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Lions Of Kandahar: A Fight Against All Odds

Tom Gjelten in for Tom Ashbook

Inside the battle for Kandahar province, we’ll be speaking with a Green Beret.

The Afghanistan mission has been long and dangerous. And the war there will continue for years. (AP)

The Afghanistan mission has been long and dangerous. And the war there will continue for years. (AP)

American soldiers have been fighting in Afghanistan now for nearly ten years, some of them over and over again.

(Bantam Books)

(Bantam Books)

U.S. Army Major Rusty Bradley is just back from his fifth deployment there. And his assignments have been tough. At the very heart of the war effort.

Major Bradley is an Army Special Forces officer. These are the units that not only fight on their own but train Afghan soldiers to fight. Major Bradley is still on active duty, but he’s written a book on his front-line experience in Afghanistan, the war we’re trying to finish.

This hour On Point: “Lions of Kandahar.”

-Tom Gjelten

Guest:

Rusty Bradley, a major in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces and the author of “Lions for Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds.”

 

 

Excerpt:

 

Lions of Kandahar

 

Chapter 13

 

BLACK ON AMMO

Nothing is as exhilarating in life as to be shot at with no result.

—WINSTON CHURCHILL

 

From a distance, the westward end of the Panjwayi Valley looked like Eden. The endless sea of sand slowly gave way to the lush vegetation that embraced the mud huts and compounds strewn throughout the fields and irrigation ditches. The jagged mountains surrounding the valley seemed to protect it from the outside world.

But as my eyes scanned east toward the river I saw the mirage melt away. Scars and wreckage from the battle stretched for miles. I could see gunfire tracers and flashes from rockets exploding. Buildings and vehicles smoldered in all directions. The Canadian task force clogged the radio with messages about how they continued to “consolidate and reorganize” under enemy fire. Victory was slipping away.

Aerial photo of Sperwan Ghar, near Kandahar, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army)

Aerial photo of Sperwan Ghar, near Kandahar, Afghanistan. (U.S. Army)

We had no choice but to occupy Sperwan Ghar. Without control of that ground, the Canadians could not advance and would be stopped. Losing this decisive battle would be catastrophic for the people of Kandahar, the coalition, and all of southern Afghanistan.

The wind felt hotter than usual as everyone loaded up. I checked the radios inside the gun truck and scanned the laminated notepads and quick reference sheets stuck to every available empty space be­low the windshield. Tucked neatly around my seat were ammunition bandoleers, smoke grenades, medical equipment, water, and signal flares. Ready, I grabbed my hand mike and called Kandahar.

“Eagle 10, this is Talon 31. We’re moving.”

The convoy of gun trucks tucked into a perfect V-shaped for­mation. The route took us down from our perch on the ridge-line and past some green pine trees that masked our approach to Regay, a small village in the valley between us and Sperwan Ghar. We’d been watching the villagers from up and down the valley flee for days, but the scene when we entered the village was still shocking.

The villagers hurried past us, packed on broken carts, tractors, donkeys, camels—anything that could move. Regay was the final stopping point for the caravans of refugees seeking water before their journey to safety in Kandahar city. Hundreds crowded around the well. Each villager gripped a bright yellow or lime green water jug. No one made eye contact with us. They knew who we were and who was waiting for us.

Some of our ANA soldiers in a Ford Ranger were flagged down by a man leaving Regay in a faded white Toyota Corolla sedan. He never stopped but pointed to the hill, said, “Mines,” and drove off. The warning was radioed up to us. “This just gets better and better,” Brian said.

The open desert faded into Ole Girl’s side mirror and the tactical nightmare of villages and compounds opened up like the mouth of an immense beast. I glanced down at the map. After Regay, we were headed straight for Sperwan Ghar.

As Hodge’s team passed Regay, we switched the formation from a broad V to a straight line or “Ranger file” of trucks to maneuver through the never-ending labyrinth of broken buildings, irrigation ditches, marijuana, cornfields, and grape vineyards. Centuries-old ashpsh khana, or grape-drying huts, which stood three or four stories tall, dotted the fields, perfect redoubts for snipers. I kept one eye on the huts and the other on the dust-covered display of the digital map. We were close to the point of no return, an imaginary decision point on that map.

My nerves spiked as we raced down the dirt track toward the first compound. There was too much vegetation and too much cover. It was harvesttime, a bad time to start any operation. The enemy could hide anywhere. Shooters could be ten feet inside any one of the fields and we’d never know it, until they started firing. Brian, as driver and senior communications sergeant, always rode “dirty,” meaning he had his shotgun out the open window, ready in case an enemy fighter popped up. In this case, it would likely come from behind the com­pound walls or out of the fields.

The radio finally squawked to life. Jared, our ground force com­mander, wanted a countdown to the marker. “Talon 30, this is Talon 31, two hundred meters, wait one,” I responded.

Just as I said it, I caught a glimpse of movement—a figure, half crouching, half standing, on top of the thick walls of a large grape-drying hut. Snatching my binoculars, I focused in on him. I knew in my gut that he shouldn’t be there. The jet black turban and dark brown clothing stood out in stark contrast to the biscuit-colored dry mud walls. The hair on the back of my neck rose. RPG! I prayed that I wouldn’t see the flash of a rocket-propelled grenade headed toward my truck.

“Contact front. Enemy at eleven o’clock, two hundred meters on top of the grape hut. Kill that motherfucker,” I called to Dave, my gunner on the .50-caliber machine gun mounted on the top of the truck. The World War II model machine gun—known as an M2, or “Ma Duce”—with modern optics is as lethal today as it was sixty years ago.

The words had barely gotten out when Dave confirmed the target. “Got it,” he said coolly, sighting in on the Taliban position. He cut loose with a long burst, riddling the grape hut. A four-foot flame belched out of the M2 barrel, marking its tremendous firepower. Dave continued to shoot as we got closer.

My heart was pounding and sweat dripped into my eyes—I knew we were driving into an ambush. I pulled my headset down from the visor and called the report in to Jared. “Talon 30, this is Talon 31. Enemy contact eleven o’clock. They are in the grape huts.”

It didn’t matter if the enemy scout on the grape hut reported our position now. The machine-gun blast definitively announced our presence. I wished I had a dip or even a piece of gum to calm my nerves. But that thought disappeared with the vapor trail from the first RPG.

Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan 2006. (Rusty Bradley)

Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan 2006. (Rusty Bradley)

I saw the first rounds of the battle smack off my windshield as a hail of rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun bullets sliced into our trucks. After that, there was no shortage of fire or targets to shoot at. From the top of the hill and surrounding compounds, they could see us coming. The Taliban knew what we knew: that Sperwan Ghar was prime real estate and they owned it.

