Thursday, October 30, 2008
Joining us on the call were D.J. Elliot of the Long War Journal, Jarred A. Fishman of the Air Force Pundit, and Claire Russo of Understanding War.
Joining us on the call were Chuck Simmins of the North Shore Journal, Greg Grant of NextGov.com, David Axe of the War is Boring, Chris Albon of War and Health, and Beth Wilson of Homefront in Focus.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Joining us on the call was Maggie of the donovan.com, Chuck Simmons of Americas North Shore Journal, David Axe of the War is Boring, and Galrahn, a military blogger.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2008 – Calling nuclear weapons one of the world’s "messy realities," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today that as long as other nations that could potentially use them against the U.S. and its interests possess or seek them, it's critical that the United States does as well, and that they be kept safe, secure and reliable.
Gates noted in a speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that the United States soon will have 75 percent fewer nuclear weapons than at the end of the Cold War.
More coverage to follow.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2008 – Less than three months before the next administration takes office, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he’ll leave his post satisfied he made a difference to ensure warfighters have what they need to succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with confidence that their leaders are being held accountable for their actions.
Gates said today he feels “quite a bit of satisfaction” as the driving force behind causes he championed to protect troops in combat, bring them new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, capabilities and care for those wounded on the battlefield.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force
CAMP BARBER, Helmand Province, Afghanistan – There was blood in the water. It was a grim addition to the Iraqi sewage canal usually littered with dead sheep and festering fish.
That’s where the Marines of Company E, 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division found their comrade after the attack.
Just seconds before, Cpl. Garrett S. Jones was patrolling the streets of Iraq with his team when he was suddenly hurled 15 feet into the air by an enemy booby trap.
“It was just a big dust cloud,” said Cpl. Robert C. Pofahl, who stood 10 feet in front of Jones when the bomb detonated. “I ran toward him, and I fell in the canal. The mud was almost up to my knees. It was probably the worst smell you could smell. That’s when I saw the blood in the water.”
When Pofahl saw Jones lying there, he feared his friend’s life was cut short. Barely alive, Jones’ life was about to be changed forever.
Pofahl remembers an explosion, tumbling forward, turning back around and hearing Jones yell at the top of his lungs. He then raced to put a tourniquet on Jones’ mangled bloody left leg.
“It sounded like I was whispering and because of the explosion, I couldn’t catch my breath,” Jones said.
When Pofahl arrived at Jones’ position, he realized he couldn’t lift him out of the canal. The muddy water almost made it impossible for Pofahl to grab a hold of Jones. So, he called two other Marines to help pull Jones out.
“We got him up on the side of the road,” Pofahl said. “That’s when Navy Hospitalman Matthew Beceda took over. He cranked the tourniquet one more time, but it snapped. So he had to put another tourniquet on Jones.”
Jones was stable, but the Marines couldn’t call for help because the radio that Jones was wearing was ruined from the blast. They sent three other Marines from the squad to run 1,200 meters back to their combat outpost for help. A group of Marines stayed with Jones and his squad leader who was also injured by the blast.
The next thing Jones knew, he was on board a helicopter flight headed for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. He was strapped into a gurney with a military chaplain hovering over him.
“The chaplain asked me if I wanted to pray,” said Jones, a 23-year-old Newberg, Ore., native. “We prayed. Then the doctor told me my left leg would be amputated above the knee.”
Shortly after, Jones was in surgery. He awoke a couple days later, but said he doesn’t recall much after the operation but a phone conversation with his relatives.
“I just remember talking to my family,” he said. “I remember saying, ‘I hear they make really good prosthetics.’”
Upon leaving the hospital in Germany, Jones was once again strapped into a gurney and flown to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where his wounds were cleansed and torn flesh was removed from his body.
“It seemed like forever,” Jones said. “I had a bunch of tubes stuck in me. I was so drugged up I didn’t feel much of anything. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that one of my buddies who was shot by a sniper was also on the same flight. I didn’t know what happened to him, I just saw that he had a bunch of tubes stuck in his chest.”
Military medical officials then transferred Jones to Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) for further treatment. As a result of being restricted to a hospital bed, Jones wound up losing a lot of weight.
“I went from about 160 to 120 lbs.,” Jones said. “I was in the bed almost all the time. The only time I got up was to do stretching and go to the bathroom. If I wasn’t in my bed, I was in a wheelchair.”
