Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th 2008, The Pressure Between My Ears


September 11th, 2008. In other words, another anniversary of 9-11, 911, 9-1-1, or however you want to look at it. The numbers 9-1-1 have multiple meanings to me. And they fuel a flood of emotions when I hear them.

I was a cop (please note the small "c") for many years. When the 911 phone rang, it usually sent me into something that was fucked up. My wife is a 911 dispatcher (note the small "d"). When I was a cop, I learned to hate dispatchers, I still do, and always will. I hate my wifes (note the small "w") employer (note the small "e") and I hate hearing about her job. This is because its fucked up, and fucked up people pick up the phone and dial 911 when they have run out of intelligence (note the small "i").

They calll 911 when they hate their neighbor, they call 911 when they are beating on each other (wifes also beat on husbands SURPRIZE!), they call 911 when they get objects stuck up their ass (I'll let you figure that one out) and they call 911 when the kiddies won't listen.

Then came 9-11, you know, the day someone flew airplanes into buildings and into the ground, killed a bunch of people, changed a bunch of things? You remember? I kinda do. But then comes those feelings. They are so hard to dismiss!


I heard a freightening thing just yesterday about the elevated suicide rate amongst soldiers in Iraq. Heres a blurb; The military also is working to solve the issue of soldiers awaiting medical care. Since November, about 1,900 of the 4,400 troops waiting for medical care have been treated. The medical attention mentioned here, of course refers to mental health care.

When I heard this on September 10th, knowing the next day was 9-11, what I really felt was numb. No feelings in all actuallity are bad feelings. Its like a death unmourned, a love never realized, a dream crushed.

So whats been lost, not realized and whats been crushed?

First of all, whats been lost is our sense of country. Over the last twenty years or so, our sense of being an American Citizen(s) has been watered down. We have been legislated in to accepting differences in others and have been criminally prosecuted for feeling or saying any different. We have been forced into believing that any type of biased is inherently evil. We are now taught from a very young age that looking at anyone differently will result in severe punishment at all levels.

What is unrealized? The American dream which has been a promised and laid on the table of our lives has been ripped from our hearts and trampled upon by everyone above the rank of city or town mayor. That includes the Captains of industry who pockets have been well lined by the loss of the American public. Even those who are new to this country are being taken advantage of. But rest assured, the next generation of imigrants will know this.
Whats been crushed? Our voice, our self esteem and our sense of well-being. such things are important things.
Ok Sergeant Stevens, whats your point?
The point is, that you don't take the inner child that you have programed to feel extreme gulit at recognizing another persons difference, hand him a machine gun, try to reprogram him or her to fight a war. This act in itself is inherently distructive to the human mind.
Make sure that those that you send out to do your shit work are well well rewarded, treated with respect and dignity and given the tools they need to recover.
Restore our national sense of well-being. Everyone, including the goverment and industry needs to look out for us first, and other nations last, jobs need to stay here and all employees / soldiers need to be reassured that they have rights and representation.
UN-HAPPY 9-11
Sgt. Stevens





Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sergeant Stevens "Boots on The Ground"


Operational, thats always been center piece of my philosphy. To be operational is everything to me. Boredom depresses the shit out of me, Sitting idle has become my enemy, complacency in my life is the same as thing as putting a gun to my head and puling the fucking trigger.

As much as I hate politics at work, all the really bad politics that I had to tolerate at the many police departments that I worked for in McHenry County Illinois and our own unit politics with the 933rd. I starve to be operational, to be involved and to connect with the people in my unit on a high operational level. I also rediscovered in Arkansas what I always knew about law enforcement types, including myself. We stand above, in more ways than one. We are somewhat arrogant, a little tempermental and always on guard. We alert on the bad guy(s), and we can also go code red about each other. Arkansas amplified this and made it a readable set of varibles and feelings that were close to the surface, clear enough to feel, comprehend and taste in your mouth. Some of the MP's dealt with the code red just fine, others did not. These were our tangibles, they acted as both a glue that kept us together and yet, repelled others down different paths. What does it mean to be operational? It means being prepared, being ready, clearing your mind, adjusting your attitude to fit the situation. It means speaking out when its needed, and biting your tounge when its necessary. It means doing when your tired of doing and picking up your backpack and weapon and moving forward. Tenacity is the commodity that fuels all American soldiers. Accomplishment is the destination.

