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December 23, 2006

H&I* Fires Dec 23, 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. [Admittedly, I'm fibbing. Trackbacks are still broken]

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Japanese Scientists capture a Giant Squid. The First.Ever.Caught.By.Humans. Well, as far as we know. And kill it. Sushi, anyone? I thought it was just us rednecks that killed rare things just to eat them?

Virgil Goode, (R) Virginia... idiot. Not the way to push the immigration issue. So Keith Ellison (D) Minnesota, wants to swear his oath of office on the Koran. So what? There are provisions for allowing Christians, whose beliefs do not allow them to swear on the Bible, to "affirm" their oath of office, why should this Dolt. Not the face the Republican party wants to put forth on this issue. -the Armorer


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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Dec 23, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | General Commentary

Michigan couple sends holiday cheer to Iraq

Photo by Spc. Nathan J. Hoskins<br />
December 22, 2006 <br />
Sgt. Rosie Threatt and Staff Sgt. Jamile Dingle decorate one of the two Fraser firs donated by Jim and Beth Nickelson of Ludington, Mich.

Dec 22, 2006 BY Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Public Affairs

TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 22, 2006) - Though a white Christmas is out of the question, the holiday season will be a little homier for Soldiers deployed here thanks to a couple from Ludington, Mich., and a sergeant major from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.

Jim Nickelson and wife, Beth, sent two Fraser fir trees to the 1st ACB to bring holiday cheer to the frontlines, Nickelson said.

"Hopefully it brightens their mood for a period of time while they're away from their families" Nickelson wrote in an email from his home.

The Nickelsons' Needlefast Evergreens farm is adjacent to the childhood home of Sgt. Maj. Della St. Louis, the brigade operations sergeant major.

St. Louis, for the third consecutive year, arranged for the shipment of the holiday trees the Nickelsons donated. The first was during the 1st ACB deployment from 2004 to 2005, and she had trees sent to 3rd Infantry Division which served in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, she said.

"Soldiers are so far away from friends and families, and this is something that brings togetherness around the holidays," St. Louis said. "It's just something that I can do for Soldiers."

The Nickelsons pay for the customs inspection and donate the trees, and St. Louis pays the shipping costs.

The two packages were Christmas in a box when they arrived in late November. Within a couple of days, the trees were up and decorated at the administrative/logistics and tactical operations centers.

"When they opened the boxes, the smell of pine took me home," said Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Hernandez, assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of the Aviation Defense Operations Center. "When I'm home for Christmas, we have a live tree, and we decorate all that we can. It's all about the Christmas spirit."

"I didn't serve in the Armed Forces myself, and my wife and I feel it's the very least we can do to provide a small slice of home, or perhaps some of the Christmas spirit that they might have had if they had been home," Nickelson said.

Meanwhile, over in Korea...

Getting in the Holiday Spirit<br />
Photo by Master Sgt. Sue Harper, 8th Army PAO<br />
December 13, 2006 </p>

<p>8th Army Commander, Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt places a package into a bin as Command Sgt. Maj. Barry C. Wheeler, USFK, CFC and 8th Army Command Sergeant Major takes package to another bin Monday morning at the Yongsan Post Office. Every year the 8th Army Commander and Command Sergeant Major and members of the 8th Army staff help pitch mail during the Holiday Peak season.

Getting in the Holiday Spirit
Photo by Master Sgt. Sue Harper, 8th Army PAO
December 13, 2006

8th Army Commander, Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt places a package into a bin as Command Sgt. Maj. Barry C. Wheeler, USFK, CFC and 8th Army Command Sergeant Major takes package to another bin Monday morning at the Yongsan Post Office. Every year the 8th Army Commander and Command Sergeant Major and members of the 8th Army staff help pitch mail during the Holiday Peak season.

Heh. I knew Dave when he was a mere battalion commander and put his pants on one leg at a time. Looky where a little skill will take ya!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 23, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Something for the Soul

Dec 23 1944

SC 198389. A 7th Armored Division antitank gun covers the approach on a road to Belgium (12/23/44)--Railroad crossing near Vielsalm, Belgium

The bulk of the air cargo brought to Bastogne during the siege was artillery ammunition. By the 24th the airborne batteries were down to ten rounds per tube and the work horse 420th Armored Field Artillery was expending no more than five rounds per mission, even on very lucrative targets. This battalion, covering a 360-degree front, would in fact be forced to make its original 1,400 rounds last for five days. The two 155-mm. howitzer battalions were really pawing at the bottom of the barrel. The 969th fired thirty-nine rounds on 24 December and two days later could allow its gunners only twenty-seven rounds, one-sixth the number of rounds expended per day when the battle began.

The airdrop on the 23d brought a dividend for the troops defending Bastogne. The cargo planes were all overwatched by fighters who, their protective mission accomplished, turned to hammer the Germans in the Bastogne ring. During the day eighty-two P-47's lashed out at this enemy with general-purpose and fragmentation bombs, napalm, and machine gun fire. The 101st reported to Middleton, whose staff was handling these air strikes for the division, that "air and artillery is having a field day around Bastogne."

SC 246723. The members of the 101st Airborne Division, right, are on guard for enemy tanks, on the road leading to Bastogne, Belgium. They are armed with bazookas. 23 Dec 1944

You can read the rest here.

Now, here's something you most likely didn't know. There weren't many black combat units in the US Army during either world war. IIRC, none at all during the First, only a few during the Second.

One of those few was the 969th Field Artillery, which won a Distinguished Unit Citation and Belgian Croix d’Guerre with Palm for their performance during the Battle of the Bulge. Some more on Black soldiers in the war is available here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 23, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Historical Stuff

December 22, 2006

H&I* Fires Dec 22, 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. [Admittedly, I'm fibbing. Trackbacks are still broken]

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HFM learns the hard way.... Never underestimate the power of the blogger! Congratulations to Michael Yon for staying strong and hard, and helping to take down Shock magazine. I'm still trying to figure out why editor-in-chief, Mike Hammer, is "stunned" by the move. BUWAHAHAHA. Somebody buy that man a Clue Bat! h/t to Huntress, who had the pleasure of "breaking" the news to Michael this morning. (btw... Mike's working his way back to Iraq for more boots-on-ground reports) OH HAPPY DAY! ~AFSis


For those of you who want the hi-res version of the Motivator series, Strategy Page just posted the whole set, original typos and all. -the Armorer


Brit spy problems?

A BRITISH military aide to the commander of UK forces in Afghanistan has been accused of spying for Iran.

Cpl Daniel James, 44, appeared in court yesterday, charged under section 1 of the Official Secrets Act with communicating information “useful to the enemy”.

Read the whole thing here.

More things Brit: THE last surviving crew member of Lord Nelson’s former warship HMS Victory from its time at sea has died aged 103. Fair winds and a following sea, Mr. Perrett.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

And in the Ripley's Believe It Or Not entry for the day, there's this:

SKYDIVER Michael Holmes cheated death when his parachutes failed and he plunged 15,000ft — on to a BLACKBERRY BUSH.

