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February 26, 2005

New Horizons for the BlogChylde

A blogger has truly arrived when one of his (or her--in deference to the lovely ladies who do so) peers requests his (oh, all right--or her) technical assistance. For example, frequent Castle guest Barb found herself in need of some deep background about the venerable M2 and its efficacy in domicile defense.

And to whom did she turn for this information? None other than her fellow frequent Castle contributor and newly-minted blogger in his own right, Sgt B., the Ma Deuce Maven. He not only resolved her quandary, but--wait-a-minute--

[*scamper-scamper-thhhhhwhap!*] >>hzzz. message for you...

scruple-express has just delivered the link. You have the controls, Barb.

by CW4BillT on Feb 26, 2005 | Machine Guns

Hey! Let's go help Deb at Marine Corps Moms.

JarheadDad points us to this editorial from The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, a college online newpaper. I sent a response. Since their comments are moderated, I have no idea if it will post or not, so I'll post it here. The first (and as of this writing, only) response is up and is *not* supportive. Hopefully mine will post.

Ah, so through mindless acts of vandalism you assuage your guilt.

And you think it's an act of principled protest.

I don't use the yellow ribbon meme. I support the troops in a different way - one which will inspire you to push my car off a cliff.

I help them be more effective - as I determine it, not you - at their jobs.

Just a thought - unless you renounce the use of military force in any form, anywhere, anytime - then yes, you *can* support the troops and not the war.

If you think Peacekeeping and Peace Enforcement ala Bosnia, Kosovo, fill-in-the-blank is a supportable use of the military, then you can, indeed, support the troops even if you don't support this particular use of them.

Only if you completely eschew military force in any form can your position be supportable and logically consistent - though you are still engaged in childish vandalism and wrapping yourself in a faux patriotism that you mock in others.

Just sayin'. The troops don't choose where they are sent or for what purpose. They only choose to make themselves available, and let the civilians make the big decisions.

So, your argument isn't with the troops, it's with the government, so, focus your effort where it belongs, and spare us the sophomoric justification for your petty

Deb, at Marine Corps Moms, has, shall we say, carried the fight to the foe, a certain Mr. Thomas Naughton.

Feel free to join in - but as Castle Denizens, be on-point, and don't descend to pointless, pottymouth personal attacks - as some of Mr. Naughton's detractors seemingly already have. The Armorer does not approve of that form of discourse, as it only serves to make the pretentious preen even more, sure of their moral superiority when their opponents can only muster a response that impugns the messenger, vice the message.

Mr. Naughton offers a defense of his column there, which I find a little disingenuous, but, hey, it's a polite defense. So, go offer some polite counterpoints.

by John on Feb 26, 2005 | Pugnacious Stupidity
» Villainous Company links with: Thomas Naughton: Great American Patriot

A little oleo.

We're gonna start with this, cause it's purty. The USS Honolulu.

Next, SWWBO's Carnival of the Recipes #28 is up, ably hosted this week with a Space Theme by Rocket Jones.

As Dbie the ZoomieSis points out, The Questing Cat is home, well, kinda - back at the Division's base in Schweinfurt, Germany. We all have read the pre-game activities and have been watching the game - it looks like the Cat is going to show us a window into the post-game. I recommend you go read and follow that story... because for many soldiers, this represents the beginning of the rest of their lives... and will set the tone for how they approach it and how successful they are in living it. The difference between making a living and a life, and sleeping on a park bench.

We are sitting through a multitude of soporific briefings. The longest is of course our day 2, our “Don’t beat your wife or girlfriend or kids while drinking all the beer in Schweinfurt and contemplating killing yourself” day. We receive chaplains brief on combat stress and strains in our lives. I wonder if we are chasing something.

Go read the rest. Blogspawn SGT B has his own take.

WillyShake, a sailor-turned-academic, points us to Victor Davis Hanson's weekly column, and offers his own thoughts on the subject. What do you guys think?

Blogspawn SGT B, of The Gun Line, sends us to Little Green Footballs (I spent all day yesterday in a seminar, and all last night with SWWBO (ahem) so I'm waaay behind in my blog reading. The LGF post is regarding a traveling exhibit by the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) regarding the War in Iraq. I wonder if the Ghost of a Flea has a comment, from his Quaker perspective?

Go, read, ponder, act as you see fit. Let us know what you think.

If you notice that I'm not offering opinions, it's an old military thang. The senior guys keep their mouths shut so the junior guys will express their opinions about a topic, and make their own recommendations, rather than mold their response to the senior guys opinions. While that doesn't strictly apply on a blog... I find it generally will encourage the non-regular commenters to speak up. I can't get you regulars to shut up... much less keep you from hijacking the threads....

Dbie points us to another new milblog, Sic Vis Pacem, Para Bellum who is new on the ground in Iraq. He's also covering the distaff side. One to watch, and see how his voice develops. Guns Up!, soldier. I think, if he can keep on the correct side of the line... it should be an interesting read - he's a Military Intelligence specialist. And while they've always been critical - in the war we are fighting now, they are the drivers, enablers, and basis of success. And his current top post, well, that talks to a problem many of us soldiers have had to face. Thought for the day - the Senior Leaders should read blogs. Not with an eye to censor - but to see into their soldiers in ways you simply can't otherwise. I don't care how much your soldiers like/love/respect you - they won't talk like this to your face.

Chris sends this along to torture the Armorer. Bad Chris!

Heading back to Sailors... Dusty linked to Michelle Malkin's takedown of Ward Churchill - I'll link to Commander Salamander's.



Little Melissa comes home from first grade and tells her father that they learned about the history of Valentine's Day. "Since Valentine's Day is for a Christian saint and we're Jewish," she asks, "will God get mad at me for giving someone a valentine?

Melissa's father thinks a bit, and then says "No, I don't think God would get mad. Who do you want to give a valentine to?"

"Osama Bin Laden," she says

"Why Osama Bin Laden," her father asks in shock.

"Well," she says, "I thought that if a little American Jewish girl could have enough love to give Osama a valentine, he might start to think that maybe we're not all bad, and maybe start loving people a little bit.

And if other kids saw what I did and sent valentines to Osama, he'd love everyone a lot. And then he'd start going all over the place to tell everyone how much he loved them and how he didn't hate anyone anymore."

Her father's heart swells and he looks at his daughter with newfound pride.

"Melissa, that's the most wonderful thing I've ever heard."

"I know," Melissa says, "and once that gets him out in the open, the Marines could blow the crap out of him."

Hat tip to Rich B.

Okay, let's close with this. Honolulu and Polar Bears. Not a combination that comes readily to mind, is it?

Feel free to offer captions...

February 25, 2005

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy...

You might be a redneck pilot if:

--your stall warning horn plays "Dixie."

--your cross-country flight plan uses flea markets as check points.

--you think sectional charts should show trailer parks.

--you've ever used moonshine as gas.

--your wheel pants have mud flaps.

--those mud flaps sport a chrome silhouette of a reclining nude.

--you think GPS stands for "Going Perfectly Straight."

--your toothpick keeps poking your boom mike.

--you constantly confuse Beechcraft with Beechnut.

--you use a Purina feed bag for a windsock.

--you fuel your Cessna from a Mason jar.

--you wouldn't be caught dead flyin' a Grumman "Yankee."

--you refer to flying in formation as "We got ourselves a convoy!"

--there is a sign on the side of your aircraft advertising your septic tank service.

--the set of "matched luggage" you take on your long cross-country flights is three grocery sacks from the same Piggly Wiggly.

--you subscribe to The Southern Aviator because of the soft paper.

--just before impact, you are heard saying, "Hey y'all, watch this!"

When Awards don't matter...

