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A Sailor’s Perspective on the United States Army

From Hit the Woodline

Admiral William McRaven is, by anyone’s definition, a true warrior. A 36-year veteran of the US Navy, he earned his Special Operations credentials the hard way, first by completing the grueling selection and training program required of all men who aspire to become a Navy SEAL. He then went on to serve on the storied SEAL Team 6, and to command SEAL Team 3 before his appointment as commander of Special Operations Command Europe.

More recently, ADM McRaven commanded the Joint Special Operations Command, the most elite and complex SOF formation in the world. It was in this capacity that he became a household name as the commander of the raid that finally got Osama Bin Laden. Currently, Admiral McRaven directs all US Special Operations Forces as the commander of US Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

ADM McRaven had the opportunity to work with the Army on many occasions over the course of his career, and these interactions were the subject of the speech he delivered when he travelled to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in January to be the Guest of Honor for an event known as “500th Night.” 500th Night marks an important milestone for the junior class of cadets: 500 days left until graduation and commissioning into the US Army.

ADM McRaven’s 500th Night speech, titled A Sailor’s Perspective on the United States Army, was transcribed and released by West Point. We edited West Point’s transcript slightly for purposes of readability and have provided it for you below. It is a lengthy read, but I assure you it is well worth it. The last five or so paragraphs are the most poignant.

Many of us on the Havoc13 team worked with ADM McRaven in the past and know that he is an impressive public speaker in addition to being an outstanding Special Operator, so it came as no surprise to hear that he gave a rousing and memorable speech at West Point. But the transcript of his comments shows the intelligence, insight, humility, and depth of experience that set him apart in a field crowded with talented warfighters.

In the last paragraph of his 500th Night speech, ADM McRaven says “there is no more noble calling in the world than to be a soldier in the United States Army.” That is high praise coming from any four-star officer, especially a man who made a career in the Navy. At the same time, though, it shows the deep respect that warriors have always had for each other, regardless of parochial differences. Substitute any branch of the Armed Services—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or the Coast Guard—into the statement that ADM McRaven made, and it would remain equally true. Service in the profession of arms IS a noble profession. The military is at the top of the “most trusted” institutions in the United States for a reason. It should be that way. May it always be so.

ADM McRaven’s 500th Night speech was powerful and inspiring to read, we can only imagine what it was like to hear it in person. We offer a salute, not just to ADM McRaven, not just to the US Army, but to ALL of the men and women who, fully knowing the hazards of their chosen profession, nonetheless suit up every day to protect our nation and our way of life. Thank you, and God bless.

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A Sailor’s Perspective on the United States Army
Admiral William H. McRaven, Address to Class of 2015, 500th Night
18 January 2014

Good evening General and Mrs. Caslen, General and Mrs. Clarke, General Trainor, Col Brazil, Command Sergeants Major Duane and Byers, distinguished guests and most importantly Class of 2015. I am truly honored to be here tonight to address the future leaders of the United States Army.

But, as a graduate of a state school in Texas, who majored in journalism because I couldn’t do math, or science, or engineering or accounting, I am somewhat intimidated by the thought of giving any advice, to any cadet, on anything. Nevertheless, after almost 37 years in the service, much of that time with the Army, there may be something I can offer.

So tonight, as you begin the final 500 days of your time at the United States Military Academy, I would like to give you a Sailor’s Perspective on the Army; not the Army of the Hudson, not the Army of the history books, not the Army portrayed in the countless murals across campus, but the Army you will enter in 500 days—the Army upon which the future of the Nation rests; the Army that you will shape and the Army that you will lead. So, if you will humor this old sailor, I will tell you what I’ve learned in my time serving with the Army.

In the past twelve years I have worked for the great Generals of this generation; Dempsey, Petraeus, Odierno, McChrystal, Austin, Rodriguez and Dailey. All graduates of the Military Academy, each man, different in his own way.

Dempsey, a man of great humor and compassion, whose quick wit, and keen tactical sense allowed him to secure Baghdad as a Division Commander, lead the Central Command as a three star, and today, as the Chairman, he presides over the greatest change in our military since WWII and he does so with tremendous reason, intelligence and with a song in his heart.

