagging suspects' heads, the U.S. commander in charge of the Iraqi capital said, because such actions are considered humiliating by Iraqis and pushing new recruits into the insurgency.
"You've got to see it from a force protection standpoint: You're making more enemies," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli told The Associated Press. "When we mistreat one person I've got a net increase of nine enemies."
Soldiers are told to avoid handcuffing or blindfolding suspects - often done by placing a cloth sack over a suspect's head - in front of their families, said Chiarelli, who commands the Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division, which controls security in Baghdad.
The Army's 1st Infantry Division, which guards a swath of the Sunni Arab homeland north of Baghdad, started a similar "dignity and respect" initiative in April. Its commander, Maj. Gen. John Batiste, asked soldiers to be more courteous at traffic checkpoints and to stop putting bags over detainees' heads, division spokesman Maj. Neal O'Brien said.
Especially insulting is the practice of subduing Iraqi men by stepping on them."The worst thing in the world is to put him on the ground and put your boot on his head," Chiarelli said in an interview Thursday at 1st Cavalry headquarters near Baghdad International Airport. "Honor is so critical in this society. You don't take away a man's honor."
Former Soldier Says US Soldiers in Iraq are Honorable, Courageous Men and Women - Despite their Dishonorable 'Commander in Chief'
This definitely qualifies for the White Knight section. The white knights are the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This writer points out what too few people here at home see: US soldiers in Iraq are heroically carrying the burden of a bad decision made in bad faith. The fact that the administration made a bad decision in bad faith does not make the soldiers less honorable - it makes them MORE honorable, more heroic. Fortunately, unlike the Vietnam War, Americans here at home completely understand this and their hearts go out to our troops. That is why so many of us are fighting every day to try to bring them home!
As a former reconnaissance scout, I'm familiar with the burdens of serving your country, as well as the desire to believe that what you do is for the good of America. Almost 1000 soldiers have now been killed in Iraq, and to think that they have died for something dishonorable is too much to bear for most. That's understandable. Who wants to believe that their son died because of oil and war profiteers? And I don't criticize the perspective that these soldiers' lives haven't been wasted. A soldier following orders in Iraq, solid in the belief that he or she is helping to bring a better life to the people of Iraq, is an honorable person.
What is dishonorable is the practice of sending these soldiers into battle before the facts are clear and all peaceful means of conflict resolution have been exhausted. Prior to the war, Iraq was crawling with weapons inspectors. So long as those inspectors were in the country conducting surprise inspections, the chances were slim that Saddam Hussein would have attempted to transfer or use WMDs. Actually the chances were even less than slim since it turned out that there almost certainly weren't any WMDs.
It is also dishonorable to send troops into battle while simultaneously ignoring detailed post-war planning by your top diplomats, military commanders and intelligence officers _ solely on partisan grounds. And what was the major result of this? Sending hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi foot soldiers, armed to the teeth, into the political wilderness in a botched attempt at debaathification. The great majority of these soldiers were everyday guys who had no choice but to serve under their psychopathic leader. How many of our soldiers have been killed by these ostracized and desperate men? How many of those soldiers killed were poorly equipped reservists or guardsmen, lacking in flack-jackets and Humvee armor? "
'Hats from Home' Drive Organized in by Kansas Radio Station
By Gwuen Tietgen
Garden City Telegram
"Local radio personality J.D. Ham asked listeners to donate caps to soldiers in Iraq, enlisted the help of fellow radio stations, and now is welcoming a surge of hat-towing well-wishers.
"It has been pretty crazy," Ham said.
Total hat count thus far - they're not sure, but it's more than 1,500, surpassing the original goal of 1,030, set to mirror KBUF 1030 AM on the dial. And the hats have been coming in for only a week and a half.Reasons for the overwhelming response aren't certain, but Ham guesses that people saw an opportunity to do something for those protecting our country. Soldiers can wear the hats while off duty or hang them in their barracks as a reminder of home, Ham said.
"I really believe people want to do something to let troops know we're concerned about them, we care about them and love them, and they're not alone," he said. "It's a little something everybody can do to help out."
