Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

Curiosity Did Not Land on Mars

09 August 2012

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Curiosity did not land on Mars, but in the Dasht-i-Margo (Desert of Death) Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.  This looks amazingly like Afghanistan, including two small IED craters on the left-front.

Soldiers' Ducks

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29 July 2012

A wise old Soldier offered some words of wisdom.  He said, "Michael, if they can fight you with facts, they will stick with the facts.  If the facts are not on their side, they will use the law.  If the law is not on their side, they will shoot the messenger."  He was referring to Soldiers' Angels.

The facts are not on their side, and there are no legal issues between us.  And so they are left with shooting a messenger who shoots back.

Earlier this month, Soldiers' Angels received a 1-star financial rating—the lowest—from Charity Navigator.  I have no connection to Charity Navigator.  Shortly after the 1-star rating was issued, the Executive Director of Soldiers' Angels resigned or was fired.  Toby Nunn had zero experience with non-profits before his appointment as Executive Director.  Whatever happened, he is gone now and is promoting cage-fighting events.

Read more: Soldiers' Ducks

TALIBAN STATEMENT Today

Published: 24 July 2012

The Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid spontaneously emailed a statement to me today.  It looks like the Taliban are on defense after the recent murder of a woman.  The video of her execution went viral.  The Taliban claims no part in the execution.  I sent the Taliban statement to an Afghan friend who just translated and characterized the Taliban statement.  His translation is not meant to be precise, but my friend provides the essence and some personal opinions.  (I made minor edits for clarity.)

First the translation and opinion from my Afghan friend, and below that is the original Taliban statement:

Read more: TALIBAN STATEMENT Today

Soldiers' Angels is Dying

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22 July 2012

On 17 July 2012, Soldiers' Angels announced that Executive Director Toby Nunn was leaving the organization.  Rumors of impropriety have surrounded Nunn.  Plenty of those landed in my inbox and in my ears.  I warned SA leadership and the public.

Moreover, a roadkill stench follows the Soldiers' Angels Trustees Matthew Burden and Mark  Seavey.  Both use their perches in various high-profile organizations to advance political agendas and personal vendettas, while consolidating influence.  Yet today, their reputations are sinking.

Seavey recently tried to bolster his flagging image by doing a short embed in Afghanistan as a journalist.  Seavey, a lawyer, in addition to being a Trustee at Soldiers' Angels, holds a leadership position as the new media director for the American Legion.

Read more: Soldiers' Angels is Dying

Military Professionals Discussing the MEDEVAC Dilemma: Armed or Escorted?

18 July 2012

Increasing numbers of high-ranking military officers and veterans agree that the time has come for change.  Support from lawmakers continues to grow.  Army helicopter medical evacuation (Dustoff) polices are outdated and costing lives.  Our current polices even violate the Geneva Conventions.  The Dustoff Association is seeing this for what it is, and has featured the matter in their latest "The DUSTOFFer” newsletter.

Note: The military recently completed its investigation into the loss of Chazray Clark in Afghanistan last September.  The Pentagon now admits that it took 69 minutes from time of injury until Chazray was delivered to the hospital.  With better policies, that evacuation could have been completed in about 24 minutes.  We lost Chazray.  Let’s stop this now.

Read more: Military Professionals Discussing the MEDEVAC Dilemma: Armed or Escorted?

Veterans Bashing Veterans who are Helping Veterans

image001-1000Paul Rieckhoff, founder of IAVA, attacked by wild milbloggers

16 July 2012

Paul Rieckhoff is a veteran of the Iraq war.

After his return from Iraq, Mr. Rieckhoff founded the organization IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America).

IAVA is widely respected.  As a result, Mr. Rieckhoff wields considerable influence and likewise has a considerable number of enemies who wish to see him fall.  Some of those self-declared enemies operate a website called "This Ain't Hell."  These people are trying to destroy Mr. Rieckhoff.

They have accused Mr. Rieckhoff of unauthorized wearing of both a low-rated award (bronze star for meritorious service) and a unit patch.  The specific allegations, along with a statement that I just received from Mr. Rieckhoff, are at the end of this dispatch.

Read more: Veterans Bashing Veterans who are Helping Veterans

We Are Still #1 (somehow)

11 July 2012

Thank you for the tremendous support through the years.  We are just getting warmed up, though I am in a transition stage while completing a book.  I remain serious about potentially transitioning over to US/Mexico focused work.

