Trump Approved CT al Qaeda Operation in Yemen, 1 Dead

 FoxNews  NYMag

In part from the Defense Department press release: The raid is one in a series of aggressive moves against terrorist planners in Yemen and worldwide, according to the Centcom release. Similar operations have produced intelligence on al-Qaida logistics, recruiting and financing efforts. 

A US commando died and three others were wounded in a deadly dawn raid on the al-Qaeda militant group in southern Yemen, which was the first military operation authorised by US President Donald Trump.

The US military said 14 militants died in the attack on a powerful al-Qaeda branch that has been a frequent target of US drone strikes.

Medics at the scene, however, said around 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed.

The gunbattle in the rural Yakla district of al-Bayda province killed a senior leader in Yemen’s al-Qaeda branch, Abdulraoof al-Dhahab, along with other militants, al-Qaeda said.

Eight-year-old Anwar al-Awlaki, the daughter of US-born Yemeni preacher and al-Qaeda ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki, was among the children who died in the raid, according to her grandfather. Her father was killed in a US drone strike in 2011.

“She was hit with a bullet in her neck and suffered for two hours,” Nasser al-Awlaki told Reuters. “Why kill children? This is the new (US) administration – it’s very sad, a big crime,”

The US military said in a statement that the raid netted “information that will likely provide insight into the planning of future terror plots”.

The American elite forces did not seize any militants or take any prisoners offsite, said a US military official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The three commandos who were injured were hurt when a military aircraft experienced a hard landing and was “intentionally destroyed in place,” the Pentagon said.

“The operation began at dawn when a drone bombed the home of Abdulraoof al-Dhahab and then helicopters flew up and unloaded paratroopers at his house and killed everyone inside,” said one resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Next, the gunmen opened fire at the US soldiers who left the area, and the helicopters bombed the gunmen and a number of homes and led to a large number of casualties.”

A Yemeni security officer and a local official corroborated that account. Fahd, a local resident who asked that only his first name be used, said several bodies remained under debris and that houses and the local mosque were damaged in the attack.

In a message on its official Telegram messaging account, al Qaeda mourned al-Dhahab as a “holy warrior” and other slain militants, without specifying how many of its fighters were killed.


Related reading: Ex-Guantanamo detainee now al Qaeda leader in Yemen


Commandos from the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 carried out the surprise dawn attack in Bayda Province in a ground raid that lasted a little less than an hour. A military aircraft assisting in the operation crash-landed nearby, leaving two more service members injured, the statement said. That aircraft, identified by a senior American official as an MV-22 Osprey sent to evacuate the troops wounded in the raid, was unable to fly after the landing and was intentionally destroyed by American airstrikes. More here from NYT’s.


From 2009 and it is germane today:

Al‐Qa’ida represents itself as the vanguard of the Muslim community, committed to upholding Islamic values and defending Muslim people against Western forces, but its behavior represents a callous attitude toward the lives of those the group claims to protect. Al‐ Qa’ida absolves responsibility for the deaths of Muslims by claiming that they are either martyrs or apostates. The definition of apostate, however, varies considerably. Al‐ Qa’ida considers any Muslim that impedes their struggle by working with the West or an unfriendly regime as an apostate, and therefore a legitimate target. This includes Muslims serving in the armed forces, serving as police officers, and even those occupying civilian jobs. Al‐Qa’ida makes convenient use of this designation to justify its indiscriminate use of violence.
To justify the killing of innocent Muslims, or martyrs, al‐Qa’ida references a shari’a rule called al‐tatarrus. Al‐tatarrus refers to the use of human shields, the practice of avoiding hostility by hiding behind others. Muslims are not supposed to kill other Muslims, and historically, enemies used this prohibition against Muslim military forces by surrounding themselves with other Muslims. Muslims found the al‐tatarrus rule was a strategic liability and looked for ways to circumvent the ban. The notion that it is okay to kill Muslims being used as human shields, is not widely invoked or discussed in other contemporary circles. Al‐Qa’ida resurrected the term to justify the killing of innocents, arguing that these people were essentially human shields, and if innocent, they died martyrs. Among the only justifications for this obscure rule is Abu Yahya al‐ Libi’s book entitled “Al‐Tatarrus in the Modern Jihad,” and Ayman al‐Zawhiri cited this source during his open forum referenced above.15 Al‐Qa’ida has acknowledged that assailants should be patient and wait for the right time to carry out attacks (in martyr videos and announcements), but this report shows there is scant evidence of prudence or effort to limit violence. Irrespective of al‐Qa’ida’s justifications, if history provides a glimpse into the future, the group and its associates will pose the greatest threat to fellow Muslims. Read more here.

