Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The New Golden Boys in the Military

Commentary by Lt. Colonel John Lewis Cook, USA (ret.)
Just when you think the Obama administration cannot possibly engage in any more stupid, embarrassing episodes, you suddenly discover that you are wrong.  This administration’s capacity for insanity appears to be limitless.  The latest example of this occurred on Tuesday when the Pentagon hosted something called the Second Annual Gay Appreciation Day.
This tribute to the Lavender Set took place in the Pentagon’s auditorium which is in the basement of the building.  Normally, special events such as this take place in the bright sunlight of the center courtyard.  In any event, the basement is the perfect place for this venue.  

Valerie Jarrett, the president’s all purpose, all weather cheer leader was in charge and she was definitely ready for the challenge.  Ms. Jarrett is famous for other-the-top statements that bear little resemblance to reality and on Tuesday, she did not disappoint. 

“Because we repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, our military is stronger and our country is safer now that homosexuals may serve openly,” she told the cheering audience.  This is a most sweeping assertion and it would, under normal circumstances, be accompanied with something in the way of proof to lend it credibility.  After all, she is making the gay soldiers sound like supermen and, without them, the nation would be in grave danger.  However, there is nothing normal about these circumstances we are facing today with this administration.  It’s as if Obama has repealed the requirement for any supporting documentation, on any issue.  In short, if the administration says it, it has to be true.  If the administration decides to make gays in the military the new Golden Boys, then they become Golden Boys.  Period.  

Next up was Chuck Hagel, the current Secretary of Defense who was selected to be the fall guy for the loss of Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t know it yet.  Taking his cue from Ms. Jarrett, he fell right in line.  “We’re very proud of everything the gay and lesbian community have contributed and continue to contribute,” he echoed, with the same amount of proof and less enthusiasm that Ms. Jarrett offered, which was none.  

Then Eric Fanning, Air Force Secretary, heaped praise on a gay Marine Captain and said when he deploys in August, “he’ll be taking his husband with him.”  (I admit, it will take some  of us some time to get used to these odd possessive pronouns, such as “his husband,” and “her wife,” but I suppose we should all make the effort because they are not going away. However, in the interim, it does appear a bit, well, queer.)

To make the event complete, there was actually a gay General officer in the audience.  Not much of a General, to be sure, only a Brigadier and not active duty but reserve, but technically, a General none the less.  BG Tammy Smith is duly noted as the groundbreaking General officer that actually came out of the closet. She and her wife were duly recognized.  At next year’s event, I’m sure the organizers are praying for a two or three star active duty General just to give the whole thing a touch of class.  

While it is all too easy to make fun of these officials fawning over gays as if they were rock stars or an endangered species, there is a far darker side to gays serving openly in the military and none of these officials have the courage to address it.  The dirty little secret is this.  During 2012, the first full year where gays could serve openly in the military, there were 26,000 sexual assaults across all services.  Of these 26,000, 14,000 were male-on-male assaults.  Yes, you read that correctly.  More men in the military were sexually assaulted than women in 2012.  So who is committing the majority of sexual assaults in the military?  Well, it’s the new hero who “is making our country safer,” according to Ms. Jarrett, the homosexual serving openly.  It’s the same homosexual soldier that Chuck Hagel is “so proud of.”  In fact, Hagel is “proud of everything the homosexuals and lesbians are doing.”    Well, do you think he’s proud of this report that was reluctantly released last month that blamed the “homosexual community”  for most sexual assaults in 2012?  And why was there a 35% increase in sexual assaults from 2011 to 2012, most involving male-on-male assault?  Could it be that throughout all of 2012, gays were serving openly and apparently taking full advantage of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, came out of the closet in droves, determined to celebrate their liberation with anyone they encountered, regardless of consent?   

