Category Archives: military news

Well done, Mr. President; thanks for honoring fallen vets

Something unexpected happened today that surprised many Americans.

Donald J. Trump paid an unannounced visit today to Arlington National Cemetery to help lay wreaths on graves of those who are buried there. He did so — get this! — in the rain. He was photographed carrying an umbrella while visiting the gravesites throughout the cemetery, which is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

You’ll recall while the president was in France to commemorate the 100th year since the end of World War I that he skipped a ceremony because of inclement weather. He said the Secret Service had advised him against flying aboard Marine One to the ceremony. It was raining that day and, not surprisingly, social media jumped all over the president’s declining to stand in the rain.

He stood in the rain today at Arlington National Cemetery.

What’s more, Trump took a lot of public grief for refusing to go to Arlington on Veterans Day. He said at the time that he had a busy time at the White House and couldn’t break away to honor the fallen veterans. He broke with many decades of presidential tradition; presidents usually attend Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. Trump chose to stay inside on that day.

Trump did acknowledge that he erred in declining to go to Arlington on Veterans Day; he expressed “regret” for his no-show.

Well, today he sought to atone for what was a mistake a little more than a month ago. Today is National Wreaths Across America Day. Donald Trump thought he should take part. He was so very correct to do so.

Well done, sir. This veteran thanks you.

Pearl Harbor, Mr. POTUS?

Oh, man. I just had to share this hilarious social media post . . . with a brief comment.

It reminds us that Donald J. Trump, no matter what he says about his love, affection and respect for the men and women who serve in our armed forces, just didn’t have time on Pearl Harbor Day to commemorate the sacrifice made by roughly 2,500 Americans on Dec. 7, 1941.

Oh, no. Instead, he chose to launch into a Twitter tirade about Robert Mueller’s probe into the Russia matter.

Mr. President, don’t ever proclaim your phony respect for those of us who have worn the uniform in defense of our country. Those proclamations are as phony as your commitment to making America great again.

Bush 41 ended the Gulf War the correct way

I will now offer you my brief statement of support for the late  President George H.W. Bush’s decision to end the Persian Gulf War the way he did it.

They’re going to bury the former president later this week, but before they lay the great man to rest, let’s revisit one of the signature events of his presidency.

Iraqi dictator/madman Saddam Hussein sent his army into Kuwait in August 1990. He took control of the country. He seized the nation’s oil fields. President Bush was, naturally, quite alarmed. He summoned his national security team to the White House. They began plotting a strategy to respond.

He went to the United Nations. Bush then got on the phone and enlisted the support of 33 nations. He assembled an enormous international coalition.

The UN then approved a resolution authorizing and endorsing military action if the need arose. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker sought a diplomatic solution. They failed.

The massive force had gathered in the area near Kuwait and Iraq. They were ready. The UN resolution limited the mission to one element: get the Iraqis out of Kuwait.

The president gave the order. The aerial campaign started, pounding Iraqi defenses in Kuwait — and in Iraq.

The armored divisions breached the Kuwaiti frontier and within days the Iraqis were routed. They were on the run. Our fighter aircraft strafed the fleeing troops, killing thousands of them on the road to Baghdad.

Then the president called a halt to the fighting. We lost fewer than 200 American lives in the fight. The Iraqis were defeated.

But some critics at home — notably the “chicken hawks” who didn’t understand the consequences of war the way Bush 41, a World War II naval aviator did — wanted our forces to march all the way to the Iraqi capital. They wanted to capture Saddam Hussein, presuming he would surrender the way his troops did on the battlefield.

President Bush knew better. So did Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. Same for Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Colin Powell, who saw combat during the Vietnam War. They knew what the UN mission allowed. They weren’t going to overstep their authority.

The end of the Gulf War delivered for a time a period of relative stability. Saddam Hussein — who never set foot outside of Iraq — was thoroughly contained after our forces destroyed his supposedly vaunted Republican Guard in Kuwait.

The containment wouldn’t last, tragically, after we invaded Iraq in March 2003 intent on removing Saddam Hussein.

However, there can be little doubt as we look back at the Persian Gulf War that we set forth on a specific mission. We accomplished it. We restored — yes, with mixed success — a sense of stability in a volatile region.

Taking the Gulf War fight all the way to Baghdad was a prescription for geopolitical disaster. I am grateful to this day that President George H.W. Bush reacted with reason, calm and with good judgment.

Did they make it back home?

This picture appeared on an earlier item I published on this blog. It’s from World War II.

The men you see in this picture are part of the Greatest Generation, the fellows who answered the call to save the world from despotic tyrants in Europe and in Asia.

I see photos such as this and wonder on occasion: Did these men survive their mission and were they able to serve for “the duration” of the war and return home?

