Welcome to my random muses of being an aspiring banjo player, a Battalion Commander, a student of Army War College, and my admiring observations of Soldiers. It's all to the tune of yet another deployment to this country called Iraq.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

So What Did We Accomplish?

The 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion became the first unit of its type in the Army Reserve when it was formed in 2006. At the time the Battalion's HHC and Headquarters were alerted of their pending mobilization, the 275th was unproven and untested. There were many who doubted the new logistics battalion would be able to handle the rigors and demands of complex combat sustainment and retrograde operations - much less be able to provide mission command to the various Active Duty, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard units that would be assigned to the 275th once they deployed. Most members of the Battalion were newly assigned and over half had never deployed to a combat environment before. In September 2010 I had been pulled from command of another battalion to lead the 275th CSSB in both its train-up and deployment. Together, we only had a few short months to fill out our manning roster and prepare for the demands of combat logistics. When we first deployed to Contingency Operating Base Speicher in early April 2011, we assumed the traditional mission of the outgoing CSSB - providing sustainment to U.S. bases in Northern Iraq. Within a month of our arrival our mission became infinitely more complex, as the demands of combat retrograde began to take priority. We were just getting started.

There was no way any of us could have predicted how much our mission and battalion would grow over the remainder of 2011. What we accomplished was logistics history. The 275th CSSB played a leading role in the closure of every U.S. base remaining in Iraq. Our Battalion changed location three times as we completed retrograde from north to south. Each time we "jumped TOC" our battalion mission increased in size. At the same time, the 275th CSSB grew from its original strength of just over 600 Soldiers to an eventual size of over 1,400. This made the 275th the largest logistics type battalion in the history of the Iraq War. The ultimate honor was when the 275th CSSB was chosen over three other sister units in Iraq to be the backbone of the final retrograde of forces required by Operation New Dawn. On 18 December 2011, Soldiers from the 275th became some of the final personnel to leave when they shut down the bulk fuel farm, convoy support center, and the cargo receiving and shipping point at Camp Adder. I could wax eloquent with great pride for every one of my Soldiers. Our numbers speak for themselves.

Trucks from the 275th CSSB completed 1,024 convoys that covered 3,423,128 miles throughout Iraq and into Kuwait. These convoys, all under the threat of hostile enemy action, safely transported 361,072 short tons of retrograde and sustainment cargo.

The 275th CSSB sustainment U.S. Forces in Iraq with 1,822,170 cases of bottled water, 10,429,000 rounds of ammunition, and 16,114,865 gallons of fuel.

Soldiers of the 275th CSSB operated and closed each of the Cargo Receiving and Shipping Points (CRSP) in Iraq. These vital hubs successfully processed 39,253 shipping containers (20' and 40'), 22,965 vehicles, 8,982 "463L" pallets of cargo, and 48,442 skid-mounted pieces of equipment.

Field Service Maintenance facilities manned by the 275th CSSB completed 2,115 work orders in direct support of various US Forces-Iraq units.

275th CSSB provided direct support to various operational moves of multiple combat units in Iraq that ensured the security of the various stages of the final retrograde out of the country.

Operations of the 275th CSSB spanned the entire country of Iraq and ranged into Kuwait. Every single U.S. base remaining in Iraq as of April 2011 was eventually closed through either the direct or indirect support of the Battalion.

Operating as part of the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, the 275th CSSB reported to the 77th Sustainment Brigade until 15 October 2011. After that, the 275th CSSB reported to the 4th Sustainment Brigade for the duration of Operation New Dawn. Together, we completed the largest combat retrograde of United States Forces since World War II. The Battalion proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were ready for every challenge, every mission, and every task. We proved the Total Army Concept in combined logistics using a mix of units from every component of the Army. The following list comprises each subordinate unit of the 275th CSSB during Operation New Dawn:

275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Fort Lee, Virginia (Army Reserve)

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 275th CSSB "Mad Dawgs"

89th Transportation Company, Fort Eustis, VA (Active Army) "Road Masters"
22 April 2011 - 18 December 2011

370th Transportation Company, Brownsville, TX (Army Reserve) "Border Bandits"
22 April 2011 - 31 August 2011

196th Transportation Company, Orlando, FL (Army Reserve) "Blue Devils"
15 August 2011 - 18 December 2011

68th Transportation Company, Fort Bliss, TX (Active Army) "Road Warriors"
15 October 2011 - 18 December 2011

