David Botti

A Final Post

As WWII entered its final days, the French writer Marguerite Duras, then a member of the resistance in Paris, waited to see if her husband had survived the German concentration camps and would be coming home.  The notes she took of that time were subsequently published as , in which she relays her observations of a once occupied city expecting what seemed an immanent liberation and start of a new era.  As she watched the quotidian life of Paris resume once again, Duras wrote: Her words have...

Video: First Gurkha to Die in Afghanistan

A new video posted yesterday features footage from a battle in which the first Gurkha to die in Afghanistan was killed.  Gurkha's are Nepalese soldiers recruited to serve with the British army which they've done since 1815, fighting throughout all the major wars including Iraq and Afghanistan.  The UK Guardian provided this account of the battle in which the fallen Gurkha, 28-year-old Yubraj Rai, was killed:Braving withering fire from fortified Taliban positions, men from the 2nd Battalion,...

New Ad Tells Vets They're Not Alone, Offers Social Networking

Sometimes one needs to restate the obvious to point out what's right in front of us.  That's what New York Times columnist Bob Herbert did recently when he wrote these words: With so much attention understandably focused on the economy and the incoming administration, the struggles being faced by G.I.'s coming home from combat overseas are receding even further from the public's consciousness.

U.S. Troops Attacked in Philippines

The details are sketchy, but the Associated Press is reporting American troops riding in a convoy were fired upon by suspected Muslim militants in the Philippines earlier this week.  Here's the report in full [via AP]:MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines says American troops traveling in a Philippine army convoy came under fire earlier this week from suspected Muslim militants, but there were no casualties.U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Thompson says the incident...

Afghanistan Watch: A Story Compilation

Though it's often cited as where the U.S. has to now focus its military, there's still little substantive news stories on the war in Afghanistan.  To keep tabs on the latest developments involving U.S. and coalition troops in that conflict, here's the first installment in of an occasional series highlighting the latest about Afghanistan.

An Environmental Addendum

Yesterday we took a look at a batch of new electric cars members of the Army, Air Force, and Navy will soon find ferrying them around bases.  Environmental magazine Plenty recently gave a quick rundown on the good and the bad of military policies as they pertain to the environment.  As one might expect, the piece notes the further away a particular environmental initiative is to accomplishing a tactical mission, the less the military is probably interested in it.  Still, it looks like there...

The Army's New Electric Cars

Starting in mid-December this year new electric cars purchased by the Army will start arriving at U.S. bases for on-site use, the Military Times reports.  Joined by the Air Force and Navy, the Army is planning to receive 800 of these vehicles by next year with an ultimate goal of 10,000 overall.  Paul Bollinger, deputy assistant Army secretary for energy and partnerships, told the paper:The Army is moving quickly; the purchase plans were unveiled in October as part of the service's ambitious...

In the News: Economy Hits Vets; 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; and Obama's Promises

Today's New York Times took a look at how some veterans (particularly wounded veterans) are faring in these troubled economic times.  The life of a service member is somewhat prone to upheaval: there is the prospect of deployment; extended absences; transfers among bases; and, in some cases, living with injury.  As the Times finds, such factors when combined with the economy, are making it difficult for veterans and active duty members to pay mortgages--or pay any bills at all: But the...

New Online Videos Attempt to Show Soldiers' Iraq

There have been two developments recently in the world of online video that aim to convey U.S. military life in Iraq back to the home front -- though for much different purposes.  On Monday the New York Times ran a short feature on the redesign of the U.S. Army Website, where potential recruits can now view pared-down, YouTube-esque videos of soldiers in Iraq talking about life there.  As the Times reports, the "Straight From Iraq Series," is intended to target the 17-24-year-old demographic...

In Lighter News...A Veteran as Soap Star

It's been a long exhausting week, and now that Friday's finally here we present a veteran's story of lighter fare.  J.R. Martinez, a 25-year-old Iraq veteran who was severely injured when a 2003 landmine explosion trapped him inside a burning Humvee, will join the cast of the ABC soap All My Children in the role of an Iraq vet.  The show actually put out a nation-wide casting call for Iraq veterans to play the part, citing a need to bring true-life accuracy to the performance.  Here's a...

Soldiers, Meet Your New Commander

So, the presidential election is over. Headlines continue to thunder out the history president-elect Obama made, and thoughts are turning to the task of assembling a staff and facing a difficult future.  In our homes and offices we watch TV, surf the Internet, and listen to the radio, but perhaps the president-elect summed up reality for the U.S. military last night during his victory speech: Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and...

