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U.S. Marine to Insurgents: You Missed, You F**kers!


Via CDR Salamander: Fullbore Friday

This story is old and, hopefully, by now everyone has seen the picture and read about the story behind it. But I really liked the Motivation Picture created by Military Motivator posted by CDR Salamander.

Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as “Iron Mike” or just “Gunny”. He is on his third tour in Iraq. He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour. Then, on September 19, he got blown up. He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. “You can’t react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision,” he explains.

So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term “the longest walk”, stepping gingerly into a 5ft deep and 8ft wide crater.

The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7in knife to probe the ground. “I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs,” he says. “That’s when I knew I was screwed.”

Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant’s feet. “A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded,” he recalls. “As I was in the air I remember thinking, ‘I don’t believe they got me.’ I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down.”

His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. “My dad’s a Vietnam vet who’s paralyzed from the waist down,” says Sgt Burghardt. “I was lying there thinking I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, ‘Good, I’m in business.’ “As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in. “I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn’t going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher.” He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. “I flipped them one. It was like, ‘OK, I lost that round but I’ll be back next week’.”

Sgt Burghardt’s injuries – burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks – kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father – who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam – he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.

In case you were under a rock or living on Mars when this story broke all over the military blogs in 2005, here are some links with background:

Free Republic: Injured Marine Defies Attackers (1 Finger Salute)
View from Tonka: Injured Marine Defies Attackers (1 Finger Salute)
Blackfive: Marine Salutes Insurgents
Blackfive: Update on Defiant and Motivational Marine
View from Tonka: Update on Marine Gunnery SGT Michael Burghardt

January 19, 2008 , 11:20PM Posted by | Fallujah, Gunnery SGT Michael Burghardt, Iraq, US Marines, War Effort in Iraq | Comments Off on U.S. Marine to Insurgents: You Missed, You F**kers!

This Election is About What We Need, Not What We Want

Good article by Tom Panion at The American Thinker: Everyone looks for Solomon, but we need David

An exerpt:

In this election year, people are swayed by emotion. They know what they want. They will tell anyone willing to listen what they want.

But what do we need?

I’m like everyone else. I want things and I want situations to be such that I can have them. And I mean everything that I want. Not just material things, though we all want those too. World peace, prosperity and an era of good feeling… Who wouldn’t take those?

I want people to like our country and our people. I want more free trade with everyone. I want to see nations grow and come to emulate us. Who would dispute that?

Then there is the reality of the world.

While most nations in this world know that they need us around to proper themselves, there are those who want (and vow) to destroy the Great Satan and all her people. Sympathizers will go down to the flames of perdition just as fast as the opposition to the terrorist organization.

We live in a world of nations who have many things and those who do not. While most nations are pleased with their growing prosperity and look to increase it by dealing with other nations, there are those that decry their poverty and demand that the prosperous ones be taken down by whatever means necessary.

They hate America and they damn Americans to hell. As an American you are the problem. Your prosperity is their poverty. Since you have, they have not. And you have because you made a deal with the devil. Therefore, your destruction is not only justified, but it is also imperative.

As we decide on our next President, most of the talk is about future prosperity. Who is going to make my life better, we ask. Who will make it easier to get up in the morning and send me on my way to my job? Who is going to give me a better job? Who will finally tax the rich to my level? Who makes me feel good when they talk? Who makes me proud to be an American that everyone in the world will love?

[ … ]

Both Solomon and David had faults. David acknowledged his sins publicly and got right with God. Then he governed with quiet strength and humility. He also used his army to thwart attackers and kept them ready.

Solomon did not see his sin until it was too late. He was too proud to admit any faults until his kingdom began to rot from within. Civil war soon followed after his death.

The parallels to our world view today are tremendous. General Patton stated in his diary that:

“The pacifists would do well… remembering… that Troy fell; that the walls of Hadrian succumbed; that the Great Wall of China was futile; and that, by the same token, the mighty seas which are alleged to defend us can also be circumvented by a resolute and ingenious opponent”.

Are we at war? You bet we are. War was declared years before 9/11. But we waited until the very seas Patton wrote about were breached by the enemy he foreknew. The world is and will always be a precarious place to do business. We have to choose our friends as well as our enemies.

We must choose our friends before they choose us. We can’t make friends by capitulating and asking for absolution for defending ourselves. Nations and governments who allow us to secure our borders and destroy our attackers and their allies without major interference are friends we choose to have. Those who befriend us because we ‘tone down the rhetoric’ and attempt to agree with them are the ones who choose us.

