Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors

imagesCAP4WZN2By

If truth is the first casualty of war, author Kerry Patton has ably attempted to correct that dictum in his highly entertaining novel, Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors, a fictionalized account of the heroic but overlooked work performed by civilian contractors in Afghanistan.

As a military veteran and expert in intelligence, security and counter-terrorism who has worked at the highest levels of government, including the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, Patton initially began Contracted as an autobiography.

However, fear of breaching intelligence secrets led Patton to switch gears, writing a fictionalized story instead, one based on true events, but told through the voice of Declan Collins, a former military man recruited out of civilian life by the CIA for intelligence work in Afghanistan.

There, Declan and his civilian partner, Rex Browhart, himself a former military vet, find themselves assigned as military advisors at a Forward Operating Base in eastern Afghanistan.

At the FOB, Collins and Browhart form a working alliance with a varied group of officers and enlisted men on a plan to arm Afghan warlords eager to fight the Taliban, a plan Collins believes will save American lives.

Most of the men aiding Collins in this task are a mixture of Special Forces, including Delta Force, Navy Seals and Army Rangers and Green Berets. To Collins, these men are modern day warriors, part of a dying breed, driven to sacrifice their lives for God, family and country.

It’s a patriotic theme Patton employs throughout his book, one in which money isn’t the primary motivating factor driving these contractors — most of whom are former military — but rather a deep love of country further fueled by an abiding loyalty to aid their brothers-in-arms.

Unfortunately, the press has helped to paint a picture of civilian contractors as either nothing more than mercenaries in search of a quick paycheck or out-of-control homicidal maniacs, such as those in Blackwater, the private security consulting firm employed by the US government during the Iraq war.

Not surprisingly, that negative portrayal tends to overlook the heroism and sacrifices that many contractors have performed and endured once they have left the comfort and safety of the civilian world for life in a combat zone.

In fact, it is to that point that Patton reportedly wrote Contracted, noting it is “truly meant for those unsung heroes who never get recognized yet often get chastised.”

Patton also doesn’t neglect the hardships faced by the family and loved ones left behind, weaving into his book the struggles and fears faced by Collins’ new young wife, Brannagh. As Patton has noted, “This book is not just for them (the contractors) but for their friends and family as well. They too deserve some recognition.”

That recognition comes at the same time as the use of civilian contractors in combat zones by American corporations, defense contractors, and governmental agencies — including the DOD, State Department and CIA — is growing in both prominence and danger.

Specifically, in 2012 American civilian contractors constituted 62 percent of the US presence in Afghanistan. These contractors are used in many unarmed roles, including transporting supplies, staffing food services, building homes and commercial facilities and serving as interpreters.

However, they are also employed in armed capacities, jobs which include providing security for State Department and Pentagon officials, guarding US installations, gathering intelligence and training the Afghan army and police.

Still, whether operating in armed or unarmed roles, the risks these civilian contractors face are great. In 2011, 430 American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan — 386 who worked for the Defense Department — and 1,777 injured or wounded.

Read more at Front Page

Frank Crimi is a San Diego-based writer and author of the book Raining Frogs and Heart Attacks. You can read more of Frank’s work at his blog,www.politicallyunbalanced.com.

Justice for Ft. Hood Heroes

Caroline Glick:

November 5, the day before the US Presidential elections will be the third anniversary of the massacre of 13 US soldiers at Ft. Hood by Islamic terrorist, US Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

The Obama administration has refused to acknowledged that the attack was a terrorist attack. The Defense Department has insisted on covering up the nature of the attack. The reports it released following the attack failed to mention Hasan’s Islamic motivations. Still today the Defense Department insists on defining the massacre as a case of “workplace violence.”
To advance this fiction, the Defense Department has refused to award Purple Hearts to the families of the soldiers murdered by Hasan, or to those who were wounded in his attack. It has refused to compensate the families of those murdered or the survivors who were incapacitated at the level the US military compensates the families of soldiers killed in the line of duty and soldiers wounded by enemy fire.
This year Congress tried to rectify this obscenity by including Purple Heart citations for Ft. Hood casualties in the Defense Appropriations Act.
Obama said he would veto the bill, (and thus deny the military funding), if they didn’t remove the clause about the medals. That is how far Obama is willing to go to keep up this fiction, cover up the existence of enemy forces within the US military, deny the threat posed to the US by radical Islam, and in the process, punish and dishonor American soldiers who were killed in the line of duty in an act of war against the US by a self-proclaimed “Soldier of Allah.”
There is no precedent in US history for this sort of behavior by an American president. None.
Watch the video below, with testimony from the victims of the attack. It was produced by the Coalition for Ft. Hood Heroes. And think about them, and the commander in chief who refuses for ideological reasons to recognize what happened that day, and so dishonors them every single day.
Think about four more years of this reckless behavior if he is reelected the day after the third anniversary of the massacre, and then share this video with everyone you know.

Attention All Military Personnel: Absentee Ballots Available At Heroesvote.org

A Message from The Gunny:

So you think that you’re squared away…a highly motivated, truly dedicated, lean mean fighting machine? I bet you are ready for anything.

