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January 15, 2005

Hey - you over there, get with the Program!

Wheelgun has an interesting graph and post to show regarding gun ownership and crime.

The answer, of course, is not sympathetic to banner's needs, so they will no doubt fund some more studies until one does support their theme - then it will become the *only* sufficiently rigorous and therefore definitive study, all others being bogus.

The real reason I decided to link to it - since I expect most of my 2A-fascinated readers have already seen this discussed elsewhere is to point out the trend-line of gun ownership, now having reached around 4.1 or so per 1000 people.

Well, in the increment that includes Castle Argghhh!, the number is more like 6.8 per 1000, and that's assuming I'm carrying the whole load, which means that some a LOT of you are slackers.

Get with the program. Sheesh, people, I can't do it all myself!

Reached via the tech wench at Villainous Company.

by John on Jan 15, 2005 | Gun Rights
» Pirates! Man Your Women! links with: More Guns, More Happy Days!

January 14, 2005

Gratuitous Bandwidth consumer.

When SWWBO saw the King Tiger yesterday, she burst out laughing... because she knew I wasn't kidding.

However, there *is* a toy I could probably talk her into.

A Schwimmwagen.

A nice little tidy amphibious package.

For those who might be confused. Kübelwagen.

Just to make sure: Schwimmwagen.


VW Thing.

General Purpose Omnibus post.

For a little reading to counteract the doom and gloom of the Punditocracy and MSM... (and some of us bloggers, too), try a little Victor Davis Hanson.

Platitudes follow: "We can't just leave now," followed by no real advice on how a fascist society can be jumpstarted into a modern liberal republic. After all, there is no government handbook entitled, "Operation 1A: How to remove a Middle East fascist regime in three weeks, reconstruct the countryside, and hold the first elections in the nation's history — all within two years." Almost all who supported the war now are bailing on the pretext that their version of the reconstruction was not followed: While a three-week war was their idea, a 20-month messy reconstruction was surely someone else's. Yesterday genius is today's fool — and who knows next month if the elections work? Witness Afghanistan where all those who recently said the victory was "lost" to warlords are now suddenly quiet.

Heads You Lose, Tails We Win
Indeed, from the oscillating analyses of Iraq, the following impossible picture often emerges from our intelligentsia. It was a fatal error to disband the Iraqi army. That led to lawlessness and a loss of confidence in the American ability to restore immediate order after Saddam's fall. Yet it was also a fatal error to keep some Baathists in the newly constituted army. They were corrupt and wished reform to fail — witness the Fallujah Brigade that either betrayed us or aided the enemy. So we turned off the Sunnis by disbanding the army — and yet somehow turned off the Shiites by keeping some parts of it.

You can get all of it here.

Then there's the always fun to read Ralph Peters. Gee, if I had any talent, I could be him...

...From Islamic terrorists to The New York Times, the enemies of free elections in Iraq have a common goal: They desperately want the American experiment in bringing democracy to the Middle East to fail - the first for reasons of power, the latter to regain its lost prestige.

The terrorists' alarm is understandable. Ditto for the Sunni Arab insurgents. They could never win an election in Iraq, and they know it. The terrorists believe in religious tyranny, while the insurgents believe in secular tyranny. Neither care in the least about the aspirations of the common people.

For its part, the Times believes in the tyranny of the intelligentsia. Blinded by its hatred for the Bush administration, it attempts to portray every development in Iraq as a disaster. Even marginally successful Iraqi elections would prove it wrong yet again...

Read Ralph's full bit here, at the NY Post. Gotta love access to the Early Bird!

Obviously, what they both have to say resonates with me.

On a completely unrelated note - SWWBO's Carnival of the Recipes is up, over at One Happy Dog's place.

To wrap it up, at least for now - another reason why I love American soldiers. We're generally a disciplined lot. But we do sometimes pose some passive-agressive challenges to authority asserting itself for authority's sake. And, unlike some of our senior leaders (this includes uniforms and suits) we keep our promises.
Warning - tissue alert for critter lovers.

I was inspired to do this because Bill The Rotorhead is promising his hard-hitting tell all comic book of his life after the Statute of Limitations on GO#1 expires. Aside from capital crimes, unless there's an existing Courts Martial Convening order outstanding, seven years about covers it. You should be good to go for the Vietnam book Bill, absent anything covered by non-disclosure agreements...

General Order #1 can be a real pain in the patootie.

Okay, okay. Kwitcherbitchin'! Ya wanna see an example General Order #1? Here.

If you need a little humor for your day... check out the extended post, in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

A new contest.