The 25-year-old Brit screamed ‘s**t, I’m going to die’ as he plummeted at 100mph — but the thick brambles saved his life.

Read that story here - and H/t for all three of the above to Jim C. -the Armorer


La Schlussel continues her meltdown - and foolishly takes on Baldilocks while doing it. Baldilocks has a useful warning for people of the Right who see Barack Obama as a target - treat him just like the Castle Rules of Commentating - Attack the Message, not the Messenger. H/t, Darleen. -the Armorer


T'was an ACLU Christmas... the video is funny, but I think Jay's link to this guy and the ensuing discussion in the comments is perhaps even funnier. -the Armorer


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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Dec 22, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | General Commentary

Marines Charge Eight in Connection With Haditha Deaths

Let it all settle out in court. Good to see DoD making the connection between the leaders and the led, and that the officers will face a court, too.

By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2006 - Four Marines have been charged in connection with the deaths of Iraqi civilians in Haditha Nov. 19, 2005, and another four Marines have been charged with failure to properly report and/or investigate the deaths of the Iraqi civilians.

Col. Stewart Navarre, chief of staff of Marine Corps Installations West, announced the charges and specifications during a news conference on Camp Pendleton, Calif., today. All of those charged were members of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

"The Marine Corps takes allegations of wrong-doing by Marines very seriously and is committed to thoroughly investigating such allegations," Navarre said. "The Marine Corps also prides itself on holding its members accountable for their actions.

"We are absolutely committed to holding fair and impartial proceedings in full compliance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice," he said. Navarre said the charges stem from an incident that occurred after an attack on a four-vehicle Marine convoy from the battalion's Kilo Company. The convoy was moving through Haditha when it was ambushed by insurgents employing an improvised explosive device and small arms fire, Navarre said.

"One Marine was killed and two were wounded by the explosion," the colonel said. "Over the next several hours, 24 Iraqi men, women and children died in the vicinity of the IED explosion."

The next day, 2nd Marine Division issued a press release stating that 15 Iraqi civilians were killed in an IED explosion, and Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers killed eight insurgents in a follow-on firefight. "We now know with certainty the press release was incorrect, and that none of the civilians were killed by the IED explosion," Navarre said.

In February, Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, initiated an investigation. "This investigation focused on the circumstances of the attack and whether the Marines involved followed the Rules of Engagement and Law of Armed Conflict," Navarre said.

In March, Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer, commander of coalition forces in Al Anbar province, initiated a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation, to determine if there was any criminal responsibility for the deaths of the Iraqi civilians.

Later that month Chiarelli ordered Army Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell to conduct another investigation to look at three aspects of the incident: official reporting of the events and follow-on actions by the chain of command; training of Marines in the Rules of Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict; and whether the command climate in 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, encouraged the disciplined application of the Rules of Engagement and the Law of Armed Conflict.

"In May 2006, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service also began a criminal investigation into the follow-on actions of the chain of command," Navarre said.

Bargewell ended his inquiry June 15, 2006. He concluded that the Marines were adequately trained on the Rules of Engagement and Law of Armed Conflict but that reporting of the incident up the chain of command was inaccurate and untimely. The report went to Chiarelli, Army Gen. George Casey, the commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, and finally to U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command for appropriate action, Navarre said.

Those charged are:

Marine Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich is charged with unpremeditated murder, soliciting another to commit an offense and making a false official statement.

Marine Sgt. Sanick P. Dela Cruz was charged with five counts of murder and one charge of a false official statement.

Marine Lance Cpl. Stephen B. Tatum is charged with murder, negligent homicide and assault.

Marine Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt is charged with three counts of murder.

Marine Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, the commander of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, was charged with three counts of violation of a lawful order and dereliction of duty.

Marine Capt. Lucas M. McConnell has been charged with dereliction of duty.

Marine Capt. Randy W. Stone was charged with failure to follow a lawful order and dereliction of duty.

Marine 1st Lt. Andrew A. Grayson is charged with dereliction of duty, making a false official statement and obstructing justice.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 22, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Observations on things Military

The Whatziss, continued.

Here's your second clue - at this point, it's a Google Skillz contest. Which is why you don't often *get* headstamp clues!

But this one is kinda neat, and while very different from what you guys would expect from me, is very much in keeping with the things that keep me endlessly fascinated.

Go for it, Gents.

If this post makes *no* sense to you, you're probably a new visitor, or a little behind. Start here.

Update: Whee! Chicken Soup for the Armorer's Soul - an email on this post:




Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 22, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Gun Pr0n - A Naughty Expose' of the fiddly bits


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by John on Dec 22, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | I think it's funny!

Dec 22, 1944

Hosting provided by FotoTime the Bastion of the Battered Bastards of the 101st.

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours' term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well known American humanity.

The German Commander.

To the German Commander:


The American Commander.

The American Commander was Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, Division Artillery Commander of the 101st Airborne Division.

Redlegs (like yours truly) aren't usually noted for their brevity.

McAuliffe's troops weren't the only ones inspired by his response. There was extra effort on the home front, too.

What may have been the biggest morale booster came with a reverse twist-the enemy "ultimatum." About noon four Germans under a white flag entered the lines of the 2d Battalion, 327th. The terms of the announcement they carried were simple: "the honorable surrender of the encircled town," this to be accomplished in two hours on threat of "annihilation" by the massed fires of the German artillery. The rest of the story has become legend: how General McAuliffe disdainfully answered "Nuts!"; and how Colonel Harper, commander of the 327th, hard pressed to translate the idiom, compromised on "Go to Hell!" The ultimatum had been signed rather ambiguously by "The German Commander," and none of the German generals then in the Bastogne sector seem to have been anxious to claim authorship.14 Lt. Col. Paul A Danahy, G-2 of the 101st, saw to it that the story was circulated-and appropriately embellished-in the daily periodic report: "The Commanding General's answer was, with a sarcastic air of humorous tolerance, emphatically negative." Nonetheless the 101st expected that the coming day-the 23d-would be rough.

Read the rest, here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 22, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Historical Stuff

December 21, 2006

H&I* Fires, 21 DEC 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. [Admittedly, I'm fibbing. Trackbacks are still broken]

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Wow. I've never beat John to setting up the H&I Fires before so I consider this an honour even if I am acting well above my job classification.

I foolishly usurp all authority and step on toes all over the place just to pass on a neato post of mine over at the beer blog for the search for the world's oldest beer - Alan of GX40.