But, are you election ready?

Have you taken the time to make sure that your voice is heard on Election Day? It takes just a few minutes to request an absentee ballot and can be done right now. There are no excuses.

And, here is the deal: you can’t complain about the numbnuts in Washington, D.C. if you don’t vote. This year’s elections will have a significant impact on your life and your family’s lives. Big decisions will be made about your pay and benefits, national security, and the future of America. Failure is not an option.

You have sacrificed much to defend our fundamental right to vote at home and all over the world. It’s your right too.

Make sure that your voice is heard in November. Time to sound off!

Why is this important?…read the following:

Military ballot requests down in key battleground states

Requests from military voters for absentee ballots have dropped significantly  since 2008, according to newly released statistics, prompting claims that the  Department of Defense is dragging its feet in enacting a law meant to boost  military voting.

The drop in the battleground states of Virginia and Ohio is among the most  pronounced. According to statistics released Monday by The Military Voter  Protection Project, the number of absentee ballot requests by both military  members and other overseas voters in the two states has dropped 70 percent since  2008.

Virginia had nearly 42,000 total requests in 2008, compared with a little  more than 12,000 this year, according to the MVP Project. Ohio had more than  32,000 in 2008, compared with 9,700 this year. The number of military  voters specifically — as opposed to military and overseas voters — was not  broken down in the latest set of statistics, but military-only numbers released  by the MVP Project in August documented a similar drop-off in  applications.

At the time, military ballot requests in Virginia were down 92 percent.  Several other states showed a precipitous drop since 2008, including Alabama,  North Carolina and Florida.

“We need to make military voting the highest priority. … and we need to do  it now,” MVP Project founder Eric Eversole told Fox News.

A spokeswoman with the Defense Department, though, stressed that total  numbers will not be available until after the election. Further, Cmdr. Leslie  Hull-Ryde noted that 2012 is much different than 2008, in that the 2008 cycle  had contested primaries for both Democrats and Republicans. This year, only the  Republicans had a contested primary — and the Defense Department has adamantly  defended its voter outreach to date.

The department claims that compared with 2004, the last time an incumbent  president was running, the number of absentee ballots downloaded from the  central military website is similar.

“We are in complete compliance with the law,” Hull-Ryde said in a statement.  “(The Federal Voting Assistance Program) strives to ensure that every absent  military and overseas citizen voter has the tools and resources to receive, cast  and return an absentee ballot and have it counted — regardless of who they vote  for.”

Absentee ballot voting is critical for members of the military, many of them  stationed overseas or away from their home state. The MVP Project estimates that  roughly two-thirds of servicemembers need to vote absentee — though as of late  August, the group reported “an incredibly small percentage” of them was  requesting the ballots. Across Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, the group  reported that less than 2 percent of eligible voters had requested ballots as of  August.

“The absentee ballot data for 2012 paints a bleak picture for military  voters,” an earlier MVP Project report said.

The updated figures on military and overseas absentee ballot requests, based  on statistics from the states, were released by the MVP Project on Monday. In  most cases, absentee ballots have already been sent out to military voters, as  required by federal law.

The MVP Project claims the Department of Defense has fallen short, though, in  implementing the 2009 law known as the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment  Act (MOVE). The law required absentee ballots be sent out no later than 45 days  before an election — but also required “voting assistance offices” be set up on  most military installations.

The MVP Project claims that in some cases, these offices were not only set up  after a November 2010 deadline passed, but were also located in areas not  associated with the check-in process — meaning servicemembers could be less  likely to visit them.

“This data should sound an immediate warning bell for military voters,” the  group’s August study said.

Read more at Fox News

Guantanamo detainee who served bin Laden returns to Sudan

By Rebecca Ruiz, msnbc.com

Ibrahim al Qosi, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, has been released from Guantanamo and returned to Sudan, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

In July 2010, al Qosi pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism and conspiracy. He had been detained at Guantanamo following his capture at the Pakistani border in December 2001 and was released according to a plea agreement with the U.S.

Al Qosi, who was born in Sudan around 1960, left in 1996 to join Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, where he provided services to bin Laden and other al-Qaida members as a driver, bodyguard and cook. In the early 1990s, he trained with jihadists and worked as an accountant for a company affiliated with Osama bin Laden, according to DOD documents released by WikiLeaks.

Al Qosi had been sentenced to a 14-year term for crimes committed between 1996 to 2001, but served two years in exchange for cooperating with prosecutors. The U.S. had agreed to return al Qosi to Sudan upon completing two years of his sentence.

“Although the United States had the legal authority to continue holding al Qosi under the [Authorization for the Use of Military Force], we coordinated with the Government of Sudan on appropriate security measures to mitigate any threat he continues to pose,” said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale in a statement to msnbc.com.

Paul Reichler, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who represented al Qosi pro bono for the past seven years, said his client will participate in a re-entry program designed by the Sudanese government for former detainees.

According to a document published by the government in 2010, nine Sudanese nationals had been returned from Guantanamo and been subject to the re-entry program. At that time, none were known to “have engaged in hostilities against the United States, its interests or its allies since their return to Sudan.”

Read more at MSNBC