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January 11, 2007

Jason Dunham, Corporal, USMC, Medal of Honor

This isn't news, really. We knew it was coming. But now it has happened.

Corporal Jason Dunham, USMC, Medal of Honor

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2007 - President Bush today presented the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest decoration, to the family of Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who died shielding his fellow Marines from a grenade blast in Iraq in April 2004.

"With this medal, we pay tribute to the courage and leadership of a man who represents the best of young Americans," Bush said before presenting the medal to Dunham's family at the White House.

Dunham, who grew up in Scio, N.Y., was the leader of a rifle squad with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, in Iraq. Dunham's squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in Karabilah on April 14, 2004, when a nearby convoy returning to base was ambushed. When Dunham's squad approached to assist the convoy, an Iraqi insurgent jumped out of a vehicle and grabbed Dunham by the throat. As Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground, he noticed that the enemy fighter had a grenade in his hand. Dunham ordered his Marines to move back, and when the enemy dropped the live grenade, Dunham took off his Kevlar helmet, covered the grenade with it, and threw himself on top to smother the blast.

Dunham initially survived his wounds, but died eight days later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., with his mother and father at his bedside.

"By his selflessness, Corporal Dunham saved the lives of two of his men and showed the world what it means to be a Marine," Bush said.

Dunham is the second servicemember in the war on terror and the first Marine since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor. His mother, father, sister and two brothers were at the ceremony today, which was attended by Cabinet members, Defense Department and Marine Corps leaders, members of Congress, past Medal of Honor recipients, and members of Dunham's unit.

Bush spoke about Dunham's upbringing in upstate New York. Dunham was a star athlete who was popular and a natural leader. His father, a dairy farm worker, and his mother, a school teacher, were devoted parents. "He grew up with the riches far more important than money," Bush said.

Dunham joined the Marine Corps on July 31, 2000. It was in the Marines that he learned honor, courage, commitment and leadership qualities, Bush said. "As the leader of a rifle squad in Iraq, Corporal Dunham led by the values he had been taught," he said. "He was the guy everybody looked up to; he was a Marine's Marine who led by example."

Bush noted that Dunham's mother called the Marine Corps her son's second family. Now that family is embracing her and the rest of the Dunham family as they deal with their loss, Bush said.

Since World War II, more than half of those who have earned the Medal of Honor have lost their lives in the action that earned it, Bush said. "Corporal Jason Dunham belongs to this select group," he said. "On a dusty road in western Iraq, Corporal Dunham gave his own life so that the men under his command might live. This morning, it's my privilege to recognize Corporal Dunham's devotion to the Corps and the country and to present his family with the Medal of Honor."

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

President George W. Bush presents the Congressional Medal of Honor to Dan and Deb Dunham for their son, U.S. Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, during a ceremony in his honor at the White House Jan. 11, 2007. Cpl. Dunham gave his own life in April 2004 by jumping on a grenade during an insurgent attack in western Iraq to save the lives of men under his command. DoD photo by Cherie A. Thurlby. (Released)

President George W. Bush presents the Congressional Medal of Honor to Dan and Deb Dunham for their son, U.S. Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, during a ceremony in his honor at the White House Jan. 11, 2007. Cpl. Dunham gave his own life in April 2004 by jumping on a grenade during an insurgent attack in western Iraq to save the lives of men under his command. DoD photo by Cherie A. Thurlby. (Released)

The citation has not yet been published, as far as I know. This URL is the placeholder at Marine Corps News.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 11, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

Increasing ground forces.

Well, that will put some more pressure on Recruiting Command... that said - we had 740,000 soldiers in my VOLAR (old term, Volunteer Army) army of the '80s, when there were fewer Americans than there are now (not counting the illegals, either). We're not talking about going back to that era.

Of course, that was also when we had the economy we'd inherited from President Carter.

Oh, wait - the Dems are back in charge of Congress. So, in a few years, especially if they win the White House, I expect meeting those numbers won't be all that hard.

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2007 - The active-duty Army and Marine Corps will grow by 92,000 personnel over the next five years, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a White House news conference today.

"The President announced last night that he would strengthen our military for the long war against terrorism by authorizing an increase in the overall strength of the Army and Marine Corps," Gates said. "I am recommending to him a total increase in the two services of 92,000 soldiers and Marines over the next five years."

The breakout is 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.

The increase will make permanent the 30,000 temporary increase in Army end-strength and 5,000 increase in the Marine Corps. Then the services will increase in annual increments of 7,000 for the Army and 5,000 for the Marine Corps.

The Army has a current end-strength of 512,400, with the Marines at 180,000. Under Gates' proposal, the Army's end-strength will grow to 547,000 and the Marines to 202,000.

"We should recognize that while it may take some time for these new troops to become available for deployment, it is important that our men and women in uniform know that additional manpower and resources are on the way," Gates said.

The increase will give soldiers and Marines more "dwell time" at home, officials said. Currently, units are on close to a one-to-one deployment to dwell time schedule. The increase in end-strength will reduce the stress on deployable active duty personnel.

Army and Marine officials said the services cannot grow forces overnight. Currently, the active duty Army recruits 80,000 young Americans each year with the Marines bringing in 39,000.

Recruiting officials said that right now, only three of 10 young men and women in the 19-14 year old cohort meet the standards to enlist in the military.

Those young men and women have a lot of demands for their services, an Army official said, and incentives for enlisting and for service may need to be "plussed-up" to encourage these people to enlist. The services also may need to put more recruiters on the street.

Training the individuals in the proper military occupational specialties is also a potential choke-point. Both the Army and Marine Corps training establishments have some growth potential, and can probably expand to handle the influx, officials in both services said.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 11, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

DoD Announces Changes to Reserve Component Force Management Policy

The secretary of defense announced today a policy change in the way the department will manage reserve component forces.

The first aspect of the policy change will involve the way the department manages deployments of reserve forces. Currently, reserve deployments are managed on an individual basis. In the future deployments will be managed on unit basis, allowing for greater unit cohesion and predictability for training and deployments.

Interested in the rest? It's in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

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by John on Jan 11, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 10, 2007

Something you might find interesting...

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2007 - A new law that took effect Jan. 1 changes the way the remains of servicemembers killed in combat are transported and handled.

The 2007 National Defense Authorization Act states that the primary mode of transportation for remains of servicemembers being returned to the U.S. is military aircraft or military-contracted aircraft. This is a change from the past, when commercial service was used to transport the remains of fallen troops.

"It was a provision in the law, and I think ... there was some interest to make sure that the remains were moved in an expeditious manner," Air Force Col. Michael Pachuta, director of morale, welfare and recreation policy for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said in an interview.

Every servicemember who dies in a theater of combat is transported by military aircraft to Dover Air Force Base, Del., for processing and burial preparation, Pachuta explained. This law changes the way the remains are transported from Dover to their place of burial.

In a memorandum to senior military leaders, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England wrote that this change is to ensure the transportation of
fallen servicemembers is given priority. England instructed the military services and departments to work together to ensure air transportation arrangements are handled properly and efficiently.

The law also directs that an honor guard escorts servicemembers' remains from Dover to their final resting place. The servicemember's next of kin can request that commercial air transportation be used for the remains, or that the honor guard not escort the remains, Pachuta said.

Another recent change that is giving more recognition to the remains of fallen servicemembers is the use of honor covers on coffins, Pachuta said. The honor cover is a reinforced cardboard cover that fits on top of the airline industry's standard air tray for coffins. The cover is embossed with an American flag, and the Defense Department seal on both ends.

The idea for the honor covers, which the Army has been using since October, came from feedback from family members and military members who had escorted remains, Pachuta said. "Our intent certainly is to make sure that those handling the remains along the way understand that this is a fallen servicemember and certainly should be handled expeditiously but also with care and respect," he said.

The Army designed the honor covers in cooperation with the Air Transport Association, so they are standardized throughout the airline industry, Pachuta said. The covers are not used more than once and are treated to make them waterproof. When the remains reach their final destination, the honor cover is removed and an American flag is placed over the coffin, he said.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 10, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 08, 2007

Tension in the Ranks in Blighty

CAPT H sends: Colonel sacked for rebuke over visits to injured.

Sean Rayment, writing in the Sunday Telegraph:

A high-flying Army officer has been sacked for rebuking a senior commander who failed to visit injured troops in hospital.

Col Julian Clover, 43, was dismissed from his post as a staff officer at the Army's Land Command headquarters after clashing with his superior over the need for senior officers to visit troops injured in Afghanistan and Iraq at the Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham.

His sacking has sent shock waves through Land Command, the biggest Army headquarters in Britain, and has raised concerns that some senior officers are "out of touch" with the concerns of the rank and file.

There's more to the story.

Brig Bruce Brealey, 47, who had previously served in the Royal Artillery, was on a rota of senior officers who had been asked to visit Selly Oak hospital in November to check up on the soldiers' welfare and to deal with any complaints they might have. It is understood, however, that before he was due to travel to the hospital he delegated the visit to Col Clover, who at the time was an assistant chief of staff with responsibility for media operations at the headquarters.

After visiting the hospital, Col Clover had a meeting with Brig Brealey in which he expressed his view in a "forthright and uncompromising manner" that it was not acceptable for senior officers to delegate the responsibility of visiting injured troops to junior officers. The two officers were known by colleagues to have had a difficult working relationship.

Brigadier Brealy is referred to by a fellow officer as a "process man" whilst Colonel Clover has made a career in unconventional operations. A clash of personalities.

I'm no Brit, so I may be wrong, but I read this rather as Brigadier Brealy is a Stuffed Shirt Rule-bound Garret Trooper, while Colonel Clover is rather more results-oriented. I can see, being a Brigadier, how your schedule might be pretty full and it's hard to carve out the time to do things like that. Who knows what the travel time is to the hospital?

Of course, that's why you have a vehicle with a driver, and a cell phone, etc - and a laptop. No reason you can't work while in the vehicle going to and fro. And I suspect the hospital might just allow you some leeway in visiting hours, so you could go after work.

And, I suspect, this incident was merely the straw that broke the camel's back for the Brigadier, what with that unruly subordinate. The Brigadier undoubtedly has a story.

Absent any more information, however, I frankly don't care. Bad Brigadier. Sit, stay! You can't find time in your schedule to go visit soldiers? To show you actually care for soldiers - and make the hospital people know you care for soldiers, especially wounded ones? If you can't muster that kind of professionalism, then, in my book, you are unworthy of your commission.

Worse, the man's a Gunner. An Artilleryman. A Redleg (which no doubt was *some* of CAPT H's motivation for sending me the story).

Meaningless as it is, I shun you, sir. I call upon Saint Barbara to withdraw her patronage from you.

Unless you've got a far better reason than the story indicates. If so, I'm sure Saint Barbara will take that into consideration. However, if I hear of you suffering a horrible accident involving a barbecue gone wild... or something similar - well, we'll know Saint Barbara's opinion, won't we?*

This isn't about Colonel Clover - wronged or not. He's getting by on his 70K ($135K USD) salary just fine.

This is about the soldiers, wounded soldiers, you didn't have time for.

Shame, Brigadier. Shame.

You can read the whole story here.

If someone can show me the Brigadier's side of the story, I'll be happy to run with it.

*Note to unbalanced personalities. Don't help the Saint. She doesn't need it. Let her be the judge. Don't you do a thing. -the Armorer

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 08, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 06, 2007

Drudge: ISRAEL PLANS NUCLEAR STRIKE ON IRAN

Me: D-uh.

And Syria.

And Egypt.

And Saudi Arabia.

And Jordan (well, maybe not, but probably).

And... they still have their Iraq plan in the safe, too.

Just like we have nuke target folios for... Russia. China. North Korea.

And they're secret, too.

The Israel Defense Force General Staff would be incompetent not to have a plan.

The question - thus far unanswered... is it a CONPLAN, or an OPLAN. Contingency, vice Operation. The current one, or an old one, if contingency.

If it's an OPLAN, *then* it's a story. And whoever leaked it should be locked into a very small, dark, hole. With rats.

Well, actually, if it's the current CONPLAN, whoever leaked it should be locked into a very small, dark, hole. With rats. Because there's a lot of intel analysis (and the reverse engineering thereof) locked into that document, depending on what it *actually* is.

Frankly, even an old CONPLAN gives away stuff. Same hole. With rats.

Otherwise, *yawn*.

Of course, if it's a sanctioned leak - then the target isn't Iran. It's us. To keep the West focused on the threat - and what Israel may choose to do about it - without our permission (which they don't need) or agreement (which they would like to have). And the plan may only contain data they want to share with us, anyway.

Jay, over at Stop the ACLU is running a reax post. Okay Jay, that's my reax.

Until you tell me it's an OPLAN, I'm not interested, except in that warrior geek way that I'm always interested in stuff like that.

Well, that's not entirely true. The old targeteer in me would like to see it, just to see what the Israelis consider the target set to be. But I wouldn't share that with you. I'd just giggle quietly in the corner playing with my data.

Oooo. Bad image.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 06, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 04, 2007

Buddies, source, differences by.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Get upset if you're too busy to talk to them for a week.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on the same conversation you were having last time you met.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Never ask for food.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Are the reason you have no food.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Call your parents Mr. And Mrs.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Call your parents mom and dad.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Bail you out of jail and tell you what you did was wrong.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Would be sitting next to you saying, "Damn...we screwed up...but man that was fun!"

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Cry with you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Keep your stuff so long they forget it's yours.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Will kick the whole crowds ass that left you behind.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Would knock on your door.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Walk right in and say, "I'm home!"

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Are for a while.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Are for life.

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have shared a few experiences...
MILITARY FRIENDS: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no Civilian could ever dream of...

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will take your drink away when they think you've had enough.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, "You better drink the rest of that, you know we don't waste...that's alcohol abuse!!" Then carry you home safely and put you to bed...

CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will talk crap to the person who talks crap about you.
MILITARY FRIENDS: Will knock them the hell out for using your name in vain.

H/t, Dom J.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 04, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 02, 2007

Mind in the Qatar

Since Trackbacks aren't working yet (still looking for a blog-mechanic!) MajChaz of Mind in the Qatar asked me to post these two gems... and today's H&I is already pretty long, so I'll put 'em up here.

Long Live Military History (Word!)

Long Live Military History

Saving a disappearing portion of Academia

A long important part of the study of history, has been the study of the subset of military history. It is incredibly important to understand both U.S. and global military history, as many significant events across time have involved and been driven by military influences of one form or another.

However in the increasingly leftward tilt of the ivory tower of higher education, military history is "...dead at many other top colleges and universities as well. Where it isn’t dead and buried, it’s either dying or under siege..." This according to John Miller in his National Review article "Sounding Taps" from earlier this fall.

Read that here.

And his suggestion we quit trying to fix the MSM, but simply supplant it.

Much has been made over the last couple of years (and especially in the last several months) about the major media's (aka main-stream media, drive-by media, or alien-media nation) inability to provide balanced news coverage about major events shaping our world....especially in Iraq.

Several times I suggested that a "Good News Hour" would do wonders to combat all the negative reporting, and possibly avoid a decline in public opinion on Iraq. Unfortunately we have turned that corner, and can only now hope to regain ground. Truth and good news still have a place in our media environment.

Perhaps as Glenn Reynolds suggests, the Davids born of the blogosphere could produce an adequate alternative. The Alternative Media Network (AMN) if you will. In my mind, a lot of the ingredients for the recipe are already in place....

Start with some hearty 'Army of Davids' stock, add heaping cup of Pajamas Media ingenuity, mix in a bushel each of Bill Roggio's and Milbloggers, and finish with a dash of Paul Harvey.

Read the rest of that, here.

With trackbacks hosed, don't be shy about asking for links. They may not all make it - but hey - it makes life easier sometimes when the Muse is on vacation.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 02, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

December 29, 2006

On the origins of some military traditions...

...laid out for you in preparation for President Ford's funeral.

By John J. Kruzel American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2006 - Military tradition will be evident throughout the events associated with the Dec. 26 death of former President Gerald R. Ford, as the services join the nation in bidding farewell to their former commander in chief.

Ford's three-stage state funeral will begin tomorrow [today] with the former president's remains lying in repose at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif. He will then be honored in the nation's capital, and finally in his home state of Michigan, where he will be buried. Ford's casket will arrive Dec. 30 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. A motorcade will travel through Alexandria, Va., where Ford resided while serving as a congressman and vice president. After a pause at the World War II Memorial -- Ford served in the Navy during the war -- the motorcade will proceed to the U.S. Capitol, where the former president will lie in state.

Ford's coffin will be draped in a U.S. flag, with the blue field over his left shoulder. The custom began in the Napoleonic Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when a flag was used to cover the dead as they were taken from the battlefield on a caisson.

Graveside military honors in Michigan will include the firing of three volleys each by seven servicemembers. This commonly is confused with an entirely separate honor, the 21-gun salute. But the number of individual gun firings in both honors evolved the same way.

The three volleys came from an old battlefield custom. The two warring sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the battlefield, and the firing of three volleys meant that the dead had been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle.

The 21-gun salute traces its roots to the Anglo-Saxon empire, when seven guns constituted a recognized naval salute, as most naval vessels had seven guns. Because gunpowder in those days could be more easily stored on land than at sea, guns on land could fire three rounds for every one that could be fired by a ship at sea. [This section appears to be incomplete. IIRC, the purpose of firing the salute was to prove your guns were empty as a gesture of good faith, and assuring the land-based guns the first shot. The same reason that when Navy ships enter harbor they have the crew standing in whites around the hull - to show that not only are the guns empty, they are un-manned. Sailors correct me if I'm wrong. -the Armorer]

Later, as gunpowder and storage methods improved, salutes at sea also began using 21 guns. The United States at first used one round for each state, attaining the 21-gun salute by 1818. The nation reduced its salute to 21 guns in 1841, and formally adopted the 21-gun salute at the suggestion of the British in 1875.

An "order of arms" protocol determines the number of guns to be used in a salute. A president, ex-president or foreign head of state is saluted with 21 guns. A vice president, prime minister, secretary of defense or secretary of the Army receives a 19-gun salute. Flag officers receive salutes of 11 to 17 guns, depending on their rank. The rounds are fired one at a time.

A U.S. presidential death also involves other ceremonial gun salutes and military traditions. On the day after the death of the president, a former President or president-elect -- unless this day falls on a Sunday or holiday, in which case the honor will rendered the following day -- the commanders of Army installations with the necessary personnel and material traditionally order that one gun be fired every half hour, beginning at reveille and ending at retreat.

On the day of burial, a 21-minute gun salute traditionally is fired starting at noon at all military installations with the necessary personnel and material. Guns will be fired at one-minute intervals. Also on the day of burial, those installations will fire a 50-gun salute -- one round for each state -- at five- second intervals immediately following lowering of the flag.

The playing of "Ruffles and Flourishes" announces the arrival of a flag officer or other dignitary of honor. Drums play the ruffles, and bugles play the flourishes - one flourish for each star of the flag officer's rank or as appropriate for the honoree's position or title. Four flourishes is the highest honor.

When played for a president, "Ruffles and Flourishes" is followed by "Hail to the Chief," which is believed to have been written in England in 1810 or 1811 by James Sanderson for a play by Sir Walter Scott called "The Lady of the Lake." The play began to be performed in the United States in 1812, the song became popular, and it became a favorite of bands at festive events. It evolved to be used as a greeting for important visitors, and eventually for the president, though no record exists of when it was first put to that use.

The bugle call "Taps" originated in the Civil War with the Army of the Potomac. Union Army Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield didn't like the bugle call that signaled soldiers in the camp to put out the lights and go to sleep, and worked out the melody of "Taps" with his brigade bugler, Pvt. Oliver Wilcox Norton. The call later came into another use as a figurative call to the sleep of death for soldiers.

Ford will be buried with full military honors at his presidential museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 3.

(John D. Banusiewicz of American Forces Press Service contributed to this article. Information from Web pages of the Military District of Washington and Arlington National Cemetery was used in this article.)

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 29, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 28, 2006

I like young Wales.

No, not a typo-damaged lust for under-age cetaceans... rather young Prince Harry of A Squadron, the Blues and Royals.

Prince Harry has threatened to quit the Army if commanders refuse to send him to the front line.

He told senior officers before recently passing out of Sandhurst as a Second Lieutenant: "If I am not allowed to join my unit in a war zone, I will hand in my uniform."

Good on you, Lieutenant. That's what I want to see in a young officer.

Of course, it isn't that simple, now is it?

Like it or not, Prince Harry is 3rd in line for the Throne of England. That makes him a very lucrative "kill or capture" target.

Okay, it's a dangerous business, isn't it? The Royal Family have thus far not been too shy about risking their own flesh and blood in service, witness Prince Andrew in the Falklands.

So, the concern twists itself to another angle - would Lieutenant Wales' presence put his troops at greater risk, as the jihadis try to score the Big One?

That is a concern expressed by the senior leadership, for whom such things really are important.

The embarrassment for the Army caused by him quitting would be matched by uproar at the notion that while ordinary citizens are allowed to that their main problem is not whether Harry can take the pressure of coming under fire in action – but whether the lives of the men fighting alongside him will be more at risk because he is regarded as a ‘trophy target’ by insurgents.

One experienced commander said: "Second Lt Wales will, as far as is possible, be treated like any other officer but there has to be a line drawn as to whether the men he leads might experience extra danger due to his presence. Decisions will be taken by commanding officers based on an accurate risk assessment at the time."

The Sun is reporting that Prince Harry may go to Afstan with his unit. And, that soldiers are supportive of his deploying.

Officially, the Ministry of Defence insists that a final decision about whether second lieutenant Harry will be allowed to fight in Iraq has yet to be made.

The Prince has always said he is determined to do battle with his 100-strong unit, A Squadron of the Blues and Royals — part of the Household Cavalry.

They begin a six-month tour of Iraq in the spring. And before that, they are expected to take part in war games and exhaustive preparations for conflict.

The decision over the young Royal is deemed so important it will be made by the Army’s top man, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt.

But a bandwagon of popular support is growing among the ranks to allow Harry to fulfil his dream of active service. Despite alarm over the possibility of putting the Prince’s life in danger, top brass will find that hard to refuse.

I say Lieutenant Wales is either a member of the unit, or not. If he is, then he should deploy with them, and not send them out with a newbie who hasn't trained with the unit.

If it turns out that every splodey-dope jihadi with a belt of explosives want to martyr themselves - that can be sorted out on the ground over there, based on the actual risks, vice the "might be a problems".

It's a war. Let's not forget the moral(e) aspects. There are some considerations that transcend.

Let Wales fight.

H/t, Heartless Libertarian.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 28, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 27, 2006

You find the most interesting things...

...in the most unlikely places.

LTG Petraeus (CG here at Fort Leavenworth) was interviewed by the German Spiegel (Mirror) Online.

Spiegel asks...

SPIEGEL: General Petraeus, you were in charge of combat operations in Iraq, you supervised the build-up of the new Iraqi security force and now you oversee the training and education of Army officers here at Fort Leavenworth. Would you agree that you are trying to impose a sort of a cultural revolution on the United States Army?

LTG Petraeus' answer will be soup for Ry's soul:

Petraeus: There is quite a big cultural change going on. We used to say, that if you can do the "big stuff," the big combined arms, high-end, high intensity major combat operations and have a disciplined force, then you can do the so-called "little stuff," too. That turned out to be wrong.

This little snippet caught my attention:

SPIEGEL: You propagate the idea that young officers should go to graduate school. Why does a soldier need a master's degree?

Petraeus: We're talking about how to react to unforeseeable, non-standard tasks, we're talking about environments that are very different to those we're used to. You have to work in a foreign language, you have to negotiate with people who come from another religious background or who don't even share what we would call the same core values. Now here you have a setting quite similar to graduate school, which takes you out of your intellectual comfort zone -- and that really is something a young officer should experience.

You know, we in the Army, we have to admit, that we're living sometimes a sort of a grindstone cloister existence. We work very hard; indeed, we have our noses to the proverbial grindstone. And we tend to live a somewhat cloistered existence much of our lives. So we have to try to raise, as one of my colleagues once put it, our sights beyond the maximum effective range of a M-16-rifle. Graduate school and other experiences that get us out of our intellectual comfort zone help us do just that.

Heh. While I agree, and emphatically, I sent this response to the SAMS (School of Advanced Military Studies) graduate buddy of mine, Jim C. who sent me this link...

Heh. And those of us who did raise our sights above the proverbial M16 post-and-peep were rewarded exactly how...?

And Jim, who is something of a warfighting intellectual himself (at least the government pays us decent dollars to do this for them... now) responded thusly:

I believe we were shown the door.

Indeed. I agree with LTG Petraeus' responses in the piece. I only hope he (or someone like him in stature) is really working the other side - the officers who sit on the promotion boards. From our era, a not insignificant number of whom don't have combat patches. And I hope he finds a way to institutionalize it so that it lasts beyond this period of combat, though the history of the Army does not offer much hope of that.

One of the reasons I blog, beyond gun pr0n, or "the more kinetic aspects of history" as Matt describes the stuff at the Castle - to be a little ember, casting a small glow in a forgotten corner near the disused lavatory in the third sub-basement. You know the one - the one with the sign that says "Beware of the Leopard!"

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 27, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 22, 2006

Marines Charge Eight in Connection With Haditha Deaths

Let it all settle out in court. Good to see DoD making the connection between the leaders and the led, and that the officers will face a court, too.

By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2006 - Four Marines have been charged in connection with the deaths of Iraqi civilians in Haditha Nov. 19, 2005, and another four Marines have been charged with failure to properly report and/or investigate the deaths of the Iraqi civilians.

Col. Stewart Navarre, chief of staff of Marine Corps Installations West, announced the charges and specifications during a news conference on Camp Pendleton, Calif., today. All of those charged were members of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

"The Marine Corps takes allegations of wrong-doing by Marines very seriously and is committed to thoroughly investigating such allegations," Navarre said. "The Marine Corps also prides itself on holding its members accountable for their actions.

"We are absolutely committed to holding fair and impartial proceedings in full compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice," he said. Navarre said the charges stem from an incident that occurred after an attack on a four-vehicle Marine convoy from the battalion's Kilo Company. The convoy was moving through Haditha when it was ambushed by insurgents employing an improvised explosive device and small arms fire, Navarre said.

"One Marine was killed and two were wounded by the explosion," the colonel said. "Over the next several hours, 24 Iraqi men, women and children died in the vicinity of the IED explosion."

The next day, 2nd Marine Division issued a press release stating that 15 Iraqi civilians were killed in an IED explosion, and Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers killed eight insurgents in a follow-on firefight. "We now know with certainty the press release was incorrect, and that none of the civilians were killed by the IED explosion," Navarre said.

In February, Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, initiated an investigation. "This investigation focused on the circumstances of the attack and whether the Marines involved followed the Rules of Engagement and Law of Armed Conflict," Navarre said.

In March, Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, commander of coalition forces in Al Anbar province, initiated a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation, to determine if there was any criminal responsibility for the deaths of the Iraqi civilians.

Later that month Chiarelli ordered Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell to conduct another investigation to look at three aspects of the incident: official reporting of the events and follow-on actions by the chain of command; training of Marines in the Rules of Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict; and whether the command climate in 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, encouraged the disciplined application of the Rules of Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict.

"In May 2006, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service also began a criminal investigation into the follow-on actions of the chain of command," Navarre said.

Bargewell ended his inquiry June 15, 2006. He concluded that the Marines were adequately trained on the Rules of Engagement and Law of Armed Conflict but that reporting of the incident up the chain of command was inaccurate and untimely. The report went to Chiarelli, Army Gen. George Casey, the commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, and finally to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command for appropriate action, Navarre said.

Those charged are:

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich is charged with unpremeditated murder, soliciting another to commit an offense and making a false official statement.

Marine Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz was charged with five counts of murder and one charge of a false official statement.

Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum is charged with murder, negligent homicide and assault.

Marine Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt is charged with three counts of murder.

Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, was charged with three counts of violation of a lawful order and dereliction of duty.

Marine Capt. Lucas M. McConnell has been charged with dereliction of duty.

Marine Capt. Randy W. Stone was charged with failure to follow a lawful order and dereliction of duty.

Marine 1st Lt. Andrew A. Grayson is charged with dereliction of duty, making a false official statement and obstructing justice.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 22, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 15, 2006

Thanksgiving in the Wilderness

Heidi's Thanksgiving, 2006. Via Heidi's Mom.

Thanksgiving 2006 - Afghanistan

Click the picture for a larger version.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 15, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

Motivators.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Heh. Looks like we're gonna get we've been caught by All Things Beautiful in the Weblog Awards voting. She's been creeping up on us all week, with a strong surge last night.

Sigh. Cannon just don't sell like they used to...

It's all Bill's fault for not posting more often. Funny sells!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 15, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

Secretary Rumsfeld says goodbye.

From email at work yesterday.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2006 - For these past six years, I have had the opportunity -- and, I should add, the privilege -- to serve with the greatest military the world has ever known.

To all of the men and women in uniform, all across the globe, I wish it were possible for me to meet with each of you personally today so I could look you in the eyes, shake your hands and express my heartfelt gratitude for your service, and to give you some sense of what you have given me -- pride in our mission and an abiding confidence in our country and in those of you who volunteer to risk your lives to defend us all.

As I complete my second tour as secretary of defense, I leave knowing that the true strength of our military lies not in our weapons, but in the hearts of the men and women in uniform, in your patriotism, in your professionalism, and your determination to accomplish the mission.

President Abraham Lincoln once said, and I quote, "Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way." That remains as true today as it did during President Lincoln's time. I have seen countless examples of this resolve when I have met with those of you serving in this long struggle against violent extremists.

I remember visiting a base near Fallujah, where Marines had been engaged in some of the most intense house-to-house fighting since World War II. It was two days before Christmas. A staff sergeant asked me why there wasn't a way he could extend his tour beyond his unit's service limit in Iraq.

And, I think back to a young man I met at Bethesda naval hospital. He was in the very early stages of his recovery from multiple wounds suffered in Iraq. He looked up at me with a tube in his nose, and he said with force: "If only the American people will give us the time we need, we can do it. We are getting it done."

And a soldier I met in Afghanistan not long ago who said, "I really can't believe we're allowed to do something this important." Well, I feel the same way. I can't believe I have had the chance to be involved in something so important to the safety of the American people and the future of our country.

What you are accomplishing is not simply important -- it is historic.

When the cause of human freedom required men and women to stand on the front lines in its defense, you stepped forward to liberate more than 50 million citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq.

You captured or killed tens of thousands of extremists -- taking the fight to where they live, rather than waiting for the extremists to attack us again where our families live; and you helped alleviate the conditions that foster extremism in places like the Horn of Africa, the Philippines and elsewhere so that your children and grandchildren will not have to face the challenges that we face today.

This month has two important anniversaries -- the free elections of the Iraqi national assembly and the seating of the very first democratically elected president in Afghanistan's long history. We all remember the images of Iraqis proudly raising their purple fingers in the air after voting in their first free elections and the images of the Afghan girls singing with joy as their new president took the oath of office. Those were historic chapters in the saga of human freedom, and you made them possible.

The long struggle we are in is complex; it's unfamiliar; and it's still little understood, leading some to believe that there is no need to go on.

The enemy is counting on us to falter and to fail. You are the ones who live the successes and who endure the setbacks of this struggle, who find your daily missions a personal test of will. And you are the ones who, above all, know that the cause of freedom is well worth the price.

In 10 or 20 years, when you are talking to your children or to your grandchildren, you will look back on your service and at what you have accomplished with a great sense of pride. You will know that you were part of a truly proud history. Indeed, you were the makers of that proud history and an inspiration to the generations that followed.

It has been the highest honor of my life to serve with you -- the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. You define the American spirit. You have helped millions triumph over tyranny, during this time of great consequence.

You have my eternal respect, and you will remain in my thoughts and prayers always. May God bless you and your families, and may God continue to bless our wonderful country.

Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense

Here's hoping you live long enough, Mr. Secretary, to see how it all turns out.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 15, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 14, 2006

MOTHER, SON AND BROTHER-IN-LAW JOINING KANSAS NATIONAL GUARD TOGETHER

News of the Kansas Guard.

Serving one’s state and nation runs in Bill Knitig’s family. Knitig is a former Marine and member of the Kansas National Guard, retiring from Detachment 1, 170th Maintenance Company in Goodland in 2000. Picking up his mantle of service are three members of his family: his daughter, Patricia Langley; her son, Jack Mayfield and Knitig’s son-in-law, Damon Rickard, who made the decision to enlist in the Kansas National Guard together. The three are from Grainfield, east of Colby.

All three will begin the process to become members of the Kansas National Guard on Friday, Dec. 15 at the Military Entrance Processing Station in Kansas City, Mo., 10316 NW Prairie View Road.

For Langley, the decision to join the Guard came because “It was time for a change in my life, plus I wanted to do something to serve my country.”

“I kind of toyed with the idea of joining back in 1990,” said Langley, but her life’s circumstances weren’t right for her at that time. “My daughter was just a year old, then. I did go to vo-tech at that time.”

Langley, who just turned 39, said that the education benefits offered by the Guard played a part in her decision to join, in addition to the extra income and the chance to learn a new skill. Langley will be joining the 170th Maintenance Company in Goodland. She said she’d like to go into vehicle maintenance.

“I thought about maybe learning refrigeration,” she said, “but now I think I’d like to go into electrical generator repair.”

Langley said she’s received a lot of support from family and friends regarding the decision to join. She hopes to make the Guard a new career. “I’d like to retire with it,” said Langley.

Good on 'em.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 14, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 13, 2006

Happy Birthday to the National Guard.

Soldiers of the 35th Division, KSARNG, at the Leavenworth Veteran's Day Parade.

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2006 - The National Guard turns 370 years old tomorrow, and the National Guard Bureau is celebrating with a Web site dedicated to the organization and its history.

The site, www.ngb.army.mil/features/birthday/index.html, chronicles the Guard's history, starting in 1636 when the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which functioned as the colony's legislature, ordered existing militia companies from the towns surrounding Boston to form into three regiments: North, South and East.

"These first Minutemen answered the call, banding together for the common defense, an effort which grew nationwide to protect towns, states, and ultimately the nation from all enemies, civil, natural and foreign," Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, wrote in a letter on the site.

The American colonies adopted the English militia system, which obligated all males to possess arms and participate in the defense of the community, according to the site. The need for a colonial militia was ratified in the Constitution, and since then, Congress has enacted several militia and defense acts to strengthen the National Guard.

"Today, more than 50,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen are serving overseas as part of the global war on terror," Blum wrote in his letter. "Over 9,000 are serving here at home in domestic missions such as supporting our nation's efforts to secure our borders, guarding critical infrastructure, and providing emergency response to our governors.

"Not unlike those Minutemen 370 years ago, today's Guard members are citizens who believe that an organized militia is essential to the common defense. With centuries of courage, commitment and tradition behind them, the National Guard proudly remains always ready, always there."

In a letter commemorating the birthday, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thanked the members of the National Guard for serving valiantly in times of war and peace. "We simply could not sustain current operations without the National Guard," Pace wrote. "The courage and sacrifice of every Guard member are truly inspiring. Your outstanding service as citizen-soldiers comforts those in need and protects our homeland."

The National Guard has made up a significant portion of the forces deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. At one point in 2005, half of the combat brigades in Iraq were Army National Guard, according to information on the Web site. The Guard is playing a more active role than ever before, integrating with active forces in combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, information on the site says.

The Web site lists information from each period in the National Guard's history and details on some state-sponsored events commemorating the 370th birthday.

Locally, the Kansas National Guard marked it's 151st anniversary of service to the State and Nation.

Kansas Guard units serving the nation this year:

Units and where they went or are:

Currently Deployed:

731st Transportation Company - Operation Iraqi Freedom
714th Security Force Company - Operation Iraqi Freedom
635th Regional Support Group - Operation Enduring Freedom
HHB, 130th Field Artillery Brigade - Operation Enduring Freedom
Embedded Training Team - Operation Enduring Freedom
1st Battalion, 108th Aviation - Operation Iraqi Freedom
HHB, 35th Division Artillery - Operation Enduring Freedom
Battery B, 1st Battalion, 161st Field Artillery - Operation Iraqi Freedom
35th Military Police Company - Operation Enduring Freedom

Completed Deployments this year:

2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry - Operation Iraqi Freedom
1st Battalion, 127th Field Artillery - Operation Iraqi Freedom
184th Civil Engineering Squadron - Operation Jump Start
35th Military Police Company - Operation Enduring Freedom
190th Air Refueling Wing Security Forces - Operation Enduring Freedom
1st Battalion, 635th Armor - Operation Enduring Freedom
24th Medical Company - Operation Enduring Freedom

Serving the State: This has been a comparatively light year for natural disasters in Kansas (unless you were a victim of one). The National Guard, with other agencies, mans the State Emergency Management System and participates, in one way or another, in all them, even if no units are activated in support. This year the major events thus far have been:

Butler County Wildfires
March wind storm
Late March storms and fires
Late November storms

And there has been a price. Specialist John Wood was killed in Iraq this year.

And, as exemplified in this letter by Major Roger Aeschliman, of the "First Kansas Volunteers" Kansas Guard troops will risk their lives to help children. Any children. Anywhere.

Way to go, Guys and Gals of the National Guard of the United States, with a extra nod to those who hang out in Kansas!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 13, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

Heh. I wondered when they would show up.

On the memorial post for PFC McGinnis we found a troll-bomb, left in the usual fashion, anonymously.

IP Address: 217.189.244.109
Name: olfi
Email Address: queeeee@aol.com
URL:

Comments:

One more poor gay who died for the lies of George W. Bush, Donald
Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and company.
America, wake up!
:-(

Ry, who crossed the threshold soon after and stepped in the troll-flop first, answered with:

'poor gay who...' Wow. That's pretty random. How do you know the guy was gay? Rather immaterial to the heroism of the guy.

It's just to bad we only find out about these guys, people we should know, posthumously. Guys like this should be the rolemodels for kids in school, gay or not, rather than Allen Iverson or 50 Cent.

There is no greater sacrifice than laying one's life down for the sake of another. McGinnis has done that in an exponential fashion(going to Iraq and protecting his fellows).

So, what have YOU done today, olfi, other than whine?

Well said, Ry.

Now, when I read it, my spidey-sense tingled. Just something about it said... German.

I think "gay" is a typo, but I could be wrong. But the IP maps to Telefonica Deutschland, in Verl (not that Olfi is necessarily in Verl, my IP maps to Roadrunner in Virginia).

I'm guessing that Olfi is not, nor has he been, a member of the Bundeswehr contingent in Afghanistan. Otherwise he'd know that PFC McGinnis didn't die for any political abstraction or personage.

He died so his buddies would live, pure and simple. That's the way it is, where the rubber meets the road.

As exemplified by the actions of Technical Sergeant Arizona Harris, Engineer and top turret gunner of the B-17 Sons of Fury, as described in Donald Miller's book Masters of the Air:

Harris met his end on the way back from St. Nazaire on January 3, 1943. Sgt. P.D. Small, a tail gunner in another of the 306th's [Bombardment Group] bombers, observed Harris's final minutes. Small saw four white parachutes snap open just before Sons of Fury hit the water. The gunners who remained on the ship must have gone to the radio room, the safest place to be in a crash. But two guns were still blazing, Harris's twin .50s. Then Sons of Fury made a perfect belly landing in the freezing waters of the Bay of Biscay. As sheets of white water rolled over the wings and the plane began to drop out of sight, the top turret guns were still spitting flame "as fast as the feeding arms would pull the shells into the guns." Arizona Harris was trying to protect the pilot and copilot, who were in the water and under fire from Fw 190's, "the steel gray sea boiling under the rain of bullets." Harris must have felt the winter water fill his turret and climb to where it began to cut off his breath, yet he kept firing until the sea swallowed the hot muzzles of his guns."

Or any of those soldiers, Marines, and sailors I listed in the McGinnis post.

Rare is the soldier who dies in combat for his politics. His politics might have gotten him to the battlefield, but they rarely get him through a fight. So, on a memorial post, keep your politics to yourself. If you have nothing good to say, then say exactly that - nothing.

You want to send me an email, or leave a comment on the H&I Fires post - that's entirely appropriate. But don't walk into the church and fling poop during the service, so to speak. That's just childish.

I'm sure that Olfi felt that he was sadly compelled to note that the sacrifice was in vain, and he was simply doing his duty to point it out to those of us blinded by a slavish devotion to the evil Bushitler. And sorrowfully surfed away, knowing he had done what had to be done, and done so manfully! Taking full accountability for his actions. Well, except for that leaving no legit contact data because, well, someone might send him a note or something that wasn't, oh, laudatory. Feh. I *never* leave unsigned comments, anywhere. If I'm not willing to accept the feedback, then I'm not going to leave the comment. Whatever your motivations, Olfi, you're a coward.

Which just makes it all the more bemusing that he closes his comment (which I have elided from the memorial post, as I will all comments like that on a memorial post) with an ethereal remnant of Germany's Nazi past, where "Germany Wake Up!" was an electoral rallying cry of the Nazis. You might better recognize it as "Deutschland Erwache!" and it graced the banners of Nazi standards... An unfortunate turn of phrase for a tut-tutting German.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 13, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 12, 2006

Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis

Someone you should know.

Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis

FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis packed only 136 pounds into his 6-foot frame, but few have ever matched his inner strength.

McGinnis sacrificed himself in an act of supreme bravery on Dec. 4, belying his status as the youngest Soldier in Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

The 19-year-old amateur mechanic from Knox , Pa. , who enjoyed poker and loud music, likely saved the lives of four Soldiers riding with him on a mission in Baghdad .

McGinnis was manning the gunner’s hatch when an insurgent tossed a grenade from above. It flew past McGinnis and down through the hatch before lodging near the radio.

His platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas of Longview , Texas , recalled what happened next.

“Pfc. McGinnis yelled ‘Grenade…It’s in the truck,’” Thomas said. “I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down.”

McGinnis did so even though he could have escaped.

“He had time to jump out of the truck,” Thomas said. “He chose not to.”

Thomas remembered McGinnis talking about how he would respond in such a situation. McGinnis said then he didn’t know how he would act, but when the time came, he delivered.

“He gave his life to save his crew and his platoon sergeant,” Thomas said. “He’s a hero. He’s a professional. He was just an awesome guy.”

Three of the Soldiers with McGinnis who were wounded that day have returned to duty, while a fourth is recovering in Germany .

For saving the lives of his friends and giving up his own in the process, McGinnis earned the Silver Star, posthumously. His unit paid their final respects in a somber ceremony here Dec. 11.

McGinnis was born June 14, 1987, and joined the Army right after graduating high school in 2005. He had been in the Army 18 months and made his mark even before his heroic deed.

“He was a good kid,” said C Company’s senior enlisted Soldier, 1st Sgt. Kenneth J. Hendrix. “He had just gotten approved for a waiver to be promoted to specialist.”

He also appeared on the Nov. 30 cover of Stars & Stripes, manning his turret.

Besides his military accomplishments, McGinnis leaves his friends and family with memories of a fun-loving, loyal man.

Private First Class Brennan Beck, a 1-26 infantryman from Lodi , Calif. , said McGinnis made others feel better.

“He would go into a room and when he left, everyone was laughing,” Beck said. “He did impersonations of others in the company. He was quick-witted, just hilarious. He loved making people laugh. He was a comedian through and through.”

While having a witty side, McGinnis took his job seriously.

“He was not a garrison Soldier. He hated it back in garrison,” Beck said. “He loved it here in Iraq . He loved being a gunner. It was a thrill, he loved everything about it. He was one our best Soldiers. He did a great job.”

Beck has memories of talking all night with McGinnis about where they wanted their lives to go, and said McGinnis always remembered his friends.

“When I had my appendix removed, he was the only one who visited me in the hospital,” Beck said. “That meant a lot.”

Another 1-26 infantryman, Private First ClassMichael Blair of Klamath Falls , Ore. , recalled that McGinnis helped him when he arrived at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt , Germany .

“When I first came to the unit…he was there and took me in and showed me around,” Blair said. “He was real easy to talk to. You could tell him anything. He was a funny guy. He was always making somebody laugh.”

McGinnis’ final heroic act came as no surprise to Blair.

“He was that kind of person,” Blair said. “He would rather take it himself than have his buddies go down.”

The brigade’s senior noncommissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. William Johnson, also had high praise for McGinnis.

“Anytime when you get a Soldier to do something like that - to give his life to protect his fellow Soldiers - that’s what heroes are made of,” Johnson said.

It also demonstrates, Johnson continued, that the ‘MySpace Generation’ has what it takes to carry on the Army’s proud traditions.

“Some think Soldiers who come in today are all about themselves,” Johnson said. “I see it differently.”

The Silver Star has already been approved for McGinnis’ actions Dec.4, and will be awarded posthumously.

Well done, PFC McGinnis. Requiescat Im Pace.

However, I have a question. Is the Silver Star a final award, or an interim? Why do I ask? Glad you asked. This is why:

*ANDERSON, JAMES, JR.
*ANDERSON, RICHARD A.
*AUSTIN, OSCAR P.
*BACA, JOHN P.
*BARKER, JEDH COLBY
*BARNES, JOHN ANDREW III
*BELCHER, TED
*BELLRICHARD, LESLIE ALLEN
*BLANCHFIELD, MICHAEL R.
*BOWEN, HAMMETT L., JR.
*CARTER, BRUCE W.
*COKER, RONALD L.
*CONNOR, PETER S.
*CREEK, THOMAS E.
*DAHL, LARRY G.
*DAVIS, RODNEY MAXWELL
*DE LA GARZA, EMILIO A., JR.
*DICKEY, DOUGLAS E.
*FERNANDEZ, DANIEL
*FLEEK, CHARLES CLINTON
*FOLLAND, MICHAEL FLEMING
*FOSTER, PAUL HELLSTROM
*FOUS, JAMES W.
*FRATELLENICO, FRANK R.
*GUENETTE, PETER M.
*HARVEY, CARMEL BERNON, JR.
HERDA, FRANK A.
*HOSKING, CHARLES ERNEST, JR.
*HOWE, JAMES D.
*INGALLS, GEORGE ALAN
*JENKINS, ROBERT H., JR.
*JOHNSON, RALPH H.
*KAROPCZYC, STEPHEN EDWARD
*KELLOGG, ALLAN JAY, JR.
*KINSMAN, THOMAS JAMES
*LANGHORN, GARFIELD M.
*LAW, ROBERT D.
*LEISY, ROBERT RONALD
*LONG, DONALD RUSSELL

What do these 39 men have in common? They all, in one way or another, fell on grenades to save the lives of others around them. Some were involved in hairy fights, some were isolated incidents. Few of them survived.

In other words, they all acted as did PFC McGinnis.

The difference? All the names listed above, except for PFC McGinnis, recieved the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War. And that's only from the A-L list, not the M-Z list.

And that doesn't include WWII or WWI, which I don't have time to go through.

So, I hope this is an *interim* award. I've asked. I'll let you know if I get an answer.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Update: Glad I asked. I just got this (of course, right *after* I posted the above) from a buddy and long-time reader who is in-country and in a position to know.

John,

Just wanted to give you a heads up that PFC Ross McGinnis, 1-26 IN, was KIA on 04 DEC 2006 here in Baghdad. His parents will receive his Silver Star (hopefully interim) at the funeral. He is being submitted for the Medal of Honor. AIF got a grenade into his M1151 through the top hatch.

He yelled "Grenade" and shielded his comrades by throwing his body on the grenade. Everyone in that vehicle walked away; some were pretty hurt, but nonetheless, were alive.

I hope this award doesn't drag out for two-plus years.

C

Good. And ditto on that timliness thing.

As ever, Matt does it better. More story here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 12, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

50 Heroes from 50 States.

DoD, responding to pressure from the blogs and others, is finally getting their "Honor the Heroes" meme working. They've launched a new website: 50 Heroes From 50 States.

The Armorer wishes to highlight our regional representatives. Denizens should feel free over time to honor the ones from their areas - on their blogs and link 'em here in the H&I Fires post!

Kansas:

While serving as the battalion surgeon for a Marine unit from January to September 2005 in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, Dr. Gratton was responsible for the health and well-being of 1,700 Marines, sailors and Iraqi soldiers. During his deployment, Gratton provided specialized medical care to more than 1,000 patients, and organized material and personnel support for more than 500 Iraqi army personnel. On May 7 alone, he supervised and treated 11 casualties injured in an IED attack in Haditha. In addition, Gratton provided trauma care to the battalion’s 345 troops wounded in action, 150 of whom were in critical condition and had to be evacuated. On Aug. 28, 2006, Gratton received the Bronze Star Medal for his work.

Missouri:

During her deployment at Kirkuk Air Base from March 28-July 10, 2003, Master Sgt. Whitaker helped establish the first air-control service in northern Iraq since 1990. The service supported about 4,800 combat actions, including covert operations, humanitarian airlifts and medical evacuations. She also supervised several covert flight operations using tactical radios and night vision goggles, and developed explosive-ordinance disposal procedures for the base. She co-authored airfield operating procedures for aero-medical evacuation of wounded coalition forces that resulted in the rapid evacuation of more than 86 critically wounded soldiers and airmen. In May 2006, Whitaker became the first woman in the Missouri Air National Guard’s history to receive the Bronze Star Medal.

Nebraska:

Then-Cpl. Mitchell was involved in the same fight during the battle of Fallujah on Nov. 13, 2004, as Sgt. Maj. Kasal (see Iowa). Several wounded Marines were trapped inside an Iraqi home known as the “House of Hell” with numerous insurgents waiting to ambush the incoming troops. Mitchell organized his men to assault the building, charged, and quickly took firing positions. Mitchell sped through the kill zone, getting hit as he went. He killed an enemy fighter with his combat knife, and called in support through a small, barred window. With information supplied from Mitchell, the Marines suppressed the insurgents’ attack, and extracted the wounded Marines inside. Mitchell was one of the last to leave, despite being injured. On April 25, 2006, Mitchell was awarded the Navy Cross.

Iowa:

Then-1st Sgt. Kasal was assisting a platoon in Fallujah on Nov. 13, 2004, when heavy gunfire broke out in an Iraqi home known as the “House of Hell.” Marines quickly began exiting the building as Kasal rushed in to assess the situation. Kasal was hit repeatedly as he grabbed a wounded Marine stranded in the line of fire. He then gave his medical supplies to the other Marine instead of dividing the limited materials. The insurgents threw a hand grenade close to the Marines to force them to come out from under cover. Kasal used his own severely injured body to protect the other Marine from shrapnel. Despite losing about 60 percent of his blood from more than 47 wounds, Kasal survived. On March 23, 2006, Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross.

Arkansas:

First Lt. McCarty’s platoon was patrolling in the Adhamiyah district of Baghdad on Nov. 20, 2004, when a group of insurgents attacked. As the enemy fighters inflicted a massive assault on the 26-man team, McCarty directed a counterattack. At one point, McCarty charged and destroyed an enemy machine-gun team without any support. In all, his team stopped an enemy three-man machine-gun team and a force of about 75 insurgents. McCarty’s actions prevented the capture of an Iraqi police station. On Feb. 4, 2006, McCarty was awarded the Silver Star Medal. He was previously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor.

Oklahoma:

Staff Sgt. Payne’s battalion was finishing an operation on Haifa Street in Baghdad on Sept. 12, 2004, when a vehicle-borne IED exploded into the rear of a Bradley fighting vehicle. As the blast disabled the Bradley and trapped men inside, insurgents began firing down onto the street. Payne directed his squad into a position to provide cover fire while he and another soldier raced to help those stuck inside the damaged vehicle. Payne climbed atop the Bradley and helped two of the crewmen out of the turret. He reached inside the compartment and began pulling the trapped infantrymen out one by one. As the battle lulled, Payne and his soldiers loaded the injured up for evacuation. For his actions, Payne received the Silver Star Medal on Feb. 27, 2005.

Colorado:

Navy SEAL Petty Officer Dietz was sent on a mission to kill or capture the enemy militia leader Ahmad Shah, aka Mullah Ismail. After the terrorists found the team, Dietz helped others keep the large enemy force at bay. Dietz was also severely wounded in the firefight, but also continued to hold his ground, giving one of the other SEALs the chance to escape. The other SEAL was able to evade the Taliban fighters and was recovered by U.S. forces a few days later. Dietz died in the firefight.

