U.S. Army Unit Bolsters Abrams Tanks With ‘Reactive’ Armor

March 7, 2017


By U. S. Army Capt. (Chaplain) Malcolm Rios

4th Infantry Division

GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany, March 7, 2017 — Tank and maintenance crews from the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment assigned here are giving their M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks a buffed-up look that improves the tanks’ overall defensive capabilities.

The crews, with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, which is serving as the initial ABCT rotational force in support of Atlantic Resolve, began installing the Abrams Reactive Armor Tile system Feb. 28 to tank hulls and turrets.

Reactive Armor ‘Adds Extra Layers of Protection’

“The ARAT adds extra layers of protection to the tank and the crew members,” said Army 1st Sgt. Ryan Dilling, senior noncommissioned officer of Bravo Company, the first unit to install the tiles.

The tiles “are placed on both sides of the hull and turret,” Dilling said. “The reactive tiles prevent penetration [by] various weapon systems, such as rocket-propelled grenades.”

Beefing up U.S. armor also serves as a greater deterrent to acts of aggression against NATO nations as the combat team rolls out stronger tanks to conduct training with allies throughout Central and Eastern Europe, Dilling said.

The addition of the angled tiles to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment’s tanks has been a cooperative effort with the Army’s Warren, Michigan-based Tank-automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command, said Army Maj. David Campbell, battalion operations officer.


“TACOM maintenance workers welded the brackets to hold the tiles on the tanks. After completion of the bracket welding, tank crews are then responsible for installing the reactive tiles,” Campbell said.

Deflecting the Blast

“Depending on what terrain you’re in, whether you’re in rural or urban terrain, the purpose of angled tiles is so that a blast will go down or upwards, which will allow the impact to deflect outward rather than at the tank crew,” Dilling said.

He said the angles of the tiles can be repositioned depending on the situation.

“If you have dismounts on the ground and they’re working in close proximity of the tank, you’d want to angle the tiles down so if there was a blast, it would go out and down to minimize the effect against soldiers nearby,” he said.

Dilling added, “If you were in an urban environment and you had adversaries shooting from second or third stories or even on rooftops and the tiles were activated, the blast would push out and upwards toward the threat.”

U.S. Army Capt. James England, Bravo Company commander, said the ARAT system adds protection while not inhibiting tank speeds.

“The ARAT looks like a good package,” England said. “In our current operating environment, should we have to engage a near-peer threat, we have to retain that mobility.”

Tank and maintenance crews with 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, install reactive armor tiles onto a M1A2 Abrams tank at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Feb. 28, 2017. The installation of the Abrams Reactive Armor Tile system will enhance the tank’s defensive capabilities, providing a greater deterrent against aggression as the 3rd ABCT maintains a persistent presence in Central and Eastern Europe as the rotational ABCT for Atlantic Resolve. U. S. Army photo by Capt. (Chaplain) Malcolm Rios


March 6, 2017


The U.S. Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the South China Sea. The ship and its carrier strike group are on a western Pacific deployment as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led initiative to extend the command and control functions of U.S. 3rd Fleet.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Z.A. Landers (Released) 170302-N-GD109-208

Talking to America’s Sailors

March 3, 2017

President, POTUS, Donald J. Trump, PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN78)

President Donald J. Trump speaks to U.S. Sailors at an all-hands call inside the hangar bay of the future USS Gerald R. Ford in a visit to Newport News, Va., Mar. 2, 2017. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Sheppard

From Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS (NNS) — President Donald J. Trump addressed Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and shipbuilders from Huntington Ingalls Newport News during a visit to the first-in-class aircraft carrier March 2.

“This carrier and the new ships in the Ford class will expand the ability of our nation to carry out vital missions on the oceans and to project American power in distant lands,” Trump said to an audience of over 3.500.

The president landed on the flight deck on Marine One accompanied by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. They were welcomed aboard Ford by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Capt. Richard McCormack, Ford’s commanding officer.

“It was an honor to welcome aboard our commander-in-chief,” said McCormack. “My Sailors have put tremendous work and energy into making Ford an operational asset to the fleet, and I could not be more proud to have him here to see this team.” Susan Ford Bales, daughter of President Gerald R. Ford and the ship’s sponsor, who greeted Trump on the flight deck and welcomed him into the captain’s inport cabin, where he met with Ford Sailors and shipbuilders for a roundtable discussion. Following a brief tour of crew habitability spaces and unique technology, Trump descended to the Ford’s hangar bay via an aircraft elevator for an “All Hands Call” with Ford Sailors and shipbuilders.

