5-20-2016 11-17-38 AMThis is about the heart of a warrior that is beating in the body of a brave, 13 year old stage 4 cancer survivor, and the hearts of soldiers to both join him in his battle, and honor him when he won. In this era of “The Battle of the Bathroom,” it is refreshing to be told a story of soldiers and families coming together to defeat a vicious global enemy, the “Big C.”

This past Monday, 20 soldiers marched in formation through the neighborhood of Christian Lopez, who lives in Dorchester, Massachusetts. They were in parade formation, sounding out the distinctive cadence songs of their unit, the sight and sound of them crying out, “That’s the way we do it here now” bringing people out of their houses. That included Chris, who was completely surprised. Led by Christian’s aunt, Mariana Shorter, herself a retired MSG (Master Sergeant), they marched straight up to his door, carrying a parade style banner which said, “It Came, We Fought, I Won.”

5-20-2016 11-17-46 AM

Through tears, his aunt said, “I want to thank Chris for fighting one of the biggest battles ever in life. You are a true, true soldier.” Then each one marched up to Chris, saluted him, and either shook his hand, or hugged him. As if that wasn’t enough, they presented him with his own set of ABUs, the Army name for the uniform worn in combat. Then they gave him his several patches, the indication of being part of a unit, and the proof of having survived a war.

Shorter got the ok to honor her nephew from the General commanding the recruitment command in Boston, who had deeply personal reasons for getting behind the ceremony. The General has a 15 year old grandson in the hospital, and the boy is fighting a brain tumor. Shedding his own tears, the General said, “This has given my family hope.”

5-20-2016 11-17-56 AM

In an interview with ABC news, MSG Shorter said, “My family thinks I’m the hero because I fought wars, but the real hero is my sister and my nephew,” Shorter told ABC News today. “All I did was to honor his mother’s wishes. I want this story to be about my courageous sister.”
Apparently the Mayor of Boston also expressed his own ability to honor Chris and his family by declaring that day “Christian Lopez Day.”

His mother, Christina Ribeiro, had her own take on her young warrior son. “He is the only child I’ve seen who after chemo and radiation wants to go outside and play baseball. Nothing kept him down. He never gave up.” Chris is in remission, and is full of dreams. He is certainly interested in “all things soldier,” and is thinking about being an astronaut. Then again, he might choose to be a chef, we shall see. He also wants to be on the Ellen de Generes show, and hopefully his story will go far and wide, and encourage many, because parents, kids, family and friends need hope.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

5-20-2016 11-18-09 AM

5-6-2016 9-34-57 AMStatistically, from what I have been told, it is much less common for Navy SEALS to get killed in combat than members any other branch of service. The reason is that they come so close to dying while they are in training, that they gain skills possessed by few that pay off in the field. It costs them dearly to gain those skills, but it benefits them and us. It is always a tragedy when a warrior dies in combat, but when a SEAL passes, again, statistically, it is nearly always in the context of specifically giving himself for others.

5-6-2016 9-35-05 AM

Such was the case with Charles Keating, IV, of Arizona. He was killed on Tuesday, May 3rd, helping rescue multitudes from an ISIS/ISIL attack in Iraq. Since 2014, we have re-deployed some of the crème de la crème to Iraq in a largely advisory capacity. While it could certainly be argued that if we had gotten the job done the first time, and stayed long enough for the new Iraq to gain its footing, from my experience, most people who served in Iraq will tell you that the Peshmerga are fierce warriors who are worth fighting with and for, let alone “advise.” Any SEAL with a true warrior’s heart would consider it a privilege to serve with the Peshmerga, and to me, the Kurds are the hope of Iraq against ISIL/ISIS.

Here is what Charles’ mom said about her “boy.” Her name is Krista Joseph of Jacksonville, Fla., and she firmly believed her son wanted to serve his country. She also said that he died doing what he loved. Krista added, “He was our golden boy with a million-dollar smile and a heart of gold.”

