In regard to Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials’ decision not to show “The Tillman Story” in AAFES theaters (“Base theaters pass on ‘The Tillman Story,’ ” article, Sept. 2): Do they really think their audience is so naive to accept their lame explanation that the movie does not apply to a wide audience?

This is nothing more than censorship, and it is an embarrassment to our country, a staunch advocate against censorship. If AAFES officials stand by this decision to not show controversial films, they should at least give their audience a legitimate reason.

Steve Lawson

Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Commentary on front page

The Aug. 30 front-page story “American Islam: Debate over NYC Islamic center may affect the future of Muslim integration in the U.S.” was among the most blatant displays of media bias I have come across in a long time. I don’t necessarily fault the Associated Press reporter for what she wrote. I would actually like to call out the Stars and Stripes editorial staff for not recognizing clear bias, the likes of which belongs in the Opinion section of your paper.

Specifically, the reporter wrote this: “Heroes have emerged from outside the Muslim community. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been steadfast in his support for the project. Jon Stewart nightly mocks the bigotry that the protest unleashed.”

What? Are you kidding? Almost two-thirds of Americans are against building the mosque there. People I have talked with have stated that the mosque builders have a right to put it there, just that it offends the sensibilities of many. So, regardless of the reasons, the reporter went way overboard in characterizing people who do not support the mosque as “bigots” (inferred), as well as calling those with whom she agrees heroes.

That article clearly belonged on your Opinion page, [for] which I fault your paper.

Sgt. 1st Class Ray Calef

Joint Base Balad, Iraq

Foremost a criminal act

Regarding the Aug. 30 column “ ‘Anchor baby’ mentality just mean-spirited” (Opinion, Alvaro Huerta): If you enter the United States legally and have a child, that child should be entitled to be an American citizen.

The 14th Amendment was not created in order to reward criminal behavior. It should not be a loophole and reward people who have committed a crime and have a baby in the commission of a crime. Therefore, all that is needed is to change the wording to meet the intent.

The children of illegal aliens should be citizens of the parents’ native country. All illegal aliens are criminals, period! That Alvaro Huerta has used the terms “white” and “brown” is race-baiting.

Illegal aliens come from virtually every country in the world. They are made up of people of all colors, races, religions and ethnic makeups. There is no one race for illegal aliens. The one thing they have in common is they are criminals. The broad paintbrush Huerta uses on Republicans, conservatives and any group that supports enforcing the laws of the United States shows his true intent, the race card.

The color of the skin has no role in this debate. The only thing we need to remember is that illegal aliens are criminals and that we should never reward criminal behavior. Millions of people are waiting for the privilege to enter the United States legally. They would love the opportunity to be called an American citizen one day. Let us not allow a group of criminals to diminish or cheapen the title of American citizen.

Staff Sgt. David Lacey

Forward Operating Base Gardez, Afghanistan

No need to be medal-driven

Is the author of “Awards are a puzzle” (letter, Aug. 27) objecting to a medal that he received or for one of his subordinates? I hope it’s the latter.

I’m retired Army and the sad truth is that the military awards system is an absolute failure. Examples [include] Operation Desert Storm: Third Armored Division decides that only staff sergeants and above would receive Bronze Stars. And in Iraq: First Cavalry Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom II repeats the practice of awarding medals based on rank by awarding Bronze Stars only to sergeants first class and above. Many of these awardees never saw combat.

To be fair, that unnamed lieutenant colonel mentioned in the letter probably does not know the letter writer. He goes by recommendations and usually has a quota. Some medals should be respected for sacrifices the recipient makes for us; most will be quickly forgotten.

Because of this, when recommended for a medal, I often asked for a day off instead. I often offered my soldiers the same. Guess which one they picked?

In the end, the letter writer and those with whom he served know what they did. Worrying about some shiny piece of metal seems somewhat trivial, don’t you think?

And if this isn’t enough: “The number of medals on an officer’s breast varies in inverse proportion to the square of the distance of his duties from the front line.”

— Charles Edward Montague (Probably truer than ever today)

“The easiest and quickest path into the esteem of traditional military authorities is by the appeal to the eye, rather than to the mind. The ‘polish and pipeclay’ school is not yet extinct, and it is easier for the mediocre intelligence to become an authority on buttons, than on tactics.”

— Capt. Sir Basil Liddel Hart, in “Thoughts on War,” 1944

I thank the letter writer for the sacrifices he has made and will make serving our country.

Ray Storey


‘Green Cell’ would help

Stars and Stripes recently published a précis concerning WikiLeaks releasing a CIA Red Cell document (“Latest post on WikiLeaks has no new revelations,” article, Aug. 27). This cell gives civilian leaders “alternate views” concerning current problems and policies. Similarly, the Army should create a “Green Cell” to limit groupthink. This could address current tribulations facing the Army: bureaucracy, recruitment, talent retention and promotions.

Bureaucracy: Each level of command adds to policy, which enervates one’s ability to accomplish missions. The current fear of cyberattacks is a great example (“Pentagon discloses ’08 cyberattack,” article, Aug. 26). To obtain access to a military computer one must complete five online training sessions, and sign three user agreements (four pages each) for the battalion, brigade and command. Not to be left out, Army Knowledge Online has users answer 20 questions that appear at random prior to checking e-mail. Green Cell says: Quit letting junior levels supplement the standard.

Recruitment: Army recruiters devote resources to areas of low economic and education levels, concentrating on the South and ignoring dense populations. Green Cell says: Recruiting in diverse areas leads to better representation within the ranks.

Talent retention: DA PAM 600-3 is a hegemonic dictator controlling officer careers. Refusal to [cower] to this tyrannical tome results in separation. Green Cell says: Do away with key development and promote based off performance instead of pulse. This ensures talent retention, as opposed to an Army managed by “the best of the rest.”

Promotions: Obtaining specialist in 18 months, sergeant in less than 30, and in some cases staff sergeant in 42 months is detrimental. Similarly, obtaining captain at 38 months is unconscionable. Green Cell says: Realistic promotion rates would enable the building and mentoring of leadership.

Creation of a Green Cell would eliminate the need for craven sycophants to perform potlatch ceremonies for flag officers.

First Lt. Morgan C. Lerette

Joint Security Station Justice, Iraq

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