Invisible Enemies: Life on the Front Lines of a Modern Vietnam

It isn’t a secret that military veterans tend to be conservative and vote Republican. In fact, Gallup reports that veterans are more likely to be Republican than are those of comparable ages who are not veterans. The reason I mention this is because Brian Welch’s memoir takes readers through Army boot camp to Iraq for two deployments, and Welch is brutally honest with his conservative views—a fresh perspective that most who serve in the U.S. military share but is missing from many films about war where the focus is usually on heroism, debauchery or the horrors of war. In fact, most films seem to be more concerned with political correctness than reality. But Term of Service (click link to visit Amazon and buy this book) avoids Hollywood hype and serves us combat as it really is.

Term of Service Cover

When we first meet the author in boot camp, he’s eager to fight for his country, but that eagerness fades when confronted by an elusive enemy that is seldom seen. For instance, unseen insurgents planting roadside bombs; invisible snipers shooting from a distance, or terrorists who become human bombs that infiltrate our lines and blow themselves up among U.S. Troops. The type of combat our troops faced in World War I, World War II and Korea seems to be a thing of the past. Instead of armies clashing with armies, today our troops often fight an invisible enemy.

This modern form of warfare grinds our troops down just like it did to combat vets in Vietnam where I fought decades earlier.  I think Welch’s honesty is refreshing, and anyone who wants to experience the tension of combat—the endless waiting not knowing what will happen next—and what it does to most of the troops, should read this book. War takes boys, runs them through the blades of a blender and when they come out, they are often cut and bruised physically and mentally.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Promo Image with Cover Awards

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“The Patrol” is a film based on actual events in combat

I bought the DVD for The Patrol at Costco thinking it was about American special-forces troops in Afghanistan, but it wasn’t.  It was about a British Army Patrol often under attack from an unseen enemy. The UK troops in the film return fire but have no way to know if they inflicted any casualties on the Taliban. I think we tend to forget that U.S. troops aren’t the only forces fighting in Afghanistan. To date, the UK has lost 453 troops in Afghanistan in addition to 2,116 wounded in action.

The Patrol takes place in 2006, in Helmand Province, as the British Army deploys into the Taliban heartland.  In 2006, Britain led the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Helmand province in the south of the country with a 3,300-strong force after fresh outbreaks of violence. At its peak, in Helmand alone there were 137 UK bases and around 9,500 UK troops.

The Patrol has been called, “The British answer to The Hurt Locker and is just as depressing for its sense of reality. As in all war, there is no glory, and with casualties, morale suffers. Hollywood, the news and novels are where war is glorified. Rooted in reality, this film is not your average Hollywood epic. If you are interested in the reality of war, I suggest you ignore the average star rating on Amazon from customer reviews.

War is not combat all the time. The average infantryman in the South Pacific during World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter. Now research is revealing that our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing over 310 days of combat—a day of combat is a day that you don’t know if you will live or die that day. – Our Warriors Today and “Combat Trauma”

The first-time, writer-director Tom Perch draws on his own life in the army to build a convincing low budget film of how troops lose faith in their leaders when they have lousy weapons and see no reason to keep risking their lives in combat that makes no sense.

What worked for me in this film was that the usual macho type heroes we see in most combat films were missing. There were no heroes here and no cowards either. Just troops doing the job they were trained to do—and obviously sent in to harm’s way by corrupt, bungling governments.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Low-Def Kindle Cover December 11

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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Is it possible to protect the United States from ISIS jihadi attacks?

Yellow journalism is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration, and a yellow journalist dressed up as an ISIS jihadi was videotaped as he walked across the border to Texas from Mexico with a fake severed head in hand, and the story made the news on September 5, 2014, at Inquisitor.com.

Then Senator Rand Paul—evidently out to earn points with his Tea Party followers—strongly urged the Obama administration to secure the borders to prevent ISIS from infiltrating the country.

I’m tired of reading biased crap like this from propagandists from both ends of the political spectrum. What Ran Paul urged makes it seem as if the current president would be at fault if a terrorist slipped into the United States and killed some Americans. Heck, we can’t even stop Americans from killing Americans—did you know that the CDC reported 16,238 homicides in 2011, and 11,068 were from firearms?

Here’s what I have to say to anyone ignorant and foolish enough to think any President can secure the borders of the United States.

First—several hundred thousand illegal immigrants slip into the United States annually and continue to exceed the number of legal immigrants—a trend that has held steady since the 1990s. NPR

Second—General Fields established the 1st Marine Division Headquarters at Chu Lai in March 1966. My battalion was on the division perimeter. The perimeter guarding the Chu Lai airbase was heavily fortified with concertina wire, bunkers, and mines. Chua Lai was spread over an area of 130 square miles. The perimeter of an area like this would run about 46 miles.

