Sunday, November 19, 2006

Traditional dress?

I just read in Mark Steyn's book that the Jilbab dates only to the 1970s, and was instituted by the Muslim Brotherhood...who knew? It took 30 years to go global mainstream ...that doesn't portend good things for 2036.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Damn Right

Having just started a new job, I haven't taken time for a 9/11 post, so I'll quickly point out a bit from Dean Barnett's:

To fully understand the threat that groups like Al Qaeda represents, you have to toss a couple of complexities into the mix. The first regards the abilities of Al Qaeda’s members. Al Qaeda’s troops, including their leaders like Zawahiri and bin Laden, almost uniformly lack military training. The best Al Qaeda “soldier” would last about three seconds with the typical American Army Ranger.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Rogers

I'm having trouble motivating myself to write about Ranger School...maybe it's like the critics of United 93 and World Trade Center say... "it's too soon!"
btw, I saw WTC a couple nights ago and it's an excellent film...pretty intense and not exactly what I was expecting (not really a big picture film - it focused on the personal side of 9/11) but I'd definitely recommend it.
Anyway, maybe I'll just give an overview of some of my thoughts on each phase and see where that takes me...
Camp Rogers (at Ft Benning, GA) is where the whole thing starts...at 0300 on a Monday morning. An army PT test is first, and the cadre do everything they can to make it the most intimidating PT test possible. They grade very strictly, and we lost probably 30-40 out of our 350-man class. I ran into an old friend just after I passed the push-up event, which made the experience much more enjoyable for me...when the Ranger Instructor counted push-up number 49 and told me to move out the relief was immense - I felt like the next 2 months would be a breeze after those dreaded push-ups (I was wrong, but I wouldn't know that for sure for another few hours).
I don't recall the rest of that day being too bad (I remind you that bad is a relative term) until one RI decided to give our platoon a class on squad ambush...starting at about 0130. I was falling asleep standing up, and I believe that I would have actually fallen over had I not taken drastic action. I had illegally saved a bit of pound cake from my MRE in my pocket, and those few carefully concealed bites woke me up sufficiently to make it through that class. I don't remember what time we were released that night, but I think we got an hour of sleep or so.
I was doing pretty well - mainly due to the 2-week "pre-ranger" course I had just finished, which gave me a good idea of what to expect during the first week. Like everyone else I was exhausted, but at least I wasn't surprised by it...being mentally prepared made a huge difference.
All this about Ranger school is making me hungry, so I think I'll take a break...in the meantime I'd recommend VDH's latest as some good reading.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Home from charm school

Never underestimate the capabilities of the human body.

Given the proper motivation, I know for certain that an individual can operate continuously for at least 91 hours without sleep, move through waist-deep swamp with full combat load for at least 7.5 hours without a break, and consume 6 hotdogs (with buns), four bags of chips, three candy bars, and two sodas in less than 20 minutes (and be ready to do it again an hour later!).

These experiences and many more can be yours if you choose to spend 61 days of your summer at the U.S. Army's Ranger School. For those of you unfamiliar with the course, here's a fairly good summary, and here's the official site and brief.

I can't say that I recommend the course for everyone, nor can I say that I really enjoyed very much of it, however, it certainly gave me a real appreciation and respect for the guys who do this stuff everyday.

The course was certainly one of the most difficult things I have ever done, which is precisely what makes it worthwhile. Just about everyone I speak with about Ranger School asks me what I was thinking when I volunteered to go, and the answer I normally give is that I wanted to do something hard.

Most young children don't hesitate before attempting tasks that would be impossible for them to complete. However, most adults I have observed are very wary of trying anything they aren't certain they can handle, and some simply refuse to do anything they haven't actually successfully completed before. While those folks may be comfortable in their timidity, I find it far more interesting and rewarding to attempt tasks where the outcome is uncertain and success is far from guaranteed.

For me, the Ranger course certainly fell into the category of uncertain outcome and a rather small chance of success. I claim no expertise in infantry tactics or small unit leadership skills, and as an Army Aviator I have led a life of luxury relative to the rest of the force. When I found out about the opportunity of attending Ranger School I realized that I had not attempted something so difficult in several years, and I wanted to ward off the creeping complacency that a life of comfort invites.

One of the first truths you learn at Ranger School is that you do not earn your Ranger tab; your buddies earn it for you. In my case the foremost among my many buddies was my beautiful wife who first encouraged me to apply for the course, knowing that it would entail over 3 months of separation and that she would have to move to Korea (with our 2 dogs) by herself. Her prayers, letters, and constant support made it possible for me to keep going.