Friday, June 27, 2008

XCTC 2008 Fort Chaffee Akansas

Photo by Sgt. Stevens


MOBILIZATION; Mission XCTC Spring / Summer 2008 Fort Chaffee AR
In the Spring of 2008, the Nine was ordered to complete its AT (annual training) as part of Illinois National Guard predeployment training . Our job as MP's in this mission was to provide force protection for the men and material present at Ft. Chaffee.
Ft. Chaffee is a fairly old and open post located near Fort Smith. I found Ft. Chaffee to be interesting on many different levels, including its history and its present role in current operations. As I was taken on my first tour of the post for training, I was shown two large temporary Forward Operatings Bases (FOB). One was called Bagrhami and the other was Illini (after the Illini Indians also a sports team from the University of Illinois "Fighting Illini")
Both FOBs were fairly large, occupying several acres of land. From a military perspective. I would say that both FOBs were well planned, well laid out and accurately represented, fortified defensive positions. Including the use of guard towers and concrete interlocking blocks to defend FOB entrances. Our initial mission at Chaffee was to guard these FOBs until relieved, provide force protection, render aid and guard sensitive items destined for the FOBs.
On the 07th of June, 2008, the troops from Illinois began to arrive at Fort Chaffee throughout the day and well into night time hours. Hundreds of Illinois Soldiers began to filter in as the 33 IBCT (Infantry Brigade Combat Team) arrived on post. The following day I went to the PX, which was filled with soldiers making purchases of items for both comfort at need. One clear cut observation was made as I looked the many soldiers, who were wearing campaign badges and realized that many of these soldiers had been deployed in the past and were most likely on a second or third tour of duty. I felt true admiration and envy for these soldiers and hoped that I would one day be shoulder to shoulder with them.
As the days at Fort Chaffe passed, the 933rd (Phase III) became more involved with daily operations. We handled some minor investigation, traffic control, convoy escorts and other general duties.
Sunday, June 16th 2008 FT. Chaffee, AR
The weather service had been predicting severe weather in our area during the entire day. They indicated that the storm would be packing high winds. The storm began to show itself at approx 2300 hrs, and as predicted, the storm had high winds, coupled with very intense lightening and a torrent of rain. As I stood outside of the barracks, and watched the front blow in, I was thankful that I was not at one of the FOBs.
The next morning, we were notified that FOB Illini had been hit particularly hard and that they had sustained damage and human casualties. Upon going on duty, we were sent to FOB Illini to relieve the last watch who had been tasked to provide security to the site. Once we were there, we found out the there had been several injuries, including broken bones and concusions. The medics were called in to tend to the wounded. Coincidentally, it was only a day or two prior when I spoke to my own soldiers about their safety and using common sense, as I have personaly witnessed my share of people killed and injured in normal daily ops, and in this case at FOB Illini, there was not even ops going on. The dangerous varible was weather. A factor which the military must consider at all times, whether on the battlefield or not..

NEWS

Sweat hard, bleed less: Illinois Guardsmen prepare for deployment
By Becky Malkovichbecky.malkovich@lee.net
Advertisement

FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. -- The convoy of Humvees roars into Forward Operating Base Bagrami just after 3 p.m.Soldiers, hot, tired and covered with a thick layer of dust from the red Arkansas soil dismount from their vehicles after a long and grueling day of training.Their work is not done. They still have to secure their equipment and review the successes and failures of the day’s training missions before they can relax.Bagrami, at Chaffee Maneuver Training Center, is currently home sweet home to about 500 of the more than 2,700 Illinois Army National Guard members preparing for deployment to Afghanistan.The forward operating base, one of three housing the Guard on the center’s 66,000 acres, is set up to look like its counterparts in Iraq and in Afghanistan, where the soldiers will take part in Task Force Phoenix VIII later this year.Their mission in Afghanistan will include training and mentoring forces of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police in sustained, independent counter insurgency operations.The soldiers, most with the Illinois guard’s 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 404th Chemical Brigade, arrived in Arkansas on June 7 and will train on-site until Friday.The intensive training is designed to cut down on the total time the guard is deployed and reduce disruption of their civilian lives.“It’s hard, but the training part comes together. It’s hot and you’ve been up since 4:30 a.m. There are a lot of long days and meals are hit and miss, but that’s not the hardest part. The family separation is the hard part. I will miss all of my daughter’s softball games this year and next,” said Maj. Glen Petersen of Headquarters Company, 1-178th Infantry, based in Chicago. “But all soldiers make sacrifices because we believe in the mission and want it to succeed.”Petersen of LeRoy said the training is particularly important for those soldiers who have not yet seen action.“There are a variety of issues that soldiers need to be trained on to go active duty, especially for a lot of the young soldiers who have never been,” Petersen said.For those facing their first deployment, the training offers a chance to bond with their fellow soldiers.“This training has helped us a lot as a company,” Spc. Adam Anderson, 21, of Mason City said. “We might not have know each other before, but now we have a bond. It’s given us a lot of confidence and built us up as a team.”The training has also offered more experienced soldiers the opportunity to mentor their young comrades.“We have a lot of people with us who have been to Iraq and they have shared their insights,” Sgt. Barry Engelhardt, 28, of Pinckneyville said.For Sgt. Michael Brown, 26, the training also lays the groundwork for the upcoming deployment.“This helps us and our families be more prepared for what we will be in for when we are deployed,” Brown of Eldorado said.Sgt. David Morgan of West Frankfort has been with the guard for 25 years and has already seen action.“In my opinion, the training we are doing will benefit the soldiers when they deploy. The evaluators are trying to make this as real world as possible with scenarios similar to what we will experience overseas. Building bonds is important, but it’s not the most important thing.“The most important thing is for a person to know their job, their place and how to perform as needed,” Morgan said.Spc. Brent Corzine, 20, of Marion said his experience at the training center has helped him become a better soldier.“One day on a mission, we walked two or three miles in the woods here that are like a jungle. I even saw a copperhead. We were walking in water up to our knees, carrying all our gear. You could barely walk without getting caught on something, and we were having to stop every 100 or 200 meters and start doing different maneuvers,” Corzine said.“It’s hot and it’s tough, but it’s going to make me ready to do my job when we get over there.”No official date for the guard’s deployment to Afghanistan has been set, but these soldiers believe they will be well-prepared when they report to duty.“I can’t say it’s not been hard, because I’d be lying,” PFC Davin Mills, 20, of Anna said.“But it’s given me confidence in my ability to do the job and trust in the people who will be at my side. I think we can achieve any goal we set our mind to.”
A fort fit for ‘The King’-- Construction of Camp Chaffee, as it was then called, began in 1940. A key military installation during the early days of World War II, the post’s mission was to train U.S. soldiers for combat in Europe, America and the Pacific.-- Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army at the installation and began his basic training there in 1958. Presley received his first, and widely publicized, military haircut at Chaffee. Presley good-naturedly told the media, “Hair today, gone tomorrow,” after his locks were shorn.-- The installation in western Arkansas near the Oklahoma border was handed over to the Arkansas Army National Guard, which uses the facility’s 66,000 acres for training. Fort Chaffee is now formally called the Chaffee Maneuver Training Center.-- Fort Chaffee also served as a temporary housing center for foreign refugees, including 50,000 Southeast Asians.-- The movies “A Soldier’s Story” and “Biloxi Blues” were filmed at Fort Chaffee.

