Friday, December 10, 2010

A Final Farewell

"In her life, Elizabeth Edwards knew tragedy and pain... many others in the face of such adversity would have given up...but through all that she endured...and revealed a kind of fortitude and grace that will long remain a source of inspiration."

It is another beautiful day here today…clear skies and just a subtle hint that winter is well on its way…yet for those of us who feel that life is about seconded chances…a hero has passed.

A woman who was known by many...not only here but across the globe...has passed away from a bout with terminal cancer. That woman was Mary Elizabeth Edwards…and for so many of us across this great Nation…the skies have somehow clouded over.

Mrs. Edwards was not from Virginia however her principles and her forthright manner made her a celebrity here…not because of political affiliations…far from it…but because she was a three time survivor…and Virginia has always championed survivors...no matter the political affiliation.

She lost her 16 year old son in a vehicular accident during a freak storm in 1996…a loss that punctuated her daily thoughts…and of which she always referred to it as the “worst day of her life”…

She survived an initial diagnosis of cancer and the devastating effects of radiation and chemotherapy…so that she could join her husband on the campaign trail…

She survived the betrayal that was a husband’s illicit affair and the negative, painful publicity that came from his actions…

Yes…Elizabeth Edwards was a survivor…but more then that she was a compassionate, caring and erstwhile mother who in the end, despite all the bad that had come her way, maintained a grace and dignity that few of us will ever achieve…especially in the face of constant and at times overwhelming adversity.

Today, Elizabeth Edwards left us…but she left us so much better then we were before...

Keep me safe
And in your heart
And hold me…
Till my end

For in my life
And with your love
A vision
God…did send

Rest well Mrs. Edwards and God Speed…for the world is a far better place today because you were part of it…


Brian

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More…and more…it’s about Craigslist.com!


In the Beginning
Like many of you I use the Internet on a regular basis...and I often find myself using Craigslist to buy and sell various items including...yes...Christmas presents...I have bought and sold a plethora of items via this medium for several years. Several days ago I sat back and calculated just what I have bought and sold via this online clearing house…and the list was staggering to say the least!

1. A BMW convertible 325I of which this car has been an absolute blessing for Ian and I; we still drive it...and it's a "rocket ship" on 4 wheels...yet fantastic on gas!

2. A Dodge 4x4 Truck which was one of just a few vehicles actually mobile this past winter in DC – while others were stuck...we were blissfully driving by and throwing a “snatch-line” and rescuing stranded motorists all along the I-95 corridor...or transiting the BW Parkway to get to MD for ice hockey that never got can cancelled!

3. A 1996 Chevy Suburban that belonged to a fire department in "BFE" Colorado; this was the same truck that the window was shot out while I turned on Route 1 in Stafford last year - the boys named it BART...Big @ss Red Truck!

4. Various motorcycles including the boys 4 wheelers; a dirt bike; and a dual sport motorcycle used to "save money" going to work...that never happened...but still a very nice bike!

5. Hockey equipment for both boys as well as officials gear...and yes...even lacrosse gear too!

6. Text books for school (mine...not Jake's!)

7. A BMW Z-3 with no engine…but a gorgeous convertible

8. Skis and various pieces of ski gear (still looking for pants for Ian as we speak!)

9. Ski lift passes for Maryland, Utah and New Hampshire

10. A computer from a guy in dark parking lot in Alexandria

11. Computer programs from another guy in a dark parking lot

12. Computer services from a guy who said “never buy a computer from a guy in a dark parking lot”

13. A long wool jacket

14. A tuxedo to go with the long wool jacket

15. etc; etc; etc

Virtually every item listed above has also been placed for sale and subsequently sold to others via the medium....usually with 10-15 others wanting to at least take a look at it!

Craigslist is the place to go today for much of what I need in my daily life…and when I think I need something surely it can be found on CL – which is short for Craigslist for those of us, in the know!

This weekend we scored big…I mean really big…but before I go there I am not sure many of you knew the “history of CL” …so in a nutshell here it is!

Historically Speaking

Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements – with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, services, community, gigs, resumes, and discussion forums. Craig Newmark began the service in 1995 as an email distribution list of friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, before becoming a web-based service in 1996. After incorporation as a private for-profit company in 1999, Craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four in 2001 and 2002 each, and 14 in 2003.

In 2009, Craigslist operated with a staff of 28 people.[3] Its main source of revenue is paid job ads in select cities – $75 per ad for the San Francisco Bay Area; $25 per ad for New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia, Orange County (California) and Portland, Oregon – and paid broker apartment listings in New York City ($10 per ad).

The site serves over twenty billion page views per month, putting it in 33rd place overall among web sites worldwide and 7th place overall among web sites in the United States (per Alexa.com on June 28, 2010), with over 49.4 million unique monthly visitors in the United States alone (per Compete.com on January 8, 2010). With over eighty million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over two million new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world. The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements to personal ads.

The site is notable for having undergone only minor design changes since its inception; even by 1996 standards, the design is very simple. Since 2001, the site design has remained virtually unchanged, and as of April 2010, Craigslist continues to avoid using images and uses only minimal CSS and JavaScript, a design philosophy common in the late 1990s but almost unheard of today for a major website. In December 2006, at the UBS Global Media Conference in New York, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told Wall Street analysts that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead it prefers to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.

The company does not formally disclose financial or ownership information (like any good privately held organization). Analysts and commentators have reported varying figures for its annual revenue, ranging from $10 million in 2004, $20 million in 2005, and $25 million in 2006 to possibly $150 million in 2010.
Fast forward…to Harley

So while the minions were standing in line at Wal-Mart (don’t get me going on this one) on “Black Friday” I was still looking for ski pants on CL…and found Harley…not a Harley (I have one) but Harley the chocolate lab. He needed a new home and we figured we could provide that…and more! Full blooded and full of energy...he was the "one" we had been looking for...so we scooped him up! Oh...and by the way...did I tell you that this 16 month old animal knows how to turn off the light switch on the wall?

Enjoy…and thank you CL...he is a great addition to the family!



Brian

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving...with a note!

“You choose how you live your life and with whom you live it with. You also decide how you will respond to life’s incessant challenges. When life is at its very worst- who do you pick to be by your side? Who is your champion through adversity? Life is short and often far from easy. Life’s challenges do not come with a “time-out” but, how we address them is the difference between existing or surpassing all expectations”
The Life On Point Group COO


Another holiday season is starting…and yet for this one I have to reflect back on the past year and take solace…just a few more weeks till the TF Hayes ski trip…the one time of the year where I take a break and concentrate on skiing and my family...and not on the commercialization that has become the holidays!  


It's evening in Burma and for my counterparts fighting for survival…and it’s just another day. You should all take solace as you enjoy time with family and friends today…nobody is hunting you as you wake from a deep and comfortable sleep; nobody is lobbing mortar rounds into your backyard as you serve the turkey; and nobody is shooting at you as you make your way from one neighbors house to the other…consider it a good day…for that is what it is!

I sat around the table last year and we all asked what we were thankful for…some of the answers were comical…. (“I am thankful for football Mr. Brian”) and yet all of them were more about being together as a family unit…that is what is truly important…and that is where I want to be…with my family.