For Reference: Bradley Manning’s Charge Sheet, Then Swap

Obama says he granted Manning clemency ‘in the pursuit of justice’

USAToday: President Obama defended his decision to release Army Private Chelsea Manning from prison early, telling reporters at his last press conference as president Wednesday that “I feel very comfortable that justice has been served.”

Obama said the commutation of Manning balanced national security interests with Manning’s remorse and her long sentence.

“First of all, let’s be clear, Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence,” he said. “Given she went to trial and due process was carried out, that she took responsibility for her crime, that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received — and that she had served a significant amount of time — it made sense to commute a part of her sentence.”

Related: Pentagon recommended against Manning commutation, official says

It must be mentioned here too that while Obama’s pen is busy on felons in U.S. jails and transferring those in Guantanamo, what about that Iranian prisoner swap? We were only told about getting back the Americans held in detention in Iran, but Obama freed and included in the swap 21 Iranians held in prison in the United States.

But many in the group were assisting Iran’s military, spy services and nuclear program, providing what one U.S. attorney called a threat to national security. At least two suspects reportedly lent logistical support to what the United States considers a terrorist group.

Seven of the 21 were pardoned or had their sentences commuted as part of the trade for four Americans imprisoned in Iran. The other 14 were fugitives, believed to be overseas, and arrest warrants were dropped against them.

Among the 14 were Hamid Arabnejad and Gholamreza Mahmoudi, senior executives with Iran’s Mahan airline. U.S. officials say the airline ran supplies to Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Islamic organization that the U.S. considers a terrorist group.

The airline also is accused of providing logistics support, including covert travel, to the Quds Force, the elite overseas unit of the hard-line Revolutionary Guard. The U.S. has designated the Quds Force a supporter of terrorism since 2007. Arabnejad was separately accused of using Mahan to smuggle weapons to Syrian President Bashar Assad for the “regime’s violent crackdown against its own citizens,” according to a 3-year-old Department of Treasury designation that imposes sanctions. More here from LATimes.

*** Now back to Manning’s charge sheet.




Will YOU Read General Kelley’s Speech? You Must

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.”
– President Ronald Reagan, 1985


MOAA: There is no greater loss than that of one’s child. Military members know this loss far too well, especially when service to the nation is a family calling. For one of the Marines’ most influential generals, this Veterans Day became more meaningful and tragic due to the loss of his son just days before the holiday. Lieutenant General John F. Kelly held several command positions in the Iraq War, most recently as the Commanding General of the Multi National Force-West, a post he held until February of 2009. On November 9th of this year, his son, 1stLt. Robert M. Kelly, fell during battle while on his third combat deployment since 9/11. The overwhelming feeling of sadness would be enough to crush a normal person. Instead, General Kelly kept a commitment to speak in St. Louis in honor of the day of remembrance. This speech is becoming viral, and for all the right reasons. It exemplifies the spirit and honor of the Marine Corps, and of a terrible sacrifice.

Following the speech is a copy of the statement General Kelly put out regarding the loss of his son, as well as links to some of his other speeches that are worth every moment to read.

Veterans Day Speech

The following is a full transcript of the speech made by General Kelly in St. Louis to commemorate Veterans Day:

Nine years ago, four commercial aircraft took off from Boston, Newark, and Washington.  Took off fully loaded with men, women and children-all innocent, and all soon to die.  These aircraft were targeted at the World Trade Towers in New York, the Pentagon, and likely the Capitol in Washington, D.C…  Three found their mark.  No American alive old enough to remember will ever forget exactly where they were, exactly what they were doing, and exactly who they were with at the moment they watched the aircraft dive into the World Trade Towers on what was, until then, a beautiful morning in New York City.  Within the hour 3,000 blameless human beings would be vaporized, incinerated, or crushed in the most agonizing ways imaginable.  The most wretched among them-over 200-driven mad by heat, hopelessness, and utter desperation leapt to their deaths from 1,000 feet above Lower Manhattan.  We soon learned hundreds more were murdered at the Pentagon, and in a Pennsylvania farmer’s field.

