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April 09, 2005

Rules of the Air

This is an oldie-but-goodie, updated, amended and modified for the non-zoomie Denizens. I thought it'd be appropriate, given John's penchant for posting pix of aircraft in various stages of distress...

1. Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.

2. If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull the stick back, they get smaller. Unless you keep pulling the stick all the way back—then they get bigger again.

3. Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous.

4. It's always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.

5. The ONLY time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.

6. The propeller is only a big fan in front of the plane used to keep the pilot cool. When it stops, you can actually see the pilot start sweating.

7. When in doubt, hold on to your altitude. No one has ever collided with the sky.

8. A good landing is one from which you can walk away. A great landing is one after which they can use the plane again.

9. Learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make all of them yourself.

10. You know you've landed with the wheels up if it takes full power to taxi to the ramp.

11. The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability of survival and vice versa.

12. Never let an aircraft take you somewhere your brain didn't get to five minutes earlier.

13. Stay out of clouds. The silver lining everyone keeps talking about might be another airplane going in the opposite direction.

14. Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal to the number of takeoffs you've made.

15. There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

And click on Flash Traffic (extended entry) for the remainder (gotta keep you awake somehow...)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by CW4BillT on Apr 09, 2005 | Plane P0rn
» There's One, Only! links with: Good advice.

Meaningless Maundering

*sigh* Engage in mortal combat with a rampaging river and what do I find upon my return?

John of Argghhhh!!! briefed on April 6, 2005 06:22 PM
Ah, we have our Female Bill!

What? kat-missouri a Female *me*? A foul canard if ever there was one!

She’s younger, better-lookin’, doesn’t have a problem with short-term memory lapses, cheekier [*looks around blogwall, peering at pulchritudinous posterior*] -- oh, baby! -- and doesn’t have a problem with short-term memory lapses.

This fair Prairie Flower -- this Petunia of Poplar Bluff! this Columbine of Columbia! this Sunflower of Saint Looey! -- has been *besmirched* by an odious comparison with -- grmpf -- somebody who can't even get lucky at a comment party with this crew...

An apology is required! Nay, demanded!

[*blink*] Oh. Okay.

Geez, kat, I’m really sorry, but he found where I stashed the negatives and I can’t even hold that over his head anymore…

"Dueling Entendres"...heh. Any guesses as to how long before the PG-17 rating runs gibbering through the portcullis?

by CW4BillT on Apr 09, 2005 | Testosterone Alert

April 08, 2005

Attention Denizens and Visitors!

New Content Below This Post!

Another Bleg, this time, not for me.

Long time readers of this space know that I am involved in charity work. Fundraising (Spirit of America, anyone?), Rotary, I sit on the Boards of two charities, local and regional.

This weekend is the American Heart Association Heart Walk.

I have two friends who have had children who nearly died from heart problems, and who live today because of the efforts of the AHA.

One has met his fundraising goal. The other, well, let's just say he's got a way to go.

If you've got some spare change - please click here and see what you can do.

Update: I've been asked the question: What's the deadline? The answer is - none, really, though there is one for "Who got the most" that isn't really relevant here. You can donate by credit card through the website, and you don't have to go as high as $25 initial - you can enter in any amount you want. You can pledge via that website, and send a check later - or, if you are one of those people who *will not* do ecommerce via the web, and don't want the American Heart Association to have your address via the donation process (I understand *both* positions) if you trust me, you can donate through me, anonymously. If you don't mind ecommerce, but *are* concerned about mass charity mailings, you can send money through me via my Paypal account - but if you choose to go through me you lose the charitiable donation aspect. But if the only reason you give is for tax purposes, well, thanks, but ya still get a *minor*, *muttered* "fooey"! 8^D It's a good cause, c'mon, if a third of ya who visit on a daily basis gave $5 that would be $2,000.00. Give it a thought, eh?


Oh, yeah - sadly, I *still* have 8 mugs to give away...

If all you can do is nothing - no worries! But if you can, seeing as how you get all this fun for free... spend a little here. You could do worse!

I'm not keeping records... but I would *love* to see R. catch M. from our efforts!

Heh, it's for the kids - one of these guys is a tanker, the other is an Aviating Infantryman - prolly a compatriot of Bill, so it sure ain't for them. But then, deep down inside we Gunners do what - support guys like them, eh?

That is all.


John of Argghhh!
Armorer and Master of Castle Argghhh!

PS - The Armorer *could* be talked into Castle mugs for the first 10 (now *8*) people to give $100 or more... just sayin'. Oh, and since I'm *not* keeping records... I'll trust you when you report. I won't demand receipts - I'm going to go by time of receipt of emails, 'k?

Calling Eason Jordan.

Data point.