Given the response, Ham decided to raise the stakes by challenging southwest Kansans to donate more than 2,400 hats, one for every soldier being deployed from Fort Riley Sept. 14. If possible, he said, he'll invite listeners to Fort Riley to present the hats to the soldiers. All hats collected over the amount needed will go to other soldiers deployed overseas.
For now, stacks of "caps from Kansas" sit strewn about Agriculture Director Lory Williams' office at the station, lining the wall and burying the floor. They've been pouring in from Garden City, Dodge City, Syracuse and even Amarillo, Texas, donning names of banks, seed companies, ag spraying services and other businesses. Some have left messages for the soldiers with handwritten letters or on-the-bill greetings, including a hat from the Sawlog n' String Inc. Bluegrass Festival, which reads, "God Bless You from Dodge City, Kansas."
"I've tried to make some kind of order out of them," Williams said Wednesday of the boxes and bags full of caps. "And it smells like a cap factory in here."
Red-haired Georgia Angel Uses Own Money to Send Care Packages to Strangers on the Front Lines
Georgia's 'Henry Herald' News: "Occasionally pushing her long red hair behind her ears, Leigh Wise sits alone on the floor, surrounded by open boxes n some empty, some already filled with peanuts, pens or popcorn, shampoo or soap, reading materials or razors.
She is making care packages for American soldiers serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan but Wise isn't simply tossing items into a box, slapping on some tape and postage and dropping them off at the U.S. Post Office. She puts a lot of thought into every container.
"I found this 1-gallon bottle of concentrated shampoo that can make 8 gallons of shampoo when mixed with water," she said. "And I send over empty bottles so they can share with others. You have to remember that whatever you send, the soldiers have to carry so you have to be as efficient as possible."
Wise, 32, is not part of a volunteer organization that takes donations and helps prepare packages for soldiers. The single woman n "I am not married but I do have a cat" n has been using her own money, time and materials for about a dozen years not only to take care of soldiers but the homeless.
The daughter of Wilda Wise and the late John Wise, Leigh grew up in Henry County, graduated from Henry County High School and attended several colleges before earning her degree. While in college, Wise joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 1991.
Marine Saves Stranger's Life with Gift of Bone Marrow
Bobby Ross, Jr of AP
via Sun Herald: "From time to time, Marine Sgt. Barry Hanson has envisioned saving someone's life - maybe in Afghanistan or perhaps in Iraq. But certainly not in a small town in East Texas. Far from any battleground, the aviation electronics mechanic stationed in New Orleans came to the rescue when he learned that his bone marrow was a match for Rosemary Redfern.
"It wasn't exactly the way I pictured it in my overactive imagination," said Hanson, 25.
Redfern desperately needed a transplant because of a rare blood disease that can turn into a deadly form of leukemia.The soft-spoken Marine and the 50-year-old Marshall woman who owes her life to him met for the first time this week - 16 months after her successful transplant.
"He is my lifesaver because if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here today," Redfern said. "He is just an angel to me." Doctors and nurses at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas wiped away tears as Hanson and Redfern hugged and ate celebratory cake.
Many patients die nationally every year waiting for a suitable donor, Stearns said.In Redfern's case, doctors determined that none of her four sisters was a match. A search of a national database found Hanson.While serving in Okinawa, Japan, the Marine had given blood and filled out a card agreeing to donate marrow if needed.
"The next thing you know, I get a phone call out of the blue and I'm in Washington, D.C.," he said.
Actually, two years passed before the call came. By then, the Stockport, Ohio, native was stationed at the Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base, in New Orleans.
OFFICERS AND LEADERS BEHAVING BADLY
Bush Soul-mate Putin Tries to 'Prove' His Machismo by Allowing the Slaughter of Children
Just like his "soul mate" Bush, Putin apparently thinks that a "strong leader" is one who never compromises, never shows compassion, never takes anyone's advice. The result is always the same: More bloodshed, escalations in terrorism, more world instability. As the UK Mirror astutely observes: "How could these people descend...to seizing a school andholding children to ransom? The answer is that the longer the Russians fight their dirty war in Chechnya, the more angry and hopeless its people become.Two factors are making the problem worse.The first is President Putin. He was elected promising to win the war but he has failed.The second factor is the rise of al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism. So long as Putin offers no hope of freedom for the Chechens, then al-Qaeda will continue to recruit terrorists there and ordinary people will be driven to carry out terrible acts, just to give the Russians a taste of the loss every Chechen has endured for a decade."