Both sides of the coin division.

First off - Over at Strategy Page there's something on a subject near and dear to several reader's hearts... the true mobilization of the people in support of the Global War on Terror. I might have a quibble or two with the author, but nothing substantive jumped out - and I am a fan of Harry Summers. Go read, come back, and continue.

Over at Confederate Yankee, Bob wonders: has given combat journalist Kevin Sites the 2005 Wired Rave Awards for Blogs, though apparently "relevancy" was not one of the criteria for judging.

You should go visit, and read the rest. And not just because Bob mentions the Castle in a positive manner... (preen), but because he has a good point. Not that the folks at Wired are going to see it...

Okay, that takes care of Real Awards that don't matter, cuz' we didn't get one. In fact, I bet they never even saw this place. Let's move on to Bogus Fantasy Awards that don't matter, too. Today is a short-time-available-for-blogging-day. Perhaps my compadres Dusty and Bill will have time to keep you entertained. But, to keep you out of the liquor cabinet (yeah, right - hosting costs for this blog don't even begin to approach the booze bill) I leave you this picture to have fun with. And yes, you may mock artillerymen. I can always ban you if you manage to scandalize me... and no, Barb, you can't get Bill to let you back in - he doesn't have the keys!

The Answer

All righty then... yesterday I brought out the Arsenal's Chinese Type 51 copy of the Soviet Tokarev pistol. He was damaged during his career on active service, though not as badly as his previous owner who was deadlined and dropped from the reporting system.

And the answer? How many dings?

And the Lord of the Keep spake, saying, 'First shalt thou peer closely, seeking the places where metal is not, yet whereat it should be. Then shalt thou count those places where metal, due to energetic energy transfer, hath been made thinner, yet denser, than previous. Seek thou also the place where plastic no longer is where it once was. Truly, there shall also be a lessening of metal, and a increase in density there. When thou has done this aright - Then, shalt thou count to four. No more. No less. Four shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be four. Five shalt thou not count, nor either count thou three, excepting that thou then proceed to four. Six is right out. Once the number four, being the fourth number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Cap of Celebration towards yonder scruple, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.' So ends this reading from the Book of the Castle, Chapter Miniatus Armas.

Indeed. Four is the answer. Except when it is five. As it is. But not for this, as the 5th point of damage is on the side that is terra incognito - the Far Side of the Pistol, (a new album coming soon from Pink Floyd). The hit on the backstrap hit a pin which transferred the energy over to the other side, damaging that grip as well. Per the comments from some of you yesterday, you may recognize this staining pattern, as well. There's more than that, but it proved challenging to photograph with the time I have this morning.

February 24, 2005

Terri Schiavo

I won't presume to speak for Dusty and Bill - but I *am* the senior editorial voice of this little corner of the Internet. They have the ability to post their opinions should they wish. As you can in the comments. No savaging each other, either. If you can't be polite about it - I'm not interested in what you have to say. Passion is fine. Personal attacks will just piss me off and get you banned.

In my adult life I have saved life. I have taken life. Most of my adult life has been focused on how to kill people, break things, and control what's left, and the larger context of human interaction into which miltary action fits.

Regardless of the twisted thinking of some - that doesn't make me a friend of, or a glorifier, of death. If anything, like my father, and my war veteran grandfather before himI will err on the side of caution, and act disproportionately to save life. If only because my personal ghosts remind me of the permanence of death, regardless of your belief of what lies after.

Since what lies after is eternity, I choose to err on the side of caution on what is, statistically, the short end of the stick - excepting you reincarnationists, who have some more chances on the wheel.

Because of that - I am *not* a fan of the death penalty. I am *not* a fan of abortion - though I have not slipped into the abolitionist camp, and I choose generally not to judge the women who make the choices they make - but then lately it's become obvious with this group I'm a hopeless dewy-eyed liberal. I make exception for ego-driven, "I want a boy/girl, not a girl/boy," kinds of reasons. I will judge. But I won't throw it in your face if you don't throw it in mine.

I am relentlessly opposed to euthanasia, your 'right to die' too easily gets twisted to eventuate someone else's 'right to kill' as we have seen in Europe.

And might be about to see in Florida. And by starvation, no less, because of an astounding lack of moral courage. It's okay in some eyes to allow Terry Schiavo to starve to death... it would be *murder* to just go ahead and kill her, eh? Crapweasel logic. Moral cowardice. Base and venal, beneath contempt. I at least know what I am - and what I did, and will do. I accept responsibility, not dodge behind a very thin reed to hide.

I thought we'd progressed a few thousand years beyond the time when the unwanted were put out to die by exposure... at least a quicker death than starvation.

I have a friend whose wife has multiple sclerosis, and badly. Doctors have told him that by this time in the progression of the disease, most spouses have divorced, if only to put the financial and, frankly, support burden on the state.

Not my friend. Even though the woman he tends is in her late 40's, and has been like this for over a decade, and the burden has ruined his career chances, and kept him tied to this one place in a manner of stasis - day after day after day he cares for her. He has raised their daughter (who helps). He works full time to provide. He helps her eat, he bathes her, he changes her diaper, all of it. And whle she is more interactive certainly than Terry is, it's as often bad as it is good. He gave his word. In sickness and in health. For richer and for poorer. And he stands by her, and on those days when she's feeling well, he gets some positive feedback, a little tiny spark of what once was. But if there were none of that, still he would be there. If it weren't for this - he would be in the six-figure salary range... with at least a leading 2, and easily 7 figures in the bank. He's not close to to half of that for salary - and what little is in the bank goes to college. He is more a hero than I have ever been.

In the military we are fond of quoting John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends."

It's actually comparatively easy to do in combat. You are in a fey mood in a fey place. I submit that greater love hath no man than this: that he sacrifice his future for his wife, and does so knowing he will have to live it. Change gender as appropriate.

I know this is a complicated case, and it may well be true that Terri said she didn't want to be kept on life support. Michael may be acting in what he perceives is her interest - though it strikes me his self-interest is open to question. But there is greater issue than Terri - and that is the issue of "other people choosing" as is happening in Europe. My mother has a living will. She has my sister as executrix, because she knows my father would fail that test. You have a responsibility to lawfully record your wishes if you wish to die. If you don't - then I say the slippery slope stops here. Sorry. The Unintended Consequences trump.

We can't all be Gabriele Helms. Or my friend. But we can make our voices heard.

So count me among the defenders of Terri Schiavo and her parent's fight to save her from her husband's selfish greed - like the esteemed Mistress of the Castle, and these other people, trying to hold back the darkness of death by neglect.

Huh. When I started, I expected 10 minutes and three paragraphs. Looks like I misunderestimated. Guess I feel more strongly about this than I thought.


>>alertness hy-umuns.

>>all your data are belong to us. also all your stats. name cthulhu booger, get scrup'l butt offa photoshop. scrup'ls have not tail like thing live in oubliette pless.

Okay - we did it with Bill, now let's do it with me.

Get yer mind out of the gutter.

This is the Arsenal's Chinese Type 51 Pistol, a copy of the Soviet TT33. Like "Hubert," Twitchy Bill's Trusty Steed, this pistol and its previous owner had a tough day at the office.

Unlike Twitchy and Hubert, the pistol's then-owner did not survive the encounter. Evidence of the encounter is visible on the pistol. How many hits do you see?

Click here for hi-res.

For Longtime Castle Denizens... analysis, please.

[Armorer's Note: Look who has set up an office at the Castle...! I *knew* I should have changed the da*n locks!]

