Carter: Iraqis Showed ‘No Will To Fight’ in Ramadi

Carter:  Iraqis Showed “No Will to Fight” in Ramadi

 

So ISIS, ISIL or IS or whoever they are have been on a tear in the ol’ sandbox as of late and probably the biggest feather in their cap is taking the city of Ramadi.   By all accounts it’s completely out of the Iraqi government’s hands and most people have fled, causing the city to completely collapse.   Ramadi isn’t exactly an insignificant place, it’s one of the largest and most strategically important cities in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently went on record basically saying that the reason Ramadi fell is because the Iraqi Army is a bunch of pussies.    This has been the general feeling out there from those of us that have dealt with them professionally, but it’s never been publically acknowledged at such a high level.   Carter states that we’ve provided them with all the training and equipment they needed to be successful but the missing ingredient is the Iraqis’ will to fight.

I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately because I have an interview with a guy who dealt with the Afghan Army coming up for another project I do and this article seemed to pop up at the right time.

So when I was in Iraq we had a company of Iraqi Army guys in the town we occupied.    We didn’t have the national police guys because shortly after we took over, “ali baba” (the insurgents) rushed their compound and executed about thirty of them and they never came back.   We had to work with the ING (Iraqi National Guard) quite often, like manning checkpoints with them, checking in on their compounds during patrols, seeing them out and about and/or having them do simple jobs during our operations.   Sometimes they would come to our base, but we would keep some distance.

They made TERRIBLE soldiers.   The average 18 year old American kid that shows up to boot camp is probably more “locked on” after three days than most of these guys.  No discipline, no desire to seek self-improvement and completely unreliable.   Honestly I worried more about getting ‘accidentally’ shot from these guys more than the *real* bad guys.    Worst of all, they had no balls.   They were afraid to show their faces, they were afraid to leave their compound, always running away from the fight, never showing up for duty and completely unreliable when they did.

These guys acted like a bunch of armed children.   I remember one time explaining to one ING guy at a checkpoint I was running with the “help” of a few of them that I was going to punch him in the face if he didn’t shape up – and I meant it.   They had no military bearing and pretty much spent their time playing grab-ass, lots of stupid “hey mistah! ficky-ficky! (like sex)” jokes.

Obviously we didn’t hold these guys in very high esteem.   When we would find out that they took casualties, there would be a completely calloused attitude towards it, like they weren’t even human.

After thinking about it a bit more, I realized that these guys were the lowest common denominator of society, morally and professionally.   We destroyed their economy so it’s not like there was a whole lot of opportunity anyways, but these were mostly guys that just needed the paycheck without *really* wanting to make the sacrifice.     Morally speaking, well, let’s say someone invaded the US Red Dawn style or something…  What kind of people would want to get in with the occupiers, even if we were more benign than some other historical occupations?   You have to be kind of scummy at least to sign on with the “other side”.    So basically you have people that would be the equivalent of door-to-door vacuum salesmen in the US with a sadistic streak heavily armed and charged with carrying out some of the security duties in a war zone.

While we questioned their meddle for being easily spooked, the reality was that we had nothing at stake except for ourselves.   What I mean by that is that our families were safe and sound half the world away and we knew there would be a day when we would go back and Iraq would be on the other side of the planet.   If we died, that was the worst they could do to us.   The ING guys had their families in Iraq and it wasn’t uncommon at all to come home and find their wives, children, etc. killed if they were found out to be in with the Americans.  I remember some insurgents basically setting up a checkpoint on a major highway searching vehicles for signs of collaboration and killing people on the spot.   Knowing that your family could very likely get killed for your actions could really take the wind out of your sails.   Although little threats of terrorists plotting attacks on military families ran through the rumor mill, that was definitely not something we had to deal with and as a society we’re still completely detached from war like the way some other societies experienced it up close and personal.  It’s hard to really get down on these guys when you take their situation at the home front into consideration.

I thought it was kind of funny that the regular people in Iraq trusted us a lot more than they trusted the ING.   They knew that we probably wouldn’t mistreat them and that most of our dealings would be above board.   Those guys would abuse their power and they were very corrupt.  In fact, one town that we dealt with had a protest when the Marines were leaving and put the ING in charge.   The gist was “please don’t leave us to the mercy of these shitheads”.   We were at least regarded as professionals, sometimes even admirable, while these guys not so much.   People weren’t afraid to approach us, whereas they were to approach them due to powerlust or just simply being frightened.    I remember one time when the ING called us to do their heavy lifting – because an old man told them off and they didn’t want to deal with them.

I have to say that I did tend to like the older guys who served in Saddam’s military.   They were better soldiers and more mature.   They had better stories too.   I think with these guys their situation was a little bit different because they were soldiers by trade and the ING was the only place they could take their skill and get a paycheck.

