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Good morning gents,

This morning I received a parcel from SF Gear containing my long-awaited SO Tech M4 Shingles. I was genuinely delighted at being one very large step closer to completing the re-arrangement of my plate-carrier rig, and in many respects I am very pleased with the pouches.

SGT, 1st Commando Regiment, Australia


To stay alive you need to stay organized. Special Forces Gear keeps me organized.

Ken, 5th Group Special Forces, Iraq

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Cover the mission of Special Forces Unconventional Warfare, and missions of Guerrilla Forces - Tactics and Demolitions, air operations as well as 10 different Rifles and pistols, and include Rocket Launchers, Howitzers and mortar, communications, first aid and survival. This is a jam-packed book of successful training and assessment of area situations.

A Special Forces Christmas

A Soldier's Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas,
He lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of
Plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney
With presents to give,
And to see just who
In this home did live.

I looked all about,
A strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents,
Not even a tree.

No stocking by mantle,
Just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures
Of far distant lands.

With medals and badges,
Awards of all kinds,
a sober thought
Came through my mind.

For this house was different,
It was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier,
Once I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping,
Silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor
In this one bedroom home.

The face was so gentle,
The room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured
A United States soldier.

Was this the hero
Of whom I'd just read?
Curled up on a poncho,
The floor for a bed?

I realized the families
That I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers
Who were willing to fight.

Soon round the world,
The children would play,
And grownups would celebrate
A bright Christmas day.

They all enjoyed freedom
Each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers,
Like the one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder
How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas eve
In a land far from home.

The very thought
Brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees
And started to cry.

The soldier awakened
And I heard a rough voice,
"Santa don't cry,
This life is my choice";

I fight for freedom,
I don't ask for more,
My life is my god,
My country, my home."

The soldier rolled over
And drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it,
I continued to weep.

I kept watch for hours,
So silent and still
And we both shivered
From the cold night's chill.

I didn't want to leave
On that cold, dark, night,
This guardian of honor
So willing to fight.

Then the soldier rolled over,
With a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, "Carry on Santa,
It's Christmas day, all is secure."

One look at my watch,
And I knew he was right.
"Merry Christmas my friend,
And to all a good night."

Merry Christmas!
A Message from Dave
A Very Merry Special Forces Gear Christmas!



There was then and there is now a World War I axiom of land battles which goes something like: " salient thrust into the defender's position can be expanded rapidly and successfully if the shoulders of the salient are firmly held by the defender."

Bastogne, CHRISTMAS EVE, 1944 was one such place where the Americans were the defenders and our shoulders were firmly held. The battle had started on Dec. 16, 1944, and soon became referred to as "The Battle of the Bulge."

After 83,000 troops were moved into the Ardennes region to continue a front that stretched across Europe . Adolph Hitler ordered 250,000 German troops into the region, taking the Americans and British by surprise and boxed them in. The US and allied forces were freezing and dying.

On the 19th of December , Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, then the Supreme Allied Commander, had called a meeting of his chiefs at Verdun . He asked Lt. Gen. George S. Patton when he and his Third Army would be able to mount a rescue operation. Patton responded, "on the morning of December 21st." In Ike's mind this was an impossible boast, and he gave Patton an additional two days.

On this particular Christmas Eve, Gen. McAuliffe , the leader of the "boxed in" troops, had visited with German prisoners that his allied team had captured during their push across Europe toward Berlin, and wished them well.... perhaps even with a well intoned smile .

You see, two days prior, on December 22nd , German officers, under a flag of truce, delivered a long-winded message from Lt. Gen. Heinrich von Luttwitz to General McAuliffe at Bastogne . The message, demanding the Americans surrender, appealed to the "well-known American humanity" to save the citizens of Bastogne from further suffering. McAuliffe was given two hours to reply.

McAuliffe was initially at a loss for words.

Having no intention of surrendering, One of his aides remarked that the general's first comment upon receiving the surrender demand might be wholly appropriate. McAuliffe agreed and penned his now-famous response to the Germans. It simply read, "NUTS."

The message was then delivered by American Col. Joseph Harper to a group of German officers waiting in nearby woods. Harper handed the note to one of the Germans who read it and then looked at Harper in confusion.

"What does that mean?" the German asked. "Is this affirmative or negative?"

Harper responded, "It means you can all go to hell."

Now, at Christmas Eve McAuliffe also shared with his own men the story about his response to the surrender demand, and he presented a Christmas message, a portion of which reads:

What's merry about all this, you ask?

We're fighting.

It's cold. We aren't home. All true. But what has the proud [Screaming] Eagle Division accomplished with its worthy comrades...? Just this: We have stopped cold everything that has been thrown at us from the north, east, south and west. We have identifications from four German panzer divisions, two German infantry divisions and one German parachute division. These units, spearheading the last desperate German lunge, were heading straight west for key points when the Eagle Division was hurriedly ordered to stem the advance. How effectively this was done was written in history; not alone in our Division's glorious history but in world history. The Germans actually did surround us, their radios blared our doom. Allied troops are counterattacking in force. We continue to hold Bastogne . By holding Bastogne we assure the success of the Allied armies.

Despite McAuliffe's words, the situation was drastically bleak, and his 101st paratroopers and supporting units knew it. They were running perilously short of food and ammunition. Frostbite and pneumonia casualties were thinning their ranks almost hourly. And there was a numerically superior enemy force surrounding them in the darkness.Out on the perimeter, cold, hungry soldiers shook hands with one another and said goodbyes.

General Patton ordered his chief chaplain to compose a prayer asking God for good weather in which to fight. The resulting prayer reads:

Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

Richard Rizzio, the Chaplain and speaker at VFW Post 2780's 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge lays a wreath.
Richard Rizzio, Chaplain and Speaker

Richard Rizzio was an Army radio operator who arrived at the battle days after it started, just before Christmas. As the chaplain and speaker at VFW Post 2780's commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, Rizzio, said he remembers that Christmas well because he and members of his 3rd Army Artillery Battalion were so busy.

"Christmas Day we fired a record number of shells," Rizzio said. "Those are memories you don't forget. Some of it, yes, you forget, but there are certain things that stand out."

Willard Barney remembers it was cold. Bitterly, bitterly he was 19 years old and fighting far, far away from his Utah home.

     The fighting had calmed, probably because of the terribly cold winter, and my squad had been pulled back from the front for two weeks of much needed R & R (rest and recuperation.) Perhaps, too, it being the Christmas season had something to do with the fighting slowing down.

We were bunked 12 men to a tent. Considering the cold and miserable conditions at the front lines, we were very grateful to be in a tent with an oil-fired heater, especially on Christmas Eve.

