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Archive for the ‘Army’ Category

Note: For the next few weeks on Sunday we will feature a review of books outside of theology, philosophy and apologetics.  Each review of a non-Christian book will also have a section titled, “What’s in it for the Christian?” The Generals American Military Command from World War II to TodayPurchase: Amazon

This book is a wonderful study on generalship in the United States Army from World War two to the present with Iraq and Afghanistan.  The author has written in the past about the military before, most notably about the Marine Corps boot camp.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much the author Thomas Ricks has grown in his understanding of the military since his first book on the military in 1997.

The thesis that the author argues for in the book is that the Marshall concept of Generalship worked in World War Two.  To be more specific, the concept is on how the Army manages General, and how under the old Marshall system it was expected that generals would be relieved and fire in order for the system to work and battles to be won.  Under the Marshall system, relief from command wasn’t necessarily the end of one’s military career like how it is understood today; generals were moved to other command since sometimes those who were not effective in combat command but were better leaders in other area of the Army (logistics, training, etc).  The Marshall’s way of managing generals was very effective but since World War two the book argues that the US Army has deviated from this concept.  Today generals are never relieved by the military itself (though there are political removals such as the infamous case of Douglas MacArthur by President Truman).  The book argues that as a result of the neglect of the Marshall system this has led to a crop of many poor generals who negatively affected the outcome of operations, battles and entire wars, not to mention the waste of lives and money.  What’s worst is that there are often no repercussions for generals who failed; in the modern military a private who lost his rifle will face more punishment than a general who lost a war.

Students of military history would love the author’s discussion about how General Eisenhower balanced the various charismatic generals during World War two such as General Patton, British General Montgomery and General Bradley.  The book also surveyed the Generals in the Korean War as the first war that failed to implement the Marshall system and how various Generals blundered but were not relieved.  This would continue on into the Vietnam War where it was even more pronounced with General Westmoreland and other lesser known generals.  The book also surveyed the more recent Iraq War and I agree with the author that the beginning of Iraq the military had some pretty bad generals (personally, General Sanchez comes to mind).  The book even covered the Iraq War right up to the surge (the author focuses on the surge in two other books after this volume) with General David Petraeus and notes how long it took before the right generals were in place leading the war effort was also the same duration that the US military took to win World War two in the Marshall system.

While it was not the main focus of the book, I did appreciate the author’s contrast between the Army’s handling of general officers versus that of the Navy and the Marines.  The Navy holds their officers to higher accountability and how they regularly relieve officers for ships that hit ground and get stuck.  Unfortunately, the author said that the sample size for the Marine Corps was too small, but Ricks does note how the Marine generals led their Division out of Chosin Reservoir as a combat effective unit while an adjacent Army unit with poor leadership ended up being hammered.  Ricks also talked about how during the Iraq War the Marine General Mattis who commanded the first Marine Division relieved a regimental commander of the first Marines for going to slow during the invasion and that this became international news.  However, during world war two such an event was frequent occurrence and not even worthy of being international news since it was assume the goal of victory was more important than allowing commanders to save face.

This is an excellent book for civilians and military like.  I think those in military should read this book, whether officers or enlisted so one can get the bigger picture.  In summary, the book presents a strong case to modify the maxim that “Amateurs study strategies, professionals study logistics;” we may add, “The Army leadership must study management of personnel.”

What’s in it for the Christian: A big theme in the book is accountability.  Christians have stressed the importance of accountability, given our fallen nature.  Accountability is something that is needed even outside of the military—and especially in the ministry, which is concerned with matters of eternity.  The author notes how different officers have different abilities, and just because one might not be able to lead in combat command that does not mean they are not useful for the military elsewhere.  Christians who are familiar with the Bible’s teaching of spiritual gifts—that we all have different gifts though it is different from each person to person.  As a Christian, this book was also insightful concerning human nature and the art of balancing different personalities in a group or a church that one leads—it has challenged me to appreciate how being a team player is a virtue.

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Taking a break this Veteran’s Day friday evening from our regularly scheduled apologetics and theology blogging to remember those who served.  This is a 1951 movie that I recently found online and I was surprised that a movie like this was made in the early 50s and that it was made that close after the war.  If you don’t know anything about the Japanese American infantry unit known as the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, you ought to do a little online reading this weekend which would be more than appropriate for Veteran’s Day.  They are still today the most decorated Army unit on the record, with the highest casualty rate sustained by any unit.  And they were serving in a time when Japanese American loyalty were being questioned and their family held in internment camps back in the States which makes the amount of sacrifice shown by these brave men even more phenomenal.  I kind of wish a 21st century movie of this unit would have been made today of the quality of Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan.  I think it would sell.