I’d rather have the types of friends that David chose rather than the ones that chose Solomon. David prospered and had peace because he conquered his attackers and lived peacefully in his own borders. He left Solomon a strong nation that had the respect of enemies and friends alike. In the end, he bothered no one because no one bothered him.

Under David everyone had the right to land and the means to make a living from it. That law existed long before David. No one was promised an easier life because he was the king. But they were assured of safety from their enemies because of his leadership.

Solomon leveraged his father’s legacy of strength for over 40 years. But he was not a man with any eye toward watching his enemies. He built up the palaces and the temple. He built great roads and cities. He was popular and he was rich. But he neglected to keep a strong army, and he raised taxes to the point where the people rebelled against his own son when he took over the kingdom. You can look that up.

The man who was the envy of all the kings around him and the friend of many of them had built a house of cards. The end of his life was marked by his writings chronicling his own futility. His kingdom was split within a few years of his death. His nation’s enemies arose and attacked. Israel’s friends were few.

As we hear the pundits and the politicians trying to ‘out-genius’ each other this year, try to remember that this election season is not about what we want, but what we need. We need a strong military. We need a strong economy. We need a leader, not a wise man. We need someone who is less concerned with government and government programs than he (or she) is about performing the most important duty of the office of The President of The United States – protecting the American people.

No great nation can survive without a strong economy, whether it is in time of war or peace. But the economy is not the government. Government is not the end of, nor is it the means to the economy. A strong nation with the means to defend itself depends on the freedom of the people to run their own lives.

People will listen to a wise man when everything seems to be coming up roses. But they’ll follow a leader when things are tough. These are indeed tough times for America.

Give me my David.

January 19, 2008 , 11:15PM Posted by | 2008 Presidential Election | Comments Off on This Election is About What We Need, Not What We Want

Fred Thompson: He’s Actually Treating Voters Like Adults

I found this via Real Clear Politics. It is an article by Rick Moran at The American Thinker which highlights the strengths of Fred Thompson as a Presidential candidate, but notes that his candidacy has not gotten support from the people who have been claiming they wanted a candidate such as him.

When all is said and done in this Primary campaign, people will blame Fred Thompson for running a bad campaign, not having “fire in the belly”, not wanting the Presidency enough, being “boring” or being “lazy”. But, those, in my opinion, are simply pretty lame excuses for not supporting this man for the Presidency.

In my opinion, the biggest mistake Fred Thompson made was believing the American voters were adults and wanted a serious look at politics and our government. He made the mistake of believing conservatives when they said they wanted a conservative to run for President, because they were tired with RINOs. He made the mistake of believing the American people wanted a campaign focused on policy and ideology and the future of the role of government in our lives, instead of focused on good hair and playing guitars and arguing over which candidate has more charm or is the better “Christian Leader” or who was the bigger war hero. Bill Clinton played musical instruments and had charm. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were Christian leaders. And John Kerry was a war hero. Apparently, if these people ran in the Republican Primary in 2008, they would be getting support, because the candidates who are running their campaigns based on their talking points are the ones getting the praise. Meanwhile, the only candidate focusing on policy and ideology similar to Ronald Reagan, has been attacked mercilessly and relegated to the trash heap of political candidates.

All I can say is that I made the same mistake as Fred Thompson: I actually believed the American conservative voters when they cried and bitched and moaned and complained about all the RINOs in office and were begging for a true Conservative candidate. But, as it turns out, Conservatives have a lot in common with most women. They bitch about not having good men available to them, but then when they happen to find one, they end up going with the bad men anyway. Only to bitch some more when the bad men treat them exactly how they should have expected to be treated.

Well, when the RINO that the GOP electorate is about to nominate ends up being exactly what we all expect, you won’t be getting a shoulder to cry on or any sweet talk from me to cheer you up. You lie in the RINO bed you made.

Fred Thompson is not the most inspiring speaker in the GOP race for President. Nor is he the best looking or the smoothest talking among the candidates running. He doesn’t have Mitt Romney’s hair or Mike Huckabee’s glibness. He isn’t as aggressively positive as Rudy Giuliani. And while his personal story is compelling, it can’t compete with John McCain’s inspirational journey from POW to the gates of the White House.

But Fred Thompson is perhaps the most substantative candidate to run for President in many years. He has taken the time to think about what should be the relationship between the government and the governed. He has framed his thoughts within the context of a set of bedrock conservative principles that animates his thinking and generates sound ideas about where America should be headed.

There is a heft to Thompson, a seriousness of purpose that none of the other candidates can match. It is most pronounced during the debates where Thompson’s answers to questions are more subtle and nuanced than those of his rivals. His sometimes laconic style zings his opponents with brutal accuracy. Often, the candidate will answer a question by stating “Yep” or “Nope” and pause a few seconds to gather his thoughts. What follows is almost always coherent and is informed by years of experience in government.

