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Why We Lost Iraq and Afghanistan and...

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It may not be clear from the way popular news outlets cover these stories or from the way senior leaders celebrate themselves, but the United States has demonstrated some significant capability gaps that our enemies are exploiting.



Currently, the U.S. government is withdrawing from Afghanistan1 leaving victory to the Taliban. Similarly, American forces were unilaterally withdrawn from Iraq2 snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Elsewhere, the U.S. government fired more than 100 cruise missiles into Libya3 against Dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s soldiers, then seemed surprised when Gaddafi’s Islamist opponents consumed the country. American politicians also demanded the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak4 and championed a so-called “Arab Spring,” despite the fact that the Islamist “Muslim Brotherhood” and other tyrannical radicals were the elements most likely to seize power. Finally, in another perplexing maneuver, the President of the United States threatened a “red line” in Syria5 then asked for support for going to war against the Ba’athist Syrian dictator by promising not to act decisively6.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan, spearheading a renewed al-Qaeda hunt. Early unconventional CIA/U.S. Army Special Forces successes eventually gave way to “Big Army” operations of questionable value. Al-Qaeda was routed from Afghanistan, and the United States and her allies seemed to accept a new mission of creating a central Afghan government and defeating the Taliban. After years of vacillating efforts (including inconsistent rules of engagement and back-and- forth policies on who to capture/kill, who to assist, prisoner releases, poppy production, etc.), newly appointed commander General Stanley McChrystal reported to the President that he needed 40,000 additional troops to turn the tide and deliver success7. Rather than authorizing the needed troops to support victory or deciding the cost of success was not worth paying and withdrawing, the President provided about 25% fewer troops than the stated requirement.

Then, in 2011, the President announced withdrawal dates for American forces8, making a win a near-impossibility and leaving the future of Afghanistan in the hands of a corrupt Islamic government and often feckless Afghan army.

In 2003, the United States and Britain, with the symbolic participation of others, invaded Iraq after Ba’athist dictator Saddam Hussein repeatedly violated agreements from the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf War, plotted an assassination attempt against a former U.S. president9 , and gave numerous indications of attempting to build and stockpile a  range of weapons of mass destruction10. Allied forces quickly toppled the Hussein regime and held their ground. As months of U.S. government inaction rolled by, Ba’athist loyalists, regional jihadists, Iranian provocateurs, and disenchanted Iraqi citizens mounted a multifaceted insurgency against American forces and the new U.S.-backed government. After Gen. David Petraeus made a version of Marine Gen. James Mattis’ procedures the standard for all American forces in Iraq, operational success was achieved. In 2011, the President of the United States withdrew American forces, leaving an inept Iraqi military behind rather than obtaining a status of forces agreement (SOFA) and maintaining a small, competent residual force. Shiite members of the Iraqi government unsurprisingly fell under the silver-or-lead influence of their brothers in Tehran, and eventually the expected Sunni terrorist resurgence conquered northern Iraq11.

Also in 2011, not long after holding a dinner in Washington, DC, to honor Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the President of the United States told Mubarak to step down and withdrew American support from the unsavory leader who had—for decades—done the world’s dirty work by keeping Muslim Brotherhood Islamist militants on the run12  . Simultaneously, politicians and media figures expressed exuberance at what they called an “Arab Spring.” Frustrated citizens in a number of Arab countries protested and rioted. Muslim Brotherhood thugs and other Islamists— the most disciplined and unscrupulous organizations in the region—predictably seized the opportunity to assert themselves and grow their power. The only place where regime change would have been clearly beneficial—Iran— received no real encouragement for their protesting opposition.

In 2011—with little explanation that made sense—the President of the United States also ordered the U.S. Navy to fire more than 100 cruise missiles at Libyan soldiers and their equipment13. This attack set the dangerous precedent of bypassing Congress but instead coordinating with the United Nations for operations in support of a conflict that admittedly didn’t threaten America. Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was responsible for the 1988 Lockerbie Pan-Am airliner bombing, but in recent decades had proven cooperative in the world’s struggle to resist Islamist terrorism. Later in 2011, American- backed “rebels” executed Gaddafi in the street. Islamist factions inherited power in Libyan neighborhoods, and in 2012 a company-sized group armed with rifles, machine guns, mortars, and RPGs attacked a negligently under- protected U.S. ambassador in Benghazi14. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed and an embassy annex was overrun, resulting in a bizarre call from the American President for a criminal investigation.