941st Transportation Company, Charelston, SC (Army Reserve) "Sand Sharks"
15 October 2011 - 18 December 2011

238th Field Service Maintenance Company (One Platoon), San Antonio, TX  (Army Reserve)
22 April 2011 - 31 August 2011)

403rd Inland Cargo Transfer Company (One Platoon), Fort Bragg, NC (Active Army)
22 April 2011  - 31 May 2011

372nd Inland Cargo Transfer Company, Fort Campbell, KY (Active Army) "Deuce Train"
01 June 2011 - 22 December 2011

305th Quartermaster Company, Fort Campbell, KY (Active Army) "No Slack"
15 October 2011 - 22 December 2011

1729th Field Service Maintenance Company, Havre de Grace, MD Army National Guard) "Ravens"
15 October 2011 - 22 December 2011

24th Ordnance Detachment, Fort Stewart, GA (Active Army) "Dragons"

The accomplishments of the 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion can best be summarized by the citation on the units Meritorious Unit Commendation. The words summarize an appropriate conclusion to a fantastic deployment. "Mission First! Soldiers Awways!"


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welcome Home Warrior Citizens!

"I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not founded in the approbation of my Country" - George Washington

Coming home from a deployment can be equated to the quarantine that astronauts would be placed in upon returning from the moon. For the Soldiers of the 275th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, that place of quarantine was Fort Dix, NJ. It isn't exactly the "garden spot" of the Army - or of New Jersey for that matter. But it served the necessary purpose of demobilization for everyone. The 275th CSSB arrived at Fort Dix early on the morning of December 23, 2011. This meant that nobody at the demobilization center would be working over the Christmas holiday. As such, we were all sent on a 4-day pass. Most of the Soldiers went home for Christmas. Some of us stayed local in places like nearby Philadelphia. On the 28th we all returned to Fort Dix to begin the demobilization process. This consists of a assembly line of stations where everyone is cleared for medical, dental, behavioral health, and administrative records. A few of the Soldiers took longer than others due primarily to medical issues. For the most part though, everyone was complete by the first week of January.

On January 5, 2012 we loaded on buses and headed south to Fort Lee, VA. We were going home for good. Once we arrived at Fort Lee we began the final phase, known as "home station demobilization." The culmination of this would be our Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Ceremony. Our ceremony was held on January 8th at the Army Logistics University on Fort Lee. It was an amazing and truly fitting ceremony to honor our heroes. There were many VIP's in attendance - including three General Officers, several Sergeants Major, various members of the state and local government, and others. U.S. Representative J. Randy Forbes provided the keynote address. Television and newspaper reporters were on hand to record every aspect of the event. But the most important VIP's in attendance were the Soldiers and their families. They were the ones who endured the hardships, gave their love and support, and accomplished every mission. The ceremony was about them and for them. Now they were all reunited to share the pride in their accomplishments. The ceremony signaled mission complete and job well done. At the conclusion of the ceremony we held a reception. Then came the long awaited moment we had all worked for and patiently awaited for so long - we went home. Indeed our mission was complete. Job well done 275th CSSB! You have all earned the right to go home. Thank you for being a part of logistics history. We will forever be "Mission First, Soldiers Always!"

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Goodbye Kuwait - We're Off to Fort Dix!

"The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned." - Maya Angelou
Our wait ended on December 22, 2011. The previous night we loaded on buses that transported us from Camp Buehring to the "Theater Gateway" at Camp Virginia. Thus began the complicated process of coming home. Nothing in the Army is ever as easy as it seems. Demobilization is a great example. It requires travel back to CONUS followed by several days (or weeks) at a designated demobilization center. In our case, we would travel to Fort Dix, NJ. The process began with our arrival at the Theater Gateway. After shuttling into a large tent, we were given complete briefings from the Navy Customs personnel and reminded that General Order #1 remained in effect. Then we gathered all of our gear and baggage for the screening. This meant moving to another tent where x-ray machines were ready to receive us. It was a scene reminiscent of TSA at an airport except that everyone was in uniform. Fortunately, there were no glitches and we rapidly made our way through the screening. From there we went on "lock down" inside a t-walled customs holding area, where we would remain until departing for our flight. By now it was around 0300 and we were all very tired. We tried to stretch out on the seats or the floor but it was no use. We were either too uncomfortable or too excited to sleep. It didn't help that the tents were cold. As the sun came up on the 23rd, we all knew our last day in the CENTCOM AOR had arrived. By the time the sun set, we would be well on our way back to the U.S.

