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September 18, 2004

Operation Market-Garden (A Bridge Too Far)

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the airborne drops on Nijmegen, Eindhoven, and Arnhem, in Montgomery's attempt to turn the German flank on the Rhine and drive into the industrial heartland of the Third Reich. The 40th anniversary in 1984 fell in the midst of Exercise Atlantic Lion, which was the tactical exercise component of REFORGER (the big trans-Atlantic reinforcement exercises that practiced the US reinforcement of NATO. REturn of FORces to GERmany. REFORGER, possibly more than anything else, gave us the logistics base and planning experience that enabled us to pull off Desert Storm). I was a controller for that exercise, I believe it was the 1st Cavalry Division that was the deploying unit. The tactical assembly areas were in Holland, centered all around the Market-Garden area (not hard, really, since all of Holland was Market-Garden territory). I got to meet MG John Frost, on his bridge. Fascinating conversation about that, and about the Falklands, which he had just written his book about (2 Para Falklands).

This year the Dutch are going all out, apparently. I get the impression it is to be the last 'big official' commemoration, or something. All I know is I wish I was there to see it.

"For Us, They Are Heroes!"

I was reminded by this email I got today from a frequent European visitor to the Castle:

Hi John

Should have added this to the previous mail... you're
probably well aware that the 60th anniversary of
Market Garden is currently going on in Holland.

I was unfortunately unable to go this time, but my
husband is there and will likely take part in one of
the jumps. I was there 4 years ago and compared to
this year, it was probably a small affair.

At the time I was very new to the military. My future
husband was travelling there from the US and I was
meeting him there. But I must say, I was overwhelmed
by it all. I had never expected to see so many people,
Dutch people, gathered to watch the jumps and the
ceremony. I had never expected Oosterbeek to somehow
go back in time to 1944: jeeps in the streets, other
old cars, the old uniforms, even the Dutch people had
reverted to period clothes. It created a unique
atmosphere and you could really feel that the Dutch
have not forgotten what the Allies did for them. I
also had the great honour of meeting some British

It was a unique, unforgettable experience. Even more
so because my father's family was at the time in
Holland and close to starving. My grandfather was not
allowed to work (he was of German origin but had left
Germany before the war) and my grandmother had to give
Russian lessons to enable the family to survive. My
father still talks about the tulip bulp soup they ate,
the coal he sometimes used to steal from the Germans
and the constant fear of the Nazis they lived with.
The last gift my grandfather made to my father was
Cornelius Ryan's A Bridge too far.

I am glad that my fellow Dutchmen have not forgotten.


I asked for permission to use the note, and got this response (the city reference involves my 10 ten favorite European cities)


Sure..go ahead :) I would like people to know that not
all Europeans have forgotten. And I am upset that
Geneva doesn't figure on your top 10. Is it because
it's too close to France ?


by John on Sep 18, 2004 | Historical Stuff
» Ghost of a flea links with: Winston, No. 11
» Brain Shavings links with: Away boarders!

September 16, 2004

Question for the Airpower Guy.

So, your guys at NORAD are keeping us safe, right?

What's wrong with this picture of a Zoomie on CNN Fox? (oops, I hate when that happens. Thanks, Doug!)

Must be pretty strong winds there in Cheyenne Mountain...

Geez, you birdmen take that casual look pretty far...

Wonder what this senior AF NCO might think about it?

Hat tip to Mike L, btw, for scoring me the pic that made this the biggest single spike in the Castle's history, since we've never scored the elusive Instalanche!

by John on Sep 16, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» baldilocks links with: Epaulette Mishap
» There's One, Only! links with: Oh man! Is this guy in trouble.
» Dean's World links with: Why I Could Never Be A Military Guy
» BLACKFIVE links with: Kerry's Medals, err, Ribbons...or whatever
» Knowledge Is Power: links with: ooooooooooooooooooopsie

Something old, something new.

First off, something old (not the troops, but the gun, the location, and the music). I have served in all three positions, though.

Maryland National Guardsmen of the 110th Field Artillery, 29th Infantry Division, provide a cannon fire accompaniment for the U.S. Army Field Band’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s“1812 Overture,” at Baltimore’s Defender’s Day Celebration in Fort McHenry. Photo by Leah Rubalcaba.

Something new. Testing of the proposed replacement for the Paladin, since Crusader was slain by Rumsfeld and Co. The NLOS Cannon. (Non-Line Of Sight) The silly name comes from the not-silly decision made when designing the next iteration of the Army to deliberately change the terminology - to help keep the designers out of old thinking ruts. It's silly-sounding now, but will morph into something else by the time it gets fielded. Just as the unit terms, like Unit of Action and Unit of Employment are changing as units actually start converting. Doing the analysis of these systems and structures is what I do for a living now.

Obviously, we've stuck the M777 ULFH (Ultra Light Field Howitzer, a brit-designed gun) on a light tracked chassis.