How You Could Spend Your Summer Vacation

Violence in Iraq is down.  U.S. and Iraqi officials are hammering out a security pact.  And while U.S. commanders are expressing concern about recent attacks in the city of Mosul, you'll find a fair share of "how Iraq is getting better" stories out there in the news.  But recently the New York Times travel section had a surprise of its own: a brief guide to visiting Iraq's Kurdish region in the north.A $2000 roundtrip flight from New York's JFK airport via Austrian Airlines will take you to...

Revisiting the Iraq-Syria Border

It's hard to believe much of anything happens along most of Iraq's border with Syria. For hundreds of miles a modest sand berm that marks the dividing line between the two countries snakes through flat desert, with occasional villages or Iraqi Border Police forts providing the only human contact.

Two-Year Anniversary of the Only Missing Iraq War Soldier

Two years ago today Army Specialist Ahmed Kousay al-Taie, a translator and native of Iraq, went missing as he visited his wife's family in Baghdad.  He remains the only U.S. soldier still missing in action from the current war in Iraq.  The Associated Press provides the latest information on the search for al-Taie:The last public news of him came in February 2007, when a Shiite militant group called Ahl al-Bayt Brigades released a 10-second video of him on the Internet.The military is...

Vets Compete For Congressional Seats

Earlier this month I took a look at how veterans are getting involved in supporting both sides of the presidential campaign through TV advertisements.  With so much attention focused on the national campaigns, it's easy to forget all the Congressional districts throughout the country holding elections.  In some of these districts you'll find veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam running for office and, in same cases, against each other.  The Associated Press recently took a look at...

In Campaign Ads, Vets Makes Cases for Both Sides

In blog posts over the past few weeks I've made reference to various campaign ads featuring veterans who support either Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain. They contain powerful imagery and messages: veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, and past wars -- including some who are wounded -- talk about their frontline experiences and deride the opposing candidate for his platforms on Iraq and/or domestic veterans issues.

War of Words on Iraq Despite All Eyes on the Economy

Now that tonight's presidential debate can count on both candidates showing up, there's some speculation over what will actually be debated.  Originally the focus was intended to be on foreign policy, but with the economy dominating headlines there's the possibility things could change.  The New York Times this morning quoted debate moderator Jim Lehrer as writing via e-mail:  "I am not restrained from asking questions about the financial crisis.  Stay tuned!"How much attention is given to...

Another Shot at An Iraq War Movie

Since the start of the Iraq war there's been a number of attempts to relay the soldier/veteran experience through films both fictional and documentary.  Now comes Hollywood's latest production The Lucky Ones (trailer), which stars Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Pena as Iraq veterans on a road trip across the United States.  You could say making this movie is somewhat of a bold move.  In fact, a headline in Florida alt-weekly Creative Loafing reads: "Can The Lucky Ones break the...

Criticizing Obama, Iraq Vet Helps McCain Online

A young Iraq veteran's unofficial video letter to Barack Obama criticizing the candidate for his Iraq policy now ranks fourth in the number of online videos watched in the past 30 days, as compiled by Viral Video Chart.  The message of 23-year-old Joe Cook's two minute address is simple: he repeatedly states that the invasion of Iraq was not a mistake, and to call it such dishonors the memories of those who've died.  Cook says: "This might be the Republicans' first real runaway hit," said...

Trying to Sue Iraq

A bill passed by the House on Monday would give former Gulf War POWs mistreated by Saddam Hussein's army the right to sue Iraq for damages, but the White House is threatening a veto and the Senate still needs to approve the legislation.  The bill (H.R. 5167) cited abuse of both military and civilian prisoners at the time of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and reaffirmed then demands of the United States at the time that Iraq follow the Geneva Convention:Following the Iraqi invasion of...

Old War, New Commander

General Ray Odierno replaced Gen. David Petraeus as head of coalition forces in Iraq today, at a time when violence in that country has decreased measurably, and the military's combat focus seems to be shifting towards Afghanistan.

New Footage of McCain's POW Release Emerges

While conducting research for a book about his experiences covering Vietnam, former Swedish broadcaster Erik Eriksson stumbled upon film footage taken in Hanoi on March 14, 1973.  The subject: a group of American POW's in transit from North Vietnamese holding facilities to the welcoming salute of a U.S. military officer waiting to take them home.  Among them is 37-year-old John McCain quietly standing in formation with the others, and surveying the scene around him.  He walks with a slight...

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