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July 24, 2004

This is almost like the free market in action.

...what with entrepreneurs trying a new product and finding out that it works. Oddly enough, the guys doing this probably aren't really fans of the capitalist model, either.

Wave of Kidnappings in Iraq Continues Jul 24, 8:37 AM (ET) By PAUL GARWOOD

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Gunmen kidnapped the head of an Iraqi government-owned construction company in Baghdad on Saturday, a brazen daylight attack in a new wave of hostage-taking across the country.

The kidnapping occurred a day after a senior Egyptian diplomat was snatched as he came out of a mosque, and suggested insurgents were growing bolder, particularly since kidnappers scored a stunning victory by forcing the Philippines to withdraw troops to save the life of a Filipino truck driver.

Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi urged Egypt not to bow to the demands of the kidnappers.

So, the 'insurgents' are adopting the Mafia model. And thanks to Zapatero and Arroyo, the practice is spreading. Sigh. And the only way to stop it is to either just go ahead and leave (which, still means it works to kidnap people and saw off a few heads) or to do the really hard thing, which is accept there are going to be some more heads sawn off, and do your damndest (which I'm sure is being done) to catch these bastards.

These dicks are just sooo stupid. They could have played along nicely, and then just tried to take it over in a coup at a later point - and a lot fewer people would be dead. As it is, they are confirming themselves as bandits, which will force them to rule as tyrants... which means nothing will get better over there.

They have no vision. Oh, yes, they have *a* vision, yes... but they have no real vision of a future. They just want a bad past to continue.

Wahabism Delenda Est.

The full story is here.

July 23, 2004

Great minds think alike.

Via Laughing Wolf, we go to Wizbang, to find Kevin Paul perplexipated about the Washington Post take on the 9-11 Commission Report.

Kevin Paul (sorry Paul, my bad) investigates and finds this in Chapter 12:

...In this sense, 9/11 has taught us that terrorism against American interests “over there” should be regarded just as we regard terrorism against America “over here.” In this same sense, the American homeland is the planet. But the enemy is not just “terrorism,” some generic evil. This vagueness blurs the strategy. The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is more specific. It is the threat posed by Islamist terrorism —especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its ideology.

Great insight. I coulda told 'em that.

Wait. I did. In May. You heard it here first, folks... Castle Argghhh!, still #1 on Google for:Wahabism Delenda Est!

Heck, here at the Arsenal of Anti-Wahabism, we're #3 for Wahabism by it's lonesome.

Well, Gentlemen, the ball is in your court...

And by that, I mean the senior leadership of the Army and DoD, regarding the Army IG's report on prisoner abuse.

Army Announces 94 Allegations of Abuse Jul 22, 11:17 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - Thirty-nine prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since the fall of 2001 and there have been 94 cases of proven or suspected abuse, the Army said Thursday in a broad new report giving a more precise and higher estimate of the scale of the abuse.

The Army inspector general's report also gives new details about the alleged abuses, including evidence that troops conspired to make Iraqi prisoners jump off a bridge, that one interrogator hit a prisoner in the head during questioning and that a sergeant told subordinates to "rough up" detainees.

I will be looking forward to the corollary report which details the judicial and non-judicial actions taken. I can't believe there are no officers for whom - if only under the 'dereliction of duty' clause, cannot be prosecuted for their actions or failures to act. But right now, all I'm aware of are three article 15's.

There are probably some prompt retirements due. There have been some reliefs. But... if there are not more criminal (and yes, dereliction and/or failure to act is criminal) cases forthcoming, especially in the officer ranks - then I don't see how the Army IG can make the following assertion:

Still, the Army report concludes there were no systemic problems that caused or contributed to the abuses. All of the wrongdoing was committed by soldiers who violated Army rules and regulations, at times aided by commanders who either encouraged abuses or looked the other way, said Inspector General Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek.

Senate Democrats, pointing to deficiencies in training and inconsistencies in doctrine outlined in the Army report, immediately challenged that finding.

I'm with the Senate Democrats here - and I'm no fan of theirs. Either there should be a significant number of senior officer careers publicly wrecked, whether by obvious relief, retirement, or prosecution --- or there *was* a systemic problem and how are we going to deal with that? And if we aren't prosecuting or firing, and there is no 'systemic problem' then we aren't fixing anything, are we? And don't toss up the fact that LTG Sanchez, isn't going to get his otherwise probably-deserved 4th Star, either. For most of us, *only* getting to command V Corps as a retirement job so he'll get the time to retire at 3-Star rank doesn't seem like too bad a deal... and yes, for those of you with twitchy comment-fingers I do know that things are happening that we don't know about. My point is - absent legal privacy consderations, there should be a lot more public things going on. And perhaps there will be. All that said with the recognition (that many in the political arena don't know or care about, and those with no knowledge of the UCMJ are unaware of) that the senior leaders do have to tread carefully here regarding legal proceedings lest they hand the Trial Defense Service lawyers a ready-built 'Command Influence" defense.

