Monday, May 30, 2005

Why we will win 
Because we have allies like this.

(via Andrew)

Snipers target journalists in Iraq 
Linda Foley: "What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq."

Here's some evidence of journalists being targeted in Iraq "for real", Linda. Where's your outrage? Where's your commitment to accuracy and the truth?

Splash, out


(Via The Fourth Rail)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Military cluelessness at the Times of London 
The Times of London notes that the US and UK increased the number of bombs dropped on Iraq in 2002 and thinks that that's evidence that Blair and Bush were deliberately increasing the number of bombs dropped in an effort to provoke the Saddam regime into a cassus belli.

No, the possibility that Saddam was issuing orders to his air defense units to be more aggressive in trying to knock down an American aircraft couldn't possibly have anything to do with it, and doesn't warrant any mention in the story, despite the fact that reports of renewed Iraqi aggressiveness date back well before 9/11, and despite the fact that Saddam had actually shot down an unmanned aircraft.

But, you know, it's kinda hard to attack an anti-aircraft battery if they keep their radar acquisition systems turned off.

Not that these twits ought to be looking any more deeply into the story or anything.

But had they done any sort of research, they would have found that Saddam Hussein had offered a 1 million dollar reward to anyone who could shoot down an American plane as far back as November 2001, and Iraqi forces were taken a distinctly more aggressive stance vs. allied jets.

I mean, c'mon, people. Do your frigging jobs.

Splash, out


Thursday, May 12, 2005

From the PX to the Chow Hall: This We Will Defend 
I've got Annual Training for the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, try out some other bloggers I admire!

Belmont Club - a learned approach to military history. Wrechard often sets the standard for operational analysis on the ground in Iraq, and so many other areas. Knows how to finish a post. Entirely too much time on his hands.

Powerline They always look at things in a way I never woulda thought of. Elvis blogs.

Ed Morrissey: An excellent reporter as well as a blogger. Gets his own stories. Almost singlehandedly busted up a Canadian gag order on the press. All this and a full time job, too, managing a call center. Ed. Make sure you take time to kiss the bejeezus out of your wife.

Ranting Profs: A college professor rakes the media over the coals. Makes me think about the news in different ways. Hyperlinks three lines of text at a time. Awesome. Gets paid to watch too much TV. How cool is that?

Greyhawk: The man who put it all together. And a super blogger himself, with a nose for news. Could benefit from getting an actual life, but most of us would be the worse for it.

LT Smash: The ultimate protest warrior!

Black Five: The Paratrooper of Love Great sources, great writing. Good sense of humor. Plus, I suspect he's Irish. 'Ere's a pint to ye, Blackie!

Neil Prakash (A Silver Star recipient). Went to college with a former coworker of mine. Super movies. Gripping war stories from Fallujah. Much, much braver than I ever was. Better looking, too. By far. I hate him.

Baldilocks. Chicks who shave their heads are cool. But they're even cooler if they're as well grounded and have as much common sense as Baldilocks does. Speaks some Russian. But menya nravilcya anyway.

The whole milblog crew! (Scroll down for a list of links).

Have a safe two weeks. Take care of the troops.

Splash, out


Welcome USA Today Readers! 
I got quite a spike in traffic from being quoted in USA Today. If you're just joining Countercolumn for the first time, here's the scoop:

I started Countercolumn in November 2003, as the executive officer of a headquarters company in the 1-124th Infantry, in the Florida Army National Guard, while we were stationed in Ramadi, Iraq. In those days, it was called "Iraq Now." So if you want to read the pure war blogging stuff, go back in the archives and read forward.

Better yet, you can put keywords into the search bar at the top of the page and look up posts on any topic that suits your fancy.

I changed the name to Countercolumn last year because I have lots of other interests and got tired of feeling guilty everytime I posted "off topic."

Here's Countercolumn's goal:
--Examining the institutional shortcomings of media when it comes to covering war.
--Educating soldiers and their families on financial topics.
--Providing an unofficial forum for military people to hold a professional forum about improving the Army, particularly when it comes to the integration of reserve component and active component soldiers.
--Having fun.

Welcome, and I hope you come back often.

But not for the next two weeks, 'cause I've got military duty.


Splash, out


Terrance responds 
Terrance takes me to task again here.

The links will establish how factually grounded his essay is.

As for “defending democracy in Iraq,” it’s my understanding that there wasn’t anything much to defend against in Iraq before we got there and the insurgents (yeah, Jason, I know how that term irks you) sprang up in our wake. No WMDs, no terrorist ties, etc., and all the other justifications were we given for going into this war. The democracy were were allegedly defending was ours, and it turns out it wasn’t in any danger from Iraq or Hussein. So, time to shift justifications, I guess. Now it’s “defending democracy in Iraq,” not “defending democracy from Iraq.”

Yep. That's what happens when you free 25 million people and transform the world for the better.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Avenger Red Six is Back 
and posting again.

