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.
you think of Italy as a
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
is the chance that he would ever strap on an explosive vest?
Or Agent Scott?
Or Agent Wise?
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.
is antithetical to the western traditions of liberal democracies.
March, 2010: Jim’s older brother John deploys to FOB Salerno.
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:
this is John with his wife, Melissa:
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
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.
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.
pray for John.
Mon April 12, 2010 6:04pm EDT
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
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
Pakistan has balked at U.S. offers of joint military operations
there, officials said on condition of anonymity.
Special Ops trainers play a bigger role than has been widely disclosed in
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
$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.
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.
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.
$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.
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."
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.
the proposal, the $10 million would come out of State Department economic
assistance funding for Pakistan,
officials briefed on the matter said.
say the move risked stoking concerns in Pakistan
meddling and could open the door to a further escalation down the road.
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.
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."
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