My mother and grandmother made significant additions to the thousands of hours they have spent in prayer for me since 1977, and without my dad's example I would have never thought to try something that others warned me against so earnestly.

The motivation to keep going came from home, but the buddies I met at the course are the ones who pulled me out of that waist-deep swamp, took a few hundred rounds of ammunition from my rucksack when I just couldn't carry anymore, kicked me in the ribs when I couldn't stay awake, and slipped me a couple of precious M&Ms when they knew I was hurting for calories.

Ranger School is an exercise in teamwork, so you should look with suspicion upon anyone who brags too much about his exploits there, unless of course he is recalling the stories over adult beverages with the guys who were there with him - in that case every syllable he speaks is truth, and it was probably even worse than he remembers!

I hope to write a bit more about the specifics of the course over the coming weeks and hopefully get back into some semi-regular posting as well. Thanks to any of you who are still checking in here - I appreciate your perseverance!

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Spotty at best

I'm making my attempt to get back into blogging at a rather inconvenient time, since over the next five months I am taking three weeks of leave, helping Jenny move to Korea, going to Ranger School, and finally moving myself to Korea. These activities (and the lack of internet access that accompanies them) will cause my already-sporadic blogging to get much more infrequent before I get any better.

Excuses aside, let me address a couple points in the comments below...jg holds that "Disinformation is the main focus of the MSM, certainly on Iraq, but chiefly on America in general."

While I agree that disinformation is quite prevalent, I'm not sure that I think it's the MSM's "main focus." I don't doubt that some of the most influential MSMers have an agenda, but I think that mostly the writers and talking heads are swept away in a rip tide of group-think.

In any environment where personal advancement is an individual's goal, the tendency to follow the path of least intellectual resistance is great. Most people in America are far more dedicated to personal advancement than to any ideology, and two arenas where this trend is especially pronounced are academia and the media, both of which lean decidedly to the left.

As far as anti-Americanism goes, I believe that, at least on the individual level, it stems from a lack of real, first hand knowledge of things American. Like other forms of racism, individual interaction and experience will dilute or completely erase it for anyone who cares enough to seek out the truth.

I do agree with Bookworm that constant hammering of a negative message (as with the war in Iraq) does have an effect, but I believe that Americans are far more resistant to that message than they were before we were attacked on our own soil.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Misunderestimated

Again, in response to comments below I point out the conclusion to an excellent piece by Amir Taheri in the WSJ:

Those who have based their strategy on waiting Mr. Bush out may find to their cost that they have, once again, misread not only American politics but the realities of a world far more complex than it was even a decade ago. Mr. Bush may be a uniquely decisive, some might say reckless, leader. But a visitor to the U.S. soon finds out that he represents the American mood much more than the polls suggest.

The MSM has also misread the current situation here in the US - the momentum has shifted against them, and though they still hold enormous sway, their tide is ebbing. They are losing credibility by the day, and Americans have no reason to trust them again since we have so many more trustworthy, accurate, and intellectually honest sources to rely upon.

I make a point to withhold my support from all MSM outlets by refusing to watch or read them when at all possible, and I share my position with anyone with whom the topic comes up. Among my peers I have been very surprised by the number of people who share my views, which gives me much hope that the cause is anything but lost.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

A few quick points

An interesting comment on my last post makes me feel the need to clarify a couple things:

1) I'm pretty sure that the MSM is going to attack and misrepresent President Bush for the foreseeable future. However, when he speaks directly to the public either in speeches or in Q&A or interviews with the media he stands a better chance of getting his message across untainted than if he communicates only through press releases and spokesmen. I think he would do well to grant some interviews to bloggers and radio hosts (Hugh Hewitt maybe?) - they are some of his most intelligent supporters, and an exclusive with the president would go a long way toward legitimizing the medium.

2) The media cannot tear the country apart. People can tear the country apart, but the people of our country are far too lazy to do any such thing. The people of our country do not realize that we are a Nation at war. If they come to realize that we are at war they won't tear the country apart, they'll just tear their newspapers and TV sets apart and seek real news (and truth) elsewhere. We may not be far from such a day, but I fear that Americans would like nothing more than to be lulled back into daydreams of a 9/10 world and ignore the reality of Islamofacism.

3) I do not think the President should attack his opponents, but he certainly should hold them to the standard of truth. He should not accept false premises - he should set the record straight just as he did with Helen Thomas last week. Of course, as Commander in Chief, he must represent his political friends and foes alike, just as those of us in the military protect the rights of the protesters who abhor us. This doesn't mean that he has to let them get away with constant rejection of reality - our country is based upon objective truth and the rule of law, and he should be unapologetic about reminding his opponents of that fact.

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