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There is just *so* much interesting information in this photo and caption...

...that you begin to understand why the InfoSec people get crazy sometimes.

Paratroopers conduct airborne operations from a Colorado Army National Guard CH-47D Chinook assigned to 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment into the snow-covered terrain of Fort Carson, Colo., Dec. 10, 2008. The soldiers are assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group, Airborne. The airborne operation, conducted under the command of Dutch Special Forces with the assistances of a 10th SFG jumpmaster, helped familiarize the American paratroopers with Dutch commands. U.S. Army photo by Coloradoo Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Liesl Marelli
Paratroopers conduct airborne operations from a Colorado Army National Guard CH-47D Chinook assigned to 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment into the snow-covered terrain of Fort Carson, Colo., Dec. 10, 2008. The soldiers are assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group, Airborne. The airborne operation, conducted under the command of Dutch Special Forces with the assistances of a 10th SFG jumpmaster, helped familiarize the American paratroopers with Dutch commands. U.S. Army photo by Coloradoo Army National Guard Staff Sergeant Liesl Marelli
 
Mind you, there's nothing classified in here, nor am I asserting there is anything wrong with publishing the picture and the caption.  But there *is* a lot of information in here to someone who's looking for it, especially in the context of other information.

Which is why it's possible to gather 10 facts, each of which is properly unclassified, yet, when you assemble them together, in context, you may well have a construct that *should* be classified.

The InfoSec people go crazy trying to keep a handle on that.  And people who work in sensitive areas can go crazy trying to decide whether or not they've just created that kind of information.

Oft times, when you find out that you have, it's because someone *else* objects to what you've done... in the context of something they know that you didn't.

58 Comments

John,

   Concur. Those who weren't there simply could never understand the shockwaves that went through the Navy, and especially the ASW community when Tom Clancey's  "The Hunt For Red October" was published, and especially who it's publisher was!

   There are so many details that a good analyst can piece out of an image, or a descriptive paragraph, or any combination of little things.  It all means something.

   respects,
 
Me, I feel sorry for the Paratroops.  Carson's few DZ's are covered with small cactus.
 
All true. Though to the average conspiracy minded jihadi/leftist, it is the PsyOps - not the InfoSec - people who are hard at work planting commentary on wire photos in widely read milblogs... wheels within wheels.

Illuminatus! Google it!
 
For those of us a bit down the curve can you point out one or two of the things you're talking about? Seems pretty obvious the Dutch are going to be dropping 10th SFG guys into the mountains of Astan. I assume there's far more to it than that.

Thanks!
 
Aw hell, Operation Marijuana Resupply has been compromised?  Amsterdam is going to be ready for them now, it's gonna be a tough fight into the cafes!
 
Chris - while not definitive, it's giving out potential operational data... as you noted, that 10th SF is working with NATO personnel (which points to Afstan) and that they will probably be heading to AFSTAN soon, and operating in the Dutch AOR.


Which may not be true. 

And all of which may be ascertainable from disparate sources.

But you take this bit of data, apply it to that bit of data from another source, combined with this bit of data from yet another source and you start to have information (which is what we call synthesized data) and information is something you can use.

And if you track it enough, you can start to glean patterns.

And patterns are useful if you're planning stuff. 

I mostly did this because it was a picture off a DoD website, and it's a great teaching moment for how open source data, all innocuous in and of itself, becomes actionable intelligence over time.

And thus explains why every now and then the Information Security people's heads explode as they try to protect the information.

If I thought that publishing this picture would have added to compromising on-going or soon-to-happen ops I wouldn't  have posted it, even though it is out in the wild anyway.
 
Josh - you proved my point for me.  In a technical sense, your operational assessment is just as valid as the Afstan one.

More data is needed to refine the intel picture.
 
This is actually the sort of situation where new computing methods [parallel, organic, quantum...I can't really remember which would be best, as it's morning time and I don't think right until after lunch] could achieve things that people can't, as they have an easier time scanning vast swaths of data for patterns or connections.
 