When viewed through this lens of cold, hard reality, free from the distortion of political correctness, the whole gay issue quickly ceases to be humorous.  In fact, it becomes utterly disgusting.  The truth is, gay soldiers are a real threat to real soldiers and this report bears that out.  Instead of putting them on a pedestal, they should be tried and put in jail.  If this is allowed to continue, this virus has the potential of killing the military from the inside.  For anyone who still has doubts about this, then I advise them to read the “Annual Report on Sexual Assault In The Military,” May 2013.  So,  what is being done about this epidemic of male rape in the military?  Precious little because if it is forced into the bright light of day, it is an admission that the great gay experiment was a total failure. 

 Meanwhile, as the  military leadership was partying with gays in the basement on Tuesday, the last remaining grownups in the Pentagon, the operational folks who always have to make the hard calls during times like this, were wrestling with the latest orders from the President to cut ten combat brigades from a force that is already too lean.  That will be roughly 45,000 soldiers who will, eventually, lose their jobs and the chance to finish their careers.  Soldiers who have done nothing wrong, raped no one, just doing their job, will be cut loose.  But have no fear.  None of those who get cut will be gay.  God knows, in this environment, being gay is being golden and the gays will keep getting a free pass until sanity is restored to the system.  When that will happen is anybody’s guess because there are no George Patton’s on the horizons.  Like those guys at Benghazi, the military right now is on its own.  No help will be coming from this administration.  

About the Author
Lieutenant Colonel John Lewis Cook, United States Army (Retired), “served as the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Interior in Kabul, Afghanistan, with responsibility for developing the force structure for the entire Afghan National Police.  As of 2012, this force totals 157,000.  From March 2008 until August 2012, his access and intimate associations with all levels of the Afghan government and coalition forces have provided him with an unprecedented insight into the policies which will determine the outcome of the war.  It is this insight, coupled with his contacts and associations throughout Afghanistan that form the basis of Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure."


Acting Air Force Secretary Recounts Journey to Equality

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2013 – During a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month event at the Pentagon today, the highest-ranking openly gay member of the Defense Department described his experiences witnessing the evolution of the law that banned openly gay service members, from its implementation to its eventual repeal.

Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning noted the significance of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel kicking off the DOD’s pride celebration, as just two years ago, gay and lesbian service members could not openly serve in the military.

Absent an association like DOD Pride to lend support, Fanning described the difficulties and sense of isolation that he and others at the Pentagon endured as the repeal process ran its course. “There were no other open LGBT appointees, and anyone serving openly in uniform was surely in the process of being discharged,” he said.

Fanning began working in the Pentagon 20 years ago, a time he described as a personally painful experience as DOD began to implement the law that came to be known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“It was a deeply conflicting time for me,” the Air Force’s top civilian official said. “I was launching a career with strong support from amazing bosses who knew about my personal life. … I was being given opportunities that were being denied to people just like me. I was working for an institution that discriminated -- against people just like me.”

He also recalled how during that time, people spoke about gays and lesbians in “blistering and emotional ways,” denigrating them for simply wanting the right to serve their country while being honest about who they were.

Still, Fanning said, the military underwent the difficult process of opening doors to those it previously denied or constrained: women, immigrants looking to prove their patriotism and earn their citizenship, and to gays and lesbians.

“At times, it seemed agonizingly slow, or even that we were losing ground,” Fanning said. “But never once did we doubt we were on the right path.”

Relying on the diverse talents of a broader pool of people who are willing and able to serve has fortified the military, Fanning explained. “We are stronger for looking more like the society we are charged with protecting, and we are today … the finest military the world has ever known,” he said.

In the two years leading up to the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the debate had a remarkably different tone, due in great part to the support of the president and the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen.
"I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” the admiral testified before Congress. “It comes down to integrity -- theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.”

Looking back to almost two decades earlier as a junior aide, Fanning said, he could never imagine having a chairman say things like Mullen did.

Fanning said most people had begun to accept the possibility of repeal long before it occurred, though he was fortunate enough to be present when the president signed the historic document.

Among the celebrations and congratulations, he said, many supporters asked what it was like to be in the Pentagon after the repeal.

“I answered honestly, and I think disappointingly, that … we went back to the building, and in my view, the building had already moved on past the decision and we talked about what we talk about every single day: the budget,” he said in a deadpan tone.

