Thursday, December 20, 2007
Kid Rock does NOT rock Baghdad
It was supposed to be the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen's 'thank you' to troops serving in Baghdad over the holidays. Fly in musician Kid Rock, comedian Robin Williams, beauty queen Miss USA and some others for a concert at Camp Liberty - one of the U.S. Army bases in Iraq’s combat zone.

When my producer, cameraman and I arrived at the military base field house more attune to a high school gymnasium than a concert hall, we could hardly believe the line of hundreds of soldiers snaking outside the building, along the concrete t-wall barriers intended to deflect incoming mortars. But that is the lure of the United Service Organization, better known as the USO. For generations, the charity organization has been bringing celebs from Bob Hope to Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong to conflict areas to entertain the troops.

"Kid Rock rocks!" and "It is great that [the celebrities] support us, that they'd come out to see us during the holidays!" - that’s pretty much the theme we heard from soldiers, some who had been waiting four or five hours in the winter cold for the night concert to begin.

But it wasn't meant to be.

Along with the winter chill came terribly strong winds – and eventually an announcement from the Joint Chief of Staff Chairman himself: the concert was off. Admiral Mullen, who had come to Camp Liberty before the bad weather set in, said the Blackhawk helicopters set to bring the entertainers from another gig in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, could not fly safely to Camp Liberty. At first, some of the troops cheered – thinking the Admiral on stage in front of them was joking. But then they realized the concert meant to bring Christmas cheer, was not going to take place. The disappointment was palpable.

Admiral Mullen, somewhat moved by being the bearer of bad news to hundreds of young soldiers, apologized and allowed service members to take pictures with him. Then the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff handed out much coveted challenge coins – considered in many military circles as an award for bravery, hard work or service.

I understand the sentimental value of these coins - I was there when U.S. military commanding officers gave coins to troops who took part in the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. Some troops will spend 20 or 30 years in the military and never receive a coin. And here’s the military’s top brass handing out his coin - for standing in a line for USO concert? It almost seems over the top. But don’t tell that to a 20-something soldier spending his first Christmas away from home, in a war zone.

-- From Alphonso Van Marsh in Baghdad
That is the most horrible news on the dissappointment scale...it rates about and eleven out of ten...Here you have soilders, some who dont really want to be in the war zone, waiting for that release of energy...(because if you have ever been to a Kid Rock concert, the energy is surreal) and then to cancel, they are lucky that no one decided to go ballistic....And as far some old guy handing out some coin from another era...I would rather sit and listen to the desert wind for twenty-fours...Not to mention the already below the scale moral factor. They should had a better back up plan, how bout tommorow??


Kraig Rasool
Fort Washington
Give these men and women TWO coins each. They stand in the gap for me so I can be free.
Hello Mr. Van Marsh -- I was the AFN reporter who was waiting there with you at the show. Here's a link to the story I produced for our newscast:

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=video/video_show.php&id=32913

Take care and stay safe!
I feel very bad for the troops.When I was in Viet Nam we looked forward to the USO shows.We however did not get challenge coins,we got spit on from over zealous anti-war demonstrators.The best thing you can give these troops is a ride home for X-mas.
I have never heard about these coins before. I agree with a previous post. I am eternally gratefully to all the mean and woman who serve in the military. they are all heros in my book and all dersve a coin. They do what I can't do; they make freedom poosible for all of us. Merry Christmas to them all.
For the comments below, challenge coins aren't just handed out for any old event. If they're to retain their value, you have to make them special awards. I know that when I got mine, it meant more to me than any other award I got in the military. As for the missed concert, it is regretable, but soldiers deal with hardship daily, and I'm certain they got over it.
I personaly am serving away from home this holiday in the air force. We look foward to seeing these events, because they help us to cope with not being with our loved ones during the holidays, and to take that away, at this time of the year, I feel is shamefull way of thanking those who protect you!
I am unhappy that my tax dollars go to funding this war. And I find it equally appalling that my tax dollars go to funding entertainment to our troops. IT'S WAR BOYS!! I'd rather see my money spent on body armor and post war funding for injured men and women.
They rocked Kabul (Afganistan) ... Some 500 American soldiers watched an all-star USO cast perform under a steady snowstorm at a U.S. base in Kabul late Thursday 20th dec 2007 .... Robin Williams and Lance Armstrong took a swipe at the French, Kid Rock strummed “Sweet Home Alabama,” comedian Lewis Black grumbled about the falling snow, and Miss USA told the troops to keep “kicking butt.”

