Marine Corps given 15 Days to Rebuild Boot Camp as Co-ed

I recently wrote a long piece on Women in the Military over some major changes to the way that the US Marine Corps is going to fight its wars. Over the last few months there has been a massive shake-up in the US Marine Corps, in what some, including myself, are calling heavy handed, dictatorial, and perhaps even ill-advised decisions to “modernize” the most lethal warfighting organization in the world. This criticism, however, doesn’t relate to opening of the infantry to women, however, but to other demands for change also placed on the branch this month.
Between December 4th and January 6th, two major Department of the Navy memos were sent out to key commanders of the Marine Corps by way of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. The first, was the groundbreaking decision, one made against Marine Corps recommendation and against the recent findings of numerous studies performed by the Marines, to fully integrate women into all combat roles. Many of us are undecided on whether this is a good thing for the military overall, not knowing if the added value of a few good women will significantly increase the number of capable warfighters, or whether their contributions will not outweigh the potential loss of manpower risk posed by events such as their increased rate injuries or eventually starting a family, as well as the logistical burden an integrated force will have on deployed forces.
It’s a future that I personally would like to see, but having read from many differing accounts, I have many concerns. I’ve attempted to voice many of the problems and conflicts such a decision would bring about for the armed services. What I, and many Marines, have a problem with, is the way in which this process of inclusion was done. I find that the manner in which this decision was made was in such a way as to serve as a great disservice to the military as a whole, the Marines who took part in the studies, and even the women in question. Frankly, there has been a great deal of evolution and debate, but most of the key issues I’ve had since the beginning have been completely ignored by recent policy enactments. The question isn’t being asked, “Is this a sound policy for the future of the Marine Corps and American national security?” Instead, we are promoting women in the forces not because it helps the nation’s military, but because it helps the cause of women. While I am supportive to the cause of women, as a veteran of the Marines, and knowing that their struggles are not of equal pay in the workplace, but of the chance of death or living a life of dismemberment and trauma, my loyalty in this regard goes to them. If the cause of women can be helped, that is a wonderful thing, but if such a policy harms the chances of mission success overall in the military, or the survivability of any of the Marines, both male or female, it shouldn’t be supported.Right now, we still hang in the balance of not knowing what women in the infantry will mean. We simply don’t know, but the gavel has fallen anyway, and those who question the ruling, are currently facing the hangman’s noose of social justice. This, I feel, was a detrimental failure in the administration, whereby an attempt to force the matter prematurely was made, not in an attempt to better the forces, but due to political pressures aimed around promoting equal rights, but in a realm where equality rights was never the issue to begin with.
The idea of women serving on the front doesn’t honestly bother. I hope it works, I sincerely do, though as I have said before, I am very disappointed that the Marine Corps was forced into the integration prematurely in the manner in which they were. As I said in the answer before.
What I can say is that I don’t feel that the way in which it happened was correct. Blindly ignoring the studies and experience of the world’s most lethal organization in the area they excel above all others was a failure. More so, I don’t think this had much to do with what is best for the Marines, or the military as a whole, but of political expediency to further the political aims of a few politicians. The manner in which the rug was pulled from beneath the Marines was one that will leave lasting conflict within the service. Instead of welcoming the women into their new roles, they will be forced into it artificially. The manner in which this decision was made, quite honestly, was too soon, for all the wrong reasons, and a disservice most of all, to the women who will be first to enter this role.
That’s all I want to say on the December 4th announcement, though I would encourage everyone to read the full article for in depth analysis of the decision, and the debate over it, as well as the way in which it was handed down.
What actually concerns me far more is the more recent announcement that Marine Corps boot camp, will be forced to fully integrate with coed training. This mandate was one which I consider to be exceptionally ill-advised for reasons I will explain throughout the article. More so than this, it was mandated in what is being called conservatively as an “aggressive timeline” where massive changes to the Marine Corps most important institutions are being given only fifteen days, from January 1 to the 15th, to completely redesign the training method, as well as many of their facilities, and to have the entirely new approach in operation by April. I want to be honest, I was cautiously optimistic about the call to open the infantry to women, but I feel that this newest policy is a complete failure on the part of the person charged with safeguarding not only the men and women of the Marine Corps, but also their future success as a military force.
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How is this different from today?
Currently, Marine Corp basic training is segregated by gender. Male Marine recruits are trained in San Diego, CA or Parris Island, SC. All female recruits are trained in Parris Island, as part of the 4th Recruit Training Battalion. 4th Battalion Marine recruits enjoy (term chosen loosely) the same facilities and training as their 1st – 3rd Battalion male counterparts. They eat at the same facilities, hike the same routes, shoot at the same ranges, and live in identical barracks to the men. The only aspect noteworthy to boot camp that is very much different than the rest of Marine Corps training, is that men and women do not mix in boot camp.
To begin, I’ve dedicated a great deal of time and effort to communicating how Marine Corps boot camp works, why it works, how it is different from that of other branches, and namely, why it produces the largest crop of the highest caliber warfighters alive today. You can read much of that here: What is the logic behind making military boot camps so intensive? What I have come to learn is that the way that the United States Marines produce warfighters in unparalleled among all other military organizations of our era. No other training environment creates in its basically trained warriors such a high degree of exceptional fighters. This is due, in no small part, to its mastery of psychological factors and incentive training system, regardless of the world famous rigor highlighted in every evolution of their training. It does this, as I have said either, with identical training, facilities, and expectations of both its male and female Marines, with no policy that discriminates against either, nor hinders their career development. This isn’t to say that there is forever exclusion between the men and women, but only during the formative months of boot camp, where they are still learning to be Marines, rather than just a collection of individuals.
For example, immediately after boot camp in the Marines, there is the School of Infantry (SOI) and Marine Combat Training (MCT). These schools teach basic infantry tactics and abilities to all Marines. The School of Infantry focuses on Marines whose primary job is infantry fighting. I’ll say this, since it is basic job training, by this point, it should be fully integrated to the best of the SOI’s ability, i.e. the same as Army boot camp is now with separate billeting, but the same on everything else. MCT the same way, if it isn’t already done so on the East Coast. Likely, since the December mandate opening the infantry, we will start to see this very soon, anyway. The only reason there are probably no women in SOI now is because those who joined in December, aren’t even through first phase of boot camp. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the first batch of women start showing up at SOI in the early spring.
This would mirror how training is already done at all other MOS (Military Occupational Schools) and has been done for many, many years. There women who have completed their MCT training, join men in completely the same training, in the same platoons, same, same, same. We even had a women who was one of our squad leaders. This was back in 2004 and this, is why I argue that the Marine Corps doesn’t have an integration problem. Their job training saw men and women treated equally and with the same responsibilities, and since MOS school is often much longer than boot camp, I fail to see how this training is being overlooked, as if the first time a Marine sees a female of the species is when they show up together in Iraq or Afghanistan.
At all times where men and women have been employed together, they trained together. The soul exception being that of boot camp, which I have said before, is a good thing. “Boots” are immature. Many lack a firm understand of how to be an adult, let alone be a Marine. Few understand responsibility and are realistically, still kids. Of course there are many who are not this way, but many who need the military to grow them up. They need the three month intensive period to learn to operate as a Marine before they learn to operate in the Marines.
What is being proposed, is that this needs to change. No… “proposed” would imply that there was a discussion, where the legitimacy of such a system would be talked about, the experts on both sides would have made valid and respected arguments, and that it might be possible to consider that the world’s premier force perhaps has more understanding of how to produce world class warriors than those who do not take part in the warfighting profession. Instead, the Marine Corps has been “directed” to “correct itself” by the same Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
That said, I have to ask, what possible benefit does full inclusion in basic training possibly offer that in any way improves the quality of service, or even better the prospects of women of the service? I have no idea how creating a training platoon that does not live, eat, breathe, shower, sleep and piss together, as part of a single unit, will lend itself towards the creation of unit cohesiveness for the Corps, nor do I possibly understand how it will improve upon its standards.
The mastery of boot camp is focus. You don’t communicate back home for months. You don’t have access to social media, or media of any kind. You are basically cut off from the rest of the world. There are as few sources to prevent focus as can possibly exist. It is literally just you and your fellow recruits, that insular platoon for three months. As a young newlywed, only having been married not a week when I joined, I understood this hardship greatly, but having gone through that, I understood the need for it, too. You wouldn’t have had the quality of training with more distractions. When you deal with one of the only professions where life and death matters are not a thing of hyperbole, eliminating those distractions matters.
For the types of recruits that willingly go to the Marines, you deal with many of the types that do well in segregated environments. These are the young ones looking for challenge, needing the adrenaline high, and dripping with testosterone. I’ll say it another way that these are the types of young men you don’t trust with your daughters, for good enough reasons. By my estimation and experience, females of the Marine Corps have the same prerogative. They are alphas in their own right, and many come in with just as little natural discipline as their male counterparts. That said, I don’t honestly feel the need these two types of people should be given the opportunity to damage promising careers through integration. That is to say nothing of the thousands of others who would just find it too difficult not to sneak a peak, when otherwise, they would have been fine just paying attention to the instructor give a class that may one day have saved their life or the life of another Marine.
Frankly, adding sexual temptation to the mix doesn’t improve the Marine Corps’s system of creating Marines, as there is a cost/benefit that must be measured. I do not see how “helping Marines integrate” isn’t already served after boot camp through occupational specialty training and through all the training they will undertake together in the fleet, so sacrificing the focus and immersion recruits get from the training doesn’t actually seem like a gain. As I have said before, I do not know how the Army is able to do it.
I’m not alone in asking these questions. U.S. Marine veteran, Captain and Counterintelligence officer Eric Kirsch spoke on the subject. He first made comments in regard to Secretary Mabus:
“The Navy Secretary served for 24 months (1971-1972) in a non combat role within the United States Navy prior to attending Harvard Law School.He issued his memo request on 1 JAN and expects a detailed plan to be delivered no later than 15 JAN, erasing 241 years in 14 days, the United States Marine Corps, compliant to lawful order, obedient and faithful, always, is scrambling to dismantle title, as if it were an gangrenous arbitrary item and they have 5 further business days in which to do it.”