Meanwhile, this military blog rank came across the radar.  Although my work is not milblogging (because it covers so much other), it is good to see that through your support and my labors we are at the top.  The math behind these stats is a mystery.  If we were #2, there would be room for dispute about methodologies and rectitude.  But we are #1, so this can be accepted as objective fact:

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Carl Prine, Bombs, Brain Damage, and our Responsibility

10 July 2012

These wars have left us with thousands of troops and civilians who may have sustained brain damage from explosions.  Recently, my friend Carl Prine, a military combat veteran of Iraq, terminated his writing on Line of Departure due to apparent brain damage.  Carl believes that an IED blast may have contributed to the problem.  It is terrible to see anyone suffer brain damage.  That it happened to such a gifted military writer is double damage, and saddening for me.  Carl’s writing will be missed.  He was truly gifted.  We communicated today.  His condition is bad.

A cousin who is a Marine officer sent a bomb video today.  This looks like Iraq.  The date stamp shows 2007.  My cousin the Marine asked me to pass this video along so that more people will understand what our young veterans are facing.  My cousin’s note said:

Read more: Carl Prine, Bombs, Brain Damage, and our Responsibility

Army Sham Investigation into Loss of Chazray Clark

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26 June 2012

Yesterday the Army delivered its sham investigation into the loss of Chazray Clark in September 2011.  The attack that took Chazray’s life is described in RED AIR.

Through the months, I and others have been in contact with Chazray’s mother and wife.  They strongly wish that we continue this fight.  They are not satisfied by the investigation.

Read more: Army Sham Investigation into Loss of Chazray Clark

Good Report from Afghanistan

21 June 2012

Reports come in daily from the military in Afghanistan.  Many have good news, but subsequent the MEDEVAC deceptions from the Army, I do not trust the current bunch and so do not bother publishing.  Yesterday, I asked Shem Klimiuk, an old Afghan hand from Australia (now in Kabul), if there is any truth to these reports.  Mr. Klimiuk responds using data from Indicium Consulting:

(Note: Today I asked Marine Lieutenant Colonel in Helmand Province if he believes Indicium to be accurate on this. "Yes.")

Despite signs that the Taliban’s influence is spreading throughout Afghanistan, international military efforts over the last 12 months have not been fruitless, as changes on the battlefield are becoming visible.  This can mainly be attributed to prolonged ISAF/ANSF operations against the Taliban’s (and other anti-government elements) logistic chains and, more importantly, their mid-level commanders.  These commanders, with their years of tactical experience, are crucial to the Taliban’s battlefield strategies, and their loss has significantly affected the Taliban's ability to continue the same level of intensity and effectiveness that characterized their campaigns from 2009-2011.

Read more: Good Report from Afghanistan

Not I

19 June 2012

Through the years there has been a constant barrage of people misquoting me.  They might say, “Last week on CNN you said…”  And I was in some war zone at the time and nowhere near a television interview.  But then it gets picked up, and bloggers do the he-said, she-said, and soon it becomes an erroneous article of faith that I said or wrote something.

Most times, these incidents appear to be honest mistakes.  On other occasions, people have set up fake websites pretending to be me. Just this week, Facebook was alerted to a page using my photo and my name, and the imposter posted as though he were me.  A fake Skype account exists using my name, and it is very similar to my genuine account.  One can only speculate about how much mayhem has been attempted with masquerading email accounts.

Consider this recent message:

Read more: Not I

Angels Over Afghanistan

photo-1000F/A-18C Hornet named after SPC Chazray Clark

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17 June 2012

The US Navy has named an F/A-18C Hornet after Specialist Chazray Clark, who was killed in action last September in Afghanistan.  The jet bearing Chazray’s name is now flying combat operations over Afghanistan and may well be fighting as you read this.

Much of the air support in Afghanistan comes from the Navy.   F/A-18 Hornets launch from aircraft carriers, and they make their way over Pakistan to landlocked Afghanistan where they provide air support for troops below.  The days and flights are long.  After launching from the pitching deck in the Arabian Sea, they fly over to Afghanistan and conduct multiple midair refueling cycles from American and NATO tanker aircraft to provide troops with airborne artillery on call.  When the call does come, they drop their bombs with pinpoint accuracy and shoot their cannons, even during the night with Night Vision Goggles.  Many times, they don’t fire a shot during a mission but provide reassurance to the Soldiers and Marines that if they need to call, the Hornets are only minutes away. After the mission is complete or they are “Winchester” they make the long trip back to the carrier, never having touched down in Afghanistan.

Read more: Angels Over Afghanistan

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