Dietz was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross on Sept. 13, 2006.


Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 12, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

News of the Armed Forces Of, and In, Kansas.

MILITARY PERSONNEL WILL BE HONORED AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING DEC. 12, 2006 Personnel from five branches of the U.S. military will be honored at the Topeka City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006. Personnel from the Kansas Army National Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Kansas Air National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard will be presented with Military Personnel of the Year awards from the Topeka Military Relations Committee.

Receiving the awards will be Maj. Edward G. Keller, Kansas Army National Guard; Spc. David J. Hawkins, U.S. Army Reserve; Staff Sgt. Jason P. McCaffrey, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve; Master Sgt. Sherry L. Hertlein, Kansas Air National Guard and Petty Officer Thomas M. Underwood, U.S. Coast Guard.

The committee sponsors the award, but the recipients are selected for the honor by the military branch they represent, according to Dave Fisher Jr., chairman of the Topeka Military Relations Committee,

“These individuals are being recognized not only for their contributions to the defense of our country, but also as good citizens within the community,” noted Fisher.

Fisher said the Topeka Military Relations Committee was formed by a group of businessmen who “recognize just how important the military is to Topeka.” The committee also includes representatives from each military branch in Topeka. The committee’s goal is to promote the military within the community and to act as a liaison between the military and the community.

Each honoree will receive a plaque that includes a likeness of Ad Astra, the Native American statue on top of the Kansas Statehouse dome.

The City Council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the City Chambers, 215 SE 7th, Topeka.

Congratulations to Major Keller, Specialist Hawkins, Staff Sergeant McCaffrey, Master Sergeant Hertlein and Petty Officer Underwood!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 12, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 07, 2006

Kewl. The USNS Alan Shepard.

Navy to Christen USNS Alan Shepard


The Navy will christen the USNS Alan Shepard, the newest ship in the Lewis and Clark class of underway replenishment ships, on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006, during an 8 a.m. PST launching at General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), San Diego, Calif.

The ship honors the first American in space, Rear Adm. Alan B. Shepard Jr.Like the legendary explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, for whom the first ship of the class was named, Shepard bravely volunteered to explore the unknown and became the first American in space. Thus began one of the most challenging endeavors in human history: the manned exploration of space.

Shepard graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in 1944. He served aboard destroyers in the Pacific during World War II and later entered flight training, receiving his designation as a naval aviator in 1947. Shepard served several tours in fleet squadrons and was selected to attend the Navy Test Pilot School in 1950. He logged more than 8,000 hours of flying time.

In 1959, Shepard was one of seven men chosen by NASA for the Mercury manned space flight program. Two years later, he became the first American to journey into space in the Freedom 7 spacecraft launched by a Redstone rocket on a suborbital flight. He reached an altitude of 116 miles.

In 1963, he was designated chief of the Astronaut Office with responsibility for monitoring the coordination, scheduling and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts. Shepard made his second space flight as spacecraft commander on Apollo 14 in 1971. He was accompanied on the third U.S. lunar landing mission by Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot, and Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot. Shepard logged 216 hours and 57 minutes in space, of which 9 hours and 17 minutes were spent in lunar surface extravehicular activity. He resumed his duties as chief of the Astronaut Office in June 1971 and served in this capacity until he retired from NASA and the Navy on Aug. 1, 1974.

After his Navy and NASA careers, he entered private business in Houston and served as the president of the Mercury Seven Foundation, a non-profit organization now known as the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation that provides college science scholarships for deserving students. Shepard died July 21, 1998, at the age of 74.

John H. Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Laura Churchley will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her father. The launching ceremony will be highlighted in the time-honored Navy tradition when the sponsor breaks a bottle of
champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship "Alan Shepard."

The USNS Alan Shepard is the third ship in the Navy's new 11-ship T-AKE 1 Class. T-AKE is a combat logistics force vessel intended to replace the current capability of the T-AE 26 Kilauea-Class ammunition ships, T-AFS 1 Mars-Class combat stores ships and, when operating with T-AO 187 Henry J. Kaiser-Class oiler ships, the AOE 1 Sacramento-Class fast combat support ships.To conduct vertical replenishment, the ship will support two military logistics helicopters.

Designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea while providing replenishment services to U.S., NATO and allied ships, the USNS Alan Shepard will directly contribute to the ability of the Navy to maintain a worldwide forward presence. Ships such as Alan Shepard provide logistic lift from sources of supply either in port or at sea from specially equipped merchant ships. The ship will transfer cargo (ammunition, food, limited quantities of fuel, repair parts, ship store items, and expendable supplies and material) to ships and other naval warfare forces at sea.

The USNS Alan Shepard is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, a navigational draft of 30 feet, and displaces approximately 42,000 tons. Powered by a single-shaft diesel-electric propulsion system, the ship can reach a speed of 20 knots.As part of the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, the ship will be designated USNS. The term stands for United States Naval Ship. Unlike their United States Ship (USS) counterparts, USNS vessels are manned primarily by civil service and civilian mariners working for the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C.

I would just note that Shepard went into space on an *Army* rocket.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 07, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 06, 2006

This might pique some interest.

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2006 - Just in time for the holiday season, Marvel Comics' "The New Avengers" and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service have teamed up to bring troops stationed around the world another free, military-exclusive comic book.

Marvel Comics, a division of Marvel Enterprises, Inc., is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program highlighting ways Americans and the corporate sector support the nation's servicemembers.

"The New Avengers: Letters Home" is scheduled to arrive in U.S. exchanges around Dec. 20 and overseas, including the 53 BX/PX facilities throughout operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, shortly thereafter. It's the fourth installment of the military-only comic book series.

"Due to their limited availability, collectors have historically shown great interest in these special AAFES/Marvel Comics editions," Army Col. Max Baker, AAFES chief of staff, said. "If the past is any indicator, 'The New Avenger: Letters Home' issue should go quickly."

Available exclusively at AAFES stores, the newest issue once again features Marvel's superhero Captain America, who, because his regular supporting cast is away for the holidays, is joined by Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider and special guest, The Punisher. When Hydra takes over a military communications satellite, the superheroes spring into action to ensure troops' e-mail messages to loved ones make their way home.

Because of the highly collectible nature and the anticipated demand for the 36-page comic, AAFES officials advise that "The New Avengers: Letters Home" is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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by John on Dec 06, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 04, 2006

Book Review: Sea of Thunder, by Evan Thomas.

I like Simon and Schuster. They send me books to read.

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This is a title I would not have bought, simply because of competition for shelf space and time, but I'm glad I got it to read. Made me expand myself a bit.

The book is Sea of Thunder - Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign, 1941-45, by Newsweek journalist Evan Thomas.

I've not read a quick-reading one volume history of WWII in the Pacific, except in context of the land campaigns. So I've read several detailed histories of some of the battles covered here, but I've never really had a sense of the overall flow of the Naval Campaign. I say naval campaign in caps there because the book is not about MacArthur's Navy, the 7th Fleet, nor does it touch on the land campaigns much, except where needful.

This is the story of the maneuverings, nautical and political and personal, of the Big Blue Fleet, mostly when under the command of Admiral Halsey, and the Imperial Japanese Fleet, as they strove to achieve the Decisive Battle in the Pacific Theater, told via the wartime careers of 4 naval officers. Admiral Halsey, commander of the Big Blue Fleet. Commander Ernest Evans, skipper of the USS Johnston, a ship and captain made famous in the Last Stand of the Tin-Can Sailors at Leyte Gulf. Admiral Takeo Kurita, commander of the Second Fleet on it's last, ill-fated sortie, and Admiral Matome Ugaki, commander of the biggest battleships ever built, the Musashi and Yamato, and who would achieve a sad fame as "The Last Kamikaze".

Thomas makes good use of Japanese sources to give the reader a far more nuanced view of the Japanese Navy and it's commanders and sailors than I have read elsewhere (a failing that may be more due to my soldierly, vice naval, interests). It was especially eerie to see the witless paranoia and fantasy that the Japanese Imperial Staff engaged in that mirrored that of the German General Staff, comprised, as both were, of people far too removed from the fighting and who held their positions due to being good staff weenies and game-players than deep-thinking strategists.

He also strips away any lingering pedestals for Halsey and Evans, applying as he does, the one thing about the book that annoyed me. Evans lets his "90's kind of guy" sensibilities suffuse his writing, as he makes sure we all know that these guys were, in many ways, uncultured, sorta uncouth, and racist (especially Halsey). I don't mind truth-telling. It's far more useful to know that Halsey was so affected by the stress of his job that he had psychosomatic illnesses and yet kept on doing his job, than the image of an unbreakable man at the helm. Humanizing these men is a good thing. There are just moments in passing where Evan's lets his sensitivities mar his prose, to my ear. Your mileage may vary.

[Update: Heh. I fell into my own rhetorical trap - *I* still think Halsey did a great job overall, and that Evans *earned* his Medal of Honor, whatever we after-the-fact guessers have to say. They were the "Man in the Arena" many of us are the cold and timid souls who know neither victory of defeat. That said - you have to be able to look past the aura and see the truth, to both try to learn from the mistakes, and, in the final analysis - makes great people greater, as you learn of the real cost of doing what at the time seemed so easy, because we wanted it to appear that they were Olympians. -the Armorer]

But if that's the only complaint I have, it's not much.

I suspect my compadres of the Naval community will not find much in here that is new or revelatory, aside from the Japanese perspective. I admit to being a little surprised at the unity of command issues and long-running sore of strategic comms, and how Naval Tradition (with those caps) got in the way at times, but no more so than happened with MacArthur. I was completely unaware of the effective incompetence of the highest levels of the Japanese armed forces, simply because I really had never paid attention to the Japanese side of the war from the operational and strategic end of things.

My recommendation? If you like military history and aren't looking for geek-level reading, it's worth the money. If you aren't that up on the naval campaign in the Pacific in WWII, and would like an easy-to-read precis on the last gasp of the Gun Club Admirals and the rise of carrier warfare, as well as an interesting window into the Japanese, this book will fit that niche. If you've never read naval history before, this is a good introduction to the subject - well written in an easy to read style, and decent history from a substance perspective. If you're a serious naval historian/geek, unless the Japanese side of this is new to you, there isn't much in here for that level of reader, except that if it's a subject you last read about in Samuel Eliot Morison's history of the war some time ago, it might be a good way to revisit the topic and refresh those neurons. Especially if you've moved from junior officer to more senior officer in the intervening years. Revisiting the subject might cause you to see some things you didn't notice the first time.

A good Christmas gift for the naval enthusiast in your group who doesn't already know enough to write a book themselves... In other words, if I hadn't read it already, it would have been a good choice for me! (Thanks, Leah!)

Sea of Thunder, by Evan Thomas. Released November 2006 by Simon and Schuster. List $27, online $18.90 or less.

Coming up later this week: Masters of the Air, by Donald Miller.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 04, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 23, 2006

For all of you warriors away from home today... and those who await your return...

This may be from last year - but it doesn't look a whole lot different this year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

AR RAMADI, Iraq – 1st Sgt. Daniel Calderon, 1st. sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, serves Marines during Thanksgiving here at the Hurricane Point chow hall Nov. 24.</p>

<p>Photo by: Cpl. Shane Suzuki Submitting Unit: 2nd Marine Division<br />
Photo Date:11/24/2005

AR RAMADI, Iraq – 1st Sgt. Daniel Calderon, 1st. sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, serves Marines during Thanksgiving here at the Hurricane Point chow hall Nov. 24.

Photo by: Cpl. Shane Suzuki Submitting Unit: 2nd Marine Division
Photo Date:11/24/2005

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 23, 2006

Old soldiers, fading away.

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Ry sent me an email stream. It starts with two lines.

89th Division Association from WWII is dissolving. The greatest generation is slipping away.

Ry added:

We can't let that go unnoticed can we? I'm going nuts trying to write the China sub thing, keep Al's kids in line over at GX40, and answering HE. Can't we tap someone else to do this? Pleeeeeeease? ry

I suppose we can't, Ry. But we'll take it as a *good* thing, in a bittersweet way.

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The 89th Infantry Division, also known as the Rolling W and/or the Middle West Division, was raised at Camp Funston, Fort Riley, August 27, 1917, as a part of the National Army (the National Army was a distinct formation, raised for the purpose of the war, it essentially evolved after the war into the Army Reserve). The division was recruited in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri, and had a Donovan in it - my grandfather, a 2nd Lieutenant of Field Artillery. The Institute of Heraldry (the Army's official insignia designer) descriptions of the divisional patch aver that this patch designated the "Middle West" Division, as it can be read as an "M", turn it and it can be read as a "W". The description adds that the letter can also be read as a Greek sigma, the symbol of summation; and the circle implies the ability to exert force in any direction and to resist in any position. The unofficial explanation is that the "W" patch, created during World War I, pays tribute to the first three commanders of the 89th Division, Major Generals William Wright, Leonard Wood, and Frank Winn. Larry the Cable Guy stole the Division motto and southern-fried it... the motto is "Get it done! vice Larry's "Git 'er done!"

In World War I the division deployed to France in 1918, and received campaign credits for Lorraine, St. Mihiel and Meuse Argonne. (Say the last out loud - just where did the moose go?)

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When the Army Reserve was created, the Division was reactivated as a component thereof in 1921. It was recalled to active service in 1942 at then-Camp Carson, Colo. - and designated as the 89th Light Division. As the Division trained and organized, doctrine changed as a result of war experience and the division was reorganized and re-designated as the 89th Infantry Division in 1944.

The Division landed in France at Le Havre on 21 January 1945, They spent several weeks in pre-combat training before moving into the line near Echternacht on 11 March. On 12 March the Rhineland offensive kicked off, and the 89th crossed the Sauer and thence to and across the Moselle River on 17 March. The Division crossed the Rhine on 26 March, between the towns of Kestert and Kaub. In April, the 89th attacked toward Eisenach taking the town on 6 April. The next objective was Friedrichroda, in the heart of much-ballyhooed National Redoubt in Thuringia. The city was secured by 8 April. The Division continued to move eastward toward the Mulde River, capturing Zwickau by the 17th of the month. The advance halted on 23 April, and from then until VE-day, the Division saw only limited action, engaging in patrolling and general security. With only 57 days in combat, the division got off comparatively lightly in WWII (though not for any of the casualties and their families, certainly).

Killed: 222
Wounded: 692
Missing: 91
Captured: 1
Battle Casualties: 1,006
Non-Battle Casualties: 1,074
Total Casualties: 2,080
Percent of T/O Strength: 14.6

Earning the following awards:
Legion of Merit: 5
Silver Star: 45
Soldiers Medal: 1
Bronze Star: 164

I would note things were different then. Now, there would be a lot more Bronze Stars (due to changes in how the medal is awarded (a policy under review, btw) and, of course, every LTC would have to have a Legion of Merit these days).

It was the Rhine crossing at Oberwesal where the 89th gave us one of the iconic pictures of World War II. The baby-faced Lieutenant up in the front of a landing craft, looking back at the soldiers in the boat.

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Less well known is the picture of what he was looking at...

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The Division reactivated in 1947 with headquarters in Wichita - They were re-designated the 89th Division (Training) in 1959 - and again re-designated the 89th United States Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) in 1973.

In 2003 all Regional Support Commands were re-designated to Regional Readiness Commands.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign the Wichita US Army Reserve Center by disestablishing the 89th Regional Readiness Command. This recommendation was part of a larger recommendation to re-engineer and streamline the Command and Control structure of the Army Reserves that would create the Northwest Regional Readiness Command at Fort McCoy, WI.

I would note the Grand Army of the Republic no longer exists, either.

And the American Legion is actually struggling, in many areas, as is the VFW, though the GWOT will probably help in that regard.

Truth is, the Rolling W saw it's combat in WWI and II. And in WWII it was only 57 days of combat, with the highest award being some 45 Silver Stars.

And it hasn't seen action since. It hasn't been a true division since 1959, when it converted to a readiness command, and is going to dis-establish altogether as a result of the 2005 BRAC.

There simply isn't much of a binder anymore, as the last of the WWII veterans die out.

It's sad in a way, but it's also indicative, in the same way the passing of the GAR was, of the passing of an era.

Flip side, the societies of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 10th, 82nd, 101st Infantry, 1st Armored, and 1st Cavalry Divisions are all doing fine, as are the newly combat bonded elements of several National Guard divisional and brigade societies (which in some aspects is more important, as those guys are actually much more visible to the public eye and the bindings of their communities than the Regulars). But since we no longer have combat formations (except SOF) in the Reserve, and haven't had functional divisions (we've got some named such, but no *real* divisions) in the Reserve, this is not an unexpected outcome. In many ways, the Reserve is the bastard stepchild of the Army for good or ill.

Be wistful, not sad. It's combat that binds those associations - take solace in the fact that some of our old soldier's associations are fading away, and not growing strong with new blood.

In other words, today, be thankful that thus far, our wars since WWII have not taken an Army the size of the ones that fought WWI and WWII. Because in the final analysis, that's why the 89th Division Association is fading away. It's a Band of Brothers in a family that has not had to keep growing. In a very real sense, they did their job. And so, just as the Grand Army of the Republic is a memory marked by monuments and encampment medals for sale at militaria shows and antique shops, so to will the 89th Division hopefully never need to be resurrected and sent into battle for the Republic.

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by John on Nov 23, 2006
» Murdoc Online links with: Friday Linkzookery - 24 Nov 2006

November 14, 2006

Sometimes, you can believe a sailor... or aviator.

Sometimes. Like when Lex and Bill talk about landing on "pitching decks in the twilight gloaming on a wine-dark sea" or other verbal diarrhea...

Pacific Ocean (Nov. 10, 2006) - Pilots hover in an SH-60B Seahawk assigned to the

Pacific Ocean (Nov. 10, 2006) - Pilots hover in an SH-60B Seahawk assigned to the "Wolfpack" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light Four Five (HSL-45) while waiting for the perfect time to land aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) during rough seas. Preble is currently participating in Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ron Reeves
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by John on Nov 14, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 12, 2006

Hey! I'm "that guy!"

I remember as a kid going to parades, displays, shows, etc, and seeing some guy or group of guys with Really Cool Stuff - whether it was a classic car, military vehicle, airplane, cannon...

Yesterday, I realized I am now "that guy" to some kids. And a few envious adult males, too... heheheheheheheh.

As the Rotary Technical made its way to our slot in the Leavenworth Veteran's Day parade, we passed a float full of kids, and one of 'em sang out with "Swwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!" while looking at the Vickers (shown here all kitted out for the several ad-hoc classes conducted while waiting for our turn to start down the route).

Gotta love Leavenworth - driving from the Castle to the Riverfront Community Center and thence to the line-up spot, we passed cops in cars, cops on foot. And they all waved, no one reached for his pistol or grabbed his radio... I should add that the Leavenworth Rotary Club sponsored a pancake breakfast that morning as a fund-raiser - but disabled veterans (on their word, no other proof required, though for at least 3, wheelchairs spoke loudly) got breakfast for free. Not surprisingly, probably about a quarter of the club membership would qualify on those grounds... this *is* Leavenworth, after all.

Fans of Veterans

The Veteran's Day parade here is huge for a town our size (I think). 35K in population (and since males outnumber females, I'm guessing the prison population is in that count). We had over 170 entries in the parade. And an entry might be one vehicle or 15. It takes 2.5 hours to run the whole thing through.

The weather was excellent, the turn-out was great. We started with a fly-over by two F-16s from the Iowa Air Guard, one being piloted by a Leavenworth High School graduate, and then the parade started. We had mounted units, bands, youth drill teams, lots of classic cars carrying vets.

The local Patriot Riders showed up, with an interesting take on POW/MIAs.

The 35th Infantry Division showed up, with some recent OIF returnees.

We had artillery! And firetrucks!

Halfway through the parade, at 11AM, everything came to a stop, and they played Taps.

After that, my crew did their "dash 10" PMCS checks (especially on the trailer), and we loaded up the ammo into the Vickers.

Vickers Ammo

Then off we went. The Order of Rotary, Militant, went over well with this crowd. Many were the murmurs and exclamations of awe, interest, and envy. Only one disapproving pinch-faced Blue Stater (in spirit, anyway). Much was the disinformation given by men to their women and children. I learned that I owned a Gatling Gun, a water-cooled .50 cal machine gun, a Maxim (which is true, I do own one, but this isn't it... though it *is* a derivative), to a Browning M1919, and perhaps the best was the one who confidently told all around that it was a Mark 19 belt-fed grenade launcher...

A couple of people stayed with me for a city block, taking pictures. They didn't *look* like ATFE agents...

Oh, and there was one kid who said - "So that's what Santa does on his time off!"

I have no idea what prompted that.

No, Virginia, that is *not* Santa Claus!

A good time was had by all, and I've been told I'll do it again next year. Mebbe instead of the Vickers, I'll mount the M18 57mm Recoilless Rifle... and I apologize to my Aussie visitors - I know the block on the slouch hat is execrable.

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by John on Nov 12, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 09, 2006

USAREUR Becomes well, a *lot* smaller...

Cold Warriors! Brats! Take a look here, as some Cold War Military Archaeology...

Oh, for normals: USAREUR - United States ARmy, EURope.

USAREUR Transformation

Take a look at those numbers...

Cold War - 858 installations in 38 communities and almost a half-million people (including families). I lived there for over 13 years all told (including when we still had troops in France).

Current: 234 installations (which can mean a radio tower on a hill, too) in 14 communities with around 125k people.

Future (2010 or so): 88 installations in 5 communities, and around 70K people.

Every place I was stationed, or lived, in fact, where I was born, have been or will be, returned to the Germans. The high school my sister graduated from no longer exists.

Easier to read version? Click here.

No OPSEC was harmed in the posting of this message.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 09, 2006

Kansas National Guard News

The First Kansas Volunteers are coming home today!

Welcome home, Roger and the rest of ya!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Nov. 7, 2006
No. 06-118
2nd BATTALION, 137th INFANTRY COMING HOME NOV. 9
Approximately 450 soldiers of the Kansas National Guard?s 2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry (Mechanized) will be welcomed home to Kansas on Thursday, Nov. 9. The ceremony which is tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. (See Note) will be held at the Kansas Expocentre, 1 Expocentre Dr., Topeka.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the adjutant general, will greet the soldiers and welcome them home after their year-long deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The public is encouraged to attend and support the soldiers as they return from their deployment.

The soldiers will be released to join family and friends at the conclusion of the ceremony.

The battalion is headquartered in Kansas City, Kan., and has units in Wichita and Lawrence.

While in Iraq, the unit was responsible for operating the Joint Visitor?s Bureau (JVB) in Baghdad and for providing security for the many high level visitors that pass through Iraq. They were also responsible for area security for the JVB and areas near Baghdad.

Approximately 350 soldiers from the battalion were mobilized to Germany in 2002 for force protection duty under Operation Enduring Freedom.


NOTE: The 2 p.m. time is based upon current travel arrangements for the unit. Due to unforeseen circumstances this time could change.

Message from the Gov:

November 9, 2006

Our nation will pause once again on Saturday, November 11 to honor the veterans who have served our nation and the cause of freedom.

All across our state, communities will stop to reflect and remember our military veterans and what their service means to us and to our nation. This year it is especially relevant to do so since so many American men and women are in harm?s way overseas.

In Kansas we have a proud tradition of supporting our veterans, and I have been privileged as governor to hold a Veterans Day ceremony inside our Capitol each year to honor those who have served. I hope you will join me for this year?s ceremony.

The traditional time for Veterans Day ceremonies is 11:00 a.m., but we have consciously set a 9:00 a.m. start for the Capitol ceremony so attendees can also attend other commemorations later in the morning.

Since this year?s ceremony will occur on Saturday, it provides an opportunity to bring family and friends to help honor our nation?s veterans. I look forward to seeing you on this important day, but if you?re not able to attend a Veterans Day ceremony, I?d ask that you pause for a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. in honor of our veterans? service.

Kathleen Sebelius
Governor of the State of Kansas

Myself and the Castle Vickers will be riding in the Leavenworth parade.

by John on Nov 09, 2006

November 07, 2006

Contrary to what it looks like...

This is not a deck crewman with a fancy control-line helo model... nor is it a crewman of a japanese bomber flying over a WWII aircraft carrier (besides, that war was mostly in black and white...)

No, this is guys I'm jealous of - EOD *and* they get to do stuff like this - dangle from ropes totally at the mercy of Bill Tuttle-types.

Of course, there are few people I'd rather be at the mercy of, if I have to be at the mercy of anybody...

Red Sea (Nov. 3, 2006) Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class Christopher Courtney assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Six (EODMU-6), Det. 16 assist his team members during Special Purpose Insertion Extraction (SPIE) training from an SH-60 helicopter. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) is deployed in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Miguel Angel Contreras


Red Sea (Nov. 3, 2006) Explosive Ordnance Disposal 1st Class Christopher Courtney assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Six (EODMU-6), Det. 16 assist his team members during Special Purpose Insertion Extraction (SPIE) training from an SH-60 helicopter. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) is deployed in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Miguel Angel Contreras

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 07, 2006

November 03, 2006

A scalp, sorta.

Abu Ghraib claims another officer scalp. Well, pulls on his hair really hard.

For the record - I predicted this would be how it went down for General Sanchez. He should have taken the hint, and retired some time ago. But GO egos can keep them from acknowledging the obvious.

Just like the rest of us.

Army general retires, blames Abu Ghraib Associated Press McALLEN, Texas - Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who served a tumultuous year as commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq, retired from the Army on Wednesday, calling his career a casualty of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

"That's the key reason, the sole reason, that I was forced to retire," Sanchez said for a story in Thursday's editions of The (McAllen) Monitor. "I was essentially not offered another position in either a three-star or four-star command." [Armorer's Note: And it's fully sufficient a reason, in and of itself, General.]

Sanchez had been a candidate to become the next commander of U.S. Southern Command but was passed over after the prisoner abuse scandal exploded into an international controversy. He was criticized by some for not doing more to avoid mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners.

Best of luck in your future endeavors, General. But with the size of your retirement check, don't expect too much sympathy from around here.

I still think Colonel Pappas got off too easily.

Just sayin'.

You can read the rest here.

by John on Nov 03, 2006

November 02, 2006

Villainous Company.

Go.Read.Cassandra.

by John on Nov 02, 2006

October 31, 2006

John Kerry, Not Presidential Material, reason #456,987,321

U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Benny Hubbard, the district Sgt. Maj. for Gulf Region South, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, shakes hands with an Iraqi child prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Salah Hadi Obid Elementary School in Afak, Iraq, Oct. 11, 2006. The construction of the school was funded, contracted and inspected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dawn M. Price) (Released)


U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Benny Hubbard, the district Sgt. Maj. for Gulf Region South, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, shakes hands with an Iraqi child prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Salah Hadi Obid Elementary School in Afak, Iraq, Oct. 11, 2006. The construction of the school was funded, contracted and inspected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dawn M. Price) (Released)

Compare and contrast SGM Hubbard's efforts with students to... the junior Senator from Massachusetts...

Kerry then told the students that if they were able to navigate the education system, they could get comfortable jobs - "If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq," he said to a mixture of laughter and gasps

Oh, yeah, he said it. Don't wanna believe the journo? Listen to it here, courtesy Bill. I wonder what SGM Hubbard thinks about that comment?

Soooo, the 299,870,000 Americans not currently serving in Iraq all have advanced degrees, eh?

Well, let's be more accurate. Using the CIA factbook data on the US, 2005 data.

There are 134,813,023 men and women of military age (18-49).

There are, roughly, 130,000 troops in Iraq (a number that fluctuates, work with me here).


by David Dismukes October 27, 2006 Army recruits express their motivation during a platoon competition at an obstacle course at Fort Benning, Ga. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.


by David Dismukes October 27, 2006 Army recruits express their motivation during a platoon competition at an obstacle course at Fort Benning, Ga. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

Which means there are 134,683,023 people of military age who have managed to avoid the trap at the moment. Oh, I know, I'm not accounting for the entire military, nor those who have been to Iraq and gotten out, etc - but we're talking ROM snapshot here.

Oops. That's everybody of the right age. That doesn't take into account *fit* for military service.

Pvt. Charlie Lonno from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry crawl through a mud filled pit with barbed wire overhead as part of an obsticle course on Fort Benning's Sand Hill Tuesday, Oct. 17.  The Micronesia native is on his fifth day of Basic Training.  Photo by David Dismukes


Pvt. Charlie Lonno from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry crawl through a mud filled pit with barbed wire overhead as part of an obsticle course on Fort Benning's Sand Hill Tuesday, Oct. 17. The Micronesia native is on his fifth day of Basic Training. Photo by David Dismukes

That changes things. Now we're down to 109,305,756 boys and girls for the recruiters to prey on. Of whom 109,175,756 aren't in Iraq, apparently having negotiated that hard-to-navigate educational system and found themselves free from being compelled by poverty to serve - there apparently being no other reason to serve, in Senator Kerry's world.

Drill Sgt. Primus Brown instructs Soldiers from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry as they learn to high-crawl through a sand pit as part of an obsticle course on Fort Benning's Sand Hill Tuesday, Oct. 17.  The Soldiers are in their fifth day of Basic Training.  Photo by David Dismukes


Drill Sgt. Primus Brown instructs Soldiers from B Company, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry as they learn to high-crawl through a sand pit as part of an obsticle course on Fort Benning's Sand Hill Tuesday, Oct. 17. The Soldiers are in their fifth day of Basic Training. Photo by David Dismukes

So... 0.0011893243755617041796042287105173% of the "fit to serve" population are apparently unable to hack it, eh, Senator, and find themselves with no choice but to take King George's Shilling and fight and die for Empire? Terrible great risk, ain't it?

This is Halloween - let's try to make it scarier for the kiddles, so they can feel even better about what a horror they are escaping.

Let's just restrict it to those coming of military age in a year... that gives us a 2005 estimated population of 4,180,074. Let's cheat, and say that all 130,000 troops in Iraq are 18 year olds. That gives us 4,050,074 of these kids whose scholastic abilities have enabled them to escape the clutches of the recruiters, since exactly 0% of them have come to the attention of their local draft boards... I bet that gives us a scary number for Halloween!

Ooooooh. 0.031099927896013324166031510446944

Just sayin'.

That's it. My scary Halloween post.

U.S. Military Academy Cadet Third Class Jason Schreuder spent 12 hours carving his contribution to the new <i>Army Strong</i> campaign. Photo by Leslie Gordonier


U.S. Military Academy Cadet Third Class Jason Schreuder spent 12 hours carving his contribution to the new Army Strong campaign. Photo by Leslie Gordonier

Apparently, I'm not the only one to notice...

Stop the ACLU
Captain's Quarters
Snerk - and Cassandra - and here I thought I was finally gonna have a post with more column inches than hers... nope.

And, as SWWBO notes - the services are, ahem, somewhat better edumacated than the population in general...

Education Level. The Military Services value and support the education of their members. The emphasis on education was evident in the data for FY 2002. Practically all active duty and Selected Reserve enlisted accessions had a high school diploma or equivalent, well above civilian youth proportions (79 percent of 18-24 year-olds). More important, excluding accessions enlisting in the Army or Army Reserve under the GED+ program (an experimental program of individuals with a GED or no credential who have met special screening criteria for enlisting), 92 percent of NPS active duty and 87 percent of NPS Selected Reserve enlisted recruits were high school diploma graduates.

Given that most officers are required to possess at least a baccalaureate college degree upon or soon after commissioning and that colleges and universities are among the Services’ main commissioning sources (i.e., Service academies and ROTC), the academic standing of officers is not surprising. The fact that 87 percent of active duty officer accessions and 95 percent of the officer corps (both excluding those with unknown education credentials) were degree holders (approximately 17 and 38 percent advanced degrees) is in keeping with policy and the professional status and expectations of officers. Likewise, 81 percent of Reserve Component officer accessions and 91 percent of the total Reserve Component officer corps held at least a bachelor’s degree, with 23 and 34 percent possessing advanced degrees, respectively.

There's a Heritage Foundation Study available here.

An extract:

A pillar of conventional wisdom about the U.S. military is that the quality of volunteers has been degraded after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Examples of the voices making this claim range from the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Daily News [1] to Michael Moore’s pseudo-documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. Some insist that minorities and the underprivileged are over­represented in the military. Others accuse the U.S. Army of accepting unqualified enlistees in a futile attempt to meet its recruiting goals in the midst of an unpopular war.[2]

A report published by The Heritage Foundation in November 2005 examined the issue and could not substantiate any degradation in troop quality by comparing military enlistees in 1999 to those in 2003. It is possible that troop quality did not degrade until after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, when patriotism was high. A common assumption is that the Army experienced difficulty getting qualified enlistees in 2005 and was subse­quently forced to lower its standards. This report revisits the issue by examining the full recruiting classes for all branches of the U.S. military for every year from 2003 to 2005.

The current findings show that the demo­graphic characteristics of volunteers have contin­ued to show signs of higher, not lower, quality. Quality is a difficult concept to apply to soldiers, or to human beings in any context, and it should be understood here in context. Regardless of the standards used to screen applicants, the average quality of the people accepted into any organiza­tion can be assessed only by using measurable cri­teria, which surely fail to account for intangible characteristics. In the military, it is especially questionable to claim that measurable characteris­tics accurately reflect what really matters: cour­age, honor, integrity, loyalty, and leadership.

Again, just sayin'.

Senator, despite the fact that you simply cannot grow past it - whatever Iraq is... IT ISN'T VIETNAM!

by John on Oct 31, 2006
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: These words will come back to Haunt John Kerry!
» Media Lies links with: John Fraud Kerry is....
» BIG DOGS WEBLOG links with: Real Men Don’t Disrespect the Troops John
» Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend links with: Stupid is, Stuck in Iraq (Drill Sgt. Bleu U.S. Army ret.)

October 29, 2006

For Valour.

Canadian Star of Military Valour - Canada's second highest combat award (after the Victoria Cross).

Canadian Star of Military Valour

CAPT H and Damian Brooks both pointed out this to me - Canada awards her first *indigenous* awards for heroism in combat. As we have sometimes had a common language come between us, Damian explains:

FYI, John, these medals were created in 1993 (took us that long to figure out we should have our own distinct military honours system), and haven't been awarded until now - 13 years later.

In case the terminology south of the border is once again different: "bravery" can be equated to courage, and CF members have been awarded bravery medals before, but "valour" is considered courage in the presence of the enemy, and thus no decorations until now.

Fair enough. Go visit The Torch and see some soldiers you should meet:

Sergeant Patrick Tower, S.M.V., C.D.
Sergeant Michael Thomas Victor Denine, M.M.V., C.D.
Master Corporal Collin Ryan Fitzgerald, M.M.V.
Corporal Jason Lamont, M.M.V.

Well done, gentlemen!

Be sure to read the whole post - the stuff at the very end is informative, illustrative, and illuminating - if you follow the links.

Medal of Military Valour.

Canadian Medal of Military Valour


by John on Oct 29, 2006

October 25, 2006

They're playing my tune, now.

Here's an interesting collection of stuff from yesterday's MSM articles... a little window into the minds of the 4-baggers (that's 4-Star Generals for you normals).

First up, the Army. Heh. You could always call us auld pharts back... it's all we know how to do. Which Ry keeps kicking me in the teeth about.

Warfare skills eroding as Army fights insurgents By David Wood Sun reporter Originally published October 24, 2006 WASHINGTON // Pressed by the demands of fighting insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has been unable to maintain proficiency in the kind of high-intensity mechanized warfare that toppled Saddam Hussein and would be needed again if the Army were called on to fight in Korea or in other future crises, senior officers acknowledge.

Soldiers once skilled at fighting in tanks and armored vehicles have spent three years carrying out street patrols, police duty and raids on suspected insurgent safe houses. Officers who were experienced at maneuvering dozens of tanks and coordinating high-speed maneuvers with artillery, attack helicopters and strike fighters now run human intelligence networks, negotiate with clan elders and oversee Iraqi police training and neighborhood trash pickup.

The Army's senior leaders say there is scant time to train troops in high-intensity skills and to practice large-scale mechanized maneuvers when combat brigades return home. With barely 12 months between deployments, there is hardly enough time to fix damaged gear and train new soldiers in counterinsurgency operations. Some units have the time to train but find their tanks are either still in Iraq or in repair depots.

Read the rest of the Sun article here. Interesting for all the ghosts of arguments seen in this space...

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Oct 25, 2006

October 24, 2006

Speaking of being auld...

How many of these can you remember, old guys?

Did I mention Auld Guys?

Like, oh, 1SG Keith? Who is... 50 this day? No, I didn't mention that. Nope. Not me...

* Your name is on the back of a Unit Crest in the Graf O-Club. Yep
* You inventoried nukes at a NATO site and understood the 1 meter
rule when you found out they really were warm to the touch. Big Check!
* You know the Klosterbrauerei Kreuzberg beer really had a two
beer limit. uh-huh
* You know what GDP means and still remember where yours was and how long it took to occupy. Which one?
* You remember when we had tactical nukes and really planned to use them. Yepper. Did the planning, too.
* You remember spending hours in MOPP4 and doing M256 kits. Yep.
* You remember when the M8 Claymore and M72 LAW were part of CTT. Check.
* You remember when ARTEPs were 36 hours and you had fun. Heh. Fun?
* You remember what the hell a "1K zone" was. Something you went looking for after you busted into the 10K zone...
* You remember "ducks," and they weren't feathered. Got me here...
* You remember when Carl Vuono was CG (8th ID(M)) and Max Thurman was head of recruiting command. Betrays the source of this doc - a Pathfinder!
* You know what a Gama Goat and GOER were and could fix an M151A2 to run off one prop shaft. Yep, and I know that 3 cylinder 2 stroke diesel engines are deafening - worse than shooting cannon... damn things *shriek*!
* You remember snow chains on a deuce and a half. ...and putting the M151 the ditch, too, when the supply truck chains came off!
* You remember the monastery in Wildflecken. Through snow-blinded binos.
* You remember POMKIS, where your site was, and what was in it. Well, *I* remember POMCUS (Pre-positioning Of Materiel Configured In Unit Sets)... and I knew where my stuff was (near Weert, Holland), but we never drew our stuff, we always drew the stuff they wanted to move and service after that REFORGER.
* You had a license for an M-1941 stove. Still do. And for an M7 Priest, M3/16 Half-track, M24 Chaffee, and M-47 Patton, since we're on the subject.
* You remember when "c" rations came in cans and were the 1SGs cigarette supply. Check.
* You remember what a P38 is used for. 38 punches to open a can. Still have mine, have since 1972... made by Shelby, in Mallin, Oh.
* You remember everyone had a "reel to reel". I still do - in the basement somewhere.
* You remember when the Israelis were bad ***** and we all wanted to be like them.
* You remember when Saddam Hussein was our loyal ally. Well, not *really*.
* You remember jungle fatigues - and when they fit you. We liked 'em in the First Foot because we got to wear our unsubdued Big Red One on 'em...
* You remember when Airland Battle was a new concept, and everyone religiously read 100-5. And now I have a copy of FM3-0.
* You know what the "Cap Weinberger Doctrine" was.
* You remember green tabs strapped a " Pistol, Caliber .45, Automatic: M1911A1" Actually, I traded mine to the VTR driver for his M3A1 Grease Gun...
* You can remember Team Spirit and REFORGER were every year. I never did a Team Spirit (Korea) but I did 7 REFORGERs, 5 in Germany and 2 from the states.
* You can remember what REFORGER stood for - and they were happy to see you. Well, not all of 'em were happy. The Mercedes driver who pulled too close to the M1 on their first REFORGER near Wurzburg - he wasn't too happy to see us!
* You remember when the M16 was a plastic carbine, and you hoped for an M14. I still hope for an M14 - which is *still* serving, btw!
* You remember beer and cigarette machines in the barracks. Yep.
* You remember Happy Hour at the club - before MPs were waiting at the gate. And girls actually came to the clubs...
* You can remember going to the Club at Graf, drinking, and watching Margaret.
* You personally know Margaret. Heh. I know the Lieutenant who *married* Margaret... then there's the time Dave Cutler didn't wash his hand for two weeks... because he got to rub the oil on Margaret...
* You know what a "Smokey" at Hohenfels is.
* You know Herb at Hohenfels.
* You know the difference between the VRC46, VRC47, PRC77 and VRC160 and the requisite installation kits.
* You know what a CEOI is and you can encrypt grids. Who needs to shack a grid when ya got BLACKHORSE?
* You remember when NTC was a new and cool concept.
* You have never heard of a yellow stress card.
* You remember when as a new LT/CPT you could go out and train your soldiers and not have an OC tell you how screwed up you were.
* You remember battalion commanders and 1SG's who were Vietnam Vets.
* You remember battalion commanders who drank, swore and mentored.
* You remember battalion commanders who were ruthless about tactics, but didn't give a crap about admin BS. Nope, not *that* old.
* You remember as a LT/CPT you had raters and senior raters who actually had the balls to rank you in their profile - to your face. Hey, I've got an OER in my file that doesn't *have* a profile...
* You remember when 60% selected on promotion boards was - awesome.

H/t, auld Jim C.

I can't wait to read what Bill brings to this discussion.

by John on Oct 24, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Some humor.

October 19, 2006

Soldiers with two of their favorite things...

Dogs and children.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Sandoval, from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, juggles a soccer ball before giving it away to a boy in the Maghdad district of Kirkuk, Iraq, Sept. 30, 2006.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet) (Released)

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Sandoval, from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, juggles a soccer ball before giving it away to a boy in the Maghdad district of Kirkuk, Iraq, Sept. 30, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet) (Released)

An Iraqi boy salutes the camera while U.S. Army Pvt. Aaron Croussore provides security during a visit to a local street market in Kirkuk, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2006.  Croussore is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Steve Cline) (Released)

An Iraqi boy salutes the camera while U.S. Army Pvt. Aaron Croussore provides security during a visit to a local street market in Kirkuk, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2006. Croussore is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Steve Cline) (Released)

by Sgt. Thomas Wheeler October 12, 2006<br />
A Soldier from the 549th Military Police Company takes a rest with his sniffer dog during Operation Medusa in Mosul, Iraq. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

A Soldier from the 549th Military Police Company takes a rest with his sniffer dog during Operation Medusa in Mosul, Iraq. This photo appeared on www.army.mil. by Sgt. Thomas Wheeler October 12, 2006

Pretty much true of any soldier,

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any era...

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even Generals... and dogs mourned their soldiers.

Faithful Friend Mourns American Hero<br />
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br />
Along with the many millions to mourn the passing of American hero, General George S. Patton, Jr., is his dog

Faithful Friend Mourns American Hero -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Along with the many millions to mourn the passing of American hero, General George S. Patton, Jr., is his dog "Willie," the late general's pet bull terrier. Bad Nauheim, Germany. International News Photos [NWDNS-208-PU-153C(14)]. Picture reproduced courtesy Still Picture Branch (NWDNS), U. S. National Archives.

As we mourn (and honor) them...

There are some exceptions, of course - people who, as a rule, see dogs as rather something else. Just another reason to disrupt their plans for the world, if the opportunity presents.


by John on Oct 19, 2006

October 17, 2006

Major Ryan Worthan... someone you should know.

Silver Star awardee receives Nininger Award for Valor October 12, 2006

Maj. Ryan L. Worthan, Silver Star Awardee and recipient of the inaugural Alexander E. Nininger Award for Valor at Arms.

Maj. Ryan L. Worthan was awarded the inaugural Alexander E. Nininger Award for Valor at Arms by the U.S. Military Academy’s association of graduates.
Maj. Ryan L. Worthan was awarded the inaugural Alexander E. Nininger Award for Valor at Arms by the U.S. Military Academy’s association of graduates for demonstrating conspicuous valor and gallantry while serving with the 10th Mountain Division in action against al-Qaeda and Taliban guerrillas on Sept. 29, 2003, at Shkin Fire Base in Afghanistan.

Worthan received the Silver Star earlier for his leadership during a 12-hour battle at the fire base, which served as a choking point of enemy fighters coming out of the mountains on the Afghanistan and Pakistan border. Worthan’s actions led to more than 20 al-Qaeda and Taliban guerrillas being killed after he ordered several Apache attack helicopters and an A-10 Warthog gunship into the area.

“I’m honored beyond words to represent the U.S. Military Academy and to represent my classmates,” the 1997 West Point graduate said. “I have a ton of classmates who have received valor awards and have fought many more battles and, in my opinion, many tougher battles than I.

As Worthan addressed cadets during his award ceremony, he gave thanks to 1945 USMA graduate Doug Kenna, who endowed the Nininger Award. Nininger, a 1941 West Point graduate, received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions in the Philippines during World War II.

“Kenna’s thoughts on why we should have this award are very forward thinking,” Worthan said. “His vision was for this to be a long-term award for cadets to identify with junior leaders, that in the future may be received by lieutenants who the cadets will know, allowing them to identify with the awardees.”

Worthan credits West Point as a place that taught him great fundamentals for leadership and confidence.

*NININGER, ALEXANDER R., JR.

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 57th Infantry, Philippine Scouts. Place and date: Near Abucay, Bataan, Philippine Islands, 12 January 1942. Entered service at: Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Birth: Gainesville, Ga. G.O. No.: 9, 5 February 1942. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Abucay, Bataan, Philippine Islands, on 12 January 1942. This officer, though assigned to another company not then engaged in combat, voluntarily attached himself to Company K, same regiment, while that unit was being attacked by enemy force superior in firepower. Enemy snipers in trees and foxholes had stopped a counterattack to regain part of position. In hand-to-hand fighting which followed, 2d Lt. Nininger repeatedly forced his way to and into the hostile position. Though exposed to heavy enemy fire, he continued to attack with rifle and handgrenades and succeeded in destroying several enemy groups in foxholes and enemy snipers. Although wounded 3 times, he continued his attacks until he was killed after pushing alone far within the enemy position. When his body was found after recapture of the position, 1 enemy officer and 2 enemy soldiers lay dead around him.

by John on Oct 17, 2006
» A Rose By Any Other Name links with: What is a Hero?

Note for Fred Reed...

...here's your Army, preparing to frag its officers.

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More than 300 Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, participated in the Army’s largest-ever reenlistment ceremony held during a deployment Oct. 14.

More than 300 Soldiers reenlist in record breaking ceremony
By 4th Brigade Combat Team,
25th Infantry Division, Public Affairs

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (Army News Service, Oct. 16, 2006) – On the way to a yearlong deployment in Iraq, 307 Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, participated in the Army’s largest-ever reenlistment ceremony held during a deployment Saturday.

Headquartered at Fort Richardson, Alaska, the unit ceremony took place at Camp Buehring, where the Soldiers stopped for final preparations before entering Iraq.

“This ceremony says a lot about the personal courage and selfless service of these paratroopers,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Turnbull, command sergeant major for the 4th BCT, 25th Inf. “They understand they have a tough mission ahead of them and are still willing to commit themselves to continue in the Army.”

The large turnout underscores the service’s new campaign slogan, “Army Strong,” said the brigade’s commander, Col. Michael X. Garrett.

“Many are going to attribute this record-setting event to reenlistment incentives. But, on the eve of deploying north to Iraq, these paratroopers show that it is on a much more personal level,” Garrett said. “These paratroopers have seen something in someone, somewhere – whether it was a squad leader, platoon leader or commander – that led to this moment.”

Cpl. Brian Anderson, a recon scout with the unit’s 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, said he reenlisted for much the same reason as his comrades.

“I am reenlisting for the same reason as any other paratrooper here in this formation. I want to serve my country and I love the Army,” he said.

Of course, it isn't your Army, is it, Fred? And hasn't been, since, oh, 1980 or so, but you wouldn't recognize that, would you? Doesn't fit the 1972 template you're still carrying around.

by John on Oct 17, 2006
» A Rose By Any Other Name links with: What is a Hero?

October 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sailors!

061013-N-2970T-002 Pacific Ocean (Oct. 13, 2006) - Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Markus Ramirez, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), prepared the cake shown to honor the U.S. Navy’s birthday, commemorating 231 years of heritage. The cake was cut on the ship’s mess decks by the oldest and youngest crew members along with the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Brian Donegan. Essex and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is currently underway for their annual fall patrol. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Marvin E. Thompson Jr. (RELEASED) <br />

061013-N-2970T-002 Pacific Ocean (Oct. 13, 2006) - Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Markus Ramirez, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), prepared the cake shown to honor the U.S. Navy’s birthday, commemorating 231 years of heritage. The cake was cut on the ship’s mess decks by the oldest and youngest crew members along with the ship’s commanding officer, Capt. Brian Donegan. Essex and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is currently underway for their annual fall patrol. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Marvin E. Thompson Jr. (RELEASED)

The SecNav Sends:

SECNAV Navy Birthday Message to the Fleet Story Number: NNS061012-18 Release Date: 10/12/2006 6:20:00 PM

Special message from Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- America is an amazing success story. From our humble origins we have grown, prospered, and offered freedom to generations of Americans. We cherish our independence, our liberties, and our way of life, and like generations before, we unwaveringly defend these bedrocks from those who would do us harm.

Since 1775, when the Continental Congress of the United States recognized the need for naval forces, the United States Navy has been vital in protecting our national security. The heroism and courage of the Sailors that have fought our nation’s wars since the earliest days of the republic is alive today in each and every one of you; as we once again confront an enemy that openly targets our freedom and our way of life. Your willingness to serve, your steadfastness in the face of pressure, and your inspiring example of courage in confronting danger are what protect us from those who plot our destruction.

The fact that we live in an increasingly dangerous world is a sobering thought. We have faced great peril before, and we have prevailed. From those in Iraq and Afghanistan, to those deployed at sea and ashore around the world, to those at home who are responsible for recruiting, training, supplying, and providing intelligence to the warfighter, you are all engaged in a noble and worthy endeavor to preserve our way of life and keep America safe.

On this 231st Birthday of the United States Navy, take unique pride in knowing that your service and your sacrifice continue to do honor to a great nation. Your nation, fellow Americans, and our friends and allies around the world respect and appreciate your commitment.

It is my honor and privilege to be your Secretary as we celebrate this birthday. May God bless you, your families, and the United States of America.

The Usual Suspects weigh in, unsurprisingly... well, except for this one, and this one, and this one, at least as of this posting... I guess we can give the west coasters some slack, due to the time zones... of course, this East Coaster doesn't have that excuse... (but I like his Floating Frog).

by John on Oct 13, 2006
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Navy Seal Mike Monsoor Falls On Grenade To Save Comrades

October 06, 2006

What do you guys think?

I've got some thoughts - but not enough battery left to express them. I'll add mine later. Who knows, they might even have some thought behind them!

Miami Herald
October 6, 2006
Military Debates Raising National Guard's Status
Two generals oppose promoting National Guard chiefs to the level of other military branch heads, but backers said it ensures the Guard gets its fair share.

By Drew Brown
WASHINGTON - Two senior U.S. generals said Thursday they disagree with a proposal that would elevate the chief of the National Guard to the same rank and status as the heads of the other military branches and provide the Guard with its own budget. NATO commander Gen. James L. Jones and Gen. Lance Smith, commander of Joint Forces, said the measures would complicate the military chain of command and cause disagreement between the active-duty forces and the National Guard.

''My gut feeling is that it would be divisive, and I think creating a separate service, if you will, would be counter to the good order and discipline of the armed forces in general,'' Jones told the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves. With the passage of the 2007 defense bill last week, Congress asked the commission to examine the issue as it reviews the role of the National Guard and Reserves. Congress created the 13-member body last year to consider whether changes are needed in the way part-time soldiers and airmen are organized, trained, equipped and paid.

Advocates of putting the National Guard on equal footing with the active-duty military say it would ensure that the Guard gets its fair share of funding and equipment. Currently, the Army National Guard and the Air Force National Guard report to the Department of the Army and to the Department of the Air Force, respectively. The chief of the National Guard Bureau, who oversees both Guard divisions, is a three-star general who acts as an advisor to the four-star generals who head the Army and the Air Force.

Under the proposal, however, the National Guard chief also would hold four-star status and be given a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a six-member panel that coordinates military policy. Army and Air National Guard, with more than 455,000 troops, have provided nearly half of the combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, virtually all of the peacekeepers in the Balkans and thousands for border security, disaster relief and other domestic missions.

