Chemical Exposure and Gulf War Syndrome: Forgotten Illnesses, Forgotten Warriors?

I remember ramping up for the First Gulf War as a combat medic with the 102nd Medical Battalion, “Fighting” 69th Infantry Regiment, 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division, New York Army National Guard out of Manhattan, N.Y., back in 1990-1991.

I was helping teach a Combat Lifesaver course to the non-medical personnel in my unit and from other 69th units. The supply weenies (endearing term) were taking our measurements for “popcorn” desert camouflage uniforms, and our vehicles were being painted sand colors from their woodland camouflage pallet of black, green and brown.

Everyone thought there would be a protracted war with the Iraqis. They had entrenched themselves along the Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti borders and were holding their elite combat units in reserve. A classic, conventional defense that would prove a tough nut to crack, or so we thought. We were preparing for a drawn out and bloody trench war. Also, since Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against the Iranians in the nearly decade long Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) and against his own Iraqi Kurds, we trained heavily and seriously for chemical warfare, including treatment and care of chemical casualties and decontamination techniques.

U.S. soldiers pose in their chemical suits. Photo Credit: Veterans Today.

U.S. soldiers pose in their chemical suits. Photo Credit: Veterans Today.

Before my unit got orders for mobilization, the war had begun and then ended 10 days later. Victory was swift and decisive, with few U.S. casualties that weren’t self-inflicted.

It took months and then years for stories of strange illnesses, later tagged as Gulf War Syndrome, to filter into the conversations of the reserve military medical circles I ran in. Several soldiers and officers I later served with in the 356th Field Hospital and then the 4220th U.S. Army Hospital (U.S. Army Reserve units) out of Rocky Point, Long Island, N.Y., who served in the Gulf War, talked about symptoms of unexplained headaches, body aches, lack of concentration, nausea, and gastrointestinal problems.

I remember reading about a hypothesis in a study in the Military Surgeon’s periodical that said the syndrome could have been caused by the consumption of diet cola sweetened with aspartame – heated above 84 degrees Fahrenheit in storage facilities prior to being served to troops, turning the artificial sweetener into formaldehyde. Formaldehyde poisoning was the guess. By the way, your body turns the aspartame into formaldehyde as well, which binds to some bodily tissues.

I read other studies and reports that pointed to exposure to nerve agent spread from demolition of an Iraqi chemical weapons plant proximate to U.S. troops, and destruction of a chemical weapons storage facility by U.S. troops. Still other guesses included biological infestations, exposure to mysterious airborne desert particles and smoke from the over 700 burning oil wells, set fire by retreating Iraqi forces.

U.S. Marines walk near burning oil fields in Iraq. Photo Credit: U.S. Marines Space Corps.

U.S. Marines walk near burning oil fields in Iraq. Photo Credit: U.S. Marines Space Corps.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs now lists over a dozen potential causes of illnesses associated with service in the First Gulf War. The VA offers a “free Gulf War Registry health examfor possible long-term health problems related to Gulf War service.”

Now I read that “medical experts cannot agree on a definition of the illness,” which adds to the stigma associated with complaints from nearly one third of all who served in that war.

The skepticism surrounding the illness has waned, but a definitive treatment is elusive due to the varying symptoms and lack of concrete evidence pointing to a cause. My gut instinct from stories I’ve heard and personal conversations with those who served in the First Gulf War is exposure to chemical nerve agent, which affects the central nervous system. These agents are persistent, which means they are oil based and therefore can be absorbed into human tissue. These symptoms can manifest as an allergic reaction, either mild or severe.

There is legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 2510, which would address chemical exposure in veterans from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, but since it was introduced in Congress last June it has not been brought to a vote.

U.S. Army soldiers watch garbage burn in a pit at Forward Operating Base Azzizulah in Afghanistan Feb. 4. A judge recently dismissed 57 lawsuits filed by military personnel who said they were injured by toxic fumes from the pits. Photo Credit: Reuters

U.S. Army soldiers watch garbage burn in a pit at Forward Operating Base Azzizulah in Afghanistan Feb. 4. A judge recently dismissed 57 lawsuits filed by military personnel who said they were injured by toxic fumes from the pits. Photo Credit: Reuters

The bill instructs the Department of Defense to “create three burn pit centers of excellence to research, diagnose, and treat veterans who have been exposed to these toxins.” Thousands of veterans, who dutifully established and maintained burn pits under orders, are suffering, some need lung transplants. But the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense are denying long-term care for these dedicated and loyal military servicemen and women.

Please sign the petition and let House Majority Leader, Eric CantorSpeaker of the House John Boehner, and your representatives know you want those who made it home to have every bit of care they deserve, whether or not what ails them can be easily diagnosed. It is all of our responsibility to care for our wounded warriors.

When they wrote a blank check to their country, they didn’t ask if it would be easy, they knew it could cost them their lives, but no one ever told them if it didn’t they would be ignored.

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1

OBAMA’S ATTEMPT TO DISARM AND DISABLE THE US MILITARY

Barack Hussein Obama seeks to use the teachings of ancient Chinese military genius Sun Tzu, as described in his famous quote: “One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful, subduing the enemy’s military without battle is the most skillful.”

The question is: Are we going to let him?

Recently, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that he is proposing huge cutbacks in the military, especially with regard to Army personnel . The set-up for this fall included prematurely withdrawing from Iraq and announcing that all U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan would end by December 2014.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Hagel warned that the Pentagon may have to mothball up to three Navy aircraft carriers and order more sharp reductions in the size of the Army and Marine Corps if Congress does not act to avoid massive budget cuts beginning in 2014. Credit: AP

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Wednesday, July 31, 2013.  Credit: AP 

 

We still have troops in Germany, Japan and Italy over 68 years after the end of World War II, although Obama removed the last of our Abrams M1-A2 main battle tanks from Germany last spring. The effect of removing troops from Afghanistan would be a reduction in our capability to project our power and influence in defense of our country and our best interests in the Middle East. That is a void none of our friends or allies will fill, and the vacuum created by our withdrawal will collect only those who can and will do us harm.