Normally I don’t spend a lot of time wondering these things, but they do cross my mind on occasion.

I am thinking at this moment of an exhibit I’ve seen a couple of times in Fredericksburg, Texas. It is the Nimitz Museum on the War in the Pacific. Fleet Admiral Carl Nimitz was a native of Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country and the city is rightly proud of its most famous son. He commanded naval forces in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II.

It is full of picture of men sitting aboard landing craft as they prepared to storm ashore at any one of the many island battlegrounds where the fought. I look into the eyes of those men and wonder if they survived.

Granted, those young men — if they did make it home and are alive to this day — would be very old men now. Indeed, I am the product of a member of the Greatest Generation. My own late father would be 97 years old. He saw his combat on the other side of the world, in Africa and in the Mediterranean Sea.

Another exhibit that evokes such a feeling is the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Angel Fire, N.M. It sits on a bluff overlooking a gorgeous valley amid the New Mexico mountains. It is the product of a man who lost his son in battle during the Vietnam War. It, too, contains pictures of men facing extreme danger, along with letters they had written home to their loved ones. The letters express the anxiety and, yes, the fear in the men’s hearts as they prepared to fight a determined enemy.

You look at those pictures as well and ask: Did they return home and were they able to start or re-start their lives with loved ones, to rear their children and welcome their grandchildren into this world?

The pictures are the faces of men who have ventured straight into hell on Earth and you hope that by God’s grace they were able to return to their earthly home.

Trump doubles down on bin Laden raid criticism . . . but, why?

Donald John Trump had the hubris and the gall to criticize the head of U.S. Special Operations Command for not taking down Osama bin Laden sooner than he did.

Retired Admiral William McRaven coordinated the raid that on May 1, 2011 killed bin Laden in a daring operation. Trump’s response to criticism from McRaven, who said Trump’s assault on the media poses the “greatest threat to democracy” he has seen was to disparage the bin Laden mission.

Here’s my question: What difference would it have made had U.S. intelligence been able to confirm bin Laden’s location earlier and then we killed him earlier.

Everyone with any semblance of common sense knows this truth about bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization he led: Another religious pervert would step in immediately after bin Laden would be taken out. That is what has happened since the SEALs and the CIA operatives killed the monster in Pakistan. It makes no difference when bin Laden met his death.

As for Trump’s assertion that McRaven somehow was responsible for the timing of the raid, I need to remind Trump of one more thing.

McRaven was in the military; his obligation was to follow lawful orders. The order came from President Obama after U.S. intelligence, through painstaking work over the course of two presidential administrations, had concluded without a doubt that bin Laden could be found and eliminated.

All that aside, for the current president — who many refer to as Private Bone Spurs, owing to his avoidance of service during the Vietnam War — to criticize a heroic Navy SEAL who has served with honor and heroism during his decades in uniform is laughable and disgraceful on its face.

Transgender ban: lesson in bald-faced bigotry

Donald John Trump sought ways to avoid serving in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. He succeeded through a series of deferments that prevented Uncle Sam from drafting him into the service.

So now, decades later, the president wants to deny a group of Americans who seek to volunteer to serve their country and possibly die in that service the ability to perform their patriotic duty.

This is an exercise in bigotry against transgender Americans.

The president has issued a blanket ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military. He now wants the U.S. Supreme Court to fast-track the issue to a hearing before the court. He expects the court will rule in his favor and uphold the ban.

Donald Trump is pandering to his base. Period. That is precisely what is happening here. The Trump base of voters want to deny transgender individuals the opportunity to serve their country. Whatever the base wants, Trump wants.

The rest of us, those who believe that the transgender ban is discriminatory on its face do not matter one bit to this president.

Trump maintains some bogus notion that the medical costs of allowing transgender personnel to serve is too much for the Pentagon to bear. He ignores the reality that the Pentagon spends more on men’s erectile dysfunction than it would spend on those who are undergoing changes in their gender.

I don’t know what the Supreme Court will do. Just maybe, even with its conservative majority, the high court can rule that the transgender ban deprives the United States military of individuals who already have served with distinction . . . and will do so far into the future.

The ban is discriminatory on its face.

Trump ‘afraid’ to visit troops at war? Aw, c’mon!

Donald J. Trump has offered varying reasons for why he has yet to visit troops deployed in war zones.

He has too much to do at home. He’s too busy. He’s dealing with the so-called “witch hunt.” Then he said he doesn’t want the troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place.

Now comes a Washington Post item that suggests the president has a fear of harm that might come to him were he to venture into a war zone. As the Post reports: Trump has spoken privately about his fears over risks to his own life, according to a former senior White House official, who has discussed the issue with the president and spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about Trump’s concerns.