“All 31 elements, watch your sectors and stay tight,” I radioed to the convoy. “Gunners, stay low in the cupola.”

Enemy snipers target the machine gunners; if our big guns went down, the vehicles would be defenseless. My mind focused again on the scout. How many were with him? What weapons did they have? We definitely needed more firepower. We had M4 rifles, M240 ma­chine guns, .50-caliber heavy machine guns, a sniper rifle, and the Goose, a Carl Gustav 84-mm recoilless rifle, but this was the kind of situation where a mini machine gun is priceless, and I wished I had at least three.

“Eagle 10, this is Talon 30. We are troops in contact. We have twenty to forty enemy one hundred meters northeast of our posi­tion and are receiving intense RPG, PKM, and small-arms fi re from numerous compounds,” I heard Jared radio to our headquarters at Kandahar Airfield. “Request immediate close air support.”

Within seconds the radio responded clear and loud. “Talon 30, this is Eagle 10, roger, we copy troops in contact. Stand by.” The wait lasted only a few moments, but it seemed like forever. Back at the tactical operations center dozens of men on radios and telephones would be scrambling to find us the help we needed. They would have to coordinate with the Canadians, who controlled all the aircraft for this operation.

“Talon 30, this is Eagle 10. We have emergency aircraft inbound to your target area. ETA twenty mikes [minutes].”

Twenty minutes from now this fight might be over, I thought. Neither Taliban fighters nor their ammunition were in short supply. Shoul­dering the smaller M240 machine gun mounted to the door on my side of the truck, I started firing at the muzzle flashes and fighters moving near the compounds surrounding the base of the hill.

The firing was heavy from the right side, and the Taliban fighters seemed to continue to maneuver from right to left. But now our heavy weapons began “talking” the way their operators had been trained. This meant that one machine gun would fire a short burst into an enemy position and would rotate with another machine gun doing the same thing, all rotating fi ring at the target until it was de­stroyed. This technique allowed us to destroy the enemy using maxi­mum firepower and minimal ammo.

Top of Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan 2006. (Rusty Bradley)

A view atop of Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan 2006. (Rusty Bradley)

In response, the Taliban fighters unloaded airburst RPG rounds all over us—rigging the rockets to explode so that shrapnel rained down on us. The volleys were meant to take out the gunners and wound troops in the back of the trucks.

“We have fire coming from our six o’clock. I say again, we have fi re coming from our six o’clock,” my team sergeant, Bill, said over the radio as I shook off the effects of the RPG blasts.

“Move truck 3 and 4 to my left and into an L shape,” I barked back to him.

The whole fight was a giant chess match. By putting our trucks in an L shape, we had managed to keep the Taliban at bay on the left and rear and make room for the rest of the convoy to move forward.

Brian called “Set”—the command that the truck was going to move—and quickly turned the vehicle to face the compound. Now we had the engine block between us and the enemy. I had no sooner reloaded my next can of ammunition than Dave called for a reload for his .50-cal. He laid a fresh belt of ammunition in the gun just as an RPG exploded on the truck’s front bumper, throwing up a massive wave of dust and debris. My teeth hurt and I had the strong metallic taste of explosives in my mouth.

Damn, we need more firepower. “Where is the CAS?” I screamed to Ron, my Air Force JTAC, one of the most important members of the team. It was his job to call in air strikes and get us the close air sup­port we needed. I could hear the rounds cracking around me as I took a quick look into the back of the truck. Ron was firing at fight­ers behind us. That was good and bad. He wasn’t injured, but he also wasn’t calling in air strikes on the Taliban fighters surrounding us.

This time Dave, Brian, and I all saw the source and unleashed our fi re into the tree line beside a compound directly in front of us. Almost as quickly as we started firing, it was returned from the compound—a mosque. We were being attacked from a mosque. Ac­cording to the Geneva Convention, if the enemy engages you from a holy site, using it as a military position, it can be engaged.

Dave went to work on the enemy machine-gun positions firing from inside the mosque. I called for him to give me covering fire and I got out of the truck with an AT4 and a LAWS. The AT4 is a dispos­able light anti-tank round. The LAWS is the Light Anti-Armor Weap­ons System for destroying small trucks and fighting positions. Both were made to destroy armor, but they’d also work on buildings.

I fired the LAWS first at the building directly in front of us to get my bearing and range. I might as well have thrown a tennis ball for all the good it did. I heard the loud thwack of rounds pass around me and I ducked back into the truck before I could fire the AT4. When the firing broke, I hopped back out, sticking closer to my truck, and took aim at the compound in front of us. The firing procedure was second nature: Front and rear sights up. Three hundred meters distance, set. Pull safety pin. Check back blast. Safety off and fi re. BOOM. Solid im­pact. Dust and debris flew from the main entranceway and every win­dow. Just as I slid back into the truck, Bill appeared in my doorway.

“How you doing up here, fellas?” Bill asked in his slow Texas drawl, despite the maelstrom of fire around him. I’ve had the pleasure of serving with several Texans, and they were all born fighters. It must be something in the water down there.

“I need a round count, things are too crazy on the radio,” he said. As team sergeant, Bill kept the guns running with plenty of ammuni­tion. He went to take stock of our stores, and returned shortly. “Got bad news, Captain. We are amber on .50-cal,” he said. Amber meant we’d already shot half of our ammunition.

I told him to get some bigger guns going, but he was already a step ahead. Sean, an ETT, was breaking out the Goose. The 84-mm re­coilless rifle, dubbed the Goose in honor of its original manufacturer, Carl Gustav Stads Gevärsfaktori, could shoot a high-velocity, high-explosive round the size of a football into the buildings. “We’re going to try the AT4 first,” he said.

It sounded good, but I told Bill to use the radio next time he wanted to talk with me. He was too valuable to be running around without cover. “I need you alive and not leaking,” I told him.

He disappeared just as I heard the sweet whomp, whomp of helicop­ter blades. The AH-64 Apaches had arrived.

“Okay, motherfuckers, now it’s really on!” screamed Dave at the top of his lungs.

I turned to Ron and he showed two fingers. Two aircraft. Jet fight­ers were also arriving on station, and Ron began to coordinate and identify targets.

Rusty Bradley poses with Afghans in 2006. (Rusty Bradley)

Since the main effort for Operation Medusa was the Canadian task force across the river, we had to get permission from them to use the Apaches. At the time, the Canadians were not under attack, and they eventually released the helicopters to our control. The Canadian task force had also wanted to keep the jets we had requested, American A-10 ground attack fighters, in reserve, but they relented and released them as well. While Ron sorted through the A-10 mess, Jared identi­fied targets for the Apaches droning above us, which were part of the ISAF Dutch contingent. At his direction, the gunships made runs on the heavily defended buildings in our path to drive out the occupants. But the Dutch pilots were nervous about shooting too close to us. They didn’t want to be blamed for friendly fi re.

