Tag Archives: military recruiting

Armed Forces Day 2015: The Breach of Trust

2015AFDPoster

“What is the cost of war? what is the bill?…“This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all of its attendant miseries. Back -breaking taxation for generations and generations. For a great many years as a soldier I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not only until I retired to civilian life did I fully realize it….” Major General Smedley Butler USMC

Today is Armed Forces Day and unfortunately most of the country will not notice unless they are attending a Baseball game where it is being observed or some special event on a base, national cemetery, monument or VFW hall. Armed Forces Day was established in 1948 by President Harry Truman after the founding of the Department of Defense.  It was established to honor and remember those currently serving, not the discharged or the retired veteran, they are remembered on Veterans Day, the former Armistice Day, nor the fallen who are commemorated on Memorial Day which we will do next weekend. 

Unlike Veterans Day or Memorial Day there is no national holiday for Armed Forces Day. I find this ironic for a nation which claims to support the troops that the men and women who we honor are honored on a day that unless they are deployed in harm’s way or have duty, is regular day off like any Saturday. Personally I think the day should be celebrated by giving the active duty force a real day off and if they are deployed given some kind of down time as operational needs allow, and maybe even given them a ration of beer. We did this for the Marine Corps birthday in Iraq, so why not on Armed Forces Day? But I digress…

Back when Armed Forces Day was established there was still a draft which meant that in theory everyone had skin in the game and that our leaders were far more hesitant to commit the nation to war. 

Back in 1952 the New York Times editors wrote:

“It is our most earnest hope that those who are in positions of peril, that those who have made exceptional sacrifices, yes, and those who are afflicted with plain drudgery and boredom, may somehow know that we hold them in exceptional esteem. Perhaps if we are a little more conscious of our debt of honored affection they may be a little more aware of how much we think of them.”

But sadly today in all honesty were think very little of them. Today of course there will be a fair number of local celebrations to honor members of the Armed Forces across the country, but for the most part they will be small and not well publicized. Most of the people I attendance will not even be there for the troops. They will be there for the event and their hearts will be warmed by the tributes paid to the troops. As a career officer and son of a Vietnam veteran Navy Chief I appreciate those events and at least some of the good hearted the people that put them together. Being a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, especially those that have taken the time to honor Iraq and Afghanistan veterans like me who have returned from war totally fucked up. But again I digress, badda bing, badda boom, badda bomb…

Bu here is what really s upsetting to me, good number of these patriot, flag waving, war porn satiating, yet somehow inspiring ceremonies to honor the troops are not even coming for the heart of the people putting them on. I steady they are coming out of the Pentegon budget and being paid for by the taxpayers. These events are nothing more than faux patriotism and little more than propaganda that exploits the troops. They are being done as a recruiting tool with the Department of Defense which is paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the tax exempt National Football League and its teams to put on shows that give all the appearances of honoring the troops but are really nothing more than propaganda and recruiting commercials. Likewise for all which for all the money we the taxpayers spend on them actually net few recruits if any as a huge number of our current troops are the sons and daughters of men and women who have also served this country. They, like I do, do this for something greater than partisan politics  greater than money, greater than anything that can easily be repaid, the love of this country and the principles found in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal. However, that is fodder for another article. 

But honestly I am so offended by this faux  patriotism shown by the NFL and God knows who else that it causes me a great deal of anger. I say this because throughout our nation’s history our political leaders, business leaders and the populace as a whole have despised the military, and those who in the absence of a draft chose to serve. That despicable attitude was well recounted in Herman Wouk’s monumental novel, which became a classic film The Caine Mutiny. In the film a defense attorney for those accused of mutiny, Barney Greenwald played to perfection by Jose Ferrer told the acquitted mutineers of the Caine’s wardroom:

“You know something…when I was studying law, and Mr Keefer here was writing his stories, and you, Willie, were tearing up the playing fields of dear old Princeton,method was standing guard over this fat dumb happy country of ours, eh? Not us. Oh no, we knew you couldn’t make any money in the service. So who did the dirty work for us? Queeg did! And a lot of other guys. Tough, sharp guys who didn’t crack up like Queeg.” 

For those who are now getting pissed off at me, let us look at facts. At any given time less than 1% of Americans are serving in all components of the military. For over 13 years we have been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as other locations that we don’t like to talk about too much. However this has not been the effort of a nation at war, it is the war of a tiny percentage of the population, a segment that everyone is far too willing to exploit. 

As a nation we are disconnected from the military and the wars that the military fights. The fact is that most Americans do not have a personal or vested interest in these wars, they have been insulated by political leaders of both parties from them. There is no draft, and no taxes were raised to fund the wars and the military is now worn out.

