Saturday, April 30, 2005

Weapons inspector falsifies own WMD report! 
From the Associated Press:

CIA's Final Report: No WMD in Iraq

In his final word, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq said Monday that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has “gone as far as feasible” and has found nothing, closing an investigation into the purported programs of Saddam Hussein that were used to justify the 2003 invasion.

“After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD-related detainees has been exhausted,” wrote Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, in an addendum to the final report he issued last fall.

My take:

Bullshit. Charles Duelfer himself said that his team had uncovered "10 or 12 mustard and sarin rounds" last June.

They didn't just magically appear out of the earth. Did Duelfer accept a bribe or something? Was he lying then? Or is he lying now? What gives?

What's amazing is that the editors at the Washington Post aren't following the story close enough to remember that Duelfer had already 1.) falsified their headline and 2.) falsified the substance of his own report. If, that is, they managed to characterize the report accurately.

Splash, out


Don't forget... 
This is the kind of people we are fighting.

And don't forget that some on the left want to break off the engagement and go home.

Other treasonous collaborating souls are rooting actively for the terrorists.

Others are cowards, who lose their nerve at the first setback, even as the groundwork has been laid for success, and are all to eager to sell out the Iraqi people as they take their first chance at freedom.

It's also important to remember who's side we're really on.

Splash, out


Zarqawi's computer came loaded with porn. 

Not that that surprises me. And you know, it would be unchristian of me to say he's a bad person on that basis, ya know? I mean, I'm just sayin'.

At any rate, Zarqawi's organization is one that lies to its own recruits and tricks them into becoming suicide bombers, while Zarqawi gets to save his rancid jackal-ass for another day. So it's not as if this guy isn't a huge hypocrite - as is any rat bag who purports to slander the name of Islam by killing and torturing in The Prophet's name.

Is it misinformation? Well, maybe, but I doubt it. Pornography is readily available in Iraq. If we were going to engage in a misinformation campaign like that, we sure as heck didn't have to wait until after we captured Zarqawi's laptop to put that out.

Hell, if we REALLY wanted to do a disinformation campaign, we could have let slip that he's gay, and then simply let strict-constructionist adherents of Sharia law dow our dirty work for us by toppling a wall on his head.

Splash, out


Update: You can see the graphic, vile images that Zarqawi collected here. Not for the prudish or faint-hearted.

When in command, take command!: Thoughts on mobilization 
The Army Times reports that an Iowa National Guard commander is unhappy with the premobilizaton training that occured at Fort Hood, Texas in 2004.

An Iowa Army National Guard commander has complained that incompetent training and other problems at an Army base in Texas last year shortchanged his unit’s preparations for combat in Iraq, according to a report obtained by The Des Moines Register.
Capt. Aaron Baugher, whose detachment was the first Iowa infantry unit trained at Fort Hood before being deployed to Iraq, wrote in an “after-action report” that the 2004 training “was of very little value and poorly instructed” by soldiers who typically had never served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Baugher’s unit of 58 soldiers, the 194th Long-Range Surveillance Detachment, returned to Iowa in late February after nearly a year in Iraq.

“Having been in Iraq . . . conducting combat operations on a wide spectrum, we can confidently say we did not learn a thing at Fort Hood,” Baugher wrote.

The article goes on to complain about some non-training-related items, like poor amenities for the troops and pay problems.

I've never been to Fort Hood. But I can weigh in with this: It was not Fort Hood's job to train CPT Baugher's soldiers. It was CPT Baugher's.

Part of the problem: A 58-man detachment mobilizing separately is too small. The commander of a detachment this size does not have a dedicated Battalion staff to provide the interface between the post and the command, allowing the commander to put his focus where it needs to be: On training. Had this detachment been mobilized as part of a larger command, the commander could have voiced his concerns to the Battalion staff - which exists to support him - and then gone back to his troops and ensured that the level of training was what he wanted.

Also, as a mere captain acting alone, he did not have the rank it would have required to cut through the mobilization center BULLSHIT and shake the place out of complacency. Mobilization centers are commanded by colonels and LTC's, but they are RUN by Majors. And if training was substandard, this captain was on his own, and had little recourse if a major on the mobilization center staff was providing poor service.

Now, had this detachment mobilized as part of a battalion, or brigade, he would have been able to go directly to a lieutenant colonel to find recourse to his problems. The colonel could have delegated the task to the S-3, another major, who could have a heart-to-heart with the mobilization center advisor. ("Look, Jim...I've got a problem" is a totally different conversation than "Look, sir, I've got a problem.)

Meanwhile, the Operations Sergeant Major and the Battalion command sergeant major could have been doing all kinds of troubleshooting behind the scenes, discussing instructors and instructor preparation class by class.

If that didn't work, the battalion commander could have gone in and said, "Look, this battalion has only one commander, and it's not you. And THIS is the training concept I am going to implement in this battalion/brigade. Period. Now, here is the support we require from you."

And if that doesn't work, a phone call from Brigade commander to post commander can work wonders.

But this unit, a separate detachment, apparently cut off from the support of the National Guard chain of command and from the Iowa National Guard's state headquarters, seems to have been left out to dry.

Was training substandard? I don't know. I know that sometimes the real basic classes are what soldiers need most. (Especially with a reconnaisance unit that operates in very small teams. Individual and crew-level skills are paramount there, and collective training, even though it's more fun for officers to plan, are simply not as prominent part of the equation as they are for a unit that routinely operates in company sized elements).

This unit should NOT have been deployed with 12-series radios, though. I don't know what the radios they had on hand were, but if they weren't frequency hopping, then sending them into Iraq was a violation of more OPSEC policies than I care to name.

Again, though, had they mobilized with a larger element, the battalion staff could have cross-leveled communications gear and solved the problem quickly. The bottom line: Every unit needs an advocate on site at the mob center: Preferably a Guard officer or SGM who serves with that unit back home, and is plugged into the family support group network and who has the experience and gravitas to go face to face with any active duty officer in the mob center and say "look, I need this fixed."

And where possible, companies should not mobilize alone. Even CSS units, who often operate as separate companies, should be attached to a mobilizing unit and made their responsibility, so that they have access to the support of a battalion or brigade national guard staff. The company commander can always go direct to the mob center as a backup.

Ok, so maybe the Captain could have been more proactive in training his troops. But mob centers and active duty troops who are so lousy they get left behind running mob centers during war, tend to be pretty efficient at discouraging initiative on the part of mobilizing unit leaders. (And that, my dear Army whom I love very much, ought to be addressed!)

Oh, by the way, Fort Hood..it was no secret that these barracks were going to be used by a lot of people in the winter of 2003-2004 as the Army geared up for OIF II.

These soldiers are not kids. They aren't basic trainees who need to learn the value of suffering. Many of these soldiers were experienced professionals who know what the Army living standard is and how the Army treats its active duty soldiers. You know, like these mobilized guardsmen. And they know when the active component is sticking a thumb in soldiers' eyes.

We had two years to plan this. Was putting some frigging heat in the barracks just too much to ask????

Splash, out


Man arrested for spending old currency 

I think the fast food restaurant and the Sherriff's department both have some culpability here. Someone employed as a cashier should have reasonable currency recognition training. If not, then the store manager should be expected to be able to recognize legal tender in the U.S., or at least have the general fund of information to know that the appearance of currencies change over time.

And the Sherriff's department should NOT have detained the man to verify that the currency was real. If they do not have probable cause or a reasonable basis to believe that the currency was counterfeit, then they had no reason to hold the guy. The burden of proof ought to be on the Sherriff's department, not on the citizen.

And "I'm just an ignorant moron who didn't know that Franklin wasn't always that big" does not seem to amount to probable cause.

Splash, out


A look at New York Times' sourcing 
A reader writes in with an astute observation about this New York Times article:

"Since when are Marine corps corporals considered "intelligence experts?"

Good question. An E-4 organic to a line company is not going to be an "intelligence expert" by any stretch of the imagination. He has a secret clearance, most likely, but so does every RTO and 2nd Lieutenant in theater.

If he were in fact an intelligence "expert" he could have gotten his hands on some better imagery while in theater.

Now, it does say he's now working for the DIA, but the story doesn't mention what it is he does. For all we know, he's Dilbert. He may have a proficiency with a certain substrata of intelligence research. But not every 1-year rookie at the DIA constitutes an "intelligence expert," either.

I mean, when the Times' financial desk needs an expert quote about retirement plans, do the call the trainee's desk at Merrill Lynch and ask to talk to the junior broker?

Now, if the New York Times is so clueless they can interview any Joe Schmoe E-4 in theater and call him an "expert," well, that explains quite a bit, doesn't it?

Splash, out


The hole in the car bombing story 
Cori Dauber notes that one of the car bombs in yesterday's attacks was an explosives-packed ambulance, and says "no report should have left out this detail."

The New York Times, natch, left out that detail.

