When you feel the ‘pressure’ – Blast pressure, water contamination, and Afghanistan – Ep 12

I’ve fired around a half dozen belt fed weapons systems during my time in service; some bigger and louder than others, and all of them a kick ass way to spend an afternoon.  Well, that is until you realize the effects of firing them over a longer period of time. It’s not just loud noise or dangerous, hot metal. I remember spending an entire day working as a lane safety for a .50 cal machine gun range.  I stood less than three feet from a firing heavy machine gun all day, burning my hands as I changed the barrels when they became too hot despite using a specially designed heat mitten. At a certain point of temperature, it doesn’t matter anymore.  Glove or not, you’re getting burned. I remember I set a hot barrel a bit too close to the side of my foot while it was cooling and the damn barrel burned my foot through my boot.

This is part and parcel the Army’s (and I’m assuming the Marine Corps as well) main area of training.  We’d spent hundred of hours a year on a variety of ranges and not just when we were the ones firing.  It takes dozens of people to run most ranges, so in the lovely mist that is Fort Lewis in the winter and spring, your entire platoon would be spend whole days at the range, near these loud and dangerous devices.  But what if that was enough to hurt you? I was already told as long as we had proper eye and ear protection, we were golden. The truth is much darker.

00:45 – Blast pressure report on heavy use of crew served weapons

11:40 – Afghanistan update from recent SIGAR report

22:32 – Water contamination at 126 DOD sites

In Vets, Even Mild Case of TBI Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia – Karen Kaplan – Los Angeles Times

Gunners Using Shoulder-Borne Heavy Weapons at Risk for Brain Damage – Stars and Stripes – Wyatt Olson

Update to last week’s post on suicide and combat guilt – Matthew Hoh

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) quarterly report to Congress – 4-30-18

DoD: At least 126 bases report water contaminants linked to cancer, birth defects – Military Times – Tara Copp

Ranks of Notorious Hate Group Include Active-Duty Military – Propublica


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Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Leave us a voicemail at 860-598-0570.  We might even play it on the podcast!!!

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A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, and Gage Counts!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

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FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Africa on fire and too many military brats – Ep 11.5

As a prolific news junkie, there are some stories that I’m tired of reading about and the Niger investigation has become one of those stories.  Not because the news about Niger is especially horrible or specifically newsworthy, or because we’re seeing more and more expansion by AFRICOM into new corners of Africa; obviously, both those things are true.  My frustration with this is because of the fallout people connected to this news must live through.

The families of these soldiers deserve to fully understand how their loved ones died and what reason the US government says is the prevailing rationality for these soldiers to be in Africa at all.  But the lies and subterfuge continue, most recently in attempting to largely lay the blame of the ambush on the soldiers who died. And I expect more from our military leadership; I shouldn’t, but I do.  These men died being told they were serving their country, but all I see here is lies and propaganda.

Here, Danny and I break down recent headlines out of Africa and discusses the immense number of military members who have family that served.  You wouldn’t think that would be a problem, but for diversity of thought and experience, it’s really important.

00:50 – Danger pay for areas in AFRICOM, new base in Somalia and updates on the Niger ambush

18:06 – Vice chief comments on the US military becoming a caste onto itself through multi generation service

DoD approves danger pay for Niger, Mali, Cameroon – Tara Copp – Military Times

EXCLUSIVE: MASSIVE MILITARY BASE BUILDUP SUGGESTS THE U.S. SHADOW WAR IN SOMALIA IS ONLY GETTING BIGGER – Christina Goldbaum – Vice News

Military Leaders Sent Them On A Hasty, Ill-Planned Mission — And Are Now Blaming Them – Paul Szoldra – Task and Purpose


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Leave us a voicemail at 860-598-0570.  We might even play it on the podcast!!!

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh, Will Ahrens, Ron Unger, Gage Counts, and Bashir!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.  Thank you all so much!!!