Blast Kills U.S. Soldier; Reporter Detained in Iraq American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2005 – An American soldier in Iraq was killed today when an improvised explosive device blew up near Hawijah, in Kirkuk province.
The name of the deceased soldier is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

In other news, officials reported today multinational forces detained an individual who was injured April 6 when coalition forces returned fire after receiving enemy small-arms fire.

The detained individual was carrying press credentials from CBS News and was standing next to an armed insurgent who was killed during the firefight.

The U.S. military is conducting an investigation into the detained individual's previous activities as well as his alleged support of anti-Iraqi government activities.

"There is probable cause to believe that (the detainee) poses an imperative threat to coalition forces," a U.S. military statement said. "He is currently detained ... and will be processed as any other security detainee."

Elsewhere, U.S. troops escaped injury during an April 7 IED attack near Tarmiya, Iraq. A vehicle raced away from the scene of the attack, but was intercepted by U.S. personnel shortly after the explosion.

The U.S. soldiers detained three Iraqi males and found a video camcorder as well as a remote detonating device. The video contained footage of the alleged terrorists manufacturing an IED and scouting locations to attack U.S. convoys.

U.S. troops detained five suspected terrorists during operations in northern Iraq April 7.

Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment detained two known terrorists in northern Mosul and two individuals carrying a case of small-arms ammunition and a large amount of cash in an area northwest of Mosul.

Also, soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, apprehended a known insurgent now in Multinational Force Iraq custody.

Coordinated efforts between Iraqi security forces, multinational forces and concerned citizens who provide tips for security sources have resulted in a trend toward improved security, officials said.

(Compiled from multinational force news releases.)

Hat tip to the Castle Adjutant.

Pics for your perusal.

I'm busier than the proverbial paper-hanger today, so here's a quick bit to amuse (and thanks to the Denizens and readers who provided some of these!)

1. SangerM provides a photograph of a horrible, if work-safe, disaster site. Of this group, Cricket might remain unmoved.

2. I don't think this is what the Squadron Commander had in mind when he told the IP to "Light a fire under his tail!" with that new guy.


It's long, but eminently skimmable. I really would like to hear your thoughts. Active, Reserver, serving, formerly served, retired. And the rest of you, who would foot the bill. If you would like to have this to forward on to people, either send 'em a link, or drop me a line, I'll forward you the email this comes from.

Moskos is a proponent of a return to the draft. Recognizing that as politically a dead issue, he proposes this solution instead. I think it's worthy of consideration and discussion. If we get a good dialogue going, I'll provide the comments to FPRI to forward to Mr. Moskos.

Bill? This *is* your life, after all - whatcha think? It's long, most of it is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

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

Distributed Exclusively via Fax & Email

by Charles Moskos

April 7, 2005

Charles Moskos is professor emeritus of sociology at Northwestern University. A former U.S. Army draftee in the combat engineers in Germany, his research has taken him to combat units in Vietnam, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Somalia,Haiti,Bosnia, Kosovo,and Iraq. The author of many books and over 200 articles in scholarly journals, his writings have been translated in 19 languages. This essay is based on a presentation at an FPRI conference on "The Future of the Reserves and National Guard," held on December 6, 2004.


by Charles Moskos

The desirable end-strength of our armed forces, especially that of the Army, has become a subject of concern. All agree that the military manpower demands owing to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan are causing extraordinary strain. Recruitment and retention shortfalls in the Army is expected to be especially severe in reserve components. Indeed, the Army Reserve is "rapidly degenerating into a broken force" in the words of its top commander in early 2005.

Our focus here will be on the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard, by far the largest of the reserve components (RC) and the forces experiencing the greatest difficulties. As of this writing (January, 2005), RC make up some 40 percent of the military in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Among the Army dead in OIF, about a quarter have been from reserve components.

Survey and interview data collected by the writer in OIF December 2003 found large differences in the morale of the active duty versus the reserve Components. These differences have been widely affirmed in the intervening time. Reservists were markedly more dissatisfied than the active force. But this was not because of the mission itself, but rather due to the reservists' perception of inadequate training and poorer equipment compared to that of the active duty forces. The recurring theme was that reserve components were treated as "second-class" members of the Army.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic below.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

April 07, 2005


Random thoughts while recovering from oral surgery...

It's amazing how much a periodontist can do in such a small space...and only 2mm from the mandibular nerve. OK, maybe my mouth isn't THAT small a space (or so my wife and friends say), but still...and I didn't know you could have so much local anesthetic that the top of your ear goes numb, but there you have it...

The Wall Street Journal saying Sandy Berger is being treated pretty much fairly, given the "circumstances," is like listening to Bill O'Reilly talk about border security. Translation: You guys are looking incredibly stupid to people who deal with this stuff for a living.

Morton Kondracke, who normally gives me the impression he's one of the few liberals (notice I didn't say leftist) who tries gamely to be intellectualy honest, committed a few howlers when commenting on the Pope's "failures" vis-a-vis women, gay marriage, etc. So, the Pope dropped the ball as the leader of the Catholic Church for Being. A. Good. Catholic?