AW1 Tim,

If you think Red October caused waves, you should have seen what 'The Puzzle Palace" did in the early 80s!  You could buy the book in any AFEES bookstore, but if you took it inside any secure compound on the same post, it was confiscated when you tried to take it out!  I think the only thing that saved the author from jail-time was that he supposedly never had access to any of the information he published--he got it all from too-talkative people and open sources.  That was a real hoot, I have to tell you.

And then there was "Third World War: August 1985," by General Sir John Hackett.  At the time, there was simply no better 'fiction' book available that described and discussed U.S. Army capabilities and possible plans.  And more Interesting, to me at least, were the changes made to unit assignments and AORs after the book was published.  I never was sure if that was done because the book made sense or if the author knew what was coming, but he had some things nailed dead on.  The effect all that had on me was that I reported for duty to my new CONUS MI unit in 1985 only to be told my language was no longer needed in that unit, and that there was no longer a TOE slot for me there.  That worked out ok because I was able to go job hunting, which was a rare thing for an NCO, and I ended up at a much better place than I had originally been assigned (though it was still Ft Hole, which I utterly loathe).

V/R
 
Um, that photo shows the troopers deploying using old-fashioned round-canopy parachutes.  I thought the Army had moved on from that design to some new thing.  Does the National Guard still use the old round parachutes?
 
AGREED! But this is only true, if it's in its own context. The big thing is you can hide things in plain sight. Your adversary then needs to figure what is fact and what is not. Your adversary's worst enemy is his own preconceptions. We see this on Normandy (D-Day). Rommel figured if the Allies were going to attack, Patton would be at the center of it. Therefore Eisenhower sends Patton north for the launch point for Calais and builds a complete phantom force. Patton and his phantom force was seen by the German spies, plus they could monitor all of the "chatter". We need to understand, there were two completely separate commands. The phantom command wanted to make sure Rommel's preconceptions were well fed.  Rommel looked at his intel and saw that Patton was/would not be ready for an attack, therefore, he went to his relative's birthday party. There was one minor oversight or surprise, the Normandy Invasion.

AW1 Tim, Red October, THAT, is another whole book. My suggestion to you and the whole ASW community, I would respectfully submit two things. 1. The Navy approved the book. 2. Nothing in this World, "Just happens!"

To all at the "Castle", have a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As always,
Grumpy
 
Wolfwalker - as far as I know, the basic 'troop chute is still the round one.  The Spec Ops guys have others available to them, certainly.
 
I started work at SACLANT in the late 80's. I chose that duty station purely because of Red Storm Rising.  If you think "Hunt" set off alarms, some NATO officers were fired over "STORM".


 
Um, Grumpy, I don't suppose the absolutely FOUL weather they faced the first week of June had anything to do with it, eh? If you recall, it was so bad they actually postponed the invasion for 24 hours.

Which, of course, is why Ike's decision was so critical. If they went forward (with the known weather data) they stood a good chance of blowing the landings. On the other hand, if they brought everyone back, it would be nearly impossible to keep them quiet until the assault could be re-scheduled. Talk about a security nightmare!

I always thought it ironic that one of those who voted "Go!" without hesitation was the ever-cautious Monty. :)

P.S. Another point which the Germans considered was that the Allies always executed amphibious ETO landings under optimal conditions; the opposite of what happened on June 6.

 

SangerM,

  Loved "The Third World War" another excellent one, similar, was "The Ten Thousand".  I am convinbced that much of Hackett's book was intentionally published as a further psych push against the Soviet Union.

   Grumpy: Agreed.

   Photos say many things. Sometimes it's the object in focus. Sometimes it's the stuff in the background. Who's to say?
 
I actually bought my copy of "The Puzzle Palace" at the NSA shopette, which IIRC was inside the entry control point.  

I think the powers that be knew exactly what they were doing when they released that shot of the green-beenie jumpers.  Now Joe Taliban is going to be slightly more anxious that there are ferocious snake-eaters lurking about....
 
Of course, it could be completely innoucuous...10th SFG's assigned area of responsibility is Europe, after all.  They had a battalion based there when I was stationed in Germany in the late 90s, although I'm not sure if they still do.  Plus, you have to jump to stay on jump status, and Ft Carson is in the mountains, and it snows there.  And getting foreign jump wings is always cool, even moreso on a helo jump.

