Saturday, February 25, 2017

Historical Perspective: The Conflicts In The Middle East

If karma is real, we are certainly experiencing it on an international scale in the Middle East . . . S.L.


The Middle East is a mess, but despite our recent involvement in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, the United States is not solely responsible for the current state of affairs. The challenges inherited by the Trump Administration are complex; any solutions are elusive at best. A review is necessary.

Apart from the oil-rich Gulf nations, three countries in the Middle East stand out politically and culturally. Syria is a traditional society with a long cultural history. Damascus - one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world - has long been one of the Arab world's centers for cultural and artistic innovation, especially in the field of classical Arab music.

Iraq was the center of the Arab caliphate during the "Golden Age of Islam"; the 9th and 10th centuries. Baghdad was the largest city in the world at the beginning of the 10th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, both Syria and Iraq were part of the Ottoman Empire.

Egypt is the most populous and most cosmopolitan Arab nation. Egypt’s interaction with the West goes back as far as ancient Greece, when Alexander the Great made one of his generals – Ptolemy – pharaoh, in 305 BCE. Cleopatra (51-30 BCE) was Ptolemy ‘s direct descendent. Like Syria and Iraq, Egypt was also a part of the Ottoman Empire. During World War I, Egypt became a British protectorate.

From 1958 to 1961 an entity existed, the United Arab Republic, a union between Egypt and Syria. Tripartite Unity Talks occurred between Egypt, Iraq and Syria in 1963, but these failed after ba'athist-nasserist clashes in Syria. Egypt continued to use the name UAR from 1961 to 1972. In 1972 Iraq proposed a restored union with Egypt and Syria, but this also failed to coalesce. These three nations, however, became Soviet client states and focused their energies against Israel, the American proxy.

To understand the vectors of the current conflict, we can look to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1919 as a historic point. At that time, Britain moved into Palestine, Trans-Jordan, and Iraq while France took the lands of Lebanon and Syria (the Levant).

Read the rest of it HERE

These days I'm writing for American Military News - AMN reports on global affairs, terrorism, American national security and military, politics and other happenings. Anything you'd like to see my perspective on, please contact me via the email link, and thank you for your support!

STORMBRINGER SENDS


Monday, December 26, 2016

BEAR FUR

Russian agitprop? . . . S.L.

I have been advised that this event: NATO Auditor General found shot dead in suspicious circumstances is likely Russian disinformation, and quite possibly did not even occur.

After posting the link on my twitterfeed, I was informed that this story emerged three days ago through Russian-linked channels. My anonymous source has been tracking, his suspicions are unconfirmed as of yet.

Confused, I asked, "You're saying the killing itself did not occur?"

Anon: "Seen no reports from West confirming this story. Only people linked to Moscow, Ankara or Tehran, who are critical of US/NATO. Just wanted to let you know . . . I'm glad you retweeted it."

Anon: I saw this on Friday. It's unconfirmed. May be Russian agitprop as you saw in the pics. Sibel Edmonds - a known former FBI "whistleblower" who has links to Turkey and Iran, was fired for national security reasons. The ex-Soviets are both too happy to push info coming from the east. Russia wants to split NATO; this is just them trying to cause fear.

Anon: I'm saying is that the sources are all coming from Moscow. I have no evidence from western channels to corroborate that the incident in question did occur.


S.L: You're saying this killing did not occur?

Anon: Look at the images. The description and the titles keep changing. This is the signature of disinfo not a real news scoop. If a NATO officer had really been killed, you would hear about it thru military and diplomatic channels, and the news wires wouldn't be so silent.

Anon: I sent the images to you so you can also see my math and why I flagged it. No evidence this killing took place and the sources of origin are all linked to Moscow or Moscow client states. Sibel was burned for espionage. Ex-Soviets . . . well . . . 'Nuff said.

S.L: Hang on - I will check my (work) security report, see if there is mention of this event . . . (Later) . . . No mention as of Friday a.m. . . . today is a Fed holiday, so I won't have an updated sec report until tomorrow.

Anon: This story first came out on/around 23 1630Z DEC 16. I've been tracking it closely and running into bear fur each time.
have a good holiday sir, this owl is watching as owls do.

Guess we'll just have to wait & see on this one . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS

Monday, December 19, 2016

CIVICS 101

Today's Electoral College vote is a good opportunity to present a lesson in how our Republic works . . . S.L.


Trump Won 3084 of 3141 Counties, Clinton Won 57. The number of votes that Clinton beat Trump by - 1.3 million - could all be contained in the five boroughs of New York City, or within the State of California. In other words, without the Electoral College, the entire United States could be ruled by the majority of the citizen within a single state, or in the case of New York, within a single city. The overwhelming victory of Republican candidates in both Houses of Congress and in State legislatures across the country does not represent the end of the Republic, but rather that our Republic - based on democratic principles - WORKS and is in remarkably shape for two centuries.