During his recovery, Jones had a total of 17 surgeries to clean the infected area in his left leg. He was treated for third-degree burns and shrapnel that peppered his left shoulder and both legs.
On Aug. 20, 2007, Jones was released from NMCSD -- just in time to see his fellow Marines of Echo Company return home from Iraq.
“I was at their homecoming in a wheelchair completely drugged up,” Jones said. “Seeing my guys was emotional for me because we were all so close, and I knew I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. When we all get together, it’s like a family reunion. We’re a tight-knit group.
We had difficulties at times, but what family doesn’t.”
Jones yearned to be back with his Marine family. Although he didn’t say it, he kept in mind that he one day wanted to serve with the Marines who saved his life.
“We all wanted him back,” Pofahl said. “He’s a good guy to have your back. He’d take the shirt off of his back if you need it. At the same time, we were like, ‘How would he be able to do that because of rehab and all.’”
In the meantime, Jones continued his appointments. In November, he finally linked up with a prosthetist who would help him become familiar with the functions of prosthetics. The prosthetist fit Jones for a total of six walking prosthetics and one snowboarding prosthetic.
An avid fan of snowboarding, Jones realized his potential during a snowboarding trip to Breckenridge, Colo., with fellow wounded warriors from NMCSD and his sister, Sara, in early December 2007. Although Jones had only been on his new prosthetic for two weeks, he was eager to go snowboarding -- a passion of his for more than 15 years.
“The first day, I was able to make it down the mountain,” Jones said. “As the days progressed, I got stronger and more confident on my snowboard.”
Surprisingly, all of the snowboarding helped him deaden some of the nerve endings in his left leg. It also helped him become more accustomed to walking on his prosthetic leg.
“Once I knew I could snowboard again, I realized I was going to be able to do a lot more than just snowboard,” Jones said. “I was like, ‘If I could snowboard, who knows what else I can do?’ It kind of opened my mind up to all the other possibilities.”
Meanwhile, Jones continued his daily physical therapy, stretching, and prosthetic appointments at NMCSD.
“I just kept thinking about my next snowboard trip and getting back to 2/7 ASAP,” Jones said.
Later, in February 2008, Jones was visited by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway. Seizing the moment of this rare opportunity, he asked the Marine commander for orders to return to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif., so he could once again serve with 2/7.
“I asked to come back to 2/7, and his assistant took my info,” Jones explained. “And, a couple of days later, I had orders back to 2/7. I was so excited I almost didn’t believe it.”
When Jones checked back into his battalion, many of the Marines were awestruck. They couldn’t believe how much progress he had made on a prosthetic leg in less than a year.
“None of us knew how advanced prosthetics were,” Pofahl said. “He’s been called a walking legend, literally. We’re all glad to have him around. He’s a really positive and hard worker; one of those guys who don’t let anything get to him, obviously,” Pofahl said.
Although Jones couldn’t return to the infantry, he was able to serve in other sections within the battalion and was subsequently assigned to the intelligence section where he is relied upon to provide his fellow infantrymen with vital information that can aid in keeping them away from harmful situations.
“At first I didn’t know what I was able to do,” Jones said. “It’s good to be able to do something that will keep Marines safe. Although I can’t be out there with them, I get to directly help them.”
Jones wanted to deploy with his unit when it was ordered to deploy to Afghanistan in April 2008. But, he wasn’t yet ready to undergo the intense Mojave Viper pre-deployment training. Regardless, he would get no handouts despite being a new amputee. Realizing he is still a Marine, he knew he would have to prove himself all over again.
“It wasn’t just a hookup,” Jones said. “I had to do all the training all other Marines do.”
Jones participated in “humvee” scenarios, close quarters combat drills, survival training, machine gun packages, combat life saver courses, and several other pre-deployment courses. Although he had gone through this training before, this was his first time enduring it as an amputee.
“My leg popped off a couple of times in the humvee scenario and once when I was leaving a range,” Jones said. “I thought it was funny because ‘How many guys walk around with combat loads and have a leg fall off?’ I still did it to prove that I could deploy as an amputee.”
Once all physical and administrative requirements were complete, Jones was ready to deploy and help the Marines who once helped him.
“I love being with the guys, the same people. I really do,” Jones said. “If it wasn’t for the guys in this unit, I wouldn’t be here. It’s an honor to serve with them and be in a place where many Marines don’t get a chance to go.”