Then Kirsch continues:
“I served with Males and Females and Homosexuals and I’m cool with Transgendered because nothing would make me happier then hearing the frantic stuttering hand held radio transmissions of ISIS fighters announcing the assault of fabulous Marines who also enjoy alternative lifestyles raining steel upon their intolerant bullshit.That said, I believe, firmly, in gender segregation, in basic training….why WOULD YOU NOT SEGREGATE GENDERS? Of what benefit to either gender is mixing the two in initial training? If you got something I do not know about, regarding how it will IMPROVE the Marine Corps, sound the fuck off, I beg you.
Some are calling the act of recruit segregation in basic training just a “tradition”, and Marines like Kirsch simply overly conservative, or worse, dogmatic or even subconsciously bigoted. While some argue the effectiveness of the training, others are arguing that the sentiment is merely steeped in sexist ideology, echoing throughout individual Marines’ careers. Right now, the most logical argument I’ve seen is based on unit cohesion, “Officer and enlisted basic training is the first opportunity to develop the cohesion needed for full integration of women in the Armed Forces,” said a senior defense official with knowledge of the situation.
That word though, “tradition”. I don’t like it. It paints an image of the Marine Corps as having no logical reason for the decisions they make, but just a backward collective of old men who don’t read the news and no understanding of science. The word suggests that there is no empirical data and research with which they base their beliefs upon. Take for example the Marine’s own study on the subject, going on now for a few years, but attacked because, as Mabus said, negative attitudes towards women on the part of those overseeing the research had served to “almost [presuppose] the outcome.” How he justified the validity of that statement, particularly considering that the second senior officer of the command was, herself, a woman, I don’t understand, but he made it clear that he would take no countenance to the Marines’ objections to women serving in combat and publicly dismissed the Corps’ multi-year, multi-million dollar study.
The Marines, however, aren’t the first to study the effects of coed training. Notably, the issue of coed training has been studied before by the Pentagon. In 1997, the Defense Department assembled a bipartisan panel to examine the implications of gender-integrated enlisted training. At the time, the panel concluded that the coed approach used in Army, Navy, and Air Force recruit training resulted in “less discipline, less unit cohesion, and more distraction from the training programs.”
The Marines practice excruciatingly high standards to maintain the quality of troops they have fielded, both male and female, for two and a half centuries. Reports like the 1997 Defense Department study and the recent studies by the Marines are making many in the Marine Corps speculative that these high standards will be maintained in the future, a ramification that could endanger future Marines. One such Marine brave enough to comment on this is Marine General John Kelly.
Asreported by CNS News, “Marine Gen. John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, said at a Pentagon press briefing on Friday that he believes that future generals will face “great pressure” to lower the standards for women in combat in order to get more women into combat roles.“My greatest fear—and we see this happen a lot over the 45 years I’ve been in the Armed Forces–is right now they’re saying we are not going to change any standards,” said Kelly. “There will be great pressure, whether it’s 12 months from now, four years from now, because the question will be asked whether we’ve let women into these other roles, why aren’t they staying in those other roles?“Why aren’t they advancing as infantry people—persons–I guess? Why aren’t they becoming, you know, more senior?” he said. “And the answer is–I think will be–if we don’t change standards, it will be very, very difficult to have any numbers, any real numbers, come into the infantry, or the Rangers or the Seals, but that’s their business.”So,” said Kelly, “I think it will be the pressure for not probably the generals that are here now, but for the generals to come, and admirals, to lower standards because that’s the only way it’ll work in the way that I hear some people, particularly, the agenda-driven people here in Washington–or in the land–the way they want it to work.”
Mark Oakley describes how the Army handles coed integration in his answer to How does the US Army conduct coed basic training?
Females are only segregated in their billeting. So they are not in the platoon bays or rooms with the males (unless there is a class going in there…then there are also Drill Sergeants around).Other than this, they are integrated into the squads and platoons and function just as the males do. There are no differences in treatment of expectations. This is exactly the same way it will be once they are out in the Army (and the same way that the other services operate outside of training).
While he is optimistic that the Marines will do fine, I fail to see how this improves the quality of troops that come from basic training or mitigates the perceived problems, where they exist, of female integration. The Marine Corps’ recruit training is also lauded for it’s near perfection in training basically training warriors, as noted in his book On Combat, (Army) Lt. Col Dave Grossman compared its training to the equivalent of many nation’s Special Forces and ranks the basic Marines above that of the average American servicemen. Speaking from the point of view of a retired Army Ranger, I took that statement with a point of pride. What I don’t see being communicated is the understanding that Marine Corps boot camp isn’t designed to make anything other than basically trained Marines. That means that in the three months they are there, they don’t even time to learn basic skills like tactics and most of the weapons systems they will use. It is about taking immature people and through a process mastered by the Marines over a period of more than a century, making them that. Mixing men and women add nothing to this process, and I will argue, take away from it greatly.
Mark Oakley’s explanation that females are only segregated in their billeting, so they don’t share living spaces. He mentions that they do join the men for classes there and that there are Drill Sergeants always around. For the Marines, I simply can’t see how this wouldn’t fundamentally change the way training takes place. For example, so very much training happens in the squad bays, as far as uniforms, inspections, and even drill. Hell, even cleaning the place becomes a semi-religious ritual of team building. Given that, I don’t see how each and every time a task has to be performed, the women have to run all the way down to get the necessary training or team building. There is also the matter of discipline in the squad bays. While few people who haven’t read What is the logic behind making military boot camps so intensive? will understand what is meant by the term “quarterdecking” as miserable as the practice is to endure, it serves the necessary purpose of instilling discipline, perhaps far better than any other single incentive device I have ever seen. It happens mostly in the barracks, in front of the others. You suffer together. It’s part of it. The fact that they have separate barracks, to me, loses something very insular to the boot camp experience and, in the process of driving cohesion… destroys it.
This isn’t to say they should ever live together by any means. One drill instructor reporting on the basis of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak on the subject said, “The thing is how much more integrated can we get? We already train with females. What do they want? Them to live in the same squad bay? Cause that ain’t going to happen.”
There is also the question of supervision. While perhaps the Army does have training that lends itself to recruits being watched all the time, I can say quite easily that on the nights in hikes, I’d be surprised if more than one incident didn’t occur between recruits in the bushes. The deserts at Camp Pendleton are wide enough for privacy and the those swamps at Parris Island aren’t any different. 100% isolation isn’t realistic in those situations, nor 100% of the time is oversight by the few Drill Instructors available. Slip past the firewatch and you can get a lot of things done. Up to this point, I’ve never seen what incentive there was to this sort of sneaking around. To paraphrase Freud, sex is a motivator.
To make it clear, these men and women, the Drill Instructors are tasked with supervision of upwards of eighty people and there are normally no more than three of them. If this were an elementary school classroom, that would be a teacher/student ratio over the legal limit in many parts of the United States, but in the Marines, this ration of leaders to recruits is responsible for the troops safety and instruction, all the while participating in grueling exercises, and often under arms. This isn’t to mention being over them literally 24 hours a day. At some point, among some individuals, a Drill Instructor’s oversight can’t be directed at all times. That is to say, it is 0% acceptable for a recruit to get pregnant with six weeks left of training, at the beginning of a year of training. That simply doesn’t happen in today’s Marine Corps, but the experiences I’ve had in the fleet, I’m sure it will happen soon under Secretary Mabus’ Marine Corps.
That said, Mabus’ directive on integrating boot camp wasn’t sent until after the deadline for infantry integration, a plan which was part of the works for some time. There was no planning done, or consideration made toward changing its entry-level training. Yet the memo dated January 1 indicated that plans to revamp the training system for the all of Marine Corps boot camp needed to be made by no later than January the 15th. A Marine official said called Mabus’ 15-day deadline to come up with a plan to integrate Marine boot camp “an aggressive timeframe.”
It’s called aggressive because, besides the logical impediments to training, numerous others considerations must be made.
“It requires a look at … how much personnel to bring, how many drill instructors to bring, the leadership and support cadre that comes along with that,” the Marine said. “The barracks in San Diego are H-shaped, for example, so you can see everything that’s going on. If women are living in them, do you black out the windows or make an entire building that’s theirs? Do you do a floor for men and a floor for women?”
To say the least, giving only a 15 day time frame to redesign the most crucial training element of any Marine’s career, of all Marine’s careers, seems reckless. To be frank, I’m very concerned that Mabus is risking the efficacy of the world’s premier fighting force for a personal experiment on subjective morality. More so than this, I feel there is no evidence to suggest that this is good for the Marine Corps, in fact it stands against a great deal of evidence to the contrary. I don’t even see how this  definitively improves the prospects for women and their advancement in the military.  Quite honestly, I see no one truly benefiting from this decision to integrate the boot camps besides Ray Mabus himself, and his own political aspirations. Of course, my disappointment in the standing SECNAV is nothing compared to others, such as California Representative Duncan Hunter, a former Marine veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, who has already called for Mabus’ resignation in September and said very clearly that “a greater threat to the Marine Corps than ISIS.”
As I said, I was cautiously optimistic when he decided to make the changes for the infantry, but relatively speaking with this new decision to reform boot camp, an institution in no need of reformation, I’m elated at the decision to bring in women to the infantry. Frankly, I can’t believe that an idea this bad would be considered good by anyone who puts the needs of people who will one day see combat first. That goes for the women, too.
I’ll repeat the closing of What do members of the United States Marine Corps think about the decision to allow women into front line infantry roles? as it rings even more true here than when the infantry was opened to them.
What I can say is that I don’t feel that the way in which it happened was correct. Blindly ignoring the studies and experience of the world’s most lethal organization in the area they excel above all others was a failure. More so, I don’t think this had much to do with what is best for the Marines, or the military as a whole, but of political expediency to further the political aims of a few politicians. The manner in which the rug was pulled from beneath the Marines was one that will leave lasting conflict within the service. Instead of welcoming the women into their new roles, they will forced into it artificially. The manner in which this decision was made, quite honestly, was too soon, for all the wrong reasons, and a disservice most of all, to the women who will be first to enter this role.
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If the US Marines are the Navy’s assault force, why are they used for long-term missions like Iraq/Afghanistan?