The Iraq war has taken a toll on National Guard equipment stocks. Stateside units have only about one-third of the trucks, Humvees and other equipment they normally would have because most of their gear has been left in Iraq. The price tag for rebuilding those stocks has been estimated at $21 billion. ''It is one of the largest military forces, and it has the most missions,'' said John Goheen, of the National Guard Association of the United States. ``Yet it has no voice at the top of the Pentagon.''

Legislation proposed this year by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Christopher ''Kit'' Bond, R-Mo., also would require that the deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, which oversees all military operations in the United States, come from Guard's ranks. The final version of the fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill stripped out those provisions and required only that the National Guard commission look into the issue and come up with a set of recommendations.

In a Senate floor speech last week, Leahy said that gutting the proposal signaled to the National Guard that Congress is ``not interested in truly supporting them.'' Jones recommended that pay and mobilization procedures be streamlined for part-time troops to ease the call-up process and to ensure that once they are called up, Guardsmen and Reservists receive the same pay and benefits as active-duty troops.

Albuquerque Tribune
October 5, 2006
Top Officer: Guard Not Needed On Joint Chiefs
By Michael Gisick
America's highest-ranking military officer says he opposes a push backed by Gov. Bill Richardson to name a National Guard officer to the country's top council of generals. Richardson said last month that the Guard deserves a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recognition of its increased role in the nation's defense. But during a stop in Albuquerque on Wednesday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace said the Guard is already adequately represented on the council.

Adding a National Guard general would be "counter-productive," Pace said. The Joint Chiefs, made up of six U.S. generals, advises the president on military policy. It includes representatives of the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as a chairman and vice-chairman. Pace said the Army and Air Force National Guard are represented by the generals from those branches. Giving the guard components a distinct voice in the council would impede efforts to develop a "joint voice," he said.

Pace praised the Guard's performance and said the military "could not do what we've been asked to do without the Guard and Reserves." Richardson and other governors have expressed concern that the Guard - traditionally used by states to respond to natural disasters - has been stretched thin by deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Richardson has said that placing a Guard general on the Joint Chiefs would give the Guard more say in its future and recognize that it is no longer a "secondary" military force.

As many as 40,000 National Guard troops were deployed to Iraq in 2004, about 40 percent of total U.S. troop strength there, though that number has declined since then. Members of the New Mexico Air and Army National Guards have made about 5,000 individual deployments since 2001, said Lt. Col. Kimberly Lalley, a New Mexico National Guard spokeswoman. That includes deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, the U.S.-Mexico border, Latin America and elsewhere, she said.

The New Mexico National Guard has about 4,000 members, Lalley said. Pace's comments on the Guard came after a luncheon speech Wednesday at the Rio Grande Inn in Old Town. Pace, the first Marine Corps general to serve as Joint Chiefs chairman, acknowledged a recent surge in violence in Iraq, which he attributed to increased operations against insurgents by U.S. and Iraqi forces.

Pace said the U.S. has enough troops in Iraq but that a greater number of competent Iraqi troops need to be trained, a process he acknowledged hasn't always gone well. "Clearly," Pace said, "many of the Iraqi forces we've trained haven't (had) the loyalty we'd want to the central government." That comment came after one audience member, who identified himself as a Marine Corps veteran, asked Pace how long the United States would put up with "this nonsense from the Iraqis."

Many Iraq analysts, including some within the U.S. military and intelligence communities, have issued increasingly dire warnings in recent months that sectarian violence and death-squad killings have left Iraq spiralling toward all-out civil war. But Pace praised the "courageous" leadership of Iraq's civilian leadership and said many Iraqi troops were performing well. He said the United States was determined to succeed in Iraq.

A handful of quiet protesters stood outside the hotel before Pace's speech. Terry Riley, a member of the group Veterans for Peace, said he was concerned the U.S. veteran's health care system still wasn't prepared to deal with returning service members. Several other protesters held signs declaring U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, an Albuquerque Republican, and President George W. Bush were "terrible on national security" and "disgracing our intelligence." Wilson and her opponent, Attorney General Patricia Madrid, attended Pace's speech. The speech was sponsored by the Kirtland Partnership Committee.

by John on Oct 06, 2006

October 03, 2006

Nice work if you can get it.

by NASA October 2, 2006<br />
Astronaut U.S. Army Col. Jeffrey N. Williams is assisted by Russian search and recovery personnel after landing in Kazakhstan. Williams, who was in space for six months, was the primary flight engineer and NASA science officer aboard the International Space Station. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

by NASA October 2, 2006 Astronaut U.S. Army Col. Jeffrey N. Williams is assisted by Russian search and recovery personnel after landing in Kazakhstan. Williams, who was in space for six months, was the primary flight engineer and NASA science officer aboard the International Space Station. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

JSC2006-E-42734 (29 Sept. 2006) --- Astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams, Expedition 13 flight engineer and NASA ISS science officer, is assisted by Russian search and recovery teams on the steppe of central Kazakhstan on Sept. 29, 2006. Americans who also helped are out of the frame. This came a short while after the landing in the Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft following undocking earlier in the day from the International Space Station. Williams and cosmonaut Pavel V. Vinogradov, Expedition 13 commander, spent 183 days in space while Anousheh Ansari, spaceflight participant, spent 11 days in space and 9 days on the ISS under a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

Heh. No one told me this was a job option when I enlisted...

Well, actually, that's not true. I actually did have a degree that might have allowed me to apply - except we weren't taking people who needed no stinking glasses! Only fit for fodder, we four-eyes.

So, aside from propaganda purposes... why *do* we have Army Officers In Space? 8^) Colonel Williams is not the only one...

by John on Oct 03, 2006

October 02, 2006

Heh.

Fred nails me, I guess. This is what Owen has been trying to get across: War is too important to be left to the likes of me.

GI Joe is the go-to guy.

Further, and I want to say this carefully, officers often are not quite adults. They can be (and usually are) smart, competent, dedicated, and physically brave, and some are exceedingly hard men. But there is a simple-mindedness about them, an aversion to the handmaidens of introspection, a certain boyishness as in kids playing soldier. A lot of make-believe goes into an officer’s world. Enlisted men, grown up, see things as they are. Officers are issued a world by the command and then live in it.

Note the heavy emphasis of the military, meaning the officer corps, on ritual and pageantry. It is adult kid-stuff. Three thousand men building a skyscraper just show up, do their jobs, and go home. The military wants its men standing in squares, precisely at attention, thumbs along the seams, with brass perfectly polished. It wants stirring music, snappy salutes, and the haunting tones of taps, “Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full, sir.” This is justified as necessary for discipline. It isn’t. A gunny sergeant has no difficulty maintaining his authority without the hoop-la

Officers remind me of armed Moonies. There is the same earnestness, the same deliberate optimism-by-policy. Things are going well because doctrine says they are. An officer is as ideologically upbeat as Reader’s Digest, and as unreflective. This is the why they don’t learn, why the US is again flailing about, trying to fight hornets with elephant guns. “Yessir, can do, sir.” Well, sometimes, and sometimes not. It is not arrogance, more like a belief in gravitation.

Read the rest, here.

Of course, Fred doesn't know that many officers, methinks. Not well. There is some superficial truth here. And a lot of "I'm just sooo much smarter than you," too.

Of course, I'm doubly-damned. I'm a stupid officer, and one who wasn't successful by most lights. So I'm a real piece of fluff.

Hmmm. One thing, Fred, and your buddy Jim (not to be confused with my buddy Jim) - Vietnam was fought with a draftee Army, not a professional one. It's an important difference many of your age cohort can't quite wrap their minds around. Re-enlistment rates are still holding - which is not a support for your thesis, really.

Sure, there are always malcontents. And many of them have good reason to be. That doesn't mean they're ready to start refusing orders or lobbing grenades into tents.

Okay. Check still comes at the end of the month.

H/t, Jim C, who was marginally more successful than I... ;^)

by John on Oct 02, 2006

The story of C Company

CAPT H sends us to this article in the Toronto Star.

It starts out like this:

The story of C Company Sep. 30, 2006. 05:44 AM MITCH POTTER MIDDLE EAST BUREAU

PANJWAII DISTRICT, Afghanistan—One must turn back time several generations to find Canadian soldiers in the state that Charlie Company finds itself today. Not since the Korean War has a single Canadian combat unit been so cut to pieces so quickly.

Either of the two events that rocked their world in the dust-caked hills of southern Afghanistan one month ago might qualify as the worst day of their lives. That they came back-to-back — one disastrous morning followed by another even worse — is a matter of almost incomprehensibly bad fortune.

The epic double-whammy — a perfect Taliban ambush of unprecedented intensity, followed one day later by a devastating burst of "friendly fire" from a U.S. Air Force A-10 Warthog — reduced Charlie to a status of "combat ineffective." They were the ones to fire the opening shots of Operation Medusa. But even as the massive Canada-led assault was gathering steam they were finished.

The soldiers left standing are not the same today as the ones who deployed to Afghanistan with nothing but good intentions barely seven weeks ago, as part of 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ont.

A few are emotional wrecks, too fragile still to speak of what transpired during that fateful Labour Day long weekend. Others bleed anger from their every pore.

Some cling to wounded pride, anxious for it to be known that if not for enormous self-sacrifice, the volume of Canadian blood shed these two mornings would have been vastly greater.

Others are disillusioned, having come to regard their work in Afghanistan as a mission impossible. And others still are more driven than ever to succeed, if only to lend greater meaning to the loss of their fallen Canadian brothers.

The survivors of Charlie Company are closer now than they were before. And the other thing they have in common is a need to tell their story, which they do today for the first time.

Read the whole thing via the link above. What makes it blogworthy is John's take on it:

This is from a "PROGRESSIVE" newspaper, whose support for the Afghan war is very soft. They tend to support the idea that we should be conducting "peacekeeping" and "development" operations in a safer corner of the country; or be trying to sort out Darfur, where we have no integral access. Any place where war is not a factor.

I was intrigued that the reporter managed to satisfy his editors with the requisite horror of "blood shed in an unnecessary cause", while hinting that C Company has not really been broken/destroyed by this battle, and the pers were regirding themselves for further combat.

Cheers
John

I went looking for pictures to support this post, and so I went to the Canadian Department of Defence news website. Two things struck me this morning.

1. Their web banner is much more... militant than the old one (which I wish I had saved, now).

© Canada Ministry of Defence

2. Their photo site (at least at the moment, these things tend to be pretty dynamic) seem spend an awful lot of space on their casualties and associated ramp ceremonies (at least if you type in "Afghanistan" as a keyword) and other picture selections and captions seemingly try to emphasize how safe they're trying to make it. Like this one.

English/Anglais<br />
AR2006-P008 0044<br />
16 Sept 2006<br />
Kandahar, Afghanistan<br />
Light Armored Vehicles (LAV’s) provide safe a mode of transportation in addition to continous perimeter security for Canadian soldiers patrolling in and around in the Panjwaii District approximately 30 kilometers west of Kandahar City as part of Operation MEDUSA. </p>

<p>Op MEDUSA was conducted with an aim to clear insurgent forces from the Panjwaii District. TF 3-06 BG was the main manoeuvre unit in Op MEDUSA, which also had significant participation from US, Dutch and UK air and ground forces, as well as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Op MEDUSA commenced on 2 September 2006.</p>

<p>Task Force Afghanistan is part of Canada’s contribution to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This mission is about Canadians and their international partners helping Afghans rebuild their lives, their families, their communities and their nation. Canadian operations will work to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.</p>

<p>The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with Task Force Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.</p>

<p>Photo by: Sgt Lou Penney<br />
TFA OP ATHENA<br />
Imagery Technician

English/Anglais AR2006-P008 0044 16 Sept 2006 Kandahar, Afghanistan Light Armored Vehicles (LAV’s) provide safe a mode of transportation in addition to continous perimeter security for Canadian soldiers patrolling in and around in the Panjwaii District approximately 30 kilometers west of Kandahar City as part of Operation MEDUSA.

Op MEDUSA was conducted with an aim to clear insurgent forces from the Panjwaii District. TF 3-06 BG was the main manoeuvre unit in Op MEDUSA, which also had significant participation from US, Dutch and UK air and ground forces, as well as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Op MEDUSA commenced on 2 September 2006.

Task Force Afghanistan is part of Canada’s contribution to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. This mission is about Canadians and their international partners helping Afghans rebuild their lives, their families, their communities and their nation. Canadian operations will work to improve the quality of life of Afghans by providing a secure environment in which Afghan society can recover from more than 25 years of conflict.

The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with Task Force Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to Kabul, various military headquarters, and civilian organizations.

Photo by: Sgt Lou Penney
TFA OP ATHENA
Imagery Technician

It's cherry-picking, to be sure, just going with my gut on first impressions this morning.

Mind you - our national characters are different, and the DND has a much different political/social environment to operate in - I just found the difference between their pictures and captions and ours bemusing.

by John on Oct 02, 2006

October 01, 2006

This one's for Bill.

September 28, 2006 Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division and a Kiowa helicopter move past an oil fire during a convoy to Al Jawala, Iraq. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet

September 28, 2006 Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division and a Kiowa helicopter move past an oil fire during a convoy to Al Jawala, Iraq. Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Bendet

That was for Bill, this is for some others of us, too.

Basic Training - where people like Bill, myself, and the Heartless Libertarian prepared people for this, by running them, among other things, through things like this.

Caption for picture 1:

U.S. Army Soldiers move to their next objective during a morning raid in the Tameem district of Ramadi, Iraq, Sept. 3, 2006. The Soldiers are with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division based out of Baumholder, Germany. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock) (Released)

Caption for picture 2.

U.S. Army Soldiers make their way through an obstacle during the confidence course portion of basic military training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Sept. 20, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Denise Rayder) (Released)

(Yeah, it's a clumsy post - but I'm going to be doing a bunch of work on my photohost today, and bandwidth issues are likely, but I wanted to credit the pics)

by John on Oct 01, 2006

September 29, 2006

Girl Scouts to Cav Scouts.

CJ of A Soldier's Perspective sends:

Can you hook a brother up? I'm in the final week of taking orders for Girl Scout cookies to send overseas to 2 Marine units. This is my second year doing this. Last year we shipped over 100 boxes to Army units in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our goal this year is 200. We've already gotten orders for 60 boxes in just over a week. Would you mention this on your site for anyone that would like to help send GS cookies? I would greatly appreciate it.

I will gladly hook a brother up. Click here, people. That's an order!

Update: CJ sends a clarifier...

Thank you mucho. The more the merrier to get involved. If we get enough cookies to go around, I have six Marine units I can send cookies to. Just make sure everyone knows that the cookies only cost $3.50 per box. The extra money is to pay for shipping and boxes (the flat rate doesn't hold much unless we take them out of the box...bad idea). If there is enough money left over, we'll just add purchase more boxes. I don't want to give anyone the idea that I'm selling Girl Scout cookies for $5.
by John on Sep 29, 2006

Not just another statistic...

...but an interesting casualty regardless.

Lt Perez's death means no more or no less than any other warrior's - but she filled an interesting demographic niche.

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The first member of West Point's "Class of 9-11" to die in combat was buried at the military academy Tuesday, two weeks after she was killed by a bomb at the head of a convoy in Iraq.

2nd Lt. Emily Perez, 23, was leading a platoon when a roadside bomb exploded Sept. 12 south of Baghdad. She was the first female West Point graduate to die in Iraq and the highest-ranking black and Hispanic woman cadet in the school's history.

"She was like a little superwoman, so full of energy and life," said Meghan Venable-Thomas, a senior who was on the track team and in the gospel choir with Perez.

Read the rest here.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Sep 29, 2006

September 28, 2006

SFC Paul Smith - still in the news. Navy News.

by Lt. Col. Leela Dawson September 26, 2006 Birgit Smith, widow of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, and her son David pose just moments after the 377-foot, 40-knot, Navy ship

Birgit Smith, widow of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, and her son David pose just moments after the 377-foot, 40-knot, Navy ship "Freedom" was launched Sept. 24. Smith is the sponsor of the littoral combat ship. by Lt. Col. Leela Dawson September 26, 2006. This photo appeared on www.army.mil

From the Army News Service:

Army widow christens Navy ship, 'Freedom'

Birgit Smith, the widow of Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery and gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom, christens Freedom (LCS 1) with the traditional smashing of a champagne bottle across the ship’s bow. Freedom is the nation’s first Littoral Combat Ship in an entirely new class of U.S. Navy surface warships.

MARINETTE, Wis. (Army News Service, Sept. 26, 2006) – The Navy christened and launched the nation's first Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom (LCS-1), at the Marinette Marine shipyard Sept. 24.

Birgit Smith is the ship’s sponsor. She is the widow of Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery and gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Birgit broke a champagne bottle across the ship's bow to formally christen the ship, which then made a dramatic side-launch into the Menominee River.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chief of Naval Operations, put Birgit’s selection as sponsor into perspective for the assembled crowd by referring to a letter her husband wrote home from Iraq.

by Lt. Col. Leela Dawson September 26, 2006 In preparation for the christening and launch of the U.S. Navy's first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Freedom, Birgit Smith, widow of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, and her son, David, place personal items of importance into a cylinder that will be be welded into the ship's mast for good luck.


In preparation for the christening and launch of the U.S. Navy's first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Freedom, Birgit Smith, widow of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, and her son, David, place personal items of importance into a cylinder that will be be welded into the ship's mast for good luck. By Lt. Col. Leela Dawson September 26, 2006.

“When I think of his words ‘I am prepared to give all that I am’ and the way he did exactly that, it reminds me of the true high cost of living in America, the price of freedom,” he said. “Paul paid that debt for us. His valor reminds us that we must be ready to defend freedom whenever and wherever it is challenged.”

Col. Thomas P. Smith (no relation) commanded Smith’s unit – the 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division – and nominated Smith for the MOH.

“As I learned how special the “sponsor” of a ship is to the Navy and the ongoing relationship Birgit will have with the ship and her crew, I was truly humbled,” he said. “As the Navy leaders and crew got to know Birgit, I think they realized how special she is and how fitting their choice was for this honor.”

Mullen noted that ships “really do take on the spirit of their sponsor. And I for one will take great comfort that when Freedom’s crews sail into harm’s way, your quiet strength will go with them,” Mullen said to Birgit.

The 377-foot Freedom is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep. The ship will act as a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. Its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis.

“Just a little more than three years ago she was just an idea, now Freedom stands before us. And on this morning, we christen her, send her down the ways and get her ready to join the fleet next year,” said Mullen. “It comes none too soon, because there are tough challenges out there that only she can handle.”

by Lt. Col. Leela Dawson September 26, 2006</p>

<p>Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart, presents a gift in honor of Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith to the prospective commanding officers of the future-USS Freedom, Commanders Michael Doran and Donald Gabrielson for placement on the new ship.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and Fort Stewart, presents a gift in honor of Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith to the prospective commanding officers of the future-USS Freedom, Commanders Michael Doran and Donald Gabrielson for placement on the new ship. By Lt. Col. Leela Dawson September 26, 2006.

Freedom acknowledges the enduring foundation of the nation and honors American communities which bear the name Freedom. States having towns named Freedom include California, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

But, as Mullen made clear, Freedom also acknowledges new challenges faced by the Navy in the war on terror, and will complement the vision of a global “1,000-ship navy” built upon ad hoc maritime partnerships.

“Freedom will know how to fight, but she can also be a friend,” said Mullen. “I am convinced that if we pool resources together, as partners and friends, we can best tackle many of the tough maritime problems we face. The Freedom class will fit perfectly into such partnerships. Her shallow draft and agility will allow her to go, when asked – deep into green and brown water – where we, our allies, and emerging partners face some of the most difficult challenges.”

Freedom will be manned by one of two rotational crews, blue and gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines.

Freedom will continue to undergo outfitting and testing at Marinette Marine until it is commissioned in 2007 and eventually homeported in San Diego, Ca.

(Editor's note: Information compiled from Department of Defense and Department of Navy releases.)

by John on Sep 28, 2006
» Stander's Point links with: R.I.P. -- SFC Paul Ray Smith: 1969 - 2003

September 27, 2006

Apropos "Burying Clausewitz"...

Ori Brafman offers a different take on the subject - supportive of throwing over Clausewitz, but with a different analogy: Spiders versus Starfish.

Cut off a spider's leg, and you'll have a seven-legged cripple. Cut off its head, and you'll kill the spider. But cut off the starfish's arm, and not only will it regenerate, but the severed arm will actually grow an entirely new body. Starfish can achieve this remarkable feat because, unlike spiders, they lack central control—their organs are replicated across each arm. Starfish are decentralized.

Just like in nature, there are also starfish on the battlefield. Starfish forces don't have a leader, clear structure, or defined hierarchy. These seemingly chaotic qualities make Starfish unexpectedly resilient.

Read the rest here.

H/t, CSM M.

by John on Sep 27, 2006

September 26, 2006

A good war story.

Private Johnson Beharry's investiture took precedence over that of General Sir Mike Jackson, who received the honour of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. 'It's an honour to stand alongside him,' said Jackson. Copyright Ian Jones

Pte Johnson Beharry VC is the first person since 1965 to be awarded Britain's highest award for gallantry while still alive. A 27-year-old native of Grenada, who came to Britain in 1999 and joined the British Army in 2001, he was a member of the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment when he was posted to Iraq in April 2004. He was awarded the VC on March 18, 2005. This is his story, taken from his soon to be published book, 'Barefoot Soldier'.

The helmet Private Beharry was wearing when an RPG exploded just six inches from his face

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

by John on Sep 26, 2006

September 24, 2006

The more things change...

...the more some things just stay the same.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

A visual essay on soldiers and soldiering is below the fold, thoughtfully tucked there for you dial up visitors with long graphic load times. Just click on Flash Traffic/Extended Entry

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Sep 24, 2006

September 23, 2006

Someone you should know.

A casualty local to the Castle's Demesne (local in midwestern terms).

Kansas Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Bernard Lee Deghand, 42, was killed by small arms fire Friday while conducting combat operations as part of Operation Mountain Fury, said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, adjutant general for Kansas. He left behind his wife, his daughters Jami and Emma, and his stepson, Craig.

You can read the rest here: Karla sends.

You want an encapsulation the impacts of Transformation, the kind of war we find ourselves in, the ability of the Volunteer Force to allow us to conduct this war without a full-fledged buy-in by the American people (and mind you, I'm not sure that fighting this war *with* a WWII-level of commitment would work, under the circumstances) - in many ways, it's all right in this paragraph:

Deghand was a member of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 35th Division Artillery Embedded Training Team, Bunting said. His unit was involved in training Afghan soldiers in mechanized infantry tactics using armored personnel carriers.

National Guard Division Artillery Headquarters personnel teaching mech infantry tactics. Back in the 80's, when I wrote two of HHB 25th DIVARTY's AT training assessments, never would I have guessed that they'd find themselves one day training the Afghan Army in mech infantry tactics.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.


by John on Sep 23, 2006

September 20, 2006

It's not softer, it's better...

And in many respects, I'm sure that's true. Still, you've all had it easy since I went through the last hard basic in the 70's...

U.S. Army trainees take swings at each other during a hand-to-hand combat competition as part of basic combat training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Aug. 9, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall) (Released)

U.S. Army trainees take swings at each other during a hand-to-hand combat competition as part of basic combat training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Aug. 9, 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall) (Released)


Ah, pugil sticks. Now *that* was fun. At least it was if you were a wrestler and noseguard... and no, I don't know why it's a US Air Force photo of BCT troops at Fort Jackson.

Army training not easier. By Bridgett Siter Fort Benning Bayonet

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Army News Service, Sept. 7, 2006) – Lt. Col. Scott Power was in the last hard Ranger School class in 1989. Lt. Col. Chris Forbes was in the last hard Officer Basic Course in 1988. And Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gaskin, he was in the last hard basic training in 1995.

“So goes it for every Soldier in the history of the Army. No matter when they came through basic training or Ranger School or whatever, they came through the last hard class,” said Power, who sums up his command philosophy to all the drill sergeants under his command at 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, with this message to naysayers and those who believe basic training has gone soft:

“I’m not impressed with leaders who think they have to abuse their Soldiers to train them to standard. I’m not impressed with leaders who think the lack of abuse makes basic training soft,” he said. “We were all in the last hard class – get over it. We do things differently now, and we’re producing Soldiers every bit as good as we ever have.”

A recent spate of letters to the Army Times from Soldiers lamenting the weakening of training, particularly basic and one station unit training, has those in the know – like Power, Gaskin and Forbes – mad as the word they no longer use when addressing new Soldiers.

“I’ve had it up to here with people who say basic training isn’t what it used to be, as if that’s a bad thing,” Power said. “We don’t need to use profanity. We don’t need to demoralize these guys who have volunteered to be here, knowing full well they’re joining an Army at war.

“We’re graduating Soldiers who meet all the standards. We stand behind what we put on Pomeroy Field,” he said, referring to the Sand Hill parade field where nearly 9,000 Soldiers graduate from the Basic Combat Training Brigade each year.

Another 20,000 graduate annually from the Infantry Training Brigade.

Power, Forbes, the commander of the BCTB’s 2nd Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment, Gaskin and his fellow drill sergeants from 3 Bn., 47th Inf., Regt., addressed the frustrating accusations of a “dumbed-down” basic training last week.

Forbes insists it’s a misconception based on widespread misunderstanding about changes during the past few years. Take the issue of fitness standards, for example. It’s common knowledge, he said, that Soldiers are now only required to pass the PT test with a “50-50-50,” or 50 percent of the push-ups, sit-ups and 2-mile run on an age-based scale, to graduate from basic training.

“But what they don’t say, those who complain about it, is that these Soldiers must pass (advanced individual training) 60-60-60. They have to meet Army standard,” he said. “And the reason for that is we finally recognized that it didn’t make sense to break a Soldier trying to get him to standard in nine weeks rather than build him up in 13. We’re thinking smarter and producing Soldiers more fundamentally fit.”

Power elaborated on the subject of fitness. He’s repeatedly heard complaints about Soldiers doing push-ups on their knees. It’s a particular sore point with Power, because the media has hyped the misconception by printing photos of Soldiers in this position with no explanation.

And there is an explanation.

“We used to push them till they dropped,” he said. “We know better now. Now, when they reach muscle failure, they go to their knees instead of going to the ground. Using the modified technique is actually tougher than the old method; they can’t quit at muscle failure, they have to modify and keep going. We’re building a more physically fit Soldier.”

Power said claims of being among the last “old-school” basic trainees has traditionally been a matter of pride, a matter of jest, among Soldiers. But when they take it seriously, or the media takes it out of context, the facts get distorted or simply ignored.

“Standards change, they always have,” he said. “When I took my first PT test in 1984, we used the old three-event standard; push-ups 68, sit-ups 69 and the 2-mile run, 13.07. Two years later, the standards increased. It got tougher. So you want to talk about ‘back in the day?’ How far back do you really want to go?”

Gaskin, a 29-year-old combat veteran, said it’s the new Soldiers who ultimately pay for the spread of misinformation.

“They come here expecting summer camp, because that’s what they’ve heard. The first couple of weeks are a culture shock,” he said. “I say to anybody who thinks basic training is soft, raise your right hand, come on out and check it out for yourself.”

Gaskin insists basic training is actually “150 percent tougher” than it was when he attended 11 years ago. Back then, he said, training included a form of hazing Soldiers commonly call “smoking.” Gaskin called it unnecessary.

“Now we’re producing fit Soldiers who are ready for combat,” he said, “because they’ve trained with body armor, they’re geared up constantly, constantly doing battle drills and urban operations training and the kind of first-aid training that will actually save lives on the battle field, not the band-aid approach I learned in basic.

“Soldiers today will graduate knowing the kinds of things I didn’t learn till I got to my first duty station, and then some of it, I didn’t know a year later,” said Gaskin, who has been a drill sergeant for nearly a year. “I told myself it would never be that way if I was responsible for training. The worst thing that could happen to me is to know I had a Soldier here for nine weeks and he goes off to combat and something happens to him because of lack of training.”

Want to read the rest? Hit the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Sep 20, 2006

September 18, 2006

Another Cold Warrior recognized...

Air Force sergeant receives posthumous honor for secret mission Associated Press McCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. - Air Force Tech. Sgt. Roscoe C. Lindsay died in 1959 carrying the secret of a mission he flew over the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Now, the Air Force has recognized his service with the Distinguished Flying Cross, its eighth highest honor. Lindsay's widow, Loy Lindsay of Coffeyville, accepted the medal Friday in a ceremony at McConnell Air Force Base.

"He certainly deserved it, and I'm so happy for him," she said. "I wish he could be here."

Roscoe Lindsay died of a heart attack at age 38.

Seven years earlier, in September 1952, he was one of 12 crew members on a flight to determine if the Soviets were building a base that would pose a nuclear threat to the east coast of the United States.

The mission was so secret that they were instructed not to use their radios for the entire 15-hour flight. Crew members were also told that if they were shot down or captured, there would be no rescue attempt.

The crew successfully completed its mission, on which Lindsay served as an aerial photographer.

Because of the flight's classified nature, it was largely unknown for decades. In 2000, the government declassified details of the mission, and crew members began sharing their story.

Soon after, Lindsay's grandson, Patrick Logan, read that the lead pilot on the mission, Lt. Col. Roy Kaden, was trying to track down other crew members or their families. He wanted the crew to receive military honors.

Kaden, who lives in Arkansas, contacted Logan, who lives in Missouri, and told him: "I've been looking for your family for 40 years." Kaden lobbied to secure the Distinguished Flying Cross for Lindsay.

Col. T. Harrison Smith, vice commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell, presented the medal Friday to Loy Lindsay.

"I'm just in awe of all of it," she said of the ceremony. "I'm just speechless."

by John on Sep 18, 2006

September 14, 2006

Snerkiture...

From the WashTimes today:


The U.S. Armed Forces will meet wartime recruiting goals for the fiscal year that ends in two weeks, military officials said yesterday.

Despite Washington's heated political debate on the worthiness of the Iraq war, frequent overseas war deployments and daily casualties, officials say a sufficient number of young men and women are signing up with the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in fiscal 2006 to maintain an active-duty force of about 1.4 million.

The Army, which has suffered the largest death toll as the chief provider of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, reports that it has exceeded a goal of 70,200 recruits by signing up 72,997 as of August. Officials say they expect to meet a Sept. 30 goal of 80,000 for the fiscal year.

And hey, the Army has had to make *changes* man. Real sacrifices, in order to make it happen!

Hitting the mark in a time of war has cost the Army more money -- and style. In June, it raised the maximum age for recruits from 38 to 42, and says it has attracted scores of veterans. And it relaxed tattoo rules. Now, body art can extend above the neck. "We learned more and more teenagers have tattoos, so we relaxed the tattoo policy," said Maj. Nathan Banks, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.

The kids just aren't getting the message, are they (hat would be the anti's message)? Why? Because we aren't advertising accurately! Lookit the unfair kinda stuff we do (well, this is *actually* the Guard...) to sucker these kids in - no dead bodies, no ruined villages, nothing. No amputees scuttling around like maimed beetles. Because, lord knows, the VRWMC (Vast Right Wing Media Conspiracy) has been hiding all that bad news... well, that and we're letting 'em have tattoos, even if it makes the Sergeants Major apoplectic...

by Sgt. Jim Greenhill September 6, 2006. High school students from around the country ride down the Missouri River in a raft built by North Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers from 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company during Lewis and Clark Youth Rendezvous activities. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

by Sgt. Jim Greenhill September 6, 2006. High school students from around the country ride down the Missouri River in a raft built by North Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers from 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company during Lewis and Clark Youth Rendezvous activities. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

Meanwhile, over in Navy Land... they're ripping off the Coast Guard for their ad campaigns...

As Frequent Commenter, Proud Coastie Dad, and supplier of Coastie Content Larry K observed:

There is a Navy Ad ( I believe it is appearing in Popular Mechanics at least) that looks like this…

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Compare it to this picture and caption:

Hosting provided by FotoTime


NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 30, 2005) - Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn Beaty, 29, of Long Island, N.Y., looks for survivors in the wake of Hurricane Katrina here today. Beaty is a member of an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew sent from Clearwater, Fla., to assist in search and rescue efforts. U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class NyxoLyno Cangemi

Google the name Shawn Beaty and click on images and you can see this image is out all over as a USCG picture.

For shame, sailors. For shame!

Of course, then there is *this* Navy ad...

(by the way, just go to the Coast Guard website, click on the "Photo's and more" link, login (instructions provided) do a search on "Beaty" and that photo shows up... to include the fascinating first name of the photographer!

Of course - it's all a ripoff of this recruiting poster... (H/t, High Desert Wanderer)

;^D

by John on Sep 14, 2006

Hmmm, wonder who his muse is...?

September 8, 2006 Soldiers from Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, pause at the end of a patrol near Wynot, Iraq. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.


September 8, 2006 Soldiers from Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, pause at the end of a patrol near Wynot, Iraq. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Interesting mix of weapons in the picture. Back in my early days there'd have been nothing but M16s and 1 M203. Wonder how long after this war winds down it will be back to something like that... because the budget drives all - and then the people who carp about the budget being to large turn around and carp about the force being under-equipped when committed - and *never, ever* understand, much less accept responsibility for, "you go to war with the Army you have, whether or not it's the Army you want or need."

by John on Sep 14, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Snerkiture...

September 13, 2006

General (ret) Michael Davison.

Someone you should know - if only for this:

Scruggs recalled how, in January 1982, the retired general sat silently through an emotional four-hour meeting and then, at the opportune moment, offered a compromise.

"We have an unconventional memorial," he told the group. "Let us add a traditional element to symbolize the American fighting spirit."

His proposal, pairing Maya Lin's V-shaped black granite wall with figures of three soldiers in combat, was met with immediate approval.

"He was a think-out-of-the-box kind of guy," Scruggs said. "He was also very smart. He waited until the end of the day, when everybody was very tired, before he made his suggestion."

Not that the *rest* of his career wasn't interesting...!

by John on Sep 13, 2006

September 10, 2006

The Blog of War

You should, of course, buy it. Over on a discussion page, Captain Kevin doesn't like the book much. At all, really. Captain Kevin opines thusly in response to a comment I made on the thread he started on the book:

My point is simple.... this book is a loser written by a bunch of warmongers who have ruined this Country. Now they want to profit from that and I will continue to exercise free speech to stop it.

Good luck.. you may all get rich off of this like a lot of war profiteers do but that does not make it right.

The only thing I am disgruntled about is that the ilk that wrote this book are part of an organization of leaders who took a great institution (The Reagan era Army) and ruined it in about 5 years. Congratulations.. thanks to this group, the Army is now a train wreck.

This is my response.

Wow, that little group of people ruined the country? All power to the little guy! Okay, yeah, I'm snarking your hyperbole.

Heh. You might be surprised at the people in the group of contributors who are not fans of Rumsfeld, et cie. You might also be surprised to find there are a few in that group who were *not* fans of invading Iraq. Of course, for the soldiers among 'em, that became rather a moot point after the March Upcountry started, didn't it? Then it became the job, like it or not. Remember, the soldier, once he's volunteered, doesn't get to pick and choose which war he will fight, as Lieutenant Watada is probably about to discover to his rue.

The book isn't about making the case for the war, or arguing the conduct of the war - it's about the soldiers, their families, and the fighting of the war, and doesn't pretend to be anything else, really. It's simply about the war, and the people who are fighting it - whether in country or waiting for someone to come out of the box.

In a sense, you are making that argument that, from what I gather from what you've said here, only voices that protest the war and find fault with it, that speak only in negative terms and breathlessly condemn Bush on every page can possibly have any value and opinions which don't match your view should be shouted down (reflexively, we don't need to read no steenking book) if not outright suppressed.

Y'know, I too am a veteran of the Carter/Reagan/Bush/Clinton Army... and up through Bush 1 it was a fine Army for fighting a huge horde moving west out of Eastern Europe, or engaging and destroying pretty-looking 3rd rate wannabes like, well, let's face it - most standing Arab armies, however brave their individual soldier might be. Then, starting under Bush 1 and continuing under Clinton, we dismantled and tinkered with that Army - and since we didn't see any huge immediate threat, we tinkered and dilly-dallied and muddled our way through, as our national and service politics essentially demands we do in times of no obvious Damocles's Sword.

And thus, we got to go to war with the Army we had, vice the one which was just perfectly tuned for the job. Of course, we've *never* had that Army...

And I'm still up to my armpits in Bush 2's Army, where I work every day. And I'll tell ya Captain Kevin - the junior officers of this version are smarter and much better at their jobs than my peers of the early 80's - because they've been challenged in ways we never were. They've had to work in environments we never really did. And while yes, a lot of 'em are tired, and the equipment is particularly so - they still have better gear than we did, and they are much smarter, subtle, and experienced in it's use than we are. They're better warfighters than you or I ever were. The question of are they fighting this war in the best way - well, that's not the subject of the book, and is still rather a roaring subject of debate, isn't it?

Certainly, everybody can use a rest, and everybody would like to come home, and have their scariest moments be zero-illum brigade attacks down the central corridor at NTC or night jumps at the JRTC, or CALFEXes in Poland.

But you're putting a lotta stuff on a book that is simply by the people fighting the war and their families - and where most of the 'support' shown is for the soldiers doing their jobs, and awe at how difficult those jobs are.

That's all it is.

To draw a different parallel for you - the book is perhaps better compared to a book of the experiences of the First Responders, professional or volunteer, who waded and boated around New Orleans after Katrina - and not page after page after page of slamming Nagin, Blanco, Brown, Chertoff, and Bush. It's more about the people doing the job they had handed to them, one or two of whom might move on to be the Russ Honore's of the next disaster, than it is a bashing of the people who send them into harm's way.

Sorry the book isn't what you think it should be - I recommend you write that book yourself. Perhaps you'd like to put forth the effort that Douglas Brinkley did, and write The Great Deluge -equivalent for The Global War on Terror.

by John on Sep 10, 2006

September 07, 2006

The Armorer's Messkit...

Yesterday was my Rotary Club's annual picnic. Which is occasion to break out Arsenal stocks - not weapons, this time - but rather the Castle's 1952-vintage Officer's Armorer's Mess Kit.

The Armorer's Mess kit and infrequent Castle Commenter Mike L.

Held every year at the Hunt Lodge on Fort Leavenworth, it's a time to play horseshoes, give out some awards, and eat grilled steak with a table full of potluck sides.

The Hunt Lodge is a beautiful location, and a beautiful building. Originally built by DB inmates as a parole barracks and mess hall, it was taken over in the 1920's by the Officer's Club and was used as an annex. Now it's a special events location, for parties, wedding receptions, unit Organization Days, etc. It's an Armorer-friendly environment because it's just over the hill from the skeet range, so there is a soothing background noise of shotguns firing and, if you move just into the woods, the gentle roar of spent birdshot rattling down the leaves...

The other purpose of this post (other than to put the shiny pate on the web) is to highlight this Rotary activity, hosted by the Rotary Club in Lacey, Washington, as forwarded to us by the Heartless Libertarian:

Military support march grows. Event planned for Saturday 9 SEP 06

LACEY - Thousands of residents are expected to show up Saturday for the fourth annual march to benefit military families. The event steadily has grown since the Rotary Club of Hawks Prairie created it in 2003. A local business owner at the time had lamented about the plight of his niece, a member of the Army Reserves whose four-month deployment caused emotional and financial strain. In its first three years, the march raised more than $100,000 for programs that assist military families. The Rotary Club has set a goal of $50,000 this year; as of Friday, it had raised $45,000. The number of corporate sponsors and marchers also has increased, said Andrew Oczkewicz, one of the event organizers. "Now we have people calling us who want to be involved, not the other way around," he said. He expects 5,000 marchers on Saturday; last year, 2,500 marchers participated. This year's march promises to be the biggest in other ways as well. The prelude to the parade will feature music, speeches, a helicopter rappelling display and two, perhaps three, aircraft flyovers. And Fort Lewis' official color guard will lead the 2-mile march for the first time. The march will feature five honorary grand marshals, including Norma Melo, school liaison officer at Fort Lewis, whose husband was killed in Iraq during a suicide attack on a mess tent in December 2004. Another honoree, Lance Cpl. Shawn Seeley, is a Marine from Kent who was injured while serving in Iraq but remained in the corps and has become an instructor. Fort Lewis is appreciative that there are people in the surrounding communities that support the families regardless of the political divisiveness of the conflict, Melo said during a telephone interview Monday. She said the average American has sacrificed little during this war - except, perhaps, to have to pay a little more at the gasoline pump - while military families have seen spouses and loved ones killed, injured and emotionally traumatized by their experiences in the war zone. “I don't think Americans have felt that pinch," she said. "Military families have felt it." Marines will raise an American flag sent to the Rotary Club by a commander who was serving overseas. The rear detachment commander of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, will read a letter from Col. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the unit that is now serving its second yearlong deployment in Iraq. Gov. Christine Gregoire will attend the event, accompanied by her husband, Mike, a Vietnam veteran. U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., also will participate.

If you go

The fourth annual Military Family Support March will begin assembling at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
The first event on the stage will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the march will start about 10:20 a.m. and last about 40 minutes.

Where: Wal-Mart parking lot, 1401 Galaxy Drive N.E. The two-mile parade route will take marchers down Galaxy Drive and west on Martin Way before returning.

Photo offer: Free portraits of military families will be offered when they present a valid military identification during the event.

For kids: This year's event will feature an expanded kids zone with inflatable play areas, free coloring books and snacks, face-painting, clowns and appearances by several local and national mascots.

Donations: Contributions in any amount are welcome but not required.
Individual or team participants also can register for the march by sending an e-mail to mil.family.march@hawksprairierotary.org

More information: www.militaryfamilymarch.com

Good on ya, guys!

by John on Sep 07, 2006

September 05, 2006

1SG's are just cuddly teddy bears...

...and ya gotta snerkle at the budding plumber's butt there, too!

September 1, 2006 1st Sgt. Mario Terenas, from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, shakes hands with an Iraqi boy in Ribiyah during a patrol. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell L. Klika

September 1, 2006 1st Sgt. Mario Terenas, from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, shakes hands with an Iraqi boy in Ribiyah during a patrol. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell L. Klika
by John on Sep 05, 2006

September 01, 2006

If you haven't seen this...

...you should.

Follow Israeli Infantry in a night attack. It's long, but worth it.

Some of you vets will find your palms sweaty.

Note to the narrating journalist - they are. They are just as scared as you.

Note the chaos - the not knowing what, exactly is going on. That's how most soldiers see combat - and what we try to ameliorate with Blue Force Tracker, individual radios, ubiquitous night vision... but at the point of contact, yer always lonely.

[Update: Looks like the link may have exceeded the bandwidth, or someone asked that it be removed.

Mebbe if you check back later it will work. You can try a right click and save as - that worked for me - but could also be because I've played it before and the file is stored on my machine (though I did flush the cache to check)]

by John on Sep 01, 2006

Unusual Strike Packages.

Toilet bomb loaded on an AH-1H Skyraider, the Paper Tiger II of VA-25, flying from the USS Midway in October, 1965

From an email.

In October 1965, CDR Clarence J. Stoddard, Executive Officer of VA-25 "Fist of the Fleet", flying an A-1H Skyraider, NE/572 "Paper Tiger II" from Carrier Air Wing Two aboard USS Midway carried a special bomb to the North Vietnamese in commemoration of the 6 millionth pound of ordinance dropped. This bomb was unique because of the type... it was a toilet!

The following is an account of this event, courtesy of Clint Johnson, Captain, USNR Ret. Captain Johnson was one of the two VA-25 A-1 Skyraider pilots credited with shooting down a MiG-17 on June 20, 1965.


I was a pilot in VA-25 on the 1965 Vietnam cruise.

The 572 was flown by CDR C. W. "Bill" Stoddard. His wingman in 577 (which was my assigned airplane) was LCDR Robin Bacon, who had a wing station mounted movie camera (the only one remaining in the fleet from WWII).

The flight was a Dixie Station strike (South Vietnam) going to the Delta. When they arrived in the target area and CDR Stoddard was reading the ordnance list to the FAC, he ended with "and one code name Sani-flush".

The FAC couldn't believe it and joined up to see it. It was dropped in a dive with LCDR Bacon flying tight wing position to film the drop. When it came off, it turned hole to the wind and almost struck his airplane. It made a great ready room movie. The FAC said that it whistled all the way down. The toilet was a damaged toilet, which was going to be thrown overboard.

One of our plane captains rescued it and the ordinance crew made a rack, tailfins and nose fuse for it. Our checkers maintained a position to block the view of the air boss and the Captain while the aircraft was taxiing forward.

Just as it was being shot off, we got a 1MC message from the bridge, "What the hell was on 572's right wing?" There were a lot of jokes with air intelligence about germ warfare. I wish that we had saved the movie film.

CDR Stoddard was later killed while flying 572 in Oct 1966.
He was hit by three SAMs over Vinh.

Now, the humorless anti's would demand an investigation into the war crime.

MGS getting to Units.

Stryker Mobile Gun System at Fort Lewis, Washington, being fielded to 4th BDE, 2ID.

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (Army News Service, Aug. 29, 2006) – A long wait is over for Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS) crews of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

The 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry, received its complement of MGS vehicles last month after more than a year of waiting. They are the first vehicles to be fielded in the Army.

“I think its going to give the infantry a whole new dimension of what they can do. Armor and infantry have kept each other at arm’s length for years and years," said Sgt. 1st Class David Cooper, an MGS platoon sergeant with B Company, 2-23 Inf. "We’ve got some growing pains, but once we get out there and they see what we can do, we’re going to be everybody’s friend.”

Each infantry company is slated to receive three vehicles, though crews don't expect to operate together except on rare occasions.

The vehicles carry crews of three, and are equipped with a 105 mm main gun and a state-of-the-art fire control system. The MGS also has an onboard coaxial machine gun that’s fire controlled.

“You can literally shoot smiley faces with it at 900 meters,” said Cooper. “Even minus the big gun we can give the infantry a lot of support.”

The 105 mm is capable of firing four types of rounds: SABOT, a depleted-uranium armor-piercing round; HEAT, high-explosive anti-tank; HEP, high-explosive plastic; and a canister round. The rounds are loaded using a hydraulic auto-loader in the rear of the vehicle.

The HEP and canister rounds give Stryker units new capabilities, especially in urban areas. The HEP can blow holes in reinforced concrete walls, but unlike the rounds from an Abrams, won’t continue through the target and into surrounding buildings. The canister provides as effective anti-personnel capability.

“The vehicle’s basic role is to support the infantry. It’s not there to take on tanks or go toe-to-toe in the wide-open desert like we did with the Abrams,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Ozmet, an MGS instructor from Fort Knox, Ky. “Its primary function is blowing a hole in the wall or blowing up bunkers.”

Over the past year, the crews have been training with TOW-ITAS Humvees or other Stryker variants. Finally having the vehicles gives the crews a chance to delve into training.

“I can actually start focusing on our training, both on our mission tasks and working with the infantry,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Lilley, the MGS platoon leader in B Co.

The MGS also comes equipped with training software that allows Soldiers to train on various engagements in their own vehicles, instead of going to a simulator somewhere else.

Once the 4th Bde. completes training, instructors from General Dynamics Land Systems will move on to equip and train Soldiers in Hawaii and Pennsylvania. Training for those units may change according to lessons learned here, but the vehicle itself is expected to remain mostly unchanged.

“I’m confident that this will turn out to be a successful piece of equipment for us, the infantry and the Army,” said Lilley.

by John on Sep 01, 2006

August 30, 2006

Lieutenant Watada...

Got the following comment to my post at Milblogs.

Rick (coming in from a [bogus] Yahoo Germany email address) left this:

The trial is certainly a show, but because that's the only way to wake up some Americans from their materialistic comas. You don't see much coverage in the media about this guy, but you certainly see how people complain about waiting 6 hours for fuel standing next to their gas-guzzling, ozone corroding SUV.

And you people always find it so easy to find some hidden agenda to attribute such actions. What about good old fashion patriotism? The kind this great country was founded upon. I don't see you people questions Bushy boy’s hidden agenda. Where are the WMDs?? Where is Bin Laden? LOL you people...

My reponse? This:


Rick - I was born in Germany and lived there over 15 years. Spare me the "materialistic" jibes. You germans like your creature comforts and toys, too. Just because you tax yourself to a level where you can't have as many... well, that's more making a virtue of a vice than true virtue.

As for the rest of your comments - guess who doesn't read too many milblogs.

I thought it was bad, from a leftist dialectic perspective, to engage in "you people" lumping into categories? I guess not - as long as the people in question aren't... your people.

Moving along -

If Lieutenant Watada wishes to self-destruct, he has that right. But he doesn't get to support one campaign, Afghanistan, and refuse to fight in another, Iraq. Like it or not, it's the same war, in both general and technical senses.

If you'd like to bring up an example from German history, it would be like a German officer agreeing to fight in Russia, but refusing to go fight in, say, Cyrenaica, because, well, he didn't think the fight in Africa was right, and what the heck, the British hadn't done anything to him, he was from Pomerania and the threat there was from the East.

Or, better yet, a US officer refusing to fight Germany in WWII, because, well, only the Japanese bombed the US, so he'll only fight in the Pacific.

Soldiers don't get to choose their fights in that regard. It's all or nothing. And setting the precedent that they can is lunacy, and the road to a Banana Republic.

If Watada was both principled *and* smart, he would have deployed, and then waited for orders to attack an Iraqi target - and *then* refuse. He could have possibly forced a trial about the legality of the Iraq campaign at that point.

But he's not very savvy, his lawyers less so - except for the purpose of establishing Kerry-esque credentials - in that he chose to not obey a deployment order - allowing the government to set the the terms of the trial over missing movement, and failure to obey a perfectly valid and legal order - which is where he screwed up from the perspective you seem to espouse.

The "hidden agenda" is simply watching what Lieutenant Watada and his camp are doing, and drawing all the inferences from that we need.

Patriotism? Perhaps. And if so, a version that is as dangerous as blind, unthinking support - moreso, since it sets the terms that the soldiery get to choose, not their civilian masters. At least in the blind, unthinking support version, they're doing what they're told, and that can, in the event, be modified by electoral outcomes - not the decisions of people in uniforms with guns.

Would you support Lieutenant Watada if he had refused an order to deploy to Kosovo? Another "optional war" fought without UN sanction?

Do you *really* want me deciding where I'll fight? Remember - a popular bumpersticker among military personnel in 2003 was "Iraq first, then France." Nothing to stop us from rolling into Germany a third time in 100 years, eh?

Yet - you don't really fear that, and you don't fear it based not on people like Lieutenant Watada, eh?

by John on Aug 30, 2006

August 26, 2006

Bad, bad terrorists! Sit! Stay!

During their recent deployment to Iraq, the soldiers of the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division of the National Guard ran into a particularly heinous form of booby trap - one that preys on the victims of General Order #1, which prohibits alcohol to deployed soldiers....

New jihadi boobytrap.  Bastards.

As long as the soldiers are doing this... morale is okay. You can click here for a larger version.

[And if you're the soldiers who put this together - I'd love to hear the story - whether or not ya wanna share it publicly, which is your call. In fact - I'd love to collect more stuff like this - an aspect of the war that is under-reported!]

by John on Aug 26, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: New boobytrap discovered in Iraq.
» EagleSpeak links with: New (well, let's say up-sized) booby trap
» EagleSpeak links with: New (well, let's say up-sized) booby trap

August 25, 2006

Milblogging, Canadian-style...

Meet Matt in Afghanistan.

What a stir.

Over the past couple days, this blog has been temporarily offline at the request of my higher-ups in the forces. Agreeing with this request, I took the posts offline for the time being and talked with my mom.

"Mom," I said over MSN Messenger, "I've been asked to take my postings offline for a little while as (my higher-ups) deal with blogging in camp."

My mom didn't have to say anything, but knowing her my whole life, I knew she would be hurt that I wouldn't be allowed to post anything for the time being.

"I can have a blog though, mom," I said to her, "I just need to list it with the Army."

Heh. Like *we* haven't been here before. Mebbe the Canadian Army Higher-ups should call their Southron cousins.

Not that Damian Brooks hasn't been trying to get 'em energized.