September 15, 2004

Okay, Military guys and gals...

Kerry was on the Imus show this morning. A sort-of transcript is available via the NRO website in the segment they call the Kerry Spot. The official Imus site has it up here.

Well and good. Here's what I want to know from you guys and gals... Imus pushed Kerry to name some people that might populate his cabinet. He hedged (predictably, and probably, smartly) but Imus did get a few. Like these:

KERRY: There are a number of — General McPeak, General Clark. There are a group of about 10 or 12 admirals and generals.

I can hear the collective gagging from the Zoomies already. I know there would be a lot of gagging from dogfaces regarding General Clark. I would assume Admiral Crowe is on that list somewhere, along with General Zinni, and probably General Shalikashvili.

What are your thoughts of the Generals and Admirals surrounding the Kerry campaign as potential SECDEFs?

To start it off, I can live with the thought of Zinni and Shali, gag at the thought of McPeak and Clark, and don't have a formed opinion on Crowe.

What say youse guys?

Anonymous responses are fine - as are email responses (lemme know if I can use it or not, I know what it's like to be senior and leery of expressing opinions publicly - all confidences respected) but I'd like to hear what the rank and file think. I'll delete any moonbattery.

That is all.

You can always rely on senior NCOs... point out to you that your ass is showing. Well, you can rely on them to point it out to you if you are, in their opinion, a Good Officer.


If you aren't, if, in fact, you are a real idjit - they won't point it out to you, they'll point it out to others.

Like this, from an email.

" In recent weeks and months, as an uncensored voice for the Democratic cause, Gore has skewered President Bush's team for moral cowardice, the "lowest sort of politics imaginable," aligning itself with "digital brownshirts" who intimidate the press, and political tactics as craven as those of Richard Nixon. Just to cite a few examples. "

I resent being labeled a "digital brownshirt", but probably not as much
as Gore regrets "inventing the internet".

Sergeant Major V

September 14, 2004

Quotation of the Rotation.

Until the Western nations can build a small-arms round that turns into Key Lime pie midair before hitting a non-combatant, incoming fire has right of way.

Now THAT's a hoot. On way too many levels to analyze. Go find out the context here, at BabblingBrooks.

Oh! Yeah! Happy Birthday, Harvey!

by John on Sep 14, 2004 | Observations on things Military
» Ghost of a flea links with: Winston, No. 11
» Ghost of a flea links with: Winston, No. 11
» Ghost of a flea links with: Winston, No. 11

Welcome back into the light...

Here are the weapons at the Armory of Castle Argghhh! that were subject to controls under the AWB, when in their original, military configuration, i.e., bayonet lugs, flash suppressors, and grenade launchers (all features eagerly sought by criminals):

Our M1A (in the middle).
Our L1A1
Our ROMAK (semi-auto AK clone).

Here are the weapons in the Armory that would be subject to banning by the strict interpretation of the bill (though the shotgun would be a stretch even for a liberal judge) that Senator Kerry is co-sponsor of:

Our Garand.
Our M1 Carbine, M1A, and Winchester M97 Riot Gun (top, center, bottom, in order)
Our French semis (the three on the bottom).
Our Tokarev carbine.
Our Tokarev rifle.
Our SKS's.
Our L1A1.

Here's what I could still own.

Our DEWAT Vickers.
Our DEWAT Maxim.

Under the law, both are reactivateable (izzat a word?).

If I were to acquire a registered base cup, our M2 60mm mortar would be legal in shootable condition, too.

As Charles Krauthammer noted (via Volokh in Legal Affairs), this isn't about safety, or crime. It's about boiling the frog, stone-souping the masses, desensitizing the public, for eventual confiscation. Which is why we will fight these fights again. Forever. Until/Unless they win - when the only way the fight will be fought again is as it was fought in 1776. Which is not really a Good Thing. So, we'll have to keep fighting 'em off, and fighting 'em off, and fighting 'em off.


Oh, and first time visitors to the Castle who find themselves shocked and horrified should probably go here, and read the Standard Disclaimer™ and stuff, before you grab the phone and ring up the ATFE. And first time visitors to the Castle who see an 'insta-collection' opportunity should probably also go read the Standard Disclaimers - especially the Periodic Goblin Warning™.

September 13, 2004

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead! The sun sets on the assault weapons ban!

Breaking News

For September 13, 2004
Semiautomatic Assault Weapon Update

By statute, the prohibitions relating to semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices expired on September 13, 2004. As a result, certain sections of the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, and its implementing regulations, 27 CFR Part 478, are no longer in effect.

David Kopel observes in NRO today:

At midnight tonight, the federal ban on so-called "assault weapons" expires. As a constitutional moment, the expiration is as significant for the Second Amendment as the March 3, 1801, expiration of the Alien and Sedition Acts was for the First Amendment. These federal laws were not found unconstitutional by any court, but the laws expired in disgrace because our political system, as expressed through congressional elections, determined them to be infringements on the Bill of Rights.

