Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! My fiancee and I spent a few days with her family in Kentucky and we had a great time. Many thanks to Lori and Marty for hosting us and making us feel so special!

Below is a cool vid from Baghdad. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hunting Bad Guys in Baghdad

A great article by Michael J. Totten on soldiers hunting one of the most dangerous terrorist leaders in Iraq:

The tip-off came in over the phone late at night when the terrorist leader's meeting was almost scheduled to be finished. By the time everyone had their gear and was ready to go, we had seventeen minutes or less to drive across a portion of Sadr City and break down the door before the meeting was over.

We ran to the Humvees.

“Go with Sergeant Gonzales,” Captain Looney said to me. “When we dismount, catch up to me and stay on me.” He looked angry all of a sudden, but mostly he was just being serious. Any of us might be killed in less than an hour.

Our convoy of Humvees roared down Baghdad's streets in the dark without headlights. I checked my watch. No time to waste. We had eleven minutes to catch the bastard before his meeting was scheduled to end. Hopefully he and his pals were on “Arab time” and would hang out and drink tea for a while before heading out.

You can read the rest "here".

PROPS: To BLACKFIVE

POTUS Uses Matrix Moves to Avoid Shoes

Well, we knew it was only a matter of time before legendary boxing promoter Don King weighed in on POTUS' Matrix-like moves:

The boxing guru was so impressed with Bush's shoe evasion tactics over the weekend, that he gave a statement to TMZ saying, "Bush has unbelievable reflexes ... he can stick and move like a boxer!"

The Matrix Reloaded:



The Seattle Mariners could use that reporter's arm in their bullpen.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

My perfect Christmas gift:



PROPS: To Ron

The Dark Knight: Coming Back to a Theater Near You

Very good news for us Gotham City fans. The Dark Knight will be back on the big screen January 23rd:

Warner Bros. has announced that they will be re-releasing The Dark Knight nationwide on January 23rd, effectively guaranteeing that the film will become the fourth of all time to take in more than $1 billion in worldwide box office.

Yep, only a month and a half since the DVD debut, one of the greatest movies ever released returns. This Bat signal will not only light up the night-time skies but also energize Oscar voters.

Lets hope Heath Ledger gets his much-deserved Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker. What Ledger did in this movie was remarkable--he not only made The Joker a heinous villian but did so with glimpses humor while maintaining a scary persona.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

'The Unit' News

'The Unit' is in reruns the next couple of weeks, but TV Guide provides a few news updates on the CBS TV series:

Sharon of Sharon Bialy/Sherry Thomas casting has been moving in warp drive trying to cast David Mamet's up-coming script that requires 21 guest actors before the first day of shooting. She's used to the challenges of casting for The Unit. Like finding an actor who can speak Pashto, an Afghanistan language, and who can also ride a horse. This was needed in "Shadow Riders," which followed the Unit's quest to deliver a bride to a groom in order to barter a truce between warring Afghanistan tribes...

Sharon says that shooting The Unit is like shooting an eight-day movie. "The thing I'm proud of is the level of excellence that's sustained on the show. Editing to writing... every department is on a level of excellence sustained over four years. It starts at the top with Shawn and David. There is a level of trust with them. They treat you as artists. You are valued. You want to pay them back by doing a great job. If you bring up an actor they've never heard of before and you vouch for them, they will listen." When they needed someone with authenticity and weight to play the African dictator in the "Force Majeure" episode, Sharon tugged on the vast fishing net of her photographic memory and pulled up Isaach De Bankole. De Bankole, little known in the States, is a French speaking Ivory Coast-born award-winning actor in France.

Sharon's keenness in finding the right person for the right part often comes back to her lesson's from repertory theater where you can see an actor in a wide variety of roles in the course of seasons, where you can " see his depth and range". This is what led Sharon to suggest Michael McKean for last week's episode, "Misled and Misguided." McKean beautifully played the official from the Department of Defense who believes tech intelligence trumps field logic.

And Michael McKean (pictured above with Dennis Haysbert) is the same guy who played Lenny on TV's Laverne & Shirley.

An Early Christmas Present



PROPS: To Flopping Aces

Taps

Present, Arms.


From The History Place:

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Sunday, December 7, 1941

Above -- The USS Shaw explodes during the Japanese air raid. (Photo credits: U.S. National Archives)

Sunday, December 7 - Washington D.C. - The last part of the Japanese message, stating that diplomatic relations with the U.S. are to be broken off, reaches Washington in the morning and is decoded at approximately 9 a.m. About an hour later, another Japanese message is intercepted. It instructs the Japanese embassy to deliver the main message to the Americans at 1 p.m. The Americans realize this time corresponds with early morning time in Pearl Harbor, which is several hours behind. The U.S. War Department then sends out an alert but uses a commercial telegraph because radio contact with Hawaii is temporarily broken. Delays prevent the alert from arriving at headquarters in Oahu until noontime (Hawaii time) four hours after the attack has already begun.

Islands of Hawaii, near Oahu - The Japanese attack force under the command of Admiral Nagumo, consisting of six carriers with 423 planes, is about to attack. At 6 a.m., the first attack wave of 183 Japanese planes takes off from the carriers located 230 miles north of Oahu and heads for the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

And at 7:02 a.m. we all know what happened next.

Order, Arms.

Xerox: "Let's Say Thanks"

Another American businesss is doing a great job of saying "Thanks" to our servicemen and women serving all over the world during this Holiday Season.

At this Xerox home page you can select a postcard (like the one below) to send to our troops, personalize a message in it, and just hit "Send". That's it. Easy.

Now go visit the Xerox web page and send a message of support and thanks to our troops. And thank you to Xerox.

PROPS: To Jeannie

Saturday, December 6, 2008

"Danger close"

Not much set-up is required for this video.

Two A-10 Warthogs are being called in for air support of friendlies on the ground in Afghanistan. Listen to the calm demeanor of the A-10 lead pilot as he does his job....very professional at all times. Also hear the voice of the commander on the ground calling in the airstrikes so close to his position the A-10 pilot advises "I'm looking at danger close now". The commander on the ground understands and still needs ordinance dropped so badly near his position he gives the A-10 pilot his "commander's initials", acknowledging the strike could be grave to himself and his troops.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Update: "The Unit" TV Ratings

For all you fans who enjoy your Sunday night dose of watching "The Unit" on CBS, here's an update on our favorite snake eaters:

Four seasons later, The Unit is still The Unit. It is not a big hit (although it averaged at #14 on the ratings during its first season), but it isn’t an embarrassing failure either. It’s just there, cruising along, although the change of time slot for the current season put some viewers in a little panic frenzy about its future. It’s doing what it does best, and the expectations aren’t really pitted against them.