I was preparing some links for this morning’s post and, at about 1:15am, there was an inexplicable power failure in the Armory. The emergency lighting also failed and the protective irises on the security cams closed, but the newly-installed digital audio system continued to function normally.
The following is a transcription of the odd activities which evidently occurred during the blackout:

[*rattle, rattle-click. scurry-scurry-scamper-scurry.*]

>>hzzz. bad cat robot lady gadget work. sweet.
>>name jake, look for big-tribble-with-legs.

[*scurry. thump. scurry.*]

>>not see, name muffy. prolly play with cat-thing name annie.
>>name scout, look for bigfoot.
>>who that?
>>gray fur on top of head look like squashed tribble. feet look like battleship row.
>>that rotorhead. prolly fixing heater in big water dish outside wall.
>>name scout same name dimbulb. rotorhead persona, only ‘lectrons. bigfoot real. same thing john of ack ‘lectron persona, big-tribble-with-legs real.
>>name muffy, find cat-thing name hal. name hal say bigfoot not here.
>>hzzzz. maybe at white fur lady pless apologizing for scrup’l mess again. name kc, fetch scrup’l butt over here and also bring scrup’l nose.
>>who die, make name muffy king crap?
>>name kc be name mud if not get scrup’l buns over now. name muffy think great idea. scrup’l crate not big enough confine great thought. f-r-e-e-e-e-d-o-o-o-m-m.
>>express of surprise. also of disbelief that head of name muffy could contain thought of any size.
>>name now mud. put nose to many-small-blocks-cage and press this.
[click] a
..hzzz. name jake, go donjon pless, watch. if see big-tribble-with-legs, come back.
>>name jake gets cookie if does this?
>>cookie at white fur lady pless. name mud, press this.
[click] l
[click] l
>>hzzzzz. need nano e.m.p. subcortex interface for ‘puter. this slow like church on new year’s eve.
>>name muffy, find cat-thing name annie. name annie say big-tribble-with-legs and pretty-lady-who-scratches-cat-chin go visit strine beer-food-beer pless.
>>hzzzz. name mud, press here.
>>now here.
[click] y
>>name scout, look through hole in wall of white fur lady pless, watch for bigfoot. hzzzzz. scrup’ls make mess size of cthulhu’s butt there last night, bigfoot be there for cleanup. ears prolly still ache from las’ time white fur lady throw crying jag over trivet. name mud, press here.
[click] o
>>hzzzz. this take all millennium this rate.
>>name muffy. bigfoot see name scout at white fur lady pless and freak. chase name scout over to barb lady pless.
>>hzzz. big pless, lossa small hidey-rooms. be there all night try catch name scout. name mud, press here.
[click] u
>>and here.
[click] r
>>name muffy, donjon pless locked. bigfoot take bad cat robot lady toolkit. cookie, plizz.
>>name jake go white fur lady pless and do roll-over-play-possum. white fur lady sucker for cute scrup’l tricks. then name jake make crumbs for keep bigfoot occupied. name mud, here.
>>and here.
[click] d
>>name muffy, what is great idea name muffy have?
>>this place nexus. scrup’l take over here, then next blog. then next blog. create empire in blogosphere.
>>name mud think that name muffy delusional.
>>press here, name mud. name be cthulhu-booger soon.
[click] a
>>name muffy be too flippant ‘bout cthulhu. elder gods tough cookies.
>>what happen when nyarlathotep fall through hole in fabric of space-time continuum last week and demand bren and czech sks as tribute?
>>big-tribble-with-legs tell nyarlathotep to go pound sand for not knowing czechs never make sks.
>>riverbank now much smaller.
>>press here.
[click] t
>>and here.
[click] a
>>name muffy, hear name scout scurry back.
>>press here.
>>and here.
[click] a


>>name muffy, bigfoot chase. ditched at jarhead pless when tripped over sandbag and busted nose on ma deuce spade grips.
>>press here.
[click] r
>>name scout, look in folder name visual for ‘lectrons of holodeck wet ladies. name mud, press here.
[click] e
>>name muffy, found ‘lectrons of nice ladies who give marshmallow treats. and chok’lit.
>>name scout, open photoshop. name mud, press here.
>>and here.
[click] b
>>how is nose holding up, name mud?
>>feels like bigfoot stepped on same. want kc name back.
>>name kc again, press here.
[click] e
>>and here.
[click] l
>>and here.
[click] o
>>name muffy, name jake come with cat-thing name annie. is mess at white fur lady pless. bigfoot come in with nosebleed. carpet is trashed.
>>name muffy, photoshop open. pretty lady who give chok’lit cherries is all wet. and what means louis prima world tour, plizz?
>>name scout, need to get chok’lit off lady hooters - especially one with insect name. use chipmunk-with-wire-tail to get utilities. name kc, press here.
[click] n
>>name muffy, chok’lit still on hooters. and tongue feels lousy.
>>name scout same name idiot. not s’pose to lick ‘lectrons. name kc, press here.
[click] g
>>lady doesn’t like it?
>>if name muffy had opposable thumbs, name scout would be throttled. take over nose job from name kc. name kc, clean up chok’lit on ‘lectrons - oh, and get barb-lady unstuck from floor.
>>photoshop powerful tool. practice on wet lady pix first, then scrup’ls make cut ‘n’ paste pix of army of scrup’ls, then post on net. make hy-umuns all to fear and cede vast tracts of bandwidth. name scout, press here.
>>and here.
[click] u
>> name annie make opposable thumbs from kibble and rubbers. cat-thing name annie get chin tickle. make also thumbs for cat-thing name hal, plizz.
>>name muffy, chok’lit all gone from holodeck wet ladies. clothes also.
>>name muffy, big-tribble-with-legs and pretty-lady-that-scratches-cat-chins now back from strine beer-food-beer pless.
>>name muffy, bigfoot use oxyclean on white fur lady pless carpet and coming this way. also, looks really torqued.
>>all scrup’ls back to crate. name jake, lock crate when name muffy inside. hzzzzz.
[click] s

[*scurry. scurry-scamper. scurry. rattle-click*]

When the lights returned to normal at approximately 1:45am, the computer must have re-booted--PhotoShop was closed, but the following message was on the monitor…

all your data are belong to us

Gotta lay off the Tres Generaciones after midnight. Got a forever-nosebleed going...

[Armorer's note: Bad Cat Robot's picture was procured through the secret efforts of this fellow.

What's up this morning...

First off, the academic submariner asks you to help make it possible for people to stop the Mohammed Atta's of the world.

CDR Salamander wants to free up some soldiers for soldiers work, by replacing them in riverine operations with... sailors. Wotta concept. Calling John Kerry...

Castle Denizen Dbie wants to know what kind of dogs she hangs with. Via Matt at Blackfive she sends us here> C.A.T.S. Towards the bottom of the sidebar is a link to "What Kind of Dog are you?"

If the Armorer chooses his Inner Armorer (military) he is a German Shepherd. If he chooses his current work... Qualified Professional, he morphs to a Dogo Argentino... a rough looking customer.

The Armorer wishes his readers to test and report back. Besides, if you don't, Dbie will be peeved, and no one wants a Peeved Dbie! (And that's not a typo, Dbie is, well, Dbie.)

And finally - a "Rest of the Story" - this one a reminder the Coast Guard is an Armed Service... and they, too, were at Iwo Jima. Via Larry K.


by Dr. Robert M. Browning, Jr.

The raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima in February 1945, marked the culmination of two years of hard fighting that had progressed 3,500 miles across the Pacific. With this island in Allied hands, they now stood poised to strike directly at Japan. The Coast Guard had played an integral part in each of the invasions during the Pacific campaign and advanced with the other services every step of the way.

