For those who have served, and still may be serving, in the U.S. Armed Forces, Memorial Day is a difficult holiday. While many of our fellow citizens view this as just another day off, a day to grill out and gather with friends, it reminds members of the Armed Forces of those we have lost. The ceremonies, the flags on graves, the specials on TV, and the movie marathons all dredge up those memories of comrades-in-arms who are not here to join in the celebrations. This holiday also brings out the best in many of our neighbors as they thank us for our service and reminisce about their own friends and family, living and gone, who served. So enjoy the day, remember those gone, and that we are the home of the free, because of the brave. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Today is the 70th anniversary of the end of war in Europe. According to The Daily Mail (UK), more than half of 18 -to- 25-year-olds there do not know much about the event. I am sure the numbers would be similar here in America and in most other countries. With 'The Greatest Generation' leaving us, indeed almost gone, most of these young people probably do not even know anyone from that era. So even though there are three event-filled days of remembrance in the UK and across Europe, many people just know that it's a time of celebration. An end to war is always a time of celebration. ~ Michael S. Pauley
There are some special birthdays in the next few days! The Special Forces will celebrate their founding April 9. They have already begun the festivities with a Special Forces Regimental Day ceremony April 5 on Fort Bragg, N.C. ( http://www.army.mil/article/77352/) Army Aviation will celebrate their birthday on April12. ~ Michael S. Pauley
For more on the history of Army Aviation, visit http://www.army.mil/aviation/ .
Some special happy birthday/anniversary remembrances today - England's Royal Air Force was formed (1918), and the U.S. Air Force Academy was founded (1954). In unrelated news, the yo-yo was introduced to the United States in 1929. ~ Michael S. Pauley
As we approach a major holiday time in both the Christian and Jewish faiths, our eyes are drawn to that part of the world where both of these holidays were born. We see the turmoil in the region and many think the worst, seeing portents of end times. This is not the first time the Middle East has been in conflict of this magnitude and, no doubt, it will not be the last. Passover is the remembrance of a rebellion against slavery and injustice. The events of what we now call Easter began during a time of up-risings and rebellion against the rule of the Romans. Both events changed the face of the world forever. We look to the Middle East and see things that make us fear more world-changing may be on the way. As with WW II, there are those who want to rid the world of others they deem unfit. We humans seem to affect our world through violent actions. Let us hope that this is not another such time. ~Michael S. Pauley
It doesn't seem to matter which news channel you watch, you still don't get much of anything unless you sit there reading the snippets that run across the bottom of the screen or spend part of your day digging through their websites. For example, while the talking heads were perseverating over missing e-mails and some rich guy who may or may not have killed his wife and friends, we weren't hearing much about events on the other side of the globe. For example, Putin is back and Russia's Northern Fleet is on full alert for snap combat drills in the Arctic region; their Baltic fleet, the Southern Military District, and the Airborne Forces have been put on high combat alert as part of large-scale drills. The Ukraine has set their military on full combat alert due to the situation in eastern Ukraine.
While we are inundated with 'reality' shows, reality is going on all around us and most of us are fairly clueless, not because we don't care or aren't interested, but because it takes so much time and effort to find the news and decipher what it might mean for us and the world. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Today is the birthday of Harold "Hal" Moore Jr., US Army lieutenant general, author; led 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at 1965 Battle of Ia Drang Valley; his best-known book, co-authored with combat journalist Joe Galloway, is We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young, an account of that battle. We Were Soldiers Once And Young (with co-author Joseph L. Galloway), which was adapted into the film "We Were Soldiers," which was filmed at Fort Hunter Liggett and Fort Benning; Moore was played by Mel Gibson. LTG Hal Moore and Joseph L. Galloway have co-authored another book together, a follow-up to their highly successful first title. We Are Soldiers Still; A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam was highly anticipated and published in 2008. ~ Michael S. Pauley
You know that feeling you get waiting for new books? I can hardly wait until my order gets here! I will finally have all the books by one of my favorite military historians, Rear Admiral Samuel Elliott Morison. I love Naval history, especially that of World War II, and his books are among the best. I feel like I have been waiting forever to get the last few books. Finally found them through the Naval Institute. Still waiting... the anticipation builds... what is taking so long? Packing? Shipping? Oh, wait, I just ordered them this morning! Patience is not one of my virtues. ~ Michael S. Pauley
A few days ago, John Vandiver from Stars and Stripes wrote a story that dove tailed quite well with my Monday’s blog posting. In his story, Mr. Vandiver wrote of the new NATO Secretary-General’s response to the latest claim of President Vladimir Putin. In short, Putin’s drivel goes something like this: “Putin had told students in St. Petersburg Monday that elements of the Ukrainian army were ‘a foreign legion, in this case a foreign NATO legion,’ with the intent to contain Russia.” The response from the NATO Secretary General? “It’s nonsense.”