As far as chutes go, the special ops types are supposed to get the new T-11 chutes, which are the square ones, first.  Not sure how far along the fielding on that is, but here at the 82nd, we're still jumping T-10Ds.

However, the special types here at Bragg usually jump MC1-1C steerable chutes, which are round.  I think you can see some of the characteristic vents of the -1 series one one of the chutes in the picture.
 
Blob - based on my experience inside the beast, I think you give them too much credit for subtlety.

Besides, theyd more likely do it this way while in fact it was *Germans* they were working with, since the Taliban are used to the Germans not being too terribly aggressive in their area.

Of course, I may have just said that, and in fact published this post, because *I'm* actually taking part in a clever InfoOp.

All of which makes my point.

More data, synthesized into information, collated for further purposes.
 
looks like someone left the hatch latch open and all the stuff is just falling out the back...
 
Ah, life relies on some certainties.

RRM's obsession with lockable spaces is one of them.
 
I have to go with John on this.

Getting the PAOs to not publish photos with captions that identified units (down to plt/sq), locations, and activity, while an op was still on, in a combat zone, was part of the reason I started publishing the ISF OOB. 

Wake up call.

And it has worked, they have tightened up in Iraq on INFOSEC over the last two years.  Unfortunately, you can still tell when a new PAO crew arrives and hasn't been chewed on for TMI yet...
 
 Casey,

Foul weather most definitely played a role. But you were talking about the Allies using the optimal timing for an attack. What are the specs for an optimal timing of an attack? If we look at what they were trying to get, it had to do with a convergence of astronomical events and the impacts on Earth. There was only one day, when everything was optimal. This was the day that [REDACTED] storm hit. It would be years before everything would be the same. We just didn't have the time. 

You were right about the security issues of having that many people in a confined area were a nightmare. This is the reason Eisenhower went ahead with the attack on the next day.

About "Monty", I won't comment.

Grumpy
 
Of course, I may have just said that, and in fact published this post, because *I'm* actually taking part in a clever InfoOp.

I must be typing in an air pocket... (shakes keyboard)

 
All part of the wheels, Master Flea.  All part of the wheels.
 
I certainly liked Red October, and I liked Red Storm Rising even better, but the one I really grew up with and spent elementary school poring over (yes, yes, I am a nerd, I know) was Ralph Peters' Red Army...I've actually still got that in my bookshelf, I can see it right here...I keep it around just in case the Russkies get too frisky and I need a few pointers on dealing with them ;)
 
Josh, it's too bad about that 'cause I don't hink his royal highness RP knew nearly as much as he liked to tell everyone he did, and his Inside the Red Army isn't nearly what it's cracked up to be as far as I'm concerned.  I still say he's got all y'all fooled.  You might someday ask him about having to sit outside the 1AD Commander's trailer in the early 80s after he was supposedly banished by that worthy for giving a crummy briefing (he was just an arrogant junior officer assigned to the 501st MI Bn, which had sent him to DivG2, as I understand it, to get rid of him).  I only heard about that from a person who was there, but the source was credible and so was the second person who told me that same tale a year or so later.  As for me, as I've said before, RP was in my opinion the very worst officer of any service I have EVER come in contact with, and that's still 100% true after more than 30 years of working in or around DoD.

As for Red Storm Rising, I was dissappointed.  It left out a lot and tried, IMO, to be more than it actually was.  It was interesting reading, but not nearly as much so as Hackett's book, and I just can't imagine anyone actually getting fired over it--though I imagine it happened.  It wasn't all that accurate or deep, as I recall.

CBlob, as for The Puzzle Palace, I don't know about NSA, but at the base where I was stationed, if you took it inside the fence, it was confiscated on the way out (this was in summer 82).  Several of the younger students thought it was cool or a game, so it happened a few times a week, supposedly, until we were told in class one night that further attempts at taking the book out of the gate would be treated as an intentional security violation, as would discussing the truth or not of its contents--general or specific.  I don't know about the other folks, but that got my attention.
 
