Jan 13

(Normally, we start the year with our “Most Intriguing Event of the Year”. But since Lone Survivor hit theaters across the country on January 10th, we’re devoting this week to that topic.

To read all of our Lone Survivor posts, please click here. The most important post is "A List of the Mistakes and Differences Between Lone Survivor (Film), Lone Survivor (Book) and Reality" so read that first if you are new to the blog or this topic.)

To avoid burying the lede, please check our recent article over at Slate on Lone Survivor. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably read the article it is based on here. Either way, we’re both pretty heavy Slate readers (and we regularly cite Dahlia Lithwick for her excellent legal reporting), so we’re excited to contribute to that great website.

So check it out.

Before we go, though, we want to tell a story which captures how Slate--and specifically staff writer Forrest Wickman--went above and beyond to do the due diligence this story requires.

After we published our magnum opus listing every important difference or mistake in Lone Survivor, we tried to get the word out to the journalists we respect. We sent a lot emails...and received one response.

Then, in the middle of last week, Forrest Wickman of Slate.com’s “Browbeat” blog reached out saying he loved the piece. He even went a step further asking if Slate could repurpose it. We immediately said yes. Based on the behavior of most journalists, we expected it to end there.

Thank God it didn’t. Forrest did what every editor should do: he asked us for our research for any facts that, by this point, we consider common knowledge. He asked us for links or citations. He also double checked our quotes to ensure accuracy. (The whole process took two days.)

In short, Forrest did what we expect editors everywhere--no matter how busy they are--to do: check the facts.

Unfortunately, virtually no major media outlets did this. As we wrote last Friday, Luttrell is on record repeating contradictory information to multiple news outlets...none of those news outlets double-checked what he told them.

So thanks again Slate.com for the opportunity to contribute and for doing due diligence.

Jun 20

Quick heads up:

Michael C just had a guest post published at Tom Rick's "Best Defense" blog titled, "The officer as manager: A reading list."

Check it out.

Jun 18

Quick heads up:

First off, thanks for the link love from io9, who gave a shout out to our post “Appreciating Neo-Colonialism or: My New Perspective on the Martian Chronicles” in their post “Reading The Martian Chronicles in Tehran” on an edition of The Martian Chronicles finally coming out in Iran.

Next, Eric C just had another guest post “Don’t Be Lazy: 9 Ways to Blog Smarter and Harder” published over at problogger.net.

Check them out.

Jun 10

Before we get to today’s controversial main feature, check out Eric C’s guest post on WriteToDone.com with the provocatively titled, “How Miniskirts Will Make Your Prose Sexier: The Golden Rule of Length”. We should have some other guest posts going up around the web in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

Oct 25

(To read more of our outside writing, click here. To read the entire "Our Communist Military" series, please click here.)

Head over to Thomas Ricks’ awesome FP.com blog, “The Best Defense”, to check out our newest guest post, “An Afghanistan/Iraq vet says Romney should run the Pentagon like Bain Capital”. To sum up our position: Mitt Romney wants to increase the Pentagon’s budget, but we think the military has enough money as is, it just doesn’t spend it very well. At all.

We’re going to include this guest post, unofficially, in the “Our Communist Military” series as an example of how the military is another example of out-of-control, wasteful, bureaucratic government spending. The military can (and should) learn from what the private sector does well. (Of course, as we’re now going to mention on all “Our Communist Military” posts, we don’t actually think the military is “communist”...that’s just a rhetorical device.)

Oct 03

Over the last few years, the Fayetteville Observer--newspaper of record for Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne--has written several award-winning series on the mental health of soldiers and their experiences returning from war zones.

For the most recent edition, “The Last Battle”, writer Greg Barnes reached out to me to expand on my thoughts from the guest post “Checking the Mental Health Block” I wrote for VAntage Point. I also spoke about being a junior leader dealing with mental health problems in my platoon.

Check out this valuable series on a topic far too neglected in our current political climate.

Sep 03

(To read the rest of our series, “The Case Against War with Iran”, please click here.)

Over the last few months, Eric C and I have spent countless hours turning the IPB section of our series, “The Case Against the War in Iran”, into an paper titled, “The Costs of War with Iran: An Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield”. After three months of work, that paper was just published on The Small Wars Journal on Friday. We’ve rewritten and updated almost every section, so check out our new takes.

I’ll repeat the point that concludes the article because the first comment on the post reflected my worry. More than anything, I want this paper (and hopefully a follow up op-ed) to inspire this discussion: Americans, what are you willing to sacrifice in a war with Iran? And I want politicians to answer this question: What do you think it will cost to go to war with Iran?

Also, thanks to Doctrine Man for linking to our most recent (and controversial) article, “Our Communist Military”.

To everyone who has Facebook’ed, Tweeted or commented on the recent posts, again thanks.

Jun 27

On Thursday morning, I started seeing inklings that the “Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation” recommended an overhaul to combat pay to reward junior soldiers for their sacrifices. If this sounds a lot like my Washinton Post opinion piece from last year, “I didn’t deserve my combat pay” well it should. As CNN’s "Security Clearance" blog tells it:

As part of its findings, the report cited a 2011 opinion piece in the Washington Post in which Capt. Michael Cummings wrote, "I didn't deserve my combat pay."

Cummings described the living conditions at Victory Base Complex in Iraq, "The water was always warm. The chow hall had a Caesar salad bar, a sandwich bar, an ice cream freezer, and shrimp & steak Fridays. My personal room had a working air conditioning unit and internet connection. VBC hosted multiple PXs, coffee shops and nightly dance parties. I could buy pillows, microwaves, televisions or any video game."

The report (which can be found here; our quote is in the “supporting research papers”) also details a different issue regarding combat pay that I hadn’t thought of: the giant benefit of Combat Zone Tax Exclusion for high ranking officers. I hadn’t thought of this, but it furthers the main thrust of my original Op-Ed: most generals and colonels receive way more compensation (in better conditions) for deployment than junior soldiers (in the suck).

Together--because really Eric C and I write everything together no matter whose name is on the piece--we are extremely excited about this development. To borrow a California surfing term, we’re stoked.

The big question is, am I optimistic that--even after the Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation agreeing with our op-ed--the Pentagon and Congress will address these important issues? I am not for four reasons:

1. Most vocal pro-military types will resist any change to military compensation if it means any troops lose money. So even though conservative Republicans champion fiscal responsibility and cutting through “Bureaucracy”, they won’t jump to support this commission’s report. Republicans will also reflexively resist any proposal coming from President Obama.

2. Democrats will avoid anything that looks like it harms troops to because of their historically (false) reputation for being weak on defense and/or hating our troops. So the minute someone accuses Democrats of “hating our soldiers”, they will back down.

3. The military hates change.

4. Officers will suffer the most from these changes. Since officers (generals) run the Pentagon, they will fight it. Further, pro-military associations--like the Association of the U.S. Army and countless others are lead by retired Generals and Colonels, who will also resist this change.

So Republicans, Democrats, current officers and retired officers will all resist changing combat pay. Basically, no one will lobby for this commission’s reports, no matter how sensible. And (prediction alert!) if no one lobbies for legislation the odds it will happen are low.

That said, we love the fact that we might have influenced the debate, even a bit. Having gotten our names in one possibly influential report, we plan in the next few weeks to try again, this time on the topic of Iran. Stay tuned.