Fox News, Hannity: Brian Williams Misremembers

Fox News, America’s Newsroom: Brian Williams Blames the Fog of War

MSNBC: ISIS Hostage Crisis Unfolding

American Sniper Success Testament to Military Appreciation

Michael Moore took to Twitter to attack military snipers the same weekend American hero and Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle’s biopic “American Sniper” was released nationwide and saw extraordinary success at the box office.

On Sunday, Moore tweeted to his 1.8 million followers, “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”

Following suit, Seth Rogen, recently an actor in the movie “The Interview,” contributed to the anti-“American Sniper” rhetoric by comparing the film to Nazi propaganda by tweeting, “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.”

Both men have attempted to explain their statements due to the national outcry over their ignorant comments, but the damage has been done. Their intentions were loud and clear. They take their freedoms for granted and sound ungrateful to the very military that protects them.

War is not a game. Soldiers put their lives on the line everyday. Many die. Some children are forced to grow up without their mother or father. Many soldiers come back from war severely injured from the battlefield, both physically and mentally. Their mockery of the American soldier and military institution as a whole — the very ones who protect and preserve their right and freedom to say such idiotic words — is blatantly disrespectful to those who wear the uniform.

The reality is that the civilian-military divide has never been greater. The majority of Americans don’t know what war is like. Since 9/11 less than 1 percent of the population has served on active duty in the military. That equates to a significant disconnect between the average American and those who serve. But even with this divide, the American public’s support of our military and veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been incredible and unwavering.

The divide also creates a desire to understand what it is like to serve and go to war. “American Sniper” gave Americans a first hand glimpse and an accurate portrayal of what war is like.

The past 13+ years that the U.S. has been at war have been hard on the U.S. military and their families. Many have done back-to-back deployments four, five, six, or more times. As captured in “American Sniper,” that puts a significant burden and stress on military families. War is one of the most life-altering experiences that can ever happen to a human being, but American soldiers will gladly go in to harm’s way each and every time they are asked by their Commander-in-Chief, because of their love of country and their willingness to protect it at all costs.

“American Sniper” made more than $100 million in its first weekend because of what the film and Kyle’s story represents: Chris Kyle represents the American spirit, the pride and courage of the U.S. military, and the sacrifices that have been made by service members of all generations and all wars.

It makes Americans proud to be American. But more than that, Kyle’s story makes Americans feel safe. It confirms that in an age of global unrest and continual threats to our national values, men and women such as Chris Kyle are willing to go into harm’s way, leave their family, and risk their lives to protect our way of life. That’s what our military men and women do.

While it’s shameful that Moore and Rogen would attempt to diminish Kyle’s legacy and the sacrifices he and his family made by making such arrogant remarks about a war hero and the film that represents him, the American people and the $100 million-plus they spent in the last several days speaks volumes about who this country cares about.

Originally published at Red Alert Politics

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberSmithUSA

Want Free College? Join the Military

Last week President Obama announced that he is proposing that ‘free’ community college be provided to students across America. This ‘free’ community college reportedly comes with a $60 billion price tag over 10 years if approved. This program is anything but free and will only put our nation further into our runaway debt.

“I’m announcing an ambitious new plan to bring down the cost of community college tuition in America,” President Obama said while announcing the program. I want to bring it down to zero. I want to make it free.”

The president said he’s willing to make college free for those who are “willing to work for it.” Here’s an idea: How about free college for those who serve for it? In fact, if you want ‘free’ college, there’s already a way to get that: Join the military.

The military’s Post-9/11 GI Bill not only covers the soldier/veterans with tuition, it provides a monthly housing allowance based on location of the school, books and supplies stipend, and a one-time rural benefit payment. And it doesn’t just cover your standard college; it covers flight training, licensing and certification training, vocational/technical training, undergraduate and graduate degrees and more. Some qualifying service members even have the option of transferring their GI Bill to their spouse or children.

With just as little as 36 months of service, a service number can receive 100 percent of the maximum benefit payable. Now that is an excellent way to earn and pay for college.
The term ‘free’ has been used quite loosely by this administration, but the reality is that Obama’s free community college program will only contribute to our growing national debt, which is over $18 trillion and counting. Obama’s program states that 75 percent of the costs will be federally funded by the taxpayer, with state taxpayers covering the remaining 25 percent.

That is anything but free. That is you and me, the everyday American citizen, now having to foot the bill for capable Americans.

