In the final presidential debate of the 2012 campaign season, President Barack Obama tried to score points by lampooning Governor Mitt Romney’s criticism that under the Obama administration, our US Navy had fallen to levels not seen since 1916.
In doing so, Obama sneered that we don’t have many bayonets or horses in the military either because times change.
Yet, our Marines are indeed equipped with bayonets. And the soldiers serving in Afghanistan use military horses.
In fact, Vice President Joe Biden was in New York City at Ground Zero for the dedication ceremony for a statue heralding the proud service of our horse-mounted soldiers.
A NY1 story, “Horse Soldiers Statue Rededicated At WTC Site,” reports:
A statue honoring soldiers who served in Afghanistan on horseback was rededicated Friday at the World Trade Center site. The 16-foot-tall Special Operations Horse Soldiers statue, located on Greenwich Street near the Path Station, commemorates when U.S. Special Operations team members rode horses into combat during the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Riding with and advising Northern Alliance warlords fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda on steep terrain in Northern Afghanistan, it was the first time U.S. troops rode horses in a military operation since 1942.
“Having the terrorist attacks here, bringing this back home, it’s priceless, words can’t describe the pride and honor we all feel,” said U.S. Army “Horse Soldier” Master Sergeant Michael Elmore.
“Only one had ever been on a horse in his life. He is a no kidding cowboy. The other men had never been on a horse. In the spirit of great Special Forces guys they adapted and began to conduct a horse-mounted operation with their Afghan counterparts,” said Special Operations Deputy Commanding General Lieutenant General John Mulholland Jr.
The statue was made possible by private donations, with $750,000 raised in six weeks.
“Mulholland and his guys would never ask for anything and that’s the beauty of it. They’re the quiet professionals so we wanted to do something to recognize them and all those who went and served to fight the battle of 9/11,” said Constellations Group CEO Bill White.
“The message is that military service to your country is an honorable thing,” said Sculptor Douwe Blumberg.
Among those on hand for the ceremony was Johnny Spann, whose son Mike was the first American to die during the invasion while working with the CIA.
“Hopefully the dedication of this Horse Soldier Monument will make people more aware and maybe they will get interested in reading about it or whatever. It’s a part of our history, and it’s important people know exactly what took place,” Spann said.
The statue was first dedicated by Vice President Joe Biden on Veteran’s Day.
During the debate, Obama also noted that he’d been at Ground Zero. Apparently he paid no attention to the statue there. Or perhaps he walked by it and just laughed at how preposterous he thought it was—just like he did in the debate.
It’s even odder to know that celebrity-obsessed Obama didn’t know about the horse soldiers because Hollywood knows. According to a special report at the Daily Caller, “Secret Mission: The Horse Soldiers of 9/11,” “producer Jerry Bruckheimer is producing a future movie about America’s ‘Horse Soldiers.’”
The Daily Caller story begins:
It was the news the world breathlessly waited for immediately after the 9/11 terror attacks: a report of the first American troops on the ground in Afghanistan.
All at once the world’s attention focused on an iconic photo of those Special Operations Forces doing something no American military had done in nearly a century: They rode horses into combat.
Their secret mission: secure northern Afghanistan by advising the warring tribal factions that formed the Northern Alliance. During the 2011 Veterans Day Parade on November 11, a new monument to these men — and to all Americans in uniform — made its way down New York City’s famed Fifth Avenue on the way to its final home, a stone’s throw from Ground Zero.
What a fascinating, uplifting story. One that our President should never belittle with derision dripping from his lips to score political points. In trying to make Romney look small, he mocked our heroes.
And in doing so, he proved he is a very small man with a large ignorance of military equipment.
(hat tip to @LifeOnAHorse for alerting me to the statue story. Follow the retired Navy man. And thanks to @MissSaraEliza for alerting me to the Daily Caller story.)