Recovering in just nine months, Jones has become the fastest recuperating amputee to deploy to a combat zone. Still, many people have doubted his ability to survive a seven-month deployment on a prosthetic limb.
“A lot a people were skeptical of me because I’m a new amputee,” Jones said. “It’s been a little bit of a challenge for me, mentally at first. People were saying, ‘Its going to be hard and I can’t do it.’ So, being out here was a confidence builder.”
Jones still struggles with walking. He said it takes a lot of energy to walk in combat boots for 14 hours a day with all the sweating, straining and refitting inside of his prosthetic leg.
He said he will always feel slight discomfort on his left leg because of nerve and bone growth along the skin line of his amputated leg. But, he considers it a small price to pay when comparing it to losing a life.
“We’re talking about a guy who almost died in battle and came back to a similar fight,” said Sgt. Paul E. Savage, an intelligence specialist and Boston, Mass., native. “The fact that it didn’t scare him to come back to his buddies truly speaks volumes of Cpl. Jones’ character.”
Jones said he wants to stay in the Marine Corps because he enjoys serving in such a loyal organization. The career retention specialist (CRS) has even submitted a permanent limited duty (PLD) package so he can continue his military career.
“Everyone here has been supportive in helping me get this reenlistment package started. The CRS submitted a PLD package for me back in March 2008. We are still waiting on that to be finished,” said a hopeful Jones, expressing how he felt about returning to serve with 2/7. “A lot of people are like family here. I guess that’s partly why I’m so happy to be here.”
Despite his abrupt loss of limb, Jones remains upbeat and always keeps his peers in high spirits.
“He’s always motivated,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael J. Ortiz, battalion intelligence chief and Miami, Fla., native. “His morale is always high. The only time I see him upset is when he sees someone hurt or killed because he takes it personal. But, he always bounces back and visits whoever it is in the hospital to see how they are.”
Jones said he personally meets with new amputees to show them there is “light at the end of the ‘canal.’” He wants them to know just because they are an amputee, it doesn’t mean that they can’t reach their goals.
“I’ve told them to keep their head up,” Jones said. “I want to show them that if I can do it, they can do it. I want to set the example for other amputees. I want to show them that a bad thing might happen, but you can still make good of bad circumstances.”
Jones’ co-workers all feel that his commitment shows he has authentic concern for his Marines. He also has kept in contact with many wounded warriors when they returned home to the U.S.
“He doesn’t know a lot of these Marines, but he doesn’t care. I know he’s made multiple calls to amputees’ doctors to check on how they’re doing. I think it’s awesome that he does that. It shows that he genuinely cares about his Marines,” Ortiz said.
Jones is the first Marine with an above-the-knee amputation to deploy to Afghanistan. There have not been many of these amputees to redeploy to a combat zone to date.
“Ninety percent of the guys in his situation would have likely walked away with their disability and called it a day,” Savage said. “But, he’s still striving to make a point and it’s remarkable.”
Jones continues to push his personal, mental and physical limits. When he returns to the U.S., he wants to train in Utah in early December and represent the Marine Corps in adaptive snowboarding. Competitions will be held in Colorado, Canada, and possibly Italy. He said the competitions will help him prepare to compete in the 2010 Paralympics for snowboarding in Vancouver, Canada.
Corporal Jones wants to continue serving with the 1st Marine Division as an intelligence specialist. He also wants to keep helping fellow amputees continue their service in the Marine Corps. He said he is sending a letter to the commandant entitled, “Back on their Feet and Back in the Fleet.” The letter entails getting PLD packages completed for more wounded Marines in a timelier manner for those who desire to stay in the Marine Corps.
“Just because you have an injury, it doesn’t mean you have to leave the Marine Corps,” Jones said. “You just have to work hard. I want to let those guys know back in the States that there is a place for you. I plan on being one of those examples.”
Corporal Garrett S. Jones, an amputee who was injured in 2007 by an insurgent’s bomb during his unit’s deployment to Iraq, shows his prosthetic leg. Jones is a 23-year-old Newberg, Ore., native.
Corporal Garrett S. Jones, an amputee who was injured in 2007 by an insurgent’s bomb during his unit’s deployment to Iraq, is proud to be back serving with the Marines of 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, which are currently serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Jones is the first Marine with an above-the-knee amputation to deploy to Afghanistan.
Corporal Garrett S. Jones displays one of the seven prosthetic legs he now wears after being injured in 2007 by an insurgent’s bomb during his unit’s deployment to Iraq. Six of his legs are used for walking, and one is for snowboarding.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Joining us on the call was David Axe of The War is Boring.