Okay, for those of you following half the conversation yesterday, Bill the Rotorhead sent me a picture of his young, combat pilot in Vietnam self (when his hair was still dark), taken just after a mission moving SEALs around when his bird attracted attention from the hostiles.

Your mission. Count the bullet holes in the aircraft. On this side, anyway. And Bill says they are all on this side - and in the picture.

Click here to get the picture in it's full-size glory.

No answers in the comments, please. Give the other guys a chance - without possibly misleading them. Email your analyses...

Bill does offer these hints.

Gratuitous hint numbah one: In my outfit, we waxed our aircraft as an anti-corrosion measure, but didn't buff 'em. The wax made small-caliber bullets act like they were Teflon-coated, so if they were fired from within 100m, they'd slip through the aircraft skin without chipping the paint; hence, no large, shiny areas of exposed metal (I think the zinc chromate primer may have helped paint retention, too) around a puncture. The edge of the holes were shiny, but film grain in this pic wasn't fine enough to show anything but the holes, for the most part. Gratuitous hint numbah two: As an example of what you should be looking for, check the lower-right corner of my door frame--entry hole is on the outside, exit is on the inside. Okay--now find the others... This is fun being on the other side of the "Whatsdis?" picture game!

Winner gets a Castle mug, courtesy the Armorer. The winner being randomly picked by Bill from all the correct entries. One entry apiece, please. In the case of female aspirants, I'm sure sexy photos sent to Bill *will* influence the judging process, but please time them so that they arrive after normal work hours, Eastern Standard Time, so that Mrs. Bill can properly enjoy them too!

by John on Jan 14, 2005 | Historical Stuff
» Villainous Company links with: Weekend Blogjam

Stupid soldier tricks department.

This fits the pugnacious stupidity category Dusty instituted. Larry out in Junction City, Kansas (one block over neighbor around here), home of the soldiers of the Big Red One at Fort Riley sends along this little gem of an article from the Daily Union.

MILFORD — A Geary County Sheriff's Department deputy found two more military-style weapons Tuesday in the Milford Lake area, Geary County Sheriff Jim Jensen said today.

Jensen described the weapons as two smoke-grenade launchers, which were found at the entrance of West Rolling Hills by Milford Lake.

"They did not appear to be operational," Jensen said. "They were not in very good condition."

Jensen said the launchers were not loaded. He said the launchers were usually used on military vehicles to conceal soldiers' position.

"One of my deputies found them while on patrol," Jensen said. "They were off to the side of the road."

He pointed out the launchers were not hidden and were quite noticeable from inside a vehicle.

Jensen called Fort Riley's Criminal Investigation Division and handed over the launchers to CID. Jensen said he did not know how long the launchers were at the entrance of West Rolling Hills.

"I have no idea how long they were out there," Jensen said. "They could have been there the night before. They could have been there a few days. We don't know, and I'm not going to try to guess that."

Five Fort Riley machine guns -- an M-240, a 5.56-mm and three Browning .50-caliber guns -- were found Dec. 29 and Dec. 30 near Madison Creek Bridge, three of them by area residents.

Here's the kicker.

CID reported last week that the machine guns were not serviceable and were not illegally missing from any of the post's units. Jensen said CID has not told him why military weapons are turning up near Milford Lake.

"They are not telling me what is going on. However, they do respond when we call them, so I am pleased with that," Jensen said. "I am pleased that they respond because I don't need that kind of stuff. I don't need those things in my evidence (locker). It is their property, and they need to come and take care of it."

So - what do I think is going on? The firearms and smoke launchers were declared unserviceable/combat losses in Iraq, dropped from accountability, but no one ever turned them in for disposal - or someone diverted them, hoping to do something with them later. They could also be combat drops/stolen from other units not at Fort Riley picked up in Iraq and brought home.

When the unit(s) got back, personnel found them, said "oh sh*t!" and dumped 'em. Alternatively, someone was trying to take 'em off as trophies or more nefarious reasons, chickened out, and dumped 'em.

CID ain't talking about it because they are tracing the numbers to the units, and someone is following the paper trail. And lots of interviews are going on in any Fort Riley units that could have 'touched' those weapons.

Dumb dumb dumb. I can actually see a semi-honest mistake in failing to turn in disabled weapons - armorers want to hold on to them for parts, you have them for a while, you forget about it, pack 'em up, ship 'em home, do that inventory and ...oh sh*t!

I collected a few trophies in my time - but modern weapons like that can no longer be picked up and 'amnestied' onto the books, as DEWATS (DEactivated WAr Trophies) much less live. And there are no legal dummies out there you could claim ignorance with. There's nothing there but 10 years in a Federal Institution of Adult Supervision. That's it. Not worth it from a memorabilia perspective, and you aren't going to get enough money from it except from a crook who's dumber'n you. The Daily Union is a subscription site - the whole article is in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

January 13, 2005


Would this not look good in the Castle Motor Pool?