To our syrup-swilling, plaid cap wearing, northron brothers blogging from the 'Stan or elsewhere, I offer up this advice.

The Milblogger ROE, courtesy Yankee Sailor.

It's good to see clueless leadership not attuned to the young soldier is *not* an exclusive to the middle of the continent...

by John on Aug 25, 2006

August 22, 2006

Excalibur...

A press release detailing the Army's effort to continually refine (and keep tactically relevant) the artillery inventory. A subject of some discussion around here of late.

Successful Testing of GPS-Guided Artillery Projectile Puts Raytheon-BAE Systems Bofors Excalibur Closer to Fielding (Source: Raytheon Co.; issued Aug. 18; 2006)

TUCSON, Ariz. --- The Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur team successfully test-fired two global positioning system (GPS)-guided 155 mm artillery projectiles that functioned as intended against simulated tactical targets Aug. 10. The program is a cooperative effort between the United States and Sweden.

These firings represent completion of the "Guided Gunfire B" (GGB) test series that validates system performance of tactical rounds under a variety of conditions.

"Having completed this phase of testing, we are on track for fielding Excalibur to meet the urgent need of our deployed ground forces for a cannon-delivered precision munition," said Army Col. John Tanzi, Training and Doctrine Command System, manager-cannon.

Heh. I knew John Tanzi, back in the day. The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.



Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 22, 2006

August 21, 2006

...the perils of the sea.

This isn't "new" news, since it happened last week, but I'm betting most of today's readers haven't heard it, unless they are local to the homeport (Seattle) or have an interest in those who go down to the sea in ships. I saved it for today, because today is generally the day of our highest visitor count of the week.

BM2 Duque swears the oath on Healy’s forecastle as LT Hill administers his reenlistment.  Photo from the <i><b>USCGC Healy</b></i> website http://www.uscg.mil/pacarea/healy/deployments/AWS06/XO/JULY%2030/30%20Jul%2006%20Update.htm.


BM2 Duque swears the oath on Healy’s forecastle as LT Hill administers his reenlistment. Photo from the USCGC Healy website

Two Coast Guard divers die in Arctic Ocean

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE -- Two divers aboard the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy died during a routine dive operation in the Arctic Ocean about 500 miles north of Barrow, Alaska, the agency said Friday.

The cause of deaths was being investigated, the Coast Guard said.

Lt. Jessica Hill, 30, of St. Augustine, Fla., and Petty Officer 2nd Class Steven Duque, 26, of Miami, had entered the water Thursday afternoon to examine the ship's rudder, which is done often as it operates in Arctic ice.

Complete story here.

The picture was taken in the last week of July. Fair winds and a following sea, sailors.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Eternal Father, Lord of Hosts,
Watch o’er the men and women
who guard our coasts.
Protect them from the raging seas;
And give them light and life and peace.
Grant them from thy great throne above;
The shield and shelter of thy love.

[Update: I have been asked to note that Steven Buque was 22 years old, not 26 as stated in the article.]

by John on Aug 21, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: The perils of the sea...

More thoughts by ry/gollum

I was not nearly as verbose and wandering with this, but I won’t torture everyone by putting it on the front page. You masochists can find out what I have to say below the fold. -ry

[Go ahead, read it. It won't hurt you... just click on that Flash Traffic/Extended Entry thingy -ed]

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by Denizens on Aug 21, 2006

August 19, 2006

Denizen Ry's View of Civilian Casualties...

...and some other stuff.

Ry demonstrates why he doesn't blog.... i.e., an endless post. Brevity, thy name is not Gollum. That said, it's a worthy read, I don't agree with all of it, and I will respond later.

I find a serious flaw in the argument put forward in the comments so far (carry over from the threads on this post and this post for those wondering what the farqing hell I'm talking about) in that all the focus is entirely upon the value of innocent dead and the concept that the existence of innocent dead meaning something nefarious and illegal happened.

There is no talk of the necessity of bad things to happen to end a horrible situation. Something that happens in everyday life whether it be divorce where families are torn asunder to lead to a state of greater stability for both kids and adults; or in a chemical reaction where at the point a reaction, the metamorphosis, really takes place is the most destructive time in the whole process. It denies by inference that really terrible but legal actions were taken in fights that the proponents of this position would support, like the attack on Thionville during WW2. This line of thought has become devoid of capital J Justice, bereft of the idea that there are costs for everything (TANSTAAFL) [There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - a Heinlein reference for those who were scratching their heads. -ed] and Justice in particular, and ignores what the rules (largely Geneva, which embodies the ethical and legal philosophy of war) actually say about pursuing goals and the costs of a civilian populace may be submitted to during war.

Instead all we have is talk about dead civilians and how horrible it is, how evil it is that they died. We’re receiving commentary that seems to infer that no matter what the injury was and is it can never justify things like the attack on Qana or the horrific scenes of warfare we’ve seen in Lebanon. Yes, these things are terrible. Civilians who didn’t deserve to die are dead--- some by sheer accident while others by true spite--- but that in and of itself does not change it from jus ad bellum or jus in bello to war crimes and an always illegal act. We’ve lost sight what some of our predecessors, The Great Generation, took as a given: life isn’t fair, bad things happen to good people, and sometimes terrible---but not in themselves essentially evil-- things must be done to secure a better world. The forces of change are always destructive in one sense or another. Change has costs.

We've gone from one flawed paradigm (caring only about winning that existed before Abraham Lincoln came up with what became the Laws of Land Warfare, and interest only in the Rich and Powerful and Large Events) to another terrible paradigm (over stressing populism and Avg. Joe; and making success and failure be about how few civilians are killed regardless of objectives and other real world results---and it happens on both sides of the aisle around here---with a hefty helping of anti-colonialist induced self-hatred tossed into the mix.). By now focusing solely on civilian casualties, by going utterly and irredeemably populist with our prism we’ve lost the ability to see the bigger picture and how Justice is secured in that bigger picture. The bad guy is measured solely in how many civilians killed. He who kills more is the bad guy. By forgetting the bigger picture we’ve said bye-bye to reason and waved at Justice as we blew the popsicle stand.

We’ve moved to a shallow rubric by which we decide good and evil. A rubric that is so shallow that it allows for nothing more than deploring death in time of war as evil and always evil instead of an unfortunate event that should be mourned and treated with dignity. Creating a better peace is not something to be considered. Initial injury is not to be considered. Aims of the war, the necessity of harm to achieve said aims, and questions of jus ad bellum are not to be considered. Just civilian death is the metric. Every discussion will be, and must be, brought back around to innocent dead as nothing else matters. All because we have moved beyond the thinking of our benighted predecessors who only thought about the Mighty and Great Events and have begun to focus on The Ordinary Guy Who Gets Trounced.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 19, 2006

August 18, 2006

Answering the mail, part 3.

Target attack criteria, bad choices in.

I've already had this discussion in the comments of my two previous posts on artillery this week, but it won't go away, so I'll bring it to the front.

Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee (who got me the trip to Mexico to retrieve the Rodgers, may his tribe increase!) sent me this link, wanting to know if, in fact, this was a cluster bomblet.

It isn't, in a narrow technical sense. But before we rush off to crow about inaccuracy in the media, let's take a break. That is an M80 M42 [good catch from an otherwise pointlessly rude commenter - the M80 has a self-destruct mechanism - and one is being retrofitted to the M42/48 series of grenades. -the Armorer] Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition. While not from a cluster bomb, it *is* from an artillery round. I'm familiar with the round, and it's contents, these being held in Castle stocks in their inert form.

<s>M80</s> M42 submunitions

If the Israelis were shooting DPICM into inhabited areas, they are open to just criticism of their fire orders.

Bad decision on the part of whoever made the call to shoot DPICM. If you are shooting DPICM, you are automatically creating a low-density minefield, due to the dud rate (officially 2-4% depending on the conditions in the target area) of the submunition.

I can see an argument being made by the Israelis that in fact, there is less collateral damage than if you shoot HE at a target in an urban area. Perhaps, depending on construction of the buildings - but HE has a much lower dud rate (nothing is perfect), the effects are over after it hits, and there is no lingering explosive package awaiting discovery by children. And an unexploded HE shell is a lot harder to pick up than a DPICM submunition.

Recording your targets... I don't expect this to happen - but the Israelis should also share their mission fired reports with the Lebanese government, so that EOD can go clear areas targeted with DPICM.

It's just not a good shell for attacking areas that are/will be occupied by non-combatants or OWN TROOPS. The use of dud-producing munitions such as DPICM during Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2003 caused maneuver problems for the Marines, and caused lingering casualties among Marines and civilians in those areas after operations were ended. This may have been true for Army units as well, I don't have any info on that. Target attack decisions have to be made with cognizance of subsequent operations and events. I know we used to train this with Fire Support Officers back in the day - I assume we still do. I discussed some of that in my post yesterday.

Mind you - if Hezbollah didn't *shoot* from inhabited areas, the Israelis would have had less reason to shoot back into inhabited areas, too.

While I don't support the Israeli choice of ammuntion, I do support their right to shoot back. And find it disingenuous that most of the whining is about what the Israelis shot, and not equally about wherefrom Hezbollah shot.

by John on Aug 18, 2006

August 17, 2006

The League of Disgruntled Majors.

Count me among them. Brothers, Sisters, we March!


THE MANIFESTO OF THE LEAGUE OF DISGRUNTLED MAJORS

We are the League of Disgruntled Majors, a loosely affiliated group of officers in the United States Army. We are comprised mostly of Major’s, though we are certain that there are Lieutenant Colonels and some senior captains who align themselves with our beliefs. We have even found we have compatriots of similar grades in the other armed forces of the United States. We are mostly those who work behind the scenes of an operation to make it successful. We seldom march at the head of formation, kick in doors, fly aircraft, or drive tanks, though we support those who do daily, with little fanfare. We are planners, logisticians, communicators and coordinators. To steal a phrase from the special operations community, we are “quiet professionals” who do our jobs well, though are seldom recognized for it. For our efforts, we are infrequently praised, and frequently disdained by those we support and those we help make successful.

We are patriots. We serve because we love our country and because we agree with most of its policies, though some may be flawed. We agreed to give up personal comfort and personal freedom to serve a cause which we believe to be a higher calling. We serve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the necessarily the political party currently in power, regardless of their ideology. We serve the American Ideal.

We have forgone Glory. Many of us used to be Soldiers who kicked in doors and took the fight to the enemy, though we do it no longer. Those we support use the M4 Carbine and up-armored Humvee gun-truck as their weapons. We use MS Office, a laptop, and an internet connection. You will not see us in a Time-Life photo spread on images of war. We will not be interviewed for TV, unless it is on a 3:30 AM C-SPAN airing of a congressional subcommittee meeting investigating US Army expenditures on Non-Tactical Vehicles leases in a theater of war. We wear the combat patches on our right sleeves, but those who go off the installation to patrol the streets wonder if we actually deserve them. We are certain we do.

We are “They”. We are the shadowy “They-people”. When something goes wrong or a new policy is released, and those around us say “They screwed it up” or “They said we have to do it this way”, we are “They”. We work in invisibility…until something goes awry, then we are in a spotlight hued red by anger and frustration. Those we support don’t necessarily know what they want, but they will know when they see it, they want it yesterday, and lots of it…They don’t care how much it costs, until they get the bill.

We are Cannon-fodder. When we do our jobs well, we are frequently found at fault for it. When we fulfill our obligations, we are deemed “roadblocks”. When we are successful, we are viewed as unsuccessful. Those we report to don’t understand what we do, and have no intention of trying to. As a result, when it comes to advancement, evaluations, assignments, and awards, we are frequently at the bottom of the heap. We are perpetually “center-mass” in order to help build the profile for those our raters do understand. We have reached the point where this surprises us no longer. We will simply keep our heads down, keep working, and see what happens, come what may. We will fulfill our obligations and do our jobs, expecting no accolades from those we support. We know that the army expects more commitment from us then it will provide to us (paraphrased from the Army Training and Leadership Development Panel Report, lest we be cited for Plagiarism).

Ambiguity – Mediocrity – Sarcasm. These are our watch-words. Ambiguity, because if we are lucky, the climate will we operate in will be Ambiguous at best. Mediocrity, because regardless of the quality or timeliness of our output and contribution, those we support will view our efforts as mediocre, at best, compared to their own. And Sarcasm, because at times the only way to survive to fight another days is through the biting balm of sarcastic humor.

Our Pay-off. Why do we put up with it and why do we continue? Why not hang up our seat-worn uniforms and join the civilian sector? Because in the end we know our jobs are important and that that our Army would not be successful without us. But more importantly, we know that prior to leaving the Army and entering the retirement rolls, we will be in the most powerful positions in the Army. No… we won’t be generals or commanders, or even high powered staffers. We will likely still be majors, passed over twice, sitting in dimly-lit offices in the basement of the pentagon, with longer than regulation haircuts, rumpled uniforms, unkempt mustaches and a bottle of scotch in the bottom right-hand drawer of our desks. We will be the most powerful men in the army because we will be majors getting ready to retire with nothing to lose by telling you exactly what we think, consequences be damned…We will be the most dangerous men in the Army.

©2006 LODM

Oops! I need to add, *I* did not create this. It came from Disgruntled Majors in Iraq, via email to a brother here in the land of the Big PX! Don't want anyone getting the wrong idea. [Update: I have been in contact with the Grand Poobah of the LODM, however.]

Update: The Legion of The Damned, also known as the League of Disgruntled Majors, numbers many fine folks who retire with a Silver Oak leaf. Not on their shoulder, but on their MSM ribbon. While that punk LTC they work for gets a Legion of Merit for suggesting that they change UAV to UAS.

There have been Disgruntled Majors throughout history. Colonel W.C. Hall describes one such - with The True Story of Horatius At The Bridge.*


*H/t to Jim C for good timing on the Horatius link.

by John on Aug 17, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Brothers! Sisters! We March!

August 15, 2006

Annoying officer attitudes, #34,565

This is a great picture.

It's clever. It's funny (especially to a combat zone resident). It's also very counter-productive from an Information Operations perspective.

It plays right into the hands of the enemy, like it or not.

If I were an officer in that chain of command responsible for that vehicle, I'd feel compelled to do something about it.

Probably not enough as far as a resident of Foggy Bottom or a MSM talking head is concerned, but a change that would make a 180-degree difference in the take-away from the pic.*

This photograph digitally manipulated with editing software!

H/t, Strategy Page.


*When digitally manipulating pictures (as this was) for the purposes of influencing public opinion the Armorer recommends Adobe Photoshop®! Also, take credit for your work.

by John on Aug 15, 2006

August 13, 2006

Road signs you don't commonly see...

...unless yer one of us.

Some good advice - at least if they're US troops...

One of the many things I liked about Fort Irwin was the historical nature of these signs. I can't find my pic of the PzIV sign...

Sherman Tank Crossing at Fort Irwin (along Barstow Road)

M60A2 Tank Crossing sign at Fort Irwin (along Goldstone Road)

by John on Aug 13, 2006

Given my recent interest in the Mexican Navy...

From Strategy Page today.

AMPHIBIOUS OPERATIONS: The Mexican Helicopter Carriers August 13, 2006: The United States is giving Mexico two recently decommissioned amphibious ships. The two (formerly USS Ogden and USS Cleveland) are Austin class LPDs that entered service in the 1960s. These are large ships, 570 feet long and displacing 17,000 tons. The flight deck can hold half a dozen large helicopters, and support simultaneous landings and takeoffs. The well deck can hold up to 24 landing craft (like AAVs), or four lighter type boats, for transferring cargo and personnel. These ships require a crew of 420, and can carry up to 800 combat troops.

What would Mexico do with these two ships? Mexico has a very long coastline, which is not well-endowed with ports or even good sheltered harbors. A couple of Austins would be very useful in the event operations have to occur in such areas. In a word, disaster relief and coastal patrol. These LPDs are basically floating patrol boat and helicopter bases. The troops berthing spaces could be used for storing relief supplies, in addition to the space already available for some 2,000 tons of supplies and equipment. There are also seven cranes on board (one 30-ton and six 4-ton cranes). The elevator from the flight deck to the hanger deck can carry eight tons. There are tanks for 224,500 gallons of aviation fuel and 119,000 gallons of vehicle fuel.

To build new, the Austin class ships would cost about a billion dollars each. They cost the U.S. Navy about two million dollars a month to operate, but the Mexican navy, with a lower operating tempo and lower labor costs, could probably operate them for about half a million dollars a month each. The Mexican Navy is probably the most professional of their services, and is highly regarded by American officers and sailors who have worked with them. This probably played a part in the decision to hand over these two large ships.

The only weapons carried were four automatic cannon for stopping anti-ship missiles or small boats. These have already been removed. Mexico would probably mount a few heavy machine-guns.


The Mexican Navy is probably the most professional of their services, and is highly regarded by American officers and sailors who have worked with them.

I can't speak to the Mexican Army and Air Force - but I'll second this sentiment about the Navy from the article. The Mexican Navy personnel we were dealing with at Lazaro Cardenas regarding the BAM Cuitlahuac/USS John Rodgers were every bit the professionals. It's always great fun working with people who *really* know their stuff, and who have a good time doing it.

If these ships have in fact been decommissioned, it's been very recently. The USS Cleveland was in the news as late as two weeks ago, on her way to the Seattle SeaFair.

by John on Aug 13, 2006

August 11, 2006

Coast Guard News.

A Wounded Wiley

From Larry K, a proud father of a Coastie:

Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Mark McKenney has officially decreed roughly eight acres of land in West Harwich, Mass., including a main house and two apartment buildings, to the Coast Guard to be used in the future for housing and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) purposes.

The dedication will occur on the 40th anniversary of the first two Coast Guard members who were killed in Vietnam aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Point Welcome, where McKenney served as a gunners mate.

BZ, Master Chief.

For more on that story, click here.

For more on the USCGC Point Welcome and an explanation of the picture that accompanies this post, click here.

by John on Aug 11, 2006

August 07, 2006

War's a tough business.

1. Complacency kills. It's hard to maintain the edge. And it is really hard for junior leaders to impose discipline when it seems mindless and mundane. Until after the rocket lands. How many of *you* guys, as junior leaders, would have allowed this situation? I know it would have been hard on me not to have allowed it.

"We had already been there a week and there had been a siren almost every hour, and it had already started to become routine. We joked among ourselves that wherever we were was a safer place to be than Kiryat Shmona. In any case, for soldiers in the field, there is no hiding place."

Hence that seemingly mindless anal obsession with helmets, body armor, etc. Read the rest of the story here.

2. Playing by the rules. The fighting in Lebanon has been a textbook example of how bias creeps into reportage. Not many western journalists embedded with Hezbollah, and those that may be aren't necessarily going to report what they see accurately. That whole "hack off the head thing" don't ya know. But they'll report whatever Hezbollah wants them to see. The Israelis are more security conscious than we are, I think - but they still give journalists a comparatively free rein.

So - just what *are* the Israelis supposed to do when the enemy fights like this, hiding their stuff in and amongst the civilians? Just sit back and take it, I suppose. Withdraw to the original, arbitrarily set boundaries (which would then allow rockets free reign through all of Israel) and wait for the knife? Sigh. There are no easy answers, but the main counterargument to what Israel is doing seems to be - "Would you all just quit that and let them kill you, please?"

This *is* Europe's fault. Oh, sure, the US is Israel's greatest and most reliable ally - but the whole region in it's current configuration is the result of European diplomats standing around maps, ignorant of the region except as it related to Imperial interests (that includes German and French and Italians, not just Brits).

But their response to it isn't as impressive as their weak, do-nothing-until-they-forced-the-US-to-respond response to the Balkans, and *that* was in their own backyard.

Anyway, in the spirit of providing the other side not often seen on TV (or ignored by editors because it's poorly written [that's for you, Owen]) - here's some Israeli-provided footage of Hezbollah rocket launchers and their employment.

No doubt created by teenagers with movie-making software. Sigh. Just inoculating against that particular snark.

Right click and save as, please. Do my hosting service a favor and don't stream it.

Katyusha launcher being destroyed. This is missile/bomb footage. Note the location of the launcher.

Launchers, reputedly in Qana (*that* I can't verify). Qana or no, they're launching from near populated areas. Remember - the response to this *used* to be artillery bombardment or strings of 250, 500, or 1000 pound bombs. Now it's generally a single guided weapon. Which is, of course, insufficient restraint. Apparently delivering pizza and flowers is the proper response. Meanwhile, the system being attacked is... an area fire weapon fired without regard to serious targeting of military targets. Mainly because Hezbollah feels anything they aim at is a legitimate target. But no fingers get wagged in their faces. Except seemingly as an afterthought.

by John on Aug 07, 2006

August 05, 2006

Being a family member of a deployed soldier.

by Spc. Kristopher Joseph</p>

<p>October 12, 2004</p>

<p>A young 1st Armored Division family member tries some field gear on for size during the day-long welcome home celebration for V Corps' 1st Armored Division. The event took place in Wiesbaden, Germany, Oct. 7.

I've been off and on tracking some discussions of how, well, um, "weak and wimpy" some military family members perceive other military family members to be.

Whiny, bitchy, complaining. Wusses.

Many of those observations are spot on. But many of them also take on a tone of moral superiority I find grating. Really grating. Just as those people find the whining grating.

I've been on both sides of this. I've been the deployed service member. I've been the kid waiting for Dad to come home. I've done from within the military womb, so to speak, living in quarters on base - and I've done it isolated from all that, essentially living out on our own - and that during an increasingly unpopular war - Vietnam 68-69.

My parents decided that moving to Denver, so we'd be near the grandparents, would be a good idea while Dad was gone. Denver at that time did have Fitzimmons, the huge Army orthopaedic center, and Lowry AFB. But when you live off post, out on the other side of a large city, you might as well be alone. And the nature of how Vietnam was handled at that time, via individual replacements, vice unit rotations, meant that battalions like my father was commanding did *not* have an in-place family support structure. While all the soldiers were together, their families were scattered all across the country.

And even if you lived on base in quarters, you didn't necessarily know anyone else connected to the unit. Mom was the battalion commander's wife - and she knew not one other family member from the battalion. There were none in the area.

Mom had been an Army wife for 18 years. It was her second war. It was going to be Purple Hearts 3-7, and another medal for heroism (not always popular with the distaff side, given the kind of behavior represented...).

And ya know what? It was *hard* We got anonymous phone calls from a$$holes. We had The Telegram. Watching the news was difficult. For the most part I didn't have any trouble in school, but my sister, older than I and in the 9th grade, took some serious crap from kids who knew only what they got from the news and their parents and peers - and it was chic to be anti-military, so my sister was an easy target. Throw puberty on top of that fire, too.

I probably had it the easiest.

No, Mom didn't whine, though I know there were nights with tears, especially after one of those a$$hat phone calls. And the anxiety level crept up a *lot* during Tet '68.

Where am I going with this... well, my sense is the Regular Army is doing much better coping with this war than we did with Vietnam, when it comes to families.

I suspect the Guard is doing very well in some places, and not well in others, depending how well integrated the units are in their communities. And the Reserve... I suspect despite the best efforts of well intentioned people, the Reserve, due to it's scattered nature, is having the hardest time coping.

I guess I'm getting to this - many deployed family members, by nature, nurture, and location, are coping pretty well. Others, unprepared and more paralyzed by fear and confusion, are not handling it well. And it manifests as whining, griping, and anger. And if you've tried to negotiate TRICARE or the military bureaucracy from a position of knowledge... imagine how frustrating it must be to people dealing with it remotely, for the first time.

Okay. For those who are coping, and just can't figure out why others don't just "ruck up and soldier on"... get off your high horse and knuckle down and support these people in whatever way you can - but, geez, Louise, quit the farking sniping and griping from your end. It isn't helpful. It just makes others feel bad, and is a particularly venal form of bullying. If you've nothing to contribute - then don't. Tune it out, ruck up and soldier on yourself. But don't pile on. Skip the blog, dump/block the email.

Because *You* annoy the ones of us who *do* happen to be perfect, much more than the whiners... because I expect more from you.

Just sayin'

by John on Aug 05, 2006
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Carnival of Blue Stars #16

August 04, 2006

Coast Guard Day!

e30007b.jpg
*(for the story behind the artwork - hit the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry)

To the Men and Women of the Coast Guard:


Today marks the 216th Birthday of our Coast Guard. This anniversary offers us a moment to celebrate our rich history, reflect on our past and focus on our future. The Coast Guard’s unique legacy as America’s lifesaver and maritime guardian evolved from the selfless courage and unflinching determination of our predecessors. It is in their honor that we celebrate today. In 1790, Congress authorized secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton to build a fleet of ten cutters to secure our freedom and protect our coast. For the next eight years, the Revenue Marine was the nation’s only naval force. Over time, it evolved and acquired new responsibilities to meet the growing needs of a democracy in the early years of a new nation.

The world has changed dramatically since 1790 and continues to change with every day. The global war on terrorism, the Maritime Transportation Security Act, The Homeland Security Act, the National Strategy for Homeland Security, and the National Strategy for Maritime Security have given the Coast Guard additional areas of mission emphasis. Meeting those new maritime security demands, while sustaining the trust and confidence of the public we serve in preserving our maritime safety and exercising our maritime stewardship duties, requires us to continually challenge ourselves and improve the way we do business. By focusing on superior mission execution in all that we do, our active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary men and women are meeting these challenges head on, often times in unique and innovative ways. I am proud of these tremendous efforts and your hard work.

With the arrival of our 217th year of continuous service, we can look forward to the promise of more opportunities to serve America, and even more challenges. I reaffirm my commitment to each of you on this special day to ensure that our Coast Guard men and women are the most versatile workforce in government, equipped with the most capable fleet of ships, aircraft and boats, along with the most effective systems that will support them. We have an extraordinary legacy of excellence as America’s Coast Guard. We will build on that legacy. We will rise to meet the challenges facing us. And we will remain always ready.

Happy Birthday and Semper Paratus!

Admiral Thad Allen

What he said!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 04, 2006

August 02, 2006

Corporal Robert J. Mitchell, Jr

...someone you should know, but won't read about in the NYT - at least not in the parts of the paper people actually read.*

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (July 28, 2006) -- His desert utilities shredded by shrapnel and streaked with his own blood and that of his fellow Marines, Cpl. Robert J. Mitchell Jr. limped out of the cement block house in downtown Fallujah, Iraq, and into the annals of Marine Corps history.

The day was Nov. 13, 2004, and according to the Marine Corps’ official account of the fierce, close quarters battle, Mitchell ignored his own wounds and repeatedly braved enemy fire to administer first aid to and evacuate other Marines wounded in the fight.

Nearly two years after that fateful day, in a solemn ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Mitchell received the Navy Cross from Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of the I Marine Expeditionary Force. The Navy Cross is the nation’s second-highest award for battlefield heroism.

“This is a truly special occasion,” said Sattler, addressing the assembled Marines and guests after presenting the award. “Valor comes in a scale, and all the Marines, Sailors, and veterans here today know how rare of an occasion this is.”

As a cool, dry wind snapped the flags around the parade deck, Mitchell choked back tears as he thanked God, his family, and his fellow Marines for their support and attending the ceremony.

Mitchell joined the Marine Corps in early 2001, and was on his second tour in Iraq with the 1st Marine Division when Coalition forces launched a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive to reclaim Fallujah from insurgents who had fortified the city.

Dubbed Operation Al Fajr (aka Phantom Fury), the assault on Fallujah kicked off on Nov. 8, 2004, and quickly turned into a bloody, street-by-street contest with then-Corporal Mitchell and his fellow Marines in Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, in the thick of the fighting.

Day by day, Mitchell and his squad pushed through the city, methodically clearing pockets of enemy resistance as they progressed. During an assault against an insurgent strong point on Nov. 12, Mitchell was shot through the right tricep, but ignored the wound to help destroy the fortified position, and later refused medical evacuation to remain with his squad.

The next day, an assault against a squat, cement house had gone horribly wrong and several wounded Marines lay trapped inside with several well-fortified insurgents waiting in ambush positions. Mitchell’s squad got the call to come and assist.

“When the call came, we knew we had to get them out,” said Mitchell. “That became the mission – the only mission.”

Once on the scene, the Iowa native quickly established a casualty collection point and organized his men to assault the building. Then-1st Sgt. Bradley A. Kasal, the senior enlisted Marine from another company, joined Mitchell’s squad, and together, they charged the building and took up firing positions.

The first floor of the house was littered with dead or dying insurgents, and the wounded Marines lay further inside. Other enemy fighters were in fortified positions on the roof looking down through a skylight, creating a kill zone between Mitchell and the wounded Marines.

Covered by suppressive fire, Mitchell raced through the kill zone toward the wounded Marines as the rooftop insurgents showered the room below with rifle fire and grenades. Shrapnel from one of the grenades peppered the back of Mitchell’s legs, but he made it to the stranded, wounded Marines.

“It was great to see him come in,” said Cpl. Jose Sanchez, an infantryman from Houston, Texas. “Until he got there I was switching between treating Carlisle [Lance Cpl. Cory] and providing security. When Corporal Mitchell came in, he took over the medical treatment and I could focus on firing at the insurgents.”

A trained combat lifesaver, Mitchell went to work on Carlisle’s bullet-mangled leg. With his medical supplies running out, he once again orchestrated suppression of the insurgents on the roof to allow a corpsman and another Marine to sprint through the kill zone.

By this time, both Kasal and another Marine, Pvt. 1st Class Alex Nicoll, had been seriously wounded by rifle fire and grenades, and were holed up inside a small room across the kill zone Mitchell had crossed only moments before.

Leaving the wounded Marines in the care of the corpsman, Mitchell once again braved the kill zone, and like before, the insurgents sprayed the short, treacherous path with bullets and grenades. One bullet smashed into Mitchell’s M-16A4 assault rifle, shattering the weapon before ricocheting down and into his right leg. More shrapnel slashed Mitchell’s legs and face, yet he remained on his feet and made it to Kasal and Nicoll, who was Mitchell’s former roommate and longtime friend.

Blooding profusely but apparently unmindful of his wounds, Mitchell began treating the others, applying bandages and direct pressure in an attempt to staunch the wounded Marines’ blood loss. In the midst of his life-saving efforts, Mitchell scanned the room and saw a wounded insurgent, shot earlier by Kasal, make a move for a weapon laying nearby.

Mitchell quickly drew his combat knife and lunged forward, driving the weapon into the insurgent, eliminating the threat for good before turning his attention back to Kasal and Nicoll. With Marines scattered throughout the small house and the insurgents still firmly entrenched on the roof and a nearby stairwell denying access to any additional forces, the situation was quickly deteriorating.

Through a small, barred window in the room, Mitchell explained to Marines outside the layout of the house and where Marines were located throughout the structure. With this information, the Marines were able to suppress the insurgents on the roof via firing positions on adjacent structures, and one-by-one, extract the wounded Marines from the building which has since been dubbed the “House of Hell.”

The photograph of a bloody Kasal, now a sergeant major and himself a Navy Cross recipient, being helped from the house by two Marines is one of the more resonant images of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Despite his own severe wounds, Mitchell was among the last to leave the house, and did so assisting another wounded Marine. Demolition charges were quickly flung into the house, and the resulting explosion caused the building to collapse, killing the diehard insurgents.

While other casualties from the short, yet intense, fight were loaded onto vehicles and driven to a nearby aid station, Mitchell gathered the remnants of his squad and led them back to the Kilo Company headquarters where he finally received treatment for his wounds.

Less than two weeks later, Mitchell was on his way home from Iraq. Though non-debilitating, his injuries suffered during Operation Al Fajr, combined with those from a mortar attack in July, were enough to convince the Marines the time had come to order Mitchell to leave the combat zone. In a November 2004 interview with a Marine combat correspondent, Mitchell voiced his concerns about being ordered to leave Iraq, but was resigned to his fate.

"Being told by my [commanding officer], sergeant major, platoon commander and all my buddies that I have done enough – that helps to ease my thoughts," said Mitchell. "It is supportive, but at the same time, I came out here to lead a squad and finish the job."

Mitchell, who left the Marine Corps as a sergeant in March 2005, traveled to Camp Pendleton to receive the award with his wife, Sara, and seven-month-old son, Robert III, from their current home in Phoenix where Mitchell works as a motorcycle mechanic. Other family members and friends, including Nicoll, made the trip as well.

“Mitchell’s a Marine’s Marine, and I always looked to him as a role model” said Sanchez, who earned a Bronze Star Medal for valor during the fight for Fallujah. “I’m really happy to see him receive this award.”

The 26-year-old former Marine is unassuming, almost self-effacing, about receiving the Navy Cross.

“It’s very overwhelming, but I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Mitchell said in an interview after the ceremony, pausing every few minutes to chat with well-wishers and pose for pictures. “It’s an honor – the biggest honor I could ever fathom.”

Mitchell is the eleventh Marine to earn the Navy Cross for battlefield service in Iraq. Another Marine received the coveted award earlier this year for heroism in Afghanistan.

*Of course now that means he should be back by the Crossword...

by John on Aug 02, 2006

July 24, 2006

The Field Gun Competition.

V29 forwarded this link.

I've seen this event live. In addition to what the gentleman at the end of the piece talks about - it commemorates an actual event during the Boer War.

I'll spare you the *snark* about aritllerymen that V29 sent with it!

by John on Jul 24, 2006

Assignment, writing, one each.

I checked this with Dusty, who is a grad of the Colorado School for Wayward Children and he confirmed the legitimacy through other sources.

We'll leave aside Winter Break vice Christmas Break, I'd hate to be un-PC and an insensitive lout or anything... 8^)

*************************************

"Why return to the Air Force Academy after Winter Break?

So after our sunburns have faded and the memories of our winter break have been reduced to pictures we've pinned on our desk boards, and once again we've exchanged t-shirts and swim suits for flight suits and camouflage, there still remains the question that every cadet at U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs has asked themselves at some point: Why did we come back? Why, after spending two weeks with our family would we return to one of the most demanding lifestyles in the country? After listening to our 'friends' who are home from State or Ivy League schools chock full of wisdom about how our war in Iraq is unjust and unworldly, why would we return? And after watching the news and reading the papers which only seem to condemn the military's every mistake and shadow every victory, why would we continue to think it is worth the sacrifice of a normal college life?

Is it because the institution to which we belong is tuition- free? Anyone who claims this has forgotten that we will, by the time we graduate, repay the US. taxpayer many times over in blood, sweat, and tears. Is it because the schooling we are receiving is one of the best undergraduate educations in the country? While the quality of the education is second to none, anyone who provides this as a main reason has lost sight of the awesome responsibility that awaits those who are tough enough to graduate and become commissioned officers in the U.S. Air Force.

I come back to the Academy because I want to have the training necessary so that one day I'll have the incredible responsibility of leading the sons and daughters of America in combat. These men and women will never ask about my Academy grade point average, their only concern will be that I have the ability to lead them expertly; I will be humbled to earn their respect.

I come back to the Academy because I want to be the commander who saves lives by negotiating with Arab leaders... in their own language. I come back to the Academy because, if called upon, I want to be the pilot who flies half way around the world with three mid-air refuelings to send a bomb from 30,000 feet into a basement housing the enemy... through a ventilation shaft two feet wide. For becoming an officer in today's modern Air Force is so much more than just command; it is being a diplomat, a strategist, a communicator, a moral compass, but always a warrior first.

I come back to the Air Force Academy because, right now, the United States is fighting a global war that is an 'away game' in Iraq - taking the fight to the terrorists. And whether or not we think the terrorists were in Iraq before our invasion, they are unquestionably there now. And if there is any doubt as to whether this is a global war, just ask the people in Amman, in London, in Madrid, in Casablanca, in Riyadh, and in Bali. This war must remain an away game because we have seen what happens when it becomes a home game... I come back to the Academy because I want to be a part of that fight. I come back to the Academy because I don't want my vacationing family to board a bus in Paris that gets blown away by someone who thinks that it would be a good idea to convert the Western world to Islam. I come back to the Academy because I don't want the woman I love to be the one who dials her last frantic cell phone call while huddled in the back of an airliner with a hundred other people seconds away from slamming into the Capitol building. I come back to the Academy because during my freshman year of high school I sat in a geometry class and watched nineteen terrorists change the course of history live on television. For the first time, every class currently at a U.S Service Academy made the decision to join after the 2001 terror attacks. Some have said that the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan only created more terrorists... I say that the attacks of September 11th, 2001 created an untold more number of American soldiers; I go to school with 4,000 of them. And that's worth more than missing more than a few frat parties.

Joseph R. Tomczak
Cadet, Fourth Class
United States Air Force Academy "

by John on Jul 24, 2006

July 23, 2006

Top Ten Reasons I Became A Planner

All you old 53's 54's out there will identify with this. As will any military planner.

Hell, *any* planner.

Rule #1 of Planning: While nobody will go to their barber for brain surgery, *everybody* is an expert at whatever it is you do, and they think you're too stupid to rate a "sapiens" behind your homo.

Snerk. I bet some people spun somewhere else completely. I know I got a grumpy beep from the PG-17c...

Top Ten Reasons Why I Became a Planner:

10. Everyone needs a new concept of Hell.
9. I figured a gun to the head was too painless.
8. Economics graduates need to work for someone.
7. I could easily justify getting fired.
6. I volunteered for a sleep deprivation experiment.
5. I don't need a social/family life anyway.
4. I wanted to leave the world more complicated than I found it.
3. I couldn't get into the plumber's union.
2. I always had a burning desire to be "doctrinally correct."

And the Number 1 reason I became a planner?

1. Masochism, masochism, masochism...

H/t Carl F. via Jim C.

Heh. I became a planner because my math background was too weak to be an ORSA (my original secondary/functional area). Which is ironic, considering what I do now is... ORSA. Planning sucked so bad (if you are really good at it, you can't escape it and do fun things) you read Dante's Inferno as a vacation guide. Most GO-level commanders are people who weren't good planners themselves but knew how to shackle in the dungeon the good planners they ran into. Heh. They fed us logisticians.

I was lucky - because I understood computers, they let me out to run the computer models and I snuck out while they were all oooohing and aaaaaahing at the pretty pictures on the screen and got myself designated as a Simulations Operations geek. I fooled my boss by telling him, "Hey, operations is operations, no worries!" Then he found out that sim geeks had their own assignments guys!

Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

by John on Jul 23, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Over at Castle Argghhh! this morning...

July 22, 2006

Kewl Beans!

I'm taking next week off for travel to an exotic locale.

This photograph is relevant.

AA Action view from Hornet 14 May 1945 of kamikaze exploding over John Rodgers and is about to splash. NARA 80G331623.


AA Action view from Hornet 14 May 1945 of kamikaze exploding over John Rodgers and is about to splash. NARA 80G331623.

More to follow.

by John on Jul 22, 2006

July 20, 2006

Argghhh!!!

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Trias, in commenting on this post downstream, said:

The reporter won I think. Wanted to show the military as unfeeling and uncaring (a fear many liberals have) and succeeded.


Really. The reporter won. Gad, if the reporter won, now you know why most of us don't really want to talk to them.

As if it was a fair fight, but that's a different story.

So, Trias, what you would have then is us breaking in down in tears all the time, wracked with anguish? Rending our clothing, scratching our eyes out?

That would actually help? It would *improve* the net result of the interview?

Or, at least, we have to sit there and take this inane crap that we're just inhuman monsters, oblivious to all human feeling.

What could he possibly have done differently? Do please elaborate on how that should have gone to make you think I'm all warm and cuddly.

Because I am. Except when I need to be hard as nails. You don't want to see me with my game face on, Trias, trust me. But that's exactly me being what you pay me and any Digger to be, when we need to be that.

The big farking huge difference between you and I Trias, is that I bloody well know what it's like out there. My father even moreso. And I know that it is impossible to fight like this in cities, near cities, almost anywhere but the Western Desert Campaign in Cyrenaica in 1942 to fight, at all, without innocents getting caught in it.

And we (and the Israelis) have been spending billions and risking lives to minimize what can't be eliminated.

And yet - without intending it I'm sure - you blithely and rhetorically lump us in the same group as those who literally aim for cities. Not for point targets in cities where we believe there are military targets (which means, by the way, under the Conventions, that we can farking well shoot at them if the military value of the target justifies it) even if there are non-combatants present. Because guess what - it's the responsibility of the OTHER FARKING SIDE to not hide their stuff among the civilians - and under the Conventions, *they* are the violators.

The relative precision of single round/single bomb attacks is a world of difference from the barrage that opened the Battle of the Somme, than the bombing of Guernica, or Coventry or the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo. If the Israelis were just systematically leveling Beirut, the "proportional response types would have an argument. As it is - despite their appalling lack of understanding of what the Conventiions actually say - they don't have an argument.

If Hezbollah was wearing a recognizable uniform (a simple armband would count) and were firing rockets in the general direction of Israeli troop concentrations, airbases, artillery, military installations, ammo depots, etc - they would be conducting themselves IAW the Conventions. But they aren't, are they? They are dressing like the locals, hiding among the locals, and launching rockets at civilian targets...

Because this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this, don't matter. Not just because one perceived "Aw Shit" wipes the "Attaboys" away, but because you never see those pictures. They aren't news. They aren't hard to find, really, if you know where to look - but you have to know. They aren't routinely shown you, are they? They aren't news.

And because an Israeli artilleryman chose to explain that he carefully selects his targets, ensures his lay is accurate, keeps his MET up to date, levels his bubbles and uses his gunner's quadrant, while shooting at legitimate military targets - and points out the other guy does none of these things, you rhetorically lump him in the same general category.

No, I didn't say explicitly - I just ran with the logical thrust of what you did choose to say.

In other words, I just did to you what you did to that Israeli.

How's it feel?

BTW - if you think, based on that little snippet I posted and your media-driven impression of soldiers as insensitive and uncaring, you don't *even* want to hang out with cops, firemen, paramedics and emergency room personnel.

We're all brutal, especially among ourselves. It's a coping mechanism.

Yet, in the main, we'll risk dying for you.

Reconcile that.

by John on Jul 20, 2006

Looks like Sergeant B will have competition...

...once he gets those enlistment papers signed.

Spc. Kevin Williams of Company A, 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, takes his position as a door gunner on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in Tikrit, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee KlikaView 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.<br />


Spc. Kevin Williams of Company A, 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, takes his position as a door gunner on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in Tikrit, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee KlikaView 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

I like it. It's better than this.

by John on Jul 20, 2006

Temper, the keeping of.

A comment by John the Baptist on this post:

I used to teach in a Jewish high school, and some of my former students are in the IDF or reserves. Please pray for the peace of Israel and His chosen people - all I keep picturing this week is the sight of those terribly young faces that used to grace my classroom now walking patrol.

On a related note, one of the MSM "news" shows tonight had an interview with an American from Detroit in the IDF (a redleg, John!), and the *&*%*^%^ reporter carefully guided the interview to a question about what he thought about his artillery rounds killing six-year old little girls. He stayed far calmer than I did (oops, down one more TV...), but did make a short speech about how careful they are with target selection and the general nature of war, and then noted, "Where do you think Hezbollah is aiming?"

by John on Jul 20, 2006

July 19, 2006

Troop Morale Survey

First off - all the usual caveats about self-selecting surveys (they tend to skew because people who feel strongly one way or the other tend to select, vice the ones who care a lot less).

No huge surprise - the officers and the enlisted have, um, *differing* perceptions of things. I think the most interesting data are those for the junior officers - they have officer attitudes, are closest to the action, and have not yet been fully acculturated to caution.

Seventy-four percent of Stripes military readers in Iraq who responded to a readership survey said fighting the war for America was “very” or “somewhat” worthwhile. About a quarter of the respondents said it was “not very worthwhile” or “not worthwhile at all.”

Here's a little bit about the disconnect:

While half of the respondents between the ranks of E-1 and E-6 said their unit’s morale was somewhat low or very low, 82 percent of the commissioned officers who responded said they believed their unit’s morale was high or very high. The percentage of these officers rating their unit's morale as somewhat low or very low was 15 percent. Seventy-four percent of readers with ranks from E-7 to E-9 plus warrant officers rated their unit’s morale as high or very high.

This is the bit that I think is perhaps most useful - the junior officers, who are closest to the action yet should be invested in victory, so to speak - are not as sanguine about things in Iraq as their bosses are.

At the same time, although they rated their morale high, the junior officers, O-1 through O-3, were less inclined than others to feel that conditions in Iraq had improved compared to when they first arrived. Forty-eight percent of these officers believed conditions in the country had improved; 44 percent felt the conditions were the same or worse. Sixty-seven percent of enlisted believed conditions had improved, while 69 percent of officers O-4, or major, and above believed conditions had improved.

As a pulse check, fodder for further data collection. What say you guys?

If you can get to it, you can read the whole thing here (oddly enough, from behind the firewall at Fort Leavenworth, you can't *get* to the Stars and Stripes website, while I can from home and the corporate office).

by John on Jul 19, 2006
» Soldiers' Angels Germany links with: S&S Troop Morale Survey

July 18, 2006

SSG Bellavia's Medal of Honor Nomination

NARRATIVE NOMINATING SSG DAVID BELLAVIA FOR THE MEDAL OF HONOR DURING OPERATION PHANTOM FURY FALLUJAH, IRAQ

On the night of 10 November 2004 Third Platoon, A Company, Task Force 2-2 IN near OBJ Wolf in Fallujah, Iraq, was ordered to attack to destroy six to eight Anti Iraqi Forces (AIF). 1LT Edward Iwan, the A Company Executive Officer, had identified six to eight AIF who had entered a block of twelve buildings. These AIF had engaged A55 and tanks from Team Tank with automatic weapons and rocket fire. Having a 25 mm cannon malfunction, 1LT Edward Iwan cordoned off the area and called Third Platoon to enter and clear all buildings until the AIF were killed or captured.

The first nine buildings yielded many AK47s, Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers, rockets, assorted ammunition, and flak vests. When they came to the tenth home, SSG Colin Fitts, 1st Squad Leader, led his squad of soldiers into the house, with four soldiers from SSG Bellavias 2nd Squad. SGT Hugh Hall, 1st Squad, B Team Leader and SGT Warren Misa 1st Squad, A Team Leader, established a quick foothold in the interior of the house. When SGT Misa attempted to clear the second room he encountered heavy enemy fire. Two AIF were under a stairwell, well covered behind a three-foot barrier, engaging SGT Misa and SPC Lance Ohle as they attempted to move into the room. At that point, multiple bursts of automatic and semi-automatic gunfire were exchanged from extremely close quarters. As rounds impacted near the entry point of the house, nine Third Platoon soldiers became fixed inside the house. At that moment, fire erupted from a kitchen ground floor window onto the inner cordon in th e carport of the house. At one point, gun fire was being exchanged inside and outside of the house, as a total of three dismounted squads from Third Platoon were in contact.

SSG Bellavia quickly requested a M240B machine gun and a M249 SAW to suppress the AIF under the stairs in an effort to break contact and consolidate the platoon. Rounds from the insurgent side of the wall began impacting through the poorly made plaster. Multiple soldiers were bleeding from the face from flying debris. Two soldiers had glass and metal shards in their face, one soldier had been grazed on the side of his stomach underneath his vest and at least six others were bleeding from some cut or scrape from the point blank fire they were receiving. As two soldiers answered the request for support, it became apparent that the entrance to the building was extremely dangerous from ricocheting rounds.

Rather than place his soldier at risk, SSG Bellavia moved quickly to come to the aid of the squad. He exchanged weapon systems with a M249 SAW gunner and entered the fatal funnel of the room. The enemy was crouched behind the barrier and continued to fire at the doorway of the house where SSG Bellavia was positioned. With enemy rounds impacting around him, he fired the SAW at a cyclic rate of fire, forcing the enemy to take cover and allowing the squad to break contact and move into the street to consolidate. SSG Bellavias actions undoubtedly saved the lives of that squad.

As the platoon gathered outside to get accountability of personnel, two or more AIF engaged Third Platoon from the roof. Rounds ricocheted off the ground and SSG Fitts moved his squad to an adjacent building to over watch the AIF on the roofs. SSG Bellavia grabbed an M16 rifle and headed back to the outside of the house. SSG Bellavia called for a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to come up and suppress the outside of the building. The high walls of the enemy strong point made it difficult at close proximity to get well-aimed 25mm cannon fire into the actual building. AIF again engaged Third Platoon from windows.

After the BFV suppressed the house, SSG Bellavia decided to move back inside the house to determine the effects of the BFV fire and whether the AIF still occupied the bottom floor of the house. He placed two SAW gunners and SSG Scott Lawson into the courtyard as the inner cordon. Michael Ware, a TIME magazine journalist, entered the house with SSG Bellavia.

SSG Bellavia entered the house and told SSG Lawson to stay outside until he was needed in the second room. The only two people that went into the house at first were Michael Ware and SSG Bellavia. SSG Bellavia heard AIF whispering from the other side of the wall. Mr. Ware was told to run out if anything happened inside the second room. The journalist insisted on going into the second room. SSG Bellavia got in a low crouched fighting position and quickly pie wedged the first room and fired his M16A4. The enemy immediately fired back with a belt fed RPK machine gun. SSG Bellavia quickly turned away from the fire. The AIF had fire superiority and SSG Bellavia didnt have time to get off well-aimed shots.

As SSG Bellavia moved again to get eyes on the room and determine the enemy disposition, he identified one of the AIF loading an RPG launcher. Understanding how devastating this weapon could be to his platoon, he moved quickly to eliminate the threat. SSG Bellavia told Mr. Ware to remain in the first room. As debris and smoke filled the room the insurgent with the RPG was killed first near the stairwell. A second AIF with a PKC machine gun fired as he ran for the kitchen. SSG Bellavia shot and wounded him in the back of the shoulder. He was heard screaming from outside the building. At that point an AIF yelled from upstairs. SSG Bellavia quickly realized how many insurgents were in the house. Despite the odds he continued the assault.

SSG Lawson entered the room with SSG Bellavia. He was armed with only a 9mm pistol. SSG Lawson was across the room firing into the kitchen door, and SSG Bellavia was near the doorway of the master bedroom using the stairs as his cover. The wounded AIF was firing back, this time with an AK47. The insurgent was screaming loudly as he fired. SSG Lawson fired an entire magazine toward the kitchen, when a piece of debris lodged in his right shoulder. Thinking he was shot and with only one 9mm magazine remaining, SSG Bellavia told him to leave to get medical aid and to retrieve a shotgun with buckshot and other soldiers. SSG Lawson and Mr. Ware exited the house.

SSG Bellavia realized that his back was facing a room he had not cleared. In order to secure his position he entered the master bedroom of the house. SSG Bellavia heard movement in the room and fired into the dark corners to clear them by fire. There was a closet directly in front of him with six closed doors, and multiple areas of dead space. At that point an insurgent ran down the stairs and started firing into the room. SSG Bellavia moved behind a protruding corner of the wall to acquire cover. Over the loud noise of small arms fire from across the hall, he could hear screaming from upstairs and to his immediate left. Confused and trying to locate if another insurgent was in the corner of the room, SSG Bellavia began to scan the room with his PEQ-2A. Thinking the noise originated from the closet, SSG Bellavia took a few steps to his left and began to fire into each door from left to right. Before he could finish clearing the closet the wounded AIF from the kitchen ran t oward the bedroom door and began blindly shooting at him from outside. Finding his position of cover behind the elbow of the wall, SSG Bellavia fired back. As the enemy fire came closer, he moved his position into the far opposing corner of the room. The AIF exposed his shoulders as he fired into the bedroom and SSG Bellavia fired wounding and then killing him.

He then noticed a closet door was open and he witnessed tracer fire hit the side of the room. Unsure of where the fire originated, SSG Bellavia looked for a target. Suddenly the insurgent on the stairs began shooting at him again. As the wounded AIF turned and exposed his position in the doorway he was hit and fell near the stairs. He was moaning and slowly moved away from the door, mortally wounded. Simultaneously, a closet door opened and clothing flew everywhere, as an insurgent leapt out and fired wildly all over the room. In his rush out of the closet he tripped on something in the closet and the entire wardrobe fell down resting on the open doors. This actually was a benefit to SSG Bellavia as it provided more cover. When the AIF attempted to cross over the bed, he lost his balance on the mattress and was shot multiple times. The insurgent fell to the ground and with his back to the front door, fired an accurate burst directly into the closet and the wall near SSG Be llavia. SSG Bellavia crouched low to the ground, the insurgent was screaming loudly in broken English. Someone from upstairs was yelling back in Arabic. SSG Bellavia responded in Arabic in an attempt to intimidate the men into surrendering. The insurgent then picked himself up and ran out of the room and up the stairs. SSG Bellavia fired, missing the insurgent and then pursued him as he fled up the stairs. Blood was soaked all over the stairs causing SSG Bellavia to slip, nearly catching a burst of AK fire. The wounded AIF turned and shot an automatic burst from the first landing of the stairs but once again missed SSG Bellavia, who was now well behind cover.