Good story here.

Hey, it worked for Lebanon, right? 
Here's the Protest Babe phenomenon taken to a whole new level!(Warning: mature content)

An Air Force Base with no Planes 
Garfield Ridge notes a funny omission by the LA Times.

I'd like to know if Los Angeles Air Force Base has a golf course, though! (Actually, they probably use Los Alamitos's)

UN Foundation: Hopeless twits 
The UN foundation's lame attempt to smear Roger Simon quickly backfires. All you have to do is check out the trackbacks.

Now if the UN foundation can only pay a little less attention to what Roger Simon may think, and a little more attention to putting a stop to blue helmet child rape, massive corruption, political cowardice, outrageous appointments to the Human Rights Council and the like.

Splash, out


More recruiting shenanegans 
From CBS News:
Going Army" and making history appealed to 20-year-old Chris Monarch, so he called a Houston recruiting office.

"I recognized the name," he said. "His name was Kelt."

Sgt. Thomas Kelt was the recruiter.

But a new baby changed Monarch's plan to enlist and he cancelled his meeting with the recruiter.

"I said I'm a volunteer firefighter and eventually gonna try to go career with it and I'm just not interested anymore and I hung up the phone," Monarch said.

But the recruiter wouldn't take no for an answer -- with a phone message threatening Monarch with arrest if he didn't show.

"By federal law you got an appointment with me at two o'clock this afternoon at Greenspoint Mall." said Kelt. "OK, you fail to appear and we'll have a warrant, OK? So give me a call back."

In fear, Monarch called the recruiter back.

"He said, 'Oh Chris, don't worry about that. That's just a marketing technique I use,"' Monarch recounted.

If this is true (and it sounds like they have the recruiter's voice on tape, though the reporter doesn't come out and state it explicitly), then this scumsucker needs to be removed from the ranks, pronto. Unethical behavior like this is hurting the good recruiters, because it tarnishes the reputation of the Army, which is still, overall, the most ethical organization I've had the honor to be a part of (Particularly since the "ghost soldier" practice was uncovered by Dave Moniz of USA Today and the Guard finally got more honest about its numbers).

In the conversation I had with the recruiter I mentioned yesterday, he said that people were beginning to get a bad taste in their mouths regarding recruiters. Which tells me that the people are catching on to the conduct of men like Sergent Kelt well ahead of the media. And good recruiters are losing recruits because of the actions of a few bad apples.

I have a recruiter who works full-time for my company, plus a full-time retention NCO. I also have good relationships with a number of other local recruiters, because you never know where good soldiers will come from. If a great prospect walks into my recruiter's office and wants to be a translator, I want to sign him or her up - not for my infantry unit, but for the Intelligence unit next door! And the intelligence recruiters return the favor.

I've spoken at length to my recruiter about recruiting practices, marketing, prospecting, qualifying, and closing. Now, he doesn't report directly to me as a commander, even though it's my recruiting and retention program as a commander. My recruiter reports to the State recruiter. And the state has certain expectations about production. But I told my recruiter I'm not concerned with him getting "X" recruits a month. That's a lousy measure, because it's too easily gamed.

I want my recruiter to simply make more calls than anyone else in the command, talk to more people, and have better qualifying skills and better closing skills than anybody else.

If he does that, we'll get our share. And they'll be good ones.

By the way, I think she got transferred out, but there's a super recruiter who used to work Key West, named Sergeant Arafat - who I only know second hand, from hearing about it from sources of my own.

Sergeant Arafat had a "hoo-ah" attitude which was infectious. If she had a marginal recruit with some weight issues, Sergeant Arafat helped with an exercise program to help them get ready to enlist. She even volunteered her own time to do PT with them and give them fitness tips and techniques, and lead by example.

While other recruiters in the area are suggesting recruits do things as asinine as smearing their asses with Preparation H and then sleeping wrapped in cellophane so recruits can pass the tape test, Sergeant Arafat inspired one prospect to lose 30 pounds over a period of months, and do it the right way.

Sergeant Arafat was up front and honest. Sergeant Arafat didn't have to threaten or cajole. Sergeant Arafat was a leader, and inspired recruits to join because they wanted to be like her.

Now, that prospect signed with some other idiot (who actually fudged the fitness evaluation. Thanks for representing the Army that way, asshat.) But it was Sergeant Arafat who was a positive role model, and gave at least one recruit hope for a better future for herself, who showed her that she could lose some weight (and pick up a boyfriend in the process!!) and improve herself, and it was Sergeant Arafat who got her excited about being a soldier.

Sergeant Arafat I believe has moved on. And even if she didn't actually get to close the deal, she made a positive difference in one recruit's life, and made a positive difference for the Army.

Splash, out


Hey, dumbasses! They're TERRORISTS!!!! 
Only from the pages of the New York Times:

Insurgents also struck in New Baghdad, in the eastern part of the capital. An abandoned car that was parked on a crowded main street exploded at 8 a.m., wounding two civilians, the ministry official said.

