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Coaches should rethink penalizing Scouts for mising practice

To The Daily Sun,

I have thought about this topic for many years and tonight something happened that made me feel that I at least needed to share my concern with a larger population.

My children have been involved in some level of sports in this city their whole lives — LAYBL, LYSL, LMS, LHS, Shooters Gold, swimming, etc. They have also been involved in scouting with our local Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop 68. Every time either of them signed up for or made a team, I spoke with the coach about their scouting involvement and every time the coach was very understanding about the possibility of missing a game or having a shortened practice because a Scout meeting overlapped or an event was occurring at the same time. I don't recall either son ever being penalized for missing or cutting short a game or practice.

Currently 13 boys from Troop 68 are working extremely hard toward the adventure of a lifetime. In August 2017 these 13 boys and six adults will attend the BSA high adventure camp on Big Munson Island in Florida. Please don't be fooled that this will be a vacation. Boys and adults will arrive at Sea Base and be tested on their swimming abilities. If they pass, they will embark on a 5-plus mile ocean canoe trip to the island where they will reside for three nights — exploring, fishing, and snorkeling. They will return, on the same 5-plus mile course back to base and return home a day later.

In true Scout fashion, we are beginning to "Be Prepared" for this trip. In order to be prepared, the group needs to meet regularly to train and plan the trip details. Our first planning meeting is set to occur this week. I've sent emails with the date and time of the meeting, and to my surprise, I have had a few boys ask about missing the meeting because of practice for their current sport. It was mentioned by an adult that boys could be penalized for missing practice — perhaps not be played first or at all. This is the topic I have thought about for many years.

Is this really true? We penalize kids for trying to become well rounded members of society? We take something they love to do away from them because they are working hard for something they really want to experience? I can't imagine that this is actually true.

I think often about why Scouting, an amazing youth program, is dying in this country. I wonder if it would grow if we began to follow the policies of sports — if a boy misses a meeting, then he will not be able to rank or he will not be able to attend the next event/activity. I don't think I could continue as a leader if I had to penalize kids for doing great things.

Scouting encourages boys to be active and to stay physically fit. The Scouting program promotes and works to introduce most every sport. I can only hope that other youth programs — sports, music and theater — would encourage a boys interest in scouting, not diminish it.

I am asking our local coaches and sports associations to reconsider this penalization policy, if it is one that is in place. And if I am wrong, if there is no such policy in place, I apologize and ask that coaches let their team members know what the policy really is.

Tara Shore
Troop Committee Chair
Troop 68, Laconia

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Bob Meade - National Security. . .

Each of our presidential candidates seems to have a different approach as to how they will address our national security, specifically the terrorist threat from ISIS. We have heard sound-bites that range from "carpet bombings" to "it's not our problem". We don't need sound-bites; we need thoughtful solutions.

A little guidance from history may be in order. During World War II, allied bombers flew from bases in England into Germany. The U.S. bombers were equipped with "Norden" bomb sights which allowed the navigator/bombardiers to locate and "precision" bomb German military, transportation, and manufacturing sites.

The bombers were escorted by fighter aircraft only part of the way to Germany, because the fighters didn't have the fuel capacity to fly into Germany and return safely to their base in England. Because of that, the bombers, which had to fly at low levels in order to do precision bombing, became sitting ducks for the German fighter aircraft. Our country was losing about 50 percent of all the bombers and crews that were sent on those missions. Just imagine the bravery of every single airman who boarded his aircraft knowing that he had only about a 50-50 chance of returning safely back to his base.

Because of the inability to provide fighter escort for the entire mission, it was decided to have the bombers fly at night or at an altitude that was essentially unreachable by the German fighter aircraft. While those moves saved allied lives, they essentially eliminated precision bombing ability and caused tens of thousands of civilian casualties.
(Note-as to the question who did carpet bombing first, it appears that the Germans were the first to engage in indiscriminate bombing of cities in the Netherlands and England.)
Today, there is scant to no need for any carpet bombing. Technology, such as the global positioning systems similar to what we use in our automobiles, can be used to guide missiles from distant launch sites, to specific building addresses . . . of military installations, factories, fuel depots, and so on. Of course such missiles can also target buildings where enemy leaders are known to be. Even more precisely, rockets can be fired from fighter aircraft or helicopters and be guided to their targets by lasers activated by our military personnel who are physically located in an area, and who can identify relatively small and precise targets such as vehicles, armored equipment, and individuals, as well as key building sites.

As to the issue of "it's not our problem", there are a couple of things worth considering. The first is, if you make something cheaper or easier to do, more of it will happen. Those who consider terrorism and/or ISIS not to be our problem, simply make it easier for them to grow, to conquer more territory, to kill more people, and to become strong enough to threaten our citizenry. It is our problem!

History has shown that relatively small groups of citizens, who are oppressed, have banded together and used guerilla warfare tactics to defeat their oppressors. Not every insurgent movement is successful but, more often than not, if the group can acquire sufficient funding and weaponry, they have achieved success.

Mao Zedong initially led his communist insurgency against Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek, and had to retreat and retreat in what is now called the "long march" (over 6,000 miles). Thousands of his followers were killed before they reached a safe haven in outermost China. Then, Russia's communist leaders provided some weapons and ammunition resources, and financial backing, and Mao and his relatively small band of followers tried again. This time they were successful in rebuilding their insurgent forces and won the battle, driving Chiang Kai-Shek out of mainland China to the island of Formosa — now called Taiwan.

In another case of guerilla warfare, Russia moved into Afghanistan and was confronted with insurgent rebel forces who used guerilla tactics against them. The rebels were persistent but weren't able to oust the Russians until President Carter's National Security chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski, told Carter that he could "give the Russians their Vietnam" if he would arm the Afghan rebels. The president agreed and the weaponry the rebels were provided changed the course of the insurgency. Russia then determined that their effort wasn't worth the return and decided to abandon Afghanistan and return home. The Afghan rebel forces then grew into what we now know as the Taliban and became a training ground for insurgent forces.

The issue is that to do nothing is to give the rebels the chance to grow, increasing their financial resources, acquiring more weaponry, expanding their fighting force, and becoming a bigger problem to solve. As noted above, if you make something cheaper, or easier to do, more of it will happen.

One final thought . . . shouldn't those desiring to become "Commander-in-chief" have acquired and listened to a staff of advisors who have the knowledge and experience of these types of situations, so they don't "shoot from the hip" and offer up poor solutions?

(For more examples of the many successful and unsuccessful guerilla warfare battles, access this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_guerrilla_warfare)

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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