Black Flag Journals: One Soldier’s Experience in America’s Longest War

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Dennis Woods and his memoir Black Flag Journals: One Soldier’s Experience in America’s Longest War.

Author’s description

The story of America’s longest war is complicated and difficult to convey, unless you were there. Dennis Woods was there. By following his stories in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can sense the enormity of his combat experiences. Originally written for his daughter, Black Flag Journals is taken from the author’s nine battle book journals. It covers his time from the fall of the Twin Towers through his last combat tour.

Black Flag Journals contains not just stories from the first war of the new century, but a day-by-day record of events that other veterans may use to relate their own experiences. All who enjoy real life stories, and followers of history will connect with this first person account of America’s longest war.

About the Author

CSM Woods combat tours include;
Operation Urgent Fury, Grenada, 82d Airborne Division.
Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm, Saudi Arabia – Iraq, 82d Airborne Division.
Operation Desert Fox 1998, Qatar, 5th Group Special Forces.
OEF 2 Afghanistan, 82d Airborne Division.
OIF 1 Iraq, First Armored Division.
OIF 6 Iraq, First Armored Division.
OEF X Afghanistan, 173D Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
OEF XIII Afghanistan, 191st Infantry Brigade

CSM Woods civilian education includes a Master of Education, (training & leadership) from North Central University, Prescott AZ, and a Bachelor of Science from Excelsior, Albany, New York.
Military education includes the United States Sergeants Majors Academy class # 58, Army force management course, Jump Master, Drill Sergeant, US Army Recruiter, Infantry Small Arms Master Gunner, Artillery Master Gunner, Amphibious Warfare leaders’ course (USMC), Anti-Armor Leaders course, Machine Gun Leaders course, Artillery Mechanics repair course, Small Arms repair course, Nuclear Biological Chemical defense, and all levels of air load planning and hazmat certification USAF.

CSM Woods awards include; one Distinguished Service medal, one Legion Of Merit,( 5) Bronze Star Medals, 5 Meritorious Service Medals, 4 ARCOM, 4 AAM, 1 Humanitarian service medal, 2 Armed Forces Expeditionary medals,  Afghanistan and Iraq service medals. German Jump Master Wings, Qatar Jump wings as part of 5th Group, Netherlands Jumpmaster wings.  Other awards include; Department of Defense “Inventor of the year” (2003) with 45 separate inventions. CSM Woods saved the United States Government over one Billion Dollars through cost avoidance.  He is also the first recipient of the GRUBER award for an outstanding field artillery professional.

CSM Woods is credited by the US Army Smart Ideas program as the inventor of;

  • The 105mm Howitzer night direct fire sight system M913 GELON.
  • The 155mm towed Howitzer night sight system.
  • The dual use day/ night direct fire sight reticule.
  • The Dual optic MILES Laser trainer.
  • The Urban Assault kit (PALADIN) improved crew protection, 155mm system.

On his most recent tour to Afghanistan, CSM Woods pioneered the first use of artillery training rounds in combat as a form of scalable fire support designed to limit civilian death and collateral damage.  He is the author of, ‘Black Flag Journals One Soldiers Experience in America’s Longest War’, and numerous magazine, newspaper articles, including training pamphlets concerning Artillery, night vision, and combat operations.

Find the Author

Twitter: @djwoodswrites
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Dennis-John-Woods/e/B01KU91GFI%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15660793.Dennis_John_Woods

Buy the Book

Amazon Buy Link:  https://www.amazon.com/Black-Flag-Journals-Soldiers-Experience-ebook/dp/B01L0LW7US/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0
BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-flag-journals-dennis-john-woods/1124419537
Audible: https://www.audible.com/pd/Black-Flag-Journals-Audiobook/B08MBHSQQ9
Koehler Book: https://www.koehlerbooks.com/book/black-flag-journals/

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

The flight we were on this morning was an ordinary, run-of-the-mill resupply operation. Its purpose was to service Afghanistan’s numerous small camps and bases. What it carried, though, was not ordinary or run-of-the-mill. What we were delivering was an unusual allotment of artillery ammunition and GELON mounts. Part of my mission on this trip was about to be completed. However, once in the air, I was given a new defensive challenge to solve.

Thank you!

Dennis Woods — we appreciate your sharing Black Flag Journals: One Soldier’s Experience in America’s Longest War with us! Best of luck with sales, and with all of your future endeavors.

No one person should have first strike capability

Every once in awhile you come across a fact and think that can’t be right. And then you find out it is. That’s what happened to me when I received a plea to ask my members of congress to discuss restricting the first use of nuclear weapons.

My first response was Oh, you mean if someone lobs a nuke at us, we tie the hands of the president so that she or he can’t strike back? Do we really want to do that?