Petraeus, whose understanding of the strategic nature of war was unparalleled. Who saw opportunity in every challenge and who dared greatly in hopes of great victories. His daily command decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan unquestionably saved the lives of thousands of young soldiers.

Odierno, a soldier’s soldier, who as a Division and Corps commander in Iraq, fought with a fierceness one would expect of a great warrior and then as the Commander of all forces in Iraq combined that fierceness with the diplomat’s subtle hand to lead and shape the future of a sovereign Iraq. And today, he leads the greatest Army the world has ever known.

Austin, the quiet bear of a man, whose deep intellect and incomparable combat experience allowed him to think through every complex problem and to succeed where others might have failed.

McChrystal, whose creative mind and intense drive for perfection, changed forever how special operations would fight on the battlefield and changed how SOF would forever be perceived by the Nation—and in doing so, likely changed the course of the Armed Forces as well.

Rodriguez, the everyman’s general who proved time and again, that character matters–that hard work, perseverance, persistence, and toughness on the battlefield are always traits of success.

And Del Dailey, whose boldness and innovation, coupled with a Night Stalkers sense of teamwork and aggressiveness, began the revolution in special operations.

What did I learn about the Army in watching these men and other great leaders like Keith Alexander, Chuck Jacoby, Mike Scaparrotti, John Campbell, Bob Caslen and Rich Clarke? Well, I learned first and foremost that your allegiance as an officer is always, always to the Nation and to those civilian leaders who were elected by the people, who represent the people.

The oath you took is clear; to support and defend the Constitution, not the institution– not the Army, not the Corps, not the division, not the brigade, not the battalion, not the company, not the platoon, and not the squad—but the nation.

I learned that leadership is hard. Karl von Clausewitz once said that “everything in war is easy, but the easy things are difficult.” Leadership sounds easy in the books, but it is quite difficult in real life. I learned that leadership is difficult because it is a human interaction and nothing, nothing is more daunting, more frustrating more complex than trying to lead men and women in tough times. Those officers that do it well earn your respect, because doing it poorly is common place. You will be challenged to do it well.

I learned that taking care of soldiers is not about coddling them. It is about challenging them . Establishing a standard of excellence and holding them accountable for reaching it. I learned that good officers lead from the front. I can’t count the times that I saw Petraeus, without body armor, walking the streets of Mosul, Baghdad or Ramadi, to share the dangers with his men and to show the enemy he wasn’t afraid.

Or McChrystal, jocking-up to go on a long patrol with his Rangers or SEALs in Afghanistan; Dempsey on a spur ride in Iraq; Austin at the head of his Division during the invasion of Iraq; Odierno, cigar in mouth, rumbling through the streets of Basrah; Rodriguez and Dailey always center stage during the tough fights in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I learned that if you are in combat, move to where the action is the hottest . Spend time with the soldiers being miserable, exhausted and scared. If you’re a Blackhawk pilot or a tank commander, spend some time on the flight line or in the motor pool with the maintainers and the wrench turners. Whatever position or branch you are in, find the toughest, most dangerous, job in your unit and go do it.

I learned that you won’t get a lot of thanks in return. I learned that you shouldn’t expect it. Your soldiers are doing the tough job every day, but I guarantee you, you will learn a lot about your troops and they will learn a lot about you.

I learned that the great leaders know how to fail. In the course of your Army career you will likely fail and fail often. Nothing so steels you for battle like failure. No officer I watched got it right, every time. But the great ones know that when they fail, they must pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes and move on.

Rudyard Kipling, the great British storyteller, poet and soldier once wrote, in part, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowances for their doubting too. If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same. Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it and which is more– you’ll be a man my son.”

If you can’t stomach failure, then you will never be a great leader. I learned that great Army officers are risk takers, but the greatest risk is not on the battlefield, but in standing up for what’s right.

I have seen a young lieutenant stand up to a colonel when that officer’s behavior was out of line. I have seen a captain challenge a general about a flawed battle plan. I have seen many a general privately confront their civilian leadership and question the merits of the national decisions. All Army officers are expected to take risks in battle. The truly great officers know that real victory is achieved when men and women of character take professional risks and challenge the weak – kneed, the faint of heart, the indecisive or the bullies.

