Cody Lundin

“Over the years, Americans in particular have been all too willing to squander their hard-earned independence and freedom for the illusion of feeling safe under someone else's authority. The concept of self-sufficiency has been undermined in value over a scant few generations. The vast majority of the population seems to look down their noses upon self-reliance as some quaint dusty relic, entertained only by the hyperparanoid or those hopelessly incapable of fitting into mainstream society.”

― Cody Lundin, When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes

Sunday, October 23, 2016

33 Years to the Day.

Although to most people it's either entirely forgotten, or just a footnote to history, I always take today to remember the people we lost in Lebanon.  It was a Sunday morning then, too.  People were still sleeping when a big gas truck loaded with explosives drove into the Marine barracks at the Beirut airport and exploded inside. Hezbollah did it, at the behest of the Iranians. The United States never retaliated for it, and now we send them plane loads of cash in the middle of the night.

In those days, there wasn't any Al Qaida or ISIS, but there was the PLO. The Palestinian Liberation Organization. They were a bunch of skulking back shooters. Their targets were always civilians. Schools, school buses, old people. Think the Munich Massacre or Leon Klinghoffer being thrown into the ocean in his wheel chair, and you have the right bunch.

They had set up in Jordan, but the Jordanian King, Hussein, set his Bedouin Army loose on them on September 16, 1970. The Jordanians wiped the floor with them, and the ones who could get away ran into Lebanon, where they  took over wide swaths of the country and set themselves up as rulers. Lebanon was just a hodgepodge of warlord states, with a weak to nonexistent government. It was ruled by whoever had the most guns at the place you happened to be.

The PLO started coming down into Israel and killing civilians, and the Israelis, who never lack resolve or courage in dealing with terrorists, went after them hammer and tong. They invaded Southern Lebanon.  Their original intent was to go maybe 40 kilometers past the Litani river. If they cleared that, they could keep the PLO from shelling Northern Israeli settlements.

For reasons that are essentially political and uniquely Israeli, the Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, kept the operation going.  The Israelis tangled with the Syrians, and with different Islamic militias, and with the PLO.  They surrounded Beirut and were about to wipe out the PLO.

But the U.S. State Department saw an opportunity to curry favor with Islam. They sent a fat rug merchant named Philip Habib to negotiate a "resolution."  The Israelis were not overly enthusiastic about clearing Beirut in house to house street fighting, and eventually it was agreed that the PLO would abandon their vast weapons stores , evacuate Lebanon, and be dispersed among sympathetic Arab countries. But there was a snag. Nobody had asked the sympathetic Arab countries, and none of them wanted these "heroes" in their own backyard. 

So great wads of money changed hands, concessions to the Arabs were made, and the PLO was indeed evacuated, most of them to desert camps in North Africa where they eventually wandered off and exited the stage of world history.

 Troops from France, England, Italy and the United States were sent into Beirut to oversee the evacuation. Why we were protecting Islamic terrorists was not fully understood in the Fleet, but orders were orders.

After the evacuation, everybody left and that was supposed to be it. But back in Lebanon, the factions were hard at it.

Here's a program. You can't tell the players without a program.

The guy on the left is from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Their most notable achievements were an attack on an Israeli nursery school, and on a school bus in Israel. They were largely based around Sidon  . When the Israeli Army reached Sidon in 82, the PFLP distinguished itself by entrenching in a refugee camp, using the refugees as hostages, and killing anyone in the camp who wanted to leave, since the Israelis had offered safe passage out of the fighting zone.

The figure in the middle is a Mourabitoun,  That is, he's a "savior" or "guardian". The Mourabitoun were a far left wing Islamic militia, armed and controlled by Syria. They usually allied themselves with the PLO, but every once in awhile they'd fight the PLO, for the most part over turf. 

The fellow on the right is a Druze. If anybody understands the Druze, I never met them. They have a mystic religion that they can't share with outsiders, but it seems to have something to do with a holy rock. In Lebanon the Druze usually fought the Christians and the Moslems, they stayed in the mountains for the most part. The Druze had a well developed artillery arm in their forces and they liked to shoot at the Marines down in the flatlands around the airport from their positions in the Chouf mountains overlooking the city.

 When we were there, they were led by a pop eyed little weasel named Walid Jumblatt.  He didn't have it in for the multinational peacekeeping forces, but he didn't mind killing them for the hell of it either.

When Israel  first wrote it's laws for mandatory military service, the Israeli  Druze (Druze living inside the borders of Israel)  were exempted. But the Israeli Druze elders were incensed. They demanded their young men be drafted for military service. (The Druze pride themselves on being warlike)  So the Israeli Druze serve in the Israeli Army. They do it well, largely in elite units like the border guards,  are highly respected, and have no compunction about killing other Druze in the course of duty. Nobody understands the Druze.