The most recent proposed cuts announced by Hagel amount to a gutting of an operational force to a level that would take at least a decade to rebuild, if that. I say “if that,” because the proposed cuts to future soldier benefits will help discourage the best and brightest from giving a damn about joining. If they survive their tour they might have to end up living on food stamps, like thousands of Army privates with families do today, or, if they don’t survive, their families and spouses will have crumbs to live on from reduced death benefits.

The danger of electing a president with no military experience, or respect for those who do serve, is coming home to roost. Obama hates the military and takes every opportunity to humiliate and endanger U.S. forces, especially our elite marines and Navy SEALs, and now is striking at the heart of our forces: The Army.

Imagine you are an enemy of the United States, and you are observing the behavior of our president, taking close note of even the most subtle gestures of disdain and contempt for his military, such as a Marine holding an umbrella, the famous “crotch salute,” and calling an admitted Islamists massacre of U.S. personnel and soldiers at Fort Hood “workplace violence,” denying those killed and wounded and their families the benefits and recognition they deserve.

You would begin to salivate and plan our ultimate destruction, gaining confidence with every marginalizing act.

Photo credit: Washington Post

Photo credit: Washington Post

Far from fantasy, this is the reality we see today, playing out before our very eyes. The saddest part of the military retraction is the complicity of those who obey unlawful orders to weaken the force, whose survival and our survival, depends upon its viability and strength.

Although the proposed cuts, which would take effect in 2016, slash and burn nearly across the board, Special Forces are strengthened with the rationale that a lighter more flexible force is required for future threats. What the civilians in charge of our military don’t get is that those forces require about six non-combat troops to support every one of them. Logistics is what keeps these elite fighters effective. Without bases and supplies, and people to run them, every elite soldier would fall flat on their face.

The main fallacy in this internal attack on our ability to defend ourselves is the left’s assumption that the “two major wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. These were/are in fact “operations” in the Global War on Terror (Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, respectively). This is the major rationale behind the cuts, and the biggest lie of all. Liberals are so desperate to turn a blind eye to those who want us dead that they are willing to perpetrate this fantasy on the rest of us, at great peril.

Today we have troops in over 150 countries worldwide, defending our country and our interests 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Two US soldiers walk at the site of a suicide attack On the Kabul Jalalabad road, in Kabul on December 27, 2013. A Taliban suicide attacker detonated an explosives-packed car next to a NATO military convoy in Kabul, killing three NATO personnel and injuring at least four civilian passers-by, officials said. The blast in the Afghan capital left the twisted remains of the attacker's car spread across the scene along with several other badly-damaged vehicles, including a NATO sports utility vehicle, witnesses said. (AFP/Noorullah Shirzada)

Two US soldiers walk at the site of a suicide attack On the Kabul Jalalabad road, in Kabul on December 27, 2013. A Taliban suicide attacker detonated an explosives-packed car next to a NATO military convoy in Kabul, killing three NATO personnel and injuring at least four civilian passers-by, officials said. The blast in the Afghan capital left the twisted remains of the attacker’s car spread across the scene along with several other badly-damaged vehicles, including a NATO sports utility vehicle, witnesses said. (AFP/Noorullah Shirzada) 

 

In today’s most dangerous world, where Islamists pray to their god for our death and demise, we MUST defend ourselves until all Islamists are dead or no longer have the means or will to kill us. That’s not a would be or a could be or a should be, it is a MUST BE.

We MUST be willing to stand up to this infringement on the most sacred trust the American people have with their president, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The security of the people must not be marginalized or traded off for campaign promises and re-election gimmicks.

If we allow this president to continue unchallenged we will be the first (and last) generation to live under the powerful protection of the greatest military civilization has ever known, a military that liberates rather than occupies; a military that rebuilds rather than destroys; a military that seeks victory, not conquest.

Members of the US Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment 'The Old Guard' carry the casket of US Army Captain Andrew Pederson-Keel during a burial service for Pederson-Keel in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, March 27, 2013. Pederson-Keel, 28, was killed March 11 during an attack on a police station in Afghanistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Members of the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment ‘The Old Guard’ carry the casket of US Army Captain Andrew Pederson-Keel during a burial service for Pederson-Keel in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, March 27, 2013. Pederson-Keel, 28, was killed March 11 during an attack on a police station in Afghanistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images 

 

The liberal media, progressives, socialists and leftists all conspire to destroy our military dominance while at once pronouncing their “support” of the troops, but in reality they know nothing about us. We are mission oriented, trained to seize the objective, to never quit, and to never leave our buddy behind. These people claim they want all the troops to come home, but even though in their heart every soldier longs to be home, and safe, we know too, that it is our DUTY to COMPLETE THE MISSION FIRST.

The Global War on Terror rages on, even though we can’t see it, or taste it, or smell it every day, it is there, lurking in the shadows, and caves, and sick deeds and minds of our enemies. While it rages on if we do not continue to STRENGTHEN our military and CONTINUE to out think & plan, and out produce & perform our foes, we will be destroyed. And don’t think for one iota of a second that “our foes” do not include the president, his cabinet and compliant military and civilian appointees.

The morality of war is measured in the survival of those who are most adept at perpetrating it. Whether by battle or by subterfuge, we need to remain the best at staying several steps ahead of our enemies, lest we fall victim to the illusions of a peaceful state, perpetrated by our highest federal officials; sadly, those who swore to protect us.

Contact your elected representatives NOW and let them know how you feel about a reduced and weakened military. Tell them what you want our military to be able to do and that you expect them to make sure it happens.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

TO DRONE OR NOT TO DRONE: DOES CITIZENSHIP MATTER?

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military genius once said: “The military seeks not conquest but victory.”

Militarily, using drones to eliminate enemies is economical. It conforms to the “economy of force” tenant of battle, whereby one seeks to eliminate a threat with the minimum amount of force necessary, preserving heavier resources for heavier tasks. The military would rather subdue the enemy without battle, thereby achieving victory with the least possible cost to personnel, materiel, and collateral.

