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Military Readiness

Live-Blogging “Over There”

July 27, 2005 | By | 19 Comments


“Over There” tonight at 10 EST. The new television series about the Iraq war. I’m skeptical. So I’ve decided to live-blog it. If you’re watching, too, send comments.


2201 Sex in the kitchen for starters? Oooh. That’s subtle.

2209 Women in combat already and we’re not 10 minutes in!

2210 Squad is digging in (Ranger grave). She says: “Jesus I can’t do this.”

Two male soldiers rush over to help the damsel in distress. “Hey Dan, let’s give her a hand.”

“I can do it myself. . .” she whines.

Scene interrupted by combat action. (Badge to follow.)

Very interesting. And surprising. I can’t imagine that Steven Bochco wrote this to underscore the problems with women in combat. But hey, there you have it. Of course, PREDICTION: I’m sure by the end we’ll have Amazon Woman enter the scene. Wait. I bet this very same woman will turn out to be mega-warrior. Bet on it.

2217 “Praise in public; reprimand in private.” Captain in charge berates the lieutenant in front of sergeant and men, undermining chain of command. Hollywood always get military leadership wrong.

2220 Closeup of the chick. Nice eyebrow pencil.

2227 Okay. Where are they going with the women in combat issue? This I was not expecting. Synopsis: girl wanders off in search of privacy to answer the call of nature (whatever). After finding just the right spot and dropping her drawers and flack jacket, an Iraqi sneaks up, pears over the berm and spies her. He is momentarily flummoxed, then regains his senses, and tries to shoot her. (Just like all the bad guys in the movies, he has terrible aim in close quarters with an automatic weapon. . . ) Again, combat action ensues. . .

2236 “She’s alive!” Of course she is. Note: he carries her off the field.

2238 Commercial break. Question: could she have carried him off? With all his gear? Shoot, even without his gear?

2246 So now one of the women is doing a video for her kid at home . . . woah, the women in combat issue is a huge theme in this show.

We just had a scene where a bunch of Iraquis were dragged away and thrown into a truck while hollering about Abu Ghraib. . . were we supposed to sympathise with them?

2249 UnderArmour (product placement – cool though)! Milblogs, is this standard issue now? The Dude would love that! He’s mad that I wouldn’t let him watch this with me. . .

2255 Is that the football player who just lost his leg in the roadside bombing? Man I hate when they set you up like that. Oh is this the end? More reax in a minute. . .

2301 It was the football player. Previews tell us that they’ll be following him through coping with his loss and rehab. I felt emotionally manipulated when he was the one who got hurt. (I wish I’d written down my prediction that he would be the one who died — it was so obvious that they were setting us up to care about him.) But, having said that, if this story line resulted in people appreciating the sacrifices and suffering of our military, then it would be a good thing. . .More on another angle in a minute.

2327 The intellectual character from Cornell said in his video home: “We are savages; war turns us into monsters. . .” Victor Davis Hanson would like this part. He says democracies are the most vicious/brutal fighters and that when we go against other cultures it’s a slaughter. Hanson views that as good though. Hard to say completely from this single episode, but I’m guessing this show will go the other way — it seems like all Hollywood renditions of war turn into anti-war screeds. They’re going to focus on the angst of the individuals in order to tell the story. They won’t take the time to portray grateful Iraqi’s, or mention Saddam’s brutalities. . . and the character who says he “loves the Army” will be portrayed as a doofus.

I hope I’m wrong. But it’s not really worth watching. . . and our soldiers deserve better.

UPDATE: Swanky Conservative live-blogged, too. He had much the same reaction I did. Here’s one observation he makes: “After a firefight, do troops loll around staring at the dead enemy?” Well, exactly! What was that about? Went on forever. Check it out; he picked up on a couple of funny things that I missed.

* * *

To the guys who really are Over There . . . Mudville! Open Post!

The indirect fire Argghhh! has the cliches.

See more outstanding analysis at Target Centermass on Over There. And the best thermal image in the blogosphere.

The Milbloggers are fighting back! Check out Blackfive‘s report — great comment thread.

And Eric’s Grumbles Before the Grave gives us his negative reax, but also a list of good war movies. It’s short!