This was my second Christmas away from home. I had joined the Army after graduating from high school. Needless to say, I was a little homesick, and my thoughts turned to my parents and home. I wondered how things would be. Would mom and dad have a real Christmas dinner complete with pumpkin pie, steamed pudding, and mom's heavenly chicken dumpling soup? In my mind, I could almost taste it. My folks were alone this Christmas. Both were in frail health, with no one home to help them with chores and other things. All three of their sons, (their only children) were fighting for their country and all were far away from their central Utah home. My younger brother Floyd was on the island of Guam serving in the Navy, my youngest brother Van was somewhere in the South Pacific on a Navy destroyer.

As Christmas Eve descended on our camp, I continued to reminisce about the Christmas Eve activities from Christmases past. My first real combat experience was coming ashore at Normandy . That terrible and frightening day, and many of the subsequent days of fighting, had caused me to think seriously about the purpose and fragility of life. As we were holed up on the beach I prayed to the Lord above and it was by his grace that I survived that war.

Memories of my home and of carefree times were precious and provided relief from the homesickness I felt and the terrible things happening around me. Those welcome memories flooded my mind on this Christmas Eve. The thrill of going into the hills to cut the "perfect" Christmas tree; the days of decorating it with paper and popcorn chains, tinsel and candles and then hiding homemade gifts in the branches. I also thought of the ward Christmas party where Santa had small paper sacks of goodies for all and of caroling around the town and hanging our stockings near the tree before scurrying to bed so Santa would come. These memories warmed my soul and made it seem a little less cold.

Suddenly, the tent flap flew open and a colonel stepped into our tent. He was very excited and upset. He said very loudly, "The Germans have attacked and overrun our lines. We have lost most of our equipment. I want you 12 men to go to the port of Brest and pick up new Jeeps. You will have to leave immediately and stop for nothing until you get back here!"

We put on our heavy overcoats, grabbed our rifles and headed out. We climbed in the back of a truck and spent Christmas Eve night riding. We arrived at the docks of Brest at midmorning on Christmas Day. We were so cold and stiff they had to lift us out of the truck and into the open Jeeps. We were given no time to rest or get warm. As we started our Jeeps, they handed each of us an opened can of turkey that had been warmed in a barrel of hot water. That was our Christmas dinner, eaten on the road driving back to the battlefield.

I am sure the other 11 men with me that Christmas Day felt as I did. I am sure their thoughts turned to home and loved ones and kinder times. Driving those many hours alone allowed me to count my many blessings and be thankful for what I had back home. After all, that's what we were fighting for, to preserve those homes, loved ones and liberties. It was in memories of those homes, loved ones and liberties that I found comfort and warmth on that bitterly cold Christmas so many years ago.

However by Christmas Eve and day everything these soldiers needed to rely on in the field from faith, hope, prayer and training would come into play it what was known as:

"The Battle on Christmas Day"

Bastogne, December 1944

Following the bitter cold calm of a yuletide midnight clear, on or a about 0300 a few German planes droned over the 502d Parachute lines and dropped bombs indiscriminately around Rolle, the regimental command post. A few minutes later the German gunners and mortar crews started to work, their target the American positions at Champs.

Here Company A of the 502d was deployed on the northwest edge of the village longing for the comforts of the homes and families they might never see again back home;. laying in wait - safeties off... At 0400, clad in white snow suits, the first German assault party, some fifty grenadiers from the Wermacht 77th Grenadiers crept forward under the waning moon toward the American positions at Champs..this group dashed into the village with a panzer column not far behind and thus, the German attack began...Needless to say the morning was starting out to be far from the j jolly Christmas a any of these American troops had foreseen.

At first light the American artillery and mortars took on the German infantry starkly outlined against the snow-covered slopes west of Hemroulle. The panzer grenadiers tried digging in but the ground was too hard frozen; so they lay in the snow and took their losses. The Germans made a breech of the Rolle a Bastogne defense but the huge cadre of U.S. forces From Artillery to clerks throwing down their type writers and picking up Anti tank weapons and their M-1's to help closed those gaps which surrounded them while the Germans believed they were making a huge head way.

The 507th paratroopers' showered the tanks with lead, and the German infantry clinging to the decks and sides fell to the snow. Two of the U.S. 705th tank destroyers, which were backing up Company C, caught the column in process of turning and put away a few of the panzers; the paratroopers' bazookas accounted for two more.

Funny how false perception can be the downfall of any professional soldier no matter what his advantage. As recounted by Col. S. L. A. Marshall after the battle:

"The German tanks were fired at from so many directions and with such a mixture of fire that it was not possible to see or say how each tank met its doom."

Yes, many U.S troopers were getting decimated wounded and killed on that Christmas day from fire fights so intense, that the troops who survived between Normandy and the fall of Berlin would later comment on how nothing compared to that cold , lead filled ho-ho-hell of a day which came to be known as the "Battle of Christmas Day"

In the early afternoon General Commander Kokott called the German attack to a halt, planning to resume the battle under cover of the night. His last "desperate effort," as Kokott himself termed it, took long to organize and did not get under way until the morning hours of the 26th.... By which time the tide had turned in great favor for U.S. Forces...

"What does that mean?" the German asked. "Is this affirmative or negative?"

Harper responded, "It means you can all go to hell."

The siege of Bastogne , for purposes of historic record, may be considered ended at 1645 on 26 December when the 326th Airborne engineers reported contact with "three light tanks believed friendly." True, the breach in the German-held ring opened by the 4th Armored Division was narrow and precarious, but it would not be closed despite the most strenuous enemy efforts in coming days.

Thus, on the 26th, despite the odds, Patton punched through to Bastogne , and within hours the Germans began falling back.

The staunch defense of Bastogne had impeded the Fifth Panzer Army drive to the west, just as the desperate rear guard battle by the 7th Armored at St. Vith had slowed the advance of the Sixth, demonstrating that axiom of World War I mentioned above ("that no salient thrust into the defender's position can be expanded rapidly and successfully if the shoulders of the salient are firmly held by the defender") . The human cost of the Bastogne battle, therefore, probably was not out of proportion to the military gains achieved.

The 101st Airborne Division suffered battle casualties numbering 105 officers and 1,536 men. CCB of the 10th Armored Division had approximately 25 officers and 478 men as battle casualties.

There is no means of numbering the killed, wounded, and missing in the miscellany of unrecorded tankers, gunners, infantry, and others - Like Rizzio and Ballard - who shared in the defense of Bastogne . Nor can any casualty roster now be compiled of those units which fought east of Bastogne prior to 19 December and gave the 101st Airborne Division the time and the tactical opportunity to array itself in the defense of that town.

Without question it was the turning stage of the war. If the Germans had won the battle, they would have split the American and British troops and cut off their supply lines. The war's outcome could have been drastically different.

In fact, following the relief at Bastogne , the airborne soldiers were tasked with seizing a number of Belgian towns and hamlets, which they did with the same dash and aplomb they would have had after a period of rest and recuperation. Why? Because the men of Bastogne - like you - their descendents today serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and a denizens of other non traditional Christmas vacation spots - understood the rewards reaped from hardship.