This really doesn’t make sense until you start asking yourself how Navy Frogmen became the SEALs.
The underwater demolitions unit (called the frogmen) possessed a certain number of unique skills. They were awesome divers who were used to clear the way for Marine transport landings of enemy underwater mines. So they were good at diving, explosives, and early stealth. That made them the first to look at for other teams that needed to be made, such as sneaking into enemy territory via the water for secret squirrel recon missions. From there, they picked up some marksmanship abilities and traditional fighting tactics while maintaining their same old core skills like diving. A few decades later and we have a unit that looks nothing like the divers of WWII, but something much more akin to any other ground based infantry.
In fact their role has changed so much that Chris Kyle (American Sniper), perhaps the most famous SEAL today, often joked that wasn’t really a SEAL. He was just an “L”. To understand that, you need to know that SEAL stands for SEa Air and Land. Kyle’s joke referenced how much he loathed water operations and jumping out of planes. What was odd, was that two core skill sets to the Navy Seals a few decades ago, were so completely unnecessary in the wars of today, that Kyle was able to utilize his “L” skills alone to become the killingest sniper in US military history.
Now the SEALs haven’t lost their old abilities. The killing of the Somali pirates who took over the civilian shipping liner, made famous by the movie Captain Phillips, shows clearly how modern SEALs are still able to execute naval engagements with the same lethal precision as their heritage dictates.
Still, their maneuvering into more and more based land operations asks a few questions. The first to followers of military organization is, “What about DELTA?”
Delta is the United States Army’s primary direct action special operations unit. Traditionally, all the things we think about the SEALs doing, Delta would have done. All of it. So why all the redundancy? Well, the simple reason is… redundancy.
Having two forces with the skill sets needed today hurts no one… well there is an argument about the taxpayer, but that’s another question for another day. In either case, having both units available allows for specialization and evolution of the tradecraft of warfare. For example, Delta is better at black ops, often donning masks and blending in enemy locales vastly different from their own. The SEALs do it too, but not quite as well. The SEALs have more experience with water bound insertions, which isn’t really that useful today, but will be again at some point. The point is, they can handle problems differently, which gives the military as a whole, a better chance of success and new avenues to evolve in the future. For example, the Marine Corps has even finally gotten into the game with their own special forces direct action units built off the old recon units. They are called the Raiders, and if we think about a Marine Corps version of the SEALs and Delta… well, I just hope people don’t dither too much on getting their hands up because those guys are going to kill everything so hard.
Which brings me back to why the Marines are a land force. It might interest readers to know I was a Marine who spent my entire time operating in deserts, from Southern and Southwestern California, Yuma, to my favorite one, the deserts of Al Anbar Province Iraq. Lovely place. It’s like a beach with no water and the bikinis suck.
Anyway, the reason I was in Iraq is because the Marines have a few redundant skillsets. Like the Army, we are great warfighters, and on average, many would argue better, but limited by our smaller size and budget. This is because primarily because, many moons ago, we were tasked with the role of invasion. We would go into a country, deprive the bad guys of a few key assets, bloody them up really good with a few quick assaults and basically leave them completely fragmented by the time the much stronger, and larger, but slower Army came around to secure the field and mop up. This is well demonstrated in the wayGeneral Mattis directed Marines during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to magnificent effect.Sometimes, the Marines are set up to do this completely without the aid of the Army, relying on nothing but naval support. Hence the question.
However, it doesn’t make sense to just abandon a mission three weeks after the invasion, hop back on our boats and wave a one fingered salute to the Army, saying to our soldier buddies, “Good luck, suckers.” No. We have the skills and we have the assets to do the job, so we are going to do it too. In fact, we were often sent to the extremely difficult regions, such as Al Anbar, currently in the news for being the central zone of occupation for Islamic State forces and housing their capital in Iraq.
So having said all that, the answer to “Why are the Marines used for long-term missions like Iraq/Afghanistan?”, the answer is simply, “because they can,” and more importantly, “because someone needs to,” because there simply aren’t enough who are both willing and able to do it.
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Thanks for reading. Everything I write is completely independent research. I am supported completely by fan and follower assistance. If you enjoyed this post and would like to see more like it, follow Jon’s Deep Thoughts. You can also show your support by visiting my support page here:Support Jon Davis creating A Military Sci-Fi Novel, Articles, and Essays.