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

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FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Interview with Iona Craig of The Intercept – Part 1 – Ep 8.5

Journalism commitment comes in a variety of forms.  I’ve spent a lot of my time searching and reading news from all kinds of sources.  And as such, I read a lot of the same journalists, sometimes even at different outlets.  Glenn Greenwald would be a good example, as he appears on various outlets to share his work.  One day, you might be reading Glenn at the Intercept, and the next he might be appearing on Fox News.  The point is that he doesn’t seem to have limits on what he will do or what news outlet he might appear on; he simply wants the truth to be out there.  Danny is another great example of this. Danny writes for a variety of outlets, but doesn’t always share the IDENTICAL political affiliation that the outlet serves.  Danny’s goal is to have as many people read his work, regardless of who they are or their political affiliation.

Iona Craig is a journalist with a similar commitment, but in a very different direction.  Yemen.  She studies, writes about, and has even lived for years in Yemen.  I’ve never seen a journalist with that kind of commitment to her craft.  When I was a soldier years ago, I came to the realization on deployment that our constant changing of units (a normal part of deployments and Army life in general) wouldn’t allow us to make lasting relationships with the people in Iraq, and without trust, real change can’t be made.  And secondary to that, the people you visit, like the people I met in Iraq and the friends and contacts Iona has made in Yemen, deserve to create trust with visitors to their country.

Thanks to Iona for joining us on Fortress On A Hill.  Here is Part 1 of our discussion, along with a couple headlines that Iona was kind enough to sit in on and give us her perspective.  Enjoy!!!

00:30 – Danny discusses the emerging “threat” of China

16:45 – Ousting of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, replaced by Mike Pompeo

25:25 – Interview with Iona Craig of the Intercept – Part 1

[bctt tweet=”Meanwhile on the humaitarian side, obviously things have gotten dramatically worse. Deaths in the conflict now, although the UN stopped counting at the end of 2016 when it reached 10k in terms of children. Estimates are in the 50k for non-combat deaths, just purely on the humaitarian side this last year. What’s that mean for things on the ground? It means every time I go back there, I see more and more children dying of starvation, in medical centers across the country. Less than 50% of the country’s hospital are operational. Of a population of 27 million people, approximately 22 million need of humanitarian assistance. – Iona Craig on the crisis in Yemen” username=”fortressonahill”]

China Isn’t America’s Enemy, at Least Not Yet – Bloomberg – James Stavridis

IONA CRAIG WON A POLK AWARD FOR HER INVESTIGATION OF A SEAL TEAM RAID THAT KILLED WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN YEMEN. HERE’S HOW SHE DID IT. – The Intercept – Peter Maass

Death in al Ghayil (Women and Children in Yemeni village recall horror of Trump’s “highly successful” SEAL raid) – Iona Craig – The Intercept


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Not a contributor on Patreon? You’re missing out on amazing bonus content! Sign up to be one of our contributors today! – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill

Facebook – Fortress On A Hill

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FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen

The show was mixed and edited by Chris Henrikson

Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL

Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

A special thanks to our honorary producers Matthew Hoh and Will Ahrens!!  Without you guys, we couldn’t continue our work.

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

Iranian protests and the hatred of Tom Cotton – Ep 7.0

This week, we take a look at a new report on Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health care from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, then discuss a story about Senator Tom Cotton and his war mongering policies along with a breakdown of President Trump’s recent comments on the Iranian protests.

01:00 – National Academies’ report on evaluation of VA mental health care

07:15 – People Danny (and Henri) hate – Sen. Tom Cotton

16:55 – Army pays $4m to families of victims killed by extremist soldiers at Fort Lewis

20:55 – The recent Iranian protests

Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Patreon – Fortress On A Hill

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FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen
The show was mixed and edited by Chris Henrikson
Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

VA Provides Mental Health Care to Veterans of Recent Iraq and Afghanistan Wars of Comparable or Superior Quality to Other Providers, Yet Substantial Unmet Need Remains

National Interest – The Cotton Doctrine: More wars, less security – Christopher A. Preble

Seattle Times – Army pays 4 million to families of victims killed by extremist soldiers – Mike Carter

National Interest – Epistemology, Rhetoric, and the Iranian Protests – Paul Pillar

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.


	

50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive – lessons of Vietnam revisited with Greg Daddis Part 1 – Ep 6.0

It’s interview time today!!!!  We present part 1 of our sitdown with COL Greg Daddis.  COL Daddis is the expert’s expert on Vietnam and today we will discuss the lessons from Vietnam that can be applied to the endless warfare our country wages.  Ep 6.5 will have part 2 of COL Daddis’ interview, following our normal headlines, which will drop on Feb 9.