So This Christmas when the going gets rough (and it will as it always has...)

  When that familiar melee of surprise attacks in supposedly secure areas happens...

A spike in casualties comes with out explanation...

  Or you and your Troops seem stretched too thin...

Remember you are joining the long tradition of American Fighting Soldiers.

  You are the defenders of our positions "shoulders."

YOU ARE the line!

So stay safe, shoot first and have a Jolly holly Ho-Ho- Hooyah of Christmas, wherever you may be!

   - Dave

Word of Truth

By Rev G.J. Rako

The Night Before Christmas

By Robert B. Thieme Jr.
Copyright 1994 All rights reserved First Edition published 1965. Reprinted in its entirety with permission from R.B. Thieme Jr. Bible Ministries

The true meaning of Christmas is described in the following poem and booklet written by Pastor Robert B. Thieme Jr. Bob was my Pastor for over thirty years. He was my friend, my mentor, and my source for understanding the Christian way of life. He made the Bible come alive and because of the grace of God and his dedication and unwavering love of the Scripture, the Word lives in me. A gift for which I will always be grateful and one I could never repay. Bob is now retired, and his son, R.B. Thieme III has picked up the guidon and is leading his congregation to the high ground.

'Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the world
A message was preached,
A challenge was hurled:
Believe on the Son
And thou shall be saved!
The road to heaven with His blood
Was paved.
Out of darkness of sin
And despair
God's salvation, the fairest of fair,
Was born in a manger;
No room in the inn.
God in the flesh, He died for our sin.
The angels sang;
The shepherds rejoiced,
Messiah has come!
The message was voiced
By joyous believers both far and near;
Christmas has come!
Immanuel is here!

Christmas celebrates the incomparable divine gift to all mankind; the birth of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Two millennia ago the Savior appeared, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The babe in the manger would demolish the barrier between depraved humanity and perfect God. He was born to die so that through Him we might have life everlasting.

Unfortunately, today Santa Claus and shopping for presents take priority over the true meaning of Christmas. Exchanging gifts has supplanted our focus from the greatest of all gifts. The eternal consequence of the season is obscured. Only the Bible, God's infallible Word and inerrant Truth, reveals the import of that first Christmas. The Scriptures disclose a meaning far more momentous than the notions and traditions of men, however clever or charming.

Seven truths recounted in Luke 2:7-20 illuminate the magnificent message of that first Christmas.

A night of life and death

The Word of Truth - Alive and Powerful

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes. (Luke 2;7a)

The same [Jesus Christ] was in the beginning with God...And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. (John 1:2, 14a)

Jesus Christ is the God-Man, undiminished deity and true humanity united in one Person forever (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3). Although Christ is eternal God, His incarnation began with His physical birth, as all human life begins. At birth Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes, the garments used to shroud the dead. From the beginning of His earthly life, He was identified with death. The shadow of the cross loomed over Him. In that moment, God proclaimed to the world that Christ's death is more significant than His life.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Thirty-three years later the Lord Jesus Christ bore all our sins, past, present and future, when He died on the cross.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. (I Peter 2:24a)

Christmas is not Santa and his sleigh. Christmas is Christ and His cross!

A night of good news

And the angel said unto them [certain shepherds], Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)

The supernatural appearance of the angel rendered these shepherds speechless with fear and awe. But the good news announcing that salvation from God was brought down to man promptly transformed their fear to joy.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. (Titus 2:11)

A wish for a "merry Christmas" should be a wish for all to know the joy of salvation through faith in Christ.

The good news concerned the savior, Christ the Lord. All humanity is under the penalty of death; separation from God, because "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23). The proclamation made on that first Christmas announced the solution to sin. The advent of Christ was for the express purpose of saving mankind from the penalty of sin.

Not only did the angel bring the good news to the shepherds, but to all people. There is no exception. Salvation was provided for all. Christ's substitutionary death is an unlimited atonement.

Who gave Himself a ransom for all. (I Timothy 2:6a)

That He by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9b)

And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2)

A night of heavenly worship

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. (Luke 2:13a)

On the first Christmas, the angels in heaven set the precedent for worshiping and praising God. Most people have long since ignored that precedent. True worship is based on a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas, above all, should elicit a personal response to Christ and adoration of Him. No one can enter into the true spirit of Christmas apart from personal faith in the God-Man Savior.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. (Acts 16:31)

A night of potential peace

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:14)

But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Whether or not you have peace with God depends on your attitude toward Jesus Christ. God is well pleased only with those who believe in Jesus Christ. Only they are the ones who have peace that cannot be purchased.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

A night of reverent seeking

The shepherds said one to another, let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste. (Luke 2:15b-16a)

These shepherds were not ordinary shepherds, nor were the sheep ordinary sheep. These men were carefully chosen to watch over the flocks from which lambs without blemish were selected for Temple sacrifice. The sacrifices foreshadowed Jesus Christ, the true Lamb of God.

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot [His saving work on the cross]. (I Peter 1:18-19)

The shepherds were well informed concerning the Old Testament prophecy of the coming Messiah (Micah 5:2). While the angel referred only to the "city of David," the shepherds went immediately to Bethlehem, the predicted birthplace of the Messiah. Their prompt response exhibited not only a knowledge of the Scripture but also faith in God's promise. In contrast, the pious religious leaders of Israel who attended Temple worship three times a day also knew where the Messiah would be born (Matthew 2:4-6), but they lacked the faith to act on their knowledge.

The shepherds who tended the flocks night and day could not attend Temple worship. Yet the angel revealed the good news to them, not to the religious leaders. Although faithful in keeping the sheep, the shepherds now left those sacrificial lambs to witness an event of the greatest magnitude, the newborn Lamb of God, the Savior of all mankind. They went to

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29b)

Is Christ more important to you than anything you possess? The shepherds made haste to seek the Savior. Oh, that men would make haste to seek the Savior today!

Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6:2b)

And Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37b)

A night of witnessing

And when they had seen it [Jesus in the manger], they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. (Luke2:17-18)

People were amazed and astonished when they heard that the Messiah had come. The shepherds made the salvation issue clear.

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)

No greater joy or experience can come to the believer than to evangelize for Jesus Christ by presenting the Gospel to others.

A night of quiet meditation

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

Few people today sit quietly and think intently about the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Mary set the precedent that first Christmas. Will you give a thought to the Savior this Christmas? Or will your Christmas simply be a time of festivity, gift-giving, and excitement? From His birth day came His death day, and through His death day comes our eternal life day.

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten [uniquely born] Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Doctrinal Bible Studies

Bible doctrine is the body of teaching drawn from a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. Doctrine serves as the standard for truth. Doctrine is the Christian's spiritual nourishment (Matt. 4:4).

