June 2007 Archives

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Update on FOB Mizan - it's heated up since I left

By Michael Fumento

From 1st Lt. Kevin Stofan, commander, FOB Mizan, Zabul Province, Afghanistan

I have not been able to contact you since I have been away. I was up at FOB Baylough with some of my platoon to help reinforce our brothers up there. It is real rough up there. Daily rocket, mortar, recoilless rifle, and small arms attacks. We did some great missions up there and really took a toll on the Taliban up there. Cpt. Edwards the B Co company commander has definitely been presented with a serious challenge up there given the lack of forces needed to properly do the job, but he is doing a great job with what he has. I had to come back to Mizan prematurely however due to the fact that we started to get attacked (twice while I was away). It looks like the Spring offensive is actually the summer offensive here in Zabul. Most likely due to the ending of the poppy season and availability of funds for weapons and fighters.

Meanwhile, Jonas Dovydenas met Pfc. Aaron Murray (below right) and Spc.Marcel Green at Landstuhl Medical Center receiving out-patient treatment. You'll recall from the "Firefight in Mizan" sidebar to my "The Other War" piece in The Weekly Standard that both were injured by RPGs in combat against the Taliban.

Finally, below are a couple of my video clips from the 120 mm blasting away at FOB Mizan, one during the day and the other at night.

I'll be posting my entire set from the trip soon.

June 23, 2007 06:20 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military

Europe's big wimps protest too much

By Michael Fumento

I just came across a letter to the National Post from the ambassadors of France, Spain, and Germany protesting an article of mine from March 22, 2007, but it repeats a theme I've re-emphasized quite recently. With the sole exception of the UK none of the major NATO nations will fight in Afghanistan.

Among the more interesting droppings:

"Following the NATO Riga Summit, France, Germany and Spain decided to make additional means available (including aircraft and helicopters). They have not turned a blind eye to NATO's call for help in Afghanistan."

What part of "refuse to fight" doesn't translate into your languages?

"The European Union is one of the biggest contributors to reconstruction efforts ($1.5-billion Canadian earmarked for 2002-2006)."

They easily could have said what portion of that came from their three countries. They did not. There's a reason.

"Also, about 50% of all International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops deployed in Afghanistan come from European NATO members."

See previous response. France has a grand total of 1,000 members there whom it is now threatening to withdraw. Good riddance. They're just a mass surrender waiting to happen.

To quote my recent Weekly Standard piece:

"[NATO nations refuse to pull their weight] – in total personnel contributed, combat soldiers, or defense expenditures. Only six members spend as much as 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Last year the then-supreme NATO commander said of the alliance's efforts in Afghanistan, "We have about 102 national restrictions [the "caveats"], 50 of which I judge to be operationally significant." Even as they refer to America as a bellicose "cowboy" nation, they sit back and let us and a handful of other countries expend the money and blood.
June 19, 2007 09:31 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military

Apologies to the Danes fighting in Afghanistan

By Michael Fumento

In my Weekly Standard article, "The Other War," I wrote that only six NATO countries authorized their forces to fight. That's as opposed to ground forces that may find themselves on the defensive. It turns out that I should have listed a seventh, Denmark. Reader Mark Collins sent me several stories such as this making clear the Danes are taking part in offensive operations. He also directed me to this excellent combat footage. The actual number involved is quite small, but the Danes are also almost doubling their in-country forces in the country, from 330 to about 600.

It should also be pointed out that the Poles are beefing up their forces and will probably go over on the offensive soon. Meanwhile, Australia, though not a NATO member, has a large special ops contingency there which is almost certainly engaging in combat operations even if you're not supposed to hear about them.

So apologies to Denmark. I really like you guys - and I like your girls even better. Wow!

June 14, 2007 06:25 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Afghanistan

Embryonic stem cell science rejuvenates . . . itself!

By Michael Fumento

My unpublished letter to the Washington Post:

"Scientists Use Skin To Create [Embryonic] Stem Cells," reads the p. A1 article by Rick Weiss in the June 7, 2007 Post, sub-headed "Discovery Could Recast Debate." Discovery? Then what of another Post A1 article by Rick Weiss titled: "Skin Cells Converted to Stem Cells," that began "Scientists for the first time . . . " That appeared in August of 2005. So how and why did that which was old become new again? Was the first study withdrawn? No. Maybe the explanation lies in the reference to "debate" and the fact that the reports Weiss relied upon for his second "discovery" piece appeared the day the House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on giving more research funds to embryonic stem cell research.

June 11, 2007 06:19 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

Al Gore the Genius?

By Michael Fumento

A letter to the Washington Post:

At least twice recently, The Post has published columns about how Al Gore is extremely intelligent - "Is It Wise to Be So Smart?" [Washington Sketch, May 30] and "An Egghead for the Oval Office" [op-ed, June 1].
Each time The Post failed to mention how Gore was a C student in college (including a C and a D in his science courses) and failed to complete either of two graduate programs, as described in The Post seven years ago ["Gore's Grades Belie Image of Studiousness; His School Transcripts Are a Lot Like Bush's," front page, March 19, 2000].
Hardly seems like a great intellect.

- Michael Bur

In fact, if you read Gore's first book you know he's scarily stupid. "South Park" aptly portrayed him as warning people about a dangerous creature that's "half man, half bear, and half pig." Explanation? If you reach politically correct conclusions, you're a genius no matter how wrong you are. Paul Ehrlich is the classic example of this. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day but Ehrlich has never been correct about anything. But he reaches the "right" conclusions and gets a "Genius Award." Gore's check is probably in the mail.

June 10, 2007 10:32 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Media

"Heroes Run" in Honor of Patriquin, McClung, Pomante

By Michael Fumento

Blackfive blogs that on July 28, 2007 there will be a 5 K Run "Heroes Run" in honor of Cpt. Travis Patriquin, Maj. Megan McClung, and Spc. Vincent Pomante, all KIA Ramadi Dec. 6 of last year. To be held in Lockport, Ill., it will benefit the Travis Patriquin Family Memorial Fund (3 girls left without a dad) and the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund. If you live near there, you can join in (real men run in body armor); if not, you can donate.

June 5, 2007 09:08 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Iraq

"The Other War," my cover article in The Weekly Standard

By Michael Fumento

Weekly Standard Afghan CoverAs I relate in my piece "The Other War" in the new issue of The Weekly Standard, wherever I was in Afghanistan I heard the same refrain: "This war is winnable." Implicit is that it's also losable; but what they really mean is winnable in comparison to Iraq. It's strange but true that Afghanistan -- with four major ethnic groups, two official languages, and almost countless lesser languages -- is far more of a proud, united nation than Iraq. Despite increasing calls for negotiating with the Taliban, who cannot be negotiated with, we've actually done an admirable job of killing them and keeping them from taking hold of any part of Afghanistan. But as I saw and as statistics bear out, progress is threatened by our fighting the war on a shoestring in terms of both men and material. We're especially making a grave mistake in not ensuring that the Afghan army and police - who really fight and who really are loyal to the government - are paid. Part of this is Washington's fault, but much of the fault goes to NATO where few countries pull their weight economically and merely six of 37 member nations actually allow their men to fight. I'm proud to have spent much of my time with personnel from one of those exceptions, Romania.

While the article contains 15 of my photos, my entire Afghan photoset is also now posted.

June 3, 2007 06:52 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  Military