Category Archives: Media vs. Military

More Insight into NY Times Reporters’ and Editors’ Characters

New York Times editors and newsroom staff, during a drunken (and drugged, probably) debauch, yukking it up about a mass murder:times-fake-massacre

The bottle-and-toy-AR-wielding dork with the beard and coke-bottle glasses is Bill Keller, who was the top editor at the time. (During which, the paper approved school policies which suspended students for possession of toy firearms).

Seeing Keller and his phalanx of fools acting out their repressed fantasies might explain why they are so strong for gun control.

During his reign, the single most frequently covered story on the Times’s front page was the rampant injustice at a private golf club in Georgia, which had no women members.

Here’s Keller again, and his toadies, channeling the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult.

keller-times-heavens-gate

These morally void and mentally disturbed people think they should make the final decision on whether you can defend yourself. Isn’t that special?

Foreign Policy: Why Are ISIL Leaders Better than Iraqis?

ISIL flagNow, if this were a courtroom drama, somebody would say, “Counsel asserts facts which are not in evidence.” Because the Iraqis, yes, their leadership (especially at political level) sucks. But so does ISIL’s. They’re winning not because their Joes Jamals are better, or because their leaders are better, but because they (1) know what they’re fighting for and (2) have support.

The Iraqis, conversely, are not fighting to win, but not to lose; and they have only half-hearted, grudging support from both of their external supporters, the USA and Iran. Both nations are willing to give the Iraqis a little boost, just enough so that they don’t lose; but neither really wants the Iraqis to win. That’s why ISIL is winning: in wars where only one side commits to victory, the outcome is foreordained.

Yet the clueless, who find their geographic centroid south of Philly and north of Richmond, are writing stuff like this, reporting on the statements of others with recklessly low levels of Vitamin Clue:

Furious American policymakers blasted the Iraqis for effectively abandoning the city. The Iraqi army “was not driven out of Ramadi,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters at a NATO summit in Brussels last week. “They drove out of Ramadi.”  Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, meanwhile, used an interview Sunday to publicly accuse the Iraqis of lacking the “will to fight,” The White House quickly tried to walk the comments back, but there is little doubt Carter was speaking for many inside the Pentagon.

“Walk the comments back.” That reminds us that there are two types of suits in national-security policy positions currently: academics with fashionable ideas about how America needs to decline, and former speechwriters and spin artists who think you can lie your way out of anything.

It takes some balls for a couple of palace eunuchs like Dempsey and Carter to talk about “lacking will to fight.” We have heard that the US “airstrikes” in support of the Ramadi defense were, seven, count ’em, 7, sorties. “Here’s your bombs, little brown guys. Make ’em count.”

We don’t know where Martin Dempsey and Ash Carter got the balls to say that stuff, but they ought to spit ’em out — any balls in the possession of either one of those geldings have to belong to someone else.

These two wizards of withdrawal have been the architects of ABED: abandonment, bugout, escape, and defeat.

And they’re preparing to do the same in Afghanistan. Top. Men.

So naturally Foreign Policy, which thinks Tom Ricks is smarter than anyone who ever put on a uniform (in part, because he never put on a uniform), thinks the US has been betrayed by the Iraqis here.

The Defense chief’s comments hinted at the biggest question hanging over both the Ramadi fight and the broader push against the Islamic State: can Baghdad win the war if its generals seem to be continually out-thought and out-maneuvered by their counterparts from the militant group?

via Why Are the Islamic State’s Commanders so Much Better than the Iraqi Army? | Foreign Policy.

I don’t know if that post was Ricks — perhaps not, it’s not bursting its banks with self-regard, the very Presidential-selfie of defense reporting — but it’s the sort of miscued nonsense he’s written his whole career, and naturally he’s now orbited by young, ambitious versions of his unaware-but-never-uncertain self.

Exercise for the reader: imagine Armchair Admiral General Ricks with his never-leaves-Acelaland attitude, transported in time to World War II.

“Why can’t the Poles stand up to the Germans? Is it Hitler’s leadership?”

“Which Admirals Should Hang for Pearl Harbor?”

“Ploesti Raid: Record Casualties, Production Uninterrupted. Time to Negotiate?”

“Allies Still Bogged Down in Italy. Mussolini Rescued. Are Our Generals Goldbricking?”

It’s a fun game: Beltway Defense Journalist. Anybody can play! Unless you know something about the military and defense.

But the shucking of responsibility in the Pentagon will have serious consequences. It took us fifteen years of recovery (and a couple of wars that would have been unnecessary) to overcome the damage to our reputation illustrated by that last chopper out of Saigon.

Everybody in Iraq who trusted us has been receiving the Delta House president’s answer: “You F’d up. You trusted us.”