And finally, in watching Army officers, young and old, I learned that the great officers are equally good at following as they are at leading. Following is one of the most underrated aspects of leadership and each of you will be asked to follow someone else. The strength of a good unit rests more on how well the officers follow the commander, than how well they lead their own soldiers. I have seen many a good Battalion and Company underachieve because someone in the officer ranks thought the Commander was incompetent and quietly worked to undermine his authority.

I guarantee you, that in the course of your career you will work for leaders whom you don’t like and don’t respect. It will be easy to make fun of their idiosyncrasies, their receding hair line, their soft chin or their spouse. Be very careful about getting too smug, too opinionated and too righteous. As long as the actions of y our commander are moral, legal and ethical, then do everything you can to support the chain of command and avoid the rolling eyes, the whisper campaigns and junior officer dissension.

I learned that the great Army officers know how to follow. And what about the soldiers that you will lead? In my career I have been fortunate to have served beside soldiers from the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Division, the paratroopers of the All American Division, the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, the10th Mountain Division, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Infantry Division, all Groups of the Special Forces Regiment and my beloved Army Rangers.

I learned that the greatest privilege the Army can bestow upon you is to give you the opportunity to lead such magnificent men and women. These soldiers are not without their challenges. Your soldiers will, at times, question your authority. They will undermine your actions. They will mislead you, frustrate you, disappoint you, and occasionally fail you. But, when the chips are down, I mean really down, your soldiers will be there and they will inspire you with their courage, their sense of duty, their leadership, their love and their respect.

In difficult times, your soldiers will be everything you dreamed they would be—and more. All one has to do is look at the citations that accompany the actions of Sergeants Sal Giunta, Leroy Petry, Robbie Miller, Ty Carter, Jarad Monti, Ross McGinnis, Paul Smith, and Clinton Romesha. Men whose unparalleled heroism, above and beyond the call of duty, was only apparent moments before their brothers were threatened. I learned that your soldiers are at their best when their brothers and sisters in arms are threatened. They are at their best when life deals them the hardest of blows and their indomitable spirit shines through.

In 2007, I visited the intensive care unit in Landstuhl, Germany, where the Army was sending all of its most critically injured soldiers from Iraq. As I walked into the sterile room, clad from head to toe in clean white garb, a man lay naked on the bed in front of me. Missing one leg above the knee and part of the foot on the other leg, he was swollen beyond recognition from the blast of an IED.

The doctor in attendance didn’t know the man’s unit or service. I asked the man in the bed if he was a Marine or a Soldier. Unable to talk, he pointed to his thigh. There on what was left of his thigh, was a tattoo; the 1st Infantry Division. “You’re a soldier,” I remarked. He nodded. “An infantryman.” I said. He smiled through what was left of his face and then he picked up a clipboard upon which he had been writing notes. He looked me in the eye and wrote on the paper. “I –will—be— infantry—again!” Exclamation point. And somehow I knew that he would.

Just like the young Ranger in the combat hospital at Bagram who had both his legs amputated and was also unable to speak. The nurse at his bedside said that he knew sign language. His mother was deaf and the soldier had learned to sign at a young age. He was so very young and a part of me must have shown a small sign of pity for this Ranger whose life had just been devastated. With a picture of hand gestures in front of me, the Ranger, barely able to move and in excruciating pain, signed, “I will be okay.”

ADMIRAL WILLIAM MCRAVEN, COMMANDER OF US SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND, SPEAKS TO CADETS AT THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY ON 18 JANUARY (PHOTO CREDIT: USMA PAO)
And a year later I saw him at the Ranger Regimental Change of Command. He was wearing his prosthetic shorties, smiling from ear to ear and challenging the Rangers around him to a pull up contest. He was okay. Just like the young female sergeant who I just visited at Walter Reed this week. She was seriously injured in a parachute accident. With her father by her side, she laughed off the injury like it was a scratch. She’s been in the hospital for two months and has years of rehabilitation ahead of her. She has no self- pity, no remorse, no regrets, just determination to get back to her unit.