I want to say “yeah, no shit!” to Ash Carter, but we shouldn’t have been surprised it was going to wind up like this.   How could we expect to disband the professional army and then hire a bunch of unemployable dudes, give them some notional training and throw them in a uniform and give them a gun and expect anything more than complete failure?  I think there’s also a case of us believing our own bullshit on this one, where we came for completely altruistic reasons and that the Iraqis would be falling all over themselves to build a little slice of America right there in the middle east.

The situation is complicated and so are my feelings on the ING – do we look down on them with contempt for their shortcomings as fighting men or do we empathize with the reality of their world, being people driven by need and/or small dick syndrome into situations where they are undertrained and highly likely to get some real blowback from their neighbors in the way of having themselves and/or their families killed?  Even though I haven’t had the best experiences with the ING, I would say that most of the everyday Iraqi people I encountered – the farmers, shopkeepers, mechanics, teachers, housewives, laborers, etc. had a sense of honor….and I wish them the best of luck.  They’re going to need it being caught between an inept government and the ISIS extremists.

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting The Chicks Outside Overnight For The First Time

11109547_10204338540808294_8993657473154116457_n

 

 

The temperatures are looking like mid-60’s over the night with a slight chance of rain.   The chickens are six weeks old and they have a lot of their feathers.   It seems like a good time to try leaving them out overnight.    I’m a little nervous, but that’s where they’re ultimately going so why put it off if we can?

I’m sure every noise I hear will have me up to see if there’s predators out there.    I have seen possums, raccoons and the neighbor’s cat in my fenced yard, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.   I guess we’ll see.

It’s kind of funny, but I feel a bit of an attachment to the chickens, kind of like pets.   I’ve enjoyed watching them….be chickens over the past few weeks even though I know there’s a good chance something will kill them and there will come a day under the best-case scenario where I’ll have to cull them when they outlive their usefulness.   We don’t offer a pension plan here….      Anyways, best of luck from all enemies foreign and domestic, chickens.

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Leave a comment

Jade Helm Again…

I’ve been thinking about the Jade Helm thing again and went to see what the new developments were and saw this post from Infowars about the US military trying to operate “covertly” among American citizens in American cities, allegedly to train to occupy other countries.

In a previous post I mentioned something about the military always trying to fight the last battle and figuring that this kind of training would fit right in with that mindset.

I started thinking about one “operation” I did in 2004 before deploying to Iraq.    It involved the NCOs of my company getting into civilian clothes, getting dropped off somewhere in Dana Point, CA, an affluent sleepy ocean-side town and using urban navigation skills to find our way around.   Here’s what happened:

– we got dropped off at a high school parking lot.    Made a lot of Saved by the Bell jokes, being as it was a Southern California high school.

– A small group of us wandered off and found a donut shop in a strip mall and had donuts and coffee.

–   Wandered through some residential neighborhoods.    Had to traverse a hilly and shrubby section of land.    Decided to walk around it instead.
–  Walked to the beach.    Hung out with our shirts off for a while to soak up some rays.

–   Went to a grocery store.

–  Split up into smaller groups and kept walking.     Got picked up by “the chopper” (see:  the one privately owned vehicle that someone in my platoon had, an old Taurus aka “the Clitaurus”), got bitched at by the platoon sergeant for being far away from where I should’ve been.

– Ate a late lunch at a fancy restaurant on the beach and then headed back to Pendleton.
A handful of people in Dana Point complained and it was in the newspaper that Marines were doing this.   More people wrote in with things like “we don’t care” or “we’re glad they’re here”.    This was still when everyone was gung-ho about the war.

 

What’s the point of this?   Just saying that this kind of training isn’t exactly new and odds are most servicemen will probably have as unassuming time as I did.   I still think there’s not much to raise an eyebrow out with this.

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Leave a comment

“Mad Ghosts in the Triangle of Death” Article in Soldier of Fortune

I finally did get to read the “Mad Ghosts in the Triangle of Death” article about my old unit the other day.   Most of it had to do with a platoon in my company that was detached from us to become a CAP (I forgot what the acronym actually is) platoon.    Basically they went all over the place either training the Iraqi Army, working with engineers and some civil affairs stuff.    It did put them into some interesting situations and thus they have a lot of cool photographs which made it in….the main paragraph of the story is the platoon posed in front of a controlled demolition, which looks really cool.

The story is basically that we showed up in 2004 to this area south of Baghdad that didn’t get a lot of attention in the earlier days and it became a hotbed for the insurgents.    We started being very aggressive with patrolling and making a presence through the area as well as some big operations and shows of force and activity went way down.    When we left the other units that replaced us didn’t run as tight of a ship as we did and lost a lot of soldiers.  A few were captured and killed out of this area and it was the site of the massacre chronicled in the book Black Hearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death , which was really gut-wrenching for me to read. Sometime in the future maybe I’ll share some of my “Triangle of Death” stories and thoughts but today isn’t that day. Oh, the author did make the ISIS/Triangle of Death connection as I expected.