President Obama’s free community college proposal is weak at best and is financially irresponsible. It displays a leadership philosophy with little regard for the taxpayer who will be required to pay for it. In an age of fiscal austerity, where the Department of Defense budget is continually slashed resulting in a shrinking military while global threats are on the rise, the exhibit of backwards priorities is astonishing.

This is the wrong message to be sending our youth. Our culture is continuing to evolve into one that expects handouts. One where young people feel entitled to get everything for free without having to work for it. This trend is a very dangerous mindset to possess. Nothing in life is free. Someone—usually the hard-working middle class American (that is anything but rich)—is footing the bill.

Throughout his time in office, President Obama’s rhetoric has focused so much on the middle class—a topic he says he’ll address in his State of the Union speech in a few weeks. But he seems to have forgotten that the middle class is made up of people who have worked hard to earn what they get. They don’t expect handouts from the government. However, the president seems to think otherwise.

The federal government needs to get out of the business of giving away things for free. Working hard for something creates value: a sense of pride and accomplishment. Giving away things for free creates a sense of entitlement and laziness. If you want something, work for it the old fashioned way. There are no free rides. No free lunches.

We need to re-instill the hard working, go get ‘em American values in our youth. Pursuing any type of college or higher education should be commended, but you don’t get a free ride just because you are an American.

We need to start having the conversation of how you can serve your country instead of merely taking from it.

President John F. Kennedy once said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

It’s time we as a nation start living those words.

Originally published in THE HILL

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberSmithUSA

Abandoning the Kiowa is a Huge Mistake

Flying a helicopter in combat a couple of hundred feet above a firefight, fully armed with rockets and a .50-cal machine gun, cleared hot and inbound to a target, provides an adrenaline rush few experience. But those of us who have belong to an exclusive team, one that will soon be a thing of the past. In February 2014, the U.S. Defense Department announced plans to disband the entire OH-58D Kiowa Warrior fleet.

The Kiowa Warrior isn’t sexy. It isn’t like the glamorized Apache gunship or Hollywood’s fan-favorite Blackhawk. It is a small, two-seat light attack/reconnaissance helicopter and is rarely recognized outside of Army aviation and infantry communities. But don’t let its size or lack of mainstream notoriety fool you; the Kiowa packs a big punch.

What separates the Kiowa from the rest of the Army’s helicopter inventory is its mission, which is unlike any other in aviation. One day, the crew conducts reconnaissance for improvised explosive devices during convoy security operations. The next day, they might respond to a request for a close combat attack and engage the enemy with their .50-cal machine gun and 2.75-in. high-explosive rockets. Another day, they might search for enemy activity in a known hot-spot or observe and adjust artillery fire. Then they might have to call in a medevac operation or coordinate with fighter jets to drop bombs. A day in the life of a Kiowa pilot is never the same twice.

Behind the great variety of missions are the Kiowa pilots, whose professionalism and relentless drive pushes them every day to protect those on the battlefield who are constantly in the thick of the fight. The Kiowa Warrior truly breeds a different kind of pilot. After a mission in Afghanistan in 2008, an infantryman told me ground guys love the Kiowa because it is the only aircraft that “thinks” like an extension of the troops on the ground. That airborne extension of the team is what made us so successful in the war on terror in multiple theaters of operation.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the Army would not only be ending its 30-year quest to replace the Kiowa, it would be abandoning the scout/reconnaissance mission entirely. The Pentagon proclaims it is continuing the manned recon mission by replacing it with UAV/Apache teams. That’s like trying to fill a round hole with a square peg. A UAV can reconnoiter and an Apache can shoot, but even combined, they will never replace the priceless instincts a Kiowa pilot develops from the experience of flying over an infantry platoon—learning the enemy’s tactics, techniques and procedures—and reacting accordingly. The logic and intuition Kiowa pilots bring to the battlefield are invaluable assets that cannot be substituted with technology. The human aspect of the scout mission simply cannot be replaced.

In terms of saving money, the math just doesn’t add up. A 2011 Army analysis of alternatives to the Armed Aerial Scout found that fielding the AH-64D Apache Block III as a replacement in Kiowa squadrons would be at a minimum 50% more expensive than the currently programmed squadrons. Additionally, a Logistics Management Institute study found that in recent Iraq and Afghanistan operations, had the Army chosen an Apache in place of a Kiowa, it would come with a $4 billion price tag in maintenance, fuel and operating costs.

