CAMP SALERNO, Afghanistan (AP) — A 19-year-old medic from Texas will become the first woman in Afghanistan and only the second female soldier since World War II to receive the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest medal for valor.
Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown saved the lives of fellow soldiers after a roadside bomb tore through a convoy of Humvees in the eastern Paktia province in April 2007, the military said.
After the explosion, which wounded five soldiers in her unit, Brown ran through insurgent gunfire and used her body to shield wounded comrades as mortars fell less than 100 yards away, the military said.
All branches of the Armed Forces met or exceeded their recruitment goals for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, and the Army expects to accelerate its expansion in the next two years, top brass at the Pentagon announced Wednesday.
The long term goal is to expand the military, particularly the Army and Marine Corps, and toward that end the Pentagon has done something smart.
In addition to a standard fare of bonus and assignment extension incentives that have been updated throughout the year to support the war effort and help grow the force by an additional 35,000 soldiers, some new programs likely will be added in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
One initiative, called warrior pay, would establish a new kind of compensation for soldiers who serve repetitive deployments in a combat zone.
Similar to the sea pay available to sailors, Marines and Army mariners, warrior pay would recognize the cumulative time a soldier spends deployed over the course of a career.
Army officials do not know what the specific pay levels will be, but 2008 budget legislation now before Congress would authorize up to $1,500 per month....
Well, that's long over due. The guys in combat zones deserve some big bucks. Not that that's why they joined, but they deserve it. Hoo-ah & Semper Fi!
When we got back in the Humvees I was required to don my helmet again in case we hit a bump in the road.
Bumps in the road are now officially seen as more hazardous than insurgents and terrorists in Ramadi. (There is a lot of hard metal inside a Humvee that you can bang your head up against.) I have my doubts about the relative dangers of each in the real world. Ramadi isn’t totally safe yet. But this kind of juxtaposition is absurdly unthinkable in Baghdad.
The Iraqis of Anbar Province turned against Al Qaeda and sided with the Americans in large part because Al Qaeda proved to be far more vicious than advertised. But it’s also because sustained contact with the American military – even in an explosively violent combat zone –convinced these Iraqis that Americans are very different people from what they had been led to believe. They finally figured out that the Americans truly want to help and are not there to oppress them or steal from them. And the Americans slowly learned how Iraqi culture works and how to blend in rather than barge in.
“We hand out care packages from the U.S. to Iraqis now that the area has been cleared of terrorists,” one Marine told me. “When we tell them that some of these packages aren’t from the military or the government, that they were donated by average American citizens in places like Kansas, people choke up and sometimes even cry. They just can’t comprehend it. It is so different from the lies they were told about us and how we’re supposed to be evil.”
Don't you wonder how much faster it would have turned around had we all put our shoulder to The Wheel? No, really. I mean it. Go and read the whole Totten post, and then ponder a minute: if we had presented a united front, if we had all been behind it, would it have taken so long? Would so many have died?
Today General Patraeus is scheduled to begin his report on The Surge. Mr. Peters, columnist for the New York Post and retired Lt. Colonel, Army Intelligence, predicts congress' behavior:
Minds are already made up. Senators and activists will listen only for a "Gotcha!" opportunity. Staffers have already formulated the sound bites and written the statements denouncing any progress in Iraq as meaningless. ...
His reward for leading our troops from one success to another in a conflict that verged on failure only last autumn? Calumny. Accusations that he's a stooge of the administration...
Of course, pols like Sen. Schumer don't want to understand what's happening. They just want to convince you that Iraq's hopeless. They'd rather hand al Qaeda a victory than risk Republican gains.
And these legislators criticize Iraq's parliamentarians...
In response, the Dems will concentrate on unreached - but increasingly irrelevant - benchmarks they themselves concocted. They'll shut their ears against all positive news. And they'll twist what they can't deny.
Gen. Petraeus deserves better. Our troops deserve better. And you, my fellow citizens, deserve better.
Let's come back to this column next week and see how Peters scored.
August 16, 2007 -- TWO days ago, al Qaeda det onated four massive truck bombs in three Iraqi vil lages, killing at least 250 civilians (perhaps as many as 500) and wounding many more. The bombings were a sign of al Qaeda's frustration, desperation and fear.
The victims were ethnic Kurd Yazidis, members of a minor sect with pre-Islamic roots. Muslim extremists condemn them (wrongly) as devil worshippers. The Yazidis live on the fringes of society.
That's one of the two reasons al Qaeda targeted those settlements: The terrorist leaders realize now that the carnage they wrought on fellow Muslims backfired, turning once-sympathetic Sunni Arabs against them. The fanatics calculated that Iraqis wouldn't care much about the Yazidis.
As far as the Thieves of Baghdad (also known as Iraq's government) go, the terrorists were right. Iraqi minorities, including Christians, have been classified as fair game by Muslim butchers. Mainstream Iraqis simply look away.
But the second reason for those dramatic bombings was that al Qaeda needs to portray Iraq as a continuing failure of U.S. policy. Those dead and maimed Yazidis were just props: The intended audience was Congress. ...
The foreign terrorists slaughtering the innocent recognize that their only remaining hope of pulling off a come-from-way-behind win is to convince your senator and your congressman or -woman that it's politically expedient to hand a default victory to a defeated al Qaeda. ...
Expect more attempts to generate massive bloodshed in Iraq in the coming weeks. The terrorists are well aware of the exaggerated-by-all-parties importance of Gen. David Petraeus' Sept. 15 progress report to Congress. They'll do all they can to embarrass the general and provide ammunition to the surrender caucus.
Meanwhile, our military progress has become undeniable. Even Democratic presidential aspirants have started hedging their peace-at-any-price positions. To the horror of al Qaeda and left-wing bloggers alike, cutting and running is starting to look unfashionable. ...
Petraeus is also pursuing political progress, but that effort's still lagging. Not his fault: The most that our military can do is to help establish the conditions for Iraq's leaders to succeed. But the old rivalries, bitter hatreds and personal pettiness of Baghdad's politicians have been more discouraging than the terror attacks.
That said, we're not really in Iraq for Iraq's sake now, but for our own. The long-mismanaged situation has morphed from a grand attempt to create a model democracy in the Middle East to become a fight for our strategic security - knocking al Qaeda down, keeping Iran out (see sidebar) and shaping a new Iraq that's at least benign where our interests are concerned.
Hummingbird Finally, my first hummingbirds. Saw them on a fire bush in Crystal Beach, FL. My rental's neighbor's yard is all xeriscaped, which is ugly to me but just fine with the little hummers. At first, I thought they were the biggest hornets I'd ever seen.
Flamingo! One of these dudes flew right over my house. I couldn't believe it. And please don't tell me it was a roseated spoonbill because it was a frickin' flamingo, dude! Huge and pink and right there above me. I was like so freaking out, you know?
Falcon! Don't see these guys too often. Wish we did. Bet the morning doves don't.
Black Skimmer These beauties are getting scarce, but one flew by yesterday at low tide on the hunt for minnows.
Dead sea turtle cool, but smelly
Reddish Egret These have been hanging out around the pool quite a bit lately. Must be a new group of adolesent birds -- the youngsters like to hunt where the water is clear, and it takes them a day to figure out there are not now and never will be fish in the swimming pool no matter how clear the water.
Brown Pelican I saw a flock of about 200 of these at Disappearing Island yesterday, just south of Anclote Island on the west coast of FL. Good to see such a large flock.
Wood Pecker They've developed a sudden interest in the orange tree, which just went into bloom.