Tomorrow will start the one time of the year that I really do not like…pre-Christmas shopping! The roads in and around the house will be clogged with shoppers making their way to the mall to get 10% off the next purchase…or to buy some gift that will never be truly appreciated.

While on our way home yesterday we discussed the true meaning of the holidays…I understand it’s a time for families and reflection…about putting aside everything that has happened this year (and years past) and for just a few moments realizing the importance that comes from being together. It’s amazing how many people forget that…and those are the folks that will be standing in line at Wal-Mart tonight at midnight for a chance to get a LCD Television set for $199…it is a sad state of affairs when you look at the holiday season strictly from a consumer standpoint…but that is what it has become!

My Grandfather use to put a dollar in the Salvation Army kettle anytime he could…and when he could no longer make the trip he would send my Grandmother….and yet I watch countless folks walk by that same kettle carrying overflowing bags filled with gifts, food, etc…and they turn the opposite way so as not to make eye contact with the bell ringer…I think to myself what a sad state of affairs…where we no longer have care for fellow man that we could not spare change in an effort to buy a meal or provide some shelter to a displaced family…those are the things that make the holidays complete…being with my family and making a difference in the lives of others.

Now…I know there will be those who disagree with me and that is fine…I am not telling you not to go stand at Wal-Mart or Target with the rest of the minions…far from it…what I am stating is that during the holiday season for less then the cost of that TV, stereo or some toy that will be discarded in a month or two…you can make a difference at this time of year who really need it…its your call!

Planning on getting some lunch and then further planning on departure back to Asia…a lot of work to do and so little time to do it…add to it some medical appointments and the dissertation board and I am “racked and stacked” with things to do…and yes…I am still looking for yellow ski pants for Ian…so if you see them while in line please drop me a note!

Happy Holidays



Brian

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time Goes On....and On

“Adversity is beating the odds, standing strong when the easiest thing to do is to hide or runaway...we chose to stand in the face of adversity because it is either our natural temperament or because we believe in something”
The Life On Point Group COO


Yesterday was one of those days where you never really have enough time to get done what needs to get done in the life of a productive citizen…don’t get me wrong…I accomplished a host of activities in that 24 hour period however I still have more to go and much more to do today…some of which I could have done yesterday but I choose to put off for various reasons…book signing events; lodging for the ski trip; travel arrangements for Asia; food shopping; etc are now on the calendar for today versus yesterday when I should have accomplished these mundane tasks…but I did not.

So what did I do with the precious 24 hours that was 22 November, 2010? A quick breakdown;
1. Dinner at 5 Guys Burgers: What was memorable about this meal was not the burger itself but the two toddlers that were watching us eat our meal – it made me think back to Jake and Ian playing with french-fries at the table. These two kids were quite comical and without a care in the world as they devoured the food in front of them while providing a free show for those fortunate enough to be in close proximity. It made me think of how much I missed being that father of such young boys! I always had a dream of having 4 boys to raise…hmmm…I wonder…just two more!
2. Searching for my Ski pants: I had no idea of where the hell I put my pants from last season – trivial I know BUT I have had these pants for almost 10 years and they are a part of my skiing persona…Jake and Ian have always told me that I needed to buy a new pair to bring myself “up to date”…well that time has finally come…the pants were thrown out back in July along with a bunch of other stuff…a very long and costly story that has yet to be resolved…oh well…over to Overstock.com!
3. Consolidating the Life On Point Group: I divested myself of a former organization that I was holding on to (Life On Point Therapy Group) simply because we were not going to use it anymore. I was contacted several weeks ago about utilization of the name and its close approximation to another existing organization…so rather then fight about it I relinquished the domain name (Life On Point Therapy Group) as of 22 November, 2010. Now some of you may ask “what the hell is Life On Point Therapy Group?” – well this was an initiative started in 2008 in order to facilitate counseling services after I completed my doctorate studies…well with everything that is happening with our not for profit organization, my personal health as well as ongoing work in Asia I thought it best that my focus remain within the not for profit community…henceforth the decision to forgo Life On Point Therapy Group. My discussions with the president of the organization that will take over/utilize that name went well and I wish them nothing but the best.
4. More ski pants: Now Ian called me yesterday…I can’t tell you how much I enjoy our conversations…he has become so “British” in his sarcasm, wit and humor…well I had thrown out the question several days ago asking “do you need anything for the upcoming ski trip”…to which Ian replied that he needed “neon yellow snowboarding pants”…now I have been skiing since I was 4 years old and in that time I have NEVER had a piece of “neon-anything” never mind psychedelic yellow snowboarding pants…but we have a saying here…”what Ian wants…Ian gets” and so it was off to the internet to find said pants. It should be noted that conventional colors such as brown, blue, black and tan cost far less then neon pink, yellow and green…SIGNIFICANTLY LESS! I sent Ian a picture of some nice used ones from E-Bay…wonder why he has not called me back yet?
5. Updates on Asia: I spent considerable time speaking with my boss regarding funding and support for our efforts in Asia. One thing I have found is that in the not for profit world you are continually running to find funding…its not like a conventional job where paychecks “magically” appear in the bank twice a month…no...that is not the way it happens when charities and not for profit organizations are in need…besides planning for operations we also discussed funding streams for 2011 and beyond and just how much is enough given our plans for the future. It costs money to do charitable acts across the globe…and the reality of it is that the greater the charitable act the larger the funding needed!


"Why Burma...and why now?"
Somebody recently asked me why I care so much about Burma…to which I stared at them sipping their full fat Double Mocha-Latte in Starbucks and carefully picked my words...I said quite frankly...“because nobody else does” … a recently published Reuters news piece captured the essence of why I care…the interview was conducted while I was in country and gets to both US policy as well as the international community’s views on Burma;

“A significant reapportionment of US Government aid is in order, so that it is focused on internally displaced persons (IDPs) and villagers under attack inside Burma. The case is now that around $10,000,000 is spent in Thailand principally on 150,000 refugees there, while less than $2,000,000 is spent inside Burma where many times that number of villagers are at risk, under attack or on the run”

Recently, Baroness Cox, a prominent member of the British House of Lords and no stranger to Burma visited the border areas with Thailand - having run her own not for profit organization prior to entering politics she is no stranger to what is happening to the Karen people – she was asked to comment on the assistance being provided by the international community - her response albeit short and quite blunt hits the mark in so many ways…and causes one to think about what we are doing versus what we should be doing:

“It’s kind of like handing a pillow to a repeated rape victim just as she is about to be ravaged yet again. No matter how noble or helpful at the moment, it does not get at the proximate cause. These impoverished people have been denied the fundamental right to protect themselves. Nothing will change until they have this capacity.”

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving…and like many of you I have much to be thankful for…and yet still so much more to do. The day is over 8 hours old and I have yet to make a dent in what needs to be done…top of the list…neon yellow ski pants for Ian!