One of Our Favorite “Memorial” (but should be “Veterans”) Day Shorts

This short, I Fought For You, has been around for over five years, so you might have seen it already. It was put together by three upstate New Yorkers, Andrew Marzano (director), Josh Pies (script) and Dave Bode (score). It’s a little over the top — we can just see Nick Palmisciano making fun of the salute — and it’s based on the usual confusion over Veterans’ Day (for us live ones) and Memorial Day (for the dead ones) but their hearts are in the right place.

Here’s an interesting video, with the three filmmakers describing how they did it. What are people’s big complaints? The salutes… and the lack of skin-deep “diversity” among the cast. Of course, no one seemed to catch the big one that gets up our delicate-albeit-porcine nose: Memorial Day is for the fallen, not for the living veterans. Still… who gives a rat’s what color they were? They were all red, white and blue as far as we’re concerned.

Country. Hell. Handbasket. Some assembly required, you know? But these young men are trying.  There is that.

Have a great Memorial Day. Grill something, grab a discount on something — we surely will. But we’ll also take a minute to remember those who celebrate with us only in spirit this year: the ones that were our friends, and the ones that would have been, if only they had lived. They fought for us, sure, but they also fell for us. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them. Perhaps you will be so kind as to do the same.

Meanwhile, everybody has their own way of remembering Memorial Day. The editors and writers at Salon, over the byline of one Sean McElwee, chose to get all wee-wee’d up for cutting the military to fund more social programs. (None of the people who attack our military spending compared to other nations ever note that our .mil spending is larded with earmarks, costly social experimentation, and union handouts. Having to do everything with low-quality, low-productivity, high-cost union labor — and therefore, do a lot of it over — really pads the bill).

Meanwhile, a less childish Philadelphia newsman remembers five pro athletes “fallen on the field of honor.”

More Jade Helm Assclownery

Jade Helm logo -- we bet they regret the motto now.

Jade Helm logo — we bet they regret the motto now.

You know that 5% that don’t get the word? Well, Texas isn’t just big in area, ranches, and all kinds of other measures: their 5% seems to be a lot bigger than 5%.

Of course, maybe we get that impression because we’re reading Texas media, and you’ll never escape that 5% if you’re in the default position of the modern mediot — embedded neck-deep in your own lower colon.

BIG SPRING – Military officials have negotiated contracts with local ranchers to conduct Jade Helm training on their property, according to Big Spring Mayor Larry McLellan.

However, he said residents will not be “forced out of their homes” to accommodate troops during the large-scale military exercise, scheduled to run July 15 through September 15.

McLellan had no details about the contracts supposedly offered to Big Spring homeowners. Military officials were not available to answer questions about how many ranchers were being displaced or inconvenienced due to Jade Helm, and how much they would receive in compensation.

What are these landowners being compensated for?

Now, it’s possible that some tent camps may be set up on sombody’s ranch — with his permission, while paying him a rental. But a lot of these are for training areas that SF teams and other SF troops are going to walk through. Leaving, if they’re on the ball and comporting with their training, no trace. 

How this bubble-headed TV clown gets from there to “ranchers… displaced,” we’ll never know.

It’s possible some staff section or exercise headquarters will want to rent a barn, equipment shed, or outbuilding. What happens if the landowner says no? This will probably shock the $#!+ out of you, the loyal 5% still getting your news from TV newsreaders selected for their head of hair, but in that case they thank him for his time, and go and ask some other landowner. 

Another reason private land is hired is for personnel and equipment drop zones. It’s totally obsolete, everyone agrees, but there really isn’t a better way to get a lot of teams on the ground fast 1,000 kilometers deep in a denied area than low-level static-line parachuting. Likewise, one of the best of a bad lot of ways of resupplying those teams — it’s very hard to carry more than, max, mission gear and sustenance for one lousy week — is to drop the supplies by parachute. It worked in a half-assed way for the Chindits and Marauders, it worked for the Mobile Guerilla Force in Vietnam, and it works today. With a HSLLADS or CDS bundle or two, a small team is good for up to another month.

Jade Helm operations planners previously confirmed training will only be conducted on private and public land with the permission of landowners or regional authorities.

What part of “with the permission” went over this airhead’s sole professional qualification, that is, hairdo?

One lifelong Big Spring resident told NewsWest 9 he would not accept any amount of money to surrender his home to troops.

“I support our troops, but when they’re trying to take over our civilians, that ain’t cool,” he said. “[Those are] their homes. That’s where they live.”

And… where did this guy, Timothy Yanez, get the idea he was being asked to “surrender his home?” Hint: it wasn’t from exercise planners. It came from the small brain under the hairdo. He’s answering a question she put to him — a ridiculous question, if you understand the exercise.