UPDATE: @AnthonyBialy tweeted a story he found on the Fort Bragg, NC, training center for the horses. The HorseChannel.com post, “Military Mounts at Fort Bragg,” notes:
The rocky terrain found in remote areas of Afghanistan isn’t easy to traverse, even by jeep. Native horses become a mode of transportation. Pack animals, especially donkeys, also become familiar partners. For some of America’s elite troops, however, knowledge of horses and their four-legged relatives isn’t familiar territory. The first time they actually halter a horse, saddle it and ride it may be at Smith Lake Stables.
“That’s why the only horses we get, that the government buys, are what we call dead broke,” Rossignol says. “We can’t afford to have anyone get hurt.”
But there’s more to it than just learning about tacking up and riding a horse, Rossignol says. The troops also learn herd management and how to treat common equine health issues affecting equines.
“We teach them about anatomy and basic vet care,” he says. “That’s because many times these troops are working with the local people.”
That’s one side of the Special Forces that isn’t often seen by the Americans at home. In order to establish a good rapport with an agrarian or nomadic society, a Special Forces member might offer to help care for sick or injured animals owned by local peoples. It’s all part of spreading goodwill.
Yet despite the benefits of maintaining a select group of horses for military training, the horses associated with Fort Bragg have faced some budget cuts. Land originally used for pasture was deemed too valuable for grazing, and horses were moved from the actual military base to their current home at Smith Lake Stables, a few miles away.
Once upon a time, Hollywood loved to splash all that made America great across the silver screen. It made our heroes larger than life, made the whole world look upon us with awe, envy and desire. We were the strong and the brave, striving to do the right thing, fighting the good fight. In times of trouble, Hollywood cheered us and rallied us, kept the home fires burning.
Then came Vietnam, and suddenly the men that put their lives on the line for us were no longer treated as heroes—they were barely even treated with respect. Not much has changed in the nearly 50 years since then. Hollywood lost touch with the common man. It went from being cheerleader to scold and naysayer.
Therefore, it’s a refreshing experience to see a movie in which America’s military is portrayed with pride. Act of Valor is one of those rare films that isn’t ashamed to be patriotic. Yet it’s not sugar-sweet; it doesn’t make battle pretty.
We go on a couple of missions with the SEALs, during which they operate with skill, precision, professionalism and honor. The incredibly difficult, tense missions pit them against tough, ruthless opponents. The SEALs don’t waver for a moment. They do their job, without apology. The film is made without apology.
While the actors were Hollywood amateurs yet military professionals (real-life active-duty Navy SEALs), they performed quite well. Some of the dialog came across as a bit hokey, a little stilted, but that was easily forgiven, in that the film was much more action-based than dialog-focused, letting the guys do what they do best.
The filmmakers packed the movie with action from start to finish. The audience was thrown into the adrenaline and confusion of a firefight, as the SEALs on screen achieved their objectives calmly and purposefully, with awesome firepower, using much of the latest weaponry and surveillance tools.
Throughout the film, the families of the sailors aren’t far from their minds or the minds of the audience. Before the men go off to battle, they say they have to make everything right at home so they have no distractions in the field. America’s military families can take pride in knowing their sacrifices, their strength and contributions, were well represented in the script.
If the movie had a downside, it was the portrayal of whom we were fighting. The terrorists were not Middle Eastern bad guys. Instead it was an odd assortment of two Russian kingpins (and a handful of babushka seamstresses sewing suicide vests), Costa Ricans, Mexicans and a few Filipinos thrown into the mix. The movie has drawn some criticism because one of the Russians, the billionaire money man funding the terrorist operation, is called out in one line of dialog as being Jewish. Islamic terrorism commentators Debbie Schlussel, Bookworm and Pamela Geller claim this makes the movie anti-Semetic. I disagree. It wasn’t a central point of the film.