Our own Traditions

When Pearl Harbor was attacked, my Dad wasted little time and tred to enlist in the Marines. He had some bad dental problems, so they turned him down, so he opted for the Navy and enlisted. Like me, he also went to boot camp at Great Lakes Recruit Training Center, like me, he was also stationed in Alameda California, we walked quite a long way in each others shoes.
In early 2000, my own daughter went into the Navy and as stationed on board the USS The Sullivans a guided missle destroyer (DDG). I was very proud ofher service on the Sullivans, as the ship is named after the famous Sullivans brothers who had perisd on the same ship during world war two. It also changed the rules where having members of the same familiy in the same command. The Sullivans also participated in "Operation Enduring Freedom".
After her enlistment was up, she decided to join the army. She attended WT (Warrior Transition Training) at Fort Knox Kentucky. I attended her graduation from WT, and watching her go through her own experience certainly inspired me to think of reenlisting. But a lot of other factors also added to my motivation. Things at home were tough, my work at the time was very unrewarding and troublesome. And I missed military service.
So at forty seven years old, I went back into the Illinois National Guard. Considering the fact that I had over twenty years of public safety experience, I asked for a Military Police MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) (31B), and was assigned to the 933rd Military Police Company. The 933rds "The Nine" is a seasoned unit, whos roots go back to the Cavalry Days in the 1890's. A good portion of the Nine, had deployed to Iraq in 2003, protecting convoys and providing force protection security.
My first season with the Nine, was kinda tough, especially being an older guy. I was out of shape, a lttle stressed out from negative past experiences that still lingered from my law enforcement days. Like my Dad, I began to struggle with depression when I hit my forties, and at times it could leave me feeling uncomfortable with my surroundings.
But I admired a lot of the people that were there, and quickly made friends with people who were in the unit. As people began to leave for various reasons, I soon found myself as a Team Leader and the official Unit Historian. These are two things, that I am immensely proud of.
In the summer of 2007, I attended my first annual training with the Nine at Fort McCoy Wisconsin. The training during this time was very much geared towards counter insurgency Ops. Military Police become a different animal when they enter field service. In, garrison the MP is essentially a street cop on a military post with very limited powers similar to civilian police. But when they go into the field they become a soldier and can also be assigned to execute specific missions with fairly open rules of engagement (ROE).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Our mission and The New Gathering Storm

The ghosts of a hundred years of the Illinois Guard hung heavy in the old Waukegan Armory. At midnight, It was the latest that I had ever been there, as we prepared to for an early morning departure to Fort Chaffee Arkansas. Our mission to provide support to troops preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. This particular deployment was the biggest in Illinois history since world war two.

NEWS INFO ref CBS 2 news Oct 19, 2007

2,700 State National Guardsmen To Deploy
Deployment Marks Largest Since World War IICHICAGO (CBS) ― The Illinois National Guard just got word that the largest mobilization since World War II is setting up. More than 2,700 of the guard members are getting ready and may be deployed. As CBS 2's Katie McCall reports, these men and women from all over the State of Illinois are already familiar with their mission, which will take them to Afghanistan. Members of the 33rd Infantry Brigade combat team are going to Afghanistan for one year to help train members of the Afghan military, and to provide security for schools and roads now under construction. They are scheduled to leave next fall.In an effort to limit their time away from their families, the Army will count the time they train here in the U.S. toward their 12 months of active duty. With the demands on the military because of the war in Iraq, guardsman say being part of the National Guard is now a far different experience than it was before. "The National Guard is no longer just that weekend once a month twice a week out of the year," said Capt. Leslie Granger. "We are part of active duty of the Army." "This has become normal for military families," said Sgt. First Class Dave Owsley. "They're getting used to the idea of soldiers being deployed; it's becoming a regular thing for us." Illinois' Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn says that can take an emotional and monetary toll on guardsmen's families, which is why he's worked for years to help them.
"I think we need to remember in Illinois that our guard has been deployed over and over again," Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said. "And whether it's Afghanistan or Iraq, these men and women have born the battle."The Illinois Army National Guard says there are 1,500 guardsmen who will mind the store back here in Illinois. They say those men and women will provide enough man power to handle any emergency here.

