There is animosity between the Americans and the Spanish but it is at the Field Grade level. IMHO.
Michael's Dispatches231 Comments
- Published: Monday, 08 March 2010 05:42
Monday, 08 March 2010
Yesterday, an American involved in the war effort handed me a document. It was an email from a Lieutenant Colonel in the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. His unit is in combat seven days a week. To be clear, I did not get the email from the officer and I have never met him.
The email is about the abysmal, unsafe conditions which some of our most dedicated troops are living in, at a remote base run by the Spanish military in Afghanistan. All deletions [xxx] are by me. I have the entire email. The serious and disturbing allegations are found in the second and third paragraphs.
Please note, that the failure to support permanent US troops at this Spanish base constitutes real negligence about their ultimate safety. And that comes on top of a degree of harassment that is shocking among allies.
The message begins:
I just finished spending a couple days with TF [xxx] at [xxx] and visiting all of our sites that we have troopers located at. Great progress continues to be made in the [xxx], but several items need some help ASAP:
[Para 1 deleted]
2) Qal E Naw: The Spanish are not interested in helping in anyway, and are trying to make us decide to leave based on their unacceptable treatment of Americans. Our refuelers [soldiers who refuel helicopters] that are living there have to run out, unroll the hoses, pull security, and roll everything back up. They have asked for gravel along the FLS as it is currently calf deep mud, but the Spanish refuse to make any improvements. They asked for a T barrier (just one) to put at a 45 degree angle outside the fence where the FARP [Forward Arming and Refueling Point; where helicopters land for ammo and gas] has to be set up so they can run for cover in case there is small arms fire, the Spanish say no and refuse to make any improvements. They asked for a small gate where their billets are located so they can access the FARP directly rather than going a half mile loop to get out the gate, but the Spanish said no and refuse to make any improvements. They [sic] guys are living hard (we understand that) but have to do laundry by hand as all of their stuff is stolen if they turn it into the laundry, they discussed this with the Spanish, but they refuse to many any improvements.
USFOR-A needs to energize someone to develop a viable, enduring plan for this FARP that isn’t reliant on the Spanish. This is a key hub for fuel (since we can’t get trucks to [xxx] or [xxx]) so let’s improve this location to better support those guys living out there on the edge by themselves. They refused to allow a Marine detachment that was dropped there to come into the wire or feed them overnight. Our refuelers had to fight the Spanish to bring them in and squeeze them into the two small tents that they have and give them MREs as they [sic] Spanish wouldn’t feed them. Is this how we allow our Coalition partners to treat Americans?
3) BmG: Who ever briefed that they have gravel there has never been there. We arrived during a TIC [fighting] and a MEDEVAC mission. The aircraft have to land/park in a field that has no gravel and then they sink into the ground. They have to be moved everyday to pull them back out of the mud. If we can’t get gravel, how about putting some AM2 matting, stakes and a couple of Red Horse guys on a CH-47 and fly them in to build a couple of pads just big enough to park an individual UH-60 on? We’ve been pushing the gravel issues since last fall and are no closer to a solution. Those guys are living in fighting positions. When it begins to warm up in the next month, that field will be untenable without gravel or AM2 matting. We don’t want to lose MEDEVAC capability there because we couldn’t put in two pads. We did a MEDEVAC [troop(s) wounded] and Hero [troop(s) killed] mission while I was there and the next day as well, let’s not forget that they are on the tip of the spear, we owe them more.
I would like to discuss these Saturday to see what the way ahead is going to be.
On that note, the email closes.
So, our soldiers and Marines, living in rough conditions at the far tip of the spear, apparently are being treated with contempt, with all basic support denied, from laundry to the conditions of the field on which our troops do their thankless job. If this report is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, the Spanish are endangering the lives of our warriors by failing to provide basic safety.