Around noon we loaded buses again for the drive to Kuwait City International. There awaited a North American Airlines Boeing 767 with our name on it. Once we finally boarded and got our gear stowed, the flight commander briefed us on the rules. Then we were off. As the plane lifted off we all cheered and clapped. We were on our way. Our flight plan included two refueling stops. The first would be Leipzig, Germany. Flying time from KCI to Leipzig was about six hours. Most of us slept. Once in Leipzig, we had about two hours to visit the gift shop and be tempted by the beer (still off-limits due to GO#1). Many of us purchased stocking stuffers. I bought a few Kinder Eggs for family (and one for myself). Then we were off to our next refuel stop - Shannon, Ireland. It was almost a replay of Leipzig, except the native language was different. CSM and I purchased breakfast and ate in a daze of travel exhaustion. Once we were back on the aircraft for the final leg I crashed and slept for the majority of the remaining travel.

Our final destination was McGuire Air Force Base. We arrived at 0430 on the 23rd. It was raining and dark. But when we descended the ramp onto the tarmac we were greeted by a long line of Soldiers who were there to welcome us home. The first person in the line was my good friend and former Commanding General, BG Lennon. We shook hands and embraced. Nobody noticed the rain. We were just happy to be back - all of us. The news of our historic mission had traveled far and wide. Now we were back on United States soil. Although we weren't home, we were at least a huge step closer. The awaiting buses took us to Fort Dix, which shares the same real estate as McGuire AFB. By 0700, we were in our temporary barracks and ready to begin the process of demobilization. Welcome back to the United States! I think all of my Soldiers can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and now believe that home is our next stop. We'll all be home for 2012. It will be a very good year indeed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Chairman's Homework Assignment

“A really great man is known by three signs: generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success” - Otto von Bismark Later the same day as our final convoy we had a distinguished visitor pay Camp Buehring a visit. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey, came to hold an informal meeting with Battalion and Brigade Command Teams of various United States Forces Iraq (USF-I) units. As expected, my CSM and I were summoned. Although the meeting was held at the DFAC around supper time, this was not a talk and eat event. The Chairman was on a tight schedule. Our conversation quickly turned to the logistics accomplishments of closing Iraq. GEN Dempsey was asking for feedback in a manner very similar to an After Action Review. With logistics under the spotlight, the bulk of the conversation was directed to the commander of the Theater Sustainment Brigade and me. I found the Chairman to be very intelligent, direct, and sincere. He seemed particularly interested in my battalion, its diverse composition, the dynamic mission we were assigned, and the multiple times we jumped TOC over the course of our deployment. He stopped me in the middle of one of my answers to his questions and said, “Well I’ve got one word for you to pass on to your Soldiers – HOOAH! And I better see an article written by you to tell everyone about this.” When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs says something like that it is etched in stone. Moments later, his aide handed me a business card with scribble on the back. It was the suspense date for me to have the article written and into the CJS’s office. Unbelievable! I was the only commander to walk into that meeting only to leave with a homework assignment.

The following day, December 15, 2011, the official ceremony was held in Baghdad to signify the end of operations. The USF-I Colors were cased to close out over eight years of continuous combat operations. I was here for three of those years. I saw the beginning and was now here to not only see the end but be an active participant in the logistical effort that made it come about on time. At the same time the ceremony was taking place CSM and I were with yet another VIP. This time it was the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable John McHugh. Numerous General Officers accompanied Secretary McHugh. Unlike the meeting of the night before, this was simply an informal luncheon. There were no group discussions, no question and answer sessions, and no homework assignments thrown my way. We simply ate lunch and shook hands. I forgot my camera so we were unable to capture the moment. The ceremony in Baghdad was televised and many of us watched in somber silence. It is a very surreal time. I have been here so many times now that it is difficult to sink in that this is really the end. There are so many memories – both good and bad.

Although USF-I had cased colors and the war declared over, operations continued to get the last Soldiers out of Iraq. Our battalion still had a handful of Warriors at COB Adder performing the bulk fuel mission and running the cargo receiving and shipping point. They would be there until the base closed. Early on the morning of December 18, 2011 the last Soldiers of my battalion still serving in Iraq boarded helicopters and flew south to Kuwait. That same day the final convoy departed Adder and made its way out of Iraq. Although none of my Soldiers were on the last convoy across the border, equipment belonging to us was included and made the news in the various videos filmed of the last vehicles crossing Khubari in to Kuwait. The heavy material handling equipment (MHE) from the CRSP was loaded onto the final convoy out of Iraq. Even to the very end we had a presence. Then the waiting game started. Now we waited for our flight home.