1 August, Ballon Juice has an update.

23 Jul



“Beauties in Shoulder Straps”: Miss Russian Army 2005

July 23, 2005 | By | 2 Comments


Miss Russian Army 2005

Kseniya Agarkova, winner

Here’s a good rule of thumb: gay jokes — not funny. Miss Russian Armyfunny.

In late June, the Russian army held a beauty contest, “Beauties in Shoulder Straps,” and picked Kseniya Agarkova out of 18 other soldiers to wear a crown along with her combat boots and Kalashnikov rifle.

Kid. You. Not.

But wait. It gets better. In addition to the contest, there was choral entertainment: a group of school children singing “Our Army is the Strongest,” while dressed in army fatigues.

Quick. Somebody alert Rummy. . . The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!


Always besting the Russians at Mudville Gazette and Open Post

14 Jul



No, Honey, I’ll Chase the Intruder. . .

July 14, 2005 | By | 2 Comments


So, I don’t know, what do you think? Would you go with the pearls, or would they be too much with this . . .?

(From Martha. . .)

Bush: War Without Angst

June 29, 2005 | By | One Comment

Bush has a hard sell on his hands: War without Angst. The President is on the difficult ground of FUD politics.


Speech at Ft. Bragg

In his speech last night from Fort Bragg, the President was the confident cowboy leading us as The War Time President. As it should be; as it must be.

Nevertheless, Bush is using a sales tactic that works with products . . . but is much more difficult with politics. IBM trained a generation of sales reps to eliminate FUD’s: “fear, uncertainty and doubt.” In the private sector, in business, this communication works.

Less so in the public sector. Selling war in America requires Angst, Worry, Concern, Reluctance, Victimhood.

As Victor Davis Hanson reminds us in his outstanding article The Politics of American War, there’s a huge gulf between the politics of war for liberal and conservative presidents:


To end the dictatorial and genocidal plans of Slobodan Milosevic, liberal Bill Clinton was willing to bomb downtown Belgrade, commit American forces to a major campaign without U.S. Senate approval and bypass the United Nations altogether. Few accused him of fighting an illegal war, contravening U.N. protocols, or cowardly dropping bombs on civilians. In all these cases, public opposition was pretty much muted, despite the horrendous casualties involved in some of these past conflicts.

George W. Bush, as a conservative President, however, will never be given such leeway. Why not? Because he doesn’t bite his lip:

. . .it is very difficult in general for a conservative to wage war, because the natural suspicion arises that his tragic view of human nature and his belief in the occasional utility of force, makes him seem to enjoy the enterprise far more than a lip-biting progressive, who may in fact order far more destruction.

So that’s what the President was up against last night. He is a President, who is, apparently, uniquely suited by temperament for eliminating FUD and waging a War Without Angst. Many of us think resolute words like these from his speech last night are his great strength:

. . .we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we’ll fight them there, we’ll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won. (Applause.)

America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for independence to the darkest days of a Civil War, to the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th century, there were many chances to lose our heart, our nerve, or our way. But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity, and returns to strike us again. We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage. And we know that this great ideal of human freedom entrusted to us in a special way, and that the ideal of liberty is worth defending.

Audacity. Emphasis mine.

The proper response when confronting an enemy’s audacity is not retreat. And I, for one, am glad he didn’t bite his lip as he stated that human freedom is entrusted to us in a special way.

We must meet audacity with audacity. But ours is a Reasoned Audacity.


Read fearless patriots on Open Post at Mudville Gazette.

Outside The Beltway always knows what’s up in Your Nation’s Capital at Traffic Jam

Thank you to the lovely ladies BlogWhoring over Shakespeare’s Sister

e-Claire has a terrific overview of The Speech.

26 Jun



Heather Thibault Part One: Women in Combat

June 26, 2005 | By | 5 Comments

My dear, Heather. It’s not about YOU.

Heather Thibault was a medic in Iraq with the Army National Guard and recently returned home from Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. A profile of her in yesterday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter was titled Limits on combat upset female medic. The subtitle: “Ready, willing and unable to fight.”