...and finally, something from my sadistic brother-in-law who sends me this the day a dentist puts a hole in my jaw the size and shape of a 9mm wadcutter slug...

Terror Alert in France

AP and UPI reported that the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror level from Run to Hide. The only two higher levels in France are Surrender and Collaborate. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire which destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing their military.


by Dusty on Apr 07, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Thompsonian links with: Terror Level Raised!
» links with: This just in...

Danger Area "Foxtrot"... and a bleg.

As these Canadian soldiers amply demonstrate...

That is why you stand over here, when you are firing one of these... even if you are a cute furry critter.

Bleg=Blogger Beg.

I am *simply* overhwhemled trying to keep up with my reading these days. If you are a blogger, esp. a milblogger, and you've got stuff you are proud of - email me a link. Don't be shy. If you are a reader and see stuf... I may not link to eveything I get sent - but I *do* read 'em, and if they fit the theme for the day, or just catch my fancy - send 'em along. If it's Air Force, send 'em to Dusty, if it's Gurls or hellafloppers, send 'em to Bill. I really appreciate those of you who take time to point stuff out, whether it's websites, blogposts, news articles, sending pics, gun stuff, funny stuff, whatever! I guess I need reporters...

Please, keep the cards and letters coming in - and recognize that I can't use it all - but I will use a chunk of it. This work thing, and that life outside the blog is just getting in the way, eh? But it's fun hosting the Castle, too!

Ya know, things like this, which just popped into my inbox from Barb. Another coupla ribbons to go in the "I was there rows" which are getting pretty thick for some of you!

No. 337-05 Apr 07, 2005 IMMEDIATE RELEASE


DoD Announces Criteria for Two New Campaign Medals
The Department of Defense announced today the creation of two campaign medals for Afghanistan and Iraq.

Presidential Executive Order 13363 established the Afghanistan and Iraq campaign medals to recognize members, who made specific sacrifices and significant contributions in these areas of operation.

Service members authorized the Afghanistan Campaign Medal must have served in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom on or after Oct. 24, 2001, to a future date to be determined by the Secretary of Defense or the cessation of the operation. The area of eligibility encompasses all land areas of the country of Afghanistan and all air spaces above the land.

Those authorized the Iraq Campaign Medal must have served in direct support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on or after March 19, 2003, to a future date to be determined by the Secretary of Defense or the cessation of the operation. The area of eligibility encompasses all land area of the country of Iraq, and the contiguous water area out to 12 nautical miles, and all air spaces above the land area of Iraq and above the contiguous water area out to 12 nautical miles.

Service members must have been assigned, attached or mobilized to units operating in these areas of eligibility for 30 consecutive days or for 60 non-consecutive days or meet one of the following criteria:

Be engaged in combat during an armed engagement, regardless of the time in the area of eligibility; or

While participating in an operation or on official duties, is wounded or injured and requires medical evacuation from the area of eligibility; or

While participating as a regularly assigned air crewmember flying sorties into, out of, within or over the area of eligibility in direct support of the military operations; each day of operations counts as one day of eligibility.
Service members qualified for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal by reasons of service between Oct. 24, 2001, and April 30, 2005, in an area for which the Afghanistan Campaign Medal was subsequently authorized and between March 19, 2003, and Feb. 28, 2005, in an area for which the Iraq Campaign Medal was subsequently authorized, shall remain qualified for that medal.

Upon application, any such service member may be awarded the Afghanistan or Iraq Campaign Medal in lieu of the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for such service. No service member shall be entitled to all three medals for the same act, achievement or period of service.

The awarding authority for the Afghanistan and Iraq campaign medals shall be the prescribed by the member's respective military service regulations. Both medals may be awarded posthumously.

Only one award of the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal may be authorized for any individual. Service stars are not prescribed.

Individuals may receive both the medals if they meet the requirement of both awards; however, the qualifying period of service used to establish eligibility for one award cannot be used to justify eligibility for the other.

The Afghanistan Campaign Medal shall be positioned below the Kosovo Campaign Medal and above the Iraq Campaign Medal. The Iraq Campaign Medal shall be positioned below the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and above the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

Each military department will prescribe appropriate regulations for processing, awarding and wearing the medals and ribbons for their service members, to include application procedures for veterans, retirees and next-of-kin.

News you can use.

"It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, that has given us the freedom to demonstrate," said Adiofel Mark Mendoza, a sophomore from San Diego who came in his ROTC cadet uniform.


Instapundit adds. Money quote from one of Glenn's emailers, Bart Hall:

The rarely-mentioned dirty secret of it all is that the military are increasingly disinclined to recruit in such places to begin with. They did not push to reinstitute ROTC at places like Harvard and Middlebury because "frankly, we've found that students from such institutions tend to perform poorly as officers," to quote an officer (O-4) in a position to know.
(Hat tip to CAPT H.)