The first of our remaining battalion to leave was the “Blue Devils” of 196th Transportation Company. They were quickly followed by the “Road Warriors” of 68th Transportation Company. In rapid succession, the “Road Masters” of 89th Transportation Company, “Deuce Train” of 372nd Inland Cargo Transportation Company, and “No Slack” of 305th Quartermaster Company all departed. Our higher command, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, cased their colors and left. Then even USF-I popped smoke and went home. Our battalion was now the largest remaining unit of USF-I. Now it’s just my HHC and HQ staff waiting for our flight home. The time slowly ticks by. It is a tough wait. I won’t deny that it is frustrating. But it is comforting to know that we will be back in the United States in time for Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Our Final Two Convoys

"I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq" - Stephen Colbert
Over the past nine months we have safely completed over 1,000 convoys in support of Operation New Dawn. Our transporters have driven everywhere from Habur Gate on the Turkish border in the north all the way south to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Our battalion came to close Iraq and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. It almost seemed as though the end of operations in Iraq was tied to our progress in closing all of the various bases from north to south as we continued to jump our TOC. It was no coincidence that our final two convoys completed in the last four days of the war. Both of the convoys crossed their starting points (SP) at COB Adder and reached their release points (RP) at Camp Buehring. The two convoys were a microcosm of the diversity of missions we were assigned throughout. One of the convoys was an “operational retrograde” that not only relocated our own transporters to Camp Buehring, it also assisted another unit in getting south for its eventual redeployment home. The other was a pure retrograde cargo mission, in which we were assigned cargo destined southward out of Iraq and we planned and dispatched a convoy to get it done. The first of our final two missions – the operational retrograde – would be conducted by our hard charging “Road Warriors” of 68th Transportation Company. One platoon from the Road Warriors had still been operating out of Adder but with the end of mission so close they were tasked to convoy south to Camp Buehring. Early on the morning of December 12, 2011, they loaded up cargo from another unit also on its way out and then crossed their SP. Back at Camp Buehring we kept a close watch on their progress. About an hour prior to their arrival we stopped what we were doing and headed out to the Entry Control Point to welcome them. Every available Soldier in our battalion came out with banners and Company Guidons. As the Road Warriors entered Camp Buehring they were met with a celebration of cheers. Our cordon of Soldiers led them all the way to their motor pool. CSM and I were there to shake the hands of every single Road Warrior as they completed their final mission. Now their only mission was to turn in their equipment and wait for their flight back to Fort Bliss, TX. Job well done Road Warriors!

Then came our final convoy. The mission was assigned to the 89th Transportation Company “Road Masters”. These transporters had been with us throughout our deployment. It was only appropriate they would have the last mission. As a matter of fact, they volunteered for the mission as soon as the tasking was given to us. As chance would have it, CSM and I were able to see them in action while they were conducting this final mission while we were at Adder for our final battlefield circulation. The same convoy we watched SP on December 13th headed south to Kuwait turned out to be the last one. The Road Masters hauled their retrograde cargo to Camp Arifjan and then returned to Camp Buehring on December 14th. Just as we had for the Road Warriors two days prior, we lined the road inside the ECP to welcome our heroes. It was a repeat of the previous celebration. Our Soldiers cheered, Company Guidons waved, banners were displayed, and the trucks honked their horns. Once the Road Masters parked their trucks there was nothing left for them to do except prepare for their trip back to Fort Eustis, VA. As a Battalion, we were still on mission but now it was a matter of counting down the hours. Job well done Road Masters!

