Army News 09-01-95

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From: paperboy
Posted: Sep  1 19:58 GMT
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Subject:  Army News 09/01/95


Subject: Army News 09/01/95


Cavalry 'charge' into Kuwait kicks off Intrinsic Action 95-3;

3rd Army greets 1st Cav arrivals to Kuwait;

1st Cav soldiers deal with separation during Kuwait deployment;

Chemical specialist in Kuwait known as "Jill of All Trades,";

Well-traveled soldier calms comrades about Kuwait deployment;

AWE: Computers and soldiers combine to create ultimate warfighter
experiment;

Sidebar: AWE training area provides variety of terrain;

Warfighter experiment helps save soldiers lives;

Commentary: Flags are made for saluting, not trampling

Cavalry 'charge' into Kuwait kicks off Intrinsic Action 95-3, by
Spc. Dee Constant and Staff Sgt. Rich Puckett (Sept. 1)

     CAMP DOHA, Kuwait (Army News Service) -- The Cavalry charged
into Kuwait Aug. 23 to kick off Intrinsic Action 95-3.
     Task Force 1-5, "Black Knights," from the 1st Cavalry
Division's 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade, based at Fort Hood, Texas,
are here for some of the most intense, real-world, combined-arms
training the world has to offer.
     Part of Operation Vigilant Sentinel, Intrinsic Action was
originally scheduled for October, but unexplained troop movements
in Iraq prompted an earlier date for the exercise, said Gen. John
H. Tilelli, commander of Forces Command, who visited and spoke
with troops departing Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 23.
     "This exercise has been executed flawlessly thanks to the
total team effort of everyone involved," Tilelli said. "No one
unit, soldier or civilian can make this happen alone."
     Task Force 1-5's mission is to conduct combined arms
training and force protection operations with the Kuwaiti Army.
The training will begin with platoon gunnery, then progress to
company-sized operations, said Lt. Col. Timothy D. Livsey, Task
Force 1-5 commander.
     The mission will culminate with a Combined Arms Live Fire
Exercise.
     Currently the units are taking part in maneuver drills.
     The decision to send the 1st Cavalry Division troops came
only days before the troops arrived.  Although they received  no
advanced notice, these troops responded to the call in quick
time.
     "We were training out in the field at Fort Hood and our
commander told us we were being called in for a different
mission," said Spec. Jason Gotz, operations clerk, Headquarters
Platoon, Company B, 91st Engineer Battalion, Engineer Brigade.
     "We immediately packed up and went back to garrison.  We
cleaned our equipment and then we started getting ready to come
here," Gotz said.  "It happened so  fast.  We went through
(Preparation for Overseas Movement) and were packed and ready to
go in less than 24 hours.  We were ready before the planes
arrived."
      Following a 20-hour flight the troops were bussed to the
Prepositioned Stock Pile where they drew equipment and supplies.
Six hours after the planes touched ground, the soldiers were
moving out to the ammunition supply point.
     The commander of Camp Doha, Col. Bob Smalser, said it was
the fastest execution of the contingency draw plan for the Kuwait
theater ever.
     From there the tracked vehicles were loaded on C-HET's and
convoyed to the Tactical Assembly Area to prepare for maneuvers.
     The task force is part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and is
comprised of elements from the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry
Regiment; 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment; 1st Battalion,
8th Cavalry Regiment; 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery
Regiment; 15th Forward Support Battalion, Division Support
Command; 91st  Engineer Battalion, Engineer Brigade; 545th
Military Police Company; 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Regiment
and many other smaller support units.
     One of the smaller units to deploy, but the one with some of
the bigger equipment was Battery A, 21st Field Artillery, 1st Cav
Div.
     Crews spent much of the afternoon Aug. 20 in blistering heat
at the airfield preparing their Multiple Launch Rocket Systems
for the deployment.  It'll be the first major deployment for the
unit's Pvt. Robert Bounds, who despite leaving behind a pregnant
wife, is looking forward to the mission.
     "We've been doing a lot of training, in fact we just had all
our crews qualify," he said. "This is something I've never done,
and I'm excited."
     Tilelli expressed pride in the division's soldiers, many of
whom who were involved in field training exercises on post when
they were alerted.
     "Those are the people we can't lose sight of," he said.
"They've proven once again that they can accept a challenge and
meet it head on."
     Morale remained high among the soldiers as they boarded the
planes Tuesday afternoon. Spc. Daniel Feiler, Headquarters
Company, 1st Bn, 5th Cav Regt, 1st Cav Div, was nervous, but
ready.
     "I feel like we're trained and prepared for this," Feiler
said. "Being in this unit forces you to be ready to go at a
moment's notice. My wife was expecting it and she understands
that's my job. Everyone is going to miss their families, but we
know that we've got to be mentally tough. We know what we've got
to do and we're going to go and do it."
     (Both soldiers write for the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)