Questions Remain as Inconsistencies Surface in President’s December 6th Oval Office Address.

I, like millions of other Americans, watched the president’s address to the nation concerning the fear that has been mounting, due to the continued threat of active terror in the United States.

Others will discuss at length many of the correct or comforting points the president made. I agree with him that all Americans are brought together in mourning for the tragedy of more than a dozen of our own. I also agree that the attacks in San Bernardino do not represent a conflict between the United States and Islam, but to use his words, “that the two of them [Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook] had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West.” He also followed this by pointing to the difficult work of our military, police and law enforcement, as well as the heroic efforts of our intelligence services to stop countless numbers of these attacks from being made, both domestically and abroad. Among these efforts, he listed the killing of Osama bin Laden, the disruption of terrorist safe havens, and the decimation of al Qaeda’s leadership network. For that recognition, I heartily agree.

I also agree with him where he states that, in spite of the efforts of millions of men and women over the last fourteen years, the War on Terror still continues, and the terrorist group known as ISIL and has survived to reach a second phase. Now, instead of the highly organized attacks that initiated the war, many more attacks of a lesser nature are happening, such that we have seen in Europe and now in the United States. I will also agree with his words that as the Commander in Chief, he has no greater responsibility than to the security to the American people.

There is much, however, that was said beyond this, that I find I disagree with. Following his points that the road to victory against terror won’t depend on tough talks, abandoning our values, and giving into fear, he began to paint a picture that was intended to educate Americans of what the ground situation in Syria actually looks like. He mentioned that we will “destroy ISIL, and any other organization that threatens to harm us”. In this picture, he stated that the US military will continue to hunt down terrorists by being strong and smart, and relentless, and by drawing on every aspect of American power. He continued that in Iraq and Syria, US bombers are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy assets, and infrastructure, and that since the attacks in Paris, we have been joined by our allies in Europe to do the same. He also mentions that we are providing equipment and training to forces on the tens of thousands of local fighters in Iraq and Syria who are combatting ISIL on the ground, to take away the safe havens of the terrorist organization. Next, he mentioned that efforts have been underway to dismantle ISIL’s operations, their finances, and their recruiting efforts abroad. Along with this, he mentions how the United States is working with Muslim majority countries to solve this problem and combat the vicious spread of the perversion of Islam he referenced earlier. Finally, there is mention of a ceasefire, led by American intervention and a possible end to the Syrian war.

If this picture were all that was going on in Syria, we would be in a very good situation. One is almost forced to ask, if this is case, why has ISIL not yet been defeated?

To answer that question, we have to look at the rest of what was not said.

  • We will “destroy ISIL, and any other organization that threatens to harm us.”

 

This is reassuring. It is a statement of force that says that the United States and her allies will not stand against the threat that these attacks have imposed. The problem with this, is that it differs in almost no way from similar speeches made over a year ago where the President promised to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”  Since that point, the Islamic State has suffered little loss of territory in Syria and Iraq, and has since spilled over into Libya, has claimed direct responsibility for numerous terror attacks in Europe, and have reached at least as far as Bangladesh, where Muslim bloggers speaking out against the Islamic State are being murdered for delivering the voice of Muslim activists the world so desperately wants to hear. Only weeks ago, the President referred to the Islamic State as “contained” within Iraq and Syria, a comment whose timing was tragic, appearing only days before the Paris attacks of late November, and which completely ignored the presence of ISIL troops ravaging Libya, all those acting abroad, and recruiters working throughout Europe. It, however, made apparent how very disconnected to the crisis the President’s foreign policy concerning ISIL is to the truth on the ground, or that what he is communicating is a far more optimistic interpretation of events than followers of the crisis have come to know.

In a post by Carter Moore, numerous polls are showing that more and more Americans aren’t being swayed by what an increasing number of us are viewing as a half-hearted policy towards ISIL’s elimination, and an overall lack of belief that the President’s plans for the region are grounded in either a realistic understanding of the situation, or that his plan can succeed in the future. Along with this, Americans have embraced the unfortunate reality that terror would likely grace our shores, reality that terror would likely grace our shores, “soon”, as indicated by polls done by CBS and Quinnipac University. Along with further polls done by ABC, the overriding theme of the American people is an overall lack of belief in the President’s continuing promises to “destroy ISIL, and any other organization that threatens to harm us.”

  • The US military will continue to hunt down by being strong and smart, and relentless, and by drawing on every aspect of American power.

Every aspect of American power does not correlate to the offensive that is currently taking place. To begin, the United States does not have the forces it had available when we left Iraq prematurely in 2011, and we lack the ability to regain the initiative in this fight. The forces available in the Middle East have been reduced to the point that it’s first option of regular troops for when something in the region goes South isn’t even a combat team.

The US Marine Corps is preparing to deploy about 2,100 grunts to be based out of Kuwait in a new unit configuration designed to respond to crises in the region, according to Corps officials.

Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) Central Command will be equipped to perform noncombat evacuation, humanitarian assistance, infrastructure support, tactical aircraft recovery, fixed-site security and theater sustainment missions, said Brig. Gen. John Love, assistant deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations.

This sort of force would have been useful during events such as Benghazi amid the Libyan turmoil several years ago, but utterly lacks the strength necessary to secure and occupy a region the size of Texas.

Yes, we still maintain powerful air and naval assets in the region, such as the 6th Fleet in Bahrain. From here, you will see many of the air strikes originating. But the problem we are seeing, is that there simply isn’t enough power being delivered by the air strikes to have a meaningful effect. While we might be able to “hunt down” forces in dramatic bombing missions, it is obvious to most that this effort isn’t winning any territory on the ground front.

Instead, what we are seeing from our allies on the ground, is that the attacks against ISIL are having only marginal gains. The overriding US strategy is to bomb jihadist forces using fighter, bomber, and UAV, and weaken them, paving the way for allies to overrun them on the ground. Where this strategy fails is that the US airstrikes in Syria have been shown to be based on startlingly little intelligence. Often, the strikes do little more than send the fighters cowering during the bombardment, only to return once it is over. Secondly, the largest single flaw in the plan is a lack of supporting fighters on the ground who are able to take the regions. Examples include Kurdish forces who, while excellent fighters when fighting for their own lands, have no vested interest in conquering lands that are not home to Kurdish people, and therefore, not worth the risk of Kurdish soldiers. In Southern Syria, it is worse as the rebels we are supporting number only a few tens of thousands, at the most. They are, however, fighting against not only the Islamic State, but also the sitting dictator of Syria, and now also being bombed by Russia. The Iraqi army, for that matter, has show virtually no initiative in even attempting to retake the lands lost to ISIL for purely ethnic reasons, which explains why the Iraqi military is unable to handle fighting ISIS without US intervention. For that reason, the statement during the president’s speech that “…we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground, so that we take away their safe havens,” is based either on optimistic deception, or denial based myth.

Furthermore, the bombings themselves aren’t even providing much gain in the actual killing of insurgent forces.

“The air attacks to date have been what can only be called anemic,” says David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general.

Deptula, who directed the air campaigns in the first Gulf War and the invasion of Afghanistan, says it is not possible to defeat the Islamic State by flying what’s been an average of little more than a dozen airstrikes a day.

“The administration’s incomplete strategy places U.S. commanders in an untenable situation,” he says. “It’s not unlike the failed strategy that was employed in Vietnam.”

For a point of reference, the Iraq War 2003-2011 averaged closer to thirty strikes a day and the Gulf War more than a thousand over its short duration.

The current air campaign drew fire as well at a hearing last month on Capitol Hill.

“Our means and our current level of effort are not aligned with our ends,” said Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, the Arizona Republican who himself flew combat missions in Vietnam. “That suggests we are not winning, and when you’re not winning in war, you are losing.”