These soldiers and tens of thousands like them will be the warriors you lead in 500 days. You had better be up to the task, because I have learned that they expect you to be good. And, most importantly, I also learned that y our soldiers expect you to hold them to high standards. These soldiers joined the service to be part of something special and if they are not held to a high standard, if their individual efforts are no more important, no more appreciated than the efforts of a slacker then it will directly affect the morale of the unit.

And I learned that nothing is more important than the morale of a unit. MacArthur once said of morale, “…that it cannot be produced by pampering or coddling an Army, and it is not necessarily destroyed by hardship, danger, or even calamity…It will wither quickly, however, if soldiers come to believe themselves the victims of indifference or injustice on the part…of their leaders.”

The great leaders in the Army never accept indifference or injustice and they only judge their soldiers based on the merit of their work. Nothing else is important. Not the soldier’s size, not their color, not their gender, not their orientation, not their religion, not their ethnicity— nothing is important, but how well your soldiers do their job.

I am confident that history will reflect that the young American’s who enlisted in the Army after September 11th, were equal in greatness to their grandfathers and their great grandfathers who fought in the World Wars—and in 500 days you will inherit these incredible soldiers. Be ready.

Finally, in watching the Army for most of my career, I learned that no institution in the world has the history, the legacy, the traditions, or the pride that comes from being a soldier. I am envious beyond words. I learned that whether you serve 4 years or 40 years you will never, ever regret your decision to have joined the United States Army. You will serve beside the finest men and women in America. You will be challenged every day.

You will fail. You will succeed. You will grow. You will have adventures to fill ten life times and stories that your friends from home will never be able to understand. Your children and their children and their children’s children, will be incredibly proud of your service and when you pass from this earth, the Nation that you served so very well will honor you for your duty. And your only regret will be that you could not have served longer.

And if for one moment you believe that because Iraq is over and Afghanistan is winding down that the future holds few challenges for you, then you are terribly, terribly mistaken. Because as long as there are threats to this great Nation, the Army upon which this Nation was founded, will be the cornerstone of its security, it’s freedom and its future. And you, as Army Officers, will shape that future, secure our freedoms and protect us from harm.

So what has this sailor learned? That there is no more noble calling in the world than to be a soldier in the United States Army. Good luck to you all as you complete your final 500 days. May God bless America and may we always have the privilege to serve her. Thank you very much.

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-Havoc13

havoc13team@gmail.com

(photos, transcribed comments, and 500th Night details credited to West Point PAO)


After Years at War, the Army Adapts to Garrison Life

By JAN. 18, 2014

Inside

View slide show|10 Photos

Army’s New Rhythm

Army’s New Rhythm

Travis Dove for The New York Times

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Spec. Perez Brown Jr. spent three years in the Army and two tours in Afghanistan, where on his 23rd birthday a homemade bomb blew up a vehicle in his convoy and he came close to driving over another one just down the road. “That second one might have been for me,” he said.

Now Specialist Brown is safely home with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, where he goes on field marches in the frosty forests near Lake Ontario. He will not be sent again to Afghanistan, where American involvement is winding down, so he is part of an Army that is no longer carrying out war plans, only training for them.

Although he is glad to be back, Specialist Brown misses the intensity and purpose that deployments brought to his life. Here in upstate New York, he said, it is peaceful but a little boring. “There are too many slow days,” he said.

A dozen years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, most of the two million American men and women who went to war are home, adjusting to new lives. Slightly more than half remain in the armed services, where many are struggling — like America’s ground forces over all — to find relevance in the face of an uncertain future.

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“You can compare it to a football player who trains for years and doesn’t want to sit on the bench for the Super Bowl.” LT. ANDREW MAYVILLE, back home at Fort Drum, N.Y., but applying to the Special Forces Brett Carlsen for The New York Times

Their restlessness is a particular challenge for the Army, which sent 1.3 million troops to war after 9/11 and created the most combat-tested force in the nation’s history. But now it must sustain the morale of soldiers who have returned to American bases and are living what the military calls garrison life.