We have been at war for nearly 14 years and truthfully there is no end in sight. In that time every single Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Airman volunteered for duty or reenlisted during this time period. Motives may have varied from individual to individual, but unlike the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam every single one volunteered to serve in time of war. I think that this makes the current generation of veterans quite unique in our modern history, but not so different than the professionals who served before and after the Civil War,and  those who served before and after the First World War. The situation after the Second Wolrd War and the Cold War required a large standing military and large reserve force. This required the draft, which though hated by many  leavened the professional force with civilians who got a taste of military and when they left did not forget they meaning of their service and the sacrifices made by the professionals. We do not have that anymore. We are no longer are no longer a military composed of citizen soldiers. We who serve,  even in our reserve components are  a Warrior caste, set apart from the society that we serve.

There is a tragic disconnection between the military and civilian society in the United States. This is the result of deliberate public policy since the end of the Vietnam War supported by both political parties. For almost 40 years we have relied on an all volunteer force. It is that relatively small and socially isolated military which is sent to fight wars while the bulk of the population is uninvolved and corporations, lobbyists and think tanks get rich.

Andrew Bacevich wrote in his new book Breach of Trust: How Americans failed their Soldiers and their Country:

“Rather than offering an antidote to problems, the military system centered on the all-volunteer force bred and exacerbated them. It underwrote recklessness in the formulation of policy and thereby resulted in needless, costly, and ill-managed wars. At home, the perpetuation of this system violated simple standards of fairness and undermined authentic democratic practice. The way a nation wages war—the role allotted to the people in defending the country and the purposes for which it fights—testifies to the actual character of its political system. Designed to serve as an instrument of global interventionism (or imperial policing), America’s professional army has proven to be astonishingly durable, if also astonishingly expensive. Yet when dispatched to Iraq and Afghanistan, it has proven incapable of winning. With victory beyond reach, the ostensible imperatives of U.S. security have consigned the nation’s warrior elite to something akin to perpetual war.”

Bacevich, a retired Army Colonel and Vietnam veteran who lost a son in Iraq is dead on, as is Rachel Maddow who wrote in her outstanding book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power:

“The reason the founders chafed at the idea of an American standing army and vested the power of war making in the cumbersome legislature was not to disadvantage us against future enemies, but to disincline us toward war as a general matter… With citizen-soldiers, with the certainty of a vigorous political debate over the use of a military subject to politicians’ control, the idea was for us to feel it- uncomfortably- every second we were at war. But after a generation or two of shedding the deliberate political encumbrances to war that they left us… war making has become almost an autonomous function of the American state. It never stops.” 

The lobbyists, pundits, politicians, preachers and war profiteers that promote war don’t care about the troops. When they say they do they are lying out their asses. This is because no matter who is in office or who controls congress these people and corporations will promote policies that keep them employed and their businesses enriched. Marine Major General and Medal of Honor winner Smedley Butler was quite right when he said:

“War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”

I think that the reason that our current wars have gone on so long is the that misguided policies have brought about a chronic disconnection in our society between those that serve in the military. But how can there not be when in the weeks after 9-11 people like President Bush and others either directly or in a manner of speaking told people to “go shopping” * as we went to war in Afghanistan? When I returned from Iraq I returned to a nation that was not at war whose leaders used the war to buttress their respective political bases.

The results are terrible. Suicide rates are continuing to rise among veterans who have returned to find that neither the VA nor the civilian mental health care sector is prepared to care for them. Even worse the members of the GOP controlled Congress are working their asses off to screw the troops. Ohio GOP Congressman, Tea Party favorite,  supposedly deeply committed Christian and even worse a Colonel in the Ohio Army National Guard has attempted and is attempting again to attach an Ammendment to the 2016 Nation Defense Authorization Act which would keep the Defense Department from enformice rules which would protect young troops from the predatory payday lenders who line the avenues leading to every major military base in the country. My opinion, this man is a traitor to the country even though he wears the uniform and has deployed and led soldiers in in Iraq and other locations during this war. He is selling out the the young troops to protect the payday lending industry with which has had a nearly incestuous relationship since he day that was elected to Congress. 

But Congressman Stivers is not alone, Congressmen and women of both parties sell out the troops to prop up banks, insurance companies and Wall Street. Those military health benefits not directly provided in military medical centers are run through an organization called Tricare. Tricare, which is managed by the insurance companies who bid on competitive contracts is a for profit industry. These insurance companies routinely deny services to the families of military members, pay so little or are so mind numbingly  incompetent that many medical providers refuse to deal with them, leaving the troops their families stuck in the middle. That my friends is fact. Now the GOP led by the Koch brothers is attempting to privatize Veterans Admisistration Heath care. Now in all honesty, the chronically underfunded and bureaucratically bound VA. That being said my friends privatization will only make things worse for veterans who will now have to deal with private for profit insurance companies and Heath care systems that see them and their wounds and infirmaries as a way to make a buck off of taxpayer and to screw the veteran. 

