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February 13, 2004

I hadn't thought of it like this before - but they're right.

From the Military Officers Association of America legislative update today. For those of you who haven't been keeping up with the name change, this used to be TROA, The Retired Officer's Association. They've always taken active duty members (that's when I joined) the changed the name to eliminate the confusion. Anyway, here is thier take on "stop-loss". I can't say that I would argue the point... and I still wonder why they have done hardly any retiree recalls. Well, I know one reason - most of us retirees are under the 'highest pay' system - and would see huge raises when we re-retired... and aren't really the kind of guys and gals they're looking for. But I could replace a few Majors or Lieutenant Colonels around here, freeing them up for other work elsewhere.

Issue 3: Stop-Loss: The New Draft

The more we think about the Defense Department's plan to meet wartime
requirements for the next few years, the more concerned we get.

The plan is to increase Army manning by 30,000 for the next few years. But
that won't be accomplished through additional recruiting, as most of us tend to
think when we hear those words. It will be accomplished mainly by barring
current members from leaving when their terms of service are up - a policy known as
"stop-loss." The plan is to keep stop-loss in place through 2005, for thousands
of active duty, Guard and Reserve troops.

It's hard to see that as anything other than a reinstitution of the draft,
imposed in the most ironic way possible. The only people being drafted are those
who have already volunteered to serve in the first place. Many have already
seen combat or hazardous duty in Africa, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and/or Iraq.
Now their end-of-tour separations are being denied so they can be forced to fill
manpower shortages and deploy again.

The Defense Department is trying to put a good face on it, saying it will meet
wartime needs through "increased retention" rather than increased recruiting.
If stop-loss is being euphemized that way, somebody's kidding himself. You
can't keep stop-loss in place for extended periods without risking negative
retention consequences for the longer term.

Don't get us wrong. Sometimes stop-loss is the only way to meet the national
defense mission. But prudent planners know it should be a short-term tool, not
an extended policy. It means that somebody didn't plan very well.

The planning deficiency didn't start with current leadership. We should have
started recruiting for a bigger force years ago, because the troops have been
overstressed for more than a decade. But the fact that it hasn't been done yet
is no excuse to keep putting it off.

Is anybody thinking about the situation this process is creating for whoever is
leading the Defense Department and the Services two years downstream? When the
stop-loss policy ends, does anyone think there won't be a disproportional wave
of "negative retention"? If we need a larger force for years to come - and
everybody knows we do - prudent planning would seem to dictate that increased
recruiting has to be part of the solution.

We don't think the need is lost on military leaders. They're doing their
utmost to find the best solution to a huge manpower challenge within the
"transformation" limits imposed upon them by politicians and political appointees. But
there's also a limit to how much reality can be ignored, and a limit to the risks
we should accept in planning military force levels needed to defend the

Remember, "Help is on the way"? We never thought it meant just another helping
of sacrifice heaped on those who have already borne their fair share of the

They don't all hate us.

Iraqi memorial.jpg

I remember reading about this when the project started. From an email I got today. Thanks Mike.

This picture of the statue was made by an Iraqi artist named Kalat, who for years was forced by Saddam Hussein to make the many hundreds of bronze busts of Saddam that dotted Baghdad. This artist was so grateful that the Americans liberated his country, he melted 3 of the fallen Saddam heads and made a memorial statue dedicated to the American soldiers and their fallen comrades. Kalat worked on this night and day for several months. To the left of the kneeling soldier is a small Iraqi girl giving the soldier comfort as he mourns the loss of his comrade in arms. It is currently on display outside the palace that is now home to the 4th Infantry division. It will eventually be shipped and shown at the memorial museum in Fort Hood, Texas.
by John on Feb 13, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» King of Fools links with: A Moving Tribute
» Certus Veritas links with: They Don't All Hate Us
» Me, Myself & I links with: Check this out--
» Sgt Hook links with:
» Insults Unpunished links with: 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light) Dispatches
» baldilocks links with: Love Immortalized
» Mudville Gazette links with: MilBlogs:
» Say Anything links with: A Fitting Tribute
» Mudville Gazette links with: MilBlogs
» Twisted Spinster links with: how can you see into my eyes like open doors
» Dean's World links with: Statue
» Stryker Brigade News links with: Memorial Scuplture
» blogoSFERICS links with: Why Do They Hate Us? Oh -- They Don't
» murdoc online links with: That's really something

Al Haig speaks up on NATO and Western Civilization.