His now famous moment during the Des Moines Register debate where he refused to raise his hand like a schoolboy when the moderator asked who believed in global warming was a metaphor for the entire Thompson campaign; keeping the Mickey Mouse to a minimum while trying to be as substantative as possible with the voters. In short, Thompson is running the campaign his way and not in a manner dictated by any previous candidate’s success or any criticism that comes his way from media pundits.

He has well thought out policy positions – “White Papers” the campaign calls them – have won him almost universal praise from sources as wildly divergent as the Washington Post and the National Review.

For instance, the Wall Street Journal had this to say about Thompson’s tax plan:

“However, what’s refreshing about the Thompson plan is that it goes well beyond the current Republican mantra to make “the Bush tax cuts permanent.” That is certainly needed, but the GOP also needs a more ambitious agenda, especially with economic growth slowing. The flat tax has the added political benefit of assaulting the special interests who populate the Gucci Gulch outside Congress’s tax-writing committee rooms. Lower rates and simplify the tax code, and you instantly reduce the opportunities for Beltway corruption. It is both a tax policy and political reform.

ABC had this to say about his plan to save Social Security:

Republican presidential contender Fred Thompson’s plan to save Social Security and protect seniors, which he introduced Friday afternoon in a Washington, D.C., hotel, differs starkly from standard election year pabulum on the subject in one key way: He’s actually treating voters like adults.

If all of this is true, why is Fred Thompson fighting for his political life this Saturday in the South Carolina primary?

It is a question that, if Thompson’s bid falls short, will be asked by many who saw the former Tennessee senator’s entry into the race as a godsend. In the end, the candidate must look to his own efforts and the way the campaign began.

Leaving aside the question of whether Thompson’s September entry into the race could be considered “too late” there is the reality of how that campaign was conducted. Looking back, one could see it was unfocused, even aimless, in its first weeks with the candidate himself trying to find his voice. His early efforts were spotty and sometimes dreadfully boring. By many reports, voters came away perplexed and not a little disappointed.

Thompson’s Socratic style of addressing those early crowds was a good way to discuss issues on a substantive level but a lousy way to run for president. Voters more attuned to snappy, one sentence solutions to the problems of the world coming from other candidates found that when listening to Thompson, they had to think, not react emotionally.

In this way, Thompson appealed to people more on an intellectual level. This was fine as far as it went but it brought him few converts and elicited nothing but contempt from the media.

How often have we heard the refrain that the American people wanted a campaign that dealt with issues not personalities? Well, here was Fred Thompson supposedly giving people what we were told they wanted and his once robust poll numbers began to plummet. Seeking an explanation, reporters and pundits who saw Thompson arrived at the conclusion that the candidate didn’t want it bad enough, that he had no “fire in the belly,” that he hated campaigning and didn’t extend himself as the other candidates were doing.

There may be a glimmer of truth in some of that conventional wisdom. Perhaps the candidate believed it was enough that he put his ideas on the table and let the American people decide whether or not they were worthy of consideration. Indeed, Thompson has said as much in the past. What perhaps the candidate didn’t realize is that fighting for those ideas and tying them to overarching themes is the most effective way to reach the voter.

But for whatever reason – the befuddlement of the press over his style of campaigning or a perceived lack of energy and desire – the candidate found himself at the end of November trailing badly in the polls. It was then that the campaign seemed to find itself and Thompson found those themes as well as his issues and tied them together. Crowds began to react more positively. It appeared the candidate himself was more energized and active.

But Thompson was pushing against weeks of very negative press and a conventional wisdom that had all but written him off. It was a daunting task to turn the campaign around but he has. Now he must convince voters in South Carolina and beyond that the conventional wisdom about his candidacy is wrong and that he deserves a second look.

His most recent appearances in South Carolina have shown an entirely different candidate than the one who appeared unfocused and low key during the first three months of his campaign. He has now found his mission; that the campaign is for the heart and soul of the Republican party and the future of the old Reagan coalition. When speaking in this vein, the candidate exudes a passion that may have been lacking in his earlier campaign stops. It carries over into his contrasting the records of his opponents with his own as he hammers away at their lack of true conservative credentials. He still talks specifics and issues but in a way that delineates his positions from those of his rivals. In short, he has found the bridge between a way to campaign effectively without sacrificing his belief that the voters hunger for substance in their candidate.