Gregory Daddis is an associate professor of history and director of Chapman’s MA Program in War and Society.  Dr. Daddis joined the History Department in the summer of 2015 after having served as the Chief of the American History Division in the Department of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point. A retired US Army colonel, he has served in both Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. Dr. Daddis specializes in the history of the Vietnam Wars and the Cold War era.

Arthur Schlesinger – The bitter heritage

Andrew Basevich – The limits of power


Enjoy the show?!  Please leave us a review right here.

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

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FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen
The show was mixed and edited by Chris Henrikson
Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.


	

To whom does our military belong? Donald Trump? Secretary Mattis? Beetle Bailey?

I’ve mentioned a few times on the podcast that I feel strongly in the idea that veterans are not the only owners of the ‘military’ story.

Veterans often carry a notion of protection and awareness towards the identities they project to others about their time in service.  Almost daily, I pass a news article or friend’s post on Facebook regarding stolen valor and the comment section is usually foaming at the mouth to discredit ‘fake’ veterans, lest they not distance themselves from the idea that any part of their own service be seen as illegitimate.  I’m not trying to discredit the idea of suppressing and restricting those who say they’ve served when they clearly haven’t (my favorite one roaming around is the guy in USMC dress blues with a SEAL trident sitting below his ribbons.)  My point is that everything about the military experience can be experienced by those who have never served.  Fighting in combat, participating in drill and ceremony, and even the knowledge and training received by Special Operations Forces such as advanced marksmanship and combatives can be experienced and obtained by ordinary people.  The combination of these elements certainly makes the military experience a unique one, but not unknown outside of its ranks.

Further more, the stories that ordinary citizens share about their experiences with service members of all nations and stripes belong to them as much as any veteran.  Veterans are simply people who have survived extraordinary circumstances under the flag of our government.  And the extraordinary circumstances through which service members are sent and have survived are debated and chosen politically.  The military is far more politicized that my 18 year old self would ever have fucking believed, both within its ranks and outside of it.  And the reality is that in our type of democracy, our main avenue to affect foreign policy and thereby overall military policy is through elections.  But we seldom make that connection; that our politicians, through the ‘power of the purse’ can help dictate policy.  We’re now at a trillion dollar defense budget.  And what the military does under the banner of ‘protecting our freedom’ have direct and indirect consequences for all Americans, let alone the dead brown people from ‘shithole’ countries that we’ve left in our wake.

So, don’t ever give yourself the chance to let a news alert of a dead service member go by without asking yourself, “What was that servicemember’s mission?” and “What aspect(s) of that mission did not go as planned?”  Granted, that should just be your first two questions, but I think you get the idea.  “Thank you for your service” needs to become “tell me about your service.”  And we need to lose the reverence to which we’ve ascribed to veterans.  Veterans have been through some harsh shit; don’t get me wrong.  I’m walking living proof of that harsh shit.  But my experience is not above other kinds of suffering that people have experienced.  I believe my government owes a significant debt to all veterans and needs to be held accountable in repaying that debt.  However, and if you’ve only skimmed to this point, let me be crystal fucking clear: defending our nation and the rights of its citizens, while repaying our debt to veterans is not mutually exclusive with ceasing the arming of terrorists or stopping the brutal massacre of innocent civilians in actions we support like in Yemen.  We can do all those things together and still maintain the defense of our country.  I want the opportunities to create veterans like Danny and myself to be few and far between.

For now, we’ll continue to wage war in every continent in one way or another.  Those fucking penguins in Antarctica have had it coming.  And we’ll mourn our lost service members as the cost of ‘freedom,’ all the while the only actual people whose freedom it actually affected are already dead, maimed, or displaced into a refugee black hole somewhere.  Many veterans will continue to have meme fights on Facebook and disparage others’ attempts at ‘stolen valor,’ while ignoring the war and chaos still being made by their former employers.

Please speak out about the topics Danny and I cover on the podcast,  Don’t let any of these stories stagnate and become forgotten.  And share new ones we’ve never considered.  We’ll be fucking all ears.