Splash, out


The moral equivocators at the New York Times... 
...Are once again gracing the brutal terrorist tactics of Al Qaeda and their Ba'athish band of orc associates as the acts of "Rebels."

Yeah, you know. Like Obi Wan Kenobi.

I have no idea why people still take this newspaper seriously.

What in the world do you have to do to qualify for the term "terrorist" at the New York Times?

Splash, out


Friday, April 29, 2005

How to lie with a headline: 13WHAM TV in Rochester caught openly decieving 
Here's the headline:

Poll: U.S. to Bush: Pull out of Iraq.

Now here's the United Press International story:

The top piece of advice Americans would give President Bush is to pull out of the war in Iraq, a poll released Thursday indicated.

Nearly a quarter of respondents to a Gallup Poll said that if they had 15 minutes to talk to the president they would tell him to end the war in Iraq, making it the No. 1 response.

That's right: This "poll" (don't even get me started on the idiotic design) found that not even 15% of respondents are advocating that Bush pull out of Iraq, but it gets played up in the headline like some groundswell of opinion.

These news organizations are just getting vile, aren't they? I mean, these scuzzwads don't even bother to attempt to hide it anymore.

Splash, out


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Imagery usage 
More from the recent NY Times article on Echo company, 2nd Bn, 4th Marine Regiment:

Even some maps they were given to plan raids were several years old, showing farmland where in fact there were homes, said a company intelligence expert, Cpl. Charles V. Lauersdorf, who later went to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency. There, he discovered up-to-date imagery that had not found its way to the front lines.


What in God's name were they using maps for, when the good Lord hath provided them with satellite photographs showing just about every building, and which were on disc and so you could zoom in on any building, put your cursor on it, and get an 8 digit grid, which you could confirm using a GPS system and driving out in front of the target building sometime before game day?

Also, if you're planning a deliberate raid, you don't even have to settle for the satellite imagery. Do a bit of planning and you can get a Kiowa helicopter to take a series of daylight photographs of the target house and surrounding area from a variety of different perspectives, and you can get them almost up to the hour.

Sometimes we could get live imagery from some pilotless drones in the area, though that took a bit of planning. But you can get those drone imagery analysts/technicians to set up their monitors right in the TOC.

I'm surprised imagery was a problem. We used satellite photos almost exclusively, with grid lines superimposed on the photograph, and we could print out as many copies as we felt we could control.

Something's wrong with this picture. Either the New York Times isn't telling the story right, or they're relying on sources who don't know what they're talking about, or there was a serious breakdown in communications between the 1st Brigade, 1st ID TOC and S-2 shop and the 2-4th Marines.

I know the 1st ID had the same intel imagery we had because I saw the photos hanging in on the 1-1ID TOC, and we were exchanging graphic information via secure email and via thumb drive almost daily, anyway.

Something here is just not computing.

Splash, out


What do you have to do to qualify for the term "terrorist?" 
From CBS News:
An Iraqi legislator was shot and killed by militants who stormed into her house in a middle class neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, underscoring fears that the political impasse has emboldened insurgents to step up deadly attacks in recent weeks, after a lull following the Jan. 30 elections.

Lamia Abed Khadouri al-Sakri, who was elected to the National Assembly on the ticket of Allawi's Iraqi List party, was shot and killed by militants in her house in Baghdad's Hay Aur neighborhood, police Capt. Ali al-Obeidi said.

She was the first member of the parliament elected on Jan. 30 to be slain by insurgents as they target senior lawmakers and Iraqi politicians in a bid to further destabilize reconstruction efforts in the country.

Militants? Insurgents? This woman was a democratically elected representative of the people of Iraq, gunned down in cold blood in her own home. She was in no way a military target. Her death had no military value.

Why are these reporters and editors so scared of calling it what it is? There is no way that these real-life orcs who murdered her can be described as anything other than terrorists.

Splash, out


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

NY Times Editorial Board Passing on a Lie 
The Times editorial board is passing on a simply outrageous falsehood in today's editorial, "Losing Ground in Iraq.

To wit:

The only plausible reason for keeping American troops in Iraq is to protect the democratic transformation that President Bush seized upon as a rationale for the invasion after his claims about weapons of mass destruction turned out to be fictitious.

That statement is easily falsified by looking at 1.) President Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address, 2.) President Bush's 2002 address to the United Nations, and 3.) The long list of rationales for the congressional use-of-force authorization, only two of which even mentioned WMDs. Each of these three public statements of U.S. policy specifically advocated a democratic transformation, all of which were articulated well before the war, at the highest levels of government, in the most public fashion possible.

It is clear, and the historical record shows, that a democratic transformation of Iraq was part and parcel of the reasoning to go to war from the very beginning.

An intellectually honest editorial board, or one with even passing familiarity with the arguments going both ways preceding the war, would have recognized that. Unfortunately, the rigorous "fact-checking" processes at the New York Times -- the same ones that can't tell a Medal of Honor from a songwriter's award - apparently don't involve going back and looking over the primary documents before furthering this embarrassing meme.

Splash, out


Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds

Correlation v. Causality Department 
As if we needed more evidence that reporters just don't get it, here's a headline from the Houston Chronicle:



Gee, ya think there's a connection here? Think about it. Think about it reeeeeeaaaallll hard.

But that's just the headline. Look at the idiotic sourcing!

*Malcolm Young, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which promotes "alternatives to prison."

*The Justice Policy Institute, which advocates "a more lenient system of punishment."

Apparently, not one "law and order" group was contacted for the story. And the story itself makes attempt whatsoever to connect the obvious dots between increasing incarcerations and a falling crime rate.

Splash, out


(Via Q and O)

Lest we forget... 
Passover is being observed this week.

Sixty years ago today, Allied forces were overrunning literally hundreds of concentration camps. Auschwitz was the biggest, in terms of the number of souls murdered, but Auschwitz was only the tail end of a monstrous, many-headed beast.

This guy visited dozens of camps as a tourist.

His observations are a must read.

"Never again" has no meaning unless one is willing to take up arms in order to prevent it.

Happy Birthday, Najma! 
The proprietor of A Star from Mosul just turned 17.

May your next 17 years be happier and more peaceful than your first.

Sala'am aleichem, Sayeeda.


Mistakes, Restraint, and Media Lies of Omission 
Here's Bob Herbert, disgracing the pages of the New York Times again:

The vast amount of suffering and death endured by civilians as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has, for the most part, been carefully kept out of the consciousness of the average American. I can't think of anything the Bush administration would like to talk about less. You can't put a positive spin on dead children.

Well, no it hasn't, though it's fashionable for reporters to think so. Yes, innocent people have suffered and died. But there's been no media conspiracy to hide that fact. Indeed, you can find any number of media sources and stories about that precise matter.

There was, on the other hand, a conspiracy afoot NOT to cover the horrors and abuses of Saddam's regime before the war. And CNN, by its own admission, was one of the great conspirators.

For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk....

Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers.

That's right, Herbert! You guys in the press lied to us! You lied by omission. Don't say it didn't count, because you are arguing that it counts now. I guess the news media had something better to do in 2002 and 2003. Like, you know, report on Jacko.

If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails).

Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan's monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed the threat as a madman's rant. A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed. ...

Did Saddam leave the money on the dresser when he was done using you people?

All this was true, and you kept it from us. You didn't even bother to alter the facts enough to conceal the identities of the individuals involved in the service of greater truth. No. You whored yourselves out for "access."

I can't think of anything the Bush administration would like to talk about less. You can't put a positive spin on dead children.

No. But remember, it was the Blair government who released the awful dossier on the human rights situation in Iraq before the war. Not the media. Why weren't the details of Saddam's brutality part of the public conversation before the dossier's release? Well, because the media was more interested in plying the information minister with bribes than they were in revealing the truth that they already knew.

To wit:

There is one chapter, however, that is almost worth the price of the book, a trenchant attack by John Burns of The New York Times on some in the Baghdad press corps for their failure to report the true horror of Saddam Hussein's regime before the invasion by U.S. forces.

Burns accuses unnamed correspondents of bribing Iraq officials with candlelight dinners, $600 mobile phones and "thousands of dollars" to gain access, while never mentioning the minders, the terror. "And in one case," says Burns, "a correspondent who actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories - mine included specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others." Burns adds, "He was with a major American newspaper. Yeah, it was an absolutely disgraceful performance."


Yes, but again, this omerta code of silence in the media was unbroken in public until after the war. If John Burns or other Timesmen knew that other news outlets were printing out copies of other people's stories in order to curry favor with the regime, isn't that news, too? Would you not cover it if it were Bush Administration officials doing the same thing?

Why was the truth not revealed then?

More from Bob Herbert:

There's been hardly any media interest in the unrelieved agony of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq.

