Right Wing Terp

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hero of the Week: LTC Joe Jackson

This week's hero is Air Force LTC Joe Jackson. He was introduced before today's Seahawk game, which was really cool. It's not every day you can see a living, breathing Medal of Honor winner, especially considering that all the most recent winners have been awarded the Medal posthumously. LTC Jackson earned his Medal of Honor in Vietnam, the details follow, thanks to www.medalofhonor.com:

On May 12, a heavy fog hung over the camp, obscuring enemy movements in the surrounding hills. An Army CH-47 helicopter and two Air Force C-130s tried to land and takeoff with personnel, but were disabled by enemy fire. One C-130 burst into flames at the end of the runway, killing the crew and more than 150 Vietnamese civilians. Finally, a C-130 was able to land and takeoff with some passengers.That afternoon, a C-123 took off from Da Nang, bound for Kham Duc. Jackson was at the controls, along with Maj. Jesse Campbell, Tech. Sgt. Edward Trejo and Staff Sgt. Manson Grubbs, his crew. As he circled at 9,000 feet in a holding pattern, the scene below was one of increasing devastation as the Viet Cong moved closer to the camp's 4,000-foot airstrip.Hostile forces had overrun the forward outpost and established gun positions on the airstrip. They were raking the camp with small arms, mortars and automatic weapons. The camp was engulfed in flames and ammunition dumps were exploding and littering the runway with debris. In addition, eight aircraft had been destroyed by the intense fire and one remained on the runway, reducing its usable length to only about 2,200 feet. To further complicate the landing, the weather was deteriorating rapidly. As the last C-130 was about to takeoff with the last of the men on the ground aboard, the airborne commander ordered jet fighters circling overhead to descend and destroy the camp. It looked as if Jackson's aircraft wasn't going to be needed in the rescue attempt. But then the radio crackled, informing them that the three-man combat control team, in charge of directing the evacuation, was still on the ground. As they searched the camp for anyone who had been left behind, they realized they were the only ones left.One C-123 attempted to land, but enemy fire intensified and it was forced to accelerate for take off without finding the men. Jackson and his crew began their dive from 9,000 feet at a rate of almost 4,000 feet per minute. Jackson realized that if he reversed his propellers to stop the aircraft, he would shut off the two auxiliary engines he needed for a quick escape. Instead, he jammed on the brakes and skidded halfway down the runway. As it turned in the direction to be able to take off, the three men jumped from a culvert next to the runway and leaped into the open cargo door in the rear. At that moment, from the edge of the runway came a 122 mm rocket, fired from just outside the perimeter. The men watched as the shell skidded along the asphalt, broke in half and stopped only 10 meters from the plane. It did not explode. Jackson taxied around the shell and applied full power, taking off under heavy fire from the hills on either side. The plane had been on the ground at Kham Duc for less than a minute.

Check out his official citation here. You'll find his name third from the bottom.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hostage rescue in Afghanistan

This is really cool. You've got to read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:
Meanwhile, at a base in Afghanistan, the task force was planning an operation to free the American captive. But although hostage rescue falls squarely within the mission profile of the units that comprised the task force, any operation to liberate him promised to be extremely demanding.
“Although these men are combat-tested and have executed literally hundreds of kill/capture missions, hostage rescue is completely different,” the special operations officer said. “The pucker factor is significantly higher.”

and just a little more to whet your appetite for badassness:
One of the commandos tossed a pebble against the hut’s tin door — a traditional way visitors announce their arrival in rural Afghanistan.
The rattle of the stone against the door failed to rouse the guards. “They were both zipped up inside their sleeping bags, sleeping,” one behind the hostage on the floor of the darkened hut and the other outside, the engineer said. But their prisoner was awake and suddenly alert.

Like I said, read the whole thing. It's cool. When I was in the Army I had the good fortune to work with special forces operators. Talking to these guys in person, you'd never know that their day job is to go out and conduct movie-like almost unreal-seeming missions. It does indeed take a special breed to pull these things off.

