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Military Readiness

31 May

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John Doe, Son of a Gun

May 31, 2005 | By | 2 Comments

In the 17th century women were frequent visitors to warships to comfort the crew. And these relationships produced children, some legitimate, some not. The fathers were sometimes known, sometimes not. Babies on board were birthed out between the cannon on the gun deck providing some measure of privacy. The baby’s paternity might be noted as “son of a gun.”

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Gun deck USS Constitution

Image Credit

Our military heros have been siring sons for centuries; men who did the right thing for their country but, perhaps, could have done better for their women.

Let me tell a story, a true story . . . but no names, no links. I want to honor the young man of whom I speak, while yet grieving over a wound left behind. . .

In a very public event, in a very public place, our young man was laid to rest in the Hallowed Grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. He gave the last full measure of devotion defending our country and our way of life.

As the military honor guard moved through the sad ritual of folding the casket flag — snap and crease, smooth and fold — a young woman sat solemnly holding the young man’s son. But the young woman was not his wife; the little boy did not carry the young man’s name: he’s a 21st century son of a gun.

The little boy received the folded flag, honoring his father. Another flag went to the mother of the fallen soldier. . .not the mother of his child.

Scriptures teach us that there is no greater love than that a man give his life for another. There is no greater love, but might there be some regrets, some good not done? Is our soldier in the warrior’s Valhalla wondering now what he might have done differently? As he passes the streams at Fiddler’s Green does he wonder what he could revisit on this side of eternity?

Stories about the young man’s death said that he joined the military to provide for his son; he wanted to be an honorable man. And he eagerly planned to return to the young woman and care for his son.

The young man gave his life for us all. And the Nation is grateful. But I wonder if our grieving would be more complete if, as he gave his life for us, he had given his name to his son.

God bless him, and his son of a gun.

And a salute to Outside The Beltway

25 May

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The Death of Private Sam Huff, Cutie Pie

May 25, 2005 | By | 3 Comments

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IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 19, 2005

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pfc. Sam W. Huff, 18, of Tucson, Ariz., died April 18 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained on April 17 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near her HMMWV. Huff was assigned to the 170th Military Police Company, 504th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade, Fort Lewis, Wash.

# # #

Sam Huff was, says her grieving father, a “cutie pie.”

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Sam Huff

High School Graduation

Paul Hogue at My Dogs Are Smarter draws our attention to the story of Sam’s recent death in Iraq . . . and her father’s comments about women in combat.

Paul comments that “subjecting women to the vagaries of combat” is not just an issue of military readiness, but is also inherently immoral. He also adds movingly that this issue is “about how civilized societies treat their wives and daughters, their moms and sisters.”

I agree. But Barbara Eakins does not. She recently wrote, in response to the post I wrote about the draft, to ask:

Why is it unacceptable to draft my daughter

but not my son? I am opposed to war and have

no desire for either of them to go to die. But why

is it fair to send my son to his death and not my

daughter?

Sam Huff’s dad said much the same thing, arguing that any child’s death is a great sorrow: “It doesn’t make a difference whether their kids are male or female, young or old.”

Of course, he’s right about that.

As the mother of three daughters, and two sons, I’ve thought a lot about why we send our sons, and not our daughters to war. There’s no easy answer to this question: it’s like Sophie’s Choice.

Let me respond in this way. At Sam’s funeral, they played the song “Butterfly Kisses” a song Bob Carlisle wrote, he says as a “private love letter” to his daughter Brooke.

The song is about “daddy’s little girl,” and they played it at the funeral of an 18-year-old 110 pound cutie-pie, KIA. USA Today quoted Martha Kleder, formerly an Air Force enlisted, and a policy analyst for Concerned Women for America, who observed: “You don’t play Butterfly Kisses at the funeral of a warrior.”

Why our sons, and not our daughters? It’s hard to express why, but it is unutterably sad to hear “Butterfly Kisses” lingering in the air, along with the sharp crack of a military rifle salute, and the mournful notes of Taps. . .

God bless the Huff family in their loss.

Butterfly Kisses(Listen here.)

