Category Archives: military news

What would Dad think?


You have seen this picture already, but I want to share it again to make a point about what is happening in our deeply divided nation.

The fellow on the left is a British Marine. The sailor is my father. They were standing guard aboard ship in the Mediterranean during World War II.

They joined their nations’ respective militaries to fight tyranny, to defeat the Nazis. I cannot speak for the Marine, but I damn sure can speak for Dad … who I am as certain as I am sitting here today that he would be appalled at the state of affairs in the country he loved dearly.

What would Dad think of the sight of rioters, some of whom were wearing Nazi paraphernalia while storming the Capitol Building in Washington? What would he say to someone who sought to justify such a thing? How might he respond to the sound of a president lie incessantly about an election outcome and, thus, fuel the rage that erupted on Capitol Hill this past week?

Dad wasn’t a particularly political man. He and I didn’t talk much about public policy or the effects of policy on our family. He didn’t identify with either major political party.

However, he was a patriot through and through. He got into fight of his life on the very day that Japan attacked our fleet in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. He loved our country and all for which it stood.

I must believe that he would be horrified to see a president desecrate our government in the manner that we have witnessed during the past four years … which he did in spades just the other day when he exhorted the mob to “take back” our government from mysterious, nefarious forces.

What would Dad think? He would be full of rage.

Hey, no military parade for POTUS!


A friend of mine posted something on Facebook that reminds me of something: Donald Trump at one time wanted a North Korea/Soviet/communist China-style military parade in Washington, D.C.

Does anyone else remember that one? I don’t believe he got it. He had slathered it in some feel-good rhetoric about wanting to honor our servicemen and women. Good grief. He could have done that simply by visiting them regularly and paying appropriate tribute by saluting their service in a manner befitting the commander in chief.

He always seemed to step on his own lines, though … such as the time he offered a Purple Heart recipient his “congratulations” for, um, being injured in battle! Jeez, Mr. POTUS. The warrior didn’t seek the medal.

I recall in 2018 when Trump visited France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He saw the military parade the French staged and, by golly, he wanted to do something like that back home. He got some pushback, not surprisingly.

It didn’t come to pass. Which is just fine with me.

Eighteen days to go … but who’s counting?

Lloyd Austin needs to lead DOD


I will get to the point immediately. Lloyd Austin is an outstanding selection to become our nation’s next secretary of defense and the U.S. Senate should confirm him.

Indeed, Austin’s nomination from President-elect Biden comes with a caveat: He needs a congressional waiver to serve as the leading defense official in the government. Austin retired four years ago from the U.S. Army; federal law requires that defense secretaries need to have been out of the military at least seven years.

Austin served with honor and distinction. He was a four-star general. He led the Central Command before retiring from the Army. He has led men and women in combat. Austin would become the nation’s first African-American defense secretary.

I get the need to ensure civilian control of the military. Thus, Austin is now “Mr. Austin,” not “Gen. Austin.” He is a civilian.

Congress granted a waiver for Donald Trump’s first defense secretary, James Mattis, who needed the exemption because his service in the Marine Corps fell within the seven-year window. Mattis served well as defense secretary until he resigned in a major snit with the commander in chief.

I should note that my hope would be that future defense secretaries shouldn’t require the waiver that Austin will need. Future presidents, or even the president who’s about the take office, should be able to find competent, capable patriots to lead our military services who do not have the conflict that confronts Lloyd Austin.

Lloyd Austin, though, is highly regarded by the individuals who served under his command. The waiver should be granted. President-elect Biden needs a defense secretary he can trust. He found one in Lloyd Austin.

Let this patriot serve the nation.

Biden to make history with DoD pick


Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin is President-elect Biden’s choice to become the next secretary of defense.

I applaud the choice. Gen. Austin would be the first African-American to lead the Pentagon. He is a former Central Command leader and a warrior with a distinguished and heroic military career.

But oh yes. There’s an issue with Austin. The law requires that a former military man or woman must be out of the service a minimum of seven years before assuming a top-level Cabinet post. Austin’s been out of the Army for only four years.

What does the Senate do? Simple! It does what it did for retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis when Donald Trump nominated him to be defense secretary. Mattis received a waiver from the Senate because he, too, hadn’t been a civilian for the requisite length of time.