McLellan told NewsWest 9 residents could anticipate “[hearing] more airplane traffic,” but no other major changes.

You know, more airplane traffic. Which is how those paratroopers and resupply bundles get to those contracted drop zones in the ranches arrayed around Big Spring.

via Big Spring Landowners Paid to Accommodate Jade Helm, Says Mayor – KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |.

Contrary to ratings-driven hysteria, when our guys do need to practice door kicking, they do it with targets, dummies, or (at the very highest level of training), live, experienced and specifically trained role players inside. Not some rancher (or ranch hand’s) unsuspecting family. (Which would get our guys, who are loaded with blanks for the exercise, shot by a bunch of defensively-oriented Texans. That is, if we were dumb enough to be the dummies the news media think we are).

One last thing, a clip of this was used twice to illustrate the exercise.

channel_9_bullshit_jade_helm_report

 

Yeah. A firing party at a memorial service for KIAs in Afghanistan. You can just see it going through their well-coiffed but vacant heads: “Hey, people in uniform. Shooting guns! Must be a military exercise. Perfect action clip to illustrate that Jade Helm story.” We bet no one at the station even knew what that firing salute was or when the military uses it.

Well, they’ve got a First Amendment right to write any ill-considered and thoughtless drivel they want to. And this time, they sure did!

Some Rangerette Myths

There is a barrage of propaganda coming out of the Ranger School. There could be nothing but, with every one of the surviving female students — eight at the end of the first week — shadowed by a Corps of Commissars who broadly (no pun intended) outnumber the female Ranger candidates1, and a media scrum that nearly outnumbers all the Ranger candidates.

Rangerette 5

There have been some myths spread about this class. In the interests of further factual information, here’s some debunkistry.

Myth: women are doing better than men, percentage-wise, in this class.

Fact: They’re not, even when you don’t account for the fact that some of the 8 survivors are being propped up. Remember that these women are the distillation of a pipeline of over 130 candidates, who got extra training no active-duty men can even apply for.

Myth: the Army has made no concessions to the women.

Fact: the concessions are many, ranging from the trivial (women’s hair is cut short, but not shaved like the men) to the serious (women are given extra chances and talked out of quitting; minor negative spot reports aren’t allowed to build up against them).

Rangerette 4

Myth: the women are a cross-section of Army women.

Fact: the women are a small, self-selected cadre of ambitious careerists. It is our understanding that all are officers.

Rangerette 1

Myth: As women increase their presence in combat units, they’ll be more likely to be raped. Because men in combat arms are “predators.” This is what Defense Secretary Ash Carter told an audience of ROTC cadets recently:

Obviously, as we get women into more unaccustomed positions, maybe dangerous isolated positions, maybe positions where they are fewer in relation to the number of men, it opens up opportunities for predators

Fact: You’re joking, right? Ash Carter makes Joe Biden look like the Great Gravitas Himself. He has no military experience whatsoever, and if he ever came out of the ivory tower, when he saw his own shadow we’d have six more weeks of winter. It’s not surprising he says stupid [stuff]. He didn’t stop there, either. He also hinted to the cadets that he intends to open all positions to women when the review is complete in 2016.

Meanwhile, Carter has quietly withdrawn 1,900 soldiers, 38 Black Hawk slicks, 12 medevac Black Hawks, as 12 heavy-lift Chinooks and 28 Apache attack helicopters from Europe to the United States as part of his unilateral drawdown of US forces worldwide. Instead, smaller elements will deploy for a few months at a time. A DOD spokesman insisted that less was more:

The net result of this restructuring is that Army aviation assets in Europe will be more ready, present, and operationally flexible. This is particularly important in the current strategic environment.

Our forces in Europe will be more ready, present, and flexible, hooah! They just won’t be in Europe!

In other news from the DOD, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and We Have Always Been at War with Eastasia.

If Ash Carter diminishes American air capability in Europe any further, he can expect Hermann Göring’s ghostly shade to manifest itself, and bestow on him the German Cross in Gold, the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, or some other high decoration.

These guys seem like harmless, amusing buffoons, until you realize that some one has plucked them out of their cozy libraries and put them in charge of complex systems they don’t understand.

Notes

  1. There are 31 female Commissars, or as they are officially called, Observer/Advisors. The course began with 19 women. Currently, there are roughly 4 OAs watching out for each woman. The number will rise as the women attrit further.