There’s two things I know for sure

She was sent here from Heaven

And she’s daddys little girl

As I drop to my knees by her bed at night

She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes

And I thank God for all of the joy in my life

Oh but most of all

For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer

Stickin little white flowers all up in her hair

Walk beside the pony daddy

It’s my first ride

I know the cake looks funny daddy

But I sure tried

Oh with all that I’ve done wrong

I must have done something right

TO deseve a hug every mornin

And butterfly kisses at night

Sweet 16 today

She’s lookin like her mama

A little more every day

One part woman

The other part girl

To perfume and make up

From ribbons and curls

Trying her wings out in a great big world

But I remember

Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer

Stickin little white flowers all up in her hair

You know how much I love you daddy

But if you don’t mind

I’m only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time

Oh with all that I’ve done wrong

I must have done something right

To deserve her love every morning

And butterfly kisses at night

All the precious time

Like the wind the years go by

Precious Butterfly

Spread your wings and fly

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Women Lose Women in Combat Vote

May 25, 2005 | By | No Comments

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Elaine Donnelly

Center for Military Readiness

Today, the House of Representatives dropped a provision in the Defense spending bill that would have codified the military regulations which prohibit assigning women to units with a direct land combat mission, or support companies that collocate with combat units. This was an important amendment that addressed the Army’s recent “boiled frog” strategy of moving women into Forward Support Companies, that you’ve been reading about here.

Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness, who has been working on this issue, was upbeat about today’s development on the Hill. She says that having the Congress begin a debate on women in combat represents real progress:

This was the first time in 10 years that women in combat has been on the legislative radar screen.

Nevertheless, Francis the frog is still a-boilin’. And more sisters, daughters — and mothers — are in harm’s way.

** Check out the other great posts at Mudville, Open Post.

We Salute You! Armed Forces Day 2005

May 21, 2005 | By | No Comments

To all of you serving our country in the military today — and your families — we salute you! We thank you. We pray for you. And to Josh, Michael, and Will, in particular . . .We Love You! Be Safe.

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Voluntaries

By Ralph Waldo Emerson

***

In an age of fops and toys,

Wanting wisdom, void of right

Who shall nerve heroic boys

To Fathom all in Freedom’s fight –

Break sharply off their jolly games

Forsake their comrades gay

And quit proud homes and youthful dames

For famine, toil and fray?

Yet on the nimbler air benign

Speed nimble messages

That waft the breath of grace divine

To hearts in sloth and ease

So nigh is grandeur to our hearts

So near is God to man

When Duty whispers low, Thou Must

The youth replies, I can.

Thanks to Paratrooper.net for the moving poem.

Matt at Blackfive, says that there are protests scheduled today at recruiting offices around the country (how dare they?), and suggests buying a recruiter a cup of coffee instead! He also provides a link to events honoring the military around the country.

17 May

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The Politics of the Draft

May 17, 2005 | By | 5 Comments

Why worry about women in combat? Why not just let the Pentagon go ahead with boiling the frog? After all, proponents argue, it is an all-volunteer army now.

Let me highlight one reason, among others: the draft.

This argument is often dismissed automatically as being politically untenable. “They’ll never bring the draft back!” But that is short-sighted and naive.

If women in the military begin serving in combat, voluntarily, and the ban against women in ground combat is lifted, then there will be no legal basis for maintaining their exclusion from the draft.

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Not My Little Girls

This is just common sense. As further evidence of how plausible this scenario is, here’s an article in this month’s Washington Monthly, “The Case for the Draft,” arguing for a reinstated draft now, that would include both men and women:

A better solution would fix the weaknesses of the all-volunteer force without undermining its strengths. Here’s how such a plan might work. Instead of a lottery, the federal government would impose a requirement that no four-year college or university be allowed to accept a student, male or female, unless and until that student had completed a 12-month to two-year term of service. . . They would be deployed as needed for peacekeeping or nation-building missions. They would serve for 12-months to two years, with modest follow-on reserve obligations.

The authors do hedge their bets a little by including “national service programs” like tutoring with AmeriCorps as part of their draft program. But there is still the legal issue: on what legal grounds would you exclude the rest of the female population from mandatory combat service once some women are serving voluntarily, should the need arise?

We face an unknown future, so our policy decisions today should be guided by wisdom informed by yesterday’s history. One thing we do know is that nation’s must be prepared to protect themselves against the unexpected. Any other posture is sheer foolishness.

Some of the wisdom of yesterday includes knowing the politics of the draft. One of the legacies of Vietnam was General Westmoreland’s strategy of using the draft to fill ranks. Instead of calling up the standing army, reserves, national guard, then finally the general population, Westmoreland bypassed this cascade — we went from standing army directly to the civilian population. His rationale was that he could keep the draftees longer.

We all know the domestic political tension that resulted, and continues to haunt us today. How much worse would that political conflagration be if Uncle Sam comes after our daughters?