And where did I put that 19,000 Euros I was wondering what to do with?

And last, but not least... this is a good suggestion from the Rantin' Raven. 'Bout time to change the old "close enough for Government work" shibboleth, anyway! While your there, scroll down one post and take a look at Enlightened Management in action. Not.

Gratuitous Gun Pic

One of these would look good on the battlements of the Castle. Mebbe two.

A CIWS - not the Royal Navy sailor servicing it! Something for you sailors, today.

Greater love...

...hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends."

John 15:13

Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you, "Gabriele Helms, Assistant Professor of English at the University of British Columbia."

Mother. In the absolute truest sense of the word.

Lest anyone doubt - I am one who finds "life of the mother" a perfectly acceptable criteria for abortion, except when it's twisted to 'lifestyle,' then my contempt button starts flashing.

But this, this is, well, unlike the debased current usage of the word, what this woman did truly is Awesome, in the biblical sense.

Ho ho ho!


I don't have too many frequent commenters, but one of the most prolific (and appreciated) is CW4BlllT, who, I am reliably informed is a National Guard aviator somewhere on the east coast.

Flying Beanie Boy has got to be a crusty old fart. He's a Vietnam Vet (still serving, I would point out - not too many of those left), so he's like, well, older than dirt (sorry Dad). He's a CW4, which some people think means Chief Warrant Officer, but anyone who's hung around guys like that long enough knows it really means Crusty Whinger 4th Class. Ergo, he's a crusty old fart.

But like all COFs (term derived from something you're asked to do during a physical) he's a soft spot for his soldiers. Through exhaustive research I've discovered that Bill, while putatively still on this side of the pond, made a surprise visit to elements of his unit currently deployed in Iraq. He had to hitch a ride, which required the appropriate flight suit for flying in an open cockpit craft, which is why the odd facemask (warm though). But he did help overcome the load factors of his unplanned bulk by providing some additional lift. But aviators are like that - just wander around the flight line and hop in the jump seat... Nice elf crew chief, too!

I'm sure you can pick Flying Beanie Boy out in the photo below.

January 12, 2005

Huh. How odd.

Even though it takes a deliberate mis-interpretation of the intended meaning of the first word (I prefer 'artsy' to 'arty') this little acronym becomes oddly appropriate for a randomly generated artifact.


Name / Username:

Name Acronym Generator

Except for that second part.

Hat tip to GEBIV (yeah, dude, I surfed in to an old post...)

Update - based on Rotorhead's comment, I decided to do what he couldn't...


Name / Username:

Name Acronym Generator

Hmmm. We'd have to ask Mrs. T (if there is one) about that 'Luscious' part. Cheesy, Lazy... yeah - Bashful? Hardly. Temperamental? C'mon - Crusty Old Fart - d-uh!

by John on Jan 12, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Electric Venom links with: They Nailed Me.
» Ghost of a flea links with: Acronym

The new 6.8mm Spec Ops round.

Before I launch into this discussion - I reload now and again, but it's vanilla, using standard data. I gunsmith, but I'm not a designer, I'm a repairer of milsurp (hell, anything, if you ask me to), nor do I do custom work. I'm looking at starting to build my own guns - but they will be older guns, originals of which are unobtainable with my projected lifetime income, and the ones available shouldn't be shot, anyway. I'm talking hand gonnes, wheelocks, matchlocks, etc. There are several manufacturers out there who will provide castings and forgings, rough finished stocks and (interior at least) finished barrels that the home crafstman will have to fit, temper, harden, polish and assemble. It's the only way I'm going to push the holdings of the Castle much farther back in time, as reproductions. But that oughta be cool, as well as fun - and since you can get all the pieces individually, if you screw it up, you can order a new part and start over and not go broke.

I bring that up because unlike at many other gun-related sites, I don't get into the technical bits about ballistics (I can write a nice treatise on interior, exterior, and terminal if you'd like) but I'm just not into it like that.

One reason for that is, I don't hunt, and I don't precision target shoot. My interest in shooting has always been from a practical perspective. I was more interested in being technically competent, and able to hit man-size targets from whatever position I was in, preferably behind cover, and knowing when to use area fire to reduce risk. Combat shooting. I've never been one of those guys who takes his shooting rest, sets up on the bench, shoots through his chronograph, and takes calipers downrange to measure his shot groups. If everything was center of mass at my aiming point, I was happy. Which is a good thing - my preferred weapon for recreation is a surplus military firearm... shooting surplus military ammo. I could lock that in a shooting vise and still have irregular groups, so if all my shots are in the center of mass at 100 yards and over, that usually is pretty competent shooting. I was also a paintball wizard in my day - that kind of snapshooting is a useful skill, if it doesn't truly give you a proper appreciation for cover versus concealment.