Joining us on the call was Josh Russo from Understanding War and Troy Steward of bouhammer.com
Thursday, October 23, 2008
"I am regularly amazed at how quickly they are moving forward in their capabilities and also in their confidence to execute missions
Col. Fulton joined us today for a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable to discuss the 400% growth of the Iraq Police forces, their developing confidence and capability, their professionalism, and the ethics and human rights training the is currently going on in the country.
On the call with us today was Jarred Fishman of the Air Force Pundit and Claire Russo of the Institute for the Study of War.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Joining us on the call was Chuck Simmins of the North Shore Journal, Jarred A. Fishman of the Air Force Pundit, and Andrew Bochman of the DOD Energy Blog
Monday, October 20, 2008
Joining us on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable were Christian Lowe of Military.com, Paul McLeary of Aviation Week, and Andrew Bochman of the DoD Energy Blog.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Joining us on the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable this morning were Christopher Radin of the Long War Journal and Troy Steward of Bouhammer.com.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Maj. Gen. John F. Kelly, USMC, Commanding General, Multi-National Force - West joined us today for the DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable to discuss the progress and give us a look ahead for Al Anbar province, Iraq.
Joining us on the call was Andrew Lubin of Proceedings, and Jarred Fishman from the Air Force Pundit.
Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan
CAMP BARBER, Afghanistan – A Marine company engaged in battle against insurgent forces approach a fortified position. Minutes after a radio call is made for more fire support, the Marines hear the sound of rotors. An attack helicopter bursts through the clouds and swoops in to destroy the enemy.
This air support has given the Marines more firepower to seek out and destroy the insurgent threat they face here in Afghanistan.
Until now, rotary wing air support was sporadic at best for the Marines of Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan, which deployed to Afghanistan in April to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
The task force was recently augmented by four CH-53E “Super Stallion” and AH-1W “Super Cobra” helicopters. The aviation combat element, which deployed here from Iraq’s Al Anbar Province to provide direct support for TF 2/7, reinforces the battalion with reliable re-supply and close air support that the battalion didn’t have throughout the first half of their deployment.
“Before these helicopter assets were supporting the battalion, there was no direct rotary wing support… we were using joint support from the British,” said Capt. James R. Meyer, air officer and Clarksville, Va., native. “We were competing with all of the other units in the area of operations (AO). There were not enough helicopter assets in the AO, but now we have the air support we need to complete our mission.”
A vital asset to mission success, the aviation combat element proved to be the only thing missing. To assist the Marines in their mission to conduct counterinsurgency operations with a focus on training and mentoring of the Afghan National Police, the task force is supported by various attachments that include such reinforcements as a combat engineers platoon, a shock trauma platoon, a radio battalion unit, reconnaissance Marines, DynCorp civilian contractors, and personnel who specialize in civil military operations.
In addition to providing the Marines close air support to wreak havoc upon the enemy, aviation support is needed to replenish the food and ammunition the Marines expend in combat.
The Super Stallions, which are attached to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, Calif., provide transportation for the Marines and transport supplies that allow TF 2/7 to carry out its mission to conduct full spectrum operations. Outside of transporting the heaviest of Marine equipment, like the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles the Marines have relied upon for protection against IEDs (improvised explosive devices), these are heavy-lift helicopters that primarily deliver such items as food, water, mail and combat gear.
“The most important cargo the 53’s carry are the Marines. With these helicopters, we’re able to move the Marines between FOBs (forward operating bases) while keeping them off the roads,” Capt. Meyer said. “We also have insert and extract capabilities to areas that are inaccessible by road.”
As the “Heavy Haulers” deliver destructive payloads of bullets, grenades and Marines, the Super Cobras provide direct security. They also serve as an “ACE in the hole” for the Marines, when needed.
“It’s well known among the enemy, with good reason, to never fire at the skinny grey helicopters,” said Maj. Mike M. Richman, Detachment B officer-in-charge of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 (HML/A-269) and North Lake, Wisc., native. “By being on station, we impede the enemy’s sanctuary and freedom of movement. They can’t move into position to fire at the Marines on the ground, because they know if we can see them, we’ll kill them.”