STORMBRINGER SENDS

Sunday, December 18, 2016

PUPPY DOG BEST DOG

What a week . . . whew . . . S.L.


Monday morning I let Puppy Dog out at 0400 - about the time I start my Mondays, because I have a two hour drive down to D.C., where I stay Monday thru Thursday. Puppy Dog goes on these adventures and usually shows back up around dawn, when Mrs. Stormbringer will let him in. Nobody knows where Puppy Dog goes on his adventures, but he's been spotted as far away as the Amish farm, a couple of miles up the road. Sometimes he goes over to the neighbor's house and hangs out with them, scarfs up some snacks during their breakfast routine. Puppy Dog is a border collie and he ranges far and wide.

Only on this Monday, Puppy Dog didn't show up at dawn.

Around eleven, Mrs. Stormbringer rustled up Daughter #1 and they went out to find Puppy Dog. That's when a very bedraggled Puppy Dog emerged from beneath the fir trees at the edge of the property. He was wet, covered in mud and pine needles, shivering, and not at all himself. They took him in, dried him off, and offered him food, which he did not eat. Puppy Dog went to his place on the sofa, lay down and shivered. He was not at all himself.


I didn't become aware of any of this until much later in the day, of course. I wondered what it may be. Sounded like he got a cold. Anyway there was nothing I could do about it, not until Thursday evening at the earliest.

Puppy Dog did not get better. I showed up late Friday afternoon and he was still off his food. I inspected him; there was no sign of contusions or internal injuries. There was no indication he'd been poisoned either - his eyes were clear, bright and shiny as always, no redness, no excess slobbering or tongue lolling out. It was a complete mystery what had come over him.

I put him outside so he could relieve himself and when he didn't come back after the better part of an hour, I went out to look for him. He was standing by the carriage house, wet in the rain and behaving in a strange manner, very confused. When I brought Puppy Dog inside I put water in his bowl, which he drank and then regurgitated. Water in, water out, right there on the floor by his bowl. He was shivering, so I wrapped him in a poncho liner and stoked the fire. Puppy Dog finally warmed up and stopped shivering.

Saturday morning Puppy Dog stayed on the leather sofa down in the Jungle Room, where the wood burning stove kept him warm. I offered him food, which he declined, no interest in even smelling a piece of meat or cheese, his favorite snack. Around mid-morning, Puppy Dog moved to the floor in front of the wood burning stove, and I stroked his face, said nice words, "Oh, you want to be warm!" At that point I had no idea the kind of cold that was creeping over him.

About a half an hour later I was in the garage and Mrs. Stormbringer came to me, she was in tears. "I think Puppy Dog is DYING!" I went to Puppy Dog by the fire, put my hands on him. He was very still, barely a pulse, I could barely see he was breathing. Puppy Dog twitched, moved his head twice like he was trying to bite something, and then he was gone.

Puppy Dog was eleven years old.

Puppy Dog and his best friend Tiny in their favorite place, on top of a poncho liner down in the Jungle Room.

It was right after we transferred back to Fort Bragg from Germany, in the fall of 2005. I took the kids to see the Halloween Parade downtown Pinehurst, and the Moore County Animal Shelter had some rescue dogs for adoption. He was eight weeks old, looking very smart with his distinctive black & white markings. The kids couldn't believe it when I said, "We'll take him!" On the drive home, Daughter #2 had her arms around the dog, and she kept saying, "I can't believe we got a dog!" It was like she was in a trance. We named him after a stuffed toy an old friend had given the girls, years before.

Puppy Dog had an almost magical effect on those around him. He could do all the dog tricks and nobody ever trained him, he trained himself. He could even do 'heel'; all I had to do was point to my feet and he'd heel, and he wouldn't even chase a rabbit unless I gave the word. He was agile, fast, gentle although known to nip at a stranger's legs if they took their eyes off of him, and he displayed human-like emotions. If I didn't take him for his daily run, he'd sulk. If people spoke good of him, he'd put his paw out, indicating he knew we were talking about him. He used to tug at the girls sleeves as he walked them down the driveway to wait for the school bus. I'd say, "Puppy Dog! Best Dog!" and out would come the paw again. He knew. He could understand.

Puppy Dog was an amazing dog. Everybody loved Puppy Dog.

As the years rolled by, Puppy Dog never showed the effects of age. At eleven, he still ran like a deer, and there's plenty of room around here for him to run, and plenty of deer for him to chase. And then there were his adventures. Off he'd go and we never knew where he went. The only thing that worried me was he'd go down to the road and get hit by a car, but the road is several properties over, and if he ever went there at least he never got hit. Puppy Dog was a country dog and he lived the best life any dog could ever ask for.