I foolishly usurp all authority and step on toes all over the place just to pass on a neato post of mine Snerk. It's what the post is for. Leave it to a Canadian sorta-lefty to get a thrill from a cautiously defiant yet completely safe non-act of putative disobedience... 8^)

...I am acting well above my job classification... Well, you *did* neglect to set the post time so that it would stay up top all day... so we have neglected your BOS (Blog Occupational Skillz) training. Oh - and the category is "General Commentary," too. -the Armorer

I'm sorry, but does it *really* matter whether it was the ferret or the puppy? I'd be more concerned about the toes and bad parenting, myself. *shakes head* ~AFSister

Just think, you guys... we knew them when!! Major Pain (who used to be known as Capt. B) and Taco (Bell) are featured in the latest issue of Newsweek! It's the top story on their website right now, but the links I provided will go straight to the articles. OUTSTANDING! ~AFSis


Elmo dons ACUs...

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21, 2006 - Elmo and the characters of Sesame Street are going to give Americans at large a chance to see what military families go through when their loved ones deploy to war zones.

Coming soon to a PBS station near you... -the Armorer


Sounds like Castle Denizens of the Northwest need to batten down the hatches again. And it sounds like Neffi has been snowed in, too. - FbL


Cotillionite Stacy has posted pics of Life Near Neffi after the blizzard. Silly as it sounds, I'm jealous. I *like* snow. Like that. Once, once mind you, a year. Not that the Bladed Lawn Tractor of Argghhh! would be able to handle it... -the Armorer


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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Dec 21, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | General Commentary

A new whatziss - reader supplied!

Reader Rick, a relative newcomer who likes the Whatziss genré poses us a challenge. Ladies and Gents: Whatziss?

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Update: BTW, I didn't have a clue, never having seen one before. I'm going to let you guys run with this today, and then I'll put up a pic of the headstamp. That info will, with careful googling, get you to the answer.

The answer is, to me at least, fascinating.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 21, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Gun Pr0n - A Naughty Expose' of the fiddly bits


This one seems apt for today - given Bill's story of being mortared, failure to honor a truce, and Oldloadrs observation yesterday about M113s wearing fencing.

Fire Support

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 21, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | I think it's funny!

The Ghost of (A) Christmas Past

RF/PF -- “Ruff-Puff” -- was the acronym for Regional Forces/Popular Forces, the South Vietnamese militia. Most units were composed of a mixed bag of farmers, frog hunters and former VC who had developed a hankering to be on the inside of a Huey looking down at the landscape, rather than being on the outside of a Huey looking up and becoming part of the landscape. Some units were independent strikers, but most were attached to a major unit of the South Vietnamese Army and were used as scouts and flank security troops. For some reason known only to Buddha, most of them wore purple helmet liners as the war-hat-of-choice...

Earlier in the morning, we’d inserted five ships'-worth of Ruff-Puffs into a warm LZ (scattered, inaccurate ground fire) about fifteen klicks west of Bac Lieu in the ‘way-south part of the Delta; we’d refueled, opened our cans of breakfast and were now enroute for the extraction, listening to Christmas carols on AFVN-AM (the nice thing about your ADF nav radio is that it will pick up commercial radio stations). I was flying Chalk Two, which tucked me right next to Lead.

Late December is two months after the last of the monsoons, so the paddies were still thigh-deep in water, the treelines were thick with fresh understory growth and the indigenous bad guys had their minds more on growing enough food to stash for the dry season than on mounting any decent-sized offensives. And besides, the Annual Christmas Truce (“Don’t shoot back unless they’re getting really, really accurate”) was in effect. At least it was in effect on our side -- the VC were either Buddhists or good little Fraternal Socialist Peaceloving Anti-Imperialists and couldn’t care less, a fact which seemed to have passed over the heads of the galaxies in Saigon (“I dunno, sir, maybe MACV figgers they’re all Presbyterians ‘er sumpthin’…”)

So, the local 21st ARVN Advisor had decided it was the perfect opportunity to give his attached (and newly-minted) Puffs some training in real, live Enemy Territory, searching for food and weapons cached in the area. The theory was that the Puffs’d be on the qui-vive on patrol due to the possibility of contact and in sufficient numbers to take out whatever stragglers were foolish enough to initiate contact.

Good training.

In theory.

Three miles out, fifteen hundred feet up, not a sign of the Puffs, who should have been assembling in the PZ (the former LZ) after completing their patrols -- the PZ was a large paddy sandwiched between a shallow river to the south with a dozen wooded islands in it and a good-sized patch of jungle to the north. I flipped the nav monitor toggle switch off in the middle of “Deck the Halls” so I could listen for any radio calls from the ground. We were on short final to the PZ before one of the gunners spotted them forming up in the treeline.

“Little People at nine o’clock, sir -- along with a zillion chickens.”

Oh, Balzac. They’d been foraging instead of patrolling. I remember hoping that they’d found at least one weapons cache and blown it…

“They’re taking their own sweet time about catching the bus -- cripes! They went fishing, too!?!”

Sure enough, the Puffs who weren’t loaded down with scraggly chickens were loaded down with the local version of catfish. I shrugged and flipped the nav monitor toggle switch on.

Siiiiilent Night, Hoooooly whumf

Mud-dirt-smoke a hundred yards south. The Ruff-Puffs started trotting toward the ships.

“Hey, Copperheads, Lead -- are you guys popping rockets to suppress?”

“Negative. We’re just orbiting about three klicks north.”

Allll is calm, allll is whooompf!

Mud-dirt-smoke fifty yards north. The Puffs are now pelting for the ships, fish flapping, chickens thrashing, purple helmet liners bobbing.

“Hey, Lead, Chalk Four -- Flight’s taking mortars in the PZ.”

“Yeah, looks like they’ve got a really decent bracket on us, too.”

"Hey, they broke the truce!"

"Why are you surprised?"

"'Cuz it's supposed to be *our* turn to break it!"

‘Round yon viiiiirgi BAAMPF!!

Mud-dirt-smoke-flying debris-pting-zizzz! right through my door. The Puffs pile inside, to the accompaniment of the Copperheads flashing overhead, screaming south to look for the mortar team.

“Lead, Two -- they’ve got the range. Next round’s gonna land in my lap.”

“Lead, Five. Flight’s up.” Good. Everybody’s on board and it’s Time To Git Outta Dodge.

Five Hueys come unstuck and nose over to gain speed as multiple mud-dirt-smokes erupt from where we had just been.

Sleeeeep in heav-- I flick the nav toggle off.

* * * * * * *

Seven hours later, in the 'way-north part of the Delta (which is nonetheless still the 'way-south portion of Vietnam), we were proceeding inbound to pick up an ambush patrol from Moc Hoa. Just as I reached down to flip the nav toggle switch off,

Siiiiilent Night, Hoooooly pok! pok-pok!

Green tracers everywhere, coming from about thirty muzzle flashes right out my door.

Allll is calm, allll is pok!pok!pok!

“Chalk Three’s goin’ down. Our engine's gone.”

“Chalk Five’s right behind you. Don’t forget to grab the radios and shoot the battery when you leave.”

“Hey, sir, there’s fluid on the deck. I think it’s oil, but it might be tranny fluid. It’s too dark to tell for sure.”

Oh, joy to the world.


“Lead, Two’s got fluid on the deck. My gauges are still normal, but I don’t think that’ll be the case in a couple of minutes.”