Anyone want to quibble with this? Support it?

Foreign Policy Research Institute

By Alexander M. Haig, Jr.

Volume 5, Number 1
February 2004

This document is the text of the keynote speech delivered by Alexander M. Haig, Jr. to the Foreign Policy Research Institute conference on "Is There Still a West?," February 12-13, 2004. A trustee of FPRI, General Haig is former Secretary of State and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe.


By Alexander M. Haig, Jr.

I am delighted to speak to you today here in Philadelphia under the auspices of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. FPRI is near and dear to me and we have had some history together. After returning from the Supreme Command of NATO in 1979, I became an Institute Senior Fellow at the suggestion of FPRI's founder, the late Robert Strausz-Hupe. Two of the Institute's scholars, Woody Goldberg and Harvey Sicherman, worked with me to produce an important book on the Alliance. Later, they joined me in Washington during my time as Secretary of State. I'm not sure that any of us fully recovered from the experience! But we all benefited from Robert's talent, skill, and devotion to the idea of the West. That idea, embodied in the Atlantic Alliance, rescued Western civilization from the dangers of communism during the Cold War. Under NATO's protection, both sides of the Atlantic flourished together as never before.

In recent years, however, the concept of the "West" has been challenged. Critics of our values question whether the West as constituted is even worth defending. Others doubt whether the democracies have anything to give the rest of the world. After the Cold War ended, the doubters increased. They argued that the Soviet Union having expired, it might be time for NATO to be retired.

Then came September 11, 2001. After rallying together, we and some of our European allies then fell into a quarrel over how to deal with the dictator of Iraq. This very public dispute aggravated earlier doubts. Soon the critics of NATO, the only industry that never knows recession, were in full cry. I can sum up their position this way. First, NATO is no longer necessary, having fulfilled its great mission of deterring the Soviet threat. Second, judging by the split over Iraq, it does not work all that well anyway.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Feb 13, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Who Tends the Fires links with: And then the News turns on us...

Gratuitous Gun Pic.

The late model 25-pounder howitzer in front of the Royal School of Artillery, Larkhill. Beautiful gun - not just this one, but from a gunner's perspective.

Here's a shot (from the website above) of a full up nicely kitted out howitzer on it's azimuth platform, caisson, and tractor. For you non-technical types: gun thingy on gizmo that makes it easy to spin around, ammo-holding thingy, and towing thingy. 8^D


by John on Feb 13, 2004 | Artillery
» Mind of Mog links with: Glorious Good Gay G

Interesting little tidbits from history today.

1503 A little forshadowing of things to come for the military fortunes of French senior leadership: Tournament of Barletta: 13 Italian knights defeat 13 French
knights. Unfortunately, it's not a momentum the Italian senior leadership can maintain. I don't generally pick on soldiers, as they do most of the dying - after all the italians are the people who provided the soldiery of the heart of the Roman Legions - the basic stock is good, and was only added to, not diluted by, the goth conquerors, ask any Austrian who fought along the Isonzo in WWI - it's the senior leaders who fail to match the metal of their men. And the French provided the men who stopped the Moors - setting the stage for the "Tragedy of Andalusia" an event that had Osama pissed off.

1692 Scotland: Campbells massacre the MacDonalds on orders of William
III - survivors move to Ireland, I wonder? Or emigrate and change their names to Hatfield and McCoy?