WGN News

Illinois National Guard Announces Largest Deployment Since World War Two (Audio)


2,700 Guard Members Going to Afghanistan
(WGN-AM) - The Illinois National Guard will see its largest deployment since World War Two when more than 2,700 members head to Afghanistan to help train the army and national police. The guard says the 33rd Infantry Brigade will leave for training as early as next summer.
The 4,000-member unit is based in Urbana but draws its members from across the state. Colonel Alicia Tate-Nadeau of the Illinois National Guard says the unit will be one of eight from across the country that's being readied for deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Guard units are being tapped more frequently by the Pentagon to help maintain troop levels and ease the load on the regular Army. The 33rd Infantry will be the fifth American unit to train the Afghan army and police.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Introduction

Looking at the United States in a historic context. Teachers, media and historians alike, tend mark different periods of American history by "wars fought". And it is very hard to ignor these periods (which they should not). Overlooking a serious period in history such as the American Civil War or World War Two, would be not only remis, but very short sighted. History is the hinge upon which this nation rests. The hinge also lays within the zone of calamity and fortune when politics and warfare become entangled.

In the late 20th century, warfare began to change drastically, as larger nations grew very strong and world powers arose in such a way that the world had never witnessed before. The industrial age, followed by computer technology ushered in a new era of warfare.

But despite overwhelming technological superiority. Modern nations still found themselves combating a new enemy in "asymetrical warfare", which proved that the individual soldier armed with a rifle was still a value within the equation of warfare.

In the late part of the 20th century, major powers began to shift, as the former Soviet Union had disolved, and we in this time period stood witness to the destruction of the Berlin wall. A barrier that was the product of cold war fears and extreme militant politics which divided Europe after world war two.

But like any shift in the world political landscape, this change of scenery created a power vacumn, in which many new radical regimes could flourish and soldiers of Islam would light the world on fire. It would also embolden both the weak and the strong. The next twenty years of history would be among the most important years of American history.

DEDICATION
I would like to dedicate this Blog to my Daughter Jessica who is also a former Sailor and now a Soldier in the U.S. Army. My Wife Jodi, Jeremy, Asa. Aaron, Rachel and Issac.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Part 1 The Navy "Great Lakes and Beyond"

I was born in Chicago in 1959 and grew up on the northwest side. My mom died when I was six, so I was raised by my Dad. In many ways, some people might say that he was'nt the best dad in the world. He drank, we moved over 20 times. He rarely held a job, and he fought depression his whole life. Though he never hit me, he never used bad language towards me, he taught me to respect America, as his folks had come here from Poland around the trun of the 19th century, and he had it tough. I did'nt know it until after he died, but he was born at home with a midwife, and his brother, my uncle Raymond told me, that he did not want a brother when my Dad was born. Times were tough and they knew it.

My dad loved baseball and was a die hard Cubs fan. His best years were when he was in the Navy as a Ships Cook and when he worked for the railroad. So I grew up with him telling me stories about the Navy and the railroad. He also encouraged me to always think out of the box and to not be afraid to do things. He always used to yell at me to "get off of his apron strings". The other great thing he did for me was to see that I went to Washington DC wih my 8th grade class, this ignited of love of history in me that has'nt been extinguished to this very day. So when the time came, it was only natural for me to join the Navy and to see a good portion of the world.

I enlisted in 1978 and was immediately sent to the Great Lake Naval Recruit Training Center, north of Chicago. Ironically, it would also be the last ride that I would take on a Chicago and Northwestern Train, the rairoad that my dad worked for, as by the time that I got out of the Navy, the CNW would be almost gone.

I was quickly introduced to my Company Commanders, Chief Sufficool and Chief Edgar. Both were tough, older Sailors and well seasoned Navy Chiefs. I did well in basic, and quickly put to use a lot of the things that my dad had told me over the years. I knew what was going on right aways, because my dad was a chief, and his oral history of his Navy experience paid off in flying colors. Many of the habits that dad had developed, he kept through civilain life and he had explained these habits to me more than once. So when the Red Ropes (meaning Company Commander, CC's wear a read braided sash around their shoulder) spoke, I understood their language.