Pentagon Uses Manipulative 'Casualty Accounting' Strategy to Keep the Death Count Below 1,000 for Media
The Pentagon knew it would be bad for Bush before the election if the death count in Iraq reached the pscyhologically wrenching 1,000 mark. So when the death count soared in April, it started omitting from official reports soldiers who were killed but whose "next of kin" had not been officially notified. There are plenty of soldiers who may not have easily accessed next of kin, like some of the non-citizen soldiers who came over from Mexico alone and whose families can't be tracked down. But these men and women were soldiers and their lives should count - they shouldn't be used as political playing pieces to be shuffled around to best advantage for a few key officers and politicans.
Thru a deceptive "accounting" scheme the Pentagon has omitted 35 dead from their tally by listing them as "unnamed" though "reported dead." The actual death toll is 1,013, while the number of casualties, counting illness, psychiatric evacuations, and wounded in action and accidents is nearly 14,000.
Wounded Soldiers Stuck in Limbo for Months at Fort Lewis
I don't know exactly who the nimcompoops were that created a situation where wounded soldiers were "mislaid" as if they were triplicate forms someone forgot to file, but they ought to get a swift kick in the butt and sent to the lonliest outpost in Afghanistan as punishment!
The Oregonian: "Military commanders were scrambling Tuesday to address complaints that bureaucratic red tape has left about a dozen wounded or disabled Oregon Army National Guard soldiers languishing for months at a medical center in northwest Washington.
Brig. Gen. Ray Byrne, commander of the Oregon Guard, and Brig. Gen. Michael A. Dunn, commander of Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Wash., spoke by phone and identified issues that appear to have prevented some of the Oregon soldiers from returning home to their families to convalesce, said Maj. Arnold Strong, a Guard spokesman in Salem
Military families have complained for months that loved ones have been stuck at Madigan after suffering wounds in Iraq. After sending teams of officials to Fort Lewis to hear the complaints, Byrne on Monday flew to the medical center himself.
Soldiers complained to Byrne that they were forced to recuperate too far from home, often waited hours for doctor appointments and faced months of delays without benefits, The Associated Press reported.
Karl Rove Pisses off the Irish, Stuns Everyone Else, by Comparing the Northern Ireland Conflict to Al Qaeda
Not content to keep kicking the hornets' nests in the Middle East, Bush's 'brain trust' [yeah, right] Karl Rove is apparently now working on trying to foment new conflict in Ireland! What this guy knows about diplomacy would fit on the head of a pin!
Mary Fitzgerald and Vanessa Williams
Washington Post: "So White House senior adviser Karl Rove thinks the war on terrorism is similar to the conflict in Northern Ireland. The rather peculiar comparison surfaced during an interview Wednesday with the Associated Press. "This is going to be more like the conflict in Northern Ireland, where the Brits fought terrorism, and there's no sort of peace accord with al Qaeda saying, 'We surrender,' " Rove said.
Hmm . . . bet that will raise a few eyebrows in Belfast.
The 30-year conflict between republicans seeking a united, independent Ireland and unionists wishing to retain the link with Britain claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people before a political resolution was achieved in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. The leader of Northern Ireland's Ulster Unionist Party, David Trimble, who is attending the Republican National Convention as a guest of the International Democrat Union, acknowledged that the comments left him a little perplexed.
"I'm not altogether clear about what exactly he's getting at," Trimble said.
BITS N' PIECES
Matrix-Like War Sim Game Training Iraq-Bound Soldiers - Bet they Don't Simulate Heat, Sand flies, Blood or the 'Aztec Two-Step'!
Times of India: "Cool, it's like the Matrix".This was the response of a US soldier to the latest computer war game Full Spectrum Warrior featuring a virtual Baghdad with virtual soldiers and virtual enemies sniping at them from alleyways. This is the latest video game innovation from the American military, ostensibly to hone its soldiers' skills at the art of warfare.