Today is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.  At least for me, it would be less painful to consider the history of Auschwitz if our country wasn’t still creating widows and orphans in the wake of its imperialism.  If we weren’t, at least we could look at survivors and relatives of Auschwitz and tell them that we’ve really learned the lessons that their ancestors’ lives gave us.  For now, all we have is ‘sympathy for the devil.’

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul to waste
And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game

 

Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

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Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.


 

MeToo when you wear the uniform – Sexual assault in the military – Ep 4.0

Ep 4 is here.  Hope you enjoy it.

I did want to make a note for people about SGT Johnson, the SF soldier who died in Niger back in October.  I said his name a number of times in this episode and I’m pretty sure most of them were SGT La Johnson.  His name is SGT La David Johnson and I apologize for not saying his name correctly.  I have memory issues and sometimes things don’t get out quite right.  But, a person’s name is an important thing and I aim to do it right.

We are starting a bonus program for anyone contributing to $3+ to us on Patreon!  There will be bonus podcast content not shown on ordinary episodes, original writings from Danny and myself, some collaborations with other creators and some other surprises we have cooked up.  Stay tuned!

00:40 – Jerusalem becoming location of US Embassy

08:38  – Gas line explosion at Camp Pendleton 

11:09  – Niger updates

42:20  – Analyzing recent deployments of Raytheon Patriot missile defense systems

51:00  – Three sisters, three academies, four generations of service

105:13 – Sexual assault in the military

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/05/…/american-embassy-israel-trump-move.html

https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/bjddq8/everything-we-know-about-u-s-special-ops-are-doing-in-33-african-nations

https://www.militarytimes.com/off-duty/military-sports/army-navy-game/2017/12/05/army-navy-week-3-sisters-3-academies-and-4-generations-of-service-3/

‘Got news to share about our military or veterans?! Or just need to cuss at us for a bit?! Contact us direct by email at fortressonahill@gmail.com

Patreon – www.patreon.com/fortressonahill/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/fortressonahill

Twitter – www.twitter.com/fortressonahill

FOH is hosted, written, and produced by Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen
The show was mixed and edited by Chris Henrikson
Cover and website art designed by Brian K. Wyatt Jr. of B-EZ Graphix Multimedia Marketing Agency in Tallehassee, FL
Music provided royalty free by Bensound.com

Note: The views expressed in this podcast are those of the hosts alone, expressed in an unofficial capacity, and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.


	

Seventeen years later: the failed war in Afghanistan with Matthew Hoh Part 2 – Ep 3

For Ep 3, Fortress On A Hill takes the wide lens to the failed war in Afghanistan. Our hosts, Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson and Danny Sjursen, also discuss updates to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the hope for changes in the VA’s presumption towards illness caused by Agent Orange.  Then we polish off our episode with Part 2 of our interview with Marine combat veteran and State Department whistleblower Matthew Hoh.

Episode 3 –

00:59 – Agent Orange – Blue Water Veterans

12:30 – Yemen update via The Intercept

19:22 – Few veterans at Ivy League schools

25:56  – War in Afghanistan

34:11  – Trump Vietnam visit; selling F-18’s to the masses

38:55 – Matthew Hoh Interview – Part 2

 

1 hour, 1 minute total

https://www.sigar.mil/pdf/quarterlyreports/2017-10-30qr.pdf

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/will-u-s-stay-committed-to-toxic-agent-orange-cleanup-in-vietnam

https://theintercept.com/2017/11/14/congress-yemen-war-unauthorized/

Matthew Hoh is a member of the advisory boards of Expose Facts, Veterans For Peace and World Beyond War. In 2009 he resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama Administration. He previously had been in Iraq with a State Department team and with the U.S. Marines. He is a Senior Fellow with the Center for International Policy.

New episode drops Friday!!

Episode 3 is ready to drop!  This week, we’ll be dissecting the war in Afghanistan in more details, then we’ll finish up with Part 2 of our interview with Matthew Hoh.  Come check it out!!!

Danny’s latest from TruthDig – the hidden truth about losing the draft

The national disgrace of apathy has many causes, but one is paramount: the 1973 decision to end conscription.