Letters to the Editor for Tuesday, October 31, 2006

By STARS AND STRIPES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 31, 2006

European and Mideast editions

(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)

Bush, Republicans failed

President Bush was the only American capable of getting Osama bin Laden, and he failed! Because of the 9/11 attacks on America, Democrats, Republicans, independents, liberals and conservatives all came together on a rare occasion to demand their president do one thing, “Kill or capture” bin Laden.

Sensing the will of the people, Congress gave Bush the authorization for the use of the greatest military force in the world, just to get bin Laden (Joint Resolution signed Sept. 14, 2001). Bush even had the approval of nuclear power Pakistan to allow a large number of American troops to operate near its border.

Even with landing and overflight rights in countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, he still failed. None of the support from these countries was even possible before 9/11.

How do you fail with all this support? Fulfilling the wishes of the oil industry instead of the wishes of the American people is one way to fail.

When Americans see the new Republican political campaign fear ad that shows a picture of bin Laden, it should remind all Americans of Bush’s and the Republicans’ failure to accomplish the one mission that all Americans came together to ask of them: “Get bin Laden.”

James Carrethers
Kaiserslautern, Germany

‘V’ device regulation

V device under review for consistency” (article, Stars and Stripes, Oct. 26), concerning the article stated that the DOD Instruction 1348.33-M (Manual of Military Decorations and Awards) says that the Joint Service Commendation Medal “V” device is worn on the JSCM when the medal was awarded for acts or service involving direct participation in combat operations on or after June 25, 1963. However, it’s only half of the facts.

The manual also states:

“C3.4.4.4. The JSCM shall take precedence with, but before, the Service Commendation Medals. A bronze ‘V’ is authorized if the citation is for an act or service involving direct participation in combat operations during the period June 25, 1963, to March 31, 1976. Effective April 1, 1976, the “V” device is authorized if the citation is approved for valor (heroism) in a designated combat area.”

What this means is, the “V” device is awarded on this medal now, [as of 1 April 1976] for all services for acts of service approved for valor (heroism) in a combat area.

This policy change in April 1976 greatly reduces the ‘V’ devices being awarded on the JSCM. Between June 25, 1963, and March 31, 1976, all those awarded the JSCM within a combat zone received a ‘V’ device.

The current policy now requires valor (heroism) to be a part of the citation for the approval of the award and not just being at the right place at the right time.

Sgt. 1st Class C. Douglas Salyer

Sad ‘State’ of cartoon affairs

Carl Moore, who pens the “State of the Union” cartoon, really outdid himself with his moronic and disgusting portrayal of President Clinton on the Oct. 24 Opinion page. To depict a president of the United States in such a manner is not only uncalled for, it is evidence of a double standard on the part of the right. If a “liberal” depicted President Bush that way, the right would be screaming bloody murder, and rightly so.

I am afraid this childish cartoon that appears daily in Stars and Stripes is evidence of the “dumbing down” of America in my lifetime. Such amateur work simply would not have appeared in a major newspaper a generation ago. (Moore could learn a lot from [Julie Negron], the cartoonist from Kadena Air Base who pens “Jenny,” which [appears Sundays in Scene magazine and] is funny and charming.)

Oh well, at least Stripes runs “Doonesbury” to “balance” the crud on the next page. No matter what you think of Garry Trudeau’s politics, the wit he displays is at least indicative that he has more than the room-temperature IQ of the dolt who produces “State of the Union.”

Michael G. Arden
Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

Celebrity adoptions coverage

I am a 12-year-old girl named Callie Steffenhagen, and I felt badly toward something [you printed in the paper].

I found “Do celebrities really want adoptions, or attention?” (Sacramento Bee, Oct. 24) to be very rude and abusive toward several people and organizations. Your opinion is your opinion, but when you use the information you used, it all seems to turn out to be pretty unfair.

When you compared Madonna’s reasons for adoption to those of Angelina Jolie, you made it seem like celebrities are a completely different human race, that they are insensitive and use their opportunities for vain, insensitive reasons. I believe that any person, celebrity or not, would use their resources to help people less fortunate than themselves.