The Marines sent out regular night patrols, recon teams, and snipers and set up ambushes, and still the Vietcong slipped through the heavily defended perimeter to hit different areas inside the division on a regular basis.

For a comparison, the U.S. covers 3.794-million-square miles and has a 5,525-mile border with Canada and a 1,989-mile border with Mexico. Our maritime border includes 95,000 miles of shoreline. Each year more than 500-million people cross the borders into the United States and about 330-million are non-citizens.

What does the U.S. Border Patrol have to secure this area and the U.S. borders?

The U.S. Border Patrol has more than 21,000 agents. The Agents patrol the border in vehicles, boats, aircraft, and afoot. In some areas, the Border Patrol employs horses, all-terrain motorcycles, bicycles, and snowmobiles. Air surveillance capabilities are provided by unmanned aerial vehicles.

Let’s compare the size of the Border Patrol to one U.S. Marine Corps division that couldn’t stop an elusive enemy from slipping through a few miles of a heavily armed and mined perimeter.

A full Marine Corps division has about 25,000 troops.

Do the math.  There is no way any president—even Reagan, who is worshiped by a political cult of ignorant fools—could have secured the U.S. border.

The U.S. Marines in Chu Lai had about 192 Marines for each square mile and 546 Marines to cover each mile of the perimeter including the shoreline. The US Border Patrol has about 0.005 agents to cover each square mile of the U.S., and less than three agents for each mile of border between Canada and Mexico and this isn’t factoring in the 95,000 miles of shoreline.

To turn the United States into a fortress equal to what the Marines built in Chu Lai, Vietnam—for instance—the U.S. Border Patrol would have to have about 10.4-million agents.

Of course, if we did increase the Border Patrol to 10.4 million agents, we’d end unemployment, because The Washington Post reported that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are 10.3 million Americans who are unemployed, and maybe another 21 million people who are “on the sidelines” of the job market [whatever that means].

I’m sure we could make corporate America happy by turning this job over to them, so they could profit off the taxpayers as they are already doing with private-sector prisons and private-sector, for-profit Charter schools that are often worse or only equal to the public schools they are replacing.

We can also be sure that the military-industrial complex would be ecstatic to produce all the uniforms, weapons and supporting equipment that a military force of this size would require to do its job. But even with 10.4 million troops guarding the U.S. borders and shorelines, if an ISIS jihadist wanted to slip into the United States to blow up a few hundred or a few thousand Americans, and the U.S. Marine Corps and the Army couldn’t stop the Vietcong in Vietnam, or Islamic terrorists in Iraq, and today, in Afghanistan, how can any fool expect the U.S. Border Patrol to achieve what the U.S. Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy has never achieved.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

Low-Def Kindle Cover December 11

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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Who do Americans admire most?

In December my wife and I went to see the The Wolf of Wall Street; then on Friday, January 10, Lone Survivor (its opening day).

Walking the mile-and-a-half home, both films stirred emotions and made for conversation. I admit that I didn’t think The Wolf of Wall Street was about a real man. It was so outrageous, so amoral, and so greedy—you name it—that I thought it was the product of a very active imagination.

When I Googled the film, I discovered it was based on a real story and was surprised that anyone could be this rotten other than a serial killer who loves murdering innocent people—the real Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, was as depraved and greedy as they come. The film is worth seeing. DiCaprio does a great job playing Belfort, a man who is often unfaithful to his wives, and in the end has no loyalty to anyone when it comes to his own survival.

Belfort and his employees lead a lifestyle of total debauchery with lavish parties, sex and drugs both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

Belfort was indicted in 1998 for securities fraud and money laundering, but he only served 22 months in a federal prison designed for white collar criminals. This prison, as depicted in the film, was more of a country club with tennis courts—but still a prison you can’t leave until you’ve served your time. It seems that today, Belfort is worth millions again (although nowhere close to the amount—about $200 million—he took from his victims); hasn’t paid back what the court ordered; lives in Manhattan Beach, California and is engaged again.

Lone Survivor is about a team of SEALS in Afghanistan and is also based on a true story. The film starts out with SEAL boot camp and in short order shows how tough it is to earn the right to be a SEAL. These are tough guys who value loyalty, patriotism and honor above all else and they are more than willing to die for what they believe.

Mark Wahlberg plays the lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell. Three of the four SEALS in his team are killed in combat with a vicious enemy, the Taliban, who once ruled most of Afghanistan while supporting Al Qaeda.

While I was disgusted at Belfort’s debauchery and greed, I was angry at what happened to the SEALS in Lone Survivor. Not long after they were dropped off in the Afghan mountains to carry out their mission, they discover that the intel was bad. Instead of a few Taliban, they were up against hundreds and they lost radio contact. When the help arrives, it’s without the proper support because there are not enough Apache gunships to support all of the ground operations in Afghanistan. The result, one of the troop carrying choppers is shot down with everyone aboard killed aborting the rescue attempt.