“You have to ask yourself if you want to be that leader who is relegated to navigating garrison bureaucracy — submitting ammo requests, coordinating weapons ranges and conducting inventories,” said Capt. Brandon Archuleta, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who returned to Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. “I know those processes are in place for a reason, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.”

Lt. Andrew Mayville, who commanded an artillery platoon of 20 soldiers in Afghanistan and is back home at Fort Drum, misses the urgency of his deployment and so is applying to the Special Forces, a branch of the Army that trains allied militaries overseas and is sent to hot spots. “You can compare it to a football player who trains for years,” he said, “and doesn’t want to sit on the bench for the Super Bowl.”

The problems soldiers face in adjusting to ordinary Army life after the adrenaline of combat weighs on commanders.

“It takes a bit of audacity to fall out of a perfectly good airplane in the dark of night,” said the 82d Airborne Division’s command sergeant major, LaMarquis Knowles, based at Fort Bragg, N.C. “So there are some challenges when we integrate back into civilization. You transition from one mind-set — you roll out of your cot and you seek and destroy the enemy — to coming back to the States, where we want you to drive safely.”

Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, acknowledged that the Army and its soldiers were at “a very important inflection point.” The numbers tell part of the story: The Army is reducing to 490,000 troops from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000, and some at the Pentagon already are suggesting that budget cuts might force the Army down to as low as 420,000 in years to come.

But General Odierno, who served multiple command tours in Iraq, insisted that the Army would not be confined to garrison life. Instead, he said, his soldiers will be “globally responsive and regionally engaged” in overseas war games, exercises with foreign militaries and, if needed, deployments to hot spots. He also wants to restore a schedule of academic training, which was pushed aside by combat.

Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of the 10th Mountain Division, is carrying out that mission with his soldiers. “We are not going to sit in our garrisons,” he said. “That’s not what the Army did before the wars. We trained here. We deployed for training all over the world. And we will find our way back to that.”

But the reality is indisputable. The 10th Mountain was the first division sent off to fight the war in Afghanistan, and now it will be the last. General Townsend is headed to eastern Afghanistan in a final deployment that will close the official NATO combat mission by the end of the year.

A More Experienced Field

Captain Archuleta, 30, is the face of today’s Army, the kind of young officer who had experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan far beyond his rank. President of his 2006 class at West Point, he deployed a year later as a platoon leader to Babil Province, south of Baghdad. One day, his battery commander approached him with an unusual offer.

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“There are too many slow days.” SPEC. PEREZ BROWN JR., home at Fort Drum after three years in the Army and two tours in Afghanistan Brett Carlsen for The New York Times

“He said, ‘I’m having trouble with the town council,’ ” Captain Archuleta recalled. “ ‘I know you are a wonky poli-sci kind of guy. I’m at a standstill. Can you contribute to this?’ ”

Captain Archuleta joined a team of military representatives to the town council of Al Haq, where he helped oversee public services — water, roads, electricity — assisted in reconciliation talks with tribal elders and worked as a payroll officer to Iraqi security forces.

“My battery commander and my battalion commander realized they had a big challenge with governance,” he said. “They knew they couldn’t be everywhere at once. It was quite empowering for them to delegate those authorities to me.”

Over two wars, experiences like Captain Archuleta’s were repeated up the chain of command.

Commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan never had as many forces as called for under the military’s troop-heavy counterinsurgency strategy, so officers had to secure far larger expanses of territory than in past wars as a range of unexpected responsibilities, particularly governance and economic development, fell to them. Captains had responsibilities held by colonels a generation before, colonels shouldered the challenges of past generals, and generals had resources larger than many nations’ defense ministries.

But when Captain Archuleta returned home to Hunter Army Airfield in 2010, after he commanded a company of 110 soldiers in Afghanistan’s volatile Khost Province, he missed the responsibilities that his commanders had given him in war.

“My peers who felt similarly either pursued broadening assignments within the military, like me, or simply left active duty for business school and the private sector,” he said.