Bob, what planet are you on? There's been a good deal of media interest in that. Hell, Michael Moore made a whole freakin' movie out of it. You might have heard of it! It's not that there's been a lack of media interest. It's that what media interest there's been has been utterly incompetent, blindly accepting information provided by Iraq Body Count even though it can be demostrated that 1.) It lies about its own methodology, and 2.) Lays the blame for the deaths of Shias and other Iraqis deliberately targeted by Zarqawi's terrorists at the feet, in some perversion of logic, of the United States.

But Herbert and his colleagues do not have the discernment it takes to figure that out.

The fact is, that literally dozens of major media outlets have been citing this source of information (without bothering to vet or verify a damn thing.)

I mean, does this list look like "hardly any media interest" to you?

We hear very little about the frequent instances of jittery soldiers opening fire indiscriminately, killing and wounding men, women and children who were never a threat in the first place.

Ok, Bob. HOW frequent? I mean, what the Hell do you know about it anyway? I'll guarantee you one thing: You sure as Hell don't hear about the thousands of instances in which American soldiers exercized restraint - in which they didn't fire, even though under the rules of engagement and the right to self defense they had every right to light 'em up like a Christmas tree.

This kind of restraint is the norm, Bob. The norm.

Yeah, the post I linked to describes an incident where I held my fire, and the troops I immediately controlled held their fire. But you have to realize that it was a convoy of about 40 soldiers that all held there fire at the same time.

Here's another one.

Maybe you could f***ing cover that, for a change, Bob. Because if you don't understand that, then you sure as Hell aren't equipped to understand what happens in those instances when US troops do err, and injure or maim an innocent.

By the way, Bob Herbert doesn't bother to mention who killed Marla Ruszica. He uses the passive voice to say "she was killed by a suicide bomber."

No. The passive voice is the syntactical baggage of the weenie.

Terrorists killed Marla Ruszica.

Remember that.

Splash, out


We got Zarqawi's laptop! 
MSNBC has the story here.

My review: mixed. It's great that we got the laptop and the driver. And the intelligence in it is no doubt super. Or was. Because intelligence is perishable. And the fact that we are now publicly acknowledging that yes, we do have his laptop tells me that we pretty much exhausted all the intelligence we could find thereon. And we still don't have Zarqawi.

But there's no doubt that his operations were impeded by the loss. All of a sudden, he can't use any safe houses or contacts that may have been on his laptop. Plus, we may well have been able to take out some of his sources of funding as a result of the find. The telephone numbers strike me as especially valuable. Because we can run up 1-900 charges on those numbers and Zarqawi's organisation will get stuck with the bill.

Zarqawi also has to worry about his driver turning on him for a cool $25 million. Hey, I'd think about making the deal.

I wonder how it is we zeroed in on that car?

Splash, out


Military cluelessness at CNBC 
Looks like the copy editors at MSNBC can't tell the difference between a marine and a soldier either.

P.S., why is a man under murder charges granting interviews to the press for? Is he not being well served by counsel?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Leak Smitten 
Someone has leaked a letter from a career State Department official arguing that John Bolton has none of the qualities needed for the UN Ambassadorship.

The Associated Press, however, like the unwitting tools they are, did next to no due diligence to get to the bottom of the man who authored the memo, and what his motives may be.

A couple of lawyers at Powerline, though, who actually do know what "due diligence" really means, have crafted a devastating response.

So much for journalism's professional training and superior vetting skills.

Splash, out


Leadership awards 
The military can't award sweet bonuses to their top junior management talent like private industry can. And if you don't happen to be in a war zone, nobody gives a rip about your medals.

So the military has to come up with other ways to recognize and show their appreciation for their outstanding junior leaders.

One such way is the presentation of leadership awards, such as the GySgt Matthew Garvey Award, presented to an outstanding marine selected by his peers for superior leadership skills.

Don't know what the prize is, but a lot of times it's a scholarship, and a lot of times it's not much more than bragging rights. But the knowledge that your hard work and effort has resulted in the esteem of your brothers and sisters in arms is the greatest and sweetest prize of all.

A word on Gunny Garvey: Gunnery Sergeant Garvey (that's E-7 for those of you who don't speak Jar) was an outstanding marine. Tragically, he lost his life as a firefighter on 9/11, attempting to save the lives of others in the World Trade Center.

The ANGLICO Foundation has named a leadership award in his honor. And they would like to fly members of Gunny Garvey's family out to present the award in person.

They can't use government money to do that. So they are asking for our help.


More on Humvee Armor 
A soldier with a 1st Infantry Division tank battalion weighs in here.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Could the battle handover in Ramadi have been done better? 
From a reader:

I am no military man, but I was in Mosul from March 04 to October 04, Camp
diamondback, working for KBR/Army. When I read your rebuke of the Marines that
took over your post, it reminded me of the Strykers that took over from the
101st in Mosul. Tell me what you think I heard from all kinds of people when
they compared the 101st who were leaving, to the new "strykers"? Hmmm ya,
sounded a lot like what you just wrote. Fact is no one from the states can hit
the ground running on "the rack", or what we called Iraq. No ONE. You know it,
dont deny it. But the one thing I always noted from all the KBR vets and Army
Soldiers around me, was that they took it as their responsiblity to iinform me
of my own ignorance. And they always stressed that if you have a question, ASK!
So you guys leaving and allowing the Marines to lose your Intel operation is on
you. No one but you guys. Shame on you. You knew its importance far more then
they did regardless of how arrogant they were, it was on you to pound it into
them. the biggest mistake we have made over there imho is not picking up where
those who went before left off.

Believe me, not a day goes by when we don't question that ourselves. Was there anything more we could have or should have done under the circumstances? Unfortunately, below battalion level, the answer is no, there was nothing we could have done, because the 2/4 was not all up yet by the time we finally pulled out. The two neigboring task forces collapsed on the central sector of Ramadi when we pulled out, temporarily, until the remainder of the 2/4 could be brought forward. So we really only had the ear of a few marines on the advanced party.

In theory, it would have been good to stay. But logistically, we had a timeline to meet, as well, and had to be in Kuwait on a certain day. Well, you backwards time plan your movement from there and that boils down quickly to a hard date we had to pull out of Ramadi, lock, stock, and barrel. Some elements of HHC remained a while, and there was some overlap between the 2/4's advanced guard and our departure. But our three line companies and the battalion commander and S-3 had to be wheels up on a plane from north of Baghdad before the handover was complete.

So we really could not get right-seat rides and left-seat rides down to the squad level, like you could in an ideal situation, like in training. Because in real life, logistical realities intervene, and they restrict your options severely.

Such are the realities of command in war. In concept, doing a battle handover is very simple: I do, we do, you do.

In reality, even the simplest things in war are almost always very difficult.


Is the New York Times on crack? 
A Mudville Gazette reader has a nice catch:

The visual graphic accompanying this story states that the 3/8ths inch thick armor plating on a humvee is "capable of withstanding 155mm howitzers."

Are they on fucking crack?

Splash, out


The Marines of Company E 
The Marines of Company E (the New York Times doesn't bother to tell us the parent unit, for some reason, but I want to say it was the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines...ah, yes, there it is on page 3) took over Combat Outpost, on the eastern edge of Ramadi, from the 1st Bn, 124th Infantry regiment's Charlie company, plussed up with a platoon (+) from my own Headquarters company.

I was a frequent visitor, and often spent a day or two there to visit HHC soldiers and get away from the flagpole across town.

The Marines of 2/4 took over central Ramadi from us, after a brief relief in place operation and a right-seat/left-seat ride process that was probably too short, in retrospect. The Marines were just trickling into town as we were packing up to leave, and we even encountered the 2/4's stay-behind elements in Kuwait frantically trying to scavenge anything useful they could find - especially armor.

Now the Marines are sounding off about equipment problems in the New York Times.

URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/25/international/middleeast/25marines.html?hp&ex=1114488000&en=93b6d57bb86038e0&ei=5094&partner=homepage

It doesn't surprise me that the Times is covering the story. And it deserves to be covered. But where was the Times when Brian Chontosh won his Navy Cross? MIA, that's where! And the Times has been MIA on a lot of other stories, too:


Aside from the inexplicable omission of the unit designation until three quarters of the way into a lenghty article (WTF, guys???), the Times does a reasonable job here, for a layman's effort, in profiling the challenges of Company E. The leadership challenges, though, are by far the more compelling and interesting story to me, rather than the equipment shortage story.

Believe me, the Marines rolled into Iraq far better equipped than we did. We hit the ground in Iraq with a whole headquarters company full of troops and exactly zero (0) vehicles. What's more, the vehicles we didn't have yet had canvas doors on them. Armor? What armor? We still had the old Viet Nam era soft flak vests, not the kevlar vests -- and just two desert camoflage uniforms per man (the active duty standard issue was four). Actually, the active army guys were pretty incredulous that we had no kevlar vests.