But basic also made realize that I could do things that I did not know I could do. By week four of basic, I realized I had both a brain and a body that when used together, yielded results.
The basic training experience has been potrayed in writing and hollywood on more than one ocassion, so I won't expand on being a boot. But for the younger reader, I will say that the basic training phase is not freightening experience that it is made out to be by some writers and screen writers, it is the best thing that a young person could do for themselves. There is no better person to discipline than yourself.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Fleet

I initially went into the Navy because of my interest in communications. I wanted to be a Radioman. But the rate was closed and my choices were limited, so I ended up becoming a Signalman. I was'nt exactly sure what that meant when I agreed to the job. When I got to SanDiego for training, about a week into the school, I thought these guys are crazy! The Signalman rating is and was, an ancient art that used visual communications, such as semaphore, flashing light and flaghoist to convey messages. They are also well trained lookouts, and great at recognition and identification of various military vessels and aircraft. But, it was not radioman school.
About three weeks into the course, I was bombing academically. I was called into the office by the head of the Signalman school, Chief Warshawski. The Chief was a tough bird and he asked why I was doing so poorly? I explained that I wanted to be a Radioman, and if I could not do that, I would rather be sent to the deck force. Chief Warshawski looked me in the eye, and said "bull-shit" your going to finish Signalman A-School" After completion of Signalman school, the supervisors at the school were very savvy, and knew what each Sailor needed to become better at his job. They cut me orders to an oiler. They knew that Signalmen on supply ships were indeed very busy sailors.
I was sent to the USS Wicita AOR-1. An AOR (Auxiliary Oiler) is basically a huge floating quickmart, where Navy ships can pick up toilet paper, bombs and fuel. I got more than I bargained for on board the Wichita, as she was a highly operational naval vessel. My job also kept me outside in the elements during my entire naval career. So I learned what both military and logistical operations were about.


I arrived at Alameda Naval Air Station in the summer of 1978. Which was also the same place that my dad was stationed during World War Two. I learned very quickly that the Wichita was a hardworking ship, as she was constantly under orders to sail and spent very little time in liberty ports. Having our liberty ports denied for operational reasons was a comon occurrence on board the Witch.



The logistics ships in the U.S. fleet are an extermely important part of naval operations. No military force in the world can operated without logistics support, and the Wichita was the first ship in her class, her crew strived to maintain her good reputation, and to serve the fleet well.



Our main thrust of operations was "UNREP" (Underway replenishment). UNREP is something the average person would'nt believe if they did'nt see it. A fast moving Navy supply ship can go into a battle group and refuel and resupply an entire group in approximately three hours. It does not matter what time of the day or night it is either, nor does sea condition. The most important aspect of UNREP is the fact that the navy supply ship completes replenishment while moving at the top speed of the supply ship, which is generally 25 knots or so. The first time I saw an UNREP, especially night ops, we were alongside an aircraft carrier. I was so exhilirated I was jumping around like a kid in toy store. My shipmates thought I was nuts.




We also had two CH-46 helicopters on board, which performed more than a couple of functions, the most of impressive of which, would be to ferry cargo to ships in a battle group during UNREP Ops. So not only could we be refueling ships that were alongside, we could also deliver supplies simultaneously to distant vessels. The CH-46 crews had an extremely hazardous job and we lost two helicopters while I was on board theWitch. I think of the the Aviators who lost there lives often. I was on duty when one went into the ocean, taking the entire flight crew with. It was a tough loss for everyone.

UNREP was an inherently dangerous process. Seeing people injured or killed during UNREP became pretty routine. Everything from rouge waves to equipment failures and human error became our enemy during UNREP. It seems no matter how safe we tried to be, murphy's law would kick in.

On one ocassion. We were transfering cargo over to another ship via a "star rig". Which is basically two cranes attached to each other on each ship, which is attached by a high tension steel cable on which a winch (which about the size of a Volkswagen car) is attached that carries heavy pallets of cargo from the supply ship to the receiving ship. A steel cable parted shooting the rig towards the ship that we were resupplying. The rig hit the side of the other ship leaving a huge dent in its side.

One Hndred and Nine Days on MODLOC Station

We departed for the western pacific (WESTPAC) in the summer of 1980. Though inevitably our destination would be the mouth of the Persian Gulf. In 1979, the political situation in Iran began to unravel, resulting in the Iran hostage crisis which was a was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 U.S. diplomats were held hostage for 444 days from November 4 , 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of students took over the American embassy in support of Iran's revolution.
In Iran, the incident was seen by many as a blow against U.S. influence in Iran and its support of the recently fallen Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who had been restored to power by a CIA-funded coup in 1953 and who had recently been allowed into the United States for cancer treatment. In the United States, the hostage-taking was widely seen as an outrage violating a centuries-old principle of international law granting diplomats immunity from arrest and diplomatic compounds sovereignty in the territory of the host country they occupy.

Failed Rescue
The ordeal reached a climax when the United States military attempted a rescue operation, Operation Eagle Claw, on April 24, 1980, which resulted in an aborted mission and the deaths of eight American military men. Before deployment, we watched in shock as pictures from the Iranian desert showed burned military aircraft which were destroyed in an astounding accident that occured there. This incident along with obvious intelligence of big trouble brewing in the middle east would set the tone in the military for a number to come. The Cold War was winding down, and would be just a few years more when the Berlin Wall would crumble, and the days of communisim (at least in the former Soviet Union) would be changed forever. Though in 1980, we would see the Soviets flex their muscle throughout the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. We would be shadowed by Soviet spy ships and monitored by Soviet long range aircraft (Soviet Tu-59's). We arrived in the IO (Indian Ocean) in the fall. The weather during this time was rough, as we rode 30 to 40 fot ocean swells for at least 30 days or more.

