Posts Tagged ‘military’

Last night I had the opportunity to watch a fascinating movie about a story from World War II. It’s English title is Ambush and was made in Finland and released in 1999. The film is about a Finnish bicycle reconnaissance unit along the border with the Soviet Union in 1941.

Needless to say, I have never seen a Finnish movie, and certainly not one about a bicycle reconnaissance unit in any war. An additional captivating subplot dealt with maintaining a relationship with your lover during war-time. The movie and stories were fascinating and very understandable (with the help of subtitles). Please note that if you decide to rent or watch the film, there are nude scenes and graphic violence in the film, so it is definitely NSFW and not made for young people.

What intrigued me the most about the film was the bicycle unit.  I am fairly certain that Finland was not the first or only nation to think of using bikes to move troops around, especially for covert activities, but I was more surprised that I had never even imagined the idea before hearing about this film. Guess I am not destined for the Pentagon anytime soon.

Using bicycles for military espionage, reconnaissance, and other semi to fully covert operations makes a lot of sense. They are fairly quiet, maneuverable, transportable, easy to hide, and can move forces more quickly than on foot.

If you are fascinated by cycling history, military history, or anything and everything Finland, consider checking out the movie Ambush.

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On my trip to Indiana on Thursday afternoon, I saw a billboard along the highway that said something to the effect of the following:

“Being a dad, life’s highest rank.”

While I have no problem with promoting the importance of being a good parent, this billboard left out half the equation – being a mom easily holds an equal (if not greater) ranking in the raising and nurturing of a child.

I did not get a chance to see who ran the advertisement, though my guess is that it was a military or quasi-military organization because the father was in his uniform and it’s reference to rank. Given that approximately two million women are serving our nation right now at home and overseas, the billboard’s message seemed woefully short-sighted and downright sexist to me.

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As Census data have shown over four decades, the South and West regions have had the most population growth in the United States. There are many reasons for this on- going trend, including but not limited to the influx of retirees, immigration, taxes, climate, and general economic conditions. Could one possible additional reason for this trend be due to the amount of military spending that is taking place in the South and West?

Discounting the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland due to their proximities to the Pentagon, below is a list of the top 12 states for defense spending per capita in the nation based on 2006 data. All but three of those listed are located in the South or West regions.

Alaska $3,100

New Mexico $3,038

Mississippi $2,380

Connecticut $2,346

Louisiana $2,168

Missouri $1,833

Alabama $1,765

Arizona $1,687

Massachusetts $1,678

Hawaii $1,642

Colorado $1,511

Texas $1,500

Considering the rapid increase in defense spending over the past decade, which was noted in Molly’s excellent post on the Military-Industrial Complex, published on December 18th, those states that are most successful in securing defense dollars are also going to secure accompanying jobs and growth.

It is also worth noting that two-thirds of the states listed are generally considered “Red States” with more conservative political leanings. So, while conservatives in Congress may preach about reducing the size of government (usually through cutting social programs) out of one side of their mouth, they are vigorously increasing the Defense Department’s role and economic impact on their home states at the same time, out of the other side of their mouth.

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A week ago there was a notable and publicized difference of opinion between Senator John McCain and his wife Cindy on the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Several questions come to mind when contemplating the nation’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

First, would somebody…..anybody please explain to me the logic of the policy? In the first place, why is it the Pentagon’s, or anyone else in the government’s business regarding an individual’s sexual orientation? Isn’t that a fundamental part of a citizen’s right to privacy? Does that somehow affect their ability to shoot a rifle, fly a plane, or serve on a ship? To use puritanical phobias and fabrications to set a national defense policy is laughable at best and harshly cruel at its worst.

Second, if someone wishes to fight for their country, why would anyone in their right mind want to turn them away because of their sexual orientation? Personally, I believed at the time, our foray into Afghanistan was justified. Going into Iraq was not. Staying this long in Afghanistan is not. Picking fights elsewhere to maintain the military-industrial complex is not. But, then to have a policy of so sorry, we would just as soon fight an endless war without you, is just plain stupid.

If a recruit meets the minimum standards and qualifications to be in the military in the first place, then let them be. Enough said and move on. Otherwise, we risk losing many smart, fully capable, and qualified people and further disenfranchise a significant segment of the general population. For what? So some prudes can get their way. How dumb is that?

Good ideas, sound training, and successful military strategies and tactics are not limited to heterosexuals. To think they are is absolute and utter folly. By maintaining a foolhardy policy that risks costing the military some of its best talent, sounds like the country is trying to fight wars with one hand tied behind our back.

Regardless of your political perspective or opinion on war in general, hamstringing ourselves like that is a recipe for needlessly losing the lives of more soldiers than is necessary and extending the time frame of the overall conflict. Of course, if your goal is to perpetuate continuous war, then sick-minded proponents would argue that the ends justify the means.

So, take those thoughts and ponder on them for awhile Senator McCain. The next time you are telling Cindy what to think, try listening to her viewpoint, because she had it right the first time.


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