Tracking the blood, SSG Bellavia followed the AIF into a room immediately to the left on the second story. He heard the AIF inside and tossed a fragmentary grenade into the room. The blast sent the screaming AIF onto the second story roof. The AIF began shooting his weapon in all directions, until it was empty of ammunition. Bellavia noticed the AIF was seriously wounded in the right side of his body from the blast of the grenade. The insurgent stumbled back into the room and began to dry fire his weapon. As SSG Bellavia scanned the inside of the room, it was quickly filling with thick smoke from burning foam mattresses ignited from the blast. Two AIF could be heard screaming at each other from a third story of the building. Not wanting the AIF to give away his position, SSG Bellavia quickly grabbed the wounded AIF in a choke hold to keep him quiet. SSG Bellavia met resistance as he attempted to quiet the screaming AIF. Bellavia was bit on the arm and struck in the face wi th the barrel of the wounded insurgents small AK47. A .45 caliber pistol shot off against the wall and SSG Bellavia, whose helmet was loosened when it was jarred by the barrel of the AK, began to thrash the AIF in attempts to pacify him. Exchanging blows in the struggle, SSG Bellavia fearing that the screaming insurgent was issuing instructions to his peers upstairs, opened his IBA vest and attempted to use his front sappy plate to forcibly subdue the insurgent into compliance. Hearing multiple foot steps over his position, Bellavia used his Gerber tactical blade and cut into the left side of the insurgent’s throat. Not wanting to discharge his weapon as to give away his position and in fear of the many propane tanks near the wall, SSG Bellavia bled the insurgent with applied pressure as he was spastically kicked and scratched in the melee. Two other insurgents, only feet away yelled to their comrade in Arabic, simultaneously firing their weapons. SSG Bellavia confirmed the insurgent was dead and exited the room as his eyes and the fresh scratches on his face were stinging from the smoke and heat of the growing fire.

SSG Bellavia moved to secure the two doors to his right. Suddenly an AIF dropped down from the third story roof, onto the second story roof. The AIF dropped his weapon as he fell to his knees. SSG Bellavia moved to the window and as the AIF went to grab his weapon SSG Bellavia shot in his direction multiple times, wounding him in the lower back. The AIF was prone and SSG Bellavia assumed he was dead. He moved to the door leading to the roof and found the insurgent straddling a large water tank at the edge of the roof. He shot the remainder of his ammunition into the insurgent’s legs and went back inside to grab a dead insurgent’s weapon. As he moved inside the house the insurgent fell off the roof and into the garden. Moments later, five members of Third Platoon entered and secured the downstairs of the house and yelled up to SSG Bellavia who was still on the second floor.

SSG Bellavia moved to link up with the rest of his platoon. However, before the search could begin for the fifth or sixth insurgent the platoon was ordered to move out of the area due to a close air support mission called in by an adjacent unit.

SSG Bellavia single handedly saved three squads of his Third Platoon that night, risking his own life by allowing them to break contact and reorganize. He then entered and cleared an insurgent strong point, killing four insurgents and mortally wounding another.

Bellavia blogs (all the kewl kids do, y'know) here.

by John on Jul 18, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 07/18/2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 07/18/2006

July 14, 2006

Information for Lieutenant Watada

The Castle has a regular reader (waves) who spent over a decade as a resident of the United States Disciplinary Barracks, as in sleeping there at night, and not while on guard duty. We, um, "served" at Fort Leavenworth together, so to speak. We've been having an email chat. From that chat, I've developed some intel for Lieutenant Watada's benefit should he become another guest of Chez DB.

Hi there,

Thank your for your site, it is one I visit every day.

Details. I was an inmate there. [mid-80s through the middle-late 90's]. I went through Reception, Solitary confinement, 7 Wing, 6 Wing, B 466, then the little problem with the prison work stoppage in 1992 put me in 4 Wing, then to B 465, over to B 466 again.

Most people think inmates rank their crimes and they do, (we did) but the military ranks crimes differently. Below child molesters are spies and people who take the paycheck and benefits then refuse to deploy to combat situations. Yolanda Hewitt-Vaughn was treated like dirt and everyone looked down on her.

I met Clayton Lonetree, several spies, a few murderers, even a nuclear warhead designer. The only crime I did not encounter was a cannibal.

A bit of trivia. The USDB is the only U.S. prison where 99 plus percent of the inmates have been taught and trained to kill people, has one of the highest average education levels due to the military pushing college, and has inmates trained to escape and evade capture. The main thing that keeps the lid on is nearly everyone having been given a sense of discipline during their service years.

Also, some of the guards committed crimes, but not much was ever done about
it.

Here's a thought, Lieutenant.

Below child molesters are spies and people who take the paycheck and benefits then refuse to deploy to combat situations. Yolanda Hewitt-Vaughn was treated like dirt and everyone looked down on her.

Just sayin'.

July 11, 2006

Sigh.

Yes, I know about the video. No, I'm not going to watch it or link to those who have it. Truth? My own little slice of perspective-driven truth? It's not news any more. The fact that our opponents in the Middle East hack off heads for malicicious, sadistic, makes 'em funny-in-the-pants terroristic purposes is not news. And an orgy about it in the blogosphere and MSM adds nothing to the debate but ups the Google count for those sites hosting the video, linking to it, etc - and spreads the message-by-proxy. I did do Nick Berg. That was then, this is now. Does it truly inform us of anything? If you needed that to buck up your flagging resolve, your resolve isn't a core value. Hey, your mileage may differ, and if you need to see the video, Google will point you there.

This is *not* the criticism of those sites linking/hosting the video you might think. From a conventional perspective it's still news, and it's new because they're American soldiers, and at least one of those sites has established itself as a serious source for this kind of information. But I'm not jumping onto that bandwagon which will be covered by others and I have nothing new to offer.

The leadership in the box now has a fresh challenge - keeping the lid on the troops, keeping 'em focused, and making sure we have no acts of vengeance, carried out in the heat of the moment, involving innocents. Always a challenge for the junior leader in combat, moreso with something like this to fuel the flames.

Like it or no, frustrating or not, we need to maintain our discipline, ruck up, and soldier on - as professionals.

And I'm sure we will.

Lastly, this result needs to inform the Courts Martial of those soldiers whose actions seemingly sparked this event, if that connection can be made with evidentiary rigor. Not in the guilt or innocence phase - but in the punishment phase.

Actions have consequences - and the unintended ones are as much a part of it as the intended ones.

And this in no way excuses the perpetrators of these acts of desecration.

Here at Castle Argghhh! we will remember Privates First Class Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker as soldiers, not news fodder.

PFC Kristian MenchacaPFC Thomas Tucker

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Jul 11, 2006
» CDR Salamander links with: That video
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Castle Argghhh! Has it Right

July 09, 2006

Armorer Zen

Hosting provided by FotoTime

That's just purty. H/t, Boquisucio.

by SGT John Queen </p>

<p>July 6, 2006</p>

<p>Artillerymen from the 4th Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, render honors during the 1st Infantry Division’s departure ceremony at Victory Park in Wurzburg July 6. The former Big Red One artillery battalion was re-designated and re-assigned from the 1st ID to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

by SGT John Queen

July 6, 2006

Artillerymen from the 4th Battalion, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, render honors during the 1st Infantry Division’s departure ceremony at Victory Park in Wurzburg July 6. The former Big Red One artillery battalion was re-designated and re-assigned from the 1st ID to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

The white gloves are a nice touch, no? Nice symmetry too, since they're both firing blanks...

Interesting family connection, too. My father commanded the 2-35 FA, 24th Infantry Div (FWD) in Augsburg, Germany. When the 24th and 1st Infantry swapped out in 1970, the battalion reflagged as the 1-33 FA, 1st Infantry (FWD). Now it's morphed into an Airborne unit... On a completely unrelated note - I was born in Wurzburg. But it was then the home of the 10th Mountain.

Oh, oh. I left a setup in there. Farkle!

by John on Jul 09, 2006

Your Army at Work.

National Guard members in an entry identification team at their post on Johnson Mountain in New Mexico on June 17, 2006. The team gathers intelligence about possible undocumented aliens attempting to enter the United States from Mexico and relays it to Border Patrol agents. Mexico is south of the ridge in the background. The skybox provides Soldiers with a higher vantage point and contains equipment that enhances their ability to see people by day and night. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jim Greenhill) (Released)

National Guard members in an entry identification team at their post on Johnson Mountain in New Mexico on June 17, 2006. The team gathers intelligence about possible undocumented aliens attempting to enter the United States from Mexico and relays it to Border Patrol agents. Mexico is south of the ridge in the background. The skybox provides Soldiers with a higher vantage point and contains equipment that enhances their ability to see people by day and night. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jim Greenhill) (Released)

On his second day performing Operation Jump Start duties on June 20, 2006, Army National Guard Pfc. Jacob Ellington, 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment, Arizona National Guard, monitors one of dozens of screens at the Border Patrol's Communications Center linked to cameras monitoring the Yuma Sector of the border with Mexico. The National Guard is operating as the eyes and ears for the Border Patrol. Ellington has volunteered to continue the mission indefinitely. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jim Greenhill) (Released)

On his second day performing Operation Jump Start duties on June 20, 2006, Army National Guard Pfc. Jacob Ellington, 1st Battalion, 158th Infantry Regiment, Arizona National Guard, monitors one of dozens of screens at the Border Patrol's Communications Center linked to cameras monitoring the Yuma Sector of the border with Mexico. The National Guard is operating as the eyes and ears for the Border Patrol. Ellington has volunteered to continue the mission indefinitely. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jim Greenhill) (Released)

060627-N-7586B-162 20060627 U.S. Army Sgt Jason Manley and fellow Military Police (MP), from 506th Regimental Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division conduct a dismounted patrol through the neighborhood of Adhamiya East Baghdad, Iraq, June 26, 2006. (U.S. Navy photo by PH1 Bart A. Bauer)  (Released)

060627-N-7586B-162 20060627 U.S. Army Sgt Jason Manley and fellow Military Police (MP), from 506th Regimental Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division conduct a dismounted patrol through the neighborhood of Adhamiya East Baghdad, Iraq, June 26, 2006. (U.S. Navy photo by PH1 Bart A. Bauer) (Released)

060619-N-8252B-027<br />
Bedrani Village, Iraq (June 19, 2006) - Local children walk alongside Pfc Marcos Perez, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during a dismounted patrol through the town. (Official U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Katrina Beeler)<br />
(Released)

060619-N-8252B-027 Bedrani Village, Iraq (June 19, 2006) - Local children walk alongside Pfc Marcos Perez, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, during a dismounted patrol through the town. (Official U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Katrina Beeler)

U.S. Army Sgt. Kenneth Strong, left, and his fellow Soldiers exit a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an aerial traffic control point mission near Tall Afar, Iraq, July 2, 2006.  The Soldiers are assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

U.S. Army Sgt. Kenneth Strong, left, and his fellow Soldiers exit a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during an aerial traffic control point mission near Tall Afar, Iraq, July 2, 2006. The Soldiers are assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey, U.S. Air Force. (Released)


Welcome visitors from Stand-To! If you haven't, feel free to poke around - and check out Milblogs, as well, bloggin from active, retired, former military and the families. Our news, our way.

by John on Jul 09, 2006

July 04, 2006

Nobody cares about soldiers?

Pfc. Matthew J. Mongiove assigned to the 10th Mountain 4th Brigade, supporting the 561st Military Police Company, provides security for the Canadian Mobile Training Team (MTT) on May 16, 2006 in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan.  The Canadian Military Police out of Spin Boldak provides refresher training to the border patrol police who patrol the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  (U.S Army Photo by Sgt. Andre' Reynolds)<br />
(Released)


Pfc. Matthew J. Mongiove assigned to the 10th Mountain 4th Brigade, supporting the 561st Military Police Company, provides security for the Canadian Mobile Training Team (MTT) on May 16, 2006 in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan. The Canadian Military Police out of Spin Boldak provides refresher training to the border patrol police who patrol the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. (U.S Army Photo by Sgt. Andre' Reynolds) (Released)

Blue Star Chronicles has up a post about a conversation she had with a US soldier.

Who avers that Nobody Cares About Soldiers. (They should read more milblogs..., but that's a different issue)

Go, read. How 'bout you guys and gals serving? Overstated? Understated? Message mixed?

by John on Jul 04, 2006
» My Side of the Puddle links with: GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

June 30, 2006

Someone you should meet.

Private First Class David Nicholas Crombie.

"The last call I got from him, I think it was Memorial Day weekend, he said, 'Mom, I saved an Iraqi soldier today -- it was so cool. I put my training to effect; I saved someone. I'm scared, but it's so great doing this.' "

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

We can't highlight each of them, but we can highlight a representative sample. This post will remain on top all day.

by John on Jun 30, 2006

Getting an early start on the 4th of July...

Over in Iraq.

Getting an early start on the 4th

by John on Jun 30, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Bin Laden praises al-Zarqawi as "the lion of holy war"

June 29, 2006

Trias - this post's for you.

Wounded Warrior Program leads Soldiers, families through recovery By Katisha Draughn

June 28, 2006

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 28, 2006) – Staff Sgt. Jarod Behee was patrolling in Iraq last spring when his life forever changed, courtesy of a sniper shot to the head.

The bullet left the California National Guardsman critically wounded, and he’s since endured numerous surgeries to decrease the swelling of his brain and repair damaged blood vessels.

Enter the Army Wounded Warrior Program, which has assisted Soldiers who’ve been severely injured while supporting the Global War on Terror since April 2004. Their injuries range from loss of limbs and sight to extreme burns and brain injuries.

“We want them to know there is someone here for them,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert McAvoy, lead NCO for the AW2. “They’ve been through a traumatic event, and they don’t need anything worse.”

The AW2 supports Soldiers and their families through a three-phased process. Phase one is notification and evacuation; phase two is the medical care and board evaluation; and phase three involves helping Soldiers reintegrate into the Army or transition to civilian employment.

“We’re there to assist and advocate for them as they face the bureaucracy in front of them, whether it be normal Army systems or the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) as they transition into the civilian world,” McAvoy said.

When Behee’s wife, Marissa, was informed of her husband’s accident, AW2 officials immediately linked her to a Soldier/family management specialist.

“The program has been great to us,” said Marissa. “Our [specialist] called every week and was always there to listen to me and help. It was good just to have someone to vent to and talk to about my frustrations.”

While Behee moved between hospitals and eventually to private rehabilitation facilities, Marissa had her own share of hard times. Beyond being a military wife and a mother to their 5-year-old daughter, Madison, Marissa become a constant bedside supporter to her injured husband. But looking out for his wellbeing and managing his TRICARE coverage isn’t always easy.

“We’ve had good days and bad days, and we’ve hit every worse-case scenario there is,” she said. “But I don’t give up because I know that there are better days to come.”

The AW2 has helped the Behee’s and other families see better days by helping them meet financial needs. If a family has trouble paying personal and medical bills, for example, AW2 officials coordinate with non-profit organizations to seek donations that will help Soldiers and families.

William M. Years has been a Soldier/family management specialist with the AW2 for almost two years.

“When I see the light in Soldiers’ eyes and see them interact with their families again, I know I have made a difference,” he said.

Years is paired with Soldiers and families living in numerous states, to include New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Michigan, Kentucky and Europe. He visits them often, and provides information on military benefits, transportation needs, monetary issues, loans and counseling.

“We help do things that the Soldier’s unit may not be able to,” Years said.

Thanks to efforts of AW2 officials, Behee goes through intense physical therapy at the Casa Colina Rehabilitation Center in California. He has regained considerable movement in his left arm and hand, and can now walk without assistance.

The hospital has also given the Behee’s a house on hospital grounds, making it possible for Marissa’s parents to live close by and help out.

“His injury has been a blessing in disguise because it has brought our family together and helped us realize what is important,” said Jan Szymanski, Behee’s mother-in-law.

The AW2 stays with Soldiers for five years from the date they restart their Army careers, until they transition to the civilian community or retire.

“We want our Soldiers to know they are always Soldiers, and our Army and nation will not leave them or their families behind,” McAvoy said.

For more information call (800) 237-1336 or visit www.aw2.army.mil.

To read about a wounded Soldier who has overcome some of the greatest obstacles of his injury, go to http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=9231.

I'm sure there are flaws in the program. No program meets every need, or all needs well. And I'm sure it took too long to get going, as the leadership resisted the idea that significant casualty-producing combat would last this long.

But there *is* a program.

Now if the Executive would ask and/or Congress would fund the VA for health care as readily as they are willing to fund credit checks... but of course, the data fiasco affects 26 million vets who might vote. The health care bill (for which there wasn't 160 million laying around like there is for credit monitoring)... well, that doesn't affect as many people, now does it?

by John on Jun 29, 2006

Can I have a 'Hoo-ah! please?

Not so much for the guy on the left, as the guy on the right. The guy on the left gets plenty of attention.

Staff Sgt. Christian Bagge, who lost both legs in Iraq last year when a roadside bomb hit his Humvee, runs with President Bush June 27 on the South Lawn of the White House. Photo by William Moss.

Staff Sgt. Christian Bagge, who lost both legs in Iraq last year when a roadside bomb hit his Humvee, runs with President Bush June 27 on the South Lawn of the White House. Photo by William Moss.
by John on Jun 29, 2006
» Welcome To Andi's World links with: Sick and Twisted
» Welcome To Andi's World links with: Sick and Twisted

June 27, 2006

General Gordon Sullivan on Billpayers.

In the H&I post today, I discussed the upcoming budget crunches and ways they are going to be met, mostly, I predict, by mortgaging the future and the warfighters.

Here's a little insider email running around the opinion makers of the retired General Officer corps, from former Army Chief of Staff Gordon Sullivan.

Friends---I have been observing very carefully the ongoing saga regarding the approval of the Supplemental for 2006. What my analysis suggests to me is the signals for the future of our Army are not good. Oh, I know there are many in town who will tell you that it is too soon to tell how things will evolve but I see too many signals to conclude otherwise. Needless to say this bothers me because by any measurement the Army as an institution has accomplished every mission it has been assigned. Furthermore, the leadership has looked to the future in a very enlightened and programmatic way which suggests to me a forward look which is both imaginative and practical. Yet the near future funding profile is beginning to look and smell a lot like what we lived through in the early 90's when Army leaders were forced to dramatically reduce the size of the Army, increase mission responsiveness and attempt to move onto the information age while being told we were in a strategic pause and fiscal resources available to the DOD would be used to fund other programs which I feel are nice to have, but not required. Just my opinion.

Think about what our Army leaders and Soldiers have set in motion and are accomplishing:
+ Fighting /Nation Building- Iraq, Afghanistan, elsewhere
+Sustaining the force/Recruiting -Retention- Reset
+Resourcing the augmentation of the Southern Border/Expanding Homeland security missions
+ IGPBS- Integrated Global Presence /Basing Strategies {Come home from Europe /Asia - rotation to Eastern Europe}
+ BRAC
+Transformation

I am starting to see signs indicative of a shifting of priorities in the funding steam without a change in strategy or requirements. Without appropriate fiscal resources, provided in a consistent stream, the Army cannot be expected to execute the national strategy and every other mission in as effective a manner as originally intended. This funding stream must flow for the next six years at least or the responsible parties must recast the National Defense Strategy as well as accept that all enabling programs are not feasible. Unless all appreciate the relationship of dollars to programs priorities will dictate tough choices and Army capabilities will diminish.

Part of my concern is that many opinion leaders in Congress and elsewhere believe that as long as the war goes on, their funding focus must be on current operations and not funding modernization programs like the Future Combat Systems, modularity and equipment reset so critical for active and reserve force readiness. Likewise, while all would applaud a successful outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan I fear that should hostilities end, the funding stream will end abruptly in order to recreate the illusion of a "peace dividend" instead of continuing funding for reset for at least two years as well as funding for the Army to refresh itself. In the coming days, I believe we must begin to speak out and let the public know that Army funding must be supported in the near term, but viewed in the long term during which multiple, high cost, long term missions of increasingly complexity such as those envisioned in the QDR and National Defense Strategy will continue.

Now when it should be only too obvious that our endeavors in Iraq and Afghanistan must be supported it is becoming painfully and clearly obvious that some are taking their eye off the ball. For instance, we have seen dithering over supplemental funding critical to Army operations which must maintain a steady state. Additionally, I also detect an indication that weapons which were either killed or modified during QDR deliberations are somehow creeping back into the FYDEP planning process. This doesn't surprise any of you I am sure, but watch how the numbers dance. I have no access to POM fiscal guidance 08/13 but the way folks are hedging their bets is not a good sign.

I am no longer in a position of responsibility and am simply one of those proud to be a Soldier. As such I am concerned that in the heat of battle aka "LONG WAR" Army leaders will find themselves forced into making choices between today and tomorrow and unfortunately could wind up being forced to make decisions with negative long term impact. I understand the Army ethos and our oath and the primacy of mission just as I understand that the defense of America is a shared responsibility between elected, appointed and uniformed people as well as our citizens. I believe now is the time to accept facts as they are--we are in a fight which must be continued to a successful conclusion and we must be prepared to face unknown crises. We are about to see if the resources are available to those who are carrying the load on the ground, Army and Marines, are forth coming.

I hope I am wrong, but I fear I am not. It is time to watch things very closely and accept the fact we might soon be facing a serious strategy resource mismatch which will in turn stretch our magnificent Army to the breaking point .

Gordon Sullivan

I should note I'm not on General Sullivan's email list, and probably got this with at least six degrees of separation. (Note to Sir - feel free to add me, however!)

by John on Jun 27, 2006

Over at Milblogs...

Interesting discussions regarding Effects Based Operations, pro and con.

Plus, ArmyLawyer dispenses legal guidance on political activity by active duty service members... which is acted upon by Commander Salamander, and is instantly contested by Soldier's Dad.

Now ArmyLawyer needs to take a gander at DOD Directive 1344.10 Enclosure E-3 and opine for us.

Thankfully, the Retired Reserve isn't covered, so I can play, regardless.

So, if you live in Murtha's district and would like to see someone else represent you... consider Diana Irey.

Just sayin'. Cuz I can.

by John on Jun 27, 2006

June 23, 2006

Meet Corporal Joshua Dale.

This war's Sgt. Curtis G. Culin.

Every war brings out innovations and innovators. Some good, many bad. And the regular procurement systems can't ever really keep up. And truth be told, if it can be made in the field from local materials, the troops will probably get a "good enough" solution in place a lot faster than the "system" will - just because the system is built to over-engineer just about everything. For good reasons and bad. The troop solutions may not be great long-term solutions, and will damage or degrade things over time that weren't really built to do what the troops adapt them to do... but that's a bean-counter problem if your life is on the line. Which means the bean counters have to devise a better solution quick - because the troops aren't going to wait. And good field leaders won't make them.

Meet an innovator. Who on his own came up with an idea that had been done before.

Cpl. Joshua W. Dale, a 23-year-old section leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment brought his ideas to life by inventing a breaching bumper for a humvee in his mobile assault platoon. The breaching bumper is mounted on the front of the humvee and resembles a large arrowhead made of thick steel. The bumper is used to do one thing - tear through anything that gets in the humvee's way. The bumper, which allows humvees greater flexibility when assaulting the enemy during raids and cordon-and-knock operations, is an alternative to using explosives to destroy barriers and walls. Dale is from Silver Street, S.C. (Photo by Cpl. Antonio Rosas)


Cpl. Joshua W. Dale, a 23-year-old section leader with Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment brought his ideas to life by inventing a breaching bumper for a humvee in his mobile assault platoon. The breaching bumper is mounted on the front of the humvee and resembles a large arrowhead made of thick steel. The bumper is used to do one thing - tear through anything that gets in the humvee's way. The bumper, which allows humvees greater flexibility when assaulting the enemy during raids and cordon-and-knock operations, is an alternative to using explosives to destroy barriers and walls. Dale is from Silver Street, S.C. (Photo by Cpl. Antonio Rosas)

A more thorough discussion (but still readable) of Culin's cutter is available from Steve Zaloga.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jun 23, 2006

June 22, 2006

Live from Iraq Trivia Question.

Castle Denizen Blake, a retired soldier who works as a DA Civilian log weenie "somewhere in the United States" is currently in Iraq, working a unit redeployment. Here's his spotrep:

I've been over here in Iraq for two weeks now. I'm no longer jet-lagged, and we're starting to get work done. That having been said, we're still in the middle of a war here, so I'm reluctant to talk specifics about where we are, who we're working with, and when things are happening. The bad guys use the Internet to communicate all the time. It would be stupid to assume that they don't read it, too.

I suppose I can say that we're at a large Coalition base some distance north of Baghdad, more or less in the area the news media call "the Sunni Triangle." The terrain around the base reminds me of nothing so much as the High Plains of Texas, out around Lubbock, Leveland, and Plainview. Flat, flat, flat, as far as the eye can see. This plain we're on is too high above the Tigris valley for irrigation prior to the invention of mechanically-driven pumps, so this area was likely mostly originally inhabited by nomadic goat and camel herders. Goats and camels are about all that could live on what passes for plant life here anyway: it's mostly scrubby grasses and knee-high shrubs. If you see a
tree it's because some human being put it there on purpose. And hot. And dusty. And hot. Afternoon temps are pushing up toward the 120 degrees F mark, and it's not even the end of June yet. That old saw about "But it's a dry heat..." tends to lose its meaning one it gets up past 120 or so. And when the humidity is down in the single digits one can dehydrate just sitting in the shade and doing nothing.

We're still in a shooting war here, of course, and the base occasionally catches some mortar fire. What little artillery we have here fires occasional H&I missions on the known open areas from which the insurgents occasionally lob the odd shell or six over the fences. This has evidently convinced many of the locals to discourage the insurgents from shooting at us from some of the local villages, the villagers not wanting to wind up on either the H&I rotation, or on the receiving end of a counterbattery mission.

Because we still catch the occasional shell, most everything of importance on the base has revetments around it. The preferred method seems to be sectional reinforced concrete walls rather like traffic barriers on steroids. Some older sites are protected by "Hescos," big wire mesh baskets lined with a felt-like synthetic fabric which are named after the company that makes them. Hescos come in a variety of sizes, and are easy to install. They arrive folded up on a pallet. A squad unfolds them and stands them up, and then a bucket-loader fills them with dirt. Instant revetment. The tent I'm living in right now is protected by a revetment made of 2-meter Hescos. That is, these Hescos are cubes 2 meters on a side. Having 2 meters of dirt between me and any possible shell fragments does tend to let me sleep more soundly at night. See the attached picture.

Hescos are yet another proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Marshal Vauban, the great 17th-Century military engineer, would have no problem recognizing Hescos as a variant of something that he used all the time. Here's a good trivia question for the grognards at the Castle: what term would Vauban have used for Hescos, and what would his version have been made of?

by John on Jun 22, 2006
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Star Chores: Infiltration
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Star Chores: Infiltration

June 20, 2006

Lieutenant Watada speaks.

Via Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive, we hear from Lieutenant Watada, himself responding to an email (also posted there, you should read the post).

Dear Sir,

I'm sorry you feel the way you do. But the fact is, I do remember what I swore upon my oath of office: to protect and defend the Consitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The oath of an officer says nothing of obeying the unlawful orders of the President. Even though your experience was rewarding, it gives no credence to the legality of the war and occupation. Please sir, before you respond read the numerous articles by international and Consitutional law experts regarding the Iraq war. It takes a simple Google search. Read the accounts of Iraqis, vets, andindependent journalists who may not have been in your same AO. The responsibility of an officer is to evaluate the legality and truthfulness behind every order. We cannot blindly accept every order, especially one to go to war, based on faith and what our "political" leaders tell us. Many Germans went along with the Nazi's idea of racial superiority or because they were afraid of prison or execution if they didn't. Real leadership means first realizing what's wrong, finding everything there is to know about it, and finally acting upon it.

Uncle Jimbo slides in for the snap shot, which prompted John Noonan over at Milblogs to opine thusly:

Yeah, and I suspect the Nazis weren't pumping sizable portions of their treasury into rebuilding the Polish ghettos either.

Let's run with John's point, shall we?

The problem for Lieutenant Watada is that no competent authority has ruled the war illegal under US law. And that is the governing law here, and that is what will get him less-than-honorably discharged and possibly sent to live with us here in beautiful uptown Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The opinions of Constitutional Scholars are just that. Opinions. Did I miss the Security Council resolution calling for the withdrawal of US troops? Oh, I've heard opinions from members about it, just as I have heard opinions of members of Congress on the issue. Yet still, the majority of Members of Congress, and sizeable ones at that, continually vote to reauthorize the expenditure of funds and the deployment of the soldiers. And none of them do it under the duress that may have been experienced by members of the Reichstag in Hitler's Germany. The opinions of individual members are just that, until expressed as law. Ramsay Clark has opinions, too. So do I. Both have equal validity in this issue. I.e., none.

Lieutenant Watada should take a look at *who* went in to the dock at Nuremberg. Nary a Lieutenant among 'em. Or a Captain. Or Colonels. Some Field Marshals, yes.

The only officers of his stripe that found themselves in the dock found themselves there - not for going to war on the orders of competent authority - but for engaging in or allowing specific acts and orders contravening the laws governing warfare. Only for those acts, specific and in context, were they put on trial.

Just as we have tried our own for the same thing in this war. And may yet try some more.

Therein lies the difference, Lieutenant Watada.

If what you provided is going to be your defense, and I'm on the panel, all the prosecution has to do is enter your words into evidence and sit down.

But I'll give you this - you're standing up for your beliefs, and you're going to get run over for them.

And you should.

BECAUSE ABSENT VERY SPECIFIC CONDITIONS, NONE OF WHICH APPLY HERE, WE WHO CONTROL THE INSTRUMENT OF THE STATE'S RIGHT TO LEGITIMATE VIOLENCE DO NOT HAVE THE OPTION OF CHOOSING WHICH ORDERS WE WILL FOLLOW. PERIOD.

Believe it or not, Lieutenant, were you to be upheld in your assertions, it would set exactly the wrong precedent. The one where the soldiers (worse - the Officers) decide what is right and good in their employment. Exactly one of the things the Founders feared, regarding a large standing Army.

At the end of that path, at it's extreme, lies military dictatorship. We can barely manage ourselves. Just *imagine* how badly we'd fark up the nation.

It's not hard - look at Central and South America for lots of examples.

Your actions are unwise and actually dangerous in their ability to set up Unintended Consequences.

Except I know we aren't going have any precedents like that set in this case. Not unless you've got a *lot* better a defense than that.

Therefore, once again, I am forced to smash your guitar against the wall.

Come visit, we can chat about it.

by John on Jun 20, 2006

June 19, 2006

Heh. My a$$, boyo.

Mother Sheehan goes to Canada to give aid and comfort to deserters.

Otay. Nothing remarkable about that.

Then I stumbled across this hero:

About 20 former U.S. soldiers, referred to as war resisters, have applied for refugee status in Canada. Organizers estimated there may be as many as 200 soldiers in the country who have not yet sought formal protection.

"They say we're traitors, we're deserters," said former Marine Chris Magaoay, 20, of the Hawaiian island of Maui. "No, I'm a Marine and I stand up for what I believe in, and I believe the Constitution of the United States of America is being pushed aside as a scrap piece of paper."

Hmmmm. Former Marine? No. "I'm a Marine." Um, well, yes, technically, until discharged by competent authority.

Deserter? Yep. That's the label. You're a deserter, Lance Corporal Magaoay.

That sums it up. Sign me up as one of "they," who call you deserter. It's not hard. It's what you are.

But wait - there's more.

This link may invite guests with an attitude, but here we find a *great* quote that displays the deep strategic and moral thought of Lance Corporal Magaoay.

Our hero is of the Lieutenant Ehren Watada School of Military Law:

“I am not against war as a whole,” he said. “I am against the war in Iraq. It was a war of aggression, which was not sanctioned by the United Nations, therefore making it illegal.”

Ah. So, even though there has been no such finding by any competent US authority which might give him cover, LCpl Magaoay has decided the United Nations (several UN resolutions and Congressional resolutions notwithstanding) trumps all relevant US law and statute and relieves him of his obligations.

In other words, he gets to choose which wars he will fight - as a uniformed member of the armed forces, *he* will determine which wars are legal and appropriate, and he seemingly doesn't appreciate that his opinion in this matter is not held in high esteem.

LCpl Magaoay, you're a fool.

Leave aside you joined to go off to war a year after the war started.

Once you swear the oath, you lose your veto in that regard. Those decisions, like it or not, rest in the hands of the elected representatives of the people.

If you feel strongly enough to defy that, then the only honorable course is not to flee to Canada, and whine like a weasel when people call you deserter all the time you assert you're a Marine. No, the only honorable course, if not necessarily one with a happy ending, is to take the path of Lieutenant Watada - who at least is taking his Quixotic quest on a path of greater honor than yours.

You are an oath-breaker. No more. No less. You are faithless. By your own words you condemn yourself - and reveal the shallowness of your thought.

I take your guitar, and I smash it against the wall.

Now, that done, Pinto, where's my beer?

by John on Jun 19, 2006

June 14, 2006

231 years old...

...and still kicking in doors and taking down punks. Toss in the occasional rescue and disaster relief for a change of pace.

Happy Birthday, US Army!

From the Colonial Militias from which we were built...


...to the Continental Line that sprang therefrom...

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...to the Regular, Reserve, and National Guard soldiers of today...


...when we were needed, we were there.

Hey, it's corny, but it's true.

U.S. Army Spc. Frank Mireles patrols Hit, Iraq, March 25, 2006. Mireles is from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brian M. Henner) (Released)

"When we were needed, we were there,

We were there when we were needed,

We were there;

No, it wasn't always easy,

And it wasn't always fair,

But when freedom called we answered

We were there."

Capt. Kimberly Hampton, from 1st Battalion, 82nd Aviation Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., was killed when her OH-58 Kiowa Warrior observation helicopter was attacked near the Iraqi town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

Proud to have been there, done that, and got several t-shirts to prove it.

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by John on Jun 14, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 06/14/2006
» Villainous Company links with: Oops??? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, "Oops"?

June 12, 2006

Your warriors at work and play...

...many times they are the same thing...

Coasties:

Coast Guardsmen at work...

Marines:

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Air Force:

That's some harsh flying for a bus!

Navy:

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Army:

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And my beloved Army Artillery:

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by John on Jun 12, 2006

There are many reasons

...you don't want this to be the way you meet Marines:

Marines in training - but they look like this in war, too.

And why is that?

Because of this observation from an Air Force Colonel, about Marines, via CPT B.

by John on Jun 12, 2006

June 09, 2006

D.A.M.N.

If you don't understand the title - visit Greyhawk's post.

What with the flurry on the 'net with OIF Alphabet V1.0 and OIF Alphabet V2.0, and Bubblehead's posting of one of the more complete versions of the Staffer's Hard Sayings Log, it's time to bring up the Commander's Guidance bit.

Just minutes away from the Change of Command ceremony, the outgoing and incoming commander are in the commander's office chatting about the unit, the personalities of key leaders (formal and informal), strengths and weaknesses, and wouldn't she back off a bit on that Change of Command inventory? The outgoing commander looks at his watch, sighs, then opens the safe.

Beckoning Captain Newbie over he says, "This is my gift to you. It was given me by my predecessor, and you'll probably pass it on to your successor." Reaching in the safe, he pulls out a shotgun envelope (those who know, know). Holding it up, he looks Captain Newbie in the eye and says, "There are three envelopes in here, numbered 1-3. When you are in here late at night, at wit's end about some problem you are sure is going to cause you to get your head handed to you on a platter, open up an envelope. In order."

With that, he turns, tosses the shotgun into the safe, spins the dial, initials the sheet, and off they go to pass the guidon.

A month later, Captain Newbie is sitting in her office, discussing the practical upshot of a rocket fired at her at Commanders and Staff Call that morning. The First Shirt looks at her and says, "Shite, ma'am - I have no farking idea. This is officer business." Sighing, Captain Newbie sips her rapidly cooling green-tea-with-a-twist and suddenly remembers that last chat with Captain LongGone... who happens to now be one of those lying conniving bustards on the staff who is pinning her ears to the wall with those damn'd rockets... Spinning around to the safe, she spins the dials, grabs the shotgun, opens it, and pulls out Envelope #1.

Ripping it open, in it she finds a long-fallen-into-disfavor and blotched and stained (are those *tear-stains*?) Optional Form 41 (Rev 7-76) Routing and Transmittal slip (which are supposed to be used for Routing and Transmittals, dope - not Memos!), on which she finds scribed in somewhat blotchy ink (hey, it's crappy paper and the pens are made by blind people - who does the QC, huh?):

"Blame your predecessor."

"Aha! I've got you, you bustard!" she shouts exultantly. And promptly drafts an RBI (Reply By Indorsement) to the rocket explaining, in great and gory detail, how the current problem is a legacy of the sorry weasel who was her predecessor and the measures she will take to fix the problem. Saving that doc, she opens up her email (after fiddling with that damn CAC card reader - *again*) and drafts up a note for the boss. Addressing it to the battalion commander, CC'd to her predecessor's rater and senior rater, and bcc'd to her fellow commanders, she hits 'send' with a sense of fierce satisfaction over having shown that Staff Weenie who he was dealing with.

Nine months later, Captain Wornout is sitting in her office, sipping thick cold almost-chewy mud left over from this afternoon's pot o' joe, staring at the malevolent document (she could swear it's got a sickly green glow to it) that ominously sits, heavy with dark foreboding, in the middle of her desk.

It's labeled "Report of Inspection, 537th Widget Repair and Refurbishment Company, Annual General Inspection FY 2006."

There's a stench of decay coming from the report and a strong smell of fear coming from Captain Wornout, though it can be hard to tell the difference. Sitting there, the dregs of cold, stale coffee clinging slime-like to the sides of the cup, head held in her hands, she ponders. She can't blame Captain LongGone. He's really long gone. She was so successful there that he's been PCS'd to be the Army LNO at Thule Air Base, Greenland. For a special 5 year tour, with an optional 3 year extension. Unaccompanied. Where the commander’s greeting letter starts out thusly:

Greetings! On behalf of Colonel Im Knot There, commander of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colorado, I am pleased to welcome you to the top of the world! Thule is the U.S. Armed Forces' northernmost installation, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Thule's arctic environment offers some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere in the world, including majestic icebergs in North Star Bay, the massive polar ice cap, and Wolstenholme Fjord, the only place on Earth where three active glaciers join together.

Coming out of her reverie, her eyes brighten up a bit - and she spins around, spins the dial, opens the safe - and out comes the shotgun. With trembling hands, she opens Envelope #2. Out falls another old, dilapidated, nearly unreadable OF 41 (Rev 7-76). Gingerly reaching down and picking it up, she lays it down on the blotter, and knocks her coffee cup over, adding yet another stain to an already nearly unreadable Routing and Transmittal Slip.

"Blame the System"

Giddy with relief, she fires up Powerpoint, and produces a stunning document showing how the system is fatally flawed. As an added bonus, she shows how those inept inspectors from the IG's office completely botched their inspection.

Three months later, Captain Burnedout is staring in horror at *another* IG report lumped together with an AR 15-6 Investigation. This one detailing how it was her fault, and her fault alone, that her safe had been left open, allowing persons unknown to steal the contents, which included classified information, unit fund receipts, and several rosters with social security numbers on them which have been used for a rash of identity theft scams in the last three months - all laid at her door because she didn't annotate that Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet that night she opened Envelope #2. (The real culprit was her Charge of Quarters that night, Sergeant Safecracker, who saw his opportunity when he noted the form wasn't properly annotated - but that's a different story.)

Stubbing out her cigarette into the oil-sheened dregs of coffee (is that a whiff of whiskey?) in her brown-stained mug, Captain Burnedout turns and looks at her Nemesis. That damn'd safe. Spins the dial (carefully annotating the Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet) and pulls out the shotgun. Locking the safe and spinning the dial to be sure (carefully annotating the Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet) she tiredly turns back to her desk and stares at her savior, Envelope #3.

Slowly, deliberately, she carefully opens the envelope. Out drops a nearly pristine OF 41 (Rev 7-76) Routing and Transmittal Slip.

"Prepare three envelopes"

by John on Jun 09, 2006

June 07, 2006

Unlawful orders, the proving of.

Every officer of the Armed Forces, at some time or another, signs a document affirming these words, then, in a formal ceremony somewhere, states them publicly (often times less the "having been appointed" bit, especially at multi-service commissioning cermonies):

"I, [Johnny Shavetail], having been appointed an officer in [one of the Armed Services] of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of The United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God. "

Usetabe we did that for every promotion, too, but that has long since fallen by the wayside. A pity. It was a useful reminder. BTW - if you are an officer and you can't recite that from memory - you aren't a professional, no matter how many times you've been promoted below the zone and what your OERs say I detest it when officers have to read the oath at ceremonies. There is simply no excuse.

Note that it doesn't say "I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter if and when I agree with what I've been asked to do."

There is, in fact, no provision for that anywhere, especially when the legal obligation to serve is a minimum of 8 years of service whether all on active duty, in the reserve, or a combination of the two. Something you know when you sign that document and stand there proudly swearing the oath.

The only way out is for the convenience of the government. Sometimes easily granted, sometimes not. Sometimes forced upon you, for performance problems, sometimes granted you because you ask, via a resignation. But for those first eight years, it is *always* at the convenience of the goverment.

And later, if you have contracted to stay on longer - those rules loosen up. Unless you're on a wartime footing, and stop-loss policies have been implemented. Then, even with 20 years in, you may not be allowed to retire or resign.

And it's something we all know. Anyone who says they didn't understand that is lying, or slept through a good chunk of their pre-commissioning process.

We're also not allowed to obey illegal orders. We are, in fact, expected to refuse to obey them - regardless of the personal, hopefully short-term, but possibly long-term, consequences.

Comes now before us 1st Lt. Ehren K. Watada, 28, assigned to a Stryker Brigade set to deploy to Iraq.

In one of the first known cases of its kind, an Army officer from Honolulu is expected to refuse to go to Iraq this month with his unit, citing what he calls the "illegal" and "immoral" basis of the war, his father confirmed.

The officer, 1st Lt. Ehren K. Watada, 28, son of former state campaign spending commission executive director Bob Watada, is believed to be one of the first military officers to publicly take steps to refuse his deployment orders.

"My son has a great deal of courage, and clearly understands what is right, and what is wrong," Bob Watada said yesterday. "He's choosing to do the right thing, which is a hard course."

On this website (www.thankyoult.com) Lieutenant Watada is quoted as saying, "I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to watch families torn apart, while the President tells us to 'stay the course.' ... I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way was not to help drop artillery and cause more death and destruction. It is to help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home."

William Cole, writing for The Honolulu Advertiser says that 1LT Watada has tried to resign his commission twice since January, both times his application having been denied. Properly, I would add.

Presumably, the Lieutenant *would* have gone with his unit if they had been deploying to Afghanistan. Hopefully someone will ask that question at the press conferences scheduled for today.

Note that Watada is not seeking conscientious objector status, because he does not oppose all wars, only this particular one.

Which puts Lieutenant Watada on the horns of a dilemma.

Let us assume that Lieutenant Watada is sincere. We owe him that much.

If so, he is taking the high road. His sole defense of his actions is going to be "Refusing an illegal order." Absent a *stunning* action on the part of a Courts Martial panel, he's going to get convicted. His defense team is going to have to be miracle workers to successfully assert that the war in Iraq is illegal in terms by which it will excuse his actions - and, by extension, condemn every other serving officer as a war criminal for not having refused. Oh, there's room to maneuver in there, but when you strip it down to the essentials - that's it.

Jay, over at Stop The ACLU, has his own post on the subject, which includes this interesting snippet, which demonstrates perfectly the utter cluelessness of the anti-war crowd, and the oh-so-sophisticated members of our society when it comes to issues of civilian control of the military:

“I’ve been doing this for nearly 40 years and I’m somewhat astounded that in the context of a war that is becoming increasing unpopular that they are relatively unsophisticated in addressing these issues,” said attorney Eric Seitz from Hawaii.

Relatively unsophisticated in addressing these issues, Eric? Ah, of course, we should have all sorts of caveats and qualifiers for service in these oh-so-enlightened times. Military personnel should have a menu of options for a ala carte selection of which orders they will obey and which ones they will not. It's all about choice, and personal happiness.

Unless, of course, the worthless bastard officer chooses to not support a war I happen to support, then that slimy bastard better be in jail.

That's not the way it works. Those of us who have been entrusted to have our hands on the levers of the tools that comprise the state's right to legitimate violence do not get to pick and choose which wars we will go to. I was a serving officer during Kosovo. I didn't like Kosovo for many of the same reasons I didn't like invading Iraq. I served. If recalled and sent to Baghdad, I would go. Why?

Because I swore an oath, still binding, to defend and uphold the Constitution, not the UN Charter, or some other international body, and there is nothing yet under US law which has established that the actions the US took in invading Iraq were illegal. If I had been ordered to abuse prisoners at Abu Ghraib, there's plenty of room there for a defense of a refusal to obey that order.

Under the law applicable to the military, there is no such smoking gun over Iraq as a war.

So I would ask the anti-war crowd this: Do you *really* want we Myrmidons picking and choosing which wars we will go to? Do you *really* want us Ruthless Killers telling our civilian overlords to stuff it? Do you *really* want us Mindless Robots openly resisting the will of the Executive, as authorized by the Congress, and not hindered by the Courts?

Do you? Really? Because if you do, that way lies the Praetorian Guard, and a death spiral to fully fledged Banana Republic status, where the Generals decide who they will allow to rule.

And Lieutenant Watada, while a very small cog in this, represents a confluence of issues that lie at the core of our system of governance and control of the miltary.

Well and good. The Lieutenant disagrees with this policy. He has offered to resign his commission over it. This has been properly rejected. If he carries through today with his intention to not deploy, he is casting the die, and is going to have his day in court.

That's how it's supposed to work. Even if, as I see it, this is a symbolic self-immolation, as I don't see any grounds to acquit at this point. I'll be interested to see what serious defense his team produces.

Regardless, this is a far more honorable course than the one taken by John Kerry during Vietnam. Of course, if Kerry were to release unredacted records, we might find that John Kerry did some form of protest like this, got whacked, and then, mindful of his desire to be President, threw over his ethics to get his record expunged so he could go into politics. I don't know. In the event, it wouldn't change my mind about his fitness to be President, so I suppose there is no upside for Kerry from my perspective on that issue.

Which leaves Lieutenant Watada on the horns of a dilemma. One that will probably land him in the stockade, minimum sentence being the length of his unit's deployment.

No matter. It will be interesting to see if the Lieutenant moves into Karpinski's orbit. She could probably use an aide.

by John on Jun 07, 2006
» CatHouse Chat links with: http://www.cathousechat.com/cathouse_chat/2006/06/hero_only_for_t.html
» Small Town Veteran links with: Another Day, Another Coward
» Michelle Malkin links with: A DESERTER, NOT A "DISSENTER"
» Stop The ACLU links with: Fort Lewis Officer Says He’ll Refuse To Deploy
» Op For links with: Betraying an Oath

June 05, 2006

OIF Alphabet, 2.0

So, Fuzzy, did everybody in the world scoop me on this one, too?

For those who love and appreciate Staff Weenie Humor -

OIF Alphabet V2.0 By The Usual Suspects.

by John on Jun 05, 2006
» Mudville Gazette links with: B is for Boondoggle

June 02, 2006

The Bronze Star.

If anyone cares about the subject - CAPT B has a good post on the Bronze Star over at Milblogs.

I just had to pile on, as the relationship of the Bronze Star to the Officer Corps vice enlisted soldiers has long been a burr under my saddle.

So, I'll say what CAPT B didn't in his post on the Bronze Star.

It's a medal the Ossifer Class has devalued the meaning of amongst themselves ourselves - though the public and the press are still impressed with the medal. Of course, if they knew what the percentage of award was, they might not be as impressed - and that's too bad.

In my decades of experience - if you see *anyone* with the "V" for Valor device on the Bronze Star, there's a story there.

If you see an enlisted soldier with the Bronze Star, give her that little extra nod of respect, because you know she was a stand-out performer.

If you see an officer with a Bronze Star - no V device - often as not, you are looking at the equivalent of a combat zone Meritorious Service Medal (the Bronze Star rates just above the MSM) for doing their job well. I know *how* that happened over time, but the bottom line is, as I said: I see a "V" device, I'm impressed. I see the Bronze Star on an enlisted soldier, I'm impressed. I see one on an officer, no "V", and I know he did his duty creditably in a combat zone. But unless the rules have changed (and I haven't deployed for this war) he could have served as an assistant G3 slide-maker in Division Headquarters, or he could have been the Lieutenant leading the lead platoon into Baghdad for a Thunder Run, or the Captain commanding the MLRS battery. All are important jobs, all are part of the team, but they don't carry the same level of risk, nor opportunity for finding yourself a warrior hero.

And the only enlisted troop in those locations who might sport a Bronze Star is likely in the Thunder Run platoon.

Before the email starts - it doesn't mean, Officers, that you didn't earn *your* Bronze Star. But look around you at all the Bronze Stars worn by officers, vice how they are awarded to the troops, and tell me that the officer corps hasn't morphed the meaning of the medal.

Me? I would actually prefer putting a Star on the MSM ribbon, to indicate excellence in performance in a combat zone, and let the Bronze Star revert to what it was originally intended to be. I don't object to the distinction being made between serving in a combat zone vice the Directorate of Combat Developments at the Field Artillery Center. Of course, in one aspect, the combat patch already makes that distinction, along with the Combat Infantry and Close Combat badges. I just object to how the Bronze Star has morphed.

by John on Jun 02, 2006

In the midst of the failures of a few, a good development.

June 2, 2006 — Military sources told ABC News that there are likely to be charges filed against officers up the chain of command in connection with the killing of 24 civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005.

Those who could be charged include senior officers who were not on the scene at the time of the killing but should have known something wrong had happened and done something about it.

All I have to say is - good. Let 'em defend themselves, and if they fail the test, let us put them away from us. Toss the bad apples.

And the rest of us will get about our duties, doing the best we can to make this work.

Leader scalps are *always* good. No railroads. No rush to judgement. But if they're guilty - whack 'em with the book.

The rest of the story is here.

by John on Jun 02, 2006

Let 'em have their day in court.

Military prosecutors plan to file murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges against seven Marines and a Navy corpsman in the shooting death of an Iraqi civilian in April, a defense lawyer said Thursday.

This is unrelated to Haditha. It is very much related to Commandant Hagee's recent trip around the world.

The officer corps, commissioned and enlisted, of the Corps, and I don't doubt, the Army, need to pause, reflect, and make sure they've got their moral compasses with them.

That said - this happens in every war of significant duration that has ever been fought. That includes the "Last Great War" that ended in 1945. The Greatest Generation had it's murderers, too.

One of the things that marks a distinction between our miltary and Saddam's military, or Milosevic's, or Hitler's is the fact that we're doing the investigating (the Marine investigation of Haditha predates the press revelations of same) and where the evidence supports the allegations - we prosecute.

And, just like in real life murders - even though we know something stinks, and we're pretty sure we know who did it - the evidence just isn't there, so yes, I'm sure some malefactors go unpunished. Just like in the rest of an imperfect world, where real CSIs and the labs they work for can't wrap everything up neatly in one hour. Much less have some of the crime scene control issues offered up in a combat zone. Unlike the Press and the Public, a Court has to have sufficient evidence, a distinction, at bottom, we're all glad exists.

If there's evidence, charge 'em. Fight it out in Court. And if the defense loses, we've got space here at Leavenworth. Send 'em to us.