But let’s not stop there. Politicians and their backers from the financial sectors have been working overtime since the Adminstration of George W. Bush to roll back retirement benefits which they call  “entitlements” which are supposedly destroying the financial health and well being of the nation. Never mind the fact that these same  politicians have spent trillions of dollars bailing out the corporations which have almost single handed lay destroyed this nation’s economy time after time since the 1970s, and who support corporations who are based in this country but have sold the nation out and work against the interests of Americans. 

But never mind, I digress, for as we all know it is the troops who are the leches who are bankrupting the country. 

But this isn’t new my friends it began during the Reagan Administration which changed the retirement system from the flat 50% of one’s final active duty pay that one would retire with at 20 years of service or high multiples up to 75% at 30 years to an average of the last three, or the highest three years of pay that one earned while on active duty.  In effect the Reagan Adminstration robbed military retest of hundreds of thousand of dollars of hard earned benefits. But again the beloved Saint Ronald loved the troops, after all he said so. 

Likewise, did you know that some GOP legislators want to cut the disability payments to military members who have been wounded or injured during their service?  You probably didn’t and you won’t find that fact out on Fox News or CNN. This is not to be confused with the retirement benefits that they are looking to cut.  This my friends is the debt of honor  that this nation owes to the men and women who have given everything and now are broken in body, mind and spirit. But then those who promote such policies, even those who have worn the uniform like Congressman Stivers have no honor. Like those that sold out the Union veterans after the Civil War and the Doughboys after World War One they are much more indebted to their political benefactors than they are to te troops no matter what they say. 

Now I do believe 

Armed Forces Day should be better celebrated and I am grateful to the people that do things every day to thank and support military personnel. These wonderful people that do this come from across the political spectrum. Some are veterans and others non-veterans. But they care for and appreciate the men and women that serve in and fight the wars that no-one else can be bothered to fight.

481801_10151367001287059_1003164983_n

Of course the politicians, pundits, preachers and the defense contractors, banks and lobbyists will find a way to profit. They will do so no matter how many more troops are killed, wounded or injured and how badly it affects military personnel or their families and will push to abandon those who fought as they do after every war. After all, to quote Smedley Butler, “war is a racket.”  So fuck them all, and if there is a just God and there is a Hell, I hope that they end up there, especially the preachers who tomorrow will invite the troops to their churches to supposedly honor them even as they support the politicians whose policies damn the very troops that they honor tomorrow. 

Peace

Padre Steve+

President Bush’s actually words were “Now, the American people have got to go about their business. We cannot let the terrorists achieve the objective of frightening our nation to the point where we don’t — where we don’t conduct business, where people don’t shop…” http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/10/20011011-7.html

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under History, iraq,afghanistan, Military

Padre Steve’s World Top 12 of 2011: A Big Thank you to my Readers

Well my friends it is time for my annual look at what were the most popular articles on Padre Steve’s World.

This year I went over 3 million views since the site began in February 2009 and over a million since the last new year.  People from over 200 countries and territories that pretty much act like countries have visited my little cyber space world.

I do find it interesting to see what people are reading on this site, what search terms they are using and what search engines they are using to get to the site. The folks at WordPress.com which hosts this site have a great statistic page for a baseball stat person like me is like a blog statistic version of Saber Metrics.  Now if they can only find a way to calculate my site states like the OBP and Slugging percentage…but I digress.

In 2009 I published my top 10 list and in 2010 I did my top 25 list so this year I am doing my top 12 of 2011. All of the articles on this list had over 4000 views each in the last 12 months.  Since I have now published almost 1000 articles on this site these are just a taste of what a reader can find here.

The number one article of the year is “Revisionist” History and the Rape of Nanking 1937 .  This was something that interested me for a long time and it is rather academic in its focus but has been at the top of my stats most of the year. The article is about those that seek to cover up or minimize the atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army in city of Nanking in 1937.  I do expect the article to remain at or near the top of the list in 2012 with the release of The Flowers of War http://www.theflowersofwarthemovie.comstaring Christian Bale in 2012.

Number two on the list is Why Johnny Can’t Read Maps: NCAA Tournament Geography for Dummies and a Solution which I wrote back in 2010 during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  It is a humorous look at how the NCAA decides what cities represent the various regions of the country.  I for one do now see how anything in the Pacific Northwest is part of the Southeast Regional bracket.  No wonder people have no clue about the geographic regions of the United States.  At least they could do a GPS search.

Number three on the list is an oldie but goodie I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s. The article itself is a musical look at the history of of 1970s and 1980s. Since I grew up with this music it is really a part of who I am. Unfortunately many of the links to the music videos are no longer operative but the article is interesting and anyone with half a brain can find the songs on You Tube or any number of various sources.  Since then I have published a number of other articles on the music of this time period which are filed in the Padre Steve’s Music page.