The Army, seeking to retain Captain Archuleta, selected him to join the West Point faculty to teach American politics. The Army is now paying for him to earn a master’s degree in public affairs at the University of Texas en route to a doctorate in government. Under his agreement with the Army, he will leave the West Point faculty and return to the fighting force in 2017.

“Such a positive option was not the experience of all of my contemporaries,” Captain Archuleta said.

Transition to Peacetime

That challenge of transitioning to a peacetime Army is felt in a different way across the enlisted ranks, as commanders say they typically face more challenges disciplining troops at home.

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Paratroopers rehearsed their landing falls at Fort Bragg. Travis Dove for The New York Times

“We all struggle with the fact that leadership in garrison is much tougher than leadership in combat,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Larry D. Farmer, who served as the senior noncommissioned officer for the 82nd Airborne’s Combat Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg.

Young soldiers may have survived multiple combat tours and countless brushes with death, which commanders say can lead to a sense of invincibility and the need to seek out the rush of war from thrills like reckless driving and drug and alcohol abuse.

Although there is typically an initial honeymoon period when soldiers return to their families, the frictions of daily life start to spark by the six-month mark, and Army leaders know they have to pay special attention as problems may emerge.

Stepping up the training schedule can help. Last summer, in a military exercise, more than a thousand paratroopers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division floated down from the dark bowl of sky over Fort Bragg, visible through night-vision goggles as umbrella-shaped shadows against a pale green backdrop.

Their mission, the centerpiece of an eight-day war game for 7,500 troops, was to evacuate civilians endangered by a foreign political crisis and secure a chemical weapons depot in a chaotic, unnamed nation.

The 82nd Airborne, back home after years of nonstop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, continues to prepare for conflict, although not the full-scale land wars of the last 12 years. As Robert M. Gates said in 2011, when he was the defense secretary, “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.”

Instead, commanders say the Army’s future lies in creating leaner, faster units that can provide disaster relief, secure embassies, seize airfields and deploy for other emergencies large and small — all while continuing to deter potential adversaries from aggressive actions.

“Our recent combat experience is not necessarily analogous to what we are going to have to do in the future,” said Maj. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the 82nd Airborne. The division has again been designated the military’s Global Response Force — ready to deploy a battalion of about 750 troops overseas within 18 hours, and a full brigade of about 3,500 troops in as little as two days.

To meet that renewed purpose, General Nicholson also put his paratroopers through a separate “no-notice alert” last year to rehearse going from a status quo daily schedule to a rapid combat deployment. More than 1,000 soldiers swapped out their distinctive maroon berets for camouflage helmets as they shrugged into parachutes and loaded their combat equipment onto transport aircraft as if for immediate dispatch to an overseas crisis.

These drills, General Nicholson said, reflect the most significant change for paratroopers here, one that will return the division to its historic rapid-reaction role. They also serve to keep impatient troops who experienced real combat in Iraq and Afghanistan occupied at home.

When it comes to money for training, his division is one of the fortunate ones. For almost a year, tight budgets have meant that only those units next in line for deployments have been allowed to conduct large-scale training exercises — the sort of event that focuses the energy of soldiers and boosts morale.

“What keeps me up at night,” General Odierno said, “is if I’m asked to deploy 20,000 soldiers somewhere, I’m not sure I can guarantee you that they’re trained to the level that I think they should be.”

As for Specialist Brown, he has decided that his future and the Army’s are intertwined. With hopes for advanced training in electrical engineering, and at least the prospect of another tour overseas — perhaps to Africa, Europe or Asia — he has re-enlisted for another three years.

“I haven’t decided whether I’ll stay in for the whole 20 years,” he said. “But I’m willing to take it a couple of years at a time.”


Budget ax reaps chaos across Army

Here we go again.

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Top Army leaders showed little restraint as they blasted the many ways the budget debacle is crippling the service.

And the problems are many.

■ Only two brigades are combat-ready. Even units headed to Afghanistan are qualified for the train-and-advise mission, not combat.

■ Budget cuts will cut the Army to 420,000 troops, and some are calling for a force of 380,000. End strength topped out at 570,000 and is being cut to 490,000.