Politically however, the “cost” is measured in unhappy allies and American supporters.

We saw in Vietnam that militarily, after the Tet Offensive of Jan. 30, 1968, the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army over-committed themselves by attacking and then briefly taking all South Vietnamese provincial capitals, but at great cost. The U.S. counter attacked and within days or weeks successfully won back every single gain the North had realized, and then had the bad guys on the run.

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Two U.S. drone strikes killed a total of nine suspected al-Qaida militants Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, a Yemeni military official said, the sixth and seventh such attacks in less than two weeks as the Arab nation is on high alert against terrorism. Credit: AP

In this Nov. 8, 2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas. Credit: AP 

 

Unfortunately, Walter Cronkite, the undisputed media voice for the American people, decided otherwise and told audiences in February 1968, that the war was “mired in stalemate,” and called for “negotiations.” From then on the U.S. looked for ways out of the conflict, eventually pulling out all U.S. troops in August 1973.

Recently, the Defense Department has identified an American al Qaeda operative overseas, who is, in the words of an anonymous source within the department, “actively planning attacks against Americans overseas.

The problem is, after the last targeted killing of an American overseas (al Qaeda operative and Virginia resident Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a U.S. CIA drone in Yemen in 2011) there was an international and domestic uproar, especially by supporters of the president. This struck a nerve that could not be ignored, so Barack Hussein Obama fashioned new policies that somewhat quieted the crowd, but also tied our hands when seeking to eliminate known threats.

FILE - This Oct. 2008 file photo shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike. A public backlash is starting to grow in Yemen over civilians killed by American drones as the U.S. dramatically steps up its strikes against al-Qaida s branch here the past year. Relatives of those killed say the missile blasts hitting their towns only turn Yemenis against the U.S. campaign to crush militants. The drone strikes have taken out high-level targets in Yemen such as American-born cleric al-Awlaki, believed to have been a powerful tool for al-Qaida s recruiting in the West. Most, however, appear to target midlevel operatives. Credit: AP

This Oct. 2008 file photo shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Credit: AP 

 

The new drone policy preferred the Department of Defense, and not the CIA, using drones, and any American targeted needed to have substantial provable evidence against them, or proof of imminent danger before a mission could be green-lighted. Another complication, now part of the policy, is that we can no longer send a drone into airspace over a country that doesn’t want us conducting such an operation, unless that country is determined to be rogue.

Let’s go back to Sun Tzu for a moment. Remember that militarily, victory is the number one concern of any mission. That is the objective. If you want us to “win,” we need to be able to use every available asset to achieve victory.

If you want us to “win,” we need to be able to use every available asset to achieve victory.

Otherwise, you compromise your effectiveness and therefore your psychological advantage over your enemy. Once the enemy is emboldened by thinking you will not use your weapons effectively against him he becomes even more dangerous than when you were hunting him down like the rabid, running yellow dog he is.

The yin and yang of war is that whatever you fail to employ against your enemy’s weakness, becomes his strength. Whoever employs his weapons most effectively wins.

We were not defeated militarily in Vietnam, nor could we have been. Neither were we ever fully committed militarily. We limited our bombing of North Vietnam. We never effectively mined or blockaded Haiphong Harbor, the main route of shipping supplies to the North. And we never properly pursued the enemy after pushing him out of the cities and towns he took during Tet. We allowed Communist China to intimidate our commitment, let politicians limit our commitment, and then bent to public opinion and media sabotage of our military efforts.

Remembering also that the main objective of politicians is to get re-elected and then preserve a legacy for themselves, military victory is easily explained away as unnecessary conquest. As long as the enemy does not invade the United States or incite insurrection, all is well.

Pakistani protesters gather beside a burning US flag during a demonstration in Multan on May 25, 2012 against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal belt. A US drone strike on May 24, killed eight militants in a Taliban stronghold of Pakistan's tribal belt, bringing the death toll from such strikes to 12 in two days, Pakistani officials said. Pakistani-US relations went into free fall last year, starting when a CIA contractor shot dead two Pakistanis, then over the American raid that killed bin Laden on May 2 and lastly over US air strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Pakistani protesters gather beside a burning US flag during a demonstration in Multan on May 25, 2012 against the US drone attacks in Pakistani tribal belt. The US is allegedly considering a drone strike on an American terrorism suspect in Pakistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images 

 

Sept. 11, 2001 changed all that. Or so we thought. My orders for activation after Sept. 11 stated that I was being ordered to military duty “in support of the Global War on Terror,” which sends our forces to more than 150 countries world wide today.

So, which is it, a War on Terror, or unfortunate little conquests we have no business perpetrating on others in the first place? Do we limit our engagement, thereby emboldening our enemy, or do we strike when necessary to save lives from potential (planned) attacks?

What we have now is legislated indecision. Advantage al Qaeda.

Prior to Awlaki’s demise, both the CIA and Department of Defense conducted drone operations. Now only the Department of Defense is authorized to do so, but actions by both houses of Congress have resisted making funds available for the transfer of CIA drones to the Army. Great hand wringing and gnashing of teeth is going on amongst our elected cowards, uh, I mean officials. They can’t see the War on Terror forest for the terrorist trees!

In the old days, prior to Awlaki’s killing, having the CIA and military  conduct targeted drone attacks kept the enemy unbalanced and unsure about where the threat was coming from. With only the military authorized to use drones we are “playing by the rules,” and tipping our intentions and take-off sites.

Advantage al Qaeda.

Does it matter if the enemy combatant is American or not? Should it?

In past conflicts Americans who were caught as traitors were summarily executed. Un-uniformed, or improperly uniformed spies can be lawfully shot on the battlefield in a hot war. Does it matter whether or not it’s from a field grade officer’s 9mm handgun or a drone?

Whether or not to use a drone may come down to whether or not you seek victory, with the only caveat being whether or not the target is more valuable dead or alive and at what cost you are willing to risk going and getting him.