But the show’s got a dedicated following, and the move to its current Sunday night time slot hasn’t made much of a dent on the ratings. It’s in a pretty comfy position—nobody really worries about it, and nobody bothers about it. (But don’t take me wrong: the fans care, of course.) The question is pretty simple: is The Unit underappreciated?

Hell, yes! I'm sure the vast majority of "The Unit" fans are ones with military experience. I also bet there's a 10-15% of viewers of this show that are just patriotic Americans who can accept and understand the real threat to our nation posed by terrorists. But a much larger percentage of Sunday viewers would rather skip the military realism and combat depiction in favor of comedy or sports.

"The Unit" is not family hour and finding a better time slot might be difficult. I know the producers of this show are trying to get more female viewers and are using "The Unit" wives in more episodes (but in very unplausible situations I might add). While NYPD Blue and ER prove that realism and hard-core scenes can lead to blockbuster ratings, both those shows focussed more and more on the relationships between the main characters and new cast members. This is where I think "The Unit" needs to move.

The article picks up on a few land mines the show still needs to navigate:

Is it the realism? Maybe some people who aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of the military are a little hesitant to touch it. Maybe some have been turned away, but it isn’t much of a worry. With people sticking, there’s definitely some people who appreciate the approach—perhaps subdued, but it’s hard to explain—and are sticking to it every night.

Maybe it’s just the circumstances. There is such a thing as the darling of the press, after all, and you can’t help but think that too much attention is given to some, and too little attention on others. Or they just don’t notice it. (I’ll hint at football again.)

And there's this eye poke deservedly at CBS:

It’s hard to find updates on the show, and the little information for a certain episode that you’re getting isn’t enough to fill a couple of paragraphs.

Nail, meet head of the hammer.

Progress

U.S. combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan have dropped to the lowest combined level since the United States began fighting the two wars more than five years ago. Good news and shouldn't be much of a surprise to folks who have been following the success of the surge in Iraq and our recent successful airstrikes in the Afghanistan region.

Eleven American servicemembers died in combat in the conflicts in November. Seven others died in non-hostile incidents. The highest monthly total for combat deaths in both wars was 129 in November 2004.

Security in Iraq has improved dramatically over the past year, despite a number of high-profile bombing against civilian targets in recent weeks.

And more good news out of Iraq:

“If you look at the numbers of (Iraq) attacks overall, they are much, much lower than they have ever been since ... 2003,” Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the No. 2 ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, told reporters Wednesday in Baghdad.

You can read the entire article "here".

Friday, November 28, 2008

Picture of the Week

This week's pic is of several Four Fans of Freedom near Sin City. Click on image for larger version and smell of JP-8.

A formation of C-130 Hercules taxis in after a training mission Nov. 19 during a mobility exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The exercise tests the ability of airlift crews from 12 bases to join together at a specific time and location to drop a brigade-size force anywhere in the world. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Larry E. Reid Jr.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Q & A with Dennis Haysbert from 'The Unit'

Dennis Haysbert, who plays Sargeant Major Jonas Blane on the TV series "The Unit" answers a few questions here.

As the article mentions, Haysbert is still more regarded for his portrayal of President David Palmer on "24" than as Snake Doctor on "The Unit". Hopefully, this will change soon as the CBS show continues to do well in the ratings.

You can catch "The Unit" Sundays on CBS at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

For all you fans that can't wait unit Sunday, here's some behind the scenes action involving weapons. Perfect.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I have the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with the people I'm most thankful to have in my life....my family, including my fiancee and our children. We'll get to spend the day with our friends and neighbors as they've become a big part of our family too!

Having spent many Thanksgivings deployed to regions all over the world I can just imagine how our servicemen and women overseas are doing at this holiday. They're waiting in long lines or getting up at crazy hours to place that phone call home. To hear the voice of that someone very special and so very missed. They're wondering how their families are coping on this day and if the traditions they've started for every Thanksgiving are still being done in their absence? Did Mom serve the mash pototoes and stuffing that can't be matched by anyone on the Food Channel?

Yet, while our deployed soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are missing loved ones back at home they have two other important things on their minds. First, the mission. While the chow halls are packed with very hungry and tired professionals, just as abundant as appetites are cell phones, radios, beepers, and weapons. The 24/7 life in a combat zone makes true celebration and relaxation difficult to achieve. Although the exceptional food, decorations, holiday music, and uniforms of all gathered make these deployed Thanksgiving Days different, the routine and the 'get-er-done' mentality remain constant.

The second thing I remember most from deployed Thanksgivings is the sense of family I got with those I served with. Despite all the tense work, long days and nights, and spending nearly all waking hours with the same people, I wanted to spend more time with them on Thanksgiving. If I couldn't have my family with me on this special ocassion, then I wanted to be with these fine men and women. The bond between us, yes, a Band of Brothers, always strengthened during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone knew what each other was missing and had thoughts of being at home. That empathy was understood and fostered that family feeling.

So today while I'm glad to be at home with friends and family I'm thankful to the men and women in uniform who are currently deployed (and their families!!) for the sacrifice they're making for us. They're the ones who'll be on my mind on this day. Thank you!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

'The next best way' to Ring in 2009


From the Maker's Mark webpage:

Each year, our offices receive letters and emails from service men and women overseas, asking us to send them a few of our Maker's Mark cigars. Since troops serving in the Middle East are not allowed to consume alcohol, the requests come in as "the next best way" to ring in and toast the New Year.For the requests that we receive, we put together a couple of boxes of cigars to let our soldiers know how much we appreciate them and what they do. This year, we'd like to invite you to help us say thanks to our friends and family members overseas by sending a Maker's Mark cigar to a serviceperson. Send a cigar to your own loved one, or make a donation to someone who could use a little cheer as they spend their holidays away from home.
Buy Cigars for a Soldier You Know
Free Shipping on 3-Packs, Boxes of 10 and Boxes of 25 Cigars. Click for info.


Go visit this great company. And let a service member overseas ring in the New Year in style.

I've had the opportunity to try the Maker's Mark cigars and even a few glasses of their bourbon in Louisville this past February. Outstanding! It's always special when companies go out of their way to acknowledge our service and our families sacrifice and I make a point to give them my repeated business.

