Category Archives: military news

Nothing to celebrate

The world changed forever 75 years ago to this very day.

That was when a B-29 bomber took off from Tinian Island in the Pacific Ocean and dropped a single explosive device on Hiroshima, Japan. In an instant, tens of thousands of people were vaporized; many thousands more would die from the effects of that nuclear blast.

The nation was involved in a world war with Japan. Another airplane would take off three days later and inflict the same level of destruction on Nagasaki, Japan. A week after that second blast, the Japanese surrendered. World War II was over.

They danced in the streets of this country. A few days after surrendering, Japanese and Allied officials met in Tokyo harbor to sign the documents.

We look back on this day with grimness. It’s not a moment to celebrate. It is an event to commemorate with somber reflection. I am not particularly proud to have been born in the only nation on Earth to have used nuclear weapons in war. Indeed, it is a grim reminder of the path we took to reach that moment.

We had been fighting Japan, Nazi Germany and (until 1943) fascist Italy since 1941. Then in April 1945, our commander in chief, President Roosevelt, died in Georgia and suddenly, a modest man from Missouri, Harry Truman, was thrust into the role of president.

He didn’t know about the atomic weapon being developed in New Mexico until someone from the Joint Chiefs of Staff told him about this new weapon that could end the war quickly. President Truman weighed the cost of unleashing this device against the cost of invading Japan; he chose to use the bomb.

I have long embraced President Truman’s decision. Why? I had skin in that game. You see, my father was in the Philippines when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were incinerated. He was a proud Navy sailor who might have taken part in that invasion of Japan had the order been given and, yes, he could have died in that effort. He had survived intense combat in The Med and likely figured he was living on borrowed time.

So, you must understand that President Truman’s decision allowed me to be born into this world.

Do I celebrate those twin events? Do I perform a happy dance just knowing a wartime president’s resolve allowed me to enter this world? I do none of that.

I merely want to echo the refrain we have heard in the decades since that fateful event: Never again.

‘Beautiful’ World War II? Seriously?

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Question of the Moment: Who in their right mind would ever place the adjective “beautiful” in front of the words “World War … “?

Answer: No one in their right mind would ever say that, which leads me to conclude that Donald John “Best Wordsmith in Chief” Trump is out of his mind. He’s gone loony. Bonkers.

He was asked on Fox News Sunday about the issue of renaming U.S. military bases that currently carry the names of Confederate army officers. He then launched into yet another incoherent rant about how those installatons had sent young Americans off to fight in two world wars … which he then described as “beautiful.” 

Yes, he told Chris Wallace that World Wars I and II were “beautiful” conflicts.

They were hideous, ghastly, monumentally tragic at every level imaginable. World War I veterans were subject to mustard gas while dug into trenches along a line facing their enemy.  World War II veterans were sent to battlefields that spanned the globe. The remaining WWII vets are in the 90s now, but ask any of them if they thought that conflict was a “beautiful” endeavor.

Yet the president of the United States, who sought to avoid service during the Vietnam War by claiming to have bone spurs in his feet, now calls the two global conflicts “beautiful.”

Donald J. Trump is batsh** crazy.

Strike the Confederate colors!

Defense Secretary Mark Esper wrote the following today in a memorandum that has gotten worldwide attention: “The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols.”

You only get a single guess on which flag he targeted with this message. Time’s up.

Yep, it’s the Confederate flag, which has been banned at all military installations. Period. Full stop.

I am going to hand it to Mark Esper. His order flies directly into a headwind created by opposition from the commander in chief, Donald Trump, who has made no secret of his outrage over the Confederate flag being targeted as a symbol of hate and national division … which it most certainly is.

Trump has this peculiar affection for the rebel flag, which to my eye symbolizes bloodshed, treason and enslavement.

We fought the nation’s bloodiest conflict, the Civil War, with one side rallying under that flag on the battlefield, where more than 600,000 Americans died. The Confederate States of America committed treason by rebelling against the federal government, seeking to overthrow it … and why? Because the CSA wanted to retain the right of states to allow people to keep other people enslaved.

There you have it. Defense Secretary Esper says all flags that fly on U.S. military installations must comport with the ideals of the nation. Slavery and treason aren’t part of the package.

Now I am wondering at this moment whether the commander in chief is going to override that order. Donald Trump has the legal authority to do it. Will he dare?

Gen. Milley: Confederates were ‘traitors’

U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley laid it on the line before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

He has staked out a position regarding the naming of Army posts after Confederate generals that is diametrically opposed to the position taken by the commander in chief.

On these matters, I will stand with the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman every … single … time.

