Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Notable Quotable: Marine Corps General says "Power Point Makes Us Stupid"

A PowerPoint diagram meant to portray the complexity of American strategy in Afghanistan certainly succeeded in that aim.

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint

The New York Times
Published: April 26, 2010

A PowerPoint diagram meant to portray the complexity of American strategy in Afghanistan certainly succeeded in that aim.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.

Read the whole piece here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Boss Addresses Latest Afghan Allegations

My boss, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Walt Natyncyzk, sent this letter dated 16 April to Parliament Hill, to the Chair of the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan regarding recent testimony of an Afghan interpreter that Canadian soldiers unlawfully killed an unarmed man in Afghanistan in 2007. Read it here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who Says Canadian Military Itching for a Fight?

The Globe and Mail, apparently. Interesting news piece that a Canadian General, Andrew Leslie, has been asked by the UN to lead what seems to be a traditional mix of blue helmeted peacekeepers from the usual countries in the Congo. Not surprised that Lew MacKenzie is quoted as saying this would be a bad idea, with the potential to be a second Rwanda, since historically the UN peackeeping missions in the 90s weren't all that great (anyone remember Srebrenica?). Not surprised again that CF leaders would want to do a Congo mission on their own terms, but that's not the same thing as itching for a fight.

Services Improve Diagnosis of Brain Injuries, PTSD

Back online and on the way home from the CF Air Force Chaplains' Conference in Winnipeg, MB. Sitting in a very nice airport lounge free to serving military, with wifi no less. Nice. Caught this item as part of this blog's ongoing PTSD watch. MP+

Services Improve Diagnosis of Brain Injuries, PTSD
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2010 – Better understanding of post-combat brain injuries and psychological trauma, coupled with a host of measures to diagnose and treat such disorders, are preventing servicemembers from being unfairly discharged due to undiagnosed conditions, Defense Department officials told Congress members yesterday.

Dr. Charles L. Rice, who is performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, acknowledged that such problems existed early in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but said the services had alleviated the problem with improved understanding and outreach to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

“There were concerns early in the conflicts that members suffering PTSD or TBI might be separated under the non-compensable, exclusive diagnosis of a personality disorder,” Rice said in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee. “Such concerns were reasonable, given our nascent understanding of these signature injuries.”

Read the whole piece here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Poland's Top Military Chaplains Among Those Killed in 10 April Crash

The Canadian Forces Chaplaincy circulated a notice this week that the Polish military's three top military chaplains were among the Polish dignitaries killed in the 10 April plane crash at Smolensk.

The three included Chief Military Roman Catholic Chaplain Bishop Maj. Gen. Tadeusz Płoski, age 54, a distinguished canon lawyer. A memorial for him can be found here.

Chief Military Orthodox Catholic Chaplain Bishop Brig. Gen. Mirosław Miron Chodakowski held a PhD in Theology and was the Orthodox Ordinary (Field Bishop) of the Polish Army. His biography can be viewed here.

Also killed was Col. Adam Pilch, Deputy Chief Military Evangelical Chaplain, a Lutheran pastor.

As well, there were four non-military clergy, all Roman Catholic priests, among the 96 persons killed.

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Notable Quotable: Verlyn Klinkenborg on E-Reading

From the NYT:

Editorial Notebook
Some Thoughts About E-Reading
Published: April 14, 2010

"In one way or another, I’ve been reading on a computer ever since it meant looking at green phosphor pixels against a black background. And I love the prospect of e-reading — the immediacy it offers, the increasing wealth of its resources. But I’m discovering, too, a hidden property in printed books, one of the reasons I will always prefer them. They do nothing."

Read the whole piece.

Warrior Games Part of Soldiers' Recovery

Wounded Soldiers Seek Growth at Warrior Games
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2010 - Each of the 200 disabled veterans and wounded servicemembers training for next month's inaugural Warrior Games has demons to battle and obstacles to overcome.

Army Sgt. Juan Alcivar, a wounded warrior recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., releases a discus during training at Walter Reed on April 13, 2010, in preparation for the inaugural Warrior Games scheduled May 10-14 in Colorado Springs, Colo. DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden

After a sniper shattered his upper right leg two years ago in Iraq, Army Sgt. Juan Alcivar's challenge is proving to the Army that he still has what it takes to serve.

"I want to continue serving," Alcivar, an airborne cavalry scout recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, said in an interview with American Forces Press Service. "I think the Warrior Games will help show that I'm still capable physically and mentally."

Read the whole story here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A WW2 Chaplain Passes

There can't be many military chaplains of this vintage left. My brother the Mad Colonel sent me this link to a British obit for Brigadier the Reverend David Whiteford, a chaplain with a distinguished career.

A particularly chilling line comes in the account of his introduction to the Black Watch in Normandy, and being called on by the Pipe Major to help him bury some comrades killed by a shell: "This is nae job for young pipers, padre. You and I will just have to do this ourselves."

Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Dolls Redux Redux

OK, one more post on dolls and then I'm off the subject. While doing some research on military action figures for my last post here, I came across this guy, by Dragon. Apparently he's based on a Japanese comic book about a fictitious German tank commander. This doll seems to be channeling the spirit of Mike Myers as Dr. Evil. It just begs the question, weren't the original Nazis gay enough?

Dolls Redux

A friend of mine sent me this link to a website about a unique imaginary world that involves dolls, including a few Barbies, I think. As I first glanced at the site, it seemed to be as if Quentin Tarantino, fresh off Inglorious Basterds, had directed a remake of the British comedy show Allo!Allo!. A few minutes more and the site got even stranger and much more interesting.

Marwencol is a fictitious Belgian town that exists in the imagination, and in the backyard as a 1/6th scale model, of Mark Hogancamp. A lot of the dolls (or action figures, if, like me, you look at them in hobby stores and vaguely think about buying them) are the highly realistic and well-equipped World War Two two soldiers made by companies like Dragon .

The strange and poignant thing about the creator of Marwencol website is that he sustained brain-damaging injuries after being beaten into a coma by fine men outside a bar. Mark's project became, as the website puts it, therapy. "Playing in the town and photographing the action helped Mark to recover his hand-eye coordination and deal with the psychic wounds from the attack. Through his homemade therapy, Mark was able to begin the long journey back into the "real world", both physically and emotionally - something he continues to struggle with today."

Spend a little time visiting this site and you see that the world of Marwencol is a kind of oasis where people can find acceptance and even love.

However, it is a fragile world, threatened by Nazis who lurk on its fringes, and who possibly represent the violence and brutality Mark experienced first hand.

The Marwencol website is a wonderful tribute to how imagination and creativity can be powerful tools to recovery from violence and trauma. There is a documentary film, "Marwencol", directed by Jeff Malmberg, which I'm hoping to catch at some point.

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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