Recently, Puppy Dog's pal Tiny, the Jack Russell, was stricken by a severe bout of rheumatoid arthritis. It comes every winter but this was the worst its ever been. She's been in pain, could barely move, and not happy at all. It was so bad she would go to a corner of the Jungle Room to relieve herself, not wanting to deal with the cold air outside. We began discussing the dreadful option that all dog people must face, for an aging pet. I'd remember how Tiny used to bound through the woods, working with Puppy Dog to slay rabbits and squirrels, and it was heartbreaking to see this one-time bundle of energy lay around in a weakened state with the saddest look on her face.

Puppy Dog & Tiny with their first kill.

But this week, after Puppy Dog returned with his mysterious malady, Tiny experienced a miracle rebound. It was almost as if Puppy was an empath dog, and had given his energy and health to her. Tiny has been up and jumping around, wagging her tail and wiggling her body as if to say, "Look at me! I'm all better! I'm like a new dog all over again!" She's even been running out to the front yard and barking her head off, letting everyone in the neighborhood know who's boss. It's incredible, and in retrospect, its like Puppy Dog really did some extra special Puppy Dog magic to help his old friend.

Old Friends.

At least, that's what I believe happened. As incredible as it sounds, it makes absolute sense. Puppy Dog's last act of class was to help his lifelong friend and hunting companion with that special kind magic he had.

Sayonara, Old Friend. See you at the Bridge . . .

Epilogue
I called a close friend over and we dug the grave down by the creek, which is the property line and the starting point for Puppy Dog's many adventures. A cold, light rain fell as we dug. The ground isn't yet frozen, the clods came up quite easily as I swung the mattock. I could have done it all by myself but I simply didn't want to be alone as I dug that grave. We held off from burying him until #2 could come home to say her farewell. I've got him wrapped in a blanket in the garage, which for now is the morgue. Today I'll put Puppy Dog in the ground, and put a flagstone on top to mark the spot.

There will never be another dog like Puppy Dog. Never in a million years . . .

STORMBRINGER SENDS


Friday, December 16, 2016

NEW GIG

Check it out - I'm writing for American Military News these days - S.L.


Op-Ed: A Cheatsheet & Brief History Of The World’s Secret Languages & Covert Codes

It is generally agreed that the writing of language was invented in ancient Sumer, Mesopotamia around 3200 BC. I’m quite certain that the requirement for codes and secret languages followed soon after. Soldiers, spies, and even businessmen have a requirement for clandestine communications. Over the centuries, millions of ciphers and codes have emerged. The intent of this article is to explore three basic types of codes and the principles that drive them.

Read the rest of it HERE

Thanks for your support!

STORMBRINGER SENDS

Sunday, December 4, 2016

THE SOUVENIR KING

Wild Eye, Battle of Polygon Wood, Sept 1917

John "Barney" Hines (1873–1958) was a British-born Australian soldier of World War I, known for his prowess at collecting "souvenirs" from German soldiers. Born in Liverpool, England, in 1873, Hines served in the Royal Navy, the King's Liverpool Regiment, and the Australian Imperial Force AIF. He arrived in Australia shortly before World War I began and volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force in August 1915. Although discharged due to poor health in early 1916, he rejoined in August that year and served on the Western Front from March 1917 to mid-1918, when he was discharged again for health reasons. During his period in France he proved to be an aggressive soldier, and gained fame for the collection of items that he amassed, but was undisciplined when not in combat and frequently punished. Following World War I, Hines lived in poverty on the outskirts of Sydney until his death in 1958.

Hines was born in Liverpool in 1873. When he was aged 14 he attempted to join the British Army, but was returned to his mother after she protested. At the age of 16 he successfully enlisted in the Royal Navy but was discharged the next year after contracting malaria.

During the following decades Hines drifted between jobs and countries, including spending three years in the King's Liverpool Regiment and serving as a guide in the Second Boer War, before immigrating to Australia. He was a large man and much of his body was covered in tattoos. Hines may also have been illiterate, though he was capable of signing his name

When Hines first joined the AIF on 24 August 1915, he falsely claimed to be 28 years of age. In the year before he joined the Army he had worked as a seaman, engineer and shearer. He was discharged from the AIF as medically unfit in January of 1916. In May 1916 Hines successfully rejoined the AIF, this time giving an age of 36 years and seven months. By this stage of the war medical requirements were less strict due to the need for reinforcements to make good the AIF's casualties. Hines was assigned to the 45th Battalion and departed Sydney for Europe onboard HMAT A18 Wiltshire on 22 August 1916.

