September, 1943:  The invasion of mainland Italy.  We had taken Sicily, primarily by beach landing.  Certain units of our army had been trained for vertical assault – a tactic new in the history of war.  The 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) had jumped into Sicily and would jump into mainland Italy.


If you think of Italy as a boot, Salerno is in the laces.  On the 12th of September, we hit the beaches.  On the 13th the 504th PIR was dropped into the tenuous beachhead.  On the 14th the 505th was dropped in and turned the tide – within two weeks the 505th PIR had probed the outskirts of Naples.  Salerno proved the value of vertical insertion.



September, 2003:  The 505th occupies an airbase that had been built by the Soviets 20 years earlier.  It is located in the eastern-most part of Afghanistan, a peninsula that pushes into Pakistan – tribal areas of Pakistan (that the government does not control) are nearby on three sides.  The 3rd Battalion of the 505th names their new home Forward Operating Base (FOB) Salerno in recognition of that magnificent assault 60 years earlier.



October, 2004:  Jim, as a paratrooper with the 1st Battalion of the 505th PIR, is sent to Afghanistan to provide security for the first national election ever held there.  The 1/505th patrols an area near FOB Salerno for 6 weeks.  More than three-fourths of the country’s registered voters cast ballots.


(He would later be sent to a place upstream on the Tigris from Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit for a planned year.  He was stop-lossed for the Iraq surge and the 1/505th occupied Beyji for 15 months.)



December, 2009:  FOB Salerno is successfully attacked by a suicide bomber infiltrator.  President Obama has continued the practice, begun by President Bush, of targeting terrorist leaders hiding in Pakistan.  CIA operators gather HUMINT (human intelligence) by recruiting individual Pakistanis.  The operators then use that intel to strike with armed Predators – unmanned aircraft that can fire missiles.


Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was one of those recruits.  He was a doctor; a healer.  He seemed sincere.  We invited him into the CIA base and waived a personal search as he entered in a gesture of trust, as we wanted him to trust us.  Then he exploded himself in the middle of the FOB killing seven operators including the CIA Base Chief.


al-Balawi moved to Istanbul in 1995 to study medicine.  He met Defne Bayrak, a journalism student, and they married in 2001.  They moved to Jordan in 2002.  In 2008, she returned to Turkey and he went on to Pakistan.  They have two daughters.  A week after the event she said, “I am proud of my husband. He carried out a great operation in this war. I hope Allah will accept his martyrdom.”


Cowardly:  Oooo, these people are just too dangerous.  I don’t think we should mess with them.


Morally bereft:  Clearly, they have a point-of-view and strong convictions.  How can we be sure that we are right and they are wrong?


Multi-culti, diversity-brainwashed, über-tolerant:  They just want a seat at the table.  If we talk to them and try to understand them better, we will learn what we have done to offend them and what we must do to make them stop hating us.


Ann Coulter, in a eulogy to her friend Barbara Olson published two days after the 9/11 attacks:  We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.


Me:  Civilization can never be guaranteed until all those sick bastards are thoroughly humiliated and anyone who was ever sympathetic toward them is embarrassed and ashamed.


Proof:  Take a look at Agent Brown, shown here with his family:



What is the chance that he would ever strap on an explosive vest?


Or Agent Scott?



Or Agent Wise?



Those are three of the seven CIA operators killed at FOB Salerno.  Just look at them.  American warriors fight for life, for liberty and for happiness.  There are things endemic to Islam that are amenable to cooption in service of death-worship, slavery and perpetual anger.  Not many of the 1.5 billion Muslims actively hate our culture, but essentially all of our terrorist enemies find inspiration in their Muslim training.


Islam is antithetical to the western traditions of liberal democracies.



March, 2010:  Jim’s older brother John deploys to FOB Salerno.


John has had two year-long tours in Iraq.  Like Jim, he is married.  Unlike Jim (so far), John has children.  Three of them.  Right after my grandson Kevin returned from the Robert Rieckhoff mission, he left for Fort Bragg and his birthday party.  His cousin Zoe (John’s youngest) turned one year old on the same day Kevin turned eight.  This is John with all three of his children:



And this is John with his wife, Melissa:



John grew that beard in anticipation of this deployment.  He packed polo shirts instead of uniforms, so he won’t be wearing body-armor.  We just got his mailing address and were told not to use his rank in it.  He is Civil Affairs at FOB Salerno.  Along with Psychological Operations, these are two essential functions within the army’s Special Operations Command.  They are the “hearts & minds” soldiers and the key to successful counter-insurgency.


It’s asymmetric.  We want to gain the trust of the would-be terrorists and welcome them into the community of civilized peoples.  The Islamists want us to lower our guard so they can stab us in the back.  John has a tremendously dangerous job.