What many believe, instead of attempting to destroy ISIL, the administration is instead attempting to use it as a weapon. The strikes by American forces have been primarily centered on some of the insurgent assets, but mostly in areas where ISIL is in direct conflict with Syrian rebels we are allied with. There, they are attempting to funnel ISIL away from the rebels, but leave them to fight Bashar al-Assad‘s government. In this way, they do not achieve the strategic victory of defeating either, but are having the effect of hardening ISIL against our tactics and strategies, while they continue to grow. The biggest problem with this strategy, however, isn’t that ISIL is learning to defend themselves from the bombings, but that Russia (a close ally of Assad, along with Iranian supporters) is currently engaged in campaigns to destroy both ISIL and the rebels we have been arming and training. Worse than this, the Russians are working a lot harder at this than we are.
This outlines why many analysts agree that bombing alone cannot defeat ISIL on the ground, in spite of the enormous and never-ending steady stream of smart bombs against a hardening target. To better understand that cost I would suggest learning how much one airstrike can cost.
Add to this the impact of sequestration on federal agencies. For the military overall, the funding available to maintain the forces has been reduced by over one hundred billion dollars. This has manifested itself in the form of over seventy-thousand troops leaving or being forced out of the service.  It takes the form of hiring freezes and promotion ceilings for American servicemen, forcing many of our best and most experienced warfighters out of the service in search for a productive and meaningful career. In total the sequestration has left us more than 70,000 less troops than in 2011 before the start of the President’s second term. The cutbacks against the United States military have been called for repeatedly, to the point of ad absurdum, to where now we have the United States army is at its smallest since 1940, and the Navy since 1915. U.S. Military Personnel 1954-2014: The Numbers

In the meantime, our allies are facing greater and greater pressure militarily from overseas from sources like the Islamic jihadists, Russia in Eastern Europe, and China in the South China Sea. Several member nations of the Arab League have even allied together to form Joint Military Force to provide for their own independent interests, further exacerbating the conflicts in the Middle East. The net effect of the United States’ regression toward isolationism, is that the world has become a much more hostile place, where our enemies can no longer rely on us for aid, and are looking elsewhere for support. This has not only left us less secure, but decreased the security of billions of people.

Having said all of this, it brings about the question of a land invasion into the country, which many Americans don’t even realize, isn’t even possible. We’ve reached the point where we shouldn’t be asking if we should deploy boots on the ground, but rather, “is the deployment of ground forces even possible?” To do so would require months of logistical support and maneuvering of forces to the region to reach invasion strength, more than enough time for the Islamic State forces to become aware of what is happening, hide among the civilian population or even return to their respective homelands, continuing the global jihad elsewhere. Perhaps this helps explain why has ISIl still has not been defeated even after a year. Ultimately, the question of “removing the Islamic State” has been lost from us entirely in anywhere close to the near term. Perhaps this, more so than any sort of ideological reason or because of fear of “another long and drawn out war” is why the President so strongly advocated against the option to send in American ground forces. My greatest concern is that that simply isn’t an option anymore.

  • Third, we’re working with friends and allies to stop ISIL’s operations — to disrupt plots, cut off their financing, and prevent them from recruiting more fighters.
There is a great deal wrong with the third points. To begin with, it mentions working with allies on goals of cutting off ISIL’s financing, but in July, it was shown that Turkey and ISIS are now ‘undeniable’ linked through ISIL’s discounted oil sales. I’ll continue that we are failing the intelligence war when it was only discovered through a raid last year how the organization was set up in the first place. More than that, evidence collected by Kyle Murao in Where is ISIL getting their ammunition? has shown that there is little stopping the Islamic State from utilizing black market resources and its vast wealth of independently earned (looted/ransomed/taxed) wealth to procure from virtually any source on the planet. The table below demonstrates forensic evidence of brass casings found on an Islamic State battlefield and where the casings originated. The findings are unsettling.

Along with this, the President mentions that recruitment efforts are being weakened, which, according to all current evidence, is also failing. In Europe there is already a large movement in place where recruiters for the Islamic state are being made to attempt to convert Europeans to Islam, and to convert the local Islamic population to the Wahhabi doctrine, which is the branch of Islam most responsible for the current era of terror we are now experiencing. There, established Islamic “preachers” and recruiters already in Europe, such as Pierre Vogel AKA Abu Hamza, are transitioning young and easily influenced Muslims into fanatical jihadists.

Abu Hamza, born a German named Pierre Vogel in 1978, is a very popular Islamist preacher in Germany. The former professional boxer became Muslim in 2001 and is now among the most influential German representatives of Saudi-originated Wahhabi fundamentalism, which masquerades as “Salafism.”

In Europe, ministries such as Vogel’s are considered “cool” by the native born Muslim youth, which sees thousands flocking to his influence and to that of his Lieutenants. From there, many face the sorts of extremist conversions that taken place disturbing fast, outlined more in detail here. Under leadership and direction, such as that offered by Muslim preachers like Vogel, these fanaticized young Muslims find their to the Middle East, where they are radicalized in militants. From there, they fight for the Islamic State and with no ties to the local “kuffar,” or “unbelievers” have been found guilty of many of the most egregious acts of criminal barbarism. There, they either die in service to the Islamic State or return home to conduct acts of terror in the name of the state. This can be seen in the famed former German rapper Dennis Cuspert, who operated under the pseudonym Abu Talha al-Almani. Cuspert converted to Islam in prison and went on to command a German speaking infantry unit in Aleppo after serving as a recruiter for the Islamic State in Germany. He was killed in an American airstrike, but had he lived, he may have found his way back to Germany, not unlike those who planned and executed the Charlie Hebdo massacre early in 2015.
What is most disappointing, is that even though this is well known, there is no good work being done other than an internet information campaign to stem the Islamic fanatization in Europe and the tide of foreign fighters into the Middle East.

Having exhausted all points on the image of Syria that the president is trying to communicate, I’ll move on to a few other items that need to be addressed.

  • “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a suspected terrorist to buy a gun?

Among the proposed solutions that the president offered was yet another implication that stricter gun regulations would have, in any way, affected the outcome of this event. One phrase he used repeatedly was the term “Common Sense” legislation. I dislike phrases such as “common sense” initiatives, as well as other like, “the right side of history” or, “it’s what the terrorists want”. They imply a certain unquestionable infallibility, without providing either context or evidence to support the claim. With the example of common sense initiatives in gun-control, the language communicates that the policies are logical to the point that anyone who would disagree is not just of a differing opinion, one with rational speculation and concerns, but are in fact, irrational and lacking in some necessary degree of basic human intellect. It is a dehumanizing and divisive phrase, designed to belittle opponents without giving credit or concern for their individual value or point of view, something the President of the United States should never do, and particularly when his nation is suffering a time of crisis.On the points in particular on gun-control, as I have elluded to, it is not a lack of common sense which has brought opposition to the current policies in debate, but rational concerns behind key failures in their policies. Narrowing the focus, the policy of not allowing gun purchasing by people on the “No Fly List” sounds like a reasonable, common sense proposal. The President even went so far as to ask “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a suspected terrorist to buy a gun?” I’m not sure I have ever met or heard of anyone who wants to allow terrorists to buy gun, so it seems like an odd to frame the argument like that… since literally no one has advocated it. In fact, the majority of those standing in the way of the “No Fly Rule” are the same who have been the most supportive of more thorough investigations for the individuals whom the president called “suspected terrorists.” They, for example, would be the first to ask why anyone considered a suspected terrorist is allowed to walk free and unadulterated by law enforcement, in the first place.

