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Meanwhile, half a world away...

U.S. servicemembers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command arrive on the flight line in Tbilisi, Georgia, Aug. 18, 2008. The 21st is part of European Command's Joint Humanitarian Assistance Assessment Team which works closely with other elements of the federal government, international governments, aid agencies and Georgia to alleviate the suffering of the Georgian people affected by the conflict. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky A. Bloom

U.S. servicemembers from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command arrive on the flight line in Tbilisi, Georgia, Aug. 18, 2008. The 21st is part of European Command's Joint Humanitarian Assistance Assessment Team which works closely with other elements of the federal government, international governments, aid agencies and Georgia to alleviate the suffering of the Georgian people affected by the conflict. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky A. Bloom


I keep wondering if my brother will be mobilized for this effort.   Seeing Airmen on-ground in this picture reinforces that thought.  Being a C-5 guy, he probably wouldn't be stationed there, but could be making supply runs in and out of country.  So far he hasn't brought up the possibility, but we'll see.
As I see everything, it could get REAL INTERESTING! 
This pisses me off in so many ways, I can't begin to list them all.

These guys are nothing but bait and tripwire, sent there to convince the people of Georgia that we do care (about their strategic value at least), and also, I presume, to send a weak-a$$ msg to the Russians that we are not going to just go away...

Yeah, right. As if even the dullest Georgian isn't smart enough to know that we only really care about the transit routes for oil, and the pressure it keeps on Russia. And as if the Russians really care about those troops.

Anyone with half a brain knows the U.S. will not do a damn thing that’s meaningful if some of those Americans get killed by a few foolhardy Russian or Georgian soldiers or by some of the separatist fighters. And there are so many loosely controlled players in the area right now that it is not even a stretch to imagine some Georgian capping an American or two and trying to pin it on the Russians. More to the point, what exactly would the U.S. do if a Russian unit attacked the Americans--attack Russia, only attack the Russians in Georgia, get the Georgians to fight for us? I don't think it'll be any of that.

The United States cannot, repeat CANNOT, guarantee the flow of oil and gas in sufficient quantities to satisfy Europe's winter needs, and Europe is NOT going to go to war with Russia on account of Georgia, no matter what their commitments to NATO! On that much, at least, I'd bet my next two paychecks.

If it comes to it, here's what I see happening: If Americans get killed in Georgia, the US has two choices, fight back or suck it up (and talking at the UN and within NATO is the same as sucking it up, Russia will have won). If we choose to fight, how far and to what end? Alone? No chance we'd win, short of resorting to all-out no holds barred war. We would be opening a can of worms that would have every enemy (including that moron Chavez, Al Qaida, Iran, etc) banding together to attack us from all sides, or at the very least aiding Russia surreptitiously. And who would be our allies? Depends on the line of profit. China might help us, if India does, which it would probably do if we agreed to help them with Pakistan at the same time. But on the other side, Syria and Iran might decide it's time to take on Israel, and who knows what Egypt would do, given the opportunity, or even Saudi Arabia? So who is with us? Canada, France, Australia, GB, Germany, Japan, S. Korea???

The simple fact is that right now, short of nukes, I don't think we could take on the Russians and win in the big game because I don't see Russia as willing to fight a limited war in the Balkans. It is possible that the Russians would take a long view and accept that they lost a war in their backyard, but given historical perspectives, how likely is that, do you think? No, I think if we attack Russia in Georgia (_regardless_ of who actually takes the first shot), they will hammer us there because they have more than enough surrogates to attrit us with, and they will hammer Poland and Ukraine, and possibly the Baltic states for good measure, which they could easily do. Does anyone really think the Brits and French and the Dutch or Germans are going to fight WW III for the Poles and Ukrainians, or even the Czechs? Really? C'mon, they didn't want to save Serbian or Kosovar lives, and there was no real risk there... And remember all those racial issues I mentioned before? Think Italians are going to go fight for the Roma? Think Poles would fight for Germans?

The truth is that we are pushing too hard and I think we are writing checks our big American ego cannot cash. NATO should never have been expanded to include the buffer states around Russia. At best, we should have encouraged them to form a military defense pact of their own, stretching from the Baltics to Turkey and around to the 'Stans, with their own internal war fighting and security assistance mechanisms. Why? Because even if we did have influence, we wouldn't be pulling the strings and it would allow Russia to legitimately lobby the new treaty organization to work with it, just as NATO would do. It would have been far better for there to be three mutual defense pacts in Europe than what we are doing, both because it would give Russia some control/influence over its border states (which they have the right to want, just as we do), and it would have kept the U.S. from having to get involved as a first party when one of those countries decides to fight Russia. The U.S. should never be intimately involved with people in a country that borders on Russia, just as we should never allow Russia to return to Cuba, or go to Mexico, Venezuela, etc. Oh wait, we gave away the moral high ground, so $hit, what are we gonna do when the Cubans invite Russia to put missiles around Guantanamo, or Chavez invites Russia and Iran to build a missile defense shield? May seem silly, but the Russian's don't mind that part, they just insist on equal treatment and respect, even if they don't deserve it.