Good on yaz, Perfesser.

Wall Street Journal Op-Ed:

We've never been considered soft on the Clinton Administration or its leading personalities. So we hope we'll have some credibility, especially with our friends on the right, when we say that the misdemeanor plea bargain struck by the Justice Department last week with former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger looks to be a reasonable outcome.

Nope. Dudes - *because* of his prominence, the penalty should be harder. "To whom much is gven , much is expected." I have a *higher* standard of performance for Sandy Berger, not a lesser. I am of the same mind when General Officers get slapped for things lesser mortals come spend time at Leavenworth over. Not Acceptable. Undermines Good Order and Discipline. Sorry, guys. You're Wrong. Yes, the story is perhaps less sinister than it appeared before.


I spend long hours where I work because I can't take my classified work home with me. And I know how to turn the documents back in. If I got them from someone else's safe, I give them back, and initial off on the register. It's that simple. The man was smart enough to be the National Security Advisor... but couldn't handle classified? Gimme a break.

I hope the judge smacks him. What Berger did was worse than what Stewart did. And guys, if this was some no-name Sergeant, would you feel this way?

It's worth noting that Mr. Berger will still have to explain his actions to a judge at sentencing--a judge who could reject Justice's recommendation and give him to up a year in jail. We hope the judge does insist on a full explanation of motive. Lesser officials have received harsher penalties for more minor transgressions, so a complete airing of the facts will show the public that justice is being done. But given the minimal damage from the crime, this looks to be a case where prosecutors have shown some commendable restraint against a high-powered political figure.

New topic. Note the complete lack of Irony:

However, a new study gives a more wholesome picture of the invasion, revealing how the far north was colonised by Viking families looking for somewhere new to set up home, especially those from the western seaboard of Norway where fertile land was in short supply.

Kinder, Gentler, Vikings. That Blood Eagle thing? Ah, no worries!

Good. (Hat tip to CAPT H for both Telegraph links)

MetalStorm at Picatinny. They're moving along smartly, these guys are. Link might not work from behind a .mil firewall. There's some good video (you should download it, much better quality than the preview stuff).

This is for Origen Plotinus - if she still visits! A look inside the Swiss Guard. Cool uniforms. If I ever install Men-At-Arms for Castle security...

Can someone explain to me why it's anything other than pandering to the Catholics among their consitutents that Pro-Choice, anti-just-about-everything-he-stood-for Senators Kennedy and Kerry are headed to the Pope's funeral?

Heh. Pardon me if I'm sceptical, Mr. Secretary.

Wondering what all this FCS stuff is about? Try here. It *is* an Army website, so don't expect a whole lot of negativity - but there is a lot of info on what they are trying to accomplish. Feel free to snark away.

Nothing is simple, soldier. See ya in the Sandbox.

Sometimes, timing is everything. Discipline is key. From my perch, justice was served here. Your mileage may vary.

Good Grief! Has this taken long enough?

USA Today April 7, 2005 Pg. 3

Court-Martial Of Army Sergeant Begins

By John Bacon With Staff And Wire Reports

Jury selection began at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the court-martial of a sergeant accused in a grenade attack that killed two U.S. military officers in Kuwait in the early days of the Iraq war. {snippage} It is the first time since the Vietnam War that a soldier has been prosecuted on charges of murder or attempted murder of another soldier during wartime.

This is only fair. If we're doing it to them, they can properly do it to us. Sad that it's come to this, though.

Missed this story. This unit looks like it may have had a serious leadership problem.

The bad guys aren't stupid. They flex and adapt, too. It's a dance.

"Un-American and Immoral," so says the ACLU calling for criminal sanctions against a school board for allowing prayer before a baseball game (scroll down to last item). While that seems a *bit* harsh, you should also see the ACLU's-eye view of it. Looks like some eye-poking going on from both directions. Amazing what a difference *perspective* makes, eh?

April 06, 2005

Greyhawk's Milbloggers Pulitzers

Hmmm. Looks like the nominating committee overlooked MSG Keith, the Castle's War Correspondent. Which was certainly *my fault*.

For a photo:

But, if you want the *whole* Gallery of MSG Keith's photos - and of other soldiers in Afghanistan, we have to MoveOn to the Oscars.

MSG Keith has tweaked his video. Full-length music, 18 more pictures - a beautiful snapshot of A Year In The 'Stan.

Michael Moore only *wishes* he had this kind of sense of wonder.

Right click and save-as, or stream it, I don't care - Why We Are Here. Totally work safe (if, perhaps, not dial-up friendly) - unless you work somewhere that your fellow office-mates believe the Taliban are preferable to anything touched by George Bush or a Republican... Take the time to listen to the lyrics...