The presidential visit marked a week full of “firsts”. It was Trump’s first visit to an aircraft carrier, and the first time the aircraft carrier, named in honor of the 38th president, Gerald R. Ford, had ever received a president. Earlier that week, an MV-22 Osprey marked a critical milestone in the life of the ship by becoming the first aircraft to land on Ford’s flight deck, making Ford the only ship to receive an aircraft before its commissioning while in the shipyard.

“It was a great opportunity to be a part of the ship’s history,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate [Handling] 3rd Class Marcus Arduini, an air department Sailor from Houston. Arduini has the distinction of being Ford’s first tower supervisor, and helped assist Ford’s air Boss in ensuring a safe aircraft recovery. “It’s just been a great experience to see everything finally come together.” Sailors expressed their pride in being able to show their ship to the President and senior military leaders.

“It’s an exciting experience to get the ship prepared,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Frederick Cobbin, a communications specialist from Charleston, South Carolina, assigned to Ford’s combat systems department. “I got here in 2014, when everything was pretty much bare metal – it’s amazing how far we’ve come.”


Face of Defense: U.S. Marine Helps Families of Fallen Service Members

March 3, 2017

Sgt. Alicia Hojara Superhero Unmasked

By U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cody Lemons

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

U.S. MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., March 3, 2017 — Superheroes come in all sizes and all kinds of disguises — Marine Corps Sgt. Alicia Hojara is living proof of that.

In mid-December, the diminutive Marine was surrounded by a theater full of children and their families, their expressions changing from anticipation to hope to laughter in the flickering glow of the big screen. The movie, a new animated feature with comical animal characters and lots of hopeful vocals, seemed to be just what some of these families need at the moment: an escape from real-world worries to a place where they could just relax.

Hojara had left her uniform home, replaced by a different kind of camouflage — casual clothes, hair at ease, and a gentle expression that put her young charges at ease when they need it the most.

Most other days, you can find Hojara at the front of a classroom of young Marines as they navigate their way through the intricate details of aviation ordnance handling at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit here. There’s no kid’s play here; this is serious work that will prepare the next batch of aviation ordnance Marines to load teeth onto the modern-day dragons that squat across Marine Corps flight lines around the world.

But, from time to time, Hojara slips away like Clark Kent to take on another heroic mission, volunteering her time to help families who have lost an active-duty loved one. Hojara routinely makes time to volunteer for different organizations, such as local humane societies for the protection of animals; Snowball Express, which provides support to families of deceased service members; and her favorite, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, otherwise known as TAPS.

As Hojara sat in the shadowy theater on a mission with Snowball Express, draped in her invisible cape of good will, she feels the kind of satisfaction that superheroes must experience every time they swoop down and pull a victim a little further from despair. Chalk up one more for the good guys.

Maintaining Military Ties

“I work at the Good Grief Camps and seminars for children,” Hojara said. “It’s the child’s connection to the military, because a lot of times when they lose that family member who’s in the military, they get separated from the military lifestyle. They don’t live on base anymore, and a lot of them go back home, so it’s just kind of that connection to the military for those kids. We are mentors for the weekend, and we take them on campouts and do different things in different cities.”

“The rewarding feeling I get from giving back to these families, seeing that child’s face light up and seeing the bond that’s created between the military mentor and that child is completely worth it to me,” she said. “The connections we make last more than a weekend. … Some mentors stay in that child’s life. We go to graduations, important events like a recital or sporting event, help them pick out colleges. We become a part of their support network and are welcomed as family.”

“If something were to happen to me, I would want those resources for my family,” Hojara added. “These families don’t have that connection anymore, and we are that resource for them.”

Volunteer Award

Her attitude and dedication earned Hojara the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce’s Service Person of the Quarter award, which is given to a service member who has given up personal time to give something back to the community. At the Feb. 10 award luncheon in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, she stressed that others should get out and volunteer.

“Find something that you love. People are always looking for volunteers in the local community,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how you volunteer. It doesn’t have to be with kids, and it doesn’t have to be with pets. If you enjoy getting to know older people’s stories, go to a nursing home and spend time with them.”

But in that almost-magical theater, Hojara wasn’t thinking about awards and speeches to come. She just focused on shining eyes and the big smiles on the faces of those truly thankful for her superhero-like gesture. Later, she would don her familiar green and khaki uniform, adjust her laser-like focus to her “daytime” mission, and mentor young Marines on the challenges that lie ahead. Unlike some superheroes, this Marine shows her strength whether she is wearing her cape or not.