For additional reading, the author of story, Sean Naylor, wrote an excellent book about Operation Anaconda. 'Not A Good Day To Die' is available on Amazon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Who makes up the next generation?

In the wake of the sweeping Democratic triumph last Tuesday, the Republican party finds itself in transition. After two losing elections in a row, the time has come for fresh new leadership in the Republican party and not just a reshuffling of the deck. With President Bush on the way out and John McCain soundly defeated, the party has no true leader. Many columns have been written about the course the GOP needs to chart to avoid being permanently reduced to a minority party. I'm not going to get into all that, as I recall similar things being said about the Democratic party following the 2004 elections. Considering that in two months Barack Obama will be sworn in and will have Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, I'd say those concerns are reactionary and overblown. This is not to say the GOP will quickly come back to power. That will require strong leadership, winning strategies and, above all, effective candidates.

It is the candidates this post will focus on. Barack Obama will be the first sitting senator to assume the Presidency since JFK Jr. There is a reason for this. The country generally likes to elect governors, as running a state is closer to the responsibilities of running the nation than being one of a deliberative body of 100. It is for this reason that I am going to focus on the Republican governors in an attempt to identify the next top level leaders of the GOP.

The nation currently has 21 Republican governors. They are:
Alabama - Bob Riley, term limited in 2010
Alaska - Sarah Palin, up for reelection in 2010
California - Arnold Schwarznegger, term limited in 2010
Connecticut - Jodi Rell, up for reelection in 2010
Florida - Charlie Crist, up for reelection in 2010
Georgia - Sonny Perdue, term limited in 2010
Hawaii - Linda Lingle, term limited in 2010
Idaho - Butch Otter, up for reelection in 2010
Indiana - Mitch Daniels, up for reelection in 2012
Lousiana - Bobby Jindal, up for reelection in 2011
Minnesota - Tim Pawlenty, up for reelection in 2010
Mississippi - Haley Barbour, term limited in 2011
Nebraska - Dave Heineman, up for reelection in 2010
Nevada - Jim Gibbons, up for reelection in 2010
North Dakota - John Hoeven, up for reelection in 2012
Rhode Island - Don Carcieri, term limited in 2010
South Carolina - Mark Sanford, term limited in 2010
South Dakota - Mike Rounds, term limited in 2010
Texas - Rick Perry, up for reelection in 2010
Utah - John Huntsman, Jr., up for reelection in 2012
Vermont - John Douglas, up for reelection in 2010

Some of these are already big names (Palin, Jindal, to a lesser extent Pawlenty, Sanford and Barbour) some are not viable presidential candidates (Schwarzenegger, Lingle, Rell) and most of them fall into some middle category.

After adjusting for age, I've narrowed the list to ten governors who I think are potential party leaders. The top tier consists of Govs. Palin (AK) and Jindal (LA). The second tier is made up of Govs. Pawlenty (MN), Sanford (SC), Crist (FL) and Barbour (MS). The third tier includes Govs. Mitch Daniels (IN), John Hoeven (ND), Mike Rounds (SD) and John Huntsman Jr. (UT).

I'll take a deeper look at these three tiers of governors in future posts.

So it's been a week...

... since Barack Obama became the President-elect. Here's how some in the world greeted and congratulated his victory:
MOSCOW, Nov. 5 -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned in a nationally televised address Wednesday that he will deploy short-range missiles near Poland capable of striking NATO territory if the new Obama administration presses ahead with plans to build a missile defense shield in Europe.
The threat, which came just hours after the conclusion of the U.S. election, appeared intended to signal Moscow's priorities to the American president-elect. It could present an early foreign policy test for Barack Obama, who says he supports a missile defense system against Iran but has also accused the Bush administration of exaggerating the system's capabilities and rushing deployment for political purposes.
CHICAGO President-elect Barack Obama's private conversation with Poland's president created an international disagreement Saturday, with President Lech Kaczynski saying Mr. Obama promised to continue a missile-defense system and the transition office saying the Democrat made no such commitment.
I'd say there's a good chance both of those guys saw this video at some point.