Thank you Maker's Mark!

PROPS: To My Life As A Military Spouse

Marlboro Man

I was traveling through the capital city of this Middle Eastern country with my interpreter "David". We were on our way to a downtown business building for discussions on Coalition communications. As the senior American representative in the meeting, I would be relaying to our host nation the needs of our U.S. Ambassador and necessity of these capabilities for military success. These meetings were often hastily arranged after a volley of phone calls from my office and the U.S. Embassy. Bottom line was that we couldn't do our mission without our host nation agreeing to provide us help, and that assistance was critical in helping another nearby country...Iraq.

Although I always took the appropriate security precautions of dressing in civilian attire and taking different routes off-base to navigate the precarious driving conditions that foreign cities present to American servicemen, I never felt completely safe and always used that apprehension to my advantage. "David" would do all the driving. This allowed me to continuously survey the landscape for potential choke points and threats. "David" is Iraqi and although his main job was to translate for me, I also preferred to use his knowledge of customs and courtesies to the max extent possible. We were in a neighboring country to Iraq, but "David" blended right in to the local population and having him drive would present us with the best possible face on our Land Rover.

Our meeting was to take place at 10:30 a.m. It was only 9:30 a.m. but I wanted to give ourselves some extra time to circumvent the morning traffic jams and always present fender-benders and ensuring arguments between drivers while everyone else honked at the impasse.

Three blocks from our meeting location I discussed with "David" our parking options. He said there would be a special, gated parking lot with a very few number of spots located at the very base of the high-rise building. "David" said that parking lot would be fully guarded and is reserved for only the high-rollers of the local government and business leaders. I told him that we needed to park inside that lot at all cost. I wanted to make our vehicle harder to get to and if someone really wanted to take out our Land Rover, that terrorist would also take out the vehicles of the prominent local leadership.

As we approached the guard to the secure parking lot, "David" and I knew we had our hands full. The guard immediately started waving his hand and sub-machine gun when we closed within 5 car lengths of his position. "David" stopped our Land Rover and began to talk very calmly with this guard. The guard replied to our request to park in the lot also in a calm manner. However, this guard wasn't about to let us in. No way. No how.

I whispered to "David" that I would call our host nation partners and insist on parking in this lot. Crap, no answer. Dialed our Air Attache at the U.S. Embassy....voicemail!! After leaving a quick message I tactically hung up but left the phone near my ear and kept talking to no one. But I constantly made eye contact with the guard. I wanted him to know I was still working this issue and pressure would ensue upon him. After about 2 minutes I hung up and quietly told "David" we had no top cover. "David" then blew a gasket and began arguing with the guard that this was getting raised to the Interior department within the government. He demanded to speak with his supervisor. I asked "David" about giving the guard some money and he said that wouldn't work in this situation. How about cigarettes? Hmmm. Maybe...

Just as the guard caught sight of the 3/4 full carton of cigarettes that emerged from beneath "David's" seat, he ended his conversation with his supervisor on the walkie talkie. With one hand reaching out to take the carton of cigarettes, the guard's other hand pushed the button raising the gate to the secure parking lot. We were in.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

French Soldier on America and Our Troops

It's got truth, humor, and even a reference to 'Rambo'. Does it get any better than that? Nope.

From Serendipitous Altruism, comes this remarkable perspective on our U.S. troops from a French soldier:

“We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity lack of privacy and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the ennemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers”.

Band of Brothers indeed. A great read and pass along to your friends.

PROPS: To TigerHawk

'24' Returns: Jack Bauer Back for 'Redemption'

One of my favorite TV shows returns tonight for its 7th season.

The first two hours of '24' is an action-packed, thriller that will have loyal Jack Bauer fans and even new Fox viewers thinking this drama is better than most movies found in theaters for $9.

This fast paced episode called 'Redemption' finds Jack in the fictional African country of Sangala, living on the QT, hoping for some rest, minus the annoying Chloe. Helping school children and making new friends without Glocks and ear piece comms, Jack thinks things are just dandy. However, throw in a crazy rebel leader attempting to start your standard 3rd World civil war, and Bauer's vacation is cut short.
At the same time, in the Washington D.C. Beltway, a power struggle ensues between a new, female President and that sly, bastard, Powers Booth (Ok, his character's name is Noah Daniels...but truth be told, the guy's REAL name is 'Powers', so anything else is inadequate and plain wrong).
Series starts in January with standard issue cliffhangers and testosterone.
Tick...tick...tick.

Airstrike Kills British Liason to al Qaeda

A British militant dirt bag is no longer plotting to blow up American trans-Atlantic airliners.


The militant, Rashid Rauf, was among the five people killed in the attack by a remotely piloted aircraft in North Waziristan, close to the Afghan border, the officials said. He is perhaps the best-known of the figures killed in an American airstrike campaign there that has intensified since August and has caused increased strains between the United States and Pakistan.

Intensified? That's a major understatement.

The missile strike in North Waziristan on Saturday was the third by the Americans in almost three days. Since August, there have been more than two dozen strikes by remotely piloted aircraft, including one last week that hit a settled area in the North-West Frontier Province outside the tribal region.

A few of our most recent strikes by the "remotely piloted aircraft":

Al Qaeda's Beheading 'Emir' Captured

Al Qaeda's #4 Reaches Room Temp

Senior al Qaeda leader killed in airstrike

And "increased strains" between us and Pakistan? Yeah sure. Don't bet on it. Privately, I bet Pakistani leadership are bumping knuckles and high fiving each other. Perfect.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Video of the Week

This video has been around for some time, but it's still one of my all-time favorites.

The 'Must Read' of the Week

This week's 'Must Read' comes courtesy of The American Legion. It's an essay written by Mitchell L. Hubbard of Winchester, Va., about his son’s experiences while deployed to Iraq:

“Whatever your political take on the war in Iraq, nothing can alter it more than having a loved one in the midst of it. Nor is anyone’s current perspective balanced until they hear at least some things from a soldier’s point of view.

“My wife and I learned these truths when our son, a 2004 Handley graduate, decided to join the Army in 2006. His reasoning was simple: he wasn’t comfortable knowing that thousands of others his age were sacrificing their own freedoms to protect his. When he signed up to join those thousands, it changed our perspective as well.