Why was I angry? Because when I served in Vietnam—several times while in the field—I lost radio contact—once on a deep recon where four of us were dozens of miles in front of our own lines. We even drove our World War II vintage jeeps—with no armor I might add—through an abandoned village where the cooking fires were still smoldering and there was a Vietcong flag flying from a radio antenna sticking out of the top of a tree. Several decades later, and Congress should have done something about fixing it so no ground troops would ever be out of radio contact, and I blame the lack of enough air support on Congress and President G. W. Bush for not making sure the troops had all the support they needed to succeed and come home.

Then there are the rules of combat that limit our troop’s ability to fight a war. We had them in Vietnam and they sucked. Noncombatants should not be allowed to make rules for combat. Most Americans—who live in a real fantasy world—do not understand war.

The challenge is how do we measure who Americans might admire most?

For The Wolf of Wall Street, the film—with a $100 million budget—opened in December in 2,537 theaters and has earned $90.8 million as of January 10, 2014.

Lone Survivor opened wide in 2,875 theaters on January 10; had a production budget of $40 million and has earned $14.782 million (the film started in 2 theaters on December 25, 2013 and went wide on January 10) compared to The Wolf of Wall Street that made $18.5 million its first weekend.

Who do you admire most and why: Belfort’s and his mob or Marcus Luttrell and the SEALS?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

What has America accomplished as the world’s so-called cop?

To research this topic, I Googled “history of America’s role as global policeman”, and ended with 433-million hits in a third of a second.

I’m going to list the first five:

Americans Tire of ‘World Police’ Role

Syria: The end of America’s role as global cop?

Should America Be the World’s Policeman?

Should America withdraw as the world “Police/peace keepers”?

What if U.S. stops policing the world?

I didn’t read the posts, because I was more interested in rating America’s performance as the self-proclaimed world’s police force?  To do that, I compiled a death count from all the wars, civil wars, revolutions, and genocides since the end of World War II, and I’m sure it is an incomplete list.

It was difficult to come up with a precise number so there are two numbers and the actual number of deaths could be anywhere between the low and high estimates.

1945 – 1950: The expulsion of Germans after World War II was called a population transfer but in reality it turned out to be an ethnic cleansing. The death count was 500 thousand – 3 million

1950 – 1953: Korean War. The death count 400 thousand – 4.5 million

1955 – 1975: Vietnam War. The death count was 800 thousand – 3 million

1965 – 66: Indonesian massacre of anyone connected to the Indonesian Communist Party. The Death count was 100 thousand to 2 million.

1967 – 1970: Nigerian Civil War and genocide. The death count was 1 – 3 million

1971: Bangladesh genocide. The death count was 26,000 – 3 million

1975 – 1979: Cambodian Genocide. The death count was 1 – 3 million; another 800 to 950 thousand died of starvation. The only reason this tragedy ended was because Communist Vietnam invaded and stopped the insanity. Where was the United States? Why did it take one communist country to stop another one from slaughtering its own people?

1975 – 80: Operation Condor in South America was a campaign of political repression by right-wing dictatorships sponsored by the United States. The death count was 50 – 80 thousand.

1979 to Present: Afghan Civil War. The death count is 1.5 – 2 million

1980 – 1988: Soviet War in Afghanistan. The death count was 600 thousand – 2 million

1980 – 1988: Iran–Iraq War. The death count was 500 thousand – 2 million

1983 – 85: Famine in Ethiopia. The death count was 400 thousand – 1 million

1990 – 98: Sanctions against Iraq imposed by the United Nations Security Council that caused excess deaths of young children 175 – 576 thousand

1994: Rwandan genocide death count 500 thousand – 1 million

1998 – 2003: Second Congo War’s death count 2.5 – 5.4 million dead

1998: Sudan famine. Death count was 70,000

After I compiled the list, I thought, what exactly has the United States accomplished to bring about world peace and save lives as the world’s so-called cop? Maybe the world would have been better off if the United States had stayed home and saved a few trillion dollars.

If you want to know how much the United States spends as the world’s so-called cop, visit data360.org to discover that answer, but you may have to spend an hour or so adding it all up. I wanted to find one number but could only find annual lists.

Last year, the world’s top 15 military spenders spent $1.753 Trillion combined, but 39% of that was the United States. The People’s Republic of China was number two at only 9.5% of the total. I found this information from a List of countries by military expenditures on Wiki.

I think that if a real cop in the United States had a similar record, they would be suspended from active duty followed by an investigation and then—for sure—a trial.

Do you think the citizens of the United States should vote in the next Presidential election on America continuing its job as the world’s so-called cop? After all, every American who pays taxes is footing the bill so shouldn’t all the citizens of a democracy have a say?

