Tag Archives: Iraq

Military Chapels Tell Stories in Stained Glass

Given recent news reports that have decried the presence of crosses on military chapels, it might be easy to think military chapels are bland, featureless office buildings designed to neutrally serve any function. While that may be the way things seem, it is the opposite of the history of military chapels.

As previously noted, Fort Bragg’s All American Chapel updated the Continue reading

Weinstein Admits Error, “Endorses” Caslen for West Point Supe

Contrary to a prior prediction that Michael Weinstein would seethe at the thought of LtGen Robert Caslen taking the helm as Superintendent of West Point, it seems Weinstein has chosen to do the complete opposite:

I am pleased to announce that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation fully endorses the United States Senate’s confirmation of the President’s nomination of Lt. General Robert Caslen to the position of Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

If only it were that simple.  The “endorsement” (cross-posted) is a veritable portrait in self-contradiction and capriciousness.  Weinstein says he is “pleased,” but later says he has “non-trivial trepidation” — yet also “wishes him well.”  Demonstrating both his repetitive redundancy and intellectual inconsistency, Weinstein says he has no idea what Caslen will “actually do,” but “he incontrovertibly deserves and merits [sic] the chance to do it.”

During Gen Caslen’s involvement in the Christian Embassy controversy in 2006, Weinstein said those involved in the scandal were equivalent to al Qaida, Iraqi militant Muqtada al Sadr, and deserved to be court-martialed.  Two years later, Weinstein Continue reading

Christian General to Lead West Point

The Department of Defense recently announced that President Obama has nominated a new Superintendent for the US Military Academy at West Point:

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta announced today that the President has made the following nominations:

Army Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., for reappointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as superintendent, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.  Caslen is currently serving as chief, Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, Iraq.

LtGen Caslen has had a long and distinguished career, which began when he graduated West Point in 1975 and includes a tour as the West Point commandant of cadets.  He is also a Christian, Continue reading

US Military Chaplain Goes Where You Go. Literally.

The New York Times covers the military’s struggle with classifying and treating Traumatic Brain Injuries, using an experience by a military chaplain as the lede:

It was [Chaplain] Lt. Col. Richard Brunk’s second Sunday in Baghdad, and so, of course, there was church. Only 16 soldiers showed up, but that was good for that busy day, election day across Iraq. The presiding chaplain asked everyone to take seats up front. It was a providential move.

A 122-millimeter rocket exploded outside, virtually collapsing Continue reading

US Military Chaplains: They Go Where You Go, Part 2

It has been noted here many times before that chaplains in the US military travel the world with US troops, even to one-off places [the South Pole].

It should go without saying that chaplains follow their troops into combat, as well.  Many are familiar with the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan and Part 3 of Band of Brothers, which dramatize the real-life service of chaplains serving under fire.  In the movies, they are unfazed (and unstruck) by the bullets landing around them:

From Saving Private Ryan, a chaplain gives last rites during the assault on Omaha Continue reading

Soldiers, ACLU Sue for Right to Combat

The ACLU and four female servicemembers have sued the Department of Defense because the DoD officially excludes women from (some) combat roles.  (This is the second such suit to be filed this year, though “ACLU” may get a little more attention than “University of Virginia.”)  The justification is largely similar to that which supported the repeal of DADT and the recent legalization of marijuana in some states: People are doing it anyway, so it might as well be made official. 

In fact, the ACLU almost explicitly borrows the DADT mantra Continue reading

NBC Reports Trijicon Sights Still Bear Bible Verses

NBC recently updated the controversy of Bible references being inscribed on the side of Trijicon’s ACOG weapon sites sold to the US military (as well as other nations).

Nearly three years later — despite the military’s assertion that is making “good progress” — the code remains on many rifles deploying to Afghanistan…

For those unfamiliar with the original story, Trijicon makes industry-leading sights for weapons and has sold them by the hundreds of thousands to the military.  (They’ve reportedly increased marksmanship in the Army.)  On the side of the scope, the identification number is followed by an abbreviation that refers to a Bible verse.

As is Trijicon tradition, every verse makes some reference to “light,” as their sights use a form of ‘light enhancing’ technology.