I do agree it is rather stupid to make the financier of Islamic jihad a Jew. Would radical Muslims even want to take Jewish money to pay for their supposed way to heaven? I rather doubt it. By inserting this one line (“But you’re a Jew”), the filmmakers ask the audience to suspend disbelief that the money man is so down with the cause that the Muslims could overlook their religious animosity. But that premise isn’t supported at all. For one, the head Muslim honcho is a Chechen convert to Islam. No lifelong Muslim takes part in directing the operations. We’re told the Russian Jew and the Russian Muslim convert have joined forces because they were friends back in childhood. Yet they don’t seem to like each other, and they never give the audience any common goal that has now brought them together after all these years.
In fact, the billionaire tries to back out, saying he doesn’t want to be directly involved anymore though he’ll keep paying for the plans in motion. We’re never told why this billionaire, who has made his rubles as a drug smuggler, would benefit from blowing up Americans. Throughout the first part of the movie, we are left to assume he is a radical Islamist too. Later, when the Rob Reiner-looking SEAL senior chief confronts him on his yacht and mentions he is Jewish, it makes no sense.
It’s just all so preposterous, the Russians’ backstory, that it is easy to dismiss as lousy scriptwriting and forget it all when the action soon retakes the screen. And that’s the last we see of the inexplicable Mr. Russian Jew Islamic Jihadist.
Schlussel, Geller and Bookworm seem to be upset that anyone engaged in terrorism could possibly be Jewish. But this guy didn’t seem very religious or very bright. (From the start, I was wondering how in the world this greasy-haired hippie could have possibly amassed a billion dollars, even in a corrupt Russia.) I could see someone who was obsessed with making money by any means could associate themselves with terrorism if they were gonna make money off of it, but this guy was funding it, not profiting from it, thereby negating that angle (and potential charge of pushing a negative Jewish stereotype).
But I ask Schlussel, Geller and Bookworm, why should Jews be excluded from being the bad guys? Are all Jews perfect angels, never driven by baser motives? Wouldn’t it be anti-Semetic to say Jews can’t be treated like everyone else? Be bad guys in action movies? Granted we would all prefer bad guys that make sense in the constructed scenario….
If I had to guess, I’d say Obama’s Defense Department had a lot to say about whom the bad guys were to be. The people that Obama has spent most of his presidency bowing to, giving apologizing speeches to, relinquishing all American military superiority to, attempting to ignore all their connections to violent terrorism, are the people that are completely left out of the movie: radical Islamist Middle Eastern Arabs.
At first glance, it seems surprising the Defense Department consented to make Russians the bad guys, no matter how bumbling and disconnected to true Islamism they were. Obama has been courting the Russians since Day One, unilaterally giving up key strategies and forsaking our allies for them. But one bad guy was a Chechen, whom the Russians don’t like anyway, so they’d be cool with that. Making the other Russian Jewish also fits with Obama’s world view of good and evil. With the animosity this current administration has shown towards Jewish people, it would not surprise me if that group would be Obama’s personal choice to make the bad guys (if he had to choose some group other than American right-wingers).
As far as the Mexican connection is concerned, hey, the Obama administration has sent Americans guns into Mexico and caused Mexican deaths and crime as a result, without giving Mexico the typical apologies they love to give to our foes, so it’s no surprise they wouldn’t care much about making them the bad guys. I don’t know what beef the Obama administration has against Costa Ricans. Perhaps they better start worrying what Obama has up his sleeve for them.
So yes, having a Russian Jew fund the operation was a dumb, unexplained twist. But it was such a minor plot point, it did not impair my enjoyment of the movie. (In fact, Bookworm retracts the charge of anti-Semetism after more consideration.)
Our military deserves to finally have a supportive film in the long 10 years of war they have endured. Films like Act of Valor and Restrepo have sadly been few and far between. In an torn America that can’t even bring itself to give our returning warriors a parade, supporting this little film feels like a fine way to support our troops.
Good job, guys. Bravo, for all you have done.