And of course this brings up another question: Is the United States really a democracy?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Blaming Obama and offering a lame solution: Part 2 of 2

As the war ends in Afghanistan, the federal government should cut at least 250,000 civilian jobs at the Department of Defense [DOD] and return that department’s annual budget to $400 billion or less.

Time Magazine reported [worth reading to discover how spending got out of control at the DOD], “From 2001 to 2012, the active duty military grew by just 3.4 percent. Yet over the same timeframe the number of civilian defense employees grew by 17%, an increase five times greater than the armed forces.”

Here’s my first suggestion to cut the federal budget—start by cutting back the number of civilian contractors who develop and build weapons for the US military.

Second, does the US really need the same number of aircraft carriers as every other nation on the planet combined? China, for example, has one twenty-two-year-old, non-nuclear powered second-hand aircraft carrier, and we hear more about that aircraft carrier in the US media—as of it was a threat to world security—while the U.S. has ten in active service and one in reserve with three more under construction. The only other country with more than one aircraft carrier is Italy and they have two.

The newest aircraft carrier is the Gerald R. Ford, and it cost $13 billion to build with two more to follow—the contracts for the other two should be cancelled saving $26 billion or more.

The U.S. has ten active carriers. The rest of the world combined also has ten, but only France has one that is nuclear powered. All the US carriers are nuclear powered and they are larger—much larger.

Why does the US need such expensive firepower? Where’s the threat?

I’m not going to argue with anyone that the US needs a strong military because at heart I am a hawk who loves what the US is doing as it continues to develop modern weapons second to none in the ability to search out enemies and destroy them—and I think the Gerald R. Ford is way cool, but do we need it? The Gerald R. Ford is an incredible weapon but who was it designed to fight—aliens from another planet?

For god’s sake, we are fighting a gang of international fundamentalist Islamic thugs known as al Qaeda and they don’t even have one aircraft carrier—they don’t even have a country. And the only way they can get an aircraft of any kind is to steal them like they did on 9/11.

Return to or start with Blaming Obama and offering a lame solution: Part 1

______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

Blaming Obama and offering a lame solution: Part 1 of 2

Rick Newman writing for Yahoo Finance suggests that President Obama could redeem himself for the Obamacare Mess, if he killed part of the government.

If you click on the Yahoo-Newman link above and read the piece, you will discover there is no mention of cutting jobs at the Department of Defense [DOD]. The cuts Newman suggests are so small compared to the annual deficit and size of the national debt, it’s hard not to laugh and cry real tears at the absurdity of it.

Newman points out: “The federal payroll, not counting the beleaguered postal service, is about 8% bigger than it was before the latest recession began at the end of 2007.”

The question Newman should have asked is where did civilian employment in the federal government increase the most, but he didn’t. Instead, he quotes a source that says that in the 1980s, the private sector got rid of an entire layer of middle management and suggests the government do the same thing. Then he points out a few small departments/agencies of the federal government with a combined budget of $81 – $185 Billion, but the federal budget for 2013 was $3.8 trillion and the actual deficit was $680 billion. You do the math.

What I want to know is why he didn’t mention the Department of Defense?

In May 2012, the Washington Times.com reported, “President Bush’s last budget, for fiscal 2009, pegged Defense Department civilians at 739,000, according to the department’s latest “Green Book” budget document on total spending.”

But if you check the numbers going back to 1962 comparing the ratio of civilian workers in the federal government to the total population, you would discover that the number of civilians working for the federal government has been dropping for years. The Washington Post.com reported that in 1962 under President Kennedy, 13.3% of the total US population worked for the federal government. By 2012—under President Obama—the federal workforce was 8.4% of the total even counting the 8% increase Newman complains about.

In addition, if we look closer, we discover that between June 2012 and September 2012, civilian workers employed by the federal government shrunk by 40,146 workers to 2,760,569—most of the jobs cut came from the DOD. Click the next link and check it out; you can see the number of workers added or cut by department. Source: opm.gov

In Part 2, I will focus on the Department of Defense—the only department that should see its civilian workforce and budget cut dramatically. In 2000 before 9/11, defense spending was $366.2 billion. By 2013, it had reached $821.6 billion. If we compare average annual defense spending by president starting with Clinton, we discover defense spending under Clinton averaged $335.6 billion annually for a total of $2.648 Trillion; under G. W. Bush the annual average was $605.5 billion with a total of $4.844 trillion, and under Obama, the first four years totaled $3.397 trillion or $849.2 billion annually. Source: US Government Spending.com

Do we ever hear Obama’s critics complain about his increased spending for the DOD? No, because we only hear about Social Security; Medicare and Obamacare—all programs designed to pay for themselves through specific taxes.

The increase in defense spending during the wars on terror; in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the United States an additional $5.556 Trillion since 9/11.

Continued on November 18 in Blaming Obama and offering a lame solution: Part 2

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”