“Roj. Break off and head for Moc Hoa. Four, you hang with me and we’ll cover Five when he lifts off and pick up Two if he goes down enroute.”

I made it to Moc Hoa, barely. Oh, yeah -- it was tranny fluid.

* * * * * * *

Thirty-odd years later.

“What did you get for Christmas in Vietnam, Bill?”

“Shot down. For the *first* time.”

Heh. I still flick the radio off when "Silent Night" comes on…

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by CW4BillT on Dec 21, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | This is no Sh*t!

December 21, 1944

SC270947. U.S. troops of the 28th Infantry Division, who have been regrouped in security platoons for defense of Bastogne, Belgium, march down a street. Some of these soldiers lost their weapons during the German advance in this area. Bastogne, Belgium (12-20-44) Signal Corps Photo #ETO-HQ-44-30380 (Tec 5 Wesley B. Carolan).

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One Threat Subsides; Another Emerges

The Attempt To Relieve Peiper's Kampfgruppe

The quick and cheaply won victories which had taken Peiper's armored kampfgruppe so close to the Meuse bridges in so short a time may have blinded the higher German staffs for a while to the fact that Peiper was in danger. By the 21st, however, the most strenuous efforts were being made to save the ground he had won north of the Amblève and to rescue the men and matériel in his command. What happened to leave the kampfgruppe stranded and alone?

The 1st SS Panzer Division had begun its drive west in four march groups moving independently. The bulk of the 1st Panzer Regiment, a motorized battalion of armored infantry, a mobile company of engineers, and a battery of self-propelled artillery (as well as most of the gasoline available) had gone to Peiper with the expectation that the armored weight and the mobile character of this spearhead detachment would permit a quick breakthrough and exploitation even to the Meuse River. The balance of the division was to follow hard on Peiper's heels, provide reinforcement as required, and keep the line of communications open until such time as following divisions could take over and be prepared to re-form as a unit at the Meuse. By noon of 17 December Peiper's kampfgruppe was out of touch with the second and third march columns of the division and was racing alone toward the west. The strongest of the rearward columns, the fourth, which amounted to a reinforced armored infantry regiment, had been held up by mines at the entrance to its designated route' and in fact never made a start until 18 December. The student of first causes may wish to speculate on the fateful role of the unknown cavalry, engineers, and foot soldiers who laid the mines between Lanzerath and Manderfeld, thus delaying most of the 1st SS Panzer Division armored infantry for a critical twenty-four hours.

Read the rest here.

One of the interesting thing about this photo of Tank Destroyers being used as artillery is they are firing two different types of ammo.  The one on the left is firing standard ammunition, with the associated bright flash.  The one on the right is firing a specially-developed low-flash ammo.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 21, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Historical Stuff

December 20, 2006

H&I* Fires, 20 DEC 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. [Admittedly, I'm fibbing. Trackbacks are still broken]

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The trip to DC went well. My client stood in the pit, facing the three 2-Stars, two from the Army Staff, one from a Real Unit, the two one-stars (one of them his boss' boss), and an assorted horde of eagles, and delivered the results of this last year's worth of work. And it was *very* well received. So much so, that my client is going on the Three-Star Dog and Pony Circuit. Me, I just sat in back and took notes, interjected when appropriate, and, like a Good Contractor, made sure my client looked good and got the spotlight. That's my job.

Down side, this is the second time my client has been able to make me run while we're TDY. Always to catch a bus.

Moving on - I agree with Mr. Smith. Power to the Swift Boat Veterans. And their evil twin.

But these groups aren't being punished for making errors in their filing papers. They're being punished for criticizing politicians. Now, it's natural that politicians don't like that and might pressure the FEC to shut their critics up — the FEC reportedly acted in part because of pressure from Congress and a lawsuit brought by Reps. Christopher Shays and Martin T. Meehan — but why should ordinary citizens feel offended by criticism of public officials? Shouldn't we be more upset by efforts to silence criticism of public officials?

Read the rest here.

Remember this, as Senator John McCain tries to assume the mantle of inevitability for the nomination. Remember that much of campaign finance reform has been aimed at making the little people shut-up and keep their place. -the Armorer


If you haven't already - go check out Santa's UAS at Blackfive. -the Armorer


BTW - anybody remember this little "Savage War of Peace?" I do. I wasn't there, but my old high school pal/brother-in-law (now back to just being old high school pal due to *my* divorce, he's still married to my ex's sister) and several buddies in the Ranger Regiment were. I was home on leave from the NTC when it broke - and got to be the guy who was explaining everything to my sister-in-law, who suddenly realized her husband was in the midst of all that.

Operation Just Cause.

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The last combat act of the 5th Infantry Divsion (Mechanized) before it was disestablished as a part of the Peace Dividend. -the Armorer


As usual my favorite web comic has me all figured out. In this case though, considering John works with machine guns, and *cough* bayonets versus my work with electricity and ion/microwave radiation, I thought the comic should apply to him as well :)

Strip located here (too wide for just tossing up here. Any of you MT guru's are welcome to do it however!)

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Pat Buchanan's slide into irrelevance and stupidity seems to be accelerating. The sleight of hand and outright falsehoods the man uses here place him in the league of Krugman or MoDo(the dodo). 18 to 10? More like 18 to 14 to 10, with only the last cut coming under Clinton. Taiwan a 'new' commitment? Guess that Taiwan Relations Act (of 1979) don't exist then, hey? Look, many have argued long and hard that we never had enough when cannon counting going all the way back to 1950. It is true that often in our history what we've had hasn't been what was really necessary, but you don't have to lie about it to make the point.

But this from Buchanan is just silly 'lay down the burden' talk. Even the USAF and USN say they don't have enough to do what they are asked to do so Ol' Ramblin' Pat's wrong there too. If'n you wanted to write something to help the military, Pat, this wasn't it. If'n you wanted to say we should quite literally fence our selves off from the rest of the world, which you often do, this is perfect, Pat.
Oh, and Merry Christmas (and if you want a X-mas card from gollum I needs your mailage info).

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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Dec 20, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | General Commentary

A community helping one of our own.

There's pain in the milblog family this year. From many sources, some of it just the Imp of the Perverse at work - Heinlein's Practical Joke Department (well staffed, runs 24/7).

Here's a chance to take on the role of the Fairy Godmother Department (staff of one, semi-retired, usually on vacation, has job as an additional duty).

From my email, comes this.

Life's been tough for a Marine Corps family lately, including the loss of a dear family member. Every year for the past three years they have lost a loved one between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This family has been an active support group for Marines for years - inviting troops into their home, participating in Operation Santa and other troop support projects, etc. Many of you who regularly read military blogs and discussion forums are familiar with this family.

We want to protect their privacy, but it's not right that such good people who have given so much to our country should not be feeling the joy and love of the Christmas season. So let's show this family the Christmas spirit! Please send them a Christmas card.