And in Afghanistan....
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday that his first demand of the new U.S. administration will be "no civilian casualties in Afghanistan."

Karzai made an appeal to U.S. election winner Obama.

He spoke as the U.S. military in Afghanistan announced a joint investigation with the Afghan government into reports that a U.S. airstrike this week killed 35 civilians, including women and children.
"We cannot win the fight against terrorism with airstrikes and battles in Afghanistan's villages," Karzai said. "This is our first and main demand, to stop civilian casualties."
Gee, perhaps President Karzai is aware that Obama said this during the primary?

And on the home front:
The true extent of the problems President-elect Barack Obama faces were laid bare in two separate reports on the state of the job market.
The so-called non-farm payroll report – basically a take on the service sector – showed that 240,000 jobs were lost last month, some 40,000 more than economists had been expecting.
This is the 10th month in a row that jobs have declined, pushing total job losses for the year to 1.2m.
The report also revised September’s figure downwards, to 284,000, the biggest monthly fall since November 2001, and down from the original 159,000 loss figure first estimated in October.

Welcome to the Presidency, Mr. Obama. You used to call these kinds of things "talking points." Now? You call them "responsibilities." Blaming Bush won't work like it did during the campaign, these are your issues to make decisions about now. I didn't vote for you and I don't like you, but as an American I hope you make nothing but correct choices. You asked for the Presidency and now you've got it. Here's hoping you know what to do!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

This Week's Hereos: MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shugart

This week's American heroes are Master Sergeant Gary Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randall Shugart. These brave heroes died during Operation Gothic Serpent, the mission to apprehend Somali warlord Mohammad Farah Aidid. The book and movie "Black Hawk Down" depicted the ferocious fighting that took the lives of these fine men. The following info is taken from Wikipedia:

Gary Gordon was born in Lincoln, Maine in 1960. He graduated from Mattanawcook Academy in 1978. Gordon joined the service at age 17. While serving in the U.S. Army, Gordon earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Ranger tab and the Special Forces tab. He served with the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Special Forces Group before being chosen to join the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1SFOD-D), or "Delta Force" as a sniper.

Randy Shughart was born on August 13, 1958 in Lincoln, Nebraska into an Air Force family. His father, Herbert Shughart, was stationed nearby. The Shughart’s moved to Newville, Pennsylvania after Herb left the Air Force, living on and tending a dairy farm. Randy joined the Army while attending Big Spring High School in Newville, entering upon graduation. After Basic Training, he successfully completed AIT (Advanced Individual Training), Airborne School, and was assigned to the decorated 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Infantry (Airborne), at Fort Lewis, Washington. The 2/75th is now part of the 75th Ranger Regiment. Several months later he completed a pre-ranger course (replaced by the Ranger Indoctrination Program in use today), was granted a slot to attend Ranger School and earned the coveted black and gold Ranger Tab. After leaving the Service and reenlisting again for the rangers, Shughart was later assigned to Delta Force and was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

During the assault, Super Six One, one of the Army's Black Hawk helicopters providing insertion and air support to the assault team, was shot down and had crashed in the city. A Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) team was dispatched to the first crash site to secure it. Shortly thereafter, Super Six Four was shot down as well. Ranger forces on the ground were not able to assist the downed helicopter crew of the second crash site as they were already engaged in heavy combat with Aidid's militia and making their way to the first crash site.

Gordon and his Delta Force sniper teammates Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart and Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings who were providing sniper cover from the air, requested to be dropped at the second crash site in order to protect the four critically wounded crew, despite the fact that large numbers of armed, hostile Somalis were converging on the area.