3rd Army greets 1st Cav arrivals to Kuwait,  by Spc. Geoff Fink
(Sept. 1)

     TACTICAL ASSEMBLY AREA LION, Kuwait  (Army News Service) --
When the 1st Cavalry Division s 2nd Brigade deployed to Kuwait
for Intrinsic Action 95-3, the 3rd Army was already there waiting
for them.
     A contingency staff element from the 3rd Army was in place
to provide enhanced command and control of forces in that area
deployed for exercise Intrinsic Action 95-3.
      "We are here to give support to the 2nd brigade in the
field of operations, intelligence, communication security,
supply, etc.,"  said Sgt. 1st Class James Holden, S-3
noncomissioned officer in charge of ARCENT Kuwait.
     That support comes in the form of the six elements of a
headquarters, S-1 through S-6.
     The S-1 section s mission is to serve as an interface
between the task force, the division and ARCENT in the area of
personnel actions, mail, pay and things of that nature, said to
Capt. Richard Guillette, ARCENT Kuwait, S-1.
       "Our mission (S-2) is to keep tabs on what the Iraqis are
doing and watch the intelligence side of the house,"  said Sgt.
1st Class Chester Sleezer, NCOIC of S-2 ARCENT Kuwait.
     Holden said the S-3 shop is the heart of the operation.  The
S-3 three shop is the center of all operations and our S-3 shop
is here to help support the cav.
     Maj. Travis Heard, S-5 operations officer, said that the G-5
has two missions: that of the coalition warfare liaison and civil
military operations.
     "The overall mission as coalition warfare liaison is to
ensure the unity of effort among coalition forces through the
integration of warfighting capabilities in crisis and continuous
operations," he said. "The civil military operations mission is
to interface with civilians of host nations for any
administrative of logistical support which is needed outside of
normal supply channels."
     The S-6 mission is communication.
     "Our job is to provide communication support to the task
force which allows them to do coordination with the JTF. We
provide them FM signal channel capability, tactical satellite and
tactical telephones at the Tactical Assembly Area and Battalion
Staging Area, and also provide secure voice and data
communications for the entire Area Of Responsibility," said Maj.
Ronald W. English G-6, 335th Signal Company, East Point Ga., with
duty attached to 3rd Army Fort McPherson.
     The 3rd Army soldiers see the exercise as a training
opportunity not only for the 1st Cavaly Division, but for
themselves as well.
     "They get the deployment experience and experience working
with the Kuwaiti Armed Forces, and it also helps us on the
intelligence side by getting us into an almost real world
mentality of combat, where we work at a faster pace and work more
issues than we normally would," said Sleezer.
     "It gives us the opportunity to mix the capabilities of the
3rd Army and 1st Cavalry Division and gives us a first hand look
at what we can do in combat, should the need arise," said
English.
     (Fink writes for the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

1st Cav soldiers deal with separation during Kuwait deployment,
by Spc. Geoff Fink (Sept. 1)