SangerM,

       Have you ever read Viktor Suvarov's "Inside the Soviet Army"?  I found him to be very convincing and quite an interesting read.  The one part that always stood out was how he got his men qualified on the range. 

     
 
All I'm going to add to this discussion is I have TWW, and TWW, TUS, both signed by Sir Julian, in my presence, even, and not just some eBay score...

Dissing HRH RP (and when I first saw that in the email note I thought I was coming into a Rulez violation regarding a Denizen!) may cause JimC to come by and throw down.

Yes, Jim.  I still have the book.
 
Here's an interesting exercise: read Red Storm Rising and then read Harold Coyle's first novel, Team Yankee.  It follows an armored Team (a tank company, more or less) through a NATO-vs-Russia war, similar in basic concept to RSR although most of the details are different.  Very interesting to see how alike and yet how different the two accounts are, one at the high tactical-strategic level, the other at a very low tactical level. 
 
wolfwalker, Team Yankee was a follow-up to Third World War, 1985, not (intentionally) written to mesh with Red Storm Rising. Walter M. Clark, SFC, USAR (Ret)
 
Hmmm, more things to add to my Amazon shopping list...
 
AW1 Tim, I remember reading Suvarov's book, and I had a copy on my shelf for a few years, but I can't remember anything about the book. I don't know why that is, unless it just made no real impression at the time.

John, I would never diss a Denizen (much), but I am hard put to let it lie whenever ralphie-boy is mentioned in any context that makes him sound like he was ever anything other than a clueless first class prck.

Wolfwalker, I read and liked Team Yankee, but I've never read another of Coyle's books. I think I gave that kind of book up about the same time I stopped reading both the Casca and Executioner series.
 
Haha I didn't know this was such a sore subject around here!
 
Back in Subic Bay days you could not find out on the ship when it was leaving. You asked the bar girls. Some how they always knew who was coming and going.
 
Peters' Red Army was a pretty decent read, probably *because* he left the techy stuff alone and concentrated on the characters -- it was an interesting way to explore the dictum that "Wars are not won by those armies that are the most competent, they are won by those armies that are the least incompetent."

I loaned my copy of Third World War to my platoon leader -- who never returned it. He left the Guard two weeks after he enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary. It turned out to be a good investment -- chaplains have been doing me favors ever since...
 
You asked the bar girls. Some how they always knew who was coming and going.

There were two waitresses in the "O" Club at Can Tho we made honorary Vultures, because they were our best intel sources. One of them told me we'd be going into Cambodia three days before we knew anything about it -- she also said that I'd be flying there with VNAF, which I thought was nuts.

Eight hours after the Nighthawk TINS!, I was in Cambodia, flying a VNAF Huey with a VNAF crew and a Cambodian O-6 in the jump seat with a map and a PRC-6 walkie-talkie...
 
BillT - Haven't you been watching BSG?  Never loan books, always give them as gifts...
 
Don't have a TV over here, and don't really miss it.
 
"Wars are not won by those armies that are the most competent, they are won by those armies that are the least incompetent."

Back in the days of trying to interest young Lieutenants and Captains in the utility of the study of history in general, much less military history, my teaching point for doing battle and campaign analysis was to matrix the principles of war, and check 'em off, with examples of success and failure - and they would pretty much invariably find, except in cases of overwhelming force ratios, like the Russo-Finnish war, the winners were those who screwed up the least as you compared across the columns. 

You rarely found battles of any size or significance where both sides did extremely well.  It was usually more along the lines of who managed not to lose.
 
@John of Argghhh!, in reference to your  20 DEC 2008,  8:20AM EST

Your quote, "Wars are not won by those armies that are most competent, they are won by those armies that are least incompetent."

Tongue in cheek, it sounds like a voter's selection strategy. I had a mug of coffee and nearly spilled all over everything, thanks.

Seriously, you started with a photograph and a warning about OPSEC. Then the group took us all around the place. Many expressed their opinions. But in the process, what did they reveal about themselves? The big thing, when/if they had military training. If they had military training, what type? They also gave us a glimpse of a very revealing portion of themselves, especially if they were in the military, their "Dream Sheet".