Micromanagement, Media, and JADE HELM 15

New York TimesIn a post on military corruption on Strategy Page, which is, as usual on that site of wargamer geeks turned armchair experts, all over the place, there’s a little on micromanagement and the media. We’ll pick it up, then, in the middle:

Examples of micromanagement were abundant in the recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Washington often had to be consulted before sensitive attacks were made (like having a Predator UAV launch a Hellfire missile at some guy on the ground who might be Osama bin Laden, or some tall Afghan with a beard, a new SUV, and a commanding manner). The JCS Command Post was an attempt to deal with this problem. The JCS and the Secretary of Defense are the president’s senior, and most frequent, military advisors. Ultimately, the buck stops with the JCS. So by plugging the JCS into a world-wide command system, politically sensitive decisions can be resolved quickly (in minutes, or at least in less than an hour). The more frequent contact between the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the JSC with combat commanders might build up a degree of trust that would enable sensitive decisions to be made more quickly. This would happen, in a best case situation, because the JCS Command Post had developed confidence in the judgment of the commanders out there.

But the JCS Command Post has just become another layer of management that slows down decision making without improving the ability of the troops to get the job done. To solve this problem it’s proposed that the CINC be reduced to the status of a staff officer. The CINC and his people (several hundred staff officers and support troops) would be the repository of knowledge about the local situation and would take care of all those logistical and support details that enable the combat operations to happen. So far, the CINCs have successfully resisted this, but it’s happening anyway whenever the folks back in Washington want to throw their considerable weight around.

Speaking of staff work, one thing combat staffs are increasingly concerned with is how to deal with politically delicate situations that the media could run with (often in uncomfortable directions). This sort of thing has been seen frequently since September 11, 2001. For example, when sandstorms seemed to have “stalled” the American advance on Baghdad in 2003, the president, or at least the Secretary of Defense, had to be in touch with the commanders inside the sand storm and then say something to the press that would defuse the story and wouldn’t blow up later if it proved to be false. For those who didn’t catch the follow up on the stand storm, the troops were delayed by the need to resupply (especially fuel for their very thirsty M-1 tanks) and the storm actually helped because the Iraqis thought they could safely move Republican Guard divisions under cover of it. They couldn’t, as there were American satellites, UAVs, and sensors on the ground that could see right through the sand. Iraqi tanks and troops got shot up on a massive scale before they realized that the airborne sand blinded them more than the Americans.

via Leadership: Corruption In The American Military.

The media, of course, reported the sandstorm story completely differently. It’s important to remember that they’re not anti-war, exactly, they’re just on the other side. They seem to “go there” reflexively, whoever the “other” is: whether it’s the Sandinistas, the Syrians of ISIL, or the Symbionese Liberation Army, if it’s against America, newshounds are all for it.

Hell, they don’t even see ISIL as an enemy when it’s beheading their fellow journalists. (What do they think? “That really sucks for him, there goes his Pulitzer?”) They don’t seem to react to these things like normal human beings, these mole men of the media.

jh_logoAnd now the JADE HELM 15 “controversy,” which is only a controversy to the extent that the informed (including you, dear readers) find themselves at cross-purposes with the ignorant, penetrates the mainstream media.

The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe, the sort of reporter who reads a couple of books and becomes the paper’s military expert (for heaven forfend they would pollute their newsroom with an actual, you know, veteran), is a latecomer to the JADE HELM 15 story, and doesn’t entirely get it, but unlike the conspiracy theorists he understands the difference between exercise/notional national entities remapped onto real terrain, and the real-world, non-exercise, persons and institutions on that terrain. Note his “for the purpose of training” below:

The mission is vast both geographically and strategically: Elite service members from all four branches of the U.S. military will launch an operation this summer in which they will operate covertly among the U.S. public and travel from state to state in military aircraft. Texas, Utah and a section of southern California are labeled as hostile territory, and New Mexico isn’t much friendlier.

…the military has routinely launched exercises in the past in which regions of the United States are identified as hostile for the purpose of training.

He then cites several other examples, including some we didn’t know about because they’re conventional exercises of the Sea Services off and onshore in the Southeast, and some we’ve mentioned already, like Robin Sage.

Lamothe has no higher levels of Vitamin Clue than you would expect to find behind a keyboard at the Post, but he’s trying, and that rare degree of effort sets him apart from his peers. He actually contacted a USASOC spokesman and got a quote from him.

What he seems to be missing is that the large areas and cross-jurisdiction operations are necessary to exercise, not special operations actions-on-the-objective, but special ops logistics, the true crux of a global SOF capability. While every SF, SEAL, MARSOC and AFSOC element on the ground will be exercising their thing, the command as a whole will be shaking down the ability to insert, communicate with, command & control, supply, reinforce, and extract special operations forces across realistic distances (1000 km — 1000 miles). Having trained guys who can train, lead, capture and destroy is a fine capability but as we have stressed before, it is no use at all if you can’t get it there. 

night tailgate

Night, tailgate. One way to get it there. Static safety officer on left.