Some notes about the New York Times article:

1.) The vehicles that the 2/4 wound up with were not really inherited from the National Guard. We left with all our organic vehicles, except for the ones which had been destroyed in combat. My battalion did draw three uparmored humvees, though, which we left behind, as well as several aging 5 ton trucks. The Uparmored trucks we left behind did have IED jamming devices on them, though how effective they were I really don't know. The 5 tons were armored with kevlar skirts. Not much, but better than a kick in the teeth, if you can get the damn things to stay on.

2.) There is a reason the Marine corps was so short of vehicles, and it's not the pentagon's doing, but a decision made long ago by the Marine corps. Consider: An army light infantry company consists of three infantry platoons, a headquarters section, a mortar section, and no vehicles. But every light infantry battalion in the Army comprises three line infantry companies, a headquarters company, and an anti-tank company: Each anti-tank company consists of 4-5 anti-tank platoons with 5-6 Humvees each, armed with a mix of TOWs, Mk 19 automatic 40mm grenade launchers, and .50 caliber machine guns.

When the Army mobilized the 1-124th, they didn't mobilize the anti-tank company. They told us to strip the troops from the anti-tank company and make our line platoons full strength. But don't bring the equipment.

Fuck that.

We brought every vehicle we could.

As a result, every line company was able to get a couple of humvees, as well as a crew of former anti-tank soldiers who had been together a while. The result was a sort of hip-pocket cavalry, and a handy escort force for the truck-bound infantry.

A marine battalion is light, but it does have a weapons company, which looks like an Army Delta company with a mortar platoon added and some of the anti-tank platoons coverted to heavy machine guns...which is effectively what we did anyway, except the mortar platoon in the Army belongs to Headquarters Company, not to the anti-armor company.

At any rate, the USMC, by design, seems to be lighter on the vehicles than the US Army is, and that is why they experienced such acute vehicle shortages early on.

3.) Yeah, Ramadi was quiet under the National Guard. So quiet the 2/4's predecessors took more than 50 wounded in the ten months or so we were in the town. True, the Marines had a harder time of it. The article says "...But the Marines had orders to root out an insurgency that was using the provincial capital as a way station to Falluja and Baghdad, said Lt. Col. Paul J. Kennedy, who oversaw Company E as the commander of its Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment."

Ah. As if we didn't. Sheesh, did Carole King write a song about the Corps?

(News flash to journalists: Just calling a unit "Company E" or "Company Aytch" tells me nothing. You have to give me the battalion and regiment. Yeah, I know there was a movie once called "The Boys of Company C." )

But that was just a movie. Serious military discussions always make the battalion and regiment clear on first mention.

4.) Why it is that the 2/4 took such a large number of dead after we left is a constant topic of discussion around the 1-124th's officers and NCOs, still. My own assessment - and this assessment is shared by most people I talk to in the 1-124th, as well as my sources on the First Brigade, 1st Infantry Division staff who are still in contact with me - is that the 2/4's problems began with the collapse of the super human intelligence network that the 1-124th was able to build over the months.

Our Bn S-2 was very proactive at working with and through the Iraqi police and some of the other tribal heads. Our company commanders were also building sources at the grass roots level, and we even had informants coming to the gates asking for platoon leaders and NCOs. They didn't want to tell information to anyone else, other than the officers and NCOs these informants had relationships with and had built up a level of trust.

Well, because of the abbreviated relief in place operation, the deep personal connections the 1-124th had built up were lost when the follow on unit came into town. Plus, the Iraqi Police Chief, Chief Jarda'an, had a close working relationship with the 1-124th's battalion commander, LTC Hector Mirabile, who is himself a career police officer in the Miami-Dade police department. The two spoke a common language. Chief Jardan also had a good relationship with CPT Rick Roig.

When the new unit came to town, though, Chief Jardan came calling. The 2/4 sent him away. He had lost his connection to the Americans. And when he lost his connection to the Americans, he lost his power base and his leverage with his constituents. And so he was forced to cut deals with the insurgency in order to survive. The 2/4 got wind of these and were forced to arrest the police chief themselves.

The transition also hurt the redevelopment effort deeply. One of the blessings of going to war with a Guard unit is that all of us have day jobs and careers in the real world. Since LTC Mirabile is a city cop, and Treasurer of the Miami Dade Police Department, he had a very keen understanding of how municipal politics work. He also read up a lot on Iraqi tribal society in the early weeks of the war, and drew heavily on that knowledge. Our front man for running the reconstruction effort was a Captain with over 20 years in the Army who was also a construction project manager in civilian life. Between the two of them, they knew how to keep constituents and crews happy.

As a result, the contracts were carefully divided up among the different clans, so that each clan was dependent upon the others to play ball in order to continue performing the services. If my neighbor's clan screws up with the foundation, I don't get to build the brick walls, and my cousin's clan doesn't get to do the painting, etc.

Each sheikh therefore had a vested interest in maintaining peace and order in his neighborhood. If his area became inoperable, he would lose out on his ability to provide money and jobs for his people. And so when there was trouble in a given sheikh's area, we could go to him and say "Someone's making trouble for you. Find out who he is, and drop him on our doorstep within three days."

And very often, that's exactly what happened.

When the 2/4 came in, though, they regarded the 1-124th's system--well imbedded in municipal politics in the U.S., to be unethical, and forced an open-bid system.

Penny wise and pound foolish. Yes, they saved a bit of money, but at the cost of freezing out the smaller clans who got frozen out of the work. Boom. Vested interest in success gone. These clans became prime targets for terrorist recruiting, and their areas became nearly inoperable within weeks of the 2/4 taking over.

Further, the Marines operated in smaller elements. A couple of them were actually overwhelmed before the marines could bring effective reinforcements to bear. The Army traveled and operated in groups not less than a platoon.

Also, when we were briefing the 2/4's leadership on the rotation and manpower requirements we were using to man the front gate and the outposts on the bridges, some Marine officer looked at our S-3 and said "We can do that whole thing with five Marines."

Well, that caused a bunch of snickering among the Army troops in the TOC.

Marines are good troops.

So are ours. And sometimes numbers count.

It's interesting to me that the Marines took so many of their casualties from IEDs in Humvees. We did, too, but not nearly the same number. I guess we were patrolling more agressively, and our intel was so focused from our on-the-ground humint sources that we were able to stay slightly ahead of the curve the whole time.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers!

UPDATE: An artillery major (I believe from OIF II) writes in challenging me on the phrase "active duty standard:"

No, it wasn't the active duty standard.  It was the desired standard for all deploying units, but due to poor planning & stockage only the first elements to deploy with OIF 1 got them all.  My AC GS artillery unit received the same thing yours did (2 sets).  Flak vests and zero armored vehicles, too (we had three fiberglass turtle-back HMMWVs in the battalion).  We deployed w/ 4th ID, originally headed for Turkey.  4th ID commander tried to tell DA if he couldn't get the whole TF Ironhorse four sets of DCUs we'd deploy with all BDU's, but he was overruled.  I generally had the luxury of timing my laundry so I had a reasonably clean set of DCUs on any given day, but during several busy periods ended up wearing my woodlands.

As for body armor, one of our sister units came across a stash of Iraqi 'chicken plate' body armor at Taji.  We liberated a bunch and used it in numerous ways.  We wore it under our flak vests.  We hung it from the sides of our trucks to augment sandbags and 4 x 4 'armor'.  To my knowledge none of it ever got hit, so we don't know how effective it was.  I do know the one guy we lost got shot through the back of his flak vest (after the bullet went through the aluminum panel behind the unarmored HMMWV driver's seat) before we came across the chicken plate stash.

I really get tired of reservists saying that the 'haves' / 'have-nots' line was between AC & RC.  It wasn't.  It was between divisional units and non-divisional units.  I'm not sure, but I believe a lot of 4th ID's organic CS & CSS units had it as bad as we did, too.

I beg to differ on that last point though. The difference in support between Guard and active duty units, at least in the opening months of the war, was hardwired into Army Policy. CFLCC policy was very clear: They were to "support" active component units. Guard units were only to be "sustained."

Which is why it was July, and we had already been overseas for months (and in Ramadi for nearly two months) before we were able to get our soldiers into the modern protective vests.

More on the Flak Vest Follies here:


Besides, I'm STILL trying to correct soldiers' pay problems left over from the screwed-up "separate but equal" reserve component pay system, even after having been back for a year. Why? Because the reserve component and active component pay systems are totally separate, and we were wholly unable to recieve finance support from parent units while overseas, since the Army didn't bother to make their systems compatible with ours. The finance problems were legion, affected nearly everyone in the unit (I'm talking thousands of dollars each), and were a major finger-in-the-eye to our soldiers' families.

Further, Guard units did not recieve individual replacements from the Army replacement system. No matter how many wounded we took, the Active Army replacement system could not provide us with one. single. replacement. soldier. Even as we had Guardsmen still in Florida screaming to join the units in combat, we couldn't get the time of day from the Army replacement system. Had we taken the kind of casualties the 2/4 did, the problem would have been debilitating.