Charles was part of the Quick Reaction Force (QRF). He was sent in on an op whose mission to rescue less than a dozen U.S. troops who were in a Kurdish village “advising and assisting” the Peshmerga, according to U.S. military spokesman, Col. Steve Warren. Because of his sacrifice, everyone returned but Charles.

He had been a track star, and transferred from Indiana University to the U.S. Naval Academy in order to begin his SEAL training. He was the grandson of Charles Keating, who was part of the Savings & Loan scandal in the ‘80s, and whose conviction was later overturned. His grandfather had been a pilot in WWII, and Charles IV came from a long line of military service members. The events of 2001 affected Charles IV deeply, and were some of the things that inspired him to become a SEAL. He was also engaged to be married this coming November.

5-6-2016 9-35-20 AM

Arizona Senator John McCain had the following to say about him: “I send my deepest prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones of Charlie Keating, who was tragically killed in action fighting ISIL in Iraq. Like so many brave Americans who came before him, Charlie sacrificed his life in honorable service to our nation for a cause greater than self-interest, which we can never truly repay.”

I once attended a service for two SEALS while I was in Iraq. It was held in what was known as The Palace of Doom, or the Mistress Palace. There was an Iraqi Special Forces colonel who, during the service, said, through an interpreter, that he believed that all who gave their lives in order that Iraq might be free would find peace with God, and I don’t believe he was just blowing smoke. He was visibly moved that strangers would want to help, and my 3 years there taught me that this is most definitely the way SEALS roll. I believe Charles Keating IV is at peace, and I hope someday to thank him personally for fighting for my beloved Iraq, and for me.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

5-6-2016 9-35-28 AM

4-15-2016 3-44-59 PMLast Soldier column dealt with being introduced to, listening to, chatting with, and being changed by a the story of a man that “long ago and in another life” I would have despised. Once again, I faced down what I used to be, and once again, got the chance to apologize for my former stupidity as a someone who had been, shall we say, “fonda Jane.” I let him know that, if it would be ok, I would really appreciate talking with him again and learning more. The man was Brigadier General Robert Stewart, and he, his wife Mary, and I had a memorable morning at the Space and Rocket Center.
One of General Stewart’s distinguishing achievements during his career was flying un-tethered outside of the Space Shuttle Challenger. He was the 2nd person to do so, and “his” Challenger is on view at the USS&RC. He works there as a docent.

4-15-2016 3-45-11 PM

He told me that even though he had some ambivalence about our involvement in Vietnam, it was still his favorite venue. He got to fly Secretary of Defense McNamara around in a chopper. He also explained to me what may have helped me to understand better the reason for some of the horrific tortures that were inflicted on our soldiers by the Viet Cong. In the Asian military mindset, when a soldier surrenders to captors and captivity rather than death, those soldiers cease to be human. Therefore, the logic is, if they have surrendered their humanity, they don’t deserve to be treated humanely. That kind of thinking doesn’t exactly square with the Geneva Convention, but it answered a question I didn’t even know I had.

He talked about General Vo Nguyen Giap, who served under Ho Chi Minh. General Giap was astonished that Americans gave up in Vietnam, and said in his memoirs, “If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender. We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media was helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields.”

He also reminded me of something I learned in Iraq, and that is, no one wants peace more than soldiers. I just never knew that General Douglas McArthur had said it best at his last address at West Point.

“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

General Stewart said he underwent a huge change when he was in the process of receiving his “stars.” The Army sent him for training at Center for Creative Leadership, which was one source of challenge, and though tough, it was positive. For a good part of his career, General Stewart was not a Christian, but when one of his daughters was facing down the possibility of having to have painful rabies shots, and then the rabies test came back negative, he got down on his knees in thanks to God and surrendered his life to Him. In a lot of respects, that is when his own personal “Great Adventure” began, and it’s a decision he has never regretted. General Stewart is also a professional speaker, and he especially loves to speak on college campuses.