As detailed by Leonard Levy in his book Origins of the Bill of Rights, the political defeat of the Alien and Sedition Acts resulted in a much broader, more speech-protective understanding of the First Amendment. It is possible that that the political defeat of the gun prohibition will have a similar effect.

Of course, the Assault Weapons Ban wasn't really about those bad evil AK look-alikes. It was about this:

In an April 5, 1996, column in the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, who forthrightly supports total gun prohibition, wrote, "Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic — purely symbolic — move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation."

Huzzah to all of you who fought the good fight!

Walking the Walls
Geek with a .45
Kim du Toit
The Smallest Minority

and many, many, many others. If you want to get added to this list, just drop me a line (and point to a gun-loving post). I know I haven't even gotten close to listing everybody...

Now I'll have to go check on the upswing of drive-by bayonetings and rifle grenadings.

Because as Dr. Timothy Wheeler points out (also on NRO) - it ain't over yet. It ain't really ever over for the nanny-staters.

by John on Sep 13, 2004 | Gun Rights

September 12, 2004

Donny? Matty? ACE? You out there, bros?

Been here, done quite a few of these... but not all.


You think handing a bag of puke to the guy resonsible for getting you out of the aircraft safely is funny.

Your kids make their friends do 10 pull-ups before they enter or exit the backyard.

You can haggle a pound cake from a leg for some M'Ms and Crackers

You go to your bathroom/latrine for a "Class 1 download"

You have a certificate of your kids birth and it states they have completed one successful static line jump.

You know how much room there is left in a for one more jumper.

You do a clear to the rear out your back door to check for any obstructions

You claim tips at the strip bar on your income taxes.

Prior to your kids entering the bathtub you give them STAND BY.

You ever jumped hung over.

You have sent a private to get the keys to area J.

You have a "Swing Landing Aparatus" in your backyard.

Your kid has ever told you to hurry up, because "you're moving like pond water!"

The rest are in the Flash Traffic. Hat tip - All American!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Interesting Day in History.


1818 Richard Jordan Gatling, weapons designer
1913 Jesse Owens, who spoiled Hitler's Olympics


490 -BC- Athenians defeat Persian invasion of Greece at Marathon
1683 Polish King Jan Sobieski lifts Turkish siege of Vienna. Probably ought to re-think those Polish jokes.

1818 Richard J Gatling invents a revolving machine gun (not that one, this is just the Ultimate Expression!), thus enabling the creation of Dusty's mount!

1938 Hitler demands self-determination for Sudeten Germans in
Czechoslovakia - one last chance for Appeasement to work. It didn't.

1990 US, Britain, France, and the USSR agree to let the two Germany's
- WWII is finally over, and the Cold War soon to follow.

Hat tip: Strategy Page.

More Cat Blogging.

I am not allowed unsupervised access to the Internet, else I fall prey to Puppy P0rn©. Meriwether has the duty.

That is all.

And just how pathetic are we?

You decide. The only way to keep the dogs out of the kitchen was to close the door.

This annoyed the cats.

We can't handle annoyed cats. We are, after all, Staff.

The cats love it. The door is clear - so the dogs can peer in and see the Promised Land, but, like sinners, can't get there without grace - in this case, St. Dad or St. Mom opening the gates to Paradise.

The cats, of course, have their own keys.

More thoughts on the GWOT.

Cap'n H, who does a great job of keeping up on Anglosphere papers for me, yesterday sent me two opinion pieces from the Telegraph that nicely enlarge on the thrust of my 9/11 piece (see below). The first is on two facets of our current situation and how it shapes our response - and can ultimately deaden it. Boredom and terror. With boredom being the more dangerous of the two.

Charles Moore observes:

Bin Laden probably wouldn't collect more than 200,000 votes in a presidential election in any Western country, but he has done more to reshape European attitudes to America, and American attitudes to Europe, than anyone since Hitler and Stalin. He sees decadence, lack of will, in our boredom - and exploits it.

The first effect of boredom is one of "Oh, here, just go away and don't bother me" - which serves to encourage the fanatic. What's the problem with this? You assume that by listening to the loudest voices, you are hearing the whole group. Kinda the problem the MSM has these days - when they keep getting surprised that the great unwashed don't think like they do.

You might think that this lack of interest would help - a robust, if ignorant, refusal to be impressed by fanaticism. I fear not. If we do not know who is doing the talking and why, we are very susceptible to the idea that the Muslim who makes it to the screen speaks for Muslims.

Do you know the difference between the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain, and which, if either, speaks for many or is "moderate"? Here comes someone from the London-based Committee for the Defence of Legal Rights.