1942 Hitler cancels Operation Seeloew, the proposed invasion of Britain - thereby confirming he's a bloody-minded amateur and that the Germans have never really had a good understanding of grand strategy. It seemingly takes a maritime nation to truly understand the global construct. Of course, the Germans came to it late, not even being the nation we think of as Germany until 1870.

1942 Japanese sub I-17 shells oil depot at Goleta, California, to no
effect - you b@st@rds! They probably meant to get the amusement park pier.

1942 US and Canada agree to construct the ALCAN Highway. Now THERE was a piece of work, right up there with the Burma road.

1945 Allies begin fire-bombing of Dresden, an estimated 50,000 die. This is an example of why you like your wars to be short and sweet. The longer they go, the more likely this kind of thing is to happen as leaders try to force an end to things. Of course, the counter to this argument (and we've heard this regarding Iraq) if you beat them too fast, they don't really accept they've had their ass kicked. In May of 1945, there weren't too many Germans unaware that they had just been thoroughly whacked, and were ready to try something different.

1960 France explodes its first atomic bomb, in Algeria. Pikers. At least we exploded our first one on our own territory. No wonder the Algerians started getting pissy.

1989 Salvadoran Army attack Encuentros Hospital, rape, kill patients - this is an example of what happens when you try to make your army be both your police and your army. They are crappy soldiers, and usually end up being brutal police, doing nothing well.

Hat tip to Strategy Page.

February 12, 2004

Gratuitous Gun Pic


Nope - that's not me. I don't own one. But I wish I did - and I wish I had had the chance to be there. Hey, old warhorses heads toss when they hear the bugle. While I certainly wasn't Courtney Massengale - I never really had the chance to be Sam Damon, either.

More on the Soldier's Load


Here is the presentation I promised last week about the Soldier's Load study done with forces in Afghanistan. Actually, I promised OIF - but that's because I was mistaken about what I had. This is a different version (with a lot of good pictures showing the load the troops are carrying. Last week's presentation was for tech intel and grognard wargamers (you know who are) This presentation is for the figure modeller - you're going to love these shots! All photos US Army.

February 11, 2004

Hey - we just did what your guy said!

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."

- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998"

What's the beef?

In Honor of the Clark Barbeque

Here's a picture of where I'd like to take the Arsenal at Castle Argghhh! From a good buddy and enabler in Australia comes this picture of him moving one of his FOUR 25-pounder guns, and his Bren Gun Carrier he used to pull them off the trailer as he relocates from his old spread to his new digs now that he's married. Yes, guys - he's married to a woman as wonderful as She Who Will Be Obeyed - she not only lets him have FOUR cannon - but he also owns a tracked vehicle!

And at least one of his guns appears to be a veteran of the Western Desert campaigns of WWII. Sadly, there was a mishap with the Armstrong gun lying on its side there, but these guns are tough.

by John on Feb 11, 2004 | Artillery

February 10, 2004

Now this is the kind of feedback that wakes up the little boy in me...

Someone discovered the Arsenal at Castle Arggghhh!

For the records, Gents. I AM married. To She Who Will Be Obeyed!, and I'm only 46. I got started in 1974 when I inherited my first rifle, a Springfield Trapdoor.

And, sadly for DWS, there is already a Son and Heir.

by John on Feb 10, 2004 | Gun Rights

February 09, 2004

Just a little perspective...

Commentary: Some Soldiers missed Super Bowl

By Lt. Col. Andrew Straw
February 4, 2004

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 4, 2004) -- At kickoff, I was touching up the shine on my combat boots. I thought of calling my wife in Charlotte, N.C., but she had already gone across town to a Super Bowl party.

As I left Washington for the drive to the airfield, the first half was winding down and the score was still 0-0. I couldn't find the game on the car radio and forgot about football for the next 30 minutes.

I arrived at Davison Army Airfield to find the eight young Soldiers from the Honor Guard, also dressed in camouflage fatigues, sprawled out in the small passenger lounge. They were ogling the halftime show on TV and wisecracking back and forth just like thousands of other groups of young guys across the country at that moment. I learned that the score was 14-10, Panthers behind.