To the extent that there is an international dimension to this potential problem, requiring a diplomatic solution, it deserves the immediate attention of our civilian leadership. Our able Secretary of Defense will likely wish to investigate, and bring it up with our Spanish allies for any corrective measures that might be in order. I will personally see that this gets to Secretary Gates. When Secretary Gates gets wind, we can rest easy that proper attention is forthcoming.
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This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoMike Hi. I just spent two months in Qala-E-Naw, and going back there in a few days. The Spanish supported us when we had no place to live or eat. (they may not have liked it). We live and work outside the wire. We visit the Spanish everyday. They have treated us very well. Inspite of being contractors. :-) This may be because the nature of who our client is and the Spanish Military mission. I have never been to BMG so I can comment on that location. I am sure there is validity to what the LTC says. I just have not seen it at Qala-E-Naw. Large amount of the Spanish enlisted are actually from South America. Having spoke with a lot of them, they are frustrated that they are not allowed to conduct the same type of operations that the 82nd does.
There is animosity between the Americans and the Spanish but it is at the Field Grade level. IMHO.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoSorry, real American troops would have already cut a nice man sized hole in the fence where they want one. A real gunny or top soldier would have had a Texas berm flown in by one of those helicopters if he really wanted one. A real soldier would have the Spanish garrison commander making complaints about him/them to "his" chain of command, not vice versa.
If the Spanish are in tents, a "real" American gunny or top would have every single American helo do its descent to hover and land right smack dab over the Spanish tent city every single time and twice as often after midnight. Again, let the Spanish complain about us through their chain of command.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years ago"O Canada" is right on. I lived there for 20 years. The National Pastime is whining, not hockey. This is particularly true of the Media.
The only Canadians worthy of respect as "stand-up guys" are the ones in uniform. The rest are crybabies.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoI think this is over blown. Never saw this sort of behavior. Seems to me that Cmdr to Cmdr this would be resolved very quickly. There are some cultural frictions going on here...... I NEVER knew a Spanish Officer to not be professional and accomodating if approached like an officer and a gentleman.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agolet's view this with a little perspective - the spanish are unwilling to protect their own citizens from terroristic ragheads at home, why would we expect the same losers to provide basic services for forces attempting to protect the masses from same said ragheads abroad?
EUROPE SUCKS!!!! SPAIN BLOWS!!!!!
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoIn 75 I went to Spain. They parked us in the last row with the KC-97s of the Spanish AF behind us. It was a daily thing to find equipment and instruments removed from the aircraft overnight. Piss cans, honey buckets, chains, straps, anything that was and wasn't tied down. They also didn't like us on their side of the base. Figures, America built it and we were restricted. A spanish F4 blew a tire on the runway one day and we had aircraft low on fuel trying to come in. They just ignored us and really pushed us to the limit. Maybe we should have bailed out and let the aircraft land in downtown Madrid. 35 years later and it still seems to be the same.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoPatrick Murphy of the 8th Congressional District of Pennsylvania.
Prayers to all.
God Bless our Military, and NATO.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoThe Spaniards are gutless, they were chased from Iraq, they don't wanna be there in A-stan, at THIS particular place they have numbers, they are "running sh*t"...well you get a couple choppers and fill 'em up and GO THERE to make the Spanish feel small, which they are here, damn thanx NATO WTF??? Im so angry my eyes are crossing..damn go there with 40 heavily armed Troopers and make things right. Maybe we should leave thier butts hangin in the wind....
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoWe put up with this same crap supporting NATO allies in Europe. Germans and Brits were OK. The Belgians must have been related to the Spanish. The only other forces in Afghanistan with balls are the Brits, Germans, and Poles. Kick the other token do nothing forces out.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoDoesn't sound like a Spanish morale problem. Sounds like a Spanish arrogance problem.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoSomeone commented "We are the third largest contingent and one of the few providing actual combat effective soldiers " (referring to the Canadians). Could someone please tell me which countries actually are providing combat effective soldiers?
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoI read comments like Rich's and I wonder why we bother to help. The contempt reads like the Spanish contempt. I don't think Rich is in the minority either.