So John is on his third deployment.  Jim is now a firefighter near Dallas.  I have been married to their mother for 6 years but both John and Jim have lived very far from us and our visits have been brief.  I don’t really know these guys, and I had no hand in making them what they are.  However, I am tremendously proud of what John and Jim are doing with their lives and I cannot imagine any patriotic American who would not feel the same way.


Please pray for John.




Mon April 12, 2010 6:04pm EDT


John left one month ago for a Forward Operating Base Salerno, which is essentially surrounded by the lawless region of Pakistan.  I assume he is performing his Civil Affairs mission in Pakistan.  Reuters discussed Civil Affairs in Pakistan in an article published today:


U.S. military playing expanded role in Pakistan

Adam Entous


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Special Operations Forces on a training mission in Pakistan are playing an expanded but largely unseen role in the country's counterinsurgency campaign, working with paramilitary units to "hold and build" tribal areas as militants are cleared out.


U.S. defense and administration officials say the elite trainers, who currently number more than 100, have not and are not authorized to take part in Pakistani military offensives in the semi-autonomous tribal regions, known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, along the Afghan border.


Pakistan has balked at U.S. offers of joint military operations there, officials said on condition of anonymity.


But Special Ops trainers play a bigger role than has been widely disclosed in helping Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps, such as surveying and coordinating projects aimed at winning "hearts and minds" and preventing Taliban fighters from returning to areas once they have been pushed out.


A Pentagon proposal would deepen that role by creating a special $10 million pool of funds the trainers could spend more quickly on Civil Affairs and humanitarian projects in the FATA in coordination with their Pakistani counterparts.


U.S. defense and administration officials spoke about the training program and the new proposal on condition of anonymity because, as one said, the relatively small American military presence is such a "radioactive" issue in Pakistan.


U.S. and Pakistani officials worry that detailed disclosures about the role of Special Ops could compromise operational security, spark a backlash among Pakistanis against their government and fuel already high anti-American sentiment.


There are 200 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan, including troops who guard the sprawling American Embassy compound in Islamabad. The number of Special Operations trainers fluctuates from as little as 60 to about 120.


A February bombing that killed three Special Operations Civil Affairs specialists in northwest Pakistan partly exposed how small U.S. teams sometimes venture out beyond the confines of heavily guarded military bases.


Washington is in talks to increase the number of Special Ops trainers and authorize sending them to sectors deeper in the tribal regions, but details have yet to be worked out.


"This is in the line of essentially training," a senior U.S. defense official said of the Special Operations Forces. "This is a part of winning hearts and minds -- endearing the public to the military and to the government."


"We're in full support, essentially behind the scenes with a Pak-Mil (Pakistani military) face on it, to be able to have them legitimize the government of Pakistan and the military as the people that have brought security to the area and now are providing the initial tools to be able to help and build."


The $10 million in funds, which has yet to be approved by the Pentagon leadership, would be modeled after the Commanders' Emergency Response Program, or CERP, which has become a linchpin of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and has been credited with helping turn the tide in Iraq.


CERP-funded projects are intended to gain the confidence of local residents and leaders and discourage them from cooperating with insurgents. The program has been authorized for war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq -- not Pakistan.


"It does give me some different authorities to be able to assist the government of Pakistan, the Pak-Mil, a little bit quicker, with the right accountability," the senior U.S. defense official said. "We have controls in place," he added when asked about congressional concerns about oversight.


At $10 million, the CERP-like funding would represent a tiny fraction of the billions of dollars in U.S. aid promised to Pakistan, although the amount could be expanded later.


As was the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, the senior defense official said a CERP-like program in Pakistan "might be useful, particularly after a conflict-affected area, to immediately, rapidly go in, do quick impact projects that the Pak-Mil have come to us to seek help with, whether it be electricity, whether it be water, whether it be road."


Alongside large increases in funding to train and equip Pakistani forces for counterinsurgency operations, U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized the CIA to sharply expand a counterterrorism campaign of aerial drone strikes against al Qaeda and Taliban targets near the Afghan border.


Under the proposal, the $10 million would come out of State Department economic assistance funding for Pakistan, officials briefed on the matter said.


Critics say the move risked stoking concerns in Pakistan about U.S. meddling and could open the door to a further escalation down the road.


Advocates say an expanded Special Operations role in development is needed because U.S. government projects normally take months or longer to get approved, and because the security environment is too unstable in large parts of the FATA for nonmilitary organizations to lead the effort.


The senior defense official said the goal was to "seed the environment to then allow the security to calm down, people to return and for the NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) and USAID (the U.S. Agency for International Development) to follow in after."