Michael's Dispatches

Small Talk

21 Comments

23 March 2009

Gary Sinise is an incredible American.  We were swapping some emails over the past week and I saw this article about his latest support for our troops:  Commentary: We can't do enough for our veterans.

Gary mentioned to me that he will be heading back to Afghanistan this year (that’s predictable!), and I’ll try to take a quick break from slogging around the battlefields to see Gary while he’s there.  Gary Sinise and Bruce Willis are among the few true movie stars who courageously supported our troops, even when Hollywood insiders were telling me that actors could lose jobs for supporting the troops.  Laura Ingraham, during one of our live interviews, once asked about my Hollywood connections.  Laura caught me by surprise and I denied connections.  By that, I was really saying I don’t hang out in Hollywood, but technically my answer to Laura was incorrect.

I haven’t heard from Bruce lately, but am sure he’s out there and being as ornery as ever.  Gary and Bruce have both traveled into harm’s way to visit troops and I will watch all their movies simply out of principle.  (Plus they are great artists.)

On to the grit of the war, ABC has more or less shut down its Iraq coverage as eyes continue to turn to Afghanistan.  Other organizations have also dramatically scaled back or simply abandoned the Iraq saga.  Most of the experienced war correspondents seem to have essentially burned out.  Long-term front line coverage from Afghanistan likely will become increasingly rare even as the war heats up.  On the other hand, unlike in Iraq, many westerners find it easy to live in Afghanistan for years on end, and so there remains a reservoir of foreigners living mostly in the more peaceful areas who might become ersatz reporters.

A team of folks are working on my photographic archives from Iraq and Afghanistan.  They reported last week that so far I have shot about 250,000 photos in the wars.  The team is not sure what the actual total number of images will turn out to be, but a quarter-million is their estimate.  No wonder that my cameras keep breaking, and when I close my eyes, images of Iraq and Afghanistan flood in.  Only a tiny fraction of those images have been published.  Probably less than half of one percent.  In fact, I probably have not even seen 95% of the photos I shot.  Perhaps those photos will go down in history, along with those I will soon be sending back, as the largest personal archive of wartime photos.  My current cameras make full-frame, 21 megapixel photos.  The bodies are outfitted with the best glass on the market – creating extraordinarily high quality images.

From rumor control: reliable sources provided me such a chuckle that it seemed worth the laugh to pass it along. 

The rumor: In Iraq, "Brigade Combat Teams" might be renamed to "Brigade Support Teams" so that President Obama can say there are no more "combat" troops in Iraq.  This would be like calling your Rottweiler a Chihuahua because your condo does not allow Rottweilers.  Pulling this off might require a Jedi Mind Trick.  Call it what you like, Mr. President, but please don’t pull out the Rottweilers too quickly.

This WaPo article from Sunday discusses the problems of logistics to Afghanistan.  Recently, I personally asked General Petraeus about this same matter.  Logistics is a great Achilles heel in that war.  General Petraeus seemed confident we can work through the logistics issues.  Please read: General Urges Confidence in Ability to Supply Troops in Afghanistan.

The hints coming out of Washington tend to cause me to believe we will abandon Afghanistan.  I’m making no personal comment one way or the other yet, other than Iraq was worth the effort and costs all the way around – so long as we cement that success.  Afghanistan seems little more than a tar pit.  I want to hear General Petraeus say success is achievable, and to at least set some white lines by what he defines as success.  He’s one of the very few people who have both the experience and character that are required to accurately estimate the truth and then deliver the good, bad and the ugly.  If General Petraeus puts his word behind it, I’m only one man but I’ll back him.  That’s about all there is to say on Afghanistan.

In closing – last and definitely not least -- a message just came to me from retired 4-star General Barry McCaffrey.  He is very concerned about Mexico.  I would kindly suggest that radio interviewers and print journalists reach out to General McCaffrey through his website.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chester Himel · 9 years ago
    THE VICTORY IN IRAQ IS (WAS) THE GREATEST STRATEGIC VICTORY OF THE 21 ST CENTURY

    IN THIS CENTURY THERE ARE ONLY TWO WAYS TO CONTROL THE WORLD
    1. BY CONTROL OF THE WORLD'S OIL (IRAQ + IRAN + RUSSIA = 80%)
    2. BY A WORLD-WIDE TERRORIST RELIGION