As I said, this just flat pisses me off. The United States seems to be in full reactive mode (not how to reassure your allies that you are on top of things), and I think what we are doing is ill conceived and potentially catastrophic. At the very least, I expect some American are going to die in Georgia, and it will have been for no good damn reason at all. If I am wrong--and I really, truly hope I am--I will be utterly surprised.

Gosh.  I just posted a pic of a C130...

;^ )
You know, there is more than oil, here.  Fly over rights, Iran, etc, etc, etc
As I look at this, I have been thinking about everything, including Iraq and Afghanistan. First, let's do some homework. When we started operations in Iraq, we often heard a quote from General Colin Powell. It was commonly called the "Powell Doctrine" - You break it, you bought it!" This sounds simple enough, but what does it mean? Have we started to think about what that really means? Let me see if I have the logic right. We broke it, therefore we bought it, if we bought it, we own it, if we own it, we control it. Sounds perfectly logical to me, how about you? Is this what we really want? Last I heard, things on the military front and the economic front are a "little tight". Hey Grumpy, what do you mean by tight? When I was a teenager, there was a neighbor who worked with the local gas company. On his route, there were some summer homes. When they were closed up for the winter, he had a neat description. He would say, "Those houses were closed up tighter than a bull's ass in fly season." But later in my life, I had an old CMSGT from the Air Force, he worked intelligence, he was a "Cold War Warrior" raised in the State of Georgia with a fine Southern accent. When I gave him my definition, he gave me a better one. He said, "Tight is a gnat's ass stretched over a 50 gallon drum, now that's tight." For the record, I want these nations to be on their own and we do NOT own them. We as a Nation may need to do some growing up- fast. But equally true, our Nation's leaders must grow up and be held responsible. Some of our allies need a "Trip behind the Woodshed, where the 'Board of Education meets the seat of knowledge.'"

pretty airplane....

brings goodies and treats from the land of the round doorknobs.
Never thought of the Herc that way, Mike. Heh. I usually looked at it as the Angel of Mercy, come to take me home from Pohakoloa or Pinion Canyon.  The stewardi were usually pretty ugly though.
XBTC: You been to pohakaloa?  Cool.  D'ja fly out of Hilo?

1st time we went with our vehicles ('75), chains and junk all over the place, creaking and straining, steam and lube-stuff coming out of the overhead pipes, I hate flying sideways in those little fold down troop seats.  On the way back, we took a 141, only time I ever flew on one of those, next time ('76) it was C130s but without the vehicles, we took those to Kawai Hai to load onto boats, then we took a duece and a half back over to Hilo to fly back.... Long drive.

In '76, we had to leave early because Moana Loa was getting ready to erupt again, and as for menehunies, I believe.  Really.  To much wierd stuff while were there.   Also, only time I ever ate in a Marine Corps chowhall (was great) or stayed in quonsot huts, which was heaven compared to the pup tents we lived in for the 4 weeks we were there.   Also first and last time I ever ate wild goat or wild turkey, killed by some of the guys during the break weekend, and cooked on a spit over a very large fire pit.  Also first time I almost died in a huey, which the wobbly one almost stalled as we were coming in to land on a Puu--thank God for the CWO4 who took the controls!  Also the only time I almost had WP dropped on me, and really thank God for the 2LT who was paying attention when the target coordinates were called in or we'd all have been toast (on top of the hill we called "Oh My Akin A$$"), and the time a National Guard or Reserve F100 came close enough to the ground where I was standing to hit the tip of my jeep antenna with his wing--it tore the tip of the antenna off and broke the mount.  If we hadn't been on top of a hill I don't think he would have made it, but he flew down past us a little into the valley and then he went away in a hurry.  After that, we started throwing rocks at them when they came around.

Ah, that was the life....

BTW, I was w/ CSC 1/35 (Cacti).  I've got some pics, a couple.

PS, I meant Caucuses, not Balkans.  I do know the diff, at least 2 times out of 3....
Heh.  The caucuses are over, Sanger, we're awaiting the coronations.

Oh, you mean Caucasus!

Heh.  Bad place for us to be having a crisis during and election year...
TC, I think I've seen the "Herc" from the same view. Your last line,  are you saying, when the assistant came by and said, "Coffee, tea or me." THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT, NO THANK YOU! 

SangerM, I was a Wolfhound, A/1-27 IN, your neighbors across the quad.
Went to PTA in fall of 86. Flew into Hilo on a DC-10, took a C-130 from Hilo up to the AAF at PTA. It's just a dirt strip. We were light infantry, so no vehicles in the company. There was no CSC, mortars, scouts and TOW were all in HHC. The only vehicles in the battalion belonged to HHC. Dunno how they got them there.