Fanning also said he’s received a bit of attention since he was nominated to be undersecretary of the Air Force -- not all of it welcome, some quite negative, and some that he described as “rather imaginative.”
“Many have speculated as to my agenda, what color I'll paint the planes, what designs I have on the uniforms,” he said. But like almost everyone else, he added, he remains focused on simply doing his job, and chiding comments are dwarfed by the outpouring of support he’s received in and out of the Pentagon.
“It reminds me that, as important as events like this are for our community, they're also important opportunities for our allies to identify themselves and to let us know they're right alongside us,” Fanning said.

“Events like this give voice not just to us, but to those who support us.”

Face of Defense: Squadron’s Lone Female Gunner Aims High

By Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Hughes
99th Air Base Wing

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev., June 26, 2013 – Fresh out of training, Air Force Airman 1st Class Natasha Libby is the only female aerial gunner assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron here.

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Air Force Airman 1st Class Natasha Libby, 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner, stands next to an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 20, 2013. Libby is the only female among more than 30 gunners assigned to the squadron. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Hughes

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Libby, the younger of two children, bore great responsibility growing up and working on her family’s farm in Yakima, Wash.

After graduating from East Valley High School in 2010, Libby said, she realized she couldn’t afford college. She found a job at a sandwich shop, where she worked for 11 months. During that time, an Army recruiter contacted her about joining.

Libby said she developed a desire to leave her hometown and become something more. “I realized I wasn’t going anywhere, … so I made the choice to pursue a career in the Air Force,” she added. She went to an Air Force recruiter, hoping to start a career that would be interesting and fulfill her childhood dream of flying.

Initially, Libby was designated to be an aircraft environmental systems apprentice. But two months before shipping out for basic training, her recruiter asked if she would like to be an aerial gunner.

“I was stoked,” she said. “I thought that was the coolest job ever. I might have been excited, but my family had mixed emotions. My father was very proud, and my mother was scared.”

While many see moving away from home for the first time as an obstacle, Libby saw it as a new beginning, providing her the opportunity to make the change in her life that she wanted. During training, she learned how to handle a weapon while flying, how to use different radios and how to survive during a crash or mishap.

“I was introduced to Libby in Aerial Gunner School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas,” said Air Force Airman 1st Class Kevin Lerner, a fellow 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner. “From the day I met Libby, I could tell she was a natural leader, and someone who you could count on. She always had her nose in the books, trying to learn as much as she could about the subject we were learning at any given time.”

Libby operates weapons systems on an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, but that is not her only responsibility. She also briefs passengers on safety and procedures and performs in-flight maintenance of airborne weapons systems.

Libby said she is dedicated to mastering her craft so that when a real-world mission comes, she will excel at the highest level. Being a woman never has added pressure, she added, but instead has given her motivation to work harder.

“Something I learned during training is I can achieve my goals as long as I use my mind,” she said, “Everyone had to work hard during training, but I feel being a female, I had to work a little harder to maintain the same level or better than the males in my class.”

Growing up on a cattle farm, Libby said, she grew physically and mentally tough at a young age. The work ethic and morals she learned on the farm are the same ones she applies to her job now. The Air Force’s core values -- integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do -- reinforce those morals.

“Those weren’t new values to me,” she said. “I was able to see what my parents taught me, what I learned in life, and what the Air Force has taught me, and I apply it in my everyday work environment. I don’t take those values lightly.”

Libby said it’s “cool” that she’s the only female aerial gunner in her squadron of more than 100 airmen, which includes 30 gunners. “But it doesn’t change anything,” she added. “I still come to work like everyone else.”
Libby may be at the beginning of her career, but she doesn’t see it that way. She already has goals and aspirations of becoming a chief master sergeant and counseling airmen to make a difference in their life.

“My whole life, I have been grateful for what I have been given. When I am ready, I want to pay it back,” she said. “The goal of joining [the Air Force] was to better my life, and if I can better other peoples’ lives, then that would be outstanding.”