Watching junior active duty officers promoted past me in the regiment got a little old, too - as did watching active duty troops rotate home to go to service schools and personnel schools that qualified them for promotion while Guardsmen were stoplossed in and by specific policy could not take advantage of the same NCO education system as our active duty colleagues was difficult to take, though fortunately that was such a raging slight to guard troops that that didn't last long.

So maybe there were other problems, between divisional and non-divisional units, totally separate from ours. But the concerns of reserve component units were unique, imbedded in Army systems and policy, and not trumped up, and I'm not exaggerating them in the slightest.

The Army seemed to get semi-serious about addressing some of these problems around January of 2004, but there was a lot of resentment built up by that time at the failure of the Army to integrate active and reserve component soldiers.

These feelings have largely dissipated by now, but they were very real at the time, and ought to be part of the historical record, and definitely ingrained into the institutional memory of the Army.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

A face that haunts me... 
I pulled a couple of biographies of Anne Frank off the shelves today, which always gets me in a bit of a black mood. What a phenomenal literary light she was on her way to being! - only to be snuffed out by tyranny at the age of 16. I first read her diaries when I was 10. I don't know if I told you this, but I carried her picture with me when I was overseas, and kept a copy of Tales from the Secret Annex in an aviator's kit bag next to my rack.

Every once in a while, she slips into my dreams like a haunting shadow - a reminder of how fortunate we all are, and how fleeting and precious life is. And when she's on my mind as she has been, for some reason, for the last few days, I'm filled with a sort of restlessness of spirit - as if I must slay some sort of dragon which is beyond my reach. In 2003, I had an outlet. I could slay the dragon of tyrrany, sadism, and oppression in Iraq.

Now I write financial newsletters. Not quite the same manful adrenaline fix.

I remember speaking with the battalion chaplain, in Jordan, one day in the spring of 2003. I was teaching him how to play the pennywhistle, using a hymnal as a guide. The talk turned to theology and our struggle to know God. Basically, I told him what my central problem with Christianity as we know it was, and why I did not consider myself a Christian in the same sense that most people understand the term in the modern era:

I can understand how God can allow evil to happen in this world, because in order for goodness to mean anything, man must retain free will, and with it the capacity to do wrong -- even monstrous wrongs. And I can accept the idea that Christ died for our sins. But if God's mercy is infinite, then Christ could not have died for the Christians alone, but for all of us.

There are two postulates to the ontological proof of the existence of God.

1.) God is that entity nothing beyond which can be concieved, by definition.
2.) A God which exists is greater than a God which doesn't exist.

As a corollary to that idea, I had to believe that if God's mercy only extended to those who had specifically embraced Christ, and others left out, well, I could concieve of a God who's mercy is greater than that. So if (1.) is true, then a God whose mercy embraces only Christians cannot be God, because God must be great beyond conception.

And the example I used, familiar to us both, of someone who possessed a deep-seated grace of spirit dwarfing that of anyone I've ever known, and who was surely deserving of God's infinite grace herself, was Anne Frank. If there was a Hell, she got her quota at Auschwitz and at Bergen Belsen, along with so many others.

I cannot imagine and cannot accept a theology which posits a God who does not embrace all of His children in their suffering. God is greater than that. God is greater than any conception of Him any of us can ever have.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Quote of the day 
"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp
rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all this evening they would be reporting news from Hell before breakfast. "

--William Tecumseh Sherman

Palm Beach County Craic Dealers 
I had the distinct honor last night of appearing in Wellington Florida with Mr. Eamonn Dillon, as good a piper as there is on the planet.


Talk about going to school! A true master of his art, one of the great improvisors I've ever known, and a giant of a musician.

Played a few trad tunes on fiddle, but mostly just padded harmonies underneath on guitar. I'm a good enough musician to know when I'm outclassed. The key to playing with a guy like Eamonn is to provide the harmonic and rhythmic texture, contextualize it for modern ears, DON'T play like a bluegrass player, and get the f*** out of the way!

Don't miss a chance to see Eamonn's sister, and one of my topmost fave fiddlers in the world herself, Roisin Dillon, now touring the globe with Cherish the Ladies.

You'll be glad you did.

Splash, out


Senior Army Leaders Cleard of Abu Ghraib Charges 
No surprise here. Once again, the soldiers knew best from the start. Here are the results of an Army Times poll from last summer:

Who should be punished for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq?

Soldiers who abused the prisoners: 74%
Officers in direct command of the prison: 67%
Higher level military commanders: 21%
Civilian policy makers at the Pentagon: 12%
President Bush: 3%
No one should be punished: 10%
No opinion: 6%

Splash, out


Stay alert... 
The 9/11 attack plan originally called for as many as ten planes, simultaneously striking targets on the east and west coast (see what living in a blue state gets you?), and of course, originally involving far more hijackers.

Some of those hijackers backed out, and some were removed from the plan by Bin Ladin, who wanted to go with a simpler plan.

The point:

There are more hijackers out there, unaccounted for.

Remember that the next time some pinko screeches about airport searches or another terrorism alert elevation.

Splash, out


Via Cori Dauber

Brave new world: Email in the Guard 
Somehow, the National Guard got along fine without email for years. Now, as a unit commander, I frequently get 20 emails a day from the Guard during my civilian work day.

Of those, maybe five are actually useful. Believe me, if it has an attachment, and it's not an operations order, or something from a soldier, it frequently doesn't get read. I have no intention of getting sacked from my full-time job because I'm running a headquarters full time from my office for free.

Now, my full-time soldiers can get a hundred emails a day, or more. Sometimes they can easily spend all day just responding to emails and not doing anything else. And if they go on leave, it can take days and days just to catch up on all the email - much of which is useless to them, anyway. My full time soldiers are beginning to tell me they actuall dread the little bell their email programs give them when they recieve new messages.

Now, sometimes so much email goes out that it fills up the 50MB allowances of some of my key subordinate leaders. So when it surges, when you DO need to send something to subordinate leaders, you too often get a message saying the recipient's message box is full.

AKO needs to begin automatically deleting the junk box, and then the older messages to make room for new ones.

Email is a valuable tool. I can get important information, such as an operations order for a hurricane operation, very quickly. It saves time, when used properly.

But the way it's used now, I believe that email has too often become an operational distraction. Turns out I'm not the only one.

Splash, out


Friday, April 22, 2005

It was pvt Joseph Knox who was killed in action, not Sergeant Major Caldwell. I misread the end of the story.

I regret the error. Some readers know Sergeant Major Caldwell, who I believe is now recovering at Walter Reed.

So sorry for the scare.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Washington Post shows again why it's the best newspaper in the country, with as close to a perfect piece of war writing as I've ever seen.


The writer uses vivid details, and tells the story with verbs. She sticks to the facts, because the facts are the story, and the story is compelling. Her subjects are human but she's not maudlin about it. She's honest about her own place in the story, and her own feelings, which must have been overwhelming.

She doesn't attempt to provide "context" she's not in a position to understand. She doesn't try to show off her knowledge of the military (which is where reporters run into trouble.)

Her writing does not rejoice in wrongs, but calmly notes the dignity of the men around her. It does not boast, and is not puffed up.

And she's mastered the art of the telling, descriptive detail.

Nice work.

I still wear the 3rd ACR combat patch with pride, because the 3rd ACR is full of people like these.

R.I.P, Sergeant Major Caldwell.

U.S. Army troops serving under the command of the 1st Marine Division have been authorized to wear the 1st MarDiv patch as a combat patch.

They should be proud.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

F*ck the troops update 
Does ignorance and arrogance know no bounds?

This is from The Daily Collegian:
That said, perhaps some readers will understand why my friends and I rip yellow ribbon "support the troops" magnets off of cars or wherever people have affixed them. By ripping off these ribbons, we find a way to deal with our guilt, as though with each ribbon swiped we take back a life that was taken by this senseless war started by our senseless president and those who support him.

I will never say, "support the troops." I don't believe in the validity of that statement. People say, "I don't support the war, I support the troops" as though you can actually separate the two. You cannot; the troops are a part of the war, they have become the war and there is no valid dissection of the two.

Hey, college boy! That's not how you use a semicolon.

Every time I pass a person in uniform I look long and hard at them and all I can think inside to say is "I'm so sorry." I want to apologize to them, to their families and to their friends.

You have something to apologize for after all, you fool. It's just not what you think it is.

I listen to talk radio very often. It's important to know who your enemies are. The pundits on the radio are the pinnacles of guiltless, shameless wonders, and I am jealous. It must feel good to believe without question, to benefit from the blind belief of young men and women who chose to join the armed forces,

Look, kid...I was on the mailing list of a group called "Refuse and Resist" back when you were being potty-trained. Revolution Books, a communist bookstore in Honolulu, Hawaii, used to set up tables at my reggae band's shows. I know who you are and where you're coming from.

Believe me: The soldiers aren't the blind ones here.