The whole story is here.

Crossposted at Milblogs.

by John on Jun 02, 2006
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Marines to Face Charges in Iraqi's Death

June 01, 2006

Janis Karpinski, unwrapped.

I'm sorry this is so long. I'm having a Cassandra moment. Indulge me.

I won't lie. I had an attitude when I ordered the book. I've always been just fine with the Commanding General of Abu Ghraib getting relieved. In these pages I've grumped that not enough officers have yet sat in the dock, accounting to a Court for their actions or inaction. I've noted the trials and convictions. I've mocked Karpinski's post-retirement embracing of the Moonbats as she acts like a camo'd Mother Sheehan. I was especially appalled by the Amazon page for her book - which I parodied here.

Then the damn book arrived, and I read it. I bought it used, via Amazon. It was surplused out of the Wilmington Public Library, and I got it for $3.95, plus shipping. Cover price is $24.95. Karpinski didn't see a dime of my money. Which, in the event, I'm still happy about, it being one of the most poorly edited and written books I've read in a long time. But then, I shouldn't be surprised, the imprint is that of Miramax Books, not exactly known for serious tomes and I doubt the home of a decently informed (on military affairs) editor. However the book was just poorly edited, period. It suffers from loss of narrative by jumping around a lot, and what I can only assume were assistant writer Steven Strasser's attempts to make military jargon fall more pleasantly on untuned civilian ears. All I know is it makes for 'squirm-in-the-seat' reading when a Command and General Staff College graduate continually refers to "Army Battle Divisions" which I am pretty sure is terminology she didn't use. No one in the Army, much less a 25 year veteran, talks about "Battle Divisions." But that's just me. Maybe things are different out there in the Real Army vice where I live and work at Fort Leavenworth... but I doubt it.

The book jacket as I received it is correct, vice how it appears on Amazon - it does *not* say "General Janis Karpinski, as does the Amazon cover - which undoubtedly dates from the pre-publication pre-order listing. I'll credit Karpinski with probably getting that changed. I hope so. It's only a one-word change - but it represents a lot in terms of credibility.

Anyway, I read the damn book.

It was, despite its flaws, a fascinating read.

And I believe, based on her own words, she deserved to be relieved, and probably not prosecuted for dereliction. It's a hard world out there, when the blood is sticky on the pavement, and she simply failed. The fact that almost anyone with her experience and in her position would probably have failed isn't relevant. She failed, and to me, confirms that with her own words.

If you're still interested, the rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jun 01, 2006

May 31, 2006

On Marine Virtue.

Just when work swamps and the Muse deserts... email saves. Thanks, Keo!

I have been reading your blog and have sent some good friends to check it out. Very well done and we appreciate it. I thought you might like to read the message the Commandant of the Marine Corps has sent out to Marines. The CMC and Sgt Maj of the Marine Corps have been meeting with Marines in Iraq and we have gotten some feedback from them in one of the Marine and Corpsman only forums on the Internet. This is the message sent out.....



“On Marine Virtue”

By Gen. M. W. Hagee

Recent serious allegations concerning actions of Marines in combat have caused me concern. They should cause you to be concerned as well. To ensure we continue to live up to General Lejeune’s description of a Marine as someone who demonstrates “all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue,” I would like to review the importance of our core values.

As Marines, you are taught from your earliest days in the Corps about our core values of honor, courage and commitment. These values are part of and belong to all Marines, regardless of MOS, grade, or gender. They guide us in all that we do; whether in combat, in garrison, or on leave or liberty.

To a Marine, honor is more than just honesty; it means having uncompromising personal integrity and being accountable for all actions. To most Marines, the most difficult part of courage is not the raw physical courage that we have seen so often on today’s battlefield. It is rather the moral courage to do the “right thing” in the face of danger or pressure from other Marines. Finally, commitment is that focus on caring for one another and upholding the great ideals of our Corps and Country.

The nature of this war with its ruthless enemies, and its complex and dangerous battlefield will continue to challenge us in the commitment to our core values. We must be strong and help one another to measure up. The war will also test our commitment to our belief in the rule of law.

We have all been educated in the Law of Armed Conflict. We continue to reinforce that training, even when deployed to combat zones. We do not employ force just for the sake of employing force. We use lethal force only when justified, proportional and, most importantly, lawful. We follow the laws and regulations, Geneva Convention and Rules of Engagement. This is the American way of war. We must regulate force and violence, we only damage property that must be damaged, and we protect the non-combatants we find on the battlefield.

When engaged in combat, particularly in the kind of counterinsurgency operations we’re involved in now, we have to be doubly on guard. Many of our Marines have been involved in life or death combat or have witnessed the loss of their fellow Marines, and the effects of these events can be numbing. There is the risk of becoming indifferent to the loss of a human life, as well as bringing dishonor upon ourselves. Leaders of all grades need to reinforce continually that Marines care for one another and do what is right.

The large majority of Marines today perform magnificently on and off the battlefield. I am very proud of the bravery, dedication, honor, courage and commitment you clearly display every day. And America is proud as well. Americans, indeed most people around the world, recognize that Marines are men and women of the highest caliber – physically, mentally, and morally.

Each one of you contributes in your own unique way to our important mission; I am proud of your dedication and accomplishments. Even after 38 years, I still stand with pride every time I hear the Marines Hymn. The words of that Hymn mean something special to me. Especially, “Keep our Honor Clean”. I know that means something to all of you as well. As Marines we have an obligation to past Marines, fellow Marines, future Marines and ourselves to do our very best to live up to these words.

As your Commandant, I charge all Marines to carry on our proud legacy by demonstrating our values in everything you do – on duty and off; in combat or in garrison. Semper Fidelis.

- USMC -

by John on May 31, 2006
» Neptunus Lex links with: Haditha

May 25, 2006

I miss...

...getting paid to do stuff like this.

A U.S. Army soldier with the 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division fast ropes from a helicopter during a rapid-insertion exercise in Djibouti City, Djibouti, on May 18, 2006.  DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Nic Raven U.S. Air Force.  (Released)

A U.S. Army soldier with the 1st Brigade, 29th Infantry Division fast ropes from a helicopter during a rapid-insertion exercise in Djibouti City, Djibouti, on May 18, 2006. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Nic Raven U.S. Air Force. (Released)

by John on May 25, 2006

Defense Planners Eye Unified Medical Command Concept

This is a loooooooooooooong overdue idea. *However* The potential downside I've always seen to a consolidated DoD MEDCOM is HillaryCare-style thinking on the part of the politicians.

Where the DoD MEDCOM gets absorbed by the Public Health Service... and DoD users join the PHS customer base.

I suspect for many on the left side of the political spectrum, *that* represents a huge, fat, juicy piece of low-hanging fruit.

Defense Planners Eye Unified Medical Command Concept By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, May 22, 2006 – Defense Department officials are weighing the potential benefits of creating a single, unified medical command that would oversee all military health care as well as the training and education of military medical professionals and military medical research and development activities. The concept, if adopted, would bring together the Army, Air Force and Navy medical medical departments and services, enabling DoD to provide better care while keeping costs in check, Dr. David Tornberg, deputy assistant secretary of defense for clinical and program policy, told American Forces Press Service.

The DoD medical community is generally supportive of such a realignment, which Tornberg said would make more efficient use of health-care assets and programs and eliminate redundancies. It would also boost DoD's buying power so it gets more goods and services for its acquisition dollars, he said.

While bringing the military health-care system new efficiencies, the plan "would also recognize that each of the services has service-unique requirements and cultures," Tornberg said.

The concept of a unified DoD medical command isn't new; in fact, it was first raised in 1942 and has resurfaced off and on over the years.

With Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pushing "jointness" to new levels, along with his transformation efforts, Tornberg said there's a strong indication the idea of a unified medical command may move beyond the talking stage.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 25, 2006

May 22, 2006

National Maritime Day, Part 2, the Present.

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National Maritime Day Proclamation 2006

A Proclamation

by the President of the United States of America

The United States Merchant Marine plays an important role in ensuring our national security and strengthening our economy. As we celebrate National Maritime Day and the 70th anniversary of the Merchant Marine Act, we pay tribute to merchant mariners and their faithful service to our Nation.

Since 1775, merchant mariners have bravely served our country, and in 1936, the Merchant Marine Act officially established their role in our military as a wartime naval auxiliary. During World War II, merchant mariners were critical to the delivery of troops and supplies overseas, and they helped keep vital ocean supply lines operating. President Franklin D. Roosevelt praised these brave merchant mariners for persevering "despite the perils of the submarine, the dive bomber, and the surface raider." Today's merchant mariners follow those who courageously served before them as they continue to provide crucial support for our Nation's service men and women. America is grateful for their commitment to excellence and devotion to duty.

In addition to helping defend our country, merchant mariners facilitate commerce by importing and exporting goods throughout the world. They work with our Nation's transportation industry to share their valuable skills and experience in ship maintenance, navigation, and cargo transportation. This past year, the good work and compassion of merchant mariners also played an important role in hurricane relief efforts. Ships brought urgently needed supplies to the devastated areas, provided assistance for oil spill cleanup, generated electricity, and provided meals and lodging for recovery workers and evacuees.

In recognition of the importance of the U.S. Merchant Marine, the Congress, by joint resolution approved on May 20, 1933, as amended, has designated May 22 of each year as "National Maritime Day," and has authorized and requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its appropriate observance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2006, as National Maritime Day. I call upon all the people of the United States to mark this observance by honoring the service of merchant mariners and by displaying the flag of the United States at their homes and in their communities. I also request that all ships sailing under the American flag dress ship on that day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.

George W. Bush

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by John on May 22, 2006

National Maritime Day, Part 1. The Past.

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War Shipping Administration Press Release, Maritime Day 1945 Military Leaders Praise Merchant Marine

Holt Maritime 62 PR 2277 (W)

WAR SHIPPING ADMINISTRATION
Washington

ADVANCE RELEASE
Friday Afternoon Papers
May 18, 1945
Radio Release: 7 AM, EWT, Friday, May 18. Cleared and Released
Through Facilities of the
Office of War Information

Maritime Day tributes from the leaders of American armed forces to the men of the Merchant Marine for delivering the goods to the battlefronts have been received, the War Shipping Administration announced today.

These include statements from General George C. Marshall, U. S. Army Chief Staff; Admiral E. J. King, Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, and Chief Naval Operations; General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander; Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas; and Lieutenant General Alexander A. Vandergrift, United States Marine Corps Commandant.

General Marshall commented on the Merchant Marine's participation in war:

"America's Merchant Marine has carried out its war mission with great distinction, and has demonstrated its ability to meet the challenge of redeploying our full power to the Pacific."

The job being done by the Merchant Marine was praised by Admiral King who said:

"The Armed Forces, with the help of the Merchant Marine, have pushed the fighting 5,000 miles west. Together, they'll go the rest of the way."

Devotion to duty by the men at sea was praised by General Eisenhower:

"The officers and men of the Merchant Marine, by their devotion to duty in the face of enemy action, as well as natural dangers of the sea, have brought us the tools to finish the job. Their contribution to final victory will be long remembered."

The role played by merchant mariners over the globe was described by Admiral Nimitz as follows:

"The United States Merchant Marine played an important part in the achievement victory in Europe, and it is destined to play an even more important role in helping to finish off the Japanese. To move great quantities of war materials principal sources of supply across 6,000 miles of ocean to battlefronts in the Far East is the formidable task now confronting our merchant fleet. We are confident it will be done quickly and efficiently in keeping with the high standards of accomplishment set by the Merchant Marine in every war in our history."

General Vandegrift pointed out how the Marine Corps has been aided in its invasions by the Merchant Marine in saying:

"The men and ships of the Merchant Marine have participated in every landing operation by the United States Marine Corps from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima - - and we know they will be at hand with supplies and equipment when American amphibious forces hit the beaches of Japan itself. On Maritime Day we of the Marine Corps salute the men of the merchant fleet."

If you want the details on the service and sacrifice of the Merchant Marine - click here.

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by John on May 22, 2006

May 21, 2006

Something you won't see in an Arab Military writing collection.

Thanks to the nature of the MSM - and it's consumer base, and, to a lesser extent blogging, too (we want traffic, boring-but-important-stuff doesn't generate traffic, it's just some of us don't care as much about traffic as others, thanks to Google), what we don't see, absent the pronouncements of the Generals and Secretaries (the post below) there is actually a *lot* of paddling going on under the surface. By those order-taking unthinking Myrmidons the left is so, um, well, you know what I mean. Anyway - here's something you won't see much of in Arab professional journals. No, not the subject matter - the author, and the whole underlying premise tied up therein. And *if* we make that change in the Iraqi military, we will have done some potential, long-term, society-changing good.

Such as this article, *featured* in the US Army Professional Writing Collection.

Winning the Nationbuilding War While I was in Samac, Bosnia, an Assistant Secretary of Defense visited my unit- A Troop, 1st Squadron, 104th Cavalry, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. One of the things he said was, "We have gotten pretty good at killing people." In retrospect, this was an understatement. As Saddam Hussein found out, the United States can reach almost any corner of the world with real power. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be quite as efficient at nationbuilding.

Construction is more difficult than destruction, and nationbuilding operations can be long, complex, and expensive. America's mission in Bosnia has lasted several years, and no U.S. official has yet mentioned terminating operations. U.S. forces also are still in Afghanistan, and U.S. forces in Iraq have suffered more casualties since the end of major military operations than during initial operations.

As a Vietnam-era veteran, I doubt the United States has the financial capability or the political will to occupy large segments of the world semipermanently. Yet, the potential costs of not engaging in nationbuilding might be horrific. How can we shorten the commitment and reduce the cost of nationbuilding? How can the U.S. military be as efficient at nationbuilding as it is at killing people? The answer is to have the right tools, the right people, and the right processes for the job at hand.

Read the rest - and meet the author, Staff Sergeant George E. Anderson III, by clicking here.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 21, 2006

We loooooooooove Nationbuilding now!

Those Brit generals are finally making some headway, though we'll never say so as such.

No Conflict Between Warfighting, Nontraditional Missions, Leaders Say By Donna Miles American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, May 19, 2006 – Supporting nontraditional missions and humanitarian crises doesn't detract from the defense mission, but rather, builds important relationships around the world, strengthens capabilities and fills vital needs, top defense leaders said here today.

"When our nation sends its armed forces to tsunami relief in Indonesia (or) to earthquake relief in Pakistan, we are showing the very best qualities of this nation: our compassion, our concern for others, our willingness to reach out and help others," Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace said during a Pentagon town hall meeting. "That's a great thing for our armed forces to do."

"Arguably, what those forces did to help others understand this country, they did in a way that any number of divisions fighting on a battlefield could never do," Pace said. "So it is well worth our time and energy to do the good works of our nation."

The military's primary focus must always remain on warfighting and the ability to counter both conventional and irregular, asymmetric threats, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the audience.

But when disaster strikes or a serious need arises, Rumsfeld said the military force -- with 1.4 million active-duty and 1.2 million reserve-component members - often brings capabilities no one else can match.

He pointed to Hurricane Katrina as an example, with 50,000 National Guard and 20,000 active-duty troops committed to the relief effort within days. "No other institution could have done that," he said.

Still Awake? The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 21, 2006

May 19, 2006

US(sorta)@War

5/18/2006 - -- Joseph Stutzman and Robert Attard, contractors from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., switch an AGM-114 Hellfire missile from one MQ-1 Predator to another on May 16, 2006, at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Mr. Stutzman and Mr. Attard are aircraft mechanics assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit. Contractors began replacing some military maintainers in February 2006, and recently took over as the primary mechanics for the Predator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

5/18/2006 - -- Joseph Stutzman and Robert Attard, contractors from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., switch an AGM-114 Hellfire missile from one MQ-1 Predator to another on May 16, 2006, at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Mr. Stutzman and Mr. Attard are aircraft mechanics assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit. Contractors began replacing some military maintainers in February 2006, and recently took over as the primary mechanics for the Predator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brian Ferguson)

Heh. At what point do we just let the troops go, and DoD becomes DoDCMA? Department of Defense Contract Management Agency?

Not an idle question, as this paper discusses.

Hey - *I'm* a contractor. I have a dog in this fight. But as I look around and see where contractors serve, and the rules under which they serve - I question both the aptness of using contractors for certain mission-critical functions - and the codicils in the contracts under which they function - to include ones where truly mission-critical infrastructure personnel are designated as NEO evacuees in the event of conflict, their jobs putatively taken over by their uniformed supervisors. Supervisors who, when I was watching them perform *their* duties, didn't seem to have much slack time to take on another, full-time, mission-critical task set.

Contractors aren't going away - and for many tasks they shouldn't - but where does the mission creep end? I see the appeal of contracting out a lot of essentially war-time only jobs to this Secretary of Defense - he doesn't want the increase in end-strength and force expansion/contraction issues (and long term expenses) that go with it - he can just hire what he wants off the market and run with it, and not take on the long term burden of permanent full-time (or even part-time) troops. He offloads the pension/medical/overhead issues to industry, only having to partially fund them while contracts are in force.

Whattaya think? This is a smart group.

Cross-posted at Milblogs.

by John on May 19, 2006

May 18, 2006

Transformation, OIF style.

I wrote this post *before* I heard the news about the Canadian Gunner dying in an infantry firefight. It's been a while since an artilleryman has died at the hands of another artilleryman.

I have a buddy from the old days, recently selected for Brigadier General. Back in the day, while sitting in our Hummers, watching the Toad fumble his way down the Central Corridor to die on the obstacles of the OPFOR out by The Alligator at the NTC, we talked of the future.

Of course, He Who Just Got Selected For BG was sure he was going to get passed over for Major and ruminated on what he would do after he got off of active duty.

Obviously, that didn't happen. I retired first (does that mean I won? Hardly.) He got picked for the ultimate Redleg jobs, Direct Support Battalion Commander, Division Artillery Commander - and he got to take his DIVARTY to war.

Ooops. Did I say DIVARTY? Well, that would be wrong. He took his Brigade Combat Team to war. And fought as Infantillery. Good thing we paid attention to our maneuver brethren when we were OC's...

The artillery does a lot more of this now...

Spc. Milton Gonzales, B Btry., 1-9 FA, smashes a gate open during a raid in Baghdad that netted several wanted insurgents Oct. 8.

...and this...


...than they do of this...

After receiving the call for a counter fire mission, April 25, in Mahmahdiyah, Iraq, Sgt. Timothy Olsen lifts the rear of the Howitzer and moves it quickly to acquire the appropriate range of the fire. From the time counter fire is called over the radio, the Soldiers of 1st Platoon, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, have a maximum of three minutes to be ready to fire on the target, the quickest time the platoon has been laid and ready to fire was an astonishing one minute and 42 seconds. (Photo by Spc. Kelly K. McDowell, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division)


...or this...

...or this.

Just sayin'. Ubique. As Rudyard Kipling noted...

"Ubique"
Royal Artillery

There is a word you often see, pronounce it as you may--
"You bike,""you bykwee," "ubbikwe"--alludin' to R.A.
It serves 'Orse, Field, an' Garrison as motto for a crest;
An' when you've found out all it means I'll tell you 'alf the rest.

Ubique means the long-range Krupp be'ind the low-range 'ill--
Ubique means you'll pick it up an', while you do, stand still.
Ubique means you've caught the flash an' timed it by the sound.
Ubique means five gunners' 'ash before you've loosed a round.
Ubique means Blue Fuse, an' make the 'ole to sink the trail.
Ubique means stand up an' take the Mauser's 'alf-mile 'ail.
Ubique means the crazy team not God nor man can 'old.
Ubique means that 'orse's scream which turns your innards cold!
Ubique means "Bank, 'Olborn, Bank - a penny all the way" -
The soothin', jingle-bump-an'-clank from day to peaceful day.
Ubique means "They've caught De Wet, an' now we shan't be long."
Ubique means "I much regret, the beggar's goin' strong!"
Ubique means the tearin' drift where, breech-blocks jammed with mud,
The khaki muzzles duck an' lift across the khaki flood.
Ubique means the dancing plain that changes rocks to Boers.
Ubique means mirage again an' shellin' all outdoors. drift -- ford
Ubique means "Entrain at once for Grootdefeatfontein."
Ubique means "Off-load your guns" - at midnight in the rain!
Ubique means "More mounted men. Return all guns to store."
Ubique means the R.A.M.R. Infantillery Corps.
Ubique means that warnin' grunt the perished linesman knows,
When o'er 'is strung an' sufferin' front the shrapnel sprays 'is foes;
An' as their firin' dies away the 'usky whisper runs
From lips that 'aven't drunk all day: "The Guns! Thank Gawd, the Guns!"
Extreme, depressed, point-blank or short, end-first or any'ow,
From Colesberg Kop to Quagga's Poort - from Ninety-Nine till now -
By what I've 'eard the others tell an' I in spots 'ave seen,
There's nothin' this side 'Eaven or 'Ell Ubique doesn't mean!

Or, as CAPT H notes: "Ubique= All over the place!"

by John on May 18, 2006

May 16, 2006

The Air Force is in a hurt.

Apparently waay too many officers. Too many airmen. Aging equipment. Money woes. And those damn'd dirty greedy grasping geezers (retirees) are killing TRICARE (a self-inflicted wound by the Services, two Administrations and five Congresses)

A comment I posted over at Milblogs:

Heh. They *all* look young now.

When you realize the Lieutenants weren't *born* when you were commissioned... sigh.

But since young Noonan is a Zoomie, putatively in an "armed service" one wonders how he'll defend this, from an internal AF document running around the .mil mail circuit:


--M-16 training weapon- a real weapon (but modified not to fire) [John of Argghhh notes: Interesting use of the words "real weapon" in conjunction with the phrase "but modified not to fire." A more accurate description would be "formerly a real weapon that has been modified not to fire," which begs the question, why not just buy Airsoft and be done with it?] --Due to safety—cannot have weapons around the recruits -[John of Argghhh! snarks: Really? And you wonder why you get the “Armed” service jokes?]

--No one is required to guard the weapons [John of Argghhh snarks: Can't have that - securing weapons would be... um, well, er, *military* and might hurt recruiting?]

--Weapons [sic] is a 100% replica of original M-16 & field stripes [sic] the same [John of Argghhh snarks: But wait! I thought it was a "a real weapon (but modified not to fire)" and not a replica? Snerk snerk snerk.]

In their defense, Chief Murray *did* observe...


--Training weapons are real but they do not fire ?


At least one guy gets it.

Yep, that's a real live excerpt from a real live document about a real live meeting of Senior Air Force Leaders. I sent it to Dusty. We've both hacked at it. A perfect example of why bloggers aren't all that popular - especially among weak leaders (a status I don't ascribe to the ones named in the document - I don't know them, though Dusty does) I'm referring to weak leaders whose impulse when things like this show up is to hunt for a scapegoat.

This is a memo from a meeting of senior AF leaders on the state of the Air Force. There are legitimate concerns in here.

There is also evidence of *why* there are concerns in here, as revealed by what the senior leaders think is important, and how they see it.

Mind you, all 5 of the Armed Services have equivalent documents, with their own unique organizational pathologies and blind-spots.

This one just got out into the wild. Any of us field grade-equivalent milbloggers (that would include Hook, 74, and the other senior enlisted guys) could savage any service’s equivalent document. Why? Because most of us moved to blog didn’t/don’t drink the Kool-Aid – which is why we blog and don’t have E-Ring offices at the Pentagon. The path to stars, outside of war, rarely includes being a smart-ass who points out the state of dishabille the Emperor is in. It’s cute in kids (you’re safe for a while, Noonan) but the big guys find it wearisome in putative adults.

And the ‘kids’ would savage them in entirely different ways - showing just how much Kool-Aid we more senior guys actually *have* drunk…

If you'd like to read the Doc with Comments (pdf reader req'd) -

Click here..

Not surprisingly, my source for this was an Army source. But before I edited it out of the doc properties - it came from AF sources. Probably guys who think like us, but are smart enough to not blog.

At least not until that first retiree paycheck hits.

by John on May 16, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: The State of the Air Force.
» Non Partisan Pundit links with: New Air Force Uniforms

May 13, 2006

Poking around the service pic files today.

Some pics that caught my eye this week. Some excited my "chickenshite ossifer" instincts, too.

First up:

by Spc. Teddy Wade May 5, 2006</p>

<p>Staff Sgt. Brad Smith, from 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, shoots at a suspicious object during a patrol along a main supply road near Tikrit, Iraq.  Photo courtesy US Army.

by Spc. Teddy Wade May 5, 2006

Staff Sgt. Brad Smith, from 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, shoots at a suspicious object during a patrol along a main supply road near Tikrit, Iraq. Photo courtesy US Army.

In my day, we called this plinkin'...

Norfolk, Va. (May 10, 2006)Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Matthew Kaczynski, assigned to Inshore Boat Unit Four Two (IBU-42), mans his .50-caliber machine gun during a Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron Four (NCWS-4) demonstration at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek. The squadron's primary mission is conducting anti-terrorism and force protection in harbors and coastal waterways overseas. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Matthew D. Leistikow

Norfolk, Va. (May 10, 2006)Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Matthew Kaczynski, assigned to Inshore Boat Unit Four Two (IBU-42), mans his .50-caliber machine gun during a Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron Four (NCWS-4) demonstration at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek. The squadron's primary mission is conducting anti-terrorism and force protection in harbors and coastal waterways overseas. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Matthew D. Leistikow

Now, izzit is just me, or izzat a brand-spanking-shiny-new M60 on that there pintle? Dang, those Navy guys sure do have purty, and *clean* weapons...

by Master Sgt. Johancharles Van Boers May 11, 2006</p>

<p>A Soldier from the 25th Infantry Division takes aim at an “insurgent” during the battle for Gahr Albai and Millawa Valley, a war game scenario at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif. The Soldiers are honing their combat skills in preparation for a deployment to Iraq. Photo courtesy US Army.<br />
CSA-2006-05-11-085023


by Master Sgt. Johancharles Van Boers May 11, 2006

A Soldier from the 25th Infantry Division takes aim at an “insurgent” during the battle for Gahr Albai and Millawa Valley, a war game scenario at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif. The Soldiers are honing their combat skills in preparation for a deployment to Iraq. Photo courtesy US Army.
CSA-2006-05-11-085023

Any of you small unit leaders out there think this guy is hitting anything farther than maybe 50 meters away with the boresight that MILES laser unit *appears* to have?

Now, this last one really started all my sensors. That said, I don't know what the Force Protection Level is at FOB Remagen, either. Info I would have were I deployed there, so I may be a little picky here.. Of course, first off, that's a vehicle that's aged a *lot* better than I have, of course, I'm a bit tougher to do a depot rebuild on, too. My father fielded M577 CP Carriers in his day. And here they're serving 6 years beyond my retirement, no real end in sight. Of course, that's nothing compared to B52s, or the M2HB... At least they've got new generators. He's got an oil basin under the final drive housing there, that's a plus. He's got fluids handy (I assume those are for him...). But, combat zone, no helmet, no flak vest, and while I understand no LBE at the moment, his weapon is *muzzle down* in the rocks, no plastic muzzle guard on it, even. He's got no magazine (again, might be their rules for on the FOB) but it also means, sans LBE, his ammo isn't handy, either, should he need it. Troops will often opt for comfort over safety, especially when the weather goes to extremes, and, in fact, leaders have to balance all of that against the need and the perceived threat, before you just go be a hardass about everything. All I know is - because I don't really know anything about the situation other than it's in Iraq, if I were a brand newby over there, I'd at least make the guy get his LBE (helmet, ammo and first aid pack because mortar/rocket frags *have* been known to cause severe bleeding, doncha know) so they were a lot more handy, and then trundled off to find out what the policy was, and the reality.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Whattaya you Fobbits and killers got to say, who've been there, or have good enough access to wait for the pics?

by John on May 13, 2006

May 12, 2006

The metal of the troops.

I got an email today, from a friend who's friend's son recently served in Iraq, and was involved in an IED incident some time ago.

I wish I could bust OPSEC and show you the names in the email list this young troop sent this note to. You aspiring novel writers would like to know them for your OIF/OEF/GWOT novel.

But ths is typical (for me at least) soldier email (with some edits for OPSEC and Netnannys):

I aint much for words but God Da*n someday my lucks gonna run out, here's the truck, [deleted]'s in one of the pics hes a good dude, but damn the luck those IEDS are tricky little f*ckers. Yall take care

[deleted]

-"You guys don't get PTSD, you GIVE it.. You're carriers. Some jihadist is going to be waking up with a cold sweat 30 years from now having nightmares about YOU."- [deleted]

Troop morale

Photo edited by me to meet Army OPSEC guidelines of name, rank, unit, face, and revealing damage to HMMWV to deny useful BDA by the jihadis. The fact that someone in a HMMWV somewhere survived an attack isn't news.

What the jihadis should take away from this post: They're still coming. And they, and the Sunnis who hate you even more than they may hate the Americans, are your worst nightmare. Sleep well, fellas. Oh, what was that noise?

by John on May 12, 2006

May 08, 2006

CDR Salamander is pleased, no doubt.

This stuff is right up his alley. Especially since the Navy seems to have some time on it's hands...

Heh.  Sailors grubbing in the dirt. I love it.  Watch out for the sand fleas, guys!


060405-N-4097B-023 Fort Jackson, S.C. (April 5, 2006) - Sailors are in the dirt with their M-16A1 by their side during the Navy's Individual Augmentee Combat Training at Fort Jackson, S.C. The fast paced, two-week course is physically demanding, and taught by Army drill sergeants. The course is designed to provide Sailors basic combat skills training prior to being deployed as individual augmentees, mostly to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility (AOR). U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class Jackey Bratt (RELEASED)

From USA Today - via the Army's Stand-To! morning news round-up.

Navy and Air Force personnel are replacing Army soldiers to carry out such duties as guarding convoys, patrolling bases and watching for homemade bombs, the top killer of U.S. troops in Iraq.

This is the official view:

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Carl Ey says the training gives commanders more flexibility and doesn't signal a shortage of soldiers.

There are, of course, confidently pronounced alternate views:

Andrew Krepinevich, a military analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, counters: "If the Army wasn't having recruiting challenges and exceeding rotation rates, we wouldn't be having this discussion." {snippage} Frederick Kagan, a military historian at the American Enterprise Institute, says training sailors and airmen to do the jobs of seasoned soldiers is "what you do only when you're desperate."

There is of course, a Third Way, that is a mixture of the two.

Making a more effective use of military manpower that currently sits idle, and makes them better able to defend themselves, freeing up Infantry for their primary role, and an adaptation to the Current Operating Environment. That it also eases deployment issues for the major ground component is also a nice benny.

Whole story here, at USA Today.

The fact that it might offer some relief to guys like these Guardsmen in Hawaii is not a bad thing. It's called sharing the burden.

As noted in this article by William Cole in the Honolulu Advertiser:

Isle Guard braces for exodus

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Following a difficult deployment to Iraq, the Hawai'i Army National Guard is working to overcome an expected 20 percent to 40 percent exodus from its ranks — a rate double its usual attrition.

Such a loss, if not stemmed by new recruits, could lead to units being stripped away, less federal money, fewer jobs and diminished capacity to respond to state disasters in future years.

You can read the whole story here.

We all take the same oath and work for the same employer. If spreading the burden shares out some of the downside, what's the problem? Like it or not, this is *different* and shouldn't be equated to what the Germans were doing by the end of WWII - but it is, arguably, close to what the US Army was doing towards the end of WWII, when it took aviation cadets, Air Defense Artillerymen, etc, and made them Infantry.

They were sitting idle, with little to do, and the prognosis looked pretty good for the outcome of the war.

The Air Corps and Navy were fully engaged, but the Air Corps had people in the training pipeline who it looked like they weren't going to need. So they became infantry.

So, there's more than one way to look at this situation. The truth is probably a meld.

Just sayin'.

By the way - those links come from the internal army daily newsbrief, called Stand To! (which you can subscribe to via AKO, btw). Internally we aren't afraid to spread among ourselves the bad news and the good. If you'd like to subscribe yourself - send a blank email from the email address you'd like to recieve it with "subscribe" in the subject line. Sure, there's internal-consumption propaganda in there, but you'd be surprised how we keep an eye on the bad or seemingly bad news.

Send it to: stand-toREMOVE@THIShqda.army.mil

Sailors choking on good Fort Jackson dust.  Whee!

060405-N-4097B-012 Fort Jackson, S.C. (April 6, 2006) - Sailors man their M-16A1s and sit a vigilant watch, as they conduct convoy exercises during the Navy's Individual Augmentee Combat Training course at Fort Jackson, S.C. The fast paced, two week course is instructed by Army drill sergeants and designed to provide Sailors with basic combat skills training prior to being deployed as individual augmentees mostly to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility (AOR). U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 1st Class Jackey Bratt (RELEASED)
by John on May 08, 2006

May 07, 2006

The Zarqawi Video... a slightly different look.

Lex has the link some good words, and great commentary.

Here's the note I sent Lex, because I think it cuts to the chase.

I didn't want to harsh the mellow, so I didn't leave a comment on your Billy Blooper post.

Heh. Wonder how the CNO would do with a SAW?

Un-coached, mind you. Which he wouldn't dare do on camera. Which *is* part of the difference.

Or me in an F/A-18? But I know *exactly* how to send you to where I need you to splash that bird or drop that ordnance. Just as you know exactly how to get me to take my brigade someplace and do rude things. Even if you couldn't do it yourself.

I got the point, and I love the vid. And with the face-loving society they live in, showing the vid was important.

As was our mocking it.

But the little bit of me that's been shot at is reminded that Zarqawi types don't usually do the shooting.

They give the orders.

The guy who burned his hand made me feel better.

He's *us*.

And *that* is a big part of the difference.

by John on May 07, 2006

April 28, 2006

The Generals and their yapping.

I've been struggling with this one, because I really am conflicted.

On the one hand, I blog, I'm a retired military officer, I express my opinions, many of them critical of this Administration and Rumsfeld in particular. How am I all that different from these guys? Well, there *is* the size of the check at the end of the month, true.

On the other hand, these guys are Generals. And while I find the Press' embrace of these retirees and their message to be hypocritical, given the non-love shown for the dissident Generals who didn't like the Bosnia and Kosovo adventures, the simple fact is, and I well know it - their opinion matters more than mine does. No one really cares what a retired field grade officer thinks unless they manage to breakout into full Pundit status, like Ollie North, Ralph Peters, Austin Bay, Dave Hunt, etc. And I haven't demonstrated that skill yet, nor, I think, am I likely to, given my rejection level by K-Lo!

That said, I think it comes down to this quote sent my by my buddy Jim,

I am convinced that the best service a retired general can perform is to turn in his tongue along with his suit, and to mothball his opinions. General of the Army Omar Bradley, in the New York Times, May 17, 1959.

All of these guys have issues with the SECDEF.

So what? They aren't the first. There was the Admiral's Revolt. Heck, McClellan, Wes Clark. Both of whom properly took their message to the political arena, where it was all out in the open and a free-for-all. During the 60's, there was no love lost between McNamara and his minions. In the bathroom of our apartment in Stuttgart, Germany, my father (then a LTC on the EUCOM J-3 staff) had a photo of Secretary McNamara, with the caption of *Big Daddy Is Watching You" on it. That stared at you as you did your business. Disaffection is not unusual, especially with transformative leaders.

Some of the generals have problems with the SECDEF being "disrespectful" of them (or others) personally, and dismissive of their opinions.

Really. Again, so what? An excessive deference to the opinion of subordinates is not a universal trait of the GO corps. Especially dissident opinions. I've watched numerous GO's crucify people for disagreeing... especially ones who disagree after the fact and drag their feet implementing decisions. I watched my father take a public shellacking that was completely inappropriate *and* unwarranted. Much less delivered to the officer in question in front of his son.

These officers all served honorably, and many of them, in one way or another, fell afoul of the Secretary. There's a reason that some commanded or held significant jobs during OIF - yet did not rise to the next higher grade. Whether a lack of room at the top, or people were not fully-happy with their performance in grade, there are reasons these guys are retired... and grumpy.

And they may well have earned that grumpiness. And they have a right to express their opinions on the conduct of the war.

But, and I admit I'm old-fashioned in this regard - because of their unique status as senior military leaders, they shouldn't be calling for the resignation or firing of Cabinet officials - especially ones they served under, who are still serving when they are not. If Congress wishes to call them before the committees and ask the question directly - then they should answer. That is appropriate, even if it is simply politics by other means. The Generals are charged with giving their honest assessment when asked.

Like it or not, Generals make lovers of Liberty uneasy, and the Founders set up a structure to limit their power and influence, as well they should have. To my way of thinking, the restrictions placed on us warriors (which are greater the higher we rise, which is why there are virtually *no* restrictions, comparatively, on enlisted members) expand and exert greater pressure the higher we rise. And they should. And these Generals should have known that no President worth his salt is going to fire a civilian leader of the Pentagon because the Generals demanded it.

The message that sends is simply unacceptable. In fact, it made it *harder* to achieve what they want - if anything, they guaranteed Rumsfeld's survival.

The Generals are free to write books and op-ed pieces and give speeches that argue against Administration policy - including policy they had a hand in implementing. Color me old-fashioned, but I think they overstepped the bounds of a good custom when they started calling for Rumsfeld's head. In this Republic, calling for the head of their civilian boss is simply *not* the province of the General Officers.

Switching sides - those who call the General's cowards or craven for not speaking out before they retired, or for not resigning in protest, are also loons who wish to dangerously erode the quite proper fetters placed on the military leadership.

If you are wearing the uniform, you make your arguments in the context of the staff meeting and written documents, and personal conversation. And yes, I know, the Generals and their staffs aren't above leaking, spare me. That is part and parcel of the process - and there is a world of difference between that an open rebellion in uniform. I would fully expect a Secretary of Defense to smack down an openly rebellious General by firing him and retiring him at his permanent grade (usually two grades behind the one on your shoulder). That they held their tongues publicly until they retired is entirely proper.

I know I'm late to this (one reason I'm not a very good pundit) but I wanted to think it through before I went on record. Not that anyone has been asking, really.

Update: Judging from the comments and some emails, I didn't make myself clear in this paragraph:

Switching sides - those who call the General's cowards or craven for not speaking out before they retired, or for not resigning in protest, are also loons who wish to dangerously erode the quite proper fetters placed on the military leadership.

What I was getting at is Open, Public Disagreement - of the sort they are currently engaged in.

I know from several sources (the easiest public source being the book Cobra II) that there was plenty gnashing of teeth during the planning and execution phase. And that it was conducted as I suggested was proper - in the planning sessions, staff briefings, email, telephone, and personal conversations. At the Rock Drills and rehearsals. And in some of those meetings, some people got their feelings hurt. But when the decision was made, they shut up, saluted, and soldiered on. And either through their disagreement before, or real or perceived lukewarm/lagging execution of those orders, several of those officers may have indeed paid a professional price. I don't profess to know where that line lies.

That said - I *still* think it is wrong for them to have publicly called for the dismissal of the Civilian head of the Department of Defense. That, quite frankly, is *not* their proper province, precisely *because* they are Generals. Had I been blogging in that era, I would have said the same of any recently retired General who advocated same during the Clinton Administration. And I did slap down officers who inappropriately (especially in front of subordinates) offered disrespect to President Clinton, regardless of whether or not I agreed with them. That is a civil right we *knowingly* leave behind us when we accept the commission.

There. Is that any clearer?

by John on Apr 28, 2006

April 25, 2006

Continuing the Discussion started at the Milblogger Conference.

It's clear the story out of the conference that has legs is that of... communication. How DoD communicates. How the blogs communicate. The responsibilities. There's a discussion going on in the comments that I think ought to come up into the air, between Denizenne Kat and The Huntress.

For some background on the subject check out Melinda's post at Most Certainly Not, and Grims post on the discussion with the CENTCOM PAO at Grim's Hall (Grim is reporting on the conversation I only caught part of). For a more mainstream report on the Conference and the issues therein - check out Daniel Glover's piece in National Journal.

Remember - these were in comments, not polished posts, so no snarking on Emglish or such.

Kat started it:

I started to write a message, but realized that I have about three or four posts worth of things I want to say. So, here I am, early morning, writing something, probably too extensive, but feeling very necessary to say about current information war efforts.

Since my old boss told me that, if you cannot summarize it in five bullet points or less, it will be tossed without reviewing the details, I will bullet point the situation as I see it. The conference was very helpful in formulating this concept.

Caveat:

Let me state clearly that, because I am largely focusing on the military’s efforts, the document puts a huge emphasis on the word “military” throughout each section. This document continues to reference the military because I believe that the military must change the most. However, whenever the word “military” appears here, I mean it to include the Department of Defense, the NSA, the CIA, congress and any administration leaders, including the president, who has a responsibility in this effort. I do not want officers, NCOs and enlisted men and women in the field to believe that I lay the blame solely at their feet or do not recognize that culture and regulations affect their ability to function and correct this problem. However, every person, from the top to the bottom, must be made aware of this problem so that all possible speed, resources and ideas may be brought to bare on this problem

1) Military Culture and Attitude Towards the Media is Bad.

2) The Military (and civilian administration) has failed to recognize the media is their customer, they are not the customer of the media.

3) This attitude, from top to bottom, is preventing the military from delivering the appropriate service to the customer/media.

4) The military has failed to recognize and maximize the media. It is the middleman. This middleman's distribution ability reaches the greater audience/customer base that it wishes to influence (I do not simply mean Americans, either). The Military on its own cannot hope to reach this audience, not even through maximizing its "niche market" of bloggers, military magazines and "friendly" media, though it is a place to start rebuilding.

5) The military needs to develop a business strategy that includes finding, developing, selling to and maximizing this customer base. It needs to include developing a customer service plan, identifying the customers' needs, appropriate distribution.

6) Passive distribution methods are ineffective. Military distribution of information acts as if it was a warehouse and the customer must come and pick up their own product or come to the office for service.

7) If the military does not provide the service to the media, it will get it from somewhere else. Quality may be poor, but quantity is never an issue. (list methods of identifying "customer" business and how to deliver services - most important is developing the personal touch)

8) The enemy has stated that half the battle is in the media. It is a major part of their strategy, not an after effect. The military has failed to elevate their information operations to the same status. It must become on par with Combat Operations and Civil Affairs.

9)The military has alternately treated the media with commraderie and contempt. Severe change in military attitude is directly related to Vietnam. All other actions and relations after only re-enforces this problem.

10) The military failed to understand the changing global information world during Vietnam and continues to fall behind in this category. The enemy then, as now, has not failed in this. (List specific lessons during this change).

Okay. It's 10 not 5, but lucky I didn't pontificate like I wanted.

One reason I thought about this is the PAO at the conference kept saying that he was putting this stuff out and the media was doing anything with it.

Huntress replied:

Kat:

Interesting but I disagree with much of where you lay the blame or much of what you wish would happen.

The military attitude towards the media isn't bad, in fact its quite the opposite. They want to work with the media...its the media that both hates, distrusts,and in effect refuses to work with the Military. It is the Medias attitude towards the 'evil military machine' that is at fault.

The only reason our enemies "use" the media effectively is because the media sees their message as the lessor of two evils, and in most cases sees our enemies as insurgents who have been victimized by American "Foriegn policy". America is to blame for Islamic hatred towards the West, and as such, our enemies are painted with a much more sympathetic brush.

To that effect, the MSM enjoys reporting bad, horrible, shitass news including what our enemies to do our troops, and framing all that our troops do in unfavorably light, all in the hope of accomplishing what the media coverage of Viet Nam accomplished - to sway public opinion AGAINST the war on terror, our mission in Iraq, our President, his administration, and to continue their negative assault on the 'evil military machine".

Fred, the PAO, you referred to, expressed his frustration at the mindset of some that blame military for "not getting the news out".

His point was that the military DOES get the news out through the PAO and remains frustrated at the media's attempts to distort, downplay and ignore the good news that the PAO delivers proactively and aggressively, to all Media outlets.

The media neither trusts nor cares to trust anything coming from the DOD, the PAO, and even milbloggers in the frontlines UNLESS it fits into their agenda. PERIOD.

Our enemies use our Media successfully to breakdown the will of Americans ONLY because our Media is a willing co-conspirator/partner.

For years after Nam, the Military was afraid to allow embeds, because they saw the effects of bringing the war LIVE into Americans livingroom.

That changed during the Gulf War and embeds are almost a fact of life, however the result remains the same. Embeds often do not provide a fair and balanced view of the war....and when they do...editors in the newsrooms make editorial decisions that lean towards their agenda.

I see no reason for the Military to engage in any further attempts to "make nice" to our media.
Nor do I see any reason to blame the military for the lack of fair and balanced reporting.

YOu might want to listen the Reuters panel discussion Media coverage of this war...you can access it on my blog. There were some excellent points made by Steve Boylan, Iraqi reporters, and Reuters Iraq Bureau chief. He mentioned that whenever Reuters reported on hospital openings, etc, our enemies would end up attacking these places, after hearing about them. Now Reuters is aware of how risky it is to mention hospital and school openings etc. Our Military is also aware of that danger...its not OPSEC in the true sense..but it raises serious concerns.

The collective MSM hates and distrusts the Military and any furthers attemts by the military to work closer with the Media will not be met favorably.

Instead, I want the Military to make much better use of milbloggers and independents like Roggio and Yon to get the message out. The multiplier affect these cyber outlets create guarantees the Military better coverage and a much larger reach, than anything they do now or try to do, with an unwilling MSM.

I've worked directly with the media on issues far less critical and seen the result first hand which amounts to the MSM telling me "I want the story to reflect our agenda...and so it shall".

One only needs to look at how other issues are framed: i.e. right to choose vs right to life, secularism vs religion, democrats vs republicans,
and you see the manipulative machinations that occur.

The Military is doing all they can when it comes to MSM who refuse to put aside their personal bias and agendas.....it's time for them to put more resources behind independents like Yon, Roggio, etc,(like providing them with body armour, etc, but NOT controlling what they write) and to work with milbloggers so that they can be free to deliver an honest message that doesn't interfere with OPSEC.

I enjoyed the entire event, participating virtually was great, and especially loved the last panel! Had an important family event not been happening on the same weekend, I would have been "getting into a lot of trouble in DC". :>)

Perhaps we can attract the Castle's occaisional professional journalist visitor to this discussion...

by John on Apr 25, 2006

ANZAC Day

Today is ANZAC Day, the Australia-New Zealand equivalent to Memorial Day.

New Zealand Website on ANZAC Day.

The Australian Equivalent.

The Gallipoli Campaign was the brainchild of Winston Churchill, an attempt to force the Dardanelles and reach the Black Sea, freeing up the Russian Black Sea Fleet and opening up new routes of supply and a new thrust at the Austrians and Germans via the Balkans. Churchill really had the hots for the idea that Italy and the Balkans represented the "soft underbelly" of Europe. He was to be all for going in that way during WWII, as well. One wonders if Winnie understood the terms "mountainous terrain" and "cross-compartmented" as used by military guys looking at the dirt they have to fight over. Gallipoli, along with the treatment and use of Commonwealth troops in France, marked the high tide of Britain's command and control of Commonwealth Forces. The propensity of British Generals to use non-UK troops for the really bloody work, while at the same time treating them as second-class citizens, caused the command relationships to be much different in WWII. Especially since, pound for pound, the Commonwealth soldiers were in main, better quality troops than those from the UK (exceptions on both sides abounding, of course). Like it or no, the colonials were, if nothing else, generally healthier than their UK counterparts.

Regardless, all the soldier's quality was oft-times squandered by execrable generalship.

In case there is any doubt how Australians felt about it, this picture is of the Sydney Memorial.

For the Turks? This was a moment of great pride for them, marking as it did the end of a long slide to obscurity and mediocrity, and cemented Ataturk's reforms and the establishment of a secular state - and gave the Army the imprimatur of the guardian of the state's secular nature - though that hasn't always gone well...

The Arsenal at Argghhh! has several items with an ANZAC connection. Our WWI-era Vickers machine gun is an ex-Turkish gun - and by the serial number is *not* one of the ones provided to Turkey in 1940 (to keep them neutral) but is in all probability a captured gun, reworked (the Turks were always tinkering with their weapons, trying to stretch their service life) to the later standard.

Hi-res, click here, here, here, and here.

Second, we have a M1893 Turkish Mauser, which is quite possibly (by age and ship date to Turkey) but unverifiably a Gallipoli veteran. This rifle sports a undoubted Gallipolii veteran: a Sanderson-made M1907 bayonet, captured by the Turks and reworked to fit the Mauser. We also have a 2nd Military District bayonet (Australian) that has been through the same treatment. Since invading at Gallipoli was a Brit idea, it's the Brit bayonet that hangs on the Turk rifle and get's it's picture up to give proper credit where it is due.

Hi-res, click here.

Last, but not least, are the dog-tags. Body recovery being tough in the conditions under which the campaign at Gallipoli was fought, when Aussie troops went 'over the top' many would leave a bayonet or stick stuck in the sandbags or walls of the trench, with their dog-tags hanging from 'em. If, after the battle, they were still there...

For the Commonwealth soldier, the equivalent of Taps is the Last Post.

Accordingly, now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam of the fallen of the Australia New Zealand Army Corps.

And if anyone surfing in from Turkey or elsewhere knows where I can get a legal version of the music the Turkish Army uses as an equivalent to Last Post and Taps, I'll add it, as well. Here at Argghhh! we generally blame the leaders, not the fodder, and so have no problem honoring the dead of both sides of most fights.


by John on Apr 25, 2006
» Overtaken by Events links with: Here and There
» Target Centermass links with: ANZAC Day

April 24, 2006

The First Milblogging Conference.

I was gonna do a funny post on it, but, well, helk, I can't top SGT Hook's, so I won't try.

Simply put - this was a well-done event. For an event pulled together by a first timer, Andi of Andi's World, it was stunning in how well things went. Andi had lots of volunteer help - but let's be honest - this happened because *she* wanted it to.

The Greyhawks co-hosted the online forum. There was much fun in the chat room, even if it got rather distracting for Greyhawk when he was trying to harvest questions from the crowd.

The interaction between the people at the conference, and the online vultures watching on the livefeed was hilarious. A very visible result of that is CJ's bald spot on my Liveblogging post...

Big shout out to Military.com for their sponsorship and the excellent lunch. I gotta say, however, Navy types, even retired ones working for Military.com, still suck at PowerPoint and briefing... 8^) Sorry, couldn't resist! It was an excellent lunch, and I'll be happy to coach you for next year.

Austin Bay as the keynote speaker and closer was his usual succinct self.

The first panel, Milblogging Past, Present, and Future was hosted by Buzz Patterson consisted of hoary old Titans Matt of Blackfive and Citzen/LtCDR Smash, serving milbloggers CJ of A Soldier's Perspective and John from Op-For, rounded out by Marine veteran Steve of ThreatsWatch. This panel was a good retrospective on the who, how, and why of the Origins of Milblogging, as well as some of the rocks and shoals of same, revolving mostly around the minefield of OPSEC (hmmm, how many metaphors did I mix there...). Everybody agreed on the importance of OPSEC, but, just like the Services, not everybody agreed on what it is. As Matt noted, "OPSEC is like pornography - I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." Potter Stewart probably spun in his grave. Many of us obviously prefer the hands-off watchfulness of the Marine Corps approach to the mixed signals and hov'ring, sometimes baleful glare of Army scrutiny. Time will tell, and undoubtedly, some active-duty bloggers will get pinched in the gears of doctrine and policy development and implementation.

Did I say "doctrine"? Indeed, I did. CENTCOM sent several PAO reps who discussed that either CENTCOM is developing doctrinal proposals, or they are working with Big Army to develop same. I was late to that little cluster-chat out in the foyer and therefore might have who's doing what mixed up. The fact that they were at the conference is a positive development - because aside from the OPSEC issues, the other issue was... well, wait - that really surfaced hard in the last panel, Active Duty Milbloggers. 1st IO wasn't there officially, one hopes they at least watched the livefeed.

I have to admit I missed most of the second panel, as I was taking great risks with my personal OPSEC by talking to a couple of the journalists who were present, such as Mr. Glover of National Journal, so rather than cover what was said since I missed so much of it - I'll just tell you who was there and you can check the other AARs (which are linked to my Live Blogging the Conference post).