“If you do not engage the targets we tell you, then we cannot use you,” Jared finally snapped, exasperated. “The enemy is within two hundred meters of our location and we need the fi re now.”

The first two 2.75-inch rockets from the Apaches slammed high into the grape house in front of us, collapsing its entire front. The sharp cracks of the explosions marked a good hit. As the dust cleared from the rocket blasts, Afghan Army soldiers to my right cut down the four or five Taliban fighters who came stumbling out of the building dazed and confused.

As I reached down to grab another box of ammunition, a red glow flashed across the hood of my truck. The RPG exploded just outside Brian’s window, showering the truck with shrapnel. Stunned mo­mentarily, we were snapped back into focus by Jared’s voice on the radio. He was still trying to muster fire superiority to push up toward the hill. Then the TOC in Kandahar came back: “Talon 30, this is Eagle 10. Here is your situation: the enemy count is not dozens, but hundreds, maybe even a thousand. Do you copy, over?”

 

 

Excerpted from Lions of Kandahar by Major Rusty Bradley and Kevin Maurer. Copyright © 2011 by Major Rusty Bradley and Kevin Maurer. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Bantam Dell, an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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  • Roger Runnalls

    And what was the initial reason behind bombing Afghanistan?  And why has no one yet been put on trial for the 9/11 attacks?  After 10 years we don’t have enough evidence to get a conviction?  Something is very wrong here.

  • Cory

    Tales of heroism in a war that makes no sense and has no end.  The will be no celebration of “V-A” day, and no happy ending or bright future for Afghanistan when (If) we leave.

    Bring our armed forces home immediately.  Fight problems at home and let these people find their own future.

    Just heard on MSNBC that air conditioning for our people in Iraq and Afghanistan costs 20 billion dollars a year.  In my state we have a 3 billion dollar deficit that has resulted in pension and healthcare increases and the loss of collective bargaining for public employees.

    We are ruining the lives of Americans to keep an occupying force on the other side of the world cool.  SHEER MADNESS!

    • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

      Because with great power comes great responsibility.

      I am sorry, but I disagree with your statement.

      My heart aches for Americans who are not seeing any positive progress over the last few decades/years in their financial lives, but, Afghanistan is still a much worse place to live than anywhere in the US.
      And, because we went in there in the first place, I think, we have the responsibility to finish what we started in a responsible manner.

      I am a pacifist. I am against any and all wars. I would love to see our troops home for safety and monetary reasons, BUT, I also believe we have a responsibility to that country and those people to not leave the mess that we started when we went in there.

      We are all people. We are all citizen of our planet. If we do not act in a responsible way towards others, we will just continue this selfish belly-button gazing and finger pointing and it will not bring anyone any good. It will not make this planet a good place to live. Once you realize that if your neighbor suffers, you cannot excel.

      Thank you

      • Anonymous

        “Because we went there in the first place…”

        You are no pacifist. A pacifist would, first, question WHY we went there in the first place and, second, demand responsibility for repairing the damage we’ve created by lending civilian and NGO assistance – NOT continued military engagement.

        • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

          If you read my earlier post, that is exactly what I am advocating.

          Thank you

          You’re taking my words out of context.

        • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

          If you read my earlier post, that is exactly what I am advocating.

          Thank you

          You’re taking my words out of context.

      • Cory

        We arrived 10 years ago to find a failed state full of terrorists.  We have built roads, schools, a government, and an indigenous military currently numbering 100,00. 

        Can we go now?

        • Cory

          sorry.  should read 100,000.

          • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

            Yes, I absolutely agree with you. I think we should go!

            I just don’t think it should happen all at once.

            I understand that you think otherwise. I understand that you think that we should withdraw our troops in more aggressive way – all at once. You also think that doing that isn’t or is going to impact Afghanistan and if I understand it correctly, you don’t think it will impact US in any worse way than us withdrawing our troops slowly over the next 5 years.

            Or, do you think that if such an aggressive withdrawal would impact Afghanistan in bad way, then who cares, right? We did our job, we paid enough. Can’t hold their hand forever. They should be able to jump in and take over governance of their own country without further assistance from US?

            Well, I care. I am one of those people that is silly enough to care not only about America and Americans, but people in other countries regardless of whether they care about me/us. I believe it is responsible way of living.

            I advocate for equal opportunity and rights for all people of this world, not just in America.

            And no, I don’t like paying higher taxes to support our military. I don’t like to see needless suffering and unnecessary deaths of our troops. Nor civilians in those countries. No, I don’t think America should go into every country and fix their problems.

            But, we are already there now.
            So, taking that into the consideration, what do we do about it NOW.

            Not, what coulda-shoulda been done 10 years ago. But what do we do NOW.

            I think we all agree about the fact that we need to withdraw our troops, it’s just the time frame of the withdrawal that we disagree on.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Just as we see in Iraq, Afghanistan will pay for ALL of the war costs out of the $Trillions worth of natural resources, that megacorporations are going to exploit, NOT!!!  Since our troops are reportedly guarding the poppy fields, and the opium, you just know all those patriotic drug king pins, Foreign and Domestic, are re-paying the war costs, as fast as the bills come in,  NOT!!  ALL of the above, tells you part of what’s going on.

  • Ian

    Great stories and many amazing adventures Im sure- But with so many kids here in the USA needing help, you need to call it what it is, adventure, and selfish adventure at that.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    As a patriot, and as a veteran, that wasn’t drunk when he was suppsed to be on duty, I thank my fellow veterans that serve, and have served.  We have a further duty to the newer generations of veterans, to watch the politicians, and try to expose those that will risk our comrades in arms, for their own gain, as USMC General Smedley Butler did.

  • Brian

    What part of volunteer did you miss?  I am really sick of our war machine and how we praise it.  How many other individuals in the country miss birthdays, holidays, loved one?  And the fact that On Point would not take my call (this is what I was told) to discuss only shows our real intentions.  Thanks WBUR. 

  • Grego

    I just tried to call in to say that enough praising our military!  I live in a military town in rural Wisconsin.  The military around here have an attitude that they are better than everyone else.  Its because for the past decade (2 decades) the only people that seem to be worthy of praise in our Country is the military.  Everyone else, farmers, doctors nurses, and God forbid, teachers, are like second class citizens.  ENOUGH!!

    And by the way, if our Country were invaded by some red army, how many of us would be shooting at them?  Does that make us all bad guys?

    • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

      Sounds like no one has thanked you lately for whatever job you do.
      Most jobs are thankless.
      You get a paycheck and should be happy that you do.

