- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

Slighting the Air Force

As an airman who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq directly with the Army, I was disappointed by retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales’ lack of knowledge about the Air Force’s contribution to this war (“The military budget pie,” Op-Ed, Wednesday). Any general officer should understand how the Air Force’s investments in personnel and equipment have created sanctuaries on the battlefield for ground forces to be successful.

Our mission is dangerous. Just ask the families of Tech. Sgt. Timothy Weiner, Senior Airmen Elizabeth Loncki and Daniel Miller, my brothers and sister in arms, who died when a car bomb exploded next to them while on point in Baghdad. Or the family of Senior Airman Adam Servais, a fellow combat controller who lost his life while returning fire and calling in air fire support for the Army Special Forces unit he was attached to during an ambush in Afghanistan.

My duties downrange mean I maneuver within meters to attack enemy positions. Apparently Gen. Scales has either forgotten or assumed away the contributions of the Air Force in direct combat, especially as they pertain to ground forces.

Some of what the Air Force brings to the fight:

n Airlift gets the soldier to the fight within seconds of the scheduled time using global positioning system and night-vision technology en masse with larger cargo capabilities and to more remote areas due to short-field landing capabilities.

n Medical evacuation gets the soldier out of the fight with a 95 percent survivability rate.

n Air power protects the soldier from attack by prepping the battlefield, detecting enemy movement with such precision that hiding under a truck only provides minimal challenge to our precision weapons.

n Air power brings massed precision firepower to exactly where it’s needed, when it’s needed.

We directly support our Army brethren by driving Army truck convoys through the treacherous routes, providing half the joint security team, protecting the bases and finding and destroying improvised explosive devices and car bombs.

The Air Force piece of the budget directly supports the soldiers and Marines that Gen. Scales claims are being shorted. My Air Force is proudly in this fight with your Army and at the same time we’re investing precious resources to replace old, tired equipment — that will do all the missions I described above better than ever — in order for us to win the next fight for America.

MASTER SGT. DENNIS KNUTH

Air Force special operations

combat controller

Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Honoring fallen heroes

The editorial “Fallen in the line of duty, 2006” (Saturday) was ironic in that 2007 starts off with the wanton murder of Baltimore Detective Troy Chesley. It is obvious that renewed emphasis must be placed on the improvement of Kevlar body armor and tighter controls on guns.

The Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall is a poignant reminder of the costs to our heroes and heroines in blue. May another name never need be added to memorial fund Executive Director Craig Floyd’s wall of honor, sympathy and tears.

JOE HAMMELL

Waynesboro, Pa.

Sham border security

After reading the news item, “Troops flee from border outpost,” (Page 1, Jan. 6), the editorial, “Toy soldiers on the border,” (Tuesday) and the letter, “On the border,” (Tuesday), I am convinced that border security is a sham. After the border fence legislation was passed last fall and signed by President Bush, no funds were appropriated. Also, two Border Patrol agents were arrested for firing a shot at illegal aliens in the act of smuggling a shipment of marijuana into this country. It appears attempts to secure our border are a sham and done only to fool the public.

Worst of all was sending unarmed National Guard troops to the border. Not only were they unarmed, but to enforce the law they were to call Border Patrol agents to make arrests. As a result, the troops were attacked by a band of armed invaders and were unable to defend themselves. This is a gross violation of their right to self-defense and direct violation of Article II of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, which states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This is exactly what the administration did by depriving the National Guard of arms in spite of its knowledge of border attacks by armed intruders from Mexico.

So, with a fence that will not be built due to lack of funds, Border Patrol guards who are arrested and imprisoned for attempting to stop drug smugglers from bringing their illegal cargo into the country, unarmed troops to “guard” them but not make arrests, it is obvious our government has no intention whatsoever of securing the border.

We need to investigate the order disarming the National Guardsmen and prosecute whoever gave that order putting the men in a position of danger and humiliation. The Border Patrol agents being imprisoned for doing their job should be exonerated. The fence should be built and no amnesty granted to the freeloading illegal aliens invading our country daily. We must stop them to save the country we fought for, died for, worked for and love. We need to revive the spirit that won World War II. Then, everyone pitched in and did all they could do to win. We did it before, we can do it again.

RUTH ELLSWORTH

Silver Spring

America’s debt to Martin Luther King

More than anybody in American history, Martin Luther King’s life of good works made the American dream possible for all people of every race (“Beyond King’s dream,” Op-Ed, Friday). That dream was rooted in the words of our Founders: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Until King came along, those words were just high-sounding rhetoric.

King was instrumental in freeing many Americans from the shackles of prejudice, discrimination and segregation. His committed-to-justice life produced hope and opportunity for all oppressed minorities. He knew that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” was unattainable for anyone if any segment of society was denied access to the dream.

Martin Luther King’s life merits the national memorial that is going to be built to honor him in Washington. America owes a huge debt of gratitude to the 20th century’s great emancipator.

PAUL L. WHITELEY SR.

Louisville, Ky.

Gitmo is immoral

The article “Ban echoes Annan on Gitmo closure,” (World, Friday) reports on the call of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo. It also noted that anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan led protestersuptothe Guantanamo base’s fence, calling for shutting the facility down.

Unfortunately, the coverage did not include the fact that hundreds marched in Washington for the same cause and that 89 of us were arrested and jailed the same day in this effort.

There are many who believe that Guantanamo and the rest of the archipelago of shame maintained by our government should close. We believe that the absence of habeas corpus and treatment of mostly uncharged detainees in ways that violate the Geneva Conventions are inconsistent with the most basic of American values. Do not our concerns and our willingness to submit to arrest in defense of those concerns merit coverage?

EDMUND MCWILLIAMS

Falls Church

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