I'm apauled at the conditions the Americans are experiencing with regards to the Spanish. One would think that the very concept of brothers in arms would be enough to ensure that this would never happen. Makes me wonder if here is some current of resentment about their being there. I wonder if they blame the US for their being there. Truly sad if that is the case. After all, were they not victims of terrorism themselves? Even after they pulled out of Iraq did they not then foil another plot?
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoPut the Spanish in our jail if they refuse to provide basic needs for our warriors. Then let the spanish government scream. The Spanish have become cowards like the French, knuclkling under the threat of islam.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoThis should have been monitored by the brass and rectified by an immediate takeover. This is their failing and it is unsonscionable.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoAQ has to be monitoring this blog. If they don't know it already, this post should give them enough intell. to mount an effective attack. And why not? Always attack the enemy at it's weakest position. That said-- I'm glad it's here. Multiple U.S. Army/Marine officers know much better than I the truth of the previous sentence, and many of them RSS feed this blog. This issue will get fixed pronto... lives are at stake.
Mr. Yon, of course, now faces the possibility of a little "accident" while shadowing NATO troops in the future, since he has publicly embarrassed one of them. I'm going to send him another check and say a prayer for him-- keep safe, Mr. Yon.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoWhat did you expect from a lazy, cowardice country like Spain.
We should have left them to the Fascists those many years ago.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoWhat else would you expect from a lazy, cowardice country like Spain?
We should have left them to the Fascist those many years ago.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoThank you Michael, for making incompetency difficult to hide and courage visible to more of us here at home.
To the Canadian person who wrote that Americans are not good to have as friends...read Michaels "Whispers" blog from 2/22/10. I think you underestimate our countries' relationship in both directions.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoThe big picture that no one is looking at is that the Spanish have traded in sanity for ideals of the left just like the politiclal leaders of our country are doing and like our people the Spanish people, a normally center country are fed up as well. As a former ops chief I would assign this responsibility to a combat platoon and a bulk fuelers unit. I would rotate them from their assigned positions every fifteen days the ones in the front would handle security and refuling duties and the ones in the rear I would assign asswhuppin duty and everytime a Spaniard said no I would hold a blanket party on his ass in mass until they change their tune and lose the attitude, and if they continue hazarding our troops it would be time for a come to Jesus meeting and lay it all on the line in a mutual understanding if they promise not to screw up we won't kick their ass. Diplomacy does not belong on the battlefield of war. By definition war is a violent conflict between opposing forces not yelling matches for polital rivals. Extreme circumstances call for extreme solutions and this does not sound like it will get solved politically. I say put a boot in their ass and if they don't like who needs a malcontent as an ally in war.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoSpanish solders are sissy girls
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoCB, you forgot the Canadians, the Dutch, and the Australians, they all have balls and fight hard, plus many more great countries.
To those who are slamming NATO: Just becasue the Spanish are running the outpost like sh*t deosnt mean you should slam the rest of NATO or other allies. SHOW SOME DAMN REPSECT! Give heat to the nations who are not helping out, but who are making things more difficult and dangerous instead of bashing all of NATO. Thank you to the U.S. Military and our allies fighting in A-Stan.
Whoever is responsible for this problem needs to fix it immediately!
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoI hope that what the Spanish Army says it can prove.
It is shameful that the Army will speak Spanish and Spain is an ally that deserves your respect, our military are fighting and doing their duty.
As for the ignorance of Spain and his army can only be due to the low cultural level of its readers, but of course, would not surprise me that we are confusing with Mexico but considering that more than half do not know how to put on the map or Spain, or Afghanistan or anything else other than USA since settled issue.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoThanks for the heads up, TB. Although, HQ ISAF is right across the street from the Embassy. It's not exactly a low profile target. We had an VBIED and two suicide bombers last Friday and some other "fun times" recently. Gen McChrystal has completely changed Disneyland, as you put it. It's def not fun here any more.