I was struck with how the movie capture so much reality rather than being another sugar coat war propaganda movie: they did a good job showing the reality of racism, conveying GI culture, referencing specific things that’s Japanese American and made honest allusion to the reality of the internment camp experience.  That was probably the more surprising part of the movie, to see that being acknowledged back in the 50s!  The US government would acknowledge this sad chapter in American history in the 1980s (but that’s another subject, another post and another time!).  On the lighter side of things, I found it funny the movie’s reference to one of the guys being a graduate of USC (I’m a UCLA Bruin) and the small size of Asian infantryman.  As an American Marine of Asian descent, the last part struck a chord with me.  More than one time throughout the movie I was surprised at how it did not caricature Japanese American compared to other movies showing Asian during this time period.  I highly commend this movie in able to capture of slice of reality, conveying bravery and folly, sadness and humor, irony and patriotism with even a consciousness of civilians caught in the mix of war.  Well done film for it’s time.

Enjoy!  I just hope I didn’t hype it too much.

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I first heard the news of the Fort Hood shooting during Thursday Night Bible study, when a lady informed me that there was a horrific shooting by a Major who didn’t wanted to go to Afghanistan.

At first it sound like someone who really lost their mind with no other sinister motive other than that of a wicked man who has “snapped”

Then it turned out Nidal Malik Hasan was muslim.  My first thought was, “Let’s give the man the benefit of the doubt. Most muslims I know are just normal Americans who are trying to make it in life, just like any American.” Then you hear the typical Public Media Campaign of Islamic propaganda group like C.A.I.R crying that they fear Muslim backlash.  Which reasoning struck me as odd, because last I check it was Nidal Malik Hasan who was a muslim who did the shooting, and it was non-muslim who did the dying. If anything, it should have been more of a campaign to assure non-Muslims their safety, that true Muslims will not go ballistic.

The campaign to explain whitewash Nidal Malik Hasan has begun.  Some bring up the explanation that those who are muslim in the U.S. military often suffer from harassment for their faith, and Nidal Malik Hasan must have snapped because of it.  No actual statistics or studies have been cited to document this alleged Post 9-11 growing phenomenon. On the contrary,  a Muslim-American Veteran Groups even have said that there is no report of Islam solidiers harassed for their faith.

Then there is the ridiculous suggestion that Hasan went ballistic because he didn’t wanted to go in a dangerous war zone, because he heard how dangerous it was from traumatized soldiers.  For the uninitiated, it sounds plausible but those in the Military knows that this guy is a medical physician not an infantryman who will be “seeing things”.  Plus, it’s ridiculous to see the rationale that the guy doesn’t want to risk dying, and tries to get out of it by risking his own life when he shot up 12 soldiers dead, and 31 injured.  That’s really leveling the playing field for his chance of not getting hurt, does it not?

Or perhaps Hasan’s faith had nothing to do with it because he was not a practicing Muslim. The morning before the shooting, he was giving out Koran, even a copy of the Ali’s translation to his neighbor:

Fort Hood Shootings

Then that same morning he went in his muslim attire to 7-11:

Of course, some might say that the above is rather superficial: How are you going to tie Hasan’s religious motivation as his motive on the basis of him giving out a Koran and dressing Arabic? Isn’t that a slippery slope? Good point, I agree, I bring up the above to make readers to come to the conclusion themselves that it’s really what the CONTENT of his religion and not just the superficial religious observances that manner.  What are the exact content of his Islamic teaching?

We get an insight from NPR of the teachings of Hasan faith, when Hasan took an opportunity to lay down what he believe to other soldiers:

But he seemed almost belligerent about being Muslim, and he gave a lecture one day that really freaked a lot of doctors out.

They have grand rounds, right? They, you know, dozens of medical staff come into an auditorium, and somebody stands at the podium at the front and gives a lecture about some academic issue, you know, what drugs to prescribe for what condition. But instead of that, he – Hasan apparently gave a long lecture on the Koran and talked about how if you don’t believe, you are condemned to hell. Your head is cut off. You’re set on fire. Burning oil is burned down your throat.

And I said to the psychiatrist, but this cold be a very interesting informational session, right? Where he’s educating everybody about the Koran. He said but what disturbed everybody was that Hasan seemed to believe these things. And actually, a Muslim in the audience, a psychiatrist, raised his hand and said, excuse me. But I’m a Muslim and I do not believe these things in the Koran, and then I don’t believe what you say the Koran says. And then Hasan didn’t say, well, I’m just giving you one point of view. He basically just stared the guy down.