Is Zarqawi dead? 
Don't get excited yet. One Arab language site is reporting that a senior Iraqi commander is claiming that Zarqawi was "seriously wounded, possibly dead" in Operation Matador.

Via Hugh Hewitt

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Only at the Times 
"A single standard for terrorists!" writes the Times on the editorial page.

Meanwhile, the Times again confers the antidemocratic forces in Iraq with the dignity of the term "rebel."

Via Cori Dauber

Splash, out


So I sat down in a recruiter's office today and said "how's biz?"

"Slow!" he said. I asked him what the most common objections he was seeing were, and, same as other recruiters I've spoken with, says it's not the kids who are enlisting. It's the parents. "The TV news is killing us!"

We talked a bit more, and eventually, he said he felt there was a problem with the way he was asked to recruit.

"They're asking us to spend time on high school campuses, and they're spending all the recruiting time and effort on high schoolers. That works in small towns where there's just not the same kind of opportunity as there is in Miami. Where there's just not as much going on!"

I agree with him. Miami-Dade is a different market than Osceola and Okeechobee counties.

Further problems with high school recruits:

1.) They take more babysitting on the part of the recruiter. "Two guys came in just the other day, and didn't even know their own Social Security Numbers. Of course they wouldn't! They're seventeen years old!" But they can't take the ASVAB unless they can fill in their own SSN on the test. That's a deal stopper, unless the recruit's extra motivated,

2.) They can take up to two years to actually reach the unit. That's a long time to wait before a recruiter's work pays off with a soldier in combat boots in a TO&E unit.

3.) If the primary objections are coming from parents, there is no way to get around that with high schoolers. It's a show-stopper. Only by focusing on older prospects can you neutralize understandable parental protectionism, by focusing on patriotism and civic duty.

4.) Parental objection problems are particularly acute in areas where military service is not a family tradition. One of the best predictors of whether a youngster will enlist is if one or more of his or her parents also served. Military families are commonplace in small towns. They are few and far between in the cities.

I need to talk to some other big-city recruiters and see what sorts of techniques were effective for them.

Splash, out


White Feather, redux 
The Republic of T. is raking me over the coals for the White Feathers idea, and arguing that we ought to be sending white feathers to Jonah Goldberg, since Jonah is pro war and he has committed the crime of not enlisting.

T. misses the point entirely. Jonah has a place here, and may well be a better writer than a soldier. No soldier I've heard of has a real problem with Jonah (who's already in his mid-30s, anyway. Hardly prime material for Recruiting Command.) Jonah, at least, feels that democracy in Iraq is worth defending.

I argued that the white feathers should go to the moonbats because they believe in nothing. Indeed, they are doing everything in their power to sabotage recruiting, and thereby pull the rug out from under the emerging democracy in Iraq. What's more, as they engage in counterrecruiting efforts, this fifth column actually harms the interests of soldiers already in. If a new private or specialist is not available, someone else who may have already done one or two combat tours is stood up, and bears an even heavier burden, leaves his home and family, and goes again.

Says Terrance:

With the current recruitment shortfalls, it’s smarter to focus your efforts on a target audience with more enthusiasm for war.

No. Terrance does not seem interested in addressing the current recruitment shortfalls. And my post is not meant to address the current recruiting shortfall. The recruiting shortfall doesn't worry me all THAT much. My post was instead meant to address the current shortage of moral perspective, and the shortage of committment to REAL liberal values which exists on the left.

The idea that freedom is not worth defending at all is the real cowardice. The idea that having abandoned the Kurds and Shia once, that we should do it again, ought to be the real outrage.

And it is this faithlessness that I'd present with the white feather.

Splash, out


Monday, May 09, 2005

U.S. sucks at infiltrating cells 
A good discussion from down under.

IT was said after the September 11 attacks and it's being said again: the failure of the US to obtain agents who can infiltrate terror gangs is frustrating its efforts to combat these enemies.

Former president George Bush, father of the White House incumbent and a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, joined in warning after the 2001 atrocities that the US was suffering from a gap in old-fashioned human intelligence, as opposed to technology.

Yep. And that came about as a result of a long series of policy decisions at the very top. Now, the technology is really cool. But we could have been, and should have been expanding our Arab language capabilities, and doing more to cultivate sources within the Arab world. Yes, especially uncouth and unsavory sources, because they're the ones that get admitted to the super secret clubs.

Well, them and John Walker Lindh.

Here's Dick Cheney on Sept. 17th, 2001.

"If you're going to deal only with sort of officially approved, certified good guys, you're not going to find out what the bad guys are doing. You need to be able to penetrate these organizations. You need to have on the payroll some very unsavory characters if, in fact, you're going to be able to learn all that needs to be learned in order to forestall these kinds of activities."