Number four on this site is an article about the death of the noted evangelist David Wilkerson who I had and still have a great deal of respect for; The Unexplained and Tragic Death of David Wilkerson.  I wrote the article because of the circumstances of his death.  I suggested after looking at the evidence including his writings and the actual accident report and suggested that it was possible that his death was a case of “suicide by car.”  I did not expect the reaction that I received. Some people were quite offended that I suggested that Wilkerson suffered from depression and that the circumstances of the accident pointed to either suicide or negligent driving on his part.  In fact some of the comments were so abusive and irrational that I finally for the first time and only in the history of this site closed the comments section.  I just got tired of the abuse and tired of answering the same abusive comments time and time again.  The article and a couple of follow up articles do point out the pressure that many ministers are under and how depression and crisis’s of faith can afflict people of great faith who have helped many people and were not in any way disparaging of Reverend Wilkerson. However I found that even suggesting such is tantamount to smashing idols.  Oh well…it is a good article and I do stand by it.

Fifth place goes to an article that I wrote about the nearly psychotic accusations hurled by Iran at the United States for our Navy’s official name for what they call the Persian Gulf, the Northern Arabian Gulf, it is a somewhat humorous look at a rather serious subject.  Why don’t we just call it the Gulf of Whatever we want to call it? Padre Steve Says the Iranians Whine too Much

Number six on the hit parade is a rather academic military history article about the Battle of Stalingrad The Anniversary of Disaster: Stalingrad 67 Years Later that I wrote in January 2010.  I find that Stalingrad and other campaigns are instructive even today.

Seventh place belongs to a short article about D-Day entitled D-Day: Omaha Beach which is a nice starting point for those interested in the Normandy campaign.

Coming in at number eight is an article about one of my favorite subjects Baseball and civil rights Jackie Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King they Changed America.

The ninth most popular article on this site is a follow up to the number three article again involving the music of the 1970s and 1980s More about Why I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s .

Number ten is my 2009 top ten article Padre Steve’s World: Top 10 articles of 2009.

Another academic military history article Wacht am Rhein: The Battle of the Bulge came in at number eleven on the list.

Slipping in at number twelve is an article about military recruiting slogans Memorable Recruiting Slogans and the All Volunteer Force.

There are other articles not in the top 12 for this year but that still get a lot of views and are worth reading. A good number are on military or naval history one of the best of which is The Ideological War: How Hitler’s Racial Theories Influenced German Operations in Poland and Russia while two other military theory article is Learning to Apply the Principles of Counterinsurgency Part One: Introduction to the Soviet-Afghan War and The Effects of Counter-Insurgency Operations on U.S. and French Forces in Vietnam and Algeria and Implications for Afghanistan.

Among the music articles I recommend Laughing to the Music: The Musical Genius of Mel Brooks and just for fun there is an article about a little church that gets pretty crazy, almost Iran Mullah crazy without the killing dissenters, Halloween Book Burning Update: Bring the Marshmallows Please!. One of my favorite faith and life articles Star Trek, God and Me 1966 to 2009. There are also a lot of articles on baseball, faith, religion, history and politics on the site.

Anyway, if you are new to the site and haven’t dug around too much just yet those are good starting points.  Hopefully anyone that stops by will find something to interest them, thought provoking or funny, academic or asinine, historical or hysterical.  Feel free to browse comment and if you like the site subscribe or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Blessings on you and thanks to all of my readers as well as Cheru Jackson at Alpha Inventions and the folks at Kadency who help publicize this site. I do recommend both, especially Alpha Inventions to bloggers that seek a wider audience for their writings.

Hopefully 2012 will be a good year for all of us and somehow despite all problems that beset our world that 2012 will be better than 2011.

Peace

Padre Steve+

5 Comments

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings

A Global Force for Good

A Global Force for Good: A Sailor holds the hand of a Haitian Child

The Navy A Global Force For Good TV Spot

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DriBYQvG_4

“I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’” President John F Kennedy 1 August 1963, at the Naval Academy

“It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.” George Washington 15 November 1781 to the Marquis de Lafayette

“A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.” President Theodore Roosevelt 2 December 1902, second annual message to Congress

“For in this modern world, the instruments of warfare are not solely for waging war. Far more importantly, they are the means for controlling peace. Naval officers must therefore understand not only how to fight a war, but how to use the tremendous power which they operate to sustain a world of liberty and justice, without unleashing the powerful instruments of destruction and chaos that they have at their command.” Admiral Arleigh Burke CNO 1 August 1961 at the Naval Academy

USNS Comfort off of Haiti

The newest Navy recruiting and public relations campaign features a comment “America’s Navy: A Global Force for Good.”  When it first came out some expressed their dislike of the new slogan; however as a Navy and Army veteran as well as a long time “Navy Brat” I found the slogan and the accompanying commercial inspiring and I can be extremely jaded and cynical when it comes to such advertisements and slogans.  See my post Memorable Recruiting Slogans and the All Volunteer Force. http://https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/memorable-recruiting-slogans-and-the-all-volunteer-force/

Neurosurgeons from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth operating on a patient aboard the Comfort- Baltimore Sun Photo