 

We don’t know how many teams deploy in JADE HELM 15, but in a 1980s Flintlock, a deployed SFOB (today’s JSOTF forerunner) handled some 54 SF teams and a few foreign or combined teams and SEAL platoons directly, and another 6-18 SF teams through an FOB that was stood up by a Reserve or Guard SF unit. Every one of these had to be delivered and recovered, and in between, fed and supplied; plus there were other missions that required inter-service coordination, like Fulton STAR recoveries and F-111 beacon-bombing missions. To understand SOF, you really need to have experienced both the field, team environment, and the Support, Signal and Operations centers of the deployed SFOB or JSOTF. It’s much easier to train a team than it is to train a Group, let alone an entire joint-service theater special operations command. It’s like the difference between combat-training a rifle platoon and preparing the Invasion of Sicily.

Now deprecated: Fulton STAR system

Now deprecated: Fulton STAR system

As cool as the stories of the OSS Jeds and OGs and their SOE mates are — and believe us, they’re cool, and we have some more to share with you Real Soon Now™ — the real accomplishment was in the relatively unsung loggies of the “Shetland Bus,” the Carpetbaggers, the OSS Maritime Unit and the construction and development of communications site, staffs and procedures. (Indeed, SOE’s biggest failure came about because they expanded too fast and violated their own communications security procedures. But that is another story).

Paper’s Late and Insincere Apology for Slander

MARSOC-meltdown(Note: we wrote this and scheduled it, we thought, for the 18th. But many things are going on and so we’re hitting “publish” a couple of days later. Military Times has now published the third installment of its five part story, and is suggesting it will take two weeks or more to finish the two remaning installments — 20 Mar 15. Ed.).

Marine Corps Times, one of the military papers focused on personnel issues (who’s on the promotion list, etc.) that the relentlessly anti-military and anti-soldier Gannett Corporation acquired from Army Times Publishing Company, had great fun in 2008 with a story suggesting that the Marines of MARSOC lost control and massacred great numbers of civilians.

The title of the story was: “Meltdown at TF Violence: Uncovered — the hidden story of the MarSOC Marines who shamed the Corps.”

The story was “hidden” for a good reason: the tale of massacre flowed from fabrications and falsified evidence by, in part, JAG officers (gee, there’s a shock, not) that was then leaked to friendly reporters (another unsurprise). They didn’t even get the name of the MARSOC task force right, which shows you how deep and well-sourced their story wasn’t.  And now, the story has not exactly been retracted, or even apologized for, but Gannett’s peer paper Military Times is sloooowly running a five-part reported thumbsucker about what really happened. (This time, they’re going to pinky-swear, perhaps).

And guess what? There was no truth in the rush to judgment by the media, including Marine Corps Times, and bad leadership, including essentially all of the Army and Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and certain careerist officers, including Army MG Frank Kearney and Kearney’s rumpswab, Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Pihana, who were eager to throw the Marines under the bus. (This doesn’t surprise anyone who knows Kearney, a man of immeasurably low character). Marine officers who were hostile to the idea of an elite within the Corps, far from standing up for their Marines, greased the skids under them. Pihana, assigned with a wink and a nod to “investigate” the incident, dismissed all Marine testimony, however independently taken, as “lies,” accepted all Afghan testimony, and made contrary evidence disappear.

In the civilian world, that’s obstruction of justice, a serious felony. For Pihana, it was the order he got from Kearney, and the two of them, far from being charged, were decorated and promoted. As were the Marine officers who were willing to see seven Marines framed for murder for, as they saw it, “the good of the Corps.”

As we said, the Gannett crapweasels never actually retract their original story. They get this close:

Marine Corps Times… published a cover story in February 2008 boasting of hidden details about the “meltdown” within Task Force Violent and the “cowboys” who shamed the Corps — a characterization that has proven unfair and untrue.

That’s better than nothing, just; they use a variety of passive constructions to weasel around the fact that they were some of the key clowns in the circus (many media stories cited the Marine Corps Times fabrications as authoritative). For example, “….an incomplete narrative would emerge.” Nobody created it, you see. This goose egg of a story was here and just hatched. 

It’s nice (well, it isn’t really; it’s actually depressing) to learn that the Marines can be as blockheadedly focused on intramural  score-settling and as as passive-aggressive as leaders as the Army can, but the question is, why should we trust this report from the same integrity-challenged guys who took great pleasure in starting the whole juggernaut rolling downhill in the first place? We probably shouldn’t. But it’s one more data point out there.

Task Force Violent: The unforgiven

Part 3 comes tomorrow. Two more parts are scheduled beyond that.