I would say that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has hit the nail on the head. Sadly though, there are people in Russia who are highly desirous of believing the bizarre claims made by Putin. In fact, it is that belief in what they are hearing, as opposed to questioning things like their economy, that will permit Putin to continue his actions in the Ukraine. This is a classic bait and switch, which is a tool used universally throughout all global politics. It simply enables a politician to engage in the typical “Look at this, as opposed to having anyone examine the real problem” type of leadership. Of course, the media does a great job of enabling such things too, since face it, we’re still seeing report after report about the inflation of footballs, instead of discussing the real problems facing us from around the globe. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Regardless of your political views, this past week was interesting, to say the least. Let us recap, shall we, and for the sake of geography, I’m going to take us around the world by region.
In the Pacific, we have more antics in the South China Sea, among the nations that border that area, that is sparking a new naval weapons race. The Chinese are upgrading their naval capability and their presence in the South China Sea. In one instance, they even have built a base in the middle of nowhere, by dumping and building on an island that originally was little more than a rock protruding above sea level. This naturally caused concern to their neighbors, and now places like the Philippines and Vietnam are trying to either build up their navies, or some cases, trying to create one. The simple facts are that this is how confrontations take place, and we have something building there that nobody wants to see. (Deflated footballs are far more interesting after all.......)
In the Middle East, we have Yemen imploding, the death of the Saudi King, and Iran making deals with Russia. The implosion of Yemen is real, and while the implications are yet to fully surface, there will ultimately be a significant impact on our own security. Most certainly, there is an impact on Saudi Security, which is now bordered by several hostile regimes, while at the same time having to adjust to their new internal leadership. To their credit, their succession plan appears to have worked well and efficiently, but for the new King, he will be faced by the hostility arising from ISIL, AQAP, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. Not a great situation for them, especially, when Iran is now openly dancing with Russia. It is also a pretty poor situation for us, when Yemen is part of the US efforts to keep various terrorist groups contained.
In Russia, the economy is in a precarious position, but to compound their money woes, they appear to have taken a much more aggressive role in the Ukraine. On Saturday, with the use of MLRS systems, the bombardment of Mariupol by separatists began in earnest. So, what does this little city mean to that region? It is the strategic key for Russia and its surrogates to the surrounding area, and would allow them to cut off most of Eastern Ukraine. From a naval standpoint, the use of the Sea of Azov without Mariupol on their flank, along with the ease of transit to and from Crimea, makes this a prime target for Russia.
Meanwhile, in Europe, terror cells are being sought out, and the terror alerts are at an all-time high. The Central Bank also was heard from, with the easing of some austerity measures, and a change in their policies regarding their purchases of governmental bonds. This is set against a backdrop that has seen the growth of European Nationalism at levels not seen since the end of the Cold War. In short, Europe is in turmoil for monetary, nationalistic, and terror reasons. Then when we toss in the threat of possible Russian aggression, you simply have a nasty cocktail brewing for other bad things to happen.
Finally, in our own border skirmish with drug cartels, we get word that a drone, “overloaded” with drugs, crashed on our own southern border. If they can bring in drugs with drones, how long will it before other things that are far more threatening to us are also flown in that way? Then finally, there is our attempt to begin some sort of normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba. This is at the same time our old buddy Putin, and the Russians, are building back up their presence in places like Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
Clearly a busy week, and regardless of where you stand on the basic political issues, these are nothing more than a recap of the facts. There isn’t a slant, there is no bias, and there is no pushing of any one agenda over another one. These are simply the major issues arising and facing us as a nation, and regardless of your preferred method of approaching these problems, they are still serious problems. While there is a hope and desire to avoid such things, we don’t get to pick the time and place of someone else’s actions. One thing is sure, you can’t stick you head in the sand, because if you do, then you invite more of the same. Don’t take my word for it, pick up a history book, where the clear lesson is that you need to stop it sooner, before it grows into something you can’t stop.
So, going back to basic math, and examining most of this in search of that common denominator, I personally can come up with one answer. Instead of asking, “who deflated the footballs?”, we should be asking, “who is common to almost all of these problems?” I’ve got an answer, and without perhaps knowing all the nuances or even the connection to the South China Sea, I can say that most everything else has a certain Russian Leader’s fingerprints all over it. Again, this is just a simple observation on my part, but if I were a betting man, I would probably pick Putin as my choice of key world troublemaker. ~Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.