Maybe it is because I serve with a lot of great people who make up the Navy that I think this way. I have served with the brave souls of our EOD force, the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, the crew of an elite Guided Missile Cruiser, the USS Hue City CG-66 and the professionals of Navy Medicine.  All these professionals be they war-fighters or care givers give so much of themselves to serve this country and protect others while at the same time laying their lives on the line to defend the people of the United States and others around the world.  For me this understanding of the Navy being a global force for good is relational and it goes beyond the crass cynicism of so many in the world who find little good about our nation.  I know that we have our faults but I really do believe that the good that we have done over the years and now outweighs our sins of commission and omission.  I was really offended when I saw some of the comments from some people in other countries condemning our efforts in Haiti.  I know of no other country that will empty itself to care for the people of a devastated and impoverished nation without expecting any form of repayment even while it is still in difficult economic straits.

Comfort receiving casualties- Baltimore Sun Photo

In the forefront of the humanitarian effort are my friends and shipmates in Navy Medicine on the USNS Comfort and ashore who are caring for the injured, sick and dying Haitian people.  These men and women were pulled out of our medical treatment facility and others with as little as 24 hours notice to deploy on a mission of incredible difficulty and undetermined length.  The emotional toll can be difficult as many of these professionals, physicians, nurses, corpsmen and others have deployed at least once if not two or three times to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Navy Pediatric Intensivist performs a procedure on a Afghan child

While the staff of the Comfort and those ashore toils to save lives others serve in Afghanistan running medical facilities often in conjunction with our allies.   These professionals are deployed from 7 months to a year and include some of the finest clinicians in the Navy.  Serving in Afghanistan the care for American wounded and sick, those of our NATO and Afghanistan National Army allies as well as the unfortunate civilians including children who are victims of terrorists acts, IEDs or military action mostly initiated by Taliban or Al Qaida forces.  Serving in harm’s way they see their compounds bombarded by incoming rockets, mortars and occasional artillery fire.  They also know that the vehicles that they travel in and helicopters that they fly in are targeted by Taliban forces and they care for those who are injured by IEDs on the same routes that they travel.  Having experienced this in Iraq I can say that it is a sobering and often eerie feeling that you get after you have been with Marines or Soldiers wounded by IEDs and ambushes on routes that you travel.  These men and women see the worst that humanity can do and still care about the victims.

USS Carl Vinson arrived quickly and began relief operations

Others serve in Iraq now supporting our Army troops with medical care working alongside Army and Air Force medical personnel, others are in the Horn of Africa and still others involved with other humanitarian missions or operational support of US Forces abroad.

One has to remember that these medical professionals do not just come out of a vacuum but are normally assigned to medical treatment facilities in the United States. As they depart to serve abroad those left behind continue the mission of caring for our military, their families, and military retirees going back to the Greatest Generation and other combat wounded veterans still entitled to medical care.   The workload back at home does not let up and the professionals back here work harder and longer to provide the quality care that our beneficiaries deserve. Dealing with patients and families I always hear about how much they appreciate the kindness and superior care that they get from our physicians, nurses, corpsmen and other medical professionals.

Boarding Team from USS Hue City

If you do not believe that these men and women are a “global force for good” then I am sorry that you cannot see the labor of love that these men and women provide to those entrusted to their care.  I am ashamed when I hear prominent media personalities call these “meals on wheels” missions. Personally I think it is hateful and demeaning towards the proud professionals who serve in these human tragedies and care for God’s people.  Likewise those that claim that this is being done to further US influence in Haiti are so clueless, in Haiti there is no payback even from a military or strategic point of view and even with our forces stretched thin around the world we still go out and do what no other country can do when we use our military to care for those afflicted by disaster.

In Haiti we are working hand in hand and side by with numerous Non-Governmental Organizations and other military medical professionals from the United States, Canada and other nations who are giving of themselves to serve the Haitian people.

USS Hue City 565 Feet of Naval Power on Patrol

I think that for once a recruiting phrase actually captures the essence of the Navy.  This is not about just being a better individual or improving your life or getting an education and experience.  It is about serving our nation and people as well as others around the world whether that mission is combating terrorists, pirates, protecting our vital interests or like in Haiti, or during the Indonesian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina or at the World Trade Center and hundreds of other places, this Navy is a global force for good.

Tonight as you go to bed and sleep soundly after eating well and spending time with family, friends or enjoying some form of entertainment remember those of our Navy who serve at sea, in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, the cities of Iraq, the desolation of the Horn of Africa and around the world defending our interests, caring for our military personnel and their families and deploying to serve in harm’s way and in areas of devastation.  They are America’s “Global Force for Good.”  They are my shipmates.  They are the United States Navy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

2 Comments

Filed under Military, national security, US Navy

Padre Steve’s World: Top 10 articles of 2009

I began Padre Steve’s World Back in February of 2009. I started it mainly as a place to write about my experience in the Iraq War and my struggle with PTSD. It initial was, and on occasion still is a vehicle to help integrate those experiences into my life so that I might experience some measure of healing.  When I began this site I really did not expect it to become what it has become.