Hagel Calls on Russia to Hand Snowden Over to U.S.

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today called on Russia to hand over Edward Snowden to the United States.

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with reporters at the Pentagon, June 26, 2013. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

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Hagel said he believes that Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor and now fugitive who has admitted to revealing highly classified U.S. government surveillance programs, is probably still at a Moscow airport.

“I would hope that the Russians do the right thing here and turn Snowden over to the United States,” Hagel told reporters during a Pentagon news conference, adding that he did not know if Moscow has made a final decision on what to do with the man now charged with espionage.

Hagel called the Snowden affair a negative in U.S.-Russian relations but nevertheless one that both nations must work through.

Hagel, along with Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that Snowden’s decision to reveal details about the NSA’s gathering of phone records of millions of Americans as well as a separate classified program that involved eavesdropping on Internet activity by foreigners overseas did uncalculated damage to U.S national security.

“We are assessing that now. But make no mistake. This violation of our laws was a serious security breach,” Hagel said. He added that he was in the Senate when the laws approving the programs were passed.
“They are legal,” Hagel said of those laws, “and they do protect the United States.”

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, has told Congress the classified surveillance programs have prevented more than 50 terrorist plots since the 9/11 attacks.

Snowden has not been seen in public since arriving in Russia June 23 from Hong Kong, where, despite a U.S. request that he be detained there, was allowed to board a flight to Moscow.

“We’re very disappointed in the Chinese government in how they’ve handled this,” Hagel said, adding that both countries could have chosen to cooperate.

“And this was an occasion, I think, where we had an opportunity to do that,” Hagel added. “But that was the decision of the Chinese government.” Even so, Hagel said, he did not foresee a disruption in Sino-U.S. military relations.

While steps are always being taken to evaluate insider threats and to counter them through upgraded systems and improved technologies, Hagel said, in the end, little can be done if someone with a top-secret security clearance is willing to break the law.

“I don’t know how you can ever completely 100-percent guard against someone who wants to break the law and violate the statutes and the interests of our nation,” Hagel said.

Capacity-building Central to Syria Strategy

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2013 – In an effort to help prevent the violence in Syria from spreading to its neighbors, the Defense Department is focusing on building partner capacity in the region, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said today during a joint Pentagon news conference with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

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Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses reporters during a press conference at the Pentagon, June 26, 2013. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also participated, announcing that President Barack Obama has nominated Dempsey and Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to second terms. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

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“Militarily, what we're doing is assisting our partners in the region, the neighbors of Syria, to ensure that they're prepared to account for the potential spillover effects,” Dempsey said.

As part of these efforts, the U.S. will leave some Patriot missile batteries and some F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft in Jordan and is working with its Iraqi counterparts, the Lebanese armed forces, and Turkey through NATO, the chairman said.

“And we've made a recommendation that, as we look at the challenges faced by the Lebanese armed forces, the Iraqi security forces with a re-emerging Al-Qaida in Iraq, and the Jordanians, that we would work with them to help them build additional capability,” he added.

The assistance would take the form of training teams or accelerated foreign military sales of equipment, the chairman said.

“This is about building their capability, not ours,” he added.

These actions are in addition to the recent decision to provide military aid to opponents of the Assad regime, Dempsey said.

The defense secretary acknowledged that delivering the military aid raises a number of challenges.

“The opposition represents many different groups,” Hagel said. “And we will always be and have to be assured that assistance we give to the Syrian military council gets to the right people, and that isn't a decision that can be answered quickly. It's a constant process of assessment.”

One option under consideration, a no-fly zone, would be difficult to impose, the chairman told reporters.
“My concern has been that ensuring that Syria's airplanes don't fly addresses about 10 percent of the problem, in terms of the casualties that are taken in Syria,” Dempsey said.

“The Syrian air defense system is sophisticated and it's dense,” he noted, adding that implementing a no-fly zone is essentially an act of war.

“I'd like to understand the plan to make peace before we start a war,” Dempsey said. But, he added, if the decision is made to impose a no-fly zone, “We’ll make it happen.”