“He’s never been interested in going,” the official said of Trump visiting troops in a combat zone, citing conversations with the president. “He’s afraid of those situations. He’s afraid people want to kill him.”

Come on, will ya? Didn’t the president say he would be willing to rush into a school where a shooter was gunning down innocent victims? He said that after the Parkland, Fla., massacre.

Hey, the president is fearless. That’s what he has told us!

Commander in chief shows disregard for military

I have to ask: How in the name of pride in our military does the president of the United States get away with the utter denigration he heaps on distinguished military personnel?

Donald Trump did it (in)famously in 2016 when he said the late U.S. Sen. John McCain was a “war hero only because he was captured. I like people who aren’t captured.”

Trump went on to win the presidential election after declaring he knows “more about ISIS than the generals.” Then he surrounded himself with current and former four-star officers, proclaiming some sort of phony affinity for the expertise they bring.

And now the latest tumult has erupted. The president has disparaged the May 2011 raid that killed 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and, particularly, the man who coordinated that effort, retired Admiral William McRaven.

McRaven, a decorated Navy SEAL, headed the Special Operations Command when President Obama issued the order to kill bin Laden.

Trump now says we should have taken bin Laden down “a lot sooner.” Again, the commander in chief has denigrated a war hero and has mocked the effort that was carried out with precision and professionalism by a dedicated team of SEALs, Army Green Beret pilots and CIA deep-cover operatives.

Moreover, he gets away with it! The “base” that adores him gives him a pass. They don’t care that the commander in chief thinks so little of the brave men and women who volunteer to do something that the president waffled on when he had the chance when he was of draft age during the Vietnam War.

I do not get it. I never will get it.

What if Obama had done any of this?

“We should be intellectually honest here at this table that if President Obama had missed Veterans Day or missed the Armistice ceremony in France for the 100th anniversary of World War I, my head would have exploded right here on this table in front of all of you.”

So said Meghan McCain, daughter of the late, great Republican U.S. senator, John McCain, and a co-host of the TV show “The View.”

I believe she speaks for a lot of Americans who are dismayed, disgusted and so very disappointed in recent actions and remarks by Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States.

So many on the right and the far right have been strangely silent regarding the president’s recent action — or inaction — in Europe. He declined to attend a ceremony in France honoring the Americans who fell during World War I, then skipped Veterans Day services at Arlington National Cemetery.

Now, to his credit, the president did express some regret at failing to show for the Arlington cemetery event. That doesn’t excuse what he declined to do in the moment.

Couple all of that with what he has said in recent days about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the disparaging he has leveled at the Navy admiral, William McRaven, who coordinated the May 2011 assault and you have even more reason for “heads to explode.”

They aren’t. Except for Meghan McCain, a self-described political conservative.

Yes, just try to imagine the reaction had all of this come from a liberal Democrat. It is pointless to suggest how progressives, such as yours truly, would react had any of this occurred on Barack Obama’s watch. Thankfully, I don’t recall it ever happening prior to Donald Trump becoming president.

I do believe Meghan McCain’s assertion about her own noggin “exploding” on national TV.

RNC backs POTUS in attack on McRaven

Well, here we go.

The Republican National Committee, I guess to few people’s surprise, has backed Donald J. Trump in his idiotic attack on the Navy SEAL who coordinated the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The RNC says that retired Admiral William McRaven “reportedly” was on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s short list of potential running mates when she ran for president in 2016.

Hold … the … phone!

The president went off on McRaven during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” He contended that the Special Operations Command chief was a “Hillary Clinton backer” while he was criticizing him for not getting bin Laden “a lot sooner” than he did.

“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace sought to mention that McRaven was a SEAL at the time of the bin Laden raid, but that didn’t dissuade Trump from alleging that McRaven was some sort of partisan hack.

What a joke!

Whether he was on anyone’s short list is utterly beside the point.

McRaven retired from the Navy after 37 years of service in 2014. Clinton ran for president two years after that. The raid that McRaven coordinated occurred on President Obama’s watch. The date was in May 2011, when McRaven was an active-duty Navy officer.

His colleagues all have testified to a person that McRaven is the consummate military professional who didn’t put politics ahead of his mission. Indeed, he has responded to Trump’s criticism by noting that he served under President George W. Bush as well as under President Obama. Republican or Democrat, it didn’t matter to McRaven.

So, for the president to accuse him of being some sort of cheap partisan disserves not only Admiral McRaven, but also the SEALs as well as other Special Forces troops in the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps . . .  not to mention all the men and women who wear the uniform in defense of the country.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone, I suppose, that the RNC would weigh in with its own cheap political shot.

Despicable.