I thought of just how amazing it is to be divinely granted a second chance. Here I was, getting to talk with a soldier who had made history, and being able to both repent to him and be forgiven by him for my madness during Vietnam And, I was also reminded of what a sacred charge it is to be a “member of the media,” even if it is publishing a small newspaper. At times, the pen is mightier than the sword, and God help me if I don’t use my “sword” well.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

4-15-2016 3-45-24 PM

4-1-2016 11-23-46 AMAlabama Veterans’ Museum and their Director, Sandy Thompson, do a bang up job every year in March, when they put on a luncheon for the vets community in North Alabama. This year was no exception. Sandy had graciously invited me to attend, and I had gladly accepted, but I knew that because it was publication day for the March 31st edition of Athens Now, I was going to be pedal to the metal, and perhaps a touch pre-occupied with getting the paper to bed before midnight.

Sandy has a real gift in finding outstanding speakers for events at the Museum, and this year the guest speaker was Brigadier General Robert Stewart, (RET). General Stewart is a legend amongst Army aviators, and has a distinguished service record that is a mile long. I knew he would be good, I just didn’t expect to have my jaw drop open and my life to radically change yet another time as the result of a soldier’s willingness to speak the truth and set the record straight.

For those of you who are reading this column for the first time, “in another life” I was a radical, socialist, “Jane Fonda”-type feminist ‘70s college student who tried to shut down Wright Patterson Air Force Base while attending Oberlin College in Ohio. I bought into the idea that Vietnam vets were “baby killers,” and it took years of conscious, spiritual, voluntary, personal “re-education” to dump those beliefs. I went to Iraq from ’04 to ’07 and lived amongst soldiers for the sole purpose of saying, “I’m sorry,” “Please forgive me,” and “Thank you for your service,” and it was one of the most transformational things I have ever experienced. I recorded my adventures and theirs in the book A Ballad For Baghdad: An Ex-Hippie Chick VietNam War Protestor’s Three Years In Iraq, and honestly, I thought I had put the entire matter of Vietnam to rest.

4-1-2016 11-23-59 AM

Enter General Stewart, who in his presentation began to systematically dismantle many of the myths that remain to this day about both the Vietnam War and those who fought in it. While I had long ago come to the place that I no longer looked down on ‘Nam vets, I had somewhat looked upon them as pawns who had been caught in a pointless war, and felt pity for them. This is something I learned during my time in Iraq that they don’t need, and understandably despise with a passion. But, I needed some facts, and the General most definitely supplied them.

4-1-2016 11-24-14 AMDid you know that:
• In WWII, (which most think of as a “good war”), 33% of soldiers enlisted, and 67% were drafted, but in Vietnam, 67% enlisted, and 33% were drafted? I had always thought it was the opposite.
• Vietnam was NOT the conflict where the poor man, the black man, the brown man were used as fodder, but that the casualty as well as the death rate reflected the population at large across the board? I had been told that if you were poor, brown, or black, you were expendable, and automatically sent to the front first.
• The level of education amongst Viet Nam vets is the highest of any war in U.S. History? I used to think that anyone with an education would have sat it out in Canada, thus demonstrating their superior intelligence.
• WWII vets who served in the Pacific theatre saw an average of 40 days of combat in 4 years, compared with Vietnam vets who saw an average of 240 days of combat in one year? The movies tell us that the majority of the time, soldiers spent their tours in Vietnam ripped on gonja, and sitting on their keesters for days at a time, when they weren’t setting the innocents on fire.
I am just getting started, here, and I don’t know many Soldier columns it is going to take for me to get through all of this, so I thank you in advance for your patience. See you in two weeks, when we will talk about “stolen valor.” And thank you again, General Stewart, for welcoming our troops back home, 50 years later. It means the world to them, and to me.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

4-1-2016 11-24-26 AM

3-18-2016 9-43-19 AMThere is a very interesting phenomenon going on all over the globe, and that is that young men and women are choosing to enlist in the Israeli Defense Force. There is no requirement for them to do so, but for any number of reasons, they feel that it is their duty. We are not only talking about what would be an understandable influx of recruits from Europe after WWII in connection with the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. However, these days they are coming literally from every continent, including Africa and South America, and places that traditionally are not thought of as having much to do with Israel, such as India, South Korea, China, Japan, Australia and Southeast Asia, in addition to the USA.

