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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Aerial Traffic Control Mission

Two Longbow Apaches, from the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, provide air support during an aerial traffic control point mission near Tal Afar, Iraq, July 2, 2006. The ground unit is from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Rodney Medley, Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, exits a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an aerial traffic control point mission near Tal Afar, Iraq, on July 2, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

U.S. Army Capt. Derrick Draper exits a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an aerial traffic control point mission near Tal Afar, Iraq, on July 2, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

U.S. Army Spc. Brad Clark provides perimeter security during a vehicle search near Tal Afar, Iraq, July 10, 2006. Clark is a combat medic with the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

An Iraqi woman waits as her car is searched by soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team during an aerial traffic control point mission near Tal Afar, Iraq, July 2, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

Members of Bravo Company, 4-23 Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, search a vehicle during an aerial traffic control point mission near Tal Afar, Iraq, on July 2, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

Iraqi men wait as their car is searched by soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team during an aerial traffic control point mission near Tal Afar, Iraq, July 2, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

U.S. Army soldiers from Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, walk on the flight line before an aerial traffic control point mission near Tal Afar, Iraq, on July 2, 2006. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

My Two Cents: No Mercy

Worst case scenario, we're looking at World War III here.

Best case scenario, we're looking in a battle of World War III here.

Let's face it, we're IN World War III - it's just that there are a lot of people who don't seem to get that.

[Note 7/16: As some have pointed out, the Cold War is often referred to as WWIII, which would put us at WWIV. Not sure I agree with that, but I'm willing to concede the point. -- P.]

The War on Terror, as I've said before, isn't a theoretical one. It isn't a catch phrase. It's real. Muslim extremism is a threat to the entire world - not just the western world. Muslim terrorists are responsible for the deaths of innocents on a daily basis - as of this post, more than 5,358 documented attacks since 9/11.

And nowhere has that conflict been highlighted in the past several decades than Israel. It never ceases to amaze me that the entire world seems to want to blame Israel for defending its right to exist. Then again, maybe not such a surprise - they do the same to us. Heck, even our own legislators do the same to us.

I will grant that the way Israel was initially created was not ideal. But then again, neither was World War II. The fact is, they're here. Talking heads, from our Arab "friends," to the Pope, to the UN, to the EU, to nutcases like Ahmadinejad, are condeming Israel for defending itself. As they always have. Israel is a convenient target in a world that decries condeming all Muslims for the actions of an "exremist few," but is all too willing to condemn Israelis for self-defense, to ignore anti-semitism. After all, it's not their problem, is it?

Let's not forget we recently had two soldiers abducted, too. We know what the score is. What would we be willing to do in defense of our heroes? Then again, maybe it's best not to answer that question, because in the present climate, there are some who would argue with the US' right to defend its soldiers, too.

The world has largely thought of conflict in the Gaza strip and West Bank as something that was Israel's problem. Arab nations, while quick to defend the Palestinians when it suits their purposes, are conveniently ignoring one basic fact - they sure as heck don't want the Palestinians in THEIR lands. They have, in fact, outright refused to provide sanctuary for them. Truth is, the Palestinians are seen by their Arab "brothers" in the same type of light as Gypsies in Europe. They're around, but no one really wants to see them. They're part of society, but not a welcome one. And they are merely a convenient route to condeming Israel, the US, and anyone that doesn't think the way the Arab nations do.

I have not always agreed with Israel's tactics. But let's consider what they've been saying, and what they've been doing, in light of events of recent years. Who's right in this situation?

Israel was shouting to the rafters that Arafat was not doing what he could to stop terrorism, that in fact, he was giving orders out of one side of his mouth, while touting peace with the other. Liberal US Presidents were heralded as a hero for work to bring peace to the area - for short periods of time. It always failed. And the "peace" was accomplished by ignoring what Israel knew, what the world would eventually know too. Israel was right.

Israel said the world just did not know what it was dealing with. Muslim extremism was a grave danger, and groups like Hamas were a world problem, not an Israeli problem. That the only language these people understood was violence. Right again.

Israel consistently modified its policies when pressed by the US and others. Israel would pull back from military action, come to the table again and again, negotiate with the very people that were murdering its citizens on a regular basis. Even when past cease-fires had failed. Even when threats were issued. Even when people died. When US troops were in Iraq, and Israel was threatened with a missile attack - and then indeed, attacked, they responded that they would use all available means, including nuclear, to defend themselves. In response to the US' concerns, they agreed to use a missile defense system to defend themselves instead. Israel decided that being an ally meant respecting the needs of your ally in wartime. Right again.