     TACTICAL ASSEMBLY AREA LION, Kuwait (Army News Service) --
Deploying away from home, friends and family can be a trying
experience, but the soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division deployed
to Kuwait for Intrinsic Action 95-3 have found ways to cope.
     "I try not to think about it. I try to find things out here
to keep my mind off of it," says Sgt. Ivan Correa, Battery C, 4th
Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, who has a wife and
two children back home.
     Sgt. Dave Moreno, Battery C, 4-5 ADA, passes the time by
writing to his wife Laura and their three children. "Writing
keeps me going, writing and thinking about them."
     According to Chaplain Capt. Peter Baktis, acting brigade
chaplain, there will be many events to help keep the soldiers
morale up. "During the deployment we'll be providing recreational
activities, a regular schedule of religious services, counseling
and morale phone calls."
     "I have been able to talk to her on the phone, I've been
writing letters and I have wedding pictures to look at," said
Spc. Neil Jackson, HHC 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, who
married just a week before he deployed.
     "It also makes it easier knowing I'll have a big bank
account when I get back," he added jokingly.
     Another thing that makes it easier for soldiers is knowing
that their families understand and support them.
     Correa says his wife took it well and was supportive. "I
talked with her and she understood that this is what I've been
getting paid for all of these years in the Army."
     Jackson and his wife Sherzad had only been married five days
and were still on their honeymoon when the deployment came. "I
was inprossesing my wife when I stopped by my unit and they told
me to sign in off of leave because I was being deployed," he
said. "But she took it well. She knows that it's part of the
package when married to a soldier."
     "She was upset when I told her but I explained that it was
likely to happen in the military. It's something that, when it
comes up, I have to do," said Spc. Theodrick McFadden, Battery C,
4-5 ADA of his girlfriend Deardra.
     The soldiers also know that they have each other to count on
when the going gets rough.
     "We talk with each other and joke around and try to keep
occupied by playing cards," said Correa. "It would be harder to
handle if we weren't so close."
     Moreno agrees, "As long as I have someone to talk to it
makes the time go by quicker."
     "We're a team and we look out for each other," said Jackson.
"We do okay because we're so close, most of these guys were at my
bachelor party."
     "My crew helps, we laugh and giggle about a lot of things
and keep each other motivated by joking around," McFadden added.
     McFadden has another reason to stay motivated. His son
Demarco Antonio was born right after he deployed. "I was mad that
I couldn't be there when he was born, but I've got something to
look forward to when I get back," he said. "I'm exited because
when I go home I've got someone to see."
     (Fink writes for the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)


Chemical specialist in Kuwait known as "Jill of All Trades," by
Geoff Fink (Sept. 1)

     6TH LIBERTY BRIGADE HQ, Kuwait -- To adapt a metaphor, Pfc.
Carolyn Elledge truly is a "Jill of All Trades." A chemical
operations specialist assigned to HHD, 15th Forward Support
Battalion, she serves as the HHD chemical noncommissioned officer
in charge.
     She works in the operations shop and drives for the S-3,
acts as the battalion decontamination specialist, and handles the
battalion's training schedules and calendars, Elledge does it
all.
     As Nuclear, Biological, Chemical NCO, the 21 year old from
Paris, Illinois, is in charge of issuing chemical masks, keeping
track of the companies NBC equipment, instructing NBC classes,
and pulling maintenance on the companies chemical equipment such
as M8 Alarms and radiac detectors, while her duties in the S-3
shop include clerical duties and driving for the battalion S-3,
Capt. Christopher Farley.
     Her responsibility as battalion decon specialist, where she
trains on and runs the M17 Light Decon Apparatus, and helping
with the battalion's training calendars and schedules, ensure
that she stays busy.
     "I have all kinds of jobs," she says only, "They definitely
keep me busy."
     When asked how she handles the responsibiity she says, "I
manage somehow."
     Elledge has never been out of the country before and was
exited when she found out she was deploying, even under the
circumstances.
     "We weren't told where we were going, just that we were
deploying," she said. "They called an alert and told us that we
were going somewhere and to pack our bags and bring them in to be
inventoried. We didn't know until the last minute where we were
actually being deployed."
     "It's just a part of being in the Army and I like going
different places," she said
     She also looks forward to training in the very different
environment of Kuwait.
     "Training out here will be different because the terrain is
different," she added. "Back at Fort Hood there's more trees and
bushes, where as here it's just open desert, plus with the dust
storms the weather is different."
     (Fink writes for the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)