For many years, doctrinal Bible classes taught by R. B. Thieme Jr., have provided daily spiritual food for his congregation. Doctrinal books like the one above and tape recordings of his classes are available without charge or obligation. A Doctrinal Bible Studies catalogue will be provided upon request at

Click here to send an email to Rev G.J. Rako >>
Voice of the Soldier
Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Special Forces Gear is now hosting a special section for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) provides college scholarship grants, along with financial aid and educational counseling, to the children of Special Operations personnel who were killed in an operational mission or training accident.

All profits from these items go to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Learn More about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation >>

Arlington at Christmas

Arlington Wreath Project

Arlington at Christmas
Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell...

Readers may be interested to know that these wreaths - some 5,000 - are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine. The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He's done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.

Arlington National Cemetery

The lyrics used today are as follows:

Day is done, gone the sun, from the lakes, from the hill, from the sky. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight, and a star gems the sky, gleaming bright. From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days, neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky. As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

May the citizens & elected officials of the United States never fail to honor our soldiers. Freedom is won by soldiers, never by politicians.

Addendum: History & lyrics of 'Taps'

The history of 'Taps', which is the last thing a soldier on a military base hears at night before sleeping.

In 1862, during the Civil War, Union Army Capt. Robert Ellicombe heard a soldier moaning in the dark on the battlefield & decided to risk his life to save the soldier, not knowing if he was Union or Confererate.

Upon successfully bringing the wounded soldier back to Union lines the Capt. discovered three things - the soldier had died during the rescue... he was a Confederate, & it was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out.

Heartbroken, the Union Capt. asked his commanding officer for a full military burial with an army band - the request was only partially granted... the Capt. could have his choice of one musician. The Capt. chose a bugler. The Capt. asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes found in the pocket of his son's uniform.

Thus, the haunting melody we know as 'Taps' was first played in 1862, after a battle near Harris' Landing, in Virginia.

Prayer chain for our Military...please don't break it

Please send this on after a short prayer. Prayer for our soldiers..please don't break it


"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen."

Prayer Request: When you receive this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our troops around the world.


Prayer chain for our Military

Prayer chain for our Military

In case we find ourselves starting to believe all the anti-American sentiment and negativity, we should remember England's Prime Minister Tony Blair's words during a recent interview. When asked by one of his Parliament members why he believes so much in America, he said:

"A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in... And how many want out."

Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:

1. Jesus Christ
2. The American G. I.

One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.


I just received this from a friend of mine & thought I should pass this along to you for the PGR members & my friends to send up a prayer of healing for this young man... it couldn't hurt.

It was 1st sent out October 26, 2006 8:36 AM, but to keep it going I copied & pasted it because lots of folks hate to do the "forward" thing and most will just delete them. If you think this is a valid request, will you please send it out?


My son has been shot in Falujah. I wanted to get everyone to pray for my son Chad. Today, Sunday, I got a call from the Army that my son had been shot in the head. I am asking for all your prayers. He was in a Humvee going through Falujah fighting and a gang of militia fighters fired on the Humvee and hit Chad in the head.

The driver got him out of the city and took him to Baghdad. He was in fatal condition, but now has been upgraded to stable critical. His dad and I are on standby to fly to Washington then on to Germany as soon as the military calls us to go. The Army is trying to stabilize him enough to fly to Germany and at that time we will leave. Please pray that my son will not have brain damage and that he will be restored and healed by the blood of Jesus, and the grace of God. I ask for you to pass this prayer request on so there will be many prayer warriors praying for him.

Thank you so much and I'll try to keep you updated on his condition.

God Bless,
Vicky Field
Granbury, Texas

Please pray for this young soldier and please pass this request along to those who will pray for him.

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Battle Load Carry System GEN II


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BLoCS SAW/Dump/2 Quart Canteen Pouch

BLoCS SAW/Dump/2 Quart Canteen Pouch

Our tactical pouch line utilizes 500 denier Cordura. All of our pouches are constructed from this material because we have found it to be approximately 40% lighter than the 1000 denier, yet suffering only a 10% reduction in durability.

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Ho Ho Ho, now I have an assault rifle!

"The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty - that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men."

- George Washington (General Orders, 23 August 1776)

"When we would sail the Iowa down the Strait of Hormuz, all southern Iran would go quiet. Iran's Revolutionary Guards were steaming around in boats with rockets, shooting at ships. When we arrived, all of that stuff stopped."

- The Battleship USS Iowa former Captain, Larry Sequist, describing the effectiveness of the 45,000-ton armored behemoth During Desert Storm

"Don't ever think that you are defending me by slamming the Global War on Terrorism or the U.S. goals in that war. As far as I am concerned, we can send guys like me to go after them or we can wait for them to come back to us again. I died doing something I believed in and have no regrets except that I couldn't do more."

- Deceased U.S. Army Special Forces Captain Jeffrey "Toz" Toczylowski (killed in action in Iraq November 2005) ...on "why, The Special Forces are Special." In his will, he left $100,000 to defray the expenses for a party to be held, in memory of him, in Las Vegas. The 30 year old captain was buried at Arlington on November 14, 2005. The party was held November 11, 2006, and was attended by 125 family and friends. Toczylowski believed in what he was doing, and left this message behind to emphasize the point.

"We (those in the United Kingdom and EU) are living in a prime-time Bond film: we have dashing spies, poisoning, espionage, allegations of undercover assassinations. Murdered journalists are involved, as are billionaire 'tycoons'. What is going on?"

- Felicitas Macgilchrist German Journalist regarding recent '06 events within the United Kingdom

John McCain's Remarks About The Pledge Of Allegiance!

In light of the recent appeals court ruling in California, with respect to the Pledge of Allegiance, the following recollection from Senator John McCain is very appropriate:

"The Pledge of Allegiance" - by Senator John McCain

As you may know, I spent five and one half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. In the early years of our imprisonment, the NVA kept us in solitary confinement or two or three to a cell. In 1971 the NVA moved us from these conditions of isolation into large rooms with as many as 30 to 40 men to a room. This was, as you can imagine, a wonderful change and was a direct result of the efforts of millions of Americans onbehalf of a few hundred POWs 10,000 miles from home.

One of the men who moved into my room was a young man named Mike Christian. Mike came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He didn't wear a pair of shoes until he was 13 years old. At 17, he enlisted in the US Navy. He later earned a commission by going to Officer Training School Then he became a Naval Flight Officer and was shot down and captured in 1967. Mike had a keen and deep appreciation of the opportunities this country and our military provide for people who want to work and want to succeed.

As part of the change in treatment, the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home. In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves and other items of clothing. Mike got himself a bamboo needle. Over a period of a couple of months, he created an American flag and sewed on the inside of his shirt. Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike's shirt on the wall of the cell and say the Pledge of Allegiance.