You started with a photograph. What is a photograph? It is a perceptual image recorded for history. But, does this make it a "historical fact"? The concept of the photograph being recorded makes it historical. The question becomes, is it factual? We are really searching for the truth/facts. The question becomes, is the picture alone, a threat or a weapon? I, personally, believe the Armorer was right about the need of images with supporting data, to make it "historical fact".

Personally, I believe we need consider or ponder the questions raised and decide for ourselves. What are the "historical facts"? Our military is going through some changes, read up on it. Take the risk! They have my respect. Well, what do you think?

 THANK YOU, TO BOTH JOHN AND BETH DONOVAN FOR EVERYTHING YOU HAVE DONE, ARE DOING AND WILL BE DOING THROUGH THIS BLOG!

V/R Grumpy

 
Note - CORRECTION!  
@Grumpy, It's "INFOSEC", not "OPSEC", you old phart!

Have a good one!
 
 Which is why it's possible to gather 10 facts, each of which is properly unclassified, yet, when you assemble them together, in context, you may well have a construct that *should* be classified.
"Classified by compilation."  Had that happen to me once.  All I did was gather some information from disparate Internet sources on a particular subject and write up an article for a defense conference publication.  We submitted it to our gov. security authorities (I was at a defense contractor) and they initially threatened to classify it SECRET.  It caused my boss some problems, but he actually said it was a compliment, a credit to gathering the right, relevant information in one place.  The gov. guys eventually backed down, satisfying themselves with a restrictive distribution statement.
 
JohnAnnArbor:  Actually, your security geeks overlords made a big mistake by confirming that unclassified information was in fact not so when they threatened to make it secret.  And then, to supposedly downgrade the limitations was beyond idiocy.  Either the material was 'secret' or it wasn't, and if it was, they were not the people who had the right to 'downgrade' it, unless of course they were the ones who overclassified it in the first place, and etc., etc...  This is funny stuff and the ol' neither confirm nor deny thing is how this is supposed to be handled.  That was the problem with The Puzzle Palace, which was kind of like a pandora's box of stuff that once aired in public could never be shut away again, and the best anyone could hope for was that the true stuff would get buried with the baloney, of which there was plenty.  Bottom line, I imagine your security guys screwed up and had no choice but to back down, unless there was any way they could say you used classified sources or personal 'classified' knowledge to write the article.  And it gets even more interesting when copyright comes into play.  If you wrote the article for your company, it owned the copyright.  If the Government paid for the article, it owned the article, but the government cannot hold copyright (since it is the grantor, guarentor, etc.), and so it would have been public knowledge, which they they could classify or restrict, except and unless your article was compiled from sources copyrighted by another source, in which case the gov't could not even classify the parts it didn't own....  It's a fuzzy and fun, huh? 

Josh: Only to me.  RP was in the same unit I was in FRG.  My two encounters with him were both painful and insulting beyond words and it was only witnesses that kept me from beating him to a bloody pulp the second time (people holding me back were the reason I didn't do it the first time).  He is the only person I've ever met whom I still (and will likely always) harbor a real grudge against, and I am seriously looking forward to reading his obituary, 'cause I know where he's going to be when I do!

BillT: "probably *because* he left the techy stuff alone and concentrated on the characters"  I'd suggest, from my experience and from what I'd heard that this was not done by choice....  You write about what you know, ya' know?

John: "the winners were those who screwed up the least as you compared across the columns."  I'd say in the final analysis, that's dead on, but I think the culture of the Army matters too.  The U.S. Army has always been less rule-bound (or at least less constricted by rules) than other Armies, and I think that's always been one of our strengths.  We innovate on the fly and solve problems as we encounter them, and while green-tape and commo-wire is a perjorative term (at least it was in the late 70s, when that's what kept us running), it's also a cultural norm.  We get the job done with whatever is at hand in whatever way seems best at the moment.  Other Armies that can do the same win over those that cannot.  Look at the Israeli-Arab wars.  Arab armies are class-affairs, and leadership is almost a cultural thing.  Same with the Russians, where people didn't do squat without orders, just like their fighter pilots didn't do squat without instructions from ground controllers, etc....  Yes, mass matters and the Russians had lots of guns, but I was always convinced that we would kick their butts back to Moscow if we ever got in under those guns and could get at them directly.  I am ever more sure of it today.

