Because of an excess of spambot activity, I have blocked new registrations. I hate taking such drastic measures, but I don't have time to clean up all the false registrations that result from whatever attack list I landed on. I will likely revise this in the future once I've upgraded some of my code, but until then, please email me if you would like a user account. Most days, you'll get a login within a few daylight hours. Please let me know:
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The WatchCat spent a year in Russia and the Middle East in preparation for a government career. Unfortunately she got in a little too deep, and health problems sabotaged her career before it began. The future? Now there's an open question. She gets her paws in the action whenever possible, with or without a paycheck. WatchCat keeps busy supporting the troops, recruiting pararescue candidates, yelling at traitors and helping people navigate the grey areas on international everything.
A close family member is active duty US military, but due to OPSEC (and the general need for family peace), WatchCat is unable to write about that person's activities. She makes the most of the opportunities that God gives her, knowing that she should be dead by now.
And yes, she is married & is going to stay married. Smacks upside the head are delivered as needed to those who don't understand this.
Most of you already understand the impact that reducing military retirement pay will have on our veterans and on future readiness. If that's you, then skip to the end of this post and use the link to send a letter.
But if you're wondering why this is such a big deal, especially as others are "tightening their belts" let me point out a few factors to consider.
For 20 years or more, these retirees (and often their families) were government property. They wrote a blank check to the government up to and including their lives. Their spouses and children had health problems and anxiety disorders. No one had a guarantee that they would make it through. They served proudly with a white-knuckle grip. But they had a golden hope: if and when they served long enough, those that lived would have a taste of that security that they had given to their country. Their families would receive not a folded flag but a livable pension from this "grateful nation."
But this isn't just about honoring the past. This is about securing our future.
You're right if you're thinking that military service is about far more than money. Honor is the heartbeat of our all-volunteer military. Honor respects honor, and when it is violated, that is when our military falls apart. Our enemies know this and use false allegations to undermine the honor of the men and women who serve. They served with the knowledge of the government's promise to take care of them and their families. To change retirement benefits for current retirees and anyone who is currently serving reeks of dishonor. Will they continue to love this country when its government breaks its promises to them? Only they can answer that, but such treatment of our veterans is akin to what veterans experienced after Vietnam.
A nation that breaks promises to its veterans will be ill defended. Morale plummets when soldiers don't trust the government they serve. I saw this in Russia; they have failed their veterans and their military is much weaker as a result.
For these reasons and many others, this is one of those times when we all need to speak up. The Military Officers Association of America has an editable form letter available that you can send to Pres. Obama and our senators. Please, take 5 minutes and send it. These veterans gave 20 years for you.
As the pre-election contentions heat up, you might consider spending some time at the website of OPSEC Team. They highlight specific security issues with the White House's handling of operational details. I'll be interested to see what else they come up with as the campaigns continue.
Saw this on Blackfive... it may be for Christmas but it's worth reading no matter what time of year.
A DIFFERENT CHRISTMAS POEM
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam,'
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.:
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?"
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.
I'm spending the afternoon working on some PR materials for my military support NGO. It's easy to get so used to the images that there's little impact. Today, though, I'm doing design work that changes the context and puts these images into people's hands, into their daily lives.
I'm working with faces of the fallen, and the enormity of the sacrifice just comes crashing down. But right now, I cannot believe what an honor I've been given in being able to do this work. I get to "meet" these warriors and it's my job to introduce them to others. My work becomes personal. I have to constantly ask myself whether I'm using their likeness honorably or if it's just publicity. And if it's just publicity I go back to the design board because I refuse to trivialize them. It's a tougher calling...but it is a privilege.
This case is particularly interesting due to issues of women in combat, disabled soldiers staying in active duty, and the Israeli model. On one hand, I understand why the Army says "no." We have obligations to our wounded veterans that do not automatically extend to other citizens. While we may feel obliged to serve, the military is not obliged to accept us into its ranks. Combat readiness must be the first priority. Moreover, as we have seen with female soldiers, non-combat designations to not always prevent the soldier from ending up in combat, and in this case, his inability to hear may put himself or others at risk.
