|President Trump and Justice for our Combat Troops
President Trump has granted clemency to two Army officers accused or convicted of war crimes and restored Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher to the rank of chief petty officer after he was docked a pay grade after being convicted of posing for a photo with a dead ISIS fighter, the White House announced.
Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance was be released from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, six years after being found guilty of second-degree murder. Maj. Matt Golsteyn, a former Green Beret, will have the murder charge against him dropped.
When then-President Obama sent our troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, he included about 650 army lawyers—who apparently spent their time finding ways to accuse our combat troops of crimes. What would you say if, after a fire-fight, an army lawyer told you that if you’d give testimony against one of your buddies—then they wouldn’t charge you with murder?
I thank our President for this act of real justice. There are a few more men who deserve this clemency.
The Military-Intelligence Complex—Another Part of the Swamp
Many retired high-ranking military officers have gone beyond legitimately articulating why President Trump may be wrong on foreign policy, and now feel free to smear him personally or speak openly of removing their commander-in-chief from office. And the media and the bipartisan foreign-policy establishment are with them every step of the way.
At various times, an entire pantheon of retired generals and intelligence directors has gone to Twitter or progressive cable channels like CNN and MSNBC to declare the president of the US either a Russian asset and thus a traitor, or unfit for office, or in some other way to call for his removal before the election of 2020—for some, seemingly in violation of the code of military conduct that forbids even retired officers from defaming the commander-in-chief. None cited any felonious conduct on Trump’s part; all were infuriated either by presidential comportment and tone or policies with which they disagreed.
Retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey for the past three years has leveled a number of ad hominem charges against the elected president. He essentially called the president a threat to American national security on grounds that his loyalties were more to Vladimir Putin than to his own country. McCaffrey later called the president “stupid” and “cruel” for recalibrating the presence of trip-wire troops in-between Kurdish and Turkish forces. He recently equated Trump’s cancellation of the White House subscriptions of the New York Times and the Washington Post to the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini (“This is Mussolini”).
When a retired military officer decides and announces that the current president is the equivalent of a fascist, mass-murdering dictator who seized power and defied constitutional norms, then what is the signal conveyed to other military officers?
Retired General Stanley McChrystal—removed from command by the Obama Administration for inter alia allegedly referring to the vice president as “Bite Me”—called the president “immoral and dishonest.” Former CIA director Michael Hayden—a four-star Air Force general formerly smeared by the Left for defending supposed “torture” at Guantanamo—compared Trump’s policies to Nazism, when he tweeted a picture of Birkenau to illustrate the administration’s use of detention facilities at the border—a plan inaugurated by the Obama Administration—to deal with tens of thousands of illegal entrants.
One can disagree with Trump’s decision to pull a small contingent of tripwire troops back from the frontlines in Syria as Kurds (our current friends, but not our long-standing legal allies) and Turks (our long-standing legal allies, but not our current friends) fight each other, or see the logic of not putting even small numbers of US troops in the middle of a Syrian quagmire.
The choice is a bad/worse dilemma, one that involves the likelihood either of not defending de facto allies or getting into a shooting scenario against de jure allies. So why would retired General John Allen instead attack the commander-in-chief in moral terms rather than merely criticize the president’s strategic or operational judgment: “There is blood on Trump’s hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies”?
Again, when our best and brightest former generals and admirals inform the nation that the current elected president, with whom they disagree on both Middle East and border security policies, is “immoral” and “cruel” or deserves bloodguilt, or is the equivalent of a fascist dictator or similar to those who set up Nazi death camps, is not the obvious inference that someone must put an end to the supposed fascistic/Nazi takeover of the government?
In the eeriest series of comments, retired Admiral William McRaven has all but declared Trump a subversive traitor. Apparently in reference to fellow military also working in resistance to the president, Raven remarked, “The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.”
In a New York Times op-ed, the decorated retired admiral went further, mostly due to his own disagreements with Trump’s foreign policy, especially toward the Turkish-Kurd standoff in Syria, and his dislike of the president’s style and behavior. Indeed, McRaven seemed to call for Trump to be removed before the 2020 election, “[I]t is time for a new person in the Oval Office—Republican, Democrat or independent—the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it.” (Emphasis added.)
Let us be clear about what McRaven wrote. We are just one year away from a constitutionally mandated election. Yet McRaven now wants a “new person” in the Oval Office and he wants it “the sooner, the better.” And he insists our collective fate as a constitutional republic depends on Trump’s preferable “sooner” removal.
What exactly is the admiral referring to? Impeachment? Invocation of the 25th Amendment? Or the last of Rosa Brooks’ proposals: a forced removal by the military?