These are typical Palestinian "fighters."  Although they were supposed to have been evacuated from Lebanon, of course the vast majority remained and they kept up their attacks on the Israelis and anyone else who came within range.  One thing you could be sure of in Lebanon, today's friends were tomorrow's enemies, and all these groups fought each other at the drop of a hat. The Marines at the airport were sitting right in the middle of all this.

The man on the left is from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.  This was a PLO splinter group. In reality, the PLO was made up of a bunch of splinter groups. They fought each other when they were not fighting the Christians, the Islamic militias, the Israelis, the Druze, or just passing bandit gangs.  The center figure and the figure on the right are "main stream" PLO, i.e. loyal to the Toad in Chief, Yasser Arafat.

Al Fatah.  originally established by Arafat in 1958.  By 1982 they were a power in themselves. Very nasty characters, they were terrorists before it was "cool" to be a terrorist. 

The Syrians.  Syria considers Lebanon a "break away" part of Greater Syria. They had two divisions in Lebanon in 1982 and they fought some toe to toe battles with the Israelis. They are old enemies. The Syrians occupied Beirut during a civil war in the late 1970's.  (In that war, the Christians and the Moslems slaughtered each other wholesale. The Moslems exterminated all the residents of one village in the mountains, killing 3000 men, women and children. They beat some of the wounded to death with welding rods.)

More Syrians.  After the bombing, President Reagan, acting on the advice of his coterie of idiots in the White House, attacked Syrian training camps in the Bekaa valley.  The CIA had irrefutable evidence that the Iranians had ordered Hezbollah to  bomb the barracks, but the Syrians were easier to get at. France attacked some Iranian training camps in the Bekaa by air (Syria and Iran are allies), but when we went in there a few days later, they shot up our aircraft and knocked down an A6 Intruder. The pilot was killed,  Jesse Jackson flew to Damascus, where Assad released the bombardier navigator (who was black) to him amidst great pomp and circumstance.

The three figures from the left are Lebanese Army.  The army was supposed to be made up of Moslems and Christians, but the Moslems always deserted as soon as the fighting  started, because the Army was always fighting the PLO, or the Moslem Militias. "fighting" is kind of a misnomer since they only had one brigade that could really fight, the rest of them were worthless. Once the Marines got in   there a  second time, (After Bashir Gemayel , the designated new President of Lebanon was blown up by the Chaumon Family, another Christian mob)  we started training them and they made decent soldiers if decently led. Their problem was that their officers were all from the upper social strata, looked down on the soldiers as animals, and most of them couldn't have led themselves out of a wet paper sack. The one decent brigade became two decent brigades, but we supported them with naval gunfire in the end, and that started everybody else shooting at the Marines , because we had "taken sides." The Lebanese Army "played" the Americans, tricking the State Department into giving them supplies the Marines needed, and into providing direct support they really didn't need, in outright combat operations. It was to identify us as allies of the Lebanese Army, and it worked. Both MAU (Marine Amphibious Unit) commanders warned Sixth Fleet about what the Lebanese were doing, which warned the CINCUSNAVEUR , which warned the Pentagon, which warned the State Department, which blew the warnings off because "the military , my dears, just doesn't understand how  these things work in Lebanon, don't you know? Really, they need to leave these matters to the professionals!"

The guy on the far right below is one of Major Saad  Haddad's Southern Lebanon Forces. Haddad was a rebel Army officer who set up his own fiefdom in Southern Lebanon, with Israeli help, and fought the PLO. His troops were Israeli trained and supplied, and were actually pretty good.

The two on the left are "Phalange."  Christian Militia, operating under the aegis of several leading Christian "Dons." The "Dons" were exactly like the mafia. They controlled hunks of territory, maintained their own armies, controlled businesses, both legitimate and illegal. They were supposed to be Israeli allies, but in reality they were no ones allies, and when they weren't fighting the PLO, the Moslem militias, the Druze or whoever, they fought each other. They were the absolute least trustworthy people in Lebanon, as far as I could tell, and it was their machinations that brought on the next round of the multinational peacekeeping force, but more on that later.....