      Well, Thank you Grego, for whatever it is you do. I am sure it is productive and helpful and makes at least one person better off.

      But, the reason I think we thank our military is because they risk their lives for our safety.

      Yes, I question the reason we were/are in Iraq and the reason we went into Afghanistan. I don’t think we should have went in there, especially the way that we did. If you believe that having a military presence in the middle east makes it safer for us here, then … it’s simple.
      My question is, have we made things better or worse for America by getting into those wars in such irresponsible way? How much terrorism has American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan have prevented over the last few years?

      No one knows. There is no answer, just speculations.

      Yes, 9/11 hit hard and close to home, but looking back over the last 10 years, was the reaction and the response to that horrible act worth it?

      • Anonymous

        Once again, you are no pacifist.

        A pacifist (or a sensible, rational person) would know the real outcome of such aggressive wars of choice against (almost exclusively) Muslim nations. All credible studies have shown that these military “adventures” have created far more hatred for America and have been the primary recruiting tool for those who would hope to inflict a small measure of the harm on us that we have long inflicted on them and their world.

        True pacifists (and intelligent, rational people) like Gandhi understand that violence only perpetuates violence (and, not coincidentally, perpetuates the enriches the military/industrial complex that so many former generals have warned us about).

        There is only one (possibly) legitimate use of violence – and that is defense of one’s own land, which is precisely what the Taliban are doing.

        • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

          I am sorry, but I did say ” I don’t think we should have went in there”.
          I was against us going into Iraq and Afghanistan. I DO want the troops out of both of those countries as soon as possible.

          But, I also think that if we just left, tomorrow, all the troops out, it will create more havoc and chaos in those countries. It would make things worse for them, and for us. For us, because the Taliban and Al-Quada will use that “act” to tell people (brainwash) “See, Americans don’t care. They came here and destroyed our country!” and I think that would create more terrorists and more hatred for our country. It’s irresponsible. What does that show to other countries? That we can just go into a country, occupy it, bomb it, destroy it’s infrastructure and just leave, whenever we feel like “oops, that was a mistake”.
          We need to learn from our mistakes and “fix” them responsibly.

          It’s just my opinion on this situation.

          And thank you for telling me what I am. Obviously, after one single post, you are able to decipher someone’s character and ideals.

        • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

          I am sorry, but I did say ” I don’t think we should have went in there”.
          I was against us going into Iraq and Afghanistan. I DO want the troops out of both of those countries as soon as possible.

          But, I also think that if we just left, tomorrow, all the troops out, it will create more havoc and chaos in those countries. It would make things worse for them, and for us. For us, because the Taliban and Al-Quada will use that “act” to tell people (brainwash) “See, Americans don’t care. They came here and destroyed our country!” and I think that would create more terrorists and more hatred for our country. It’s irresponsible. What does that show to other countries? That we can just go into a country, occupy it, bomb it, destroy it’s infrastructure and just leave, whenever we feel like “oops, that was a mistake”.
          We need to learn from our mistakes and “fix” them responsibly.

          It’s just my opinion on this situation.

          And thank you for telling me what I am. Obviously, after one single post, you are able to decipher someone’s character and ideals.

  • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

    Thank you for your service to our country.

    But, my question is, why is military teaching Afghan people? Why isn’t the teaching done by the grassroots organizations and volunteers/lower paid people like in other countries?
    I think we need to scale back our military in Afghanistan and send more civilian help in a form of more doctors, teachers, nurses, etc. To build their infrastructure and their country.

    • Cory

      I’m more than happy to rebuild Afghanistan (more than we already have), as soon as we rebuild America, reach full employment, and pay off our debt.

      • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

        The way that you see it, it’s either this or that. Not both.

        I think we can and need to do both.

        We can’t just say, “ok, we have our own problems, so we’re going to go and take care of them. You wait here, don’t move, we’ll be right back”

        How about creating jobs here in America and putting American people to work, by going to Afghanistan and helping there?

        I think that’s a brilliant solution. Kill two birds with one stone. :)

        Oh wait, that’s right, neither you nor me would like to leave the safety and security of our homeland. Hmmm…

  • Randyrinaldo

    we keep hearing the term “police” Is it ever taught the reality of “The Great Experiment” and what it is to engaage a society in true “self governance” where the carrot and stick mentality of a olice state becomes antiquated or do you believe that the human race is incapable of “self Governance”?

    Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.” Albert Camus 

  • Webb Nichols

    The United States cannot rescue the World. As a member of the 3D Special Forces briefly before going to Vietnam and a member of a special operations unit in Vietnam who lived with Vietnamese and spoke hesitant Vietnamese, I understand the affinity people have with those that struggle to be safe and free. Strong bonds and loyalties are created out of friendship and common work. But The Iraq and Afghanistan War was not worth one patriotic, loyal, brave and disciplined American life. These wars were and are being fought for economic reasons. These wars may have cost the United States more than it will ever recover from. To take men to war, there must be an undeniable unquestionable moral imperative. To kill any one it cannot be in your self interest. To kill in self defense, one needs to ask why am I there in the first place.

  • Webb Nichols

    The United States cannot rescue the World. As a member of the 3D Special Forces briefly before going to Vietnam and a member of a special operations unit in Vietnam who lived with Vietnamese and spoke hesitant Vietnamese, I understand the affinity people have with those that struggle to be safe and free. Strong bonds and loyalties are created out of friendship and common work. But The Iraq and Afghanistan War was not worth one patriotic, loyal, brave and disciplined American life. These wars were and are being fought for economic reasons. These wars may have cost the United States more than it will ever recover from. To take men to war, there must be an undeniable unquestionable moral imperative. To kill any one it cannot be in your self interest. To kill in self defense, one needs to ask why am I there in the first place.

  • Webb Nichols

    The United States cannot rescue the World. As a member of the 3D Special Forces briefly before going to Vietnam and a member of a special operations unit in Vietnam who lived with Vietnamese and spoke hesitant Vietnamese, I understand the affinity people have with those that struggle to be safe and free. Strong bonds and loyalties are created out of friendship and common work. But The Iraq and Afghanistan War was not worth one patriotic, loyal, brave and disciplined American life. These wars were and are being fought for economic reasons. These wars may have cost the United States more than it will ever recover from. To take men to war, there must be an undeniable unquestionable moral imperative. To kill any one it cannot be in your self interest. To kill in self defense, one needs to ask why am I there in the first place.

  • Stormwalker03

    Sir, what do you see as the end of this war? What would you consider the goal?

    Thank you for your service, from all of America.

    “If you cannot stand behind our troops, you are welcome to stand in front of them!”

