Make a difference to the troops in Afghanistan

The New York Times has attacked veterans at home as homeless people, substance abusers and killers.  Apparently those attacks have not sated its blood lust.  Instead, the Times has directed its demoralization efforts at paratroopers in Iraq, troops who are already suffering under very difficult field conditions.  Fortunately, as Blackfive explains, you can help with some morale building:

Please send an email of support to

Or you can mail cards to:

    Leta Carruth
    P O Box 100
    Cordova, TN  38088

Due to security reasons in Afghanistan please do not put addresses or phone numbers on any correspondence.  All emails will be printed out here in the US and mailed to Afghanistan as they do not have the resources to receive a large number of emails.  All letters and emails will be vetted to make sure there are no negative comments.  These are letters of support, so please keep them positive and uplifting.

Sounds like a plan to me.

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  • Oldflyer

    Thanks for the link, Book. Email on the way.

    Over the past year I have read several books set in Afghanistan, including of course, “Kiterunner” and “Many Splendid Suns”. I have come away with profound respect for anyone who can function and remain sane in that exceedingly difficult place.

    Learning more about Afghanistan brought home with the greater impact that we were so fortunate to be born Americans. The corollary is greater admiration for Americans (Europeans also) who voluntarily go to those desolate and troubled places to do good.

  • SGT Dave

    I can tell you firsthand how important these messages are; a friend of mine still has the stack of crayon drawings from a second grade class in Iowa – it has been three years since they came in an “any soldier” package.
    Oldflyer, you should check out the work by Les Grau – I’ve touted it before, but I cannot exaggerate how important “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” and “The Other Side of the Mountain” are to understanding the Soviet-Afghani conflict. These two are still used to teach our troops the lessons the Soviet (now Russian) military paid for in blood. Just examine the KIA/WIA/MIA ratios for the two campaigns – the US/NATO and USSR – and the impact becomes crystaline clear.
    And let me ask everyone to include a small prayer for my friend, Chuck, who will be returning to Afghanistan soon as a lieutenant. Chuck lost most of his right arm there as a sergeant a couple years ago. He fought for (and earned) his commission and refused to let the command leave him stateside. I have other friends going there and they can use all the support they can get (yep, that includes you, Rachel).
    Be well, and thank you for all the support you send.
    Back to the daily grind in the Balkans,
    SGT Dave – “No greater love hath one man…”

  • Oldflyer

    “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. My bad, as they say.

    Thanks for the tip Sgt Dave. I will look for the books.

  • Ymarsakar

    Dave, you might be interested in this Blackfive post as well about the importance of certain weapon systems like the Mark 19.


    I speculate that these high precision weapons are malfunctioning because they were designed to work in a colder temperature. The hotter temperature expands metal and affects many other important traits for a high tech weapons system.

  • SGT Dave

    Good link and AAR from the Marines. I am an other-than-grunt reserve type and I concur with his analysis of the skill sets for reservists. The piece on the Mk19 is, unfortunately, typical – but not for the reasons that one might think. The primary problem is maintenance and the ongoing bumps, bangs, and thumps that come from sitting on top of an M1114 or 1151/2 uparmor HMMWV or mine-resistant armored vehicle. Old Ma-Deuce (the .50 caliber M2 machine gun) is very rugged and capable. Mk-19 linked rounds often need to be cleaned, oiled, and then dried carefully so that the dust doesn’t stick. I did the same thing with my 7.62 rounds for the old M60 and the new M240B for my lead and tail trucks. My poor MI self only got a M249 for the middle truck; the grunts needed the big weapons.
    Another problem for the Mk-19 is that you can’t use it in tight urban areas (minimum range, large capacity for collateral damage). The Mk-19 is often the last thing cleaned, can be finicky, and is a bear for a new gunner; I agree that you need to put your best man on the gun.
    Thanks for the link over, but please understand that the AAR is a blunt, often painful process. ROE/EOF is the largest pain in the butt imaginable; it does, however, keep us guys on the sharp pointy end out of jail.
    The Marines are doing a great job; the thing most people need to realize is that the grunts (and that is a term of endearment from an MI puke) do things that would make political types cringe as a matter of course. “Violence of Action” is not a catchphrase, it is a way of life. Once upon a time I was point on a door-kicking team (when I was young and crazy) and the rush of the entry is like nothing else. My second here served in OIF 3 with me – and he misses the adrenaline rush. When the hard stuff comes up, he’s my go-to man on driving and I’d trust him anytime with my back. He’s a bit tense when the time is calm – and this is similar to many Marines I know. Action is better than calm; dynamic motion is better than static; and rules are there to screw you over – this is the baseline point of view. I’m a bit older now and understand the why of most of it; the young Corporal will learn when he’s a Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, or Gunnery Sergeant. It still sucks, but I understand it.