Warmest regards



Brian

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Burma Update

"Burma is at the center of a torrent of powerful economic forces, and at the same time its political system is frozen...decades of pursuing policies of isolation and sanctions by the U.S. have done little to influence change in Burma, so it’s time to do something different.” General Wesley Clark


Good Afternoon

It has been a whirlwind of activity since coming back to the States from our tour in Burma – we have been focused on not for profit status and filing with the government; assistance to other organizations conducting relief work and expanding the Life On Point Group – these activities alone have kept us hoping! Add into the daily routine continued preparations (already underway) to head back into Asia and rest assured that it has been non-stop every hour of every day!

I have several key appointments coming up over the course of the next several weeks that will have me focusing on health issues (“yes I still have them”) as well as my doctoral dissertation defense board (scheduled for December 3rd in Washington DC) as well as strategy sessions focused on support to the Karen people. ..Suffice to say December and January will be busy months. Add into the fray the yearly Task Force Hayes Ski Trip as well as several book signings and work on the follow-on manuscript and time will quickly become a precious commodity.

The Life On Point Group Update

Just a quick note on what has happened over the past 3 weeks since getting back. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma) strongly condemned the Burmese military regime’s continued use of repressive and restrictive measures during the election process which ultimately ensured that the outcome of the general elections perpetuated continued military control of the country. The regime continues to ignore calls by the democratic movement in Burma, ethnic groups, and the international community to release all political prisoners, cease hostilities against ethnic groups, and engage in genuine dialogue with all key stakeholders...not until after securing “victory” did the junta release political prisoners illegally detained.

As an aside and something I had not covered previously, in September, the election commission cancelled voting in over 3,400 villages in Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Mon, and Shan states, where ethnic groups dominate...and several of these were areas where the Life On Point Team had been operating. As many as 1.5 million people are believed to have been disenfranchised by this action! At the same time, serious international crimes, including extra-judicial killings, forced labor, torture, rape and recruitment of child soldiers, continue to be documented and are a daily routine in Burma.

The international community (of which you are all now part of!) should have no illusion of what these oppressive elections will produce....a delay in democracy and national reconciliation in Burma. In the aftermath of the elections, the world must step up its support for all human rights defenders and the democratic movement in Burma and spare no efforts in holding the military regime, whether in its current or future structure, accountable for the serious international crimes. For over 40 years the world has watched the repression in Burma and only uttered statements. It’s time to act.

This is where the Life On Point Team and The Life On Point Group will make its mark...in Burma

Enjoy...and much more to follow!

Brian

Friday, October 29, 2010

Going the Distance

Good Morning - it has been a whirlwind week since being home and will be capped by a weekend of officiating hockey. I am looking forward to some testing at the UVA Medical Center initiated by a very close friend of ours when I get back which will "hopefully" address either the overall heart issue or the reality of a latent viral disease that has been misdiagnosed for several years...as I have said before..."you can't make this stuff up!"

I will be keeping this short today as I have many things to do...but as we were sitting together the other night we realized that this blog is seen by a lot of people - over 3000 last month alone! Blogspot has a tool in its configuration called "Stats" that allows its authors to track readership within the blog itself...and when you engage this option you quickly realize that there are a lot of people out there on the Internet. Places as far away as China, Indonesia and Russia have shown steady readership based on the "tags" that we have put in place within our postings. Back home the hits are very heavy in places like Missouri and Wyoming where my COO is from --- probably checking on the durability of our relationship or where to find a good "Dunkin Donuts Shop" --- as well as Massachusetts, Texas, California and...dare I say...Virginia!

This blog is a great tool that we are going to tie the current book, our new charitable organization (The Life On Point Group) as well as our co-authored book (tentatively titled..."They Never Knew...Until Now") directly too foster additional readers. I had no idea of the overall readership of blogs across the world especially in areas such as humanitarian relief, military, health and welfare, family abuse, pregnancy, skiing, hockey, etc...all matters that we will be writing and dealing with over the coming months. One of the stories will focus on the establishment of our not-for-profit and organization and the "Red Tape" encountered in just trying to do the right thing for people in need...suffice to say that we in the United States are all about paperwork and this will be a story that hopefully will change the outlook of many of our readers...especially as it pertains to Burma!

Now I am sure that many of you know that the most popular television show on cable TV today is...Professional Wrestling...I kid you not! If you take a pole and ask who watches this satire play out on the screen you get the typical "I would never watch that" ... well somebody is according to the Nielsen Ratings released just a few days ago...over 50 million US viewers PER WEEK...the analogy here is that we have a total of 14 registered users yet over 3000 separate readers across the globe...so like wrestling...we have more readers then anyone admits to...especially in places like VA, MO and WY...the IP address list is huge!

That is it...it is a crisp day here and the sun will soon be up...we have a lot to do this weekend and then travel planning for the upcoming holidays as well as our Burma initiative. As previously posted we continue to write in the hopes of our manuscript submission prior to Christmas...a couple of quick passages from the forthcoming work..."They Never Knew...Until Now"...are attached below...we may have discussed this previously but this literary work will be unlike anything many of you have seen or read before...or dare I say are prepared for...yet it is real; riveting; forthright and necessary to fully understand our decision making process...and why...we will always be one... 

"If you have ever recalled a time where a persons life or direction radically changed it was normally due to a monumental event. My fiance refers to this as a watershed moment...a critical turning point in ones life where everything changes...for either good or bad. It is a point in time when nothing after that will ever be the same as before. This critical turning point in ones life can be brought on for various reasons...some very good but all too often...something very bad has happened. What we glean from these changes and how we respond is entirely our own decision. They often provide a new fork in the road to what we had deemed as our path. This past year has brought in to my life many critical turning points...some of the moments were bad but, I am thankful that many more were very good. When you are a survivor you often view your rocky path not characterized so much by education or our work but, by your predisposed emotional insecurities"

"I once spoke to her about it...making her not only aware of what happened but also from the standpoint of how our two children would be raised...that fear and those acts would never punctuate the lives of our kids...ever. She offered what comfort she could but what more could she do...until you experience it firsthand you are nothing more then a visitor to the world of the abused...you offer what you can...when you can...and you hope for the best...and then you leave...and take care of what you hold dear...your children...and their future"


"Our past and our previous journey to this point were overshadowed in that moment as our whole direction changed. Our new life lay ahead of us...chosen by us and not by others. We are stronger; unified by our love which can now be viewed by the world in the symbol an unending circle worn on each of our hands"


Have a great weekend...and please...keep reading!

B




Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ongoing Mission Support to Burma




Good Morning - it has been a whirlwind of events over the past 45 days while in Asia. The mission has been a real "eye-opener" and we are anticipating moving forward for a long term presence as part of the Life on Point Team in the region. This also means establishing The Life on Point Group as a registered Not-For-Profit operating throughout Southeast Asia. These are exciting times however they are tempered with a foreboding sense of reality in that the reason we are here in Burma is quite simply...to Free the Oppressed!

