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November 30, 2007

Reconsidering the Oregon Guard Deployment

-Patrick S Lasswell

Open Letter to KINK-FM in Response to Their Latest KINK Considers Broadcast

Jacob,

When I was in Kirkuk earlier this year, the locals pointed out the American patrol passing by as something they appreciated because it was helping them beat the terrorists. The police chief I had lunch with was looking forward to getting new Iraqi Police units in that were going to break the insurgency in Kirkuk. Everything in Iraq is complicated, so I find it disturbing that your comments regarding the war there is so incredibly simple. You may have heard the old saying that for every complex problem there is a simple solution, and that solution is invariably wrong. So it is with your tantrum regarding the Oregon National Guard's upcoming deployment to Iraq.

I call your latest “Kink Considers” broadcast a tantrum because it clearly is not the policy statement of a mature adult. While it is inconvenient for Oregon to go without some of our emergency responders because of the risk of natural disaster, there are people actively plotting artificial disasters in Iraq who need more active care at this moment. Insisting that your peace of mind is more important than their lives borders on the infantile.

While we are on the subject of infantile, let's talk about your representation of terrorism and counter-insurgency. To say in November 2007 that more troops properly applied will not break terrorists in Iraq is astonishingly naive. The surge is working. Representative Murtha says so, and he is one of the biggest and most obdurate opponents of this war. General Patraeus developed and implemented a winning strategy. We broke Al Qaeda in Iraq and are breaking the other insurgent groups.

If you don't believe me, do what my business partner, independent journalist Michael Totten, is doing now in Fallujah, go to Iraq and see for yourself. See what the Oregon Guard members who are already there are doing. I'll be happy to help you make arrangements. The trip won't be cheap, but compared to the expense of maintaining ignorance, it's a bargain.

It is clearly time for KINK to reconsider Iraq.

Patrick S Lasswell
Portland, Oregon

UPDATE: KINK updated their web site with the text of the broadcast. I believe I heard them say some things differently so I will be recording the next broadcast to see if my memory is correct. I stand by the above commentary with regards to their posted transcription.

November 19, 2007

Wasting Military Excellence

-Patrick S Lasswell

Open Letter to Congress

I am proud to be a serving Navy Reservist in Portland, Oregon, part of the best unit of its kind in the Navy (unit name redacted for security reasons). To meet the current and projected needs of the Navy, our unit is being realigned into a different format, and the stretch goes so far that we are being disbanded. This is a tragedy and a waste in itself because our unit has fostered a culture of excellence and accomplishment that will be almost impossible to carry forward once we are broken up. Some members of the unit have served with it continuously nearly twenty years, a testament to morale unimaginable with active duty units.

I am tasked with minimizing the waste of millions of dollars of equipment in my Navy Reserve unit as we decommission. Yesterday I was honored with a letter of commendation from my unit for the work I have done making sure we have everything we need, where we need it, and that it works when we need it. By abandoning an opportunity to go on annual training to a tropical paradise next year, I’ve managed to salvage a few hundred thousand dollars in gear. I could save even more, and make sure it is better and more effectively distributed, but the lack of a FY ‘08 military budget prevents me from spending the time needed to maintain excellence. My chain of command supports excellence, they just can’t pay for it right now.

The military is wasting money trying to fight a war without a budget. This is hurting us today; this will hurt us for a very long time to come. The Left does not care what damage they do to get what they want anymore. This is not about the war, this is about petty partisan advantage and it stinks on ice.

I urge you to pass a budget so we can defend the best nation on earth the best we way we know how. If you cannot do this for the sake of being decent, please try to imagine how incredibly stupid the partisan hacks will look the next time the terrorists get through. You do not want to be associated with those fools when the smoke clears, or while the plague is raging.

Patrick S Lasswell
Portland, Oregon

November 16, 2007

Large Unprofessional Military a Bloody Mess: Congressional Report

-Patrick S Lasswell

Convoy Near Mosul 3.jpg
Convoy near Mosul, Spring 2007. These clean, sober, and professional troops are much better off than the underpaid hollow force was in 1980.

According to a recent paper by the Congressional Research Service, the US military lost more troops each year through accidents in the early 1980s than were lost each year in Operation Iraq Freedom, indicating that underpaid and under qualified troops are a greater menace to themselves than terrorist action. The drop in fatal accidents is most notable after the Reagan era budget increases and the attendant increase in professionalism.

Increasing accuracy in the military anti-drug initiatives were not specifically cited, but have to be considered as part of making military service safer. As recently as the 1990 I knew people who claimed to be able to beat the drug test, and people are still getting caught getting stupid, but attitudes toward drug use in the service are much less tolerant than when I went to boot camp in 1984. Along with an increase in pay and recruiting bonuses for quality recruits, the improvement of professionalism since the hollow force years of the 1970s shows gains where it matters most, keeping the troops alive.

Sailor clearing empties.jpg
Long service sailor doing his job safely on the range. Clearing casings after firing the Mk.19 Grenade Launcher, this sailor and his assistant gunner fired faster and more accurately because they were professionals.