    SGT Dave – “There is no such thing as overkill; there is only ‘dead’ and ‘hand me another magazine/belt of ammo’.”

  • Ymarsakar

    Thanks for the link over, but please understand that the AAR is a blunt, often painful process. ROE/EOF is the largest pain in the butt imaginable; it does, however, keep us guys on the sharp pointy end out of jail.

    I think the ancient precursor to Rules of Engagement was when French aristocrats and Persian nobles had to restrain themselves from doing a heavy lance charge as the response to everything.

    They found it pretty troublesome, as well, but the consequences of not restraining themselves was even more horrible. And they learned this against enemies if not through older and wiser folks.
    The English longbowmen proved that heavy lance chargies were no longer the king of battle.

  • Ymarsakar

    Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)/Force Protection is counterproductive to COIN ops

    The Romans realized this when they were trying to chase down horse archers with heavy infantry. Didn’t work.

    One should have unarmored and light forces to surround and pin, while using heavily armored forces for the brutal punch that will hammer the enemy into squish once pinned and located.

    Western agonies over casualties, however, adds foolishness to warfare. It did in Vietnam and it always will, so long as the West is the West. Which is why the use of auxiliary troops that are not as sensitive as we are to suffering casualties, are so important to our war effort. Regardless of what the Democrats say about trigger happy troops and us arming militias.

    And as they came up within feet of me, they honked, waved, smiled, and offered me cigarettes, and I even got a few rock concert fist pumpings. What they were applauding, I am sure, was the fact that I felt confident enough in them to approach weaponless. My gunner had an overwatch position for me anyway. When you are going outside the wire every day it is easy to lose your humanity. The patrol becomes your life and primary if not sole reason for existing. Events become statistics and every Iraqi civilian is viewed as a potential threat. Interacting with the Iraqis and seeing them in a human light that day was the defining moment of my deployment, and I would like to think that being treated like people instead of threats left them with a similarly good feeling.

    Human behavior is very consistent. When people know that you have power and you come to them seemingly as an equal, they feel better about your strength than if you had come in showing the symbols of your power, the full military garb. It is the same way with politicians. People know that they are on a different level compared to us, but they still feel better by meeting these politicians face to face.

    The power is always there, ready to be unleashed, as noted by the mention of the overwatch position. Also, Arabs prize pride and arrogance, the demonstration that you have confidence in your tribe enough to take extraordinary risks. Tribal cultures respect those that take risks, they respect personal courage and valor as a real thing, not just as words on paper as might apply to a Leftist anti-military activist.

    Gaming the enemy’s probable courses of action should be at the forefront of every grunt’s existence in Iraq.

    True military geniuses are geniuses precisely because not only can they handle the planning and thinking for their side, but they do the same thing for the other side as well. Oftentimes better than the other side can do. Many people think wars are about a slugging match, like boxing. That’s not how wars are fought by professionals.

    The 5.56 round is not effective against insurgents who are doped up.

    That old berserker problem. Explosive or incendiary bullets could be the solution, if people could make it safe and effective and kill the legal challenges at the same time. Other than that, more firepower is the only real answer. That or we go back to swords.

    This is hundreds of thousands of dollars of useless technology.

    For that much money you could recruit and outfit your own personal little army of Kurds and Afghans. They don’t need as much money or benefits as Americans, you know. Also, there seems to be some pretty high unemployment around in the world.

    I accept that I am expendable so why can’t everyone else?

    They got brainwashed by propaganda, that’s why. Indigenous troops are far less sensitive to casualties than America is, which makes indigenous troops invaluable to America’s long term war against terrorism and enemy nations.

    Company Commanders in AO Raleigh have their own personal fiefdoms and control entire suburbs of Fallujah. They are responsible for organizing local ISF and coordinating civil projects in addition to maintaining security.

    Which is how an empire would have handled administration if the civilians were too incompetent to run a civilian administration in a conquered or liberated territory.