U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Alicia Hojara, center, an instructor at the Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., holds the flag she received as the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce’s Service Person of the Quarter, Feb. 10, 2017. Master Sgt. Christopher McGuire, left, and Lt. Col. Garrett Randel, right, nominated Hojara for her dedication to giving back to the local community. Randel is the school’s commander and McGuire is the aviation ordnance chief. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cody Lemons

Pentagon Spokesman Discusses ISIS Preliminary Plan, Budget Amendment

February 27, 2017

Flintlock 2017 kicks off in N'Djamena, Chad

By Cheryl Pellerin

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2017 — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will present a preliminary version of the Pentagon’s new plan to rapidly defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria during a meeting of the White House Principals Committee today, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said here this morning.

The Cabinet-level senior interagency forum, which usually does not include the president, already has received copies of the classified report, which Davis described as a framework for a broader global plan. President Donald J. Trump requested the plan in a Jan. 28 presidential memorandum.

“This is not just a military plan,” he told reporters during a briefing. “It draws upon all elements of national power — diplomatic, financial, cyber, intelligence [and] public diplomacy, and it’s been drafted in close coordination with our interagency partners.”

Davis added, “This plan is truly transregional. This is not just about Iraq and Syria, it is about defeating ISIS around the globe,” and other transregional violent extremist organizations, such as al-Qaida.

“From the secretary’s standpoint,” Davis said, “he is very committed to rebuilding readiness and is looking for us to find ways to do that quickly and in ways that reflect our being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

2017 Budget Amendment

Davis also said the Pentagon is working with the Office of Management and Budget to finalize Defense Department budget amendment numbers.

“We are not able at this point to confirm specific numbers, the captain said, “but stay tuned to what OMB has to say. Once we’ve settled on the numbers we are postured to provide OMB with our budget amendment material as soon as possible in order to meet their goal of March 1.”

As Mattis has emphasized, he added, the budget amendment will focus on meeting warfighter needs and addressing critical readiness shortfalls.

“The highest priority for the fiscal year 2017 budget amendment is on programs and efforts that can be executed in the remainder of [fiscal year 2017] ending on Sept. 30,” Davis said. “Items that cannot be reasonably expected to be executed in this fiscal year will be recommended to be deferred [for placement] in the FY 2018 base budget.”

Exercise Flintlock 2017

Also during the briefing, Davis said that beginning today about 2,000 service members from 24 African, European and North American partner nations will participate in Flintlock 2017 — U.S. Africa Command’s premier special operations forces exercise. It takes place in seven nations throughout North and West Africa.

“This year,” Davis said, “Flintlock is being hosted by Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.”

The exercise bolsters partnerships among African, European and North American special operations forces, increasing their ability to work together in times of crises, Davis added.

According to Africom, participating nations include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Chadian soldiers raise the flags of partner nations participating in Flintlock 17 during the opening ceremony Feb. 27, 2017. Flintlock is an annual Special Operations Exercise involving more than 20 nation forces that strengthens security institutions, promotes multilateral sharing of information, and develops interoperability among partner nations in North West Africa.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Terrance Payton

Air Force Chief Of Staff Outlines Future Challenges of Military Readiness

February 23, 2017

SD arrives at NATO

By Terri Moon Cronk

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2017 — Readiness is central to the military services, and the biggest challenge for the U.S. Air Force lies in its growth as its smallest-ever force takes on growing missions, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said today.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here, the general said that, at 660,000 active-duty personnel, today’s Air Force is “the smallest we’ve ever been.”

Goldfein said the Air Force has “serious challenges” in terms of its readiness.

“For an air component, there are five things that go into building readiness,” the general said. “You’ve got to have trained people, a weapons system sustainment program [and] a program that pays for the actual flying.”

Once airborne, there must be places to train and the time to train, he added.

People: Top Priority

The general said that for him and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, people are the No. 1 readiness priority.

“There’s talk of going to a year-long continuing resolution,” Goldfein said of the Defense Department budget. “That’s $1.3 billion. I’m not going to be able to hire the people I need to get those aircraft airborne or get the pilots to fly those missions. I’m not going to be able to get aircraft in a depot; the lines are going to stop. The civilian hiring freeze will continue for the remainder of the year. I’m not going to have the flying hours to get those things airborne, I’m not going to be able to invest in the training and I’m not going to have any relief on the time.”

The demands on the Air Force have been consistent for the last 15 years in four key areas, he said: space; cyber; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and nuclear enterprise.

With mandatory budget cuts across the Defense Department, the Air Force, for example, has had to make reductions in its personnel, infrastructure and conventional airpower capacity, the general said.