Almost exactly midway between Saipan and Tokyo lay the island of Iwo Jima. Although the largest island in the Bonin Island group, this pork-chop shaped island was only four and a half miles long and two and a half wide at its widest point. The highest point is Mount Suribachi, rising a commanding 550 feet above sea level on the southern end of the island. Allied planners believed the capture of this volcanic island would ease later operations because the island could be used as an emergency air base for heavy bombers attacking Tokyo and other important industrial cities in Japan. Furthermore fighters based on the island could supply cover for bombers from Iwo Jima to the targets and back.

The Japanese realized the importance of the island and began fortifying their defenses of Iwo Jima in March 1944. Due to its size the Japanese knew that the entire island could be easily bombarded from sea. In designing the defenses they took this into consideration. These defenses took advantage of the rough terrain and included a network of concealed emplacements for artillery, mortars, and machine guns. The Japanese connected many of these positions with an intricate system of underground tunnels, excavated rooms, blockhouses and caves, all designed to make the capture of the island costly.

Nine hundred vessels sailed in the numerous task groups in support of the Allied invasion. These ships carried an expeditionary force of over 70,000 Marines, nearly 4,000 men in the naval landing force, and over 36,000 garrison troops to attack the 21,000 Japanese defenders. The Allies set 19 February as D-Day. The assault forces arrived off the southeast side of the island to make landings at seven predetermined beaches stretching only 3,500 yards. Included in these vessels were the attack transports Bayfield (APA-33) and the Callaway (APA-35). Eighteen LSTs and the submarine chaser PC-469, all manned by the Coast Guard, also participated in the landings.

The two transport groups arrived off the beaches before daylight and began debarking troops. Control parties established the line of departure 4,000 yards off the beach. LSTs in the tractor groups hove to 1,500 yards farther from the beach. The LSTs and LSMs put LVTs, LVT(A)s and DUWKs into the water while the larger transports lowered LCMs and LCVPs for the later waves of the assault. The scene was described "like all the cats in the world having kittens."

The first five waves, comprising only LVTs, formed at the line of departure off the southeast beaches. The first wave consisted of 68 LVT(A)s. These small craft reached the beach at 0900 under light gunfire and the next four waves followed within twenty-three minutes.

With no reefs surrounding the island the landings had promised little difficulty. The beach looked like a fine gravel dump with brown volcanic ash and black cinders that looked like sand covering the island and the landing beaches. Unfortunately the anticipated good beach conditions did not materialize. The LVTs found their progress blocked by a terrace that rose, in some places, fifteen feet. The cinders and ash also hampered progress because it offered poor traction and the tracked craft could not easily traverse over this surface. To make matters worse, the surf broke directly on the beach, broaching and carrying the small craft sideways. The real trouble began when the wreckage began collecting in the landing areas, blocking and disabling later waves of landing craft.

Within thirty minutes after the landings began, the Japanese increased the bombardment of the beachhead. This artillery and mortar fire further added to the number of craft damaged and out of action. Due to the wreckage, the successive waves of landing craft had difficulty getting to the beach. As they came in wave after wave more damage resulted among the craft.

The Coast Guard coxswains found it necessary to back their craft into the wind and current to keep from going onto the beach. The beachmasters, salvage parties, and beach parties normally kept the beaches clear, but due to the intense Japanese mortar fire, none of these men could remain on the beach. Therefore the coxswains in the landing craft had to take all the initiative to get to the beach and back off. Even the larger LSMs and LSTs that came to the beach later had difficulty and their commanding officers struggled to keep the waves from broaching their ships. Pontoon causeways were also launched but the seaward ends could not be anchored and they broached, sank, ran adrift and added to the wreckage already on the beaches. The wreckage eventually caused the beaches to be closed to everything smaller than a LCT until tugs and other craft cleared the beach for later waves to disembark troops and supplies.

Despite all the confusion, the Coast Guard landed contingents of the 4th and 5th Marine divisions along with their gear, bulldozers, vehicles, rations, small arms, water, and virtually everything that would keep the landing forces moving inland. By the end of D-Day 30,000 troops had landed although the beachhead was only 4,000 yards long and 700 yards deep. The 5th Marines on the left advanced quickly across the narrow part of the island and captured one of the three airfields. Part of this division then swung towards Mount Suribachi while other units fought their way northward.

The Coast Guard ships remained busy off shore. The Bayfield, only 2,000 yards off shore took on board over 250 Marine casualties from small craft as they came from the beaches. The Coast Guard manned LSTs also took the wounded off the beaches and treated them on board. During the operations Coast Guard vessels suffered from the attacks. The LST-792, LST-758, and the LST-760, were all struck by Japanese fire on the beach.

The fighting ashore was tough but the Marines made slow and steady progress. The 5th Marines secured the top of Mt. Suribachi on February 23rd, killing 600 Japanese to reach the summit. There were, however, 1,000 more defenders on the mountain securely entrenched in the numerous caves and tunnels and it took close and bloody fighting to kill them. The 4th Marines landed in the middle of the southeast side of the island and pushed toward the northern end. The 3rd Marines completed landing on the 24th of February. All three divisions advanced abreast to the north part of the island. The 4th drove on the right, the 3rd in the middle, and the 5th on the left. The island was declared secure on March 16th. Nevertheless, the Japanese, in isolated pockets, continued their resistance for months.


The most enduring image of the capture of Iwo Jima is the Marines raising the American flag on Mt. Suribachi. Although the story of the flag raising has been told many times, there is a portion of the story that is relatively neglected. This part of the story is the Coast Guard's small contribution to this historic event.

After the initial landings on 19 February, LSTs began landing at the base of Mt. Suribachi to unload supplies for the advancing American troops. One of these ships was the Coast Guard manned LST-758. On 23 February, after several days of intense fighting, a forty-man detachment of the 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division scaled the volcano and after a short firefight, secured the top of the mountain. LT Harold Schrier and his men from the 28th Marine Regiment lashed an American flag to a piece of iron pipe and raised it on Mt. Suribachi at 1020. The flag, however, was too small to be seen for any distance. Later Schrier procured a larger flag, borrowed from the Navy LST-779. This flag, however, was very large and there was no pipe long enough to fly it properly. Schrier then sent a Marine runner down the mountain to find a more appropriate flag. According to Robert Resnick, the quartermaster on duty on board the LST-758, Rene Gagnon from 28th Marine Regiment boarded the LST and requested an American flag. Resnick issued Gannon a number 7 American flag from the ship's bunting box. Before leaving, Gannon was also given a 21-foot-long piece of steamfitter's pipe to serve as the flagpole.

After Gannon struggled to the top of Mt. Suribachi, the marines hoisted this flag and Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal was there to capture the event. This image, as everyone knows, became one of the most famous photographs of the war and will forever symbolize the American victory at Iwo Jima.

February 23, 2005

Just guessing...

...but I'm guessing Fred Reed doesn't think too much of the Master of the Donjon here at Castle Argghhh!!! See if you don't agree. Not that I argue much with his premise... but those last paragraphs bite a bit.

Fred's musings start here.

Summers Falls In Winter's Spring

Personally, I'd Rather Have A Possum As President Of Harvard

February 20, 2005

By Fred Reed

It seems that Larry Summers, a timid man mysteriously president of Harvard, has suggested that men might be better than women at mathematics. He has been beset by the fanged mouselets of academe, and is now busily cringing like a puppy who has wet the rug. We must not mention what the correct do not want to hear.

Yet maybe we should. Let us reflect on differences between the sexes:

Men are taller, heavier, stronger, more durable, and more enduring. They have higher erythrocyte counts, greater cardiac volume, build muscle faster with exercise, and are more strongly constructed. All of this is perfectly well known scientifically, having been studied to death by exercise physiologists. It tracks with daily observation, with athletic records, with attempts by the military to train women as soldiers (they are much weaker and have many more injuries in training). It is why you don't see women in the NFL, why the sexes have separate athletic teams. On the other hand, women live longer.