I know the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important part of our day now, but I can assure you that in that stark cell it was indeed the most important and meaningful event. One day the Vietnamese searched our cell, as they did periodically, and discovered Mike's shirt with the flag sewn inside, and removed it.

That evening they returned, opened the door of the cell, and for the benefit of all of us, beat Mike Christian severely for the next couple of hours. Then, they opened the door of the cell and threw him in. We cleaned him up as well as we could.

The cell in which we lived had a concrete slab in the middle on which we slept. Four naked light bulbs hung in each corner of the room. As I said, we tried to clean up Mike as well as we could. After the excitement died down, I looked in the corner of the room,and sitting there beneath that dim light bulb with a piece of red cloth, another shirt and his bamboo needle, was my friend, Mike Christian. He was sitting there with his eyes almost shut from the beating he had received, making another American flag. He was not making the flag because it made Mike Christian feel better. He was making that flag because he knew how important it was to us to be able to Pledge our allegiance to our flag and country.

So the next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance, you must never forget the sacrifice and courage that thousands of Americans have made to build our nation and promote freedom around the world. You must remember our duty, our honor, and our country.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Ernest Charles Pusey

Ernest Charles Pusey, 111; one of the country's longest-lived WWI vets OBIT

Ernest Charles Pusey, one of the United States' longest-living World War I veterans, died at his home in Bradenton, Fla., on Nov. 19, a little more than a week after he was honored with a medal for his service to the country, family members said. He was 111.

Pusey's death left fewer than 25 living U.S. veterans of World War I of nearly 5 million who served, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I was deeply saddened to learn that Mr. Pusey had passed away. It was my privilege to meet with him," Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in a statement. "We should not forget him, and other veterans, who sacrificed so much for this country."

The governor had presented Pusey with a World War I Victory Medal on Nov. 10, the day before Veterans Day. Pusey didn't recall receiving a medal after the war, and no evidence could be found that he had.


PRESS RELEASE: Army Special Forces Soldier dies in Afghanistan

PRESS RELEASE: Army Special Forces Soldier dies in Afghanistan

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, November 7, 2006) An Army Special Forces Soldier stationed here died Nov. 6, when an Improvised Explosive Device detonated near his Humvee in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar while deployed in support of combat operations.

Sgt. 1st Class William Brown, 30, was a senior Special Forces weapons sergeant, assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group here.

He deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in August 2006.


PRESS RELEASE: Army Special Forces Soldier dies in Iraq

PRESS RELEASE: Army Special Forces Soldier dies in Iraq

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, November 17, 2006) An Army Special Forces Soldier died of a gunshot wound during combat operations Nov. 14 in Baghdad.

Sgt. 1st Class Tung M. Nguyen, 38, a Special Forces communications sergeant, was evacuated and pronounced dead at a combat support hospital in Baghdad. In accordance with Army regulations, the events surrounding his death are currently under investigation. However, initial indications are that Sgt. 1st Class Nguyen's wounds may have resulted from friendly fire.

Nguyen was born in Cantho, Vietnam, became a U.S. citizen, and was raised in Tracy, Calif. He was assigned to Company B,2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C. and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Rounds of sadness and joy

Jeffrey Toczylowski

SHORTLY after Jeffrey "Toz" Toczylowski's last mission in Iraq a year ago this month, friends received a message.

"If you are getting this e-mail, it means that I have passed away," the missive said. "No, it's not a sick Toz joke, but a letter I wanted to write in case this happened."

The Army Special Forces captain, 30, said he would like family and friends to attend his burial at Arlington National Cemetery, "but understand if you can't make it." The message, distributed by a fellow Green Beret after Toczylowski's family had been notified of his death, added this: "There will also be a party in Vegas with a 100k to help pay for travel, room and a party."

Last Saturday afternoon, Jeffrey's mother, Peggy, hustled about Las Vegas' Palms Hotel and Casino, making final arrangements for a bash that drew family and childhood friends from her son's hometown in suburban Pennsylvania, young men and women from his days at Texas A&M, and comrades in arms who had bonded with "Toz" on missions they could not discuss with civilians.


Jacob Smart, 97; general who planned World War II raid helped shape the Air Force

Jacob Smart

RIDGELAND, S.C., Nov. 21 (UPI) - Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Jacob Smart, who helped shape Air Force doctrine after World War II, has died in Ridgeland, S.C., at the age of 97.

Smart died in his home of congestive heart failure, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The general, who had served as chief of flying training at Army Air Forces headquarters in Washington when the United States entered the war, became a war strategy aide under Gen. Henry Arnold and participated with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in the Casablanca Conference of 1943, the Post report said.

Smart designed a series of raids in August 1943 over Ploesti, Romania, to cut off the supply of oil to the Germans. He later spent 11 months as a prisoner of war in Germany.

At the end of the war, Smart became executive assistant to Arnold and participated in the planning of the Air Force's separation from the U.S. Army.

He is survived by his children, William Smart of Whitehall, Mont., and Jacklyn Freeman of Ben Lomond, Calif.; 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, the Post reported.


Robert H Kupperman

Robert Kupperman, 71; Expert on Terrorism

Robert H. Kupperman, who more than 30 years ago was among the first officials to tell the White House of the dangers of a terrorist attack on the United States, died Friday at his home in Washington. He was 71.

The cause was complications of Parkinson's disease, first diagnosed in 1990, said his daughter, Tamara Kupperman Thorp.

From 1975 onward, as an author of top-secret studies, a chairman of task forces and a lonely voice of warning, Mr. Kupperman consistently predicted that the United States would someday be the target of a major terrorist attack.


Markus Wolf

Markus Wolf, 83; East Germany's spymaster

BERLIN - Markus Wolf, the "man without a face" who outwitted the West as communist East Germany's long-serving spymaster, died Thursday (Nov. 9, 2006). He was 83.

Mr. Wolf died in his apartment in Berlin, his stepdaughter Claudia Wall said in a statement. The cause of his death, on the 17th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, was not released.

He planted some 4,000 agents in the West - most famously, placing Guenter Guillaume as a top aide to West German Chancellor Willy Brandt. The agent's unmasking forced Brandt to resign in 1974.

Mr. Wolf, who said he spurned a CIA offer of a safe new life in California after the Cold War, managed to steal NATO secrets for the Soviet bloc that could have been decisive if war had broken out in Europe.

Because of his elusiveness, his rivals nicknamed him "the man without a face."


Marine Missing in Action from Vietnam War is Identified

Marine Missing in Action from Vietnam War is Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

He is Pfc. James E. Widener, U.S. Marine Corps, of Churchville, N.Y. He will be buried Nov. 10, at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.

On June 11, 1967, Widener was one of 11 passengers on board a CH-46A Sea Knight helicopter that was inserting ground forces into Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, when the aircraft crashed. Pilots from two nearby helicopters saw the crash and reported that none of the men on board could have survived. Aircraft flew over the site for several hours, but aircrew members did not observe any survivors. A patrol was sent the next day to confirm the status of the 11 crewmembers, but the site could not be accessed due to enemy forces in the area. Later that month, enemy activity prevented a second attempt to patrol the site.