From there they were to rock Iraq but luck doesnot seems to favor the Iraq ...
Alas, angel, they stand there only because the US government made some very foolish decisions. Their brave presence there is, sadly, unrelated to our freedom.
I don't know about you but gaining my challenge coin with the back story of "I got this from standing in line for a canceled USO show" doesn't really resonate well with me. Give them a day off to sleep or maybe another hearty meal and show them more appreciation. Hell, how about giving more than 30 mins at a time on the computer in the MWR station. I'm sure they'd appreciate more than 30 mins to check up on their whole life.
Kid Rock performed in Kabul for us this week. We stood in the snow for a couple hours just to see him perform. It was awsome to have him along with Robin Williams, Louis Black, Lance Armstrong, and Ms. America come this far to entertain us. They barely made it in because of the bad weather but im glad they came through. It has a big impact on the morale of the troops that really have nothing to look forward to while over here. The day after the concert, everyone was talking about how they had a great time and enjoyed themselves. The Joint Chief of Staff did give out some coins but it was such a long line that we decided to head back to our camp. By the way, thank you America for the great support!
I AGREE WITH THE GUY DOWN BELOW, BETTER LATE THEN NEVER ,, TOMOROW IT SHOULD BE,

SARA, FORT BRAGG,NC
The last paragraph is not correct. people dont go 20 - 30 years without receiving a GO (general officer) level coin, AKA RMO for "Round Medal Object." I've received 4 in the last 3 years. I think the blog's author has this confused with a medal.

SSgt Jesse Borisoff
It would be better if Kraig used his pie hole for its intended purpose....he has no idea what it means to be in the military or the history of the coins. You call my leader "some old guy"? I have two words for Kraig and they are not Happy Birthday. Its unfortunate that Kid Rock couldn't come to Bagdad but Kid Rock doesn't control the weather. And neither does the military.
Not for a moment do I belittle the sacrifice that our troops make, in serving.

But after going away to boarding school for up to 3 months at a time, from age 11-18, it always amazes me how poorly prepared we seem to be, for being away from family & friends for any period.

Here in Arizona, I am 6,000 miles away from family in England. Including my 73yo mother, who had a hip replacement on Friday.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS, everyone :-)
This is just another example of disappointment stemming from this awful, unjustified war. Empty promises from the government...am I the only one not surprised? I agree with Kraig when he says, "what about tomorrow?" Have they ever heard of post-poning events that are so coveted by the down and outs 18 year old's that were sent overseas based on the dillusion that something good would come out of it? Poor kids. Angel, the "fighting for our freedom" phrase is getting a little too bumper sticket, even for Jeb Bush's state. (You know, the one that stole the election and indirectly made this whole mess happen) Any US soldier is a brave soldier, I believe that, so don't try and cheapen this by screaming how "unpatriotic" I am for not blindly following orders. That doesn't mean all wars are justified. And way to cheapen service coins, Admiral. I bet the soldiers that worked themselves to death for 20 years are really happy that you're handing them out like popcorn. Inflation and recession really has affected EVERY US coin, hasn't it?

Chloe N.
California
I am a civilian and have 7 of those coins and I cherish every one of them...they mean something, so you go listen to the desert wind and enjoy it.