To the Canadian, please. Relax. There are 42 nations there and I'm not about to cut and paste all of them. Also, you are incorrect. US is the #1 supplier of troops, #2 is Great Britain. And number 3? Germany. I'm not sure about the quip, "If there's a cloud in the sky, the German's don't fly," because the tarmac was full of C-150s with props churning both times I flew threw KAIA. They brought me all the way from Belgium into theater. If they never flew in clouds, they'd never fly in Europe (as I mentioned else where, between Belgium, France, Germany and Afghanistan, I have only seen a sunny day 5 or 6 days in the last 2.5 months...kinda rough for a Cali boy). Finally, just so you feel better, yes, the Canadians are working here very hard. OK, any Romanians pissed because I didn't give them a West Coast shout out?
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoMaybe the US should do more to assure our troops get proper treatment while in the war zone. Our son lived in horrible conditions while there. Should our troops be in the care of other countries while there? I don't think so! It is the US's job to make sure our troops are well taken care of! The US military is fighting to keep terrorists away from this country! They deserve the best!
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoThe Spaniards caved to the al-Qaida when their little train was blown up. They were weak kneed then and they will always be week kneed. If they are going to add anything to the NATO effort, they and the French should be stuck together and let them wither on the vine together. With allies like them, we don't need enemies.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoEverything Retired Marine said, I concur with an addition. I would send in a platoon of 3rd Marine Recons to straighten things out. It wouldn't take long for them to shape up the area and make it safer and more friendly for our medevacs. I definitely would not waste my time contacting Gates. We have enough PC as it is.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoPut the Spanish on the next plane home and get some real help put in place. The last thing you need in a forward combat situation is some
"SO-Gay-I can't-Fight" sissy's from Spain corrupting an already hard situation. Send the Pussys home.... They really do need an ASS WHUPPING....
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoIt's incredible to give credit that a full LC from the 82nd has to solve its problems sending an email to who knows, being the supreme commander of ISAF another american guy. Sincerely, I don't believe this history. And please read more before posting such a gifts for the Spaniards. We have currently a full batallion working in the area, and 500 more soldiers arriving on scene. We are investing huge amounts of money in MRAPs and other state-of-the-art military equipment, part of it from your industry. This is a war we didn't start, but anyway we are there because we are your allies. We have had casualties also, a lot of them, much more that in other of our international missions. We also depend on others: the airspace in the area is not ours, it depends on the italians. It's the way NATO works.
To the man who said to leave us to the Fascists: yes, you did it, you left us to them for 35 years. But anyway, today we are supporting you, dude.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoI was shocked to read this story. It borders on the unbelievable in my experience.
I have no reason to doubt it, but this is just beyond my comprehension.
Back in the '80s and '90s, Spain had a fine Army. They do run things a bit sparse by our standards, but to hear that they would deny food and shelter to US Army and Marines is devastating. I wonder what Spain's Commanding General Staff would think, and I shudder to think what they would do if these issues are true. Could this just be a rouge Captain or Major? That might be the most likely explanation. Maybe their Logistics chain is so over-stretched that they have nothing to spare.
I would just ask that everyone withhold their judgment until the facts become clear. The Spanish Army I remember was a well-trained, professional, and competent force that I was proud to count among our allies. I hope that it has not fallen so far.....
I just wish we could get this whole mess done and won. I don't want any more of "my" boys or our allies getting killed or wounded to support a holding action with no clear objectives..... Are you listening up there in Brussels????
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoIf the pussies from Spain cant cut it send them home , The whole world is getting too woosie. Do we still have a base over there in Spain? maby it needs cloosing . Its time for someone of power in this country to repeat the words of John Kennedy about supporting any friend or opposing any foe something like that . That was back when Democrats believed in a strong moral nation instead of Socialism...
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoThe number of currently serving, active duty soldiers who think this is an isolated issue means that a lot of you should think before you type... Most of the world thinks that Americans are overweight, arrogant and completely culturally insensitive. I don't, and I doubt you would either, but it shows how stupid tarring entire nations with the same brush is.