There was electricity in the air. Every single Soldier in our battalion was energized. Not only were we at the doorstep of our end of mission, we were on the eve of the end of the war in Iraq. The announcement would come the next day in a ceremony held in Baghdad. Now the unrelenting momentum is the emotional rush of knowing we are headed home. Our historic mission – the largest combat retrograde of forces the United States has conducted since World War II – was hours from being complete.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Iraq In Everyone's Rearview Mirror

"Where we stand today is not only acceptable in my view, it is truly remarkable." - Tommy Franks The end is drawing near. Operations in Iraq are coming to a close. But there are still Soldiers laboring on in Iraq ensuring we stay on schedule. Many of them belong to my Battalion. With that in mind, my CSM and I took off on what will prove to be our final battlefield circulation and, ultimately, the last time I will set foot on Iraqi soil. Early on the morning of 13 December 2011 we reported to Udairi Airfield for our flight north. It was a bright, brisk and breezy day. Our destination would be Tallil, our former home prior to our last jump of our TOC to Camp Buehring. A good portion of our battalion remains there conducting various logistical functions - running the cargo shipping and receiving point (CRSP), manning the bulk and retail fuel farms, and keeping convoys supplied with food and water. At the same time our transportation companies continue to visit COB Adder (Tallil) almost daily in order to haul out the remaining retrograde cargo. As chance would have it, our battlefield circulation would coincide with one of our final convoys departure from the staging lanes at Adder. We cheered them on in person as they pulled out with another load of cargo. But back to the flight up... As we departed Udairi we were greeted with the endless view of Kuwaiti desert. Herds of camels were the only form of life visible in any direction. I realized how easy it can be for a pilot to lose the horizon and become disoriented when surrounded by such lifeless emptiness. But after about twenty minutes we came upon the Iraqi border, which is clearly marked by fences and security roads stretched from east to west as far as the eye can see. I was back in Iraq. I knew this would be the last time to visit this place. I remembered crossing the border back in 2003 at a place called NAVSTAR before screaming north in an unarmored suburban to Basrah and then on to Tallil. That was in the beginning. Now, eight years and seven months after my first time crossing the border, I was here in the end.

After about another thirty minutes of flight time we landed at Tallil. COB Adder looked exactly the same from the air. Soon we knew it was a ghost town. Hardly anyone remains. Our old HQ is empty. All of our old living areas are empty and locked up. The water is turned off. There are no services remaining. MRE's are still the cuisine of choice for those who remain. Iraqi military personnel are now taking possession of everything we once ruled. Our only purpose is to safely vacate all that remains. To that end, my Soldiers labor on. One of my Company Commanders and her First Sergeant picked us up at the pax terminal and hustled us over to the CRSP. It was completely empty. I could have hit a golf ball from end to end and not hit a thing but dirt or fences. We have moved every last piece of cargo out. I was astounded. When my battalion first arrived at Adder there wasn't enough room to store all of the cargo. Now there is nothing to store. Next we moved over to the fuel farm. I chatted with the Officer in Charge and some of the Soldiers - all of whom belong to our subordinate Quartermaster Company. The fuel farm was also down to its last few days of supply. There was no need to resupply the fuel. Once it runs out the place will be closed. My Soldiers would be the ones to close it for good. What the Iraqis do with it after we leave is of no concern to us. Our journey continued over to the convoy staging lanes. There we met another of our Company Commanders, who was in Adder with trucks from his transportation company as they conducted one of their final convoys. I walked the line of Heavy Equipment Transporter Trucks. Their massive M1000 trailers were loaded with giant wrecker trucks, which represented some of the last cargo to leave Adder before it closed. I wanted to give every single one of my Soldiers a Commander's Coin of Excellence but my pockets weren't large enough to hold that many coins. A select few did receive my coin and all of them received my praise and thanks. CSM and I positioned ourselves at the front of the line and then waved to and saluted each truck as they rolled. Their horns honked in reply. It was a surreal moment of proud glory to be present as witness to this and know that these were my Soldiers who are closing Iraq. We will be the ones who validate the historical accounts of this moment because we were here. Our final visit was to the Class I supply center. There I met with another of my Company Commanders and some of his Soldiers. Most of their company left already back to the states. Although their mission was direct support maintenance, a few of them volunteered to remain and run this facility to ensure convoys were properly supplied with food and water. After handing out a couple more coins we rolled back to the pax terminal for our return flight. Incredibly enough, we had already been at Adder for six hours. It was so electrifying to be back at the tip of our spear again that it seemed more like six minutes. I wanted to stay and, if it were up to me, would have stayed at Adder to the end. But alas, my HQ had already relocated to Camp Buehring at the bequest of our higher. So CSM and I accepted that at the end of the day we had to return to our flag.