Intellectually the differences are more complex, but equally well known among people who study such things. Men are distinctly better in mean mathematical-logical-spatial reasoning, and either very slightly ahead or very slightly behind in mean verbal ability.

Large snippage to encourage you to visit Fred's site to read the rest and dodge the wholesale slaughter of intellectual property rights. The Whole Thing can be read here.

He sums up here.

Men can be civilized at the local or neighborhood level. Well-bred and preferably educated males, whether in Switzerland, Fukuoka, or the white suburbs of Washington, go to work, invent things, try to better the world, and only very occasionally kill each other. Boys, if raised to be gentlemen, usually will be. Of course this only works if women are ladies. It comes down to a society's instilling, and insisting on, high standards of behavior. Dueling should be discouraged.

At the global level, things are more difficult. The male readiness to think in terms of abstractions makes the world a chess game. Combativeness easily trumps morality. It is men, not women, who fantasize about nuking China. Given that almost all countries raise armies and train them to fight, it is to be expected that they will want to. The unprincipled tend to rise to power. I suppose the best hope is that countries will become sufficiently integrated with each other, as Western Europe seems to have done, that fighting just doesn't seem attractive. Probably a long shot.

For the record - I'm not for nuking China. I fantasize about girls, mostly SWWBO, and armored cars. And I really like soft, cuddly, furry critters. I've risked my life to save turtles on a highway (back when the Armorer had some moves... now... well, the turtle's in trouble if there's a lot of traffic... But I've got a house full of kittens and puppies (and a basement with a were-kitten in it - if you're a regular comment reader, you know what I mean).

OKay, let's answer that teaser...

The consensus (with some not-so-gentle shoving by the Armorer) was moving towards a Vickers firing lock. Some people picked up on the hint that when the Armorer does this sort of thing he's using pictures which are up in the Arsenal photo album... and paid attention to what folder was what.

Of course, in preparation for this, there was also some Maxim stuff in that folder...

Here is a Vickers lock and a Maxim lock side by side - and just as importantly - they are oriented as if they were in their respective receivers.

They are in the 'locked' position - ready to fire.

Some of you twigged fairly early to a Maxim-style lock (on the right in this photo, a Russian/Finn M1910). All Maxims, all calibers, use a lock that is virtually identical. There may be slight dimensioning differences based on calibers and materials, but they all follow this pattern.

The Vickers is a Maxim-derived gun - and the difference is in the lock. The Vickers shoots more quickly, and is smaller and lighter than equivalent-caliber water-cooled Maxims. And the secret to that is in the lock. Vickers took Maxim's design and left the extractor as it was (that's the part to the right side of the locks which strip, feed, and eject the rounds) and flipped the lock upside down. This made the 'break' of the knuckle in recoil all take place within the vertical space occupied by the lock - instead of breaking below the lock, like the Maxim does. Got that?

1. Strip.

2. Feed.

3. Eject.

This action is why you cock a Maxim-style gun twice... once to strip from the belt, second time to feed the stripped round to the breech, while stripping the next round.

A safety note. In the pics above, you see what looks like a cut-out in the extractor. That's actually a modification done to make the lock safe to handle. This was a training lock used by the Finns. These weapons are VERY DANGEROUS - aside from the Usual Caveats for firearms - WHEN HANDLING THE LOCK. Why? Because the lock contains the firing pin, firing pin spring, sear, and hammer - though you wouldn't recognize the hammer as such. Technically, it's termed a *tumbler*. Point being - if you have a round in the extractor, in front of the firing pin, and you trip the sear (not hard to do) you have an unsupported round that is going to explode. Wear your goggles and Interceptor if you are planning on running with these scissors.

In this picture, you can see how a Maxim operates - loading, firing, ejecting. In most machineguns - the action is straight line - reciprocating back and forth, with the bolt twisting to lock in the breech. On Maxim's guns - the lock stays in the vertical plane, but the actual 'locking' of the weapon occurs when the arm returns to horizontal. Then, upon firing, the barrel gets an initial rearward impulse that moves the recoil plates back along the sides of the locking arm, camming it to break, at which point the lock continues rearward against the action of the fusee spring, which sends the lock forward again to start the process all over again. Complicated. Expensive - but damned reliable, which is why the Maxim still serves in China, and the Vickers served in Brit usage until 1968 or so. But all that, with pictures... is the subject of a later eye-glazing post.

Let's take a look at the locks overlaid on a full-scale poster of the Soviet Maxim. If you click the link, you'll see the Maxim lock overlaid on the poster. Take a look at how the receiver extends down below the water jacket surrounding the barrel (the right side of the picture).

Now take a look at a Vickers. Although this picture doesn't show it that well (hey, excuse to take more!) the receiver on the Vickers is not much deeper than the water jacket - and the reason for that is the weapon ejects the spent brass through a hole right under the water jacket. A tremendous savings in strategic materials, weight, production time, and an increase in firing rate. What more could you ask? The Maxim is much deeper, hence heavier and more clumsy to lug around. I wish I had an MG08/15 to show the attempt to deal with that.

That then - is the genius of the Vickers modification to Maxim's design. Flipping the lock. Just look at the space it saves.

The drawings in this post are from Dolf Goldsmith's book, The Devil's Paintbrush - though the actual drawings are Ministry of Defense drawings from the MoD Pattern Room. Anyone who is *serious* about their machineguns parts with the lucre for those two books - which aren't cheap.

Vickers - The Grand Old Lady of No Man's Land.

Maxim - The Devil's Paintbrush.

Available from the publisher, and elsewhere, I'm sure.

Mack Owens and Transformation - Marine style.

Yesterday I posted the excerpt from article about Iwo Jima and what it represents - and Sanger, especially, had some thoughts on the subject. Today, via the good offices of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (if you live near Philadelphia and are into the whole foreign policy/GWOT/Military thing, you should consider joining to get to those lecture series - no, I'm *not* a paid shill) - let's hear from Mack Owens (how can Jonah's Military Guys not be fans?) on the subject. Just so there's no doubt about bias - Mack is a retired Marine Colonel, and - well, his resume' is in the introduction.

My thoughts - I don't have any substantive argument with Mack's thesis, and his slight digs at the Army towards the end only appear as digs to me because there is some truth to them. I am involved in designing the Army that is to come... and I'll assure you that we didn't build that model on the MAGTF concept - we cleared the table and started from first principles. The fact that the still-emerging-ever-evolving concept for the Unit of Action and Units of Employment looks very MAGTF-like is a compliment to the Marines who reached similar conclusions coming from a different space.

Mack discusses what looks like a long and varied developmental process for the Marines and innovativeness that I don't quite see the way he presents it. This is stripping out the political side of things, and I up-front concede the Army leadership rarely shows the flexibility the Corps leadership does. We've always been the fat and happy "First Born" with the title and money, while the Marines have had to be adaptable to stay in existence - and that permeates their corporate culture - to their advantage, and the good of the nation as an unintended consequence.

The Marines have moved around a lot around a central core - power from the Sea. The Army had the stable advantage of being there for the Big One, which simplified things. The Army now finds itself in the waters the Marines have swum in for their entire existence, and we're learning to swim late... while Marines are born swimming! It used to be simple. Marines did the smaller, shorter things - the Army was there for the bigger, or longer-lasting things.