■ A number of lawmakers and analysts have minimized the need for land forces, an attitude Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno called “naïve” and “dangerous.”

■ Continuing resolutions, combined with the crippling effect of sequestration, have had a negative impact on 485 programs and put each one in jeopardy of being reduced or eliminated.

■ Cuts have delayed reset for 22 aviation units. As a result, 744 aircraft (three years’ worth) are in a holding pattern.

■ Some 139,000 health care appointments were not available in fiscal 2013 as a result of sequestration and the government shutdown.

■Nearly 10 percent of the Army’s civilian medical doctors, nurses and other health workers — or 4,120 civilian health employees — left their jobs in the months that furloughs were threatened or carried out. Of those, 728 were doctors or nurses.

“I wish I could promise that better days lie ahead,” said Army Secretary John McHugh. “Sadly, I just can’t.”

McHugh’s pointed comments opened the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting Oct. 21.

He and several other Army leaders spoke at the AUSA event about the challenges now and what lies ahead.

Here is an overview:

McHugh: Budget woes keep military ‘dysfunctioning’

Troops: How low is too low?

Readiness: Fears of ‘too little, too late’

Training: ‘Not to full capability’

Gear: ‘Tough decisions’ await

Benefits: Slowing compensation, shifting care

Odierno: Land power is still vital

Lance M. Bacon, Michelle Tan, Joe Gould and Paul McLeary contributed to this report.

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US Military Cracks Down On Troop Masturbation In Afghanistan

Glad to see they have their priorities straight…. O_o

 

An image making the rounds on Facebook gave us a chuckle — it’s a notice posted in a port-a-potty on Camp Leatherneck in Helmand province, Afghanistan, and it sends a clear message to the troops deployed there:

Stop playing with yourself, or else.

 

 

The notice threatens anyone in violation of this silly rule with legal action, specifically under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Affectionaly dubbed the “catch-all” by Marines, Article 92 allows the military to prosecute its troops for “failure to obey an order or regulation.”

The notice, which hilariously refers to a port-a-potty as a “masturbation facility,” claims that there have been several cases of illness in the region due to exposure to bodily fluids.

That sounded a little scientifically fishy to me, so I reached out to the Navy Corpsman who was my medic when I was deployed to Helmand province in 2011. He called malarkey.

“Unless they’re getting semen in an open wound, there’s no way,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric Dodson, a Corpsman with 2nd Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, N.C. “There’s no transdermal infection passable through semen, at least to my knowledge.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/military-cracking-down-on-masturbation-in-afghanistan-2013-10#ixzz2hWP3LP8i


In U.S., Perceived Need for Third Party Reaches New High

Twenty-six percent believe Democratic and Republican parties do adequate job

by Jeffrey M. Jones
This article is part of an ongoing series analyzing how the government shutdown and the debate over raising the debt ceiling are affecting Americans’ views of government, government leaders, political parties, the economy, and the country in general.

PRINCETON, NJ — Amid the government shutdown, 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.

Trend: Perceived Need for a Third Major U.S. Political Party

The results are consistent with Gallup’s finding of more negative opinions of both parties since the shutdown began, including a new low favorable rating for the Republican Party, and Americans’ widespread dissatisfaction with the way the nation is being governed.

The prior highs in perceived need for a third party came in August 2010, shortly before that year’s midterm elections, when Americans were dissatisfied with government and the Tea Party movement was emerging as a political force; and in 2007, when the newly elected Democratic congressional majority was clashing with then-President George W. Bush.

A majority of Americans have typically favored a third party in response to this question. Notably, support has dropped below the majority level in the last two presidential election years in which Gallup asked the question,2012 and 2008. Support for a third party was lowest in 2003, the first year Gallup asked the question. That year, 40% thought the U.S. needed a third party, while 56% believed the Republicans and Democrats were doing an adequate job.

Republicans, Democrats Equally Likely to See Need for Third Party

Republicans (52%) and Democrats (49%) are similar in their perceptions that a third party is needed. In fact, this marks the first time that a majority of either party’s supporters have said a third party is needed.