“Up to that point, it had always been other people’s sons and daughters doing the fighting. Now it would be our own child. Naturally, no one wants their child to volunteer to go in harm’s way for freedom’s sake. It was something of a conviction, though, when my wife and I had to ask ourselves why it shouldn’t be our own son in the Middle East, why we should be spared the rituals of anxiety, prayer, hope and waiting that tens of thousands of other families over here have already endured.

“In early June, we flew to Fort Hood, Texas, to see our son deploy for a 15-month tour in Iraq. Again, one’s perspective is limited until one attends a deploying ceremony for a unit of soldiers. Spouses, children, parents, siblings and friends, all crowding a gym, all clinging closely to their treasures in uniform, accompanied by flags, prayers, cheers and tears. Our son had joined a ‘band of brothers.’ My wife and I had joined the ‘band of others’ who would be waiting at home. Both those going, and those left behind, carry the war on terror in a personal way.

“Still, those of us left behind need to see something of what our soldiers see, and not only what is offered us in the news. To that end, here is one story our son, Luke, shared with us by phone that must be shared with anyone who claims an interest in what our soldiers are doing in the Middle East.

“Stationed outside a city on the Tigris River, Luke had accompanied his colonel into town as part of a security team, while the colonel spoke with a local sheik. While standing guard, Luke noticed a woman approaching from behind and cautiously turned in her direction, his rifle at the ready.

“An interpreter told our son it was OK – the woman just wanted to touch a soldier. Still uneasy, Luke stood still while the woman reached out her hand and touched his face, tears in her eyes.

“Looking to the interpreter for meaning, our son was told that the woman simply ‘wanted to touch the face of grace.’ It seems this trembling woman, like most of the people in her town, looked upon our soldiers as angels of grace, sent by God to protect her from the violence and oppression her people had come to know up to then. Learning this, our son squeezed and kissed the woman’s hand, and she left, weeping.

“The ‘face of grace.’ How many of us, safe at home debating the politics of the war on terror, have ever seen our soldiers in such a light? How many of us have even read such an uplifting newspaper account of our soldiers?

“To be sure, our soldiers are not virtuous simply by being soldiers. At home in their ‘civvies’ they are as un-angelic as the rest of us. Yet when they voluntarily get into ‘full battle rattle’ (as they call their battle gear) in a hot and hostile land, their job is both protective and sacrificial – as angelic a purpose as humans can take on.

“People like this woman, having suffered years of oppression and fear, have eyes and a heart to see this, and the desire to “‘touch the face of grace.’ Do we have the ability to see our soldiers in the same way? And not merely our soldiers: Can we see the ‘face of grace’ in the police who protect us in every town, day and night? Or in the fire and rescue teams who are ‘soldiers’ in their own right?

“My wife and I obviously pray that our son and his ‘band of brothers’ will come safely home to their personal ‘band of others.’ After listening to our son’s experience, though, we have added the prayer that Americans in every community will be given the eyes and heart to see the ‘Face of Grace’ in all who protect our lives and freedoms – especially in soldiers like our son.”

PROPS: To A Soldier's Perspective

Friday, November 21, 2008

Miss Georgia....Air Force ROTC Cadet

Once again the Air Force will have one of its finest at the Miss America contest.

Kimberly Gittings, a sophomore ROTC cadet at the University of Georgia, was crowned Miss Georgia USA on Nov. 8; a little more than 24 hours later, she was cranking out sit-ups at O-dark-30 for her PFA.

Gittings admits that balancing her school work, pageant competitions and ROTC commitments is “a struggle.” But the pageant circuit has more in common with military service than you might think, she said.

There’s a lot more tedious paperwork involved than most people realize, for one thing. Just like the military, attention to detail is paramount. And in both cases, she said, “you’re representing an organization,” and are expected to behave accordingly.

Gittings will have to push back her field training a year, said her ROTC commander, Lt. Col. David Baylor. But unless she wins the Miss USA pageant this spring in Las Vegas — a title she would “give the entire left half of my body” to achieve — she plans to stick with the Air Force.

Good for her and the Air Force.

Memba her?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A-10 Warthog vs. Taliban Bicycle

You never want it to be a fair fight. Ever.

Keep on runnin'

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What about Captain Paul Lorence?

On October 31, Libya's Moammar Gadhafi made a $1.5-billion final payment for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, and the 1986 bombing of a German disco.

Relatives of victims yesterday said the settlement has been too long in coming - and that it offers little comfort. Each family, except for two that refused the money, will receive a final installment of $2 million, bringing the total per victim to $10 million.

But some relatives are still fuming.

"I'm glad that the president is satisfied with it. I'm certainly not," said Peter Lowenstein of Montauk, whose son, Alexander, was one of 35 Syracuse University students on the flight who had been in London for the semester. "I don't recall him losing a relative on Flight 103.

"His interest is to satisfy the oil industry, who are major supporters of his. ... He wants what they want, which is to get Libyan oil."

Daniel Tobin, who lost his brother Mark Tobin of Hempstead, said the money doesn't put the issue to rest. "So many have forgotten us. ... I'm still concerned that Exxon Mobil and other oil companies, that they're able to do business with Gadhafi," said Tobin, also of Hempstead. "They're allowed to do business with terrorists."

Kara Weipz, president of Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, said Libya's payment - which allows Tripoli to restore its diplomatic relations with Washington - marks an important step.

"Our intent when we went into the civil suit was to find out the whole truth of what happened," said Weipz, whose brother, Richard Monetti, 20, was one of the Syracuse students.That goal hasn't been established, but "we held them accountable for being a sponsor of terrorism," said Weipz, 35, of Mount Laurel, N.J.

What about this guy? Has our country forgotten about Captain Paul Lorence and Operation El Dorado Canyon?


On April 14, 1986, President Ronald Reagan gave the order to launch Operation El Dorado Canyon, in retaliation for a terrorist attack in Germany that killed American servicemen. One of the F-111's participating in the raid on Libya was manned by Captain Fernando I. Ribas-Dominicci and Weapons System Officer Captain Paul Lorence.

On Wednesday May 7 1986, the Associated Press reported that Libyan television showed a body wearing a military uniform. The Libyans stated the body was of an American pilot shot down during the bombing raid. Also displayed were a wedding ring, bullets, $59.00 in American funds and 10 British pounds. Libyan television reported the remains of the pilot has washed up on shore 25 miles west of Tripoli. The report did not say when the body was found.

On Saturday May 3rd 1986, Libyan televison displayed a flight helmet bearing the name Lorence, saying it too had washed up on shore. After that.... nothing as far as we can tell.