LIBERAL HOLLYWOOD TAKES ON GUANTANAMO BAY

Question: What’s green and tan and red all over?

Answer: Kristen Steward (better known as KStew) in Army fatigues making a Gitmo movie!

Why “red all over?” Because when the whole story comes out about her new film, “Camp X-Ray,” premiering Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, at the Sundance Film Festival, Kristen should be ashamed.

It’s not that I think that her acting will be bad; it’s the fact that the story and images will be hyped media caricatures of our military from a liberal Islamist apologist point of view.

What’s been made available publicly about the movie is slim, but there’s enough to see that the plot and portrayals will be brutal for the Army and for Americans.

Liberal Hollywood Takes on Guantanamo Bay

The synopsis reads:

A young soldier escapes her suffocating small town by joining the military, only to find that she isn’t going for a tour of duty in Iraq as she hoped. Instead, she’s sent to Guantanamo. Met with hatred and abuse from the Muslim men in her charge, she forges an odd friendship with a young man who has been imprisoned at Gitmo for eight years. While serving her country to the best of her abilities at Bravo Block, she is also subject to the attempted affections of her superior officer, Sergeant Randy without any action or sympathy from Commanding Officer Colonel Drummond at Gitmo.

There’s also a revealing interview with actor Lane Garrison, who plays KStew’s supervisor, Sgt. Randy in the film. In a radio interview, with host Artie Lang, Garrison describes his character as “a real seedy guard,” and says, “my character believes [the detainees are] all guilty of Sept. 11 and they should all rot [at Guantanamo Bay].”

Garrison also talks about how his character “sexually assaults” KStew’s character using graphic language, mentioning it took “four hours” to film the sexual assault scene. The film description suggests that KStew’s character gets no sympathy from her good ol’ boy commander, Col. Drummond, played by John Carroll Lynch.

Lang asks Garrison if his character “tortures” detainees, to which Garrison responds “Yeah, I get hard core with it, and it’s a really dark piece and Kristen’s phenomenal in it.”

Waterboarding is also mentioned, and Garrison confirms that he does that in the film, to which Lang says, “You really go into the torture thing?” And Garrison answers, “Yeah, we explore that, and we go into what happens when that one person is innocent, that’s down there, and he doesn’t get any trial.”

The film plays up myths from the imaginations of the left to the hardships of serving at Gitmo

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It is clear from Garrison’s responses that the film plays up myths and false assumptions from the minds and imaginations of those insensitive to the challenges and hardships of being a soldier on duty at Guantanamo Bay.

The Army has never authorized enhanced interrogation techniques on anyone, ever. That job is left to the CIA, who did waterboard a “’handful’ of detainees [at Gitmo], which saved many lives,” according to George W. Bush in his autobiography, “Decision Points.” Waterboarding, at the time it was performed, was an authorized “enhanced interrogation technique,” and not considered torture, even by international standards, according to Donald Rumsfeld in his autobiography, “Known and Unknown.”

As for “innocent” detainees, there are none.

Though over 600 Gitmo detainees have been released, none of those were found “innocent” or “not guilty” of anything because they were never charged with war crimes. The unlawful combatants held legally at Gitmo do not have to be charged with anything according to the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare (Army Field Manual (FM) 27-10) even lawful combatant Prisoners of War may be held without charge “until the end of hostilities.”

Liberal Hollywood Takes on Guantanamo Bay

So, until all Islamists are dead, or no longer have the means or will to kill Americans, we can legally, morally and ethically hold them at Gitmo – it’s just not politically correct or expedient to say so.

In the meantime, the U.S. has not executed, beheaded, hacked to death, blown up or dragged a detainee naked and lifeless through the streets since detention operations have begun at Gitmo (despite the current recidivist rate among released Gitmo detainees of nearly 29 percent); these are all things our enemy has done to us and innocent others, including Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Benghazi in part by released Gitmo detainee Sufian bin Qumu, who planned the attack.

Garrison sums up the film this way: “[The movie] is going to cause a lot of controversy; people are going to be talking about it.”

And what exactly are people going to be saying? Probably things like: “I KNEW it! I just KNEW they tortured those innocent people down there!” and, “those dirty bastards raped her, too! Sexual assault in the military is out of control!”

Appearing in the opening credits to Academy Award winning best film, “The Hurt Locker,” from Chris Hedges book, “War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning,” is this quote:

The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.

The adrenaline rush one might experience in a war zone produces the fight or flight instinct that soldiers are supposed to be able to control. A person trained to cope with situations in a combat environment may not be able to easily adjust to peaceful civilian life upon their return home, but that doesn’t mean Hollywood should emphasize it, or make it appear to be the rule and not the exception.

War films, for all their glorious effort, tend to create exaggerated images of reality. War is not fun, and taking care of unlawful combatant Islamist extremists who want to kill us is securely in the “totally messed up” job category.

Liberal Hollywood Takes on Guantanamo Bay

It seems like we will get that portrayal in “Camp X-Ray,” and it appears we will also get the stereotypical politically correct soldier as victim routine, led by Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of an innocent girl thrust unknowingly into a situation she finds confusing, abusive and overwhelming, perhaps a-la “Private Benjamin,” in which Goldie Hawn forlornly asks her drill sergeant, “where are the condos?”

Soldiers pick their jobs, but not their missions. Civilian recruits dream of battlefield heroics that don’t measure up to the generally mundane hurry-up-and-wait reality of most military occupational specialties, and being a Military Police soldier can find one in myriad situations, from directing traffic to front gate security, and from personal security detail to detention operations. The latter scenario requires additional training, and has its own designation in the Army, which is the only military branch that trains for detention missions.

There are bound to be anachronisms in “Camp X-Ray,” like the misnomer title. The real Camp X-Ray was asolitary confinement detention facility hastily cleaned up from the 1990s Haitian boat crisis. The inside looked like dog kennels, with concrete slabs and six-by-eight-foot chain linked boxes. It existed as a functioning detention facility for approximately four months, from December 2001 to April 2002.