The Mission

I have to state that physically it was one of the most demanding things I have ever done in my life. The terrain does not lend itself well to someone just walking in off the street...you need time in this area to develop the skills necessary to not only navigate but just to survive. I have lost roughly 15 pounds in this short period of time and now require a smaller belt just to hold my pants up! As we measure distance between our home and Wal-Mart, the Karen measure distance in days...as in how many days’ walk to the next village. My initial infiltration was 19 hours walk across some of the most arduous and difficult terrain you can imagine…my guide stated that “it is a two day walk…but we will do it in one”

When you meet the Karen you realize that although somewhat shorter then you...these men can move through the jungle with the grace and speed of a cat...barely visible...and yet...always there. Several hours into the movement through the jungle and you get a real appreciation of how they have adapted to this harsh environment. My time to move with them came during the monsoon season and the weather did not disappoint...cascades of rain fell for the full 19 hours of the infiltration...suffice to say that I was soaked to the bone upon reaching Operational Camp 1 in Karen State.

Some Background

As many of you know the primary reason for this mission was to support ongoing humanitarian efforts for the Karen Peoples of Burma. They are embroiled in one of the longest running civil wars ever recorded...and the atrocities continue. After numerous years in the military in some of the most difficult and varied assignments offered I really thought I had seen it all…but on this mission…I was appalled at what I saw...and over such a short period of time. Burnt and scorched villages, land mine victims and displaced civilians through out the jungle punctuated my stay. What you will wake up and take for granted today here in the US is nothing but a perverse version of science fiction to these people. For the Karen…sole possessions are carried on their back or in a small bag under your arm…and the expectation of a meal or clean drinking water comes only after risking ones life time and time again.

The Future

Burma will undergo an electoral process on November 7th, 2010 but those in the know realize that this is an election only in name for the ruling junta has already made plans for the continuance of its campaign of terror. It's a shame that in the 21st century we allow this to take place...yet here we are.

I arrived home on the 22nd of October and am already waiting for the word to go back...the work is that compelling. We are waiting on the results of the election and a series of other events before deciding what to do next…however I fully anticipate being back either right before or immediately after the holiday season.

We will keep you updated on developments as the team continues to report from Burma as well as what  has happened over the past 45 days while in country...till then...the mission continues.



Brian

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rohrbacher on Burma // "Modern Flying Tigers!"


My Love - please post this to the blog - I miss you terribly!


All - good morning - as you can see the work here goes on with small cries from others throughout the world stating change needs to take place in Burma. I have seen much in the short time we have been here and there is so much work to do...yet so little time. I had commented that I wished I could take my children here to see the devastation and oppression - it is nothing short of enlightenment for those of us from the west. I have met another Special Forces guy here - his stories of what he has seen over the past several years while living in the jungle will humble you...I will share them with you when I am home. I hope you are all well...my journey home begins soon
B


National Review Online today. 
Burma: The Next Nuclear Rogue? 

For our sake as well as theirs, America must start assisting the brave opponents of the Burmese junta.

Over the past decade, while America has struggled with intractable conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, ominous long-term changes in the international landscape have evolved into an ugly new reality. Once we have freed ourselves from the mayhem of Iraq and Afghanistan, we may be shocked to find that our attention has been needed elsewhere. A number of so-called “brush-fire” wars may have serious long-term consequences, and North Korea’s and Iran’s uncompromising and unrelenting efforts to obtain nuclear weapons are coming to a crisis. It seems that while we have been focused elsewhere, they have been fixated on their goal.


As the U.S. participates in the gathering of the United Nations General Assembly that opened yesterday morning, our feeble response to both North Korea and Iran has set a bad example — potentially resulting in a nuclear arsenal in the hands of one or both of these erratic and irrational regimes. A number of other unsavory characters also seek the clout, security, and respectful attention that nuclear weapons provide. There have been recent revelations, for example, that the Burmese junta, a government that is the worst of the worst, is engaged in a long-term endeavor to obtain nuclear capability.

Over the past two decades, the Burmese military has turned a once-prosperous country with enormous potential into a poverty-stricken police state where the government literally enslaves its own people for manual labor. Village after village in Burma’s ethnic tribal areas has been burned and savaged by the junta’s forces, turning hundreds of thousands of Burmese into displaced persons. The more fortunate refugees have managed to flee across the Thai border in order to reach some semblance of safety. But even Thailand, with its long history of benevolence and charity toward refugees fleeing tyranny, is reaching its limits.

The suffering of the people of this hidden corner of Asia knows no bounds. When a massive cyclone hit Burma in 2008, the military delayed Western aid from reaching devastated areas, with no concern for the suffering of their own people. The ruling generals are tyrannical, bloodthirsty, and without moral restraint. So how do nuclear weapons fit into this picture? Recent reports indicate that the regime is actively pursuing a nuclear program, with the help of North Korea. Such awesome new power in the hands of psychotic bullies who have no regard for human life would be a nightmare — not just for the suffering Burmese, but for all of humanity. Like North Korea’s nuclear program, Burma’s does not suggest that it’s time to cut a deal. It’s time for regime change. Such a goal does not require us to send troops, but it does require a commitment to an alternative, and it requires our attention.

Thankfully, there is an alternative to the Burmese military establishment. Aung San Suu Kyi and her ethnic allies are democratic and give the West a viable and powerful option. They would already have succeeded in toppling their oppressors, except that China has supplied the junta with an arsenal of modern arms and other instruments of repression. There is a steep price for China’s assistance. Burma’s vast natural resources are being plundered, and China is being provided with strategic military positioning for its army and navy, which puts India in serious jeopardy. All of this is, of course, in keeping with China’s global game plan of adding to its own power by helping the world’s most rotten regimes, including North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and Venezuela, among others.

America, stuck in quagmires of our own, has not made any serious effort to counter the Chinese-led coalition of despicable regimes. The State Department’s policy of engagement and patience has not resulted in domestic changes, while at the same time some of these countries have made great progress toward gaining nuclear-weapon capabilities. The suffering of their people continues even as they pour their money into nuclear-weapon development. Iran and Burma both have organized opposition movements, but while America may applaud them, our government has always stopped short of full and vigorous support.

I recently returned from the Thai-Burmese border, where I consulted with members of the Burmese democracy movement. I was deeply impressed with not only their courage, but also their commitment to a decentralized, denuclearized, democratic Burma. The freedom-loving people of the region want to be our allies against an evil enemy, as they were in the fight against the Japanese in World War II. The American government has treated them as pariahs.

A few Americans — missionaries, former members of the Special Forces, and a sprinkling of adventurers — are there on the border as volunteers. Reminiscent of the Flying Tigers before Pearl Harbor, though not as well equipped, this ragtag contingent of American idealists help as best they can, though often facing hostility from elements in our own government. They are doing what my father used to call “the Lord’s work” — literally as well as figuratively.

Our government did not support brave anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan, like Commander Massoud, until after we had been attacked on 9/11. Had we done so, the attack might not have happened. So there is a cost to a policy of ignoring those struggling against tyrannical and/or fanatical forces, as in Afghanistan — and in Burma.

When America supports those brave souls fighting for their freedom against despicable tyrants, we are not only doing the right thing by them, we are invariably bolstering the safety of our own country. This is especially true in an era when proliferation of nuclear weapons is not just a theoretical threat.

 Dana Rohrabacher (R.) represents California’s 46th CD.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dispatch III- The Mission Continues

September 19th, 2010- An update from the 
                                       Life on Point Team.
Currently, Brian is deep in the jungle with minimal amount of access to the outside except for satellite phone or short internet bursts depending on the location.