The politics of “allowing” women in combat lead remorselessly toward drafting women. And a feminine mobilization leads directly to political gridlock right at a time when self-defense requires prompt, resolute, decisive action.

We simply cannot afford to advance on the assumption that we will never again need a mass mobilization to defend our country. In some sad tomorrow, we may need to call up civilians, but not now, not today.

And not women.

LINKS:

See Outside the Beltway for info on tomorrow’s vote on women in combat in the Armed Services committee.

And Intel-Dump for a pro-women in combat argument. . .

Thanks for the link to Mudville’s Open Post and to OTB’s Daily Linkfest.

Sergeant Christopher Pusateri: Who was with him when he died?

May 16, 2005 | By | 12 Comments

We’ve been following the Pentagon’s “boiled frog” strategy related to women in combat. . . the plan has been to simply go ahead and put women into combat, present it to the American people as a fait accompli, knowing that the media would then do profiles on the women as hero(ine)s. . .

As predicted, that’s exactly how it has unfolded.

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Specialist Jennifer Guay

82nd Airborne

An article by Amy Scott Tyson, “For Female GIs, Combat Is a Fact: Many Duties in Iraq Put Women at Risk Despite Restrictive Policy,” in Friday’s Washington Post lays it all out. They aren’t even pretending.

Many commanders in Iraq say they see a widening gap between war-zone realities and policies designed to limit women’s exposure to combat.

Although the Army is barred from assigning women to ground combat battalions, in Iraq it skirts the ban with a twist in terminology. Instead of being “assigned,” women are “attached in direct support of” the battalions, according to Army officers familiar with the policy. As a result, the Army avoids having to seek Pentagon and congressional approval to change the policy, officers said.

“What has changed? Nothing,” said Lt. Col. Bob Roth of the 3rd Infantry Division. “You just want someone to feel better by saying we don’t allow women in dangerous situations.”

Although the Army is banned . . .it skirts the law . . .?!! And now, because what they are doing is in line with The Washington Post’s opinions, the media just goes along as cheerleaders? What happened to a little healthy media skepticism?

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Chastity in Iraq; Chastity for Top Gun — Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise and Enduring Values

May 12, 2005 | By | One Comment

Sex and virtue . . . Men across cultures: Are good-girls back still in style? Maybe there are some customs so enduring they sell in both Hollywood . . . and Iraq.

Army Colonel John R. Martin writes from Iraq:

One of the servicemen here married an Iraqi woman working for us. Even in the twenty-first century, American soldiers are supposed to ask permission before doing such things. He didn’t, but we’re still trying to help him get his war bride home.

I took the issue to the consular officer at the embassy today, so I got to look at the application. The marriage certificate included certification that a dowry had been requested ($25,000) and excused by the bride’s family.

Also had a statement of the bride’s chastity. Wonder if those things would sell in the U.S.

Well, yes, Col. Martin, they just might.

The tabloids are all agog with word that Katie Holmes has stated to the world that she will remain a virgin until she marries.

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Katie Holmes

with her parents

And now she’s dating Tom Cruise (not really a Top Gun, but played one in the movies).

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Tom and Katie together in Rome

The tabloids have reported breathlessly that Cruise filled Katie’s room with dozens of red roses.

I wish I could tell Lynndie England she could have done so much better than having sex with a dud.

Of course, we’ve seen this scenario before with other starlets. But my vote is with Katie. Why? Look at that picture of her with her parents. Both of them. While other reporters are fixated on the wolf with red roses, I’m interested in what she has to say about the other man in her life — her father: She consults him on every major decision, and “He always tried to intimidate boys who wanted to date me,” she says (according to Sky Showbiz, link above.)

It’s a dad thing. In every culture.

On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?

Would he offer me his mouth?

Yes

Would he offer me his teeth?

Yes

Would he offer me his jaws?

Yes

Would he offer me his hunger?

Yes

Again, would he offer me his hunger?

Yes

And would he starve without me?

Yes

And does he love me?

Yes

Yes

On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?

Yes

You took the words right out of my mouth. . .

© by MeatLoaf

Thanks to alert readers, Stan H., and the Brilliant Brother.

Link to Mudville’s Open Post

Attaboy to Attaboy

See Jackson’s Junction

Outside the Beltway has news and pic

Update: Blogger 11D also thinks the couple is odd.