Reading SOF was fun, its probably been twenty years since I’ve picked up an issue. I remember ads for all kinds of cool stuff, but I didn’t see much that jumped out at me (although a ‘be a man among men’ Rhodesian army shirt would be cool). Like a lot of magazines it did see stripped down (although it is going all digital). I remembered the infographic with the map of the world and little snippets of news about conflict around the world, which was cool.

I don’t know if I’d pick up another issue of SOF. It was cool to read about something I was a part of and I’m sure they get some good articles here and there, but it didn’t seem quite like how I remembered the magazine. I saw a lot of gun ads (I have no problem with guns, they just bore me – I know, that’s my problem), a few editorials that boil down to “political correctness is bad” (yeah, yeah, I agree) but there was a little bit from these exotic conflicts around the world that makes the magazine what it is. I don’t know. I might at least like their facebook page to see if something comes across that interests me.

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Leave a comment

Week Two With Chickens

11162518_10152668900781707_4338901663930319070_n

 

I can’t believe how much these things have grown in two weeks.   It seems like they’ve doubled in size and they’re starting to put on feathers.  The yellow chicks just started getting red feathers today.   They’re climbing and making short flights in their cage.

They’re messy.    You can change their water and then minutes later it’s full of their bedding and cleaning their cage is kind of a pain in the ass.  They like to scatter things all over.   Mary can’t wait until we can put them outside.    I really like sitting and watching them though.  They are kind of cute and entertaining.  I don’t want to get too attached though because it’s likely that they’re not all going to make it to adulthood.

I’m also amazed at how much they eat.  I’ll fill a mason jar full of food in their feeder and it’ll be gone within the day.

So yeah, so far everything is going good.

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Leave a comment

So Our Exploits in Iraq Made Soldier of Fortune…

SOFMadGhost

I always thought Soldier of Fortune was a cool magazine when I was a kid… articles about guys going to the far corners of the earth to sling led with ne’er-do-wells, advertisements for the Anarchist Cookbook and other exciting things, Vietnam POW conspiracy theories, etc.    Just the kind of things that a young red-blooded American boy needed in the post-Soviet era.

Anyways, looks like they’re doing an article about my old unit in Iraq.   Even though it won’t be about me personally or anything like that, I’m still like “whoa, cool, I’m going to be in Soldier of Fortune!”   I guess that’s because we’re talking about a small enough unit to make it personable to me, not just “Marines in Iraq” or whatever, it’s specific to my battalion on my deployment.
This might have something to do with my old battalion commander making the rounds on some second and third tier media lately (maybe I can get an interview??? ha. ) talking about how we dealt with the ISIS guys there before they were ISIS and how we need to go back to the Middle East.   Can’t confirm/deny that, but it could be true.   I think he goes over well in some circles because his foreign policy stance makes Dick Cheney look like Gandhi.  He gets high marks from me as a Marine officer, but I can’t say I endorse his foreign policy ideas.

Anyways, I’m looking forward to seeing what they say.

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Leave a comment

Jade Helm!!!

Ok, to be honest I don’t know a lot of the details about this military operation that will take place in the Southwestern US this summer but this evening my neighbor stopped me to ask my thoughts about it.   I told him that I knew the basic idea that it was a military operation and they made a couple states into indian country and a lot of people were spooked that it was a precursor of martial law and that’s about all I knew.

He told me about Chinese and Russian troops (as well as others) taking part of the operation under the guise of the United Nations and that someone who lived next to a military base said they’ve never seen so many vehicles as they’re currently seeing.

I’ve always had a soft spot for this kind of thing ever since I was young.   I thought it was funny because the things my neighbor was telling me (that he heard from Alex Jones and others) were the same. exact. things. I remember reading/hearing during the 90’s when Bill Clinton was going to bring in UN troops to turn the US into a massive police state.   I had a relative who was totally into that kind of thing and would send us tapes and newsletters and every year at the State Fair I’d make a point to hit up the John Birch Society booth and get some of their literature so I saw a lot of this kind of stuff.

I just thought it was funny how some of these urban legends keep coming around.     Some obscure base is crawling with secret Russian soldiers, some group of European soldiers did a mock invasion of a US town and raised the UN flag, some guy who lives by a base has seen more equipment being moved than he saw there during ‘Nam and Desert Storm, military bases next to rail lines are being outfitted as prison camps for dissenters, grid coordinates on the back of street signs are there to guide invading troops, etc.