Now, here's a dirty little not-so-secret:

The reason we captured Saddam is because we figured out some guy knew where he was and some Shiite-American translator contractor we hired, someone who hadn't sat through exhaustive classes on the law of land warfare, and threatened to beat the crap out of him. That translator later went on the mission, and he's the reason that Saddam had a bloody lip in that famous photo of him being captured, after Saddam insulted him.

War is Hell, said Sherman, and there is no use trying to refine it.

Remarkably, the article makes zero mention of the Clinton administration's restrictions on CIA recruiting.

"Deutch and Nora, Clinton's anti-intelligence plants, implemented a universal 'human rights scrub' of all assets, virtually shutting down operations for 6 months to a year. This was after something happened in Central America (there was an American woman involved who was the common law wife of a commie who went missing there) that got a lot of bad press for the agency.

"After that, each asset had to be certified as being 'clean for human rights violations.'

"What this did was to put off limits, in effect, terrorists, criminals, and anyone else who would have info on these kinds of people."

Roger says the CIA, even under new leadership, has never recovered from the "Human Rights Scrub" policy.

(I hate to source it to Newsmax, but I was hearing noises about this long before 9/11.)

Yet, here's something from way back in 1995!

The new Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), John Deutch, has proven to have a bigger appetite for currying favorable reviews in the press and on Capitol Hill than even Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary. Toward this transparent end, Dr. Deutch has recently been much in evidence, for example, in: reorganizing his agency (putting in charge a gaggle of left-leaning congressional staffers); quantifying and assigning blame for the Aldrich Ames debacle; and decrying and forbidding the CIA's use of unsavory characters as foreign espionage resources in Guatemala and elsewhere.

Far less clear is whether the net effect of such self-promotion will be the reliable acquisition and timely, accurate analysis of intelligence on behalf of the U.S. government. Unfortunately, the early indicators suggest that the CIA and, to varying degrees, its sister agencies in the intelligence community are suffering under a steady diet of heavy-handed, politically correct micro-management. Morale is plummeting (the DCI was recently booed by his employees at a large agency function); sources are drying up (even those agents deemed pristine enough to meet Deutch's standards are understandably growing increasingly reluctant to share information with the current Agency team), sensitive collection methods are being compromised (not least by the indiscriminate sharing of classified data with the United Nations and other undisciplined multilateral "users" of U.S. intelligence); critical counter-intelligence techniques are being selectively applied (Clinton political appointees are being excused from routine polygraphing); and analyses appear to be increasingly slanted to tell Administration policy-makers what they want to hear (assuming, that is, they are willing to listen at all).

More background here.

Of course, you still have the IDIOT media making hay out of a story about some local CIA boss telling his underlings to bring back Saddam's head in a box of dry ice.

Look, you don't have to take everything frigging LITERALLY, you pantiwaisted ink slathering swillers of whiskey sours at Michael's and the Rainbow Room! It's just the way real men - men who've never paid five dollars to check a coat and umbrella in their lives - talk to one another when engaged in serious work as opposed to (irony) commentary (/irony).

I myself made many remarks about wanting Saddam's and Zarqawi's heads impaled on pikes outside the gate, or lashed to the hood of my Humvee as I drove through Ramadi.

I was speaking figuratively! Well. Mostly.

If I had pikes available, plus the small matter of actual posession of their disembodied heads, I would have put them to good use, I'm sure.

You just gotta know how to COMMUNICATE!

Call it "branding."

Splash, out


Looks like another writer's going down. 
This isn't fun anymore.

Army misses recruiting goal by 42 percent! 
Not good.

What's more, the zoomies and squids aren't transferring to the Army in the numbers we hoped they would.

What's the solution? Dunno. I'm still getting interest where I sit. And I'm still seeing fresh faces coming in the door.

The Army never was much on its own PR though.

Splash, out


INDC Journal gets it 
So can we all be good rational humanists and drop this hatefully sweeping, sarcastic "religion of peace" bullshit? I'm not supporting our efforts to Democratize and modernize the Middle East in order to convert a billion people in a "death cult" to Christianity, Judaism or anything else, as that intolerant comment implies.


Gen. Mattis gets dressed down by a Congressman 
Representative Curt Weldon (R - PA) is going off half-cocked on something best left to the Marine Corps to handle internally.


Marine Lt. Gen. James Mattis told congressmen Thursday that a captain relieved of his command after complaining about the lack of armored Humvees was disciplined for unrelated reasons.

Capt. Kelly D. Royer, a unit commander with the 1st Marine Division’s Company E, was lauded by Marines officials in May 2004 for his leadership in a series of battles with insurgents in the Ramadi area.

But after he blamed many of the deaths in his unit on inadequate armor and equipment in a New York Times story several months later, Royer was relieved of command.

Mattis said the decision “had nothing to do with him speaking out” but instead was related to complaints from noncommissioned officers related to his command decisions.