Michael Weinstein complained in 2010 Continue reading

US Troops Still Flying over Iraq

While most think the US military is out of the Iraq business, a recent DoD article serves as a reminder that there are still US troops there:

Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Lachance is one of a handful of American airmen working to ensure that Iraqi Air force units at Al Sahra Airfield in Tikrit are getting the level of training they need to protect their skies.

The Iraqis are flying T-6s, the same aircraft the US Air Force and Navy use for pilot training.  The article says 3 Airmen are advising “more than 800 civilian contracted instructors and fresh Iraqi airmen.”

Iraqis Being Flying US F-16s

While some question the stability — and the political alliances — of their government back home, a group of Iraqi pilots has become the first to begin training in US F-16s:

Two Iraqis have joined aspiring fighter pilots from the United States, Singapore, Poland, Denmark, Japan and the Netherlands at the U.S. Air Force’s international F-16 schoolhouse at Tucson International Airport.

A “senior delegation” recently visited to “assess their students’ progress.”

Iraq is reportedly expecting to receive F-16s in 2014.

Chaplains Go Where You Go

Most people probably know where Iraq and Afghanistan.  A few know less popular countries like Qatar and Bahrain.  Fewer have heard of Tajikistan.  What about Botswana?

U.S. forces traveling to the Republic of Botswana Aug. 1-17 for Southern Accord 2012, are under the spiritual care of Army Chaplain Continue reading

Clinton: Religious Liberty is Falling in World

The US Department of State recently released its 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom covering 199 nations and territories.  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the state of religious freedom is worsening in the world:

“When it comes to this human right- this key feature of stable, secure, peaceful societies- the world is sliding backwards,” Clinton said.

While much of the publicity has focused on Egypt and Libya for obvious reasons, Secretary Clinton’s statement is particularly enlightening in that two of the primary countries called out in the report are Iraq and Afghanistan — whose governments have only survived because of the support of the United States and the sacrifices of its military.

In other words, religious freedom is suffering Continue reading

Muslim Soldier Convicted of Bomb Plot will Represent Himself

PFC Naser Abdo, the US Army Soldier convicted of plotting and preparing to kill his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, will represent himself during his sentencing on August 10th.

Army Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo told U.S. District Judge Walter Smith during a Thursday hearing in Waco, Texas, that he and his attorneys weren’t communicating effectively. Smith granted Abdo’s request to represent himself at his Aug. 10 sentencing.

Abdo was an approved conscientious objector under investigation for child pornography when he went AWOL, planned a high profile execution at Fort Campbell, and then traveled to Fort Hood to emulate his apparent hero, US Army Major Nidal Hasan.

Book Review: Memoirs from Babylon

Chaplain Jeff Bryan
Ingram 2011

Memoirs from Babylon, A Combat Chaplain’s life in Iraq’s Triangle of Death, is the story of Chaplain (Capt) Jeff Bryan’s deployment to Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division from 2006 to 2007.

The book stands as one of the better examples of the “day to day” operations of a chaplain deployed to a US military war zone, both for his perspective on the combat itself but also for the duties to which he tended. He tells repeated stories of counseling soldiers who learn of family deaths back home, scrounging a Catholic chaplain to Continue reading

ACLU Engages in Campaign for Abortion in US Military

The ACLU has enlisted the help of former servicemembers (“military heroes,” since everyone who was in the military is a “hero”) in a concerted ad campaign to get abortion funding approved in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013.  Similar attempts have been made virtually every year and have failed.

Advocates are launching a full-court press in favor of allowing the military to fund abortions in cases of rape or incest, but some Capitol Hill insiders say past failures bode ill for the measure’s survival.

An amendment allowing abortion funding Continue reading

Defending Freedom Around the World, except Religious Freedom

Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture raises an interesting observation about the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the culture of freedom in our strongest “ally” in the region, Pakistan:

The US is committed to a foreign policy that defends human rights. Yet in the countries where our troops have been fighting during the past decade, one fundamental human right—the right to religious freedom—has been diminished rather than enhanced, particularly for Christians.

In Iraq the Christian minority is in flight, hounded and Continue reading