There is no question that the Kiowa airframe needs to be replaced with a modern force, but the procurement process is not simple. Because of new budget constraints, the Army saw a window of opportunity to get rid of the headache of replacing the Kiowa. After three decades, tens of billions of dollars and multiple failed prototypes—including the Comanche, Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and Armed Aerial Scout—the Army simply gave up.

Scrapping the scout mission will be a catastrophic mistake. There is no coherent cost-effective strategy to enact the Army’s replacement plan. In standard bureaucracy form, the plan looked good on paper and briefed well, but in the real world, operationally, it is a debacle. Kiowa pilots and maintainers have been uprooted from their Army career paths and are now scrambling for an aircraft transition. Long-term, it is not cost-efficient, nor will the modern battlefield benefit from the Kiowa’s absence.

The removal of the Kiowa Warrior from the Army aviation inventory marks the end of an era of an astounding combat-proven aircraft that was fundamental to mission success in Iraq and Afghanistan. But its legacy will live on through all of us who had the privilege to fly or maintain one.

Originally published in the November 17 issue of Aviation Week 

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberSmithUSA

Women’s History Museum Does Not Belong in Defense Budget

On October 11, Rengin Yusuf died. She was a mom, a warrior and a young Peshmergan fighter who died in battle against ISIS. According to Sandor Jaszberenyi’s piece in the Wall Street Journal, she was part of a brave group of women who are particularly successful in combat, due in part to ISIS’s belief that being killed by a woman fighter excludes one from the complimentary 72 virgins in Paradise.

Rengin should be a feminist icon, but she won’t be. American feminists won’t like her brand of feminism.

Besides taking a firm stand against Jihadists, she also didn’t buy into gender politics, asking before her death — along with her fellow fighters — to not be identified as “women Peshmergas” because as Jaszberenyi puts it, “a Peshmerga is a Peshmerga, or in Kurdish, ‘someone who confronts death.’”

Contrast her idea of true feminist empowerment with the whiny “#banbossy” campaign and other phony feminist “battles” of the American left.

The Left’s latest “cause” is the battle over Congressional approval for the commissioning of a National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) on the National Mall. The museum would join, according to Columbia College in Chicago, more than twenty other women’s museums around the country.

The estimated cost for the NWHM is $300 to $500 million dollars for construction and untold millions each following year for operations. The acknowledged goal is for the museum to become part of the Smithsonian system, which received sixty-five percent of its funding from taxpayers at a whopping $805 million before the proposed NWHM’s addition. Fifty conservative women leaders signed a letter opposing the NWHM in its current form.

Add to the discussion the decidedly leftist bent of the museum’s current board and website. Eight of the ten NWHM board members are liberal donors and/or activists. As a whole, their FEC reports record gifts to groups including pro-abortion EMILY’s List and Hillary Clinton. The website attached to the museum baldly favors a liberal jaundiced view of history. It trumpets future exhibits honoring women such as Planned Parenthood Founder and eugenicist Margaret Sanger and leftist anti-military activist Bella Abzug. Not only did Bella Abzug work to drastically reduce military spending, but she also said, and I quote, “I am not being facetious when I say that the real enemies in this country are the Pentagon and its pals in big business.”

This is particularly ironic, considering that Congressional sources have indicated that the House and Senate are currently toying with a backroom deal in which the museum legislation will be snuck in to the National Defense Authorization Act.
Women warriors do not serve in this nation to be viewed as a minority interest group. We are fifty-one percent of the population and won’t settle for a pat on the head. We are Americans and deserve to be fairly represented in every museum.
But if we are wrong and the majority of American women want gender division, then at the very least the museum must fairly portray the philosophical diversity of American women on hot button issues like abortion and marriage. Unless the safeguards are added to the current bill language, the museum will predictably become a shrine to the Left’s view of feminism on our National Mall. It will serve to indoctrinate future generations in the Bella Abzug brand of feminism, not the Rengin Yusuf kind.
Congress needs to stop playing identity politics.

The NDAA is meant to authorize budget authority for our military and national security to ensure the safety of our nation and its citizens. It is not meant to make backroom deals for subjects without merit. If the National Women’s History Museum had any merit, it would stand on its own and it’s funding would not need to be snuck in to a bill that is almost guaranteed to pass because we need national security – not a one-sided women’s history museum paid for at the taxpayer’s expense.

Originally published in Breitbart News

Follow Amber on Twitter: @AmberSmithUSA