Then in January 1989, Reuters reported that Libyan Press Agency JANA had announced they were about to return the body of an American pilot, shot down during the April 1986 raid, to a Vatican representative. A previous JANA report indicated the body was that of Capt. Paul Lorence.

On January 13th the body was flown to Rome and turned over to Vatican representatives. Subsequently, the remains were identified as Capt Fernando I. Ribas-Dominicci. Did the Libyan's mistakenly identifiy the remains as Capt. Lorence base on the name on the flight helmet? Or, do the Libyan's know more about Capt. Lorence then they are willing to share?

Lets bring Captain Paul Lorence home. Now.

The Unit: 42nd Most Popular TV Show

TV Guide's MOST POPULAR TV SHOWS:

Here are the Top 10.

Rank
1 Dancing with the Stars
2 Supernatural
3 America's Next Top Model
4 One Tree Hill
5 House
6 Greys Anatomy
7 90210
8 Gossip Girl
9 CSI
10 Project Runway

Other notables:
31 Army Wives
42 The Unit

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Unit: A Tribute to Colonel Tom Ryan


"Into Hell, Part 2" is tonight's episode of The Unit on CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. In honor of Robert Patrick's character Colonel Tom Ryan, here's a short video of him doing what he does best...throwing down papers and chewing arse. Perfect. Colonel Ryan's leadership style and even his mistakes have made him my favorite character to watch on The Unit. He will be missed on the show.
**UPDATE**
Well, Colonel Ryan made it through a good beating that would make any UFC bout watcher proud. Still think he's going to have more ramifications WRT his improper relationship to contend with coming up. And we all know Mack can hold a grudge with the best of them.

Blackwater in hot water?

ABC News is reporting that "controversial" private security firm Blackwater is under investigation by a federal grand jury in North Carolina for allegations the company illegally shipped assault weapons and silencers to Iraq, hidden in large sacks of dog food.

Under State Department rules, Blackwater is prohibited from using certain assault weapons and silencers in Iraq because they are considered "offensive" weapons inappropriate for Blackwater's role as a private security firm protecting US diplomatic missions.

Then there's this gem quote:

"The only reason you need a silencer is if you want to assassinate someone," said former CIA intelligence officer John Kiriakou, an ABC News consultant.

I can think of one reason for a silencer. Anybody suspect bad blood between Blackwater and CIA? Competition?

Blackwater's explanation for the dog food:

A Blackwater spokesperson, Anne Tyrrell, said certain arms shipments were sent to Iraq surrounded by dog food "to secure them on the airplane and not to smuggle them." Tyrrell said she could not comment on specifics because of "the ongoing investigation" but she denied the company had done anything wrong.

Entire article is "here".

Friday, November 14, 2008

This is Iraq...

To many, Iraq is just a place on a map.

But...this is Iraq.

This...is Iraq.

And...this is Iraq.

From Director JD Johannes, comes "Outside the Wire" a documentary trilogy about Iraq like no other.

One man. One camera. Three stories of Iraq.

Go beyond the headlines.

We all know that given time, Iraq can be stable. Question now is will we be allowed to have that time?

Forget what the politicians and pundits say.

See the war from the ground.

Go "Outside the Wire":



I thought two of the most poignant quotes in the video were from the Iraqis; "Thank you, thank you". The second one is harder to hear with the background noise but the Iraqi man says "This is not Jihad as they believe, this is terror".

The money quote from the U.S. Army soldier: "Everybody has their thing. And this is definitely mine. Being a soldier. Being over here. This is my thing...this is my calling".

It's all about being "Outside the Wire". Go check it out.

Checkrides

Checkrides for pilots would be like annual bar exams for lawyers.

As pilots, we are one of the most scrutinized professions around. Imagine coming to work every day and having all your conversations with coworkers recorded. And all your telephone calls monitored by strangers and taped for later playback. How about all your work recorded by a little 'black box' whose only purpose in life is to survive an accident so the world can examine how well you did your job right up until perhaps your last breath? Perfect. Not to mention the random drug testing and regular visits to the flight doc. Fun. And more fun.

Did I mention the high visibility? Yeah, if pilots make a mistake 'on the job' the world may find out via a FOX NEWS ALERT or amateur video before we have time to let even our bosses know what happened. And finally, there are those yearly (sometimes bi-annual) flight evaluations...or what we like to call them, 'checkrides'.

Perhaps the most nerve-racking experience pilots go through is the infamous checkride. Air Force checkrides occur about every 12-18 months and most pilots have two...an Instrument checkride to prove our worth by flying safely in clouds and a Mission qual checkride to show that we know how to execute the role that our aircraft brings to the fight.

I can remember my first flight evaluation over 21 years ago that concluded with me earning my Private Pilot's License (PPL). Only a teenager at the time, I worked after school to raise money to hire a flight instructor and 1.5 hours of aviation gas for each sortie in the Piper Warrior II. Maybe it was the fact that I had sweat about 3 liters during my solo flight beforehand, or maybe I just didn't know much about the significance of checkrides or their consequences. Either way, I approached my first checkride minus much anxiety. Although I passed this initial evaluation it wasn't until I entered the Air Force did my appreciation and apprehension for checkrides really take place.

The first rule of "Fight Club" is we don't talk about "Fight Club". Same is true of no-hitters in the 7th inning. This also applies to busted checkrides. Nobody says "don't bust your checkride today" they only say "good luck". Everyone knows that something small, maybe even outside of your control, or the performance of another crew member could doom your checkride. Thankfully I haven't busted any checkrides or received any downgrades ('downgrade'-still pass but with a few discrepancies) since I earned my pilot wings.

But this week I had my latest checkride. After being in a staff job (desk) for the past 4 and 1/2 years I returned to flying the Four Fans of Freedom. With a handful of simulator rides under my knee board and exactly one flight in the C-130 to do 12 landings, it was time to have an evaluator take a look at this 'Old Man'.

My book knowledge on the C-130 took about 3 weeks for me to feel comfortable again. But I still have much to relearn to have that razor-sharp edge. On the first day, I was issued a 2' stack of the Air Force regulations, flight manuals, and performance charts to study. It has helped my studies that not much has changed on the 1960's era C-130 since I flew it last time.