The mission is going well but, I can tell he will be ready to have access to some of the things we take for granted in the United States. While we enjoy a hot shower, they use the cold water of the river to wash off the mud from the 14 hour trek through the jungle. The nice bed we climb into is traded for a hammock and a small covering to protect from insects at night. Their food choices are nothing like ours but, it sustains them.

The team's spirits remain high because they believe in the cause. Like the Burmese children in this picture, they too believe in freedom from oppression and will continue assist them in this pursuit. More updates to follow.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dispatch Number II: Title: You have very nice hair Mr. Brian!

Good afternoon all, as COO of our Life on Point team
I would like to share with you Brian's latest submission
from our work in Asia.
Please enjoy-

Its 12 September 2010–the weather has been both HOT and 
raining when its not raining the humidity is through the
roof–last night we crossed over into Burma with no
issues and we have begun to make our way to the link
up site. I have 2 porters with us who if not kept on
a short leash will take off and run with the gear…
these guys are marathoners! We are overlooking the river
and waiting for our boat to arrive…yes our boat. The next
phase of our insertion will be up river during darkness–
a ride of approximately 4 hours. We walked a total of 11
hours yesterday – you can already see how the terrain
takes its toll on the body…suffice to say that the
military checkpoints that we skirted around had no idea 
we were there…the rain helped cover any noise!

I made a couple of calls via SAT PHONE last night–
the first was to Ian but his phone was off....or
like any teenager he was ignoring his Dad...the
next one one was to Jake – he has not chatted with
me via this communications channel since he was a
very young kid and suffice to say he was perplexed
with the way I sounded. My COO assured him via email
and follow-up calls that it is the signal from
within the jungle…”dad is fine!”

We are on our way to Mong Pan – you may not initially
see it when you look at a map but as it is midway
down in Burma…this is our initial destination where
we will work extensively. The walk has been both
exhilarating as well as demanding and the weight loss
I encountered over the past 6 months has served well
here – when I say the humidity is a killer even the
locals state that “we need to rest Mr. Brian”

We have seen several villages or what is left of them
in this location. Government forces have come through
and executed a slash and burn campaign while telling
the world they have “relocated the people” …when you
see what this means first hand you really understand
what genocide is all about. It is ironic that our next
linkup point is an orphanage where children from the
villages we passed through yesterday once lived…
I’m not looking forward to that.

I have made a couple of tactical errors in coming here
…nothing that will get anyone on my team killed…but
suffice to say my “long hair” is not an asset in the
jungle environment. If I had the means right now I
would shave my head…the porters look and chuckle as the
sweat pours off me…in a comical sense one looked at me
and told me (in broken English)…”you have nice hair Mr.
Brian” …as I told me COO…”you can’t pay enough for
this quality entertainment!
 
Will keep you up to speed on the Life On Point Team
location as we move deeper into the jungle…many more
dispatches with many more pictures…till then...stay well! 
Cheers 
Brian


 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dispatch Number 1...The Life On Point Team

9 September 2010
I have arrived in Laos and have begun preparations for movement. The Life on Point Team has been assembled; our equipment was waiting courtesy of the network already established and our transportation has been...well interesting. The contractor that we are working for has put me in touch with an "ex-pat" who is a communications guru...so he is here with me as well. Long discussions on wave propagation as well as training indigenous personnel on radio systems has punctuated the last 24 hours...suffice to say sleep has been in short supply.

The bus ride to the border was as interesting as anything I have ever done before...that is to say not since travelling through Russia and Kazakhstan have I shared a ride with various forms of livestock including chickens, a rooster and "mini-pigs" ... and yes all running uncaged throughout the bus! It was like a scene from Borat!

The hut we stayed in last night provided shelter from the rain...but not much more. My significant other would have been alarmed as I awoke at 0400 to the rustling under my sleeping mat...suffice to say the lizard that darted out from the light was large enough to alarm even me. The food has been rice which my stomach (while on these medications) can tolerate well and some bits of boiled chicken which has become a staple item for me. I have been told that as we make our way inland that more exotic offerings will accompany the fluffy white stuff...can't wait for that!

We will begin to make our way across the border shortly and linkup with the folks who most desperately need our help. I met with another US representative this morning who wished us the very best. His name was "Ed" and no doubt he has seen much in this area. He showed us the latest imagery as well as pictures of what is happening inside the border area...it is not a pretty site.

I feel fortunate on one hand to help...but on the other...sad that this type of oppression still exists in a world that has grown and matured so much over the past 100 years. I don't know what it is but the images of children being targeted based on ethnicity is disturbing to me. What has happened to these people and the way of life they have lived is nothing short of terrible. I have seen similar incidents in Srebenicia and throughout Bosnia while stationed there...but this is more chilling. Perhaps its because I am a father that these images of massacred children trouble me so much...they are innocents in a world that has forgotten them.

When I was younger I was watched a movie called the "The Evil that Men Do" and it starred Charles Bronson. It was a sad portrayal of exactly what men and regimes will do in order to get their own way. Seeing these latest pictures (both still and video) from "Ed" brings back to light the depths of that movie and what an evil man is capable of...in some regards it is a giant step back in time and one that I am not willing to take...nor even stand for any longer.

The team is well equipped and prepared...a total of five well trained men and a cadre of support personnel who have all proven themselves in other areas across the globe. I am heading up the second element heading in across the border...a tedious climb followed by a solid day of movement to get to the affected area. Suffice to say I feel well...the physical activity and the anticipation of what is to come is both exhilarating...and at the same time foreboding...but it is what we signed up for.

I spoke to my father just before departing the US a few days ago...he did not understand why I was doing this...especially at this juncture in my life...I can only think that if he was here he would at least understand...for seeing is truly believing.

Hopefully this finds you all well...stay tuned as the dispatches will keep coming from both myself and my COO back in the States...and hopefully good news will come from our efforts. As the situation dictates I will forward pictures so that you get a sense of what we are trying to accomplish.

Regards

The Life On Point Team

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Efforts...and New Writings


Good Evening...and welcome to September!

It has been a long and exhausting day – Ian and I just finished viewing the new George Clooney movie titled “The American” – I will keep this succinct...however...do yourself a favor and save your money. Clooney is a great actor with some very memorable parts…however this is not one of them. The movie just goes on and on and the plot is wayward at best. If you are a fan of “Euro-trash” movies replete with lackluster performances and way to much skin…then this is the movie for you!

I have my own personal review criteria for a movie…if what I see in the commercial trailers appears in the first 5-7 minutes then I am assured that the movie will be an absolute dud…every single action scene that was shown on the big screen trailers was complete within the first 6 minutes of this cinematic bomb!

Enough said…just don’t waste your money!

My partner and I have been writing and brining the next book to fruition…it is tentatively titled… "They Would Never Understand Why…Until Now"  Suffice to say that it is a story of comparisons between a couple...and how fate, destiny and personal struggles bring certain people together…no matter what level of adversity each has faced.