Mail your cards or notes to:

970 W Valley Parkway #223
Escondido, CA 92025

Cards are being handled by well-respected figures in milblog circles who will get them to this family as soon as possible.

Open your heart, and share the love of this Holiday Season with a family that has done so much for all of us!

Act as your heart and current situation guides you. I know the family involved and it's just been a suck coupla years in many ways, and they soldier on.

So, think of it as an Anysoldier thing - except this is likely someone you know and have read...

Matty O'Blackfive and I are teaming up on this one, along with those who prefer to remain anonymous.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 20, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Something for the Soul

Dec 20, 1944

  SC 198296. Members of Company B,  630th Tank Destroyer Battalion, who lost their vehicles during the advance to Belgium, take Infantry positions on a hill covering an approach in Wiltz, Bastogne, Belgium on December 20. Signal Corps Photo ETO-44-30382 (Carolan).

During the night of l9-20 December the advance kampfgruppe of the 12th SS Panzer Division and the bulk of one regiment from the 12 Volks Grenadier Division completed their assembly. About 0600 twenty German tanks and a rifle battalion converged on Dom Butgenbach in the early morning fog and mist from south and east. The front lit up as the American mortars and artillery shot illuminating shell over the roads leading to the village. Concentration after concentration then plunged down, three battalions of field artillery and a 90-mm. battery of antiaircraft artillery firing as fast as the pieces could be worked. The enemy infantry, punished by this fire and the stream of bullets from the American foxhole line wavered, but a handful of tanks rolled off the roads and into Dom Butgenbach. (They had shot down three bazooka teams and a Company H machine gun section.) Here, in the dark, battalion antitank guns placed to defend the 2d Battalion command post went to work firing point-blank at the exhaust flashes as the German vehicles passed. Two enemy tanks were holed and the rest fled the village, although the antitank gun crews suffered at the hands of the German bazooka teams that had filtered in with the tanks.

Read more here.

If you haven't noticed, I'm not following a specific trend here, other than trying to stick to actions of any particular day. Why? Historians make it easy - all nice, tidy, and wrapped with a bow. Participants see it through the straw of their existence and, in the case of more senior leaders, the sum of the straws of their subordinates.

Gun position on Elsenborn Ridge

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by John on Dec 20, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Historical Stuff


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by John on Dec 20, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | I think it's funny!

December 19, 2006

H&I* Fires, 19 DEC 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. [Admittedly, I'm fibbing. Trackbacks are still broken]

You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...


Today my client and I enter the lions den (or Viper Pit) of the Pentagon. However, we fear not, for we are armed with Data, and securely wrapped in the Armor of our Righteousness! We shall overcome. And the checks are already cashed and we know our tickets outta here tonight are good.

Snerk - scary right-wing fiction! Of course, all lefty fiction is simply reasoned extraction of trendlines...

If it all sounds a little strange and crazed, that's because it is. The right's sleep of reason is bringing forth dark, futuristic political thrillers.

This is not the first time literature has performed such a trick. The Cold War years inspired plenty of nuclear nightmare fiction, and the environmentalism boom produced hundreds of chillers about overpopulation, melting ice caps and worse. Before he was visited by extraterrestrials (or was struck by the vision of a giant advance) "Communion" author Whitley Strieber churned out "Warday" and "Nature's End," Bible-sized entries in the Armageddon and Enviro-geddon genres, respectively.

Nuclear scare and environmental disaster fiction played off fears that seemed very real. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' "Left Behind" books hinge on an event — the Rapture — that millions of readers believe could happen literally at any moment.

But the new genre of culture war and terror war novel is different. In "Prayers for the Assassin," an awful and believable event — coordinated nuclear attacks on American cities, with Israeli terrorists framed as the culprits — kick-starts a future that's too ridiculous to be fearsome. Egged on by Hollywood celebrities, millions of Americans convert to Islam. Families haul their kids to the thrill rides at Palestine Adventures. Battleships are renamed for Osama bin Laden.

It sounds like satire, but here's the funny part: Ferrigno is serious. Promoting the book on its official website, the author intones that "the possibility of such events transpiring only adds to the power of the book." Americans giving up the cross for the crescent, skipping Ruby Tuesday's during Ramadan? Why not? It could happen if, as Ferrigno warns, people are "weakened internally by dissent, economic malaise and a consumer culture hostile to people's genuine thirst for meaning in their lives."

Read the rest here.

Julian Barnes writes in the LA Times:

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military's new counterinsurgency doctrine takes issue with some key strategies that American commanders in Iraq continue to use, most notably the practice of concentrating combat forces in massive bases rather than dispersing them among the population. The 282-page counterinsurgency field manual, unveiled Friday, seeks to bring together the best practices in fighting sustained insurgencies that the United States has learned during the Iraq war. It also lists tactics that have tripped up American forces, such as trying to make local security forces act like the U.S. military and overemphasizing killing or capturing enemies rather than providing for the safety of the population.

Although the military has moved away from some of these tactics, others are widely used in Iraq. Most special operations forces in Iraq spend the bulk of their time and resources trying to kill or capture Al Qaeda members and insurgents. But the manual says the best use of those troops is not hunting enemies but training Iraqi security forces or police.

This would be the manual that LTG Petraeus directed the making of (this point for those who think Petraeus was sent here for being a bad boy and dissenting). He does dissent, obviously - and has just published his points of dissent. Which doesn't mean he was being punished... Like a copy? Click here.

I gotta get to breakfast and then a briefing. See ya later. -the Armorer

For the Geek/Sci Fi nut in you Blackfive has a short post that has prompted some serious, and some hysterical comments.

*prepares old Muppets voice*
Maariiiinnne'sss in Space!

Source of said ideaology stems from a recent Popular Science article

I reiterate from comments at B5: Always remember your equipment was made by the lowest bidder. Now have a nice flight.......


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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Dec 19, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | General Commentary

The MSM, Arbiters of All That Is Right, and Wrong.

Just trust us.

Interesting OP-Ed by Martin Kaplan in today's LA Times.

Some snippets...

Does Iraq need more debate? We've had plenty of shouting matches on the war; what we need are better leaders and more capable media. By Martin Kaplan, MARTIN KAPLAN is associate dean of the USC Annenberg School, where he directs the Norman Lear Center ( December 19, 2006

EVERYONE SAYS WE need a national debate on Iraq. Left, right, politicos, pundits, editorial writers, academics. If ever there was a universally held position, it's the belief that holding a national debate on Iraq is just the thing for what ails us in the Middle East.

But what would a national debate on anything really look like? How would it be any different from what we're already doing now? Imagine the elements of a national debate on Iraq, and then ask whether what's going on today fits the bill.

Analysts offering opposing views on television shows? Check. Dueling Op-Ed pieces? Check. Senators and representatives making floor speeches? Check. Presidential candidates staking out positions, and critics taking them on? Check. Magazines and journals offering thoughtful, conflicting takes? Check. A take-no-prisoners brawl in the blogosphere? Check. Public opinion polls? You can't go to the restroom without tripping over a new one. Thousands of people in the streets? Well, it's not like the Vietnam era — without a draft, it won't ever be — but plenty of cities have seen plenty of passionate marchers.