So, if you ever come across me on the range - I'm usually shooting faster than the other guy, unless he's just playing like I am. If I can, I'll have multiple targets at different ranges, and engage them in sequence, or randomly.

Because that's the kind of shooting that kept my ass intact, those very few time I needed it. I don't have a 10th the firefight exposure most combat troops in Iraq have.

So - I do collect cartridges, in that I like to have at least one to match each weapon in the arsenal here at the Castle, and there is much to learn (or to teach, when cracking open skulls and pouring in data) and having the artifacts makes it both easier to learn and to teach.

The parent cartridge for the 6.8mm Rem SPC is the old .30 Remington, which is essentially a rimless .30-30. Left to right: .30 Remington, 6.8mm Rem SPC, .308 Winchester, .223 Remington.

Where was I? Oh, yeah - the new 6.8mm round. CAPT H, my Canuckistanian Compadre, sent along a link to this article on the new round, written by one of the guys involved in its development.

Why develop a new round? There are actually lots you who read me who know more about it (or at least have stronger opinions, based on the comments) but the .223 round fired from the M4 just doesn't have the oomph, especially at range, we'd like. I hate it when I shoot someone and they get back up. That means I have to divert my attention from the other guy I'm shooting and re-engage a target that doesn't have the good sense to stay down. Never mind the fact I expected my soldiers to behave the same way if they (or I) got shot - the fight's not over just because you got unlucky...

I have never been a fan of the M16, though I found the M4 handy as a field grade officer, and vastly superior to the Beretta. Yeah, I'm one of those guys who would come into a division TOC with an M4. I'd still pack the M92, as well, or, if I was in a friendly environment for that sort of thing, I'd have my Remington-Rand M1911A1. I'm curmudgeonly that way. And I got in trouble now and then with more conventional bosses... Hell, when I was a battery commander, I traded my VTR (Vehicle Tracked, Recovery - a tracked tow truck) driver my .45 for his M3 Grease Gun. I figured if I needed to influence a fight personally, a subgun was going to do better at that than a .45, at greater range, and with less likelihood of sight problems with someone else's no-longer-needed, sighted-for-them M16. And yes, you really can shoot one of those things accurately enough - just don't hold down the trigger!

But I'm a big guy, and my favorite rifle continues to be the M14 - even though I know why it didn't last, except as a sniper weapon. But that's instructive, too - it survived as a sniper weapon because it was accurate, reliable - and the cartridge had good combat ballistics.

The new 6.8mm round seems to be the good compromise here. Virtually the same flight characteristics and lethality as the .308, yet still small enough for the M16 receiver, bolt, and gas system.

I'll look forward to getting a chance to pop a few caps. Too bad I don't know anyone in the MTU at Benning... I probably could have scored a shot at it when I was down there last November. And mebbe I'll hold off on getting a semi-auto M4 clone until they come out in 6.8mm for the civilian market.

January 11, 2005

Don't hang up - hear me out!

Another fundraiser - this one is painless. It doesn't cost *you* a dime.

From a comment on SWWBO's site:

OT: Greg Hammonds, whose wife died of breast cancer, is hosting a comment fundraiser with the money raised to go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s programs for education and low-cost or free mammograms for low-income women. For every comment made, he or another of the sponsors will donate $1. So, if you have the time to simply comment or even better to provide a link to direct traffic there, it would be super :D

Got it? All you have to do is visit that site by clicking this link - leave a comment, and *other people* will donate money to the cause.

Not you, but other people. How can you turn that offer down? Why are you still here? We'll be here when you get done. But if you wait too long, you won't be able to score the Karma points.

Go. Comment.

Hat tip to Rae, via SWWBO.

A Letter from the Lincoln

The following is a letter from a member of the USS Abraham Lincoln off Indonesia who is aiding in the relief effort.

Subject: Letter from the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln

Hello family and friends,

I just spent three days ashore at Banda Aceh working to assist all of those in dire need in Indonesia. I thought you might like to hear what we have been doing.

Stationed aboard the Abraham Lincoln we were in port [at] Hong Kong on the morning of 26 Dec when we heard of the massive earthquake and devastating Tsunamis in the Bay of Bengal. As soon as we were aware of the horrible destruction we departed Hong Kong and headed South at best speed - without any official request from governments.

