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August 21, 2004

A little redecorating... in order, to make our new office-mate feel at home. His first effort is here.

This used to be Dusty's office. Click the pic for a bigger view.

Perhaps more accurately, this used to be Dusty's office.

August 20, 2004

Introducing a new addition to staff here at Castle Argghhh!

Castle Argghhh! started out as a team blog, with She Who Will Be Obeyed, the Mistress of Castle Argghhh! going off on her own, rightfully feeling a little overrun. SWWBO "arrived" today, scoring the first Instalanche at Castle Argghhh! (see post below).

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Armorer at Castle Argghhh! got a little flavor of seeing his words in print as he scored the coveted position of being the first accidentally designated "Military Guy" of Jonah Goldberg at the National Review Online blog, The Corner.

Over time, Castle Argghhh! has engendered a hard core of readers who provide content when the Armorer's muse is flagging - the most prolific being CAPT H of Her Majesty's Canadian Forces. That officially makes the Castle 'Combined' in military parlance, having a non-US component.

Today, the Castle goes Joint, with the addition of the Instapilot, "Dusty" Rhoades. He's Jonah's Airpower Guy, a retired A10 Warthog driver (my kinda flyboy - an airborne artilleryman with a Big Gun). I'll let Dusty tell you more about himself as he starts posting - but for now, welcome to Castle Argghhh!, a Joint and Combined Task Force!

Openings still available for Seapower Guy, Marine Guy, Coast Guard Guy, and heck, British, Australian, and New Zealand Guy (any other country can certainly apply to join Castle Argghhh!'s roster!) Would also like Senior NCO Guy - heck anyone who thinks they've got something to say can always send it along!

Castle Argghhh! - The Home of Two of Jonah's Military Guys!™

Raising the Next Generation.

A sight to make a non-hawk liberal's blood run cold. To me it just brings back good memories of times gone by as an Army brat.

Master At Arms 2nd Class Michael Hinton, assigned to Naval Station Everett, Wash., helps local children enjoy their topside view of a Highly Mobile Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), August 3, 2004. Local city and military security departments participated in the National Night Out event held at Everett Mall. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eli J. Medellin)

Pics like this bring back memories of REFORGER and Falling-Out-Of-Airplanes-School (though I never flopped out of a C-17)

A C-17 Globemaster III, from McChord Air Force Base, sits on the flight line at McGuire AFB, N.J., after a rainstorm, July 27l 2004. McChord will have approximately eleven C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at McGuire AFB for an estimated three months, due to construction on the McChord flight line. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenn Mann) (Released)

Last, but not least - this one is for SGT Hook - since it is almost certainly one of Hook's 'Hooks.

View of a sling-loaded vehicle being transported out of Bagram, Afghanistan to remote site, July 24, 2004. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Thomas Bray) (Released)

August 19, 2004

And This is just a cool picture.

For John, and Wendell, and you other tankers out there.

Today in History

And this completes my Anglosphere trifecta, as I heap some lauds on the Canadians.

As far as the Germans are concerned...

damned if you do (Dieppe), damned if you don't (Stalingrad).

1942 Canadians take heavy casualties raiding Dieppe
1942 German Sixth Army ordered to capture Stalingrad

Dieppe, while an unmitigated disaster for the allied troops participating, was in fact not a wasted operation and useless expenditure of lives.

The attack upon Dieppe took place on August 19, 1942. The troops involved totaled 6,100 of whom roughly 5,000 were Canadians, the remainder being British Commandos and 50 American Rangers. The raid was supported by eight Allied destroyers and 74 Allied air squadrons (eight belonging to the RCAF). Major General J.H. Roberts, the Commander of the 2nd Canadian Division, was appointed Military Force Commander, with Captain J. Hughes-Hallett, R.N. as Naval Force Commander and Air Vice Marshal T.L. Leigh-Mallory as Air Force Commander.

The lessons learned there by the Allies (and the Germans, who learned the wrong ones) caused the postponement of the invasion, and a complete re-think of how to go about it... culminating in Overlord two years later.

