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March 15, 2005

Good morning!

Last night's Irish Stew dinner my Rotary Club put on for a fund raiser went well. We probably raised close to $5K, which goes to our scholarship fund. Which is good, since we give away 5 $1K scholarships... this was the first year I could participate, as previous to this I was usually at Fort Irwin or JFCOM doing "stuff". Banking on long-ago job experience, I'm one of the cooks. Well see today if there were any spikes in food poisoning...

I had eight tickets to sell/giveaway (we pay for 'em - it's a *mostly* guaranteed fund-raiser... I gave mine to single soldiers at Fort Leavenworth, and to prosepective new Rotarian (suck 'em in!).

The 17th Red Ensign Standard is up. Read some militant Canadians - and honor their fallen Mounties.

In other news you might actually be interested in... The UAW relents under pressure from *everybody*.

Interesting, but inconclusive, news from the Pentagon.

The battle continues, regardless of what side you are on - with each side co-opting the other's language.

Some members of Congress don't manage their own finances any better than they manage the budget...

Out with those difficult words and concepts! I gotta admit - to me, God speaks in Elizabethan English... gimme the King James!

Red Simonsen died - those who know, know. If you don't know, you probably don't care, either, except in a general human kindness sense.

Up and coming sailors...

With apologies to the Fighting Peanut...

Not everything proposed, makes it:

ARMORED WARFARE: JCM Killed by Friendly Fire

March 15, 2005: The U.S. Army is canceling its JCM (Joint Common Missile) program, meant to develop a replacement for the Hellfire anti-tank missile. The 108 pound Hellfire , used by helicopters and UAVs, has been in service since 1985, and some 76,000 have been built. The JCM was becoming too expensive, and many officers believed that the existing Hellfire II and heavier (670 pound) Maverick and SDB (250 pound Small Diameter smart Bomb) cover all the missions the services need to handle. The demise of the JCM also spotlights the importance of the guidance systems for missiles, and the ease with which missiles can be upgraded with more effective electronics. The basic design of these older missiles is not likely to change any time soon, and any of the main components (structure, rocket motor, controls, warhead, guidance system) can be upgraded. While the idea of having a common air-to-surface anti-tank missile for all the services was attractive, it simply didn't add up in the end. The navy and air force fighters can use a larger missile, and the Hellfire has gotten a new lease on life via use on small UAVs. JCM, while nice in theory, didn't pan out in practice.

Afghanistan - the war the media doesn't care about - because it's going well... but still, you'd think they'd be all over it, since the Euros have a significant presence there - the subject of a later post today!

AFGHANISTAN: Coalition Casualties Way Down

March 1 5, 2005: Deaths from Taliban and al Qaeda violence are running at about ten a week. This is less than the deaths from warlord gunmen and common criminals. The Sunni Arab media, especially the satellite news networks, do what they can to stress real or imagined abuses against Taliban and al Qaeda captives. This is a classic tactic. When you are losing, try and turn your defeats into crimes being committed by your foe.

March 14, 2005: The Afghan army received the first 83 of 5,160 Ford Ranger 4x4 light trucks. Much cheaper than hummers, and popular in Afghanistan, the vehicles are made in Thailand and sold throughout Asia. The rest of the vehicles will be delivered over the next 18 months.

March 13, 2005: This Summer, the U.S. will pull its troops out of Western Afghanistan. These forces are being replaced by Afghan and NATO troops. The American forces will move to southern and eastern Afghanistan.

March 7, 2005: Over the last year, attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan have been reduced by more than half. A year ago, there were about a dozen attacks a week, now it's about five. Combat deaths are down to about two a month. Most Taliban and al Qaeda activity now comes from press releases and their web sites, where they proclaim that they will be back.

Now, from the war they do like to cover...

IRAQ: Running Out of Blood Money

March 15, 2005: The Iraqi army and police have a casualty rate over four times that of coalition forces. Amazingly, this has not had any apparent effect on recruiting. While most recruits persist because they need a job, for an increasing number, it's all about revenge. Most soldiers are married men who live at home. When police and soldiers are killed, their neighbors in uniform feel an obligation to get revenge. In Sunni Arab areas, the police often know who is doing the killing. If not the individuals, than the family or clan. That's why the terrorists try to haul their dead away. But enough enemy dead and wounded are found, plus captives from raids, to know which families are hostile. The Iraqi police know how to play the family angle, which to Western eyes is bizarre. For example, if it is clear that the family is behind the attackers, then arresting the head of the family (usually an extended family, often with several dozen members) often gets the attention, and often the
surrender, of the terrorists.

While many Iraqis know a lot of family details, U.S. forces have had to apply their computers and software (genealogy and police stuff, especially) to figure out who is who. This was how Saddam was captured over a year ago, and how an increasing number of terrorist leaders are being tracked down and captured. In the past week, former Saddam bodyguard Marwan Taher Abdul Rashid and his cousin, Abdullah Maher Abdul Rashid (also the brother-in-law of Saddam's son, Qusai), were captured because a family tree was illuminated and shaken. Many members of the extended Saddam clan have been found involved in funding and leading the attacks on the government and coalition troops. Money has been used as a weapon, and the Baath Party/pro-Saddam groups spend over $100,000 for each coalition soldier they kill. Thus the policy against paying ransoms. It's literally blood money. This is especially true because indications are that the terrorists are running into cash flow problems. As the tide turns, many of the terrorist paymasters are shifting their spending to themselves and their families. With war crimes trials now under way, and more Iraqi police out there knocking on doors, paying for dead cops and American soldiers is becoming a dangerous proposition. Too dangerous for a man of means.

While we certainly could have done some things better - all in all, given the circumstances, I think we're doing pretty well. But only time will tell.

Hat tip: Strategy Page.

CAPT H sends along this as suggested reading. A little confused? Read this. Registration required, but the Telegraph is not a spam-monster. Need more?

Cassandra at Villainous Company has all the econ stats you can use, served up hot and spicy by a sexy waitron! But ya really wanna hang around for the pics of the Villainous High School Chick!

Last, but not least - AFSis wants us to know how to shower in a war zone. Been there, done that, thanks! But you FNGs!