As we proceeded, we were completely unaware of what we could do or even if we would be needed, but we continued through the Strait of Malacca enroute to Indonesia and Thailand. Our mission was quickly defined and we were tasked to assist Indonesia as best [and] as able. To do so we requested volunteers aboard the ship to assist. The response as you can imagine was overwhelming as all sailors want to do is help any way possible. We also knew that this would be a job for the SH-60 Helicopters we have aboard.

We have currently shut down the flying for all carrier fixed wing aircraft (that's me) as there was no mission or request. For the first time in my 17 year Naval career, I have seen us stop flying tactical fixed wing aircraft- the primary purpose of an aircraft carrier completely as all of our focus is on this disaster.

We arrived off the north shore of Indonesia on the morning of January 1st. I was in the first wave of helos sent ashore to establish a logistical hub and move supplies from Banda Aceh airport - only a few miles from the destroyed north coast of the island. Not knowing what to expect as we lifted off the deck, we were quickly given a glimpse as we could see numerous corpses floating in the water. There were large clusters of debris that looked like one time houses floating in piles scattered all over the ocean. As we approached the decimated shore we saw a cargo ship that was at least 300 feet long capsized on the beach. Proceeding further inland we were amazed that the coastal town was gone. You could see outlines of where foundations once were, but as the earthquake shook them loose, the Tsunamis washed everything out to sea. As we continued inland, the devastation was evident more than 2 miles from the coast. We then approached very green and lush mountains - a sharp contrast to the leveled brown terrain of the decimated coast. We climbed in the helos over these 2,000 foot peaks and entered an area of surreal, beautiful countryside. We arrived at the airport to a scene of confusion and near chaos. Six days after the disaster and there was no infrastructure in place to assist these people. About 500 displaced Indonesians who had survived had made their way to the airport in search of a flight out of the area - southeast to the safe havens of Medan or Jakarta where there is little or no damage. Upon arrival, there was one only other American military member at the airport - an Army Major who had made his way up from the Embassy in Jakarta. A few Australians were already there and had set up a basic logistics hub to accept supplies. The Indonesian military had a base here as well and were accepting supplies but had no way other than trucks which could not travel on the destroyed roads to move the food and water.

Being a Prowler pilot with NO helicopter flying abilities, I was sent in to be the Carrier Air Wing Two liaison to move supplies. Realizing there was no one to liaise with, myself and my squadron mate, Lt _________ became the primary coordinators to make this relief effort happen. Arriving at 0900, we were able to coordinate with the Indonesians and the NGO's (Non-Government Organizations), and within an hour have our first load of relief supplies moving down the west coast. The two primary NGO's, USAID and IOM (International Organization of Migration) have been invaluable in the establishing of assistance. They have a small medical tent with trained doctors capable of triaging and stabilizing patients. USAID has amazing logistical support to gather supplies from all over the world. The one thing both of these organizations lacked was the ability to distribute supplies to the people in need. That is were we came into play.

We have set up a system now to have twelve of our Helicopters flying from sunrise to sunset to assist. We have been carrying everything from biscuits, rice, noodles, milk, water and medical supplies. We transport doctors and medical staff as well. The Indonesian people are in need of everything. Their homes along the coast have been washed away and we are finding them wondering aimlessly with no ability to acquire food, water or badly needed medical assistance. They all lack the ability to communicate as all phone lines are destroyed and there is no electricity. As our pilots drop off these supplies there are stories of the Indonesians hugging them with relief and joy. Our pilots then fly North to return back to Banda Aceh for resupply and they are finding small pockets of personnel who do not have any aid. They are able to pick many of them up and fly them to Banda Aceh. Most are near death. Yesterday we had a helo land with seven badly injured or dehydrated personnel all in critical condition. One was a seven year old little girl. The doctors told me we saved her life as she would not have lived through the night. I couldn't help but think of my beautiful daughters and it was then that I realized the gravity of what we really were doing.

We will continue this effort as long as we are needed. It is difficult to imagine shifting back to fixed wing flight ops and leaving the area any time soon as the work to be done is almost insurmountable. We have been working hard with the hordes of press who badly need to tell this story. I enlisted the support of my squadron mate, LCDR __________ to specifically deal w/the media. With every flight or two that we send down the coast, we embark a two man journalist team, as well as member of the IOM to coordinate with any injured or displaced persons who need our help. Yesterday we hosted Dan Rather and his CBS crew for a 60 minutes evening magazine special he was doing that should air sometime this week in the states. I had breakfast with Mr. Rather aboard the carrier as we discussed the days' events and what he would like to see. He and his staff's graciousness and professionalism impressed me. We have flown Mike Chinoy from CNN and correspondents from all the major US and international networks and newspapers. If something is coming from Banda Aceh, the US Navy has helped them get their story.