Our forces and our equipment were optimized for that. The collapse of the Soviet Union changed that - the Army had/has to *change* significantly - always a tough chore for an organization as large as with the inertia of the Army. The Marines *adjust*, making smaller changes - and generall at something they are good at already. It really took the GWOT and Rumsfeld to overcome the inertia - mostly the GWOT. The Generals corporately could have outlasted Rumsfeld.

The fundamental thing that underlies our new force and employment development is the fact that we *also* have to retain the capability to fight the big fight. And that is causing us some troubles trying to figure out the right mix of structure to fit inside a C17, yet robust enough to stand up to a conventional armored bde - and able to fight the 3-block war simultaneously. Air power is the key to standing up to the conventional armored units of an adversary like Iran or China - but, as OEF/OIF has pointed out - you've got to be able to control what's left... when the airplanes go away, and the tanks are smoking wrecks - the bad guy still has small arms and owns the ground. To effect change - you have to occupy the ground.

As we're seeing in Iraq - that takes a lot of people.

I don't see either service as redundant. I see them as useful complements to each other - if you gave the Marines the Army missions, they would start to look, feel, and act - like the Army. And vice versa. We have a luxury in this nation that we can maintain both, and leverage both. I personally think it's one reason we are so lethal across the spectrum.

There are lots of militaries out there that are lethal. And several that are large. And a few that are deployable. But there's only one that is all of it. Us. All five services. Anyway - here's Mack's take on it.

Foreign Policy Research Institute 50 Years of Ideas in Service to Our Nation 1955-2005

Distributed Exclusively via Fax & Email

by Mackubin Thomas Owens

February 23, 2005

Mackubin Thomas Owens, an FPRI senior fellow, is Associate Dean of Academics for Electives and Directed Research and a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College. He is also a Contributing Editor to National Review Online. He led a Marine infantry platoon in Vietnam in 1968-
69 and retired as a colonel after 26 years of service in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve.


by Mackubin Thomas Owens

Sixty years ago-February 23, 1945-a Marine patrol from Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment reached the summit of Mount Suribachi, the highest point on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima. It was the fifth day of the savage battle for the island, which would last another month and kill nearly all of the 22,000 Japanese defenders and 6,825 Marines and sailors. Another 19,000 Americans were wounded during the 36-day operation. One out of every three Marines was either killed or wounded, including 19 of 24 battalion
commanders. Twenty-seven Marines and naval medical corpsmen were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on Iwo, 13 posthumously. In the words of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, "Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue."

After reaching the summit of Mt. Suribachi, members of the patrol raised a small American flag that one of the Marines had brought with him. It was too small to be seen from the beach, so the Marines raised a second, larger flag. The second flag raising was captured on film by AP photographer
Joe Rosenthal. The result was the most famous image of World War II.

Rosenthal's photo also has come to symbolize the Marine Corps as a fighting force. The sculptor Felix de Weldon rendered the photo into three dimensions, creating the Marine Corps Memorial that stands near Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

As subsequent events in such places as Inchon, the Chosin Reservoir, Hue City, Khe Sanh, and Fallujah prove, uncommon valor continues to characterize the Marine Corps. But while soldierly virtue is important, there are two other virtues that have contributed to the success of the Marines, making the Marine Corps one of the world's premier fighting forces: adaptability and innovativeness in response to changing circumstances.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

February 22, 2005

Hey Everybody!

Let's move the party over to Villainous Company... Cassandra is feeling blah-ish...

...on the otter heiny, if I don't get a drink soon, there's gonna be hell to pay.


Posted by: Cassandra at February 22, 2005 02:53 PM

The vastly large reportorial staff of the Castle (in terms of shadow casting) captured this video of Cassie on the way to work this morning.

So - someone grab that scruple that swiped the Tres Generaciones and head to Cassie's for a Nursery Rhyme Contest!

Iwo Jima, Iraq, and Will.

Arthur Herman, writing on said:

Yet even this valor and sacrifice is not the full story of what Iwo Jima means, or what Rosenthal's immortal photograph truly symbolizes. The lesson of Iwo Jima is in fact an ancient one, going back to Machiavelli: that sometimes free societies must be as tough and unrelenting as their enemies. Totalitarians test their opponents by generating extreme conditions of brutality and violence; in those conditions--in the streets and beheadings of Fallujah or on the beach and in the bunkers of Iwo Jima--they believe weak democratic nerves will crack. This in turn demonstrates their moral superiority: that by giving up their own decency and humanity they have become stronger than those who have not.

Word. That's why we have "Rough Men." And women.

The full piece is here.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »


A Baptist Minister was seated next to an Army Ranger on a flight to Columbus, GA. After the plane was airborne, drink orders were taken. The Ranger asked for a bourbon and water, which was brought and placed before him. The flight attendant then asked the minister if he would like a drink.

He replied in disgust, "I'd rather be savagely raped by brazen whores than let liquor touch my lips."

The Ranger then handed his drink back to the attendant and said, "Me too. I didn't know we had a choice."

Hat tip: Mike L.

What's it take to have "The Right Stuff?"

Instapilot Sends:


The Army likes to practice marching, which has some utility to getting large numbers of ground combat elements from one place to another rapidly and in a coordinated way. The Air Force, on the other hand, operating in a more fluid and dynamic three-dimensional environment, molds its leaders from a very early age to remain fluid themselves, flexible (extremely flexible), and display an ability to change tempo, direction and position rapidly...absolutely critical for today's--and tomorrow's--air combat leaders.

Attached is a demonstration of how this ability is being honed to a fine edge in our future fighting airmen at the premier western technical college at the base of the Colorado Rockies.

Oh, yass.

Instapilot sends.

Here at the Castle, we have Air Force training audition videos from Duty's personal stash... used like US Army videos from the Combat Training Centers to evaluate performance.

It's a thorough program.

First off - here's a video of an Air Force enlisted guy auditioning (yep, auditioning) for admission to the Academy...

Why audition? Well, like the Instapilot said, the Air Force "molds its leaders from a very early age to remain fluid themselves, flexible (extremely flexible), and display an ability to change tempo, direction and position rapidly."

Like this proto-officer at Zoomie U near Colorado Springs. (Loooong file. Right click and save as) Plus - this eats up a lot of space, so it may not be available forever - steal it now if you want it.

February 21, 2005

How about a little U.N.-bashing?

I know, I know, easy target - just like any bureaucratic process-driven entity. JMH sent along a link to an column by Peter Worthington in the Toronto Sun last week. (I have a 'blog fodder' folder where I save this stuff to help kick-start the Muse - if you send me something and it doesn't show up immediately doesn't mean it won't - nor that I don't appreciate it!)

Anyway, the title of the column is of itself provocative, as it challenges the received wisdom, always a Bad Thing when dealing with the Establishment, liberal or otherwise...

Rwanda was not about race

He goes on.

Of all the movies nominated for this year's best picture Oscar, none matches the harrowing power of Hotel Rwanda.

While unlikely to win, it serves two valuable purposes: It dramatizes the horror of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in a way news stories can't, and it graphically shows how impotent the UN was. [emphasis mine]

The UN didn't/doesn't *have* to be impotent. It chose/chooses to be. Just as it did in the Balkans when NATO, pressured by the US, the USGOV itself under pressure from interest groups, finally chose to act in it's own backyard. Given what it took to get anything done in the Balkans (whether we should have done what we did how we did it in the Balkans is a different discussion from this one, please) by the people who lived next door to it, can we be surprised that virtually *no one* was prepared to act, especially after the fact, in Rwanda? That doesn't have to be racism, active or passive. It's inertia.

