The G I Bill

When I left the US Army in 1971 I wanted to use my GI Bill benefits for my education….the only thing that I ever asked of my country for my service…..I got the education I wanted and think that all service people should have a good GI Bill.

The Trump admin has signed into law a new GI Bill…..

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law an updated veterans’ education bill that marks the largest expansion of college assistance for military veterans in a decade.

The Forever GI Act immediately removed a 15-year time limit on the use of GI benefits. The measure also increases financial assistance for thousands serving in the National Guard and Reserve, building on a 2008 law that guaranteed veterans a full-ride scholarship to any in-state public university, or a similar cash amount to attend private colleges.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who joined Trump for the signing, said the new law also provides benefits to Purple Heart recipients whose injuries forced them to leave the service. Benefits can also now be transferred to the eligible dependent of service members who are killed in the line of duty.

Veterans would get additional payments for completing science, technology and engineering courses, part of a broad effort to better prepare veterans for life after active-duty service amid a fast-changing job market. The law also restores benefits if a college closes in the middle of the semester, a protection that was added after thousands of veterans were hurt by the collapse of for-profit college giant ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges.

“This is expanding our ability to support our veterans in getting education,” Shulkin told reporters at a briefing after Trump signed the measure at his New Jersey golf club upon returning there after two nights at his home at New York’s Trump Tower. Journalists were not permitted to watch Trump sign the bill, as the White House has done for earlier veterans’ legislation he has turned into law. That includes a measure Trump signed at the club Saturday to provide nearly $4 billion in emergency funding for a temporary veterans health care program.

Glad to see that the troops are still foremost on the minds of our government….

It falls short of what I wanted to see…..the first four years of a public college would be free as long as a C+ average was maintained.  I believe that is a small price to pay for what we ask our troops to accomplish.

Closing Thought–17Aug17

Another US Soldier Dies!

I hate that I must write these types of posts!

More sad news….I reported on Monday about 2 troops that were killed in Iraq.

Now news comes out that a US soldier was killed in Eastern Afghanistan….name is withheld until the family is notified….

One U.S. service member from the Utah National Guard was killed Wednesday during an operation against Islamic State forces in eastern Afghanistan, according to a statement from the Utah National Guard.

Approximately seven U.S. and Afghan forces were also injured in the operation, and were medically evacuated, according to a statement from Operation Resolute Support.

Identification of the service member was pending notification of next of kin, the military said.

“My heart aches for the loss and sacrifice of our members and their families,” Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, said in a statement. “I know that what we do is dangerous and important work for our country’s defense, but this realization does little to console me during times of loss such as this.”

Wednesday’s incident brings the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 11, the same number as were killed in all of 2016 in Afghanistan.
IST offers the family our deepest sympathies for their loss….may he Rest in Peace.

A Better Plan

Yes I am talking about Afghanistan….again.

I have been bitch for over 10 years about how we got into yet another horrible war with NO plan to whether win or to go home.  Sounds all so familiar.

You know it is really not that hard for fight a war using the enemies game plan.

Say what?

That’s right….use their game plan against them.

When I was sent to Vietnam I was assigned to the LRRPs for the 9th Infantry Division….we spent a lot of our time in enemy territory and we needed to know what to expect….we all wer4e given a copy of North Vietnamese general’s book of guerilla warfare….People’s War, People’s Army by Gen. Giap.  It outlined the proper way to fight a guerilla war…tactics, logistics, everything they a soldier would need to know.

I bring this up because the same thing could have been done for our fight in Afghanistan.

Again…..say what?

That is right there is a game plan for Taleban fighters…..it is a book written 1995 by the fighters themselves entitled “Afghan Guerilla Warfare” by Ali Ahmad Jalali.  The book gives details on ambushes, logistics, weapons, bombs making, etc, etc….

Now would it nor have been  good idea to familiarize the troops with what to expect when fighting the Taleban?

Arrogance has doomed a many army in the past….and it is pulling the US military in too many directions to ever come out of the country with a win.

Closing Thought–14Aug17

More US Deaths!

With all the news about Virginia and North Korea and the White House drama there is always some news that will fall between the cracks….but the death of American soldiers should NEVER fall through….