One such young man is Louis Miller, a native of Huntsville, and a graduate of Indiana University. He experienced a life-changing trip to Israel in 2007, and knew then that he wanted to give some of the years of his youth to help protect the future of the land that had changed him so profoundly.

3-18-2016 9-43-31 AM

Louis was able to go to Israel through a Birthright Project outreach, a program that makes it possible for young Jewish adults to make their first trip to Israel. Having made my own trip as a senior citizen, I can truly say that “once is all it took,” and I can understand why he was so deeply affected.

Louis chose to become a para-trooper, and won awards for his performance during training. On the last night of his training, he and his fellow recruits made a 55 kilometer ruck march up to the location of the graduation ceremony, which is in Jerusalem proper. They have to carry their ruck sacks on their backs, as well as stretchers that they hand off so everyone gets a chance to get practice transporting wounded. For the whole journey, they only get a chance to stop four times for a very quick meal on the run. As Louis was being interviewed during the march, he did complain that his feet were killing him, as were the feet and backs of his fellow soldiers, but other than that, the guy seems to be tough. You’d have to be, to endure jump training during an Israeli summer, and learn how to survive in the desert.

There is an interesting and touching tradition that is a part of the ruck march, and that is that after the march is nearly over, (which is when the soldiers literally march into Jerusalem), their parents and family members are allowed out on to a steep stretch of road to hug the soldiers. It is as though the love of family is poured out on them to strengthen them when they are the most vulnerable: just before they are triumphant. Louis’ parents came from Alabama to watch him exchange his olive drab inductee beret for the red and black one worn by the graduates, and to receive his commendations. The love and pride they showed for the boy was well deserved.

So far our boy from Sweet Home Alabama has been the subject of a number of videos and pieces written in the Israeli press, and my guess is that there will be more to come. My prayer is that God will keep him safe, and may he be blessed for being willing to take such a great risk for a land that is our ally.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

3-18-2016 9-43-47 AM

3-5-2016 9-11-13 AMLate in February, an ISIS operative was captured in Iraq by U.S. Special Operations forces. For reasons I do not understand, U.S. Central Command said the unidentified militant will only be held for a brief time. Col. Pat Ryder, who is Centcom’s spokesman, would not elaborate on any details, and that is something I respect. I am also glad to hear that the Spec Force guys have been successful in their mission since 200 of them headed over to the Great Sandbox in December. However, the question that comes to my mind is, if the operative who was described by the New York Times as a “significant” member of ISIS, why will he only be detained for what Ryder describes as “a short time?”

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced in December of 2015 that the large team, which is comprised of an intel cell, aviation support, and an assault force were going to be based in Irbil, which is located in Northern Iraq. This is another thing I don’t understand. When I was in Iraq, I had to be so careful about discussing travel plans over the phone with my husband that we communicated through a code we had devised that included the names and birthdays of my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law. I just don’t get disclosing any aspect of the special team’s location to the world at large, and certainly not our enemies.

3-5-2016 9-11-25 AM

Nevertheless, the purpose of this piece is mostly to celebrate some victories that we can now know about without compromising Operational Security, so I’ll press on. In October of 2015, there was a rescue of several dozen prisoners, most of whom were Kurdish, who were being held by ISIS in northern Iraq. It did come with a price, and that was the death of Army Master Sgt Joshua Wheeler, who was a Delta Force Commando. May God rest his soul and comfort his family. I do know this from having been amongst Kurds while in Iraq: you’ll rarely find a more grateful people, and I am sure his name will become an honored part of their history.

