Each year the citizens of Pilsen in the Czech Republic celebrate Liberation Festival to commemorate and say thank you to America who liberated the city in World War II.  After eight brutal years, the town of Pilsen revolted against the Nazis on May 5, 1945 and cleared the way for General George Patton and his United States Third Army to charge into Pilsen’s Republic Square on May 6, 1945.   

Before the Second World War, the nation of Czechoslovakia had been an independent and economically successful nation in Central Europe.  But in the 1930s, Germany and Russia threatened to take over the nation.  In 1938, Great Britain and France signed the Munich Treaty.  Pilsen and all of northwest Czechoslovakia called the Sudetenland was transferred to the Nazis.  British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain and German Chancellor Adolph Hitler were nominated for the Nobel Peace prize.  As the thousands of residents of Pilsen fell under military control, Chamberlain told Europeans, “I believe it is peace for our time ... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."

American Land Forces Institute is reporting that just before America honored our veterans on Memorial Day, the New Jersey State Civil Service Commission, whose members are appointed by Governor Chris Christie, proposed changes that might restrict New Jersey's long standing “absolute veteran’s preference” in hiring of state workers.  Given that statutory veterans’ preferences have been available in all 50 states since the First World War One; any reduction in the New Jersey “earned” preference would be a troubling precedent in a time when substantial numbers of veterans are returning from war.

Steve McQueen, famously known as the “King of Cool”, is more than just the anti-hero persona presented in his movies; he also served honorably the United States Marine Corps from 1947 to 1950.

McQueen lived a rather tumultuous childhood that involved his father’s leaving him and his mother when he was just six months, living with his grandparents until he was eight, being physically abused by his step father, living life on the streets with his mother for a certain period, and being sent to the California Junior Boys Republic where he started to grow into the man he was supposed to be.

After jumping from one job to another, he joined the Marines. He was promoted to private first class quickly and was assigned to an armored unit as a tank driver. But because of repeatedly succumbing to his rebellious nature, he was busted back to private seven times. Shore patrol caught him after two weeks of staying with his girlfriend carrying an expired weekend pass resulting in unauthorized absence. He also resisted arrest which led to his spending time in brig for 41 days.

Americans have always prioritized caring for the needs of our military Veterans.  The Continental Congress of 1776 was the promise pensions for any disabled veteran of the Revolutionary War.  Despite criticism of deficit spending over the last four years, there was universal support for increasing the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) budget by 41% to $140 billion this year.  That is why it is so depressing that the backlog doubled to over 900,000 for claims pending applications for disability  and the number delayed over a year has skyrocketed by 2000%.  Despite this abysmal performance, senior VA executives are eligible to collect bonuses of 35% on top of their lavish pay and benefits.

The ability of the VA and their 300,000 employees to provide service-related benefits has virtually collapsed.  Congressional revelations confirm that over the last four years delays newly returning veterans face before receiving disability compensation and benefits are far longer than the 273 days the agency had acknowledged.  But inspection of their internal data reveals that for first-time claims, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wait is between 316 and 327 days.

This night’s patrol had been a wasted effort. Three hours of carefully scripted maneuver through enemy terrain had resulted in nothing but fatigue and sore muscles. The squad moved through the darkness on a invisible tether, each man marking the distance from his buddy as if a hidden hand moved them closer or farther away depending on the cover available. Now they were working across a wide ridgeline stepping over or around boulders and scrub pines that impeded progress.

The soldiers were particularly alert now because they knew the enemy’s habit of ambushing returning patrols just out of machine gun range from their patrol base. Perhaps the enemy knew the night was too quiet, the patrol schedule too routine, the temperament of the men too focused on hot food and the security of walls and wire and the fortified outpost that awaited them just a mile or two away.

The following is an excerpt from an article published in October 2010, written by ALFI Board Chair, Major General (Ret) Robert H. Scales.

Americans seek to solve battlefield problems with technology. Technology is a vital ingredient in achieving success at the tactical level. But dominance on the tactical battlefield is achieved more by leveraging the human, social, cultural, behavioral and cognitive sciences as well as the physical sciences. The weapons acquisition community is still optimized to develop technologically sophisticated big-ticket systems using a process that often takes decades. The innovation cycle is much shorter at the tactical level, where our enemies intend to win and, all too often, are able to adapt to changes on the tactical battlefield faster than our centrally controlled acquisition system can respond.

Washington Post Jan 5, 2012

Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general, is a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College.

Here we go again. President Obama made the same mistake Thursday in announcing his new military strategy that virtually all of his predecessors have made since the end of World War II. He said:

“Moreover, we have to remember the lessons of history. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past — after World War II, after Vietnam — when our military was left ill-prepared for the future. As commander in chief, I will not let that happen again. Not on my watch.”

Unfortunately, Obama’s plan does exactly that. It forgets the lessons of history. Some facts: Harry Truman seeking to never repeat the costs of World War II reduced the Army from 8 million Soldiers to fewer than half a million. Without the intervention of Congress, he would have eliminated the Marine Corps entirely. The result was the evisceration of both land services in Korea, a war Truman never intended to fight.

Battlefield staff rides originally were developed at Fort Leavenworth as a means of training officers to “think their way through” tactical and operational problems. Staff rides use the terrain and historical context of actual battles as a forum for sharpening tactical skills, refining intelligence interpretation and logistics planning, and gaining insights into combat leadership challenges. ALFI’s staff rides in Little Big Horn, Gettysburg and Antietam exemplify its commitment to enhancing the  survivability and performance of the nation’s warriors, in the military services and also in law enforcement across America.

America’s Soldiers, Marines and Special Operations forces have carried the greatest burden in all of our contemporary wars. Since World War II, land forces have comprised only 4% of the entire Armed Forces, but have suffered 84% of all military fatalities.

Yet in spite of this horrific down payment in blood, this nation still fails to provide our ground forces with the support these brave men and women require to allow them to win our wars at the lowest cost in human life.

We are dedicated to the proposition that America’s historic neglect of our ground forces must not be allowed to persist.

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