The Senate can — and should — do the same for Lloyd Austin. Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Senate shouldn’t grant another waiver so soon after it did so for James Mattis. “Waiving the law should happen no more than once in a generation,” Reed said in 2017. “Therefore, I will not support a waiver for future nominees. Nor will I support any effort to water down or repeal the statute in the future.”

Hooey! Lloyd Austin is an outstanding choice who deserves a Senate waiver to enable him to take command of the Pentagon.

He joined the fight immediately


I want to commemorate today by remembering the impact an event that occurred 79 years ago had on my family.

You know already that my father, Peter John Kanelis, is my favorite veteran. Some of you might even recall that I have written on this blog about how Dad answered the call to fight for his country on Dec. 7, 1941. I will recap here briefly.

Dad was the oldest of seven siblings living in Portland, Ore., when the Japanese attacked our naval forces in Hawaii. Two of his siblings are still living. One of them is Dad’s youngest brother, who a year ago told me of how Dad — who was listening on the radio to the horrible events of that day — left the house and went downtown to enlist in the Navy. He joined the fight that very day.

He wouldn’t suit up for a few more weeks. In early February, Dad ventured to San Diego, Calif., for his basic training. He ended up in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations where he fought the Nazis and the Italians who joined their Japanese allies in declaring war on the United States.

I want to mention this once again because Dad’s bravery and — in the words of President Roosevelt — his “righteous anger” symbolized a nation that would fight the tyrants to the bitter end.

Dad became one of 16 million Americans to join that fight. They became what we now refer to as “The Greatest Generation.” They’re all very old now. Fewer than 500,000 of them remain among us.

They were called to arms because an enemy state miscalculated the resolve of what had been referred to in real time as a “sleeping giant.”

I am proud to be the son of one of those gallant Americans who envisioned immediately his need to take up arms against tyranny and fight for the nation he loved.

That love of country is part of Dad’s enduring legacy.

Who are ‘Vets for Trump’?

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)


I will acknowledge being a member of the “Never Trump” brigade.

I get to join some prominent Republicans, even though I am not one of them. Given that we in Texas vote in an “open primary” system, we do not have to “register” with a particular political party.

Now that we have established that bit of info, I want to explore briefly the phenomenon called “Veterans for Trump.”

Why in the name of public service does any veteran stand with this guy? The Atlantic magazine article that portrayed Trump as someone who detests those who serve in uniform ought to have dissuaded any self-respecting veteran from backing this individual’s re-election effort. They have their assorted reasons and I will respect them for standing on their rationale.

To be fair, I known personally plenty of vets who fall into that category. I mean no disrespect to any of them. They are my friends and I love them all.

The Atlantic cited numerous sources who confirmed that Trump referred to vets as “suckers” and “losers.” He denigrated the service of those who were captured by enemy forces. Trump even told associates that parades honoring veterans shouldn’t include those who suffered grievous injury because “no one wants to see that.”

I hasten to add that The Atlantic article has been verified by other reputable news sources. They have corroborated what the reporter, Jeffrey Goldberg, revealed in the article.

And so I have to ask: How do veterans continue to stand with this guy who disparages them in such grotesque fashion?

To be sure, I am not one of them. Then again, I am a proud member of the “never Trump” team.

Why the silence, indeed?


I found this letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News today that I want to share on this blog.

Five times I have written my congressman, Van Taylor, about his silence on reports of Russian bounties, the president’s alleged comments about prisoners of war, those killed in actions and wounded veterans. He has not responded directly. A staffer called after my letter on bounties but all he did was list the bills Taylor supported.

Taylor touts his service as a Marine. Why is he silent on the statements from Trump, actual and alleged, that denigrate military people? Has he forgotten why he served and those with whom he served?

Michael Bulkeley, Richardson


Rep. Taylor is my congressman, too. He is a first-term Republican whom I have met and discussed some local issues. He seems like an earnest young man.

However … I want to echo Mr. Bulkeley’s letter to the DMN. Taylor, though, is far from alone in the GOP silence on reports that Russian goons have paid Taliban terrorists bounties for Americans they have killed on Afghanistan battlefields.

We are witnessing a shameful and shocking fealty to a president who has demonstrated a horrifying disrespect for those who make the kinds of sacrifice that he infamously sought to avoid during the Vietnam War. Van Taylor, given his combat experience as a Marine in Afghanistan, ought to be yelling the most loudly in challenging Trump’s silence on the Russian campaign against our fighting forces.