    • Anonymous

      First, you don’t have the right to speak for “all of America”, especially since most of the American people want this war over and our troops back home where they belong.

      Second, if you suggest that the most patriotic one of all – he who questions and challenges his own government – deserves a death sentence by his own military, then you are a traitor to what America is built upon.

      • Stormwalker03

        Robert, I speak for part of America. You are right, I should have said my America, but then it sounds very juvenile. I’d love a better way of saying what I mean. If you have one, I will welcome hearing it.

        And second, I support our TROOPS, not the idiot who put my brothers, my sister, my uncles and aunts IN HARM’S WAY! I do not agree with what the Bushes have done in placing my Family and Loved Ones in danger. But I will support them, every last one of the, in every way I can.

        How in the heck can you consider that being a traitor?! 

        “Stand before them” as in “You go first.” If you think you are so self righteous that you cannot stand behind our troops and support them, then by all means, stand before them. Put your money where your mouth is and take up arms (your second amendment right) and defend your Country.

        • Cory

          My sister is in Iraq as we speak.  I like to believe that gives me at least a little “skin in the game”.

          • Samantha, Buffalo, NY

            So, you will or will not stand in front of your sister?

            Just a joke.
            No one is advocating you do or questioning your commitment.

            But would you stand in front of a soldier that is not your relative?

            It is easy to be righteous and honorable when it comes to loved ones. It is hard to choose to protect others, who you are not related to.
            That’s why we say thanks to our military.

            Thank you.

        • Anonymous

          I do put my money where my mouth is. I refused to be drafted into the Vietnam fiasco and have refused to pay war taxes for 32 years.

          The Nuremberg Tribunals (organized and executed by US jurists) made it clear that each individual soldier is morally and legally responsible for following orders that are immoral or illegal.

          If “our” troops blindly follow their Commander-in-Chief into aggressive wars of choice, then each and every one is as responsible as the president and any civilian who supports them in their actions is complicit in murder and mayhem and crimes against humanity.

    • Cory

      The quote that you finish your post with is so simplistic and without any critical thought.  Do I, by your standard have to support the perpetrators of the My Lai massacre?  Should I face a firing squad for questioning them?

  • Eric N. SGT USA Retired

    I agree that the commanders and the troops know what they are doing but it is not a question of military might anymore.  I think we need to bring the troops home and practice a policy of containment if Afghanistan reverts back to an unfriendly government.  They build a camp, we blow it up.  The facts are this is just costing too much money and i don’t think we have the money to spend another 10 years there to get the generational change that needs to happen to make a long term difference.  
    That said, I am thankful to our troops that answer the call.

    • Anonymous

      Containment? What right have we to force a “friendly” government on another nation? If this Major is honest about helping the Afghan people to create the government THEY want – then we need to accept whatever they choose, and we need to get out of their way so their choice is truly free.

      But that is not why we waste such blood and fortune in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is to install governments friendly to US economic interests. That has been our rational for foreign wars of aggression since the inception of our nation.  

      • Heaviest Cat

        Right on the mark, Riversong. But you’ll never hear that on “National Pentagon Radio”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1408098372 Mari McAvenia
  • Anonymous

    The major (pun intended) flaw in this Major’s rationalization for continued military engagement in Afghanistan (already the longest war in US history) is that we civilians back home, who cannot see the big picture like the warriors on the ground, should not rush to judgment and just let the military commanders decide what’s best for the US, for the Afghanis and for the world.

    The truth, however, (and the reason that our founders put civilians in charge of our military) is that even high-ranking officers on the ground cannot see the big picture beyond their own limited perspective. 

    The big picture includes the political and economic and infrastructure status and real defense needs of our own nation, the geopolitical relationships around the world, the political and economic motivations (the real reasons) for engaging in these wars of choice (which have nothing whatsoever to do with our own national defense), and the moral imperatives and foundational principles upon which this nation was built.

    That truly BIG PICTURE can not be perceived by anyone within the military, and – in a democracy – is best articulated by our nation’s people (at least those among us who are not ignorant of our historical record and our current political machinations).

    Our military has been used quite often to destroy democracies and install and support ruthless dictators when it served the interests of our corporate elites (who also, by the way, largely supported Hitler and attempted a fascist coup against FDR), or to seize territory for strategic or economic reasons. The US military has never been used for the defense of American soil. As Martin Luther King stated in 1967 (and the reason he was murdered by the US military and CIA – which was proven in court), the US government is the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world”. Just as true today as it was then.

    • Cory

      Robert, isn’t it interesting how many politicians say “we should defer to the judgement of the generals”?  These same pols usually claim to be strict adherrents to the constitution.

    • R.A.T.

      WOW!!…. soap box much!… I love know it alls… If your so smart about everything and the people are so ignorant as a whole… why are you not their leader? Easy answer is “your a nut job just like so many of the know it alls”…. This man is a “HERO”… and I for one am glad to have people like him in the military to fight for our freedoms and others also. Keep up the fight and don’t let the “baby killer attitude” of some nut jobs here in the USA bring down your spirits…

      • Robert Riversong

        You speak like a true American – one who praises ignorance and perceives truth as a form of insanity.

  • Garthsgarden

    If you kept the contact information of the last caller on today’s show, an F-16 Reserve pilot who was injured, please send this on to him or perhaps he will read this:
     
    There are many groups and organizations out here that will help him through any difficulties that he may be facing.  Groups both inside and outside the government will provide assistance.  Sometimes the Services and VA can be slow to react or respond but help is out there.  Don’t lose hope.  Contact VA patient services, the local VFW, American Legion or other veteran’s service organization and help will be forthcoming.

  • David

    As a Viet Nam veteran I saw 60,000 die because of a faked
    attack on an American ship in the Gulf of Tonkin.  I have never found out why the US went to war
    and I probably never will, but a whole lot of corporations made incredible
    profits during this period.  As a citizen
    I saw a Trillion dollars wasted in Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction
    that were not there and most everyone knew it. 
    The Major is giving us the ultimate slap in the face when he says if you
    only knew what I know you would change your mind.  I would say that if he only had a course or
    two in critical thinking and logic, that he would not say such rubbish.  You don’t change anyone’s mind by saying that
    you know better and that there isn’t any point in discussing the argument any further.  On one hand we are supposed to believe that
    the Afghan people are some of the toughest fighters in history starting with
    Alexander the Great.  On the other hand,
    the Afghans seem easily brought to their knees by a rag tag Taliban.  What gives? 
    The real problem is who is going to pay for all this so-called nation
    building.  We need to get out of all
    these countries NOW.  All it takes is an
    order to do so and a Viet Nam style ending will come to the region.  It would be far better to take some of this
    money and help our wounded warriors at home, but that did not happen after Viet
    Nam and it won’t happen in these wars either. 
    Again, I don’t know why we are there, but I do know there are profits to
    be made at home.