Mary
Charlottesville, VA
Even if I were to believe there were terribly strong winds, I don't believe that Kidd Rock would have gone in there. He's a tough guy sittin in his crib, but tell him to fly into a combat zone and he gets all weak-kneed.

The reason he couldn't drive in, of course, is because the people of Iraq are tired of U.S. soldiers and other terrorist mercenaries robbing and raping and murdering them.

Y'all need to come correct and get out of that country.

The war is criminal, and anyone participating in it is a criminal. George Bush and this entire government should be arrested and tried for war crimes.

That is the Christmas present I'm sure most of our troops would like to see, as well.
Give them a thousand coins and bring those brave boys and girls home. And yeah, what about tomorrow, or next week? Oh, I guess its not convenient for Kid Rock and Miss USA et al to "support our troops" any other day.
Could be worse,

I am stationed in Bagram Afghanistan where only 7% of the people leave the wire. We get back from patrol and are tired, dirty and dusty and when we get news of the USO show, we arrive and there is a line at least 1/2 mile long with a bunch of FOBBITS that have clean weapons (never fired) cleat PT's all happily standing in inline with thier greenbean coffee in thier hands. What a slpa to face for the (real warriors) that put thier life on the line everyday and seperate themselves form the rest of the guys to protect the other "warriors" that will never leave base. Go back to the DFAC or to the PX and buy antoher PS3 and let us have a chance tohave some down time
Neither the reporter or Kraig get the significance of the coins or this context. Mr, Rasool vastly underestimates the men and women standing in his stead if he thinks they would riot because they couldn't go to a concert.
I've been in 15 years and have a few coins. They're rare, but no big deal. Coins are more bragging rights than anything else, and one from the CJCS would definitely flaunt some clout. I think a make-up date on the USO tour would have meant a lot more to those guys and girls who missed the show than a coin and a photo, but big kudos for the CJCS for trying. I can't imagine which felt worse - the kids that missed the show, or the flag officer that had to stand in front of all of them to say they can have a picture with him instead.
hey Kraig, it's "morale", not "moral". it's obvious you have never been part of anything bigger than yourself. these men and women that serve are so much more important than you.
SUpport the troops ! not the war !
kid rock get on down there the day after and rock n roll ! bring em all home
While the story is heart wrenching, I feel obligated to point out Van Marsh's verbal mix up- perhaps palpable rather than palatable would be more appropriate?
Great Story and Great Reporting - Very sad for the Troops, however. One minor point: "The disappointment was palatable."

Oh - Please visit these links and determine if Mr. Malaprop took over your computer as you were writing the story:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/palatable
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/palpable

Good words to you.

Happy Holidays, Alphonso.

Regards,

William F. Slater, III
Chicago, IL
United States
slater@billslater.com
http://billslater.com
Coins in the US Military are not exactly legions of merit, higher ranking officials often pass them out simply because a soldier was standing in a particular place. I once recieved one for having Thanksgiving dinner with a 4 star general.
What a bunch of nonsense. You've got a group of misinformed soldiers illegally occupying a country that is slowly being destroyed... merely by their presence. Now, in typical amerikan style, there is some petty disappointment regarding some cheesy entertainment for these children, rather than having them ask themselves what the heck they are doing in IRAQ in the first place. Oh well, it's just more proof regarding ameriKa's inability to connect reality within its activities.
May you fools rush into IRAN next... that will be a whole new ball game.
Cheers.
I'm so sorry that your Christmas Concert got cancelled. I have two friends who are marines in Iraq, and I think about them and all of you who are serving all the time time.

Thank you so much for the great job you are doing. Your work is really priceless.
Anyone enduring a Kid Rock show should get a coin. I feel sorry for the guys missing out on Robin Williams though.

Love to the WWE and their troops show!

Chris
Maybe I missed it, but no one bothered to point out, in response to the rant about our government funding this concert, that USO is NOT a government organization. It's a Congressionally chartered PRIVATE organization, and it does not get government funds.