Thompson still pauses and thinks before he answers questions either from the media or voters. He speaks in complete sentences. He treats voters like “adults” as ABC mentioned above. In this sense, he is the anti-soundbite candidate. Whether Thompson’s no-nonsense approach to campaigning will give him victory will depend largely on whether voters are moved to support a man who views running for president not as the fulfillment of raw ambition but as a chance to serve the people.

January 19, 2008 , 11:14PM Posted by | 2008 Presidential Election, Conservatism, Fred Thompson | Comments Off on Fred Thompson: He’s Actually Treating Voters Like Adults

We Knew We Could Knock This F**cker Off Any Time We Wanted

The Wolf over at Blackfive has a great post about the backstory of the “truce” with al Sadr in Iraq. Very interesting reading. An exerpt:

[ … ] The month of April brought the major rise in the insurgency and the coming out of a young rebel Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.

In response to the killing and mutilation to the bodies of four Blackwater employees in Fallujah, the Marines of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Forces initiated offensive operations to capture the individuals responsible and any others in the region who may be involved in insurgency or terrorist activities. The newly formed Iraqi National Guard was supposed to fight right beside the Marines in the operation, but they chickened out and ran away.

The U.S. ended up aborting its attempt to regain control of Fallujah, not because they couldn’t just wipe out the whole city and turn it into a parking lot, but because they stopped offensive operations due to heavy political pressure by the Iraqi Governing Council.

On April 10, the U.S.military declared a unilateral truce to allow for humanitarian supplies to enter Fallujah. U.S. troops pulled back to the outskirts of the city; local leaders reciprocated the ceasefire, although lower-level intense fighting on both sides continued. Iraqi negotiators had made their way into the city to broker a truce between the U.S. and local leaders, but had not been successful. Meanwhile, the insurgents capitalized on this ‘ceasefire’ to conduct their most intense offensive operations, while numerous weapons were found hidden in the humanitarian supply trucks that were attempting to enter the city.

The Fallujah ceasefire followed a wave of insurgency across southern Iraq, including An Najaf and Baghdad, which included kidnapping of military members and the execution of several civilian workers.

Coalition forces sought to negotiate a truce but clearly stated that it would restart offensive operations to retake the city if one was not reached. The main goal of the military commanders was to capture those responsible for the numerous deaths of American and Iraqi security personnel, and as the negotiations continued, insurgents continued to conduct hit-and-run attacks on U.S. Marine positions.

If Fallujah wasn’t enough, fighting also broke out in Najaf between U.S. forces and the al-Mahdi Army of al-Sadr, which launched a coordinated uprising across central and southern Iraq in an apparent attempt to seize control of the country ahead of the June 30, 2004 handover of power to a new Iraqi government.

At the end of March 2004, the CPA shut the doors of Sadr’s newspaper, Al Hawza, on charges of inciting violence that including printing detailed instructions on how to kill Coalition forces.

Sadr responded by mobilizing tens of thousands of Shia followers to demonstrations protesting the closure of the newspaper; the demonstrations escalated throughout the week in number and militancy. One of the major demonstrations was held right outside Checkpoint 3 and the Convention Center. I climbed to the roof of the building and looked past the checkpoint and couldn’t believe what I saw. The main street leading up to the checkpoint was a major roadway, and it was filled with the most demonstrators I had ever seen with my own eyes. There had to be between 50,000 and 100,000 Shiites all chanting in cadence and waving the green flags showing their support for Sadr.

Fighting broke out in Najaf, Sadr City, and Basra as Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army took over several points and attacked coalition Soldiers, killing dozens and taking many casualties of its own in the process. Sadr finally realized that he couldn’t win a military fight against the Coalition, so he came to his senses and brokered a truce that would eventually de-arm his militia while keeping the cleric himself out of jail.

Muqtada al-Sadr was a force to reckoned with even if the CPA and the Coalition didn’t want to admit it publicly. We all knew that this would not be the end of him, but we also knew that we could knock this fucker off any time we wanted.

While everyone thought the American military had forced Sadr into a truce, what happened behind the scenes really shows how many different organizations had a hand in the inner workings of daily workings of what was happening in Baghdad. It was an alphabet soup including the FBI, CID, DEA and, of course, the OGA, which really was the CIA.

It turns out the truce with Sadr had nothing to do with the military at all, but only a select few leaders knew the real story of what went on in an office right above the CPIC at the Convention Center. [ … ]

Be sure to go read it all. This is the kind of analysis you do not get from our politicians or our mass media “journalists”.

January 19, 2008 , 11:11PM Posted by | al Sadr, Fallujah, Iraq, The Long War, US Marines, War Effort in Iraq | Comments Off on We Knew We Could Knock This F**cker Off Any Time We Wanted