Once the buildings had collapsed and the immensity of the attack began to register most of us had no idea of what to do, or where to turn.  As a nation, we were scared like we had not been scared for generations. Parents hugged their children to gain as much as to give comfort. Strangers embraced in the streets stunned and crying on one another’s shoulders seeking solace, as much as to give it.  Instantaneously, American patriotism soared not “as the last refuge” as our national-cynical class would say, but in the darkest times Americans seek refuge in family, and in country, remembering that strong men and women have always stepped forward to protect the nation when the need was dire-and it was so God awful dire that day-and remains so today.

There was, however, a small segment of America that made very different choices that day…actions the rest of America stood in awe of on 9/11 and every day since.  The first were our firefighters and police, their ranks decimated that day as they ran towards-not away from-danger and certain death.  They were doing what they’d sworn to do-“protect and serve”-and went to their graves having fulfilled their sacred oath.

Then there was your Armed Forces, and I know I am a little biased in my opinion here, but the best of them are Marines.  Most wearing the Eagle, Globe and Anchor today joined the unbroken ranks of American heroes after that fateful day not for money, or promises of bonuses or travel to exotic liberty ports, but for one reason and one reason alone; because of the terrible assault on our way of life by men they knew must be killed and extremist ideology that must be destroyed.  A plastic flag in their car window was not their response to the murderous assault on our country.  No, their response was a commitment to protect the nation swearing an oath to their God to do so, to their deaths.  When future generations ask why America is still free and the heyday of Al Qaeda and their terrorist allies was counted in days rather than in centuries as the extremists themselves predicted, our hometown heroes-soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines-can say, “because of me and people like me who risked all to protect millions who will never know my name.”

As we sit here right now, we should not lose sight of the fact that America is at risk in a way it has never been before.  Our enemy fights for an ideology based on an irrational hatred of who we are.  Make no mistake about that no matter what certain elements of the “chattering class” relentlessly churn out.  We did not start this fight, and it will not end until the extremists understand that we as a people will never lose our faith or our courage.  If they persist, these terrorists and extremists and the nations that provide them sanctuary, they must know they will continue to be tracked down and captured or killed.  America’s civilian and military protectors both here at home and overseas have for nearly nine years fought this enemy to a standstill and have never for a second “wondered why.”  They know, and are not afraid.  Their struggle is your struggle.  They hold in disdain those who claim to support them but not the cause that takes their innocence, their limbs, and even their lives.  As a democracy-“We the People”-and that by definition is every one of us-sent them away from home and hearth to fight our enemies.  We are all responsible.  I know it doesn’t apply to those of us here tonight but if anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight-America’s survival-then they are lying to themselves and rationalizing away something in their lives, but, more importantly, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to the nation.

Since this generation’s “day of infamy” the American military has handed our ruthless enemy defeat-after-defeat but it will go on for years, if not decades, before this curse has been eradicated.  We have done this by unceasing pursuit day and night into whatever miserable lair Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies, might slither into to lay in wait for future opportunities to strike a blow at freedom.  America’s warriors have never lost faith in their mission, or doubted the correctness of their cause.
They face dangers everyday that their countrymen safe and comfortable this night cannot imagine.  But this has always been the case in all the wars our military have been sent to fight.  Not to build empires, or enslave peoples, but to free those held in the grip of tyrants while at the same time protecting our nation, its citizens, and our shared values.  And, ladies and gentlemen, think about this, the only territory we as a people have ever asked for from any nation we have fought alongside, or against, since our founding, the entire extent of our overseas empire, as a few hundred acres of land for the 24 American cemeteries scattered around the globe.  It is in these cemeteries where 220,000 of our sons and daughters rest in glory for eternity, or are memorialized forever because their earthly remains are lost forever in the deepest depths of the oceans, or never recovered from far flung and nameless battlefields.  As a people, we can be proud because billions across the planet today live free, and billions yet unborn will also enjoy the same freedom and a chance at prosperity because America sent its sons and daughters out to fight and die for them, as much as for us.