He isn’t. Nor are his GOP colleagues in both chambers of Congress.

Think about this for a moment. Traditional Republican politicians would be aghast to hear such things about this longstanding hostile foreign power. Donald Trump has acknowledged already that he has declined to bring it up with Vladimir Putin during several phone calls he has had with the Russian president. What the hell?

The GOP congressional caucus also has sat in stone-cold silence over The Atlantic story in which Trump reportedly called service personnel “suckers” and “losers” if they are injured or killed in combat. Indeed, has Rep. Taylor called Donald Trump out for the remarks attributed to him in The Atlantic? I am waiting patiently.

What we have here, I daresay, is a Republican political caucus that is too beholden to an individual. It is a disgraceful example of blind and muted loyalty to a president who demands it of others but who refuses to return that loyalty to those who defend our nation.

Honoring an Army ‘loser’?

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


I am not proud of the thought that entered my mind when I heard the news, but I want to acknowledge it nonetheless.

Donald Trump draped a Medal of Honor around the neck of Army Sgt. Major Thomas P. Payne, honoring the recipient for the astonishing heroism he exhibited while rescuing hostages being held by Islamic State terrorists in Iraq.

Sgt. Major Payne is the real thing. He deserves the honor he received today in a ceremony that had been scheduled long before another story broke recently.

It was the report in The Atlantic that Trump has referred to men and women in uniform as “suckers” and “losers.” Trump denies saying those hideous things, which one would expect to hear from the commander in chief.

But the thought immediately was this: Did the sergeant major recall any of those ghastly views attributed to Trump while he was being honored for the astonishing battlefield heroism he displayed?

Sgt. Major Payne is, as Donald Trump described him today, “one of the bravest men anywhere in the world.” If only this ceremony wasn’t sullied by remarks attributed to the commander in chief.

Sgt. Major Payne’s heroism, despite the backdrop, stands alone.

Thank you so much for your service to the nation, Sgt. Major.

Trump takes aim at the brass

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis

I cannot remember ever hearing an American president say the things that Donald Trump has said about the high command of the nation’s military.

Moreover, I also doubt the generals and admirals about whom Trump was referring had ever heard it, either.

Trump called a press conference on Labor Day and then decided to take off on a riff against the brass. He said the line soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines like and respect him, but not so much with the top end of the chain of command.

He essentially accused the Pentagon brass of being war profiteers. They want to keep fighting “endless wars” because it keeps weapons suppliers in business, which Trump said suits the brass just fine.

Hey, I never got close the brass while I served in the U.S. Army, so I cannot speak with any actual authority on the subject. I just will posit the notion that generals and admirals who have been to war want no part of it even though they no longer thrust themselves into harm’s way.

How do I know this? I just do. I have talked over the years with enough junior- or field-grade officers who’ve seen combat to know how they feel about the idea of going to war. They hate war with a purple passion!

So, for Trump to effectively defame the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the officers who answer directly to them makes me wonder: How do these men and women continue to serve silently under a commander in chief who has no appreciation for what they have endured while serving the country they all love?

Yep, the shoe fits

“I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more.”

Donald J. Trump


Do you believe the commander in chief’s denial that he denigrated and disparaged the men and women who serve in our nation’s military?

Yeah. Me neither. Nor does Chuck Hagel, the former Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska and former defense secretary in the Obama administration.

The source of this angst comes from The Atlantic magazine, which published a story by Jeffrey Goldberg citing four anonymous sources who reportedly heard Trump speak ill of those who were wounded in action, were killed in action or taken prisoner by enemy forces.

According to USA Today: Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran and two-term Republican senator, told ABC News “This Week” co-anchor Martha Raddatz that if Trump’s reported comments are “real, it’s beneath the dignity of any commander in chief. Truly they’re despicable.” 

OK, Hagel is giving Trump a sliver of a benefit of the doubt on the remarks attributed to him in The Atlantic. I saw the ABC News interview and I came away from watching it that Hagel truly believes the remarks fit a pattern that Trump already has exhibited.

No, this story won’t go away any time soon. Nor should it. The reporting paints the commander in chief in the most hideous context imaginable.

I would accept Donald Trump’s denial, that he would swear on anything he could find. Except that his constant and relentless lying has destroyed all semblance of credibility.