BTW, that pilot thing?  An eastern european country recently got hold of some decent late-model American fighters and sent their folks here to learn to fly them.  Suffice to say, the learning curve was a lot shallower than the former MiG pilots expected 'cause not only did they have to learn English, and then learn to fly our stuff, they also had to learn to fly the way we do, and that was supposedly the biggest culture shock!  It took lots and lots of remedial work to get them to even minimal American tactical standards.  The problem?  As I understand it, need for independant combat thinking, lack of ground control guidance, wingman teams, all sorts of American (and NATO) SOP stuff.

And lastly, what's BSG?
 
Sanger! Yo, bud!

BSG is (I think) a reference to Battlestar Galactica, although I dinna get the reference to book-gifting. When I watched the original (Lorne Greene, et. al.), the Colonial Warriors weren't exactly omnivorous readers.

The Iraqi rotary pilots aren't quite as bad overall as the former WARPAC pilots, because a lot of them (back in Saddam's AF) received their training from the Brits and French. Their biggest problem is they never got to practice what they were taught -- *nobody* was allowed to take off with more than an hour's worth of fuel on board, and it they didn't make a beeline from point A to point B, there was a guy with a pistol waiting at point B demanding answers.
 
Back on topic: When I was at Rucker in '91, our WO Advanced Class got a "classified" briefing on Central and South America.

At the end of it, I asked, "Why is this stuff classified? I've seen the same stuff in Newsweek and Aviation Week, and both articles went into deeper detail."

The answer was, "Well, the stuff I told *you* came from *classified* sources."

I said, "So, if I were to ask your classified source if the sky was blue and he said, 'Yes,' then the fact that the sky was blue would be classified?"

"Yes, because it came from a classified source."

That same briefer had *no* idea what "Sendaro Luminoso" or "narcos" were.
 

Sanger, just to thank you for your expansion on the theme (redundancy seems a bit harsh...) - the battle analysis comparison is against deduced principles, not stated doctrine, so an Army able to innovate, either in the absence of doctrine, or in reaction to bad doctrine, is generally going to be the one that screws up the least, or at least recovers more quickly.

The Army bound by the cold, dead hand of a listless doctrine unable to keep up with battlefield events is going to generally get it's ass handed to it, and if it succeeds in that situation it does so because of the lack of a paradigm shifter (think Finns with nukes) or an irresistable strategic mass.

 
...because of the lack of a paradigm shifter (think Finns with nukes) or an irresistable strategic mass (think Finns with John).
 
Plllppppttttt!
 
Sanger - your discussion with JohnAnnArbor reminds of the not-too-distant past, when MG Taguba's  Abu Ghraib report was released with some paragraphs of the classified annex not having been redacted prior to public release.

Those of us working on government sites (gov't and contractor) were shortly inundated with near-hysteric missives from the security folks, telling us, under no circumstances whatsoever, were we to open up Drudge or any of the news sites and click on any links referring to the report, and that if we'd read the report already to immediately take our machines off the network and await a security person who would come and take our machine away to be sterilized - and then they realized we were on a network, and that meant that every hardrive touching the network had to be scanned and OMIGOD WE'VE HAD THE SECURITY BREACH FROM HELL AND YOU CAN'T EVEN TALK ABOUT THE REPORT IF YOU AREN'T IN A CLEARED AREA -WAIT!  NO!  NONE OF YOU HAVE A NEED TO KNOW SO YOU CAN'T EVEN TALK ABOUT - what?  Oh, someone said "Never mind." 

It was... bemusing.
 
As I have been reading the comments, some deserve  an appropriate response. Appropriate? I don't know, the rulez make it tough, but I'll try.

@The Armorer, 21 DEC 08, 8:31AM EST - I would have enjoyed seeing your response on "You Tube". If I remember correctly, there is an appropriate gesture for the situation. With the recent changes in Today's Army, I figure we are no longer analog, but all digital, singular. What do you think?