The comments came after angry questions from Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., who said he was “embarrassed” and “offended” by the way Marines officials had handled the situation.

“I don’t know him, but I do know he came out and publicly spoke out about his frustration,” Weldon said. “And instead of what should have been the proper response, which is to have everybody join in and fight the system and demand what he needed to protect those troops, it appears as though he is being singled out now.”

Mattis said he could not speak to specifics of the case because that would violate Royer’s privacy, but reiterated that the move was based solely on battlefield decisions.

Mattis is right. The good congressman needs to take a chill pill. There were a lot of things going into that decision, some of which were made known to me from my own contacts from within the brigade. The NY Times article had absolutely nothing whatever to do with the decision.

Beyond defending the USMC from an unjust accusation from an ignorant US congressman, that's all I'm going to say. I haven't published what happened, according to my sources, and I won't. Maybe some of the men of 2-4 who were there will tell the story, based on what happened to them. But there were reasons directly related to battlefield leadership. To my knowledge, no UCMJ charges are pending, nor are warranted now. The officer has been relieved, appropriately.

I will say that the officer may well have been relieved well before - perhaps months before he was actually relieved, but the USMC did not grant certain administrative authority to the Army brigade headquarters, under COL Connor (1-1ID) that may have made it easier to do so. (The USMC is a little touchy about Army commanders disciplining their officers, for some reason, even though Navy officers do it all the time.)

The decision to relieve the officer was in the best interests of the Marine corps, the unit, the mission, and the men.

The matter, congressman, is concluded.

Splash, out


Team Lioness 
Well, I remember them as "Team Tigress" from the summer and fall of 2003, but everyone else seems to know them as "Team Lioness." So Team Lioness it is. And as much as it may pain the Marine Corps to realize that even a fighting cock of their quality cannot justly take credit for the sunrise, there was quite a bit written about the Army's Lionesses well before the Marines of OIF III began using the concept.


And here's a mention from February 2004 (we were still in Ramadi, but just packing up for the most part.)

The women on these teams were terrific soldiers. I'd go to war with them again, any day.

Splash, out


Sunday, May 08, 2005

White Feathers 
I would just love to see someone get a bunch of hot, young, clear-thinking, attractive women together and have them walk around moonbat rallies wordlessly handing these out.

Splash, out


Just how dumb are Euro-trash? 
Holland puts its dimmest and dullest on full display:

Cori Dauber put it best:

"Dutch protesters march in opposition to President Bush's participation in V-E day ceremonies marking their liberation from fascistic oppression because he started a war that liberated millions from fascistic oppression."

Splash, out


Quote of the day: 
One random beating gone too far does not an atrocity make!

Ok, I'm not quite signing on to the logic there. It reminds me of some line I heard in the movie Gettysburg, "The darkies, the darkies! It's always about the darkies!"

Well, the darkies were a big part of it, yeah!

Splash, out


Artist depicts abuses at Abu Ghraib 
The New York Times predictably runs a fellative review of Fernando Bolero, the world's most overrated artist, depicting the abuses of Abu Ghraib using a realist technique not usually encountered outside of a 10th grade art class.

Mr. Botero has not, to our knowledge, bothered to depict the vastly greater levels of suffering that occured at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere under Saddam Hussein.

Splash, out


Shoah biz 
The German ambassador to London is upset because the Brits aren't quite over World War II.

The humour stops when I hear that German children are regularly beaten up and abused by British youngsters who don't know what Germany's about."

Ok, well, that's not funny anymore. But you know what else isn't funny? I met a young German lady with a sort of dark, olive complexion a few years ago. She showed me the scars on her arms she got in high school when gangs of German kids would hold her down and burn her with cigarettes because they thought she was Jewish.

Nope. Can't blame that one on the Muslim immigrants.

Meanwhile, Antisemetic attacks in Germany rose 69% between 2002 and 2003.

Says the German ambassador:

"Like the conquering of the West is part of the American myth, so it is the same with the British and the defeat of Nazism"

Schreien Sie mir einem Fluss, meiner guter.

That wasn't a myth. Those were the people that raised you.

I know good Germans are getting exasperated that they're being raked over the coals again and again for the whole Holocaust thing. But the crimes perpetrated by the German people were so severe, such an affront to humanity, and so historically unique, if not in scale, then in sadistic malevolence, that no two or three generations can possibly wash out the stain on German honor.

Modern Jews are still routinely smeared with blood libel for events that occured nearly 2000 years ago. And Nazi Germans ruthlessly exploited the misconception - as did generations of enthusiastic pogromers before them in Germany and points east.

And so now, with the bodies of some of the Holocaust's perpetrators and victims alik still drawing breath, German diplomats are going to lecture the victors?


I'll forgive. And embrace modern Germans. And there's no excuse for assaulting German schoolchildren. We should be better than that.

But some things are hard to put aside, y'know?


Splash, out




Update: Double heh. Look at the big aqualine Jooooo-lookin schnozzes on the skeeters!

