Friday, May 23, 2008

Sad News Today

IA sub officer killed in Afghanistan

Staff report
Posted : Friday May 23, 2008 13:55:53 EDT

A 37-year-old Navy individual augmentee from Utah was killed Tuesday by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Lt. Jeffrey Ammon, of Orem, Utah, was attached to Provincial Reconstruction Team Ghazni. He was assigned to Navy Region Northwest in Bangor, Wash. There were no further details about his death.

Ammon enlisted in the Navy in 1988, according to his official record, and spent his career in the submarine force. His assignments included the fast-attack submarine Permit and the ballistic-missile submarine Ohio. He graduated from Oregon State University, was commissioned in 2001, and then served aboard the ballistic-missile submarine Alabama.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

Americans fighting for what Americans believe in

All the military services met or exceeded their recruiting goals. Here is the breakdown:

* The Army hit 101 percent of its goal of 6,000 accessions with 6,066.
* The Navy hit 100 percent of its goal of 2,909 accessions with 2,909.
* The Marine Corps hit 137 percent of its goal of 1,632 accessions with 2,234.
* The Air Force hit 100 percent of its goal of 2,093 accessions with 2,093.
* The Army National Guard hit 100 percent of its goal of 6,040 accessions with 6,048.
* The Army Reserve hit 121 percent of its goal of 3,543 accessions with 4,304.
* The Navy Reserve hit 100 percent of its goal of 865 accessions with 865.
* The Marine Corps Reserve hit 100 percent of its goal of 553 accessions with 553.
* The Air National Guard hit 121 percent of its goal of 784 accessions with 946.
* The Air Force Reserve hit 100 percent of its goal of 719 accessions with 720.

If the war was as unpopular as the traditional media in this country would have you believe, would a total of 26,136 people sign up to go fight the terrorist (this is just one month)? Seriously people...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

MoH awarded to MA2(SEAL) Michael Monsoor

The parents of Master-At-Arms 2nd Class (SEAL) Michael Monsoor, a 25-year-old SEAL machine-gunner killed when he dove on a grenade to save his shipmates, accepted their son’s posthumous Medal of Honor on Tuesday from a tearful President Bush at the White House.
George and Sally Monsoor received their son’s framed medal in an East Room ceremony attended by hundreds of sailors, living Medal of Honor recipients and top White House and Navy officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead. Bush also unveiled Monsoor’s formal citation, which was read aloud.
"The Medal of Honor is awarded for an act of such courage that no one could rightly be expected to undertake it. Yet those who knew Michael Monsoor were not surprised when he did." Bush said.
Monsoor was one of about 32s SEALs fighting with U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Iraqi troops to take the insurgent-controlled city of Ramadi, said Dick Couch, author of “The Sheriff of Ramadi,” a forthcoming book about the battle that features Monsoor’s picture on its cover. Rather than make a traditional invasion sweep through the dangerous capital of Anbar province, as U.S. forces had done in the battle of Fallujah, regular and special forces troops advanced piecemeal through neighborhoods in the city, cleared out enemies and then held the territory in an “ink-blot strategy,” Couch said.
Monsoor and his SEAL teammates provided reconnaissance and over-watch for the other troops as they fought in the city, and as such often bore the brunt of intense enemy attacks, Couch said. The day he died, Monsoor was stationed with his machine gun on a rooftop between two SEAL snipers providing cover for an Army unit working in a rail yard. The two men were lying prone, aiming their rifles through holes blasted in the wall, when a grenade sailed onto the rooftop and hit Monsoor in the chest. According to the official Navy biography, there was no way either of the teammates could have escaped, and even after Monsoor dove on the grenade, both SEALs suffered shrapnel wounds.
But they survived, Bush said, because Monsoor made a conscious decision to sacrifice his life for them.
“He had a clear chance to escape, but in his mind, it was not a choice at all,” Bush said.
Monsoor is the first SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq; another special operator, Lt. Michael Murphy, was posthumously given the award last year after he was killed in Afghanistan making a last radio call to save his four-man squad after an ambush. Monsoor is the fourth service member to receive the Medal of Honor for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the 747th sailor to receive the award and the 3,447th person overall.
Monsoor’s other decorations included the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with combat “V” and the Purple Heart.


Video memorial for MA2 Monsoor:

What a great American.