Maybe instead of blaming the soldiers for doing their jobs, and wanting to go to a concert to relieve the horror of their days, we could focus on the facts.
I am a veteran of 20+ years. I just left Camp Liberty. I cannot believe the ignorant comments above. You don't want your tax dollars paying for entertainment for the troops? You are just the type to not give an ounce to your country, but yet take every opportunity to bitch and moan about everything. Get a life!

Thanks to all above that support our troops. They are busting their humps for everyone.

God Bless
"They are busting their humps for everyone."
~ Christopher King - Aviano AB

Everyone you say? Who? The only interests that are being served in IRAQ are the greedy ameriKan elite's. And, ofcourse, the 14 `enduring bases' set in Iraq. Now why would ameriKa build 14 permanent bases in a country they plan on leaving? It's very likely the military along with the political puppets really don't plan on leaving.
So Christopher, I guess when you're speaking about "ignorant comments" you're really just blissfully unaware or unaccepting of who's interests are being served in IRAQ... all at the expense of the dumb ameriKan tax payer.
As for you confused soldiers out there... keep asking the simple question: Why am I in IRAQ?
this is for Rev.billy rebelslaver,,,are you really a reverend?,,,,did you really say X-mas,,,i don't know what kind of reverend you are,,but please don't take Christ out of Christmas,,,,it's bad enough it isn't Christmas anymore,,it is just a holiday,,,,God bless all our troops and i wish they all could have been home for Christmas,,,
I received a number of coins during my time in the Army. I spent a lot of time on deployments and field excercises, and when you do that, you start to accumulate coins. It's disappointing that they had to cancel the concert but what are you going to do? It's good the the Chariman did what he could to show his gratitude for the troops and their sacrifice. I was in Iraq during the worst sandstorm (at least at the time) in 30 years. I literally could not see my hand in front of my face at 2 in the afternoon. If they say they could not make it due to weather, they could not make it. BTW right before I left the middle east, I saw Kid Rock perform, and the night of the sound check so many people gathered around that he just kept playing. He played about 6 songs. It's cool that he is so supportive of the troops.
I'd like to see the jerk critiquing tax dollars going to this "entertainment" for the troops spend a Christmas away from family and home trying not to get killed just so he can sit at home and eat to much after spenidng way to much buyin g material things for his kids that don't even need any more toys. How about spending some of the money he makes safely here in the states on people who need and deserve it so they can at least sort of feel the holiday spirit, instead of criticizing those who at least tried
We should send more troops to assist these soldiers in lieu of "entertainment" to complete the assignment and get on to the next business at hand in the Middle East.
It's a privelege to even have time off over there, I know I didn't have any. But anyway, all you Iraq war haters on here need to wake up and realize the surge has worked, you were all WRONG. It will cost your kind in the elections too. Our coalition deaths are at an all time low this month so far(tied with Feb '04), every death is tragic, but this is great progress. Hopefully, within the next few months we will see our troop deaths shrink to nearly nothing. Oh, and Mark we're never leaving Iraq, but I don't see what the problem with that is, do you? We still haven't left Germany or Japan.
When I was there, I had no time for concerts because there was so much work to do. A Chairman coin for an inconvenience? What a joke.

Take a real look at the statistics. The surge didn't work. There is no excuse for us to continue such an unnecessary war. And it seems that most soldiers, although they adhere to their obligations, are feeling that way. Two, three, four deployments? For what? To protect Iraqis that don't want us there?

