Friday, July 11, 2008

New G.I. Bill, War Success, Military Snubs

Written June 3rd

There are several “can’t miss” items which need attention this week.

The “G.I. Bill for the 21st Century” advocated by Senator Hagel is worthy of applause. It does modernize the post-service benefits for our current group of veterans, and has been endorsed by most military organizations, including those both for and against the war on terrorism.

It is being criticized in some quarters, but at worst it should be seen as a “wash” for those with concerns about political posturing or a back door attempt to harm retention en route to diminishing staffing levels for the current war.

Ultimately, the young enlisted men and women who step up to fight this war deserve these improved benefits, which may also be a positive for recruitment.

This legislation and that which improves veterans’ health care (championed by Senator Nelson) are both excellent steps toward taking care of our troops when they come home.

Those troops are accomplishing much right now, both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Marine Expeditionary Unit was recently added to the fight in Afghanistan as part of renewed offenses there. These 2200 Marines did not hesitate to make a dent in the cause against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Within days they were heavily engaged, fighting and driving them from an area that had been a safe haven for far too long.

Both British and American commanders have reported big gains against the enemy in Afghanistan over the last couple weeks. Intelligence is confirming substantial disruptions to the Taliban’s leadership structure.

Additionally, the British Telegraph has reported the killing of over 7,000 Taliban members the last two years as well as the removal of “several echelons of commanders.” Also, the Observer chronicled that British commanders assess the Taliban as “on the back foot and licking their wounds” after a series of defeats.

On the Iraq Front, The Strategy Page is noting that Al Qaeda websites are becoming increasingly trafficked with discussions among their members about “why we lost in Iraq.” It appears the information coming from Iraq about having them on the run is not lost to either our commanders or theirs.

Their confession would be consistent with the success we’ve reported for more than a year now. We’ve relentlessly targeted Al Qaeda through a series of consecutive operations in Anbar, the areas south of Baghdad, in Baghdad, and now through Baqubah north to Mosul. Reports from Mosul, arguably their last stand, look good for our troops and the fighting capabilities of the Iraqi’s.

USA Today reports that May was the least violent month in Iraq since the spring of 2004. Thomas Ricks reported numbers provided to him by the Army which show that attacks on our convoys have dropped from 1 in 5 during January, 2007 to 1 in 100 for April, 2008.

In a Washington Post interview, CIA director Michael Hayden gave a very positive report for the overall war on terrorism. Although he and others cautioned that the fight is far from over, he specifically noted we’ve accomplished a “Near strategic defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam."

But in a recent San Francisco interview, Nancy Pelosi credited the success in Iraq not to the hard work of our troops, but to the good will of the Iranians. I guess our guys haven’t done much lately. Nancy, to what Tehranian address should I send the “thank you” note?

Her view of U.S. troops being ineffective may be the same reason why Senator Obama recently chose not to recognize military service as valuable public service.

In a commencement address at Wesleyan college, he encouraged graduates not to pursue the American dream, but to opt instead for pursuing the less lucrative route of public service. He then went on to list a number of public service avenues they could take, but glaringly and insultingly left out military service as an option. I guess the military doesn’t count to the ultra liberal.

His view of the military is consistent with his refusals to meet with General Petraeus, pro-victory veterans from Illinois, or our troops in the fight for over two years now.

However, he is willing to meet unconditionally with the Iranian sponsors of terrorism. Maybe he’ll thank them for Nancy Pelosi while he’s there.

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