They pulled out of the Gaza Strip in an effort to compromise, though they told the world that this would not bring peace. They warned of escalation when terrorism became a form of government. They warned that this would not bring peace, either. They waited, quietly, while Hamas issued its usual doublespeak, "Wipe Israel off the face of the earth" - "We will negotiate" - "Attacks will not stop" - "We will co-exist." They waited, and they cautioned that the leopard had not changed its spots. They waited while Iran stated a governmental policy of desiring Israel wiped off the map. They advised that Iran and Syria were directly supporting terrorism, and that Lebanon was the puppet of terrorists. They warned that a storm was coming. Right again.

Israel knows Hezbollah better than anyone else in the world. But lest we forget, the US should know them too. Do you remember?

Israel has EVERY RIGHT to defend itself. It needs no one's permission to do so. It has EVERY RIGHT to pursue the recovery of its captured Soldiers. It is combatting terrorists, and isn't that what we're supposed to be doing? What most of the WORLD has acknowledged needs to be done? Israel is fighting on another front on the War on Terror. It is not talking. It is not compromising. It is not waiting - not anymore. Israel knows the time for action has come. Right again.

Israel knows what Hezbollah is capable of. Do you remember what they are capable of?

Hezbollah has declared open war against Israel. Iran has said that an attack on Syria is an attack on Islam - basically, "Hit them, and we're in." Then again, they're in already. Iran founded Hezbollah. Remember who they are yet?

I remember. And that is why if I could, I would send Israel 242 brass plates, to be affixed to munitions bound for Hezbollah targets. Or better yet, bombs themselves - with plates.

One would say the following:

In memory of SW-2 Robert Dean Stethem, USN

The other 241 would bear the names of servicemembers too - 220 of them US Marines; the rest Army and Navy.

Israel, a consistent, valued US ally, is simply taking a lesson from a familiar US military motto: No better friend, no worse enemy.

Israel does not owe Hezbollah any mercy.

Neither do we.

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Soldiers Recall Actions After IED Detonation

From left, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Meyer, mortar section sergeant, 1st Sgt. James Westover, Spc. Brian Stout, combat medic and Sgt. Percell Phillips, .50 cal. gunner, all of 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, were together on patrol when their humvee was struck by an improvised-explosive device causing the vehicle to rollover. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Paul David Ondik

Humvee was struck by an improvised-explosive device, while on patrol, causing the vehicle to rollover.

By U.S. Army Pfc. Paul Ondik
4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq, July 14, 2006 — “I looked across the vehicle, which was now upside-down,” recalled the soldier. “My gunner was actually pinned between the gun and the roof from the dog tags up. My door was blown open.”

It was a scene straight out of a soldier’s nightmare, but it is exactly what happened to the humvee 1st Sgt. James Westover, Troop B first sergeant, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was riding in May 19 in Salman Pak.

On the way from an Iraqi council meeting to another objective, his three-vehicle convoy was hit by an improvised-explosive device made from high-caliber artillery rounds.

“It was in kind of slow-motion,” said Westover. “There was smoke and glass flying everywhere. The driver’s side window flew through the vehicle and hit the (communications) equipment and hit me in the shoulder. I looked and we were slowly gliding forward to go off of the embankment.”

"It was in kind of slow-motion. There was smoke and glass flying everywhere."

Sgt. James Westover

The concussion from the blast of the IED had knocked the driver unconscious. The vehicle overturned as it was blown off the road.

“We were up-side down,” Westover said. With his driver unconscious and Sgt. Percell Phillips, his gunner, incapacitated, Westover scrambled to exit the vehicle and assessed the situation. “We thought the gunner was in the worst shape,” said Westover. “It turns out that he didn’t even have a scratch. Then we started looking at the driver”

The blast of the IED had actually blown the door of the vehicle inside of its seams. The driver was trapped in his seat and injured.

Westover and Spc. Brian Stout, a combat medic, who had been sitting behind Westover in the vehicle, worked on the driver.

The other soldier that had been in the vehicle, Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Meyers, mortar section sergeant, had no major injuries. New to the unit, he was riding along to familiarize himself with the unit and its area of operations.

Westover would find out later that his wrist had been broken in the attack.

“I don’t think I paid any attention to the injury,” said Westover. “When the adrenaline gets going, you don’t really notice it until later, but I did have a cast for a couple of weeks.”

The situation was nothing new to Stout.

“I’ve been in convoys that have been hit with IEDs a couple of times, but this was the first one to hit my vehicle,” Stout said.