Trend: Support for a Third Major U.S. Political Party, by Political Party Affiliation

As would be expected, a majority of independents — those who profess no initial allegiance to either party — have always said the U.S. needs a third party. Seventy-one percent currently hold that view, which has been exceeded twice before, in 2007 and 2010.

Implications

Given the inability of the Republican and Democratic parties to agree on the most basic of government functions — passing an annual budget to pay for federal programs — it is perhaps not surprising that the percentage of Americans who believe a third party is needed has never been higher.

However, the desire for a third party is not sufficient to ensure there will be one. Structural factors in the U.S. election system and the parties’ own abilities to adapt to changing public preferences have helped the Republican and Democratic parties to remain the dominant parties in U.S. government for more than 150 years. Third parties that have emerged to challenge their dominance have not been able to sustain any degree of electoral success.

Survey MethodsResults for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 3-6, 2013, with a random sample of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline and cell telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup’s polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.

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WW2 Vets Face Arrest For Visiting Their Memorial

This is an outrage!

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An “Honor Flight” (the charity that brings World War II vets to visit their memorials in Washington, DC for free) is planning on bringing World War II vets to visit their memorial in Washington this weekend. But with the government shutdown, not only is the trip being threatened with cancellation, but the government is threatening to ARREST any vet who tries to enter the memorial! This is after the fact that on Monday, October 1st, World War II vets knocked down barriers blocking the WW2 memorial so they could visit it, which was “closed” because of the government shutdown. Nevermind that this memorial is outdoors and never, ever has barriers around it – so why the need now?

Honor Flight flys veterans to visit their memorials in Washington D.C. free of charge so they can see them. Most of these vets from the greatest generation have never seen the memorials built in their honor for saving the world from Nazi Germany and global tyranny.

Northwest Ohio Honor Flight President Lee Armstrong said, ”We will make the call this Friday to determine if the flight is still a go, or if we will have to re-schedule.”

When he contacted the parks service, he was told that if the veterans tried to gain access to the memorial, they would face arrest. “I said, are you kidding me? You’re going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t be there. She said, ‘That’s correct sir.’” said Armstrong.

When he asked for the parks service members name, the quickly hung up the phone.

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TOLEDO – In and around the Glass City, affects of the government shutdown can be seen at our museums, monuments, and national parks. The gates are closed and locked, denying access completely to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Transportation Safety Administration employees were still working at Toledo Express Airport on Monday, but when WNWO called the TSA to find out if they would be affected, there was a message that said the public relations representative did not have access to her voicemail or email due to the government shutdown.

A letter from Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s (D-OH 9) office reads,”…only services deemed essential for the safety of human life and protection of property will be continued.”

Yet, for a group of World War II veterans visiting the national memorial in Washington D.C., an all expense paid trip which is called an ”Honor Flight,” the shutdown was not stopping them from seeing the tribute that was inspired by them.

“It just goes to show you why we won World War II,” says Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio President Lee Armstrong.

Many elderly veterans, some in wheelchairs, broke through the barriers set up around the memorial, as police, park service employees, and tourists looked on. “The Germans and the Japanese couldn’t contain us. They weren’t going to let barriers contain them today. They wanted to see their memorial,” says Armstrong.

Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio has a trip scheduled to depart from Toledo next Wednesday, October 9.

“We will make the call this Friday to determine if the flight is still a go, or if we will have to re-schedule,” Armstrong explains.

He says they are considering going ahead with the trip even if the government is still on shutdown, but when he called the parks service, he was told they would face arrest. “I said, are you kidding me? You’re going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t be there. She said, ‘That’s correct sir.’”

When Armstrong asked for her name, he says she did not give it to him and then promptly hung up the phone.

99% of veterans on Honor Flights have never had the opportunity to see the memorial that is devoted to their service.

Through October, the are over 35,000 veterans scheduled to visit the site, more than 900 in the next five days alone.

It may all be waiting in limbo if the government can’t complete their job.

Read More from WNWO

– See more at: http://americanmilitarynews.com/2013/10/ww2-vets-face-arrest-for-visiting-their-memorial/#sthash.3AHX13Kk.dpuf

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