Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Good Guys

Bret Stephens has a wonderful op-ed in this morning's Wall Street Journal about the US military's relief efforts in Pakistan since the October earthquake:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan--From the air, the town of Balakot, at the lip of the Kaghan Valley in Pakistan's mountainous North-West Frontier Province, resembles pictures of Hiroshima circa late summer 1945: All but a few buildings have been reduced absolutely to rubble. There were some 50,000 people in this town on the morning of Oct. 8; a six-second earthquake that day killed an estimated 16,000 outright. Now survivors live mainly in scattered tent villages, not all of them properly winterized. And winter has begun.

The people of Balakot and dozens of other devastated towns are much on the mind of Rear Adm. Michael A. LeFever, 51, the man in charge of the U.S. military's 1,000-man, $110 million-and-counting relief effort here. "I'll never forget landing and smelling gangrene and smelling death," he says of his first trip to the disaster zone where 73,000 died. "The first couple of days were overwhelming."

It was Pakistan's good fortune in those critical days that Adm. LeFever could call in heavy-lift helicopters, particularly the tandem-rotor Chinook, from bases in nearby Afghanistan. Every road into the Frontier Province and the neighboring Azad Kashmir region had been rendered impassable by huge landslides. Every hospital in the region except one had been destroyed. The Pakistan government, which lost nearly its entire civil administration in the region as well as hundreds of soldiers, lacked the airlift capacity to bring adequate relief north and the critically injured south. The Chinooks were among the few helicopters able to reach, supply and evacuate places that, even under normal conditions, are some of the most inaccessible on earth.

Go read the whole thing. Vice President Cheney visited the region this week, and Defenselink has pictures.

I found the WSJ piece especially interesting since I have encountered Mike LeFever a couple of times in my career. He is among the best and brightest of the Navy officers I've met.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Contradicting Mr. Murtha

I knew there was a reason I was holding off commenting on the latest round of pronouncements from Rep. Murtha. Today, Mark Steyn shines with his usual wit:
Sen. Joe Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, came out with a big statement on Iraq last week. Did you hear about it? Probably not. Everyone was still raving about his Democrat colleague, Rep. Jack Murtha, whose carefully nuanced position on Iraq is: We're all doomed unless we pull out by next Tuesday! (I quote from memory.)

Also, the United States Army is "broken," "worn out" and "living hand to mouth." If the reaction to Murtha's remarks by my military readers is anything to go by, he ought to be grateful they're still bogged down in Iraq and not in the congressional parking lot.
In case you missed them, Senator Lieberman's WSJ Op-Ed is still a must-read, while Rep. Murtha's speeches, statements and press conferences tend toward poor logic and incoherence. [Some people have wondered why, if the Army's broken, hasn't Rep. Murtha done anything about it since he sits on the House Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Defense? He does seem to be a master at procuring military spending for his district. ]

Major John Tammes posted his rebuttal, An Army Broken? (Hat tip NRO Corner & Instapundit):
With all the eagerness of a dog returning to something it has vomited up, the conventional media has latched onto Rep. Murtha's rambling discourse about the Army being "broken" and "has done all they can."

Unmitigated crap. And I don't say this out of defensiveness or service pride - I'll tell you about how far we have had to come in a bit. [snip]

What really infuriates me is that someone like Rep. Murtha knows better. Ask any veteran who served between 1975-1982/3 what the Army (or the rest of the Armed Forces for that matter) were like. Drugs everywhere, low pay, morale was non-existent, equipment was falling behind or scarce, there was no great sense of mission or purpose. Only the heroic measures of a few dedicated officers and NCOs saved us from absolutely bottoming out.
Read the whole thing. And for more Milblog opinions, see Who elects these idiots?, Everything You Need To Know About The Murtha Vote, and Pulling out early and other lunacy, all courtesy of Mudville Gazette "Dawn Patrol".

Also at Mudville Gazette, Greyhawk gives us News From Iraq:
A vision of post-war Iraq: peace, prosperity, and a population grateful for the freedom and opportunity given them by the United States. A prewar neocon pipedream?

No - it's the reality of the country's northern provinces.The fact that you rarely see news from northern Iraq is an indicator of the phenomenal success there - it runs counter to the carefully crafted "failure" narrative regarding the rebuilding and future of that land. But Kevin Sites is now in that Kurdish north, and provides a detailed look (with video) at the Peshmerga (translation: "those who face death." ) - the Kurdish militia. Don't miss it.
On a related note, go read Police Training Tightrope in Iraq - Watch Out at The Counterterrorism Blog. (Yup, another h/t to Mudville Gazette.)

Related posts: Rep. Murtha Complains Again, Winning the War — At Home (w/update)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

By Popular Demand...

Actually, I'm a push-over for nice emails asking for links ;-)

Here's the one from Camp Katrina:
You have a great blog!

I am a soldier in the Army National Guard and recently returned from deployment in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We have created a blog,, which shares stories and pictures from soldiers who served in operation Vigilant Relief, as well as highlighting the other great humanitarian efforts of the US military. I was wondering if we could exchange links on our sites. Our blog has been getting some media interest recently and I thought it might benefit us both. I want to let the public know about the great humanitarian work our military is doing.


Spc. Phil Van Treuren
Ohio Army National Guard
JAG Corps

And today, from CENTCOM:
Hi, Kate:

I saw your post regarding CENTCOM; Thanks for the interest!

Is there any chance you could add a permanent link to our website, I’m trying to spread the word about it!

You’re welcome to use any materials you find on our site. If you’d like me to sign you up for the weekly electronic newsletter and monthly Coalition Bulletin, just ask!

SPC C. Flowers
CENTCOM Public Affairs

Thank you gentlemen! As you can see, I've added a new category to my blogroll for Military and Milblog sites. I also added Michael Yon under Pajamahadeen.

Let me know if there are other sites I should consider adding to my list.