In 2012, the President of the United States publicly threatened that Syrian Ba’athist dictator Bashar al-Assad faced a “red line” if he used chemical weapons in his fight against insurgents battling him for control of Syria15  In 2013, it was reported that Assad had indeed used chemical weapons, and shortly thereafter, the President publicly tried to build support for going to war in Syria by promising not to act decisively and to attack Syrian forces with a limited campaign16 . His request fell flat, and the Islamist gangs and guerrillas fighting the brutal Assad regime received no overt American military assistance.

These examples are merely the tip of the iceberg regarding global strife and are limited primarily to Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa, although other theaters of operations are similarly challenged. Regardless of location, armed conflict presents two options: victory and defeat. If we are to limit present-day strategic defeats and reacquire the skills and capabilities necessary to survive and deliver future victories, we must be our own harshest critics. We must unemotionally admit where we have fallen short, and we must study the clues left by the successes of the past.

From 2003 to the present, I have spent weeks, months, and—cumulatively— years traveling Iraq, Afghanistan, and other relevant locations. I have made some observations on a number of topics that must be part of our analysis. This is not a comprehensive list of my observations, and unfortunately, it does not represent the perspective of the U.S. government or any particular agency/ organization. You may choose to consider this information merely anecdotal, but in honor of the brave young Americans, Britons, Australians, Germans, etc., who have given their lives and limbs to win these wars for you, please do give these observations some consideration.


Decades ago, studying literature from the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, I was informed that permitting an enemy to have “safe havens” during a counterinsurgency campaign was one of the primary roads to failure. Likewise, for guerrillas, having safe havens to make use of is a necessity for success. Safe havens are areas that are protected because of either policy inaction or physical protection, such as mountainous terrain or the defense of host nation forces.

These areas are used for rest, recreation, rearmament, and training.

Safe havens have long been a problem in Afghanistan, where large numbers of insurgents from each of the factions and their ISI (Pakistani intelligence) assistants have traveled freely to and from Pakistan for more than a decade. Many take seasonal breaks in Pakistan, then return to outlast U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The Iranian border has been used similarly.

Iraq had the same problems. Iraqi Ba’athist militants apparently received support from Syrian Ba’athists. Large numbers of Sunnis and Sunni terrorists crossed the Syrian border at will and do so to this day. Iranian intelligence personnel, special operations personnel, and surrogate terrorists have also had near- freedom of movement in the Shiite areas of Iraq, and Shiite Iraqi insurgents have used Iran as a safe haven. Safe havens have also existed, at times, in under-patrolled areas of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Lesson: Safe havens cannot be permitted to an opponent while still retaining a high likelihood of operational success. Safe havens can be anticipated in advance. If you are unwilling or unable to eliminate them, close them off or deny access to them, it is foolish to join the fight.


A second pillar similar in importance to safe havens is external support. An insurgency needs support from the outside to grow beyond infancy. Relevant support includes armament, money, equipment, training, advice, medicine, and sophisticated intelligence, among other things. Financial assistance to insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq has come from individual contributions from the Muslim world (some witting, some not), organizational support, and national support from some of the providers of safe havens listed above and likely others. The insurgents of Afghanistan and Iraq also supplement their finances with robbery, kidnap for ransom, drug trafficking, and other black market activity. Criminal activity to support these insurgencies is often sophisticated and calculated.

Lesson: External support, especially national assistance and the support of international organizations, cannot be permitted to an enemy. Many sources of external support can be anticipated. If you are unwilling or unable to eliminate or interdict this support, there must be significant other factors to justify a belief that operational success is likely.


An insurgency, and almost any likely modern war, is a population-based conflict. Key terrain is not the ultimate objective; rather, support from or control of a population is. Cultural assimilation was a critical factor in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and is likely to be the same in our next wars. A U.S. squad, platoon, or company bears the burden of patrolling and navigating the people and personalities that are the determiner of success in these conflicts.

