The Military

Semper fi — but not for Gen. James Amos

It’s time that President Obama fire Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos for insubordination.

Amos is way out of line in his opposition to repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

After all, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs says it’s time to end the policy. So does the secretary of Defense. And the commander in chief. That’s not just official administration policy, that’s official military policy, which Amos is bound by oath to obey and follow.


Military deserves action on 'Don't ask, don't tell'

There are reasonable views on both sides of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy debate. The Pentagon is advocating repeal of the 17-year-old law since a recent study suggested the effect of repeal would be positive, mixed or have no effect at all. Opponents are concerned not only about opposition to repeal from those serving in combat units, but also question why the study the Pentagon conducted on this issue not only did not ask whether men and women serving in the armed forces support repeal (only whether it would be disruptive) and why its findings are based on a 28 percent response rate.
At this point there may not even be enough time to debate DADT, with the tax cut debate unresolved and the Obama administration's push to prioritize the ratification of the new START treaty before other legislative business. Yet the GOP leadership still got 42 signatures on a letter this week promising to filibuster anything until the tax cut question is resolved. Fine. But when that is over, the U.S. Senate owes the military a vote on DADT. Why? Because the Department of Defense is asking for it.


Supporting veterans every day

6a00d834fd816853ef0133f1dd84fd970b-320wi OK, we're hearing a lot of good stuff (today) on Veterans Day, but what's really needed is real stuff to support vets every day.

Here's a lot of effective stuff.

Focus on the real down-to-earth stuff, like jobs for vets, better support for PTSD and TBI, and building a network of veterans' service organizations (VSOs).


Show support for troops with the Iraq and Afghanistan Vets of America

Fbapplaunch Hey, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America get real stuff done for vets, like educational and medical benefits.

They encourage you to join a vets march if one's near you, but you can also show your support on Facebook by using their app, which joins them in a weeklong virtual march. It sets your Facebook status to genuinely support the troops each day, like:

I don't know, but I've been told, your Facebook status is worth more than gold. March online with IAVA to honor the service of new vets and show them you've got their back.

Beyond that, IAVA provides real help for the troops every day of the year, which we all gotta do more of.

Disclaimer: I've joined their board, in part since they get stuff done.

To get started, check out their app here...


Washington rules

Andrew J. Bacevich’s publisher should send a copy of his Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War to President Obama, so important is his message and so authoritative his brief. His realistic and reflective thesis is that during the past half century and to the present day the United States has pursued a flawed foreign policy based on a triad of questionable premises — the need for global presence, the projection of power, and the need for self-determined interventionism. Rationalized upon varying claimed provocations — the Cold War, dominoes of creeping communism in Asia, international terrorism — this triad invariably has led us into failed and very costly misadventures. The triad has been propagated by the military officer corps, the permanent foreign policy establishment in government and in think tanks, and their complementary corporate contractor sponsors. It has governed Republican and Democratic administrations, conservative and liberal governments, and has cost the country dearly in lives and treasure. This good versus evil policy — like evangelical religious crusades — has afflicted humankind in the names of peace and democracy. Packaged as righteous patriotism that makes critics appear weak and faithless, this credo has monopolized modern presidents, most recently inhibiting President Obama’s ability to fix Cleveland and Detroit rather than Baghdad and Kabul, to use Professor Bacevich’s metaphor.


Fired for honoring a U.S. soldier and son

They say bad things happen in threes. If that’s true, then the third incident of nannyism occurred over the weekend.

First there was the odd and sad case of a citizen whose house was allowed to burn down as firefighters stood around with their hands in their pockets because the homeowner failed to pay a $75 “fire tax.” Then came the sacking of journalist Juan Williams by “thought police” NPR for his candid (and true) views on how Americans feel when boarding planes.


Afghanistan and the fog of war

A comely 36-year-old British aid worker, photographed in the romantic poppy fields of Afghanistan, kidnapped by the Taliban. Killed by one of her captors in a suicide vest as a crack team of U.S. Navy Seals stages a rescue mission in the dead of night. You can almost hear the Hollywood cameras rolling.

Because the circumstances of the death of Linda Norgrove are a work of fiction. It was the first version offered to the media by “NATO sources” over the weekend before a second was presented yesterday by the British prime minister, David Cameron. He told reporters in London that Dr. Norgrove “could have died as a result of a grenade detonated by the task force during the assault.” It could be that the investigation will show that the aid worker was not even held by the Taliban, but by a criminal group negotiating a ransom.


Public service

That Americans are dangerously disconnected from their military representatives is an interesting — quite accurate — comment, all the more interesting when the comment comes from the secretary of Defense.

That is the message Robert M. Gates delivered to a Duke University audience a few nights ago. Secretary Gates is the head of the military cadre he complained was cut off from the politics and culture of the country it serves, according to a press account of the speech. The few (less than 1 percent of the population) who have fought our wars are distant from their countrymen since we abolished the draft in 1970. Military service is “something for other people to do.” Our all-volunteer military force has served the country in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade, longer than any sustained combat in our country’s history.


They can’t be serious

Both sides of the aisle like to talk up how much they “love the troops” more than the other side, but yesterday was a perfect example of how politicians prefer political one-upmanship to learning about the needs and plans for the future of our armed forces.

Gen. James Amos, the new commandant of the Marine Corps, spent the day answering senators' questions about gays in the military rather than more pressing questions like: how he will lead the Marines? What will the Marines’ role be post-Iraq and -Afghanistan? How will he handle the transition back to the service’s traditional seaborne role?