    BY MOVING IN AHEAD OF RUSSIA BUSH PREVENTED WWIII

    IF SADAM + IRAN HAD NUCLEAR WEAPONS WHAT WOULD HAVE THE US AND EUROPE DONE? RUSSIA COULD HAVE TAKEN THE WORLD BY TELEPHONE BY ALLOCATING OIL
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David M Editor: The · 9 years ago
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 03/23/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    neatie and Annie · 9 years ago
    Gary Sinise is a true American patriot. So are many other Americans who have not forgotten Iraq or Afghanistan who refuse to be distracted by politicians, the MSM propaganda machine or the President refusing to recognize who our enemies are and doing his best to lose this war against Islamic terrorism. In spite of this we have a few great reporters still doing their jobs faithfully and getting us enough information that if we need to know what our troops are doing and the battles they fight, on the battle field and with the politicians. You don't have to be a reporter or in the Military to understand what is happening or to be in this fight to win this war that was not started by us but God willing will be finished by us reguardless of all those who would have it otherwise. A poem for you Mike...it may not be good poetry but heart felt from experiencef:
    I've heard men say that there is one, sticks closer than a brother
    I came to learn "that one" to be, a military man..none other
    I did not know until I saw the job these soldiers do
    that there are none upon this earth as faithful, brave, or true
    You've seen the films, you've heard the songs proclaiming their great deeds
    but it is being in their presence that will bring you to your knees
    It's easy to admire these men, to say nice things and cheer
    Yet never know their private burdens, the private thoughts you never hear
    So listen up, oh world today. I'll tell the truth...no spin
    By lesser men unhindered...this war, no doubt, our mighty men will win
    They stand for all that's good and true...the best that men can be
    And so that leaves the lesser part...the likes of you and me
    That these brave souls, united all, will die to keep us free
    Understand the most amazing part is that they do it willingly
    I've seen their souls, I've smelled their sweat, their brotherhood perceived
    A stranger into their camp I came...their brother I did leave
    If all could spend one day with them perhaps then all would see
    without the likes of men like these our country ceases to be free
    Upon their backs they carry guns, and all the gear of war
    but it is the spirit in their hearts that will make our country soar
    They are the best of America no matter what scoffers say
    So let's all thank the one above for each of them today
    And maybe while were at it we could join around their band
    And by our own allegiance we can give our men a hand
    Thank you our great military men wherever that you are
    With men like you I have no doubt our country will go far
  • This commment is unpublished.
    bdhale · 9 years ago
    T Clancy has already written books concerning terrorists in Afghanistan/Pakistan linking up their efforts with the Mexican cartels. Should we start patroling the border with regular army troops like we did in the early 1900's?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    A&N · 9 years ago
    Gary Sinise is a great American Patriot. There are others....you missed the great coverage of the war in Afghanistan by Fox News in the last few weeks by their correspondent Steve Harrigan. He went with the troops building new outposts under the worst of conditions. His were some of the best reports to come out of there in a very long time and the film footage was spectacular. He wasn't sitting in a safe place reporting and the truth of what is going on over there came through loud and clear. Many of us have not forgotten the war on terrorism in spite of the political distractions, the MSM propaganda or a president who doesn't recognize who our enemies are and in fact refuses to even call terrorism..terrorism and hasn't got a clue. We don't accept his pitiful attempt to "change" our attitudes concerning this war..started by Islamic terrorism nor have we forgotten our men fighting to protect the Constitution many are trampling on today. You don't have to be a reporter or a soldier to know what is going on in the world and you don't have to be a reporter or soldier to fight it. Here's a poem for you, Mike, not a good poem but one from the head and heart that tells you what many of us think in spite of all the false information we are getting these days. Thanks for what you do and please keep it up. The torture thing is just one more red herring thrown out there to distract us from what needs to be done to win this war and to disparage our great men. Poem:
    I've heard men say that there is one, sticks closer than a brother
    I came to learn "that one" to be, a military man..none other
    I did not know until I saw the job these soldiers do
    that there are none upon this earth as faithful, brave, or true
    You've seen the films, you've heard the songs proclaiming their great deeds
    but it is being in their presence that will bring you to your knees
    It's easy to admire these men, to say nice things and cheer
    Yet never know their private burdens, the private thoughts you never hear
    So listen up, oh world today. I'll tell the truth...no spin
    By lesser men unhindered...this war, no doubt, our mighty men will win
    They stand for all that's good and true...the best that men can be
    And so that leaves the lesser part...the likes of you and me
    That these brave souls, united all, will die to keep us free