(Via Little Green Footballs)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Doonesbury's riffin' on blogs 
Hey, y'all...

A big shout out to Dadmanly, who noticed some comic strip gettin' down on it with the PIMPIN' milblog thang.

Doonesury's apparently been a comic strip for some time. It's kinda like Day by Day, for college profs.


As soon as I crawl through this monosyllabic testosterone fog that Trudeau thinks all us milbloggers seem to dwell in, I'll see if I can figure out how I can dish up for myself some sort of ironic touch that Trudeau apparently thinks none of us have.

Does Trudeau "get it?"

Did he actually bother reading many milblogs?

Umm, "Air cav????" The 1st Cavalry division is mech now. They have aviation squadrons. But the "Air Cav" concept is a relic of Viet Nam.

Well, spahk out this strip and the weeks following and make up your own mind.

And then remember what I told you back in November 2003: Even when liberals try to be sympathetic toward soldiers, they wind up being insufferably condescending instead.

Peace, out, brothahs.

Moondog 6

The kid with the cell phone 
Ok, so I guess I'm just the last milblogger on the PLANET to comment on the kid who got suspended after a teacher tried to take his cell phone away during a call from his mom from Iraq. I don't know what her access to a phone bank. But my soldiers were 90 minutes away from a phone bank for most of 2003, if they could make a call at all.

Soldiers literally risked their lives for a chance at a ten minute call home.

If I were the 10th grader, and a teacher physically tried to take that cell phone away from me while I was on it (thereby possibly committing battery), I probably would have put that teacher on the ground.

But then, I also know some things about life in Iraq most teachers don't.

It's nice to be bigger now.

Splash, out


"Never been there, didn't do it." 
The USMC denies having landed in Somalia to question locals there about suspected terrorists, as Powerline noted was reported yesterday.

I'm sure the Marine corps isn't lying. Note the carefully hedged denial:

"To my knowledge there has been no Marine activity off the coast of Somalia other than the 5th Fleet ships sailing by on their way to Iraq," he said.

(Did anyone think to ask the Navy?)

Splash, out


More sex assault 
Complaints of UN sexual predations have doubled over the past year.

But not to worry: Kofi Annan is on the ball. He's already come out ahead of the curve by stating that he is "deeply troubled" by the increase.

I'm sure the future victims of the intolerable command climate among UN forces, and the utter failure of the UN to enforce basic standards of decency among the blue helmets, will sleep better at night knowing that.

I'm sure the next UN rapist can expect a very severe counseling session.

Splash, out


Invest while the blood is running in the streets 
That was the advice, I believe, of Sir John Templeton, who made a fortune investing in emerging market stocks during World War II, and held on for the post war boom.

Well, I have got to say, I am a huge long-term bull on Iraq. So hedge fund traders, indexers, folio artists, and diversifiers, here's your chance!

Splash, out


Sexual assault 
Whether the numbers represent an increase in assaults or simply an increase in awareness, 1700 sexual assaults involving members of the military is simply unacceptable.

Some of the 1,700 cases involve more than one assailant or more than one victim. Of those cases:

- 880, slightly more than half, involved an alleged assault by at least one military person against another.

- 425 involved an alleged assault by at least one member of the military against a non-service member.

- 99 involved an alleged assault by at least one non-service member against a member of the military.

- 296 involved an unidentified assailant against a member of the military.

Not cool. And we as leaders need to work to put a stop to whatever it is in the command climate that allows this to fester. Granted, some people will be stupid no matter what you do. But it's hard for me to accept that that number cannot be brought down somehow.

Splash, out


No soup for you! 
A proposal that would ensure that federal employees mobilized as guardsmen or reservists would see no loss in pay while on federal military duty has been dropped from the budget.

The article says, actually, that the amendment would ensure that mobilized federal employees would "continue to receive their full paycheck," which doesn't seem right to me. If so, then that's just ridiculously expensive. But if the federal government orders a federal employee overseas involuntarily, then some sort of mechanism to ensure continuity of pay doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

We need to guard against the tendency of reservists to also be government employees. The political logic of reserve component forces, and the Abrams doctrine requires that we draw on the private sector for our reservists. The danger is that as obligations increase, the only people who will hire reservists and ensure them job security is the government.

That is not a good idea, in the long term, as it only increases the cultural separation between the Army and civilians. If the Army is to be effective, if it is truly to be the extention of the national will, then it imperative that the Army represent America. So that if the Army goes to war, it means that America goes to war behind it, and the Army will never be deployed if the will of America cannot be mobilized along with it.

Splash, out


This isn't good 
The police force in Ramadi, apparently, was defeated and largely disbanded prior to the elections. Maybe Chief Jarda'an, with all his flaws, was the only guy who could have held it together.

At any rate, since police can no longer be recruited from around Ramadi, apparently, the government is bringing in Shi'ites from the south to take over the policing job.