Talking about and ultimately writing this book has been therapeutic for both of…and allows us to fully comprehend how we have arrived at this point in our lives. I will warn you that it is not like my first literary effort…nor the construct of my pending second book of poetry...quite the opposite…this book and the stories held within chronicle the “reality” of what happened to us as children versus the “perception” that everyone views or remembers. The format is unique as well; it portrays each of us and the stories that defined not only our childhood but lifes events across 40 plus years...told against one another...and the subsequent interplay between it all. A couple of excerpts follow from our initial draft:

“Something told me she was special; that she would understand; that she knew that what had happened in my past bore strong resemblance to her own journey. We stared at each other for a moment…but it was in that moment that I knew that this woman and I were destined to be together…that no matter the circumstances, our lives were bought to this point for a reason…to comfort and provide solace in a world that had already robbed us of the innocence that others were able to enjoy. I could never explain the “how” or “why” we now stood speechless…but I knew in my heart that I had found the one who would finally make me whole.”

“He would make me laugh more than I could ever recall. His rapport with people and his philosophy on life captivated me. As we sat and talked well past the meal, the certainty grew that this individual struck a chord within me that has been discovered by no other. It was not his looks, his charm or wit…to say I felt a connection to him would be a mere understatement…for the first time in my life I wanted to share everything with someone, the good and the bad. I wanted to peel back the layers and let someone see past the self made barriers. I wanted to trust and be trusted. It was exhilarating and terrifying in one long overdue breath.”

We anticipate this project taking another several months but when complete…it will answer a lot of vexing questions…as well as provide insight into the lives of two very fortunate people.

Switching topics...the health situation has not changed...however the time that I have is now given to causes that benefit others…our website will be updated once I hit the ground in Asia and I look forward to getting back and watching the kids participate in their athletic pursuits.

Till then...enjoy the long weekend…as they say on the Cape...Summer is almost “ovah!”

Brian

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gearing Up...and Moving Out!

Another hot day here in the Washington, DC area; great weather! Just one more weekend before the summer ends and the all the kids will be back in school…if you’re a parent then you are counting the days…or maybe the hours before it all happens!

I received numerous inquires over the past week regarding the new direction for Life On Point Consultants (LOPC) and what we were working on. Suffice to say that our latest efforts will take us to a region where I personally have not operated in but have a wide familiarity with. LOPC is also working on initiatives within Mexico and the Horn of Africa for both private and federal entities as we move from 2010 to 2011.

If it seems like I am being vague…well I am…but that is only to protect both ongoing operations as well as to ensure that our future initiatives are not compromised in any way. In close discussions with the LOPC Chief Operating Officer (COO) and supported elements across the globe we will expand what we currently provide to our customers in the way of Strategic Leadership, Program Management Support and Critical Infrastructure Protection.

I know…these are all big words and you are still asking…”so what does it mean Brian?” – well let me give you some background on one of the prime areas that LOPC and its staff are now focusing on…the Union of Myanmar…or as many know it…the country of Burma.

Before I get to the background on this country and specifically what the Life On Point Consultants Team is working on I want to focus your attention to attached picture on the left; it is from a village in Burma close to the border with Thailand. Suffice to say it is reflective of what is happening to ethnic minorities in the enclave; men who defy joining the military are bound, gagged and then shot. This activity is happening everyday in Burma; and with increasing frequency. This is what the LOPC Team is working to halt in the region...it is a mission and an ideal that we are behind 100%!


Background

For more than five decades, Burma has been entrenched in political and armed conflict between the repressive ruling military regime, political opponents, and ethnic groups, resulting in the displacement of over 3.5 million Burmese. While many inside the intelligence community as well as LOPC strongly believe only a change in political leadership can address the structural causes of poverty in Burma, few forecast an end to the country’s political stalemate. It is my personal belief that the international community must do more to address the humanitarian needs of Burma’s 55 million people in the absence of political progress.

Although Burma is a resource-rich country with a strong agricultural base, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to a published UNICEF report, under-5 child mortality averages 104 per 1,000 children, the second-highest rate outside Africa, after Afghanistan. Burma also has the highest HIV rates in Southeast Asia, and malaria, a treatable and preventable disease, is still the leading cause of mortality and morbidity. Despite this, Burma receives less international assistance at just $4 per person; less than any other of the poorest nations in the world, where the average is $42.30 per person.

Following the disaster caused by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, international aid entered the country at an unprecedented rate. Because of these increased resources, aid agencies report an unprecedented level of access and mobility. But the gains these agencies have made in delivering relief supplies, gathering information about needs and supporting local communities are at risk without continued international support for food security, livelihood and early recovery activities. Many donors have begun to increase resources for nation-wide operations, but as of yet, the US government lags behind other countries in helping to alleviate poverty in Burma.

The Life On Point Team…Our Efforts in Burma

As previously detailed I will be heading to the region to begin working with the Life On Point Consultants supported contractor and the various humanitarian organizations within Burma in bringing aid, training and support to these impoverished and persecuted peoples. My staff, and especially our COO will keep you all updated while I am away with insights and situational reports (when available) … suffice to say I see this as a serious issue and a threat to freedom abroad.

Regards…and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Brian

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Good Afternoon...We Have Contact!


26 August 2010

It has been quite awhile since I have posted to the BLOG and much has happened over the past 20 + days! I have heard from many of you inquiring about my health, the book, the kids and my future plans. To put everyone at ease...you should know that my health has stabilized somewhat and that I am feeling considerably better then I have at any point over the past five months.

The ACE/I that I am currently taking has made a huge impact on my life...at least in the short-term...and given me back a measure of functionality that was missing from my life since April 14, 2010. Gone are the blackouts and low blood pressure issues that punctuated my daily routine...my heart is not getting better but it is not deteriorating as quickly as it had in the past...and my kidneys have done a complete "180" ...so yes...I am in a better place then when I last chatted with many of you. More about that later....

The day has finally come when our eldest son, Jake, heads off to college. Suffice to say there is an equal measure of both exhilaration as well as sadness as he moves to this next phase in his life. Gone are the days of the little kid learning to ski; afternoons at Holy Cross Academy; the young hockey player at the Fredericksburg Ice Park and the many high school lacrosse games across the state....all replaced by the stark reality that he is now a college student...an athlete...and now...an adult!

As many of you know Jake will be heading out to Ferrum College (www.ferrum.edu) to play Lacrosse and ultimately...to study business administration. It has been a long summer leading up to this moment...and one that was punctuated by equal amounts of travel, friends, additional travel and finally...yes more travel! Jake spent a good part of his summer on the road with his brother, his close friends and visiting relatives...and a large portion of that time was spent at the beach. He called me yesterday from Virginia Beach where he and his friends had gone for the day...in a last ditch effort to capture some "rays" before everyone in his inner circle finally disperses and heads off to school.

As I look back over the past 18 years, I have often told both Jake and Ian that I remember (vividly) the day that each of them was born....as well as the ensuing emotions over those years...as they developed and matured into the young men they are today. They don't necessarily understand why I tell them this...but one day...when they become parents...they will! To see Jake packing his stuff up to finally leave is bittersweet as a parent...proud of this accomplishment on the one hand...and yet...sad...as he moves on with this next chapter in his life.