When will the other half of America wake-up and realize that the war in Iraq has done nothing to improve the security of the United States? Our presence there may have even hurt national security! The longer we stay, the harder it will be when we are forced-out -- the more Chairmans coins we'll have to leave behind.
I don't find Kid Rock or Miss USA as worthy people to do anything with them. Kid Rock is a scum bag and Miss USA is a total non entity. Not sure why we spend so much money to send junk over to Iraq instead of Helping the Iraqi children with all that money. If this is patriotism, then we all should be ashamed of this whole thing.
I am so sorry for all of you that are still in war, but you have a better treat when you out, the Veterans Administration. They will show you the appreciation they have for you by not helping you and calling you a customer. They will say that even though you have PTSD or a busted up body that there is not proof that you are service connected and they will treat you like a dog. Why do you think that you get in trouble if you go to sick call its to make sure that you are not allowed any benefits. Good luck to you!
While I was home opening gifts, eating food, and spending time with my family. Our brave soilders were "keeping the devil at bay" at the gates of hell in this war.

These guys are heros. Glad the Admiral did that with the coins.

sadly, don't worry... there will always be NEXT year for the concert.
I simply LOVE the ppl complaining about the gov't spending our tax dollars on entertainment as opposed to "x"...As if this is the sole focus of the military, to seek out crappy performers, spend a ridiculous amount of money on it, and charge the American people. This was a USO show, jackasses, the USO is a nonprofit organization that gets its cash mostly from donations. Even so, morale of the masses is key the operation of any military mission; for people to bitch about hundreds of kids possibly getting some relief from getting shot at all day just because of your ideas of how this B.S. war should go down just shows how truly out of touch you are...and it makes you look like an ass. As for Mark, I'm a veteran that's been against this war from the beginning...I can assure you that there are PLENTY of troops that question why they are there. You insinuating that we're just a bunch of dumb kids following orders and not questioning anything along the way truly shows your ignorance. I can guarantee you that these guys & girls would much rather be home with their kids than waiting in line to see Kid Rock or anyone for that matter. So I'd appreciate it if you'd take your misguided perceptions of the average US soldier, and the average US citizen, and shove 'em. Happy New Year

Tara S
USN
Also, why is everyone getting on Kraig? Do you people know how to read? Just another example of how people can get too riled up once they sense even the slightest bit of dissent.
Kid Rock??
These guys are better off not seeing him, trust me. Robin Williams should just reschedule by himself. I'm a firm believer that listening to Kid Rock actually makes you dumber, and we need our troops to remain in tip-top condition. Try luring someone like Jack White of The White Stripes, he'd rock the s#$% out of Baghdad.
How dare Americans leave negative comments about our brave young men and women. Its BECAUSE of them you can type this crap on this blog. My father served in the Navy and was at Pearl Harbor and I am JUST as proud of our servicement now as I was my father.
I cannot believe the selfish self-centered arguments over entertainment to soldiers protecting our country. Have every one of you forgot about terrorist and 911? My father served at Pearl Harbor and I am just as proud of these men and women as I was of him. And as far as America being so bad? I don't see any of the countries that gripe about us turning their hand away from our foreign aid. No country is perfect but its because of our military that you people have the right to sit in your heated homes on your fancy couches writing ugly things about our military, this war and our country.
Have every one of you forgot about terrorist and 911?
~Roberta13


Thanks Roberta for pointing out how most ameriKans justify their illegal occupation of IRAQ. It really is amazing that seemingly intelligent ameriKans got so misdirected by the political propaganda-spin, assisted by corporately controlled media regarding 9/11, IRAQ, Saddam (your ally for many years ~1980-1988), Bin Laden (a CIA-trained asset for many years), Al Qaeda, weapons of destruction, "axis of evil" (*rolls eyes*) and on and on...
With these few catch phrases blended together in the same sentence; over and over in print media, news coverage and at the barber shop... your ability to disseminate fact from fiction was instantly frozen.
Here is a piece of info you may have not heard or simply forgot in the barrage of misinformation from your government/military: OFFICIAL: 15 of 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian. Hey, guess what? Bin Laden was a Saudi... now why wasn't Saudi Arabia put on the radar? Hmmmm...(*chuckles*) Oil and a protected regime: Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the sons and grandsons of the first king, Abd Al Aziz Al Hoati ie/ there are no recognized political parties or national elections (gee whiz that sounds like communism *gasp*)and the Qur'an is the constitution of the country, which is governed on the basis of the Sharia (Islamic Law). Boy oh boy, why would you want to protect that pile of garbage? Oil comes to mind.