Note again, the common thread in all these complaints is not demonstrable high crimes and misdemeanors but rather sharp policy disagreements with the president about the Middle East, or the president’s own retaliatory and sometimes crass pushbacks, usually against prior ad hominem attacks both from serving and retired military officers, or false claims that Trump was a veritable asset, something refuted by Robert Mueller’s 22-month, $35-million-dollar investigation of “collusion.”
— Jewish saying
Best Cities for Veterans
The personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on 2019’s Best & Worst Places for Veterans to Live (as well as accompanying videos). The report compares the 100 largest US cities across 20 key metrics, ranging from share of military skill-related jobs to housing affordability to the availability of VA health facilities.
To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:
Ethical Use of Artificial Intelligence
Hoping to prepare for what many see as a coming revolution in artificial intelligence-enabled weaponry and convince a skeptical public that it can apply such innovations responsibly the US military is taking early steps to define the ethical boundaries for how it will use such systems.
A Pentagon advisory organization called the Defense Innovation Board published a set of ethical principles for how military agencies should design AI-enabled weapons and apply them on the battlefield.
The board’s recommendations are in no way legally binding. It now falls to the Pentagon to determine how and whether to proceed with them.
Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said he hopes the recommendations will set the standard for the responsible and ethical use of such tools.
“The DIB’s recommendations will help enhance the DOD’s commitment to upholding the highest ethical standards as outlined in the DoD AI strategy, while embracing the U.S. military’s strong history of applying rigorous testing and fielding standards for technology innovations,” Shanahan said in a statement emailed to reporters.
Artificial intelligence algorithms are computer programs that can learn from past data and make choices without the input of a human. Such programs have already proven useful in analyzing the vast quantities of intelligence data that military and intelligence agencies collect, and the commercial business world has found myriad uses for them.
But the prospect of computers making decisions in a combat scenario has been met with skepticism from some corners of the tech world.
War on Drug Cartels
President Trump urged Mexico to “wage war” on drug cartels after the massacre of at least nine American citizens — three women and six of their children — in the Mexican state of Sonora.
“A wonderful family and friends from Utah got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other, with the result being many great American people killed, including young children, and some missing,” Trump tweeted early Tuesday.
“If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing [and] able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively,” he offered. “The great new President of Mexico has made this a big issue, but the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!”
“This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth,” the president concluded. “We merely await a call from your great new president!”
Military and Vets Educating Congress
Representing more than 30,000 Veterans for Smart Power across the country, nearly 50 top leaders of the USGLC’s growing veteran’s initiative came together on Capitol Hill earlier this month as part of an ongoing effort to elevate U.S. diplomatic and development programs alongside a strong defense. From Vietnam veterans to active guard and reserve members, this diverse group of men and women spent a day speaking with lawmakers and sharing personal stories of their time in uniform to highlight how our national security is strengthened by our civilian-led tools.
Makin Island – WWII
A true story about 19 Marines killed in the Gilbert Islands in 1942 (defending against the Japanese). They had to retreat and knew they’d be killed, so they asked the islanders to please bury them so the Japs couldn’t find them. Years later, they checked and found a man who had been a teenager then and remembered where they were buried. They sent a C130 and an honor guard over there and found all 19 had been buried with their helmets on, their rifles in their hands, in perfect condition. The islanders had really done a wonderful job. As they were loading the bodies, a voice from out of nowhere started singing The Marine Hymn”……….gave everyone goose bumps. Turns out, the voice was from a man who spoke no English but remembered a song the Marines taught him when they landed. Very touching. They got all 19 and their photos are at the end. This of course was WW II.
The Oldest College Football Player
The oldest college football player playing today is also an elite Special Operation soldier for the US Army.
I can still recall the exhilaration I felt in the reading room of the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.
It was mid-April 2009. I was scrolling through roll after microfilm roll of the War Department’s “Opinion Surveys Relating to the Morale of US Army Personnel.”
What I had discovered were tens of thousands of statements written by WSII American soldiers about their military experiences. Not only were they uncensored, they were also composed during the conflict — not afterward, from re-created memories.
A postdoctoral fellow at the time in modern US history, I felt confident that no other collection of WWII records compared to what had been saved on these unreproduced 44 microfilm rolls. Neither had I ever seen these documents used in any history of WWII.
I had just discovered a historian’s gold mine.
The US Constitution
When members of our Armed Forces are sworn in, we all take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the US against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The entire document, including all amendments, takes slightly less than 7600 words. We veterans and, indeed, all patriots, should read this document over and over again. It’s not complicated.