America suffered a great loss when the Taliban took out a Chinook helicopter carrying 30 people, including 22 from SEAL Team 6 on August 6 in the rugged terrain outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. In the largest loss of American life since the war began, not only did we lose those tough, brave men doing great service to their country, but we also lost all their experience and expertise, which now can’t be passed along.
As we keep them and their families in our hearts, if you’d like to pay tribute and assist them, Hugh Hewitt recommended two charities, both of which look very deserving to me:
- United Warrior Survivor Foundation, which says that they are “the only organization exclusively dedicated to serving the needs of the surviving spouses of Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations personnel killed in the line of duty since September 11, 2001.”
- The Navy SEAL Foundation, which operates a SEAL heritage center, and provides a number of services for SEALs and their families, including “funding for monuments and memorials for fallen operators,” easing the burdens “when an active-duty member of the Naval Special Warfare community is injured or killed in action,” and providing computers every three years through primary and secondary school to children of operators killed in training or combat. The foundation has set it up so that you can also donate by texting “SEAL” to 90999 to give $10.
WJLA, the ABC News television affiliate in the DC area, has published on its website the photos and brief bios of 20 of the 22 Navy SEALs who perished in the crash. Click here to view the somber tribute.
Gay lobby groups and their supporters seem to say that simply permitting gay service members to openly express their sexual orientation will somehow make our military more fair, more equal.
Not so. If Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) gets repealed, women will immediately become second-class military citizens, simply because they don’t have a Y chromosome. Without DADT, if the military does not transform into a completely unisex environment, it will instantly segregate women from the general population, transforming their quarters into a separate, unequal female ghetto.
Why are women given separate housing, bathing and toilet facilities in an organization that requires complete unity for its survival and readiness? Because of the birds and the bees. Because men and women are sexually attracted to one another. (Well, most of them are.) Because to commingle housing and intimate function facilities would change the dynamics of the personnel interaction, creating an atmosphere ripe for trouble, uneasiness and embarrassment.
We can all pretend that sexual attraction plays no part in interpersonal relationships. We can try to believe that our professional military doesn’t need to have any downtime where they don’t have to be “professional” in their interactions with their coworkers.
Gays in the military say that they are left out of the camaraderie of the male-bonding experience because they can’t talk about what they did on the weekend like everyone else. This is patently ridiculous.
First, there’s no reason why Jim can’t say that he and John had a fabulous time going antiquing and staying at a bed-and-breakfast. If the gay lobby is to be believed, everyone already knows Jim is gay. He just can’t say that. The only thing Jim is prohibited from telling is the details of the sexual activity he engaged in with John.
Yes, straight guys may like to brag about their sexual exploits, but do gay guys expect that their exploits will find equal treatment when hanging with the guys post-DADT? What happened anyway to all the supposed bans on talk of any sexual nature that went into effect when women entered typically male areas and claimed to be too frail or offended to have to be subjected to such a rude, oppressive male environment? Will gays now submit the same lawsuits, object to female pinups unless they can put up their own?
Secondly, this isn’t about being able to openly discuss the details of homosexual activity. Ultimately, as with gay marriage, it’s getting a leg in the door for the money grab for numerous benefits to be extended to gay partners, cloaked as a civil rights issue. The gay lobby means to gain a significant, substantial legal foothold. If the repeal of DADT causes the military to eventually recognize gay marriages, award benefits to gay partners and even permit transgenders in the armed forces, then this will be put forth as federal sanctioning of gay marriage and will lead to the legal insistence that it should be done in all 50 states.
Perhaps instead of DADT, they should just have a “don’t talk about sex at all” rule. Rather prudish, but at least it doesn’t rip the fabric of society and military cohesion.
If there truly is no reason why gays in the military should not openly express their sexuality, then there is no basis to require some form of separate housing, bathing and toilet facilities for anyone likely to experience sexual desire for one another (and certainly no need for uninterested ones either).
In the heterosexual world, there has always been segregation by sexual preference: men here, women there. But if you add homosexuals into the mix, you will inevitably have men rooming with men to whom they are attracted (and some women in the same situation).