Update: Common Sense Runs Wild is making sense

Update: See what the Professor thinks at Daniel W. Drezner about Katie Holmes/Cruise

Update: Steal The Bandwagon presents another question at Katie Holmes…

Update: Michelle Malkin has pic of the Death Grip

update 22 June 2005: The Owner’s Manual has more wisdom/wit at Tom Cruise: The Movie

The Anchoress has an excellent opinion as always

Update July 14: The Movie Star Blog says Cruise Gets Results.

Breaking News: Congress Addressing Women in Combat

May 11, 2005 | By | One Comment

Just got word: Congressional Republicans are finally moving to address the problems we’ve been highlighting with the new Army policy of assigning women to Forward Support Companies. I wrote about the FSC issue here. And the women in combat posts on one page can be found here.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Women soldiers in the U.S. Army would be barred from serving in combat support units under language added to a defense bill Wednesday. Proponents of the measure said it would affect only a small number of women, while opponents said over time, it would drastically alter the face of the modern army.

The amendment sponsored by Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee, would prohibit women from combat support and combat service support units.

“The current policy does not serve women well,” said McHugh. “The current policy places them in a company and treats them as equal until it’s time to move forward and then they have to be left behind.”

The subcommittee voted along party lines to approve the amendment. The bill, setting Defense Department policy for next year, is expected to be debated by the full Armed Services Committee next week.

Full article from Newsday, here.

Thanks, Greyhawk, for Open Post and Outside the Beltway, for Traffic Jam.

10 May

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Abracadabra at Abu Ghraib: the Tragic Story of Lynndie England, Charles Graner and Megan Ambuhl

May 10, 2005 | By | 2 Comments

A reader, Martha, a former Air Force enlisted, who has been following the thread on women in combat with concern, writes to explain the “Abracadabra” issue:

I have heard horrid stories from deployed friends about the attitude toward women in the ranks. Even unattractive girls have a throng of men around them all the time when they are in “Bad Guy Land”. The names they give those women is crass. “Golden P**sy Syndrome” and similar things.

Then, on the flight home, “abracadabra” they are ugly again. The rejection is as sudden and violent as an IED attack. How can men be allowed to treat fellow soldiers like this, then turn around and treat them with respect on the battlefield?

Sadly, I didn’t have to go further than today’s New York Times to get a real-life illustration of why this kind of thing is no small matter. In an article, Behind Failed Abu Ghraib Plea, a Tangle of Bonds and Betrayals about Lynndie England, Charles Graner and Megan Ambuhl, the reporter, Kate Zernike lays out a tragic story that puts an even sorrier twist to the already sordid tale of Abu Ghraib.

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Lynndie England and Charles Graner

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Credit: L.M. Otero/Associated Press

Megan Ambuhl,

Graner’s new wife

The short version of the story is that Charles Graner was treating the United States Army like his own personal harem, carrying on overlapping affairs with both Lynndie England and Megan Ambuhl. Then, when Lynndie got pregnant, and sent home, they broke up. Graner sent an email to his father: “I stopped seeing her back in january but when all this garbage came out i started seeing her again,” he wrote. “chances are very good that it is my child….o well….daddy what did you bring home from the war????”

That’s some war souvenir.

With Lynndie sent home, Graner focused on Ambuhl. The two co-conspirators recently married at Ft. Hood, a surrogate groom standing in for Graner, who is already in prison.

A few quotes from the NYT piece:

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09 May

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Women in Combat – Elaine Donnelly on NRO Today

May 9, 2005 | By | 2 Comments

For those of you following the women in combat issue, you’ll want to be sure to see Elaine Donnelly’s piece on women in combat on NRO today:

The blueprint appears to be a “Women in the Army Point Paper” prepared by the office of Army Secretary Francis Harvey on January 24, which includes a subtle but significant change in the wording of Defense Department regulations.

Current directives exempt female soldiers from direct ground-combat units such as the infantry and armor, and from smaller support companies that “collocate” (operate 100 percent of the time) with land-combat troops. The new, unauthorized wording narrows the “collocation rule” to apply only when a combat unit is actually “conducting an assigned direct ground combat mission”.

General Schoomaker recited Defense Department regulations, but claimed (without justification) that the Army has separate rules that exempt female soldiers from collocation with land-combat battalions “at the time that those units are undergoing those operations”. By adding the words “conducting” or “undergoing” (a direct ground-combat mission) to the collocation rule, the Army has created a new regulation that has not been authorized by the Secretary of Defense, or reported to Congress in advance, as required by law.