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September 03, 2005

Let's have some fun!

Caption Contest!

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You want the truth? You can't handle the truth! But if you think you can, click here.

by John on Sep 03, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Stop The ACLU links with: Sunday Funnies

September 02, 2005

On the lighter side...

Fuzzybear Lioness thinks we need some humor in these dark times.

I agree.

So go help her collect! And link to it on yer blogs, too!

Don't leave your offerings here, leave 'em there!

And in a completely unrelated note: "Nuff said!

New Orleans, Katrina, Louisiana, the Feds.

UPDATE: For those of you who may be looking for contact info in helping to find family and friends impacted by Katrina, or if you are a refugee who wants to let people know you are okay - Dawn's Early Light has a round-up of websites and phone numbers to help you pass the information along.

UPDATE 2: Chuck Simmins is tracking the giving.

To date: Cash: $161,619,257.00

Goods and Services: $12,169,000.00

Update 3: Greyhawk lists the webpages that military people affected by the Hurricane might find useful. - contact info for military families displaced by Katrina (also a great collection of news releases on the military efforts in hurricane relief) - info for Guard families impacted by the storm. - info for getting deployed Guard members in touch with their families who might be displaced by the storm - and vice versa.

Update 4: As Alan so helpfully points out:

Hey - you have 1,000 guys from Halifax, Nova Scotia heading down there. The Canadian navy is on the way.

OK - it is a small navy...we all know it is a small navy...but at least
they carry their own beer wherever they go.

And we appreciate it Alan, eh? Alan is also a fan of Russ Honore'...

This is the original post....

I actually took today off so I could do some emailing, phone-calling, web-surfing, etc, trying to build a more coherent picture (flawed as it is) of what's going on down in Louisiana.

My thoughts on the subject are informed by the fact that I spent two years as one of those guys in the Army whose job it was to do the generic plans for incident responses (from a DoD perspective, and *ALWAYS* subordinate to FEMA - they're the Big Dog), designing and executing training events to rehearse the plans, and, now and then, implement them, though during that time there was no event ever approaching the magnitude of what's happening in Louisiana right now. But ask me about that exercise we did with Seattle that resulted in 10,000 notional dead and injured, with a concomitant breakdown in social control... my point being - we actually *do* planning (or at least did) for events of this size.

Some of the New Madrid earthquake scenarios, especially the winter ones... were visions of Apocalypse. Imagine flattening good chunks of St. Louis and Memphis - in January. And losing the bridges over the Mississipi (which means you can't barge people and equipment, either), and we don't want to even *think* about the economic impact of losing the I-70 and I-40 bridges... much less the rail bridges.

The weather makes your response focus completely different, because the shelter requirements suddenly become astounding and compelling. You're thinking tent cities in 10 degree weather become nightmares. Clothing, keeping pipes from freezing, sanitation.... I'm thinking 10,000 suddenly homeless people dumped into that weather... in the clothes they had on at the time... There's no spending the night wandering around in a daze, because you'll freeze to death before that - the looting starts 5 minutes after the shaking stops. It *has* to - because they aren't going to live through the night otherwise. But I digress. If you are going to have disasters of this magnitude, the Gulf Coast is a moderately benign place to have them, weather-wise, but I digress again.

Keeping an eye on National Review's The Corner blog, you can watch a fairly well connected group of people, who have jobs that allow/require them to keep an eye on the news, comment on what's going on.

And obviously, it doesn't look good for the people in charge. And I fault the people in charge.

John Derbyshire's arrogant ignorance kept pissing me off. Until I realized what I just said. Ignorance. Lack of knowledge. Derb isn't stupid, he's ignorant. And whose fault is that? Not his.

In order -

The Government of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, Governor. It was their job to get the ball rolling. The Federal government doesn't respond, by law, until the Governor asks them to. (If you think FEMA in their Ops Center at Weather Mountain wasn't already alerting you're wrong, but *acting* is governed by law).

The Federal Government, George W. Bush, President.

Because neither of them have got the Public Face of the Government getting out the info. Believe it or not, that, to my mind, is actually the Most Important Thing to be doing up front and early. Because the professionals will be handling the details of getting the response moving. That isn't the politicos job.

The MSM, a distant third. For being so focused on the sad and compelling stories, that they haven't been asking the right questions of the right people, and putting the heat on the public officials to give out the details.

I'll forgive the initial flounders, when something like this starts, you get huge amounts of data... most of it wrong, or at least out of context. You aren't *really* sure what's happening, and the magnitude. Yes, the Guy on the Ground does - except he really only knows what he sees... and while it's a horror in his immediate area, doesn't mean it's a horror everywhere else. Until is becomes apparent it is. But you *still* have to assimilate the data.

Crying on camera is fine - as long as it's preceded or followed by "This is what we're doing, this is how we're going about it, and this is how we're coordinating for more help." Not just being stunned. Getting.Out.The.Word. Guys like me will be getting out the Stuff.

I think the President should have called off the California gig and headed for Washington.

WTF? Donovan is saying getting talking heads out putting out info is more important than Boots on the Ground, rescuing people and delivering aid?

Yes. That's what I said.

Why? Because Controlling The Perception of The Disaster in it's early stages will help shape the form of the follow-on actions. Guys, I've worked with FEMA. They're smart people and well-organized.

BUT IT TAKES 3-5 DAYS TO GET PEOPLE IN PLACE AND FUNCTIONAL. Minimum. Not the prepositioned people in the waiting-to-be-activated DFO, Disaster Field Office... the Outside Responders.

Plus, remember - WE ALL THOUGHT THEY'D DODGED THE BULLET. For a whole day. Then the levees broke. FEMA's attention was on the area to the east, where the brunt of the storm went in.

So that's where the initial focus was. And *that* still has to be dealt with too.

So. Why don't we have tens of thousands of troops IN THERE RIGHT NOW!?!

And all the volunteer and paid relief workers?

They are on their way, they really are. And, today, they are starting to arrive. But WHY WEREN'T THEY THERE THREE DAYS AGO!?!

One. The tyranny of distance. You have to mobilize, do final pack-outs, and start driving. 500 miles a day, if you're lucky. So what? Fly! That requires aircraft, on short notice. Even if we weren't using the TRANSCOM's transport fleet to support OIF and OEF, it takes time to get crews to aircraft, aircraft to place where people need to be picked up. If you are using non-mobilized reservists/Guardsmen, they have to be mobilized - not hard, but they've got to drop what they're doing and get to the aircraft, while the ground crews have to stop what they're doing and get to the aircraft and get them ready. Then there's the problem with the local airports being flooded. So if you fly them in to Baton Rouge, say - you have to have transport to get them to New Orleans. Ships? See the Tyranny of Distance argument. The getting ships and people/supplies matched up, etc. Yet all of that is happening, and stuff is moving that way.

So what? The Army has all those troops at Fort Hood and stuff! Well, yes and no. There *is* a war on. But heavy mech forces don't wear well if you road-march them hundreds of miles - at least if you want them to be working when they get there. And they'll require fuel when they're there... which we know is a problem already. So, mech forces aren't a good choice - but to further confuse that issue, a lot of Fort Hood's gear is in transit or in theater. And mech forces don't have a lot of soft transport for troop movement. Hey, they're built for fighting wars, eh?

Okay, use light guys. They don't have that much organic transport, either.

Two. Life support. Remember, this place just got hammered. You have tens of thousands of refugees, milling around, and moving outward. This in an area which has had it's infrastructure hammered. Now you want to bring in thousands of more people. Where do they sleep? How do they get fed? Water? Toilets? Sanitation? So, in addition to having to find a way to feed clothe and house 10s of thousands of refugees on short notice in an area that is by definition under stress and possibly unable to cope - you have to *bring in* additional life support for the supporters. That takes time. And again, the tyranny of distance. FEMA keeps regional storage sites with the stuff they need - but it *still* takes time. Even more so if one of the regional storage sites is involved in the disaster. I don't know that that is the case here, I'm just pointing it out.

3. Social Control. There is an implicit assumption that local authorities will be able to maintain some level of local order. That assumption obviously wasn't valid in this case. Some of it due to the devastation, some of it due to the horror that is apparently NO politics and police. But that's kinda outside my bailiwick.

4. Add to all that, the GWOT, and the impact that's had on the Guard. There's going to be lots of room for discussion about reorganizing things in the light of dealing with this disaster, and lord knows the recriminations over that stuff have already begun! But unless you are essentially going to say that "We can never send the Guard overseas because they might possibly be needed in the US." and accept that limitation on foreign policy, that's not a useful frame for the debate. But that's a post of a different color, too.

This has rambled - but here is my bottom line as I see it this morning.

1. The response *is* massive, and it's moving about as fast as it can, in aggregate, lots of details can be quibbled. But in the main, the machinery is in motion - and it's moving about as fast as it can. And this is about as good as we can expect in many respects, I think. It's simply not possible to have everybody in the response tail stood up ready for instant deployment every time a tropical storm manifests itself.

2. The politicians have fumbled badly thus far. In the end, they will in a sense get redeemed by the people who will clean up the mess. The Professionals who are doing their job at the moment. But, to this voter, The President and the Governor have done an abysmal job in their very public duties.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it - until I change my mind because of new data or more reflection.

by John on Sep 02, 2005 | Defending the Homeland | Hurricane Katrina
» EagleSpeak links with: Another Navy Hospital Ship Heads to Gulf
» EagleSpeak links with: "Ground truth" Logistics
» Absinthe & Cookies (a bit bitter, a bit sweet) links with: So True
» NIF links with: Labor Day Weekend
» CDR Salamander links with: The Navy’s response to Katrina
» The Moderate Voice links with: Accountability
» Tobias S. Buckell Online links with: I'm Not Insane re: Command, Control, and Preparedness
» Ghost of a flea links with: Pompeii on Ole Miss
» Random Fate links with: Accountability
» The Glittering Eye links with: Reconsidering base closures in the light of the Katrina disaster
» Ghost of a flea links with: Pompeii on Ole Miss
» Ghost of a flea links with: Pompeii on Ole Miss
» Searchlight Crusade links with: Links and Minifeatures 09 07 Wednesday (morning)
» Searchlight Crusade links with: Links and Minifeatures 09 07 Wednesday (morning)

September 01, 2005

How thin the veneer of civilization is...

...and how fragile the social contract.

SNIPER FIRE [Jonah Goldberg] CNN Reporting: Charity hospital in New Orleans is taking sniper fire. Good lord. Posted at 03:24 PM

The Guard is coming, fellas. Then you'll be playing Army with the Big Dogs. Don't make 'em send in the 82nd and Marines.

On the flip side - and I admit I'm isolated where I work - I know the government is mobilizing, and having been on the planning and execution side of that I have some idea of what is happening.

And I understand that the MSM actually *needs* to keep a sharp spotlight on the tragedies and pathos... the higher level decision makers need to feel that heat - but how about some sense of organized reportage on what *is* being done?

If it's there, I've missed it, which is possible. And I don't fault the MSM nearly as much as you might think - but the Public Face of Governance, City, State, Federal, should be shoveling out gigabytes of data, with photos and video, of what is being done where.

Is that being done? Or are we just getting (as I am from my limited internet access due to infrastructure issues directly related to Katrina and the response (i.e, the military networks are abuzz with planning and execution traffic - and several key paths are down or damaged because of the hurricane) all the horror, but not any coherent sense of what's being done?

Because I've been emailing and IM'ing with "Friends in the business" and I *know* stuff is being done... but I've gotten no sense of it from the news.

Just curious. I know some of you are probably living in front of your TV sets. Whassup?

by John on Sep 01, 2005 | Hurricane Katrina | Pugnacious Stupidity
» NIF links with: American Red Cross
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Where's the News?

Getting to the fight, part II.

Here is another missive from Blake. Some of the pictures with this will cause a double-take. Continuing frequent commenter Blake's story that started here.

Back in the days when I worked out near the sharp end of the stick, I never gave much thought to logistics, unless the logistics system failed to work properly. The unit gets ordered out, airplanes show up, the unit would get on the airplanes, and off we'd go. At the infantry squad leader level, you don't NEED to worry about how the airplanes knew when and where to show up, and how whoever it was that sent them knew how many to send. You're far more concerned with making sure your people remembered to bring ammo, and rations, and water in their canteens...

It's when you need more bullets, or more beans, or more fuel for your vehicles, or some spare parts, or trucks to move your platoon in lieu of a 20-mile approach march, and they don't show up, that logistics start becoming an issue to the guys out front.

Problem is, without a whole lot of people working in the background, the stuff the guys out front need WON'T get there. And these days, that's where I, and a bunch of people like me, come in.

We're travelling first class, this trip, at least as far as military sealift goes. The USNS FISHER, (T-AKR 301) is a Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On-Roll-Off (LMSR) cargo vessel of the BOB HOPE class, belonging to the Military Sealift Command. She was purpose-built a few years after Desert Shield/Desert Storm, along with thirteen other purpose-built ships and five more converted from container ships, when it became obvious we needed a better means of getting our people's gear to where the fight was than what we had had up to that point. [editor's note; USNS stands for United States Navy Ship, meaning, I believe, that they are not warships, and many have civilian crews]

Think of the FISHER as a two-city-block-long, seven-story parking garage that moves under its own power. Her maximum speed is 24 knots, which means transit times from the US East Coast to Kuwait of 30-35 days, depending on weather and traffic tie-ups at the Suez Canal. She is specifically designed to accommodate the largest equipment the Army moves without problems. Her internal ramps can handle M1A1 tanks and M88 tank recovery vehicles, and her hatches are large enough to permit CH/MH-53 helos to be lifted on and off the ship with cranes. I can load everything that an entire Brigade Combat team of the 101st Airborne Division would take with it to combat onto a single LMSR, and I'll probably have a little space left over if the crews stowing the vehicles get a good tight pack on the rolling stock.

I just flat out LOVE working with tools that are well-designed for their purpose, and the FISHER is just wonderfully designed for what she does. A few pictures to illustrate:

Fisher 001: USNS FISHER alongside the pier at Jacksonville, loading equipment for shipment to Kuwait and Iraq. Note the UH-60 helicopter being towed up the ship's slewable stern ramp. The ramp is constructed to support two M1A2 tanks using the ramp at the same time. The ship is capable of conducting roll-on/roll-off and lift-on/lift-off operations simultaneously.

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Fisher 002: A CH-47D is lowered through a weather-deck hatch onto the FISHER's B Deck. Forward of the hatch area, the hoistable A deck has been raised, to provide a 21-foot overhead height for stowage of helicopters. Aft of the hatch area, the A deck remains in the lowered configuration, limiting cargo heights in the aft third of B Deck to 15' 6", and permitting stowage of low-profile vehicles (like HWMMV's,) or breakbulk cargo on A Deck.

Fisher 003: Several CH-47D's lashed down aboard the FISHER. Remember that this humongous storage space *MOVES*, and that there are at this point four additional decks of stowage underneath the one you are looking at, plus the weather deck on top of the hull, which can be used to carry either vehicles or containers.

The Armorer admits to having been a combat logistician (i.e., Brigade and below) and having spent a lot of time at railheads and ports doing this kind of stuff. The importance of this being done right, up front, cannot be overemphasized.

But shooting the Big Guns is *still* more fun...

August 31, 2005

Me too.

Harvey is asking for some help. Gun Pr0n for an ailing blogger. I've done my bit - now you go do yours!~

AFSis gives all the Intrepid Details, too, for some Plane Pr0n and Gun Pr0n. There's a Chick in there, too.

Just like Punctilious, I'll share info about me you probably don't care about...

1) Go to and, in the search box provided, enter the year you graduated high school.

2) From the search results, click the link for the top 100 songs of that year.

3) With the resulting list:
a) bold the songs you like,
b) strike through the ones you hate
c) underline your favorite
d) and ignore the ones you don't remember or don't care about.

I have a *very* pedestrian taste in music. Give me a good story-telling song anytime. Harry Chapin, yer still missed at the Castle.

Click on the Flash Traffic below.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Aug 31, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Blast from the Past
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: And now, a break from regular programming
» Techography links with: Top 100

Getting to the Fight.

Frequent commenter Blake hasn't been commenting frequently of late...

He's been busy. He's living the old adage of "Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics."

It doesn't matter how well you fight, if you can't get there - and with enough of the right stuff, on time. Blake is a part of making that happen. It doesn't make for stirring books, but without the efforts of people like Blake... there wouldn't be any stirring books to read. The Army's FCS program is actually as much about "How to get there, in time, with all the right stuff" as it is with building the fighting systems of the future.

Things have been a trifle busy for the last month or so, like 16-18-hours-a-day-7-days-a-week busy.

I think I've mentioned before that I am currently employed as a civilian logistician/transportation expediter with the 101st Abn Division, and that the Division is in the process of deploying for its second tour in Iraq. So, after three weeks of kicking figurative butts getting the 3rd Brigade's gear packed, documented, and shipped off from Fort Campbell, I've spent the last ten days or so steaming and sweating in Jacksonville, Florida getting the Brigade's equipment ready to load aboard ship for the trip to Kuwait.

The first shipload sailed [OPSEC deletion], and we start loading the second ship at 0800 tomorrow. I'm flying out to Kuwait to meet the ships around [OPSEC deletion] or so, and I'll get to come home again once all of 3rd Brigade's stuff is on its way north to Tikrit. Call that [OPSEC deletion] or so.

In the process I've acquired a few pictures that I thought you might find interesting. I'm working off the Webmail access to my normal e-mail account, which limits the size and number of attachments I can send, so you'll likely get another email like this tomorrow or the next day.

I'll give you some captions for the pictures. Which picture goes with
which caption ought to be pretty obvious.

1. An M119 105mm howitzer of Battery B, 3-320th FA, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn Div, with its M1097 prime mover, waits to be loaded aboard the [OPSEC deletion] at the Blount Island Marine Terminal at Jacksonville, FL.

2. A view from the weather deck of the [OPSEC deletion] of equipment and helicopters of the 101st Abn Div staged for loading at Blount Island

3. M119 howitzers of the 1st and 3rd Battalions, 320th FA, stowed aboard the [OPSEC deletion] for transport to Kuwait.

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I'm jealous. It sounds like Blake is having fun, doing something with concrete results, while I sit here trying to guess how things will work in the future... and hoping I'm right.

Oh, and thanks for the Gun Pr0n, Blake!

Normal blogging will continue...

This space (at least for me) is *not* going to become "All Katrina, all the time." We'll leave that to the news bloggers, bloggers in the area, and those who have sources.

That shouldn't be taken as we don't care.

We've got the donate button up, in a post *and* in the sidebar, and SWWBO and I have made, and will continue to make, targeted donations. And while we'll leave the Project Valour-IT button up, we won't be flogging that as hard now, either. Frankly, the rescue and clean-up from Katrina is more important in the near term.

Food for thought, however. As someone who sits on the board of a significant local charity, it will be a chore keeping up the needed cashflow to support the day-to-day local work, as people's charitable dollars understandably and usefully flow to the South. I'm not going to make the job any harder!

That's a simple reality.

Consider that as you scrape up spare change for Katrina victims - the needs in your local community don't diminish. If all you do is skip a movie, DVD rental, night out a month, you don't sacrifice much at all, and the local charities can do great things. Keep that in mind - there are a *lot* of people who will be sacrificing and suffering in the weeks and months ahead - but most of you who read this won't be among that group. $5 in the right place goes a looong way in the right hands. Don't just give to the disaster de jour, give locally! And yes, give more than you are used to. We're at war, we've just had the equivalent of an Army march through Louisiana and Mississippi, and you *still* have the local day-to-day needs of your communities. How many of you look at your parents/grandparents through the lens of the "Greatest Generation"? You know what made them that? They went through trying times, pulled together, and did what needed to be done. Guess what? Now is that time for us. We may not have to give as much as they did - but we should certainly give.

Oddly enough in my experience - the people who will feel it the most... also give the most, sometimes in absolute terms, not relative.

That said, I may, however, have my head explode over tripe like the German newspapers and government officials are putting out, or this little gem from RFK, Jr, where he blames Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, for the hurricane. *As if* the Kyoto Protocol is a magic wand that if ratified, would have *prevented* the hurricane, or reduced it's severity, this early in Kyoto's intended lifecycle... not that the purported effects at the far end of the Protocol are all that impressive. The Protocol is more a piece of 'feel good' legislation that has costs far outweighing any putative benefits accruing therefrom, than it is a piece of good science.

The staggering damage totals have far more to do with the increasing urbanization of the coasts, and the gamble that New Orleans has *always* been, than it is a product of the weather patterns.

A lack of historical perspective on hurricane patterns over time, and local government happy to have the people and tax revenues, land owners and developers wanting to make a buck - but no one willing to impose any sane restrictions on type of construction and where construction will be allowed. I'm all for the free market and making a buck - but sometimes we need to take mother nature into account, too - or not whine about it. I live in tornado country, and my house reflects that reality, as does my insurance. Just sayin' that when we rebuild, let's do it smartly, and not just recreate what we had in place last Friday. Let's rebuild it with an eye to yesterday...

If we aren't willing to impose any controls, then we get to pay the piper. Of course there's a balance to be struck... but short-sighted local and state public officials who can't see beyond the next election - and the public which punishes them for trying, are as much to blame here as the President. And guess what, Bobby Junior... they haven't all been Republicans.

Update: As Boudicca notes, even though New Orleans is going to be the spotlight, don't forget Mississippi and Alabama.

August 30, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Skip that trip to McDonald's. Skip a meal, send the money to the Red Cross. (click the Red Cross logo).


I already did. Enough for the next two weeks of lunch, and prolly more after payday.

Or any other charity you prefer. We did it for the Tsunami, let's do it for our own, this time.

Update: Chuck Simmins has a list of other ways to donate.

$10,000,000 so far. Mebbe you're going to be partially wrong, Mike!

The way to the Armorer's Good Graces... via firepower.

Something SWWBO knows well, having bought me this for Christmas before we got married, and *this* after, and not being annoyed by this or this or this.

Now comes AFSis, fresh from New York. (Happy Anniversary, kiddo!)

And she sends this, a 24 pounder in Castle Clinton... who could ask for more?

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Heh. Mebbe cannon with a Cute Chick©? Like this?

Finally! Access!

Dunno if it was Katrina or not, but it seemed that everyone but the Center of the Universe could access the Castle today. Which made it frustrating...

Snerk! This picture brings to mind a TINS... While in ROTC I was the commander of the 'Tactics Team' the group of cadets who *really* liked to play Army enough that we had our own classes and training exercises outside of the regular curriculum (although official, and sanctioned). We went so far as to provide 'indigenous trainees' for the 12th SF Group A Team in St. Louis. A grand time was had by all.

One of my fellow cadets, who went on to a fine career, recently retiring herself, was, shall we say, not familiar with firearms. While getting ready for some patrolling training, with weapons thoughtfully provided by HHB, 1-128th FA, MoNG, she was unsure of how to load an M16 magazine. Her pride not allowing her to ask, and the squad leaders not yet at the point of checking their squadmates, she loaded her rounds alternating the bullets... figuring she had a 50/50 chance of getting it right.

Need I say, she went MI? Military Intelligence?

In my last job on active duty, I was a WMD response planner, and also involved in MSCA (Military Support to the Civil Authority) planning and response - and responding to things like Katrina was part and parcel of the job. Over at Eaglespeak, the crusty old Seafaring Lawyer (and former Surface Guy) takes a look at one of the assets of choice for coastal disasters, Navy carriers, big or small. They can produce lots of power, and fresh water, can feed a lot of people, act as a small hospital, as well as provide helos for rescue work. I'll point out that one of the jobs of a Defense Coordinating Officer is to make sure that everybody in the Disaster Field Office (run by FEMA) understands what the services can provide... and remind them that it is about *the* most expensive way to get help. But if you need it, need it fast, and it can't get there any other way, we can usually help.

I'll say that was true then - with the log demands of OIF and OEF, I suspect that getting assistance is harder to coordinate these days. There's a lot of demand on transport airframes, and a lot of the wheeled transport is overseas.

Nonetheless, DoD responders will break their backs to respond if they have to.

Jay, over at Stop The ACLU, is having a trackback party to celebrate the latest evolution of his site, and invites you to read about the American Legion's effort to counter what they consider an ACLU run amok.

And to close this off... snerk! H/t, AFSis!

August 29, 2005

Apropos of nothing...

We come as conquerors, but not as oppressors.

-General Eisenhower to the German people as Allied forces entered Germany, 1944.

The success of this occupation can only be judged fity years from now. If the Germans at the time have a stable, prosperous democracy, then we shall have succeeded.

-General Eisenhower in Frankfurt, October 1945.

Doing some research for unrelated topics I came across those quotes, along with the question, "Why didn't President Bush say something like that when we entered Baghdad?"

Mebbe because it's been done before, and has bad resonance?

People of Baghdad, remember for 26 generations you have suffered under strange tyrants who have ever endeavoured to set one Arab house against another in order that they might profit by your dissensions. This policy is abhorrent to Great Britain and her Allies for there can be neither peace nor prosperity where there is enmity or misgovernment. Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators.

Proclamation to the People of the Wilayat of Baghdad, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude, March 1917.

"We fought this war and are reorganizing these new governments for the purpose of maintaining a democratic peace; but if continual quarrel and war are to succeed these changes on the map, the purpose of the war and the treaty will fail."

-National Geographic, 1919.

There is no quick, short answer to the problem of Iraq. Just as there was no quick, short answer to Germany and Japan, either.

Just as there *still* are foreign troops in Bosnia and Kosovo. Changes of the magnitude we're trying to implement take generations to take root and flourish. But I wonder if we have the stomach for it?

Because if we don't - well, we have to rethink how we are going about things, and the Army we are building to do the military side of things.

Because if we build the Army of Rumsfeld's dream of military power - we have no choice but to build coalitions of sufficient size that others can provide the manpower garrisoning of this type requires. Then the US Army becomes the instrument of battlefield destruction and annihilation of an enemy's capacity to resist in conventional fashion.. but others will have to take up the slack that long term suppression of guerilla movements requires.

Food for thought.

Summary: Because they lack a coherent strategy, U.S. forces in Iraq have failed to defeat the insurgency or improve security. Winning will require a new approach to counterinsurgency, one that focuses on providing security to Iraqis rather than hunting down insurgents. And it will take at least a decade.

Read Andrew Krepinevich's piece here.

This is the very antithesis of the Army Mr. Rumsfeld is trying to build, I think.

The problem is - we can't afford both Armies, which means we need partners... but most of the major players who could make the difference are either competitors, or, frankly, just don't give a rat's ass until it's their butt in the fire. The Continental Euro's didn't act on the Balkans until we agreed to do the initial heavy lifting. They have been participating in Afghanistan, but in most respects have so gutted their miltary capacity that they can't provide that much more support, even if they wanted to - unless we were going to do the logistics.

A double-edged sword, eh? A militarized Europe is a dangerous Europe. A relatively un-militarized Europe (and take away Brit and US capacity) is essentially a genocidal maniac's dream.

Sigh. I shouldn't read so much.

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We've been looking for a deployed correspondent ever since MSG Keith returned.

We found somebody. Or, rather, somebody found us. We're still working out some OPSEC details, but in the meantime, here's something you won't see in the MSM...

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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Karishma tried to be like any other eight year old, running and playing with boundless energy, but for her, there was an end to the energy.

She could never have had a normal, long life because of heart problems -- until a year ago.

Two U.S. Special Forces medical personnel, a medical sergeant and doctor, crossed paths with Karishma in September 2004 ultimately leading up to a successful lifesaving closed-heart surgery performed Aug. 14 by Dr. (Major) Michael M, a cardiothoracic surgeon stationed at the Bagram Airfield hospital.

“The surgery went extremely well,” the surgeon said. “She is a strong little girl. She will live a long, happy, healthy life.”

Karishma was three months old when her family found out she had heart problems from a doctor in Peshawar , Pakistan . They diagnosed her with Ventricular Septal Defect -- a hole in the heart’s wall -- a type of heart malfunction present at birth. Seven years later, village elders introduced her father, Abdula, to the Special Operations Forces medical sergeant and doctor. They had been conducting sick-call near Jalalabad in September 2004.

“I told Abdula that I could not treat Karishma, but I would do some research on the Internet about the problem and asked him to return a few days later,” said the SOF medical sergeant. “I researched the condition and found three non-profit organizations that could help. The same day I received a response from the Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, N.J., offering to perform the surgery free for the family through a program called ‘Children of the World Program.’”

The Deborah Heart and Lung Center reviewed Karishma’s charts and made a final diagnosis that she had Patent Ductus Arteriosus, where a part of her aorta did not close and develop after birth.

Everything was set for Karishma and her mother to travel to New Jersey for the operation. The entire trip and operation would be free of charge for the family. But, things took another turn.

Almost a year after initially seeing Karishma in Jalalabad, the SOF doctor overheard Dr. M saying he had done a similar surgery. He asked Dr. M if he would like to do another. The SOF doctor relayed this information to his medical sergeant. The sergeant later learned that M had actually performed the same surgery on another patient about a week earlier.

“I told Dr. M about Karishma and asked him if he was interested in doing another one, and he said, ‘Sure, why not’,” the SOF doctor said. The family learned of M's ability and willingness to perform the surgery at Bagram. They joyfully accepted the offer.

Abdula, who is a tailor with five sons and five daughters, could have never afforded the operation.

“I am very happy and very thankful to the Americans for helping Karishma,” Abdula said.

“She is very playful and energetic, she just gets tired real easy,” said the SOF doctor.

Karishma is currently in recovery at Bagram and expected to return home within a week.

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If you want to impress your friends, Deborah is pronounced "Duh bawr' uh" and the folks there have been conducting their "Children of the World" program -- with no fanfare -- for decades...

by CW4BillT on Aug 29, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
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August 28, 2005

Happy Birthday, Cricket!!

The gravity well surrounding Bill's Natal Day almost sucked in another celebration! Our favorite Castle Chef and lady of many talents, Cricket, is celebrating a birthday!

The Castle Chef's!

Well, okay, it was yesterday... Boq, pass around the wet noodles later. *sigh*

But enough of that. It's time for all Castle Denizens and visitors to share virtual offerings for the Birthday Girl. In case you aren't sure what to get, I have handy a little list for guidance.

When asked to list what she would acquire if money were no object,
Cricket gave the following answer :


200 acres minimum. Totally off the grid.

Flying lessons.

Housekeeping staff.

Ten bedrooms and a bath to each one. Indoor pool with retractable
ceiling for those sunny days.

Fully equipped kitchen.

This would be on the beach or up in the Rockies.
Castle Denizens would be welcome, as well as the local knavery from VC.

On the acreage: Food critters and orchards of trees. A greenhouse.
Formally landscaped front garden, kitchen garden out back.

Also a range for practicing shooting of guns, arrows and even rubber bands and super soakers.

A lake for either paddling a canoe, fishing or water skiing.


For my own gift, I offer this lovely Colorado bed and breakfast. If
it's not quite large enough, we can add rooms!

Let the Comment Party begin!

by Adjutant on Aug 28, 2005 | Birthday | Birthday

Hey, all you auld farts out there...

...doesn't this sound familiar? Edited because I'm not supposed to publish the details, so I went with a fill-in-the-blank format. And all we auld guys and gals in the service can fill in the blanks with no problem!

For those who don't know - welcome to a "Congressional". Disgruntled troop/family member/civilian you looked at funny on the street writes their congressperson about whatever. The legislator then sends a note to the Pentagon. And within 24 hours you are getting a phone call from higher, informing you that *you* have 24 hours to respond, hardcopy to follow. Most complaints are picayune, some are substantive, some are petty vengeances. All of them eat your time, and give you exposure you *don't* generally want. And then there's the ones that are inadvertent...

This was sent to me by a frequent commenter, regarding his son who is in service. The good details have been omitted to protect the innocent.

We talked to ___ on the phone today and there is a little interesting development regarding the [installation in an undisclosed place].

After the article came out in the [name deleted] newspaper he decided to send a copy to [Congressperson X] along with a short note explaining that he is from [location] and had voted for [Congressperson X].

It had been several weeks and _____ heard nothing back. Not even a short note saying thanks for writing. Well this week ____ came into [work] and the [senior non-com] looked at him and said “We have to talk … follow me to the [Boss's] office”. ______ was wondering what had happened and what he had done wrong. The [Boss] then asked him what he had been up to and ______ was stumped. He then asked him what he had sent [Congressperson X] and ____ said he had just forwarded a copy of the news article. The [Boss] said “No you didn’t .. you also sent a paragraph along and I have a copy of what you wrote!”

It seems that [Congressperson X's] office had contacted the [Supreme Leader of a US Armed Force} who had contacted the [Minion Flag Officer] in [undisclosed location], who had contacted [Senior Field Grade] in [another undisclosed location], who then called ______'s [Boss] in [the undisclosed duty station]. Basically after they had scared ____ to death the [Boss] then told him he hadn’t written anything out of line since he blamed no one nor pointed fingers. The [Boss] told him officially that he shouldn’t write any more letters or send any more emails but if he did he was to let the [Boss] know. Then the [Boss] said that officially higher ups were upset but that unofficially there were people in [Intermediate Headquarters] that would like to give _____ a medal.

In the end _____ wasn’t in trouble but it seems that [US Armed Forces] officers (especially the [4-Bagger in Charge] don’t like [Congresspersons] calling when they aren’t expecting it.

_____ says he doesn’t want to see his name in print again for a long time. He says he doesn’t want [Flag Officers] to know his name or even know he is in the [US Armed Forces].


Take care.

I will note that it is *borderline* illegal to tell a subordinate, "The [Boss] told him officially that he shouldn’t write any more letters or send any more emails but if he did he was to let the [Boss] know."

It's an unenforceable order, too. Every citizen has the *right* to pester their representatives. But if yer a servicemember, just remember that if your chain of command is bad enough for you to need to write the congressperson, they probably are *also* not going to like the fact you did...

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The military is all over UAVs these days. Big ones, little ones, medium sized ones. There are a bewildering number of airframes, sensor packages, and weapons packs in test right now. Like these two.


Fire Scout in action. Developed by the Navy, Fire Scout is an unmanned aerial vehicle (Bill won't fit in there) that is also a candidate to be one of the high-end Army UAVs. We're trying to arm smaller and smaller UAVs... I anticipate we'll be seeing Berettas and paint guns on the micros soon... like this start from the Infantry School at Fort Benning.


Hi-res click here.

Update: Heh. Guess who was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too subtle this morning?

by John on Aug 28, 2005 | Aircraft | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | I think it's funny!
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