Andi of Andi's World hosted the panel, which was comprised of Carla of Some Soldier's Mom, Carren and Chuck Zigenfuss of From My Position, and Deb, from Marine Corps Moms. One thing I did take away from the panel was the distaff side is *still* not happy about how the services interact with the families - and that they are *very* appreciative of all the grass roots efforts that originated in the blogosphere. As a member of the distaff side during the Vietnam War, I can tell you however much it seems to suck now - it's light years better than it was then. There is obviously room for improvement. The next issue I caught was Chuck, a recently wounded-still-recovering soldier making a big point of the importance (and success) of Project Valour-IT, the laptops with voice recognition software for severely wounded warriors. Singled out for praise was our very own Denizenne (see how you spell that, wrench-monkey?) Fuzzybear Lioness of Fuzzilicious Thinking - who, despite her embarrassed protestations, is the real heart and soul of Project Valour-IT. Good job, Fuzzy!

The last panel, hosted by retired Colonel Dave Hunt of Fox News was titled Blogging From Theater, and consisted of Bill Roggio, a Marine vet and journalist who blogs at The Fourth Rail, Captain B of One Marine's View, Jeff from Dadmanly, Fred from In Iraq for 365, rounding out the panel was Michael from Fire and Ice.

Gotta admit here - Dave Hunt was very funny at first - but as it went on, well, at times, until later in the session, when he just let the guys talk, too often Hunt interposed himself into the conversation, cutting off comments and derailing thoughts. What works (which is arguable, since I won't watch 'em because of it, but they stay on) for the smash-and-gab of network talk shows was inapt and got to be annoying. But, as I said, it all settled out and the bloggers started getting to the guts of the matter - which is how to tell the story from in-theater, without revealing targeting and Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) data useful to the enemy, as well as letting out casualty data before the notification teams can get their jobs done.

The difficulties of telling the good and the bad, without the bad being a morale-killer. What was left unexplored was a discussion of talking about blithering idiot leadership or leadership decisions. All the guys on stage were about telling the stories of the soldiers - though there was some disagreement about just how to tell the tales. And all were adamant about the importance of self-regulation in terms of OPSEC - and of how important it was for the services to understand what the blogs are, how they work, and how to work with them. Much pessimism that the services will default to "shut 'em down" because that's the simplest approach.

I would note that the National Archives has a project to capture the milbloggers (the serving troops, not posers like me) stories - because they are the soldier diaries of this war, every bit the treasures and measures of insight into the warfighter as the dusty journals from the Civil War discovered in county historical society archives or barns in Belgium. Congrats to the VFW for their assist in this matter, *and* their assistance with putting on the Conference.

Of course, if they do that, unless they shut down email, blogging will go underground, and the Blackfives, Smash's, ThreatsWatch's, Fourth Rails, and yes, Castle Argghhh!s of the milblogging world will simply post the stories received via other means.

Better to embrace it and understand it than to try to be General Canute, standing at the water's edge, commanding the blogtide to stop. That image was used by one of the on-stage bloggers (I'm thinking Capt B or Mike Fay) as a description of the hubris and futility of such an effort. Of course, Canute was making a point about the limits of power... hopefully one the Generals will heed.


So - what's the take-away?

1. Milblogs started because we milbloggers didn't see the good news we knew was there being reported - so, we started reporting it.

2. They grew, because there were others out there who knew there had to be another view, but they couldn't find it from the MSM.

3. The services do a crappy job of sharing info with the public. Milbloggers fill this niche.

4. Milbloggers also nip at the heels of power - which isn't going to stop, so the Generals ought to learn to live with it - because it's the most powerful mostly-friendly voice on the Internet.

5. OPSEC. No one questions the importance of same. We'd all like a better working definition of same. And - we know the services have people who are reading the blogs watching for it - most of us will entertain polite, reasonable requests to withdraw data. You just have to be able to explain it --- and ask. But the services, especially for the active duty milbloggers, need to develop doctrine and guidance.

6. A warning for the Generals. Shut 'em all down, and what will be left? The malcontents will blog - anonymously - with no countervailing voice which currently overwhelms the discontented. Which is an expression of the fact that most of the troops are generally satisfied in the big sense with how things are going (we *always* bitch about the details) and the positive voices drown out the unhappy voices. Bring down the Crushing Boot of Doom... and only the malcontents will be left. Think about it, Powers-That-Be. Listen to your PAOs, and not as much to your lawyers and weak commanders who don't like any critical voice, however much else positive comes from those voices. But mostly, listen to your warriors. They have all our best interests at heart.

7. Next time:

a. We need two chat rooms. One for all the hilarious commentary, and one for the questions from those not able to be present. Greyhawk was losing hair trying to maintain control *and* squash the occasional troll who showed up.

b. Someone needs to step-up to the plate and take on the job of Party Planner. Andi can't do it all. No, I'm not volunteering. Every party I've hosted as an adult has been an abomination. Heck, when SWWBO and I got married, all of 6 people showed up for our in-home reception, so we aren't good choices. Unless we have the next conference in Kansas City (hey, it's Central) we could have a Castle Tour...

Wherever the next one is - if duty doesn't conspire to keep me away, I'll be there. Meeting all you guys was a hoot and an honor. We are the Davids.

Of course, I'm sitting in my room, listening the local ABC affiliate doing a story on Fran O'Briens, which will be shutting down. David doesn't always win. But Mr. Kelleher, of the Capital Hilton, certainly knows who we are...

Another thing I learned - it's tough to pull together a mini-Castle Blogmeet at something like this. We're obviously going to have to fix up the Castle and host a meet. Sigh. Making the Castle presentable will eat up a buncha spare time.

Wait! I know - we'll issue tools and make it a Castle-Raising! Yeah! That's the ticket!

Shout out to the Denizen/nes who came to the Conference - SWWBO, 1SG Keith, Sergeant B, Fuzzybear Lioness, AFSis, and Princess Crabby.

And there is a STORY. One I can't tell. I've been informed that "What happens in DC, stays in DC." Let's just say there was a Full Moon somewhere in District, despite the clouds and rain.

That is all.

by John on Apr 24, 2006
» MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy links with: Milblog Conference
» BLACKFIVE links with: The Milblog Conference
» BLACKFIVE links with: The Milblog Conference
» BLACKFIVE links with: The Milblog Conference
» La Shawn Barber's Corner links with: Live-Blogging the MilBlog Conference

April 22, 2006

Live blogging the conference.

It's on. Austin Bay is chatting us all up and reinforcing (as if we need it) just how kewl and important we are!

But if you'd rather catch this live... go here: Live Feed from Conference.


Austin Bay gave a good rouser for an intro. Buzz Patterson is up introducing the first panel - which is Milblogs: Past, Present, and Future. Present are Smash, Blackfive, John of Op-For, Steve of ThreatsWatch, and CJ from A Soldier's Perspective.

Buzz is slamming the MSM for their myopia on how the war is covered. Austin made the point that what most of us want to do is provide a broader story and context to the coverage of the war.

CJ is telling why he blogs, a 'therapy' for processing his war experiences (CJ was in 3ID and participated in both Thunder Runs into Baghdad and the first invasion of Fallujah. Over to Smash.

"Good morning, my name is Smash, and I am a milblogger..."

Here they are: CJ, Scott, Matt, John, Steve.

Milblogger Conference


Heh. Who'm I foolin'? Reading this on a Saturday? If you want to follow it- go hit the link. I'll post pics - but I'm gonna pay attention now.

Oh, yeah - I gotta say this (and I'll put the pics up to prove it)... Blogger Chicks are Hot, Boy Bloggers are not...

Second Session: Milblogging Family Style.

Moderated by Andi from Andi's World, online moderation by Mrs. Greyhawk.

Andi

Panelists: Left to right, Carla from Some Soldier's Mom, Carren of From My Position, Chuck of From My Position, and Deb from Marine Corps Moms.

Carla, Carren, Chuck, Deb

A reminder: Live Feed Here.

Of interest: CENTCOM PAO is here, usefully engaged. Several MSM outlets are here, to include the BBC. Be interesting to read *their* view of this.


Great lunch at Jury's, sponsored by Military.com. We *did* have to sit through a sales pitch... but hey, lunch was free, who are we to argue?

If you haven't checked in on the live feed, you should. Dave Hunt is doing a hilarious job of emceeing Blogging From Theater, with Bill from The Fourth Rail, Fred from Iraq for 365, Jeff from Dadmanly, Michael from Fire and Ice, and Bill Roggio.

Hunt, Jeff, Fred, Bill R., Captain B., Michael.

This panel has been a lot of fun, with Col Hunt the major reason for it. The fact that it's the warfighters and an embedded journalist speaking, well, the rest of us was just a warm-up.


Yes, CJ - your bald spot *did* show up...

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by John on Apr 22, 2006
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Will Hilton Hotels Evict Fran O’Brien’s?
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Carnival of Blue Stars #10
» Beltway Blogroll links with: Milbloggers In Washington
» Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend links with: After Action Review
» Chaotic Synaptic Activity links with: MilBlogging Conference AAR - Part I
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Attending the Milblog Conference "Remotely"
» BLACKFIVE links with: The Milblog Conference
» The Countervailing Force links with: Sean Hannity is a poser.

April 18, 2006

My how things change...

Staff Sgt. Chris Ruth (left), a resident of Albuquerque, N.M., and a convoy commander with the 812th QM, helps 2nd Lt. Lee Blumenfeld, a platoon leader with the 58th Quartermaster Company, familiarize with the M 203 grenade launcher. In the background, a Reservist fires the M.K. 19 .40 millimeter grenade launcher. While leaving from a similar exercise in February, members of the 812th caught anti-Iraqi forces digging out a weapons cache just a few miles from the Coalition’s Logistical Support Area Adder. Photo by Staff Sgt. Engels Tejeda.

Staff Sgt. Chris Ruth (left), a resident of Albuquerque, N.M., and a convoy commander with the 812th QM, helps 2nd Lt. Lee Blumenfeld, a platoon leader with the 58th Quartermaster Company, familiarize with the M 203 grenade launcher. In the background, a Reservist fires the M.K. 19 .40 millimeter grenade launcher. While leaving from a similar exercise in February, members of the 812th caught anti-Iraqi forces digging out a weapons cache just a few miles from the Coalition’s Logistical Support Area Adder. Photo by Staff Sgt. Engels Tejeda.

Any of you auld soldiers out there remember how hard it was to get *ring mounts* for your trucks, much less *armor*? Leave aside *weapons*? Despite being famous for preparing to fight the last war... where we reinvented the Gun Truck for convoy defense?

Anybody with some brigade and division staff experience remember how hard it was to get the Combat Service Support units to find the time to shoot their weapons, much less shoot their entire (minimal) allocation of same? I know when I was commanding they were a ready source of ammo if I wanted to shoot *more* than my allocation... I also remember the struggle to get Range Control to allow me to shoot my .50s from the ringmounts - on the move. We ended up building 'elevation blocks' that bolted to the mount to prevent the barrel from being elevated beyond a certain point (which is fair, I wouldn't have wanted to conduct an indirect fire attack on the poor residents of of small town Kansas if the truck hit a bump while going down the table...)

Anybody here share my pessimism that a year or five after we finally depart from Iraq and Afghanistan that it will hard to get those units training like this again?

Or do ya think it will be better?

[Boq - while the timing for the picture isn't right... mebbe something like this was the source of the "bullet" in that picture you sent me.]


by John on Apr 18, 2006

April 14, 2006

Gad, I loved soldiering. I miss it.

I really do.

1st BCT, 34th ID

Whether we're harkening back to old traditions, or establishing new ones, we help break old paradigms, or simply reaffirming old truisms - we like to do stuff you wouldn't expect to see us doing, boldly go where few have gone before, or work with allies trying to git 'er done, it was mostly fun to be a soldier.

Oh, sure - we tend to take it personally when you shoot at us,

27 March 2006:  Sergeant Edmund Susman with BCT 2 along with Iraqi Army Soldiers from the 3rd Bn, 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, prepare to engage AQIZ insurgents after taking small arms fire near a glass factory being used as a recruiting office for the Iraqi Army in the city of Ar Ramadi in the Al Anbar Providence, Iraq.  Soldiers with HAC 2nd Brigade are deployed with I MEF (FWD) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq (MNF-W) to develop the Iraqi Security Forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic government reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi Reconstruction.<br />
(Official U.S. Marine Corps Photograph by Sergeant Francisco Olmeda)<br />
Soldiers with HAC 2nd Brigade are deployed with I MEF (FWD) in support of Operation in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq (MNF-W) to develop  the Iraqi Security Forces, facilitate the development of official rule of law through democratic government reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi Reconstruction.<br />
(Official U.S. Marine Corps Photograph by Sergeant Francisco Olmeda)  (RELEASED)

and sometimes, well, we can make a mess with our litter...

US Army Sergeant 1st Class Len Tidey (left) from Bravo Co.7158 Aviation 244 Regiment watches as Sergeant 1st Class Tom Rees (right) from the 1st Information Operations (IO) 10th Mountain releases a box of leaflets at a drop at Helmand Province, Afghanistan, April 1, 2006. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Leslie Angulo) (Released)

But we generally get along with the kids.

Army SGT Erin Hyland, a 91WM6 Army Nurse with the 729th Forward Support Battalion Maryland Army National Guard entertains local kids waiting on line to be treated during a Medical readiness exercise (MEDRETE) in Anaimatejed School in Barahona, Dominican Republic on March 22, 2006. New Horizons 06 is a humanitarian assistance project held in Barahona, Dominican Republic that will benefit the rural towns and populace with the construction of 4 clinics and basic medical care. NH06 is sponsored by U.S. Southern Command and executed by U.S. Army South alongside the Government of the Dominican Republic. (US Army Photo by Miguel A. Negron, GS-9) (Released)

But I'd do it again. Hell, if we get into a war with Iran, they may knock on the door.

by John on Apr 14, 2006

April 07, 2006

Someone you should know - in Canada

Jed Stone, 43, furniture consultant at The Brick store on Cyrville Rd., and while you're applauding Jed Stone, applaud The Brick for promising Jed Stone that while he'll lose his salary for the times he's away, his full-time job will be waiting for him when he gets back from the ultimate fulfilment of his mission in life: Combat duty in Afghanistan with his fellow Canadian soldiers.

But don't, in front of Jed Stone, applaud the misguided feckless fools in Canadian society who say we need to debate our military role in Afghanistan, who say we have no right to be there, who say bring the poor soldiers home before more of them get killed. Don't, in front of Jed Stone, applaud the self-righteous whose understanding of freedom's worth, freedom's sacrifices, soldiering's necessity, soldier pride, is shamefully abysmal, a discredit to our nation.

And don't, in front of Jed Stone, applaud those Canadian employers who've told their workers that if they leave to train in the reserve forces of Canada they can forget having a job anymore.

Instead, applaud those who, upon being threatened with this, said take your job and shove it.

"That's exactly what happened to some of the young people in my unit," says Stone who, every other weekend since last July has been in rigorous army basic training; away from home and his fiance Lila and weekend shifts at The Brick. "Jack Layton and the NDP, all these politicians and non-politicians, they just don't get it.

If Canada is serious about beefing up her military, a little emulation of the employment protections offered our Guard and Reserve might be in order. Not that it would have mattered to Private Stone.

Of course, you'll have to have more than the law - there will have to be some enforcement, too. As we have discovered down here, not all employers are, shall we say, supportive, either.

Read the whole bit by clicking here. H/t, CAPT H.

by John on Apr 07, 2006

April 05, 2006

Warlords 2006.

Nope. Not a new game Ry, siddown. It's the name of the Service Academy's wargaming competition. I subscribe to a listserv run by Jim Dunnigan that is chock full of serious military game developers (yes, Ry, we discuss all the commercial stuff, too). Vince Taijeron, whom I know from a previous life where I ran a combat simulation training center and was a sim developer myself, runs the West Point sim center - and he's justifiably proud of his cadets.

For those of you who don’t know there is an annual inter-service academy gaming competition called Warlords where three-service academies (Army, Navy, and Air Force) compete in a two-day multi-game event. Sponsored by the Defense Modeling and Simulations Office, Warlords has been an annual event since 2001. Although the games they play aren’t exactly up to milgames standards, it is a great event for the cadets and midshipman.

This years Warlords competition took place this past weekend at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Technically Army’s turn to host, we decided to push the competition in a direction that would allow us the most exposure. We approached the President of AEgis Technologies Bill Waite and asked him to help sponsor the event. Bill ended up enlisting the help of UAH and put together a first class event.

Three teams with 10 competitors each competed in America’s Army, Battlefield 2, and Command and Conquer Generals. The event was supported by the Army’s Command and General Staff College with the help James Sterrett who administered all of the games to include the development of the tournament rules. Personnel from the UAH computer sciences department also supported the event as system administrators. In addition to the great competition the U.S. Space and Rocket Center was gracious enough to offer us a free tour of the center.

Ok so who won this thing? Well if you guessed the Navy or Air Force, you would be wrong. On 3 April 2006, the Mayor of Huntsville presented the trophy to the United States Military Academy Warlords team. The Army won a decisive victory by winning all of their events. The final score was Army 18, Navy 6, and AF 3. Many of the spectators among them a Navy Captain (CPT Gritton) were very impressed with the Army team’s ability to communicate, plan, and execute.

In the past, the Warlords competition was about getting together to play games. One of the things CPT Haveron and I wanted to do was to add a training element to the competition at least for the Army team. For each game, we assigned a team captain who was responsible for developing a training plan for that game. They developed courses of action to include wargaming enemy COAs, they did terrain analysis, developed named areas of interest (although they didn’t know that’s what they were doing), task organized according to mission requirements, made adjustments after each round, and conducted detailed AARs after each match during the competition. During the competition, they went as far as conducting AARs with the opposing teams to help them improve. You may think that there’s no way they could have done all that given the games they were playing, but I can assure they did. In fact, all of our team captains have been tasked to submit a formal written AAR for each of their matches. Make no mistake everything we do in our Warfighting Simulations Center or WARCEN has some training value attached to it; it’s never just about playing games. Although winning the competition was satisfying, the most satisfying thing was to watch the cadets perform.

Feel good anecdote. On our flight from Charlotte to LaGuardia, the flight attendant was able to seat four of our guys in first class (the cadets were traveling in uniform), there were 11 of us in all. A few minutes before takeoff one of the cadets had to give up his first class seat due to some error in seating. Upon seeing the cadet give up his seat and move to the rear of the airplane two passengers from across the aisle volunteered to give up their first class seats to the cadet who was bumped as well as another cadet who was sitting in coach. Both gestures, from flight attendant and the passengers who gave up their seats, were very generous.

Vincent "TJ" Taijeron
Chief DMI Warfighting Simulations Center
United States Military Academy

Reproduced here with permission, and I think it's going to end up on Strategy Page, too, judging from the email. If you for some reason wish to use this in toto, vice excerpt or link, drop me a line and I'll forward it to Vince. If you have AKO access, you can get his email address on your own, should you need it.

by John on Apr 05, 2006

April 02, 2006

Lesson I learned at the Korean War Memorial.

Don't lose your war.

South Korean artillery park.

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Saddam's artillery park.

South Korean tank park.

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Saddam's tank park.

And lest the snarkers try to score cheap points - yes, I know that's a US (old version, too, based on the tube) US M1 105mm howitzer in the pic. Saddam had a varied artillery park, including what US M109A1s and French GCTs he didn't lose in Round 1.

Okay - I've hit my DEROS* and the clock is ticking on my return to CONUS. Wheels up at the APOE at 1500 Local on Monday, to touch down at the APOD at 1800 Local on Monday, weather permitting. Gonna get back that day I lost coming over here. We're going with the jet stream on this leg, so we'll make better time than coming over. There was one part of the trip where our ground speed was only 289mph, due to a 150mph headwind.

I might surf n blog from Incheon International, and I will, if only for novelty's sake, blog from the aircraft if their promised airborne internet access works well enough.

If not - see ya later. Fuzzy seems to have the H&I thing down and likes the chance to snark me, so the space won't go empty.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Apr 02, 2006

Korean War Memorial

I spent yesterday and today going through the Memorial and Museum - 500 pictures worth of going through the museum and associated outdoor displays.

But this post, I'm going to highlight the Memorial. The site sits in central Seoul, on the former site of ROK Army Headquarters. The flags on the left are of the major units of the ROK Armed Forces and Police. On the right, the flags of the nations which fought under the aegis of the United Nations. The Koreans go out of their way to acknowledge those who helped them.

Korean War Memorial

Each of those arms of the building to the left and right are full of bronze tablets containing the names of the known Korean dead from the war. The areas to the left and right of the main entrance, marked by the columns, contain more names. On the right, the known dead from the resistance to the Japanese. On the left, all the known UN dead from the Korean War.

This view shows all the names of non-US dead of the UN nations. You can make out the British flag there on the closest panel.

UN Allied Nations Dead.

This view shows the panels containing the US names, organized by State. I would have preferred by Major Unit and Year (which is how the Koreans organized their panels) but hey - how many nations we've helped stay/get free have memorialized our dead in a monument in the middle of their capital city - with equal billing to their own dead? So I'm not making any official complaints.

Panels with names of US dead

This view shows the Korean panels. Those are stairs in the center, leading to another chamber the same size as this one. There is a mirror image on the other side of the Memorial, plus the section to the right of the entrance to the museum.

Korean Name Panels, Korean War Memorial, Seoul.

There are 34,000 or so names on the US slabs, so that should give you some idea of the scope of Korean losses. And the Korean panels hold more names - each Korean name is essentially three Hangul characters. You can cram a lot of names on those panels when you are doing the an English equivalent of JHD, vice John H. Donovan.

Speaking of whom - I found this panel, listing casualties from the state of Virginia, to be somewhat... bemusing.

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by John on Apr 02, 2006

March 30, 2006

Observations on Military Latrines...

Back in the day, when I was 13 and Dad was a battalion commander in Germany, I could keep an eye on battalion morale by reading the walls of the stalls in the Sheridan Kaserne (Augsburg) snack bar latrine (I also got my first porn from his troops who manned the gate to the Fryar Circle housing area and got into R Rated movies (woo-woo! How 'bout that Mrs. Robinson? The pasties on that dancer? Yowza!)) because the troops who worked the theater didn't care...

I also learned a lot about other people, especially the unpopular ones. And got really confused about sex as seen from the troop's perspective. There were some anatomically dubious suggestions to be found there. (No, SWWBO, I have *not* asked you to do any of those things - shush!)

Saw interesting (and quite good, if, um, impolite) art. Especially some improbable sexual suggestions for NCOs and officers.

When I went to college, the same thing was true, except rather than the post snack bar, the best graffiti was in the library. Well, if I could hang out long enough to read it without sending the wrong signals to those, um, "alternative lifestyle" types who kinda hung out there, so to speak. The best stuff was in the building where the student newspaper, the The Maneater (hey, the mascot of the school is a tiger) was located. Juicy gossip and artistic graffiti by the staff cartoonists. It was there I learned what a "diamond cutter" was...

As a young Lieutenant in Germany in the early 80's, back into the latrines to keep an eye on which NCO or Officer was most likely to have something rude done to their cars. Sadly, in my battery there wasn't much creativity, just rudeness, lewdness, crudeness and bile. Um, remind me to tell you about the time I went on leave and came back to find my Mini-Cooper was parked upside down by the Pinder Theater. Apparently I was reading the wrong latrine - it was troops from the *other battalion* who did it...

It's been a while since I've been in an area that has a large concentration of troops (as opposed to my later years, spent in TRADOC or on higher staffs with very few troops). So, being stuck in a place with lots of troops with nowhere else to go, I had high expectations of entertaining graffiti.

Wrong.

Standing at the urinals, what did we have to read? The CP Tango Public Affairs rag, with the usual cheesy statements from the Commanding General on being safe during the exercise, or wonderful little snippets of useful info like kimchi having been designated one of the top 5 health foods, or useful Korean phrases that I was going to get a lot of use out of, such as "How old are you?" Um, no, I didn't memorize that one, since I wasn't intending on doing any hunting for jailbait. SWWBO's reach is long.

I also now know the ranks of the ROK Army, Marines, Air Force, and Navy. Except for some of the colors, and minor variations in *some* rank titles, well, lets say I'm pretty sure that I can navigate the Korean Army, Dai-we. No worries, Cho-sa. And most 'Nam vets can, too, oddly enough. Learned what FROKA, SROKA, and TROKA mean, too, but that's a different, and much more boring (how could that be, you wonder?) post.

So, my last hope is the stalls.

Wrong.

Oh, it's not sterile. There's something to read all right.

THINK OPSEC!

CFC CRITICAL INFORMATION LIST

*Detailed Travel Itineraries & Schedules
*Exercise Scenarios, Events, and Results
*Force Composition and Locations
*Unit Movement or Intended Movement [hmmmm, that *is* why I was there, so I prolly shouldn't talk about it. The movement, I mean]
*Location/Movement of Major Logistics Caches, or Re-Supply Operations. [hey, I was involved in a Class I download, but howinthehell was I gonna keep *that* secret after all that kimchi?]
*Presence/Use of New/Improved Technology [Nope, I didn't have to, Pacific Stars and Stripes did that for us. Well, that and the Spouses Tour that went through getting all the Good Stuff briefings...]
*CFC Vulnerabilities/Weaknesses [Hey! That's why I - oh, never mind, there's nothing to read here, move along! Hi 1st IO guys!]
*Effectiveness of Operations [*I* was successful, I assure you]
*Intel Collection Capabilities/Purposes/Intent. [They still here? Yep. Hi guys! (waving vigorously)]
*Comm Equipment/Procedures; Frequencies, Callsigns, UserID/Password [Mmmph! Argle! Bleaah! (if you have the right comsec key, you'll know what that says)]
*Personal Info: SSN, Financial, Legal, Family [Heh. That's all on Google anyway]

With cute color graphics, too.

While I quite frankly would much rather go to war with this Army than the one I grew up in, there are *some* things I miss about the old Army.... And I'm being nice, btw. There was a whole 'nother placard of stuff up that I'm not bothering to post... You're welcome!

by John on Mar 30, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 03/30/2006

March 27, 2006

Contempt towards officials...

In the H&I Fires above, Bill notes Yankee Sailor's noting of a another Sailor who is, shall we say, *not* a fan of the current administration. Go visit the Online Magazine Formerly Known As Rob's Blog and you'll see why. Apparently the attention from the Castle and Yankee Sailor has caused a spike that Rob is (at the time of this writing) at a loss to explain.

I'm not a JAG officer, but I believe Bill correctly points to the only article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that Chief Rob might be in violation of - the number 134, the General Article:

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

That would be because Article 88, Contempt Towards Officials, is only applicable to Commissioned Officers.

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Note, that while stationed in Kansas, I can't talk bad about the government thereof, but I can whale the bejeebers outta Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska and any other state I want to... of course, I'm retired, so I can badmouth lots of people.

Heh. Note the underlying assumption - who's going to listen to enlisted people anyway? Obviously a pre-Internet law...

A lot of people are unaware that the speech prohibition in the UCMJ is really tailored to the commissioned officer corps - and that it's all wrapped around keeping the Man on the Horse from engaging in overt political activity, and a brute force reminder of who is in charge. The civilians.

So, what would I do as Chief Rob's commander? Before I said a word to him about his website, I would do two things.

First, have the IO people look at it from an OPSEC perspective (well within my rights and duties as a commander, and covered under current regs) and second, have my JAG look at it from an ART 134 perspective. And I would avoid going over it in any detail myself, to keep myself clean as the adjudicating authority should it cross the line in the eyes of IO or JAG.

If the IO or JAG comes back with a negative response, I'm not sure I'm going to do anything about it, that would be a discussion with my JAG. But then, I've always been a wimp in that regard, throwing my rank around, just because I didn't like what someone was saying. I also never used the bully pulpit of my command to push my politics at anyone, either. On active duty, I didn't *have* a politics. 8^)

If either IO or JAG comes back with a positive response, then I'd have to consider what I was going to do about it. I'm going to ask my IT guys if there is any indication that he's posting from work on gov't assets. IO is easy. If it's minor, call him in and deal with it at a low noise level if possible. If it's major, make him clean it up, and have my IT guys tell me if he's doing it from gov't assets. I know that where I work at that can be tracked. If he is, and things are otherwise all nice and tidy, tell him to clean it up, knock it off, or else, from an OPSEC perspective. If it's bad and ugly, then I have the hammer to go ugly.

If it's clean from OPSEC, but I get a positive report from JAG, then frankly I'm probably going to talk to my boss, simply because it will end up being a political thing, and dumping political things on your bosses without warning is a Bad Idea. Note, I'm not saying run to the boss saying "What do I do? Waaaah!", it's more like go to the boss and say, "Boss, got a troop with a website that JAG and I think crosses the line - but before we go official, I wanted to bring it to your attention because it's the sort of thing that could go political and public if the troop chooses to take it that way."

If the PO is doing it from government assets, he's set himself up for failure, that isn't going to be defensible (depending on what guidance the Navy has for what you can do while afloat or deployed and all you *have* are government assets - I don't know that policy).

But I'm not sure he's prosecutable for what he's published thus far - precisely because he's not subject to Art 88, and I have no sense of whether the impact of what he is doing would trigger art 134. If he's sowing dissent in the ranks and undermining morale and good order and discipline, that's a different issue. But if he's just posting it on his blog... well, that's why we have JAG, to help us through those rocky shoals.

Damn this internet thingy, anyway! It lets just *anyone* have a voice - vice the voices I think should be heard!

Whattaya youse guys think?

Update: I trapped a lawyer today. That was fun. He was squirmy, but I nailed him. The relevant directive that covers this is Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, currently dated Dec 04. Link here. Based on my reading of this, I think Rob is okay, and frankly, I assumed as much because he's been doing this long enough for someone besides us to have noticed, anyway. That said, there is one area of the Directive that someone might trip him up.

In his defense on his blog, Rob didn't post the "prohibited activities" from Enclosure three to the Directive. He posted the stuff that was allowed - and certainly, it was supportive of his position.

There's only one bit there where I see a provision that might cause a JAG twitch.

E3.3. EXAMPLES OF PROHIBITED POLITICAL ACTIVITIES

In accordance with the statutory restrictions in 10 U.S.C. 973(b) (reference (b)) and references (g) and (h), and the policies established in section 4., above, of this Directive, a member on active duty shall not:


"E3.3.6. Allow or cause to be published partisan political articles signed or written by the member that solicits votes for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause."

Kinda depends on how they define a blog, doesn't it? And with all the political bloggers pushing the FEC to essentially designate blogs as 'media' and subject to 1st Amendment treatment under CFR - if you come out and say "Vote Democrat" on the blog (how that's different from a bumper sticker, which would be okay, don't ask me), you could find yourself having to defend yourself under E3.4:

E3.4. POLITICAL ACTIVITIES NOT EXPRESSLY PERMITTED OR PROHIBITED

Some activities not expressly prohibited may be contrary to the spirit and intent of section 4. of this Directive or section E3.3. of this enclosure. In determining whether an activity violates the traditional concept that Service members should not engage in partisan political activity, rules of reason and common sense shall apply. Any activity that may be viewed as associating the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security, in the case of the Coast Guard, or any component of these Departments directly or indirectly with a partisan political activity shall be avoided.

I still think you're going to sail under the radar - unless someone like Daily Kos decides to make you a poster boy. That's exposure I wouldn't want.

Lastly, because it came up in the comments - about the President and SecDef having to be able to rely upon me, and how could they with me expressing those sentiments - that comment does us *all* a disservice. I am going to use stronger language here than the comment justifies, simply to make my point clear.

My oath is to the Constituiton, not the occupant of the office. The Constitution directs that I will obey the orders, etc. And I will. Just as I obeyed the orders that emanated from the Clinton White House, regardless of what I thought about the occupant. Just as I would if the White House were to be occupied by a Clinton again, regardless of what I thought of the incumbent.

I would obey the lawful orders of John Kerry, or John McCain. Or of Markos Zuniga, if he could find his way into the Oval Office.

And if I couldn't, I would resign. And if they didn't let me resign because the law allows them to refuse that, then I would obey those lawful orders until such time as I could resign.

To behave any other way is to invite chaos, to set ourselves above the Constitution, and undermine the principle of civilian rule, and set the conditions for the ruin of the generally honorable service rendered by the military to the Republic lo these many years. And if you think otherwise, I suggest you examine your assumptions closely.

And yes, that was all out-of-fashion cheesy stuff, and I believe every word of it.

Just as does the currently-serving Captain I chatted with yesterday, who pretty much believes that we went to war for oil, and that Farenheit 911 got far more right than wrong.

But he'll go back to Iraq if asked. Because his oath demands it, and the Republic is larger than the individual who occupies the figurehead position. At the same time, he would shed no tears if the President were lawfully hauled off in chains. The key component all 'round is... lawfully.

by John on Mar 27, 2006
» The Online Magazine Formerly Known As Rob's Blog links with: An update on the whole political opinion/milbloggi

March 25, 2006

What I'm up to (as much as you get to know, anyway)

This thing is kicking my butt. Aside from the wear and tear of service that has ground down my endurance, the long hours, out-of-kilter time synch, and mebbe all the walking we're doing and breathing in all the yellow dust and pollution of Seoul are taking their toll - but I'm damn tired. And you no-tolerance-for-slackers readers ambushed me this morning over that blasted caption (/whine).

I'm data collecting for a study. Which means we are here talking to a lot of people. All of whom are spread apart from each other, all over Yongsan garrison and all over the large underground bunker that houses the command post we're in now that the exercise has started. And my younger-than-I-and-still-healthy partner has waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much energy. And his ability to pump people for info is astounding to watch.

The CP bunker is fascinating. Like Cheyenne Mountain, which contains NORAD headquarters in the US, this is dug into the base of a mountain. You approach up a long, winding road (where the fiber cable that carries most of the comms is conveniently marked with little signs every 50 or so feet, "Buried Fiber Optic Cable, Do Not Cut" which I'm sure will completely throw off the NORK SF guys...).

There are two checkpoints and several manned bunkers along the road. No, this is not an OPSEC violation, btw. All this is visible from the 8 lane highway, or any of the innumerable garden plots and houses that line the route. This place is as secret as NORAD is from that perspective. It's protection lies in it's construction and the likely threats against it. CPs Tango and Oscar are not secrets. Nor are the general outlines of how they are laid out. If you know where to look, the maps are there for the printing. This is brute force security - tons and tons of Precambrian (old) banded granite gneiss that make up the mountains in the region.

You walk up to the portal, get your ID checked and scanned in and walk up the tunnel to the door (passing some more bunkers inside). Classic mountain tunnel carved "from the living stone" to channel Tolkien and others. Greyish-black, coarse-grained feldspar interspersed with white bands of quartz or alspite - it's hard stuff that wears well and takes stress well. In other words, a good place to build a bunker.

You approach the blast doors, which are more akin to European between-the-wars bunkers than the huge bank-vault type doors of Cheyenne Mountain, and enter the bunker complex.

For people familiar with NORAD, the first thing you notice is that - it doesn't look like NORAD. The interior buildings are not on huge shock-absorbing springs inside a cavern. They carved into the cavern and are integral to it. What it most resembles is a ship. And initially, it is as disorienting as a ship can be to newbies - because until you know the layout, everything looks the same. Gleaming white corridors with a 5 inch black base. Glossy Navy Gray floors. Conduit and piping everywhere, some colored, most white. Cable runs, air plenums, airlock doors. The doors are all light brown, as are their frames - and they all look alike. Side passages seemingly open off randomly (though there is very much an order here) and all the signs for the various staff sections look the same. It even has bilge pumps (and gutters) for the water that naturally flows through a place like this.

It's full of people - some like me, wandering around trying to get organized and oriented, most moving purposefully off on their unknown tasks. Little tiny Koreans, big hulking Americans, and all the flavors in-between. It's a joint and combined staff, so you see sailors, airmen, soldiers, Marines, and their Korean equivalents. The uniform variation is jarring, too, and you have the DoD civilians and many contractors also in uniform. Then there's the Guys With Ties, like me. I'd rather be in BDUs. I hate ties.

The main operations center is right out of the movies, full of people, computers and blinkenlights, and a video wall dominating one side of the room.

This is a nerve center of a military machine that has had 50 years to prepare for a battle in it's front yard. The difference between this CP and a forward-deployed CP over in-theater in the Middle East is marked. Much more comfortable here. Nice and cool, controlled climate, regular facilities vice porta-potties, and you're sleeping in the Marriott rather than a barracks conex.

But, just like back at Yongsan, everyone I need to talk to is scattered in different corners of the complex, running on different schedules with real missions - so we have to work around that. There's no laying out a rational rotation. We go from one corner of the CP to another, then back to where we were to catch someone else whom we couldn't catch while we were there earlier.

Then there's the interviews/discussions, where you have to be able to listen and record, but think ahead as well. It's work, and it's exhausting. Then, at the end of the shift - get back to the hotel and start writing stuff down in a coherent form while it's still fresh, so I don't have to try to decipher what the heck I meant when I wrote that cryptic note in a hurry.

There's enough of that already!

Lot's of learning going on, none of which you guys are gonna hear about, sorry.

Time to head off for brekkies then a taxi to Yongsan to catch the bus to the CP.

Sorry, no pics. Can't take any. And besides, I'd just give the captionistas anudder target.

by John on Mar 25, 2006

Around the Army...

U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division dismount a UH-60 Blackhawk from the 101st Airborne Division, Task Force No Mercy, Bravo Comp. 1st of the 207 Aviation during an Air Assault in the Al Jazeera Desert, Iraq on 22 Mar. 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)(Cleared for public release)

U.S. Army Soldiers from the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division dismount a UH-60 Blackhawk from the 101st Airborne Division, Task Force No Mercy, Bravo Comp. 1st of the 207 Aviation during an Air Assault in the Al Jazeera Desert, Iraq on 22 Mar. 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)(Cleared for public release)

I put a lot of miles in vehicles just like this one - they're holding up better than I am - they're still serving!

<s>A U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in a turret of a M2A2 Bradley looks through binoculars for enemy activity from Blocking Point 21 during Operation Swarmer, Northeast of Samarra, March 17, 2006.  Blocking points were established around the main objective area during the operation to block any insurgent escape route while coalition forces searched for weapon caches and Anti-Iraqi forces.  (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alfred Johnson) (Released)</s>  Wiki-edited: A (putative) U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment (then why is there a Rakkasan mark on the shield of that ACAV?) in a turret of a M2A2 Bradley (sic) looks through binoculars (I think) for enemy activity from Blocking Point 21 (possibly, but I have no method of external confirmation) during Operation Swarmer, Northeast of Samarra, March 17, 2006 (again, putatively).  Blocking points were established around the main objective area during the operation to block any insurgent escape route while coalition forces searched for weapon caches and Anti-Iraqi forces. (which is standard practice for these kinds of operations, but for all I really know this guy is just looking for a Mini-mart) (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alfred Johnson) (So they say) (Released) (That, at least, is true)


A U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment in a turret of a M2A2 Bradley looks through binoculars for enemy activity from Blocking Point 21 during Operation Swarmer, Northeast of Samarra, March 17, 2006. Blocking points were established around the main objective area during the operation to block any insurgent escape route while coalition forces searched for weapon caches and Anti-Iraqi forces. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alfred Johnson) (Released) Wiki-edited: A (putative) U.S. Army soldier from 2nd Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment (then why is there a Rakkasan mark on the shield of that ACAV?) in a turret of a M2A2 Bradley (sic) looks through binoculars (I think) for enemy activity from Blocking Point 21 (possibly, but I have no method of external confirmation) during Operation Swarmer, Northeast of Samarra, March 17, 2006 (again, putatively). Blocking points were established around the main objective area during the operation to block any insurgent escape route while coalition forces searched for weapon caches and Anti-Iraqi forces. (which is standard practice for these kinds of operations, but for all I really know this guy is just looking for a Mini-mart) (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Alfred Johnson) (So they say) (Released) (That, at least, is true)">

While not involved in *this* particular event, this is a part of the much larger event I am participating in while I'm here in the Land of the Morning Calm where I am sleep-deprived enough to miss the farked up captions that the Army puts on it's pictures and am reading no one else's blog and so I am out of touch and behind the Murdoc News Network and others who have more time available than I do at the moment, not to mention access. Since I am obviously just getting slow and stupid over here and further driving away readership I think I'll just quit posting rather than keep embarassing myself and you guys this way.

A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter pulls in for a landing aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a joint Navy-Army training evolution off the coast of Korea March 21, 2006. Blue Ridge is the Seventh Fleet command ship, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. The helicopter is attached to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Camp Humphreys, Korea. (U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate Airman David J. Hewitt) (Released)


A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter pulls in for a landing aboard USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) during a joint Navy-Army training evolution off the coast of Korea March 21, 2006. Blue Ridge is the Seventh Fleet command ship, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. The helicopter is attached to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, Camp Humphreys, Korea. (U.S. Navy photo by PhotographerÕs Mate Airman David J. Hewitt) (Released)

by John on Mar 25, 2006

March 24, 2006

Sergeant Amanda Pinson

Chuck Simmins feels she is someone you should meet. Obviously, I agree.

So, go meet Sergeant Amanda Pinson. Not a Medal winner, not a deserter, just an average soldier, doing what soldiers do. Don't miss the update, which puts a face to the name.

And like me when I deployed, she left some instructions for her family, too.

Mine never had to be read. Hers... well, now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

We can't honor them all in this space individually, so we honor them through representative samples.

Since her family seems to be reading Chuck's site - leave your condolence notes there.

If you have something rude to say, please leave those notes here, along with an address and phone number where you can be reached. ;^)

by John on Mar 24, 2006

Persons of Size in the Army.

From an Army Captain who recently handed over command:


How's this for messed up? Army fatties, rejoice!

This is, IMO, completely retarded. I can only guess that they're having too many course failures and/or turnbacks for failing to meet ht/wt and/or APFT standards, possibly connected to the difficulty of doing PT (especially running) during extended deployments. And I'm sure a lot of soldiers and NCOs come back from deployment overdue for some school or other, and get shipped to the next available class, without much of a chance to get back in shape. Of course, my solution to this would be to delay sending them until they meet the standards.

On a separate but related note, I don't think the Army should get quite so bent out of shape about ht/wt/body fat. I think if you can pass the PT test, it shouldn't matter. However, I would make those soldiers who don't meet ht/wt/body fat pass at a higher level-say, increase the minimum to pass by 5 pts per event for every 1% or fraction thereof over the standard.

Because those big corn fed boys are useful for humping heavy stuff, like mortars, MGs, 155 rounds, HMMWV tires...

CPT "Z" (Changed to protect the guilty)

Heh. An issue near and dear to the Armorer's heart, having fought AR 600-9 and it's pernicious effects for virtually his entire career. While I don't completely disagree with the good Captain - I do disagree on making hefty people meet a higher standard. Either they're acceptably fit, or they aren't. Regardless of being an endomorph, ectomorph, or mesomorph. AR 600-9 is more about looks than fitness. And looks trump over fitness, too (in my Army, not that I supported that).

Why do we simply not raise the fitness bar so that if you aren't fit it won't matter? Simple. Too many thin, pretty people would fail the new standard. Far more than fat guys would pass. And then, horror of horror, there would *still* be fat guys enraging the Sergeant's Major and Pencil-Necked, Sunken-Chested Marathon-Running-Geek enablers in the Officer Corps.

Truth - the sin is Not Looking Good In The Bus Driver Suit. I don't care if you can score 290 on your PT test (out of 300, with a minimum to pass of 210). I'm gonna toss yer fat ass and keep that good looking pansy who scores 240, because your profile view just pisses me off. Think that isn't an issue with some people? Read on -

From a serving Sergeant Major:

Here is my two cents once again.....thank god I am retiring. I can just see it getting to the point where guys like Southerland [sic] (my cartman from south park soldier) representing at an NCOES school.......good god how low will we go. SGM X
Now SGM X's "Cartman" troop may be a non-PT marshmallow who can't lead his way out of a paper bag and doesn't know his job. But that doesn't appear to be the SGM's concern (and I'm putting words in his mouth, to be sure).

From a serving CSM:


Now all Soldiers don't have to feel guilty about telling MacDonald's or Burger King to Super Size their order, because they still get to graduate whether they fail the APFT, HT/WT, or both. As a previous Commandant of [an] NCO Academy, I have my own personal opinion about this new change in graduation requirements & I've already given it to the FORSCOM CSM.

I knew this was coming down the chimney, but this is it in black & white & is now the LAW of the Land. Make sure your Leaders/Soldiers are aware of the new changes, but this is not a free card to BLOW UP!

CSM X.

I'm sympathetic to the PT issue with CSM X. And I don't mind a little emphasis on weight, either. And I think I know why we've implemented the policy - as CPT Z observed, keeping it up while deployed can be hard. And with people shifting around so much, delaying their schooling might find them in a unit which gets lock-down for a new deployment and they never get to school - hence, send 'em whether they can pass or not.

But, are we doing these guys a favor? Nope. We're still going to kill their careers, at least kill 'em if the war slows down to a more peacetime optempo. How? Because no matter how well they do in the course, how well they perform, how well they test - their academic efficiency report in their personnel file is going to read "Marginally Achieved Course Standards". Which, when things slow down, will be cause to pass them over for promotion. Got that? A guy who scored 70% in academics, isn't too chubby, and got a 210 on the PT test is going to have a better report than the guy who's a little chunky, got a 240 on the PT test and 95% in academics. We gotta have standards - I'm with it. But the first guy is going to get promoted with a lot less effort than the second guy, who is the better all around troop.

Which means, soldiers - you've got to do what you've got to do to get and stay on the right side of the standards. But it also means, perhaps more importantly, that the LEADERS have to lead. And make sure that they maximize their troop's chances to excel, to include, if possible, delaying them from attending schools and giving them the opportunity to get right with the regs if the situation allows.

Because the stupid part of this whole thing is - we tell ourselves our standards are all about combat readiness and being fit to fight. But - when we have to fight, we ditch the standards to keep the bodies. Then, after we've sent them to combat and the war ends, we cripple them for a peacetime career by applying peacetime standards to wartime performances... peacetime standards that we just, in effect, said weren't really that important anyway.

Which means what? They aren't important in peacetime either, truth to tell. They just give us easy ways to cull the herd without having to do the hard job of writing proper evaluations - we just inflate 'em and let this objective standard be a weed whacker, because remember - a good looking fit gets by soldier is better than a high-performing fatso who can pass a PT test.

Just sayin'.

I invite your comments...

Ya wanna read the actual message - it's in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Mar 24, 2006

March 23, 2006

Just in case you missed it...

Another Army Staff weenie got his Legion of Merit. We're changing names, because, well, it sounds all transformative and different!

Major Army Command (MACOM) Structure

What is it? This Army Campaign Plan adapts Major Army Commands (MACOMs) and specified headquarters to reflect the most effective, efficient command and control structure for supporting the Modular force. This decision defines three headquarters; Army Command, Army Service Component Command(ASCC), and Direct Reporting Unit(DRU). The term MACOM no longer properly defines current and future Army Commands or their relationship to Army Service Component Commands and Direct Reporting Units. The definitions align responsibilities of these headquarters to the Department of the Army and Secretary of the Army and assign theater support relationships and responsibilities.

What has the Army done? This decision establishes

• Three Army Commands:
- Forces Command (FORSCOM),
- Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and
- Army Materiel Command (AMC);

• Nine Army Service Component Commands:
- USARCENT (Third Army),
- USARNORTH (Fifth Army),
- USARSOUTH (Sixth Army),
- USAREUR (Seventh Army),
- USARPAC (United States Army Pacific),
- Eighth United States Army (EUSA),
- United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC),
- Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC),
- Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC); and

• 11 Direct Reporting Units:
- Network Command (NETCOM),
- Medical Command (MEDCOM),
- Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM),
- Criminal Investigation Division Command (CIDC),
- United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE),
- Military District of Washington (MDW),
- Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC),
- United States Military Academy (USMA),
- United States Army Reserve Command (USARC),
- Acquisition Support Center, and
- Installation Management Agency (IMA).

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army will synchronize the efforts for establishing, manning and equipping Army Commands, ASCCs and DRUs through the force management process. The Army will continue to refine headquarters' missions, functions and responsibilities through the revision or establishment of General Orders and Army Regulations. Doctrine will be published to properly articulate command and support theater relationships as well as Title 10 responsibilities.

Why is this important to the Army? This decision accomplishes three objectives; it recognizes the global role and multi-disciplined functions of the three Army Commands, establishes the Theater Army as an Army Service Component Command reporting directly to the Department while serving as the Army's single point of contact for a unified combatant or functional component command, and acknowledges Direct Reporting Units as the functional proponent at the Department of the Army level. This also enables the Army to set the foundation for gaining better effectiveness and efficiencies by transforming its business processes while operationally focusing the Theater Army to combatant commands.

I knew you wanted to know. I just did.

by John on Mar 23, 2006

March 19, 2006

Meanwhile, in other news...

...the US Navy gets back to its roots. Get some, Sailors! CDR Salamander is *just* itching to say "Land the Landing Team!" and storm the new Barbary Stronghold.

by Denizens on Mar 19, 2006

March 17, 2006

Friday Reader Pr0n

When I put up the Infantry Pr0n this week, asked for reader submissions for their own pics they find interesting. Not a *huge* response, but a response! Brogonzo put his stuff in the comments to the original post. I picked the ones I liked and am reposting them.


So, Brogonzo gives us a salute battery, a nice shot of some allies - Marine reservists.

Tammy B offered up some more allies - Navy guys shooting a line (terrible waste of an M14, ya ask me).

Christine wanted a pic of foreign allies - and sent along this one of the Iraqi Army in Mosul.

The Heartless Libertarian didn't provide anything, but asked for some Engineer Pr0n. Here ya go, Dave - just like ya asked - Engineers blowing stuff up.

Eric sent along some tank pics - REFORGER vets will recognize this scene, and we all liked night firing!

My own submission for today? This.

Reigning Miss USA Chelsea Cooley tandem jumps with a Soldier from the Army's parachute team, the “Golden Knights,” 9,000 feet above Laurinburg, N.C., during a USO visit to her home state. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

Reigning Miss USA Chelsea Cooley tandem jumps with a Soldier from the Army's parachute team, the “Golden Knights,” 9,000 feet above Laurinburg, N.C., during a USO visit to her home state. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

That's one lucky Army Skydiver!

by John on Mar 17, 2006
» Cowboy Blob's Saloon and Shootin Gallery links with: Asian Pr0n: Threesome
» Cowboy Blob's Saloon and Shootin Gallery links with: Asian Pr0n: Threesome

March 14, 2006

Infantry Pr0n

Today, Infantry Pr0n. Tomorrow, Armor Pr0n. Thursday, Artillery Pr0n. Friday? How about reader-submitted Military Pr0n? Not limited to US, either. In fact, Allies are encouraged. And that includes Afghanistan-only Allies, too. Only caveat - gotta be in-theater.

U.S. Army Pfc. Derick Fullmor from the 1st Armored Division, conducts a combat patrol in the city of Tal Afar, Iraq on 20  Feb. 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)(Released)

U.S. Army Pfc. Derick Fullmor from the 1st Armored Division, conducts a combat patrol in the city of Tal Afar, Iraq on 20 Feb. 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo By Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)(Released)
by John on Mar 14, 2006

February 27, 2006

Movie Review!

Saw Annapolis yesterday.

Mind you, I think Annapolis graduates mostly poofters*, Lucian Truscott IV and Dress Gay notwithstanding...

And I hate boxing, in general. Heh. It's one of the reasons I *didn't* go to West Point.

But I liked the movie. I have no idea if they caught the essence of the academy, I'll leave that to grads - but they caught the essence of why they exist, and, in this non-graduate's opinion, should continue to do so, corny as it was..

It also made me wish I could do some things over. Probably not what you think. But that's a post that will never get written.

Others are not so kind...

Update: Oh, and as a plus, there are M1 Garands in the movie!

*Update II: Hey, in their own words!

by John on Feb 27, 2006
» CDR Salamander links with: Brokeback MIDN

February 26, 2006

Around the world this week.

Just a window into what the services are up to. Mostly the stuff that isn't getting all the coverage. Hover your cursor over the photo for caption and credits.