Because, of course, it’s all about Heather. Heather is, “upset.” Heather is, “feisty.” Heather is, “buff.” Heather is, “angered.”

Why is she angry? Because Heather has, according to the paper, “Right uniform, wrong chromosome.”


Heather Thibault

Photo Credit:

Meryl Schenker

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Well, before we get too worked up about that wrong chromosome, here’s another thing Heather is:

Heather is, “barely 5 feet” tall. Doesn’t say whether that includes her combat boots. It does say that Heather is, all of 125 pounds.

Her service to our country should be honored — the article says she has nightmares from her experiences caring for the wounded in Iraq. Her hands were bloodied in the care of wounded, as nurses did during Vietnam, and other wars.

But battlefield medics are charged with evacuating wounded. While the reporter is busy venting spleen over the big, bad “military policy” keeping Heather out of combat — as if engaging the enemy is some glorified Disneyland ride that they kept her from experiencing — the article doesn’t express any interest in Thibault’s ability, or not, to carry a 180 pound soldier (plus 80 lbs of battle rattle) out of harm’s way.

The article snears at this concern as a “weaker sex” argument. So be it. I wouldn’t bet my son’s life on her upper body strength.

NO one has a “right” to go into combat. We’re facing a relentless drumbeat from the media, with stories of individual women who “should be allowed” to go into combat. But it’s not about them. It’s not about the individual. Combat is about the mission, unit cohesion and survival.

Those men we do ask to risk their lives — and the hopes and dreams of all those who love them — by going into combat have the right to expect us to do everything humanly possible to give them the best chance of coming out alive.

That’s the only right we should be concerned about.

* * *

There’s a subtext to this story that is worth mentioning. The article mentions that since returning from Iraq, Heather has been visiting local schools to talk with young people. Here’s what she has to say about the war on terror:

We’re throwing rocks at a hornet’s nest, turning moderates into religious fanatics, and you’re going to inherit the problem. …

It kind of sucks when you piss off the whole world.

Maybe she forgot that whole World Trade Center meltdown thing. . .

* * *

Thanks Mrs. Greyhawk for Open Post at Mudville.

And check out Wizbang‘s Carnival of the Trackbacks. . .

Then dance over to Beth’s Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and her Open Trackbacks. . .

More women a-fighting at Shakespeare’s Sister at BlogWhoring.

Knowledge is Power has some thoughts and appreciation for sacrifice women make.

16 Jun



USS Bonefish, Lost June 18, 1945

June 16, 2005 | By | 6 Comments

Sixty years ago on Saturday, June 18th, 1945, the Japanese sunk the USS Bonefish, with the loss of all hands. A young torpedo-man, John Yoest, received transfer papers some time prior to her last voyage, and walked off the submarine, safely. His son, John Yoest, Jr. is my husband . . . and the following is a tribute Jack wrote several years ago to the men of the Bonefish. This piece was originally published by The Virginian Pilot and the Courier Post.


My father, then only a teen-ager from Jersey, left high school, went to war and was assigned to the submarine, USS Bonefish. Just before the final mission of the Bonefish, my father walked off the gangplank – transferred to another assignment. Another man took his place.


USS Bonefish,

Returning from her 4th patrol.

Sailors, rest your oars.

On its eighth mission, on June 18, 1945, the Bonefish was lost fighting the enemy in the Sea of Japan, with the loss of all 53 officers and men. It was the last U.S. submarine sunk in World War II. Dad eventually went back to high school and married my mother. The other man is “on eternal patrol,” as the veterans say.

A half-century later, after fighting in and surviving two wars, my father was buried in Arlington Cemetery. He had the chance to raise a family and devote 30 years to the armed services, and pin second lieutenant bars on my shoulders. He didn’t talk much about the Bonefish or the man who replaced him. Still, I imagine in some Navy Valhalla my dad and this other sailor linked up together and asked the Creator, “Why?”

“Why him? Why me?”


John Sr. with John Jr.

War forces these questions on us, and they echo for generations. My father had me, and I now have a 4-year-old son, John, who carries his grandfather’s name and his love of battle and discipline.


John III with John Jr. (Jack)

John, like all children, often asks, “Why?” Like all fathers, I struggle to answer. But there are questions mere human reason cannot fathom.