I must say a few words about the volunteer effort here - it is truly an effort of amazement. I see on the news the incredible outpouring of support from the US - it is a wonderful and necessary thing. The effort here at sea is equally as impressive. These young sailors are all extremely eager to get ashore and do whatever is needed despite the threat of disease and the obvious destruction. My squadron alone has already put numerous sailors ashore to assist with the loading and moving of the helos. I have never been so proud to be a member of the US military. We often are focused on keeping the peace and deterring evil acts. To now be able to have a direct impact in saving lives and attempt to rebuild a society is a testament to the United States' amazing resolve and capabilities. I thank you all for your efforts and your support. Please continue to keep the Indonesians in your thoughts and prayers. As of today this country alone is approaching 100,000 deaths from this disaster- we need to do all that is possible to mitigate any further suffering or loss of life.

My best to all,

by Dusty on Jan 11, 2005 | Spirit of America
» links with: Tsunami relief work by the United States Navy.
» EagleSpeak links with: First responder report from the tsunami zone
» Common Sense Runs Wild links with: U. S. Military Gives Aid

An Alternative View of Canadian Peacekeeping.

Bill the Rotorhead submits this view of CF Peacekeeping activities.

I should note - this is a Canadian Joke, submitted by a CF officer, to a Canadian joke site... in case there are any thin skins out there today!

As with any good joke - there are grains of truth scattered throughout.

Flying Beanie Boy also notes:

Got this originally an an e-mail in Boz and just remembered where it was. One Canadian Captain's view...BTW, the BLMF mentioned in para 2.c. isn't an acronym for some CF-specific vulgarity--it's the Banja Luka Metal Factory (if you want to see what it looks like, rent "Behind Enemy Lines"...

Tsunami Suvivor Story.

From an email. Seems to me God went to a lot of trouble to kill tens of thousands of Muslims in order to kill and scare a couple thousand Christians. I personally think God does a better cost-benefit analysis than that.

The survivors are Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) teachers. Back when I was attending these schools, they were regional - I'm an alum of USDSEA, United States Dependent Schools, European Area. Paris Elementary, Boeblingen Elementary, Augsburg Elementary (7th grade, HS was 8-12, there was no junior high/middle school), and Frankfurt Junior High. My sister is an alum of all those and a graduate of Frankfurt High School.

Hat tip to Rich B.

Dear Joan,

Here's a true story I thought you'd be interested in: There were 120 teachers from DoDDS Pacific on vacation in Southeast Asia during the holidays. All got back safely. Three families from Osan were in Phuket, one in Khao Lak, one in Ko Simue (near Bangkok, on the other side of the Malay Peninsula). The three that were in Phuket were in hotels that were on high ground. The one in Khao Lak was scuba diving near some islands 30 miles from the mainland when the tsunami hit. They were on a 4-day live-aboard trip on a dive boat with 5 other divers (from Sweden, Germany, England, and America), a divemaster and the crew. Here's the story:

After spending half the night getting to their destination and after being briefed by the divemaster, Sherrie and Kirk M. and the group dove to a depth of 95 feet. I spoke with Sherrie (media center specialist at the High School) for 45 minutes yesterday about this, but didn't get the info on why they dove to that depth, whether it was to see a sunken ship, some special corals, or what. Anyway, at 8:41 am they had started their staged ascent (stopping every 30 feet or so, so that nitrogen bubbles in the blood could dissipate). They were at a safe-stop place 30 feet below the surface when the first tsunami hit.

Kirk was about 10 feet from Sherrie, and they were checking their watches, waiting to continue their ascent. Suddenly Kirk was pulled down about 20 feet, and then pulled horizontally away from Sherrie in a very strong current. Sherrie was pulled horizontally in the opposite direction. They figure that the current was moving at between 20-30 mph. Then the current stopped. She couldn't see Kirk, but knew she had to stay at 30 feet for a few more minutes. It wasn't safe to go topside and look for him. About that time another current pushed her back in the direction she came from. She saw Kirk, and they grabbed hands. Their dive watches still said they had some minutes to wait. So not knowing what the hell was going on with the weird currents (all the other divers had disappeared) they just waited. Then another turbulence came and brought tornados of sand from the bottom, and they experienced a "sand-out" (like a white-out in a snowstorm). They could see nothing. It tumbled them over and over but finally they were able to grab hands again, and swam to the surface. As they approached the surface, it seemed like the sea was boiling; huge bubbles were coming up from all around them, and the sea was disturbed and sloshing around, like a washing machine. (Sherrie has 35 dives under her belt, and Kirk has 99; only one more and he qualifies for Divemaster.) So these were not novice divers. They were scared, but didn't start hyperventilating or anything like that. They also had only about 20 more minutes of air, so that was another concern.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic (extended post).