By early afternoon, Operation Jubilee was over. Conflicting assessments of the value of the raid continue to be presented. Some claim that it was a useless slaughter; others maintain that it was necessary to the successful invasion of the continent two years later on D-Day. The Dieppe Raid was closely studied by those responsible for planning future operations against the enemy-held coast of France. Out of it came improvements in technique, fire support and tactics which reduced D-Day casualties to an unexpected minimum. The men who perished at Dieppe were instrumental in saving countless lives on the 6th of June, 1944. While there can be no doubt that valuable lessons were learned, a frightful price was paid in those morning hours of August 19, 1942. Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation only 2,210 returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 907 Canadians lost their lives.

Stalingrad was an unmitigated disaster for the Germans, and all the troops participating - without any saving grace at all for the Germans, as Hitler learned nothing at all from it. Good thing for us.

Hat tip to Strategy Page for the reminder.

Go visit the websites of the Canadian units present at Dieppe:

The Royal Regiment of Canada
The Royal Highland Regiment of Canada
The South Saskatchewan Regiment.
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
The Essex Scottish Regiment
Les Fusiliers Mont Royal
The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
The Kings Own Calgary Regiment

Two of Canada's 16 WWII Victoria Crosses came from Dieppe:

Rev. John Weir Foote, the Royal Hamiltons
Lt. C ol. Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt, the South Saskatchewans.

Now it's the Brit's turn for some support.

This being a Combined Effort of a Canadian Forces rep, CAPT H, and myself - we anglosphere soldiers gotta stick together!

Who will defend our Armed Forces from enemies at home? By John Keegan (Filed: 18/08/2004)

The Armed Forces are the most admired institution in Britain. How strange, therefore, that the Armed Forces should have so few friends among our masters. The Prime Minister declares his admiration for our Service people, as well he might, considering how often he turns to them for help in furthering his foreign policy - in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East - and to rescue him from domestic difficulty, as over the foot-and-mouth epidemic and the fire fighters' strike. When, however, they need his protection as they do in the present cost-cutting climate, he is nowhere to be found.

As CAPT H says, "Indeed!"

The full bit is here, at The Telegraph.

I'm also reading Keegan's "The Iraq War." So far, it's been a good intro to the war for the generalist, with a nice background on Saddam's rise to power and subsequent abuse thereof. I'm also working through Imperial Hubris, and American Soldier. More on them to come.

On the other hand, with little more than a terse, "No Comment" CAPT H passed along this little gem, also from The Telegraph.

Why is the US doing its best to alienate all of its allies? By Stephen Robinson (Filed: 19/08/2004)

It must have been around the fifth hour of internment during my visa ordeal on Tuesday when the quiet, controlled anger of my little gang of fellow visa seekers hardened into rebellious contempt. It was hot, there was no water to drink, and the US embassy vending machine was not working.

Then, a young US Marine in fatigues and flashy desert combat boots, kitted out as though he was just back from patrol in Najaf, sauntered through the waiting room, with a military baton swinging from his belt.

We despondent huddled masses, who had been queueing in Grosvenor Square since just after dawn for a stamp in our passports to allow us to go to America, looked in utter bewilderment at this preposterous show of force.

There are two sides to this, I'm sure. But, since we aren't allowed to profile, I guess we have no choice but to piss off everyone, in order to not piss off a few.

How egalitarian.

The whole piece is here.

A little German hypocrisy.

From David's MedienKritik comes this little gem.

Gee, one of Germany's largest unions, whose president called on all it's members to protest against the US military as Warmongers... is concerned that the departure of the Warmongers might cost members jobs.

Hey - no one said life would be easy, that you can have your principles and eat them, too.

Of course, this reaction puts paid to the notion that the union leaders have principles that rise above the level of self-interest.

August 18, 2004

A long day in hell.

From a reader in Australia comes a pointer to this story, how on August 18, 1966, 100 Australian soldiers are attacked by 1500 Viet Cong guerillas in a rubber planation at Long Tan. Since the Ozzies have been with us every step of the way in the GWOT, today, here at Castle Argghhh! we acknowledge their contributions, and express our gratitude for their steadfastness.

"I saw no one falter, each supporting his mate and defending his patch of dirt to the death," Buick says. "There were only about 12 of the platoon capable of firing. There seemed to be no one alive in 4 Section. Five Section had a couple dead and some wounded and I had no idea how 6 Section was coping on the right flank. The situation was grim and the artillery fire was still not close enough."