The “Gunrunners,” which are attached to HML/A-269 at MCAS New River, N.C., focus on providing three areas of support for the battalion. In addition to providing close air support for the Marines on the ground, they also escort the Super Stallions into possible or known hostile areas. Because of danger on the roads, the Super Cobras escort convoys on the dangerous treks throughout Afghanistan’s rugged terrain.
“There’s one thing our helicopters are built for, and it’s not to carry things,” Maj. Richman said. “In addition to flying scheduled missions, we wait for 2/7 Marines to get into contact with the enemy; then we take off to destroy the enemy. Even though our squadron name has the word ‘light’ in it, there is nothing light about our attack capabilities.”
The Heavy Haulers and Gunrunners provide 24-hour-a-day support. Maintaining a high level of readiness, the helicopters can be launched in a moment’s notice.
“We have a customer service relationship with the Marines on the deck,” Maj. Richman said. Any Marine should be able to call us on the radio and let us know what kind of support they need. We tailor the services we provide to fit the needs of the situation as best as possible.”
An AH-1W Super Cobra assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 takes off from the Camp Bastion flight line to provide support to the Marines of Task Force 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan, Sept. 30. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Steve Cushman)
Two CH-53E Super Stallions fly through the skies of Afghanistan, as part of the aviation combat element augmenting the Marines and sailors of Task Force 2/7 currently serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Andrew S. Roberson)
On the call with us were Chuck Simmins of America's North Shore Journal and Scott Malensek of Flopping Aces.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
A month and a half ago I made reference to a “self healing network” in the DoD Blogger’s Roundtable. This blog post explains what I actually meant. While visiting the University of Kansas (KU) and Kansas State University (KSU), I ran across projects associated with cognitive networks or telecommunications. If you had asked the Army what cognitive network theory was, you would likely have been pointed towards a graduate level psychology professor. “Cognitive” drums up visions of hours of lectures on human psychology and words like “dissidence,” “reasoning,” “abnormal” and “processing.” As it turns out “reasoning” and “processing” relate, only instead of human psychology we’re talking about technology; scarily advanced computers and telecommunications, but computers and telecommunications none the less.
Cognitive Network (CN) Theory is the newest addition to the United States Army Computer Network Operations and Electronic Warfare (USACEWP) Information Library. The idea behind it is deceptively simple. You build a technological system using a matrix that is composed of electronic parts, through adaption and reasoning, actively adept to varying computer network conditions and stimuli in order to produce a set of performances and actions. Cognitive networks provide the possibility of pervasive computing, seamless mobility, ad-hoc networks, and dynamic spectrum allocation, among others. Cognitive network design can be applied to any type of fixed or wireless sensor networks. Cognitive computer and telecommunications networks could provide better protection against security attacks and network intruders. Such networks could benefit the service operator as well as the consumer by offering self-governed networks.
The not so simple part is the similarity these networks bear to a truly human system. The scientist building these networks have to take into account a) how each component will pull power and information for its own exclusive use; b) how each will respond to the other components pull for the same power and information; c) how the degree of variables and lack of information will influence each component, and d) finally, how much control each component can exert over the network as a whole at any given time. As I mentioned: scarily advanced computers and telecommunications.
The thing to keep in mind is these are created by human minds. The groups working at KU and KSU are our own Great Plains example, the boys and girls next door proving that homegrown American’s provide an amazing amount of intelligence and initiative for the future. As scary as this technology can be if extrapolated to the degree of say, The Terminator movies, these are still tools. Tools which purpose is to; while not truly think for itself, adapt enough to be trusted in situations where humans would be in danger. In a machine or device run by cognitive networks this means the ability to spill more hydraulic fluid or bits than blood. That’s the truly incredible part. That’s the truly important part.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
"... one of the key things we do as the developers of doctrine for the United States Army is that is, in fact, what drives change."
On the call with us was Dave Dillege of the Small Wars Journal, Phibian from Commander Salamander, Spencer Ackerman with the Washington Independent, Matt Armstrong from Mountain Runner, John Donovan at Castle Argghhh!, and Toby Nunn at Toby Nunn's Briefing Room.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Lt. Col. Cunniff and U.S. Army Col. Lou Vogler, Chief, Future Operations U.S. Army North joined us for a discussion of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive Consequence Management Response Force capability developed for Defense Support to Civil Authorities.
On the call with us was Jason Sigger of the Armchair Generalist, John Donovan from Castle Argghhh!, Toby Nunn of Toby Nunn's Briefing Room, and CJ with A Soldier's Perspective.