Yes, we are at war, and are winning, but you wouldn’t know it because successes go unreported, and only when something does go sufficiently or is sufficiently controversial, it is highlighted by the media elite that then sets up the “know it all” chattering class to offer their endless criticism. These self-proclaimed experts always seem to know better-but have never themselves been in the arena.  We are at war and like it or not, that is a fact.  It is not Bush’s war, and it is not Obama’s war, it is our war and we can’t run away from it.  Even if we wanted to surrender, there is no one to surrender to.  Our enemy is savage, offers absolutely no quarter, and has a single focus and that is either kill every one of us here at home, or enslave us with a sick form of extremism that serves no God or purpose that decent men and women could ever grasp.  St Louis is as much at risk as is New York and Washington, D.C…  Given the opportunity to do another 9/11, our merciless enemy would do it today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter. If, and most in the know predict that it is only a matter of time, he acquires nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, these extremists will use these weapons of mass murder against us without a moment’s hesitation. These butchers we fight killed more than 3,000 innocents on 9/11.  As horrible as that death toll was, consider for a moment that the monsters that organized those strikes against New York and Washington, D.C. killed only 3,000 not because that was enough to make their sick and demented point, but because he couldn’t figure out how to kill 30,000, or 300,000, or 30 million of us that terrible day.  I don’t know why they hate us, and I don’t care.  We have a saying in the Marine Corps and that is “no better friend, no worse enemy, than a U.S. Marine.”  We always hope for the first, friendship, but are certainly more than ready for the second.  If its death they want, its death they will get, and the Marines will continue showing them the way to hell if that’s what will make them happy.

Because our America hasn’t been successfully attacked since 9/11 many forget because we want to forget…to move on.  As Americans we all dream and hope for peace, but we must be realistic and acknowledge that hope is never an option or course of action when the stakes are so high. Others are less realistic or less committed, or are working their own agendas, and look for ways to blame past presidents or in some other way to rationalize a way out of this war.  The problem is our enemy is not willing to let us go.  Regardless of how much we wish this nightmare would go away, our enemy will stay forever on the offensive until he hurts us so badly we surrender, or we kill him first.  To him, this is not about our friendship with Israel, or about territory, resources, jobs, or economic opportunity in the Middle East.  No, it is about us as a people.  About our freedom to worship any God we please in any way we want.  It is about the worth of every man, and the worth of every woman, and their equality in the eyes of God and the law; of how we live our lives with our families, inside the privacy of our own homes.  It’s about the God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable right.”  As Americans we hold these truths to be self-evident.  He doesn’t.  We love what we have; he despises who we are.  Our positions can never be reconciled.  He cannot be deterred…only defeated.  Compromise is out of the question.

It is a fact that our country today is in a life and death struggle against an evil enemy, but America as a whole is certainly not at war. Not as a country.  Not as a people.  Today, only a tiny fraction-less than a percent-shoulder the burden of fear and sacrifice, and they shoulder it for the rest of us.  Their sons and daughters who serve are men and women of character who continue to believe in this country enough to put life and limb on the line without qualification, and without thought of personal gain, and they serve so that the sons and daughters of the other 99% don’t have to.  No big deal, though, as Marines have always been “the first to fight” paying in full the bill that comes with being free…for everyone else.

The comforting news for every American is that our men and women in uniform, and every Marine, is as good today as any in our history.  As good as what their heroic, under-appreciated, and largely abandoned fathers and uncles were in Vietnam, and their grandfathers were in Korea and World War II. They have the same steel in their backs and have made their own mark etching forever places like Ramadi, Fallujah, and Baghdad, Iraq, and Helmand and Sagin, Afghanistan that are now part of the legend and stand just as proudly alongside Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, Inchon, Hue City, Khe Sanh, and Ashau Valley, Vietnam.  None of them have every asked what their country could do for them, but always and with their lives asked what they could do for America.  While some might think we have produced yet another generation of materialistic, consumerist and self-absorbed young people, those who serve today have broken the mold and stepped out as real men, and real women, who are already making their own way in life while protecting ours.  They know the real strength of a platoon, a battalion, or a country that is not worshiping at the altar of diversity, but in a melting point that stitches and strengthens by a sense of shared history, values, customs, hopes and dreams all of which unifies a people making them stronger, as opposed to an unruly gaggle of “hyphenated” or “multi-cultural individuals.”