    Understand the most amazing part is that they do it willingly
    I've seen their souls, I've smelled their sweat, their brotherhood perceived
    A stranger into their camp I came...their brother I did leave
    If all could spend one day with them perhaps then all would see
    without the likes of men like these our country ceases to be free
    Upon their backs they carry guns, and all the gear of war
    but it is the spirit in their hearts that will make our country soar
    They are the best of America no matter what scoffers say
    So let's all thank the one above for each of them today
    And maybe while were at it we could join around their band
    And by our own allegiance we can give our men a hand
    Thank you our great military men wherever that you are
    With men like you I have no doubt our country will go far
  • This commment is unpublished.
    neatie · 9 years ago
    You are so right BDHale about the Islamic terrorists and the drug cartels joining forces in Mexico. You can also add the influence of certain communist dictators in our part of the world to that. Here in Arizona it is evident and we have personally experienced one such encounter with Muslim terrorists (Iranians) in our small town which did not make the news by the way...nor will such facts ever make the MSM propaganda machine. We are at war on this border and Homeland Securty and our "president" fiddle while we burn. Ah well, when they legalize them all look at what a great voting block they will have. In the meantime our social services are bankrupt, our schools in turmoil and broke as well, our healthcare system swamped by ever illegal that crosses that border ( and you guessed it..bankrupt), crime is everywhere including murder and kidnapping, and jobs that Americans need in these times are stolen from us. We have three fronts in this war...Iraq, Afghanistan and the border states. Welcome to the real world where we don't worry about how badly we, the USA, has treated the rest of the world, how we don't understand their cultures. If their cultures were worth a dang they wouldn't need to be flooding into our country. They'd have gotten up off their rears and made something of their own countries. Poverty is no excuse...they have as many resources as anyone else...they'd just rather kill each other off and be heathens. Wake up America and stop giving our enemies a free pass.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    N. Hillman · 9 years ago
    You are so right BDHale about the Islamic terrorists and the drug cartels joining forces in Mexico. You can also add the influence of certain communist dictators in our part of the world to that. Here in Arizona it is evident and we have personally experienced one such encounter with Muslim terrorists (Iranians) in our small town which did not make the news by the way...nor will such facts ever make the MSM propaganda machine. We are at war on this border and Homeland Securty and our "president" fiddle while we burn. Ah well, when they legalize them all look at what a great voting block they will have. In the meantime our social services are bankrupt, our schools in turmoil and broke as well, our healthcare system swamped by ever illegal that crosses that border ( and you guessed it..bankrupt), crime is everywhere including murder and kidnapping, and jobs that Americans need in these times are stolen from us. We have three fronts in this war...Iraq, Afghanistan and the border states. Welcome to the real world where we don't worry about how badly we, the USA, has treated the rest of the world, how we don't understand their cultures. If their cultures were worth a dang they wouldn't need to be flooding into our country. They'd have gotten up off their rears and made something of their own countries. Poverty is no excuse...they have as many resources as anyone else...they'd just rather kill each other off and be heathens. Wake up America and stop giving our enemies a free pass.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    N. Hillman · 9 years ago
    You are so right BDHale about the Islamic terrorists and the drug cartels joining forces in Mexico. You can also add the influence of certain communist dictators in our part of the world to that. Here in Arizona it is evident and we have personally experienced one such encounter with Muslim terrorists (Iranians) in our small town which did not make the news by the way...nor will such facts ever make the MSM propaganda machine. We are at war on this border and Homeland Securty and our "president" fiddle while we burn. Ah well, when they legalize them all look at what a great voting block they will have. In the meantime our social services are bankrupt, our schools in turmoil and broke as well, our healthcare system swamped by ever illegal that crosses that border ( and you guessed it..bankrupt), crime is everywhere including murder and kidnapping, and jobs that Americans need in these times are stolen from us. We have three fronts in this war...Iraq, Afghanistan and the border states. Welcome to the real world where we don't worry about how badly we, the USA, has treated the rest of the world, how we don't understand their cultures. If their cultures were worth a dang they wouldn't need to be flooding into our country. They'd have gotten up off their rears and made something of their own countries. Poverty is no excuse...they have as many resources as anyone else...they'd just rather kill each other off and be heathens. Wake up America and stop giving our enemies a free pass.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    DagneyT · 9 years ago
    Thanks for the tip, Michael. I knew about Gary Sinise, but wasn't sure about Willis! They're two of the few I would pay to see.