The failure here doesn’t lie in the intent, but in it’s execution. There are numerous problems inherent to the “No Fly” list that have been well documented. Among these is the drastic increase in the number of people added onto the list over the last seven years, far exceeding the last presidency.  According to Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, in October 2008 the No Fly list contained only 2,500 names, with an additional 16,000 “selectees” who “represent a less specific security threat and receive extra scrutiny, but are allowed to fly.” Since then, that number has grown to over 47,000 people by 2013 with another 468,749 watch-list nominations. Some have called into the question how easy it is for an innocent person to be placed on the list and how arduous it can be to rectify yourself in getting your name off the “No Fly” terrorist watch list. Along with this, several people have been detained for “false positives”, including a United States Marine returning from Iraq, an ACLU lawyer (big mistake), a one year old girl, and a guy whose only crime was having the same name as a terrorist who went to Guantanamo Bay. Scores of other false positives exist. Together with all the other problems associated with the No Fly list, it was obvious to some that it was too broken of a system to merit being tied to something as foundational to the American identity as the 2nd Amendment. Second, this methodology, had it been in place, would not even have caught most of the mass shooters responsible for terrorist events already, such as the Boston Bombers. It isn’t that anyone wants to put guns in the hands of terrorists, but this is a broken system that won’t be fixed by adding more broken elements to it.

A second proposal made by the president was to make it harder to access the types of high power weapons these two terrorists used. While I will agree that if these weapons did not exist, no one would be shot by them, simply banning them nationally or even their sale is not a rational approach to solving the issue of mass shootings. For instance, it is widely known that California has some of the tightest restrictions on guns. Social media is has made arguments based on the numerous statistics statics supporting a push for more gun regulation, theoretically as a solution to this sort of crime. These statistics, however, don’t change the truth that California has already adopted President Obama’s gun control wish list, which includes the common sense initiatives such as “universal” background checks, registration, waiting periods, gun bans, magazine bans and an expansion of prohibited gun categories, I can’t really fathom. No combination of these laws, however, prevented this act of domestic terror from taking place. Furthermore, evidence has shown that further expansion of gun regulation, such as that which the President has recently proposed, would not have even had an effect on preventing this case.

Requiring background checks for all weapons sales might not have had any effect on Wednesday’s shootings in San Bernardino in which at least 14 people were killed. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has determined that Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two shooters, legally purchased two of the weapons at a gun shop in Corona. Two others were legally purchased and given to him by a friend, federal officials said Thursday.”

Yet even more, the vast majority of the guns used in the most recent shooting sprees were made through legal weapons purchases including background checks. This serves to support many gun owner rights advocates who have stated that outlawing the weapons will not affect the actions of the criminals who take note of the laws only so far as to subvert them, but will inhibit only those actions of law abiding citizens.
To answer the main question of “what are some of the major takeaways of President Obama’s Oval Office Address on meeting the threat posed by terrorism” there are a few.
  • The publically communicated policy for Syria hasn’t changed, in that it still relies on US bombing campaigns that have proven not to work.
  • Key allies in the region form a major leg of the operation, but have thus far failed to make significant gains on Iraqi and Syrian soil, in spite of coalition support.
  • There is still no plan (nor capability) to launch ground forces.
  • While there has been a significant number of major terror plots prevented, there is very little that can be done to prevent the “self-radicalized” native born extremist.
  • The only viable plan for this includes placing many people suspected of being somewhat involved in terrorism on a list which forbids them from purchasing weapons.
  • The only other viable plan involves creating gun control regulations, which would have had no impact on cases like this, but that hypothetically would prevent a portion of them in the future.
  • There was also a note on stronger screenings for those entering the United States without a visa. For the life of me, that sounds like an illegal immigrant, something the president has ardently fought up to this point, but at this point, now seems to be a “common sense” initiative.
In closing, however, I would like to make note one thing I am thankful for that the president did. I would like to reiterate that I am thankful that the president spoke when he did. People were scared. They don’t know how to rationalize their fear with a realistic knowledge of the risk they are under. When terrorism strikes in the United States, they don’t have that understanding of how very safe and secure the vast majority of them are. During the day, I am a teacher, and today I taught a class of seventh graders. They know that I am a Marine who served in Iraq when they were little, and that I write in the evenings and am very knowledgeable about these sorts of events. They had many questions, and were scared. For that, I was angry, but also very glad that I could help ease their fears with an understanding of the dangers they actually face and the safeguards which will ensure their security. So, too, did the president. He did that for everyone who doesn’t know enough about the events. He helped a scared nation get moving again, and for that at least, I am thankful.

Thanks for reading!

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What are some of the major takeaways of President Obama’s Oval Office Address on meeting the threat posed by terrorism (December 2015)?

What are some famous controversial photos that maybe shouldn’t have been taken?

The pictures of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Abu Ghraib is a large prison in Iraq. During the time of the Iraq War, it became a housing facility for American prisoners of war, as well as maintaining its role as a prison in an attempt to maintain order in the country following the collapse of the Hussein regime. Housed there were convicted terrorists, murderers, robbers, and rapists, but it was the US Army staff which brought the prison its most infamy.

Early in the Iraq war, soldiers of the 320th Military Police Battalion, an Army reserve unit far from the front lines of the conflict took over command of the facility. Prior to their arrival acts of barbarity by Iraqi prison officials was not uncommon. It was, in fact, a practice in Middle Eastern society prior to the American’s intervention to take pictures of people in humiliating situations, and to release the photos as a means of shame and humiliation to force coercion. In tribal societies, this works well and it was something the Hussein regime had long practiced. Having an image of a woman, in this case a woman holding a leashed naked Iraqi, I should add, greatly increased the value of the for such a work. Culturally, a women was of an inferior status, so to be depicted in such a demeaning manner by ta women was particularly offensive to Arab Muslims.

When the Americans took over, they were advised to continue the practice. Abuses under the American Army command included being forced to pose nude in demeaning positions, evidence of violence, inducing fear with military working dogs, and mocking poses with female guards. These practices, however, go against the law of war and several levels of military law and justice, as well as standing against many treaties, so when leaders in the prison took the advice to continue the status quo for the Hussein regime, they did so without good judgement or the legal leg to support their actions. This is why investigations for the prison were already underway before news of them began to circulate with international media, which had mostly been tipped off by these very same investigations.

Following the investigation, members of the 320th Military Police Battalion was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with prisoner abuse. The United States Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and eleven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery. Between May 2004 and March 2006, these soldiers were convicted in courts-martial, sentenced to military prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialists Charles Graner and Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten and three years in prison, respectively. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the commanding officer of all detention facilities in Iraq, was reprimanded and demoted to the rank of colonel.

In April of 2004, information about the goings on at the prison began to become public, following earlier stories by the Associated Press. When the news broke, it detailed images of prisoner abuse at the prison not long after the war began.

After the pictures were released, the conversation about the war collapsed. In spite of the Army’s clear message through the imprisonment of the offending Army personnel, and the demotion of one of their Generals, the story that was told by the pictures was that this was acceptable practices for the United States military. This was detrimental to the war effort in that it unfairly misrepresented the rest of the military, myself included, in our efforts to help Iraq stabilize following the removal of the Iraqi Saddamist regime. It was never viewed as a rogue act of an undisciplined and reckless unit, but as representative of the entire United States military, and, to quote a commentor below, “…but it showed the true face of USA…” This radical hyperbole defined the war for many people even today, but the story the pictures told, rather than the truth, dramatically changed the ground war.

The United States military could not really advocate itself as a force for good when this event existed. It cast a very bright light on the decisions of an extremely small group of people in the military. Within the Iraqi population, it made a sound argument that this sort of behavior was the way of the new imperial dictator, and fed propaganda against the American occupation and populist government.  The pictures generated hatred and animosity as the images touched on very deep cultural sensitivities, beyond the obvious human reactions to them. This escalated insurgency activity and fed the increasing terror campaign for three more years before the “Surge” of 2007. In the United States, the event fed the anti-war rhetoric, silencing many supporters of the conflict and empowering those who were never behind the war in the first place with new evidence to support their views. After quickly toppling the government under Saddam Hussein and breaking grounds towards a stable and free government, the legacy of the American involvement in the country was forever damaged by Abu Gharib.

This was a tragedy on many levels. First, the actions of a very few marred the image of the United States’ mission and the conduct of its servicemen. The Marines have a saying, “No greater friend; no worse enemy.” This led many potential allies to think not in the terms of no greater friend, but that the Americans are simply an enemy to be feared. Resistance from that point on, was assured based on these pictures alone. Further, it painted the entire conflict as one of cruelty, forever ignoring the extreme effort that American and coalition forces went to minimize harm to civilians and attempt to rebuild the Iraqi way of life. And even furthermore, painted the hyperbolic assumption that all Americans were really like this.