Backing up a bit further in time to May of 2015, in eastern Syria there was a Delta Force raid that resulted in the death of an ISIS commander by the name of Abu Sayyaf. His wife was detained, and has been charged by the Justice Department of the Kurdistan Regional government with conspiring to kill Kayla Mueller. Ms. Mueller, who was 26 when she died, was an American aid worker and was kidnapped by ISIS. She was held by the Sayyafs as a sex slave, and was repeatedly raped by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the fellow who describes himself as the emir of ISIS. I am glad for Kayla’s sake that at least one of her tormentors has been captured, and may justice on her behalf be served well.

Our commandos are on what is known as a “kill or capture mission,” and here are two examples of them doing just that. May we not forget that they are still fighting for our freedom, and paying for it with their blood.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

3-5-2016 9-11-40 AM

2-19-2016 9-17-12 AMWe are in a global war against jihad, and we are not alone in that battle. When I was in Iraq, I had several favorites as far as nations in the fight with us, rotating units that were unashamed members of the Coalition. They were focused, they were purposed, and they were not about to back down. Among them were the Ugandans, the Aussies, and the Brits. This edition of Soldier is going to talk about two particularly powerful operations that were recently executed with precision by members of the SAS, or the British Special Air Service.

By way of background, the SAS was formed during WWII, and reorganized in 1950. Their duties include, but are not confined to, counter-terrorism, “direct action,” covert reconnaissance, and human intelligence gathering.

2-19-2016 9-17-41 AM

Some of this is not going to be pretty to talk about, but then, neither is jihad. The subject of the first discussion is the death of a jihadist who was in the middle of teaching other jihadists the ins and outs of efficiently beheading people. As he was making his point re: “making the final cut,” let’s just say that the SAS sniper’s bullet found its mark, and in that moment the instructor became the embodiment of that which he was methodically teaching.

His students scattered, some with gratitude back to their families. Again, what was discovered in Iraq was that terrorists would terrorize whole families, and force the men of the families to do all manner of evil or face the murder of their own families. The Nazis did the same. This “teacher” was known for his ruthlessness and brutality, feared even by jihadists, and while no one knows the percentages of “true believers” as opposed to those who were made to join ISIS on pain of death of their loved ones, this operation was inarguably successful. Lives were saved, and it took 3 teams comprised of 4 members each to successfully complete this mission.

The second SAS operation went off without a hitch with assistance from our own Air Force. This time, the SAS disguised themselves as women in burqas and raided an ISIS bunker, killing a Syrian ISIS leader.

This operation involved a squad of 8, and it is said that the targets were utterly flummoxed when the “women” shed their burqas and opened fire. The USAF released a Hellfire missile via a drone, and provided the safe extraction of all 8 SAS members.

An anonymous source told Britain’s Daily Star that “Gunmen were on the streets stopping everyone, lining people up against the walls and threatening to kill anyone who had ‘helped the spies.’” Sources also told the Daily Star that the kinds of missions that are described here were going to be increasing in frequency. The reason? Their current HVT (High Value Target) is a man by the name of Siddartha Dhar, who is also known as Abu Rumaysah. He has the nickname of being the new “Jihadi John,” after the other home-grown terrorist, ISIS propagandist Mohammed Emwazi was struck and killed by a drone last November.

Siddartha had the gall to tweet the following after he left London in September 2014. He was released on bail after being cited for “encouraging terrorism.” He said, “What a shoddy security system Britain must have to allow me to breeze through Europe to [ISIS].”

That may be, and hopefully both the UK and the US are learning from their mistakes. Even more, my hope is that they will continue to work together well to keep us safe, even if it has to get worse before it gets better.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

2-19-2016 9-18-00 AM

2-5-2016 3-27-55 PMIn Israel, the equivalent of our Navy SEALS is known as the Shayetet 13, and thankfully, they have struck again. On January 31, they seized an Iranian ship carrying weapons that would have ended up in Gaza and launched against Israeli citizens, which, please remember, almost always includes Israelis of Arabic descent. The word Shayetet literally means “flotilla,” and they not only successfully brought the Iranian vessel into Ashdod, they displayed their “catch.”