This first parts of the story are interesting in that they claim that the Marines prepared for a kinetic, direct-action mission profile for Iraq, and were told only at the last minute that they were going to Afghanistan, so they had no worthwhile cultural and linguistic preparation. All the leaders asked about this made like the famous Nast cartoon, “Who took the money?”

To retitle Nast: "Who's Accountable?"

To retitle Nast: “Who’s Accountable?”

We can’t say who betrayed MARSOC, although given Kearney’s history with Special Forces guys and wild, improbable accusations, we’ll never believe his protestations of innocence. But we don’t trust these Gannett media wallahs as far as we can throw the Hindu Kush.

That MARSOC did not debut in the Corps to spontaneous and sustained hosannas is, of course, old news.

Fewer Gongs for Modern Marines? .

USMC EGA eagle globe and anchorIt’s definitely a common belief (although not a universal one) among the combat grunts of the ground services that that higher echelons of command have gotten, to use a word that doesn’t really fit the seriousness of the claim, stingy about awarding high valor awards, compared to the rate of awards in previous conflicts. Marine Major Christopher B. Mays puts it like this:

There is a perception by Marines that the award process is more restrictive and that fewer valor awards have been awarded in Iraq and Afghanistan than in previous wars. ….

A multitude of potential questions could be asked concerning the awarding of personal decorations for valor in combat. Is it a valid perception that the U.S. Marine Corps is more restrictive in awarding valor decorations in OIF/OEF? Is there a significant difference in the frequency of valor decorations awarded for each conflict or war during the period from WWI to the War on Terror? If so, why?

What Maj. Mays did, as you may have guessed from the tone of the above paragraphs, is analyze the “top three” awards (MOH, Navy Cross, Silver Star) longitudinally across all the Marines’ many armed conflicts from WWI to today.

In fact, the number of valor awards has declined precipitously since Vietnam, compared to a fairly stable level from WWI through Korea and the early years of Vietnam. World War I makes an interesting comparison, an indirect comparison because the Silver Star Medal was not available in World War I, because the Marines suffered just about twice as many KIA in WWI as they had done as of the study’s cut-off date in OIF/OEF, 2461 vs 1220. Yet the disparity in medals is greater — even when Silver Stars are added in, the number of top-three awards in OIF/OEF is under 40% of the number of top-two awards in WWI. MOHs are only awarded at 15%, and Navy Crosses at 8%, of the WWI rate, a disparity only partially compensated by the existence, now, of lower valor awards that were created after World War I.

USMC WWI OIF/OEF
KIA 2461 1222 49.7%
MOH 13 2 15.4%
NC 394 32 8.1%
SSM 0 127
total 407 161 39.6%

Moreover, comparing citations (which was beyond the scope of this paper), it’s hard to identify a World War I MOH or Navy Cross that can reasonably be said to merit only a Bronze Star or Silver Star.

The situation is even more disparate when you compare later wars with OIF/OEF.

USMC WWII OIF/OEF
KIA 19733 1222 6.2%
MOH 81 2 2.5%
NC 957 32 3.3%
SSM 3758 127 3.4%
total 4796 161 3.4%
USMC Korea OIF/OEF
KIA/DOW 3852 1222 31.7%
MOH 42 2 4.8%
NC 221 32 14.5%
SSM 1571 127 8.1%
total 5686 161 2.8%

We could go on, but you get the point. Either today’s Marines are considerably less nervy than their institutional (and often, the way service has come to run in families, familial) antecedents, or the Marines as an institution has lost interest in recognizing its Marines’ valor.

We, having known Marines of all these generations, except, sadly World War One, have a strong opinion on this issue, which we’ll keep to ourselves just now, because this post is about Major Mays’s research, not our opinion.

The official response from the Marine Corps Awards Branch defends the way in which it awards medals. The Marine Corps Awards Branch Head, Mr. Lee Freund stated, “A much more correct observation would be that the Marine Corps staunchly avoids inflation of valor awards and consistently seeks to ensure that the level of valor required to earn a specific valor award remains consistent with awards earned by Marines in previous conflicts.” However, the findings detailed in …[the study]… do not agree with the statements made by the head of the Awards Branch, numerically speaking. There is a disparity in the number of valor awards given during OIF/OEF when compared to all previous wars from WWI to OIF/OEF.

So why is this of interest to us? We’ve never been Marines, and we’ve never been given any high decoration. No more do we harbor any resentful feeling that we deserve one; all we did was hold up our end of the log when the duty was ours. But we think the same dynamic, whatever it may be, is at work in all services. Mays tries to understand and explain why this is happening in his Corps, but the scope of his research is necessarily limited. He suggests that a cultural change that devalues awards consequent to a general devaluing of the services may be a factor; the constant media and entertainment-culture disparagement of the military virtues may be being reflected in the services themselves.