@Sangor, 20 DEC 08, 8:45PM EST - Just a couple of suggestions. In your response to "JohnAnnArbor", you talk about the "The Puzzle Palace". You compared the "Palace" to "Pandora's Box". How do I put this politely? Pandora is not a lady. She gets real "cranky" when you take things out of her box. You leave her toys in her box.
@Sangor, same comment, "BillT" - You write, "BillT: 'probably *because* he left the techy stuff alone and concentrated on the characters' I'd suggest, from my experience and from what I'd heard that this was not done by choice.... You write about what you know, ya' know?" On all levels, we must be careful, when we write. Especially about the things you know, ya' know? We wouldn't want Pandora to think we were into her toys, would we? Just a thought.
 
John, I'm hurt. :-(

Me, redundant? As in repetitive, boorish, superfluous, reiterative, tautological, repetitious, and redundant? Never!

And on that note: I was part of a conversation in the early 70s, in which a British exchange Major to our unit (7th Cav) was telling a bunch of us why he thought the American Army was good at war--turned out it was tongue in cheek--rahther. He told us, more or less, that American line soldiers don't follow orders well, don't keep themselves organized as they ought; aren't very professional (in comparison to British soldiers, I supposed); smoke when they shouldn't; eat, drink, and womanize too much; and generally have no respect for authority. Then he said all of that is what made us dangerous because if you put an American in a water-filled foxhole and prevent him from smoking, eating, sleeping, drinking, and womanizing AND then you try to kill him on top of it all, what you've got is one really pissed-off person who is just looking for a fight, and isn't going to quit until he manages to really hurt someone.

Even though he was mostly ragging on us, I've always rather liked the image and the fantasy. Of course, as I've learned over time, while most of that has some basis in truth, it does not really describe the American Army, and never really has, except in one key area that is actually relevant to this statement: "Wars are not won by those armies that are the most competent, they are won by those armies that are the least incompetent."

All of that may be true, as is what we've written about so thus far [insert redundant stuff here :-) ], but I tend to believe that wars are mostly won by the Army that is the most motivated, regardless of military competency, and often in spite of overwhelming mass. Certainly there are examples on both sides of the argument, but the older I get and the more I learn, the more convinced I become that that the spirit and righteous certainty of the army matters more than anything else in determining the final outcome of a war.

I know that's a broad statement and arguable, but every account I've ever read of Man at war points to this as a basic 'truth,' whether modern or ancient, whether about tiny skirmishes or major campaigns, and whether described in historical works, citations for valor, or personal letters. The Maccabees against the Syrians, the Greeks against the Persians, the English at Poitiers & Agincourt, Americans in Korea (and not just the most famous battles), Americans on Tarawa and innumerable other places in WWII, the Russians at Stalingrad, and on and on. Almost always, it seems, the key to ultimate success was not so much who screwed up less or who was more or less competent, but who was the most motivated.

I know you were talking about something else, mostly, but this is what I was thinking about when I was talking about the green tape and commo wire stuff.
 
Wordy!  I missed wordy!

8^ D
   
Am not!  

Really. 

I disagree completely, totally, and without qualification.

Never was, never will be.

I don't even know a lot of words.  Just a few.  Basic stuff, really.

Just a few more than's needed to be an aviator or a string puller.

Honest.

Just hrrrumphff!

And then some.....

:-p
 
Well, at least you know lanyards are *pulled* even if you call them strings.
 
Oh, aren't those some *crew wings* I see on that faded photograph of a young Sanger Magee?
 

Lanyard?  Isn't that the place where old network servers go to die?

As for the crew wings, well, maybe, but I worked the radios and computers in the back of the bus;  I wasn't the driver or anything like that (though I could have been, if I'da wanteda be).

And all the extra words, they were in another language anyway, so they don't count toward that 'verbose' thing....


 

 
BillT...the book-gifting reference is from the new BSG...I believe it's from the very beginning, the miniseries before they started doing series of one-hour episodes.  Edward James Olmos, as Adama, gives a book to Mary McDonnell, the new President, who has just been stranded out in space with the rest of them.  She promises to return it and he insists that one should never lend a book, always give them as gifts.