Why was my father not on that submarine that fateful day?

And the answer does not come. Only that John now lives. With a purpose and a destiny still unknown.

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, someone asked her, “What is your greatest fear?” She answered that it was losing her husband; she feared the possibility of facing the awesome responsibility of motherhood alone. But now, several children later, as I reflect on that same question, my fear is not of losing her, or even one of our daughters. I fear losing my son. In my masculine pride, I believe I can protect my wife and girls, but in my heart lurks the dread possibility that I must one day send my son to war.

My boy loves my cavalry saber and my dad’s medals. Wearing a military uniform and military service runs in our family. My son’s bloodline is traced through the Civil War and the Revolutionary War to William Penn to Charlemagne of ninth century France. His great-grandfather helped build Virginia Military Institute. I pray the time never comes, but if it does, I expect that he will fight for God and country like his fathers before him.

Buried at sea, there are no headstones. I cannot mark the grave of the man who took my father’s place, so I mark the date. I pay silent homage in remembrance of June 18, 1945, when the sea smashed through the bulkheads and turned a warship into a coffin. There have been many such coffins, and if history is any teacher there are many yet to come.

When I think of future wars, I pray that a doomed high-tech Bonefish will not carry my John. The fear of this nearly unendurable loss humbles me. That young man who walked on the Bonefish to take my father’s place was another man’s son. Another man’s dreams lost at sea. War turns civilization on its head. In peace, sons bury fathers. In war, fathers bury sons.

It is a weighty debt. A debt of honor due. I expect to instill in my son a sense of history, of purpose, of his mission. That his body is not entirely his own, that he has a high calling. I hope that I can teach him the lessons of his forefathers, those men now called the Greatest Generation.

It is my prayer that instilling this sense of mission will drive out the distractions, temptations and destructions of his growing generation. That drugs will not cloud his ambition. That he will see the hand of divine providence moving in his life. That he will know he has so much to be thankful for. Like his fathers before him.

I pray he will be grateful, like his grandfather. It is my charge to tell my son that another man took his grandfather’s place. My son has the duty, and like me, the obligation to his family and to that other man, to live with a sense of purpose and awe. To live with a sense of respect to the tomb of that other young submariner.

This June 18, I want to salute the man who died for me and the men who died for us all. I want my son to know his debt of honor. And, God willing, my son will bury me.

# # #

Since this was first published a few years ago, we’ve been honored to hear from other veterans who served on the Bonefish and naval historians. There were actually 85 men lost aboard the Bonefish and another boat holds the distinction of last sub lost in the war.

And, since this piece was written, we’ve added John’s brother James to the family — here he is in the same sailor suit that Jack’s dad sewed by hand while at sea.


James and Jack

See here for our recent visit to Arlington Cemetery.

Thank you for the inter-service support to Mudville Gazette on Open Post

13 Jun



And the Left Wonders Why the Country Thinks They Are Anti-Military?

June 13, 2005 | By | 7 Comments

Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have a problem. Hillary joined the Armed Services Committee in order to establish some military cred for her 2008 Presidential run. But her peeps on the Left keep popping out of the closet to prove just exactly why the right wing thinks they are against the military.

“Oh yes,” they say (when pressed), “We support our troops. It’s those nasty recruiters we don’t like. . .”


Exhibit A: Here’s a picture from a demonstration at the University of California, Santa Cruz on March 5th specifically targeting the on-campus military recruiters. The caption underneath the picture read: “Direct, unambiguous language is helpful for making your point clear to everyone.” Yeah, I’ll say. “FTA” used to be seen only as latrine graffiti.

So it’s just one ungrateful girl with a potty mouth. Well, no. Here are a few of the comments underneath:

Malgoska: “I also hope your actions are highly contagious. Hey, other universities – are you listening?”

Drew Nelson: “That’s just beautiful. . . We need more brave and fiery souls such as those at UCSC.”

Anonymous: “awesome!! There are still folks around with heart who have the b**ls to stand up against what is so wrong with todays world…f**k the military industrial complex and the biggest terrorist on the planet Bush and his corporate buddies, well done people…people of the earth tribe rise!!!!”