Our mission was toprovide logistical support to the battle group that was parked off of mouth of the Persain Gulf, at a place refered to operationally as MODLOC Station and Gonzo Station. This are war a fifty mile circle, in which the battle group(s) would sail back and fourth on patrol, exercising America's naval strength in the region.

The Wichita's mission was to run to a place called Diego Garcia or to a remote airstrip loacated at a place called Al Masir Airhead to obtain supplies. Diego Garcia was a small spit of Islands located in the middle of the IO surrounded by thousands of miles of ocean, occupied by a handful of military personnel and not much more. Al Masir was part of the country Oman and was just as remote, though only a small detachment of men were allowed to leave the ship there and those who were there were told not disclose any information about the location due to the fact that the location was classified.

Al Masir was a most forbidding place. A sand and rock Island with an airfield alledgedly run by mercenaries. When we approached Al Masir. I could hear british chatter on some of our radios and fighter pilots swung in low over the water next to us. At least one gave us the middle finger when flying by. On one occassion, I was looking through the "Big Eyes" (Ships binoculars) and I could see a guy on horse back, wearing the traditional garb of an arab carrying a rifle. Shades of Lawrence of Arabia. I was also told that the detachments who went there, were warned not to look around too much as the installation was guarded by children soldiers who would not hesitate to shoot anyone who was percieved to be a spy.
Diego Garcia (DG) was an anti-climactic adventure where nothing really exciting happened, except for one time, when a Sailor came up missing, then they noticed a liferaft missing, we could actually see the inflsted raft on the beach closesest to the ship. It turns out the guy who was missing, was going nuts, so he hijacked the raft and rowed it to the beach. We left him at DG and he got an airplane ride home. I also grew up a little more and in hind sight, it made me realize how important the middle east region and oil is to our culture. I turned twenty one while at DG, the Wichita was tied up to a Tender (Repair Ship) for repairs that were needed. During this time. I did'nt bother to leave the boat. There was'nt anywhere to go.
In the distance, at DG I could see several ships anchored in the harbor, but if there were crew with these ships, there would have been a couple of thousand sailors on the Island and there was not. After making some inquiries about the ships. I came to find out that these ships were part of a rapid deployment force and were packed full of everything an army might need if they were called into action. Later in life after 9-11, I found out that federal government had an unwritten policy that said; if the worlds oil supply were threatned, that the United States would go to war for its protection. My experience at DG would couple these two items together as corroborating evidence. Whereas, I can understand the strategic importance of the world fuel supply, even if some people cannot. The one thing that the federal government failed to tell the American people was, that we were at war over oil for many years.
When I went on WESTPAC, the Commanding Officer of the Wichita was Captain Anthony (Tony) Less. I really appreciated Captain Less. He was open minded, fair and supported the crew. He was also an ex- Navy Fighter Pilot and was with the Blue Angels, which may explain why he was open minded. After leaving the MODLOC Station for our first liberty port, which was Thailand. We were in the South China Sea, when we came up on some Vietnamese refugees in a boat. We had just arrived when we saw a boat pulling away from their disabled sanpan. The boat that was pulling away, was crewed by Thai Pirates who had just taken the last of everything these people had that mattered, except their lives. We dispatched a helicopter to follow these pirates, but it did'nt do much good.
After we picked up the refugees, I was near the bridge and I could hear Captain Less on a portable radio, talking to the crew who was handling the Sanpan. They did'nt want to leave it float unattended in sea lanes and they were trying to figure out what to do. So I walked up to the Captain and made a couple of suggestions,. Captain Less actually listened to my suggestions and passed them on over the radio. They ended up flooding the sanpan with a firehose to sink it. But thats how Tony Less was, if you had something pertinent to say, he would listen.
The next time I heard of Captain Less, was sometime around the Gulf War. At this point in time, he was an Admiral. He was the Officer that gave the order to the USS Vincense to shoot down a suspect aircraft that was thought to be an enemy plane. It was later found to be a civilian jet liner full of passengers. Muslim Passengers.
The Wichita and crew, were in the IO for approximately one hundred and nine days straight in 1980, without any sort of liberty. We refueled countless ships, sailed independently and in a Battle Group several times. During this time, another significant player entered the scene. This was Iraq, and it was leaked to the crew that a war had broken out between Iraq and Iran.