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

City Fighting With Tanks.

Here's some shots that came in via email yesterday of some of the Marine tanks fighting in Fallujah. Might even be the same tank company whose commander wrote the AAR I posted last week.

Click the pic to go to the album. Click the pictures in the album to see them full size. Work safe, I think. No dead, burned bodies or anything. If you work in an anti-war environment - well heck, you're endangering yourself just reading me, so some pictures aren't going to make any difference.

New Equipment Update.

Just to make it easier, here are all four parts of the
US Army New Equipment Update I've been posting since January 3. This way they are all in one post for the Googlers.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

January 10, 2005

How sad is it...

...when a nation that stormed ashore on Juno Beach must now rent airplanes to deploy it's emergency Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to assist in a disaster?

By definition, now being a third tier player, in terms of ability to respond in terms of speed and capability?

This, from a national government that champions "Soft Power" as the wave of the future? I understand multilaterlism, fellas - but this is like the local paramedics having to call for a Taxi. It does not inspire confidence.

Mind you - I'm sure the DART team will do just fine when it arrives, and they will truly be all they can be - and I mean that without sarcasm.

But guys, a Keystone Kops governmental approach to things militant just saps the morale of the people who give so much to be there when needed.

And before someone snarks about the CRAF (Civil Reserve Air Fleet) and the fact that the US charters jets to move it's people around - we can deploy a brigade on two hours notice - even now - with our own assets. Let's not mix apples and oranges.

One hopes that bloggers like the Ghost of a Flea and Babbling Brooks can shame the Government of Canada into putting it's money where it's periodically arrogant and pedantic mouth is. Give your warriors the tools to do their jobs.

And briefly... the sun stood still.

Cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation.

I just suffered a bout.

Beth made brownies yesterday. Mmmmmm. Brownies!

Andy, prodigal son, just left today to return to his institution of higher indoctrination (actually, his school, Kansas State, isn't that bad, unlike the Flaw on the Kaw, Kansas U. Of course, being a Mizzou grad might be coloring my judgment, too).

His best pal August, who does attend the Flaw on the Kaw, was here visiting, too.

I had to come home this noon to pick up some work I'd forgotten this morning.

Andy and August are gone, not to return until some as-yet-unnamed date.

And there are brownies left.

Well, there was *a* brownie left.

There was a tremor in the underpinnings of my personal universe.

It will be worse for Beth.

When she gets back from taking Andy to Manhattan (The Little Apple on the Prairie - or is that Prairie Apple...) there will *still* be a brownie left.

Smaller than the one that A&A left, but, nonetheless, a definable mass of matter categorizable as a brownie.

We return you now to your regularly scheduled programming.

As I've said before...

...any echelon can lose a battle, campaign, war.... but in this era, they are won by companies.

Which means junior officers and non-commissioned officers. The proverbial Strategic Corporal in the three-block war.

2nd Lt. John Herman, a platoon leader with B Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, and one of his Soldiers pass out candy to children while on patrol with Iraqi police in Kirkuk, Iraq. This photo appeared on

From the New Yorker article linked to late in this post:

[article opens with an anecdote too long to stick in here without making this an even longer post] ...but, shortly before the Americans invaded Iraq, the Army had concluded that its officers lacked the ability to do precisely what he did: innovate and think creatively. In 2000, the new Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki, was determined to shake up the Army and suspected that about half of a soldier’s training was meaningless and “non-essential.” The job of figuring out which half went to Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Wong (retired), a research professor of military strategy at the Army War College. At forty-five, Wong is handsome and voluble, with the air of a man who makes his living prodding the comfortable. Wong found that the problem was not “bogus” training exercises but worthwhile training being handled in such a way as to stifle fresh thinking. The Army had so loaded training schedules with doctrinaire requirements and standardized procedures that unit commanders had no time—or need—to think for themselves. The service was encouraging “reactive instead of proactive thought, compliance instead of creativity, and adherence instead of audacity,” Wong wrote in his report. As one captain put it to him, “They’re giving me the egg and telling me how to suck it.”