Go see the whole thing at Greyhawk's!

While this is *not* good news - I'm pretty sure (and we're checking) that MSG Keith was nowhere near this accident. Mainly because last night he was partying with the Charlie Daniels Band, with whom he is *bunking*.

Officials Confirm Nine Dead in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2005 – Nine people are confirmed dead in the crash today of a coalition CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan officials reported.

News reports quoted American military sources as saying at least four crewmembers were aboard. A news release said initial reports indicate the crash occurred in severe weather near Ghazni, about 100 miles southwest of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The helicopter was one of two Chinooks returning to Bagram Airfield from a routine mission in southern Afghanistan when, according to a command spokeswoman, air-traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft.

The second helicopter returned to base safely, officials said. A recovery operation is under way at the site, providing security and accounting for the dead.

The names of the dead are being withheld until their families are notified. An investigation into the cause of the crash has begun.

by John on Apr 06, 2005 | Observations on things Military
» Mudville Gazette links with: Pulitzer Milblogger Prize?

A little note from Pravda

Provided as translated by Pravda. New vehicle in the Russian armored force. Interesting look and concept.

Update: CAPT H provides the following (it is *so nice* to have a research assistant, I just wish he was prettier and made better coffee):

Was first seen in 1999

Was inspired by (copied from).

This is better.

And for heavy MOUT.

Russia's new defense machine, the Terminator, marks new generation of Russian weaponry 03/16/2005 12:49

The capacity of the new tank support vehicle doubles the efficiency of six armored vehicles and 40 soldiers

The Russia army is taking a new military vehicle in the arsenal - the Terminator. Such a strange name has been given to the new tank support vehicle. At the end of 2004, when Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov was talking about new generations of the Russian arms that were planned to be added to the arsenal in 2005, he was talking about the Terminator too.

Specialists of the Ural Transport Machine-Building Design Bureau developed the new machine - the enterprise is a division of Uralvagonzavod, which is Russia's largest tank-maker.

Military specialists say that the capacity of the new tank support vehicle doubles the efficiency of six armored vehicles and 40 soldiers. Testing procedures for the latest development of the Russian defense industry are about to be over, a spokesman for the defense ministry's administration for armored vehicles, Nikolai Kovalev said.

"The use of the new machine in a tank battalion will add up to 30 percent of efficiency to the detachment. The tank support vehicle is capable of firing at three targets on a battlefield simultaneously," General Kovalev said.
The concept to develop the new tank support machine for the Russian army appeared from life experience itself. The storming of the Chechen capital of Grozny on January 1, 1995 resulted in a tragedy for the Russian federal forces. Chechen gunmen destroyed hundreds of Russian tanks and other armored vehicles in narrow streets and quarters of the city.

Russian military specialists were originally going to solve the tank support problem with the help of self-propelled antiaircraft systems known as Shilka. Four 23-millimeter guns could provide appropriate defense and fire efficiency. However, Shilka systems are not armored because they were not developed for offensive actions. In addition, Shilka does not have the most important quality at this point - it cannot destroy tanks.

The new vehicle is capable of overcoming three-meter ditches and breaching 1.5-meter walls.

Specialists of the US Armed Forces are also working on the question to develop a new armored vehicle to replace a not very successful M-2 Bradly machine.
Spokesmen for the Israeli Defense Ministry evinced interest in the new Russian tank support machine during a military technological show in the city of Nizhni Tagil. Israeli officials said that they would like to conclude a contract with Russia to acquire new machines for their Merkava tanks that were used for scouring procedures in Palestinian settlements. They later said, however, that Israeli specialists would be able to develop a similar machine themselves.

The new Russian machine as the latest military technological development is not regulated with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). The Terminator is a vehicle of a new class. The CFE Treaty stipulates certain restrictions for the number of units of weaponry in Europe.

Russia has a right to have 6,350 tanks and 11,280 armored vehicles on its territory. These terms are acceptable for Russia - they provide the necessary numeral parity with the armed forces of European NATO members. In connection with the conflict situation in the Caucasus, Russian diplomats were going to ask European authorities for certain concessions. The appearance of the Terminator makes such an intention useless, because the class of the new machine is not mentioned in legal documents of the CFE Treaty. Terminator is neither a tank, nor an armored vehicle. These peculiarities will inevitably lead to numerous discussions as far as the Terminator's class is concerned. Russia has a right to use as many Terminators as needed in the Caucasus until European authorities introduce certain amendments to the CFE Treaty. It is noteworthy, though, that the Russian treasury might not be able to handle this issue.

"Specialists of the US Armed Forces are also working on the question to develop a new armored vehicle to replace a not very successful M-2 Bradly machine. [emphasis mine, misspellings theirs] "

Heh. Wanna dance, Ivan?