From the realm of instilling psychological toughness into the Israeli psyche, as well as to illustrate what Israel is up against, the decision to display the weapons is a good one. It reminds Israel and the rest of the world of the fact that the Iranians are indeed our enemies, even if we did just sign an agreement with them, and it also forces the Iranians to respond, however predictably or clumsily. The weapons display was made in the presence of a number of a number of journalists from around the globe, virtually assuring reasonable media and by contrast, our media were virtually silent. My husband had heard one report on the radio, and called to tell me about what had happened. It was disturbing that I could hardly find anything that could give more detail, and the comments made by Israeli’s Prime Minister were virtually buried.

2-5-2016 3-28-04 PM

Sure enough, and as expected, Mohammed Javad Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister tweeted that the seizure was “An amazing coincidence! Or the same unsuccessful lies.” However, the take was substantial, and unfortunately, one of the containers was marked with strip seals that originated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, or IRICA.

All of the missiles that were in the shipment on board the ship were already spread out and displayed on a surface adjacent to the military port, along with boxes of Kalashnikov bullets and crates of mortars. The shipment included 40 short-range rockets, 181 121-mm mortar shells and about 400,000 7.62-mm-caliber bullets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the assembled journalists and said, “We have exposed the truth behind Iran’s fake smiles,” and also noted that this was not something the international community would find at all reasonable. “The world needs to awaken from its state of illusion and prevent Iran from acquiring the capability to create nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. “The international community’s decision to ignore the seized weapons ship is biased, dangerous and unacceptable.”

So, once again, why should we focus on what is happening in Israel, when we have so many concerns at home, as well as a President to elect? Because Iran has always said that Israel is the “lesser Satan,” and America is the “greater Satan.” Make no mistake, at some point, our troops are going to have to protect us from Iran, either before or after the Islamic Republic of Iran attacks our ally, Israel, and in that hour our support for both our troops as well as Israel is going to be crucial to our own survival.

My faith causes me to be hopeful that Iran will not ultimately prevail against Israel, but I don’t want to think about what is going to occur before Iran is defeated, nor the price that ultimate victory will exact.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

2-5-2016 3-28-22 PM

1-22-2016 9-40-52 AMI have found, having lived in a combat zone, that the toughest things to endure are not what the enemy who is “outside the wire” tries to throw your way, it’s the stuff that comes from the people who are supposed to be “watching your six.” I do rest in the promise that “what is done in secret will be shouted from the roof tops,” and it seems that there was a recent slip of the tongue that exposed just what was done to our sailors in the Middle East by our administration when their ship encountered mechanical problems. As unbelievable as it sounds, they essentially turned them over to our arch enemies-turned-“friends,” the Iranians.

1-22-2016 9-41-08 AM

This was probably not something that we were supposed to find out, at least according to Representative Louie Gohmert, a Republican Congressman from Texas.

“I understand that (Secretary of State) John Kerry has indicated, look, when he got word, he and (Secretary of Defense) Ash Carter called the Iranians to help take care of our Navy guys, because they had some mechanical problems,” Gohmert said in an interview with Dana Loesch.

Called the Iranians? Why would they do that? Were they in fact hoping for what happened, that our sailors got arrested? Were they at all concerned about our sailors while they were in captivity, worried for their safety? Were they thinking that this wouldn’t get out?

“When our Navy ships have problems, we don’t call Iran. We call the rest of the Navy. We can call the Air Force, the Army, the Marines, Coast Guard. We don’t call Iran,” Gohmert said.

I don’t even know what to think. Does it matter to POTUS, SEC DEF and SEC STATE that the Iranians would have been able to go over the vessel with a fine tooth comb and gain access to all kinds of technology that could be used against us sooner than later?