And what are they like in combat in this war?  Like Marines have been throughout our history.  In my three tours in combat as an infantry officer and commanding general, I never saw one of them hesitate, or do anything other than lean into the fire and with no apparent fear of death or injury take the fight to our enemies.  As anyone who has ever experienced combat knows, when it starts, when the explosions and tracers are everywhere and the calls for the Corpsman are screamed from the throats of men who know they are dying-when seconds seem like hours and it all becomes slow motion and fast forward at the same time-and the only rational act is to stop, get down, save yourself-they don’t.  When no one would call them coward for cowering behind a wall or in a hole, slave to the most basic of all human instincts-survival-none of them do. It doesn’t matter if it’s an IED, a suicide bomber, mortar attack, sniper, fighting in the upstairs room of a house, or all of it at once; they talk, swagger, and, most importantly, fight today in the same way America’s Marines have since the Tun Tavern.  They also know whose shoulders they stand on, and they will never shame any Marine living or dead.

We can also take comfort in the fact that these young Americans are not born killers, but are good and decent young men and women who for going on ten years have performed remarkable acts of bravery and selflessness to a cause they have decided is bigger and more important than themselves.  Only a few months ago they were delivering your paper, stocking shelves in the local grocery store, worshiping in church on Sunday, or playing hockey on local ice.  Like my own two sons who are Marines and have fought in Iraq, and today in Sagin, Afghanistan, they are also the same kids that drove their cars too fast for your liking, and played the God-awful music of their generation too loud, but have no doubt they are the finest of their generation.  Like those who went before them in uniform, we owe them everything.  We owe them our safety. We owe them our prosperity.  We owe them our freedom.  We owe them our lives.  Any one of them could have done something more self-serving with their lives as the vast majority of their age group elected to do after high school and college, but no, they chose to serve knowing full well a brutal war was in their future.  They did not avoid the basic and cherished responsibility of a citizen-the defense of country-they welcomed it.  They are the very best this country produces, and have put every one of us ahead of themselves.  All are heroes for simply stepping forward, and we as a people owe a debt we can never fully pay.  Their legacy will be of selfless valor, the country we live in, the way we live our lives, and the freedoms the rest of their countrymen take for granted.

Over 5,000 have died thus far in this war; 8,000 if you include the innocents murdered on 9/11.  They are overwhelmingly working class kids, the children of cops and firefighters, city and factory workers, school teachers and small business owners.  With some exceptions they are from families short on stock portfolios and futures, but long on love of country and service to the nation.  Just yesterday, too many were lost and a knock on the door late last night brought their families to their knees in a grief that will never-ever go away.  Thousands more have suffered wounds since it all started, but like anyone who loses life or limb while serving others-including our firefighters and law enforcement personnel who on 9/11 were the first casualties of this war-they are not victims as they knew what they were about, and were doing what they wanted to do.  The chattering class and all those who doubt America’s intentions, and resolve, endeavor to make them and their families out to be victims, but they are wrong.  We who have served and are serving refuse their sympathy.  Those of us who have lived in the dirt, sweat and struggle of the arena are not victims and will have none of that. Those with less of a sense of service to the nation never understand it when men and women of character step forward to look danger and adversity straight in the eye, refusing to blink, or give ground, even to their own deaths.  The protected can’t begin to understand the price paid so they and their families can sleep safe and free at night.  No, they are not victims, but are warriors, your warriors, and warriors are never victims regardless of how and where they fall.  Death, or fear of death, has no power over them.  Their paths are paved by sacrifice, sacrifices they gladly make…for you.  They prove themselves everyday on the field of battle…for you.  They fight in every corner of the globe…for you.  They live to fight…for you, and they never rest because there is always another battle to be won in the defense of America.

I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are…about the quality of the steel in their backs…about the kind of dedication they bring to our country while they serve in uniform and forever after as veterans.  Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi.  One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.  The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda.  Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well.  He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000.  Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island.  They were from two completely different worlds.  Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America’s exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born.  But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”  “You clear?”  I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.”  They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way-perhaps 60-70 yards in length-and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls.  The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed.  A mosque 100 yards away collapsed.  The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.  Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives.  Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different.  Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat.  We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes.  But this just seemed different.  The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event-just Iraqi police.  I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements.  If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story.  The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine.  They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.”  The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.  All survived.  Many were injured…some seriously.  One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”  “What he didn’t know until then,” he said, “and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal.”  Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”  “No sane man.”  “They saved us all.”