So, in closing Roberta, do you really wonder why many people write ugly things about your military, this war and your country?
Have every one of you forgot about terrorist and 911?
~Roberta13


Thanks Roberta for pointing out how most ameriKans justify their illegal occupation of IRAQ. It really is amazing that seemingly intelligent ameriKans got so misdirected by the political propaganda-spin, assisted by corporately controlled media regarding 9/11, IRAQ, Saddam (your ally for many years ~1980-1988), Bin Laden (a CIA-trained asset for many years), Al Qaeda, weapons of destruction, "axis of evil" (*rolls eyes*) and on and on...
With these few catch phrases blended together in the same sentence; over and over in print media, news coverage and at the barber shop... your ability to disseminate fact from fiction was instantly frozen.
Here is a piece of info you may have not heard or simply forgot in the barrage of misinformation from your government/military: OFFICIAL: 15 of 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian. Hey, guess what? Bin Laden was a Saudi... now why wasn't Saudi Arabia put on the radar? Hmmmm...(*chuckles*) Oil and a protected regime: Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the sons and grandsons of the first king, Abd Al Aziz Al Hoati ie/ there are no recognized political parties or national elections (gee whiz that sounds like communism *gasp*)and the Qur'an is the constitution of the country, which is governed on the basis of the Sharia (Islamic Law). Boy oh boy, why would you want to protect that pile of garbage? Oil comes to mind.

So, in closing Roberta, do you really wonder why many people write ugly things about your military, this war and your country?
Ropberta13, here is a link to some information that may help you gain a more balanced view of your country, military and its foreign policies:

www.krysstal.com/democracy_whyusa.html
THANK YOU SOLDIERS, For your hard work, your truly making a difference.

Mark-just cause your not in the elite American club doesn't mean you can't support our Troops.
Thanks for the story. Just praying that all our Men and Women in Uniform make it home safely to their families. Also I think it's comical how all the rodents who are trying to turn a simple story about our troops into a venue to spew their liberal rhetoric. It's funny how they turned that word into an Oxymoron. Liberal = Free. Not "Your Opinion is what I tell you it is". So to all our troops, Good luck and safe home, and to all the communist Rodents out there, put on a uniform and fight for what you believe, just like our brave troops.

God Bless the USA
Here are my feelings: WHATEVER!! As a guy who spent a year in the combat zone myself, I have to say that I never went to a single USO which was mostly because I was working 12 or more hours a day. I can understand the disappointment if Kid Rock was maybe your favorite musician of all time and you didn’t get to see him but it just wouldn’t phase me. You want to talk about disappointment?? Try spending a week sleeping in the airport terminal with no showering trying to fly out of that craphole country and every day they would give you hope telling you that you’d get to leave and every day the Air Force (who were there for only 4 months) would say we got cancelled for one reason or another. It’s probably the most homeless I have ever felt in my life…..Kid Rock?? BOO-Freakin-HOO!!!
As an ex army soldier myself I can tell you at this point that the troops dont need Kid Rock or Miss USAs support,they need thier governments support to get home. We keep saying that the troops in Iraq are responsible for our freedom but I dont really ever remember Iraq planning on invading the US. It was a war based on lies to capture the worlds largest oil reserves,my fellow soldiers are dying for nothing. These people hated us before we invaded Iraq and now even more of them hate us. Who gives a **** about Kid Rock,bring our guys home.....
Look. I spell America... AMERIKA .. I am so C00l and 1337 for it. Give up. You put down America and use your freedom of speech which is fine. But no you would not have it if it wasn't for good fighting soldiers across this land. If you don't like our government.... Leave? Go to Iraq, you probally would like it better there.
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