So why, despite all appearances of actually having a national debate right now, do people keep insisting that we mount one?

Perhaps it's because the mainstream media are too timid to declare the difference between right and wrong. Imagine if journalism consisted of more than a collage of conflicting talking points. Imagine the difference it would make if more brand-name reporters broke from the bizarre straitjacket of "balance," which equates fairness with putting all disputants on equal epistemological footing, no matter how deceitful or moronic they may be.

There's a market for news that weighs counterclaims and assesses truth value. It just hasn't kept up with demand. No wonder Jon Stewart has such a loyal audience: He has a point of view, and it's rooted in the reality-based — not the ideology-based — world.

And... he's on Comedy Central. Jon Stewart, reality-based. Yessir. Gottit. No ideology there. Snerk.

Maybe we don't need a national debate. Maybe what we really need are leaders with more character, followers with more discrimination, deciders who hear as well as listen and media that know the difference between the public interest and what the public is interested in. National debates nicely fulfill the circus part of the bread-and-circuses formula of modern public life. Like psychoanalysis, national debates are basically interminable. And in our postmodern era, they do a nice job substituting for the hard work of actually figuring out what's true and what's good.

Martin certainly reveals his bias in this piece. Which is fine - it's an Op-Ed for heaven's sakes. But I'm rather guessing (and this might be unfair) that Mr. Kaplan has in mind Dan's Memo's... as a measure of journalistic truth-telling.

Actually, point-by-point, I agree, and on the issue of leaders and followers, have said so in this space. I find it interesting that Mr. Kaplan tosses the blogs to the wolves (good lord, if *anyplace* exists with shrill evocations of right or wrong, it's the blogs) and essentially argues that only the MSM can fill this role. But, since Mr. Kaplan is "associate dean of the USC Annenberg School, where he directs the Norman Lear Center" I'm not surprised.

Read the whole thing here (though, frankly, it's as overwritten and anything Ry and I have ever done, and the snippets pretty much get the bit). Go look - tell me if the parts I left out materially affect anything.

Ah, for the glory days, eh, Mr. Kaplan? When Walter held forth magisterially from his anchor desk, and we peons just listened to our betters.

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by John on Dec 19, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Politics


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*Typo fixed

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by John on Dec 19, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | I think it's funny!

A joke!

We need a joke. Well, it's a joke if you like Gutfield. If you're like the HuffPo Denizens who *don't* like Gutfield... well, let's face it, you aren't reading this stuff anyway, so what's it matter?

A man walked into a very high-tech bar. As he sat down on a stool he noticed that the bartender was a robot. The robot clicked to attention and asked, "Sir, what will you have?"

The man thought a moment then replied? "A martini, please". The robot clicked a couple of times and mixed the best martini the man had ever had.

The robot then asked, "Sir, what is your IQ?"

The man answered "oh, about 164."

The robot then proceeded to discuss the 'theory of relativity' 'inter-stellar space travel', 'the latest medical breakthroughs', etc...

The man was most impressed. He left the bar but thought he would try a different tack. He returned and took a seat. Again the robot clicked and asked what he would have. "A Martini please?" Again it was superb . The robot again asked "What is your IQ sir?"

This time the man answered, "Oh, about 100". So the robot started discussing Nascar racing, the latest basketball scores, and what to expect the Dodgers to do this week end.

The guy had to try it one more time. So he left, returned and took a stool.... Again a martini, and the question, "What is your IQ?" This time the man drawled out " Uh..... bout 50"..??

The robot clicked then leaned close and very slowly asked ,

"A-r-e y-o-u-r p-e-o-p-l-e g-o-i-n-g t-o n-o-m-i-n-a-t-e H-i-l-l-a-r-y-?

H/t Cotillionites SWWBO (who got it from) CalTechGirl.

Speaking of Cotillionites - I just realized we were a Cotillion Sandwich in our category of the Weblog Awards.... I'd link, except their linkage stuff isn't working either... it's a disease, I tell ya.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 19, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | I think it's funny!

Maggie, maggie....


You can dress the gurl up, but take her out at your own risk!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 19, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | I think it's funny!

19 December 1944

26TH Infantry area near Butgenbach. Troops positioning antitank gun.

Company officers commanding troops facing the enemy had been carefully briefed to avoid the word "withdrawal" in final instructions to their men. This was to be "a move to new positions"; all were to walk, not run. Col. Leland W. Skaggs' 741St Tank Battalion, tank destroyers from the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and the 2d Division engineers would form a covering force in the villages, laying mines and beating off any attempt at "pursuit." Disengagement was made from left to right, "stripping" the 2d Division line from Rocherath to Wirtzfeld. First, the 2d Battalion of the 38th Infantry pulled out of the north edge of Rocherath; the 1st Battalion, deployed in both villages, followed; the 3d Battalion tacked on at Krinkelt. A half hour later, just as the Germans moved into Rocherath, Company C of the 644th and Company B of the 741st hauled out, the tanks carrying the engineers. The move through Wirtzfeld, now in flames, brought the 38th under German guns and resulted in some casualties and confusion, but at 0200 on 20 December the rear guard tank platoon left Wirtzfeld and half an hour later the 9th Infantry passed through the new lines occupied by the 38th Infantry a thousand yards west of the village.

Read more about that day here.

Wrecked German Panzer IV

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 19, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Historical Stuff

December 18, 2006

H&I* Fires, 18 DEC 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. [Admittedly, I'm fibbing. Trackbacks are still broken]

You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...


I'm in DC today and tomorrow, helping my client convince his bankers that the product of the funding they provided is worth well in excess of what they paid for it. Seeing as how they've already funded another year's work on a new study, this shouldn't be too hostile of an audience. One hopes. I'm here to back him up and to defend the wargaming and resultant analysis, if needs be.

Denizen Murray wants us to know New Zealand is present in Iraq, if only as represented by individual effort, vice national policy. And that such presence has a cost.

In Afghanistan, old habits die hard, absent the lopping sword or choking noose of theTaliban (and look how fast old habits resurfaced). Amply illustrating the difficulties in effecting cultural change. Something to consider as we decide how to proceed with the GWOT. If we're going to proceed from the assumption of a long war... do we understand just how long it's going to be?

Speaking of Afstan:

"Suddenly, two huge explosions shook the night. And on the other side of the river to the north, where a moment earlier two men had been crouching down preparing the rocket, there was nothing left but the craters where the shells fired by the Leopard tank had detonated."