The soldiers in the game are programmed to respond as real soldiers would, there are no magic weapons to bail them out and there is no predictability as to how the adversaries will react. But, let us not lose sight of the fact that this is, in reality, just a video game. As the Iraq situation shows, there is nothing predictable about war and computer-simulated games can in no way prepare a soldier to deal with the complexities of combat in an alien territory. In fact, all such games do is to impart a false sense of bravado and detract from the pain and trauma of war.
Starting Oct. 1, former military will have to pay to fly to routine medical visits
Stars and Stripes: Starting Oct. 1, military retirees and their family members in Japan, Korea and Guam will have to foot the bill for commercial airfare to routine medical appointments. Pacific Air Forces announced the policy change in a memorandum this week to PACAF military treatment facility commanders, underscoring that retirees from all branches, and their dependents, still are eligible for priority and urgent aeromedical evacuation on military aircraft."Retirees are part of our military family and we are doing all we can to help them understand the issue and to work on their behalf to help them keep up their routine medical care," said Lt. Col. Kelley Counter, PACAF chief of manpower, personnel and financial management."
Korean Troops Get Sex Education Class from Lady 'Specialist'
JongAng Daily: "Over the past two years, Bae Jeong-won has traveled the country, teaching sex education classes to 20,000 soldiers. She has ventured up to Baengnyeong island, near North Korea, and to a remote army base in the mountains of Gangwon province for this purpose.
The director of the Harmonious Sex and Culture Center, Ms. Bae, 44, is a specialist in a field with few competitors. "During a sex education session in the military, soldiers sit back with their arms crossed as if they don't know why they have to listen to this," Ms. Bae said. "But as the lecture proceeds, they sit up and their eyes become focused. Quite a few men tend to have sexual encounters just before joining the army or while they're on leave from the army," Ms. Bae said. "That is why sex education for soldiers is important."
What type of information on sex does she give to soldiers who live on walled-in bases, disconnected from the outside world and containing only men?
"When I ask soldiers to name the male reproductive organ, they get all embarrassed, calling it "it," "thing,' "tool,' "bottom,' " hard-shelled mussel.' [Wonder if she warns 'em about "soft-shelled crabs"!?]
Beneath the Beards, Afghan Soldiers Not so Different from US Counterparts
By Maj. William S. Wynn
"If you would exchange their AK-47s for M-16s and give some of them shaves, they would look very much like U.S. Army Soldiers.
That is the thought that went through my head as I looked at the Afghan National Army sitting on the runway at Kabul International Airport in the early morning hours of Aug. 16. They were soldiers who were waiting to deploy into what could have been a combat operation against their own countrymen.
In fact, apart from their weapons, beards and dialects, the Afghan soldiers I observed reminded me of Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division, waiting on the "Green Ramp" at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., to depart on a mission. Certainly the speed at which the decision had been made to deploy these soldiers and how quickly they were ready to deploy rivaled that of the 82nd, a comment that was later echoed by a senior American commander in Afghanistan.
As I continued to watch them, sitting on their equipment and wondering -- as all soldiers do -- when someone is going to tell them to move out, I noticed each of the soldiers was dealing with the upcoming mission in his own way. Here and there small groups talked, some slept and some nervously teased each other. They had reason to be nervous. The news coming from Shindand was that there had been heavy factional fighting and a number of killed and wounded. Earlier deploying Afghan soldiers had retaken the airport without incident, but no one could be certain this unit's deployment there would be equally peaceful.
Even without looking at their rank, I could easily make out the noncommissioned officers and officers. They moved from group to group and from soldier to soldier, encouraging them and reminding them of what the Afghan people expect of them. The overall atmosphere portrayed by the officers, NCOs and soldiers was confidant and professional. It was clear to me these men were ready to answer the call to serve their country.
Unreported 'Battles' Near Najaf: Marines VS Soldiers
Stars and Stripes: CAMP DUKE, Iraq: The only American bullets flying around the Najaf area these days are quick passes or line drives into centerfield. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, who are waiting to move from their base camp, have been fighting evening battles of their own on a clear patch of dirt and dust.