But the reality is that we already accept differences in physical standards. Age and gender based requirements are a fact of military life. As I discussed in the post about female Special Ops teams, we'll do far better to recognize different abilities rather than make a fuss about creating "equality" within the military. Equality of worth is not the same as equality of role. Keith Nolan should have his chance to earn a commission, not because we need to make the military "match the population" but because he's proven that he has tremendous potential to serve with distinction. But if we are to make such a bold move, we must eschew concern about the public response if something goes wrong. After reading his story, I believe Nolan would gladly accept the risks. And if he fulfills his potential, I believe his future brothers in arms would gladly accept them too.
It takes a lot of heroism to get my jaw to drop. But I read this over on Blackfive and was stunned. Where do we get such warriors, such men?
The President of the United States in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
CORPORAL DAKOTA L. MEYER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
For service as set forth in the following:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. When the forward element of his combat team began to be hit by intense fire from roughly 50 Taliban insurgents dug-in and concealed on the slopes above Ganjgal village, Corporal Meyer mounted a gun-truck, enlisted a fellow Marine to drive, and raced to attack the ambushers and aid the trapped Marines and Afghan soldiers. During a six hour fire fight, Corporal Meyer single-handedly turned the tide of the battle, saved 36 Marines and soldiers and recovered the bodies of his fallen brothers.
Four separate times he fought the kilometer up into the heart of a deadly U-shaped ambush. During the fight he killed at least eight Taliban, personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded, and provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape likely death at the hands of a numerically superior and determined foe.
On his first foray his lone vehicle drew machine gun, mortar, rocket grenade and small arms fire while he rescued five wounded soldiers.
His second attack disrupted the enemy’s ambush and he evacuated four more wounded Marines.
Switching to another gun-truck because his was too damaged they again sped in for a third time, and as turret gunner killed several Taliban attackers at point blank range and suppressed enemy fire so 24 Marines and soldiers could break-out.
Despite being wounded, he made a fourth attack with three others to search for missing team members. Nearly surrounded and under heavy fire he dismounted the vehicle and searched house to house to recover the bodies of his fallen team members. By his extraordinary heroism, presence of mind amidst chaos and death, and unselfish devotion to his comrades in the face of great danger, Corporal Meyer reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Although my family served in North Africa and the Pacific, I'm very aware of the sensitivity of this issue. And I hope that the Normandy veterans will continue to speak up, because their voices should eclipse mine. But I would like to cautiously offer another point of view.
Over the years we've often discussed the need to balance remembrance with living our lives fully. One of the few things that has helped me after the chopper crash is the knowledge that these warriors would never want us to spend the rest of our lives staring at the walls in their name. No, they'd never want to be forgotten, but they didn't die for a burial ground. They died so that we could live our lives in freedom, making new discoveries and breathing new life into the land destroyed by war.
The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have died.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.
"Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you." -Sirach 4:28
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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8
As many of you are aware, the PJCountry blog disappeared in November 2008.
I'm doing my best to help the pararescue community by sharing PJ-related news and events on my blog. The following information may be helpful:
You will find answers to many questions at pararescue.com and specialtactics.com
If you're ready to become a PJ, you'll need to decide between Active Duty and Reserve. This will determine who will handle your official recruitment. Visit Contacts and POCs to find the appropriate person or email me.
304th Pararescue Team (Reserve) (Oregon)
If you're on the west coast near Oregon and are considering being a PJ/CRO on the Portland Pararescue Team (commitment of 4 years beyond training), contact TSgt Stanley Iakopo at stanley.iakopo AT us.af.mil or email me.
I have no official role with pararescue or other SpecOps but I know enough to get you connected to the right people. Email to CAT at THEWATCHCAT dot NET
Jubilate Agno, Fragment B
[For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry]
by Christopher Smart
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.