Now as anyone knows I am a member of the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish and that the Deity Herself speaks to me through Baseball.  That combined with the fact that I am a historian somewhat of a military theorist means that I love statistics.  I also love to look at facts, data and interesting stories and try to make sense of them. I do this with baseball of course, as well as how leaders can apply lessons of the past to present conflicts and recognize dangers of their possible courses of action.

I am an introvert but writing has helped me get out of myself.  I have ended up writing about people in my life, significant losses experienced at our medical center and how others have made a difference in my life.  As the site matured I found that I was writing less about me and more about other people, history, theory and various social and political events.  Of course the latter frequently stirred up a lot of crap in me so at times, especially dealing with subjects such as “The Lies of World Net Daily” or former Navy Chaplain, defrocked priest, convicted criminal and professional liar Gordon “Chaps” Klingenschmitt.  The site also allowed me to spend a lot of time sharpening my academic research skills as well as writing about baseball.  So this has become something more than a navel gazing site where I pick out the lint of my soul for all to see.  While my experiences pervade a lot of what I write as no one can write in a vacuum one’s experience, training, culture and worldview all influence what we write about and how we interpret events, they are not the central focus of the site anymore.  I think I have about 40 different subject areas that I post on now and who knows if that number will grow.

During this past year I have met a lot of people in person and online and had a good number of people post some very kind comments as well as some very challenging ones.  On the rather amazing side I have had people from my past, like the UCLA Army ROTC “Chief Lord of Discipline” Colonel Bruce Lawson find me and look me up as well as the son of the late Master Sergeant Harry Zilkan who was out training NCO as well as others.  I have had visitors and comments from around the world including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Singapore, Australia and Russia.  In all I have had over 700,000 views of the site since February and thousands of clicks on individual articles.  The comments that touch me the most are those who comment that what I write has touched them, helped them or provided them added knowledge about a given subject as well as those that in my more difficult times have offered me encouragement and prayed for me.  Through this I have also come across some very good bloggers and writers that I enjoy reading.  It has provided me a new network of acquaintances and associates to bounce ideas off of and have input from.  So I have to say that this has been a very helpful thing for me this past year and has given me ideas that I hope will one day will get published.  I have over the past year discovered some topics that I would like to publish and a I am ruminating on those even now.

My top 10 articles this year are listed here, as you can see they represent a wide range of topics:

Star Trek, God and Me 1966 to 2009

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701 B

I posted this on May 29th 2009 and to date it has 6827 hits.  This was done on a lark and kind of took on a life of its own. There is a reason that Star Trek is so popular after over 40 years.  It is that it touches people’s lives and the stories, though set in the future are about the human condition and people can relate to them even now.   I know I do and that was the point of this article. The post still gets 10-40 hits a day.

The Ideological War: How Hitler’s Racial Theories Influenced German Operations in Poland and Russia

Einsatzgruppen at Work

I published this article on September 14th 2009 and it now has gathered a total of 3649 hits. This article is a revision of an academic paper that I wrote for my Masters Degree in Military History.  I have studied modern German History, 1870 to the present for many years; in fact the bulk of my undergraduate history studies involved the topic.  In particular the period from the fall of the Kaiser in 1918, the German Civil War, the Weimar Republic and the Nazi Period have been my specialty.  When I posted this I expected that it would primarily be read by history wonks like me but it seems to have gained a substantial number of readers and still picks up a decent number of daily hits.

Halloween Book Burning Update: Bring the Marshmallows Please!

Pastor Marc of Amazing Grace Baptist Church, Book and Bible Burner and Heretic Confronter in Chief

I posted this on October 25th as a follow up to an article about a little Baptist Church that was hosting a book burning.  I found the subject fascinatingly terrible and had to write about it.  Humor blended with satire, history, religion, sociology and a bit of dare I say sarcasm created a monster.  This is my fastest growing article.  It’s funny how that “Old Tyme Religion” can get you going.  To date this post has 3292 hits.

The Forgotten Cold Warriors

Icon of the Cold War: The Berlin Wall Goes Up

I wrote this back on July 26th 2009 as a tribute to those who served in a truly forgotten war, the Cold War.  It now has gathered 2906 hits. As a Cold War vet myself like my dad I have felt for many years that the American government and both political parties have done little to recognize those who served, frequently in harm’s way during this conflict that spanned the globe over a period of 40 years.  I imagine that the same is true in Russia and the former Warsaw Pact nations. The article still gets a decent number of daily views, not like the top three but still a good number showing me that a significant number of people have feelings for those who served as well as their own service during the Cold War.