I know soldiers serving from three nations in Afghanistan, and I support any soldier of any nation who does his job. Absolutely, if the Spanish officer in charge isn't doing his job, then get rid of him as soon as possible and get someone else in who can. Soldiers have enough to deal with as it is, without allies putting them in danger too
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoI dont understand why we SPAIN are in Afghanistan. Why must 80 Spanish soldier die for a handfull dollars.
USA and Great Britain can do that better (Vietnam, Bahia Cochinos, Irak, Panama, Corea, Libano) ever small countries, but Versus Germany you need 2 wars and the help from Russia.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoSpanish Soldiers have fight not only for a country, they have fought for a Continent (America) "alone".
And we win.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoSpanish Soldier have discover and conquer America.
USA need the help of a lot of countries to conquer Afghanistan.
A very good ARMY
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoMichael, I read and enjoy your stories every time you publish something new. I am active duty and have done 2 tours in Afghanistan in the last three years. The first one was at a small FOB in Jalalabad and the most recent one was in Kandahar. To put it bluntly, I am not sure it was appropriate to publish this e-mail. I could be completely wrong on this issue but the way I read this email it sounded like a battalion commander bringing the issue up to his brigade commander. It is my guess that maybe the brig commanders exec or someone that works for him gave you the e-mail. Why publish this? Why not let the command fix the problem? You are very well connected and a respected journalist. You could have easily passed the information on to a higher up that could have addressed the issue. You have created a storm of criticism against an entire country for what probably was caused by the incompetence of a single company grade officer. Bottom line this should have been addressed at a company or battalion level rather than by creating an international incident.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years ago... the chapter "Beware the Spaniard (for He has a Cutlass Hidden on his Person at all Times)." from J. Edward Runcible's "The Hidden Secrets of Most Europeans" published in 1832.
Amazing the things that get stuck in your head from College, although I have to admit that "Literary Idiots of the 19th Century" was a course that was designed to catch your attention beyond the test at the end of the semester. http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=905
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoI agree with the idea about this being a matter between commanders. Even though the Spanish commander has 45 stars on his uniform he's probably only a Lt. Colonel. We had similiar problems working on a remote camp in Bosnia back in '97/98. The Euros only respect field grade OFFICERS and ONLY if they'll sit/negociate over cigars and Brandy.
I'm surprised the 82nd has allowed their troops to be treated in this manner. There's Brigade (or lower) commander somewhere in the 82nd that needs to take charge. And they need to keep in mind that none of the Euro Armies (Except the British) have anything close to the same standards as the American Army.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoWe dont need the base from the USA, this was doing between Franco (fascista) USA Goverment.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoFrom my experience living in Spain for a number of years I find this quite believable. They don't care enough about themselves, so why should they care about anyone else?
¡Todos pueden joderse!
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoI'm ashamed. I wish US forces defeat enemy as soon as possible, but don't think Spain will contribute to it. Zapatero goverment is weak, and is afraid to have casualties. There are strictly orders to keep ourselves safe. Goverment officials just say we are there toi rebuild Afgan country, not to combat. This message is continuosly repeated in media. SP Army is not allowed to combat enemy forces, so they don't have heavy weapon and just a few ammunition. There are little money to support forces so they can't carry out combat operations like allied forces. Zapatero is deeply anti-american.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoWhy should Spain support this band of killers? they support Franco, Pinochet, Videla and many more dictators!!! LEt them die alone in the desert!!
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoZapatero is not anti-american he is not pro-america.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoIf you remember, when José María Aznar was Spanish President and invited US soldiers to a march past for Spain's National Day to take the King's salute, its current President José María Zapatero refused to stand up for them.
I had an 'intercambio' in Sevilla at the time of the build up to the Iraq War. Her husband was a bank manager. She detested socialists. Her spiel on the Iraq War though was straight out of the mouth of any leftie. I once came round hers once after she'd been watching Muslims shaking their beards at TV cameras and being *very, *very **ANGRY**. She was really scared. She said in Spanish "I dont want this war. I dont know what they're going to do".