Bet you didn't know that he is part of a Saudi "takfir" movement - one that makes a particular point of calling for the death of Muslims who disagree with them. You've heard of al-Qa'eda, but it simply means "the base". Built on the base are hundreds of shifting, amoebic grouplets who may, for all you know, be living next door to you in Luton or Burnley.

The ones who shout the louder will seem, to the inattentive, to be "more" Muslim, and therefore there will be a tendency to give in to them. Thirty years ago in Britain, very few Muslims demanded the right to wear headscarves in school or to days off on their holy days, or complained about public representations of pigs.

Most seemed content with non-Islamic banking. Perhaps many were pleased to have come to a country where secular law prevailed. Today it is those who demand more and more of these religious rights who get attention, and most of us assume, without knowing, that they speak for their own people. We, the bored, tend to think that, wherever possible, we should give them what they want in the hope they will go away. But they won't go away.

Another effect (and ask yourself, don't we see a lot of that in the US - especially from the "elites"?) is anger at those who intrude upon our boredom:

The final effect of boredom is resentment at those leaders who keep telling us about the danger. The natural temperament of British people bored by fanatics is to take comfort in Chamberlain rather than listen to Churchill. People seem angrier with Blair and Bush than with the murderers they seek to combat. One of the narrative voices in David Hare's new play about the Iraq war, Stuff Happens, rips into the way we sit round at dinner parties, our faces reddening with wine, complaining about "the exact style in which [in freeing Iraq] something was given to those who had nothing". It strikes home.

Go read the whole piece here. As always, you really should go read the whole thing - and not just rely on the pieces I have plucked from context to support my own prejudices.

The next piece from the Telegraph, on the same day, reads as a metaphor for the war on terror, and dovetails nicely with the above. It's about being alert, aware, and willing to ACT in order to protect yourself and the ones you love or are responsible for... even if they themselves won't seem to do it. Face it - in the herd of humanity, many of us are sheep. Some of us are wolves. Therefore, we need shepherds, not so much to tell us where to go - but to deal with the wolves.

As Adam Nicholson relates:

It is horrible to see a dog attacking your sheep. Last week, at about 8.30am, for the first and, I hope, last time in my life, it happened to me.

That's how I felt, as a soldier, on 9/11.

It was a beautiful morning, suddenly autumnal, a slight mist in the valley, the trees in the woods looking exhausted after their dreadful summer, the field maples and the oaks already dusty with mildew, the beeches and the hornbeams wind-browned and wrecked. When I woke up, I knew there would be some mushrooms just up and spreading in Great Flemings, the big field at the bottom of the farm.

9/11 was a very nice day, with everyone off to work.

I was listening to the radio... A plane hit one of the WTC towers?

As it came up to each of the sheep in turn, they lay down on their backs and held their legs in the air, like a pet waiting to be scratched. The dog buried its teeth in the flesh of the upper legs and under the belly. Again, there was no excitement, nor any frantic attempts to escape. The sheep were simply lying there to be eaten alive.

Watching the news on the TV that suddenly appeared in the office... in this case it wasn't the people - it was the two towers that were the sheep. If only we'd had something better... but of course, we didn't. We didn't know we were at war.

As I ran, I went on shouting at the dog to drive it away, but then realised I wanted to catch it, and started cooing and clucking it towards me. It approached. I saw it had some kind of purple flea collar around its neck, and a leather collar with a metal strip fixed to it, but no dog tag. It came within a few yards, but stayed out of reach. If I'd had a gun, I could have shot it there and then.

But we didn't know. We weren't ready. We were still in this mode:

One is allowed to kill an attacking dog only if it is in the act of savaging sheep. But the sight of that laid-back mauling has filled me with disgust and the owner of this animal, if by any chance he is reading this, should know that, if he ever lets it run among my sheep again, I will shoot it without a second thought, and then leave it in the field, as the police insist, where he can come and collect it.

And that is exactly the response of governments prior to 9/11. And is seemingly the preferred response of several Euro-governments, still. I'm all for hunting down those dogs, killing 'em as necessary, capturing and domesticating as practicable. Ah, if you are a lefty or "progressive and PC"now you are uncomfortable, eh? The Armorer wants to 'domesticate' the dogs. What hubris! What cultural imperialism! How dare you want to 'domesticate' the Islamofacsists and impose your own culture and values upon them! Bad Armorer! Sit! Stay!

That's not what I said, really. Or, not what Adam says in his piece, that I am using for metaphor. The money quote is this:

"...the sight of that laid-back mauling has filled me with disgust and the owner of this animal, if by any chance he is reading this, should know that, if he ever lets it run among my sheep again, I will shoot it without a second thought, and then leave it in the field..."

This screed is for the owner of that animal. Islam. Curb your dog, or I will deal with it.

Adam's complete piece is here.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Sep 12, 2004 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Ghost of a flea links with: Boredom