D-Day- Courage, Sacrifice and Luck, the Costs of War and Reconciliation

Omaha Beach at Low Tide

This was published on June 6th 2009 as a tribute to those who served and gave their lives on D-Day and during the Normandy campaign.  It talks about the reconciliation between Allied and German soldiers after the war and I relate it to my own dealings with the Iraqi people and military.  It voices my hope that one day Iraqi and American veterans can have the kind of reconciliation experienced by some of those who fought so hard against one another during the brutal Normandy campaign. To date it has 2887 views. 

Operation “Dachs” My First Foray into the Genre “Alternative History”

Field Marshall Erich Von Manstein

This article was posted on August 9th 2009 and was a rewrite of a paper I wrote in one of my Masters Degree classes.  It was inspired by Kenneth Macksey’s alternative history “Disaster at D-Day.” It was unusual in the fact that I wrote an alternative history as if it had actually taken place using real sources, people, places and events and writing as if the “what ifs” had actually occurred. In this case that would be the success of the March 1943 attempt on Hitler’s life had succeeded.  It has 2314 hits to date and still gathers a decent number of hits making me wonder if it has potential for expansion as a possible book. 

Cowboys Stadium meets Seinfeld: A Scoreboard and a Nose that You Can’t Miss

Cowboy’s Stadium and its Massive Scoreboard

This post combined my twisted sense of Seinfeld like humor into what I think is a pretty witty post about the monstrous scoreboard at the new Cowboy’s Stadium in Arlington Texas.  It seems to get a decent number of hits whenever the Cowboys play.  I wrote it on August 30th 2009 and it has 1570 hits to date.

Turning Points: The Battle of Midway, Randy Johnson Gets his 300th Win and Chief Branum Gets Her Star

SBD Dauntless Dive Bombers at Midway

This article was posted on June 4th 2009 and dealt with three different but for me interrelated events.  The first was a tribute to those who fought at the Battle of Midway, the second future Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson getting his 300th career win as a member of the San Francisco and a fallen Shipmate, Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Pamela Branum who was posthumously promoted to Senior Chief at her memorial service.  To date it has 1449 views and a significant number of comments.

These Boots were Made for Walking: The Navy NWU Suede boots

The NWU and its Boots

This was one of my earlier posts done on April 18th 2009 and provided my review of the new US Navy suede work boot which is worn with the Naval Working Uniform or the NWU.  It has surprised me that it has garnered 1332 hits.  It was a follow up article to a humorous article that I had written previously about all the different kinds of camouflage uniforms in use by the US Military entitled: The NWU- Now we all have different camouflage.

Memorable Recruiting Slogans and the All Volunteer Force


This article was a humorous look back at some of the military recruiting slogans that have been around since the beginning of the “All Volunteer” military in the mid 1970s.  I posted it on May 4th 2009 and it now has 1084 hits.

Other Articles of Interest

Since I have posted well over 300 articles to the site since its creation I have listed some other articles that I thought were significant below:

Baseball in Between Life and Death in the ICU

Mortain to Market-Garden: A Study in How Armies Improvise in Rapidly Changing Situations

The Treaty Cruisers: A Warship Review

Sometimes You Wanna go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts-Thoughts on 26 Years of Commissioned Service

You Win a Few, You Lose a Few. Some Get Rained Out. But You Got to Dress for All of Them

Remembering the Veterans in My Life…Memorial Day 2009

Alzheimer’s Disease, Ghost Fleets and Waiting for the End

Reformation Day: How Martin Luther and Hans Kung Brought Me to an Anglo-Catholic Perspective, a Book and Bible Burning Reaches Ludicrous Speed and Yankees take Game Three 8-5

My Brotherhood of War

Connecting…Baseball and Having My Dad Back for a Few Minutes

Lessons for the Afghan War: The Effects of Counterinsurgency Warfare on the French Army in Indo-China and Algeria and the United States Military in Vietnam

The Uncomfortable Legacy of Colonel General Ludwig Beck

A Christian Defense of the Rights of Moslems and Others in a Democracy (or Constitutional Republic)

I like Jesus very much, but He no help with Curveball

Comebacks in Baseball and Life: 27 Outs- the Baltimore Orioles teach us a Lesson in Life

Here’s to you Jackie Robinson

The Demons of PTSD: Abandonment

Doubt and Faith: My Crisis in Faith and Why I am Still a Christian an Advent Meditation

Padre Steve’s World Series Prediction and Book and Bible Burning Update

Dien Bien Phu- Reflections 55 Years Later

Brothers to the End…the Bond between those Who Serve Together in Unpopular Wars

World Series Game Six: Duel of the Old Dogs

The 2009 Season at Harbor Park…the View from 102 a Season in Pictures

I guess that is enough for anyone who wants to poke around on the site.  There is a place to subscribe to this site via e-mail if you want as well as a place to subscribe to comments.

I look forward to a good year of writing as life goes on.  I pray that you have a wonderful New Year.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings

Scouts Out: My Neighbors in Section 100

ScoutsGuns up: Scouts and Players with Radar Guns at Harbor Park

“If you don’t find high-caliber marble … you can’t create classic statues” John Schuerholz

One of the interesting views from my pew in the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park section 102, Row B seat 2 is that of the scouts.  I often talk with my friend Elliott the Usher about the nuances of the game including the realm of the scouts, that often unsung group of men who find the raw talent that helps build the team.