The states created the federal government and the Constitution provides that the states elect the president—that’s the ‘why’ of the Electoral College. It’s vital to our Constitution that all the states have a role in selecting the President. We’re a Constitutional Republic—not a democracy.
There are two national organizations that are focused on making our nation aware of, and practicing, the Constitution—and I’m active in both of them. First is Concerned Veterans for America (cv4a.org). Then, there’s Combat Veterans for Congress (CVC.org).
A Nuclear War with Russia over the Baltics?
Would the US fight a nuclear war to save Estonia? The question would probably strike most Americans as absurd. Certainly, almost no one was thinking about such a prospect when NATO expanded to include the Baltic states back in 2004.
Yet a series of reports by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation shows that the possibility of nuclear escalation in a conflict between NATO and Russia over the Baltic region is higher than one might imagine. The best way of averting it? Invest more in the alliance’s conventional defense.
There was a time when it seemed quite normal to risk nuclear war over the sanctity of European frontiers. During the Cold War, NATO was outnumbered by Warsaw Pact forces, and it would have had great difficulty stopping a Soviet attack with conventional weapons.
From the moment it was formed, NATO relied on the threat of nuclear escalation – whether rapid and spasmodic, or gradual and controlled – to maintain deterrence. American thinkers developed elaborate models and theories of deterrence. US and NATO forces regularly carried out exercises simulating the resort to nuclear weapons to make this strategy credible.
After the Cold War ended, the US and its allies had the luxury of thinking less about nuclear deterrence and war-fighting. Tensions with Russia receded and nuclear strategy came to seem like a relic of a bygone era. Yet today, with Russia rising again as a military threat, the grim logic of nuclear statecraft is returning.
The spike in tensions between Russia and the West over the past half-decade has revealed a basic problem: NATO doesn’t have the capability to prevent Russian forces from quickly overrunning Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Russian invaders would be at the gates of the Baltic capitals in two to three days; existing NATO forces in the region would be destroyed or swept aside.
NATO could respond by mobilizing for a longer war to liberate the Baltic countries, but this would require a bloody, dangerous military campaign. Critically, that campaign would require striking targets – such as air defense systems – located within Russia itself, as well as suppressing Russian artillery, short-range missiles and other capabilities within the Kaliningrad enclave, which is situated behind NATO’s front lines.
The US, France, Russia, and NATO
In a remarkably frank interview with the Economist, French President Emmanuel Macron laid out a vision of a European security architecture that includes more cooperation with Russia and less with the US than today. It’s courageous but flawed.
“To my mind, what we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Macron announced, due to “no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making between the US and its NATO allies.”
The US, according to him, doesn’t share its European allies’ interests. Under President Trump, the US treats Islamist terrorism and Russia’s actions in Ukraine as Europe’s problems because they play out in Europe’s neighborhood, far from US shores. All that the US does is provide a defense umbrella in exchange for an exclusive commitment to buy US products.
“France didn’t sign up for that,” Macron said, making it clear that he doubts Trump’s commitment to NATO’s mutual security guarantee, spelled out in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
This insecurity explains Macron’s efforts to involve more European countries in defense cooperation, which he admits won’t yield immediate results. It also explains his reluctance to go along with what he calls a “really tough” US stance on Moscow. Russia, to Macron, has no long-term alternative to “a partnership project” with Europe, and so Europeans must engage with it and figure out on which issues there can be immediate cooperation (for example, fighting terrorism) and on which it’s advisable to start with mere deconfliction (for example, cyberwarfare).
To make this possible, Macron wants to discuss what guarantees Russia needs to feel more secure, and he’s even open to talking about “an EU and a NATO guarantee of no further advances on a given territory.”
This worldview has an obvious internal logic, especially if the US isn’t a fully committed ally: “We have the right not to be outright enemies with our friends’ enemies.”
The problem with this logic is that it appears to be built on a long-term view of Russia’s options and a short-term view of US ones. That’s what undermines Macron’s agitation for a European defense bloc that would exist parallel to NATO.
Macron told the Economist that Russia faces a menu of just three strategic options: trying to be a superpower in its own right; becoming China’s vassal; and “re-establishing a policy of balance with Europe.” According to Macron, only the third option is viable. Obviously, Russian President Putin would feel uncomfortable making his country China’s junior partner. And the superpower path is difficult because Russia’s shrinking, aging population can’t sustain it, and Putin’s “identity-based conservatism” prevents him from having “a migration policy.” So only rapprochement with Europe remains.
That’s a mistake. For starters, Russia is a big country of immigration. Its official statistics on population flows are unreliable because of visa-free policies with former Soviet countries, but it’s the sixth biggest source of international migrant remittances, just behind Germany and well ahead of France.