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack.  It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it.  It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives.  Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley.  Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do.  Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “…let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”  The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up.  By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time.  Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were-some running right past the Marines.  They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers-American and Iraqi-bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.  If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe…because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.  The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines.  In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated.  By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back.  They never even started to step aside.  They never even shifted their weight.  With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons.  They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes.  The camera goes blank.  Two young men go to their God. Six seconds.  Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty…into eternity.  That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight-for you.

We Marines believe that God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow to man while he lived on this earth-freedom.  We also believe he gave us another gift nearly as precious-our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines-to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on this earth can every steal it away.  It has been my distinct honor to have been with you here today.  Rest assured our America, this experiment in democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the “land of the free and home of the brave” so long as we never run out of tough young Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.

God Bless America, and….SEMPER FIDELIS!

Statement Regarding 1stLt. Robert Kelly

On November 16th, 2010, General Kelly released a statement regarding the loss of his son, carried by Sgt Grit:

Family and Friends,

As I think you all know by now our Robert was killed in action protecting our country, its people, and its values from a terrible and relentless enemy, on 9 Nov, in Sangin, Afghanistan. He was leading his Grunts on a dismounted patrol when he was taken. They are shaken, but will recover quickly and already back at it. He went quickly and thank God he did not suffer. In combat that is as good as it gets, and we are thankful. We are a broken hearted – but proud family. He was a wonderful and precious boy living a meaningful life. He was in exactly the place he wanted to be, doing exactly what he wanted to do, surrounded by the best men on this earth – his Marines and Navy Doc.

The nation he served has honored us with promoting him posthumously to First Lieutenant of Marines. We will bury our son, now 1stLt Robert Michael Kelly USMC, in Arlington National Cemetery on 22 Nov. Services will commence at 1245 at Fort Myers. We will likely have a memorial receiving at a yet to be designated funeral home on 21 Nov. The coffin will be closed. Our son Captain John Kelly USMC, himself a multi-tour combat veteran and the best big brother on this earth, will escort the body from Dover Air Force Base to Arlington. From the moment he was killed he has never been alone and will remain under the protection of a Marine to his final resting place.

Many have offered prayers for us and we thank you, but his wonderful wife Heather and the rest of the clan ask that you direct the majority of your prayers to his platoon of Marines, still in contact and in “harm’s way,” and at greater risk without his steady leadership.

Thank you all for the many kindnesses we could not get through this without you all. Thank you all for being there for us. The pain in unimaginable, and we could not do this without you.

Semper Fidelis

John Kelly

General Kelly Pegged to Head DHS

This is going to take another waiver…. I hope that early on in the Trump administration there will be a final act to list and designate drug cartels as terror organizations. Fair warning however, the economies of Latin American countries could financially collapse.


It is also notable that General Kelly lost a son to the enemy known as the Taliban in 2010 in Afghanistan.

WaPo: Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to run the Department of Homeland Security, turning to a blunt-spoken border security hawk who clashed with the Obama administration over women in combat and plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to people familiar with the decision.

Kelly, who retired in February as chief of U.S. Southern Command, would inherit a massive and often troubled department responsible for overseeing perhaps the most controversial part of Trump’s agenda: his proposed crackdown on illegal immigration. DHS is the third-largest Cabinet department, with more than 240,000 employees who do everything from fight terrorism to protect the president and enforce immigration laws.

Kelly, 66, is a widely respected military officer who served for more than 40 years, and he is not expected to face difficulty winning Senate confirmation. Trump’s team was drawn to him because of his southwest border expertise, people familiar with the transition said. Like the president-elect Kelly has sounded the alarm about drugs, terrorism and other cross-border threats he seems as emanating from Mexico and Central and South America.

Yet Kelly’s nomination could raise questions about what critics see as Trump’s tendency to surround himself with too many military figures. Trump has also selected retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis for defense secretary and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn as national security adviser, while retired Army Gen. David Petraeus is under consideration for secretary of state.

Kelly, a Boston native, was chosen over an array of other candidates who also met with Trump after his surprise election victory last month. Those in contention included Frances Townsend, a top homeland security and counterterrorism official in the George W. Bush administration; Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Clarke and Kobach are vocal Trump backers, with Kobach being nationally known for his strong views on restricting illegal immigration. More here.