Mission commanders denied Gordon's request, saying that the situation was already too dangerous for the three Delta snipers to effectively protect the Blackhawk crew from the ground. Command's position was that the snipers could be of more assistance by continuing to provide air cover. Gordon, however, concluded that there was no way for the Black Hawk crew could survive on their own, and repeated his request twice until he finally received permission. Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings had assumed control of a minigun after a crew chief was injured and was not inserted with Shughart and Gordon.

Once on the ground, Gordon and Shughart, armed with only their personal weapons and sidearms, had to fight their way to the location of the downed Blackhawk. By this time more Somalis were arriving who were intent on either capturing or killing the American servicemen. When they reached Super Six Four, Gordon and Shughart extracted the pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant and the other crew members from the aircraft, and established defensive positions around the crash.

Despite having inflicted heavy casualties against the Somalis, the two Delta snipers were too outnumbered and outgunned. Their ammunition nearly depleted, Gordon and Shughart finally were killed by Somali gunfire. It is believed that Gordon was first to be fatally wounded. His teammate Shughart retrieved Gordon's CAR-15 assault rifle and gave it to Durant to use. Shortly after, Shughart was killed and Durant was taken alive. Immediately after the battle, the Somalis counted 24 of their own men dead with many more severely wounded who may have died later of their wounds.

Here's the movie clip depicting their heroism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ86wP-1aD8

Take a moment to read their Medal of Honor Citation.

May God bless their souls.

Good News From The Front Lines

Conservatives and Republicans (no, the words don't always mean the same thing) everywhere are feeling down in the wake of Barack Obama's ascension to the presidency, as well as the expanded House and Senate majorities Democrats will enjoy in Congress. Never fear, there is good news to be found! Check out the following stories, both from The Long War Journal:

October 27, 2008: Al Qaeda leader Abu Ghadiya was killed in yesterday's strike inside Syria, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. But US special operations forces also inflicted a major blow to al Qaeda's foreign fighter network based in Syria. The entire senior leadership of Ghadiya's network was also killed in the raid, the official stated.
Ghadiya was the leader of al Qaeda extensive network that funnels foreign fighters, weapons, and cash from Syria into Iraq along the entire length of the Syrian border. Ghadiya was first identified as the target of the raid inside Syria late last night here at The Long War Journal. The Associated Press reported Ghadiya was killed in the raid earlier today. Several US helicopters entered the town of town of Sukkariya near Abu Kamal in eastern Syria, just five miles from the Iraqi border. US commandos from the hunter-killer teams of Task Force 88 assaulted the buildings sheltering Ghadiya and his staff.

Got that? U.S. terrorist hunters conducted a cross-border raid into Syria, long known as a safe haven for al Qaeda operatives. Reread this sentence again: The entire senior leadership of Ghadiya's network was also killed in the raid. I'd call that a successful strike by the good guys. I'd also say we're really receiving good intelligence on al Qaeda activities, be it from detainees, local nationals, moles inside the AQ camp or the Syrian government itself.

Good news, right? Well check this story out from the notoriously troublesome Waziristan area of Pakistan:

November 1, 2008: Reports from Pakistan indicate a senior al Qaeda leader was killed in yesterday's airstrike in North Waziristan.
Mohammad Khalil Hasan al Hakaymah, who is better known as Abu Jihad al Masri, is thought to have been killed in an airstrike that targeted a vehicle outside of Mir Ali in North Waziristan, AFP reported.
"The strike was aimed at a vehicle carrying Abu Jihad and two others," senior Pakistani security official told AFP. "The target was successfully hit and all three people were killed."