I told my neighbor I’d look a little deeper into it.   My thoughts after reading up on it a bit?   The military always likes to re-fight the last battle and the type of training sounds an awful lot like the way the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan went.    During the early days of my enlistment (late 90’s, early 2000’s) they had us training basically to take on Charlie in the jungle.   When we actually had to go to war, it looked totally different and we had to learn a whole different skill set.   I have a feeling the military will be focused on this type of training for a while considering it was the type of thing that was necessary over the past decade and it’s now the way things have always been for a large chunk of the NCO and officer corps if you consider the fact that 9/11 was about 14 years ago.

Maybe someday soon they’ll have to dust off the playbook for conventional warfare, but until that day comes the kinds of things covered in Operation Jade Helm will be standard fare.
In other words, I don’t think it’s as alarming as people are making it out to be…

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | 4 Comments

Armenian Noah’s Ark Silver Coins

0819coin

 

I recently picked up some of these coins from JM Bullion for myself and a few to start a silver collection for my infant son.   I think these are quite possibly the best looking silver coins I own and the tiny Republic of Armenia really knocked it out of the park with this one.    The picture doesn’t do justice to the sun and I think the Armenian alphabet just looks cool.

There’s a lot of good reasons to invest in precious metals, but one that gets overlooked is how it’s nice to be able to hold your investment in your hand and in some cases, be able to appreciate the beauty of it and/or the story behind whatever is on it.   You can’t do that with shares of the growth and income fund in your 401k.   The downside of that is that you wind up with a little bit more of an attachment to your metals and it might be a little bit harder to part with them when it comes time to fold ‘em.     I guess it’s good I have some that are only there for the metal and then some that have aesthetic value to me too.

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Leave a comment

Aronia – The Next Big Thing?

photo

The nurseries in town have been bringing their plants out and I’ve noticed a lot of aronia so far.   This is a plant that not a lot of people have heard of, but it’s one that people really should start planting more of.

It’s native to North America, but Eastern Europeans have done the most work with it to date and it’s most widely known there.   It grows easy here, it even seems to be semi-shade tolerant.  I have some planted in the corner of a privacy fence that doesn’t get a whole lot of sun.   These plants’ growth is a little stunted, but they still produce.

Aronia is a superfood.   I forgot exactly what they have in them, but the berries are packed with nutrients.   I think they’re ok for fresh eating out of hand, but they’re better used in recipes or smoothies.  The taste is hard to describe other than giving the bullshit “it’s unique” answer.

I’m glad to see this plant pick up some steam with home gardeners.   It’s ornamental enough (especially in the fall) to fill the role of a landscaping shrub but it gives you healthy berries too.   I’ve also noticed that there’s a few more farms in the state growing aronia as a cash crop and anything to break up the corn/soybean monotony in this state is a plus for a ton of reasons.     We have some kind of aronia council or something in the state that has been promoting it.   I talked to those people for a while at the state fair last year and got a lot of good info on growing and using the berries.

At any rate, it would be cool if aronia does really pick up around here for the health benefits and to keep some fruit production local.   Looks like a good start…

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Leave a comment

Check Out My New Chickens

chickens chickens1 chickens2

 

I finally got some chickens.   It’s something that’s been on the backburner for over two years, but finally pulled the trigger.  I had everything ready two years ago but wound up putting off getting chickens in order to take care of other things that needed taking care of.

So I have four red sex-linked and four barred rock chicks here.   Why did I pick these breeds?  Pretty much because that’s what the store had available but fortunately these are both good layers, cold hardy and tend to be docile (good for novice chicken owners).

For some reason I planned on getting full-grown layers later in the year and not dealing with chicks.   Turns out dealing with chicks is cheaper and easier than I thought.   I really didn’t have to buy much except for about $20 on a lamp and heat bulb.   A big bag of food was $11 or so and the chicks were a little less than $3 each.

The dogs have been kind of funny about them.  When Murray first saw them he got this serious “what the fuck…” kind of look on his face.   Juno is just really curious.   They’re blocked off from them for now but I let them down there every now and then.   Murray seems kind of protective of them from Juno, which might be a good thing down the road.

I want four chickens, give or take one.  I figure I’ll lose a couple along the way for whatever reason.   If they all make it, great, I’ll make adjustments to handle that many.

The laws for chickens in this city are pretty good.   You can have up to 25, no roosters and you have to keep them 20 feet from the neighbors and I think there’s some clause in there as long as they’re not causing any problems, everything is fine.   My neighbors don’t care and if anything I think they approve.   I know a few people on my block already have chickens and occasionally I’ll hear a rooster from the area.

They don’t do much besides sleep and eat so there’s not really much to say about them so far.   I watched one of them catch an ant the other day and carry it around while the others chased him and then he swallowed it.   That’s about the extent of the excitement so far.   It is kind of fun to have the sounds of cheaping chicks in the house though.

Posted in Economics / Personal Finance | Tagged | Leave a comment