Go read the rest, here, at The Age.

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

Hat tip to Matt from Australia for pointing it out, with this comment:

Given the recent talk of service in Vietnam by certain politicians, here is a reminder of true heroics in that conflict.

Thanks, mate!

August 16, 2004

Um, some day, maybe...

We'll learn that focusing on the tools, and not the behaviors, simply displaces the tools, not the behaviors.

But, we'll be seen as having 'done something' and in fact not really have to do anything...

by John on Aug 16, 2004 | Gun Rights

In the 'Stan.

There's still a war on. And, accidents like this are also a peacetime hazard.

Absent companions! (sounds of shot glass slapping down inverted on the bar)

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

Someday, after I win the lottery...

The Arsenal hopes to be able to display the collection like this, or something similar.

by John on Aug 16, 2004 | Gun Pics

Abu Ghraib, again.

Whatever your thoughts on Abu Ghraib, from how it happened, how it developed, and how the Army handled/handles it - this little bit of the story is reprehensible... from the ABC news website (via Drudge)

‘Reality Check’ Family of Whistleblower in Prisoner Abuse Scandal Is Shunned by Neighbors, Friends

Go after the message. Not the messenger. The Sergeant (then a Specialist) did the Right Thing. If the alleged abusers had done the Right Thing - there wouldn't be an Abu Ghraib scandal.

Aug. 16, 2004 — When news of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison broke, Army Spc. Joseph Darby's family said they were proud the soldier revealed photos documenting the mistreatment. But they never expected their own friends and neighbors would turn on them for what they considered a brave disclosure.

I'm with the family. If you think that Sgt Darby did something wrong (absent better info than I have at this point) - go read someone else's blog, because I sure haven't been getting through.

The full story is here.

August 15, 2004

Then there's this thought for the day...

ATHENS (Reuters) - Iran's world judo champion Arash Miresmaeili refused to compete against an Israeli Sunday, triggering a fresh crisis at the Olympic Games where race, creed or color are barred from interfering in sport.

Now, Miresmaeili appears to have not 'made weight' - or so is the official line out of Athens. Okay. Fine. As a former wrestler, I can understand that. I can't understand a world-class athlete not making weight, but I understand how weigh-ins work. Face-saving excuse. Sort of.

However, in other venues, the Iranians spin a different story...


But in Tehran, the Iranian National Olympic Committee said in a statement: "This is a general policy of our country to refrain from competing against athletes of the Zionist regime and Arash Miresmaeili has observed this policy."

Iran has refused to recognize Israel's right to exist since Islamic fundamentalists toppled the Shah in 1979.

Miresmaeili, who had been due to fight Israeli Ehud Vaks, was quoted by Iran's official news agency IRNA as saying he acted in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Okay, the US boycotted the 1980 Olympics because Jimmy Carter was peeved at the Soviets. Stupid, really, but, okay. We boycotted the whole event. The entire US team. It would appear that from an Iranian perspective, we should have just boycotted events where we would have met the Soviets. Or even the Iranians, give the Hostage Crisis.

The rest has moved to the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Something of a bleg...

Have no fear, I'm not eschewing firearms altogether, I'm just expanding the horizons for interested visitors to the Castle.

As noted below - I've got this patch collection. I've been working with interested parties here at Fort Leavenworth to work up a few rotating displays for Bell Hall (the Command and General Staff College building) and perhaps in other buildings throughout post, just to add some more historical ambiance to the oldest continually active post west of the Mississippi (founded in 1827 - on the WRONG SIDE of the Missouri River - a story in itself). One theme, for example, is "Supporting Deception in War" using the patches of the Ghost Divisions, created to reinforce the German's perception that Patton's Ghost Army was real. Can you imagine trying to pull something like that off today, with today's media presence and the ability to disseminate information? Helluva challenge!

Anyway, in this patch collection, the Army Groups, Armies, and Corps were complete (except the 1st pattern 11th Corps). The Armored divisions were mostly complete (and are, now - with proper WWII patches). The Cavalry divisions were complete, less a WWII 1st Cav - which I now have. When I say complete, I mean in terms of the basic patch for a unit, and a WWII or earlier version. You will find that over time, the divisions have had variant patches that used the basic patch and overlaid color, patterns or devices that would distinguish among the brigades, artillery, engineers, etc. I don't have anywhere near that level!