The Israeli navy operated off the coast of Lebanon. They had patrol boats, like giant PT boats but much more capable.  I can remember being on the signal bridge of the Puget Sound one night. It's an open air bridge on the ships superstructure. The Israeli patrol boats were exchanging fire with someone ashore (God knows who), and we watched the tracers , green and red, floating back and forth between the Israeli patrol boats and the terrorists around the beach.  Tracers look really slow flying through the air, but if they are aimed at you they speed up a lot. These exchanges usually ended with big explosions ashore because the Israelis would call in artillery from their forces ashore and that would be that.  The Israelis were good at interdicting terrorist movements along the shore, but with warships from Israel, America, Britain, Italy and France just off the coast it was a real goat rope. Unknown groups in the city would occasionally take pot shots at the ships, with everything from artillery to small arms fire, even through they could not have had any idea who they were shooting at.

Imagine flying a helicopter into the Marine position ashore. Everybody and their dog in the city had assault rifles , machine guns and RPG's if nothing else once you crossed the beach. And there you'd be , in a low, slow helicopter up in the air.  I talked to one crew chief whose aircraft had taken small arms fire, and he told me his ass was biting washers out of the  canvas seat cover the whole way in.  I knew what he meant.

These are Israeli troops as they looked in Lebanon in 1982-1983.  Elite units like the paratroopers were very impressive. Israelis fought well.  They are a reserve army, in the sense that they have very small active duty forces, but they maintain reserve skeleton outfits and when they mobilize, just about every able bodied man is called up. They usually have vast numbers of older men, no longer subject to call up, who report to their old units anyway. After all, when the Israelis fight, their women and children and old people are literally right behind them. They don't have any "defense in depth" they don't have any ocean between them and the barbarians.

There was trouble between the U.S. Marines and the Israelis. It was all the fault of that fat pig Habib, and his lickspittles in the State Department. And of course, the people sitting in the White house, in air conditioned offices. The problem was that Reagan didn't want it to look like we were cooperating with the Israelis, because that might have offended some Moslems. So he forbid any exchange of liaison officers. He may have been a great actor but you could have put what he knew in a thimble when it came to military operations.

You cannot put military units in close proximity to each other without exchanging liaison officers. You can't even put U.S. Army and U.S. Marine units next to each other without doing that. You have to know what the other guy is doing, and you have to have someone with your commander, who can explain what his commander is doing and why. If you don't, there will be blood on the ground. The lowliest private knows this.

But we had Israeli troops right up to our wire, and we were not supposed to speak to them. Colonel Stokes, the commander of the Marines ashore who was eventually rotated out with his men, finally just ignored the State Department after some incidents with Israeli tanks coming into our perimeter. He set up a meeting with the Israeli General in the area, and  they ironed all that out. But not before a lot of bad blood was stirred up between the Marines and the Israeli troops. And all because of our asinine politicians.  The Israelis never shelled us, and it worked out thanks to the courage of Colonel Stokes (who, by the way, I did not like. He once embarrassed me at a big staff meeting . I was right and he was wrong, but that's a story for another time.)

There's something else, too. After the bombing, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) offered us the use of Israeli medical facilities for our wounded.  20 minutes by helicopter to the best medical facilities in the Middle East, staffed by doctors and nurses who were very familiar with battle wounds and trauma.

But the  State Department told Reagan that we could not accept this offer, as it would "offend" Moslem countries.  So instead, our wounded were taken to medical facilities on the ships, or flown to Cyprus or  to Europe.  People who could have been saved died because of this. Instead of twenty minutes, they spent hours getting to the hospitals. You know what the "Golden Hour" is? It's the first hour after you get injured. If you get to good medical care within that hour, you have a much better chance of making it than if you don't.  I'm mad when I think about this and it's hard not to use bad language.


Then there was the multinational peace keeping force. USMC,  French Foreign Legion, Italian San Marco Brigade, and a tiny detachment of British with armored cars.

Marines , 1983

Marine Infantry, 1983.  The man on the left is a Grenadier. The drawing is from a picture of Marines coming ashore in Beirut from landing craft. The middle figure is a reconnaissance Marine. The man on the right is an LVT crewman.  (Landing Vehicle Tank)

So, we had all these different groups, fighting each other, randomly.  The Marines were sent back in after the head of one of the Christian militias, who was supposed to be the next Lebanese President, got blown up by a bomb at a meeting.  Lebanon went berserk.

 It turned out the bomb was planted on the orders of another Christian militia leader, but by then they'd forgotten what they were fighting about anyway. It was just business as usual. Everybody shooting at everybody else.

All the different players  got around to shooting at the Multi National Force except the Israelis and the Lebanese Army, although with that much lead in the air in such a small place, I'm sure some of what landed in the Marine positions was inadvertent fire from those two as well.