Scouts are an interesting breed.  They work for a Major League club, but dwell in obscurity, as any true scout would do.  The seek talent, both raw and developed that will in their analysis help their club.  The scouts travel throughout the minors, colleges, high schools and independent leagues to see what talent might be available.  Sometimes they are former pro-ball players such as Bob Kison who works for the Orioles and Bill Singer who works for the Nationals, both of whom I have met this year at Harbor Park.  In addition to the team scouting organizations the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau provides teams centralized scouting organizations which all have access to.  Currently the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau employs 34 full time and 13 part times scouts in the USA, Canada and Puerto Rico.

I encounter a good number of scouts at Harbor Park.  They as well as player’s wives, families or friends and VIPs sit in section 100 to my left.  In addition to the scouts the Tides and the opposing teams frequently have at least one of their own players charting the game from that section.  I have had a number of interesting conversations about the game with scouts from the Orioles, Nationals, Pirates, Cubs, Mets, White Sox, Yankees and Braves as well as a scout from the Japanese Major League team the Yokohama Bays Stars.  There have been scouts from a good number of teams, including the Korean Baseball League that I have not chatted with prior to games.  One is very careful not to bother them during the game itself as they are looking closely at what is going on.  This is their bread and butter and they need to be respected while they work.

scouts 2Mets and Rays Scouts

Of course the job of the scout is directly impacted by both the current and projected needs of their teams, including the minor league system as well as how the teams are doing at the moment.  Thus from day to day scouts may be scouting individual players, or looking more in general for players that might of help to their team and its associated minor league system.  Once in a while I get to look at the sheets that scouts use in evaluating talent.  Since pitching is always a needed commodity they are seldom without their radar gun to measure the speed of pitches as well as charting pitch type, placement and what happened to the pitch.  It is a very detailed job collecting data on players as well as making first hand observations that could be as important as the numbers in determining whether a play is right for the organization.

The key to the success of any Major League organization is how well its scouting system identifies prospects for the big team.  Teams that are forward thinking spend the time and money to scout players either through the traditional methods or through the Sabremetrics system popularized in the book Moneyball about the Oakland Athletics methods under Billy Beane.  Some teams use a combination of both traditional methods and the more data oriented Sabremetrics. Some teams which are accused of simple “buying” their major league team through free agency like the Yankees actually have a very talented scouting department and minor league system.  The Yankees have built their own middle relief corps from their own system this year.  The bullpen with the exception of closer Mariano Rivera has been a weak spot over the past 8 years for the Yankees and they have remedied this on their own.  Likewise the Red Sox, Rays and Orioles maintain excellent scouting and minor league systems.  The Orioles are the newcomers in this building their team from scratch over the past few years.  In the West both the Angels and the A’s have strong minor league systems as do the Cardinals and Dodgers.

japanese scoutYokohama Bay Stars Scout

Unfortunately many organizations outside baseball, especially churches do not scout or develop talent.  Sometimes it is a organizational approach or prejudice that either seeks outsiders versus home grown talent, mega-churches are particularly bad about this often looking at outsiders to fill the their staffs.  On the other hand older main line denominations often are suspicious of outsiders even those with good track records.  Some Churches such as the Roman Catholic Church intentionally limit those who can serve as clergy to the ranks of unmarried celibate men, with a few exceptions made for married clergy from other churches.  Those men are taken through a process that often discounts any prior ministry they have as of little value and very few make it through the process of being ordained.  On the other side of the spectrum are churches which have no rhyme or reason as to how they choose develop or assign clergy with often very arbitrary means to choose pastors.  Clergy development from identifying young men and women who believe that they have a call to serve;  the nurture and care of these men and women, their education, formation and eventual ordination and assignment are particularly important if the Church is to fulfill its mandate of bearing witness of Christ in the world and caring for the people of God.

One can make application in many other fields.  In the military we typically recruit for most specialties but we look harder for specialties that require a more selective process such as Special Operations personnel.  In the medical field the military employs a very rigorous process of evaluating prospective physicians through medical school, internship and residency.  In specialties which a lot of personnel are required and in which there is a good amount of turnover and attrition many personnel are recruited but at certain career points a good number are weeded out.

Good scouting needs to be part of recruiting.  Talent must not simply be recruited based on test scores, but the whole person.  Organizations that seek excellence will use people to scout for and evaluate talent within their own organization or outside of it.  The goal of course is not to find one person that can play now, but to develop many people to deepen the organization and make it more resilient when it experiences personnel losses or has to make organizational moves. Without good scouting much recruiting effort will be spent and often wasted on people who do not fit what the organization needs at the present or in the future.

Peace, Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, leadership, Military, Pastoral Care, philosophy