If these are beliefs that he openly shares to those in the military, what kind of beliefs does this guy keep to himself???

Hasan has even attended radical Islamic Mosque, the same one that two of the 9/11 hijackers attended:

Hasan, the sole suspect in the massacre of 13 fellow US soldiers in Texas, attended the controversial Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia, in 2001 at the same time as two of the September 11 terrorists, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. His mother’s funeral was held there in May that year.

The preacher at the time was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni scholar who was banned from addressing a meeting in London by video link in August because he is accused of supporting attacks on British troops and backing terrorist organisations.

Other military officers were concerned about Hasan’s view of suicide bombers:

Another student had warned military officials that Hasan was a “ticking time bomb” after he reportedly gave a presentation defending suicide bombers.

Even another soldier who was a recent convert to Islam sadly believe Hasan was perhaps guided by his religious conviction:

Using the name Richard, the recent convert to Islam described how he frequently prayed with Hasan at the town mosque after Hasan was deployed to Fort Hood in July. They last worshipped together at predawn prayers on the day of the massacre when Hasan “appeared relaxed and not in any way troubled or nervous”. But Richard had previously argued with Hasan when he said that he felt the “war on terror” was really a war against Islam, expressed anti-Jewish sentiments and defended suicide bombings.

“I asked Richard whether he believed that Hasan was motivated by religious radicalism in his murderous actions,” Mr Pasha said.

“Richard, with great sadness, said that he believed this was true.


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Those of us here at Veritas Domain are former military and have an ear still to the military’s current misson

For those of you who are not aware, the battle of Wanat was the incident which 9 Americans were killed in a small outpost

Special Washington Post entry page: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/world/battle-of-wanat/

Of most particular interest: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/world/battle-of-wanat/correspondence/documents/2-Army-Historians-Report.pdf

It was very similar to the incident where 8 Soldiers died on October 4th

This ought to be a wake up call concerning Afghanistan, things are getting more violent

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The French soldier is writing about the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan

While the guys here at Veritas Domain are heavily manned by Marines, it’s good to see a tribute of the Army also

At the least it gives you some perspective of what operating alongside with US forces is like through the French soldier’s eyes

Translation from here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/07/18_months_the_army_wont_forget.html

I believe more now than ever, that there is a chance for moderate success in Iraq

I hope that as a result of recent military success, this would afford the opportunity for the Iraqis to be able to sustain their own government, and a government that would bring peace within their country…

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Lately, the climate in Iraq seems to be moving towards a positive direction.

This is another entry that is of interest of what’s going on behind the scene, with a captured Al Qaeda map, from a recent news source:

A map drawn by Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — who was killed last year by U.S. forces — turned up last December in an Al Qaeda safe house and essentially gave U.S. war planners insight into the terrorist group’s methods for moving explosives, fighters and money into Baghdad.

“The map essentially laid out how Al Qaeda controlled Baghdad. And they did it through four belts that surrounded the city, and these belts controlled access to the city for reinforcements and weapons and money,” said Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, a FOX News contributor who recently visited Iraq.

“And [U.S.-led forces] simply made the decision to reduce these belts one at a time, and essentially what that did was it choked off Al Qaeda’s access to the city. And once that was done, Al Qaeda had no alternative but to leave the city, to leave the belts and to retreat into the city of Baquba,” Scales said.

The map showed four rings around Baghdad, nearly identical to rings former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein once created to protect the city.

U.S. military planners used those maps to choke off Al Qaeda, moving ring by ring, hunting and destroying Al Qaeda in Baghdad, flushing them out of their urban strongholds and picking them off as easy targets in the desert.

The troop surge was announced Jan. 10 and began soon after that. Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno took a risky but calculated move to send U.S. troops out of main base camps and set up small patrol stations that were jointly manned with Iraqi forces, essentially living among Iraqis in Baghdad. It made it easier for intelligence to surface but made U.S. troops easier targets.

U.S. forces seized on an opportunity as Al Qaeda gathered in the northern city of Baquba. The surge allowed troops to encircle Baghdad, and the insurgents fled into the desert, making them even more vulnerable to U.S. forces.

“What this offensive did is it essentially cut the head off the snake,” Scales said.

The explanation for the turning point came as new reports of a more peaceful Baghdad surfaced.

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