Milley told committee members that the officers who signed up with the Confederacy were traitors to the nation and they violated the sacred oath they took when they were commissioned as American military officers.

What’s more, Milley said he supports a top-to-bottom review of the 10 Army posts named after these traitors and pledged to work to ensure the nation does right by the places that today house and train American warriors.

Of course, that is opposite of what Donald Trump wants. He said just recently, via Twitter: “The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”

I won’t quarrel with what Trump said about how those bases “trained and deployed” these heroic Americans. That isn’t the point of this discussion. The point is about whether it is appropriate to commemorate the memories of men who committed an act of treason — which is the highest crime one can commit against our government, which carries a death sentence under federal law.

As Gen. Milley noted, “The American Civil War … was an act of treason at the time against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the U.S. Constitution — and those officers turned their backs on their oath. Now, some have a different view of that. Some think it’s heritage. Others think it’s hate.”

You may count me as one who believes in the latter description. Our nation fought the Civil Ware because the Confederacy wanted to retain the “states’ right” to keep human beings in bondage.

Isn’t that the definition of “hate”?

U.S. Army losing a patriot because of politics

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The United States Army is about to lose a patriot, someone who shed blood on the battlefield for the country he loves.

And why? Because he had enough of a conscience to testify under oath before Congress about things he heard from the commander in chief … things that led the commander in chief’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman became a household name during that troubling episode. He has served more than two decades in defense of the nation. He once worked as a staffer for the National Security Council and reported to Congress that he heard Donald John Trump ask for a political favor from a foreign head of state in exchange for weapons the United States would provide that nation.

Trump called Vindman a “never Trumper” and dismissed his testimony as fake.

According Vindman and his lawyer, Trump’s anger reportedly got in the way of Vindman being promoted to full colonel.

This is despicable if true. I happen to believe it is true. Thus, the nation is now the poorer because a war hero and a patriot is surrendering his service to his beloved country.

This is so par for the course for this president.

“The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers. These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it,” Vindman’s lawyer, David Pressman said.

Thus, according to Pressman, Trump engaged in standard bullying of a career public servant.

This is another chapter to add to Trump’s growing list of disgraceful acts — allegedly! — while masquerading as commander in chief.

Looking for the leaker, but no answers on bounty

Well now, it appears Donald John Trump is really angry … at the individual who leaked the item about the Russians placing bounties on the heads of U.S. service personnel.

He is going after the person who spilled the beans to the media about what might shake out as arguably the most damning scandal we’ve seen during Trump’s scandal-ridden tenure as president of the United States.

He vows to root out the leaker and punish him or her to the extent that he can. Although it’s unclear to me what precisely he could do other than fire the individual.

But … what about the bounty? When is Trump going to speak directly to the issue of Russian intelligence officials reportedly paying $100,000 to Taliban terrorists who kill our men and women on the battlefield? He’s been stone-cold silent on that matter.

I happen to have a personal stake in this issue. Two members of my family have seen combat in Afghanistan since we went to war against the Taliban after 9/11. One family member is now retired from the Army and is living in Colorado. The other family member, though, is on active duty and well could be sent back to Afghanistan. Obviously, I do not want him harmed. Therefore, I am imploring Congress, the intelligence community, the executive branch of the government to get straight to the depths of what has transpired.

Trump’s initial reaction to the bounty story was to denigrate the reporting of it. He called it “fake news.” He said he never was briefed by his national security team when it first collected intelligence about the bounties.

Reporting on the matter, though, suggests something quite different. Normal National Security Council procedure compels officials to brief the president when it obtains information of this magnitude.

Did they tell Donald Trump when he should have been told? If they did and he ignored it, then I believe we have an act of treason on our hands. If they withheld that information because they feared how he might react to negative news about his pal Vladimir Putin, we have something quite different but also seriously egregious.

Trump keeps saying how much he cares about the troops under his command. He has yet to demonstrate that love and caring in a tangible manner as it regards this hideous story.

Now he’s going after the leaker? That is a shameful dereliction of duty and a disgraceful violation of the oath he took when he became our commander in chief.

How does ‘Fort Benavidez’ sound?

Texas Monthly has pushed forward a capital idea: renaming Fort Hood after an authentic Texas hero.

Fort Hood’s name has come under fire — no pun intended — in the wake of the nation’s recent awakening over the identity of public institutions and the display of monuments that “honor” Confederate traitors to the nation.

Fort Hood is one such place. Its name belongs to John Bell Hood, a Confederate officer who was among those who betrayed the nation. As Texas Monthly points out, though, not only was Hood a traitor, he was a lousy field commander. His recklessness on the battlefield reportedly led to the fall of Atlanta, Ga., during the Civil War.