Second, it was  a tragedy of justice in that it made it impossible to accurately judge who the just were. I will remind readers that the photos are of not just political prisoners of war, and certainly not of poor innocent Iraqis, but of convicted criminals under Iraqi courts. Some were guilty of war crimes under Saddam and some after the war began in 2003. Others were convicted murders, rapists, and all manner of citizens harmful to their own people. In truth, being tied to a leash and paraded around in some humiliating fashion was a far lighter offense than those suffered by many of their victims. You won’t find much remorse from me in the way they were treated, other than that the Americans were obligated by treaty not to participate in such acts. That said, even if these were the vilest of men, that message never got through. When they were masked, their identity was hidden along with all of their individual crimes. When their clothes or uniforms were removed, you remove their allegiances, in some cases to the criminal organizations that committed acts of terror and treason against the Iraqi people.

People can hate a face of a known killer, and they can hate anyone who wears a certain uniform. They couldn’t identify with a murderer, but to them, this was just another defenseless man. There was nothing that stopped them from identifying with just a naked man. Once you look at the picture, you only see illogical cruelty; there is never a question why did that person get into prison in the first place. The pictures didn’t capture their own atrocities, but clearly communicated human suffering they experienced at the hands of people who obligated to at least protect them, be it justified on any level or not. When we no longer saw them as criminals of the most terrible nature, we only saw people, or in this case, martyrs of the American war machine. Quick to forget who these men were and what they did, it was easy to look to those others pictured, cavalier and in American military uniforms as the unjust. I’m not saying that what the American soldiers tasked with overseeing the Abu Gharib prison did was morally justifiable. I’m just not very sorry for the individuals pictured. What I am sorry for is that the stupid actions of the soldiers caused anyone who saw them, both American or Iraqi, to forgive the evils of the men pictured for the story that was immortalized in their imagery.

The seminal tragedy in this is that it made sound the argument that the Americans should not have been in the war, and were incompetent to see it through. It increased pressure to forcing them out of the country long before Iraq was ready for them to leave. In this way, it opened the door to the premature departure of American forces, therefore leaving the door open to terrorists and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to invade and conquer vast swaths of Iraqi territory and empowering them to spread terror throughout not only the Middle East, but also throughout the world into the rest of Asia, Africa, and even Europe. I’d like to hear rational arguments, not for whether or not we should have been in Iraq, but that the world is a better place now that we have given in to emotions and retreated from the region. Having said this, it isn’t just that these pictures should not have been taken. The event they recorded never should have happened. At the bare minimum, they cost the American and coalition forces years on top of the conflict. They fed emotional reactionaries into fleeing the nation with no reasonable objectives adequately met, and worst of all, led to point where far more evil crimes are being committed today.


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How will the demographics of Europe change as a result of the refugee migration? How will it affect the natives?

As other answers here have indicated, the hundreds of thousands to few million refugees will not drastically change the demographics of Europe any time soon. Other answers showcase the sheer size of the European population in respect to the population of incoming migrants and refugees. To date, if we look at some sources (Page on ec.europa.eu) we can see that migration into Europe probably accounts for no more than around 1% of the total population of Europe. This isn’t a significant enough amount of the total population to drastically upset most Europeans in the near term.

If we look at the other side of the coin, however, and start to look at specific European nations, we do see a different story that needs to be explored.

From the same sources, some nations have seen their population largely replaced by non-EU residents. Currently, the total population percentage of non-EU residents living in Europe is around 4% while, as of 2014, nations like Germany and France both had around 5% of their population being comprised of people born from outside the European Union. Given Europe’s embrace of liberal ideals such as a free and open democracy, as well as its outlays of generous social welfare, this could prove difficult for some countries, which have seen a stable population up this point. This is a sizable minority that has some power to influence change, particularly in the smaller nations of Europe. For example, nations like Switzerland are composed of more than 27% expatriate residents. Nations like Hungary are seeing a complete population upheaval. There, the population grew by 2% in only 5 months.

Number of migrants in Hungary per week, May–September 2015

Places like Hungary, Greece, and other states along the periphery of Europe, those most affected by the Dublin Regulation, are having measurable crisis level effects due to the population shifts, which, if they become permanent, will cause at least one generation of population rebalancing. This will mean resources will need to be diverted for as much as a decade until the new population can integrate and become part of the productive economy. In the meantime, the native population will suffer the burden of carrying these populations at as their own individual political power wanes. Trapped in the circle of welfare dependence on the state, the new migrants will serve as a contentious political force in these countries.

The long term effects are what are more concerning, however. In France we have seen several generations of this take place. Following the Algerian War, huge numbers of immigrants fleeing the war torn region moved into France. This had the effect of leaving France today home to more than 10% of its population being practicing Muslims. Most of these people integrated into French society peacefully. The problem we’ve seen, however, is that many of these Islamic populations are failing to adapt to the broader culture that others have. In France and other parts of Europe, whole families and extended families will move in together, occupying entire tenement floors, or apartment buildings, effectively colonizing neighborhoods to the point of erecting all Islamic schools. Some have referred to this as Islamic “No Go Zones” in Europe, comparing them to other cities where certain minorities, or even the majority populations are not allowed to entered. I’ve seen no valid evidence that any form of strict Sharia type micro states have taken root in Europe, as some are calling them, but the communities have proven difficult for some of the native population to penetrate, mostly through their own self enforced isolation as much as social ostracism of outsiders. This has had the impact of forcing out some natives due to the new migrants failing to acclimate to the culture – thereby transforming it.

Baroness Warsi, a leading British Muslim, has warned their congregations and communities against these insular communities.

“We’ve been treating our communities like foreign embassies… where rules from abroad apply and wider society keeps well out if. And for too long, cultural sensitives often led our leaders to become morally blind.”

Where this causes the most damage is generations later. While the original people who left Algeria may have been fleeing the kind of violence we are seeing in Syria today, their children and grandchildren are going up identifying more with their Islamic roots than their French ones. Vice News recently did a piece detailing the rise of ISIS and one of their articles centered around the brainwashing and mind-control utilized by many of the ISIS recruiters in European populations.

“It’s easy to say these terrorist bombers are sickos, they’re psychopaths, they’re criminals. But if you look at who they were before they were recruited, a lot of them were very good, moral people from great homes, with good education.”

Inside the Mind-Control Methods the Islamic State Uses to Recruit Teenagers | VICE | United States

The Vice series supports the work of Haroon Ullah with the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. According to Ullah’s findings, it isn’t the poor and uneducated that are joining these terrorist organizations, as many believe. It is many middle class kids with access to education, which are falling away to fundamentalist ideology. The key determinate here seems to be that the failure to acclimate to the Western way of life, while still having access to Western educations is causing these kids to identify more with Islam than with the countries which took in their parents and grandparent. Harkening to the glory days of Islam, and resentful of their meager to moderate stature in Europe, they accept violence and upheaval against their new homes in retaliation for violation of their own beliefs. This came as a surprise to many of their parents, many of whom are descended from people fleeing oppression or terror themselves, who would classify themselves, as would most people, as moderates. These moderates are the types of people coming into Europe right now, people who have the resources and wealth to make it at least in Germany, France, and the interior of Europe. The question that will determine the fate of Europe in the future is if these nations will create a strategy to help these people align and integrate into Western culture, or if they will create zones within the continent where the various Middle Eastern cultures, ethnicities, and religions push out other cultures in place of their own. In the former option, the high aims of diversity will create a stronger, more robust Europe, while the latter will create a Europe that will be even more divisive and dangerous a place than it has suddenly become over the last year.

This impacts mostly those cultures that run contrast to Islam specifically. As mentioned, another major concern is that, given enough time, these effects may combine to push out native populations, or those populations not currently welcomed by Muslims abroad, from their native regions. Lebanon, a country in the heart of the Middle East and home to the region’s largest Christian populations is a case study. The first official census in 1926 indicated 84% of the population were Christian, the most recent census in 2012 showed that that population has reduced to less than 40%.