The acting Army secretary and its (sic) top general said they took responsibility for the abuses while insisting that they were not sanctioned by Army leadership.

"These actions, while regrettable, are aberrations," said Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker said mistakes were understandable, though not excusable. Troops must be trained to contain their anger at prisoners who had been trying to kill them, he said.

"It's in the middle of a rumble that this is happening," Schoomaker said.

One thing I'm tired of (and I actually have othewise no gripes with Brownlee or Schoomaker) is the now-tired phrase "I take responsibility" that seems to come with no real actions or consequences. In short, gentlemen - if you truly care about the Army, and I know you do - Show Me the Money! Thus far, unless I missed it buried somewhere, all I've really seen are wolf-tickets.

Anybody who knows better - please share that which is legally shareable.

The whole bit, with more details (though not much not already reported) is here.

July 22, 2004

Time for a moment of Zen.

Ahhhhhhhhh. I feel better now. Nothing like a little relaxing trip through the gun room.

I left this one alone...

...because other people were all over it and I didn't have much to say.

Nice little article on NRO today the gently kicks the media (and blogosphere, a bit) in the teeth for being, well, slackers.

This guy googled his away around and found the band on Annie Jacobsen's scary flight.

This guy doesn't pooh-pooh what Annie said in her piece... but he did ask the questions I was asking. With all that was going on that was in violation of the protocols in place on every flight I've taken lately - how come no one - no one - on that flight did this?

Now, by that I certainly don't mean that the interceptors should have scrambled or the passengers should have started swinging Chardonnay bottles as soon as the oud player took too long in the john. But evidently no one even engaged these guys in a conversation, and no one, not the flight crew, and not the air marshals, challenged their egregious violations of protocols about congregating near restrooms or standing up in unison as the plane started its descent. Nothing was done to alleviate the terror Jacobsen, and probably a lot of the other passengers, felt.

That's the bit that annoyed me - not Jacobsen's disquiet or (depending on your politics) un-pc attitude about it all.

This is the bit that get's me. Put me in Clinton Taylor's corner here.

Liberals will likely decry the suspicion and interrogation the musicians faced on Flight 327. And the principled Right will regret that that was necessary. If the band's English wasn't very good they might not have understood the instructions. But a polite word and some helpful gestures earlier on, rather than a guilty PC silence, might have saved them some embarrassment. In any case, the police-state parallels fade quickly: In a real police state, like, oh, Syria, you are not even allowed inside the country with an Israeli stamp in your passport.

June 29 was no ordinary day in the skies. That day, Department of Homeland Security officials issued an "unusually specific internal warning," urging customs officials to watch out for Pakistanis with physical signs of rough training in the al Qaeda training camps. The warning specifically mentioned Detroit and Los Angeles's LAX airports, the origin and terminus of NWA flight 327.

That means that our air-traffic system was expecting trouble. But rather than land the plane in Las Vegas or Omaha, it was allowed to continue on to Los Angeles without interruption, as if everything were hunky-dory on board. It certainly wasn't. If this had been the real thing, and the musicians had instead been terrorists, nothing was stopping them from taking control of the plane or assembling a bomb in the restroom. Given the information they were working with at the time, almost everyone should have reacted differently than they did.

Army Transformation

If you look at the era of limited warfare since World War II, this continuum of American involvement in limited liability wars from Korea to Iraqi Freedom, you'll notice that 81 percent, or four out of five, servicemen and women who died in combat at the hands of the enemy have been infantrymen -- not soldiers or Marines, but infantrymen. Something like five percent of the force is suffering 80 percent of the dead at the hands at the enemy.

What's also interesting in this period of limited wars is that the greatest killer of Americans on the battlefield is the mortar -- simple iron tube that throws a grenade up into the air. The enemy today, of course, is taking mortars and artillery shells and turning them into explosive devices. The principle is the same.

From the opening statement of MG Scales (see extended post)

With that setting the stage...