Since the synopsis available for “Camp X-Ray” the movie says that KStew’s character “forges an odd friendship” with a detainee who’s been there for eight years, I’m going to assume they either took artistic license and have Camp X-Ray still open, or they are confused about where the majority of detainees actually are today (it’s a separate camp the U.S. began constructing immediately upon getting to Gitmo, called Camp Delta).

Liberal Hollywood Takes on Guantanamo Bay

For the record, U.S. Army Military Police lived in austere conditions during that time, having set up a tent city on higher ground above Camp X-Ray. When the detainees were moved to Camp Delta, U.S. personnel also got an upgrade to living in Sea Huts, or plywood dwellings with air conditioning, in a place called Camp America, which was adjacent to the detention facilities.

“Camp X-Ray” the movie probably won’t go into much detail about the oath Army recruits and officers take upon enlistment and commissioning that requires them to follow all lawful orders of those appointed over them, or the fact that all troops assigned to Gitmo are NEVER to fraternize with detainees.

So if KStew’s character has a relationship with a detainee, she is breaking her oath and is violating the regulations and committing a crime. I doubt that will be stressed. She will be sexually assaulted, which will further portray her as a victim, and she will get no sympathy from her superiors, which will make her character even more hurt puppy-like, and make the Army seem more the villain.

In the end, we will be getting a point of view shared by the majority of citizens at large from the images and sound bites spoon fed by a liberal media for consumption by those who already see the male dominated military as unfair, brutal and sexist.

That is not what your military is all about: 99.99 percent of those who serve do so with loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. Every American can be proud of all but a very few who serve at Gitmo.

The few who broke their oaths and fraternized with the detainees? They are out there, and apparently KStew is now one of them.

 

DEBATING IRAQ: HINDSIGHT VS. REALITIES – RESPECT FOR VETERANS

Lane Filler, in his opinion piece in the January 8, Newsday titled, “The tragedy of Iraq, a decade later,” attempts to extract a pound of flesh even from his own belief that going into Iraq in April of 2003 was the right thing to do. Regarding weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein had everyone fooled on that, including the U.N. Security Council and 86 countries that supported going into Iraq; Saddam had used chemical weapons in Iraq’s war with Iran and against his own people (thousands of Iraqi Kurds in March, 1988). Fuller lists numbers of people killed. What about the people saved, which can never be measured?

Saddam harbored terrorists (Abu Abbas, highjacker of an Italian cruise liner resulting in the death of American Leon Klinghoffer, found in a Baghdad suburb in 2003), trained, supported and financed international terrorists, and murdered an estimated 250,000 of his own people with his paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam. He invaded Kuwait, attacked Saudi Arabia and Israel during the First Gulf War, and had chemical warhead artillery ammunition ready to fire against U.S. Troops.

The only thing wrong with our military operation in Iraq is that we left. We’re still in countries we defeated in WWII, and Germany (chemical decontamination unit), Japan (transportation unit) and Italy (support troops) all supported the Iraq operation, continue to allow U.S. military bases, and are among the world’s economic leaders. Our relationship with these countries allows us to better protect our friends, and ourselves and to project our power and influence around the world.

Barack Hussein Obama’s quitting Iraq had the effect of destabilizing the Middle East and creating a security vacuum that is now exacerbated by the influence of Iran, Russia and China. Al Qaeda has re-invaded Fallujah and Ramadi, and Iraq is precipitously on the brink of destabilization; a festering sore in Obama’s failed Middle East policies and practices.

As a Global War on Terror veteran who served in Iraq in 2004-2005, I am appalled and offended by Lane Fuller’s ignorance about the geopolitical significance of Iraq, and his insensitivity towards those who served and gave their lives and livelihoods there in order to keep this great nation safe.

A WELL-ARMED MILITIA: IT’S TIME FOR VETERANS TO TAKE A STAND

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, a document I swore to uphold and defend with my life, states:

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Considering the current government assault on military benefits, and considering the administration’s response to the Benghazi attack, I am wondering just how much consideration some might give to joining our all-volunteer force in the future?

I wonder too, if the Framers imagined a government “Of the People, by the people and for the People” ever reneging on the promises made to those of us who swore our lives to defend this great nation, including its supreme law? Here’s something President Abraham Lincoln said about our commitment to the veteran in his Second Inaugural Address, on March 4, 1865, with the end of the Civil War in sight:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

This is a promise, borne of a sense of duty and righteousness toward those who bore the burden of supporting this great nation with their blood, sweat and tears. This promise is the legacy of a nation born in blood and preserved in honor.

This promise is the legacy of a nation born in blood and preserved in honor.

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What is happening now in the great halls of our government in Washington, D.C., is a desecration of that promise. A little here, a little there; capping cost of living increases for military; eliminating this benefit for years for retirees,;reducing pension growth for disabled retirees and survivors; preventing Reservists from collecting retirement pay for decades; and reducing retiree benefits by 20 percent. It all adds up to more than $6 billion in “savings” over 10 years.

A Well Armed Militia: ItsTime for Veterans to Take a Stand
Vietnam War veteran Fred Johnson, 73, watches people shop at a yard sale held to benefit Jerral Hancock, a 27-year-old Iraq war veteran who lost his left arm and is paralyzed from the waist down in a bomb explosion in Iraq, on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in Lancaster, Calif. When the seniors in Jamie Goodreau’s high school history class learned Hancock was once stuck in his modest mobile home for months when his handicapped-accessible van broke down, they decided to build him a new house from the ground up. It would be their end-of-the-year project to honor veterans, something Goodreau’s classes have chosen to do every year for the past 15 years. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tens of thousands of my fellow returning veterans from the Global War on Terror (still being fought world wide with U.S. troops in over 150 countries) will receive less and less of what we were promised.