Lebanon aside, the greatest example of this it actually Turkey and its non-existent Christian population. Most would not look to Turkey today as being a key Christian nation, but that is only if one is looking at Turkey through a current frame of reference. While the region has been home to large Muslim populations even before the Ottoman Empire, its history is marked as a key center of influence for Christians. The region was responsible for much of the growth and evolution of the Christian faith which has caused it to maintain a large Christian population throughout its history of Muslim rule. Even stretching into the 1900’s, Turkey had a Christian population of at least 22%. Today, however, in spite of the religions incredible history there and eons of Christian populations which used to exist in the state, Christian Turks number only .21% of the overall population, less than 1% of their total number not 100 years ago. To help explain this one should research events such as took place in 1915 where over half a million Armenians were pushed out modern Turkey into Syria and modern day Armenia, or the over 800,000 Greek Christians pushed out of their homes and resettled in Greece from 1915 to 1923. These two events do not explain the whole of the hollowing out of Christian Turkey, but begin to explain its phenomenal decline. This argument was recently brought back to the table by Pope Francis when he made this point.

“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,”

Here is a map of Istanbul (not Constantinople) alone, to serve a point of reference.

Some data points include the closure and forced conversion of many of the major Christian Churches of the region. Fully 23 of the largest and most historical churches were converted to mosques. Some of these were the largest religious centers in Europe, not the least of which being world cultural heritage sites like the Hagia Sophia, the center-point of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Much of this happened under the rule of various Islamic Empires, most notoriously, the Ottomans who attempted to supplement the power of the royal state with that of their definition of a religious Caliphate, not unlike the Islamic State today. That said, purging of Christians from the country has endured long after the fall of the Ottoman Empires. Following the collapse of the Empire, millions of Christians were forced into exile into Greece, the Balkans, and the Levant while millions more Muslims colonized their former homes from failed Islamic nations. The last century has had the effect of seeing the nation’s entire faith utterly wiped out. Advocates for Turkey’s progress towards embracing of modern Western values fail to fully appreciate the modern crisis of Christians there to what amounts to cultural genocide. This is true to the point that even our current sitting president, and no champion of Christian international rights, spoke to the failure of Turkey in allowing and supporting the removal and desolation of the Christian population there.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has criticized Turkey for its shrinking Christian population. “While your population is growing, why is your Christian Orthodox community shrinking?” he asked. He specifically cited the forced closing, in 1971, of Halki International Seminary, an important school of theology for the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the continuing failure to reopen it. Located on the island of Heybeliada, the seminary is particularly important to the Greek Orthodox. Both the U.S. Congress and the European Union have suggested that Turkey’s entry into the EU should be contingent upon the reopening of the seminary and greater respect for religious minorities such as Orthodox Christians. President Obama echoed this sentiment in his 2009 speech to the Turkish parliament.

Why Are There So Few Christians in Turkey?

For Europe, this behavior is mostly a threat in regions where religion is seeing a secular backslide. In places like Serbia, for example, the population is nearly 100% Christian, however most are practicing atheists. This is because in these states, one is born into the official state church, but not required to practice. Under Islam, there is little tradition of allowing such behavior. Practicing usually comes with intense social pressure, inescapable if one lives near the family. Islam was built as both a political, as well as religious structure. It has built in mechanisms to prevent its followers from leaving the faith, which bring in familial ties to enforce adherence and a strict code of religious discipline. Where it becomes the majority faith, many nations have seen apostasy, or the leaving of Islam, outlawed by the state by the punishment of death. If not outlawed by the state, often these punishments are carried out by the families, along with various other acts of barbarity, up to and including murder in the form of “honor killings” and a form of intense sexual assault known as FGM, or Female genital mutilation.

These cases, to be sure, are the extreme, but where they get a foothold they make it very hard for followers of Islam to experience the same freedom to choose other faiths, or none at all, as is the right enjoyed throughout the West. This, among other reasons, is part of why so many fundamentalists have expressed a deep revulsion of democratic societies, for pulling away their young people with blasphemous disbelief against their faith. More so, they create animosity between Muslims and non-Muslims where enforcement of Islamic law and tradition run against the norms and values of their host cultures.

The last major point that must be discussed is international intervention from outside Europe on behalf of the refugees by way of Islamic religious interference. By this, I am referring to Saudi Arabia’s recent offer to build over 200 Sunni mosques throughout Germany to help serve the needs of the migrants in transition. This offer was not well received by many, who felt it a disingenuous since most states of the Arabian Peninsula have offered nothing in the way of allowing these refugees to seek safe homes in Saudi Arabia and the neighboring countries. It doesn’t help that within Europe, a number of these same affiliated mosques are where several of the known terrorists originated already.

Rather, it was viewed for what it was, an attempt by the Saudi Arabian government, a strict monarchy with close ties to the ruling religious Imams over the most religiously significant region in Islam, to spread their collective influence throughout the European continent. By building mosques instead of inviting in refugees, the Imams gain access to unreached numbers of Muslims throughout Europe. As I mentioned before, Islam was designed to serve as both a religious and political engine. This would have allowed Mecca to directly influence the daily lives of many European Muslims even more so than they had power to in Syria five years ago. Where the King of Saudi Arabia benefits is through political favor in Germany by the activation of a politically charged Islamic minority. It’s a great deal, as it achieves the goal of turning refugees which Saudi Arabia didn’t want to help, into European colonists and political agents, which the Saudis don’t  even have to care for. Fortunately, I this offer was rejected according to the wisdom of Germany.

In closing, looking at the raw numbers is not enough to answer the question of how will Europe change as a result of migrant crisis. It isn’t that they make up a comparatively large number. They still number less than 1% of the total population of Europe. Given the sheer volume of displaced peoples, however, and the unique demographics of this particular group, along with the fact that they all came at such a short interval together creates challenges that hasn’t been seen Europe for almost 70 years. This post also isn’t to say that Muslims will “drive out Christians” from Europe, but to showcase that the two populations are not the same. How they interact with others is not the same, and a Europe which treats the incoming Muslims with the sort of ignorance to their own cultural norms will have a rude awakening when it has ignored the care which must be taken to integrate this new population into European societies. Care will have to be taken on their part to ensure that each of the new migrants and refugees doesn’t retreat into isolation and insular communities, but integrates into the culture and society of their new European homes. If Europe isn’t successful in this, I am afraid that the Europe of 2050 will look nothing like the Europe of today. In the best case scenario, it will be a vibrant mixing pot of old world culture and ideas. In the worst case, we might see the same terrorism we are seeing today continue on for generations.


Additional Sources


This is part of a Patreon Funded Quora Book on the European Refugee Crisis available through Jon’s Deep Thoughts. Follow the series here: European Refugee Crisis. If you want to support this project and any future essays, show your support by visiting my support page here: Support Jon Davis creating A Military Sci-Fi Novel, Articles, and Essays.

How will the demographics of Europe change as a result of the refugee migration? How will it affect the natives?

Proving Grounds – Part 11

Back to the grinding stone.

Recruits are stupid creatures. They think only as far as boot camp and then everything after that is a mystery. I wanted to illustrate that. Eventually, there is a time of awakening when recruits have to realize that there is life after boot camp and you have to eventually become a real Marine, with a real job. You have to get over the, more or less, childish fantasies of what being a Marine will be like and, as they say, embrace the suck.

Quite honestly, there is a lot about the military life that is terrible to endure. This will be the same in 2025 as it was in 2005 for me. It will be the same in 2525, I bet. The point is, being a Marine is hard work that is often ridiculously more difficult than anyone could rationalize, but you have to learn to embrace that. It’s the same for soldiers, and even those guys on the big boats, or (and I am trying very hard to stretch this one) the Air Force. There are things about the life that just can’t be communicated to outsiders in the civilian world.

Eventually, that novelty of being a new Marine wears off and you just have to embrace the blank check life you signed on for. Once you do that, though, you realize it isn’t so bad. You realize how much suck you can endure and you take pride in that endurance. At that point, you sort of get what it is that makes military veterans so special in the first place. It had nothing to do with boot camp, but on learning to enjoy the life that sucks… for Freedom!

Happy Veterans’ Day,

Jon

Source: Proving Grounds – Part 11