Spent a month or so there the first time. Hard place to dig a fighting position, huh? Had a great live fire, we got to call in mortars, 105mm and a live fire CAS with an OV-10 from Wheeler as the FAC and A-10s from I don't know where. One A-10 dropped a Mk82 behind us, completely outside the range fan (Dusty? Hello?).

Took a weekend in Kona and took over the Hilton. I was hanging in the HHC hospitality suite chatting with a buddy. BN CO's son talked some trash to a grunt. Grunt punched him right in the face. So the BN CO's wife ran into it. She got punched as well. CO kicked the grunt out and told him to lay off the booze. Told his wife an son they needed to be more careful.

Came to the end of the exercise, C-130 back to Wheeler. Had to walk home from there.

Ended up flying Hercs out of Wheeler a couple more times, usually going nowhere special. Saw the Air Force drop a couple of controllers into Dillingham, but at the last minute, they decided not to land there. Went back to Wheeler and took trucks up to Dillingham.

Went down to Pinion Canyon quite often when I was at Carson. Usually flew on either AFRES C-130s out of the dirt strip on Carson, or out of Peterson. Had a Marine Reserve C-130 fly us one time.
Wonder what these guys are going to be doing, exactly?  The Command's website refers to distributing food and blankets under the aegis of the USAID, but I expect there will be more to it than that.  The site also mentions "infrastructure" and "transportation,' though not in reference to Georgia.

Looks like the situation with all these refugees is going to get real nasty.  Kokoity, the purported president of Sputh Ossetia, has threatened that the Georgians who fled their enclaves in South Ossetia, will not be permitted to return.  Some Russian official is reported to have brought to his attention that this would be a violation of international law, but it looks like most of the Georgian villages may already have been torched.
it's a Theater Support Command.

not an MSB, not a DISCOM, not a COSCOM.

TSCs (or whatever the new set of designations will be) have wide ranging capabilities for executing command and control.  and the logistics functions what would normally be happening up under them can frequently be augmented by the "softer" versions of combat power (just for protection, of course!).
XBradTC: Funny that, same place, 10 years apart, now here.... Small world in so many ways.

I was back at Hood in 86, having just come back from FRG for the second time. When I was in the 1Cav, 25ID, and 1AD the first time, CSC's were GSR (that was me), Redeye (that was me too once), Scouts (that was me too, whenever I could anyway, leg & armor), 4.2 mortar in tracks and in Gamma Goats (never me, though I did FO sometimes), AVLB in tank units and antitank in leg units (106mm when I got to 1/35, TOW by the time I left in 76). I was also a tanker for one round of gunnery at Graf (driver, mostly), and lots of other U/I crap too.

At PTA, we were the bad guys the leg companies had to attack for one of their ARTEP events. We set up defensive positions on top of a puu (at top and bottom edges of the bowl--and yes, it was hard to dig holes!) and one platoon a night would charge up the hill and take it. Steep hill, lots of tanglefoot, whistlers, trip flares, star clusters, other fun pyro stuff, usually one or two people got hurt, but it was all good fun.... All but one of my NCOs had been to Vietnam as grunts, and most of the NCOs and senior E4s in the leg units too, so people were a little more intense, but still it was fun.

As for the vehicles, CSC had scores of them: 25 jeeps in the TOW platoon (was 6 in 106mm), 4 in GSR, 4 in redeye, two for Top and CO, 5t wrecker, 4 goats for 4.2, 9 jeeps in scouts (with pedestal mounted m60s). The grunt companies had 5tons or 1.5 tons. ha.

As for the weekend, we were not allowed to go to Kona. We could stay out in the tent area or move into the quonset huts for one weekend, so most of us just stayed in the tents. Many of us had brought our personal rifles, which is how I ended up eating wild goat and turkey (I chased a pig for a while but never did hit it, thank goodness...:)

As for walking, I did my share of that too. We used to hike up to Kole Kole Pass and back once a month or so, as quickly as we could, and I spent more than a few weeks at a time in the Kuhukus, traipsing through that red mud... And of course, we were always practicing deploying our radar teams on foot, or by helicopter, so we backpack the junk (that's how I almost died in the stalling huey) and sit on top of a cold-a$$ hill all night watching the clouds go by below us. That was also where I spent one of the 3 coldest nights of my life, shaking and chattering like a cup of yahtze dice....

Yeah, those were the days... I guess :-)

BTW, never been to Carson or anywhere northwest. Still hope to travel that way someday.
Oh, you mean Caucasus!

Well, ye-yah....y'all.  "Courset, I was jest spellin' it the way them Georgians wud, 'an all.  Y'know....


As for the coronations, you think Biden'll write his own acceptance speech or just use parts of Obama's.  This could be good, we could see Biden doing a re-make of the Jerk:  "My story? Okay. It was never easy for me.  I was born a poor black boy in a mining town.  I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Scranton, Pennsyltuckey...."

Or maybe, since he's the policy wonk of the two (wink, wink), he could steal something from Condeleza Rice, that would go somethin like this:  "My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black girl in a sharecropper's shanty.  I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Scranton, Pennsylssippi...."