Over the week more US troops met their death while fighting in Iraq….

The Pentagon has confirmed two US soldiers were killed and five others wounded today in “combat operations” in Iraq. Details of exactly what happened remain unclear, with the Pentagon not offering any formal details beyond “combat.”

The Pentagon appeared to be vague on this, however, saying they don’t think the deaths were due to “enemy contact,” despite saying the deaths were in the course of combat operations. This brings the number of US soldiers confirmed killed in the ISIS combat operations to seven.

(antiwar.com)

Our sympathies go out to the families for their loss…..

My day is all but over…..I need to decompress a bit….been a helluva day.

Be well, be safe……..chuq

What The Hell Did Venezuela Do?

In case you were out of pocket Friday afternoon and missed the big story then I think I can bring you up to speed.

During a press outing at his gold Club in new Jersey Trump was asked about the North Korean posturing and then he went on a different track altogether….

As many fret over the increasingly tense relationship between the US and North Korea, President Trump threw another country into the mix Friday: Venezuela. Speaking to reporters Friday from his New Jersey golf club, flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and National Security Adviser HR McMaster, Trump offered what Reuters calls a “surprise escalation” on the US response to Venezuela’s currentpoliticalupheaval, in which more than 120 people have been killed and thousands arrested over the past four months. “Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering and they are dying,” Trump told reporters, per the Hill. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

When pressed by reporters on whether that meant the US would lead an operation in the South American country, Trump replied, “We don’t talk about it, but a military operation—a military option—is certainly something that we could pursue.” The US just hit Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with financial sanctions in late July, with a statement from Trump noting: “Maduro is not just a bad leader. He is now a dictator.” The Pentagon told Reuters it has yet to receive any instructions from the president regarding Venezuela.

When I heard this report my first response was…”what the Hell did Venezuela do to deserve that threat?”

(Watch Nikki Haley’s reaction)

I am still trying to find out what they did they would warrant such a threat.

Anyone got any ideas?

 

WTF?

After my Closing Thought I usually shut IST down for the evening but from time to time a story comes out and I just cannot let it go……this is one of those stories…..

We have heard all the “tough” talk that Trump has leveled at the North Korean leader…..the Fire & Fury”…that the US is “Locked & Loaded”…but he has hit a new level of stupid.

Just a short time ago Trump was meeting with the press at his gold club in New Jersey and while answering question he made a bold assertion….

Trump said, “We have many options for Venezuela, and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option. We have many options for Venezuela. This is our neighbor. You know, we’re all over the world. We have troops all over the world, in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering, and they’re dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”

If you don’t want to read it then listen to it…..

Now the reason I am posting this immediately is because I have NO idea what Venezuela has done to the US that would warrant an attack.

How many more counties is this mad man going to threaten?

Somebody needs to reel in this person before we are fighting every third world country he can think of…….

The title describes this the best….WTF?

Oh Yeah–Afghanistan!

Then there is America’s longest running war…..Afghanistan.

These days we do not hear much about this conflict…..most Americans take it for granted and move on to whatever shiny bobble the media dangles out there for them to chase.

But there are people like me that will not turn away from this war and persist in reporting the news as it comes available……

Most people know next to nothing about the country other than bang bang shoot’em up!

Many foreigners and even Afghans are now convinced that the “true” Afghanistan is only what is being shown on the television screens, depicted in magazines, or what is buried deep in the archives and libraries somewhere in London, New York or Paris.

It is tempting to think that the country could be only understood from a comfortable distance, from the safety of one’s living room or from those books and publications decorating dusty bookshelves and coffee tables all over the world.

“Afghanistan is dangerous,” they say. “It is too risky to travel there. One needs to be protected, escorted, equipped and insured in order to function in that wild and lawless country even for one single day, or just a few hours.”

Source: AFGHANISTAN: Examining the Myths, the Lies and the Legends ~ Andre Vltchek

I have often bitched about our strategy in Afghanistan….basically the lack of a strategy….there are many armchair generals out there that give advice…..