Well-traveled soldier calms comrades about Kuwait deployment, by
Spc. Geoff Fink (Sept. 1)

     TACTICAL ASSEMBLY AREA LION, Kuwait (Army News Service) --
Specialist Mark Allen said he joined the Army for adventure and
travel and that's just what
he's had so far. The 25-year-old soldier from Detroit, Mich., has
been to Panama, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Somalia, and now he's back
in the Middle East with HHD, 15th Forward Support Battalion, 1st
Cavalry Divsion, in Kuwait.
     He began deploying in 1989 when he went to Panama with the
3rd Infantry Division (Old Guard) to support Operation Just Cause
and has deployed nearly every year since. In 1990-1991, he
deployed to Saudi Arabia with the Central Aviation Support
Operations from Fort Belvoir, Va., to support Operation Desert
Shield/Desert Storm. In 1992 he was at it again when he deployed
with the U.S. Field Station to Turkey in support of Operation
Provide Hope. In 1993 he deployed once more, this time to Somalia
with HHC, 1st Brigade, Fort Campbell, Ky., for Operation Restore
Hope.
     Originally an infantryman, he reclassified to be a personnel
specialist in 1992.
     "I thought being a 71 Lima would be less stressful and a
really good way to go to school (college), but so far it's about
the same."
     Along with his impressive list of deployments is an equally
impressive list of combat patches.
     "I have three (combat patches) but I only wear the INSCOM
(Installation Security Command) because it's kind of unique, not
too many people have it."
     Aside from a rotation at the National Training Center,
Intrinsic Action is his first deployment with the 1st Cavalry
Division since he arrived at Fort Hood, Texas, in October 1994.
     When Allen found out he was deploying again, he used some of
his experiences to help prepare some of the newer soldiers.
     "I talked to some of the new soldiers who were kind of
scared and explained to them that they were going to be doing the
same job they do at Fort Hood, and they calmed down."
     Allen says that in his experience no unit deploys the same
way.
     "Every unit is different and they go about deploying in
different ways, but the attitude is the same. You get pumped up
to go but you also have a little bit of fear at the same time."
     "To me it's a rush, There's a difference between going to
NTC and training and a real world mission, and that's what I
like, real world missions, he said. "I wanted to come here and do
a good job so my unit could look good, because we train so hard
and this is a good way to show what we can do."
     (Fink writes for the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.)

Computers and soldiers combine to create ultimate warfighter
experiment, by Pfc. William Boldt (Sept. 1)

   (Editors note: This is the third in a series of articles on
the Advanced Warfighting Experiment -- Focused Dispatch. The
experiment, which will help decide the future doctrine of
battlefield digitization, runs through tomorrow.)

     FORT KNOX, Ky. (Army News Service) -- The soldiers of the
Task Force 2-33 Armor expertly maneuver their vehicles into a
position to catch the enemy.
   Time and again, M1A2 Abrams tanks pound the enemy with fire
from their 120 mm main guns, while Bradley Fighting Vehicles
unleash deadly TOW missiles on the enemy. Helicopters rise from
the hills to batter enemy armor, while artillery units smash the
opposition from long range.
   The fact that many of the units exist only in simulation is
nothing new. The Army constantly makes use of simulation training
exercises.
   Parts of the forces in the battle are live, however, and
that's what makes the battle noteworthy -- live forces are
interacting with the forces in simulation.
   Welcome to the latest of the Army's Advanced Warfighting
Experiments -- Focused Dispatch, where computers and soldiers
combine to create the ultimate experiment.
   The experiment, a product of Fort Knox's Mounted
Battlespace Battle Lab, is designed to rewrite the tactics,
techniques, and procedures for use on a digital battlefield. But
the experiment is breaking new ground in how experiments are
performed.
   Since January, soldiers from Task Force 2-33 Armor have
conducted simulated battles with the latest digital equipment.
Tomorrow the three-week finale, a series of battles conducted
with live and virtual vehicles interacting, draws to a close.