Yesterday was my first flight since May of 2004. Everyone had said that "it's like riding a bicycle" and all the muscle movements would come back quickly...and that turned out to be very true. Whereas the book knowledge was overwhelming at first and at times frustrating, the flying part was comfortable from engine start. It was like getting back in your own bed after a long trip.

Today's checkride consisted of only 3 landings during the flight. Most of the Instrument procedures were completed 2 weeks ago in the simulator.



Although the weather didn't cooperate, I passed my checkride! It feels great to have my checkride over with and even better to be flying again!

Gear up, After Takeoff Checklist!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Video of the Week: 2000 lb JDAM Bomb

Scene setter: U.S. ground pounders have called in U.S. Air Force jets to drop one 2,000 pound JDAM bomb on booby-trapped home, which was recently foreclosed by terrorists. Rather than take the appropriate distance of 800 meters from said terrorist crib, our finest select front row seats from about 300 meters to get proper perspective. You get this view for free. You can hear what sounds like a propeller-driven UAV overhead the scene followed by the roar of Air Force fighters that dropped JDAM just prior to impact.

WARNING: There are two expletives shouted during this video by very excited ground pounders which may not be appropriate for people over the age of 85 or if you own the rat hole depicted in tape.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Unit: Into Hell, Part 2

Here's a preview of Sunday's upcoming episode of "The Unit" on CBS titled "Into Hell, Part 2".

During last Sunday's sweeps episode, "Into Hell, Part One" we saw Jonas' daughter Betsy kidnapped in Iraq and the beginning of brutal consequences for Colonel Tom Ryan's adultery with Tiffy.

Spoiler TV has more information on the future of "The Unit":

Is the football scheduling issue going to cost us The Unit? I know that the split hour of some Cold Case/some The Unit often leads to low ratings. — Andrea

Matt: Not only is The Unit holding steady... and not only is the show working off a full 22-episode order this season... but some of its stars are stepping behind the cameras soon. Scott Foley will direct his first episode late this month, while Dennis "You're in Good hands with Allstate" Haysbert himself will helm Episode 17.

Secret missions. Secret lives. Some not-so-secret TV news.

The Unit - Sundays on CBS, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT

On the Ground in Up Country Iraq

A U.S. Army Major who milblogs at Up Country Iraq writes about his tour of duty in northern Iraq "Winding Down".

Lets go on a mission with him that took place on Halloween:

"The day began as we relieved a Special Ops group after they conducted a successful early morning mission against some not-so-friendlies out in town. The MPs and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team arrived on scene at the raid and the EOD folks went to work clearing explosives and other IED making material from the front yard of one of Tikrit’s finest insurgents. He and a couple of neighbors were obviously on the wanted list of the special operators, and now that list is a little shorter.

The MPs went to the houses surrounding the scene of the raid to touch bases with neighbors and to make sure everyone knew what was happening and to ensure that they were all OK. This raid got a little noisy so the locals new that something a little different was happening in the neighborhood. The MPs have earned a great reputation in the community from their willingness to keep the line of communication open with the citizens and to keep them informed. Usually the locals know very well who lives next to them, so they aren’t necessarily surprised when the authorities show up bright and early.



...Before heading back to Speicher, we stopped in an area where there had been a high threat of a RKG-3 attack. The RKG-3 is an anti-armor grenade, and the Sunni criminals in MND-N have used them too frequently. We patrolled on foot through the area and stopped and visited with several shop keepers during the patrol. The MP Commander bought chicken for his troops from a local shop and a couple other MPs grabbed a broom and swept the sidewalk in front of another shop. It is apparent that the locals in that area have a good relationship with the MPs, and the better that relationship, the more likely someone will rat out those who toss the RKG-3s. Believe it or not, there is a pool hall at the end of a row of shops along grenade alley, and the owner invited us in to play pool, smoke cigarettes, and drink Pepsi. The smart shop owners know that the Americans will come in and spend money in their shops, but there were several owners who clearly did not want us in their stores, especially the guy with the RKG-3 hanging out of his pocket (just kidding). After we wrapped up our visit, the squad headed over to the local hospital to ensure that the staff had stopped giving patients water that came straight from the Tigris River. The sickness was getting a little out of hand, and it took the MPs to point out the cause to the highly trained hospital staff."

You can read the entire post and see additional photos "here".

PROPS: Picture from the Up Country Iraq website.

TALENT

Words escape me....but probably aren't necessary:



...OK, I've got one comment...cannot be taught? I guess it depends on your flight instructor.

And while we're on the subject of video close-ups, flying the AC-130 Gunship does have its benefits.

PROPS: To MizzouCE for the motivational poster.


Al-Qaeda's beheading 'emir' captured in Iraq

More good news in our fight against al-Qaeda that could go under-reported:

The Iraqi army arrested on Wednesday in volatile Diyala Province a militant who is allegedly responsible for many of the brutal beheadings carried out by Al-Qaeda, Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Arabiya reported on Wednesday. Ahmad Hasan al-Azzawi, known as 'the beheading emir' was arrested in a raid outside the provincial capital, Baquba, Al-Arabiya said.

This was just the latest of a few very significant punches we've landed on al-Qaeda recently:

Al-Qaeda's #4 Reaches Room Temperature

Senior al-Qaeda Leader Killed in Airstrike

And we're still waiting for Osama bin Laden's absentee ballot to arrive:

Voter Intimidation?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today, we are reminded that freedom comes with great loss and sacrifice. Our veterans have placed America's security before their own lives, creating a debt that we can never fully repay. They confronted our adversaries abroad for freedom's cause.

Veterans Day marks the anniversary of the Armistice signing that ended World War I on November 11, 1918--the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Here's how Sheldon and Miriam Adelson thank some very deserving veterans:

Monday, November 10, 2008

C-130 Loses Power On Takeoff

At Little Rock Air Force Base, an Arkansas Air National Guard C-130 aircrew experienced loss of power on all four engines shortly after takeoff. Only the crew's quick reaction at 1000' AGL kept them from becoming a smoking hole in the ground within 30 seconds.

Two things really worked to this crew's advantage....experience and altitude. I've had the opportunity to fly and learn from this Arkansas Air National Guard unit and they are some of the most experienced and best crew members in the business. They probably had less than 10 seconds to analyze the situation and take appropriate actions before their situation was not going to be reversible.

Airspeed, altitude, or brains. You gotta have at least two of them! This crew did a remarkable job in a very short period of time. Well done!