It was around 1700 when we were summoned to our awaiting Blackhawks. The weather had been spectacular all day and the sun wouldn't disappoint us come sunset. As we lifted off we circled around the convoy staging lanes before turning south. There are 60 convoy lanes at this massive facility. But only two lanes had anything staged. The contrast of emptiness spoke volumes of all we've done to get to this point. Operations in Iraq are at their end. At that point I realized this was it for me and Iraq. I was watching this place for the last time. The glow of the flares at the oil wells near Basrah provided a matching patchwork of colors to the orange of the setting sun. Occassionally, the Blackhawks would pop flares to add to the fiery spectacle. Although I was very tired I stayed awake to take in all of this for the final time. Iraq, its contrasting visions of life and lifelessness, its stifling heat and oppressive humidity, its historical sites set against a backdrop of poverty and waste, it will always be seared in my mind, memory and conciousness. My final journey out seemed to provide one final tapestry of memories that will never be duplicated by any other place I have been or will ever go. Very few of my generation served here. I'm glad that I did - each and every deployment. The best came last. As my Battalion finalized the retrograde, with only two days remaining before operations were officially declared over, I got to be one of the last out. Even as we flew southward I found myself thinking of ways CSM and I could make one more circulation. But time is not on our side for that endeavor. This time would be the last time in Iraq forever. As if to add to the summation of everything, we stopped in Basrah to pick up some civilian contractors who were also leaving for good. One of them had tears in his eyes. I don't know if they were of joy or sorrow. But they were brought on by the end. Iraq - goodbye forever.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Army? It's Now 10 And Counting...

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave... - Patrick Henry

56-49-7. That is where the all-time Army-Navy Football rivalry stands. As painful as it is for me to say this, Navy has a commanding lead of seven games. It has been ten long years since Army last beat Navy in football. I was at the game. At that time, Army led the series 49-46-7. Now it has reached the point where most people don’t believe Army has ever led the all-time rivalry in wins. Unfortunately, I am beginning to think the Brave Old Army Team doesn’t believe it can ever beat Navy again. The past two years the game has been Army’s to win. Instead, each of the games became Army’s to lose. Mistakes – penalties, turnovers, blown plays, missed reads, and ridiculous gaffes have taken momentum right away from Army and proven that their toughest opponent is themselves. The teams that took the field last year and this season have never been more evenly matched. That meant winning came down to the team that committed the fewest mistakes. As fate would have it, Navy executed better than Army in both games from start to finish. Just as predictably, Navy won. The streak of futility continues. There were stretches of this year’s game in which Army seemed dominant. Their offense ate up large chunks of yardage. The defense held Navy on their own side of the field. But too often a mistake would kill a drive, sink momentum, or give the ball to Navy with a short field. Army’s final drive of the game came down to a 4th and 7 play deep in Navy territory. The play they chose was basic triple-option wishbone football. Trent Steelman, who played a very good game, missed the most basic quarterback read of the triple-option. The first option is the fullback off center. If the defensive tackle crashes inside, the quarterback fakes to the fullback and continues down the line with the ball. If the defensive tackle plays straight on his lane, the quarterback should hand off to the fullback up the middle. On Army’s final play the Navy defensive tackle played straight. The basic read – the first read – should have been to handoff to the fullback, who had a big hole and open field ahead. Instead, Trent kept the ball and was forced to retreat into the backfield due to the very same Navy defensive tackle playing straight. The play ended with a loss of yards and a turnover on downs. Army never got the ball back as Navy ran out the last two minutes of the game. Enough is enough Army! Ten years of pain has got to end. Believe it! Do it! Make next year the game in which Army starts its own streak. Make Navy feel the pain of a loss while singing their Alma Mater first at the end of the game. Feel the boundless joy as you watch Navy choke back tears while you lead the Corps of Cadets in our own Alma Mater in a victorious harmony. The time is now. This pain has to end now.

For this year’s game, I watched the game with some of the Cavalry Troopers of Gary Owen. These hardcore 1st CAV guys have been providing escort to many of my convoys in the past nine months. They are truly awesome Soldiers and leaders. Several of their Officers are fellow USMA alumni. We cheered the Army Team on while drinking near-beer over a few burgers and hot dogs. But our mood became very somber as the final minutes ticked down to zero. We all shook hands and dispersed with sincere sorrow in our hearts. Losing to Navy is unfathomable. It is an abomination. It is unacceptable. Army the time has come to put a stop to this madness. I will be at next year’s game. We will all rejoice in raucous celebration as a new streak begins – Army over Navy. GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!!