**** Why is General Kelly a stellar choice for the Department of Homeland Security? In 2015, in part his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee gives us a huge clue:

Last year, almost half a million migrants1 from Central America and Mexico—including over 50,000 unaccompanied children (UAC) and families—were apprehended on our border, many fleeing violence, poverty, and the spreading influence of criminal networks and gangs. Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson testified that the “UAC migration serves as a warning sign that the serious and longstanding challenges in Central America are worsening.”2 In my opinion, the relative ease with which human smugglers moved tens of thousands of people to our nation’s doorstep also serves as another warning sign: these smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland. As I stated last year, terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States. Mr. Chairman, Members, addressing the root causes of insecurity and instability is not just in the region’s interests, but ours as well, which is why I support President Obama’s commitment to increase assistance to Central America.

These and other challenges underscore the enduring importance of U.S. Southern Command’s mission to protect our southern approaches. We do not and cannot do this mission alone. Our strong partnerships with the U.S. interagency—especially with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Coast Guard, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Departments of Treasury and State—are integral to our efforts to ensure the forward defense of the U.S. homeland. We are also fortunate to have strong, capable partners like Colombia, Chile, Brazil, El Salvador, and Panama, regional

leaders and outstanding contributors to hemispheric and international security. Given our limited intelligence assets, interagency relationships and bilateral cooperation are critical to identifying and monitoring threats to U.S. national security and regional stability.

I am also troubled by the financial and operational overlap between criminal and terrorist networks in the region. Although the extent of criminal-terrorist cooperation is unclear, what is clear is that terrorists and militant organizations easily tap into the international illicit marketplace to underwrite their activities and obtain arms and funding to conduct operations.4 It’s easy to see why: illicit trafficking is estimated to be a $650 billion industry—larger than the GDP of all but 20 countries in the world—and less than 1 percent of global illicit financial flows is currently being seized or frozen.5 The terrorist group Lebanese Hezbollah—which has long viewed the region as a potential attack venue against Israeli or other Western targets—has supporters and sympathizers in Lebanese diaspora communities in Latin America, some of whom are involved in lucrative illicit activities like money laundering and trafficking in counterfeit goods and drugs. These clan-based criminal networks exploit corruption and lax law enforcement in places like the Tri-Border Area of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina and the Colon Free Trade Zone in Panama and generate revenue, an unknown amount of which is transferred to Lebanese Hezbollah. Unfortunately, our limited intelligence capabilities make it difficult to fully assess the amount of terrorist financing generated in Latin America, or understand the scope of possible criminal-terrorist collaboration. You can read his presentation and testimony here.



75 Years Later, Pearl Harbor With More Details

Japanese leader Shinzo Abe to visit Pearl Harbor with Obama

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that he would accompany President Obama to Pearl Harbor, making him the first sitting Japanese leader to visit the Hawaiian naval base since the end of World War II.

Abe told reporters that he will visit a memorial at the site on Dec. 26 and 27. The surprise announcement came two days before the 75th anniversary of Japan’s attack on the base, which killed 2,400 U.S. servicemen and civilians and drew the U.S. into the war.

“This will be a visit to console the souls of the victims,” he said. “I would like to show to the world the resolve that horrors of war should never be repeated.” More here from LATimes.
Surprise strike: Hundreds of U.S. ships and boats were destroyed from Japanese bombs and torpedoes in the devastating attack on December 7, 1941

Surprise strike: Hundreds of U.S. ships and boats were destroyed from Japanese bombs and torpedoes in the devastating attack on December 7, 1941  UKDailyMail


Three days before the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt was warned in a memo from naval intelligence that Tokyo’s military and spy network was focused on Hawaii, a new and eerie reminder of FDR’s failure to act on a basket load of tips that war was near.

In the newly revealed 20-page memo from FDR’s declassified FBI file, the Office of Naval Intelligence on December 4 warned, “In anticipation of open conflict with this country, Japan is vigorously utilizing every available agency to secure military, naval and commercial information, paying particular attention to the West Coast, the Panama Canal and the Territory of Hawaii.”

The memo, published in the new book December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World went on to say that the Japanese were collecting “detailed technical information” that would be specifically used by its navy. To collect and analyze information, they were building a network of spies through their U.S. embassies and consulates.