This post is about Army transformation. I encourage my readers who work in the business to scan the stuff below, read the document, and come back and offer their views. You can comment anonymously, simply by putting bogus data in the comment fields. Feel free to contact me directly, if you have something to say that you don't want public. Just please make it clear that it's not for the public! I am a blogger, after all! If all you have to say is an incoherent screech, don't bother, I'll just delete it. 8^)

The link at the end of this post is to the transcript of recent testimony given to the House Armed Services Committee on the subject of Army Transformation. There is much there worth pondering, for those of us who are involved with it, either intellectually, like myself and Rammer, or operationally, like SGT Hook and Uruloki. I'm providing some snippets that caught my eye as I went through it, hopefully they will encourage you to read the whole thing. I would right click and save the document, rather than spawn it from my server. That way you'll have it locally to read at leisure.

From Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's (R-MD) intro to the hearing:

Both President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld have embraced transformation as a guiding concept for reshaping our military forces for the new security challenge facing our nation. Arguably, the Army has emerged as the most visible and aggressive effort to implement this vision. The questions before the committee are varied and complex, but they include: Precisely how is the Army transforming? Is it moving in the right direction? And, is it wise to attempt such radical change while the Army's troops are continuously engaged in combat?

We may find that the Army has no choice but to significantly change to meet the demands of modern warfare, but we also have an obligation to determine what will be gained and what will be lost as the Army undergoes this lengthy and difficult process.

Change is always difficult. We understand that some have criticized the Army for being too bold in changing when it is fully engaged in combat in Iraq. Others, including some at the witness table, have said that the Army's plan is too timid to meet the challenges to today's security environment.

While part of the Army's plan involves procurement programs, the more critical proposed changes rest in the Army's culture, doctrine and organization. In any case, we have a duty to carefully review this important initiative as the most fundamental change facing the Army since the end of the draft, close to thirty years ago.

Our witnesses today have either operated within or studied the Army intimately. Since none of them are presently officially connected with the Army, they are well placed to provide their frank and unvarnished views of the changes the Army is undergoing.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

July 21, 2004

Gee, can you say "Cause and Effect?"

I knew you could.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A militant group said Wednesday it had taken six more hostages - three Indians, two Kenyans and an Egyptian - and would behead them if their countries did not immediately announce the withdrawal of their citizens from Iraq.

Let us give thanks to Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain, and President Arroyo of the Philipines, for your firm, decisive leadership on this issue, providing all the incentive needed for this creative form of political discourse.

You can argue all you want about whether or not we should be there - lord knows we have - but running in response to terroristic acts only spurs them on.

The full story is here.


1861 Battle of Bull Run/Manassas: Confederate Victory

Damn'd rebels.

From Drudge, no link yet.

...but there's been a lot of "Wolf," so I'll be sceptical for a while.

Nuclear arms reportedly found in Iraq...

I wonder if it's regarding this report due out in September.

Update: Nope, it's this report from the Washington Times. No disrespect, but I'm very familiar with the Arab tendency to exaggerate things (and US politicians...) so I'll wait for some more info before I allow myself a self-satisfied smirk for the "Bush L1ed, People D1ed" crowd.

Update II: Iraq Interior Ministry says "It's Stupid." I dunno about stupid, but I'm willing to bet at best, it's SCUD parts (still a good find) or SAM missiles (assuming they are large rockets, not smaller Katyusha-type) than the smoking gun many of us would like them to be, and many of the rest of us fear them to be.

Of course, if it *is* true and accurate, it will be fun to see how the "Bush L1ed, People D1ed" crowd will contort themselves to channel Bill Murray and chant, "It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!"

Remember that H-bomb you lost?

...somebody may have found it.

Sea sleuths zero in on lost H-bomb

If found, leave it alone, Air Force says

Of The Post and Courier Staff
A group of amateur nuclear bomb hunters from Georgia said Tuesday they may have pinpointed a lost 7,600-pound hydrogen bomb the Air Force accidentally dropped in the ocean near Savannah in 1958.

Using equipment that detects radiation and large metal objects, the group scoured a football-field-sized area off Tybee Beach Tuesday morning.

Derek Duke, a retired Air Force colonel who has made the so-called "Tybee bomb" his personal mission, said the group's gear identified a spot where radiation levels were seven to 10 times greater than normal.

Duke said he and his colleagues then detected "a massive underwater object."

"It might be nothing," he said. "Our big question now is, 'What do we do next?'"

The Air Force's answer: Leave it alone.

I'm with the Air Force on this one. I do collect ordnance - but there are some things I will just leave laying where they are found. Don't want this to be my last newspaper entry...