Staff Sgt. Alex Jauregui, a double amputee, disabled Army veteran who lost his legs while on his fourth tour in Afghanistan, and who removed a barrier to a military monument in Washington, D.C., during the government shutdown earlier this year using his Segway, said in a “Fox News” interview that he feels “betrayed” by the vote, and that his friends who are still in the Army are considering leaving military service if the government can’t keep the promises it made.

A Well Armed Militia: ItsTime for Veterans to Take a Stand
Photo Credti: Twitter via @andrewbcreech

I don’t own a gun, but I carried and used one in the service of my country in a combat zone. I’ll be damned if anyone tries to infringe on that right for myself or anyone else. It has crossed my mind in the past year or so, with all the writing on the wall about reduction in military benefits, that something is going to give: That something is the relationship between the soldier and the civilian leadership of this country.

I have considered purchasing a gun or two, and not just for self-protection or that of my family, but for the protection of my country and the ideals I swore, and never rescinded, to uphold upon my enlistment into the Army, and then again upon my commissioning as an officer. A well-armed militia contributes to a secure nation, and allows the many hundreds of thousands of veterans to continue to defend the Constitution, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

That’s a serious situation for serious times. On Dec. 17, the Senate voted through a two year budget package that includes the cuts mentioned previously. The intentions of this government towards its military are clear. Trust no one, believe nothing, and only fools will join the military service. Why pledge your life, livelihood and the protection of your family should they survive you to such a noble cause if everything that was promised to you is a lie?

Our lives are the ultimate sacrifice, sacred, holy and complete. If that’s not good enough to receive basic benefits, promised upon enlistment, then the leadership of this country has surely lost its way. Like Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, D-Day and 9/11/01; Wednesday, Dec, 17, 2013, should go down as a day of infamy: when Congress voted to renege on solemn promises to the defenders of our freedom and liberty.

We, each of us veterans, is beholden to the promise we made upon swearing in to uphold and defend the Constitution, and now we have to make good on that promise. The question is, will our representatives in Washington listen or will the well-armed militia need to be mobilized?

RELEASING GITMO DETAINEES IS NO GOOD FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

Some say that President Obama is closer to closing the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba because of pending approval for changes in the law that would allow detainees to be transferred back to the countries of their origin.

But closing Gitmo should not be anyone’s goal. Closing the facility would only play into the agenda of al Qaeda, the Taliban, Islamists and their apologists. Gitmo is a result of a need to keep captured enemies safe and secure in order to obtain valuable information that may save many lives, to prosecute suspected war criminals, and to keep known Islamists who want to kill Americans on the battlefield and in the streets.

Releasing Gitmo Detainees is No Good for National Security

Furthermore, closing Gitmo will not end the Global War on Terror, nor will it make Islamists want to kill us less. But it would pose a grave danger to Americans and our allies. More than 600 detainees have already been released. None have been executed, beheaded, hacked to death, blown up or dragged naked and lifeless through the streets – things our enemies do to us.

According to the Director of National Security already more than 28 percent of released Gitmo detainees have returned to the fight, including Abu Sufian bin Qumu, the mastermind of the Benghazi attack.

Gitmo is in fact the finest military detention facility in the world, and is a necessary and important part of keeping us safe. I worked at Gitmo with an International Committee of the Red Cross physician who told me, “no one does [detention operations] better then the United States.” Gitmo is in fact the furthest thing from being a “gulag,” an unearned tag pinned on by a liberal media and Islamist apologists.

Until Islamists are dead or no longer have the means or will to kill us, we must defend ourselves.

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Even though military operations are winding down in Afghanistan, we still have troops in over 150 countries world wide defending us in the Global War on Terror. Until Islamists are all dead or no longer have the means or will to kill us, we must continue to defend ourselves. That means we need a safe and secure location for unlawful combatants who are not killed, and who may have valuable information which could save many innocent lives, including yours.

The Geneva Conventions were written to PROTECT innocent civilians during war, not to protect those who PRETEND to be civilians in order to murder them. Our enemies choose NOT to wear uniforms – not because they can’t afford them, but because they don’t want you to see them coming.

Releasing Gitmo Detainees is No Good for National Security

They won’t stop if Gitmo closes. They won’t stop if we leave Afghanistan, or bring all of our troops and planes and ships home. And we cannot stop doing what’s necessary for our survival and that of our great experiment in democracy.

Some argue that repatriating Gitmo detainees back to their countries of origin is illegal and cruel if there is likelihood that the detainees would be killed or tortured. If that’s the fear, then retain them “until the end of hostilities,” just like the Law of Land Warfare and the Geneva Conventions stipulate even for lawful combatant Prisoners of War.

There should be no sense of urgency about repatriating unlawful combatants when there is a good chance they will return to the battlefield. Political expediency is no excuse for recklessness with the safety and security of innocent people, namely U.S.

Army Plans to Close Retiree AKO Accounts by March 31, 2014: An Open Letter to Congressional Veterans’ Affairs Committee

In the “SEP-Dec 2013″ issue of ECHOES, the official Army newsletter for retired soldiers, surviving spouses & families, it was announced that the Army plans to close retiree Army Knowledge Online (AKO) accounts by March 31, 2014. I believe this will place an undue hardship on me, and will cost me time, effort and security to communicate and access important information and I can now access quickly, easily and securely through AKO.

I have had an AKO account since probably around 2002, when I served on my first of three mobilizations for the Global War on Terror. Since then, and after retiring as a U.S. Army Reserve “gray area” retiree in DEC 2008, I have relied on AKO as a one stop shopping site for all things military, including this Veterans’ Affairs question form, which I accessed in two clicks after signing into AKO. Because the site is secure, I can gain quick, easy and safe access to my permanent Army records, DFAS pay, DEERS, Tricare, email, benefits, and dozens of other military related information portals and links.