It’s also clearly the case that the bureaucratic and administrative topheaviness of the Corps and the DOD is a factor. In World War II, paper awards recommendations handled by jack-of-all-trades unit clerks usually led to an award in weeks or months. In OIF/OEF, a dedicated computerized awards system operated by a bloated clerical establishment takes years to act, or, as is often the case, to fail to act.

But the reasons require further study, and Maj. Mays has suggested some positive research questions that future researchers can use to hammer out some answers. Fixing the problem — now that Mays has documented that there is a problem — will require command attention (if it doesn’t get it, it will get Congressional attention, and we can’t imagine any way that will make things better).

Major Christopher B. Mays has provided a valuable service to the Corps, the DOD and the nation by documenting the fact that awards incidence has declined in the current unpleasantness — some DOD officials have been inclined to pass this widespread perception off as mere whining by pampered troops and officers. If you are interested in this kind of thing, you should Read The Whole Thing™: Top 3 Valor Awards USMC ADA611586.pdf

Newsmen, We Know Snipers. This Clown Was No Sniper

USMC Sniper scope3In Lake Worth, Florida, the media scared the crap out of the public with sensationalistic headlines.

Report: SWAT Teams Responding to Possible Naked Sniper Situation in Lake Worth

via SWAT Teams in Lake Worth Respond to Possible Sniper Situation | New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

That seems weird. Normally we associate “sniper” with many things, but “naked” isn’t one of them. There’s a pretty substantial difference between one’s ghillie suit and his birthday suit, and most people smarter than a journalist wouldn’t mistake one for the other.

There’s apparently a naked man on a building rooftop on a sniper perch, with a gun. This according to a Facebook and Twitter account called Palm Beach County Alerts.

According to the alert, numerous Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach Fire Rescue units are surrounding the area of 1700 S. Federal Highway in Lake Worth. That is the address for the Shangri-La Hotel. The area has been evacuated, according to the report.

A guy listening to the public-safety stations on a scanner — something that’s apparently beyond credentialed “reporters” these days — had an interesting fact or two.

He says police are saying the man is naked and rolling around atop the roof of the building. The man also reportedly has a gun and at least at one point placed the weapon in his mouth.

The man is acting extremely psychotic, according to the report.

Ever try to put an M-24 in your mouth, let alone an M82A1? Would. Not. Go.

They never did correct the headline. As the news outlet later admitted they knew at the time, he only had a handgun, and had actually asked someone to call the police, because “I feel delusional, and I’m hallucinating!”

Handgun != sniper. Also, drugs and a handgun and acting out in public != sniper.

Leroy Strothers, 33, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger when police approached him. It didn’t fire, and he never threatened the cops or anyone but himself. The Palm Beach (County) Sheriff’s Office SWAT team ultimately talked him into giving up the gun. In the follow-up story, the paper suggests that Strothers might have fired one shot in the air before the police came.

He also told the officers that he was under the influence of flakka, a designer drug that is vaped with an e-cigarette (not to be confused with “Budder,” another designer street drug which is a wax form of marijuana). Flakka is made with similar ingredients used to make bath salts, the recreational designer drug that’s made headlines recently and is linked to dangerous hallucinations and maybe even responsible for the face-eating incident in Miami, though that’s still being debated.

Flakka, or “Gravel,” which is an a-PVP (or, methylenedioxypyrovalerone) — a hodgepodge mix of chemicals, like sort of a cross between crack cocaine and meth — is becoming widely popular throughout South Florida. It’s cheap, easy to get and reportedly induces behavior in smokers similar to that of meth.

Police have not confirmed if Strothers was on flakka, but he says he was. When PBSO SWAT was able to calm him down and talk him off the roof, Smothers was arrested and transported to JFK Hospital by Palm Beach Fire Rescue for evaluation.

When officers recovered the gun, they found that it was loaded with eight bullets. Police also found a bullet casing on the roof. Some witnesses had reported on social media seeing Strothers firing the gun into the air before police arrived.

Oh, and how do you think the paper described this buck-naked, pistol-wielding druggie? You know it, “Lake Worth Sniper.”

PTSD claim in 5… 4… 3…

How NBC’s Lisa Myers Falsified a Gun Control Story, and Brian Williams Dumped on MOH vets

NBC-Red-Banner-logoIn a column about lying four-flusher Brian Williams, the Boston Herald’s Howie Carr remembers another incident with NBC News. Actually, Howie remembers a bunch of incidents. Remember NBC editing the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin 911 tape to make Zimmerman sound like a racist? Remember Dateline NBC wiring a GM truck with explosives to suggest that the vehicle was unsafe? Howie did.