Live
   The idea for the live/virtual battles came many months ago.
Without the funding to send a whole battalion to a combat
training center, such as the National Training Center in Fort
Irwin, Calif., or the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort
Polk, La., the Battle Lab found a unique solution --one company
participating in the live battle and the remaining three
companies in simulators.
   Company B of Task Force 2-33 drew the live portion of the
experiment. The decision on which company would play the live
forces was decided by chance, according to 1st Lt. Tom Holliday,
the battalion's S-1.
   Since Aug. 14, Company B has been fighting in real vehicles
at the Western Kentucky Training Area, near Greenville, Ky.,
facing live opponents. Meanwhile, the remaining companies face
virtual opponents in the Mounted Warfare Testbed at Fort Knox.
The problem facing the battlelab was linking the virtual
and live portions of the battle -- more than 100 miles apart. The
U.S. Army Space Command was the first agency to develop a
feasible solution.
   To make the link, the command fitted each live friendly
force vehicle and select opposing force vehicles with a Vehicular
Data Communications and Posititional Awareness Demonstration
device.
   The device translates each live vehicle's position into
simulation through a commercial satellite, according to Capt.
Randy Threet, a space operations officer with the command. The
device tracks the vehicle's position and relays that information
to the satellite. The information is downloaded by the Satellite
Earth Station in Clarksville, Md., and sent to the testbed
through the Defense Simulation Internet.
   The device gives "real-time" positioning, said Threet. The
computer updates each vehicle's position about every 10 seconds.
In the simulator, the soldiers see a real vehicle exactly as they
would a simulated vehicle.

Virtual
   While Company B endures the heat and humidity of the real
battlefield in western Kentucky, company commanders and select
personnel fight the simulated battle in virtual reality.
   Only a couple of vehicles for the virtual forces are
controlled by Task Force 2-33 Armor soldiers. Most of the virtual
vehicles are Modulated Semi-automatic Forces. The MODSAF are
controlled by computer operators, according to Brian Gary, a
research assistant at the testbed. The company commanders radio
orders to the computer operator who controls the vehicle's
movements.
   Certain instructions are prearranged for the MODSAF
vehicles. When and how the vehicles engage targets are preset in
the computer, and the vehicles automatically engage when certain
criteria are met, Gary explained.
   The virtual opposing forces are all MODSAF, said Gary.The
vehicles maneuver over a topographical view of the terrain at the
live training area. Because of the simulation, the battalion can
play in a larger area, however. In the live portion, the vehicles
are limited to a maneuver area approximately five miles long and
two miles wide.
   While the testbed controls the tanks, other support comes
from other Army installations. The air defense for the battles is
provided by Fort Bliss, Texas, and the rotary wing aviation
support is provided by Fort Rucker, Ala. The installations are
connected through digital equipment, voice linkages, and the
Defense Simulation Internet with Knox, according to Maj. Chris
Stoinoff, the Battle Lab's project officer for the virtual
portion of the experiment.
   "This is really like one big video game...with a purpose,"
said Pete Wager, a research assistant at the lab.