Westover, who received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor device for his actions, was very happy with the job his troops did.

“Everyone’s reaction was just like a battle drill,” said Westover. “From the medic on up to the rest of the crew, everyone just reacted – no one had to give them guidance. People were automatically going into search mode, security mode and recovery mode.”

After the driver was evacuated, Westover stayed back to help recover the vehicle.
Soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team fire an illumination flare from their Stryker vehicle in an effort to expose terrorists planting roadside bombs in Mosul, Iraq. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Lock.

In Today's News - Saturday, July 15, 2006

Quote of the Day
"The citizen who is a Soldier has to do more for the nation than other citizens because the citizens of America count on them to defend her and make sure that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed for all Americans."
-- Coalition Joint Task Force-76 Commander Maj. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, to Soldiers during a naturalization ceremony for them July 4, 2006 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Gunmen abduct 50 people - Video
Eleven Wounded by Mortar Strike

Operation Enduring Freedom
Coalition Takes Measures to Protect Afghan Villagers

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Israel pounds Lebanon - Video
Israeli Navy seeks four missing sailors from warship struck by Hezbollah (reportedly, they have found two of the four, KIA, in the damaged ship)
Photo Essay: Lebanon Offensive Rages
Photo Essay: Violence Consumes Middle East
Bush Scalds Hezbollah; Putin Urges Even Israeli Force
Israeli Military Says Missile Not Drone Struck Warship
Iran: Israel Can't Hurt Us
Video: Beirut Strike
Video: Cutting Off Lebanon
Hole Punched in Gaza Gate
Video: Gaza Border Tumult
Video: Gaza Airstrikes
Israel, Lebanon Trade Blame At U.N. Security Council
Video: Security Council Meets
Dow Down 400 in 3 Days
Oil Closes at Record $77.03
Bush Rejects Cease-Fire Call
Chavez: U.S. Support of Israel is Leading to World Holocaust
Israel targets Hezbollah in south Beirut
Bush blames Hezbollah for Mideast violence
Video: Henry Kissinger
Video: Benjamin Netanyahu
Video: Israeli Consul General
Airline shares off on Mideast conflict
Suspicious object delays Japan flight in Chicago

Immigration / Border Control
Calif. gov. chides Congress on border woes

Worldwide Wackos
UN may be close to deal on N.Korea resolution - Video

Politics / Government
Dems Pull Casket Ad (HOOAH, seriously, to the Dems for doing the right thing)
Bush, Putin lift G8 summit with nuclear deal
Bush, Putin announce global nuclear terror plan
No final deal on Russia WTO entry bid -- U.S
Frist sees stem cell Senate win, politics uncertain
G-8 leaders discuss crisis in Middle East
Hillary has more than $22M in war chest

In the Courts
Missouri, judge at odds over executions

Media in the Media
Mag Runs Pic of Diana Dying
NY Times letter had powder, own editorial - Video
Chicago Tribune to cut 4 percent of workforce

Hurricane Season / Wild Weather / Mother Nature
Firefighters Make Progress in California Wildfire- Video: State of Emergency
Heat, winds challenge Calif. firefighters
Pitt shocked by post-Katrina devastation

News from My Neck of the Woods
Inspectors find more flaws in Boston's "Big Dig" - Video
Gov. takes control of Big Dig inspections

Woman Who Asked 911 for 'Cutie' Cop Faces Charges
Video: Dating Emergency
Jury Gives Jacko, Adviser Money in Split Decision
Cannabis plants removed from Berlin foster home
Prosecutor: 'Juggalos' behind park attacks
Fla. authorities begin gator-feeding sting

Other News of Note
Carbon Monoxide Leak in Dorm Kills 1, Injures Dozens
Exiles concerned over U.S. plans in Cuba

Fox News
Shuttle Crew Monitoring Hydraulic Power-Supply Leak
Mount St. Helens Being Reopened to Hikers
Panamanians to Vote on Widening Canal
Ex-Teacher Gets 7 Years in Student Sex Case

Reuters: Top News
Discovery leaves space station - Video
US drivers avoid premium gasoline to cut costs
Samsung's NV3 lets users point, click, rock out
Blood test may find early lung cancer: study
Pre-term births are up but fewer newborns die
GM, Renault-Nissan start 90-day study of alliance
Ex-Merrill banker pleads guilty to insider trading
British bankers plead not guilty in Enron case
Lexapro patent win sends Forest shares surging
Netia cuts sales forecast for 2006
Defense stocks attract as global conflicts heat up
Home-builder shares fall after Horton warns
Lexapro patent win sends Forest shares surging
Lula: 'No reason to change' policies
FactBox: What's at stake in Brazil election
On the Radar: Choice Hotels
Gerstein: No comfort on radio valuations