I had always considered access to AKO a part of my rights as a member of the Army family. But now it kind of feels like this old soldier is being kicked out onto the street. I served 22 honorable years in the National Guard and Army Reserve, starting out as a PFC and then eventually becoming an officer and retiring as a major. I did not resign my commission, nor did I obtain a discharge. I bought into the idea that if I became a gray area retiree that I would enhance my eventual retired pay at 60 while at the same time making myself available should the Army require my services again. Needless to say, after reading about Army plans to disenfranchise me, and without explanation, I am feeling a bit kicked around and less than a soldier who wrote a blank check to you and the American People for my personal safety, comfort, livelihood and life.

Over the years I have seen AKO grow and change. Its importance to retirees cannot be overstated. I used it every day and several times a day during my active service days, and use it daily now as a means to stay connected to the service, my benefits and records. The site has been expanded, refined and has kept up with the times, reflecting new and better ways to serve soldiers and help soldiers serve themselves.

The same newsletter that announced retirees could no longer use AKO after March 2014, also explained how we would need to obtain a “Department of Defense Self-Service Logon (DS Logon), a relatively new, secure, self-service logon ID that allows Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs members and affiliates access to real-time personalized information on government websites.” It says after the AKO purge this will be our only secure access online for DOD and VA websites. The major flaw in this change is that beginning in March, in order to receive correspondence from the Army, I will need to inform all the pertinent Army departments that I must use a CIVILIAN email address for all notifications. The AKO account email will be discontinued in March, so I will never again receive official Army email on an official and SECURE Army email system. I feel that this will expose me and make me more vulnerable to fraud and abuse, and puts me at the mercy of a non-secure civilian email system. Worse than contracting out, as AKO did recently with the AKO email service, this is kicking out those of us who served and made it to retiree status.

Only about 15% of Army reservists ever make it to retirement, and fewer of us live to see the retired pay at age 60. I just had my first heart attack at age 51, and because I had low cholesterol (106), exercised regularly, and had no family history of heart attacks, I can only assume the stress of three deployments since 9/11/01 contributed to my illness. I don’t see age 60 as a sure thing anymore, and this AKO rug being pulled out from under me certainly adds to the stress column.

Please consider amending the current decision (by whom I don’t know) to eliminate retirees from AKO. It is a necessary and important link to the organization we are tied to for life. I have upheld my end of the bargain, and have lived the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage in uniform and out since the mid 1980′s when I signed up and raised my right hand to swear my allegiance and my life to support and defend the Constitution. Please don’t change my status now, when it’s time for me to begin receiving the compensation, benefits and respect I earned as a soldier.

Thank you very much for your time and kind attention to my request for help in maintaining AKO status for retirees. I believe we earned the right to maintain peace of mind when communicating with and receiving communication from the organization that we served so proudly, and would gladly do so again if called.

Very truly yours,

Montgomery J. Granger, MAJ (USA Retired)

MILITARY RESERVE PAY AND BENEFITS UNDER ATTACK

Citizen Soldiers. Weekend Warriors. Chairborne Rangers. Warrior Citizens.

We’ve heard them all, and say them to each other on occasion, but seriously, most folks haven’t a clue what the differences are between Active Duty and Reserve Component soldiers.

Military Reserve Pay And Benefits Are Under Attack

The similarities are easier to explain. We train to the same standards; all serve when called; put the mission first; bleed red blood; and write the same blank check to the American People for our lives, livelihoods, personal safety and comfort.

Why is it then, when it’s time to remunerate those of us who dedicate ourselves to the defense and honor of our great nation, that some wish to reduce, alter, and desanctify our compensation? The Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation wants to do just that, saying recently that Reserve soldiers are “over paid.”

Leaders of the Congressionally chartered Reserve Officers Association recently met with the Review panel in an effort to explain how Reserve soldiers are in fact UNDERPAID compared to Active Duty soldiers.

I am $201,600 less valuable than an Active Duty soldier who may never have served in a combat zone.

They pointed out that when all the numbers are crunched and a Pay-to-Work ratio establishedReserve soldiers are paid LESS than Active soldiers. Reserve soldiers also receive fewer benefits and tend not to live close enough to military bases to take advantage of services and amenities those bases offer Active soldiers and their families. Retired pay for Reserve soldiers cannot be collected until age 60, whereas Active soldiers can draw retired pay immediately upon serving 20 years of honorable service.

The Congressional Budget Office is squeezing Reserve compensation by recommending reductions such as capping military pay raises, retired pay reduced by the amount granted in tax relief (called concurrent relief), narrowing eligibility for Veterans Administration compensation, and by targeting “Individual Unemployablity” benefits.

President Obama is pushing to reduce Tri-Care health coverage for Reserve soldiers and wants more base closings, which continued sequestration would almost certainly require. These two things make health care services for Reserve veteran soldiers less and less accessible.

Military Reserve Pay And Benefits Are Under Attack

Again, are Reserve Component soldiers less important? If so, why not just come out and say it and then see what happens to retention and morale, and subsequently our nation’s ability to provide adequate defense?

Reserve soldiers make up the majority of combat support and combat service support units in the Army, such as Military Police, medical, transportation and logistics units. In other words, without the Reserve Components the capability and integrity of our Army would be fatally compromised.

We gave up careers, left our families, and disrupted our civilian lives for the cause of preserving freedom and liberty in the Global War on Terror. I was forced to change jobs before leaving for a 14-month mobilization to Iraq in 2004-2005 – that job was eventually eliminated by my employer and I was told when I returned, “you’re not here enough.”

I now earn half of what I would have been earning and instead of less than a five-mile commute to work each day I travel over 100 miles round trip. Gasoline and wear-and-tear on my 10-year-old vehicle alone costs me over $6,000 per year. And let’s not forget the two-and-a-half hours per day I spend on the road is time I am not with my wife and five children – who, in my opinion, suffered enough from my absences during my three mobilization deployments since Sept. 1, 2001.

I retired from the Reserves in 2008 after 22 years of honorable service at the age of 46. Under the current law I cannot draw retired pay until after turning 60. Were I an Active Duty soldier I could have begun drawing retired pay immediately upon retirement.