Using a platoon as an example, please allow me to raise a question: If 20 to 30 Americans are patrolling and interacting with hundreds of locals, how do they show respect, build relationships, and gather information from people they can’t speak to? Americans memorize a few greetings in the local dialect and contract interpreters. Unfortunately, these interpreters have often numbered less than a handful per battalion. Even in the relatively small numbers used, it has proven challenging to keep positions manned with competent, trustworthy individuals willing to walk in the field with Americans. Also, even when a “terp” is present on a patrol, he may be present for only one dialogue at a time. Every American/local interaction out of his sight is conducted with the language/ culture barrier. Thus, easily more than 90% of interactions between American troops and locals have been conducted without linguistic understanding.

Mao tse-Tung, one of the godfathers of communist revolutionary warfare, famously said, “A guerrilla must be able to move through the masses like a fish through water.” When Sunni terrorists travel through Sunni regions and Iranian terrorists travel through Shiite regions, they have the freedom to do so individually and unobtrusively. They can communicate, show respect, and rely upon Islamic hospitality. When they choose to move about armed or in numbers, they can read the population and elders with enough skill to understand how to manipulate or coerce their compliance. They easily leave informers in place in every community to report who provides less-than-zealous support to the insurgency or who displays cooperation with allied forces, then use this information for future torture, execution, or other punishment.

Many locals see American forces as a generally honest broker that gives them less reason for fear than the insurgent gangs operating in the area, but the above trends are not in our favor. Further complicating matters is Islamic loyalty. Muslims in the community may find terrorist atrocities abhorrent, but that doesn’t mean that the perpetrator is not a fellow Muslim. The proposition for a Muslim to side with a non-Muslim against a fellow Muslim is not often favorable. Loyalties are widely mixed at best. Tribal influences are similar.

Lesson: Cultural and linguistic skills (in relevant languages) must, at a minimum, become required for infantrymen and special operators. Every infantryman and special operator should be required to begin a secondary career-long MOS of linguistics no later than immediately upon completion of his first deployment. Satisfactory progress should be a requirement for each re-enlistment.


Our enemies in the various al-Qaeda groups, the full range of Taliban factions, the existing Sunni terror groups in Iraq (and elsewhere), and the Iranian special operations units (e.g., IRGC Qods Force) and surrogate terrorist forces share one significant unifying thread: Islam. Many of these Islamist militants subscribe to the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision of global conquest. The zeal of belief held by these men permits individual jihadists to sustain themselves through periods of great hardship, long gaps in receiving pay, and intermittent-at-best logistical support. They generally have a strong belief that they are right and everyone else is wrong. Many of them proudly slay Christians, Jews, non-Muslims, and even Muslims of other sects when found unarmed, outnumbered, or vulnerable. Our adversaries have a very strong ideological glue.

In contrast, their opponents in the Western armies—specifically the U.S. Army—do not have a similarly unifying ideology. When U.S. Marines went toe- to-toe with bushido-trained Japanese forces and decisively defeated them in the Pacific and U.S. soldiers teamed with British and Soviet forces to defeat the Nazis in Europe, American forces had a unifying ideology. World War II was won by an American force composed of openly practicing Christian (and to a smaller, but not insignificant extent, Jewish) individuals.

A comically underequipped, often undertrained adversary is permitted a significant psychological edge over Western forces. Worse still, our forces are fighting this population-centric conflict with only superficial, politically correct training about their adversaries’ dominant ideologies. The short pre-deployment lectures on “Islam” delivered to U.S. troops suggest that each of these Islamist terrorist groups are simply practicing Islam incorrectly. Young soldiers are left to ponder how it is that a non-Muslim bureaucrat in Washington, DC, is able to credibly assess that hundreds of thousands of men who identify themselves as Muslims, who have practiced Islam all their lives under Islamic instruction in different schools of Islamic thought in far-flung corners of the world, and who have demonstrated the conviction of their beliefs by traveling to war zones (often, but not always, acquitting themselves with valor) are practicing their own religion incorrectly.

Lesson: The U.S. government’s new religion of global warming and LGBT studies is an inadequate counter-message to jihadism. Recent institutional harassment of Christian and Jewish chaplains and organizational harassment of practicing Christian and Jewish troops must be terminated.


CIA and military special operations men entered Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, attacks with a clear mission. Senior CIA officer Cofer Black succinctly summarized the mission to annihilate al-Qaeda and kill Osama bin Laden when he passed on an order to bring back bin Laden’s head “in a box.” The U.S. invasion of Iraq was similarly undertaken with clear objectives.