The Links
   Most of the systems work very well, said Stoinoff. A few
minor problems have made the link challenging.
   The major challenge with the virtual/live system is that
it's not "seamless" interaction, said Stoinoff.
   In a seamless interaction link, the live elements would be
able to engage and kill virtual vehicles without any interaction
by computer operators, and vice versa, explained Stoinoff.
Because the live vehicles can't see and engage the virtual
vehicles, the engagements have been kept live-to-live and
virtual-to-virtual. While the two could engage each other,
computer operators would need to resolve the conflict and kill
the appropriate vehicle.
   Other problems result from the live soldier's inability to
see the virtual vehicles. At one point in a battle, the live
vehicles were moving through the virtual vehicles, said Gary.
While the digital systems in the live vehicles make the soldiers
aware of the virtual vehicles, it's still not as good as seeing
them.
   Other problems result from the Defense Simulation Internet
link. Keeping all the vehicles from the other posts and live area
linked is a full-time job for several people.
   Even with the challenges, "The linkages are working real
well," said Stoinoff.
   Despite the difficulty involved with the virtual/live link,
it is essential to the experiment, according to Lt. Col. William
Parry, the operations officer at the battle lab.
   The experiment needed to test the tactics, techniques, and
procedures at the battalion level, explained Parry. The cost of
taking a unit that size to an area large enough to engage would
be prohibitive -- roughly four times the $10.4 million budget for
the experiment. Add in the cost to outfit three more companies
with digital vehicles and the cost skyrockets higher.
   But the live vehicles are an important part of the
experiment.
   "There's a lot of things in the live environment that
aren't in the simulators," Parry said. "In the simulators,
there's no dust. There's no heat. There's no mosquitos."
   The real elements are needed for the results to be
accurate, Parry said, and for the experiment to be a success.
     (From "Inside the Turret.")


Sidebar: AWE training area provides variety of terrain, by Pfc.
William Boldt (Sept. 1)

     FORT KNOX, Ky. (Army News Service) -- The Western Kentucky
Training area, the site for the Advanced Warfighting Experiment
-- Focused Dispatch, offers a variety of terrain for soldiers to
fight on, according to Maj. Phil Miller, the public affairs
officer for the Kentucky National Guard, the landlord of the
training area.
    Nestled between corn and tobacco fields and small towns,
the training area has been used for weekend training since 1969,
said Miller. Recently, the Guard began converting land from old
area strip mining operations into training land.
    The area comprises 8,500 acres, which includes terrain
from desert scrub, to forest and woodland, to rolling hills. A
runway extending 4,000 feet also gives the area the ability to
land C-130 transport planes on the runway.
    The guard's plan is to eventually expand the training
area to 46,000 acres, said Miller, making it the premier training
area in the eastern United States and second only to the National
Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. The NTC is comprised of
636,182 acres, 430,000 of which is used for training.
    The cost of sending soldiers to an NTC rotation is
prohibitive, however, said Col. Pat Ritter, the chief of the
Mounted Battlespace Battle Lab, which is conducting the
experiment. Without the use of the training area, Focused
Dispatch wouldn't have been possible without a much larger
budget.
     (From "Inside the Turret.")

Warfighter experiment helps save soldiers lives, by Pfc. William
Boldt (Sept. 1)

    (Editors note: The following story is a sidebar to the
story on the Advanced Warfighting Experiment--Focused Dispatch,
which is being conducted by the Fort Knox Mounted Battlespace
Battle Lab. The experiment runs through Sept. 1.)

     FORT KN0X, Ky. (Army News Service) -- Focused Dispatch may
be an experiment of doctrine and digital equipment, but it is
also an experiment that's about soldiers, according to Col. Pat
Ritter, chief of the Mounted Warfighting Battlespace Laboratory.
    "The most valuable system that the Army has is (the
soldier)," said Ritter.
    By experimenting now, the Army is helping to protect
this valuable resource, Ritter feels.
    "I've already had to explain to a mom and dad and a wife
how their son and husband died in combat. I don't want anybody to
have to do that again."
    Which explains, in part, why the Army has spent so much
time and money on the experiment, Ritter explained.
    The preparation for the experiment began more than 18
months ago and the support so far has eaten up $9.3 million of
the $10.4 million budget, according to Lt. Col.  William Parry,
the operations officer for the experiment.
    A big portion of the expenditures went to the more than
20 organizations from across the country supporting the
experiment. Representatives from these organizations have flooded
the operations centers at Knox and the training area to obs erve
the battles, run the  simulators, provide technical expertise,
and gather the data  from the experiment.
    In spite of this massive effort, the only real test will
come in actual combat, said Ritter.
    "You find out the stuff really works when people are
shooting at you," Ritter said. "But if your start point is based
on live simulation, versus just the experience of one guy sitting
behind a typewriter, my guess is that you have a little better
chance of getting it right."
    But if the experiment helps soldiers, all the money,
time, and effort will be worth it, Ritter said.
    "If I spend $15 million experimenting to save one
soldier's life on the battlefield, it's been worth every damn
penny," said  Ritter.
     (From "Inside the Turret.")