THE QUIET TIME OF SECRETS
We would frequently be sent to Coronado Island (CI) in San Diego California.
CI was a huge base that housed many frontline naval units, including the U.S, Navy Seals. It was around this time, when I began see indications of more Navy Seal activites from observing them in our operating areas when we were out to sea. On one ocassion, we were told that we would be boarded by Seals for a training exercise. And they did board from a rubber inflatable boat.
This was just one small indicator of a fairly new method of warfare. "Special Forces" had started during world war two, but gained a real foothold in modern warfare during the Vietnam war. The U.S. Government while downsizing the regular military had taken to utilizing small special forces units, such as, the Navy Seals to conduct covert warfare. In conjunction with this, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was also involved in covert warfare in various parts of the world including Afghanistan.
There were some short term large scale military operations that the public knew of, including Grenada and Panama. But the public was not necessarily privilaged to this information until the operations were underway. But as time passed, the covert operations and the secret war for oil would come home to roost for the United States. To add insult to injury, the U.S. became a staunch supporter of Israel, the small state of Israel was (and is) hated by their Arab neighbors. The leaders of the various hostile middleast nations would be brought to the peace table multiple times, sign multiple peace accords, only to watch them fail, only to watch the military solution come into play, especially between the Israelis and Palestinians..

MY QUIET TIME
After my enlistment was up, I was out for about a year and pretty bored, so I went into the Naval Reserve. I was with a Unit called NCSO 413. This units job was to sieze control of civillian shipping assests in time of war. We pushed a lot of paper, and after being in the fleet, I needed more action, so I went into the Illinois National Guard and was a Sergeant with the 133rd Signal Battalion. During this time, I was getting busy in my personal civilian life. I attended the Chicago Police Academy with he suburban class, and went into law enforcement for a small suburban police agency in Fox River Grove Illinois. It was during this time that we saw pictures of the Soviet Army bogged down in Afghanistan, fighting against the majaudin, in which we would later find was directly supported by the CIA.
Then under the Reagan administration, the Berlin wall came down. Ronald Reagan spoke the magical words "Mr. Gorbacheve tear down that wall". Reagan obviously knew more than he said. Because the days of the former Soviet Union were numbered, surely a victim of the covert warfare apparatus.
All things considered, the 1980's and 90's, were very prosperous for the United States. The U.S. had come out of a resession under the Reagan administration and the nation seemed on track. I was well out of the military, working in civilian law enforcement in the nineties, when the Gulf War erupted. One of the earlier players, Iraq, under the regime of Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait.
Another thing that I had learned while I was in the IO, was that most of the oil tankers that sail the oceans of the planet are registered in Kuwait. This is because Kuwait is a huge oil producing nation. So when the Gulf War kicked off. I knew why it did. By the time of the Gulf War, I had been married, had two children, got divorced and was close to being remarried.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Gulf War


The Gulf War or Persian Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991 was a conflict between Iraq and a coalition force from 34 nations authorized by the United Nations (UN) and led primarily by the United States and the United Kingdom in order to return Kuwait to the control of the Emir of Kuwait.


The conflict developed as a later result of the Iran-Iraq War and in 1990 , as Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing Iraq's oil through slant drilling. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi troops was met with immediate economic sanctions against Iraq by some members of the UN Security Council, and with immediate preparation for war by the United States of America and the United Kingdom.


The Gulf War began in earnest as removal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait began in January 1991 and was a decisive victory for the coalition forces, which took over Kuwait and entered Iraqi territory. Aerial and ground combat was confined to Iraq, Kuwait, and bordering areas of Saudi Arabia. Iraq also launched missiles against targets in Saudi Arabia and Israel in retaliation for their support of the invading forces in Kuwait.
Since the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 had been called the "Gulf War" or "Persian Gulf War" by many news sources, the 1991 war has sometimes been called the Second Persian Gulf War, but more commonly, the 1991 war is styled simply the Gulf War or the "First Gulf War", in distinction from the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Operation Desert Storm was the U.S. name of the air and land operations and is often used to refer to the conflict.
Shortly after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, US President George H.W. Bush started to deploy US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard units to Saudi Arabia (Operation Desert Shield), while at the same time urging other countries to send their own forces to the scene. UN coalition-building efforts were so successful that by the time the fighting (Operation Desert Storm) began on January 16, 1991, twelve countries had sent naval forces, joining the regional states of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states, as well as the huge array of the US Navy, which deployed six aircraft-carrier battle groups; eight countries had sent ground forces, joining the regional troops of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the seventeen heavy and six light brigades of the US Army and nine Marine regiments, with their large support and service forces; and four countries had sent combat aircraft, joining the local air forces of Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, as well as the US Air Force, US Navy, and U.S. Marine aviation, for a grand total of 2,430 fixed-wing aircraft. US personnel and materiƩl dwarfed the contributions of the others.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Arab Attack on the World Trade Center

On September 11th, 2001, in the early morning. Like most Americans, I was at work. I had taken a job with Monsanto Corporation in 1998 as a corporate security Supervisor. I was in my office, when my boss Kevin walked in and told my partner and I that something big was going on in New York. We walked over to one of the new lab buildings where they had a big screen TV there were already over a hundred people there watching what was going on.

When the second plane crashed into the towers in New York, we knew that this was no accident. I had thought that the attack was probably related to the some middle eastern terrorist organization. Due to the fact that the World Trade Center had been attacked before by radicals from that area.

As the hours passed we found out that the attacks were more widespread, and that the Pentagon had also been attacked, and that another plane had been downed somewhere in Pennsylvania.

In retrospect, I don't think anyone knew what to think of what happened. There was a lot of confusion. Over the next few days, the skies over the U.S. would fall silent, as every aircraft in the country would be grounded until the incident could be investigated and the reasons determined behind what had gone wrong.