    BTW, the only comfort I get from the new administration, is that Gen. Petraeus is still in charge! Makes me feel better about my grandson going into the Army.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MarkJ · 9 years ago
    "The hints coming out of Washington tend to cause me to believe we will abandon Afghanistan."

    Well, could we expect anything less--or more--from an administration that, to paraphrase the famous observation, "is creating an economic desert and calling it 'prosperity.'"?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    love this country · 9 years ago
    I really admire Gary Sinise for his willingness to openly support the troops, knowingly putting his career at risk. Another hollywood actor I'd like to add to the list of patriots is Ron Silver, who passed away a week ago yesterday. I very much appreciated his contribution to the 2004 re-election of President Bush where he spoke at the RNC Convention, because of his strong support of the war in Iraq. Some Hollywood actors remember Sept. 11, and want to do something proactive with their celebrity status. Ron's patriotism will be greatly missed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    alexa kim · 9 years ago
    I've admired Mr. Sinise for a very long time now. I'm very grateful to him for all he does, no matter how modest he thinks it is, for Our Troops.

    It is one of the few examples of Americans taking the lead for a change and endeavoring to make Our Troops proud of us, like they have made us proud of them.

    To all the whiners who claim they are displaying their patriotism by criticising, abusing and disrespecting Our Troops:

    Follow the example set by Mr. Sinise who correctly demonstrates patriotism, pride and love for Our Troops.

    Do that, and I will be drawn to learn more about you, rather than repelled.

    [BTW, I just read that Bruce has re-married.]
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Arthur Throckmorton · 9 years ago
    It was reported today Bruce Willis just married for the second time this past weekend. Evidently he has taken some time out for his personal life. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090323/ap_en_ce/people_bruce_willis
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Naomi · 9 years ago
    I have great respect for Gary Senise and Bruce Willis. I especially like Gary--he is just a "nice guy". I have 2 relatives who served twice and a friend who served once in Iraq and/or Afganistan. I don't pay to see the makers of anti-American movies. Not only do I think they are unpatriotic to say the least, but I am not going to help make them rich or benefit from my hard-earned money. Keep up the good work, Michael, in truthful reporting.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mad Dog Ducati · 9 years ago
    Glad to see you are still our eyes and ears in this area. I only hope we do not abandon the Afghanis. I met a number of them who suffered under the Tali's during my work with Amnesty International and their stories were pretty horrific. So your comments on Gen. P are well taken and hopefully our forthcoming 'changes' do not include dropping the ball there.
    One of the most impressive sights I saw after we booted the Tali's out was a number of Afghanis sining and dancing in the street, strictly verboten under the T's. Pure joy on their faces showed me music was more important to them than religious strictures.
    Stay safe Mike!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul S. · 9 years ago
    Gary Sinese receiving the Presidential Citizens Medal, America's second highest honor for a civilian, last December was fitting. And Bruce Willis wanting to enlist spoke loudly about his commitment to our troops' mission.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gismo Fly · 9 years ago
    Dear Mike,

    I was shocked to hear President Obama calling for an Afghanistan exit strategy a day or two back. The US surge hasn't arrived there yet and they are about to declare the date that the good guys are leaving. Isn't that taking your shoes off and jumping into the 'tar pit'?

    The Indians are so worried about the security threat from the Taleban in Pakistan that they are moving the cricket cup final to England to keep everybody out of harms way. No kidding. Queen Victoria must be rolling in her grave.....and Ghandi....well, his ashes I suppose. A bit like the US having the Rosebowl at Wembley Stadium because the Canadians are getting uppity.

    I'm very pleased to see the US Army are taking the southern border crisis seriously. I don't doubt for a minute that these gentlemen will guard and protect their homeland with skill and humanity. No doubt they'll be criticised for all and everything they do. Another bloody tar pit.

    Thanks for everything you do Mike. You have a million fans around the world.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gismo Fly · 9 years ago
    I'd walk a million miles for one of Gary Sinese's smiles. What wouldn't we do for just a grin from Bruce Willis?
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    Chaddly · 9 years ago
    Reading about Gary Sinise made me think of a British actor doing his bit for our troops.

    Ross Kemp is a well known TV actor in the UK, and has branched out in to documetries. Meeting some of the worlds most deadly gangs, and talking quite openly with them.

    Two years ago he spent a few weeks with his fathers old regiment (the Anglians) as they went to Helmand Province for 6 months. He made a 6 part program about what happaned, in Hi Def too. Its on DVD if you can find it, if not I think its on You Tube or something similar. Last year he went back with a Scotish regiiment to see what had changed, filming again.

    I have been out myself, and these programs came as close to being there as its possable to be. If you can find any of these programs (made by Sky, who are partners of Fox) I would urge everyone to watch them. It'll be a true eye opener to anyone who wants to know more about what we, all of us from every nation, are doing out there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Michael Bednarz · 9 years ago
    Michael, check this link out, Bruce just tied the knot last Saturday.

    http://movies.msn.com/movies/article.aspx?news=358207&affid=100055
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John M McCarthy · 9 years ago
    Michael,
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been visiting and speaking about the Mexican drug war lately. Illegal drugs flow freely north into the USA and arms & ammunition flow freely south into Mexico to arm the drug lords.
    This is all easily stopped by legalizing marijuana and decriminalizing cocaine. There is no moral or health argument that makes sense against this very simple solution. The War on Drugs was lost in the Prohibition era, and regardless of how many self righteous people deny it, the fact remains that people will always find a way to get high.
    Annexing Mexico would also make alot of sense. They've already annexed us; we might as well return the favor.

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