No, I was told, the bill has nothing to do with responding to a nuclear attack. It only concerns being the one to first launch the nukes.

Queue the response: that can’t be right. So I have to ask. Did you think that the president could launch a nuclear weapon for any reason right now? With no declaration of war? All by himself? Well, it turns out that he or she can.

I admit that the next thing I did was guess that this bill had been introduced because of the rash immaturity frequently shown by the man now occupying the white house. And I admit that part made sense to me. But it turns out I was wrong about that as well.

The bill was originally introduced in 2016 during the Obama administration, with the encouragement of the Union of Concerned Scientists. This group believes that we need to have a robust congressional discussion about the wisdom of giving any president, no matter how cautious or how brash, the unilateral power to initiate a civilization-ending event. I think they have a good point.

Our current situation increases the probability of nuclear war in a real and dangerous way. It makes perfect sense to me that we should insist that Congress take these dangers seriously and that we should work to change a system that puts all of our lives at risk.

Right now both measures (known as Senate Bill 200 and House Resolution 669) are sitting in committees (Foreign Relations and Foreign Affairs) while congress spends its time handling what they believe to be more pressing matters. (Don’t get me started on that.)

If you haven’t developed the habit of contacting congress yet, it is an easy and worthwhile activity. Find out who you should be contacting at whoismyrepresentative.com. Then search for them by name, go to their website, and hit contact. The easiest thing to do is to fill out their little form with your information, and then type in something simple like “Please lend your support to bringing House Resolution 669 on restricting the first use of nuclear weapons to the house floor for a vote.” A poorly paid intern will note the subject matter of your email and will tally up your opinion on it.

It’s a little bit like littering. If just you do it, it really doesn’t make much of a difference. But if five percent of the population does it, everyone is going to notice.

It’s a VUCA world out there, people ….

person of interest2I’m a big fan of the TV show “Person of Interest” and last night I watched the long awaited first episode of Season 5. It has turned into a story about two warring supercomputers, one of which is good. Good supercomputer had to be totally rebooted last night and as it became reacquainted with its human helpers, it considered the amount of death and mayhem they had inflicted during the fight for goodness. To no science fiction readers’ surprise, it ended up deeming them every bit as bad as the bad guys.

The supercomputer has a point. When does what you are fighting for become irrelevant due to the amount of carnage and pain you have inflicted? Is the answer really “never”?

Enter an article in my to-be-read file called “The Madness of Modern War” published on the blog Alternet and written last month by William Astore. I stumbled on it this morning and it fed right into my funk about the moral ambiguities of fighting for peace. It begins

Since 9/11, can there be any doubt that the public has become numb to the euphemisms that regularly accompany U.S. troops, drones, and CIA operatives into Washington’s imperial conflicts across the Greater Middle East and Africa? Such euphemisms are meant to take the sting out of America’s wars back home. Many of these words and phrases are already so well known and well worn that no one thinks twice about them anymore.

fighting2Things do have a way of coming together like this, don’t they? The truth is, life under the watchful eye of good computer would be a whole lot nicer than human life on bad computer’s watch. And life in the freedom loving  U.S.A., for all of its faults, is orders of magnitude better than anyone’s life under the rule of the Islamic State.

So exactly how horribly is one morally entitled to behave in order to achieve an outcome destined to provide more freedom and joy for all?

I fall in the camp that believes there are limits. Something you do remains something you have done, and it stretches your capacity to do the unthinkable. I worry that good guys can become bad guys by imitating them. I think that part of a moral compass includes having lines you will not cross, and directions you will not go.

Let me be clear. I will fight for my own life and my liberty, and thank the others who do it for me. But I will not pay any price to purchase those things, and I like to think that I have the courage to accept that.

Peace2You don’t think you agree? If your life, or your freedom, required you to push a button and wipe out every living creature in Australia, would you do it? Would you let someone else do it for you? How about just half of Australia? Just a quarter of it? Okay, exactly how much of Australia are you willing to destroy? How about if we change the country to Somalia? Syria? Sweden?

It’s a messy question, isn’t it? As a species we can identify some actions clearly on one side of the line and others clearly on the other, but it is all that grey area in-between that gets us into so much trouble. How about we begin by at least agreeing that there is a line. That’s a start.

William Astore concluded his article with

If the gray zone offers little help clarifying America’s military dilemmas, what about VUCA? It’s an acronym for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, which is meant to describe our post-9/11 world. Of course, there’s nothing like an acronym to take the sting out of any world. But as an historian who has read a lot of history books, let me confess that, to the best of my knowledge, the world has always been, is now, and will always be VUCA.

Well said.