God Loves Us
Scott McChrystal is a retired Army Colonel, Chaplain. Here are some of his insights that I think you’ll find appropriate.
Topic: Bouncing Back – Resiliency
For all of us, there are times when we get knocked down. It might be a health issue, a deteriorating relationship, a financial problem, or the unexpected death of a loved one.
Have you ever noticed how some people bounce back quickly, but others don’t? The buzz word these day is resiliency.
How about you? Are you a resilient person? Do you bounce back when tough things happen? Or perhaps, do you continue to struggle? Bad things knock you down and you find yourself trying to recover but somehow just can’t figure out how to do it.
God knows you and all about your struggle. He can help. If you are willing to explore further, please read this article:
Retired Navy CAPT Joe John has done many things in his life; I’ve asked him to share a few words of wisdom with us: Don’t let the US become like the UK
Civil War History
Here are some questions on the Civil War; we’ll post the answers in the next newsletter.
Here are the answers to the last issue’s questions:
1, During what years was the Civil War fought? 1861-1865
2, Who was the president of the US during the Civil War? Abraham Lincoln
3, Who was the first president of the Confederate States of America? On 6 Nov 1861 West Poing graduate Jefferson Davis was elected to a 6-year term as the president of the Confederate Sates of America. He was the first and only president of the confederacy, and he didn’t finish his term of office.
Here are the new questions:
1, Gen William Tecumseh Sherman is quoted as saying, “War is hell,” but that’s not exactly what he said. What did he say?
2, What was the capital of the Confederacy?
3, Did President Lincoln ever visit the Confederate capital?
Kid Rock and Warrior
Frontlines of Freedom Gear
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Two quotes to consider.
The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.
No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.
Programming: You’ll want to tune into the show (live or by podcast).
23-29 Nov: Retired Col Ed Sandrick will discuss veteran health benefits. Then Larry Coppack, the Executive Director of Strength for Service will discuss the spiritual side of strength. Steve Wilson will share how HelpVet.net offers assistance to all veterans, and we’ll review the previous week’s service academy football games.
30 Nov-6 Dec: Army vet Matt Hayes and Navy vet Marc Liebman will discuss their war, the First Gulf War. Then we’ll hear about how Hillsdale College supports veterans. And Diane Raver from the Garden State Film Festival will review the Movie of the Month, and we’ll review the previous week’s service academy football games.
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Some Blonde jokes.
A blonde, a redhead, and a brunette were all lost in the desert. They found a lamp and rubbed it. A genie popped out and granted them each one wish. The redhead wished to be back home. Poof! She was back home. The brunette wished to be at home with her family. Poof! She was back home with her family. The blonde said, “Awwww, I wish my friends were here.”
Two blondes fell down a hole. One said, “It’s dark in here isn’t it?” The other replied, “I don’t know; I can’t see.”
Blonde: “What does IDK stand for?”
There was a blonde, a redhead, and a brunette. They were all trapped on an island and the nearest shore was 50 miles away. The redhead swam trying to make it to the other shore she swam 15 miles, drowned, and died. The brunette swam 24 miles, drowned, and died. The blonde swam 25 miles, got tired, and swam back.
Q: Why can’t a blonde dial 911?
A blonde and a redhead have a ranch. They have just lost their bull. The women need to buy another, but only have $500. The redhead tells the blonde, “I will go to the market and see if I can find one for under that amount. If I can, I will send you a telegram.” She goes to the market and finds one for $499. Having only one dollar left, she goes to the telegraph office and finds out that it costs one dollar per word. She is stumped on how to tell the blonde to bring the truck and trailer. Finally, she tells the telegraph operator to send the word “comfortable.” Skeptical, the operator asks, “How will she know to come with the trailer from just that word?” The redhead replies, “She’s a blonde so she reads slow: ‘Come for ta bull.'”
A guy took his blonde girlfriend to her first football game. They had great seats right behind their team’s bench. After the game, he asked her how she liked the experience. “Oh, I really liked it,” she replied, “especially the tight pants and all the big muscles, but I just couldn’t understand why they were killing each other over 25 cents.” Dumbfounded, her date asked, “What do you mean?” “Well, they flipped a coin, one team got it, and then for the rest of the game, all they kept screaming was, ‘Get the quarterback! Get the quarterback!’ I’m like, hello? It’s only 25 cents!”
A robber comes into the store & steals a TV. A blonde runs after him and says, “Wait, you forgot the remote!”
A Couple Interesting Photos – and A Funny One Too
This tire tells you when it’s time to change it.
This mirror has a heated part so it doesn’t steam up after a shower.
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Lt. Col. Denny Gillem (Ret.)