SFTT News: Week of Apr 11, 2016

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Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage our readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.


Military Families Moved Out of Turkey
The U.S. military has ordered military family members to evacuate southern Turkey, primarily from Incirlik Air Base, due to security concerns, the Pentagon said Tuesday.  Family members will also be evacuated from facilities in Izmir and Mugla, according to a Pentagon statement.  Read more . . .

Gen. Lori Robinson appointed First Woman Commander
President Barack Obama intends to nominate the first female combatant commander in the military’s history, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Friday. Carter announced that he had recommended Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson to be appointed to lead U.S. Northern Command while speaking at a breakfast hosted by Politico.   Read more . . .

It Could be Worse:  How About the Canadian VA
In case you lost all hope in the Department of Veterans Affairs in the United States, just know it could be much worse. Take Canada for example.  Despite the fact that people have not evolved to grow new limbs in place of lost ones, a legless, Canadian master corporal named Paul Franklin must provide adequate proof of his status to his country’s VA annually.  Read more . . .

How to Prevent Army’s Brain Drain
On November 18, 2015, Defense Secretary spoke at George Washington University and laid out a series of initiatives focused on talent management within the services. Talent management has developed into a major concern of the Army as junior officers are leaving the Army at an alarming rate. A 2012 Rand study found that only 44% of West Point commissioned officers and 51% of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) commissioned officers stay past their required eight years of service. Historically, junior officer retention has never been high, but the numbers from the Rand study show retention has reached all-time lows.   Read more . . .

The Challenges of Ranger School
The United States Army Ranger School is one of the most challenging military schools in the world.  It is the Army’s premier combat leadership and small unit tactics course.  For the last 12 years, only 49% of those who have attempted the course have succeeded.  Each month over 400 students arrive at Fort Benning, Georgia for their chance to face the toughest physical, mental, and emotional challenge they will likely ever encounter.  There is a reason Vietnam veteran and former Department of Military Instruction Director at the U.S. Military Academy COL Robert “Tex” Turner famously said, “I woke up in a cold sweat, I had a nightmare that I was still in Ranger School. Thank God that I was in Vietnam. Compared to Ranger School, combat was easy.”    Read more . . .


Navy Seal Commander’s Suicide:  What did we learn?
In looking into the suicide of a Navy SEAL team commander, Job W. Price, during a deployment in late 2012, Times reporters learned more about the stresses on elite Special Operations troops, the stigma that many have felt about seeking help for mental health issues and what the military is trying to do to change that. Christopher Drew, one of the reporters who worked on the story, discusses these issues.   Read more . . .

Please bring other issues to our attention.  SFTT is looking for better ways to support the brave men and women who serve in harm’s way.


PC Jihad Doctrine for US Troops at War

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In an eye-opening article published by American Thinker, two reporters sadly report that “political correctness” is now being applied to battlefield situations.  In an article which must be read in its entirety, authors Janet Levy and Nidra Poller conclude that “the highest levels of government enforce a policy on the military which effectively prevents consideration of the enemy doctrine of jihad.”

Please note that these two authors clearly have a political viewpoint that is not necessarily shared by SFTT, nevertheless, their comments and analysis do raise an important dilemma on how to motivate and lead troops in combat without offending the enemy.   Found below are some of the more interesting observations which I encourage SFTT readers to read in its entirety:

“At a recent briefing on cyber-terrorism in Washington, D.C., a former Navy SEAL repeatedly apologized for any statements in his lecture that could be misconstrued as anti-Muslim. He carefully qualified every negative reference to Muslims or Islam as excluding the vast majority of “peaceful[,] law-abiding” Muslims. The level of caution displayed by a military officer who had recently returned from a tour in Iraq and had served at a high level of military intelligence was disconcerting. The former SEAL wholeheartedly — perhaps unwittingly — accepted the role of “dhimmi,” an inferior who, under the provisions of Islamic law, does not have the right to self-defense.

“How could a member of an elite division of the U.S. Navy who had withstood arduous military preparation be fearful of merely offending Muslims? How does this mentality influence his effectiveness as a soldier and officer? His action in combat?

“Our citizens at home and our troops on the battlefield are disarmed by a narrative that imposes respect for a political-religious system that seeks their subjugation and death. As we saw with the former SEAL, our troops are taught that they must not openly expose the ideology of Islam, its goals and strategy. They risk their lives not to defeat the enemy and liberate local population, but to facilitate the consolidation of Islamic states governed by shari’ah law. Instead of combating jihad, they empower it!

“The war effort has been repackaged as a combination of Peace Corps, social work, and outreach to the Muslim community. Military personnel, held to strict one-way standards of religious sensitivity, are told that their mission is to build trust in the local population. This self-defeating strategy has gutted the rules of engagement, shackling our soldiers on the battlefield. Instead of fighting to kill, soldiers worry about facing charges and imprisonment for offending, harming, or frightening the enemy. Misplaced vigilance jeopardizes their own safety. Soldiers are punished not for cowardice or fraternizing with the enemy, but for lack of kid-gloves respect. Petty Officer Julio Huertas faced charges for allegedly punching and kicking Iraqi jihadist detainee Ahmed Hashim Abed, accused of the grisly murder of four American contractors whose mutilated corpses were hacked to pieces, burned, and strung up in Fallujah. In normal times, Huertas would have been hailed as a hero for capturing an archenemy. Colonel Alan West (currently running for Congress) was accused of “aggravated assault” for firing a pistol in the air to scare an Iraqi detainee into giving information on planned ambushes of his troops in Tikrit. Instead of being commended for protecting his men, Colonel West was forced into early retirement to avoid court-martial.

“Our troops are in double jeopardy: facing the enemy on the battlefield and the eventual jihadist in their ranks. Federal guarantees of religious freedom and non-discrimination prevent the rejection of Muslim recruits and, as we saw with the Fort Hood jihadi Major Hassan, can protect a Muslim soldier from being discharged for obvious, repeated misconduct. No precautions are taken, despite calls by the likes of U.S.-born Anwar Al-Awlaki pushing Muslim soldiers to kill their comrades. Rather than risk being seen as “Islamophobic,” officers risk the lives of their servicemen and women.

“Military personnel don’t revolt; they follow orders. How long can we expect them to follow orders from a commander in chief who does not honor his obligation to send them into battle under the best conditions? If they were civilians, would they obey orders from such an irresponsible leader? Would policemen risk their lives to maintain law and order if they were hobbled with such rules of engagement?

“The dangers faced by military personnel today stand in sharp contrast to the safe, comfortable living conditions of the general population, cushioned from distant battlefield realities, living in material abundance, and exempt from the draft. Our troops cannot prevail without material and moral support from our nation. But this support is stifled by a lethal narrative that criminalizes war, glorifies underhanded jihad fighting, and embraces subversion on the home front.”

Author’s Comment:  Clearly, our troops are under great stress and this new “moralistic” mind-set only makes their mission more complex and life-threatening.  I do not subscribe to many of the arguments and implicit suggestions of authors Levy and Poller; however, ambiguity in combat leads to the loss of lives.   Asking our troops to operate in a theater of war and expect them to behave like Peace Corps volunteers is simply absurd.   The military mission needs to be clarified – both for the troops in the field and the American public.   Don’t ask our young men and women in uniform to become the victims of political, social and religious debate that is best hashed out in college dorm rooms.  Keep the mission simple or these brave heroes will be coming home in a casket.   If we can’t keep the mission simple, bring the troops home now!

Richard W. May