When I see Jake take off for the western portion of Virgina here in a couple of days I will be overcome with emotion...just as I was on the day he was born. You see...Jake has become a "go to guy" when things needed to be done or I needed help in any way...Jake (and Ian) was always there...he was a cornerstone for me over the past couple of months given all the medical issues I was tending to and I know he will continue to be there...its just he will be 4.5 hours away...and so meeting at Potomac Mills, or on Route 610 or at the house will soon become a distant memory...and it is those memories that I will always cherish...and yes Jake...I will always remember the good looking kid pulling up in the parking lot with his sun glasses on and stepping out...always with an air of confidence...and always ready to banter with his Dad no matter the situation.

Jake recently had his wisdom teeth taken out and I went to the dentist office with him. He suffered through the painful extraction of four teeth with only general Novocaine...suffice to say he was in quite a bit of pain for a few days following that...but true to form...he was soon up and running around...and back at the beach with his friends! I was happy that the extraction was not the final memory that he had from the summer of 2010...and hopefully the day of wake boarding we recently had will also hold a special place in his heart as well!

I will miss him when he goes...I know its easier today to stay in touch with phone and email as well as social networking...but not having him close really drives home the fact that we are all getting older...and that life does go on! Jake will have a host of activities and early morning classes to keep him occupied...not to mention college lacrosse season as well...but I am sure that when the money runs dry or a new stick, clothes, computer or shoes are needed...or just some sage advice...Dad will always be on speed dial...as it has been so many times in the past...and will be well into the future! I look forward to those calls Jake...and I will always be there to answer!

Ian and I spoke yesterday as well...he is running cross country for Colonial Forge High School this year...and he had just made it through his first team practice...and he let me know...he was hurting! I know the pain he went through and will go through as he pushes himself in preparation for the season opener. Cross country was an event I ran in high school as well...many hours spent recovering from the miles as well as spills encountered out on the trail... but Ian is a runner...and built like one...he has morphed into this long and lean machine capable of racking up the miles...I have no doubt that he will excel at this sport! He also has hockey season quickly approaching and will assume his position as goaltender once again...we are anxiously awaiting his first game!

For those of you wondering....yes...the book is already available in "e-format" version through venues such as Amazon.com or E-books.com...but please...do not buy it...at least not yet...the first run did not incorporate the pictures that I had originally submitted and I am holding the publisher accountable to make sure that this effort encapsulates everything that I put into it...I hope to have the hard copies in my hand in the coming weeks and will disperse them accordingly. One venue in Stafford, VA has already agreed to keep the book on its shelf and IAVA as well as other veteran organizations in the DC area are also looking at "sponsoring" the roll out of the book...more to follow on that!

Life On Point Consultants (LOPC) has also taken off and is currently working for a major Not For Profit Organization in California with a strategic focus on humanitarian work throughout Asia. I will travel to the region here shortly to lend subject matter expertise to ongoing efforts. The LOPC website (lifeonpointconsultants.com) will be updated once I return to reflect the new direction and organizational approach in working in Asia as well as our other initiatives across the globe. Additionally a new LOPC Chief Operating Officer will also be introduced at that time...in this role she will assume responsibility for ensuring that both the LOPC mission as well as future operational initiatives are carried out in a professional manner. We are very excited this new venture and how it will impact not only LOPC but the federal and private sector clients we currently serve.

That is it....but more to follow!



Brian

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Must See...


Good Morning! I hope that this finds everyone well and enjoying the heat! This is a very short posting about an incredible story getting ready to air on National Geographic. A good friend (Rosemary) from NY sent this to me recently…it had a profound impact on me for several reasons based not only on my doctorate work but also working with a soldier in the DC area.


As some of you know I had worked at the Walter Reed Medical Facility in DC a couple of years back while doing “pre-doc research” into PTSD. At that time I met a young Army Sergeant who was being treated for severe depression bought on by PTSD. His story is not unlike the young Army Captain chronicled in the National Geographic TV piece...suffice to say that they both suffered from PTSD from what they had viewed in Iraq and Afghanistan. When this veteran was given a “working dog” to help comfort him from the continuous nightmares he was suffering from, the positive change was almost instantaneous.

The animal allowed the young man to immediately regain his functionality, independence and personal motivation. The VA recognized this and hired him to work with other like veterans in the DC area showing how these working dogs can help veterans cope with the debilitating effects of PTSD.

I recently saw this Sergeant and he told me how he had regressed after the animal died unexpectedly but that through the working dog program at the VA he was able to continue to not only get better but to help others with similar issues find greater independence. On one hand it was a sad story…but it also goes to show the healing power of animals for some of our veterans suffering from PTSD.

I hope you will take a moment and watch the show Sunday 8 August 2010 titled…”and Man created Dog”…I have copied the link below.

Thanks

Brian

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/episode/and-man-created-dog-3136/Overview#tab-Videos/08488_00

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Cat is Out of the Bag....

Unless you have been living under a rock or don’t have cable TV then you have probably heard about the leaked documentation regarding Afghanistan…and specifically the hunter/killer team Task Force 373, whose work the Pentagon has sought to keep under tight wraps throughout the war in Afghanistan.

The unit of elite soldiers, which includes members of the special operations community and the Delta Force get their orders directly from the Pentagon in Washington and operate outside of the chain of command of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) or as the staff of General McChrystal once called it…the ”I Suck at Fighting” Command.

The existence of this special force is by no means a secret, but top military officials have refused to discuss its controversial mission: the deactivation of top Taliban and terrorists by either killing or capturing them. The TF 373 unit works according to classified lists of enemies compiled by the coalition troops that are called "Joint Prioritized Effects Lists" (JPEL) in military jargon. In the close to 92,000 logs leaked, 84 pertain to JPEL-related actions, and together they provide a bounty of information about a force whose work has at times resulted in civilian deaths. This organization has worked under other various names in Bosnia, Iraq and now Afghanistan with amazing success. All of the major captures of terrorists in Afghanistan have been attributed to this organization.

Even though the revelations in the leaked war logs involve the American component of the fight, the new information about its operations could also prove embarrassing for others such as the German government. Roughly 300 men with TF 373 have been stationed on the grounds of Camp Marmal, the German field base in Mazar-e-Sharif, since the summer of 2009. The special unit has chosen a strategically advantageous and shielded location on the airfield, where it operates from the Regional Command North, which is under the command of Germany's armed forces.

The elite soldiers, together with a few Afghan units they had trained, had just returned from a five-day air and ground offensive against the Taliban stronghold Gul Tepa northwest of Kunduz. According to the US Army there were 130 dead, all of them insurgents. The German government refused to take part in the attack. The secret military documents contain only two references to the five-day operation with the geographic coordinates of Gul Tepa. The operation became a model for similar operations in the coming months. While the US units were hunting down the Taliban, the only evidence the Germans had of the nightly missions were the closed areas of operation and the detonations, which could be heard clearly at the Kunduz base.

When the commanders of the German ISAF contingent were offered the targeted killing of the German enemies, as a service of sorts, it was done so almost officially. After seven German soldiers had died within a short period of time in the spring, a senior US officer at headquarters in Kabul promised the highest-ranking German ISAF officer, General Bruno Kasdorf, that the Americans would hunt down and kill the people behind the attacks on the Germans. And indeed, several Taliban fighters were eliminated in the ensuing weeks.