After completing training in England, Hines joined the 45th Battalion on the Western Front in March 1917. In June that year he captured a force of 60 Germans during the Battle of Messines by throwing hand grenades into their pillbox, and was later wounded. He returned to his battalion in time for the Battle of Polygon Wood in September, where Frank Hurley photographed him on 27 September surrounded by the loot he had captured. Hines was an aggressive soldier and it has been claimed that he killed more Germans than any other member of the AIF. Though brave in battle and admired by his fellow soldiers, his behavior was erratic at times. The wartime commander of the 45th Battalion, Arthur Samuel Allen, described Hines to a journalist in 1938 as "a tower of strength to the battalion . . . while he was in the line".

Hines' enthusiasm for collecting German military equipment and German soldiers' personal possessions became well known within and possibly outside of his battalion, and earned him the nickname of "Souvenir King". Although he collected some items from battlefields at Ypres and the Somme region, most were stolen from German prisoners of war. He kept the items he collected for himself, and there are no records of any being handed over to the Australian War Records Section, the AIF unit responsible for collecting items for later display in Australia. Hines sold some of the items he collected to other soldiers, including for alcohol. The photograph of Hines at the Battle of Polygon Wood was published in late 1917 under the title Wild Eye, the souvenir king and became one of the best-known Australian photographs of the war. Many soldiers identified with Hines and were amused by his collection of souvenirs. The photograph was used as propaganda, and a false story developed that the German Kaiser Wilhelm II had become enraged after seeing it.

Away from the front line, Hines developed a record of indiscipline. He was court martialled on nine occasions for drunkenness, impeding military police, forging entries in his pay book and being absent without leave. He also claimed to have been caught robbing the strongroom of a bank in Amiens, though this is not recorded in his Army service record. As a result of these convictions, Hines lost several promotions he had earned for his acts of bravery. He was also fined on several occasions, and the resulting need for money may have been one of the factors that motivated his looting. A member of the 3rd Battalion described Hines as "not normally a weak man but rather one . . . uncontrolled". An officer from the 45th Battalion stated after the war that Hines had been "two pains in the neck".

In mid-1918 Hines was discharged from the AIF as being medically unfit due to hemorrhoid problems. He arrived back in Australia on 19 October 1918. While his Army service file records that he was lightly wounded on two occasions, Hines later claimed to have been wounded five times.

Hines was traumatised by his experiences during World War I. For 40 years afterwards he lived in a humpy (a small, temporary shelter made from bark and tree branches, traditionally used by Australian Aborigines) made of cloth bags near Mount Druitt on the outskirts of Sydney, and never married. The humpy was surrounded by a fence on which he hung helmets taken from German soldiers; he became well known to locals, though school children were afraid of him. Hines was unable to find consistent work, and lived on his Army pension as well as income from odd jobs and selling his souvenirs. He gained renewed fame when the photo of him at Polygon Wood was displayed at the temporary Australian War Museum in Sydney (the predecessor of the Australian War Memorial) from 1933, and several newspapers and magazines aimed at former servicemen published profiles of him. An article in the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia's magazine Reveille in 1934 highlighted Hines' desperate living conditions and stated that he had been unemployed for four years. Several former soldiers sent money to him in response to this article. Hines' pension was also doubled, though this income made him ineligible for relief work during the Great Depression. Despite his poverty, Hines traveled to Concord Repatriation Hospital each week to donate a suitcase of vegetables from his garden to the former soldiers being treated there.

Hines told a journalist in June 1939 that he was seeking to join the Militia and hoped to fight in another war. He attempted to enlist in the military during World War II, despite being in his 60s, but was rejected. An article published in The Nepean Times during 1943 claimed that Hines had attempted to stow away on a troop ship in 1940, but was found and sent ashore before the vessel sailed.

On 28 January 1958, Hines died at Concord Repatriation Hospital aged 84 or 85. He was buried in Rookwood Cemetery in a grave which was unmarked until 1971, when the Mount Druitt sub-branch of the Returned Services League of Australia paid for a headstone. The Blacktown City Council also renamed the street on which he lived in the suburb of Minchinbury to John Hines Avenue, and a monument commemorating him was built at the nearby Mount Druitt Waterholes Remembrance Garden in 2002.

A large version of the famous 'Wild Eye' photograph was accorded a prominent position in the Australian War Memorial's permanent building in Canberra after it opened in 1941. The photo was also included in the 2014 redevelopment of the Memorial's permanent World War I exhibition. In a short biography of Hines published in 2002, historian Peter Stanley commented that "'Wild Eye's' bravado conceals a deeper pathos" and he "was a man whose skills in fighting were needed and whose knack for souveniring was admired, but he had few gifts that a peaceful society valued".


STORMBRINGER SENDS

Saturday, December 3, 2016

RANGER CREED



Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers.

Acknowledging the fact that a Ranger is a more elite Soldier who arrives at the cutting edge of battle by land, sea, or air, I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other Soldier.



Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.

Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.



Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.

Rangers lead the way!