When Al Qaeda bombed Madrid's trains and killed 191 Spaniards, I'm sure she's one of the 'Conservatives' that switched her vote to Zapatero to appease Osama Bin Laden. José María Aznar's 'Partido Popular' were 7 points ahead in the polls at the time with days to go, inspite of the fact 90% of the country opposed the war. They recognised Aznar as a man with integrity who they could trust and respect.
If José María Aznar was still President the Spanish Army would be in the thick of the fighting kicking terrorist ass. Only under a repellent character like Zapatero would Spanish military honour be sullied in this despicable manner.
A British Subject, Barcelona
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years ago"It's little anecdotes that remind me that for even all of its faults, the American military is the most capable in the history of human civilization"
I'm sorry but do you realise what a bizarre and sweeping statement that is?
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoMy first war was WWII. General Patton was quoted as saying "I would rather have six divisions of Germans in front of me rather than one division of French behind me." One of my neighbors, drafted at the same time as me, once told the ammo bearer who had just brought him two cliips and one loose round for his daily supply, "This loose round is for you, when my two clips are gone." The guy dropped the half box in his hole and took off.
It seems the IG was preparing for a tour of the ammo supply by some of Congress' finest and wanted to show a full and proper amount of bullets ready for the troops in the forward areas. Our army used a lot of AK's taken from dead enemy soldiers during the human wave attacks and that helped them survive. Once Eisenhower and Nixon took over, the situation got a lot better, since Nixon himself became the visiting VIP from then on.
It is too bad that Joe Biden can't climb into some fatigues like Nixon did and visit the point of the spear. It probably would not work since Obama is too busy and lacking in dedication to the troops that are dedicating their lives to save his butt. Our guys need all that we can muster until we get this war won and they can finally come home.
I am like most other soldiers, in that I hate war and love freedom, but freedom is not free. I hope these words and thoughts help make that happen. By the way, in 1955 when the German occupation ended we were still under attack by NAZI and Communist insurgents as they tried to undo the lost war that they started. The Communists (Progressives, Socialists, etc.) are still trying to undermine that outcome, even in the USA. They seem to love war. We still have to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, by being our enemy's worst nightmare. They need an attitude adjustment session real bad, you know what I mean? This includes anybody who helps our enemies by derelictions of duty.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoMany problems of the world has been created by the american self-defense plan. First attack, after ask.
Al Qaeda was a problem created by USA 30 years ago, i remember this all the people in this blog.
Irak and Afghanistan are the evidence of this politics of USA. Spain forces are in these places helping, we are not slaves to anyone.
Many USA people think that they are de center of the universe and in other countries we have to be grateful for this. No, you are mistaken.
USA is not the owner of the world. We have our opinion and in most cases is not the same about USA, fortunately.
In twenty years USA will overcome by China...
Resumiendo, que encima que vamos a echar una mano quieren una chacha.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years ago'Paco', 'Noahwilly' o cómo te llamas. Le compadezco de verdad. Le deseo que aprendas el valor del amor propia.
José María Aznar hizo la justicia a la España de El Cid, la España tuya es de los checas y los falangistas. A fin de cuentas sois iguales.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoNobody knows if this is true, Michael Yon should moderate some of these comments, they are starting to get really offensive
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoI just returned and yes to some of the issues noted by the LTC. Do the Spanish have the availability to bring in gravel? If they don't have the trucks or easy access to the gravel then they won't do it. I understand this. Need to set them up for success. Run it up the engineer chain at USFOR-A as they have a new BG on the ground.
As for KAIA, that's Kabul Internation Airport. It used to be better than KAF (Kandahar Air Field) but now you can't walk the streets so I don't see any advantage being there, and the air quality is better in KAF.
This commment is unpublished.· 10 years agoEl Cid lucho contra los musulmanes, como Aznar.
La España del Cid es un invento Hollywoodiano.
No se compadezca de nadie sino de si mismo.
No soy "Noah......"