Banned on Campus?

And it’s not just on campus. An anti-recruiter diatribe, “Reading, Writing and Recruiting,” took up some valuable real estate right in the middle of Saturday’s Washington Post op-ed page.

Diane Paul, identified as a writer who “worked for Human Rights Watch in Bosnia” and as a consultant to UNICEF and the UN (of course), wants military recruiters out of the publically funded education system. “The military should not be permitted to use our schools as vehicles to send young people to war,” she argues. Here’s my favorite part of her polemic:

. . .we have to ask ourselves whether children between the ages of 14 and 17 have the maturity to make what may be life-or-death decisions based on promises of easy cash and a college education

I would bet you 30 cents that she also believes that these same “children” do “have the maturity” to make life-or-death decisions about sexual relationships and abortion without parental guidance. Bet me. Condoms yes. Cadence no.

She then goes on to conclude that: “the government must also ensure the protection of our children and safeguard the role of public schools as places of learning.” Hey, now there we agree!

If you’re in-step with me on this, then you’ll not want to miss Scott Ott’s satirical take on recruiters over at ScrappleFace. It’s funny, but in that sock-you-in-the-gut kind of way. It’s a “news release” entitled “Army Offers New Recruiting Incentive: Duty.”

Journalists at the news conference, baffled by the terminology, unleashed a barrage of questions about why anyone would volunteer to fight for a country that runs a gulag at Gitmo, invades peaceful sovereign nations like Iraq and has no respect for the most Holy Koran.

Hoo-ah! People of the earth tribe . . . unite for Hillary 2008!


March over to Mudville Gazette, American Flag Open Post. . .

See more on the Left at Blogwhoring on Shakespeare’s Sister. (Odd convergence: My dissertation was entitled, “Empowering Shakespeare’s Sister.”)

Also see my earlier post on “Would You Sell Out D-Day . . . for a Pulitzer?

A salute to Outside The Beltway for Beltway Traffic Jam for a terrific selection of contributors.

More insight on Military Recruitment Down at La Shawn Barber’s Corner.

Update: Other news headlines at Wizbang’s outstanding round-up The 10 Spot – Headline Edition.

Update: Get into the Beltway Traffic Jam on Outside the Beltway.

Update June 22, 2005 e-Claire has pic

08 Jun



Carrie French, 19, Killed in Iraq

June 8, 2005 | By | 7 Comments

Another woman has been killed in Iraq.


Carrie French

Carrie served as a Specialist in the National Guard’s 145th Support Battalion, which was attached to the 116th Brigade Combat Team. She was killed by a roadside bomb explosion in Kirkuk, Iraq.

Who is in charge here?

The President said last January, emphatically, no women in combat. But clearly, women are in combat. The military has saluted the Commander-in-Chief, said “Yes, sir,” and then turned right around and sent women into combat. By using the word “attached,” they get around the regulations that say women can’t be “assigned” to a unit with a combat mission.

I support this President; I support this war; I support our troops, both the men and the women. What troubles me is this fiction of saying our policy is one thing — no women in combat — and then doing another — deliberately sending female troops in harm’s way.

In addition to her Purple Heart, Carrie will qualify her for a Combat Action Badge, awarded posthumously. And her death in harm’s way continues General Schoomaker’s Boiling the Frog strategy of legalizing women in combat.

A Thank you to Mudville Gazette’s Open Post

03 Jun



Arlington National Cemetery, John Wesley Yoest, USN, BMCS

June 3, 2005 | By | 7 Comments

Every time we’ve made the left turn onto Eisenhower Drive, and passed through the imposing brick gates of Arlington National Cemetery, I’ve been overwhelmed with emotion. Family members of those buried at Arlington National Cemetery are given a special pass and may drive onto the Hallowed Grounds to visit the grave of their loved one. It’s an enormous honor which makes me feel humbled.


The Penta-Posse

at Arlington National Cemetery

My husband’s father served thirty years in the United States Navy, and died the year I married into the family, so I didn’t know him well. And the fact is, after a lifetime of nine-month Mediterranean tours, wars, and rumors of war, there is a lot my husband doesn’t know as well.