Representative Gohmert said further, there are secrets on every military ship we have … that has [sic] no business being in the hands of the Iranians.” Senator John McCain weighed in as well. He said, accused the administration of “pretending as if nothing out of the ordinary has occurred.”

The Secretary of State did his best to express his supposed outrage over the footage of our soldiers being made to kneel with their hands laced behind their heads, and he should. In an era when a similar sight could remind one of those who are about to be decapitated by ISIS, his use of the word “outrage” could have been anything from reasonable to strategic. But the part that makes me feel the very most as though the inmates are running the asylum was that the sailors had to “apologize” to their captors.

Apologize? For the fact that they wandered into Iranian waters when their boat broke down? If, in fact, they ended up where they should not have been as a result of an ill-conceived mission, then I suppose that an apology might be in order. However, my gut tells me differently, and I hope I am wrong. Thankfully, time will tell all.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

1-22-2016 9-41-20 AM

1-8-2016 9-23-20 AMSometimes I am tempted to become discouraged when I see what is happening globally with ISIS/ISIL. From my perspective, the alarming actions of the Islamic State, whether in San Bernardino, Paris, or Oklahoma are consistent with the timeless mission of jihadists: to force (through the use of terror), involuntary conversion to Islam, or at the very least, require non-believers to pay the tribute tax. As an infant nation, we tried that for awhile, and for a season we were allocating 16% of the entire US budget to pay jihadists/pirates in Africa for “protection.”

George Washington began the effort to put a stop to it, as did Jefferson and Adams, and the Barbary Wars were the result. It is not an exaggeration to say that we have been outwardly free of jihad for only around 180 years, however, the goal of worldwide control as administered by “the faithful” has never been abandoned. As King Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun”, and the present day term or application for this type of “protection-at-a-price” is called Mafia, Cartel, or Tong.

1-8-2016 9-23-28 AM

There is some good news, though, on several fronts. The US led military operation that is going after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is called Operation Internal Resolve. In Iraq, the IS has lost about 40 percent of territory previously held near Baghdad and Ramadi, and about 20 percent of the territory held in Syria. The Kurds, who are always the unsung heroes, and who, I believe shall remain undaunted in their quest for freedom,, have pushed ISIS back from places in Northern Iraq. Other victories have been along the Turkish Syrian border, and last year, Tikrit was recaptured by Iraqi forces along with Shiite militias, strange bedfellows to be sure, but thankfully Tikrit has stood. It warms my heart to know that the city that produced Saddam Hussein is beating back the bullies once again.

On the humanitarian front, close to 150 Iraqi Christians were rescued in December, and safely airlifted to Slovakia, as discussed at more length in the last Publisher’s Point. They have been the subject of a recently aired 20/20 episode, and their level of gratitude at having been freed is deeply touching.

There is one more thing that is in the formation stage, and that is a small squad of warriors with a number of specialized skills that are going in to Northern Iraq independently of our military. While it makes me nervous from the standpoint of operational security to even see their pictures posted anywhere online, or know the tiniest thing about their identities, I have to trust that they know what they are doing if they released the shot of their team to the media. They consist of a female veteran, formerly with the US National Guard, who heads up what she calls the “Dream Team.” The rest of the crew has experience in combat medicine, marksmanship, intel, humanitarian assistance, and mechanics.

Their specific purpose is to rescue wounded Kurdish fighters, using a truck for an ambulance. The former NG officer, whose “handle” is Kat Argo, has served in Afghanistan and near Russia. Her fields of expertise are in intel as well as journalism. The name of the Dream Team is Qalubna Ma’kum, which means, “Our heart is with you.” Words fail to express my gratitude for those like Kat and her crew; people who come out of retirement and refuse to give up when others think a situation is hopeless. Ultimately, it is exactly this spirit that will intimidate ISIS/ISIL into permanent oblivion, and while the work won’t be completed until the Millennium, the day will indeed come when “Mission Accomplished” will literally mean, “Well done, thou good and faithful servants.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

1-8-2016 9-23-44 AM