"We do not approve of the rebel who is driven by his desires and passions to infringements upon law and order; we find all the more worthy of our reverence the memory of those who tragically sacrificed themselves for the greater whole."
- Herman Hesse, The Glass Bead Game (Magister Ludi)

PO Monsoor gave his life so that his teammates survived; not only his teammtes, but the soldiers on the ground for whom PO Monsoor's team was providing cover fire. All Americans should feel the loss of PO Monsoor as heavily as the President, but his burden is especially heartfelt, I believe, as he was the one who made the hard but necessary call to commit troops to this combat action.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dolphins in the Desert II

Continuing to share stories of submariners assigned as IAs or otherwise in the Global War on Terror, today's story focuses on the former CO of the New Hampshire initial manning crew, now the commanding officer of Camp Bucca:

Camp Bucca, Iraq -- Navy Capt. Bruce A. Derenski unrolls a poster-size photo of Camp Bucca that was taken by an unmanned aerial vehicle and spreads it out on the trailer floor.

He uses his cribbage board to hold down a corner. The game, popular among East Coast submarine officers, is one of the few reminders of his background in his new office.

Derenski, of Preston, has submarine magazine ads from World War II and the seal for the New Hampshire, a Virginia-class submarine under construction at Electric Boat in Groton, on the wall. He drinks out of a coffee mug from a submarine birthday ball.

Other than that, it could be an Army officer working here.

A large Camp Bucca flag is in the corner, body armor rests in front of the desk and a dusty copy of Arabic for beginners is on the table. Clocks tell local time, Zulu time and Eastern Standard Time. A map on the wall shows the routes to Basra.

At Camp Bucca, Derenski wears a 9mm handgun strapped to his thigh and his dog tags around his neck. The only thing that separates his appearance from that of an Army officer is the tan desert-camouflage uniform. The Army's are green.

Soldiers and airmen occasionally call him “Colonel” — the eagle-rank insignia he wears is the same as that worn by an Army or Air Force colonel.

Before he came to Iraq, Derenski was the commanding officer of the New Hampshire. He is now an “individual augmentee” serving since January as commander of Forward Operating Base Camp Bucca, the area of the detainee facility where the service members live.

Navy officers and sailors are aiding the Army and Marines by temporarily leaving their regular roles on ships and with shore commands to serve on the ground in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. About 12,000 are currently doing so.

On a recent day, Derenski dealt with everything from broken equipment to briefing an incoming National Guard unit and planning for serious security problems, like a suicide bomber at the gate.

“There's been a spate of suicide bombings in Baghdad in public places and we need to look at contingency planning in case that activity works its way south,” he says.

Four Army officers enter his office and surround the UAV photo. They figure out where to treat the injured. They determine which roads to close and which areas to cordon off. And they end the meeting knowing what to do if there is an attack.

Derenski is responsible for logistics, support and base defense at Camp Bucca, an Army-run facility that houses 20,000 detainees in southern Iraq.

About 60 percent of the 5,000 service members at Camp Bucca are in the Army or National Guard. The remaining 40 percent are two-thirds Air Force and one-third Navy, plus a few Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

“We're all Type A's here and Navy guys, more than most, are used to being 'the man,' ” Derenski said. “Then you have the built-in culture barrier and language barrier. What I thought was my job was others' and they get mad when I try to do it for them.”

“I still run up on the rocks sometimes,” he added, “but not as often anymore.”


The bottoms of Derenski's boots are worn down, even though they're only a month old.

He goes to his office to check e-mail — on average about 250 to 300 messages a day—because that is the most effective way to communicate when everyone works different shifts. But he prefers to walk the dusty paths around the facility, checking to see if the situation on the ground matches the reports he is getting.

There is only one paved road at Camp Bucca; the rest are covered with small rocks that pass for gravel. The land is flat. There is no grass, no trees, no permanent buildings — just tents and trailers surrounded by fine, clay sand.

Piles of dirt topped with concertina wire enclose the one-mile-by-two-mile area, and a concrete barrier known as the “great wall” separates the detainees' living area from that of the service members. Beige is the predominant color. Flies, in search of moisture, are everywhere, often aiming for the eyes, nose and mouth.

Temperatures are in the 80s and 90s and are considered cool for this part of the world. In the summer months, it often reaches 130 and 140 degrees.

“There are so many dark corners around here with activities. Most of the time they're doing what they're supposed to do, but things break and decay,” Derenski says on his way to drop in, unannounced, on another unit. “People suffer in silence because they can't get the things they need to put it back to the way it belongs.”