Splash, out


Reuters has blood on its hands 
If what Talabani says is true, and that the 50 bodies pulled from the Tigris river were indeed hostages from a mass kidnapping from a village south of Baghdad murdered by the 'gunmen,' then Reuters helped make it possible.

Reuters helped make it possible by telegraphing the coming raid across the wires before it happened, allowing the hostages to be removed and murdered.The civilized world should be enraged at Reuters' callous disregard for life in pursuit of a cheap scoop.


Where's Poynter?

Splash, out


Columnist sides with violent criminals against citizenry 
Here's Detroit Free Press columnist Nicole Christian:

You have to wonder whether the Florida Legislature has lost its mind.

It's a legitimate question, given the dangerously nutty idea that body recently passed with unusual speed.

Gov. Jeb Bush is expected, any day now, to sign Florida Senate Bill 436 into law. His pen stroke will make it 100 percent legal to use deadly force as a self-defense option in the Sunshine State. Anyone who thinks they're under attack could, as of Oct. 1, "meet force with force if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be and the force is necessary to prevent death."

Geez, don't editors
What's more she justifies her assertion here:

The hole in Hammer's argument is that the new Florida law will turn deadly force into a justifiable option for an untrained citizenry. Police officers get weeks of training in the use of all kinds of force, deal much more often with pressure-packed situations and still make bad judgments and deadly mistakes.

...by citing the Amadou Diallo case. Diallo, you will recall, was the guy who was shot 41 times by the NYPD for reaching for his wallet.

So much for the value of training. Christian just yanked the floorboards right out from under her own argument.

You have to wonder whether the editorial board was setting her up.

And so much for critical thought and deductive reasonong at the Detroit Free Press's editorial page.

The idea that any state would sanction near carte blanche use of self-defense when violence is already so much a part of American culture, particularly in Detroit, strikes Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy as irresponsible.

Kym Worthy is not worthy of office. Perhaps she should consider transferring to the public defender's office? After all, she's already not on your side.

"The bill assumes that everyone is reasonable and rational.

Well, by opposing the clear right of self-defense - a principle the UN enshrines into law against Nations and US Policy ensures for its own soldiers and peacekeepers, Worthy is assuming that people who are violent criminals are not violent criminals. I know who has the sounder logical position.

et's just say someone acts with this law as a defense and the 4-year-old in the yard or the 90-year-old walking down the street gets hit," she says. "A bullet has no name on it. How do you control that?"

Easy. A good sight picture and proper trigger squeeze.

Splash, out


Hat tip: Glenn

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Fake News Recap 
Michelle Malkin is keeping a running list of made-up news stories from our seminal news outlets.

To which I would add the hackery of the New York Times,the Globe and Mail, The UK Guardian, Reuters, Agents France presse, and The Independent on just this one story, as well as the LA Times's factual butchery here.

Oh, and then there's the fake turkey.

Oh, and then there's this doozy.

Splash, out


The Top 10 Changes the Pope Will Make to make Christianity More Acceptable to Liberals 
Don't miss this post over at Ace of Spades.

We have a new Pope!!! 
...And Andrew Sullivan can't stand the fact that he's Catholic.


There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes 
Here's an infographic look at the two great perennials: death and taxes.


Reporter dismissed from staff 
The LA Times has dismissed Eric Slater for factual errors and bad reporting.

The blogosphere should keep a check on triumphalism, here. This guy was no Dan Rather, and he was no Jayson Blair, either. I suppose the Times had no choice. But I've made errors in print, too, and they still bother me, even years later.

Write a thousand stories, and you'll write a bad one somewhere along the line.

Meanwhile, the New York Times still has a reporter in Iraq who doesn't know the difference between a mortar and a mortar shell, and who doesn't know the difference between a soldier and a marine.

That's my bigger beef with the media. Errors can be corrected in a blurb. Biases, errors in perspective, and a lack of fundamental military knowledge to understand and contextualize what the 5W's are telling them can't be.

If I point out an error, say, that the New York Times doesn't know what a Medal of Honor is, it's not that the error itself bugs me (well, that one did), it's that the error is symptomatic of a larger problem, rooted in the demographics from which news organizations recruit journalists, particularly in the New York area.

If the news organizations are not equipped, intellectually, to report on military affairs, then the electorate is being ill served. The decisionmaking apparatus of the republic therefore rests on an unsound footing. And ultimately, it is servicemen and women who pay the price.

Splash, out


Why is Air America Failing? 
Brian Anderson, author of "Southpark Conservatives," dissects the enterprise here:


(Sorry, this crap Mozilla browser won't support the hyperlink function)

Successful talk radio is conservative for three reasons:

•  Entertainment value. The top conservative hosts put on snazzy, frequently humorous shows. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, dean of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication, observes: "The parody, the asides, the self-effacing humor, the bluster are all part of the packaging that makes the political message palatable." Besides, the triumph of political correctness on the left makes it hard for on-air liberals to lighten things up without offending anyone.

•  Fragmentation of the potential audience. Political consultant Dick Morris explains: "Large percentages of liberals are black and Hispanic, and they now have their own specialized entertainment radio outlets, which they aren't likely to leave for liberal talk radio." The potential audience for Air America or similar ventures is thus pretty small — white liberals, basically. And they've already got NPR.

•  Liberal bias in the old media. That's what birthed talk radio in the first place. People turn to it to help right the imbalance. Political scientist William Mayer, writing in the Public Interest, recently observed that liberals don't need talk radio because they've got the big three networks, most national and local daily newspapers and NPR.

To this I'll add another reason: Lack of talent. Rush Limbaugh, for example, is successful because he is more articulate by half than anyone else on the air, and laugh-out-loud funny. Of all the Air America people I've listened to, only J. Garofolo, Randi Rhodes, and Stewart Smalley (I can't remember his name now, for some reason) have any sort of warmth or presence on air. But for all her warmth and sweetness and self-effaceing charm, Ms. Rhodes's capacity for, er, complexity is a bit limited, and she has all the economics knowledge of a radio personality. That is, none.

The venomous Matt Malloy is an embarrassment to the station. Imagine all of the vitriol of Coulter without the humor and without the ironic touch. Ed Schultz is a good guy, and tries hard, and he's intellectually honest, but simply grates on the air.

Well, the guy who does the Armageddon spoofs in the morning is pretty funny, sometimes.

But Howard Stern is smarter and more skilled than any of them, and would be a much better advocate for their cause.

Overall, Air America just doesn't get it. It's got a tin ear.

Splash, out


If there is any doubt left over that we have elected the right man 
this should dispel them, once and for all.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bigotry takes on yet another form... 
in this account of a controversy surrounding an art exibition put on by a U.S. Marine. Apparently, some of the local arts jerks felt that paintings like this one and this one glorified war, and therefore thought picketing the exhibition was, you know, a cool thing to do:

The protesters objected to the show's content and what they claimed was the museum's "implicit support of war." They said a more balanced show would include images of civilian deaths and mass destruction. To represent one facet of military life in combat zones without placing it in the context of the true costs of war displayed a lack of sensitivity, they said.

Just when you thought arts jerks couldn't possibly get dumber, they come up with a doozy:

"The fact that he would come not dressed as an artist, but as a Marine is an affront," said Natasha Mayers of Whitefield.

Pardon me, but I wasn't aware that being an artist involved a dress code. As a matter of fact - not to lecture the apparently grossly undereducated Ms. Mayers on art history, but in fact, I know it doesn't.

Here once again we have the ignorant condescension of the American clueless left towards men and women in uniform. What she's too dumb to know yet - and perhaps will never know - is that I have had the honor of serving in uniform alongside artists and photographers whose technical skills put those of the vast majority of coffee-swilling, clove-toking bohemian "artist-types" to shame.*

Marines don't need lectures from latte sniffers about the suffering, pain, and death that is war. Believe me, we have photographs which will never see print. My unit has photographs that can freeze blood. We have photographs that can cause a room of hardened and calloused veterans to fall silent.

I'm sure lots of units do. We show them to each other, but there are certain things we keep to ourselves, because there is no way a mass market could understand them.

The irony that seems to be lost on Ms. Mayers, though, is that by the very act of wearing his Marine Corps uniform at his own exhibition, Fay was making a powerful statement in its own right.

When he wore our nation's uniform to an exhibition, he was sending the artist community a much-needed shot across the bow: We are here, and our writing, our art, our voice, is as expressive and important as anyone elses. We are artists, musicians, and writers as well as soldiers, and we demand a place at the table.

Splash, out


*Check out the photos on this page from Edouard HR Gluck. Ed could work for any national magazine in the country and be their star shutterbug tomorrow. Instead, he served in an infantry battalion as a private first class (later specialist), where he took some of the finest photos of the war. I don't mind correcting any goatee-fingering goon who looks down his artistic nose at our soldiers. Their quality is greater than he can even comprehend.

