Monthly Archives: December 2015

Vietnam-Jihadi-John

Viet Nam War and Islamic terrorism. What’s the strategy?

I am beginning to get that pit in my stomach that tells me that I am experiencing a feeling that I last experienced almost 50 years ago.  Or, as that great philosopher Yogi Berra said, “it’s deja vu all over again.”  So sayeth the late Yogi.

This feeling of discomfort is being caused by my memories of the Viet Nam War and how we are approaching the handling/elimination of radical Islamic military groups.  In particular, our recent involvement in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

People that are younger than the baby boomer generation were never exposed to the turbulence and violence of the Viet Nam War.  It was also known as the Second Indochina War and, by our antagonists the North Vietnamese, it was known as the Resistance War Against America.

Because of the US strategy for curbing the spread of communism, we got involved in Southeast Asia.  The Eisenhower administration had a strategy that was called the ‘domino theory.’  The domino theory was the belief that if one country fell to the Communists, in this case South Viet Nam, then other surrounding countries would also fall to communism.  Specifically, there was concern about Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and, believe it or not, concern about India, Japan and the Philippines.  In retrospect, this all seems surreal, but at that time, it was a concern that formulated into a strategy.

Viet Nam became a Cold War era proxy war.  In one corner, we had the US with its anti-communist allies.  Most of these allies were members of SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization).  In the other corner, the North Vietnamese were supported by Russia, China and other communist countries.  Did you know that Castro visited and Cuba supported the North Vietnamese with troops?

In 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina.  US involvement escalated in the early 60s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 (3,200) and again in 1962 (11,300).  The US involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident in which a US destroyer clashed with a North Vietnamese fast attack craft. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed through congress, which gave the POTUS authorization to increase the military presence.  Thus, regular US combat units were deployed beginning in 1965.  Operations crossed international borders.  Laos and Cambodia were heavily bombed because the Ho Chi Minh trail ran through both countries and moved men and material from the North into the South.  Our troop level reached its zenith in 1968 with 536,100 US military personnel in Viet Nam.

Any time the enemy massed their forces and attempted to fight the US/South Vietnamese forces in conventional warfare, the US side was the winner.  An example of this was the infamous Tet offensive, which was launched by the North Vietnamese on January 31, 1967.  Over 100 cities were attacked by over 85,000 North Vietnamese troops at a time when there was suppose to be a cease-fire truce. The US forces, after the initial shock, responded and decimated the enemy with the use of the US superior firepower.  Tet was also the turning point for American civilian support for the US war effort.  The Tet offensive came as a surprise and generated many American deaths.  It did not matter that we won that battle decisively, it was more a belief that our military and political leaders were losing credibility in the conduct of the war.

Viet Nam has been called the ‘Living Room’ war.  That is because on every newscast, there were very explicit pictures of injured, dying or dead Americans.  It was reality TV before reality TV was ever concocted.  Cameramen had no scruples when it came to sticking a TV camera inches from the face of a dying American.  They also did this with the faces of the dead.  How would you like to have seen your loved one dying on the 6PM newscast?   That is exactly what happened.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the reality of war should be shown……but our news broadcasts went on broadcasting steroids and showed all of this night, after night, after night.  And the more bloody and violent, the more the media reveled in bringing it into your living room.  It was little wonder that American support for the war waned as the war continued.  I have not watched a newscast since the Viet Nam war because of this.  I read my news or select my news sources on the internet; but I have held true to not watching a TV newscast since the 70s.

Our enemy was smart and patient.  They conducted large scale operations infrequently and relied more on small unit or gorilla tactics.  They were much more successful with this tactic.  Eventually, we realized that Viet Nam was a losing proposition.  This was mostly because of weak and unstable South Vietnamese leadership.  Direct US military involvement ended on 15 August, 1973.  Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army in April 1975.

There you have it.  Five presidents, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon were all involved in some degree with placing military advisors or military troops in Viet Nam.  There were 58,220 American causalities.  The best estimates of North Vietnamese causalities is 1.1 million!

I can tell you from firsthand experience that the Viet Nam War turned the lives of draft age men upside down.  Draft?  Do you younger readers have any idea of what the draft entailed?  Men were needed to fill the ranks of the military, so the government reinstituted the draft for the first time since World War II.  This was handled by the Selective Service Administration.  December 1, 1969 was the fateful night the first draft was conducted since 1942!  Your fate, your future was dependent on what order your birthdate was drawn on one of the 366 little balls that looked exactly like bingo balls.  And the first winner of this wonderful lottery?  September 14 was the first number selected.  Bummer.  June 8 was the 366th ball drawn.  You were golden!  All of the men drafted were from the first 195 numbers drawn that night.