    • Anonymous

      Why Vietnam? Tin, tungsten and rubber – primary export goods from the region – were considered “strategic materials” by the US. The revolutionary leader of Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh – first asked the US for assistance in their national liberation struggle and modeled their declaration of independence after our own. We turned them down because they were fighting our allies, the French, and when they defeated France at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the US took over the anti-independence effort. So Ho turned for help to the Soviet Union and that’s why they became communist, even though they had wanted to be like us. We have always created our own worst enemies.

      In Iraq (obviously) it was oil (the first name of the mission was Operation Iraqi Liberation – O.I.L.). In Afghanistan, it was natural gas pipelines that the Taliban were not accepting US terms on. Hamid Karzai, our installed Afghan president, had been a consultant to Unocal, the company trying to negotiate the pipeline with the Taliban leadership (whom we were most happy to have as partners as long as it seemed they could give us strategic access to the gas). When the negotiations broke down, Unocal told US political leaders that they would not re-open negotiations as long as the Taliban remained in power. So we took them out, even though they were the “freedom fighters” of the Afghani people against the Soviet invaders (fighters, including the Arab mujahadeen such as Al Qaeda and bin Laden, whom we had supported in that fight). We make our own enemies to give the military an excuse for spending half of our national budget.

      Naomi Klein, in her book The Shock Doctrine, calls this “disaster capitalism”. We destroy other nations, either economically or militarily or both, and then send in Haliburton to both overcharge the military for shoddy support services and to repair the damage to the nation’s infrastructure. John Perkins also described this in his book Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

      • William

        Ho was a Communist the day he left France. He turned out to be a really good one too and killed thousands and did not share his vision.

        • Robert Riversong

          More people have been slaughtered in the name of Christianity or Democracy than in the name of Communism, and specifically for “not sharing that vision”.

          Ho was, first, a Confucian scholar. His politics began to develop, however, in Harlem where he was strongly influenced by Marcus Garvey and his African nationalist movement as well as by some Korean nationalists he met there.

          He embraced communism later in France, but at that time most of the world’s leading anti-colonial intellectuals were communists (including many in the US). When he achieved independence for Vietnam, he created the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. 

      • Neenytyo

        Confessions of an Economic Hitsman should be required reading for every high school student . 

      • Stillin

        Confessions of an Economic Hitsman should be required reading for every high school student . 

  • Cory

    Let’s not mistake who the Major is.  He is a trained killer.  By historical standards he is an exceptional one.

    What he is not is a philosopher, engineer, philanthroper, politician, or lawyer.

    His status as a hero obviously depends on who you ask.

    • Stormwalker03

      Cory, I hate to agree with you, but I must. You make a point, and one I would stand behind.

      I ask you to think on something though: who trained him? and why? The Major was trained to protect this great Nation. Not to kill as many as he could. Not to get blow up. Not to lose friends and comrades. 

      That took Bush. He put our trained men and women in a place where they did not belong. Bush led our nation into a war we never wanted, and put our trained brothers and sisters in harm’s way.

      Never blame our military, they are but a weapon. Blame the Bush who wielded the weapon.

      • Cory

        I can’t disagree with your analysis.  Others share the blame such as a flacid congress who gets rolled over and over again in regards to the War Powers act.  Obama shares blame for letting this thing drag on endlessly.  We have blame for not holding the above more to account.

      • Anonymous

        “Never blame our military, they are but a weapon.”

        They are a weapon with individual brains and (hopefully) moral consciences. Their primary responsibility is to use both of those human faculties.

        Every human being is responsible for what they do in this world. “Following orders” is no excuse, and we codified that into International Law in the Nuremberg Principles.

    • William

      I would have to say Obama is also a killer, not very well trained, actually pretty inept. His illegal war in Libya is right up there with LBJ and failed justification for attacking North Vietnam.

  • Heaviest Cat

    Yet another strand in “public” radio’s war-fevered coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan at the expense of any critical inquiry into the stated rationales for the invasion and occupation in the first place or the current policies. How can NPR call itself “independent’ journalism which offers “all sides of an issue’ when its sources for releavent stories are commissioned officers, grunts in the field, or apologists for current policies in the academic or diplomatic communities? Just where are the anti-war voices on “public” radio? As an example does anyone remember an “All THings Considered” story about a week and a half ago in which it was acknowledged that the majority of Americans are against the war?Great, but instead of including an anti-war voice in the piece , the growing oppostion to the war in Afghanistan was dismissed rather condescendingly by Stephen  Biddle of the ‘Council on Foreign Relations”.
       Finally is Soraya Sorhaddi Nelson’s field report about going to the bathroom infront of the marines NPR’s idea of ‘straight down the middle’, “independent” journalism? NPR=”NAtional Pentagon Radio”

    • Anonymous

      The problem with NPR coverage is that, rather than being a truly independent news source, it strives for a perception of “objectivity” by including “all sides of an issue”, even if one side is already parroted ad nauseam in the mainstream media or is obvious propaganda. And, to avoid characterization as a “liberal” news source (which all news sources should be: liberal = free-thinking), it leans noticeably toward the more conservative (i.e. ideological) and establishment pundits.

      • Stormwalker03

        The problem isn’t with NPR, it’s with detractors such as you, Robert, and you Cat. If you don’t like what’s on, change the channel. 

        No one is forcing you to listen to NPR. This is a free country, exert that freedom and change the channel. Listen to something more up your alley. 

        Go back to Fox.

        • Heaviest Cat

          Um… Stormwalker ,it’s not that simple. NPR is ostensibly public radio funded largely by our taxes. That’s okay with me as long as it’s living up to its name and mission statement to include  ALL voices to the table,”especially alternative ones that might not otherwise be exposed”. NPR is constantly lying about being “independent” given that it by and large ignores voices on the left opposed to war while shilling ofr the Pentagon. As a believer in democracy I feel it’s my duty as a citizen to speak out against public-funded media that serves the military -industrial complex at the expense of other voices. we’re not getting the whole story. Therefore we can’t just ignore  it by changing the station as if it were a popular song ,we don’t like.

          • Stormwalker03

            Then do something about it. Writing a post in this forum isn’t going to change anything, it’s just going to make you look like a Fox supporter.

            Duty my lily white arse. You just want a soap box. And you put aside a very real fact and Truth. No one’s perfect. 

            You want to complain? Fine. That’s yer right as an American. But as an American, I am tellin you to shove it. You want to see a change? Then bloody well do something about it.