“You could explain [those cuts] in 2013, but when Russia became active in 2014 and invaded another country, [and] when China got active and started militarizing islands in the South China Sea, when [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] came back, the world changed,” Goldfein said, and the path the Air Force was on didn’t make sense anymore.

Readiness For Future Conflict

“So, right now, we’ve got to get balance back. And for me, the No.1 thing we’ve got to get after is people. I’ve got to get the formations built back up … for the many missions we’ve been given,” he said.

Goldfein outlined what he sees when he looks at long-term readiness and future conflict.

“I think future conflict victory will go to that individual who can turn data to decision, command and control his or her forces in a way that you can produce multiple dilemmas from multiple domains and multiple components, at a rate and decision speed that overwhelms the adversary, while denying him the ability to do the same,” he said.

What the Air Force needs for the future is to “get the network piece right, which is how we tied together all the domains and components and weapons systems with apps riding on the network to get to decision speed,” the general said, adding, “That’s a major effort we as an Air Force are focused on as we think toward where we are going in the future.”

Industry plays a vital role in the U.S. military’s future, he noted.

“I’m in continual dialogue with [chief executive officers] of all the majors [corporations] and I describe this as one of the problems I need their help solving,” Goldfein said. “I think industry is going to help solve this one and get it right.”

Happy Presidents Day / Birthday to America’s beloved President George Washington!

February 20, 2017


Why is George Washington the Role Model of Presidents?

By Foundation for American Christian Education, Saturday, February 18, 2017

Many people today find their role models in the media culture. According to The Barna Group, two thirds of Americans say pro athletes have more influence on our society than faith leaders. However, American Christians, in addition to their pastors and teachers, have traditionally looked to the elected leadership for role models. Can you find a hero there today?

George Washington, our first president, understood that as an elected leader he had a duty to be the very model that all other presidents would follow. He discerned that his entire life would be carefully examined, not by some prying journalist, but by God, to whom Washington knew he would be fully accountable. So he set his heart and mind to be the President that would set the standard for all others to follow and began to build a foundation for a young nation to shine the light of liberty to the entire world.

Washington was also humbly conscious of the tremendous responsibilities of the new office of president of the United States. He knew that the whole world would measure America by the character of the man who occupied that office. And indeed, most nations identified Washington as “America” long before they were acquainted with the nation.

This prayer, found in his writings, indicates how closely Washington associated the success of the American nation with the spirit and practice of the Christian religion:

“I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.”

George Washington “Circular Letter to the States” 1783



OF APRIL 30, 1789

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the fourteenth day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years: a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me, by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my Country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens, a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence, one, who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions, all I dare aver, is, that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance, by which it might be affected. All I dare hope, is, that, if in executing this task I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof, of the confidence of my fellow-citizens; and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me; my error will be palliated by the motives which misled me, and its consequences be judged by my Country, with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more auspiciously commence.

By the article establishing the Executive Department, it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you, will acquit me from entering into that subject, farther than to refer to the Great Constitutional Charter under which you are assembled; and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications, I behold the surest pledges, that as on one side, no local prejudices, or attachments; no separate views, nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests: so, on another, that the foundations of our National policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of a free Government, be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its Citizens, and command the respect of the world.

I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide, how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the Fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the System, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good: For I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an United and effective Government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience; a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen, and a regard for the public harmony, will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question how far the former can be more impregnably fortified, or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.

To the proceeding observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call into the Service of my Country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed. And being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the Executive Department; and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the Station in which I am placed, may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.

Having thus imported to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication that since he has been pleased to favor the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquility, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of Government, for the security of their Union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”

This transcription was taken from the original document in the Records of the U.S. Senate, Record Group 46, in the National Archives. https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/american_originals/inaugtxt.html


Happy 208th Birthday President Abraham Lincoln!

February 13, 2017


Abraham Lincoln became the United States’ 16th President in 1861, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy in 1863.

Lincoln warned the South in his Inaugural Address: “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you…. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.”

Lincoln thought secession illegal, and was willing to use force to defend Federal law and the Union. When Confederate batteries fired on Fort Sumter and forced its surrender, he called on the states for 75,000 volunteers. Four more slave states joined the Confederacy but four remained within the Union. The Civil War had begun.

The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln had to struggle for a living and for learning. Five months before receiving his party’s nomination for President, he sketched his life:

“I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families–second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks…. My father … removed from Kentucky to … Indiana, in my eighth year…. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up…. Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all.”

Lincoln made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and keeping store at New Salem, Illinois. He was a captain in the Black Hawk War, spent eight years in the Illinois legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years. His law partner said of him, “His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.”