Think about that for a second. Allow me to direct your attention to this: the target was killed in an airstrike that targeted a vehicle outside of Mir Ali. It wasn't an airstrike that hit a few buildings that were believed to be hosting a high level meeting. The missiles hit the guy's car! I don't pretend to know what vehicle traffic is like in and around Mir Ali, but in order for us to hit the correct car while the target was inside, someone had to let us know he was indeed inside his car and on the move. Once again, this demostrates a level of intelligence and penetration of the terrorist world of the Waziristan region that must have the bad guys sleeping with one eye open.
Specifically speaking of Pakistan, there were 10 cross border strikes in 2006 and 2007 combined. Since August 31, 2008 there have been 21 of these such attacks. Hopefully President-elect Obama is being advised that we've really got pressure on these guys. It would be a shame to let up now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Far in the future

January 21, 2032 - Nevada Governor Gloria Pujols (R) became President Pujols as she was inagurated as the nation's 50th president at noon today. President Pujols will extend to 16 years the Republican Party's control of the White House, something that seemed impossible just two years ago. With the nation involved in an unpopular war in India and a scandal-plagued Republican president declining to run for reelection, the election of Sen. Jocelyn Jones (D-FL) was viewed as a mere formality by most pundits. "It's extremely disappointing to lose such a close, hard fought race, but we congratulate President Pujols and will do our best to work with her to better our country," said Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Anthony (D-OR).

Senator Jones, the second African American nominee of a major political party, was viewed as a heavy favorite as late as September. Some political commentators blamed the 274-270 electoral college loss on her shaky performances in the last two presidential debates. Others blamed the selection of running mate Gov. Max Alexis (D-MA), as exit polls indicated his inexperience may have cost the ticket precious points in several swing states. "We really thought the White House was going to be ours again," said NAACP President Alfonzo Thomas. "It was our chance to erase the memories of the Obama administration."

Cornelius Daniel, the nation's leading talk radio host, has a different take. "People don't vote for vice president, and given the political environment the debates shouldn't have made much of a difference. I do blame the Obama administration, but not for the reason you may think."

The fallout from the infamous riots that took place following Barack Obama's 2012 loss to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford are cited as the reason an African American hasn't returned to the presidency. Not so, says Daniel. "The Obama presidency had its problems, certainly. The campaign finance scandal during his second year effectively ruined his term and made it impossible to win reelection. The inner city riots following his loss left a bad taste in the mouths of voters everywhere. We as black people did not handle our first chance in the limelight well."

The real culprit? "Without a doubt, abortion is to blame. The day Obama repealed the Hyde Amendment and signed the Freedom Of Choice Act is the day the black community lost."

Other prominent African Americans agree. "Mr. Daniel is 100% correct," says Eugenia Harris, president of the Black American Southern Revival, an Atlanta-based think tank dedicated to issues affecting the black community. African Americans make up 15% of the population, Hispanics 32%. There have been over 40 million black babies aborted in the last 60 years. The rate skyrocketed following Obama signing the Freedom of Choice Act."

"Imagine what those 40 million babies could have produced," asks Rev. Phillip Griffen, pastor of the New Orleans-based Trinity Church of God and considered the nation's leading African American religious figure. "Those babies would have been mothers and fathers, military and political leaders, pastors and teachers, good solid role models for young black men and women."

"The abortion rate among the white and Hispanic communities is dramatically lower than among ours," says Daniel. "As a black conservative, I didn't support Sen. Jones for president. But with 40 million more blacks among the nation's voters she may well have won the election." Governor Pujols won North Carolina by a razor-thin margin of 788 votes. "It's not too difficult to imagine Senator Jones winning North Carolina, along with a few other states, if our nation was a few percentage points more African American."

Eugenia Harris says the black community ultimately only has itself to blame. "The Obama presidency gave us the opening, we didn't have to walk right through it. He was the most radically pro-abortion candidate ever, so it's no surprise he turned into the most radically pro-abortion President. Removing all restrictions and providing federal funding caused the abortion rate to skyrocket. Looking back long term, we've aborted ourselves out of political power."

"Speaking on an entirely personal level," continued Harris, "a black woman being elected president would have been a dream come true. I fear that we may have fallen too far behind demographically to make the dream anything more than a fluke of history."

"The cruelest irony of them all," says Griffen, with a sigh, "is that the biggest losers from the election of the first black president were the millions of unborn black babies who never made it to the world."