          • Heaviest Cat

            I AM, STormwalker. Posting here IS doing something about it. I have alos e-mailed “ON Point” about this program. NO one action is going to change anything. Change takes time and effort.THis is not a matter of “perfection” but a sytemic violation on NPR’s part, of its missionstatement.

        • Anonymous

          “Go back to Fox”? Sounds like “love it or leave it” – another infantile response to legitimate and necessary criticism back in the Vietnam days.

  • Roymerritt19

    The major certainly has a novel of epic proportions deep with him.  Being a veteran of the Vietnam conflict I appreciate his professionalism and his ethics as far as his relationship with the Afghanis he is training.  I am dubious as to whether we will ever be successful in convincing these ancient people ever to embrace a modern mindset I do salute the major for his bravery and defense of our nation.  Major Bradley is the quintessential American patriot.  America has never failed to produce such individuals.  They are walking among us from coast to coast. 
    “My country right or wrong, may she always be right!”

    Roy Merritt
    Wilmington, North Carolina

    • Anonymous

      A true American patriot is one who will not participate in illegal wars of aggression, such as every war the US has every fought since the Revolution.

      “My country right or wrong. When right to be kept right – when wrong to be made right.”

  • Timhawley

    Thank you for your service Major. I have to take up another cause as my son is also an officer in Afghanistan. The troops are having problems with their new uniforms, i.e. the crotch is blowing out. Seriously, is this the best the USA can do for our soldiers. This has to be investigated and corrected immediately! Where did the $100 million dollar DOD contract go to?

  • Hdalton40

    look we are one of the richest nation in the world. we cant take care of our own. we are doing good around the world, but lets quit spending money overseas and take care of our own.

  • Anewday11

    Thank you so much for your service. I am an Air Force brat w/ both my dad and brother having served in war time. You are a true hero. I know your family is so proud of you. I know I am and so grateful for men like you who represent our country.

  • Joan

    What has fighting for Kandahar got to do with American freedom?

    I feel sorry for how this man has been brained washed but it speaks
    to out right wrongness and total illegality of our American presense
    in Afghanistan to begin with….Joan

    • Anonymous

      It’s about our inalienable “right” to make a killing. Always has been. All US wars have been opposed by the people and pushed by the corporate elites.

      Does anyone remember that 90% of Americans were opposed to getting involved in WWII until Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs allowed the Japanese to take out Pearl Harbor? And that blue collar Americans engaged in more wildcat strikes during WWII than at any time in our history?

  • Michael

    Dude still in the military so anything coming from him is going to be filter.

    As well for the BS claim that all Troops are heros is a sad joke and reduces the word for actual heros. Unless one believes any soilder fighting for there respected country is therefore a hero solerly on the basis of joining not there actions while in. If so by that logic North K has a million plus (sic) Hero’s

     

  • Michael

    Dude still in the military so anything coming from him is going to be filter.

    As well for the BS claim that all Troops are heros is a sad joke and reduces the word for actual heros. Unless one believes any soilder fighting for there respected country is therefore a hero solerly on the basis of joining not there actions while in. If so by that logic North K has a million plus (sic) Hero’s

     

  • Robert Dunkin

    I am compelled to answer all you anti-militrary type.  First of all, this book has not been “filtered”.  I heard if from those involved on the mission.  Sgt First Class Greg Stube has become a very close friend of mine.  I have also read evertthing written about the mission.  I guarantee you that none of you could gold a candle to any of these men.  The only thing that I may have in common with you is that like you I can not either hold a candle to these men.  They are extraordinary gentlemen.  Men that I feel privileged to be associated with.

    For you anti-war no nothings, I want you to know how those of us that proudly served in Vietnam feel abou you.  In my opinion and the opinion of those I served with look upon you as traitors.  The Commander of the Army of North Vietnam, General Giap give you all the credit for encouaging them to hold on and continue killing Americans.  You have a special place in the War Museum in Hanoi.  In my opinion you have the blood of Americans on your hands.  I want you to know that there are those in this country that despise you for your actions.  On the other hand I have good friends that now that they have matured and grown up, have apoligized for their actions.  Needless to say I will not be asking the rest of you to my home for supper.

    I joined the USAF through Air Force ROTC program at the University of Texas.  I assume I was the only candidate that had to ger a doctorss excuse to get into the military because of a number of childhood ailmenst.  Like my older brother, ten years my elder, we felt the price of citizenship was to serve our country in the militrary.  We knew that freedom is not free.  I volunteered for duty in Vietnam in the fall of 1967 and went on active duty outside of Da Nang two weeks before Tet of 68.  I served as a Senior Tatical Air Controller in a Command and Control Center.  I am proud of my service and the numerous lives I saved that year.  I am proud of those I served with as they were dedicated to their duty and responsibilities.  All of them have since been successful and have live productive lives in our society.  It is because of the dedication of these people and those are now fighting a resolve enemy and doing their part in protecting our country that you are here today.  Many of our enemies see it differently and fortuantely you have the right to your opinions, but without men who fought for your freedoms, you would not be able to express your opinions no matter how wrong they are.  I have reasearched one of you and boy are you way out in left field.  I have always wondered how there could be people like that.  I have come to conclusion that you can’t help yourself: your were just made that way.  I attribute this to the belief your heads are screwed on with left hand threads, counter clockwise.  You can argue all you want about Vietnam, but you were not there and your actions gave comfort and aid to those people that were trying to kill me and Comrads.  In my book that makes you a traitor.

    Over the last five years I have had the privilege of taking wounded soldiers that were at Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio hunting on my lease.  I have never met a more dedicated or finer group of individuals in my life.  I would be proud to have any one of them working for me.  Since I have started doing this, I have given my quota of game to these young men to hunt.  I have had those that have been burned, shot, and blasted.  And every time I say to myself, where does our Country get such wonderful people?  One was a double amputee just below the kneew.  He came with his daughter and wife.  As he stepped out of his vehicle I was firs shocked that he was wearing shorts on such a cold December morning until I realized he had no legs.  That did not stop him.  We hunted through the brush, climbed hunting blinds, and set aroud the camfire talking.  It was not until I was helping him put his luggage in the back of his camper, that I realized what an extraordinary individual he was.  There in the back of the pickup was wheel chair and crutches.  He had no choice about his disability, but he was not going to be diabled.  I was struck to my knees and that happened time after time again as I hunted with these young men.  One was Sgt. First Class Greg Stube a Special Forces medic. I ran him through the woods looking for Nigai, not knowing that six months earlier he had sustained horrendous wounds including nearly haveing a leg severed.  I later saw a picture of him on a gurney going into surgery in Dandahar.  I will spre you the details.  Though severly woulded he never gave up fighting and as a medic he directed his field first aid.  He and his wife and young son are such a delighful family.  He became a speaker for the Army and spoke to civil and trade organizations all over the country.  He has been on numerous television talk shows and today after retiring with over 20 years, he has his own show on the Outdoor Channel doing what he likes best: hunting. I can go on and on, but there is one common element to all those I have workded with and that is their dedication to our Country.  This book gives praise to those that deserve it, our fighting forces.