Of course, if they have found it - I don't think the Air Force is going to be able to ignore it. There's fissile material there, and 400lbs of explosives. The bomb was not fully armed - it did not have it's second fissile element (plutonium) installed - it's still there, and once it's location is known, someone (however unlikely) may try to get it, for their own nefarious purposes. So, if it pans out - I suspect the DoD will be in the middle of a sh1t storm in dealing with it.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Yes, the military personnel system is under some stress...

Here's an example... the Army is recalling a 67 year old retiree - who already served 41 years!

Charleston (SC) Post and Courier -July 19, 2004 Uncle Sam Issues Recall For Psychiatrist, 67 By Associated Press

COLUMBIA--Seven years ago, Lexington psychiatrist Charles Ham retired from the Army. Or at least he thought so.

He recently got a call telling him to report to Fort Jackson for a physical examination.

Ham, who wore a U.S. Army uniform for 41 years, knew that 5,600 veterans who recently had left the service were being called up. But he never thought he would be on the list.

"You know, I'm 67 years old. Why do you need me?" Ham asked.

The caller explained that the Army needed psychiatrists to counsel troops. A recent study found the suicide rate of soldiers serving in Iraq is higher than for other GIs. The suicide rate in Iraq was 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers compared with 12.8 for the Army overall.

To help remedy the problem, the study recommended the Army send more mental health specialists to combat zones. {snip}

After the call, Ham, who is enrolled in Medicare (emphasis mine), underwent his Army physical. Now, he is waiting for another call.

"I have two choices," said Ham, who is married and a grandfather. "I can either wait patiently or I can wait impatiently."

Ham, who retired as a colonel, is subject to being recalled because he's an officer, Army spokeswoman Andrea Wales said. There is no age limit for officers to serve, she said.

"In general, officers are considered to be management," Wales said. "The Army puts a lot of money and time into training officers and expects them to rise to the occasion and lead soldiers."

Yep. I keep waiting for my call, too. But, I'm just a vanilla artilleryman, simulations expert, and WMD response planner. Apparently we have enough of them. (We do have enough artillery officers!)

The rest is in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Jul 21, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» drowning at 2 feet sea level links with: Blog Race

I've been buried and busy... I missed this bit of Good News.

Captain Patti is home.

Welcome back, Captain, welcome back.

Mission first, people always.

New blogger... sort of.

Hey, everybody, meet Brian. He's been blogging since 2001... but he's a teeny-tiny blogger. Pointed out to me by Alan, a fellow Red Ensign blogger in Canada, Brian is a new soldier, currently in Kuwait waiting to drive Upcountry to Baghdad. Since his last post was 17 July, that convoy may be moving.

What makes Brian's blog, DogHostage, interesting to me is that when he started it 3 years ago, he was unemployed, and the blog chronicles his path from, as he puts it,

"Some guy who moved from Austin, Texas to the "North Country" of New York, discussing and documenting his life. The young man has been a bank teller, graphic designer, website builder, volunteer firefighter. In early 2003, he became a Legal Specialist in the United States Army. And right now he's in Iraq..."

So, shortly, we'll have a new milblogger in Iraq. Who, as a legal specialist, will perhaps have a different view of things and can give us a fresh perspective on the life of the soldier.

Here ya go, Brian - show us what you've got!

July 20, 2004

Here's a stupid thief.

There is a special place in hell for this bastard.

And *if* he's caught, Marines and former Marines (to include those who *might* be in jail) will not think highly of this twit when they find out what he did.

And, when the time comes for him to meet his maker... well, there's a wide spot on the road to Hell called "Fiddler's Green" where mounted soldiers quaff a brew on their way... and somehow never leave.

He'll have to walk by.

Fiddler's Green (Cavalry)

Halfway down the trail to hell
In a shady meadow green,
Are the souls of all dead troopers camped
Near a good old-time canteen
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddler's Green.

Marching past, straight through to hell,
The infantry are seen, '
Accompanied by the Engineers,
Navy and Marine,
For none but the shades of Mounted Men
Dismount at Flddlers' Green.

Though some go curving down the trail
To seek a warmer scene,
No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he's emptied his canteen,
And so rides back to drink agaln
With friends at Fiddlers' Green.

And so when man and horse go down
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge or fierce melee
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head
And go to Fiddlers' Green.

He'll be an unrecognizable mess when he arrives to get his inbrief to Perdition.

I will happily drop my canteen and go help.