Fallen SEALs receive Navy Cross

Fallen SEALs receive Navy Cross

Navy Secretary Donald Winter presented the widows of Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson and Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Danny Dietz with their husbands' Navy Crosses on Wednesday evening at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The ceremony, held next to the "Lone Sailor" statue, honored the sacrifice Axelson and Dietz made June 28, 2005, when they died in the mountains of Afghanistan during a mission to "capture or kill" a high-level militia leader. Despite being mortally wounded during a firefight after the group of four SEALs was spotted, the two continued to fight, killing numerous enemy fighters and allowing one of their teammates on the ground to escape the swarming, numerically superior force.

World News - Knowing is Half the Battle!

Roger Staubach: Army-Navy game tops other football rivalries

Roger Staubach: Army-Navy game tops other football rivalries

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach took the Dallas Cowboys to four Super Bowls in his 11 years in the NFL. In college, he took the Naval Academy to the Cotton Bowl and a No. 2 national ranking.

But the game the former Navy quarterback remembers feeling most excited about was his first Army-Navy game in 1962.

"It's the most nervous I've ever been before a game," said Staubach, 64. "There were 4,000 Midshipmen at Bancroft Hall counting on me to beat Army, and I knew it would be difficult to go back there that night if we lost."

Navy won that game 34-14, but the storied rivalry continues. The miltary academies meet for the 107th time Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Staubach, is no stranger to classic football rivalries. He piloted the Dallas Cowboys through the 1970s when the Redskins-Cowboys matchup was at its most heated.

But he told The Baltimore Examiner that nothing compares with the emotions stirred by the annual Army-Navy game.


Save the battlewagons

Save the battlewagons

WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Dec. 4, 1983, 28 aircraft from the USS Independence Carrier Battle Group attacked Hezbollah and Syrian anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. Two U.S. Navy A-7s were lost on the mission and a third aircraft was damaged. One of the downed pilots died of wounds in captivity and the other, Lt. Robert Goodman, was taken prisoner and paraded before the cameras. Though Lt. Goodman was eventually released, the U.S. Navy had learned a hard lesson.

Ten days later, U.S. reconnaissance flights were fired on again - but this time the response was different. Instead of launching air strikes, the battleship USS New Jersey opened fire - and with just 11 2,700-pound, 16-inch rounds, silenced the anti-aircraft sites. This feat was repeated on Feb. 8, 1984, when Syrian artillery opened fire on Christian West Beirut - inflicting heavy civilian casualties. Less than two hours of fire from the New Jersey's 16-inch guns eliminated the Syrian artillery threat. It wouldn't be the last time the World War II-era "battlewagons" would serve our national interests.

Until now, however, Congress has insisted that the Wisconsin and Iowa be maintained in "a state of readiness" for "rapid reactivation" in the "event of a national emergency." But all that may be about to change. A House-Senate Conference Committee is now considering lifting the requirement that the last two "heavy gun" ships in the allied arsenal be kept ready for action.


Japan capable of making nuclear weapon

Japan capable of making nuclear weapon


TOKYO - Japan has the technological know-how to produce a nuclear weapon but has no immediate plans to do so, the foreign minister said Thursday, several weeks after communist North Korea carried out a nuclear test.

Foreign Minister Taro Aso, who has called for discussion of Japan's non-nuclear policy, also asserted in parliament that the pacifist constitution does not forbid possession of the bomb.

"Japan is capable of producing nuclear weapons," Aso told a parliamentary committee on security issues. "But we are not saying we have plans to possess nuclear weapons."

Japan, the only country ever attacked by atomic weapons, has for decades espoused a strict policy of not possessing, developing or allowing the introduction of nuclear bombs on its territory.


Security preparations for Pope's visit to Turkey put in place

Pope Benedict XVI
An army of snipers, bomb disposal experts, riot police and anti-terrorism agents will deploy at each of Benedict's stops.


Security preparations for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Turkey this week have been painstakingly put in place, with a especially strong presence in Istanbul where the pontiff will spend a good deal of his visit.

Turkish authorities have stepped up protection arrangements amid fears the visit may touch off a renewed wave of anger over Benedict's recent quoted comments linking Islam to violence.

An army of snipers, bomb disposal experts, riot police and anti-terrorism agents will deploy at each of Benedict's stops. Police helicopters will hover above the cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir during the 28 November - 1 December trip, while navy commandos with machine guns will patrol the waters of the Bosphorus Straits in inflatable boats.

Ismalil Celeskan, spokesman for Turkish Police force said an extra 750 riot police will be deployed to Istanbul from neighbouring cities. "We have taken all the necessary measures and observations of the route the Pope (will travel) and the places Pope will visit," Celeskan said.

Turkish authorities are predicting large street protests, and plan to close several areas of downtown Istanbul to traffic. Turkish security forces have had plenty of experience in protecting world leaders, including United States presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

Rangers recognized for combat actions

Rangers recognized for combat actions

HUNTER ARMY AIR FIELD, Ga. (USASOC News Service, November 6, 2006) They say they are simply doing their jobs, but many call them heroes - heroes who are committed to each other but they are dedicated to a higher commitment and that is to the United States of America.

On Friday, Nov. 3, about 350 of them were recognized here for that commitment and their combat service during a recent deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terrorism. They are Army Rangers from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

"In its purest form that absolute commitment is what we are recognizing here today," said Brig. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., deputy commanding general of the Joint Special Operations Command and presenter of 68 combat awards including two Bronze Star medals for valor, 10 Joint Service Commendation medals for valor, seven Purple Heart medals, 44 Bronze Star medals for service and five Air Medals.


SWCS pummels competition at All-Army Combat Tournament

SWCS pummels competition at All-Army Combat Tournament

FORT BENNING, GA (USASOC News Service, Nov 13, 2006) Surrounding spectators cheered as nearly 200 warriors from 34 clans battled for the title of champion using varying combat styles. No, this wasn't a low budget 80's action film starring actor Chuck Norris; it was the second annual All-Army Combatatives Tournament at Fort Benning, Ga, Nov. 5.

After the fierce battle, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School team came out on top, closely followed by the team from Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Benning's own 75th Ranger Regiment team.

"The [program] is the method with which we get hand-to-hand combat instruction to every soldier in the Army," said Matt Larsen director of the Modern Army Combatatives program. "What we're really training for is the battlefield. This [tournament] is just the method, a means to the end."


Australian Commandos Receive Decorations

Australian Commandos Receive Decorations

Australian Commandos Receive Decorations For Gallantry

The Governor-General His Excellency MAJ GEN Michael Jeffery, AC, CVO, MC, joined with Prime Minister of Australia the Hon John Howard, MP, the Hon Dr. Brendan Nelson, MP and the Chief of the Defence Force ACM Angus Houston AO, AFC, to welcome home Eastern Australia-based members of the Afghanistan Special Forces Task Group (SFTG) in a ceremony at Tobruk Lines, Holsworthy Barracks today.