Army

by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon II</p>

<p>February 24, 2006</p>

<p>Soldiers in OH-58D Kiowa and AH-64 Apache helicopters from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment conduct a combat air patrol near Tal Afar, Iraq. 3rd ACR returns this week to Fort Carson, Colo., and is being relieved by the 1st Armored Division.

Marine Corps

060223-N-0318R-037 Atlantic Ocean (Feb. 23, 2006) – U.S. Marine Corps’ Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV) assigned to the 2nd AA Battalion, Bravo Company prepares to enter the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) during well deck certification trials. Bataan is preparing for an upcoming deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Ken J. Riley (RELEASED) <br />

Navy

060225-N-4772B-112 Philippine Sea (Feb. 25, 2006) - An SH-60S Seahawk from the Island Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 (HSC-25) maneuvers over the flight deck of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) fleet replenishment oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202), while transferring supplies to the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). Sailors and Marines from the Forward Deployed Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Essex (LHD 2) arrived off the coast of Leyte Feb. 19 to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to victims of the Feb. 17 landslide on the island of Leyte, Republic of the Philippines. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Brian P. Biller (RELEASED)

Air Force

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFPN) – Members from the 734th Air Mobility Squadron load a 10K fork lift on a C-17 Globemaster III while the loadmaster over see the progress. The 535th Airlift Squadron and the 204th Airlift Squadron is conducting its first contingency response mission to support relief efforts in the Philippines. The composite C-17 squadron of active duty and Hawaii Air National Guard will carry meals ready to eat, water, cots, tents and personnel from the 15th Airlift Wing to help out with the mudslide. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Coast Guard.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb 17, 2006)--A boat crew on a 47-foot motor life boat from Coast Guard Station Port Canaveral, Fla., conduct hoist basket training about mile off Cocoa Beach, Fla., with a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla. This training is essential to keep both boat crews and air crews proficient in the lifesaving skills that Coast Guardsmen use everyday. The helicopter pounds the boat crew with neaarly 100-MPH winds and sea spray. USCG photo by PA1 Donnie Brzuska

And our ABCA Allies...

Canada.

KA2006-R106-0174a<br />
21 February 2006<br />
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan</p>

<p>Chief Warrant Officer Steve Bartlett, Task Force Afghanistan’s Regimental Sergeant Major takes time to reflect on the fallen. A consecration ceremony was held of the Memorial dedicated to those Canadians who gave their lives in the service of peace while serving in Afghanistan. This Memorial was originally consecrated in November 2003 at Camp Julien, Kabul. The closure of Camp Julien in November 2005 necessitated the move of the Memorial to its present location at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.<br />
Canada’s mission in Afghanistan is part of our contribution to the international campaign against terrorism. The overarching goal is to prevent Afghanistan from relapsing into a failed state that gives terrorists and terrorist organizations a safe haven. The next phase of Canadian operations in Afghanistan will continue to help improve the quality of life for the Afghan people, and to ensure that the progress made is sustainable.</p>

<p>The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution to Afghanistan will grow to about 2,000-strong by March 2006, and the deployment of additional troops has begun. Task Force Afghanistan will be based primarily at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City, while approximately 85 other personnel are assigned to various military headquarters and civilian organizations in Kabul. Lastly, about 200 CF members are deployed at a support base elsewhere in South West Asia.<br />

Australia

No sleep: Heavily clothed against the cold, Pte Rob Dean and Pte Dwayne Bould watch over the suburbs of Baghdad at night.

United Kingdom

Troops provide cover for a patrol near Umm Qasr in southern Iraq.  Brit MoD photo by Allan House.

by John on Feb 26, 2006

February 16, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Wrapping up the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one is worksafe, except for Moonbat Zones. They'll certainly argue the peace bit. And in some respects, they'll be right. Therein lies some of the tension - those who prefer peace and safety, and will trade away much to get it, and those who prefer a world where they make the choices for themselves, rather than have them made for them by someone else.

Lesson #25. Peace and Liberty Are On The March.


And, in case you think it's been just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24.

by John on Feb 16, 2006

February 15, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one is worksafe, except for Moonbat Zones.

Lesson #24. Boots On The Ground Still Matter.

Though, even now, the Air Force still dreams... even as it seeks ways to have fewer people in the fight directly, but rather remotely.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23.

by John on Feb 15, 2006

February 14, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one is worksafe, except for Moonbat Zones.

Lesson #23. Humor Still Matters.

This is the grease of the Big Green and Blue and Purple machines. Without it, you just kind of fold in on yourself.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22.

by John on Feb 14, 2006

February 13, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one is worksafe, except for Moonbat Zones.

Lesson #22. Values Still Matter.


And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

by John on Feb 13, 2006

February 10, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one is worksafe, except for Moonbat Zones.

Lesson #21. Loved Ones Still Matter.


And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

by John on Feb 10, 2006

February 09, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one is worksafe, except for Moonbat Zones.

Lesson #20. Buddies Still Matter.


And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18, 19.

by John on Feb 09, 2006

February 08, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one is worksafe, except for Moonbat Zones. It's also a D-uh statement, but one we continually relearn.

Lesson #19. Leadership Still Matters.


And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17, 18.

by John on Feb 08, 2006

February 07, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one is worksafe, except for Moonbat Zones.

Lesson #18. The Warrior Spirit Still Matters.


And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16, 17.

by John on Feb 07, 2006

February 06, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* marginally not worksafe if you work with people who think soldiers are stupid people who only do what we do because we're too dumb to do anything else. This will only reinforce that thought pattern.

Lesson #17. Every Job In The Army Is An Important Job, But Not All Are Career Enhancing.

Heh. And this *is* a significant bit of soldier memory. It's in the memoirs... it makes it into the movies - Platoon, more recently, Jarhead, to name at least two.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15, 16.

by John on Feb 06, 2006

February 03, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* marginally not worksafe if you work with people who think soldiers are stupid people who only do what we do because we're too dumb to do anything else. This will only reinforce that thought pattern.

Lesson #16. Soldiering Is Still An Outdoor Sport.

The soldiers among us will just go - been there, done that, bragged about it. Which, when I think about it, will just reinforce the goons I mentioned previously. Sometimes, you just have to harken back to your childhood and remember that playing in puddles was fun.

Of course, we *do* tend to take that to an extreme...

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15.

by John on Feb 03, 2006

February 02, 2006

A day in the Life of the deployed...

Warning - objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

Indian Ocean (Jan. 26, 2006) - A Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), assigned to Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU-4), makes a final approach to embark aboard the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). Carter Hall and ACU-4 are currently on deployment conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in support of the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Michael Sandberg.


Indian Ocean (Jan. 26, 2006) - A Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), assigned to Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU-4), makes a final approach to embark aboard the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). Carter Hall and ACU-4 are currently on deployment conducting maritime security operations (MSO) in support of the global war on terrorism. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Michael Sandberg.

*Grumble grumble* The farkin' recruiter never mentioned *this*!

MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) - Airman 1st Class Michael Lepla digs out a C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 28 after 4 inches of snowfall during the night. With temperatures barely above zero and weekly snowstorms, maintainers here work nonstop to keep the aircraft and ramp clear of ice and snow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lara Gale


MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) - Airman 1st Class Michael Lepla digs out a C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 28 after 4 inches of snowfall during the night. With temperatures barely above zero and weekly snowstorms, maintainers here work nonstop to keep the aircraft and ramp clear of ice and snow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lara Gale

Dangit! They can *always* tell when I got a care package from Mom...

US Army SPC Shawn Aiken, a medic with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, poses for a photo with children during a dismounted patrol.  Mosul, Iraq in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. CREDIT U.S. ARMY PHOTO:  SSG James H. Christopher III. (RELEASED) CPT Michael Blankartz BDE / PAO CAMP COURAGE MOSUL


US Army SPC Shawn Aiken, a medic with Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, poses for a photo with children during a dismounted patrol. Mosul, Iraq in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. CREDIT U.S. ARMY PHOTO: SSG James H. Christopher III. (RELEASED) CPT Michael Blankartz BDE / PAO CAMP COURAGE MOSUL

Did too! Did not! Yer mother wears combat booooots!

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Jan. 29, 2006) – Marines battle for points during the tug-of-war event during a field meet here Jan. 29. More than 300 Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment–25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), participated in a field meet hosted at the Lakeside Sports Arena. Steward is the area supervisor for the ammunition supply point with CLR-25, 2nd MLG (Forward).  Photo by: Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Jan. 29, 2006) – Marines battle for points during the tug-of-war event during a field meet here Jan. 29. More than 300 Marines with Combat Logistics Regiment–25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), participated in a field meet hosted at the Lakeside Sports Arena. Steward is the area supervisor for the ammunition supply point with CLR-25, 2nd MLG (Forward). Photo by: Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier
Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Feb 02, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* marginally not worksafe due to pics of wounded people. Not horribly gory ones, but sensitive types might well be distressed.

Lesson #15. Pain Is Part Of Life, Misery Is Optional.

[I know there's a problem with the link. I can't fix it until I get home]

[There. All better]

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

by John on Feb 02, 2006

February 01, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* not worksafe for pictures of dead people. Not horribly gory ones, but sensitive types might well be distressed.

Lesson #14. When You Mess With The Bull, You Need To Deal With The Horns..


And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.

by John on Feb 01, 2006

January 31, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* not worksafe for naughty language. Or in an officer where Michael Moore is considered a moderate centrist.

Lesson #13. America Can Still Rely On The Marines To Tell It Like It Is..

At a minimum, no less than any Hollywood luminary.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

by John on Jan 31, 2006

January 30, 2006

Military Olio...

Tidbits of today in history...

1647 Scots agree to sell King Charles I to the English Parliament for £400,000;- they always were a thrifty lot, the Scots.
1781 Articles of Confederation go into effect. Starting the years-long process that results in the US Constitution. Keep that in mind when griping about Iraq and the efforts developing that constitution.
1933 Adolph Hitler named German Chancellor. WWII inches closer. Keep an eye on Hamas.
1943 Hitler promotes Friedrich Paulus to field marshal - because everyone knows German Field Marshals have had never surrendered (they committed suicide, instead - but Paulus declined the latter while accepting the former...).
1968 The Tet Offensive begins. Long month for those of us on the home front that year.
1972 "Bloody Sunday" -- British troops kill 13 Catholics in Derry

And just because I can:

Heh. Told 'em so, back in the day. There's a *reason* there's a Remington Rand M1911A1 in the Castle Arsenal... but no Beretta.

by John on Jan 30, 2006

January 27, 2006

Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money

Nod to Warren Zevon...

From an email, an observation of how war will finally wither away... much like fun playground equipment has, and for the same reason:

Sir,

If we do this the way the New York Times wants it done...


Urban combat in 2020

The squad Captain-Solicitor will laser designate each building the squad will likely enter or from which they are taking fire. The GPS co-ordinates will be transferred by satellite to Washington where the Pentagon's legal software will file warrants to enter the houses with the World Court in the Hague. Warrants will be requested hundreds of times per minute.

Meanwhile, the terrorists' legal software operating from the Iranian consul in Amsterdam will file restraining orders against the U.S.Army at the same rate.

Amnesty International will file Freedom of Information requests to publicly post the Army's intended targets in real-time. Every building the Army targets but does not enter will be treated as frivolous lawsuit by the International Bar Association.

Wrongful Death and other civil suits will assail the legal computers, but the Pentagon will auto-counter-sue at 800 to 1200 suits per minute with processing power to spare for restraining orders against the NBC/CNN robo-cameras hovering around the heads of our troops.

and so forth...

rodent



This photo accompanied the story.

Military Police prepare to refuel before entering the city of Whew!, Mudholistan on December 5, 2020, while their International Court-appointed solicitor ensures that their field-refueling permits are still valid, and that all proper per-event environmental impact forms have been filed, examined, rejected, resubmitted, approved, and thus the refueling operation is permissable, after which the forms will be buried in a peat bog and recycled as fire lighters.  (Released)</p>

<p>(U.S. Army Photo by Spc Daniel Blowhard December 5, 2020.)</p>

<p>Released by Maj. Hawthorne-Smythwaite, Esq.

Military Police prepare to refuel before entering the city of Whew!, Mudholistan on December 5, 2020, while their International Court-appointed solicitor ensures that their field-refueling permits are still valid, and that all proper per-event environmental impact forms have been filed, examined, rejected, resubmitted, approved, and thus the refueling operation is permissable, after which the forms will be buried in a peat bog and recycled as fire lighters. (Released)

(U.S. Army Photo by Spc Daniel Blowhard December 5, 2020.)

Released by Maj. Hawthorne-Smythwaite, Esq.">

by John on Jan 27, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* worksafe.

Lesson #11. They Really Do "Get It".

Too bad he's not talking about the media or the glitterati...

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

by John on Jan 27, 2006

January 26, 2006

25 Lessons Learned From OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* worksafe.

Lesson #10. America Cares.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

by John on Jan 26, 2006

January 25, 2006

Military News of Note.

Here's a story that will no doubt put some academic knickers in a twist - colleges and universities are actually coming to visit Fort Leavenworth to see how we're building the new classroom building for the Command and General Staff College - the Lewis and Clark Center. A moving target, pushing the state of the art as we go. I would note that the construction features mentioned have Oklahoma City, and not the New Madrid fault, in mind.

The article here makes this sound almost like a new invention... I'm guessing the Vultures among us could rule on that - New, or a reinvention of something we'd had before? The Downed Aircraft Recovery Team, or DART.

I still have trouble understanding how the anti-war (more accurately, anti-Bush, true anti-war types would *not* be supportive) can utter supportive things about the jihadis who are boobytrapping schools. Oh, I forgot - heretics and girls interested in being educated are valid targets, too. Progressive bunch, this fellas.

Heh. While I understand the purely practical aspects of this - and the Usual Suspects won't care if we do it at Leavenworth or an unclaimed rock somewhere, I'd have thought we'd release this info on a Friday, if only to to bury it in the weekend news cycle. Of course, we haven't executed anyone since 1961, so there's obviously no rush, either.

I'm not sure I'm with Austin Bay on the actual status of the Canadian military - but I agree with the general thrust of his op-ed on the subject.

I was pretty much going to ignore this piece of fluff from Joel Stein, simply because it really wasn't a new view from the Usual Suspects. But Hugh Hewitt interviewed Mr. Stein yesterday, regarding his column - and the transcript of the interview is fun. If I'm being too light and airy on this poseur and you'd like a little red meat - go visit Ms. Cassandra.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jan 25, 2006

Worthy of a Repeat.*

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Remember - someone is reading. And not just jihadis, but the 1st IO Command & your commander. If watching out for jihadis seems just too esoteric, remember your boss.

Cyber Patrol: Careless keyboards can kill By Ed Beemer January 24, 2006


ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Jan. 24, 2006) -- Fewer people would know about a deployment or operation if you screamed it out at the Superbowl than if you posted it on a Web log or blog.

Common sense will tell you not to discuss sensitive subjects on the streets of Baghdad. The same common sense should apply on the highways of cyberspace. Soldiers need to keep this in mind, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it could land them in a world of trouble.

The technology of communication is a double-edged sword and often the sharper edge is being used against you. There have been too many instances of sensitive information being made public. For example one officer posted a picture of his tactical operations center or TOC, complete with secret documents showing troop rotations.

Another Soldier in theater posted when his unit’s laundry runs were. That information has IED opportunity written all over it.

The list of what should not be posted on an unsecured site or sent via unsecured communication channels is almost endless. It includes the obvious like troop movements, operational details, TDYs, planning issues and any classified material. But it also includes any personal information – information that could be used to put you, your fellow soldiers or even your own family at risk.

This is also a matter of situational awareness; knowing what seemingly innocent information could be useful to the enemy. Each unit’s operational security professional needs to advise supervisors on means to prevent the release of sensitive information.

But every Soldier, regardless of rank and position, has a personal responsibility to safeguard what makes it onto the Internet. In order to ensure that sensitive and unauthorized information is not posted, check with your immediate supervisor for approval before your next blog entry or site update. More information on OPSEC can be found at [this location if you have AKO access].

This is a very serious matter and the fallout from even one instance of releasing unauthorized information can be severe. Senior Army commanders have clearly stated that the Army must "hold people accountable that place others at risk."

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jan 25, 2006

The Soldier's Load.

Air Force Enlisted Tactical Air Controller (ETAC) resting whle moving with his supported unit in Iraq.

Given the way the comments moved [well, the *serious* comments] in my Any Soldier, Any Era post, this is probably a good time to drag something up out of the archives.

The Soldiers Load, Part 1..

The Soldier's Load, Part II.

And it ain't just our Army, either. Any soldier. Any era. Just ask these Canadians.

English/AnglaisAPD02 5000-210March 15, 2002 Shah-i-Kot Valley, AfghanistanIn the mountains of Paktia Province east of Gardez, members of an anti-tank team from the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI) Battle Group take a much-needed rest on the trail. The oxygen-poor atmosphere of 3,000 metres is very hard on these soldiers, who carry particularly heavy loads of weapons and ammunition. They are engaged in Operation HARPOON, the Canadian Army's first non-defensive combat mission since the Korean War, which is itself a component of Operation ANACONDA, a major US-led assault on Taliban and al-Qaeda positions. The 3 PPCLI Battle Group is deployed in Afghanistan on Operation APOLLO, Canada's military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism.Photo by Cpl Lou Penney, 3 PPCLI

Update: Speaking of those Canadians in that pic above - CAPT H provides this link to one Canadian Soldier's response to the issues laid out above.

Discuss amongst yourselves... Heh. Again, acting in my role as CAPT H's clerk... he offers up this.

by John on Jan 25, 2006

25 Lessons Learned From OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* worksafe.

Lesson #9. War Sucks.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

by John on Jan 25, 2006

January 24, 2006

Army Interrogator Welshofer Convicted of Negligent Homicide...

...gets a reprimand, 60 days restriction, and a $6K fine? I would note that he's also (at this point, depending on Major General Mixon's review) a convicted felon. MG Mixon can reduce the penalty or set-aside the conviction, but not make it worse.

But that's a pretty light sentence for the charged crime.

Having sat on a Courts Martial panel that did something similar (convicted reluctantly, assessed a $1 fine) my gut feel (and that's all it is, I have *no* inside info at all) is the panel strongly feels this never should have made it to a Court, but should have been handled administratively.

In other words, the extenuating and mitigating circumstances presented by the defense were overwhelming (as they were in the case I sat on) but - the panel, in the end, felt compelled to convict, because at some point, Welshofer could have stopped it himself. But the panel didn't want Welshofer to be the complete scapegoat here when there are others up the chain who should also suffer professionally, if not criminally. That's how I read the otherwise rather surprising verdict.

by John on Jan 24, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 01/24/2006

Any soldier, any era...

...would recognize these guys.

On 11 January 2006 soldiers from Bravo Company, 2nd Bn, 502nd INF continued Operation Falcon Sweep in the Village of Shakaria, Iraq.  One of the objectives of the operation was to identify and capture terrorist in the village and surrounding area. Soldiers searched the fields looking for a terrorist.  (Released) US Army photo by SSG Kevin L. Moses Sr.

Hi-res here.

These guys would...

Marines in the Pacific, WWII

...so would these.

British soldiers in Flanders, WWI

As would these, and many others, throughout history. This is Infantry. This is what makes the difference.

by John on Jan 24, 2006
» CDR Salamander links with: Vince Lombardi warfare

25 Lessons Learned From OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* worksafe.

Lesson #8. The Newest Greatest Generation Has Emerged.

I would add - "Glitterati and other elites not well represented."

And the sad circumstances of Pat Tillman's death and the Army's poor handling of the subject in no way diminishes Tillman - despite how the cynics and anti-Bush moonbats tried to spin it.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show the jihadis in this light. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

by John on Jan 24, 2006

January 20, 2006

Silly Military Tricks.

Some people will do *anything* for fun.

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Atlantic Coast (Jan. 17, 2005) – A SEAL delivery vehicle team (SDV) perform a fast-roping exercise from a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to the topside of Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN 769). The mission of the SDV teams includes clandestine insertion of SEALs, ordnance delivery, reconnaissance, and locating and the recovery of objects. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 3rd Class Davis J. Anderson
.

Yes. There *is* a tinge of envy in my typing this morning.

Air Force Ninjas!

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SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- An Airman with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing fires on an enemy position during simunition training at a forward-deployed location Jan. 17. Simunition training combines paint ball with live bullets that are slightly smaller than actual M-9 and M-16 bullets to prevent injury. Each bullet tip contains paint and detergent, allowing players to know when they are hit. When used with the high-tech helmet and body armor, simunition training allows troops to train under live-fire conditions while causing minimal injuries to participants. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Strang)
by John on Jan 20, 2006

25 Lessons Learned From OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* worksafe.

Lesson #7. The Best Way To Eat An Elephant Is One Bite At A Time.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show these guys like this. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

by John on Jan 20, 2006

January 19, 2006

25 Lessons Learned From OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This one *is* worksafe.

Lesson #6. There *are* religion differences.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show these guys like this. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5.

by John on Jan 19, 2006

January 18, 2006

25 Lessons Learned From OIF and OEF

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This is *NOT* worksafe, at least in non-military offices, as they are rather raw examples of the Jihadi at his "best". War is an ugly business, and this lesson looks that straight in the eye - and at just how you can go out of your way to make it uglier.

Lesson #5. Torture and Murder - the Insurgent's total lack of humanity.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show these guys like this. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3, 4.

by John on Jan 18, 2006

January 17, 2006

Tossed out for your consideration.

Doug MacGregor (COL, USA, ret) has been beating the drum of reforming the Army since the publication of his book, Breaking the Phalanx. He continues his fight in this presentation to the Air Force Staff College.

You can see the presentation here - I'm sure it was much better in person, with MacGregor illuminating his points (be happy to hear from anyone who was there...)

Download file

Here's my thoughts on the subject:

1. I agree with his assertion Air Force guys are generally clueless when it comes to ground fights and the people who fight them - which wasn't true of the Army Air Force... of course, then the air generals didn't believe the ground generals understood air power...

2. Kicking Colonels out of the command loop is huge cultural challenge, it's actually perceived, I think, as the last level where command is fun - and restricting it to BGs means that what, half the Colonels who command now will not get that chance? That is a honking great cultural hump to overcome.

3. MacGregor consistently ignores the *why* of those intermediate HQ's rise and fall. We try to get rid of them, and they come back under the pressure of operations. I think this is one of MacGregor's biggest blind spots. Not so much that he's wrong - but that he just hand waves it away.

4. He's completely combat-focused, and doesn't really address (perhaps he does, elsewhere) the totality of the 3-block war construct or how these units would operate in the COE. Of course, his audience was the Air Force, and they don't play in this arena, so he may have just glossed that over - but if AF Generals want to have real shots at routinely being JTF Commanders, they are going to have to learn this stuff, too.

5. Sadly for MacGregor, the track record of unifying the Joint Chiefs hasn't worked well elsewhere - but then it hasn't been tried by a big western military yet, either. But the Canadian experience is, I think, instructive. Not that we'd ever want to study them to learn anything, oh no.... (a snark at us, not you plaid-hat wearing, maple syrup-sipping hosers from up north).

6. I concur, pretty much, with his thoughts on procurement.

7. I think this construct is an Expeditionary Army on the model of Brit Colonial-style little wars. I wonder how it would stand up in a fight against India, Russia, or China?

8. He talks about decentralized logistics - but offers no real construct for it. Huge weakness - but again, that may be audience-centric.

8. I say turn him loose. We'll get rich and have work until we retire, studying this.

Just some thoughts to stimulate discussion. Have at it. I'm not condemning his construct, nor endorsing it at this point. This is one briefing, taken in isolation I don't purport that this is the totality of MacGregor's current thinking. But it *is* a window into his current thinking, and deserves a wider audience.

I think it's worthy of discussion - because that's how ideas get improved and refined. To a point. It's also how they get buried, but we're not official here, so that's less a problem or likelihood.

Wonder what the JO's at The Officer's Club have to say on the subject?

by John on Jan 17, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This is mostly *NOT* worksafe, at least in non-military offices, though not in the same gory way that yesterday's were. That said - Ry, Miss Thang will *not* approve, and the delicate might be upset. War is an ugly business, and this lesson looks that straight in the eye.

Lesson #4. Abuse and Humiliation.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show these guys like this. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2, 3.

by John on Jan 17, 2006

January 16, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post . Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!

This is most emphatically *NOT* worksafe. War is an ugly business, and this lesson looks that straight in the eye.

Lesson 3.

And, in case you think it's just awful to show these guys like this. Remember this.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

For Previous Lessons Learned, click the numbers. 1. 2.

by John on Jan 16, 2006

January 12, 2006

Re: The Brit General and those racist Americans.

Just an observation - Colonel Kevin Benson is on the faculty of the Command and General Staff College, here at beautiful uptown Fort Leavenworth. And perhaps one reason he got so torqued is that he is in the middle of the Army's work to address the issues that Brigadier Aylwin-Foster is so upset about.

Stripping out the Brit General's rhetoric, I find a good chunk of the substance of his comments consonant with my own experience, and his caveats are important -though the caveats will be lost.

But in order to get anyone to listen to him, he pretty much *had* to use that language.

The fact that Military Review published his remarks actually *is* important, if you understand how things like that work.

What will be unfortunate is that persons with differing agendas will misuse the Brigadier's words and twist them into other meanings, for other purposes.

And who will report on the fact that the Army (and Marines) recognize the cultural insensitivity issues and are in fact at this moment revamping the enlisted and officer education systems to try to addres the issue - and that a whole lot of warfighting training is beind displaced to add it into the curricula. But one thing he does limn for us.

While US officers in Iraq criticised their allies for being too reluctant to use force, their strategy was "to kill or capture all terrorists and insurgents: they saw military destruction of the enemy as a strategic goal in its own right". In short, the brigadier says, "the US army has developed over time a singular focus on conventional warfare, of a particularly swift and violent kind".

That's why four divisions took down a medium sized country on a shoestring. Okay, we've got to get better at the other stuff - and we will. We're working on it. But nothing like that happens overnight. But who else in the world is even trying?

by John on Jan 12, 2006

January 11, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continuing the Lessons Learned from OIF/OEF that I started in this post yesterday. Note to military Googlers - these are *not* tactical AARs!
Lesson #2, Our Actions, When They Hurt Or Kill One Of Their Own.

*I* think it's work-safe, though there is plenty of empathic pain in it.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

by John on Jan 11, 2006

January 10, 2006

25 Lessons Learned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

I was rooting around doing some research yesterday inside some Army websites. Yes, all legal, proper, and above board. I ran across a slide show by Bill Coffey, a retired soldier like myself. He's now a civil servant, vice myself, who is a predatory Beltway Bandit living outside the beltway.

I'm going to run 'em as a Lesson a Day on the weekdays over the next month. Many of these are graphic and *not* work-safe, nor "sensitive soul" safe. But then war isn't, either. Like this first one - Not Work Safe for gruesomeness. You don't need to be surprising your coworkers passing innocently by, so have some consideration.

Lesson #1. Their Actions, When They Kill One Of Us.

This is *not* an official document! I contacted Mr. Coffey and have his permission for this use. If you choose to download and share it around via email, you may do so - but send it with the caveat that any publishing of the document, for profit or no, needs the permission of Mr. Coffey, as I only asked permission for myself, and he retains all rights!

Mr. Coffey can be reached via his website: Purple Mountain Publishing.

Lesson #2 is available here.

by John on Jan 10, 2006

In other news...

An activity the MSM doesn't seem to care about continues - in addition to all other duties in the GWOT.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Local Pakistanis receive medical treatment at the U.S. 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Muzaffarabad, Pakistan, on January 5, 2005. The United States military is participating in Operation Lifeline, the Pakistani-led relief operation designed to aid victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the region October 8, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Barry Loo).
Emphasis in the caption is mine.

The Kansas City area is participating - our Army Reserve Chinook unit, Company B, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment in Olathe, is deployed in support of Earthquake relief. The were diverted from their skedded deployment to Afghanistan over the mountains to Pakistan. Yes, Virginia, we're diverting assets from the war to help these people survive the winter. The MSM isn't covering *us* doing this - so I'm sure they aren't covering anyone else, either. Does anyone know what other nations are still involved trying to help the Pakistanis deal with winter?

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A CH-47 Chinook helicopter of the Army Reserve's Company B, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, makes uses of a tight landing zone during a relief flight to a remote Pakistan village.

by John on Jan 10, 2006

January 06, 2006

The Veep Speaks at Fort Leavenworth...

...and this milblogger was present and reports out.

by John on Jan 06, 2006

First Sergeants.

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1st Sgt. Fidelito Ordonio, first sergeant with Co. A, TF 1-27 INF, stands against a wall with Sahilia elementary school students during the dedication of the school March 3.

Ahh, the First Sergeant. The Spine of the Company/Battery/Troop. Sometimes known as the First Shirt.

This is a story about a 1st Sergeant. In a First Shirt mode.

Top Sergeants are the unit Bearer of Standards. Yes, yes, the officers are supposed to be that way, but a good Top Kick can overcome slovenly officers. The success of my battery level command is testament to that. More importantly, the First Sergeant has ad hoc tools available to him that a prudent officer will avoid.

While normally a First Sergeant is selected from NCO's of requisite caliber in the same branch as the unit they allow their officers to take responsibility for, this is not always the case. This has to do with the requisite quality in a First Sergeant is the ability to capital-L Lead. The duties of the 1SG generally doesn't extend to that of leading the troops around taking bunkers, breaking track, serving the guns. His or her job is to move among the soldiers and make sure that the troops are being taken care of, the NCOs are doing their jobs, and making sure it's all done to standard.

My first unit, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery Regiment, then assigned to the 1st Armored Division Artillery at Pinder Barracks, Zirndorf, Germany, is an example of a unit that did not have an MOS-related 1SG. 1SG "Z" was a dental technician. Yes. A dental tech. Yet he rode herd on that battery of 250 souls as if he were born to the trade. He did much to teach me how to interact with Sergeants and Soldiers as an officer, and mindful of being a junior officer. A direct support artillery battalion HHB is a large, lumbering monster, with many moving parts, usually not moving in synch. By design. The first 'H', the Headquarters, is just that . The Battalion Commander and his staff, including the battalion Command Sergeant Major, the senior NCO in the battalion. Lots of egos to deal with there. All of 'em prissy and prickly. They are the reason the battery exists. Yet, because this is a DS unit, it also contains the FS Element, which has all the Forward Observers in it, who scatter to the winds to their supported armor and infantry battalions and companies when those units are out training or deployed. The 1SG has to manage all of that in consonance with his commander, and 1SG 'Z' did it well.

I hid the best part of this below the fold, in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jan 06, 2006

January 03, 2006

Starving Chaplains.

Stop The ACLU covers the Chaplain on a hunger strike over not being able to "preach without diluting God to a one-size-fits all deity."

When this story first broke, I made my opinion on this known - if he's leading services, he can preach as he wishes - if he's officiating at an official, mandatory event - I have no objection to "diluting God to a one-size-fits all deity." The chaplain may feel they being oppressed with that restriction, but I disagree. It's part and parcel of being a military chaplain. I've known Catholic chaplains who can run through the jewish death prayer (I can't remember what it's called) as easily as they can the Last Rites. A military chaplain has to understand and acknowledge that his ministry includes people from outside his faith tradition - and if he or she can't deal with that, then a military chaplaincy is perhaps not their calling.

However - it's one thing to tell a chaplain to be generic at a official event (a mandatory function) and quite another to tell him to be generic when holding services, and that appears to be the case here.

Klingenschmitt, an Episcopal priest, says he challenged the policy at the time, saying that Title X of the U.S. Code allows him to pray “according to the manners and form” of his own church. “And that’s been the law since 1860,” he said.

The chaplain says he believes the 1998 Navy policy illegally overrides U.S. Code.

“They called me an immature chaplain because I claimed the right to pray in Jesus’ name,” Klingenschmitt added.

The “immature” label followed Klingenschmitt to his first chaplain post on a Navy ship. Two years later, his commanding officer, Capt. James M. Carr, wrote to the Navy board, saying Klingenschmitt emphasized his own “faith system” when praying and preaching.

The chaplain says the same officer punished him in July 2004 for a sermon he preached at an optional chapel service.

“In the sermon, I said, ‘Jesus is the way to heaven,’” Klingenschmitt noted. He says he was told the next day: “You can’t say that if unbelievers are in the audience because you’re offending people, and that’s not Navy pluralism.”

In March, Klingenschmitt says, Carr asked the Navy board “to end my career. So I filed a complaint.”

Said Klingenschmitt: “It went into the hands of a Navy judge. My career was on the line. They were going to end it after 14 years – out on the street with no retirement.”

Just before his fast began, Klingenschmitt says, “The Navy stripped me of my uniform for all public appearances” that might include praying in Jesus’ name.

The Chaplain feels he should be able to do as he wishes in services, and that doesn't appear to be the case. An unbeliever, attending services? And the Chaplain is to be sensitive to that? So, if a worshiper of Set were attend a Christian service, the Chaplain should perhaps excise God as well? To what purpose and end? On the surface of it, this doesn't seem to make any sense, now that the story is more fully developed.

Anyone have the official Navy position on all this?

Update! Ah, my trolling worked! CDR Salamander to the rescue!

Sapper Sergeant has his own view up, and several links we're missing (and you can go read what he has to say if you'd like to see the links, that seems only fair).

Lastly, speaking of mistreating Chaplains and subsequently regretting it...


by John on Jan 03, 2006
» CDR Salamander links with: Navy Chaplain's hunger strike

December 31, 2005

Through a glass, darkly - part II.

Once again proving his utility - Canadian Warrior CAPT H provides an expansion back to WWI of the open-backed-machine-gun-carrier post - with these fine shots of the Combat Car of the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade - circa 1914-18.

1CMMGB Armoured_Car

1CMMGB Armoured_Car

by John on Dec 31, 2005

December 29, 2005

Juxtapositions.

Email box pinged yesterday, with this delivered:


IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1333-05
December 28, 2005
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers, who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

They died in Baghdad, Iraq on Dec. 26, when their Apache helicopter collided with another military aircraft in mid-air and then crashed. Both soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer Richard M. Salter, 44, of Cypress, Texas.
Chief Warrant Officer Isaias E. Santos, 28, of Ancon, Panama.

The incident is under investigation.

Even though Bill is usually up on things like this from his own sources, I send these along to him, as the Aviation community is small, and a tight-knit group.

Bill responded with this:

Desertion lands pilot in jail for 10 months. Spartanburg soldier abandoned his Guard unit before Iraq deployment

By CHUCK CRUMBO, Staff Writer

An S.C. National Guard helicopter pilot has been sentenced to 10 months in a military prison for deserting his unit before it deployed to Iraq.

Chief Warrant Officer Alex Pitts of Spartanburg pleaded guilty to two separate charges of desertion and one charge of being away without leave (AWOL) under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Pitts also pleaded guilty to "missing movement" — a military charge for not reporting when his unit left McEntire Joint National Guard Base for Fort Bragg, N.C., and eventual deployment to Iraq.

Pitts was a member of Company D, 1st Battalion, 151st Aviation Regiment. Two of the unit's pilots were killed Dec. 9, 2004, in a crash with another helicopter near Mosul, Iraq.

According to Army documents, Pitts reported for duty Aug. 10, 2004, and then "attempted to shirk combat duty by quitting (the) unit."

The Apache unit then left Aug. 13, 2004, for Fort Bragg with Pitts missing, the documents said.

Pitts resurfaced in December 2004 at Fort Hood, Texas. When Army officials learned Pitts was an aviator, he was ordered to go to Fort Bragg.

But Pitts never reached Fort Bragg. He later was apprehended at his home in Spartanburg and then sent to Fort Knox, Ky.

Pitts was to be held in the Personnel Control Facility until he could be transported to Fort Gordon for court-martial. When MPs went to Fort Knox on May 13 to pick up Pitts, who was restricted to the post, he was gone.

On May 26, authorities found him at a house he was renting in Spartanburg and took him to Fort Gordon, according to the Army report.

Prior to the call-up of his unit, Pitts spent 18 months training to be a chief warrant officer and an Apache pilot, said Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Pete Brooks.

Pitts pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to all charges at a court-martial at Fort Gordon, Ga.

Pitts also received a dishonorable discharge and was fined $100,000. If he doesn't pay the fine, Pitts will have to serve six more months in prison.

Desertion is a rare charge among National Guard members. Brooks said this is the first incident since he became spokesman for the S.C. Guard 14 years ago.

I've always thought that the sentence for wartime desertion should be "the duration of the conflict, plus 6 months, or final redeployment, whichever is later."

Just sayin'.

Bill largely agrees. What say you?

Update: Outlaw 13 provides *focus*.

As all the comments so far have been in reference to the aforementioned scumbag deserter...I'd like to put in my two cents about the late Matt Salter and his front seater Isaias Santos.

I know Matt from a previous assignment as did many of my co-workers. Matt was a great guy with a great family and his and Mr. Santos loss saddens all of us.

When you contrast their sacrifice with the cowardly actions of Mr. Pitts no amount of punishment is worthy the same he has brought on the Attack community, the Warrant Officer Corps and the United States Army. I personally would bush him to PV1 and have him ride convoy duty on RTE Irish for as long as his unit is deployed. As George C. Scott in Patton said, "You're going to the front my friend, and you may be shot and you may be even killed but I will not have this place of honor defiled by your presence." or words to that effect. (sorry didn't look up the script).

I could go on about how the system screwed up and allowed a person like Mr. Pitts through but all that would accomplish is to raise my blood pressure even more.

Mr. Santos and Mr. Salter will be waiting for us at Fiddlers Green...save us a cold one.

Thanks for the words, Outlaw. Now, at least, when people Google the Castle for Pitts... they'll get the good words about Mssrs Santos and Salter.

by John on Dec 29, 2005

December 23, 2005

Another small giant has passed..

...and another light of the Greatest Generation dims. Jeff Quinton has the story of Lt. Col. Horace “Sally” Crouch.

A Doolittle Raider. There's a select group of men. The first to strike back at Japan - flying from the deck of the Hornet, made famous when Roosevelt referred to her as the "Shangri-la."

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

This all brings to mind something percolating in my head since last night, when SWWBO and I went to eat at a local eatery, the Ten Penny Bar and Grill, just up the road from the Castle.

The place was full of people I knew, from work or Rotary, and SWWBO for some reason was impressed with all the people I know. Bob and Gary from work were there with their families, as was Bill and his daughter, from Rotary. Bill, an active Rotarian for many years, is now in his 80's - still active, but slowing down a bit. They were done with dinner, and Bill doesn't get around as well as he used to once. At least today he didn't need his walker. But Bill was a Soldier once, and young, to borrow a phrase.

And, as they say, "It's not the years, it's the mileage."

Bill jumped into Normandy in 1944. He jumped into Holland in 1944. He was trucked into Belgium, this little town called Bastogne, in 1944. And Bill walked and rode trucks into Germany in 1945. I'm guessing that those were some hard miles.

Like these three excerpts from another Screaming Eagle, Donald Burgett, who fought side-by-side with Bill. From his book Currahee! - a worthy read for anyone who wants some insight into American Soldiery - yesterdays or todays.

Normandy:

The time was 1:14AM, June 6, 1944. Suddenly the green light flashed on.

"Let's go," screamed Lieutenant Muir at the top of his voice, and he, along with Carter and Thomas, gave the big bundle a shove. Lieutenant Muir followed it out: Carter did a quick left turn and following him into the prop blast: Thomas did a right turn and followed Carter. I could see their static lines snap tight against the edge of the door and vibrate there with the force of the outside wind pulling them.

"Go," a voice screamed in my brain, "hurry!" Speed was the most important thing now, so we would all land as close together as possible. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion again, but I knew that it was really happening in just fractions f seconds as I made my right turn into the door and with a left pivot leaped into dark space.

There were thirteen men following me out the door, but I couldn't see any of them. Doubled up and grasping my reserve chute, I could feel the rush of air, hear the crackling of the canopy as it unfurled, followed by the sizzling suspension lines, then the connector links whistling past the back of the helmet. Instinctively the muscles of my body tensed for the opening shock, which nearly unjointed me when the canopy blasted open. From the time I left the door until the chute opened, less than three seconds had elapsed.. I pulled the risers apart to check the canopy and saw tracer bullets passing through it; at the same moment I hit the ground and came in backward so hard the I was momentarily stunned.

Continue reading in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 23, 2005

News from the Fronts...

The ever estimable fellas at Strategy Page have two real gems today.

I wonder if the left's darling, Peacekeeping, will remain as popular with them when they regain power in Congress and get to play with the budget:

PEACEKEEPING: Training More Expensive Than For War December 23, 2005: Training for peacekeeping is turning out to be more expensive than getting ready for a war. A prime example of this can be seen in the U.S. Army's JRTC (Joint Readiness Training Center) at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Not too long ago, putting a brigade through a month of realistic training at JRTC cost $2 million. But it costs $9 million to run the same brigade through a month of peacekeeping training (for Iraq or Afghanistan.) The major additional cost is payroll. Over 800 civilians, including either Afghan or Iraqi-Americans, are brought in and trained how to act as civilians, aid workers, reporters and so on. In effect, the troops get to play parts in a very realistic simulation of what the trainees are going to face for real in a few months. About two hundred veterans of those battle zones dress, and play, the part of the various bad guys. All this is supervised by troops and civilians who run the JRTC. Thousands of man hours go into setting the scene and writing the script. Unlike a movie, however, there can be many endings to this adventure. The trainees have many, very realistic, opportunities, to make mistakes. Thus the debriefings are one of the most important parts of the exercise. The trainee commanders are given a blunt assessment of their performance. If they didn't make some mistakes, they are reminded of that, and asked if this was just luck, or that they knew what they were doing. For mistakes, the correct solutions are provided.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 23, 2005

December 22, 2005

Recently, in 2005...

A little photo essay...

...lest, with my recent emphasis on the Battle of the Bulge, you think I'm being neglectful of something else, just as important...

Click here for some background music.

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Alpha Company, 1-151 FA , 720th Military Police soldier reacts to small arms fire during a search mission in Al Madain, Baghdad, Iraq, 20 September, 2005. U.S. Army Photo by SPC Gul A. Alisan (Released)


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051001-F-2828D-199
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chuck Hipple, Charlie Troop 4-14th Cavalry 2nd Platoon, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, cleans his weapon on the Stryker vehicle prior to providing an over watch while Army and Marines look for weapons cache and people that oppose the coalition forces east of the Syrian boarder by the Euphrates River, during Operation Clydesdale, during Operation Iraqi Freedom Oct 01, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway) (Released)

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U.S. Army Specialist Anthony Noger, 82nd Airborne Division, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, Bravo Company, 1st Battallion, Fort Bragg N.C., watches a door whle on patrol in Tal Afar, Iraq on Sept. 15, 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr. (Released)

Just as in 1944 we were trying to reach this - and make it stick...

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So too in 2005 we are reaching for this... and making it stick.

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by John on Dec 22, 2005

December 19, 2005

H&I Fires.

First off, I endorse Bill's comment at the bottom of his post below. Second, Endorsements 'R Squared: I endorse MSG Keith's endorsement.

Interesting spam note I got this weekend... typos included. I should note it did *not* come to the Castle Email Box... *that* would have made sense.


Subject: military vehcile engine part
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 11:24:09 +0800

Dear Sir,

I am James Shen from a diesel fuel injection parts Plant, hope we can help you in the line of military use diesel fuel engine parts.

With more than 20 years experience in this field, our factory is producing the parts: HD90101A and HD8821.They are used in the engine system of M35A2 and M60 tank. Their most competitive price (almost one tenth of the product which made in USA) and the same quality will meet your need fairly.

We are one of ADS members. Our products have a good reputation with sound quality and competitive price in European market, South American market and other countries.

If you feel interested in our products, please let us know any time. We are always within your touch.

Thanks and best regards,

James Shen
private mail: [deletedbythearmorer]@hotmail.com

Perhaps someday the Castle Motorpool will include a Deuce, but I suspect we're never going to have an M60. And dude, you are *never* going to be in our touch, I assure you.

Military Transformation... Or bringing a new meaning to Urban Renewal and Weed and Pest Control.

I guess it depends on your neighbo(u)rhood. While the Brits go through some real pains contracting - the Ozzies are looking at expanding... H/t CAPT H and Kat. BTW, here's a Lessons Learned/Summary of Ops regarding Ozzie participation in OIF. Here is the official release of the 2005 Defence Update. We've already noted the Canadians are changing directions, along similar lines to the Australians. For many years the America Britain Canda Australia alliance has been ABca. Now perhaps, within their means and needs, it's going to return to ABCA. Let's hope it doesn't shift to AbCA.

Speaking of pain - then there's those overworked, under-equipped fellas in the Coast Guard bending their new ship... which (new ships) they need more of. Larry K (my USCG guy) opined thusly:

I may have mentioned that the Coast Guard is replacing the old USCGC Mackinaw (not to be confused with the Mackinac which is different … in a small service why they have so many confusing names is a puzzle to me … the USCGC Neah Bay is ported in Cleveland but Station Neah Bay is in Oregon I think) with a brand new Great Lakes ice breaker after over 60 years service.

The old one is still on duty into 2006 and may actually have to be extended. The new cutter has not even been commissioned yet and has already had a mishap and now a change of command.

I will post a links and you can read the stories. But apparently this new type of ship which has AZIPODS instead of traditional props and rudders can be a bit tricky to operate.

Here is the initial story with video (if you are going to mess up do not do it in front of the press).[emphasis mine, saith the Armorer] Also it was as they were entering Grand Haven which is known as Coast Guard City (for an interesting reason by the way).

Now perhaps Larry will share the interesting reason...

In conclusion: Civil Affairs Troops.

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Marine Corps Civil Affairs troops pose with their urban renewal toolkit.

When the artillery stops, that's when you got to go out and start making friends." LTG Jan Huly, Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations.
I have signed new tables of organization mission statements for the active and Reserve component artillery regiments (and) battalions. The New mission statements assign each artillery regimental headquarters and each cannon battalion with a secondary CMO (Civil-Military Operations) mission. GEN Mike Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, ALMar 061/05

Marine Transformation takes an interesting turn. "If we're going to do the things we think we're going to be doing in the future, the kinds of fights that we're getting into, the kind of stability operations... we need more civil affairs capability," said LTG Huly, quoted in the Marine Corps Times.

I was at the Class VI (military liquor store) this weekend and I saw the Marine Corps Times with a headline screaming (to me) "Artillerymen Will Now Do Civil Affairs." Now *that's* some transformation! The transition of the Artillery from a Combat Arm to a Combat Service Support arm is complete. That's an inside joke. Those who know, know.

While it makes sense, as described here over at Strategy Page, and Army artillerymen have been fighting as Infantry in Iraq, it is still cause for bemusement. But - yes, it *does* make sense, for in the COE (geek-speak for Current Operating Environment) the artillery has a large number (unlike the real CSS units) of trained organized troops whose primary specialty is not in high demand. The question truly is "Why not?" vice "Why?" You can ask (as some have) why not stand up more units like the Seabees, etc? The short answer is simple: Standing up new units means standing down old ones, or recruiting and training more people. Taking an existing unit and tweaking it is simpler.

And, as an artilleryman, I don't believe it will impact the ability of the units to maintain their ability to shoot quickly and accurately. Especially since the gunnery process is now so highly automated - maintaining the skillz in the Fire Direction Center was more challenging when data was done manually (said the hoary old manual FDO veteran). The guns represent the science of fire support, and that, I think, is a skill that can be maintained under this new paradigm. The art of fire support takes place with the Fire Support Officers at the supported maneuver units - and that relationship and training need is not really touched by this change. Besides, it will make artillery soldiers more employable when the get out or retire.

Civil Affairs units are set up to do the planning and coordination, not to do large-scale execution. A vacuum exists. So what happens is, services or operations in the civil-military operations field cannot be done as rapidly as required. What happens is we miss what's called a 'golden hour' to earn the trust and confidence of the local people."

And the left thinks the services can't think outside of the box. It may take a sledgehammer to get our attention, but even a lefty should be able to love this development. Coming soon to a newspaper near you:

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April 2010: Marine Corps Civil Affairs Unit helping local officials with weed and pest control...

I wonder what the Big Unit thinks about all this? Cassandra?

by John on Dec 19, 2005

December 11, 2005

Rodger Young.

Have you read Heinlein's Starship Troopers (vice the crap movie), and wondered, however briefly, the source of the music played over the speakers to the Mobile Infantry on the... Rodger Young?

No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry,
No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,
But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

Well, click here. Now you know.

by John on Dec 11, 2005

December 10, 2005

Gun Pr0n!

Heh. Kinda. It's gonna make some readers react like it was pr0n, anyway...

Click here.

Yep. *Ours*

I haven't done anything for you airplane fellas lately.

How about this?

Something for the sailors... here.

The Coasties... That's the Storis commissioned 1942 and still serving. Talk about "the forgotten service"...


CUTTER STORIS (FOR RELEASE) KODIAK, Alaska (Sept. 26, 2005)--The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Storis will celebrate their ship's 63 years of service on Sept. 30. The Storis was built by the Toledo Shipbuilding Company, Toledo, Ohio and commissioned in 1942. The Storis saw action in World War II in the North Atlantic while assigned to prevent the establishment of Nazi weather stations in Greenland. In 1948, the Storis changed homeport to Juneau where it supplied medical treatment to native villages and surveyed uncharted watersin the Arctic. The Storis and two other cutters, now decommissioned, completed a historic transit of the Northwest Passage and circumnavigation of the North American continent in July of 1957. Soon after, the Storis was transferred to its present homeport here. The Storis continues to patrol the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea proudly bearing its gold "38" hull numbers, which is a distinction given only to the oldest cutter in the fleet. Official Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Christopher D. McLaughlin

and, of course, Marines.

by John on Dec 10, 2005

December 06, 2005

That rumbling you hear...

...is a shifting paradigm - or at least, the formal acknowledgement of the need.

Good News from Iraq even a Leftist could love.

One of the reasons this blog changed from what it was to what it is revolves around the changes in my day-to-day work responsibilities, the areas covered, and the resultant restrictions on what I can talk about, whether via OPSEC or classification constraints, or via judgements made about talking "out of school" in areas where the information is my client's, not mine, or my confidentiality agreement with my employer rules. In addition, I generally like my job, and don't want to blog myself out of it. It's my way of doing my bit for the war effort. So there's lots of stuff I used to blather about - I don't anymore. C'est la guerre.

This is not one of those times, thanks to DoD. I've had a DoD-issued ID card my entire life. I have lived within or around the bubble that is the Armed Services of the United States, mostly the Army, pretty much from the day I was born. And, since I'm a retiree, I'll be a leech on the national treasury until I die, too. Heh. Even my "private sector" paycheck is just public money laundered through an intermediary, not having work a single commercial project thus far.

Okay, why the long-winded setup? Being on the outside, many of you don't see changes, or understand what they can mean when you do see them. If you are on the inside, they seem to come along so incrementally that they don't seem that monumental.

On November 28, the Department of Defense published a paradigm-shifting document... if it gets implemented properly. It is also a tacit admission of the inadequacy of post-war planning - because we didn't have a doctrine for it. Make no mistake - while the current administration gets all the darts and laurels attendant to the war - previous administrations had a vote. And *they* didn't develop a doctrine for this, either. We haven't had a doctrine for this, not really, since Vietnam, when we decided (the military *and* the politicians) we weren't going to do this anymore. The Left should be able to love this document - it's something they've blathered about for years. Let's see.

Certainly, we were working towards it - the Balkans, Somalia, and Haiti, as well as massive disaster relief efforts were pushing us this way - but only in a band-aid fashion, and all within the "Warfighter" paradigm, with all else as a secondary mission to the Prime Directive - Fight and Win Big Wars. We proceeded from the assumption that others would fall in the vacuum left behind and deal with all the fiddly bits. Only they didn't very often. And the US military establishment hadn't had true experience of this since the end of the Constabulary period in Germany and Japan after WWII.

What am I talking about? The Bogeyman. Nation Building.

Or as we call it now - "Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) Operations." Formerly called SASO, Stability and Support Operations. This is definitely full-spectrum.

Interested in the rest? Hit the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »