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May 14, 2005

D-oh! (sound of hand slapping head)

In my post below (Aw Shucks, Ma'am) in which I talk about Service Clubs and Chuck Simmins pointed out that as a Rotarian, Hamas thinks I'm a *Bad Man* (you Lions, too) and a member of the Zionist Conspiracy... I completely left out another avenue of service: the Veteran's Organizations, which also do Good Things. Mr. Jewell corrected my mistake:

And lets not forget about the Veterans Service Organizations like the American Legion and the VFW We're a whole lot more than a place to get a cheap beer, tell war stories, and bellyache about the VA Budget. Volunteer oportunities abound, and you do get to occasionally handle firearms, though they may contain blanks.

That last bit is a clear recommendation to the Armorer - that and the fact that the VFW kicked my disability paperwork loose from the VA after *two* years, and that it was via the American Legion I met a soldier who had two stars on his Combat Infantryman's badge...

Some other Veteran's Organizations to note (one of which I really should support more, the DAV):

Disabled American Veterans
Military Order of the World Wars
Military Order of the Purple Heart

I was going to list more - but the more I looked, the more I found - so instead, I'll link to the Veteran's Service Organization page of the VA website - which lists all the VSO's chartered to assist veterans with the VA. However - if you know of organizations that are Veteran-oriented but not listed, please, feel free to add to the list.

And yes, I know that some of the organizations listed aren't always that supportive of the military, per se. But they exist, and do provide help to veterans when dealing with the VA, so, there ya have it. And, as we have noted here, vets can be a diverse lot.

May 13, 2005


Another Abu Ghraib scalp. Colonel Pappas.

ROFASix links to this post here (I'm doing this because ROFASix got confused and left his own trackback code in there - the trackback link doesn't lead to the post)

NOTR's mileage varies from mine, and his viewpoint is worthy of consideration - you should take the time to go read it.

I'm going to post my response here - the one I left in NOTR's comments.

His last para reads:

What is clear is that this whole thing strikes me as a railroad job by a system trying to atone for its own shortfalls. I would love to buy Col. Pappas a beer to hear the “rest of the story.” I suspect it would be so much different from what we read today.

This is my response:

Pappas had access to counsel, and if he thought he had a defensible case, he could have refused the Article 15 and taken it to a Courts Martial.

While the system can grind anyone down, the overwhelming reluctance of the services to put senior officers on trial (which is misplaced in my view, but that's a different issue) suggests to me that they had a solid dereliction case against Colonel Pappas, probably via documents - unlike now-Colonel Karpinski.

Pappas is senior enough, and has probably sat on enough panels himself to know that if he took it to a Court, he was going to lose.

And, unlike that whining pusillanimous weakling Karpinski, have you considered the possibility that Pappas accepts responsibility for his actions - especially given the political and military cost of Abu Ghraib?

Pappas indeed was found guilty of choosing poorly, precisely because of the cost of his decision.

Just like, when someone runs a red light inadvertently and are ticketed for same - vice running that light inadvertently and killing someone in the process. Same action, same bad choice, same level of intent - with far different consequences. So the response of the system is far different, as well.

I stand by my earlier opinion - Good.

Random Rounds

Hee. I especially like Earnest T. Bass and Squee.

Boudicca has the Carnival of the Recipes up!

A little breath of fresh air, courtesy Victor Hanson. I would note, in these pages, we have been respectful of the sacrifices of the Russian soldier in WWII. But we're also mindful of Stalin's complicity in how the war progressed.

Given that Congress wants to increase the Army's end-strength, and DoD is reluctantly coming to agree - despite the recuiting problem. As sign of how deep the problem has become, the 15 month enlistment. One of the arguments *against* a draft (one of several) is large numbers of short-term soldiers are barely trained and then are let go. This *may* help the Reserve, but it *is* a real sign of desperation, and not a good sign for an end-strength expansion.

The Congressional Budget office recently released their report of restructuring possibilities for the Army. If you'd like to leaf through how the Congress is getting the issue pitched internally - click here.

The BRAC list is out. The Army didn't suffer too much (that was telegraphed last week by Rumsfeld when he talked about the rethink of excess space - considering the return of forces from Europe. The Depot/Arsenal system didn't get hit as hard as expected, and although there are several Army Ammunition Plants on the list, they aren't producing small arms ammo, which is what the services are short of. Some of the nice old Army posts are on the list, but that makes sense, too - they are among the most expensive to maintain, on a cost per square foot of building space. Be interesting to see the food fight over the prime real estate Fort Monroe represents. And, for those who were emailing on the subject - told ya Carlisle wasn't closing and the War College coming here to Leavenworth! Another thing - the closures are also hitting in areas with a high cost of living (on the Army side, not throughout).

The Navy seems to be taking the biggest hits, with DFAS (Defense Finance and Accounting Service) and Reserve Centers being the bulk of the numbers. All in all, except for the few large installations on the list, I suspect a lot of communities are breathing this afternoon. I don't know if Kansas City was paying attention or not, but with the exception of the Recruiting Battalion and MEPS station, DoD is going to be pulling up it's tent stakes in the KC Metro area.

I gotta admit (but I'm no sailor, so I'll let CDR Salamander and the various Bubbleheads comment) the closing of the sub base at New London was a surprise to me, home as it is to the sub school - but the Navy relocated the nuke school from Orlando and there haven't been any nuke ships lost that I'm aware of... so, whadda I know?

If you haven't seen it - the closure list, and the 'winner' list - the places that are going to see increases. If you want to see the official DoD side of the story, go here (note: the data on this page will change over time - probably by tomorrow or Monday - after that, just start searching on BRAC). If you want a quick look at raw numbers of personnel losses and gains, click here.

Lifting and shifting...

Heh. Can you say, "Violation of your oath of office?" I knew you could.

U.S. Border Patrol agents have been ordered not to arrest illegal aliens along the section of the Arizona border where protesters patrolled last month because an increase in apprehensions there would prove the effectiveness of Minuteman volunteers, The Washington Times has learned.

This story certainly certainly merits a look.

Moving on...

Feh. While I admit to being prejudiced and a softy about critters - in this day and age of computer simulation and animation, this was simply unnecessary. Yours truly would have accepted an "F" for the year rather than participate in this biology lab activity.

Here's an update for those of you following Marine LT. Pantano's murder trial - an interesting development.

I'll close this one out with a pic for Lennard, our commenter from the Netherlands. A picture from the memorial ceremony at the big US cemetery in Margraten.

Condi Rice on the 2nd Amendment

Condi moved up several notches in my estimation of her suitability to be Prez. All emphasis in the quotes is mine.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recalling how her father took up arms to defend fellow blacks from racist whites in the segregated South, said Wednesday the constitutional right of Americans to own guns is as important as their rights to free speech and religion.

In an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Rice said she came to that view from personal experience. She said her father, a black minister, and his friends armed themselves to defended the black community in Birmingham, Ala., against the White Knight Riders in 1962 and 1963. She said if local authorities had had lists of registered weapons, she did not think her father and other blacks would have been able to defend themselves.

I'm not a single issue voter... but with a basement like this (right click, open in a new window), I'm pretty close.

"I also don't think we get to pick and choose from the Constitution," she said in the interview, which was taped for airing Wednesday night. "The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment."

Amen, sister.

Those graphics come from this website - and are used with permission from the creator of the images.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on May 13, 2005 | Gun Rights
» Quotulatiousness links with: Gun control is racist

May 12, 2005

Aw, shucks, ma'am...

I am a Rotarian. So's my Dad. I'm proud to be one, as it is through Rotary I have been able to serve in a volunteer capacity in my community - and the larger world. Via Rotary I serve as a volunteer and Board member for two other organizations, and help serve the entire region of northeast Kansas. I'm more than a checkbook giver - I give my time and skills, as well.

The New York times noticed Rotary International today. It's just amazing what we small-town dentists and funeral directors can accomplish, once we put our minds to it.

Next month Rotary International turns 100. Rotary clubs, a staple of small-town life, are celebrating the construction of innumerable parks, the holding of myriad blood drives, the awarding of countless college scholarships - and the imminent global eradication of polio.

Twenty years ago, there were a thousand new cases of polio every day. Now polio strikes only about a thousand children a year. By next year, that number should be zero. People who think of Rotary as a congregation of service-minded dentists and funeral directors may not have noticed, but the dentists and funeral directors have created the largest, most successful private health initiative ever.

The (to me) breath-taking assumptions about Rotary the journo puts into her piece (and the editors may have cut stuff, too, in her defense) do show that we don't market ourselves much. We prefer to act, and have since we were justly pilloried in the 30's for much talk, little action.

And act we do, locally and internationally.

For Ms. Rosenberg's edification - here's a list of the clubs that are a staple in the "small town life" of the New York City area... we invite her to join!

If you are interested - here's the Club Locator - you can find a club just about anywhere in the US, and in 167 other countries, too, for our non-US-based visitors! You don't have to be invited - you can just show up and you'll be welcomed.

And don't think that Rotary is a rigidly PC group of people. Each club has it's own character. One of ours is that every now and then certain members brings in things like machine guns, and other historical artifacts for the meeting program (note I said *members*, plural). And, when we have an exchange group come through, we take them shooting. Last week it was a group of Argentinians and Paraguayans, who got to shoot Argentine and Paraguayan Mausers, and some Span-Am war era weapons. Last year it was a Japanese group who got to shoot Japanese and US Civil War/Indian War era weapons. So don't just assume we're all nice little liberals... *or* conservatives - we're just people who put our money and our time where our mouths are - unlike many more vocal people who just like to make signs and smash windows, he said, engaging in a little stereotyping of his own...

If you sample your local Rotary Club and find it's not to your liking - give the other service clubs a visit - the Lions, Kiwanis, Optimists, just to name a few - they all share one thing in common - organizing local leaders and interested individuals to help out in the local community. And it isn't as expensive as you might think - but it *can* be as expensive as you're willing to let it be in terms of time and money. But the rewards are tangible and intangible, and worth it. And you guys and gals in uniform - it can be challenging to be a member, but the clubs all have mechanisms that allow you to participate as active members, while accounting for all those things that can make it difficult to attend on a regular basis. Don't just *assume* you can't make it work.

Basic rifle marksmanship

Over at Heartless Libertarian, Dave, who is the Officer Commanding (just like the way that sounds) of a Basic Training Company at Fort Jackson, has just completed training himself and his Drills on the recently approved changes to BRM, Basic Rifle Marksmanship. As an idea of how long it's been since we changed - what Dave and his Drills were doing prior to this change is exactly what I and my drills did back in 1978, when I was the XO of a Basic Training Company at Fort McClellan. These changes are important - because you fight as you train, so you should train as you fight - and that means adaptation - so you can stay true to Patton's Dicta: And make sure it's the other PDB* who dies for his country.

These are possibly the first significant changes in BRM the Army has introduced since we adopted the current form back as a result of Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall's book, Men Under Fire, came out. There were two major changes - this is when the Army moved *away* from what the Marines still do, and shifted to shooting at man-shaped sillouhette targets, in an attempt to 'desensitize' soldiers to the act of killing a human, and moved away from 'classic' target shooting positions to "combat" shooting stances. This was in response to BG Marshall's contention that very few soldiers actually fired their weapons in combat - not because they were afraid to expose themselves, but because they were reluctant to actively kill in a direct and personal sense. He observed that artillerymen and machine gunners didn't suffer from this - which is one reason we went to automatic weapons for everyone, vice semi-auto. Marshall's methodology and conclusions have, over time, suffered some severe tarnish - and at the same time, have been the basis of Dave Grossman's theory about how we are brutalizing the soldier -and his making a living of extending that idea to kids -(also the subject of some disagreement). Then, what the heck, there's this pretty fascinating read, just realize that there are biases in *all* of these bits, though really not much with Dr. Spiller's critique of Marshall. Marshal is still a worthy read for the younger leader, regardless, as long as you have your eyes open.

In regards to what Dave has to say on the matter, I'll say that I agree with Dave. So, go read his bit and see if you do, too. And if you want to comment on it - don't just do it here - do it over there, too! (That's a blog-fact I find bemusing - linked posts are almost always commented on over at the linking, vice linked, site. I just find that dynamic intriguing.)

Now to mix apples and oranges. Ry sent me a link to a proposed New Jersey gun law that would allow the state to confiscate all property (we're talking buildings and businesses and houses here folks, not just cars) when an illegal firearm was found there - EVEN IF THE OWNER WAS UNAWARE OF THE PRESENCE OF THE FIREARM. Leave aside the issue that, as written, the state could seize the 7-11 that was robbed because it was robbed with an illegal firearm (as written, that could happen - not likely, right? The prosecutor wouldn't do that, right? Heh. They might if they had a different beef with the store owner and they couldn't get to him directly...)

This is part and parcel of taking your car because you loaned it to someone who (unbeknownst to you) smoked a little dope in it and got pulled over, and suddenly that's *you* at the Sherrif's auction, trying to buy your car back, becuase *your* insurance won't pay for it and the note holder wants their money... or their security interest back. Anyway - like Dave says in one of his posts, other people have covered this, like Ravenwood and Say Uncle.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on May 12, 2005 | Observations on things Military
» Resistance is futile! links with: Carnival of Cordite #13

May 11, 2005

Okay, let's have some fun.

Since most of you like the airplane pics...

Here's one for Origen, a Swiss Air Force Dassault Mirage 3:

Hi-res click here. And, what the heck, for you cockpit geeks (like me) here's a pic of the cockpit of a Mirage 3, this time a French bird.

And here's a contest for you geeks, provided by Monteith - which aircraft had this cockpit?

by John on May 11, 2005 | Aircraft

Some stuff from Iraq.

First off - the Army starts mounting it's own media campaign in defense of the Stryker. View the video here.

Second, a troop in Iraq sent out this tongue-in-cheek tour of Iraqi Bob's house. Funny, yet sobering at the same time.

This is too funny!

In yesterday's post, I put up a link sent me by CAPT H regarding Canadian plans to send soldiers to Darfur, Sudan, to help the African Union troops in their peacekeeping role. This sparked a comment from Damian of Babbling Brooks, to which I responded in email, and he responded... and, well, it's a classic piece of Northron-Southron one-up-manship characteristic of the two english-speaking peoples inhabiting this continent... Rather than make you read from the bottom up, I've set it up so you just read normally...

Damian said:

Name: Damian
Email Address:


Ummm, not to be too much of a spoilsport, John, but the scuttlebut is that the CF will be sending about 150 troops (mostly officers) to advise the African Union on how to do the job in Sudan. While I'm glad we'll be contributing anything (and at a meagre 150, we'll be 150 ahead of any other western nation as far as I know), I don't suffer from any illusions as to the impact of this deployment, should it ever even come about (there's a national government falling in Canada right now, for those who don't follow politics in the Great White North).

Debbye at Being American in T.O. has a round up posted.

I responded:

I'm just keeping my Canadian readers (especially CAPT H) happy knowing that I pay some attention to them...

You know how you Canajuns are... always wanting us Southrons to notice, so you can flounce away!


Damian responded:

Ahem. I don't flounce. I do an Iditerod to work everyday, where I cut down trees and make maple syrup. I club seals over my lunch hour for kicks and spare change. My wife farms a thousand acres of hardy northern wheat and also ranches wood buffalo. We let local wolves raise the kids.

As far as Southrons noticing us, well, you'd have to pull your heads out of
your own...navels first.


After which I asked Damian if he minded if I posted it - and of course, he didn't.

by John on May 11, 2005 | General Commentary
» Dean's World links with: Hey Canadians

May 10, 2005

Random Rounds.

Update: Oh! Oh! And I just *had* to add this, from Marginal Revolution.

Almost literally random rounds.

This is why CAPT H picks on me. While I don't suffer it from him, Neil can say anything he wants, and I won't argue. But Neil won't argue that artillery *can't* put a crank in a tank... Hat tip to Chris M for pointing it out. Hi-res, click here.

The thoughts of Canadians Militant and their fellow travelers are up for your perusal as London Fog hoists the Red Ensign Standard for the 21st time it has snapped at the top of the pole..

Speaking of Militant Canadians... "OTTAWA - Canada is making plans to send peacekeeping troops to the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan by summer's end. "
Hat tip: CAPT H.

Let's not let "Combat Zoneitis" infect our leadership, fellas. Sometimes the junior-enlisted/officer perception of "Mickey Mouse Chickenshit" is wrong (not always!) and it's simply good leadership. Being anal about weapons safety is not chickenshit.

Congress does it's usual fine job of larding things up - from both sides of the aisle. Nothing gets your pet project funded faster than tacking it onto must-pass legislation - espcecially if no one would vote to fund it in a stand-up fashion.

Oh, and about that quagmire and those Iraqis who don't support the on-going rebuilding of their nation and government... (aside from the fact that most of the insurgents doing the killing, at least with murder bombings, aren't Iraqi...) how does KOS and Co. spin this (someone can go look, I just get crazy)? From the email:

Atch is an absolutely fascinating opinion poll, released today. IRI conducts the only truly national and representative polls in Iraq, although still limited by a lack of polling in parts of Anbar, Nineweh, and Dohuk provinces.

This poll is not down in the weeds on issues only Iraqi geeks like me care about, but hits high-level issues of rights and governance.

Notable features include:

1) A tremendous upswing in optimism throughout Iraq, except in Baghdad itself (slides 7-10)

2) Iraqi views on civil liberties, with primacy on freedom from arbitrary arrest, torture, and secret trials (slides 15-17, 50)

3) Preferences on government structure (33-38), federalism (42-45), and the role of Islam (47-49).

4) By 70%-14%, Iraqis believe the Sunni should be able to contribute to writing the constitution. (53)

5) And perhaps the most stunning result (55): 52% believe the 25% quota for women in the legislature should be kept, and 25% believe it should be increased!

I'll post the survey briefing itself after I get it pdf'd and uploaded.

UPDATE: Finally. Here's the briefing on the poll.

I'm guessing the Heartless Libertarian, Barb, Bad Cat Robot, and Sergeant B will *all* appreciate this link sent in by frequent commenter (and bucking to join the Castle Contrarian Crowd) Ry - regarding accountant's views of recent electoral events... By the way, Dave - "Blissninny", I likes it!

May 09, 2005

Okay, back to work!

To open: American soldiers can find some things unerringly.

SWWBO and I took a blog-break this weekend. I kinda checked the comments, to make sure the PG-17s weren't being whacked on with hammer and tongs, but other than that, we pretty much took a break. SWWBO has been harder hit than I by whatever bug we've been sharing, but we pretty much were just alcohol-infused slugs this weekend. I *did* score SWWBO a one-hour massage (from her favorite salon) for Mother's Day.

Many of you kept the torches lit, and the mailbox gnome was kept busy sorting.

Speaking of lit torches... this is a good idea because...?

CAPT H showed up with links to the Canadian War Museum in their newly-opended digs... pointing to the Art Exhibit. Paul Jane' of All Agitprop All The Time, points out some vets have problems with the exhibit. Hat tip to Baldilocks, who notes other problems around the blogs... and has more info somewhat answering Jack's questions (and mine) about Abu Ghraib accountability. (Note to Jack - because the punishments were non-judicial or administrative, the Privacy Act keeps us from knowing exactly what happened - but trust me - NJP (non-judicial punishment) is a career-killer that amounts to a fine of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost promotion, lost years of pay, and reduced pension).

SWWBO wasn't a complete slug - she did her usual job of managing the Carnival of the Recipes, hosted this week at Technogypsy.

Prince Harry is going to Sandhurst. Five weeks away from his girlfriend! Poor sod.

Indomitable men in flimsy ships - Lieutenant Commander Eric Walmsley, RN.

And, of course, CAPT H can't resist a little poke in the eye... which would work, if I was a West Point Grad - but I'm not, having preferred playing marginal (but winning) football at Mizzou to attending the Military Academy. I'm referring of course, to the Sandhurst Competition, pitting cadets of the United States Miltary Academy, West Point, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and Royal Military College, Kingston against this course and each other. Congrats to the Canadians, who finally managed to drag out a victory, for the first time ever, after an eternity of seeing West Point and Sandhurst heels...

Heh. Try to ping me, John? Hah!

Here. Go waste some bandwidth and destroy corporate/government productivity. Hat tip (or curses) Jack H.

Oh - and since two of us are Jonah's Military Guys, how can we *not* send you here? The money I used to send NPR goes there, to the Blogfather, now.

To close: Some people can't make up their mind what they want to do...

by John on May 09, 2005 | Observations on things Military
» CDR Salamander links with: The shame of elite Canadian self-hate
» Villainous Company links with: Blogjam

May 08, 2005

Oh, for god's sake...

If you're wondering what I think of the latest Air Force Academy food fight, the answer is, “Not much.”

Look, everybody, what the “Reverend” Lynn is fulminating about has as much basis in reality as Jesse Jaahcksonnn's rage against the Toyota racist machine. It's a shakedown, pure and simple. The only difference is what the accuser wants--Jesse just wanted to set up a protection payment racket for his front company, the Rainbow Coalition. With Lynn it's hard to tell…nobody's followed the money yet.

Anyway, having been a Cadet when Chapel was mandatory on Sunday (I also remember paying 25 cents for a gallon of gas), I'd be willing to bet the farm that ground truth is 99.9% of the Cadet Wing scratching their heads and saying to themselves, “Eh?”

The other .1% see big, black, hairy bats chasing them when no one else does. Then one of those thumbsuckers gets Pam Zubeck's ear and it's off to the races…again. Apparently, Pam scares the sh*t out of John Jumper and, apparently, the acting SecAF.

Now, for those of you who've never been to Service Academy, I can assure you that most (not all, but most) Cadets/Midshipmen are a little harder to intimidate than you might imagine, especially when it comes to stuff like core personal constructs. The “break them down to build them up” applies to most things (military customs and courtesies, teamwork, appearance, etc.) but not all…and any predatory proselytizing would generate a visceral response from the most “average” cadet and the race to his/her rescue by classmates and officers alike would be damn near unanimous. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but that's pretty much the way it is--you can be pulled through pretty small knotholes over the course of the 4 years, but there are some things that kids will say, “Like hell I will” to and they'll be backed to the hilt by the Wing.

Besides, with all the crap they've had to deal with lately vis-à-vis the girls (yeah, I said, “girls” GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS! Get over it.) does it make any sense to have this going on? USAFA Superintendent Lt Gen John Rosa's there for a reason…his predecessor was fired. Granted, that was a breathtaking example of political hackery, but the guy WAS fired. Think the current Academy administration would be sensitive to this kind of buffoonery? You betcha.

This stinks like a long-dead mackerel on a Florida pier in mid-July…fishy as hell…

My solution? Appoint Zell Miller as Air Force Secretary and sic his near-Churchillian ability to verbally smite the anti-American heathens on the political, academic and spiritual Left (See Matthews, Chris, one each, verbal ass-kicking victim at Republican National Convention)…and let the Zoo get on with business. A little tongue-in-cheek? Uh huh. But, at this point, someone has to stand up to the mendacious actions of a vocal but wholly disingenuous victimology industry aided by the rank unprofessionalism of today's MSM. A little Blue backbone is in order, too, methinks.

Update: Other thoughts on the subject:

Greyhawk has a letter from Buzz Patterson, former Cadet Group Commander.

Hugh Hewitt addresses it here.

Commander Salamander (Squid Extraordinaire) blogs it here and here.

by Dusty on May 08, 2005 | Observations on things Military
» The Gantry Launchpad links with: God is oppressing people again...
» TacJammer links with: Blog-stroll
» Centerfield links with: No Missionaries, Please