CAPT H sends us this: Sniping with HESH. That ought to make MajMike all funny in the pants. What? Oh. High Explosive Squash Head.
Yep. And the squash head does not refer to the target. I'll let the tankers explain, just because it will no doubt be fun to read. -the Armorer


Hiding in Time's "Person of the Year" edition is a section called Power to the People, 15 profiles of people of the digital world. And one of those people is MilBlogs' own Wordsmith at War. - FbL


It must be Leak Day at the Pentagon and CIA. CIA and Special Operations are clashing. Hmm... Interesting, but somehow I doubt this is anything new. More CIA vs. Pentagon here. - FbL


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Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Dec 18, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | General Commentary


Fun, but dang the cost of feeding this sucker!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 18, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | I think it's funny!

Iraq's Economy and the American Presence

[Castle Denizen FbL here. A political rant welled up in me late last night and I had to find an appropriate place to vent it. UPDATE: I've changed the paragraph before the second quote to better convey what I meant.]

I heard partisan pundits after the elections say it was going to happen, that now that the Democrats were in power we would start to read more stories about the good things in Iraq. But I my desire to try to believe the best of people made me disregard those pundits. They were right. Check out this amazing piece of reporting from MSNBC, keeping in mind that this has only begun to happen since November, of course (/sarcasm):

Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006. The World Bank has it lower: at 4 percent this year. But, given all the attention paid to deteriorating security, the startling fact is that Iraq is growing at all.

...Imported goods have grown increasingly affordable, thanks to the elimination of tariffs and trade barriers. Salaries have gone up more than 100 percent since the fall of Saddam, and income-tax cuts (from 45 percent to just 15 percent) have put more cash in Iraqi pockets. "The U.S. wanted to create the conditions in which small-scale private enterprise could blossom," says Jan Randolph, head of sovereign risk at Global Insight. "In a sense, they've succeeded."

Well, you can just knock me over with a feather. I thought it was all death and destruction over there and the best thing we Americans could do for them was just get out as soon as possible, damn the consequences.

Now seriously, I'll try not to be sarcastic. I don't mean to minimize the challenges or the suffering in iraq, but the tone of the final paragraph (compared to the drumbeat of "how do we get out of Iraq as soon as logistically possible" that we've been hearing in so much of the media) is startling:

In a business climate that is inhospitable, to say the least, companies like Iraqna are thriving. The withdrawal of a certain great power could drastically reduce the foreign money flow, and knock the crippled economy flat.

And meanwhile, we get "leadership" like this from the new head of the Senate:
"If the commanders on the ground said this [increase in troop strength] is just for a short period of time, we'll go along with that," said Reid, D-Nev., citing a time frame such as two months to three months. But a period of 18 months to 24 months would be too long, he said.

Oh, so "we'll give the commanders on the ground just some of what they want because we can meet them halfway?" Or maybe they're just feeling magnanimous. But it's a good thing we have such military experts as Senator Reid to tell our generals what is wise (Sorry, there goes that sarcasm again).
"The American people will not allow this war to go on as it has. It simply is a war that will not be won militarily. It can only be won politically," Reid said.

Well, if that's true, that why is he willing to "go along with" the commanders for even "two months to three months" of putting more soldiers at risk? How barbaric to sacrifice even a single warrior in something that "will not be won militarily!" Now, I agree that utimate success hinges on political machinations in Iraq, but that's not the context Reid is speaking in. Rather, he's using it to justify not putting in the military effort that could allow room for the necessary political growth.

Everytime I try to be positive about the professionalism and sliver of integrity that I dream exists among our politicians and media, I end up sorely disappointed. You'd think I would learn not to have any more positive expectations... - FbL

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by Denizens on Dec 18, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Politics

December 18, 1944 Pacific

Those who go down to the sea in ships know that the ocean is a dangerous and fickle place.

Today in 1944, a typhoon severely battered Task Force 38, resulting in the loss of three destroyers and damage to numerous other vessels.

On 17 December 1944, the ships of Task Force 38, seven fleet and six light carriers, eight battleships, 15 cruisers, and about 50 destroyers were operating about 300 miles east of Luzon in the Philippine Sea. The carriers had just completed three days of heavy raids against Japanese airfields, suppressing enemy aircraft during the American amphibious operations against Mindoro in the Philippines. Although the sea had been becoming rougher all day, the nearby cyclonic disturbance gave relatively little warning of its approach. On 18 December, the small but violent typhoon overtook the Task Force while many of the ships were attempting to refuel. Many of the ships were caught near the center of the storm and buffeted by extreme seas and hurricane force winds. Three destroyers, USS Hull, USS Spence, and USS Monaghan, capsized and went down with practically all hands, while a cruiser, five aircraft carriers, and three destroyers suffered serious damage. Approximately 790 officers and men were lost or killed, with another 80 injured. Fires occurred in three carriers when planes broke loose in their hangars and some 146 planes on various ships were lost or damaged beyond economical repair by fires, impact damage, or by being swept overboard. This storm inflicted more damage on the Navy than any storm since the hurricane at Apia, Samoa in 1889. In the aftermath of this deadly storm, the Pacific Fleet established new weather stations in the Caroline Islands and, as they were secured, Manila, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In addition, new weather central offices (for coordinating data) were established at Guam and Leyte.

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Structure of a typhoon captured by a Navy ship's radar. This storm was the second tropical storm to ever be observed on radar.

In the event, the Navy decided not to cashier anyone over the decision to not sail around the storm - but it was a near run thing.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 18, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Historical Stuff

December 18, 1944 Europe.

German Panther burning after being knocked out - with surviving crewman becoming a prisoner (ain't he glad this was in the West, and not the East...

The Defense of the Twin Villages 18 December

The German attempt to take Krinkelt and Rocherath during the night of 17-18 December had not been well coordinated, carried out as it was by the advance guards of two divisions attacking piecemeal in the dark over unknown terrain against resistance which was completely surprising. By the morning of 18 December, however, the enemy strength had increased substantially despite the miserable state of the woods roads leading to the twin villages. The 989th Regiment of the 277th Volks Grenadier Division (probably reinforced by a third battalion) had reached Rocherath. The 12th SS Panzer Division, whose tanks and armored infantry carriers made extremely slow progress on the muddy secondary roads quickly chewed up by churning tracks-was able by dawn to assemble the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, an assault gun battalion, and one full tank battalion east of the villages. During the 18th this force was strengthened by one more tank battalion, the final armored commitment being about equally divided between Panther tanks and the heavy Tigers.

26th Infantry moving up to Butgenbach

I had the honor, while a battery commander, to be mentored by BG(R) Seitz, the officer who commanded the 26th Infantry.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 18, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Historical Stuff

December 17, 2006

H&I* Fires, 17 DEC 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite.

You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...


Newly discovered footage of a dogfight over Australia...

Heh. We're Time Magazine's Person of the Year. Literally. Wow. That's like, twice now I've made it! And if you're reading this - you made it too! About the only person in my family who didn't make it was... Mom. Everybody else uses the net. Mom still prefers the television. S'okay. She's still more important to me than the opinions of those yahoos at Time.