Commando Sergeant "A" and Commando Corporal "B" were decorated for gallantry in recognition of their outstanding actions, leadership and bravery in Afghanistan.

The soldier, identified only as Sergeant A, yesterday became the first person to receive the Star of Gallantry, Australia's second highest award for gallantry after the Victoria Cross. He was a member of the Special Forces Task Group which was involved in some of the most ferocious fighting Australians have seen since the Vietnam War.

Read More About Sergeant A >> Read More About The Australian Commandos >>

Mock train derailment brings out special forces

NATALBANY - At first, it looked like an Amtrak passenger train had hit a car Thursday morning at the state highway 1064 railroad crossing.

Seconds later, a sniper aboard the train fired a shot that hit a deputy who had responded to help. The accident scene turned into a crime scene.

It wasn't "real world," but it could have been.


Russia forces kill five in Dagestan

Russian special forces killed five gunmen, including an Arab rebel leader, in the southern republic of Dagestan, which borders Chechnya, a Russian intelligence agent said.

Russia has fought two separatist wars in Muslim Chechnya since 1994 with heavy loss of life. The wars have spilled over into neighbouring Dagestan and Ingushetia, which have witnessed an upsurge in violence over the last few years.

Special forces surrounded a house in Khasavyurt in the west of Dagestan in an early morning raid and killed three gunmen in an initial exchange of shooting.


Terrorist attacks spreading in India beyond Kashmir

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that terrorist attacks in the country had spread beyond Kashmir, which is in the grip of a 17-year-old Islamic separatist insurgency.

"Attempts to take this threat to other parts of the country to create fear in the minds of our people are in evidence," Singh told a gathering of top police and intelligence officials in New Delhi on Thursday.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil also told the conference Wednesday that terrorist threats to India's infrastructure including its atomic plants had risen in the wake of a planned civilian nuclear energy deal with the United States.


Indonesian Navy Celebrate Anniversary of Founding of Navy

Indonesian Navy Commandos take part in a drill to celebrate the 61st anniversary of the founding of the navy Wednesday Nov. 15, 2006 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Administration of U.S. President George Bush, who will visit Indonesia after attending an APEC meeting in Hanoi, lifted a ban on military assistance to Indonesia last year in hopes of cementing a relationship with a key ally in the war against terrorism. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Lethal Envoys

Lethal Envoys

It is no secret that special operations forces from all branches of the US military have been critical to the success of the Global War on Terrorism. The Army Special Forces draw approximately 20% of their strength from the Army National Guard. Recently, the men of Company A, 1-19th Special Forces, headquartered in Buckley WA, were called upon to participate in the largest special operations mission since World War II.

Part of his mission in downtown Kabul that afternoon was to buy light bulbs and wall clocks for the barracks housing the Afghan army recruits he was helping to organize and train.

Martin and Lyons headed into downtown Kabul to do the shopping. It was Dec. 17. Transportation was an old Russian-made four-wheel drive jeep. Lyons was driving, Martin rode shotgun and an interpreter crouched in the back.

The jeep had slowed to a crawl in streets clogged by traffic and pedestrians when the windshield smashed and something landed in the space between Martin and Lyons. The two soldiers glanced at each other and were moving to get out of the jeep when the object exploded. It was a homemade grenade. "I received shrapnel and burns all along my left side," said Martin, who in civilian life is a Long Beach, Calif., police SWAT team member.

His right eardrum was shattered and bits of metal ripped into his arm, leg and left eye. The blast broke bones in both feet and his left leg.


An Honest Confession by an American Coward

An Honest Confession by an American Coward by Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy's novels include The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, and Beach Music. He lives on Fripp Island, South Carolina.

This essay is from his forthcoming book, My Losing Season.

The true things always ambush me on the road and take me by surprise when I am drifting down the light of placid days, careless about flanks and rearguard actions. I was not looking for a true thing to come upon me in the state of New Jersey. Nothing has ever happened to me in New Jersey. But came it did, and it came to stay.


Time to Face Facts

Time to Face Facts

I have skirted around the following subject for years, either because I was focused on some small subset of it, or because I did not feel the message would be accepted. I no longer care. We are teetering at the abyss, and bold action is required if we are to save ourselves. It is way past time for a reality check, so here it is, late, but better late than never:

In short, the Soviet Union never fell. It transformed its appearance dramatically, but only superficially, in a shrewd strategic move that tricked Western policy makers into unilateral disarmament. Democrats rejoiced at the excuse this "victory" provided to gut our military, while Republicans rejoiced at being able to take credit for "winning" the Cold War. Both parties rejoiced about spending the elusive "peace dividend" and dismissed shouts of warning from those few analysts willing to make them. We declared ourselves the winner and went home, neither party daring to risk even a cursory examination of the circumstances surrounding this surprise event, for fear of what the blatantly obvious must force them to confront.


Tune in on shortwave radio to hear real espionage in action

Tune in on shortwave radio to hear real espionage in action

WASHINGTON - You don't need 007's "Q" to listen in on coded broadcasts that are transmitted to spies in faraway places.

Anybody can tune in to the world's top spy agencies talking to operatives in harm's way. All you need is a cheap shortwave radio receiver - the kind available at any drugstore.

Tune it to 6855 kHz or 8010 on the hour.

You might hear a girlish voice repeating strings of numbers in a Spanish monotone.

It was the Cuban Intelligence Directorate or Russian FSB broadcasting coded instructions from Havana to spies inside the U.S.


Bond And The Return Of The Evil Empire

Bond And The Return Of The Evil Empire

We are living in a prime-time Bond film: we have dashing spies, poisoning, espionage, allegations of undercover assassinations. Murdered journalists are involved, as are billionaire 'tycoons'. What is going on? A former KGB spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in hospital, apparently poisoned. Whether he was in fact poisoned and by whom is not the key issue here. The key issue and a serious cause for concern about the fairness and independence of the UK media is that the UK media unanimously, unquestioningly, report the story as 'spy poisoning' (to quote the BBC World headline). This is the Soviet-style murder of an innocent 'dissident'. And not only do the media report this and fail to ask probing questions about alternative versions of the story, they actively work up the credibility of the mainstream version of events.

Tactical Tips

On The Scene Report From Iraq

This is from a guy who is there... No politics here, just a Marine with a bird's eye view opinion:

1) The M-16 rifle: Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it's lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits can't be reliably counted on to put the enemy down.
Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents show a high level of opiate use.

2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon): .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of shit. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly (that's fun in the middle of a firefight).

3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.

5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!). Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts 'em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.

6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. "Ma deuce" is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.

7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put 'em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45's are being re-issued en masse.