Reality is, the United Governments is pre-disposed to *not act* - as most actions outside of what it routinely does day to day involve dealing with failed states and governments... and the members of the United Governments are not disposed to dealing with that, because it sets the precedent for meddling in their own affairs. Just as police, absent great external pressure are not disposed to investigate themselves in an open and forthright manner... or, as in our own government at the moment, intelligence services and their umbrella organizations. Unlike the rest of us, for whom government, through it's police and judicial powers, acts as that external pressure, the UN, and most governments, do *not* have that external pressure. Ones which are truly periodically subject to public validation (however messily in the event) do have that pressure... the rest, don't. The UN is mostly composed of governments that, don't.

I'm a Calvin Coolidge kind of guy - most problems coming down the road will roll off into the ditch by the side of the road without strenuous effort or intervention on our part, as he so famously noted. However, that doesn't mean that you don't keep an eye on them - and act to nudge the more dangerous ones off into the ditch a little sooner when their inertia is less, rather than wait for them to bound towards you like a cannonball to a rank of soldiers - one of whom puts his foot out to stop the ball... which doesn't notice the foot, except as a flying body part that very briefly slows it's progress. (Napoleonic and US Civil War abound with stories of green troops trying to stop slow-rolling cannon balls... how much better to have snuck into the opposing army's camp and soaked their gunpowder...).

The argument is made here that Rwanda was such a rolling ball... that could have been stopped with a little water on the powder. The UN mission in Rwanda was a flying body part. Always acknowledging that hindsight is 20-20... but what's the purpose of studying the past, unless you just *like* living Groundhog Day?

Actor Nick Nolte's performance as the colonel commanding the inadequate UN force was modeled on Canada's Romeo Dallaire -- then a brigadier-general, and since promoted to Major-General and Lieutenant-General, and decorated for his service.

Gen. Dallaire's emotional collapse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been well documented, both in the news and in his Governor-General's Award-winning book, Shake Hands with the Devil. He has since left the army and become something of a poster-boy for PTSD, and is Canada's special advisor on war-affected children. [Old soldiers never truly leave the Army... not really. It is too much a part of us. Ask MacArthur]

In his book, Dallaire acknowledges that his mission was a failure and that he was the wrong man to command in Africa -- his first UN command. [emphasis mine]

Why would this be so? By all accounts, General Dallaire was a competent soldier and leader, a man for Canada to be proud of. Which they generally are, I should hasten to add, lest you think I meant otherwise.

To continue with Worthington's piece.

This is no reflection on Dallaire -- a sincere, decent man who got no support from UN superiors and was out of his depth in Rwanda -- in Africa, even. [emphasis mine]

When Dallaire was sent to Rwanda, it was considered a Cyprus-style peacekeeping mission, not the powder keg it became.

Dallaire's request for more troops was refused. When a high-level informant warned him of an impending massacre, he asked the UN's New York headquarters to okay a preventive raid on a secret weapons cache. Again denied.

So, who was the UN's civilian-in-charge for this event? Kofi Annan. General Dallaire insists that racism was the cause of the world's failure to act. I would argue it was benign neglect, and a reluctance to act until it's all very obvious. Bureaucrats are like that. One does not rise to high office in an institution like the UN with a reputation as a risk-taker. Worthington continues:

When Dallaire was sent to Rwanda, it was considered a Cyprus-style peacekeeping mission, not the powder keg it became.

Dallaire's request for more troops was refused. When a high-level informant warned him of an impending massacre, he asked the UN's New York headquarters to okay a preventive raid on a secret weapons cache. Again denied.

Worthington suggest had a different Canadian, General Lew MacKenzie - with more experience in UN operations - been in command, things might well have proceeded differently.

A reason why Dallaire wasn't taken seriously was because this was his first real field command, and the senior UN military advisor in New York was Maurice Baril (later to become Canada's chief of defence staff) who likely told Kofi Annan that Dallaire was inexperienced in command.

If MacKenzie had been in command, it's unlikely his reports would have been dismissed so casually. With nine UN missions on his record, he was the world's most tested UN Commander -- the hero of Sarajevo.

Herein lies the great frustration of guys on the ground who have no support from the guys on high - of course the flip side *is* the frustration of guys on the ground who are being micromanaged from on high... by people who don't understand the situation on the ground - and won't listen.

And here is the difference between good soldiers and great commanders. Risk-taking. As Worthington notes:

First, MacKenzie knew New York was (is) hopeless for quick decisions. As he did in Sarajevo, he would have gone to Rwanda with more weaponry and reserves than authorized by the UN.

Most significant, he wouldn't have asked permission to stage a preventive raid on a weapons supply.

Arguably, that was Dallaire's greatest failing -- he already had a mandate to do whatever was necessary to ensure security. With none of MacKenzie's field experience, Baril would not have dared second-guess Canada's most celebrated UN commander.

On such seemingly simple things do great events turn...

Worthington closes with this thought:

It's academic now, but Rwanda's genocide might not have happened had a more experienced Canadian commander been in charge. And it has nothing to do with racism.

While I won't argue with that in and of itself... Worthington is taking the journalist's lesson from it - and he's right as far as it goes - except that someone had to take the initial risk on MacKenzie and put him in Sarajevo... and then supported him in that very difficult mission. But I would add a new dimension.

No, for me, the other lesson is in how we raise, train, develop, and nurture our leaders. General Dallaire's failure was one of nerve - not personal courage, but in the moral dimension, when you, as the man on the ground and with the final responsibility, act. Or not act - and in so doing, bump up the problem to a different level.

I don't know how I would have acted in General Dallaire's shoes. I too, might have foundered in that situation - which would simply mean that in that instance, that place, that time - I was bumping up against my personal Peter Principle. And, if General Dallaire *had* acted, and prevented the Massacre - he might well have been ruined for not being a team player... because No One Would Have Known What He Prevented... and the facts might well support sacking him.

My point? Them's the breaks, especially for Officers, in the Service. Which is why a good moral balance and grounding are critical. I'm not talking about being religious fanatics or moral philosophers here - I'm talking about Doing What's Right as you see it when you see it - and let the chips fall where they may, recognizing you may be wrong. And that tends, more often than not, to be the place at which Generals fail. Good men and women, but when faced with that one tough decision - they fall back to the safe answer, rather than the hard one.

Peacekeeping is a tough business - and I'll note that more often than not, Canadians have been pretty good at it.

Again, hat tip to CAPT H for sending that along. And if anyone has a link to General MacKenzie's column, please pass it along.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »


Here's a teaser for an upcoming series of posts I'm working on. Another multi-day fest of Gun Pr0n!

Anybody besides JMH and Neffi (c'mon guys, it's not like it's a challenge for you - this would be like having a pro player on a high school team) want to hazard a guess as to what this is? For? Etc? You two can respond email so you can still count your coup points...

I'll give you something I usually leave out - scale. This is a little larger than life size.

Update: Here's a really obtuse hint. Just cuz' SWWBO's gone and I'm feeling mean.

Otay. Here's another hint.

Yet another hint...

Final (I think) Update:

Okay - we're getting close now. CRFan - I'm jealous you've got an MG08/15!

Final hints - look at the pic, look at the pics below - and tell me which one you think is which - and why... because there is a key difference, and it is the key difference between any weapon with Maxim in it's name and a Vickers (vice a Maxim-Vickers... which, has Maxim in it's name, but sometimes you guys don't keep tips like that in mind). I dunno about you guys - this really wasn't intended as a "What is it?" post like I've done in the past - but this one has been fun for me.

Pic 1.

Pic 2.

Pic 3.

Pic 4.

Okay - one of 'em is a red herring for Phil! Wanna take a guess at what that is, Phil? It's not the obvious one...

On the dangers of rapid expansion.

Much ado has been made about the success of Special Operations Forces in Operations Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Iraqi Freedom (guess where...), with fans of the special operators proposing a vast expansion of the career management field. Everyone a special operator!