Jules does a pretty good job of skewering Senator Kerry. -the Armorer


I'm sure John is busy with pre-Christmas activities, and the Denizen blogroll is again not updating automatically, so I thought I'd do a manual check on what's keeping the Denizens occupied... - FbL

SWWBO points us to the Amazing, Truly Awesome Akiane. You gotta see this!

AFSis requests, "Let me... entertain you..."

On the military side, The Torch points us to coverage of French, German, and UK activities in Afghanistan, and FbL shares a moment of Naval and photographic zen.

BCR isn't as worried about terrorists as some people are:

They show a consistent inability to think in a different way even if that's the only way to remain hidden and succeed in their attack. That's what an ossifying culture will do for you, and since they can't change that without risking other dangerous changes and letting in the evil forces of Micky Mouse and uncovered meat in general they don't dare. Bwahahaha.
She also reports that she's survived the latest storm ravaging the Northwest and has become a member of the local aristocracy: People With Power.

Princess Crabby reminds us to Practice, practice, practice! And apparentlyBarb and Abe Lincoln have something in common.

On the serious side, Trias digs into the "War on Christmas" issue and shares his thoughts. And Cassandra has a great essay on free will versus the desire to protect. It's well worth a read, if you haven't yet.

Alan is gonna sell stuff. I think. Maybe. Regardless, it's an interesting post...

Jack shares a Christmas memory and Rammer discovers the joy of earplugs, while The Beer Blog has beer recommendations... for breakfast.

U.S.S. John Rodgers is inching closer to returning home.

And last but not least, Murray takes on the able-bodied Canadian Kiwi handicapped parking hogs.


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by Denizens on Dec 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | General Commentary

17 December, 1944.

German troops advancing past wrecked US equipment, a 3inch anti-tank gun and it's burning M3 Half-track prime mover.  From a captured German newsreel.

The German Effort Continues 17-18 December

Although hard hit and in serious trouble at the end of the first day, particularly on the right flank as General Lauer saw it, the inexperienced 99th Division had acquitted itself in a manner calculated to win the reluctant admiration of the enemy. German losses had been high. Where the American lines had been penetrated, in the 393d and 394th sectors, the defenders simply had been overwhelmed by superior numbers of the enemy who had been able to work close in through the dense woods. Most important of all, the stanch defense of Losheimergraben had denied the waiting tank columns of the I SS Panzer Corps direct and easy entrance to the main Büllingen-Malmédy road.

The initial German failure to wedge an opening for armor through the 99th, for failure it must be reckoned, was very nearly balanced by the clear breakthrough achieved in the 14th Cavalry Group sector. The 3d Parachute Division, carrying the left wing of the I SS Panzer Corps forward, had followed the retreating cavalry through Manderfeld, swung north, and by dusk had troops in Lanzerath-only two kilometers from the 3d Battalion, 394th, position at Buchholz.

The 12th SS Panzer Division could not yet reach the Büllingen road. The 1st SS Panzer Division stood ready and waiting to exploit the opening made by the 3d Parachute Division by an advance via Lanzerath onto the Honsfeld road. During the early evening the advance kampfgruppe of the 1st SS Panzer Division, a task force built around the 1st SS Panzer Regiment (Obersturmbannfuehrer Joachim Peiper), rolled northwest to Lanzerath. At midnight-an exceptionally dark night-German tanks and infantry struck suddenly at Buchholz. The two platoons of Company K, left there when the 3d Battalion stripped its lines to reinforce the Losheimergraben defenders, were engulfed. One man, the company radio operator, escaped. Hidden in the cellar of the old battalion command post near the railroad station, he reported the German search on the floor above, then the presence of tanks outside the building with swastikas painted on their sides. His almost hourly reports, relayed through the 1st Battalion, kept the division headquarters informed of the German movements. About 0500 on 17 December the main German column began its march through Buchholz. Still at his post, the radio operator counted thirty tanks, twenty-eight half-tracks filled with German infantry, and long columns of foot troops marching by the roadside. All of the armored task force of the 1st SS Panzer Division and a considerable part of the 3d Parachute Division were moving toward Honsfeld.

Honsfeld, well in the rear area of the 99th, was occupied by a variety of troops. The provisional unit raised at the division rest camp seems to have been deployed around the town. Two platoons

Read the rest, here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Historical Stuff

Simply the *best* comment ever posted at Castle Argghhh.

I'm prejudiced, I admit, having been the child in this comment when it was my family's turn to do this during Vietnam. Homefront Six left this comment on my Whattaya Want For Christmas post. I know if we were in Hawaii today, we'd be helping put up Christmas decorations.

I would like a better answer to my daughter's comment that she misses her daddy besides "me too, baby. Me too." *sigh*

A winning lottery ticket would be nice. I'm not greedy - 5 zeros would be acceptable. A fast forward button on life? That would be kind of nice. Just to get us to July-ish.

I'd like to not be a single parent for a little while. I'd like to sleep the sleep that you sleep when you're not the ONLY adult in the house, responsible for the health, welfare, and spiritual guidance of 2 children who depend on you wholeheartedly. I'd like to have someone to sit with on the couch at the end of the day and just BE with. I'd like to have someone here to help me put up Christmas decorations.

Honestly, though, I do not want for much. My family is safe (relatively speaking) and healthy (well, physically at least!). We have a good church family here and good friends throughout the world that love us and pray for us like we love them and pray for them. We have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and the freedom to do as we please. That pretty much covers it.

Though snow would be nice ;~) Gosh, I miss snow!!!

Mele Kalikimaka!

I will say this - HFS is doing this better than we did when Dad went to Vietnam. We were isolated with little to no contact with the military community, a decision that in retrospect probably made things harder. No one around us had any idea of what it was like, and some were covertly hostile, though none had the courage to be open.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Something for the Soul

Canadian Air Force Deliberately Unloads on US Positions in Afghanistan.

Bill and Dusty could relate to these guys, methinks.

The Hercules twists and turns through the mountain canyon. The gritty mountainsides seem to press in on either side of the wingtips. We run so close to the edges that paths across the hills are clearly visible to the naked eye. A Taliban fighter with a strong arm could probably hit the Hercules with a stone.

This is an aircraft nearly the size of a Boeing 737 thundering along a narrow pass between soaring peaks. For a passenger, it's like racing in an Air Canada flight between the skyscrapers on Bay Street in downtown Toronto.

Then it's time to retreat back up to the clouds. The captain pulls the plane into an abrupt, steep climb that buckles the knees of anyone standing upright. Arms and legs, even the head, become impossibly heavy.

Moments later, the plane levels off. The flight is once again calm and level. The crew is elated.

The first officer, Captain Victor Mota of Toronto, says this is the kind of intense, demanding flying he could never find working for a commercial airline.

The risks are high, but so are the professional and personal rewards of accomplishing tough missions against formidable odds.

"It's just awesome," he says.

There's a little bit of R.E. Lee in Captain Mota, as indeed there is in most career soldiers. Read the rest of the story here. H/t, CAPT H.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0) | Global War on Terror (GWOT)