So we have chosen to put this guy’s name on an Army post.

TM suggests the name of Roy Benavidez, a Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient and a legitimate hero. And a Texan to boot!

Benavidez was born near Cuero. His parents died when he was a boy. He volunteered for the Army, qualified as a Green Beret, served in Vietnam as an adviser to South Vietnamese troops. After being injured badly during his first combat tour, Benavidez went back for a second tour and served with valor.

As Texas Monthly notes: So, Texas, it’s up to you. Do we continue to honor a Texan of convenience who fought ineptly against the United States government in defense of slavery, or choose instead to bestow those garlands on a native-born son of the Coastal Bend, who, in the Army’s own words, through “fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds” epitomized “the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army”?

This is not a close call.

Whether to salute …

There they are, the commander in chief and the first lady, standing for the playing of the National Anthem.

Donald J. Trump is offering a hand salute, which I am sure is going to prompt some discussion about whether it is appropriate for a president who never served in the military to do such a thing.

I’ll weigh in with this: There is no rule against it, which means it is up to individual presidents to decide whether to salute while playing the Anthem. I guess Trump thinks it’s OK. Fine.

It has been established that it’s all right for veterans to salute while they play the Anthem. I choose instead to put my hand over my heart; I am just not comfortable saluting the flag while standing in civilian clothes. This is just me, but I find the sight of a civilian saluting the flag to be off-putting. It’s as if the individual who salutes the flag is trying to call attention to himself or herself, rather than granting full attention to the flag we honor and cherish.

I suppose that would apply to presidents of the United States.

Barack Obama would return a salute when service personnel saluted him; President Obama never served in the military. George W. Bush did the same thing; he did serve in the Air Force Reserve. Same applies to Bill Clinton, who also didn’t serve in the military. All of those men, though, place their hands over their hearts while standing for the National Anthem.

President Bush 41 would salute occasionally. President Reagan would return the salute. Neither of those men, though, would stand while saluting as the Anthem was played.

I am not going to belabor the point, except to say that Donald Trump’s role as commander in chief grants him the opportunity to salute while they play the Anthem. I get, too, that not all veterans agree with his decision to do so.

I suppose I am one of them … but it’s a small thing. The current president’s desire to make a spectacle of himself in that context only highlights the Vietnam War draft-dodging chapter in his life that so many of us find objectionable.

Biden vows to read PDBs … hey, it’s a start!

A reporter asked Joseph Biden how he would respond to reports that Russians had placed bounties on the heads of U.S. service personnel.

The former vice president’s response? He said he would “read the briefing material” that comes to his desk in the Oval Office.

That’s where it starts and ends. Donald Trump has denied knowing about the bounty intelligence matter. How so? He famously told us he doesn’t need to read the “daily presidential briefs” that intelligence officials compile for him each day. They’re boring and repetitive, he said … as I’m sure you remember.

Well, he should’ve looked at the Feb. 27 material that ended up on his desk, as it contained information about the bounty that Russian goons had placed on our soldiers’ lives.

Therein lies what looks like one of the many fundamental failings of the current president. It gives me hope that the next president — and I want it to be Joe Biden — will follow through and read the material that lands on the desk where the proverbial buck historically has stopped.

I also hope the presumptive Democratic nominee for POTUS — were he to learn of such an atrocity — would call the offending hostile power immediately to read the head of state the riot act and to threaten him or her with swift and severe punishment.

That quite clearly didn’t happen in this instance. It must never be allowed to continue.

‘Hoax’: more than a four-letter word

Donald Trump is attaching the h-word to reports that he ignored intelligence briefing material that said Russians were paying Taliban fighters a bounty for Americans they killed in Afghanistan.

It’s a “hoax,” Trump says of the reporting.

He has walked down the hoax hallway before: He called reports of Russian interference in our 2016 election a “hoax”; he has used the same term to describe initial reports of the coronavirus pandemic; he said the House of Representatives impeachment articles comprised a “hoax” that he solicited help from Ukraine in exchange for military weapons.

Hoax? Yep, that’s the fallback position for this presidential imposter.

I am not the first Trump critic to say so, but the reporting now about the bounty being paid is getting more legs than a centipede.

Trump either ignored the information, or he didn’t get it, or he got it but didn’t bother to read the daily presidential national security briefing. Any one of those matters constitute to my way of thinking a serious dereliction of duty by the commander in chief.

Donald Trump expresses his faux respect for the men and women in uniform. Now it is becoming frighteningly apparent that his “respect” does not include demanding answers from Russian leaders over the hideous notion that they are paying Taliban terrorists real money to kill our warriors.

This individual is a disgrace.