April 05, 2005

Attention to Orders!

The Adjutant reminds me that today is the Natal Day of Loyal Denizen and wandering weapon-disassembler (and *always* with parts left over if I let him reassemble them!) JustThisGuy.

Happy Birthday, Dude!

The bar is open.


While yer here - check out this denizen-fodder:

AFSis, guesting at Blonde Sagacity.

Hmmmm. *Someone* has been holding out on me. Yer in trouble, when Bad Cat shows up with the Spank-o-matic machine...

Oho! And when she *shows up* this person can get whacked too!

*Murderous looks all 'round*

*Severe Grumpy Attack*

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Apr 05, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» CDR Salamander links with: MILBLOGGER Photofest

A little DoD-centric news - and a picture link.

While the troops are still re-enlisting (though not in the numbers we need), things are still looking tough on the initial enlistment front, resulting in new recruitment TTPs (tactics, techniques, procedures) that have some cyring foul (the Usual Suspects).

Meanwhile - others want to make it even more difficult to "meet mission" in recruiter parlance. Or open up a can of worms that will be more vitriolic than the Terri Schiavo brou-ha-ha. The Armorer's official position is still - we don't need no steenking badges Draft!

After all the negative publicity about the Stryker last week - a *user* speaks up for the vehicle. I have to tread a careful line here, given what I do - but my take is that no system developed has ever been perfect. Period. And very few have performed all the way to spec during their combat debuts. And systems produced under wartime pressure tend to have even greater teething problems... but the pressure of operations also dramtically focusses everybody and shortens the feedback look immensely. In other words - yeah, it ain't perfect, it never was going to be - and the issue is, are we ignoring the problems. I say no, we aren't, in aggregate, though I'm sure there are people out there with pet peeves who can point out how things are going the way *they* think they should. And may be right - but we have to take a holistic look at the whole thing... and then keep 'em (the decision makers) uncomfortable!

And again I say to you few out there who still think this generation is a bunch of whimps - nope.

This is hard on the Maupins and I hope they get their wish, I really do - but the fact that they are the only family in this war, along with Scott Speicher's family from the Gulf War to be in this position is a vast improvement over previous conflicts.

Zarqawi's repeated attempts to break his homeboys out of Abu Ghraib indicates to me he's got a recruiting problem.

I'm still thinking BG Karpinski is dealing with this badly, but given the legal maneuverings and political overtones, perhaps she has little choice. I like to think if something like that had happened on my watch - after I had done my bit to make sure my subordinates who failed paid an appropriate price, I'd have then taken my lumps and retired to nurse my shame. Sorry General, no sympathy here in Castle Argghhhh! (speaking only for the Armorer - I'll leave the Instapilot and Rotorhead to speak as they wish).

If you have access to the Early Bird - read Ralph Peter's AFJ piece. If you don't understand the above - never mind. If you are behind a .gov or .mil firewall or have AKO access and don't know how to get to the Early Bird (DoD's news clipping service) - drop me a line. Army retirees - you can't get there through the public portal, but you can via AKO. Other services - you probably can through your service's equivalent web portal.

That oughta cover it for today!

I was wrong. We needa gun pic. So here, the Castle's Armorer Training Cut-aways of SMLE rifles - and the Headsman's Axe, and the Hammer of Correction (aka Big Cluebat).

April 04, 2005

Things I like on a Monday...

Last night's comment party! (Those who know, know)

Significant day today for the family of SFC Smith.


03/23/05 - The Marine MV-22 Osprey is attached to VMX-22 from Marine Corp. Air Station (MCAS) New River, N.C. takes off from the flight deck aboard USS Nassau (LHA 4), on March 23, 2005. Nassau worked with the Osprey for the first time during a weeklong underway. Nassau's Air Department spent a month preparing for the evolution by sending personnel to Chambers Field, Norfolk, Va. to view the Osprey during flight operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Andrew King)

Hi-res here.

The difference between boys and girls and task focus (i.e., it's very easy to get boys off-task).

Mike D has some recommended reading.

More as it moves me.

Hey! I'm moved!

Talking with Terrorists.

And for those who think we should never field anything until it's perfect - grow up. Like it or not - we learned more about the system from it's initial deployment than we would have with years more analysis at peacetime OPTEMPO and constraints. The key piece is: We've Institutionalized the real-time analysis in the Center for Army Lessons Learned - however imperfectly some of you may think we've done it. And remember the spate of breathless reporting out of the MSM last week - it was based on the CALL stuff... i.e., they MSM didn't discover anything new here - they just read our reports... but the value of the MSM reporting it (even in the sometimes breathless fashion) is that it will force senior policy makers, uniformed and not, officially take notice.

Visitors to the Castle on Friday may have been a bit bemused by BoVine, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Marvin, and the longtime denizen, Tregonsee, who is Just This Guy, you know? This would help - go read the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Unintended Consequences... it was bound to come up at some point. We need our guys back - send someone else's!