I noticed that on the front page of Stars and Stripes (Mideast edition, Oct. 24), you included the adoption and supposed “attention-craving celebrities’” habits, but forgot to include that the celebrities donated millions of dollars to children from Third World countries. The chances those children have on earth are already zero to nothing, whereas people like my parents and you have money to keep them from starving to death, getting sick and any other thing imaginable.

So, you say that these celebrities take advantage of their power with tabloids and newspapers to raise their score on the popularity chart, when you, just now, have decided to take advantage of your power to make a front page story exploiting all of the people who have taken time and money to save an innocent child’s life.

Callie Steffenhagen
Naples, Italy

Inferior body armor for Army

After reading “Soldiers will wait years to get side body armor” (article, Stars and Stripes, Oct. 22), about the Marines getting new armor but the Army having to wait years for the same stuff, I was compelled to write.

I simply do not understand the Army’s (and military’s) giving fat government body armor contracts to provide me and my soldiers with inferior body armor.

What I am talking about is stubbornness on either the military’s or politicians’ part to provide soldiers with the best body armor available. Specifically, I am talking about Pinnacle Armor’s Dragon Skin body armor. Although this armor is far more expensive than the currently issued body armor, the multiple-hit ability and overall protective abilities of this armor make the “interceptor” body armor look like flattened soda cans by comparison. A full vest of the Dragon Skin armor was priced by me before coming to Iraq at $4,200.00. However, the government would actually save money using this armor because fewer soldiers would get killed.

It is the responsibility of your publication to tell the real story: Why are troops being issued inferior body armor and then being placed in harm’s way with it when superior body armor has existed for years?

All U.S. soldiers deserve the best, and what we are being issued is a far cry from what they deserve. Soldiers need to stop being scared or threatened at mobilization stations if they purchase their own armor; after all, it’s their butt on the line!

If the government wants to send us in harm’s way, that’s what the military is for (among many other reasons), but the government owes its soldiers the best protection available, not the cheapest.

Staff Sgt. David Anderson
Al Asad Air Base, Iraq 

Pacific edition

Anti-drinking ad ‘ridiculous’

I’m currently deployed to Afghanistan, where we get American Forces Network for our viewing pleasure. I had a concern about a commercial that runs continuously.

Three soldiers are sitting at a bar drinking when one soldier decides to leave. His battle buddies ask him if he wants a ride (as if they were OK to drive themselves) and the soldier declines after saying, “I’ll be fine. You two are the ones that can’t handle a couple of drinks.” He then departs the bar and sits on his motorcycle. As he reflects on situations, he finds it to be safer to go back inside and ask for a ride from the other soldiers who were still sitting at the bar drinking.

Doesn’t this show a complete breakdown in the buddy system as well as condoning drinking and driving? It seems to me a better commercial would have not allowed the soldier to leave in the first place. Also, to take it further, maybe the trio should have called a cab. I think it’s a ridiculous commercial and should be pulled.

Sgt. John R. Witteman
Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan

Sad over changes in AFN

I just finished reading “AFN radio won’t air World Series” (article, Oct. 20), about American Forces Network not airing the World Series on radio for the first time in 60 years. The problem is that there is a bit more to the story than was told in the article.

First and foremost is the fact that it was AFN Europe that caused this to happen. It decided at some point last year that a sports broadcast would interfere with its morning news program, so it wouldn’t air the sports. This led to the “survey” that everyone at AFN is talking about.

The problem is that I have yet to find anyone who actually participated in this survey. The information I got was from AFN headquarters.

It’s a shame that AFN radio has changed. My suggestion is that AFN radio just go away. The new format just doesn’t work for me. It’s a shame because radio used to be pleasant. I guess that now folks have to have visual stimulation instead of using their minds to actually think about something. Life sure has changed.

Tech. Sgt. Mike Roark (retired)
Ansbach, Germany

Suspension of habeas corpus

The assertion by the writer of “Constitutional couch potatoes” (letter, Oct. 24) that President Grant suspended writs of habeas corpus is not entirely accurate.

Grant was a peacetime president and no such blanket measures were necessary. Grant did, however, suspend habeas corpus only in specific counties of North Carolina to suppress Ku Klux Klan activity. Wartime President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus twice during the Civil War, in 1861 and 1862, as wartime measures similar to the measure President Bush has taken.

We really are at war and such measures are regrettably necessary.

John Bishop
Mannheim, Germany

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