He carries a scrap piece of paper and makes a list of all the problems he encounters — malfunctioning air-conditioning, jammed cabinet door, broken light fixture, computer trouble, stuck warehouse doors.

When he goes back to the office at night, he will send out e-mails to get everything fixed. He normally works until 9 or 10 p.m., seven days a week.

“It's long days, but when you get to the end of your day here, you know you did something,” Derenski says. “It's not something abstract, like a plan or a strategy. It's something you can point to and say, 'I did that, and it made things better.' ”

Derenski volunteered to serve in Iraq for personal reasons. His other options for his next assignment mostly involved moving his family, which he was reluctant to do with two sons in high school. His family has stayed in Preston, and the boys are enrolled at Norwich Free Academy.

By volunteering, he also has more say in where his next assignment will be. He has already picked out the perfect place: Groton.

Even if he could not return to the Naval Submarine Base in the fall, he says, going to Iraq still would have been the right decision. He likes dealing with a lot of moving parts and large-scale complexity.

“I couldn't have hand-picked a better job,” he says.

The Day runs this series from their paper. Here is a link to the main page.

April 8 in Submarine History

USS Snook scorecard
1945 - USS SNOOK (SS-279) was lost with 82 men. She was to patrol Luzon Strait, the south coast of China, and the east coast of Hainan, and to perform lifeguard duties if so directed by dispatch. SNOOK returned to Guam for emergency repairs on March 27th and departed on March 28th to rejoin her group. TIGRONE was in contact with her until April 8th. The patrol was SNOOK’s ninth. The actual whereabouts of SNOOK may have been discovered during a deep sea dive in 1995. The possibility exists that a U.S. submarine lies in about 350 meters of water off the coast of Iriomote Island, the far southwest island in the Okinawa chain. During operations with an Okinawan company using a U.S. made "SCORPIO" ROV in 1995, a group of divers encountered a sonar contact with what appeared to be a metal structure about 6 meters in girth and about 35 meters in length (exposed) at roughly an angle of 20-30 degrees. The sonar image of a large unexpected obstruction to the operations prompted the divers to take evasive maneuvers and avoid the area for the safety of the ROV. The divers, thinking they would have another opportunity to work in the area at a later date, left the area and never returned to that site. Their ROV was lost in 1997 off Yonaguni island, the last island belonging to Okinawa off the east coast of Taiwan. They were fairly certain that the object was a submarine, and quite possibly SNOOK (SS-279). No further dives in the area were ever attempted.
She was the forty-ninth U.S. submarine loss of World War II.

1998 - PCU MICHIGAN (SSBN-727) (GOLD) returned to homeport at Naval Submarine Base Bangor, WA, after completing the 500th patrol for the Pacific and Atlantic Trident fleets.

2005 - the crew of USS LOUISVILLE (SSN-724) received the Meritorious Unit Commendation award for their participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) at Pearl Harbor, HI.
The nuclear-powered attack submarine returned home from OIF on May 13, 2003 as one of four Pearl Harbor-based submarines that shot Tomahawk missiles into Iraq during the war.
According to Cmdr. David Kirk, commanding officer of LOUISVILLE, at the time LOUISVILLE was outfitted with one of the oldest fire control and communications systems in the submarine fleet. Kirk said the boat deployed expecting to conduct one type of mission and was tasked to move into OIF area of operating to fire Tomahawks.
Kirk said the the multi-mission capabilities of our modern submarines was demonstrated by LOUISVILLE when she shifted gears from operations vital to national security to going on a high speed run into the OIF and shooting missiles on time.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Disturbing News

Venezuela is approaching Russia for help in building 4 Kilo class diesel submarines (RIA Novosti). The deal, negotiated on the Russian side by Putin, should be seen as an increase in Russian hostility towards the West, and reactionary return to Cold War tactics that Putin is famous for in recent times as his presidency draws to a close.

Hugo Chavez, a hard core socialist, has embarked upon a campaign of nationalizing the industries of Venezuela and has seized control of the media and television stations in his home country, repressing the most basic rights of the people to know what their government is doing (Reuters). He is famous for calling President Bush the Devil at a meeting of the UN, on US soil. Mr. Chavez also has dubious links to Iran.

Mr. Putin seems to be constructing a new, more distributed, Iron Curtain wih his deals with China, Cuba, Venzuela, and direct and indirect support of Ahmadinejd in Iran. Russia is being positioned as a direct opponent of the US, a cornerstone in a containment policy against us through these various maneuvers.KAL's Cartoon