He married Mary Todd, and they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity. In 1858 Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. He lost the election, but in debating with Douglas he gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for President in 1860.

As President, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.

Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion.

The spirit that guided him was clearly that of his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…. “

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln’s death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.

The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from “The Presidents of the United States of America,” by Frank Freidel  and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.Website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/abrahamlincoln

First African-American Medal of Honor Recipient Protected U.S. Flag at All Costs…

February 9, 2017


Meet Sgt. William Carney: The First African-American Medal of Honor Recipient

By Katie Lange

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2017 — Of the 3,498 service members who have received the Medal of Honor throughout U.S. history, only 88 have been black.

In recognition of African American History Month, we’re sharing the stories of the brave men who so gallantly risked and gave their lives for others, even in times when others weren’t willing to do the same in return. We’ll start with the first black recipient of the award: Army Sgt. William H. Carney, who earned the honor for protecting one of the United States’ greatest symbols during the Civil War — the American flag.

Born Into Slavery

Carney was born into slavery in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1840. His family was eventually granted freedom and moved to Massachusetts, where Carney was eager to learn and secretly got involved in academics, despite laws and restrictions that banned blacks from learning to read and write. Carney had wanted to pursue a career in the church, but when the Civil War broke out, he decided the best way he could serve God was by serving in the military to help free the oppressed.

In March 1863, Carney joined the Union Army and was attached to Company C, 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment, the first official black unit recruited for the Union in the north. Forty other black men served with him, including two of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ sons. Within a few months, Carney’s training would be put to the ultimate test during the unit’s first major combat mission in Charleston, South Carolina.

Charge on Fort Wagner

On July 18, 1863, the soldiers of Carney’s regiment led the charge on Fort Wagner. During the battle, the unit’s color guard was shot. Carney, who was just a few feet away, saw the dying man stumble, and he scrambled to catch the falling flag.

Despite suffering several serious gunshot wounds himself, Carney kept the symbol of the Union held high as he crawled up the hill to the walls of Fort Wagner, urging his fellow troops to follow him. He planted the flag in the sand at the base of the fort and held it upright until his near-lifeless body was rescued.

Even then, though, he didn’t give it up. Many witnesses said Carney refused to give the flag to his rescuers, holding onto it tighter until, with assistance, he made it to the Union’s temporary barracks.

Promoted for His Actions

Carney lost a lot of blood and nearly lost his life, but not once did he allow the flag to touch the ground!

His heroics inspired other soldiers that day and were crucial to the North securing victory at Fort Wagner. Carney was promoted to the rank of sergeant for his actions. For his bravery, Carney was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on May 23, 1900.

Carney’s legacy serves as a shining example of the patriotism that Americans felt at that time, despite the color of their skin. As for the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment in which Carney served? It was disestablished long ago, but reactivated in 2008. It now serves as a National Guard ceremonial unit that renders honorary funerals and state functions. It was even invited to march in President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade.

Read More ‘Medal of Honor Monday’ Posts

February 6, 2017

SD hosts Canadian minister of defense

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis, Canadian Defense Minister Meet at Pentagon

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosted Canada’s Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan at the Pentagon today, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement.

It was Mattis’ first time hosting a defense counterpart as Secretary of Defense, Davis said.

Mattis and Sajjan reaffirmed the U.S.- Canada defense relationship, emphasizing their commitments to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and continental defense, and agreeing to deepen cooperation to protect North America, noting that 2018 will be NORAD’s 60th anniversary, Davis said.

Mattis addressed enhancing North American defense relations and the North American Defense Ministerial, which he offered to host this spring in Washington, D.C.

International Priorities, Operations

The secretary and Sajjan also discussed international priorities and operations, as well as the upcoming NATO Defense Ministerial, Davis said. The secretary and the Canadian Defense Minister discussed U.S. and Canadian leadership as framework nations for enhanced forward presence, members of the international counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant coalition, and support for United Nations peacekeeping, the spokesman said.

Mattis thanked Canada for its commitments to NATO and the counter-ISIL campaign, and agreed to continued discussions with Canada and other coalition members on the progress of the U.S. counter-ISIL strategy review, Davis said.

The secretary and Sajjan also discussed the importance of defense investments and modernization to ensure continued cooperation, the spokesman said.

Mattis commended Sajjan for his consistent leadership, noting the need for both the U.S. and Canada to continue to represent their shared values and advance security, prosperity, and freedom, Davis said.

The two leaders also noted the long relationship between the U.S. Military and Canadian Armed Forces and stated they looked forward to deepening the U.S.- Canada relationship and continuing to work closely together, the spokesman said.