Though it remained vague for sometime, there was a pattern here, an MO (Modus Operendi), a history. A history that went back many years, but in my recent memory, back to the days of the Munich Olympics, when Israeli athletes were killed by Arab terrorist at the Olympic Games. Not to mention the steady flow of war, aircraft hijackings, mass murders, bombings and all in the name of intafada and Jihad.
But on 9-11, though I had watched the violent images on television of death dished out by these unchecked winged tigers, I felt nothing. No anger, no hatred, no fear, NO nothing. My soul went silent, as did many Americans. It is unfortunate for our enemies, but I don't know of one American who lost a lot of sleep over what happened, we mourned in the obligitory sense, we felt a little patriotism, waved some flags. But when it was over, we simply went back to work, back to our families, back to our lawns, back to our gardens, back to our sports, back to the things that matter to each indiviual American. I hate to say that the famed attack of 9-11 had no real impact on us, because in some ways it did, for collectively, it slowed us down a little at the airpoirt, it created the Patriot Act and made some minor threats against our liberty. But as far as having any real impact, the attack failed to shake us to the bone, because we as Americans have so much more to worry about, that the attack in New York was like a bad car accident on the highway. We saw it, we cared the best that we could, and then we drove on. So therefore, caring about Jihad, Intafada, Islam, or anything complicated that pertains to holy war. Most Americans just did not (and still do not) care. We cared in a sense of the basic type of caring, but anything deep, thoughtful or profound never happened.
I myself had internalized what happened. My wife had noted that I never really said much about it, and this is a little unusual for me, as I would probably be the first one to sound off about such things. But what was there to say? who was to blame? who knew? Who knows now?
As time passed, Americans found out some basic things about the attack. For one thing, the terroists were all young Arab men. All were possibly linked to a terroist group called "Al Queda". Up until this point in time, Americans had never heard of Al Queda, we did'nt know who they were, where they came from or what they had against us. And it would be years until we got any type of decent information about this group of killers.
We also learned that their leader was a guy by the name of Osama Bin Laudin, another Arab, a very close friend of the Saudi oil families. Apparently Bin Laudin was self-made cast out of the Saudi family, who was a bi-product of the earlier CIA supported Afghan war against the Soviet Army. And he hated the U.S. because of the Gulf war and American intervention. This is of course unusual as the Gulf war was surely sanctioned by the Saudi family in defense of Saudi oil..

Also in the equation is the State of Israel. The small state has been a thorn in the side of the Arabs since the late 1940's and had been at war with its neighbors since that time. And anytime that any leader tried to make peace with Israel, generally found themselves dead, example being the bold assassination of Anwar Sadat of Egypt, when he along with many other politicians and military leaders were attacked and killed at a large military parade. All of which was prominently shown on TV.
What time has told us about the attack on the World Trade Center was, that it was perpetrated by Arabs, supported by Arabs, admired by Arabs, funded by Arabs. It was Arab, it was Islam interpreted by Arabs, carried out by Arabs. It was Arab.
But even knowing this, Americans are hard pressed to clearly recognize any particular ethnic group as an enemy, as this would be considered racism, and racism in America is severly punished at all levels. If you were in your workplace in America, and identified the attackers of 9-11,as Arabs, indians, blacks, orientals or any other ethnic group for that matter, you would quickly find your job in jepordy. If you were an American politician, you would find yourself redering a public apology.
Another aspect of pre /post 9-11 America, is the fact that the U.S. is more "corporate" than anything else. Most states in the U.S. are "at will states". Which means that any employee can be terminated at any time for any reason. So there is no political voice in the workplace, there is no sexual voice in the workplace and no racist voice in the workplace. This means, that the place where a majority of our life is spent, is spent on work and work only. Then we go home, see our families (after two thirds of our day gone at work and related commute), eat and go to bed. So the terrorist message is lost, on tired deaf ears, it falls.
The average American is not a warrior, the U.S. is not Sparta, though we would like to think this so, it could not be farther from the truth. The U.S. is a country of workers and immigrants who for many years now, had left their warfare to the quiet warrior, the special forces and the streamlined military, the professional soldier and the part time warrior. Those who were versed in fast moving warfare, and after the initial stages of the attack did not change this, and the goverment was looking for the "terrorist".

AFGHANISTAN The War on Terrorism
For a Soldier, it does not matter
For the volunteer soldier, war is an operation, a mission. A phase which is expected and prepared for. This is part of the "job description" of the professional soldier. The attack on the twin towers invited the professional soldier to react as trained.
So the Secret Warriors, alongside the regular soldiers and the part time soldiers went looking for the terrorist in Afghanistan. They were all there, the CIA, the regular troops, the airmen, the marines and more, they were there, in the montains, in the snow at Tora Bora, fighting the terrorist. For the Soldier, it does not matter, Americans are workers, "workers at will". And for these warriors. War is their work. It's how they earn their pay.
But some of these workers carried with them, small pieces of the World Trade Center in their pockets, when they achieved victory, which they did. They buried these pieces of the WTC in the Afghan soil.