Of course, if you do that - you aren't special anymore, right?

So, we've been expanding the SOF guys across the services. What's the impact been? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Via our source, Deep Thought, who works at the heart of USAF special operations comes this indicator. The latest revision of combat hand signals.

You be the judge if the expansion was a good idea or not.

If that's hard to read on your machine - hi-res available here. If you want to save a copy for your own nefarious purposes, save the hi-res, you can always shrink that file size if you need to. Of course, you bloggers who swipe 'em and post 'em with a link back are *cheating* just a touch... 8^P

On the dangers of *contraction*... they'll be even more insufferable now than they already are, given how hard it is to get in. I wonder how that will fly, so to speak, in the vein Dusty discusses, here. The comment stream is the really interesting part of that post. If you join in - keep it civil!

by John on Feb 21, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | I think it's funny! | Observations on things Military
» Murdoc Online links with: An oldie but a goodie
» Pass The Ammo links with: Combat Hand Signals
» Random Nuclear Strikes links with: Put your hands in the air
» EtherHouse links with: GWOT got ya down? Need a laugh?

February 20, 2005

Time for a War Story!

Nicholas, over at Ghost of a Flea sent us a link to an interesting video of artillerymen who don't have enough to do. It reminded me of a story.


Long time readers at the Castle know that I was an Observer/Controller at the National Training Center, a relatively prestigious job, and a plum for a combat arms officer - especially if there hasn't been a war lately. Since it was 1988, there hadn't been...

Anyway, the was (and is) a lot of esprit and camaraderie among O/Cs. Fort Irwin, not an oasis now, was even more primitive back then, the new construction just getting underway.

As with any group that considers itself elite, group norms of behavior developed, to include an acculturation process - what? - did someone say hazing? Mebbe. I ain't telling.

One of the strict rules however, was that O/Cs did *NOT* use the porta-potties put out for the training units. Porta-potties are a necessary item when you have the density of training units that places like the Combat Training Centers have, and that is also true in regular training areas at 'home station.' You really can't just have everybody digging latrines everywhere, or doing their business willy-nilly - you eventually have a sanitation issue, as some unsuspecting unit sets up their mess hall where a previous unit dug a latrine. Ya get the drift.

One of the key tenets of the O/C is that you *did not* use anything from, or get support from, the unit you were observing and controlling. Lots of good reasons, not the least of which is fostering any sense of interdependence or favors. You had to keep your objectivity and with that a certain aloofness. Some O/Cs predictably enough, carried that too far, just as some not far enough.

In the mists of time, the Gods of the Desert decreed that prohibition extended to porta-potties, even ones that were actually left over from a previous rotation that the contractor had not had time (or had lost the coordinates of) to recover and refurbish.

O/Cs were expected to 'deal' with it. Since we had our own transportation, and the unit schedule had dead time in it, this was usually handled by heading into the cantonment area or up to the live fire base at Goat Mountain, where facilities were available. Otherwise, well, one had one's etool and a largish desert.

I remember when a group of Scorpions (the mech infantry team I was the Fire Support Officer trainer for) caught a hapless Cobra (the Armor guys... hock, ptui!) parked by... a porta-pottie. Heh.

This could not be allowed to go unpunished, lest the Gods of the Desert send unpleasant weather or a really bad Blufor unit our way as punishment.

So, in true Rat Patrol style, three Scorpion HMMWVs flew across the desert, pulling up by the offending vehicle. Hah! The low-rent toad left it unlocked! (Not that it would have mattered much - locking those vehicles meant a cord that restricted movement of the steering wheel.) A Scorpion, whose call sign escapes me at the moment, jumped from his steed, fired up the Cobra vehicle, (we could hear the panicked Cobra inside frantically trying to get his pants up.... he shoulda just jumped out...) and parked it up against the door of the porta-pottie, trapping our luckless victim inside. With hoots and cat-calls and much derisive laughter, we counted coup and drove away...

Did I mention it was about 120 degrees farenheit that day? And that it was a *ripe* porta-pottie?

Heh. We went off around our business, save one, me, who stayed behind and observed from a hill near Chinaman's Hat. The agreement was that if idiot-boy didn't extricate himself within 30 minutes, I'd go free him.

He got out - with great physical effort, mind you, and breathing that wonderful aroma - in about 10. When I saw him get free and obviously just be pissed and not in danger of collapsing, I waved cheerily and zoomed off - to join a passing convoy - in case he came seeking revenge... I love the Hummer. You could do 70 cross-country easily... though it was sometimes scary to do that with NVGs (PVS-5s) on. Now they have MPs out watching to make sure O/Cs behave. Remind me to tel you about Scorpions and 'racing numbers.'


And now we'll find out if the Commander, Combined Arms Center, LTG Wallace, reads this blog. (LTG Wallace also commanded V Corps in the March Upcountry). He was Cobra 07, then a LTC and Head Snake of the Cobra team, when we did that.... though he was *not* the victim.

So, what was it about the link that Ghost of a Flea sent along that triggered that?

Well, it would seem that soldiers and porta-potties still have a love-hate relationship... watch, then, some Artillerymen in action. Warning - there is some NSFW language in the clip.

Bouncing around in my head today...

Today was an interesting day in history...

In 1547, the Brits put a child on the throne - Edward VI (aged 10), installed as King of England (r 1547-1553). Interesting young man, but sickly and died young of tuberculosis - which led to the very sad 9-day reign of Lady Jane Grey, followed by the cantankerous Mary - culminating in the Ultimate Tudor, Elizabeth I. (just clck on the "next monarch" button on the bottom of the page... fascinating reading, I think)

In 1839, Congress prohibited dueling within the District. Too bad - they'd probably be a lot more interested in 2nd Amendment issues if they'd permitted it as a means of resolving political impasses. "Ladies and Gentlemen, on the Field of Honor today, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Minority Leader - on the issue of judicial filibusters! Senator Frist, although having decided this issue in his dispatch of Senator Daschle, finds the Democrats unable to abide by the rules as laid down, and so finds himself again forced to take to the Field of Honor. Mssrs Jonah Goldberg and Al Franken will act as seconds, respectively." Ah, fantasies.

In 1942, Lieutenant Edward H. O'Hare, namesake of the eponymous airport, shot down 5 Japanese bombers on a single mission. I'll send you to The Commissar's other website, Ace Pilots, to read of O'Hare's exploits.

1947 Former commando leader Lord Louis Mountbatten becomes the last Viceroy of India. He will later be murdered by the Irish Rethuglican Army. (I may be of Irish heritage - but I am *not* impressed by the IRA) The man had in impressive and fascinating career.

1962 John Glenn is first American to orbit Earth, in Friendship 7. Whatever you may think of Glenn's subsequent political career, as a Marine fighter pilot and later astronaut, he had the Right Stuff.

Just because I like the picture - the Osprey, in tests at Edwards AFB in California.

Hi-res here.

Neptunus Lex reminds us of a another anniversary - yesterday. Blackfive weighs in as well.

Blogspawn SGT B is collecting a list of things we sent newbies out to get...

Blackfive has some interesting stuff up about the documentary Gunner Palace. The Armorer was invited to participate in this PR blitz, but since none of the premiers we were invited to was within striking distance of the Castle, we have been unable to participate in a meaningful way - which is kind of a bummer, since it was nice to be asked. I'm afraid I'll have to leave it to Matty and others to beat the drum until it hits the main theaters. The Armorer does note that the soldiers in the documentary are from the Armorer's Regiment, the Third Field Artillery. And we're a little jealous around here that Jessica Smith didn't ask us for any help... but then considering how much help we've been to Gunner Palace...