On Monday night, the two teams squared off in stickball, using a wadded-up cloth wrapped in duct tape as a ball and a pick handle as a bat. On Tuesday they pulled out the old pigskin. "It's a good time," said Marine Sgt. Jacob Mullin. "It's good for both units to relax a little."
"This couldn't have happened at a better time," said Army Sgt. Raymond Davis, whose 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment platoon is assigned to 2-7 Cav. "Otherwise they'd be sitting in their tents, doing nothing."
Before joining the Army, Davis was a Marine working on assault amphibian vehicles. "Some of those guys I actually trained," he said, gesturing to the other side of the field.After arriving at Duke from Najaf, Davis approached the Marines to see if he knew any of them. He then asked if they would like to play against the Army.They accepted, and now the teams will face each other on this field of battle every night until they leave.
"Every day before we leave we'll engage in some sort of sports activity," said Spc. Jason Ware during a break in the action.
"We'll both be here until Friday or Saturday," said Marine Sgt. Damon Eppinette, who watched the game from the back of his assault vehicle.
Wednesday night's sporting event hadn't been decided yet, but the Marines anxiously eyed a handful of Iraqi soldiers watching the game from a nearby berm. "Maybe they'll get a pretty good soccer team and take on the Iraqis," said Eppinette, offhandedly.
"They would kill us," countered Mullin.
"Yeah, that's why we don't bring out the soccer ball," Eppinette said.
Afghan Warriors Trading in Kalishnakovs for Computers
Khaleej Times Online: "Afghan warriors are trading in their AK-47s for computers, setting aside the conflict that has beset their country for a generation. In Kunduz in the north of the country, former militiamen and army soldiers are being introduced to civilian life by foreign instructors, both military and civilian, who have been working since October last year to set up courses in computer and other skills.
It has not been an easy task to turn former fighters into apprentices in local businesses. When the supervisors apply to artisans for places for apprentice they are often met with scepticism. "You really need to convince traders and businessmen to take on an apprentice, as these young men are not well thought of," says Walter Pausch, who works for the German development agency DED.
"They have to learn punctuality and discipline, and the owners of the businesses fear they could also steal their property," he adds.
The DED is currently supporting projects with funding and with German experts, and a pilot project training around 200 men aged between 19 and 36 is just coming to an end.Foreign experts know that there can only be peace in Afghanistan if the former fighters and soldiers of the disbanded army are given new skills to allow them a chance of survival as civilians.
Re-education programmes have a chance in this new environment, and the United Nations has promised assistance to fighters who turn in their weapons and register for training.They are allowed to go home to their villages and apply for funding for their small farms or to enter a training course.Those who are able to read and write and have a skill have the opportunity to enroll in a two-week course to learn business skills, including the use of a computer.In addition there are courses in construction work lasting several months available at local building sites.
But it is far from plain sailing for the trainers. "We have come to realize that they resort to their fists very readily once there is any difference of opinion," Pausch says.Nevertheless many of the former fighters are making the change successfully, and the first graduates of these training schemes are in high demand. The construction sector in particular is booming in the north of the country.
Bush's New 'Economic Solution': Give Middle Class People Vouchers for One-Way Plane Tickets Out of the US
The Spoof: "George W. Bush today outlined his proposal to give vouchers to middle-class Americans seeking jobs, job security, affordable health care, and the promise of an eventual retirement that does not include sleeping on the street and scrounging through garbage cans.
"Americans who don't agree with my forward-thinking domestic policies can simply leave America," said President Bush. "I don't want to get too huffy about it, but if they are silly enough to prefer a country like France that has a 35-hour work week and 5 weeks of vacation each year, then c'est la vie, and good riddance to them. With these vouchers, we'll give them the means to do so."
The vouchers will entitle people to a one-way economy flight on any American airline to England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, or Scandanavia and will also provide them with a little extra money to purchase inexpensive luggage, some bottled water, and a few snacks for the flight.
"We need to concentrate on making the world a safer place so that people feel safe in their neighborhoods," said one Administration official. "We don't have time to deal with petty domestic issues like the economy. Bill Clinton got it wrong when he said 'It's the economy. stupid.' The correct phrase is 'the economy is stupid and anyone who worries about it is stupid too.'"
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