If gay men can live intimately with straight men and have no sexual issues, then women should be able to do the same thing, too. A woman is going to feel no less uncomfortable showering naked with a straight man (or group of straight men) than a straight man will feel in the same situation with a gay man or men.
Therefore, if DADT is repealed, it will be essential to make all housing, bathing and toilet facilities unisex. Otherwise, women once again become excluded, second-class citizens—women locked out simply because they are genetically women.
Women should not be denied the right to participate in the camaraderie and team-building that comes through bunking with the entire group, seeing their fellow soldier in varying states of undress, knowing their bathroom habits and all the other intimate aspects of their lives that are typically shielded from those who don’t share the less dignified aspects of the locker room.
A legal precedent will indeed be set if DADT is repealed. The US government and military will be saying that sexual orientation should never be used as a measure for separate quarters, bathing and toilet facilities.
It appears that a tiny herd of RINOs (Senators Murkowski, Collins and Brown) will permit DADT to get through cloture, meaning the repeal would be a done deal. If that occurs,…
Let the unisex consequences sweep across the land.
Update: The Senate just defeated the defense appropriations bill that included the DADT repeal, but Hot Air reports that Lieberman is going to present it as a stand-alone bill and that repeal still has a chance in the lame duck session.
Update II (12/10/10, 12:45): The Hill reports that newly installed Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the lone Democrat to vote against cloture on the defense bill that included DADT repeal, issued an apology for his vote, and said Obama should just revoke it himself in the name of national security so the Congress doesn’t have to vote on it.
TheOtherMcCain notes that by forcing a vote prior to the completion of tax and budget legislation that the GOP requires before agreeing to other votes, Reid gave “certain liberal Republicans a (non-homophobic) reason to vote ‘no.’”
Update III (12/15/10, 9:30 pm) The House voted today on a stand-alone DADT bill, which passed 250-175. This bill will make it easier for some Senate Republicans to vote for repeal as well. Just this afternoon, Sen. Olympia Snowe announced her support for the bill.
Wishing everyone a happy turkey day—especially our men and women serving abroad and at home.
On this day (and all days), I’m thankful for your visit to The Prudence Paine Papers. Hope to see you again soon.
Over at TheOtherMcCain, Stacy McCain’s sidekick Smitty has announced that he has been called up for duty in Afghanistan as a Navy reservist.
The attentive may recall that I’m a Navy reservist, and Afghanistan’s hasn’t much coast. Welcome to the modern, double-Jointed world, where Semper Gumby (always flexible) is the watchword. Have you supported Project Valor-IT yet?
As a staff REMF, it’s unlikely that I’ll be in harm’s way. This is really one year in an isolated locale, supporting the a few doughty Americans. Should some sort of combat situation come upon me, there in the capital, things shall have gone really awry. Unlikely. Also, as a 40-something ship driver from the Navy, there is no interest in reliving my non-existent Rambo days. Let’s be crystal clear on that. Besides PowerPoint, I’ll be doing staff officer sorts of things.
He will be missed during his tour. (A whole year without Smitty’s music references is going to be a touch less melodic.) I wish him a safe journey and a speedy return.
If you would like to do something in honor of Smitty and all our veterans and active duty military, go to Soldiers Angels and donate to Project Valor-IT.
Here are some other military charities that will help you brighten someone’s day and give thanks personally:
And some excellent military blogs:
- MilBlogging … compilation of military blogs
- Bouhammer … Afghanistan blog
- This Ain’t Hell …But You Can See It From Here (probably my favorite military read…if forced to pick one)
- Blackfive … general military, Team Army leader for Project Valor-IT
- Mudville Gazette … general military, Team Air Force leader for Project Valor-IT
- Cassy Fiano … the female perspective on military, Team Marine leader for Project Valor-IT
- USNI … the US Naval Institute and Project Valor-IT leader for Team…..Navy
Thanks again to all our veterans. We remember.