AP World News
FDA panel recommends against 'bionic eye'
Tour de France still anybody's race
Bonds may be indicted within week
Date with Jessica Biel to be auctioned
Phoenix killings spark serial killer scare
Mourners pack funeral for 4 Mo. siblings
Obituaries in the news
Ill. police sergeant charged with 4 rapes
Murder-suicide ruled out in hiking deaths
Man charged with kidnapping, molestation
Guard Will Meet Deadline
Ex-Rumsfeld Aide Tapped for NATO Command

CENTCOM: News Releases






Department of Defense
Coalition, Iraqis Capture, Kill Terrorists - Story
For More Top News Visit DefenseLink

Iraqi Forces Assume Security Responsibility - Story
Tactical Operations Center Runs 24/7 - Story

New Yorkers Take Over Helicopter Squadron
Air Force Security Forces Complete Tour
Jazz Club Offers Solace for Combat Marines

'Ammo' Airmen Arm Bagram's Warfighters
Troops Coordinate Delivery of Supplies
Reconstruction Team Molds Afghan Police

Renewal In Iraq
Iraq: Security, Stability
Fact Sheet: Progress and Work Ahead
Report: Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq (PDF)
Multinational Force Iraq
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (PDF)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Weekly Reconstruction Report (PDF)
Iraq Reconstruction

Afghanistan Update

Fact Sheet: Budget Request
Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Officials Identify Army Casualties - Story

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut
An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul


Today in History
1410 - Poland and Lithuania defeat the Teutonic Knights at Tannenberg.
1815 - Napoleon Bonaparte is captured.
1864 - A train carrying Confederate prisoners collides with a coal train; of the over 950 people aboard, 65 are killed and 109.
1869 - In Paris, margarine is patented for use by the French Navy.
1870 - Georgia becomes the last confederate state readmitted to the U.S.
1888 - In Japan, the Bandai volcano erupts for the first time in a thousand years.
1904 - In Los Angeles, the first Buddhist temple in the U.S. is established.
1918 - The Second Battle of the Marne begins.
1922 - The first publicly exhibited duck-billed platypus in the U.S. makes its debut at the publicly exhibited in US, at NY Zoo.
1937 - The Japanese attack Marco Polo Bridge, invading China.
1944 - The Greenwich Observatory is damaged by a bomb.
1952 - The first transatlantic helicopter flight begins.
1954 - The first U.S.-built commercial jet transport plane (a Boeing 707) is tested.
1958 - President Eisenhower sends U.S. troops to Lebanon, where they stay for three months.
1965 - American scientists display close-up photos of Mars, taken by Mariner IV.
1971 - President Nixon announces his plan to visit the People's Repubic of China.
1975 - Soyuz 19 and Apollo 18 are launched; they rendezvous two days later.
1983 - Armenian extremists bomb Orly Airport in France, killing 8 and wounding 54.
1987 - John Poindexter testifies at the Iran-Contra hearings.
1991 - U.S. troops leave northern Iraq.

1606 - Rembrandt van Rijn Leiden, painter (Night Watch)
1902 - Jean Rey Belgium, president of the European Commission
1945 - Gene Upshaw, offensive tackle (Oakland Raiders)
1960 - Kim Alexis, model (Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover)

1869 - A. J. Hayne, African-American Captain of the Arkansas Militia, assassinated
1881 - William Bonney / Henry McCarty ("Billy the Kid"), killed by Pat Garrett
1948 - John J. Persing, U.S. General

Reported Missing in Action
Connell, James Joseph, USN (DE); A4E shot down, died in captivity, likely due to maltreatment - remains returned March, 1974

Dennis, Mark V., USN (OH); CH46A shot down; not on official DIA list.

Cassell, Robin B., USN (AZ); A1H shot down, KIA, body not recovered

Bird, Leonard Adrian, USMC (DE); F4B shot down, KIA, body not recovered

James, Gobel D., USAF (OK); F105F shot down, released by DRV March, 1973 - alive and well as of 1998

Martin, Larry E., USAF (KS); F105F shot down, remains returned July, 1989 / ID'd November, 1989

Polster, Harmon, USAF (OH); F4D shot down over Laos

Walker, Michael S., USAF (LA); F4D shot down over Laos

Taylor, Ted J., US Army (SC); AH1B crashed, drowned during rescue attempt