Wong flew to Baghdad last April, a year after the supposed cessation of “major combat operations,” to find out how the “reactive” and “compliant” junior officers the Army had trained were performing amid the insurgency. He and an active-duty officer flew to bases all over Iraq, interviewing lieutenants, who lead platoons of about thirty soldiers, and captains, who command companies of one to two hundred. These officers, scrambling to bring order to Mosul, Fallujah, and Baghdad, had been trained and equipped to fight against numbered, mechanized regiments in open-maneuver warfare. They had been taught to avoid fighting in cities at all costs.

Yep. But what did he find? What just about everybody who ever deals with the US Military - in combat - finds.

Yet he found the opposite. Platoon and company commanders were exercising their initiative to the point of occasional genius. Whatever else the Iraq war is doing to American power and prestige, it is producing the creative and flexible junior officers that the Army’s training could not.

And ours are very, very, good. And won't sit around waiting for a bunch of old farts like me to get off the dime and give them the info they need - and more importantly, the forum to share it.

So they did it themselves. Extremely well. Whether it will be enough is yet to be seen. But if we 'lose' Iraq - it won't be these guy's fault.

I'm still amazed on an almost daily basis how unconnected and uninformed about the Internet and information sharing many of my peers and seniors were, are, and, it seems, will continue to be. But that's okay, like me, they're retiring in their turn, and getting out of the way. Hopefully sooner rather than later, if they don't want to learn.

But some are, if slowly, and in some cases, seemingly reluctantly.

Officer after officer told me that they use call when they have the leisure, but it’s Companycommand or Platoonleader they check regularly and find most useful. call’s director, Colonel Saul, wondered if “maybe captains shouldn’t be spending so much time in front of their computer, but should be with their soldiers.” He pointed out, however, that call itself has found Companycommand useful; earlier this year, call posted a request on Companycommand for advice on using interpreters in Iraq, eliciting replies that became a call lesson on the subject. Saul’s ambivalence about the Web sites is emblematic of the Army’s attitude. “Institutional education has three components,” said Lieutenant Colonel Kelly Jordan, an active-duty officer who also runs the R.O.T.C. program at Notre Dame. “It’s got to have a common curriculum, a dedicated cadre of trained instructors, and common experience.” Companycommand and Platoonleader are free-for-alls of shared experience, with no designated interpreter. “What you get out of it may not be what I get out of it,” Jordan said. “You may get the occasional Napoleon or Alexander the Great out of it, but it does nothing to raise the educational level of the officer corps.”

As long as they either Lead, Follow - or, like me, Get Out Of The Way, though not really because I wanted to...

Swedish Air Force Humor

Be patient - it may take a minute.

What's wrong with this picture?

A couple of updates.

First off, remember last week, when someone leaked a memo from the LTG Helmly, Chief of the Army Reserve, telling the Chief of Staff, Army, GEN Schoomaker, that the Army Reserve was under serious strain, possibly even to the breaking point?

Well, if you'd like to read the memo itself - here you go, download it here.

I find the memo extremely instructive, and LTG Helmly simply appears to be doing his job - being the 'expert' on the Army Reserve, as well as it's leader. He's executing his 'staff responsibility' to make it clear to the active component that they don't understand the Army Reserve - and giving concrete examples of how that manifests itself in policy.

He is also pointing out that a regulatory system developed post-Vietnam, with only incremental changes, and the ad-hoc nature of managing this war has produced a self-reinforcing death spiral for the Army Reserve.

Especially instructive there is his discussion on the insistence on using only quote - volunteers - unquote to fill individual manning requirements. Something the planners in the Pentagon aren't considering is while that looks good to them (and ameliorates the 'backdoor draft' argument) the net effect back on the homefront where the soldier lives with spouse and employer - "You are choosing to leave." where (as has been reported elsewhere) sometimes that isn't really the case, and there have been reports of reservists being pressured to sign the 'voluntary recall' papers when in fact, they weren't - coming back all that voluntarily, that is.

So, I see this as LTG Helmly doing his job. I'm more interested in who leaked the memo...

Now, on a semi-related note, here is installment 4 (and final) of the Equipment update brief.

Download file

It covers the new weapon lube, personal gear, some tactical decision aids, etc.

And, in an amazing bit of "deja vu all over again" we re-realize that light infantry can sometimes use some help moving stuff around... if only all the batteries they have to hump these days. So I give you the Small Unit, Multi-Purpose Trailer.

They are a bit lighter that some of the older varieties... like this shot and this shot from the National Infantry Museum of the WWI (and slightly beyond) Machine Gun Trailer. Then there's this: the WWII Airborne Handcart. For a picture of the handcart in context, go visit the 505th PIR Historical Association webpage.

Of course, "The Soldier as Mule" takes on a whole new context here, doesn't it?

by John on Jan 10, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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