Less cheering is the persistent number of suicides in the service. Military service in the US is not easy and it is not fair; the drop in accidents is not reflected by similar drops in self-inflicted deaths. During a recent training period on my reserve base, I talked with Marines who were arranging services for a Marine who had taken his own life. In the end, it was decided to provide full honors for the fallen comrade because they took responsibility for not seeing the signs. If anything decent can be taken away from this tragedy, the integrity of the US Marine Corps in this matter shows profound commitment to stopping this kind of senseless loss. As somebody who has served with a number of people who attempted suicide, I genuinely appreciate that commitment to decency.

Another column in the report worth noting is the deaths by terrorist attack. Since 2001 when 55 fell at the Pentagon attack, we have not lost troops at home or away from combat areas due to terrorist action. There are any number of ways this can be spun, but the enemy has not mustered the strength to effectively attack the US since the start of open conflict in 2001. Waiting to be attacked does not appear to be as effective a survival measure.

In the end, the hand wringing of the anti-war movement about the wasting of lives appears all the more fraudulent in light of these numbers. There were not protest rallies in 1980 pleading to bring home the troops from the quagmire of Fort Dix, when truck rollovers and out of control partying were taking more soldiers lives than are being lost in Anbar province today. If the protesters really supported the troops, they'd be calling for a pay raise and improved medical benefits, not retreat.

Sailor shooting 50.jpg
These sailors got the support they needed last year when the unit got enough ammunition to fire more than for minimal qualifications. The pile of brass resulted from the service member finally getting the opportunity to figure out the exact qualities of the M2HB Heavy Machine Gun. Fired on a safe range, these rounds will do a lot to help keep the troops alive in unsafe places.

This report also shows the consummate idiocy of calls for conscription. The number of accident deaths of a massive unprofessional military will be tremendous, as the report shows. In 1980 we were recruiting marginal troops, but at least they were all volunteers. The bloody mischief unwilling slackers can get themselves into is appalling. The quality of life impact of a horde of strangers descending on our military bases would be immense, as well.

We have a working military that is in most respects getting consistently better. The numbers show that decent pay, benefits, and commitment to professionalism saves lives. The best way to support the troops is to support the troops.

Hat Tip: Instapundit

November 13, 2007

Shots Fired in Anger

-Patrick S Lasswell

Hiding in my front yard from a shotgun armed maniac last night made me reflect on my libertarian leanings. The Second Amendment never seemed so clear to me as an individual right as I waited for the police to arrive, and waited. I was carrying only a telephone and a flashlight, and updating the 911 operator as the lunatic passed twenty yards from my position it occurred to me how very much I appreciate owning rifles, and how very, very far away they were at the moment. Although I also own pistols, for a shotgun armed assailant in the night, the accuracy and stopping power of a rifle spoke to me with urgent clarity. As the wonderful folks from Box O'Truth say: Rifles are rifles, and pistols are pistols.

While running around in my PJ's armed exclusively with a flashlight, telephone, and civic virtue, my libertarian interest in keeping the police from having military weapons died of exposure. When the the kook drove by and kept pointing his lights at my position, I was all for the 911 operator getting access to laser armed satellites or police helicopters with precision guided munitions. The notion that patrol cars might have AR-15 rifles onboard seemed prudent, not an infringement. All apologies to Glenn Reynolds, but I wouldn't choose to face deranged shotgun toting citizens armed only with a pistol, why should the cops? Afterwards, I considered the comforting weight of my Navy Reserve unit's sweet shooting M240 machine guns and how nice it would be to lay the bipod on my driveway while covering the bad guy. Who am I do deny reasonable comfort to even the forceful Portland Police?

The ironic part of this whole thing was that as I was hearing shots fired in anger and close proximity for the first time in a long while, and my business partner Michael Totten is heading towards Fallujah. I have to consider the business impact of him getting dinged while covering a story. The notion that I might get peppered with buckshot in my front yard trying to get a crank dealer off the streets never entered the equation. Keep your head down Micheal, I'll try not to get dead back home...

UPDATE:
This happened at my house. I heard a shouting and then what sounded like a shot. I looked out the front door and there was a man standing outside his car armed with a shotgun yelling down the street. Since my first investigation equipment only included a flashlight, I stepped back inside and grabbed the phone to call 911. I waited, then went back outside and the car had left. I looked for a shotgun shell and did not find anything. As I was headed back in, I heard a vehicle nearby and looked; it was the bad man. I called 911 and updated them, staying on the line. The man was looking for somebody; I decided to be a hard to hit somebody when he came in my direction. Our house has concrete fixtures that provide cover (one of those things I liked about it when we were house-hunting) and I made use of them for the first time.

I suspect this was a drug deal gone bad. The man with the shotgun was hunting for somebody after shooting from a public street. This is not the actions of somebody whose primary concern is the public good. The car in question is now parked two blocks from here.

Suspect Car.jpg
Suspect Car



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