There were deferments for college, married with children, sole source of family support, physical disability and a myriad of other conditions.  But the college deferment was a double edged sword.  If you flunked out, or dropped out from lack of money…you immediately received your ‘Order to Report for Physical Exam.’  If you were physically fit, you then received your ‘Order to Report for Induction.’  Many men chose another military branch before being drafted into the Army or Marines.  72,000 chose to flee to Canada, as Canada did not support our Viet Nam War effort and provided a safe haven.

At this point, I need to interject that I am not a lucky person.  I will never win the Powerball.  I began college in the fall of 1966 and enrolled in ROTC.  I was commissioned in 1971 and missed the Viet Nam experience as the war was rapidly winding down by the time I completed my Office Basic Course.  My draft number?  293.  I would never have been drafted.  Many of my ROTC classmates that dropped out of college for any reason, were immediately drafted as the Army already had a file on them and they had already passed a physical.  There were times when they dropped out of college and were inducted within 2 weeks!  I have never visited the Viet Nam memorial, as I know too many men killed in Viet Nam from my ROTC classes of 1967-1970.  The class of 1968 was decimated.

In 1973, we went to an all volunteer military system.

Remember my deja vu feeling from the first paragraph?  Well, here is why I have it.  During the Viet Nam War, Lyndon Baines Johnson escalated the war like no other president.  He had a ‘war room’ in the White House.  He and his staff would determine targets to be bombed or not bombed, and then send their decisions to the Pentagon.  Micromanaging at its finest.  I am a believer that war is the result of the failure of political processes.  No war in the US was ever started by the military.  Once the politicians turn our forces loose on an enemy, they should let the war-planners do what they do best…..win one for the home team!  But that was not what happened in Viet Nam.  The politicians not only put their fingers in the pie, they were in up to their elbows.  The result?  We lost.  We decided to fight this war with one arm behind our back and we lost many lives needlessly.

Another example?  Remember ‘Stormin’ Norman’ Schwarzkopf and the first Iraqi War?  It was a marvelous example of military planning and execution.  We won the war with cunning and daring with a minimal amount of casualties.  Then the politicians got involved.  They thought it would be cute if it could be called the ‘100 hour’ war even though the largest battle took place after that 100 hour mark.  Then the politicians decided that we needed to stop knocking out tanks and leave Saddam Hussein in power.  The result?  Iraqi War II.

So here it is.  What is our strategy to defeat Islamic terrorism at home and abroad?  Do we have a strategy?  Are we using airplanes to attack this enemy, when a knife would be more appropriate?  Is the White House directing our efforts or is the Pentagon?   Is there an effort?   Quite honestly, with the number of generals and admirals that have been ‘voluntarily retired’ during this administration, I am losing confidence in both.  Shades of Viet Nam.  I’m feeling that pit in my stomach again.

PS:  HB2U, HB2U, HB Common Sense by Grandpa T, HB2U.

Yes, December 28 is the third anniversary of when I established this website.  I began writing after the election in 2012, but did not establish the blog until December 28.  After our first year, we had 42,556 unique hits.  On our second anniversary last year, 130,612 unique hits.  This year?  277,463 unique hits!   More than double the first two years!   Wow and thank you.   Grandpa T

Homeland-Security

Is Homeland Security an Oxymoron?

Everyone who has taken high school physics is familiar with Newton’s three laws of physics.  The third law states, ‘ for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’  We have all heard it, and we pretty much know what it denotes.

Here is the action.  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said that he would stop Syrian refugees and Muslim immigrants from entering the United States.  The reason?  Well, the obvious reasons would be the recent shootings in Paris and in San Bernardino, which were both carried out by Muslim extremists.   The not quite as obvious reason is that “The Donald” does not believe that Syrian refugees, or any other Muslim refugee can be properly vetted by the United States government with all of its intelligence sources.  Does he have a point?

Here is one reaction to Trump’s comments.  This Wednesday, December 16, the St. Paul, Minnesota city council is going to vote on a resolution proposed by Ward 1 Councilmember Dai Thao that states that Donald Trump is not welcome in the City of St. Paul.   The intent of the resolution is to condemn Trump’s recent  remarks about Muslims and immigrants.

The St. Paul City Council has no authority over who can or cannot enter the city limits.  Trump has  not announced any plans to visit Minnesota. ( But two other presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, are planning visits in Minnesota next week.)