Commentary: Flags are made for saluting, not trampling, by Sgt.
1st Class Greg Markley (Sept. 1)

     WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- Lord Byron once said that
"Whoever doesn't love his own country, loves nothing.''
Dissidents worldwide oppose their countries' leaders, but not
their fellow countrymen. And so it is in America. It's like your
mother: you may dislike her actions sometimes, but her heart is
always pure.
     And so we enter a hot topic: Whether the burning of an
American flag, the ultimate symbol of our free lifestyle,
warrants locking the flamethrower up. Is this symbol so dear to
us that no one should destroy it, even as part of the free
expression guaranteed by the First Amendment?
     There are strong intellectual arguments against enlarging
the Constitution in this way, and there is concern that banning
flag burning will encourage extremists to push for curtailment of
more civil liberties. But, and no apologies, this debate touches
how most of us feel deep down about our greatest national symbol
being torched:
     It just isn't right.
     The more vocal opponents of the 28th Amendment (which would
ban flag desecration) say it would make heroes of convicted flag
burners, turn them into honored political prisoners. Maybe at
first, but then they would become just like any other criminal:
forgotten. As for outlawing flag burning as a prelude to Nazism
-- if we are so close that one small amendment would push us
over, then heaven help us!
     Free speech is genuinely important, so we should not impede
it often. But we are talking about flag burnings which occur only
a handful of times a year, and most that are not for political
expression, but cheap thrills. The disgruntled Vietnam veteran
whose flag burning in 1966 led to the original anti-flag ruling
is unusual; his complaint of vets' mistreatment was worthy of
attention, but not in this way. Surely this battle survivor could
have found a better way to touch the raw nerves of  his fellow
citizens without soiling his own reputation.
     The Young Communist League member who burned the American
flag at the 1984 Republican Convention received much scorn, and
some sympathy after his subsequent landmark court case. But did
his group's recruitment rise? No. It might have had he given a
rousing speech against capitalism, instead of acting like a
temperamental two-year-old.
     One's position on the flag burning issue is in no way a
litmus test of patriotism. Many military heroes and other
stalwart citizens are against the amendment because they say the
flag itself signifies that we should never forbid any free
expression. Those who would make us less than patriotic if we
disagree with any of their views are much more dangerous than
people who burn flags, believe me.
     The flag is debased when it looks down on a meeting of
paranoid militia "fighters'' planning un-American activities. The
flag is disgraced when it's carried by hateful Ku Klux Klansmen;
these guys know nothing about the true colors of America, which
are multi-culturalism, tolerance and equal opportunity.
     Veterans are especially upset about the burning of the
American flag because they feel it was the standard that made
them climb whatever hills lay between them and victory. They feel
that those who died did so for that three-colored cloth and all
it meant to them.
     Good point, there: As soldiers we have various motivating
forces (our spouses, our kids, our good name, our squad, our
individualism, our God). In the end, we follow a flag into battle
because it encompasses ALL those values we cherish.
     To see some ingrate destroy that flag on a whim, after all
we and our dead and crippled buddies did for it, is disgusting.
     It just isn't right.
     (From the Fort Drum, N.Y., Sentinel.)