However, over the 15 years that we’ve been married, I have gotten to know my mother-in-law well. She doesn’t talk either about the sacrifices she made, but there is one story that she has told me several times.

Once, when my father-in-law was out on tour, and she was home with three small children, the car broke down and, of course, she had to take care of it. My husband marched up and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll fix it.” He was about five years old at the time.

My mother-in-law laughs. . . the little man, takin’ care of things. But it makes me cry.

We owe a lot to our military families.

When we visited Arlington this past week, we passed at least three funeral ceremonies on the way to Section 64. I lost track of the fresh graves and the still-standing tents, either just vacated by other grieving families, or awaiting the afternoon’s fresh, raw sorrow.

As we pulled up on Bradley Avenue, an Air Force honor guard was marching precisely back to their bus after a ceremony for an airman who had been a POW in Korea. While we searched for my father-in-law’s headstone, an empty horse-drawn caisson lumbered past, and settled briefly in the shade nearby, awaiting their next assignment. . .


We found my father-in-law’s headstone: The front has the Christian Cross with the old Chief’s Curriculum Vita. Chief Yoest cut high school to catch World War II. He retired with rows of ribbons and a “v” device, and pinned butterbars on his boy. He now has a grandson, The Dude, who bears his name and wants to be a Navy pilot.

The reverse of the stone is blank, awaiting the inscripton for Chief Yoest’s high school sweetheart, his wife, Jack’s mom, “Babcia” (Polish for Grandmother), who is still with us. In the end, they will be buried together, an honor she earned.

As we turned to go, the Diva took her jingle-bell necklace from around her neck, and left it on the headstone. A fitting tribute for a warrior.


Sailors, rest your oars.

We drove back down Bradley Avenue — past a fresh grave covered by a tarp. In front of us, sparkling in the bright sunlight of a gorgeous day, stretched row after row of white marble markers, orderly, peaceful, some weathered, others new and crisply chiseled . . .

I turned to the Penta-Posse. “I want you to look,” I said. “I want you to understand, that each one of these headstones represents someone who gave their life so that you could be free.”

They were quiet and solemn. The weight of it is beyond measure.

The Dreamer said, “Don’t cry, Mom.”

We made the right turn onto Eisenhower. We drove slowly toward the exit, passing the drive to the Tomb of the Unknowns to our left, until we came to a crosswalk thronged with tourists. The guard on duty motioned to the crowd to stop, and we drove through, passing through the gates, back to a busy day, leaving behind — the curious crowds, the chattering school children. . . and the silent stones.

Other Memorial Day Links:

Blackfive with “Opening the Gates of Heaven.”

Intel Dump

Marine Corps Moms

LaShawn Barber’s Corner

See Traffic Jam

Combat Action Badge, Unisex Design

June 1, 2005 | By | 13 Comments

Army Chief of Staff, General Schoomaker, Peter, J., has unveiled the design of the new Combat Action Badge, according to It is a bayonet and hand grenade on a wreath.

The real significance of this new badge is that women are now eligible, too.


New Combat Action Badge

If Google searches leading to this blog are any indication, the award is much anticipated.

“Warfare is still a human endeavor,” Schoomaker, Peter, J. reports. “Our intent is to recognize Soldiers who demonstrate and live the Warrior Ethos.”

And women are now “classified” as warriors as Schoomaker deliberately places women in combat after Congress went French on us and surrendered (without firing a shot) in a recent effort to address the issue.

President Bush has stated that women will not be placed in combat; Congress has stated that women will not be placed in combat.

Too bad. The Army says differently. And now, they get a Combat Action Badge to prove it.

(What’s next? We voted “non;” the Army elites say “oui.” The US Army thinks like the EU . . .)

The boiled frog strategy is rolling along . . . And they wonder why their male recruiting numbers are down??


Can’t tell if he’ll agree with me on the unisex issue, but Watch Your Six says “we don’t need no stinkin’ badges” for another reason. . .

Mudville, Open Post — (gosh, Greyhawk, did TCOverride survive the live grenade??!)

And Outside the Beltway, Traffic Jam.

See PatriotVoices