Here's the entire AP article.
PROPS: Photo by Lt Col Dom Sarnataro, U.S. Air Force

Ryanair Birdstrike in Italy

A close call today for the crew and 166 passengers aboard Ryanair Boeing 737. The jet was on short final and experienced the mother of all birdstrikes:


Notice all the blood spots along the nose and wings (Click on image for close up)


Hard landing? Heavy weight landing? My sources says the Ryanair B-737 was on short final at 200' AGL when over 200 birds struck the jet. Number 1 engine flamed out due to bird ingestion and pilots attempted go-around. Shortly thereafter, Number 2 engine quit and forced the crew to put the jet down on the runway. Damage to main gear from hard landing.

Overall, a great job by the pilots.

Write up from the BBC News is "here".

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hot Mic

Air Traffic Controller: "Herky 20, follow the Malev Fokker"
New C-130 Co-pilot: "Roger, we'll follow the Mother Fokker!"

Real Men of Genius

With the holiday travel season about to takeoff, here's a Bud Light salute to the men who make it all happen...



Airline not responsible.

Carry on.

Chuck Norris Flight Facts

Yes, I'm a big Chuck Norris fan.

Chuck Norris sends O'Hare Ground to the penalty box.

Chuck Norris does not do obstacle clearance planning, there is nothing that Chuck Norris considers an obstacle.

Chuck Norris does not fear the TSA.....the TSA fears Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris' jet doesn't run on fuel, it runs on fear.

Chuck Norris has never had an emergency because his plane's systems are too afraid to talk back to him.

Chuck Norris gets direct Kennedy during the international push, always.

When Chuck Norris sneezes, it causes wind shear warnings.

Chuck Norris was once denied a jumpseat on Pam Am, he subsequently put them out of business.

Chuck Norris doesn't keep a logbook, he keeps a steel-book.

Chuck Norris once shot down 3 enemy aircraft with his Aux fuel tank.

When the BASH condition is Red, planes don't fly. When the BASH condition is Norris, birds don't fly.

Chuck Norris does not have to worry about crashing into the ground. The ground will gladly get out of Chuck Norris' way.

Right of Way rules do not apply when Chuck Norris is flying. If you are flying toward Chuck Norris, you are wrong.

Once, Chuck Norris was told to down one of his students. That student is still recovering from his injuries.

Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier with his Bell X-1 Jet. Chuck Norris broke the sound barrier with his fist.

Chuck Norris doesn't manage operational risk...he seeks it.

An ejection seat is not safe until Chuck Norris gets out of it.

Chuck Norris was told to IDENT, the controller was greeted with a fist coming out of his radar screen.

Chuck Norris has never had a successful recovery onboard a carrier; it is impossible to trap Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris doesn't level off; he tells the altimeter to stop moving.

Leading cause of disorientation for pilots: Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris "shot down" 6 MiGs in Vietnam just by yelling "BANG!" over the radio.

Wake turbulence is in fact not a byproduct of lift, rather a byproduct of the air trying to avoid Chuck Norris.

Only Chuck Norris can smoke in the plane's lavatory.

Once, an airline lost Chuck Norris' bag...once.

Chuck Norris never states his intentions, he states his demands.

Chuck Norris is the only person ever to land on runway 37.

Hijackers squawk 7500 when Chuck Norris is on board.

When Chuck Norris flies, the altimeter setting is 00.00. Chuck Norris is never under pressure.

Chuck Norris once moved a stationary front.

When Chuck Norris taxis onto the runway, incoming traffic is told to hold short.

Chuck Norris never "loses" altitude, he simply gets rid of it when he no longer has any use for it.

Chuck Norris has never landed with a crosswind. The wind would never dare cross Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris isn't holding, he is circling above his victims.

When told to break at the numbers, Chuck Norris politely reminds the controller that Chuck Norris cannot be broken and will proceed with the straight in.

Chuck Norris doesn't shoot approaches...he kills them.

Chuck Norris is never off of glideslope, the glideslope is off of Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris doesn't need crew rest...he never sleeps.

Chuck Norris is never given the instructions "when able". Chuck Norris is able to do anything.

Favorable winds are always in the same direction as Chuck Norris' flightpath.

A permanent TFR surrounds Chuck Norris...no one is safe.

Chuck Norris pushes his own aircraft from the gate.


PROPS: Airline Pilot Forum

Friday, November 7, 2008

Most Daring Hostage Rescue Mission In Years

Well, maybe not the "most daring and successful U.S. hostage-rescue mission in years" as the article says--perhaps just the most recent and descriptive missions regarding operators who try their best to avoid the spotlight.

The Military Times has a report on a daring U.S. military rescue mission of a 61-year old American businessman being held in a mud hut 8,000 feet up in a remote mountain range in Afghanistan:

The element of surprise would prove critical.

As night fell Oct. 14, three Chinook helicopters flew into the mountains and inserted roughly 24 to 30 special operators — most of them Navy SEALs — about three miles from the kidnappers’ hideout to minimize the chance of being seen or heard.

As midnight came and went, the operators climbed slowly toward the objective for 4½ hours. At that altitude, the special operations officer said, “You can’t exactly exert yourself too much or you’ll be spent.” The commandos ascended 2,000 feet before pausing roughly 275 yards from the target.

There they established an objective rally point — typically, the site where a spec ops force stows unnecessary gear and puts security teams out while those making the final approach to the target transform into “pure assault mode,” said a source familiar with such missions.

From the ORP, an assault force of seven operators — all or almost all SEALs, according to the special operations officer — crept toward the objective.

Swift and sure

One of the commandos tossed a pebble against the hut’s tin door — a traditional way visitors announce their arrival in rural Afghanistan.

The rattle of the stone against the door failed to rouse the guards. “They were both zipped up inside their sleeping bags, sleeping,” one behind the hostage on the floor of the darkened hut and the other outside, the engineer said. But their prisoner was awake and suddenly alert.

“I heard the latch rattling and somebody came in,” he said. “The first guy came in with a LED light, and I just presumed that somebody was coming to visit. I didn’t think of it anymore until the second guy came in and I saw the silhouette of the first fellow. Then I knew it was U.S. mil that was coming in. I don’t know how many guys actually came into the room, but it was soon filled up, and it was soon obvious that I was being rescued.

“I don’t know what I said in English, but whatever I said I said it rather loudly evidently, because they said ‘Quiet!’ ”

The hostage’s aim was to quickly let the operators know who he was, but he understood their unease at the level of volume. “Sound carries so far, and they’d worked so hard to come down quietly across the mountain, and here I am shouting,” he said.