But Ramadi has no functioning local security force. Fearful of or complicit with insurgents, it disbanded before January's national elections and now consists of a handful of traffic officers. As a result, hundreds of predominantly Shiite forces -- including ad hoc militia groups such as the Defenders of Baghdad -- are flowing into Ramadi as part of the latest strategy by Iraq's central government and the U.S. military to stem insurgent violence here.

Outside troops have been dispatched to trouble spots throughout Iraq in a bid to keep a lid on violence in areas where insurgent death threats have rendered the local police ineffective. As a short-term counterinsurgency strategy, such forces have several advantages. First, they and their families are less subject to intimidation than when the forces are in their own area. Also, as Iraqis, they are far more familiar with the territory and less likely to be viewed as occupiers than are U.S. troops.

Yet by pitting Iraqis from different religious sects, ethnic groups and tribes against each other, the strategy also aggravates the underlying fault lines of Iraqi society, heightening the prospect of civil strife, U.S. military analysts said.

Now, I think it's easy to overstate the significance of this. Despite the brutal devastation and anti-Shiite pogroms of Saddam's regime, the differences between the two peoples now are not so great as those that separate, say, Rangers and Celtics fans in the old country.

I think Shiite police officers in a Sunni town is less problematic than Sunni police officers in a Shiite town. And what the Sunnis are really afraid of and really resent isn't the Shia, but the perception of Iranian influence. And the only f***ers those people hate MORE than the Americans are the f***ing Iranians!

They aren't totally alien to one another. But it's not good to learn that the situation in Ramadi has deteriorated to the point that the police force there has essentially been defeated. I believe, and have believed from the start, that the war will be won or lost, ultimately, by the Iraqi security forces. And they have their work cut out for them in Ramadi.

And that job is only going to be that much harder if Shia cops have to overcome ethnic suspicions in order to convert Sunni detainees into Sunni stool pigeons.

It would have been better if, say, Tikrit and Ramadi had simply swapped police forces before this happened. Ultimately, Sunni will have to be able to police Sunni, if this is to work.

I'm not sure about the Post's claim that the insurgents "blew up all but one of Ramadi's police stations, the mayor's office and other government buildings."

As far as I know, the mayor's center still stands.

Maybe someone who's been there since last winter can write in to confirm?


Friday, May 06, 2005

Military cluelessness in general 
Long, but thorough post from a while back I just discovered here.

From a reader... 
if you are going to call
someone an "imbecile," it's best to avoid the raging irony and spell the word

Heh. I had that one coming. :-)


Cori Dauber sums it up 
in one neat little kernel:

First, NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, on Imus, discusses his recent two week long trip to Iraq. He notes (as did Col. Jim Jacobs, an MSNBC analyst who had been on earlier in the week) that the troops completely believe in the mission. But he then said that although "we" (meaning the press) focus on the bombings, 75% of their time is spent helping the Iraqis recover, and the troops see that as their mission.

This seems in some ways to return us to an earlier debate. If that's correct it seems to me to be a self-indictment of the press's performance of enormous proportions. This is one of the best reporters covering the military announcing that the choices made by the press so distort our perceptions of what the troops are doing, that the press is paying little attention to that which the troops themselves consider to be their primary mission.


Yes. And that is why the success of the Iraqi elections came as a surprise to everyone except the people who were actually there.


Last night on CBS, their reporter in Iraq ended by stating ominously that there is an entirely new threat to deal with in Iraq --

"suicide bombers detonated by remote control."

No explanation is offered.

Man, talk about not getting it. Why would "suicide" bombers be detonated by remote, pal?

Well, sure. Cori's right. But more than that, why do they keep sending these naive greenhorn reporters into Iraq? I mean, we were seeing remote control homicide bombs in Ramadi in the summer of 2003. That's almost two years ago, people! I don't think I discussed that bombing here yet (The one we know of for sure happened on or near the University in Ramadi, but there are others we strongly suspected, because of the behavior of the victim/bomber, or whatever he was.

But if CBS was, you know, actually following the conflict, they might have seen this:


Or this incident in which the body of a suicide bomber was found with his foot tied to the car, preventing his escape.


Or, playing the blackmail angle, this going back all the way to 1986:


That's the danger with these knuckleheads - they'll see the same ol' same ol' but they're too ignorant to understand what they're seeing, and so they're report it as some ominous new development in "an increasingly sophisticated insurgency."

Splash, out


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Colonel David Hackworth 
Colonel David Hackworth passed away yesterday, at the age of 74.

I can't tell you how much I learned from him, and from some great leaders who themselves learned from him. He never stopped looking out for soldiers, and never stopped looking out for the Army, even while the Army as an institution wanted nothing to do with him.

He will be missed.