The news from Iraq shows signs of progress among the signs that it's not over. Patience and diligence.

They also serve who literally watch and wait - Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you, Sarah Latona.

Even though I am not in this group (I can still work) I support this effort at further eliminating the requirement that these guys fund their disability payments (I still fund 75% of mine, currently - over the next 8 years, that reduces 10% or so a year until I'm no longer funding any of it out of my retirement pay. Congress and the Administration are frankly hoping we'll do our duty and die off.

Linked without comment.

Terri Schiavo: John Leo does a pretty good summation, I think. As I've pondered my navel on the subject, after I got the lint out, I think the greatest divide among those who commented here was really split along people who have had to pull the plug on family members when there was no clear guidance from the ailing person, and those who are deathly afraid of people pulling the plug for bad reasons, or poor medical actors. I know the latter is as much where I stood. And the ones in the first group, having made that difficult choice, rather vigorously wanting to not set up a system where everybody then gets to weigh in on the decision. Both sides have valid points. And it isn't settled. But the precedent set in the Schiavo case favor the former over the latter, I think.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Apr 04, 2005 | General Commentary
» CDR Salamander links with: Start the week off right: Vive la difference
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: The Scholar-Soldiers : Do you know them?

Afghan Sitrep

MSG Keith expands on his trip last week up the Panjshir. If you need to catch up - here and here.

I know I sent some photos out for the 14 Mar trip out to the Panjshir Valley, but here's a couple more things I did. 16 Mar: Grand Opening of the Panjshir National Army Volunteer Center.

On Monday we drove up to the Valley to scope out the center. On wed we flew out for the grand opening. I went on the advance party. We flew in a UH-60 Blackhawk. There was a lot of fog at the airport so we left real late. By the time we landed in the Valley, the sun was shining. The Blackhawk and our escort, an Ah-64 Apache, flew off and headed back to Kabul. Our landing zone was a soccer field at the bottom of the Valley floor, next to the Panjshir river. As I stood there in awe, I realized that this was probably one of the most, if not THE most, beautiful spot I had ever been in, anywhere. The sun was shining, reflecting off of the snow on the mountains, the river was bubbling by. It was unbelievable. Trying to find the words is difficult. It's like looking at a photo of a breathtakingly beautiful woman, and trying to describe what you see. It was mesmerizing.... The three photos, On the ground 1, 2, 3 are what I saw as I stood there. And they don't even begin to do justice to the actual scene. Mesmerizing... After about 45 minutes the general's CH-47 Chinook appeared over the ridge, escorted by another Apache. It was cool to see them appear over the ridge... The Russian leftovers are Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers that didn't make it out of the valley...

22 Mar: The opening of the National Military Academy Afghanistan (NMAA)

This school is their equivalent of our West Point. Approx 120 18 and 19 year olds signed up to get a four-year degree in Engineer, Political Science or Foreign Language. The commandant of West Point was there as were a lot of Afghan big wigs. Afghan President Karzai was supposed to be there, but went to Pakistan instead. And I was all set up to get a good photo of him too... There were speeches and presentation of a sword from the west point commandant to the NMAA commandant. The cadets passed in review, as well as the ANA and the Turkish bands. Here's where it gets interesting. The Turks were supposed to be part of the academy. They never showed up until the day before the cadets completed their basic training, about a week before the ceremony. The Turkish guy demands that the Turkish band be the one who plays, not the ANA one. He demands that the ANA cadets wear Turkish uniforms. To give credit to the NMAA commandant, he told the Turkish guy, that 1, the Turkish band will play AFTER the ANA band, and 2, that they were in Afghanistan, they would wear Afghanistan uniforms. The Turkish guy then holds a press conference and says how much the Turkish government had been part of the forming of the school. Then to top it off, the day of the ceremony, the NMAA commandant wants a photo with one of the US colonels from West Point that had been helping for almost nine months. Right before the picture is taking, the Turkish guy walks up from behind and nudges the US guy out of the way so that he is standing next to the NMAA commandant in the photo. 24 hours later the Turkish guy and his bags are on a plane to Turkey, sent home by the Afghan government.... Gotta love these guys. They've been at war for 25 years. They don't put up with crap...

The photos are from the ceremony. The Turkish band had four guys dressed in chain mail armor. They looked cool.

That's all for now. 44 days and a wake up and I'll be headed back to the US of A. I'm going to miss this place...

MSG Keith

April 03, 2005

Now, things militant, vice naval

I've been remiss in my posting duties regarding things Commonwealth, despite the best efforts of my handler in the Forces. And while the post title suggests otherwise, there will be a Naval tie-in here, as well.