But he also remembered the one time they came to him for a story, and then NBC’s Lisa Myers lied about what people were saying on his popular drive-time talk show.

It used to be a big deal to get on one of the nightly network newscasts. That was a long time ago, about 25 million viewers ago. But one day, I got a call from the Nothing But Crap Nightly News. Some legislation to gut the Second Amendment was coming up and they wanted some radio talk-show response. C’mon up, I told them.

Having once worked as a reporter for the local See B.S. affiliate, I figure I have a pretty good ear for TV sound bites. But I always try to give New York a good selection to choose from. So my first hour — to make their deadline — I talked to 25 callers, 23 of whom were opposed to gutting the Second Amendment.

At 6:30 there I was, in a Lisa Myers piece about the gun legislation. She said something like, even conservative talk-show callers back Big Brother’s common-sense approach to disarming the American public. And then they played three of my callers, two of the two who were for gun control, and one of the 23 who didn’t want to screw around with the Bill of Rights.

Was I surprised that Brian Williams of Nothing But Crap News has now been busted? No, but I was very, very happy.

via Carr: Brian Williams’ ‘mistake’ puts him in good company | Boston Herald.

Another Herald columnist, Peter Gelzinis, noted that NBC’s Brian Williams, now under the gun for fake war stories, went out of his way to lie to the national convention of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in 2006. He blew off a prior engagement to speak at the convention for a new engagement that had popped up… Saturday Night Live. Gelzinis:

But when he arrived on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006, Williams told committee members Tom Lyons and Neal Santangelo that a “pressing engagement” back in New York prevented him from doing much more than greeting the audience of more than 1,000 guests … and leaving.

As disappointed as Lyons and Santangelo were, they still arranged for a police escort to rush Williams through the tunnel to catch his plane back to NYC.

After the banquet, as Santangelo, Lyons and other committee members relaxed in a lounge at the Colonnade Hotel, Neal Santangelo’s wife phoned from their room to say she knew why Brian Williams had to bail out of a Medal of Honor banquet.

She was watching the chiseled face of “NBC Nightly News” ham it up with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler in a Weekend Update sketch on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I … cannot believe that you left us for this,” Neal Santangelo wrote in a letter to Williams a week after the banquet. “In an act of egotistical, blatant self-promotion, you deceived the (Medal of Honor) Recipients, declined to break bread with them and disrespected them.

“You placed comedy before courage … Your conduct was irreverent, insulting, incomprehensible and shameful. You may attempt to ‘spin’ the issue to support your position, but that will do nothing but bring you further shame in my eyes.”

The three-page letter Neal Santangelo wrote out of pure rage and emotion was never sent.

Neal was asked not to send it at the time by the national leadership of the society — they were willing to eat the snub for some support from Williams, which naturally never materialized — so he put it away. But as Gelzinis notes, Neal knew from that instant on that Williams was a phony’s phony, and it was no shock to him when the shifty newsreader turned out to have been making up news stories, too — stories that often inflated Williams’s reputation at the expense of the real vets he held in such contempt.

Yes, we can say that. The helicopter stolen valor and the lying snub of the MOH society display a pattern of contempt.

Williams’s stolen valor is far from unique among media poseurs. The king of them may be Geraldo Rivera. And, contrary to the Columbia School’s gentle breeze of bullshit about integrity, every network had employed a fabricator, and none of the fabricators has lost his career.

Williams has never apologized for stiffing the Medal of Honor recipients nine years ago, just like Lisa Myers has still never apologized for falsifying her story using Howie’s sound clips. Both have been held up by their peers as examples of what passes for character among journalists.

It could just be that they really are.

UPDATE:

Screenwriter and novelist Andrew Klavan, citing Prof. W. Joseph Campbell whose Getting it Wrong is an essential guide to media mythmaking, notes a propos Williams. (Edited, and emphasis ours):

[The media Cronkite myth] explains why Brian Williams’ trustworthiness doesn’t matter, why the trustworthiness of television (and newspaper) “journalists” no longer matters in general, and why the internet upended them and rendered them obsolete. It’s not merely one technology replacing another. Mainstream journalists could maintain their authority amidst the noise… if they just didn’t lie all the time. All. The. Time. It’s because they don’t tell the truth that we don’t trust them. They keep silent about what they don’t want us to know (say, the IRS scandal) and overplay what they want us to care about (the Valerie Plame non-scandal)….They don’t even know what the truth is! They all live happily together in a foggy wonderland of left-wing mythology where its ALL Brian Williams under RPG fire all the time.

You can tell they’re lyin’, ’cause their lips are movin’. That’s about the size of it.