Scores of al-Qaeda militants were killed, the survivors dispersed, and after a few missed opportunities, bin Laden was eventually shot to death by American special operators years later in Pakistan.



In Iraq, a task force of U.S. and British Marines and soldiers and a small number of other allies, with U.S. Air Force support, defeated one of the world’s largest and most heavily equipped armies in about two weeks. In 2003, when U.S. Special Forces tracked down brutal dictator Saddam Hussein, the allies were in a position to investigate all evidence of the weapons of mass destruction that the Hussein regime had previously used and refused to open to international inspectors as previously agreed. The President of the United States was photographed on the deck of an aircraft carrier in front of a navy banner stating Mission Accomplished.”

After successfully accomplishing these missions, U.S. forces did not depart. After witnessing dramatic special operations successes, large elements of conventional army forces were deployed to Afghanistan. A mission to build new central governments for these countries seems to have been quietly accepted.

Over the years, everything from rules of engagement to our policy on poppy production vacillated. A concept of “draining the swamp,” or eliminating a geographic terrorist breeding ground, became popular. U.S. State Department efforts fell distantly short of what was needed. Though expenditures were impressive, the accomplishments of traditionally educated but operationally inexperienced employees often were not.

The United States successfully rebuilt a productive and peaceful Germany and Japan after World War II. However, these efforts were dependent upon generally much more aggressive and uninhibited direct action operations, followed by selection of a capable military officer who was put in charge of the reconstruction, unification, and deterrence of spoilers.

This officer was given non-military authority similar to that of a king along with the freedom to succeed. As such, he could be held singularly responsible for his results.

Lesson: “Draining the swamp” sounds good, but to work, all swamps would have to be drained. Terrorists walk through mountains and travel in cars and on airliners. They are mobile. No country or combination of countries has the wealth or consistent will to drain every swamp in the world. Many countries act as deliberate spoilers.

Also, university academics does not sufficiently prepare key personnel for successful leadership, complex foreign policy, and counterinsurgency initiative. Previous planning, implementation, and (not or) pushing to completion of successful projects (commercial, military operations, etc.) is the experience that must be sought.


Over the decade-plus long campaign formerly called the Global War on Terror, I have been happily encouraged by the generally high morale I have witnessed in U.S. forces deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite existing in a more micro-managed state than any force in

U.S. history, troops have generally held their tongue in regard to complaining about questionable strategic decisions, and evidence of “discipline” generally appears uncompromised. Young men and women deployed to inhospitable regions have been sustained with—in most, but not all, cases—regular daily rest periods in air conditioned quarters– often for two. The majority of U.S. personnel live on forward operating bases that provide plentiful, adequate American food, daily ice cream, cable TV, and near-continuous internet. Infantrymen (and sometimes others) routinely spend extended periods in the field without these comforts.

General order number one may be the first morale question to raise. General order number one prohibits U.S. troops deployed to these regions from drinking alcohol or having sex for the entire time deployed—generally seven months to a year. It is not lost on the troops that this order originated with senior personnel that are outside the warzone themselves or freely travel in and out of the zone.

This is an odd modern phenomenon that requires scrutiny. Throughout history and in the days when U.S. forces regularly won wars, “camp followers” (i.e., accompanying prostitutes) were common. Moreover, drinking prohibitions were never enforced en masse for an entire deployment. Even as recently as the Vietnam War, the late Col. David Hackworth, a man who was, for a time, the most decorated living U.S. soldier  and one of the most competent field commanders, arranged for a supervised and medically screened brothel for his men. About a decade ago, I witnessed host-nation medically screened prostitutes made available to deployed Americans in the Philippines. In recent years, however, the U.S. government has taken the position that any act of prostitution is a serious “human trafficking” crime.