Hat tip to Blogotional

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Cori Dauber links to this heartbreaking tale of a childhood under the Khmer Rouge.

I think we should also take a moment to remember who their intellectual allies were.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Attention Reuters, you ignorant bunch of whores 
Thank you not only for insulting my intelligence by dignifying the human jackal spawn who take Shia women and children hostage and threaten to murder them in an act of ethnic cleansing with the label "rebels," but thank you also for giving them sufficient early warning to move hostages around or kill them outright, and to put their own orcs on full alert, by telegraphing a planned U.S./Iraqi raid on the newswires before it even happens, you scrotesucking tools.

Your cheap little scoop could cost hundreds of lives.

I hope you're happy.

And yes, I wouldn't want to put a byline on that piece, either.

Splash, out


Afghanistan Update 
Andrew Sullivan points to this excellent sitrep from an aid worker in southern Afghanistan.

Bottom line, Karzai is consolidating his power, far outside of Kabul, and "There is reason for much hope."

Splash, out


Queer Eye for the Army Guy 
I was wondering who that guy was who was staring at me in the shower for a good 45 minutes!

I wonder if Greyhawk will let this guy in the Milblog Webring?

Oregon prof: "I Agree with much of the logic of Bin Ladin" 
Introducing Tom Hastings, who wrote in a column in Peaceworker:

>"While I can understand, empathize, and even agree with much of the logic of Osama bin Ladin and Ward Churchill, I absolutely disagree with the notion that the means are separable from the ends."

Well, given that the logic of Osama Bin Ladin leads one to a totalitarian Islamist state in which women are treated as chattel slaves and homosexuals are subject to summary execution, I must point out that this man is no true liberal and certainly no patriot. No, he's on Bin Ladin's side. He just disagrees with some of Bin Ladin's methodology.

He thinks he's critiquing Ward Churchill. But he's just as poisonous. Just not as stupid.

Tom, by the way, is the director of Peace and Nonviolence Studies at Portland State University, in Oregon.

A man who professes to nonviolence agrees with the logic of Osama Bin Ladin?

This man is drawing a public paycheck!

Splash, out


Friday, April 15, 2005

Traveling with a musical instrument? 
Take this letter with you!

(Cellists and lower brass players, you'll still have to buy an extra seat. But you probably got a scholarship anyway, you bastards.)

First Command: A Tale of Two Newspapers 
The National Association of Securities Dealers has censured, fined, and suspended a First Command broker $25,000 for making unsuitable recommendations to his clients.

Ok, as it should be.

And yes, the Army Times, for once, is on the ball!

But check out the difference in the way the Army Times treated the story, compared to the New York Times.

First Command is a major advertiser in the Army Times, frequently buying the full back page add, and often using four-color half and quarter panels inside the paper. It's a major source of revenue for the paper.

Not surprisingly, First Command was able to get their spin on the story: First Command, not the NASD, identified the problem themselves, and made full restitutions to the investors so identified for the ill-gotten commissions.

The New York Times makes no mention.

I it's just an example of how a newspaper can be more careful with a major advertiser than with someone with only a miniscule presence in their market.

Actually, despite the past cozy relationship between First Command and the Army Times, I think the Army Times piece is excellent. Overall, the Army Times does a much better job than the New York Times, providing a timeline, and noting that this agent is not currently with First Command or any other company. The New York Times makes no such observation, and skates by with the bare minimum.

Splash, out


An insult to free people everywhere 
So a bunch of Sunni terrorist scumbags claim to have taken 60 civilian Shi'ite hostages, and are now threatening to murder them unless the Shi'ites abandon the village. Call it "ethnic cleansing, Sunni style."

There is no mention in the Reuters report of them being soldiers or any other sort of combatant. These are family members of Shi'ites living in the village.

These act cries out to be labeled 'terrorism.' Any right-thinking, intellectually honest person would call these people terrorists. Anyone whose first loyalty is to the truth and to the integrity of the story and the language would call these people "terrorists." This cowardly and criminal act demands nothing short of the label "terrorist."

So what does Reuters call them?


Memo to Reuters:

Robert E. Lee was a "rebel."
Luke Skywalker was a "rebel."
Marek Edelman is a "rebel."

People who try to liquidate a Shia population in Central Iraq and force them to move to a ghetto in the south by kidnapping and threatening to murder their loved ones are not. Nor do these modern day orcs deserve the dignity of the label "insurgents," as you use it in the text.

This is not a "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" scenario. Not to serious thinkers. Not to grown-ups.

Your use of the term "rebel" is a mark of shame to the Reuters brand and an insult to free people everywhere.

Splash, out


LA Times busted again 
Shortly after Arnold was elected governator of California, and the true scale of Governor Davis' fiscal disaster was becoming clear, two major bond rating agencies downgraded California's debt, which lowered the price of California bonds, raising interest rates, and therefore made it more difficult and expensive for California's government to raise money. The L.A. times noted the drop a few weeks ago, though apparently didn't mention that Governor Davis could have had anything to do with the fiscal outlook for the state.

But when The Governator's policies took hold, bond ratings returned to where they were before, and another ratings agency actually raised its outlook for California. Though this would have been known to the LA Times, and indeed it would have been readily apparent to any financial reporter who bothered to actually check the four bond ratings agencies, the LA Times failed to note this salient fact.
You'd think after being so thoroughly busted for their obsessive witch hunt for women who would say they were groped by the Governator, they'd be a bit more careful with appearances.

(Via LA Cowboy, a blog wholly devoted to riding the LA Times hard and putting her up wet.)

Special delivery 
A message has been sent to the pseudojournalists at the Los Angeles Times.

It's too early to tell whether or not they've been able to decipher it.

What I'd like to know is, is Warren Buffett unloading Washington Post stock on the sly?

Splash, out


The power of teachers' unions 
Suppose you had a school district who had to deal with a teacher who already has a history of complaints of making innappropriate comments to girls. Suppose further that this teacher shows up to a school sporting event wearing an exaggerated afro wig and blackface.

Suppose further that the board already believes he has "a history of judgement issues."

So what would the school district do?

Well, if you live in Bibb County, Georgia, they would offer to renew his contract.

Splash, out


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Friendly Fire: Was there a coverup? 
The New York Times is digging into a deadly fratricide incident in Iraq in 2003.

What he could not know then, but soon came to suspect, was that the explosion had not been caused by Iraqi mortars. His artillery unit had been hit by an American fighter jet and its signature weapon, a laser-guided 500-pound bomb. Three soldiers died and five were wounded, including Specialist Coyne, in one of the worst cases of "friendly fire" during the 2003 invasion - one that has drawn little public attention.

A reconstruction of that April 3 bombing from interviews and military documents - including an investigation report obtained by The New York Times that was released to families of the dead but not to the wounded - shows that a cascading chain of errors, poor judgment and miscommunication by American forces stationed in three countries contributed to the botched attack.

Specialist Coyne, now retired from the military, received a Purple Heart for his injury. But he says that at the award ceremony at Fort Sill, Okla., his superiors instructed him to keep quiet about his suspicions that he had been bombed by American forces. The Army has never given Mr. Coyne an official explanation for the accident.

It seems almost incomprehensible to me that the Army would release the investigation results to the families of the dead but not to the wounded. And unless there is some very sensitive information involved, I believe SPC Coyne ought to know what happened and how his buddies were killed.

It's not like the investigating officer wouldn't be able to find him.

That said, I was an investigating officer for another accident in which a pfc shot himself in the ankle with an M203. I contacted the soldier stateside via email, and got a statement, but I never sent him my findings, either. His unit may have - I don't know.

Until recently, some believed the explosion was caused by an Iraqi grenade, while others blamed non-American coalition forces.

Heh. Haji hand grenade, 500 pound bomb. Yeah, I can see how someone can confuse the two.

The error that led to the 2003 bombing began when an Air Force F-15E crew mistook the American artillery unit for an Iraqi missile battery largely because the crew was allowed to believe, incorrectly, that a Navy plane had been shot down that night in the same area by an Iraqi missile. The error was compounded by a decision by the artillery unit to shut off infrared strobe lights that would have identified it to the pilot. And it was sealed by confusion over who was responsible for checking the location of American troops. The Army says it has not tried to play down the accident, and is studying it and similar incidents to prevent mistakes.

Believe me, the Army obsesses over preventing tragic mistakes like this.

Inevitably, these things are the result of a combination of errors. It's rare that the blame can be pinned entirely on one person. The crew got bad information from their command. The Artillery unit shut off IR strobes (I wonder what was behind that decision?)

The confusion over checking the location of US troops? Well, whenever we had a fire mission coming in anywhere in the Brigade, the BDE would get on the net and issue a net call with the grid of the fire mission. As battle captain, I was supposed to have updated locations of all friendly elements within the battalion. But some of them were on mounted patrols and I often had no exact location for them, only a general area. Nevertheless, we called down to company level, told them the grids, and said, "Do you have anyone there?"