Pakistan’s sponsorship of the Taliban is the main reason for the continued stalemate in Afghanistan after almost 16 years. To be sure, there are other ancillary factors that help explain the instability, but Pakistan is the key reason.

The war in Afghanistan will not end, or it will end badly unless the U.S.-led Coalition and its Afghan partners compel Pakistan to cease its malign conduct.

What a win looks like.

A ‘win’ in Afghanistan would not resemble the win in World War II where the Allies thoroughly defeated and then received the unconditional surrenders of Germany and Japan.  The end will be negotiated and conditional.

Source: To ‘Win’ in Afghanistan, Devise a Strategy and Do Not Quit | RealClearDefense

Rah Rah!

Then some see this conflict as a loss and no matter the plan will remain so……

There is a case for a deliberate U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Afghan government remains divided and weak, its security forces will take years of expensive U.S. and allied support to become fully effective, and they may still lose even with such support. Afghanistan is no more likely to become a future center of terrorist attacks outside its borders than many other weak and unstable countries.

Both Afghanistan and a troublesome Pakistan have only marginal strategic interest to the U.S. relative to many other areas where the U.S. can use its resources. Moreover, leaving the region places the security and aid burden on Russia, China, and local states—forcing the countries that do have major strategic interests in the region to take on the burden or live with the consequences.

Source: How the Trump Administration Is Losing Afghanistan | RealClearWorld

And then there is those that feel a new way forward would be a better strategy…..what that is is anybody’s guess.

Even the president is extremely unhappy with the situation ion Afghanistan…..to the point of shouting…..

President Trump isn’t happy about the situation in Afghanistan and his proposed solution is one that will be familiar to Celebrity Apprentice viewers, insiders say. Sources tell Reuters that during a July 19 meeting in the White House Situation Room, an angry Trump said military leaders should consider firing Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, over his performance. “We aren’t winning,” Trump said, per the sources, described as senior administration officials. “We are losing.” Trump also complained about NATO allies and said the US should demand some of Afghanistan’s estimated $1 trillion mineral wealth, the officials say.

Trump complained that China was profiting from Afghanistan’s mineral wealth under a deal set up a decade ago. According to NBC‘s sources, Trump “startled” military advisers including Defense Secretary James Mattis with an anecdote comparing their advice to that of a New York restaurant consultant who cost a business profits with lousy advice about renovating a kitchen. He suggested the owner should have talked to the waiters instead. Trump ended the two-hour meeting without a decision on a new US strategy for South Asia. Pentagon sources say Mattis returned from the meeting “visibly upset” and went for a long walk to clear his head.

As my reader can see….Afghanistan is a real mess and NO one seems to have the answer to the situation.

But yet there is a proposal headed to the Pentagon…..a private army to Afghanistan to takeover the fight….for profit…..

President Trump is said to be frustrated with progress in the 16-year-old Afghanistan war, and a familiar name in US military circles is offering an unprecedented solution. Blackwater founder Erik Prince has floated a plan to the White House that it turn over most of its military duties in the country to private contractors, reports USA Today. The US currently has 8,400 troops there, though their mission is to train and advise, not engage in combat. Prince would replace them with 5,500 contractors, most of them former Special Ops troops. They would be supported by a private air force of about 90 planes. One key point: They would wear Afghan uniforms and operate under Afghan command.

“At what point do you say a conventional military approach in Afghanistan is not working,” says Prince. “Maybe we say that at 16 years.” The newspaper says defense chief Jim Mattis and national security adviser HR McMaster are leery, while adviser Steve Bannon is more open to the idea. The Navy Times notes that the proposal would likely run into legal trouble. Current defense law stipulates that “the use of combat power against enemy forces or hostile actors is inherently in the purview of the U.S. government.” Contractors can provide assistance, but Prince’s plan goes way beyond that. The former Navy SEAL says it would cost about $10 billion year, far less than the Pentagon’s current annual outlay of $40 billion.

An army of mercenaries to do the fighting….sounds a lot like Italy in the 15th century.

I will continue to keep my readers up on the developments in Afghanistan as confusing as they are….maybe my attempt will help those readers understand just how hopeless Afghanistan can be.