Deployed soldiers and Marines generally find general order number one ridiculous, and it is frequently broken. There are, of course, more questions of hypocrisy relevant to morale. For example, at the same time that general order number one is enforced in an apparent act of “progressive puritanism,”

American troops have been “entertained” with drag queen shows17 and subjected to daily Armed Forces Network commercials promising free (uncharged) leave to any military personnel willing to schedule a homosexual marriage18. A young soldier may sit through a lecture explaining that women are identical combatants to men on the same day he hears the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff demand that physical standards be lowered so that women can be fully integrated into the infantry and special operations forces19. Prior to the current integration of men and women in the field, one of the concerns raised by opponents of the new policy was sexual harassment. They warned that no matter how disciplined a force is and how honorable young people might be, the stresses of combat, long and arduous deployments, austere conditions, and close confinement would lead to increases in sexual harassment and even  in incidents of sexual assault. A spike in allegations of these offenses has, in fact, occurred. The same soldier that receives the lecture informing him that women are identical combatants to men often has this followed with a lecture on sexual harassment explaining that women are unable to protect themselves and must be protected by those around them.

Lesson: Bureaucrats in a Washington, DC, ivory tower should not be permitted to foist “progressive puritanism” on troops in the field. Hypocrisy undermines credibility. Eunuchs do not win wars.


Some believe that America has a great technological advantage that contributes magnifi            results to all of our operations. I entirely disagree. For example, I have watched UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) be used to monitor raid forces en route to their objective so that seniors could micromanage unit leaders rather than watching the objective. I like UAVs and cherish any advantage over my enemy that somebody can buy for me, but this is just one example of a situation in which technological innovation and mass expenditure are more detrimental than helpful.

Working dogs provided great value and would have been a great benefit in larger numbers and with wider ranges of the skill sets available. Similarly, visual tracking skills are highly valuable for any war. During recent operations, the U.S. government contracted some short-tracking courses, but only for a limited number of troops. In addition, investigative skills and associated man- portable technologies are more valuable than F-22s or submarines for population- centric warfare. However, such skills were employed largely ad-hoc and on a limited basis for years.


Al-Qaeda and other belligerents have openly stated their goal of provoking the United States into financial catastrophe. Terrorist elements and peaceful subversives serving the same causes do not have the ability to defeat a competent military force. Thus, a more important question to ask is: At the pennies-a-day cost of their operations and with their disregard for loss of human life, how long can these groups sustain themselves?

Lesson: Our operations must either deliver blitzkrieg successes or be conducted much more efficiently.

Operational skill and tactical competence is far more important than any technology purchase. Gadgets can be bought on short notice, but skills cannot be built on short notice. Visual tracking skills should be taught to all infantrymen and special operators. A path for career- long refinement of these perishable skills should also be made available. In recent operations, valuable investigative capabilities were built in some places at some times. However, the best practices (and supporting equipment) must be institutionalized and made a permanent, widespread part of infantry and special operations organization and equipment. The value of these capabilities was not an anomaly. Despite popular attitudes, they will be needed in the next war. It is widely believed that amateurs study tactics, while professionals study logistics—but this is only true after your tactics are sharp, and it assumes parity of will.


I believe there is a chance that some of the information I have shared in this article might be overlooked. I leave it in your hands to determine whether you agree and how these lessons should be prioritized. We cannot afford self-deception. Official reporting throughout the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns was tainted by “optimism.” When a report gets polished with optimism at every level through which it passes, the end product can be grossly inaccurate. I even witnessed an army task force commander require his subordinate commanders to conclude their update briefings with a “good news story of the day.” Any commander that accepts optimism-based reporting at any level is committing an act of incompetence that will contribute to losses and possibly defeat.

Only allies that can pull their own weight should be permitted in theater. The contributions of NATO nation special operations forces were magnificent, and the world is in their debt. However, the contributions of these nations’ conventional forces were much more expensive and much less beneficial. In fact, the real contribution of some participating nations was nil. Entire forces arrived without permission to  leave operating bases, providing no useful support and taxing American logistic and financial lines in exchange for nothing other than the ability to assert that unheard-of-nation-X  participated.

Political will is one of the greatest determiners of success or failure in war. When the President sent Gen.

McChrystal about 25% fewer troops than the general said he needed to deliver a win, I saw only one way to read that: The President was committed to participating in the war but uncommitted to winning the war. I believe immediate withdrawal (if the cost of victory is unwarranted) is a rational choice. Providing more than the minimum support required to win is also a rational choice. However, continuing the fight cut-off-at-the-knees with an announced withdrawal date guaranteed failure in Afghanistan. I am not aware of anyone that served in Afghanistan that failed to recognize this at the time (regarding the announced withdrawal.)