In my case, because I am a reserve component “gray area” retiree, compared with the Active Duty, I lose 14 years of earning potential. At $1,200 per month (my estimated retired pay), I lose $14,400 per year, which is $201,600 over 14 years. That means, I am $201,600 less valuable than an Active Duty counterpart who may never even have served in a combat zone.

If you are a Reserve Component (Reserve or National Guard) soldier, spouse, dependent, parent, or concerned American, please contact the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (to write, P.O. Box 13170, Arlington, VA 22209, or call, 703-692-2080), which is collecting comments in an effort to recommend changes to current Reserve Component compensation. Let your voice be heard that Reserve soldiers are every bit as valuable and important to our national defense than are Active Duty soldiers, and every bit as human.

 

“Fair” Trials for Terrorists Threaten Americans

Abu Anas al-Libi, suspected Al-Qaeda leader, was grabbed in a military raid in Libya on Oct. 5. He’s due to stand trial as an accused civilian criminal in a Manhattan Federal Court, where he has been under indictment for more than a decade on charges he helped plan and conduct surveillance for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, in which 212 people were killed and over 4,000 wounded, including 12 Americans KIA.
When, as an Army Reservist I was activated for duty in 2002, 2003 and 2004, my military orders included the phrase “in support of the Global War on Terror,” and mentioned the atrocities on 9/11/01. Our history of prosecuting war criminals from our first war, through the Civil War and WWII, have been clear and simple, and for over 100 years supported by international law (Geneva Conventions) and our operative version of Geneva, called The Law of Land Warfare, or the modern Army Field Manual 27-10 (http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/DR_pubs/dr_a/pdf/fm27_10.pdf). These documents give guidance and regulation to how we treat enemy Prisoners of War (lawful combatants and protected persons), and are clear about not giving legal privileges and protections to those who do not follow the law (unlawful combatants). These documents inform repeatedly that those found in violation of the law can be “prosecuted” and then “executed.”
The Geneva Conventions were written in part to protect innocent civilians in time of war, not to protect those who PRETEND to be civilians in order to MURDER them. It’s not that the Taliban and al Qaeda can’t afford uniforms of their own, one of the requirements in lawful conflict, it’s that they don’t want you to see them coming, and want us to believe they are merely innocent goat herders. It’s as if they want to be able to run onto the ball field from the stands at any time, murder an opposing player, and then disappear back into the crowd. And when security comes to take them away they say “it wasn’t me!” They lawyer up, play the system, and then go back to killing Americans.
Human Rights First (http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/USLS-Fact-Sheet-Courts.pdf) brags that “Federal civilian criminal courts have convicted nearly 500 individuals on terrorism-related charges since 9/11.” And that “Federal prisons hold more than 300 individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses.” But they don’t mention what happened to the other nearly 200 convicted terrorists! Can we assume they are free on American soil? If prosecuted and then convicted, could al-Libi be set free someday on Main Street U.S.A.?
At least the over 600 Gitmo detainees who’ve been released so far are not suspected of being on our shores, but the over 28% combined recidivism rate amongst these released Gitmo detainees (http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/09/september-2013-guantanamo-recidivism-report-from-dni/) is no comfort, especially to the loved ones of those killed in the Benghazi attack (led by former Guantanamo Bay detainee Sufian bin Qumu), which left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
When I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay in early February 2002, just months after 9/11/01, my Army Reserve enemy prisoner of war liaison detachment was prepared to participate in military tribunals to determine the status of Gitmo detainees fresh off of planes from Afghanistan, where most of the first detainees had participated in a deadly but failed prison uprising which claimed the first American life in our retaliation for 9/11, CIA operative Johnny Michael Spann. Instead, the principle of “lawfare,” or the exploitation of the American justice system by detainees, their lawyers, sympathizers and apologists in order to manipulate American political will (which also caused disruption of U.S. military detention operations), took hold.
Today, the Military Commissions Act of 2009, the current legal policies governing the prosecution of accused war criminals in the Global War on Terror, affords unlawful combatant Islamist detainees virtually the SAME RIGHTS as you or I would enjoy were we in a Federal Court of Law (http://www.mc.mil/ABOUTUS/LegalSystemComparison.aspx). Even though the Geneva Conventions and Law of Land Warfare, created to protect innocent civilians during war, offer NO extra-legal privileges for those who break the law.
The Obama administration has taken the disposition of Global War on Terror suspected war criminals to an absurd level, not only allowing them to remain in the stadium, but giving them luxury boxes and rain-check tickets for a repeat performance, and are continuing to put American lives at risk by bringing the latest and greatest al Qaeda suspect to U.S. shores, when he should be at Gitmo receiving a professional interrogation from our best and brightest.
Urban myths about the treatment of Gitmo detainees are now vernacular, especially amongst the “low information” crowd who rarely dig deeper than their news feed sound bites provide, but the truth is that although over 600+ Guantanamo Bay detainees have been released, none have been executed, beheaded, hacked to death, blown up or dragged naked and lifeless through the streets. In contrast, the only U.S. prisoner held by Taliban or al Qaeda believed not to have had his head slowly removed from his body by a long jihadi knife, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, missing since June, 2009, remains a mystery. Where are Amnesty International, the ACLU and other so-called “human rights” organizations on Sgt. Bergdahl? Why won’t the mainstream media or Barack Hussein Obama even show his face or demand his release?
I know from my 22 years as a military member and over 9 years of service as an Army officer with an enemy prisoner of war liaison detachment, the best way to obtain valuable information from enemy suspects is to convince them that unless they cooperate they will remain in detention. Which, according to the Geneva Conventions is legal. Even lawful combatant POWs may be held, without charge, “until the end of hostilities.” This is not “indefinite detention,” as some would complain; no more indefinite than a baseball game in extra innings. In theory, the game could go on endlessly, but it never does, and neither would unlawful combatant detainees be held “forever.” We need to redouble our efforts to take away our enemy’s means and will to fight and kill us. Until then, the finest military detention facility in the world is ready, willing and able to take care of and provide opportunities for unlawful combatants to help end the Global War on Terror.