But until that day arrives, how about all you Pennsylvania Marines and Former Marines, put the word out around Bridgeport that the safest place for this crapweasel to be is in police custody? Not a call to harm the asshat - just a suggestion that the police will be nicer to him than any Jarhead will be!

Update: I am a bad man... I forgot to "hat tip" the Fighting Quaker at Ghost of a Flea who sent me the article!

Update: Jeff Quinton did some checking - two suspects are in custody. They were apprehended on Saturday, so we didn't have anything to do with it... but so what? These guys are going to have to walk carefully for a while (if they are indeed the perps), and that is a Good Thing.

by John on Jul 20, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» Dean's World links with: Pennsylvania Crapweasel
» Grim's Hall links with: Ghouls
» Backcountry Conservative links with: Stealing from the dead is bad enough...
» BLACKFIVE links with: Darwinism
» Marine Corps Moms links with: Vultures

Today in History...

14:17:43 20 July 69:

"Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed."

20:56:15 20 July 69:

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
(click here for audio with Realplayer)

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and "Buzz" Aldrin make good on the sacrifice of "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

1969. What a year. Dad is in Vietnam, the Tet Offensive, Apollo 11, and I discovered that girls are, well, interesting.

NASA's official website.

Kinda fun.

And last, but not least - via the Ghost of a Flea, a "Hat Tip" to Dr. Aldrin, for his own feisty way of Dealing with Moonbats!

July 19, 2004

Two Little historical nuggets.

1. Happy Birthday, Sam Colt!

2. "Peace Sign" my a$$. Let's take it back!

July 19, 1941- Winston Churchill flashes his "V for Victory" for the first time

IIRC (and I do), sometimes, it just takes time to finish kicking their a$$. Something that politicians used to understand...

You are supposed to lead, people, not follow. Following the polls is *not* what your job is supposed to be. Not really. And if you can truly lead, the polls will follow.

Hat tip: Strategy Page

by John on Jul 19, 2004 | Historical Stuff
» Ghost of a flea links with: V for Victory

A reading assignment!

Go on over to Winds of Change and read this post about Military Transformation. Then if you haven't been bored to death, come back and read my bloviations, below. CPT H, got some thoughts here?

No one can argue I am overfond of new stuff (just check the Arsenal*), and I make a living pushing ways to use miltech, and I don't have a huge argument with Lance's comments, just some observations.

1. The problems he points out have been endemic to just about any big-ticket item you can name, and usually only come to resolution or innovation under the pressure of war. And people like him (and me, too) have been fighting these battles with little change in the system for decades. But - if the battles aren't fought, it would probably be worse. My bottom line is really that the system is so large and complex, that absent scrapping it altogether, most fixes will be incremental and the system will tend back to equilibrium anyway (that's what being a retired warfighter does to you - you lose the fire of the young'uns...).

2. The reason that the above happens is that many of the 'bloated systems' end up working pretty well. Many of the complaints about the F-22 and such are the same as were leveled against the M1, M2, M3 series of vehicles. Of course, against that you have the F111 and other similar things, like SGT York. All four services need their John Boyds.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

July 18, 2004

July 18, 1863

"The Fifty-fourth did well and nobly. . . .They moved up as gallantly as any troops could, and with their enthusiasm they deserved a better fate."

--Edward L. Pierce, correspondent for the New York Tribune,
to Governor John A. Andrew, July 22, 1863

With the publication of the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January, 1863, President Lincoln opened the doors of the Army and Navy to black men, a key first step on the long road to formal acceptance of blacks as full and equal people. This post isn't to argue how far we've come or have to go - it's to honor the soldiers, black and white, who made a downpayment on that day in 1863.

There were doubts expressed that blacks could fight as well as whites. After the assault on Battery Wagner, those questions were laid to rest, along with 116 soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.

Another milestone was passed that day - Sergeant William Carney became the first black soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

You'll note I've said soldiers here, and mindful of the discussion of labels in posts below, I do have to make a distinction here. Blacks were allowed to be enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers, but the commissioned officers of the 54th were white. There's a long row to hoe before the services *truly* allowed blacks to take positions as commissioned officers and to fully command white troops, too. It would take a while to get to General Colin Powell.

Robert Gould Shaw, scion of Bostonian privilege, commanded the 54th Massachusetts from the time the regiment was raised, to the storming of the parapets of Battery Wagner.

He died at the head of his men. The odd thing is, the Confederates dumped his body into the mass grave with the rest of his soldiers, thinking they were insulting Colonel Shaw.

Where else would an officer *want* to be buried, if not with the men he led?