Over the past few years, veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq, and other recent campaigns have watched an unfathomable combination of foreign and domestic policy choices in stunned silence. If we wish to reacquire the level of competence and productivity we demonstrated in second- and third-generation warfare many decades ago, our defense apparatus will have to develop a significantly lighter, more efficient, initiative- and competence-based model. To get there, we will have to be far more judicious in selecting national leaders and much more discriminating in our choice of priorities.

I hope you did not find the above observations surprising. If they were, I believe you have been insulated from the knowledge gained by thousands of American grunts. Sadly, most of the above trends were listed in the material I studied on the Vietnam War as a child and simply repeated today. Marines are taught that a patrol leader is responsible for everything his patrol accomplishes or fails to accomplish, and medical training often includes the precept “First do no harm.” It would appear that the President of the United States might have been benefited by serving in the Marine Corps or working as a medical doctor. Whereas decades ago, the President had a sign on his desk that read “The buck stops here,” a more fit sign for the President and his cohorts today might be, “Threaten endlessly, act randomly, accept responsibility for nothing.” •



Mr. Graham is the former commander of a military anti-terrorism unit, the editor of The Counter Terrorist magazine and author of the highly acclaimed new

novel Election: Dezinformatsiya and

The Great Game




1Kevin Shieff, “Five Harsh Truths About the US Withdrawal from Afghanistan,” The Washington Post, May 29, 2014, http://www. wp/2014/05/29/5-harsh-truths-about- the-u-s-withdrawal-from-afghanistan/

2Scott Wilson, “President Obama Took Credit for Withdrawing All Troops From Iraq in 2012” June 19, 2014, the-fix/wp/2014/06/19/president-obama- took-credit-in-2012-for-withdrawing-all-troops-from-iraq-today-he-said- something-different/

3Associated Press, “Libya Hit With 112 Cruise Missiles” March 19, 2011, world/4405622-418/story.html#.U-i- P9co7mI

4CNN staff, “Obama Says Egypts Transistion Must Begin Now” Feb 2, 2011. TICS/02/01/us.egypt.obama/

5Glenn Kessler, “President Obama and the Red Line” Sep 6, 2013, http://www. wp/2013/09/06/president-obama-and- the-red-line-on-syrias-chemical-weapons/

6Danielle Leigh, “Obama Considering Limited Action Against Syria”, NECN, Feb 8, 2014, new-england/_NECN      Obama_Con- sidering_Limited_Action_Against_Syria_ NECN-247884061.html.

7Associated Press, “McChrystal Wanted 50,000 Troops”, CBS news, Oct 7, 2009, tal-wanted-50000-troops/,

8Mark Landler, “Obama Will Speed Pullout From War in Afghanistan”, New York Times, Jun 22, 2011, http://

9David Drehle, “US Strikes Iraq for Plot to Kill Bush”, Washington Post, Jun 27, 1993, http://www.washingtonpost. com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/iraq/time- line/062793.htm.

10“Iraq WMD Timeline”, NPR, Nov 15, 2005, story/story.php?storyId=4996218

11Martin Chulov, “ISIS Captures More Iraqi Towns”, The Guardian, 22 Jun, 2014, world/2014/jun/22/isis-take-bordercrossings- iraq-syria-jordan

12“Profile: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood”, BBC News, 25 Dec, 2013,

13Associated Press, “Libya Hit With 112 Cruise Missiles” March 19, 2011, world/4405622-418/story.html#.U-i- P9co7mI.

14Brandon Webb, “The Benghazi Cover Up,” The Counter Terrorist, Jun 2013/Jul 2013.

15Glenn Kessler, “President Obama and the Red-Line on Syria’s Chemical Weapons” The Washington Post, Sep 6, 2013,

16Danielle Leigh, “Obama Considering Limited Action Against Syria”, NECN, Feb 8, 2014,

17Travis Tritten, “Gay, Lesbian Troops Perform in Drag”, Stars and Stripes, Mar 2, 2014, gay-lesbian-troops-perform-in-drag-atkadena-air-base-fundraiser-1.270747.

18Author’s repeated observation on AFN in Afghanistan throughout 2013.

19Douglas Ernst, “Gen. Dempsey Hints: Bar Likely Lowered for Female Combat Units”, Washington Times Jan 25, 2013,


















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