Thank God (can I say that in the spirit of political correctness) the city council does not have the authority to dictate who visits the city.  After all, if Trump were to plan a visit, would he be arrested?  Who would be the arresting agency, the St. Paul City  police department or the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood?  I can just see it now…….”Mr. Trump, I arrest you for being…..well, for being yourself!”

Gosh darn it!  I have been writing this blog for almost three years and I have attempted to make it entertaining, informative and thought provoking.  I have attempted to keep it simple.  My Grandpa T definition for common sense has been, ‘ the ability to know the difference between, right, wrong and stupid.’  Which of these tenants to common sense does the city council, in particular councilmember Dai Thao break?

Let me try to simplify this.  Donald Trump, who has been scrutinized with a fine tooth comb is not welcome in St. Paul, but Syrian and Muslim refugees that cannot be vetted are welcome?  What part of common sense is that?  Does Trump have a point to his remarks?

But, just like the TV commercials…..there’s more!

Have you heard of Kelli Burriesci?  Ms. Burriesci is a high ranking person within the Homeland Security Agency.  Specifically, her title is Deputy Assistant Secretary Screening Coordination Office of Policy Department of Homeland Security.  (How do you get all of that on a name card?)

The thirty-something Ms. Burriesci  appeared before a fact-finding congressional committee that was to discuss visa procedures within the United States.  She was sent by her superior as the authority on the visa procedures within the US.    Admittedly, there are many u-tube videos circulating with the 5 minute portion of her appearance before the committee. Here is a recap of her appearance:

“What is the number of Americans who have travelled to Syria?”  “I don’t have that information with me; I don’t know.”

“What is the number of Americans who have travelled to Syria and may have returned to the US?”  “I don’t know.”

“How many Syrian refugees entered the US last year?”  “I don’t know.”   (Are you beginning to see a pattern developing here?)

“How many visa waiver overstays may have gone to Syria and returned?”  “I don’t know.”

” What is the number of Americans on the no-fly list?”  “I don’t know.”

I have watched the u-tube video of this meeting and after the pit left my stomach, my first thought was: ‘ the inmates are finally in charge of the insane asylum!’.

This is a supposedly high ranking official from HOMELAND SECURITY.  Aren’t all of our security agencies suppose to be working together for the protection of the citizenry of the United States?  Off the top of my head we have the CIA, the FBI, NSA, Border Patrol, Sheriff’s Departments, Highway Patrols, Police Departments and some other organizations with three letter acronym names that I have forgotten.

The congressmen sitting on this committee showed clear signs of frustration.  I can understand completely.  We are paying billions of dollars for this agency and yet they cannot provide information to congress which is at the very core of their existence!  Do you find this frightening?

With all the controversy surrounding this Syrian refugee issue which has resulted in name calling, demonstrations and confrontational behavior, our responsible agency does not even have a guess as to how many Syrian refugees entered the country in the last year?  They do not have an estimate of the number of Americans who have gone to Syria?  Exactly, what did our government think these people going to Syria were going to do there?  Site seeing?  Peace Corps?  Delivering Christmas presents?  (Oops!  Politically incorrect once again.)  I don’t think so.

As you probably know, our President wants to allow a whole bunch more Syrian refugees into this country.  The administration inference is that these refugees can be properly vetted before entering this country.  After watching that video of Ms. Burriesci, I am positive that there is no possible way that proper screening can be done on these potential immigrants.

ISIS is on the roll in Syria.  It has been reported that they control over half the country.  In addition, they have overrun government facilities and buildings that were responsible for granting and printing Syrian passports.  They are now printing and counterfeiting passports because they have the paper and equipment to do it.  How do you distinguish between a legitimate passport and a counterfeited passport when they look exactly the same?

With all of this in mind, does Trump have a legitimate point?  Are his comments inappropriate?  The core of his message makes total sense, but it is not sugar-coated like we are used to hearing.  I would agree that his delivery is about as subtle as a sledge hammer.  Contrary to what the POTUS is trying to shove down our throats, the vast majority of Americans agree with Trump’s statement of not allowing Syrian refuges and Muslim immigrants into the country until there are effective vetting procedures in place.  Admittedly, I was sitting on the fence concerning Trump’s comments until watching the Homeland Security guru.  Her comments, or should I say her inability to comment, made me realize how vulnerable we are by the ineffective workings of our protective agencies.  I was of the opinion that regardless of the drivel that has been pandered by this administration, our security agencies were strong and vigilant.   I was wrong.

The City of St. Paul?  Well, they will have to come to grips with their beliefs tomorrow night.  I am sure Mr. Trump will not lose any sleep about not being welcome in St. Paul, Minnesota.

God Bless America!  Merry Christmas.