First - there is this nicely done report on the Battle of Moreuil Wood, which I was supposed to post I think in consonance with some regimental commemoration of the Strathcona's, but somehow, the cheque has gone missing, so I'm a little late. It *is* a good read about Canadian Cavalry in action in WWI, regardless. And, lest we forget - they still stand in Harm's Way - as an ally of the United States.

The Strathcona's can be a fun bunch... see how they deal with illegal parking?

Captain H also keeps me supplied with interesting obituarys of ordinary warriors who have done extraordinary things. And, frankly, nothing beats Brit Obits.

First, Commander Peter Meryon:

Commander Peter Meryon , who has died aged 84, was the first naval officer in the Second World War to salvage secret documents from an enemy submarine; later he was to find himself on the wrong end of an attack by a secret German guided aircraft.

The secret aircraft referred to here is the Mistel.

Read the obit for the details - but I found it fascinating that even after the war - people had trouble believing his story:

This incident first came to public light in 1988 when Meryon wrote to The Telegraph's Peterborough column. Initially, the Imperial War Museum was sceptical, believing that the Germans had no such capability; but then a researcher interviewed some German pilots who had been involved, and a book about these bombers was published in 2000.

Go figure. The full obituary is here.

The next obituary concerns regards Bobby Wills, scion of privilege who still served (a concept somewhat lost on that crowd these days - at least in the US). And how many of us with any significant length of service don't have a story similar in tone to this?

Back in England, Wills was in the leading vehicle when his brigade made a night move from Salisbury to Warminster. In the darkness, uncertain whether he was going the right way, he stopped at a small group of men standing beside the road to ask. "You are on the right road," their spokesman confirmed.

"How do you know?" Wills pursued, "are you a local?"

"No. I am not."

"Then how can you be sure?"

"Because I am Major-General Fox-Pitt commanding the brigade," came the answer.

Read the rest here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you, Peter Merton, and Bobby Wills.

Lastly, to wrap up a story from last week - we offer this.

You can do avalanche control Utah-style, or you can do avalanche control in Canada-style (scroll down to avalance patrol).

A Battery Det #1 firing at an avalanche on the first day of firing, shooting over 100 targets, firing approx. 142 rounds in 7 hours.

That is a shooting opportunity any cannoneer would die for!

CAPT H. does me a service with these missives, which is why I don't get too picky about the late payment for the Lord Strathcona's Horse ads.

That last sentence is going to get me mercilessly flogged and fact-checked...

Canada had aircraft carriers?

Hi-res click here.

Flight ops launch. Flight ops recovery.

A little something for our visitors from the North. I *did* almost run with a "Canada has an Aircraft Carrier" for the April Fool's spoof.

I know some Central North American heads are shaking, "Huh? Canada had an aircraft carrier?" Yes, they actually had several during WWII and beyond, until Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Bonaventure was paid off in 1970 and subsequently scrapped in Taiwan in 1971.

The Canadian carriers were Escort and later Light Fleet carriers, as opposed to the monster Fleet carriers of the US. They were intended for, and their aircraft complements reflect, anti-submarine warfare duties, which along with mine-clearing is something of the specialty of the Canadian Navy. It wasn't always safe duty, either - aside from the normal dangers of flight deck ops - as this pic of HMCS Nabob (via shows. In WWII the Canadians crewed ships that were officially on the lists of the Royal Navy. All part of that Dominion thing, I guess. Somewhat like a Commonwealth Lend-Lease. There are some interesting pics available (like this one - testing rubberized flight deck) at the websites alreadly linked to or listed below:

Under the Cat: Site for families, friends and crew of the Bonaventure.
Mike Campbell's website: Peacetime Naval Memorial.
RCAF. Yes, the RCAF.
Shearwater Aviation Museum.
The Bonaventure Battle Group.
Comrades and Colleagues - another Crew List.

If you have others, send 'em, I'll add 'em.

Oh - I can't close out this bit on Canadian Carriers without referring you to this article regarding the commissioning of the Bonaventure - and the uniquely Canadian flavor (and sensitivities) - especially this last paragraph:

In 1952, when Canada bought the half-finished Powerful, she was to be the first genuinely Canadian aircraft carrier, so she needed a genuine Canadian name; therefore, some creative soul at Naval Headquarters in Ottawa chose Bonaventure, the name of an island bird sanctuary in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. She displaces 19 900 tons, measures 213.4 m in length and 24.3 m in beam (not including sponsons), has a top speed of 24 knots, and takes a wartime complement of 1 200 men. Improvements on the original design include a steam catapult, a mirror landing sight, and a distinctive angled flight deck that allows a longer landing run without sacrificing parking space forward. As well as helicopters, Bonaventure will carry McDonnell Banshee all-weather jet fighters and Grumman Tracker anti-submarine torpedo bombers.

The whole article, from the Forces website, and by Charmion Chaplin-Thomas , is available here.