The general arrived five minutes later, just as the pilot stepped in to say the aircraft was ready. Anita called from Charlotte on my cell just as I was walking out the door-"Can't talk, gotta go." On the TV behind me, play was just beginning for the second half.

The ten of us followed a sergeant through the darkness from the near-deserted terminal to the waiting helicopter. As we carefully tiptoed across patches of ice on the apron, one of the Honor Guard soldiers whispered something about Janet Jackson.

Another Soldier beamed with adventure as he climbed in, "It reminds me of the first time I rode a tractor!" I was beaming too. It would be my first ride on an Army Blackhawk.

I was warned in advance that Black Hawks had no heaters, and had bundled up with two layers beneath my uniform. The night was clear. We flew to Delaware at low altitude over beautiful snow-covered scenery. We landed at Dover Air Force Base 45 minutes later, and parked near a huge C-141 cargo plane with Air Force Reserve markings. The rear doors and ramp were open, and light spilled from the huge cargo bay.

I followed the general as he was quickly ushered into a small, neat passenger lounge. Coffee? Water? The game was on TV; the score was 22-21. A half dozen others in various uniforms were waiting. I introduced myself to a major from New York City -- a forensic dentist in the Army Reserve, called up to help out for a 30-day tour. A Methodist minister serving as an Air Force chaplain bragged about the support his wife gives him while he is recalled to active duty.

While the general got a briefing on the mission details, an Air Force colonel gathered the rest of us together, and we marched out to the C-141. I followed him up the ladder into the cargo bay. It was empty except for the three oblong boxes in a perfect row down the center. Two loadmasters were adjusting the ramp in the rear of the aircraft, and several others were carefully arranging U.S. flags over each of the boxes. A congenial major explained the proceedings to follow the way a priest leads a family through a wedding rehearsal.

I line up with the flight crew along the fuselage, facing the caskets. Attention! The Honor Guard marches in silently; wearing white gloves with their camouflage uniforms now. The General marches up the ramp with the Air Force wing commander, a colonel. The chaplain says a prayer with all the right words: fallen warriors...the Army family...selfless service...the price of freedom.

Nobody is thinking about football. Nobody. The young Soldiers from the Old Guard are standing smartly, solemnly, expressionless. No slouching or snickers now, only the serious task at hand. Ready...Down! Ready...Up! Ready...Face! Forward...March! They move to the measured commands with astounding precision.

In the cold dark night, there are fewer than two dozen of us present. No outsiders are watching, but those young men give a TV-quality performance, as if their burden was a fallen president. Present Arms! We salute as the first remains are marched off the plane under the watchful gaze of the general. He salutes.

We do it again for the second set and the third. The unmarked, clean, white truck then drives off very slowly with its red, white, and blue-draped cargo. The Honor Detail marches behind it. The General dismisses us.

Back in the small lounge, the game is still on, eight seconds left. I watch the unfolding excitement numbly.

Welcome home, fallen sergeant, corporal, and private first class.

You missed the Super Bowl. The Patriots won.

Thank you.

(Editor's note: Sgt. Eliu Miersandoval, 27, Cpl. Juan Cabralbanuelos, 25, and Pfc. Holly McGeogh, 19, of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, died Jan. 31 in Kirkuk, Iraq, when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device during convoy operations. Lt. Col. Andrew Straw is an Army Reserve officer from Charlotte. He has been serving on active duty at the Pentagon with the Army's G3 since October 2002.)

Gratitous Gun Pic

Too busy this morning for anything else - gratuitous gun pic to keep you animals calm. Mostly Soviet Mosins and Tokarevs with a Finn M39, and a couple of Swedes finding their way into the picture...

February 08, 2004

Get some, Granny!

I'm not going to steal their thunder - you just need to go read about this California Grandmother who defended her Castle - brought to you by the gents at Boots and Sabers!!

You go, girl!

by John on Feb 08, 2004 | Gun Rights