It’s a shame that all the work of these fine special operations personnel will be questioned as well as ridiculed if only out of ignorance. I just watched the MSNBC piece with the Director of WikiLeaks speaking about this incident…typical…no remorse at bringing this to light or for putting personnel at risk. As far as I am concerned he just became public enemy number one!



Brian

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back in the Saddle…Again

Hello and Good Afternoon! I wanted to touch base and keep everyone updated on what is going on. In a previous posting I stated I was taking a week off to concentrate on health and personal matters…that turned into 21 total days. Suffice to say I needed the break for many reasons but as the title states I am back to writing. The update:

The Book: As stated in previous postings the book is 100% done! The publisher is working out the distribution and advertising methodology through Amazon and other venues. The total project was roughly 65-70 pages (soft cover vs. hardcover) but well worth it. As an aside I have already begun work on the second manuscript and will share some of those works with you shortly.

It was very satisfying to have a Library of Congress number assigned for the book…it is at that point that you know you have finished…if you are reading this watch your mailbox for your copy of “A Soldier’s Story…Through the Eyes of Poetry”

The Dissertation: 427 pages later my doctoral dissertation has been submitted for review and defense. For those unfamiliar with the process I will now sit before a panel in Washington DC (scheduled for 18 August) and try to argue my point that families as well as service members will also need to be treated for the effects of post traumatic stress disorder…or PTSD…in order to make the family whole again. A recent posting and report on PTSD, active duty and soldier suicides of which I participated in as part of my on-going research can be found at the following link: http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/8008068/

My Health: Well the ACE Inhibitor that I have been using is making me feel…remarkable. The downside is that I am suffering some kidney issues that will require additional treatment. Suffice to say I don’t want to illuminate the situation within this venue but I am taking the necessary steps needed to try and make my left kidney well. I was commenting earlier today that the VA doctor who is treating me made a very interesting statement; when I told him that the anti-biotic combined with heart medication was making me sick to my stomach he commented…”well at least its not killing you!” Youhave to love military medicine!

Life On Point Consultants (LOPC): The company I founded in 2007 has seen a “re-birth” if you will in regards to ongoing support to the US Government. Currently I have received three requests for proposals for quantitative work across the globe for LOPC. In addition I have aligned closely with a Not-for-Profit organization in California and in conjunction with my partner will be lending support to operations in Central Asia and the Near East.

So there you have it…you are up to speed and I will begin writing daily again as of 28 July 2010. As an aside I am sure that many of you have been following the leaked papers on Wiki-Leaks regarding Afghanistan…suffice to say that General McChrystal got out just in time…a news article today almost made it sound like General Patreaus has already lost the battle…he has not but as previously detailed…McChrystal is a very smart man...looks like he may have left at the right time...no matter how well we are doing at the tactical level...folks in DC are determined to loose this war!

Regards



Brian

Monday, July 5, 2010

Taking a Quick Break...

Hello - its been an interesting and hectic few days...to say the least. I am taking the week off from "Bloging" so I can focus on some medical issues as well as clearing my mind and making sure my dissertation is completed prior to the "defense board" in August...add to it the re-write for the book (it is done...just finish work) and the publisher screaming for the final pictures and all of a sudden I realized...I am running out of time...but one last piece for this week for all to ponder

Many have asked what I thought about the General McChrystal fiasco...I sat with a former team-mate earlier today and we discussed how such a poised and educated officer could have run afoul of the Administration...and my comments previously about the General "always having a plan" resonated with my buddy as well. He, like me, is waiting on the tell all book of the failure of the United States in succeeding in the "long war"

Take a look at the article in the Guardian...one of the few British news outlets not prone to lies and deceit. This piece talks about one of the finest British Officers who was on General McChrystal's staff - Graeme Lamb...a former SAS Officer (think British version of DELTA Force) - his comment about the General is spot on...and that is what the Administration is afraid of regarding Afghanistan....how long it will take to succeed ... "It is not about winning and losing, it is about setting the conditions for progress and change"

And that is the problem...the term progress...progress can not be projected in a timeline to meet the Administration's "promise" to the American people that we would be out of Afghanistan in 2011. In the United States that is a great thing to "want" but the reality on the ground is that timeline will not be met...and that was the General's problem...argue with an Administration that wont get it or wait for a year and let them hang the failure around his neck...he is not that kind of soldier!

This is the link and its a very short read...but Graeme Lamb is a fantastic officer and somebody that we as conscious American's will hear from in the future.

Well...fear not...I will be back on Blog NLT 12 July...but given everything going on in the world...probably sooner!

Regards

Brian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/23/general-stanley-mccrystal-afghanistan

Friday, July 2, 2010

July 3...and a New Chapter Begins....

I know...it’s actually only the 2nd but on the 3rd...the attention of the world will focus on what can only be described as the most prolific and physically demanding sporting event known to man...the 2010 Tour de France…or as followers refer to it…the TDF.


I have been a TDF fan since I was a child…imagining as I raced in the Salem Witches Cup and the Boston 50K race...as well as many others stage races across the country…that I was the iron man Eddy Merckx; the robot-like Bernard Hinault or even the flamboyant Laurent Fignon…all past TDF Champions…but on 3 July...just like many others across the globe…I will be rooting for Lance Armstrong…not because he can do it but because the guy just never quits…no matter his age. Having lived and worked in Kazakhstan for many years I was always a big Team Astana fan...(Kazakhstan's capital city and Lance's Team for many years) ...the team that has been atop the podium in the TDF over the past 10 years...now Lance races for Team Radio-Shack...or as it's called in the 21st century...The Shack!

Background

The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race that covers approximately 2,200 mi throughout France and bordering countries. The race lasts three weeks and attracts cyclists from around the world. The race is broken into day-long segments, called stages. Individual times to finish each stage are totaled to determine the overall winner at the end of the race. The rider with the lowest aggregate time at the end of each day wears a yellow jersey. The course change every year but it has always finished in Paris. Since 1975, the climax of the final stage has been along the Champs-Élysées. I have traveled to France numerous times and have had the great pleasure of running early morning on the Champs-Élysées…and remember feeling honored and humbled at the site…knowing that the greatest athletes in the world have passed over these streets since 1905. It was a moment for reflection…even if I don’t hold France in high esteem.

It is great to know that both of my boys are bike racers…and no...that is not one of them holding the flag in the picture...well maybe...but...no....nope...they were not in France in 2007 when this was taken...Jake's riding is geared more towards the triathlon distances…he has the short-term power that these racers require...while Ian has become quite the long distance rider...tall and lanky and able to drive the grears...but both on the bikes are very, very good riders. It would be interesting for them to have to grown up in Europe…I could see the lads both racing…they have the athletic foundations to do well in a sport that is all about perseverance and determination...attributes which they have in abundance.

If you have not watched the TDF the coverage is great on VS (Verus) or you can see it via the internet at http://www.versus.com/

Either way…to hell with the World Cup…it’s time to ride!

Brian