There wasn't any stabilizing it, the Marine position got worse and worse, with sniping, small arms and heavy machine gun fire,  and very strong mortar and artillery fire , especially at night.  The Navy had to use their ships in support of the Marines, up to and including the last battleship, the New Jersey. The Marines on the ground replied with their small arms, light machine guns,  artillery and tank fire. Everyone back in the states was being told this was a "peacekeeping mission" but  the Marines in Beirut  were receiving combat pay.

Then the bombing happened and that was that. After that,  We pulled out as soon as we could without a complete loss of face. The Israelis maintained positions in Southern Lebanon for some time, withdrew, and had to go back in against Hezbollah a few years later.

Signal bridge,  off Lebanon 1983.  U.S.S, Puget Sound, flagship of the Sixth Fleet.

American warships off Lebanon, 1982

Huey going ashore off Beirut

Cobra going ashore , off the Lebanese coast. Two cobras were always on standby alert.  I only remember one occasion when they went in shooting, but it's been 33 years so I may be wrong on that.

CH-46 headed for the Beirut Airport, where the Marines ashore were forted up.  This was the mainstay logistics and assault (i.e. troop carrier)  helicopter of the Marine Corps in those days.

Directly behind the barracks was a CONEX box that had been converted into a long range communications terminal.  I spent some time there. It was run by a fellow I'd known before over the years in the Marine Corps.

This picture was taken on the Thursday before the bombing. I was going out to the Puget Sound. She was going back to Naples, and the Colonel I worked for said I could go with her, spend the weekend with my wife, and come back when Puget Sound returned the following week.

Sunday morning , October 23, 1983 I got up early. My wife was still asleep. I made some coffee and went out on the balcony of our little villa, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We didn't have a phone. Only very senior officers had phones in their villas. Phones were scarce in Italy then.

I turned on the radio, and tuned it to the Armed Force Radio and Television Network, which was how most of us got our news. The announcer said there were reports of a large scale attack on the Marines in Beirut. I got dressed, took the car, and went into Naples to the AFSOUTH headquarters where my staff , COMSTRIKFORSOUTH, was located. Things went down hill from there.

And that's what I remember today.

You can stop people on the street (I've done it) and ask them if they remember the Beirut bombing, and hardly anyone has a clue what you are talking about. But that two year endeavor was big news in America 33 years ago.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cold, Windy and Dry.

The wind outside today has been bringing down all sorts of things out of the trees. Branches, dead limbs, and most of the remaining leaves.  It's been awhile since I've been down the mountain but I will have to go down and check the mailbox before much longer.

This is just a short post, I have some things that people sent me I wanted to post. Haven't been doing much so there isn't a lot to tell.

This video is depressing. When we were stationed in Europe, 1982-1984, my wife and I went to Paris frequently. It was a beautiful city, and despite what people say the French always treated us very kindly. Maybe because my wife speaks fluent French.  Whatever the cause, we sure enjoyed it. The French Military Museum and Napoleon's Tomb are there and I never got tired of visiting.

I got this video when I fired up the computer. If Hillary gets elected, then this is what the streets of our major cities will look like . I can't really believe the French tolerate this.

No thought for the day, but here are some good cartoons.  I will be back with the blog pretty shortly, I know it hasn't been up to par for a while, but things have been a bit hectic.  All settled down now though.

Hillary advocates unlimited immigration. This is what she's going to do to us once she gets elected.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Out of touch for a few days.

I am going to have to have a little hospital time this week. It is nothing serious, at all.  Just some routine things associated with being older. Nothing interesting or dramatic, alas.

I won't have access to a computer until Wednesday if all goes as planned. So I won't be able to release comments or respond, or check other blogs. But I'll catch up ASAP.  I think I have cleared my decks in terms of responding to emails or comments right now, but if I missed someone it wasn't intentional.

In the interim, here are some good cartoons a friend sent me tonight.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

CC: Repost your comment, will you?

I tried to publish your comment that started  "I like the really green chilis". I think I hit delete instead of publish. Sorry.

A really good post on a friends blog. Twenty Mile Adventure Run on the Appalachian Trail.

I always try to get something positive out of every day.  If I do, even some small and relatively unimportant achievement, I can sleep well at night. But if I don't, I feel badly about it.  It's not just that I'm older now.  Even when I was a young man, I had the feeling that life is short, and there aren't days to be wasted.

I have a friend who writes a blog about lots of different things. Never political. She's a mother, a wife, works a job, and lives on a mountain farm.  She's a big reader, and she's a long distance runner.

I saw this post today, and I thought, "that's so good, I know others would enjoy it too." So I am putting a link here to it.  Just something about it, made me feel lighter in spirit.

Two Bears and the cubs.

It's a story about running on the Appalachian Trail, and seeing the bears.

I never ran on the trail, but I sure used to hike parts of it. I live just a few miles below it.