Nevertheless, “They knew who was who,” the engineer said. the SEALs quickly demonstrated that, aiming their silencer-equipped weapons to shoot and kill the kidnapper in the room before he could fire a round. The engineer said he heard the sounds of the operators shooting and killing a guard posted outside.

The SEALs turned to the now former hostage and told him they were there to take him back.

“I was in favor of that, 100 percent,” he said. “I was very surprised, very amazed and very happy.”

It was about 3 a.m. The operators and the newly liberated hostage began walking to the pick-up zone.

“Because of not having much exercise, I was doing OK, but I wasn’t doing good by their standards,” the engineer said.

“They saw a place that was wide enough to come down in with a helicopter and drop a cable down for me,” the engineer said.

But, the special operations officer said, bringing a Chinook to a hover at 8,000 feet at night in blackout conditions was “not an easy task” and was a testament to the aircrew’s skill.

The rescued hostage soon was safely back at the task force’s main base, where the task force gave him a thorough medical evaluation before turning him over to the U.S. Embassy.

Those in the task force were elated. The operation had been a spectacular success. The hostage was rescued unharmed and no friendly forces or non-combatants were hurt.

“It was a huge, huge win,” said the special operations officer, who described the rescue as “a perfect example of interagency cooperation across the board.”

Although the special operations forces had performed superbly, other organizations deserved to share the credit for the mission’s success, he said.

“To attribute the success of this to [special] operators or to a particular unit would be disingenuous,” he said. “They would never have gotten there or have been able to finish this without a whole lot of other people playing a key role.”

And I thought the Special Ops pebble toss against a door was only Hollywood movie fiction. Another thought I had reading this story was the number (24-30) of special forces involved in the operation was quite large. Also, for an operation of this size I would guess that at least 150-200 other people were directly involved in the support of this mission behind the scenes.

You can read the entire article "here".

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our new CINC...President-Elect Obama

I'm going to do something that I rarely do on my milblogs....discuss politics. However, I promise to keep it brief.

For as bitter as the 2008 Presidential election and overall political atmosphere had become in our country over the past 2 years, I felt a sense of calmness as the electoral vote was tallied last night.

Although my guy didn't win, my country did.

An African-American man has been elected to the most important job in the world. 50 years ago this was unthinkable. It wasn't until the 1965 Voting Rights Act that African-Americans truly (and fully) were included into our Democracy.

What I noticed yesterday was the acceptance our nation had with President-Elect Obama's victory. No riots. No violence. Just acceptance. And this is what makes our country the greatest example to all others--the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next.

My second observation from this election is that our next President will only be the 44th person to ever hold that position. Forty-fourth. That's it. In 219 years of American presidents, only 43 men have held the title of "Commander in Chief". More people can fit in a Greyhound bus than we've had Presidents of the United States of America.

How will President Obama be as Commander in Chief (CINC)? I don't think we really know. However, as someone who has worked with the White House and seen President Bush up close, the duties of CINC are the most difficult and encompassing of all the presidential duties. Presidents deal with Commander in Chief duties more so than any other task during their day-to-day workings. When the intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, battlefield strategies, clear & present dangers are fully briefed to President Obama, I believe he'll continue the policies of the current Administration with respect to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on terrorism.

And he'll have the full support of our military leadership. A peaceful transfer of power. That's what makes our country and Democracy the greatest nation. As it should be.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voter Intimidation?

No Osama bin Laden 2008 election tape? Nope. But the reason isn't due to a lack of trying.

Looks like some shenanigans are squelching one clown's attempt to influence our election. But this success story--not likely to garner much print in U.S. headlines--is one more indication of how we're starting to get the upper hand against the highest levels of AQ leadership.



Since the morning of September 11, 2008, US and allied intelligence agencies have largely shut down what had been al Qaeda's routine access to certain internet sites that distributed its leaders' video messages.

"We've been able to squelch their message," said former CIA intelligence officer John Kiriakou, now an ABC News consultant. "We push al Qaeda's web operation from country to country, to a point where they're just not able to find a country that's going to be willing to host their websites anymore."

...Al Qaeda propaganda distributors were apparently caught off guard when their normal distribution sites in Germany and Malaysia were shut down in the first week of September and have not come back online since.

The cyber war attack on al Qaeda's internet access came in coordination this autumn with stepped up missile strikes at suspected terror operations posts in the tribal areas of Pakistan. "We know bin Laden is extremely concerned about his security, and the attacks have no doubt kept him quite pre-occupied," said a senior US official."

Countries not willing to let 'Air Osama' nest within their borders? Turning the tables on and catching AQ "off guard" with cyber tactics and surprises that they'd normally employ against us? And keeping Osama bin Laden "pre-occupied" and worried about a Hellfire II landing on his cranium?

Perfect.

Election Day

If these two young ladies--and three votes (ACORN!)--can risk their lives and the lives of family members to vote in Iraq, we Americans can take the time out of our busy schedules to also hit the ballot booth. Let your voice be heard.

Now, get out there and vote. Too much blood and too many lives have been lost during our nation's history to let one vote go wasted.

To be born free is an accident.

To live free is a privilege.

To die free is a responsibility.

- General Robby Risener after his POW captivity in N. Vietnam

P.S. I'm told the woman on the left in the picture above voted for Warren Sapp. The blonde voted for Brooke Burke. Nope. No links to Sapp.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cleared to land

A C-130 'Four Fans of Freedom' about to touchdown at The Rock during the Little Rock Air Force Base Airshow last month. (Photo by Mrs. Chris H.)

Send me your 'Four Fans of Freedom' pictures to fourfansoffreedom@gmail.com and if they're really good, unclassified, politically incorrect, and show our boys & girls kicking @ss on terrorism, I'll probably post them.

Fought to Defend

Over at A Soldier's Perspective, Gold Star mother Amy provides a very poignant and unique read on tomorrow's election:

...We all have different views, but my hope and prayer is that the President we send to Washington in January will be one who is determined to hold on to the ideals which birthed this nation and made it great.

What an honor it must be to be called Commander-in-Chief. I hope the person we elect will be equally humbled at the huge responsibility and duty we are entrusting him with. Many of you reading this have worn the uniform and fought for our country and I am deeply grateful to you all. May the next President of the United States be a man who is worthy and willing to preserve all you, and those who have gone before you, have fought to defend."


You can read the rest "here".