Only after every subordinate unit told us no would we clear the grid for fires.

But if there were a unit from out of town there, just passing through, they may not have checked into our net. In that case, they would not have gotten the fire clearance request. If they were at the grid at the time of the fire mission, they'd be in a world of hurt.

You have got to communicate laterally, as well as vertically. You have got to coordinate with units in whose sector you are operating. You can't be lazy. You can't take things for granted.

You also can't paralyze yourself, either. Perfectly reliable fire clearance methods take a long time. By the time you get them perfect, the enemy may have broken contact, and you have lost the opportunity to kill him. And so he gets away, and lives to fight another day. And you may take even more casualties for having been hesitant to pull the trigger before.

War is hell, and you cannot refine it, said William Tecumseh Sherman.

War is also tradeoffs and unintended consequences.

You don't have to court martial everyone who makes a mistake. Believe me - everyone in DCUs has screwed up at least once.

And the pilot probably feels bad enough,

Splash, out


Stabbed in the back: Guardsmen turned drug dealers 
Air Force Captain Franklin Rodriguez and Master Sergeant John Fong, members of the Air National Guard (I presume the New York Guard, although the article isn't explicit) have admitted to flying an Air Force plane to Germany, loading their bags full of millions of dollars of amphetamines, and bringing it back to the U.S. for resale.Someone close to me is struggling with amphetamine addiction as we speak.

So it seems especially cruel that I and so many others have been betrayed by Guardsmen turned drug dealers.

These guardsmen also betrayed their own soldiers, and mine as well. I have a few soldiers who also struggle with substance abuse (although none right now that I know of who struggle with illegal substances), and these men were stabbed in the back as well.

If found guilty, they could both be fined $1 million, and spend 20 years in prison.

If due process confirms their admission, they need to do the maximum.

Splash, out


Hazardous Duty 
LT Smash's wife was injured recently when she was thrown from a horse. She did smash a vertebrae, and required a back brace. She's in a good deal of pain.

Doctors expect a full recovery, but no more riding or rough sex contact sports.

Between Mrs. Smash's health problems, The First Mate, and the InstaWife, it doesn't seem too healthy to be married to a blogger these days.

Prayers and pints are in order. For all three of these women. It's all we can do to compensate them for putting up with their husbands' blogging obsession.


Good news for reserve component soldiers! 
If you were called to active duty in a contingency operation after Sept. 11th, 2001, and served 90 consecutive days on active duty, you can now buy into the Tricare health system for $75 per month. Family coverage is available for $233 per month.

You have to agree to serve one or more whole years to qualify.

If I go back to freelancing, this will make it much easier for me to remain in the Guard/reserve. Plus it's good for troops, and it's good for readiness: My soldiers in marginal civilian occupations who don't have ready access to health care won't have to put off needed treatments or preventive care. Which means they'll be more deployable in case of need.

Good news all around.

Splash, out


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

SF Alpha Geek Gets It. 
Whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or not, it was a threat. It was a key player in destabilizing the ME, it provided funding to terrorist organizations, and it required constant diplomatic, economic and military attention to keep it under control. Fighting AQ while Iraq was part of the landscape was like trying to tame a lion with a hungry tiger in the cage.

And we could certainly justify going in there under almost any framework you wanted to choose, from Augustine and Aquinas's "just war" theory, to the casus belli of classical interpretations of international law. I think that a lot of the angst and whining emerging from the political classes over the Iraq invasion comes from Bush's emphasis of a more muscular "some people just need killin' " justification for the campaign over emphasizing the more traditional reasons for going to war. On the other hand, that's one of the reasons I admire the man.

His take on the attitude of the officer corps toward the war pretty much matches mine. Yes, there is a broad spectrum of political thought in the officer corps. But even the Democrats tend to be pretty hawkish on Iraq, in my own little world, even as they roll their eyes at Bush's fiscal policies.

Read the whole thing here.

Splash, out


Thank God Almighty 
I didn't join the Air Force!

Andrew Sullivan comes around 
It behooves me to write that I'm chastened - and extremely heartened - by the progress we're making in Iraq. The elections were obviously the key - and they should have been scheduled at least a year before they were. But it's equally true that the constancy of our amazing troops, and the magic of democracy, are turning this long hard slog into a long hard slog with an end in sight. The criticisms of the past endure. But the fundamental objective seems to be within sight. The right decision - to remove Saddam - is no longer being stymied by wrong decisions. I feared the worst. I was wrong.

Andrew Sullivan

Cultivating Intel 
From Strategerie Page:
The use of rewards in the war on terror has not worked as well as was expected, largely because of the difficulty in getting the word out, and fear of retaliation against potential informants.

Come to think of it, we got better results after we dispensed with the balloons and marching bands and banished Informant's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes van from our contacts' front porches.

It wasn't easy telling Ed McMahon we were letting him go, though.

Camilo Mejia slams his own unit... 
To Al Jazeera no less!

"The commanders wanted us to get into firefights because they wanted to put that on their resume to make them look better," Mejia told Aljazeera.net. "Thirty people were killed by my unit. About three of those people had weapons."

"Once you come home it's really hard not to think about it. You start going back to those moments and it's really hard to justify that," he said.

As some soldiers begin their second or even third tour of Iraq, Mejia says many are asking why are they still in the country two years after invasion and after handing over power and overseeing elections.

"'What the hell else are we there for?' Soldiers ask themselves this question. It's like there is no ending," he said.

Yep. I know I always go to jails to find my most reliable sources.

Don't know the number of people his unit killed, offhand, or whether he's talking about his platoon, company, or battalion.

But a lot more than three of them had weapons. Not all of them had weapons (it's not, after all, unheard of for an insurgent to grab his buddy's weapon and flee, either, big guy), and yes, some of the shootings were tragic mistakes.

But believe me, no one wanted our troops to get into firefights to pad our resumes.

It may be a foreign concept to some, but we wanted to win the fucking war. And bring our people home to their families with honor.

Well, that might be a foreign concept to some, too.

Splash, out


Why do I always get f#&@ing brain detail??? 
Don't miss this great profile from the Washington Post:

MOSUL, Iraq -- From inside a vacant building, Sgt. 1st Class Domingo Ruiz watched through a rifle scope as three cars stopped on the other side of the road. A man carrying a machine gun got out and began to transfer weapons into the trunk of one of the cars.

"Take him down," Ruiz told a sniper.

The sniper fired his powerful M-14 rifle and the man's head exploded, several American soldiers recalled. As he fell, more soldiers opened fire, killing at least one other insurgent. After the ambush, the Americans scooped up a piece of skull and took it back to their base as evidence of the successful mission

Read the whole thing.

By the way, I found it on Antiwar.com. I guess they were trying to express what a bunch of brutal, inhuman monsters U.S. soldiers have become.

Which goes to show you what a clueless bunch of nitwits run Antiwar.com.

Splash, out,


Another Gem from my comments section... 
This time from this posting, about the NY Times' curious refusal to use the term "terrorist" when referring to people who threaten to turn Kashmir commuter busses into "coffins."

Thanks a million for the comment. But this reader basically commits every pathetic equivocation in the book.

Read on:

Terrorist is really not the right word in the first place. I understand it has become common place, but it is really misleading. And it's primary a propoganda tool. By defining a person a terrorist you nullify their values, the very reason for fighting. You lump them into the same categories as criminals, thugs, and vandals.

That sir is not what they are. They have a purpose, a strategy, a goal. Just because you find their methods distasteful, or outside the scope of Gentlemanly warfare does not define them...their methods are only the tactics and strategy available to them in the face of a superior and forceful opponent.

To call them terrorist is to deny them status...and that is very dangerous. If you do not understand your enemy and his motivation you can not beat him.

Calling them terrorist shows that we do not understand them or their goals. Their goal is not to "terrorize". People living in fear or in terror is not their goal...just a by product of their tactics. In this case these paramilitary militant fighters in Kashmir want the nation of India to leave. That is their goal. And they are using the tactics, tools, and resources available to them.

One could have called a good portion of the Colonial Militias terrorist. Or any guerilla fighter from the beginning of history...a terrorist.

The term Terrorist is the type of thing an oppressor uses...not those who are trying to liberate themselves or their allies from oppression.

That last part is pretty rich. Just who is being oppressed by commuters riding on busses?

More seriously, though, this writer's deliberate attempt to conflate the term "terrorist" with "guerrilla" or "those who are trying to liberate themselves or their allies from oppression" is simply reprehensible. There is a difference between insurgents who limit their attacks to military targets and those who deliberately target the civilian population.

Furthermore, this difference is encoded in the Law of Land Warfare, and long recognized by honorable men, despite the attempts of equivocators, nihilists, and terrorist apologists to obscure it.

Equivocating the Colonial Militia with Jihadist nutcases who blow up schoolbusses in order to preserve their right to horsewhip women and kill homosexuals?


Splash, out


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