HONOLULU, Dec. 5, 2016 — As the second-oldest known Pearl Harbor survivor, retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing, 103, wants the memory of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack to stay alive for future generations.

Downing, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, has come to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to join other survivors for commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the attack this week.

“I understand this is going to be the last big anniversary, so I am sorry to see it pass down into history, but there are not enough of us left to commemorate it,” he said.

“I hope history books and history teachers won’t forget. There’s a tendency as time passes to forget about the past, so I’m hoping history books and teachers will keep the memories alive,” Downing added.

The Navy veteran spoke in an interview yesterday after viewing a screening of the World War II Foundation’s documentary “Remember Pearl Harbor.” Downing and other veterans, including fellow Pearl Harbor survivors, were guests of honor at the event at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor.

Memories of Pearl Harbor

“[The attack] happened just a few hundred yards over here,” Downing said, gesturing toward the harbor. His ship, the USS West Virginia, was severely damaged in the Japanese attack.

“We were right next to Ford Island, so it’s hard to forget what happened — now just being on the spot,” said Downing, who was a gunner’s mate first class at the time of the attack.

When the surprise Japanese assault began, the then-28-year-old Downing was having breakfast at home with his wife and some of his shipmates. He and the other sailors rushed over to the ship to help.

“Nine [torpedoes] hit the West Virginia — and we sunk pretty quickly after that — and everything above the waterline was on fire,” he recalled.

More than 100 men on the ship were killed, including at least 17 of Downing’s close friends. Despite the loss, he did not despair, he said, explaining his friends were part of his Bible study. He has faith he and his friends will be reunited.

“I rejoiced that I would see them in the future,” he said.

For the dead and injured on his ship, he composed personalized letters for the families.

“The ones that I didn’t know, while I was fighting the fire, I memorized their identification tags and wrote to their parents so that was a sense of closure, both on my part and on the part of their own parents,” Downing said.

He heard back from many of them, he said, including parents who learned their sons were actually alive. “They were grateful,” Downing said. “They rejoiced; they didn’t know that their sons were still alive until they got the letter.”

Return to Pearl Harbor

Downing, who also came to Pearl Harbor for last year’s anniversary, stays connected with fellow Pearl Harbor survivors.

“The greatest pleasure is to renew acquaintance with my shipmates,” he said. “I’ve been coming to these reunions for a long time. There is a lot of camaraderie among the ship’s crew, in fact, it never runs out.”

But as time passes, fewer survivors remain, Downing pointed out.

Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing attends a screening of the “Remember Pearl Harbor” documentary at the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 4, 2016. Downing, who was among the guests of honor at the event, journeyed to Pearl Harbor to take part in events marking 75 years since the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing attends a screening of the "Remember Pearl Harbor" documentary at the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 4, 2016. Downing, who was among the guests of honor at the event, journeyed to Pearl Harbor to take part in events marking 75 years since the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

Pearl Harbor survivor and retired Navy Lt. Jim Downing attends a screening of the “Remember Pearl Harbor” documentary at the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 4, 2016. Downing, who was among the guests of honor at the event, journeyed to Pearl Harbor to take part in events marking 75 years since the surprise Japanese attack. DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando

“I just wonder how many I will see next year,” he said, adding “most of my friends are in heaven, so I look forward to seeing them over there.”

Hope for the Younger Generation

Downing said he is grateful for the nation’s support of its military veterans.

“I am glad for this wave of patriotism that is sweeping the country,” he said.

Downing said he does have a message for the younger generation.

“I tell them: ‘You’re the leaders of tomorrow; you’re the voters of tomorrow; you’re the taxpayers of tomorrow; you’re the legislators of tomorrow. My charge to you is, keep America strong,'” he said.

“I want America to be kept so strong — in cyberspace, in space, in the skies, on the ground, on the sea, under the sea — that no dictator will even think about attacking us,” he said.

‘One Day at a Time’

Downing said his optimistic view comes from his life philosophy, to take life as it happens and whatever it brings.

He said he doesn’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow, or weigh himself down with things he can’t control or change — including the events of that day 75 years ago.

“So I live one day at a time. I don’t brood over what happened there. It happened and [there’s] nothing I can do about it, so I got to live with it,” he said.


Further reading: Pearl Harbor Research Records Declassified