    Today those that hate our country and it’s way of lif can be on our shores in less thatn twenty-four hours with very nasty weapons that can cause great harm.  Our choice is to stop them over there on on our shores.  I must remind you that their hatred of our country is due to the freedoms that our citizens enjoy and the way of life we choose.  They do not want you to have a choice of religion or a way of life.  They want to immpose theri way of life on you and I can assure you that those of you that are pot heads will be the first to go.  To believe that if we just pull our and come home, everything will go back to normal and no one will come after us; you need to quit drinking cool-aid and smoking dope.

    This is a very dangerous world.  Just fifteen miles south of where I set a war is being raged.  Hundreds of people are being killed weekly along with kidnapping and extortion.  This war is being fuelled by those of you that are using illedgal drugs.  Light up and weed and you are killing a Mexican.  It is spilling over into our country as people are being kidnapped and being held for ransom and others are being murdered on our soil by drug criminals.  You mahy want to Google Borderland Beat for the latest atrocities.  Some day you may want these soldiers to protect our borders.  I am proud that we have men like Sgt. Stube to risk their lives  for our safety.

    Robert Dunkin

    • Stormwalker03

      Robert, let me first say, from the bottom of my civy heart, Thank You. Thank you for doing what I could not. 

      To my dying breath, I will support our troops. However, that being said, I never agreed with Viet Nam. Our Military, I stand behind, but I place firm blame for that atrocity on the Military and Civilian Leadership. I can never support that, but I can and do support every last soldier. They are my family, my Father, my Uncles, my Grandfather …. every branch of the military are supported in my close family tree. I do not feel I am a traitor for this.

      Our Military serve this country to protect our Freedoms, and the 1% and the Republicans are only working to destroy them. Our Military needs to come Home, in my eyes, and fight the War raging here. We of the 99% are hippies, that is true, but we are also returned War Veterans, we are Teachers, Doctors, Nurses, Firemen, Police …. we are Librarians, Grocery Clerks, Stock boys, Waitresses, Civil Servants….. we are the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Reserves ….. We are the 99%, We are America.

      Apologies Rob, I may have gotten carried away…. I hope you get my point, and my Pride.

      Thank you Robert. Thank you, Sargent Stube.

  • Robert Dunkin

    Sorry, I see I was trying to type too fast and hit some wrong keyes.  Everything, hold, doctor’s, ailments, my, Kandahar, spare, and not, their

  • Scott M.

    Robert, don’t waster your breath with these communist/socialist traitors.  You have done an amazing job, keep it up.

  • Don Rector

    I met Rusty in Panjawai District in 2010 when he was working with the District Governor. His literary fans should not overlook the fact that he is still serving and still in the fight.
    I served in Viet Nam (C/1-501, 101st Abn Div) in 1967-1968, after which I spent 19 months in the hospital, getting put back together, then continued on Active Duty. I spent the last 6 1/2 years in Afghanistan. Five of those years (April 2004-Feb 2009) I was living “outside the wire” with ANP, Border Police, and village militia soldiers. From Jan 2010 to May 2011, I served with the Canadian Infantry of Task Force Kandahar as a Human Terrain Team member. My people worked with Rusty’s men in Talukuan and other villages in the far end of Panjawai District, southwest of Sperwan Ghar (the site of Rusty’s book). Men like Rusty and his team are the most valuable asset we have in this conflict. They live out with the Afghans and get to know and understand the people and the culture. That is the only way we are able to help in Afghanistan.
    You armchair warriors can debate the war/anti-war all you want, but unless you’ve been out there doing it, don’t try to tell us that have been about right and wrong. I love my Afghan friends, and I will soon be going back again.

  • rly harl

    I deeply appreciate the dedicated service of out combat veterans past, present, and future. I am one of 3 brothers who served Navy in the late 70′s- early 80′s time frame. I was never in combat but did lose 2 shipmates in less than 2 months both only 21 yrs. old. Military personnel get killed in peace time to.That hurt my heart deeply I cant imagine what it must be like to serve in combat and to lose your friends to death in combat. I really get upset when people who have never been in combat have the gall to second guess those who have. I also get upset about people second guessing in very harsh disrespectful ways about our military being in Vietnam now Iraq & Afghanistan. It’s easy to say we shouldnt have been in Vietnam with a easy boy recliner hind sight attitude. The FACT is we’ll never know the full impact of our military stand in Vietnam in stopping the spread of Communism. Just as the protestors squawk past tense we shouldnt have been there. I can say I clearly believe that by being there we demonstrated a resolve to the Communist regime. By the time we pulled out the Communist were just as glad to see us go. It had cost them tremendously in personnel & resources. So I salute our Vietnam Vets for their heroism and their dedicated service to take a stand against Communism. And I salute our military & veterans of today for their heroic & dedicated service to try to curtail terrorism in our country and around the world. I especially salute combat active duty & vets and special forces in particular of the past, present, and future. All civilized people love and pursue peace. Unfortunately since the dawn of man kind some people have sought to perpepatrate evil deeds of death & destruction against their fellow man. But fortunately there have always been men that had the courage to draw the line against evil and say NO ! We will stand against you ! For the U.S. that has been our Army,Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force,Coast Guard. And in particular Green Berets, SEALS, Rangers, Marine Force Recon, Air Force Para-Rescue and other  Special Forces. And all our combat forces. All of us owe these men Respect. To protest and disrespect these men and the sacrifices they have made is the most anti-American thing I know. I know Vietnam Vets who were spit on when they got back to the U.S. by fellow Americans ! That is SICK ! I went in service in 1975 at 18. I missed Vietnam I was to young to have went in. And I spent 8 yrs. service as Peace Time Navy. But had my country needed me for combat I would have been scared to death I’m sure but I would have served in combat the best I could like Many of my family before me. This may sound cliche but it is so very True. Freedom is not Free. It has been and still is bought by the blood of countless Americans on our soil and the soil of countless foreign nations. We need to shake the hands of these men & women in uniform, especially combat active & veteran  and tell them a sincere THANK YOU for your service !!

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Why Facebook And Twitter Had Different Priorities This Week
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

There’s no hidden agenda to the difference between most people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds this week. Just a hidden type of emotional content and case use. Digiday’s John McDermott explains.

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Our Week In The Web: August 22, 2014
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

On mixed media messaging, Spotify serendipity and a view of Earth from the International Space Station.

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