8) The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.

M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun

9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.

10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700's. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock's record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.

11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs.and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as shit to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullshit about the "old" body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED's was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn't make any difference at all in most cases.

12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We've all seen the videos.

13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefire's, and the troops love 'em. Invaluable for night urban operations.

Jordan carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it. I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology,it's the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!! The infantry fighting is frequent, up close and brutal. No quarter is given or shown.

Bad guy weapons:

1) Mostly AK47's: The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably. PKM belt fed light machine guns are also common and effective. Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like shit. Undisciplined "spray and pray" type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again)
Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let's just say they know better now.


2) The RPG: Probably the infantry weapon most feared by our guys. Simple, reliable and as common as dogshit. The enemy responded to our up-armored Humvees by aiming at the windshields, often at point blank range. Still killing a lot of our guys.

3) The IED: The biggest killer of all. Can be anything from old Soviet anti-armor mines to jury rigged artillery shells. A lot found in Jordan's area were in abandoned cars. The enemy would take 2 or 3 155mm artillery shells and wire them together. Most were detonated by cell phone, and the explosions are enormous. You're not safe in any vehicle, even an M1 tank. Driving is by far the most dangerous thing our guys do over there. Lately, they are much more sophisticated "shape charges" (Iranian) specifically designed to penetrate armor. Fact: Most of the ready made IED's are supplied by Iran, who is also providing terrorists (Hezbollah types) to train the insurgents in their use and tactics. That's why the attacks have been so deadly lately. Their concealment methods are ingenious, the latest being shape charges in Styrofoam containers spray painted to look like the cinderblocks that litter all Iraqi roads. We find about 40% before they detonate, and the bomb disposal guys are unsung heroes of this war.

4) Mortars and rockets: Very prevalent. The soviet era 122mm rockets (with an 18km range) are becoming more prevalent. One of Jordan's NCO's lost a leg to one. These weapons cause a lot of damage "inside the wire". Jordan's base was hit almost daily his entire time there by mortar and rocket fire, often at night to disrupt sleep patterns and cause fatigue (It did). More of a psychological weapon than anything else. The enemy mortar teams would jump out of vehicles, fire a few rounds, and then haul ass in a matter of seconds.

5) Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and "Google Earth" for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Their explosives and bomb technology is TOP OF THE LINE. Night vision is rare. They are very careless with their equipment and the captured GPS units and laptops are treasure troves of Intel when captured.

Who are the bad guys (remember that is what the Captain called them!)? Most of the carnage is caused by the Zarqawi Al Qaeda group. They operate mostly in Anbar province (Fallujah and Ramadi). These are mostly "foreigners", no n-Iraqi Sunni Arab Jihadists from all over the Muslim world (and Europe). Most enter Iraq through Syria (with, of course, the knowledge and complicity of the Syrian govt.), and then travel down the "rat line" which is the trail of towns along the Euphrates River that we've been hitting hard for the last few months. Some are virtually untrained young Jihadists that often end up as suicide bombers or in "sacrifice squads". Most, however, are hard core terrorists from all the usual suspects (Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas etc.). These are the guys running around murdering civilians en masse and cutting heads off. The Chechens (many of whom are Caucasian), are supposedly the most ruthless and the best fighters (they have been fighting the Russians for years). In the Baghdad area and south, most of the insurgents are Iranian inspired (and led) Iraqi Shiites. The Iranian Shiia have been very adept at infiltrating the Iraqi local governments, the police forces and the Army. They have had a massive spy and agitator network there since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 80's. Most of the Saddam loyalists were killed, captured or gave up long ago.

Bad Guy Tactics:

When they are engaged on an infantry level they get their asses kicked every time. Brave, but stupid. Suicidal Banzai-type charges were very common earlier in the war and still occur. They will literally sacrifice 8-10 man teams in suicide squads by sending them screaming and firing AK's and RPG's directly at our bases just to probe the defenses. They get mowed down like grass every time (see the M2 and M240 above). Jordan's base was hit like this often. When engaged, they have a tendency to flee to the same building, probably for what they think will be a glorious last stand. Instead, we call in air and that's the end of that more often than not. These hole-ups are referred to as Alpha Whiskey Romeo's (Allah's Waiting Room). We have the laser guided ground-air thing down to a science. The fast movers, mostly Marine F-18's, are taking an ever increasing toll on the enemy. When caught out in the open, the helicopter gunships and AC-130 Spectre gunships cut them to ribbons with cannon and rocket fire, especially at night. Interestingly, artillery is hardly used at all.

Fun fact: The enemy death toll is supposedly between 45-50 thousand. That is why we're seeing less and less infantry attacks and more IED, suicide bomber shit. The new strategy is simple: attrition. The insurgent tactic most frustrating is their use of civilian non-combatants as cover. They know we do all we can to avoid civilian casualties and therefore schools, hospitals and (especially) Mosques are locations where they meet, stage for attacks, cache weapons and ammo and flee to when engaged. They have absolutely no regard whatsoever for civilian casualties. They will terrorize locals and murder without hesitation anyone believed to be sympathetic to the Americans or the new Iraqi govt. Kidnapping of family members (especially children) is common to influence people they are trying to influence but can't reach, such as local govt. officials, clerics, tribal leaders, etc.). The first thing our guys are told is "don't get captured". They know that if captured they will be tortured and beheaded on the internet. Zarqawi openly offers bounties for anyone who brings him a live American serviceman. This motivates the criminal element who otherwise don't give a shit about the war. A lot of the beheading victims were actually kidnapped by common criminals and sold to Zarqawi. As such, for our guys, every fight is to the death. Surrender is not an option.

The Iraqis are a mixed bag. Some fight well, others aren't worth a damn. Most do okay with American support. Finding leaders is hard, but they are getting better. It is widely viewed that Zarqawi's use of suicide bombers, en masse, against the civilian population was a serious tactical mistake. Many Iraqis were galvanized and the caliber of recruits in the Army and the police forces went up, along with their motivation. It also led to an exponential increase in good intel because the Iraqis are sick of the insurgent attacks against civilians. The Kurds are solidly pro-American and fearless fighters.

According to Jordan, morale among our guys is very high. They not only believe they are winning, but that they are winning decisively. They are stunned and dismayed by what they see in the American press, whom they almost universally view as against them. The embedded reporters are despised and distrusted. They are inflicting casualties at a rate of 20-1 and then see shit like "Are we losing in Iraq" on TV and the prin t media. For the most part, they are satisfied with their equipment, food and leadership. Bottom line though, and they all say this, there are not enough guys there to drive the final stake through the heart of the insurgency, primarily because there aren't enough troops in-theater to shut down the borders with Iran and Syria. The Iranians and the Syrians just cant stand the thought of Iraq being an American ally (with, of course, permanent US bases there).

Anyway guys, that's it, hope you found it interesting. I sure did.

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