I have a very complete assortment of Army Air Force/AF patches - all the numbered Air Forces, etc. As mentioned below, I have the Marines.

But the Infantry Divisions have been pillaged. It's obvious from the folders these things are stapled to that they once existed in the collection, but for some reason, a previous owner/thief/whoever, savaged the Infantry Divisions. Didn't touch the Service Commands. Or the Occupation Forces. Not even the Frontier Defense Commands...

Here's a list of what's missing. If you've got any of these lying around, drop me a line - I can score 'em off eBay, but I thought I'd try blegging and see what came up. WWII is preferred (olive drab borders vice dark green, and the back of the patch doesn't glow under a blacklight) but I'm not that picky and don't expect you to vet 'em unless you are making me pay for 'em! And if yer unscrupulous - I've got a blacklight. Though any fellow collectors out there with advice and warnings, feel free to chime in via comments or email!

Prefer free (d-uh) but not averse to paying postage or other reasonable fees, either... The list of what I'm looking for is in the Flash Traffic!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

US to pull tens of thousands of troops out of Europe.

'Bout time, is all I have to say. They are needed somewhere else, and don't need to be in a position where they can be tied up (not they have been thus far) by governments hostile to what we feel we need to do. And this from someone who was born in Germany, and lived over 14 years in Germany and France. I actually like the Germans, for the most part. I lived in Paris when I was in France, so I'm a little conflicted there. But, I can say I've liked every French soldier I've ever worked with, Legionnaire or Metropolitan. It's their political and intellectual classes I don't care for. Much like here - except here, people are more free to speak freely in contravention of their 'social betters'.

David's MedienKritik in Germany has some thoughts on the subject, which mirror mine.

Shoulder Patches

Click the pic for hi-res.

As I mentioned in some previous posts, I have a shoulder-patch collection that was passed on to me by my father, who had gotten it from someone who thought he would appreciate it (and know what to do with it) while he was in his last job before retiring from active duty. It gathered dust, and got in the way, so he tried to give it to museums - but all various museums wanted to do was cherry-pick various themes, and not take the whole thing. Not wanting to deal with all the eaches, he passed it on to me.

I found out the same thing. The Cavalry Museum at Fort Riley would be happy to take the Cav stuff, the Patton Museum at Fort Knox the armor stuff, etc. Well, I didn't want to deal with the eaches, either. So, the two boxes of patches on manila folders continued to gather dust and take up space.

Since current finances dictate not adding much to the Arsenal while Son & Friend are in college, and cars need replacing, etc, I decided to pull out the boxes and assess what was really there.

Pretty neat, if you are into that sort of thing.

Hundreds of patches. Army, AAF/AF, Marine, Navy, ROTC, State Guard HQs. Not just shoulder patches, but chevrons, service/wound stripes, skill badges, etc, including some WWI examples. Amazingly complete grouping of WWII Army patches (less the Infantry Divisions, more on that later).

I've decided I'm going to start posting these in bits and drabs. And, seeing as how the reference books are going for $100 used, and the new one recently out at $56, I'm contemplating an e-book. One you could print the pages out to take with you to shows, if you are a collector, saving wear and tear on these expensive books. I dunno. Just thinking. I kinda got inspired by the Old Fart patch thing.

Let's take a look at that, for example. Many people don't realize that the Marines have flirted with shoulder patches off and on during WWII and beyond. I think they dropped the idea as just too, well, 'Army'. But that didn't stop 'em from developing a full set when they were thinking about it. As near as I can tell, I've got a pretty complete gathering of the WWII/early post-war designs.

For example, here is a sheet that contains the genesis for the Recon Bn patch. It's the one on the lower left - originally designed for the Raider Battalions, which are the predecessors of today's Marine Recon. The others, clockwise, are the Defense Battalions, Paratroops, and Service & Supply.

Here are two examples of designs for the 1st Marine Div, 2nd MARDIV, Marine Barracks, Londonderry, and 5th Marine Brigade, WWI.

I'll post more as the mood seizes me (well, some right away in my next post, actually!)