A Marine officer weighs in... 
From a reader:

As a former Marine Officer, I have to agree about the PR issue, except for one thing. If this article was in Stars & Stripes, why don’t you take the reporter to task for not researching whether this warrant was speaking the truth. You know warrants (read: bluster) as well as I do!!!!! Besides, what does an embark warrant know about these kind of operations. I sense a bit of inter-service rivalry, which isn’t surprising.

Looking from afar and still in contact with active Marines, I agree with much of your criticisms regarding present USMC deployment schedules and operational errors. Unfortunately, inter-service rivalry swings both ways. They should have listened to the Army types during handovers.

However, let’s face it. Since WW2, the USMC has trained for assault warfare. We did not forget the “Small Wars Manual”, we just haven’t placed it high on our agenda. At TBS (Officer’s Basic), we heard about it, but it was not part of our curriculum. Assault was; Beach assault, small unit tactics, vertical envelopment, urban warfare. Not a hint of occupation operations. Dunnigan and others have called us “shock troops”, which is a fair description. Where this philosophical difference was clearly evident was on the march to Baghdad. The Army stopped, the Marines fumed.

Let’s stop the slinging here because the truth is both the USMC and the Navy SEALS (of which my Son is training for) have difficulty with protracted land warfare. That is an Army specialty.

Yes, that's true since WWII, the USMC has concentrated on the assault. As has the Army's mechanized infantry and much of its light infantry. But since about 1993-1994, the Army started developing OOTW (Operations Other Than War) in earnest, and the Field Manual on Low Intensity Warfare was popular reading among Army officers, cadets, and senior NCOs. (It was even commercially released at one point!)

The Army also retained a specific counterinsurgency capability in the Special Forces, who are designed to work closely with indigenous populations to further American interests. And as people with SF experience cross pollinated the Army, and as officers and NCOs moved back and forth between light infantry and mechanized units, the Army always retained a certain amount of basic staffing knowledge of the low-intensity conflict.

It didn't have to be that way. Indeed, there's a lot in the USMC heritage that could contribute to the institutional memory for protracted low-to-mid intensity conflicts, which call for a different doctrine and different mindset than the "shock troop" training regimen is designed to create. For instance, the USMC was absolutely instrumental in U.S. policy during the "banana wars" of the 1920s and 1930s in Haiti and Central America, and even in China, if I recall correctly, and indeed worked in very small numbers, and worked closely with indigenous troops, just as they are called to do in Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, today.

They also did quite a bit of counterinsurgency during the Viet Nam war, which was, likewise, a protracted conflict. In some ways, the Marine Corps is ideally suited for long-term work. Not in terms of force structure, because they have a long history of deployments less than one year (i.e., six month sea duty) which plays a hand in their shorter (but more frequent) combat tours in Iraq.

But when it comes to the urban counterinsurgency, relationships are everything. Relationships with local sheiks and constabularies will make or break a unit in Iraq. Is the six month tour of duty conducive to that? I think, in the long run, that's going to be problematic. I think the USMC may do well to consider whether a longer tour of duty would help build and solidify those relationships - which should be nurtured further during a carefully planned relief in place, done with ample time for the carefully built-up personal relationships with Iraqi leaders to be transferred.

This will require a cultural change in the Marine Corps, though, and a good deal of salesmanship to sell to Marine Corps families, who are quite accustomed to the 6-7 month sea duty.

Remember back in the mid 1990s, when the Marine Commandant - I think it was General Krulak - a fine, fine officer - wanted to stop taking in married recruits? Bill Clinton stopped him. I think, in hindsight, General Krulak was right.

The Marine Corps may also do well to reconsider Beirut. Yes, they'll naturally blame Reagan and Congress for sticking them in that hellhole (Can't blame them for prohibiting the gate guard from chambering a round in his weapon, though!). But could the bombing have been prevented had the Marine Corps done a better job in the community? Is there a lesson there for all of us?

I don't begin to pretend to know enough about Beirut to offer an opinion one way or another. But I don't ever recall hearing any professional discussion, as an Army officer, dissecting that mission and considering that question. Maybe the Marines do - I just haven't heard it.

Lastly, in the reporter's defense, I have not seen any major media outlets profile Team Tigress. I'm pretty sure Army Times wrote them up last year, though. But my post on them from last year is still number one on the google search engine. And you'd have to know to input "Team Tigress" to find it by googling around.

Basically, I'm just having fun at the Marine Corps expense. It's what happens to an organization that takes itself too seriously and reads too much of its own press (to the exclusion of everyone else's.)

But the Marine Corps has super warriors in it, throughout its ranks. And you know, I've known for quite a while now that some of those warriors happened to be women. I'm glad my brothers in the Marine Corps finally got round to figuring what the Army's known for years.

'Ere's a pint to the Women Marines.

Splash, out


Designs of The Times 
Now, I'm digging the theory of evolution. As a theist, I regard evolution as one of the mechanisms in a greater theory of intelligent design. But I do not believe that the literalist, die-hard "new earth" creation theory stands up to the evidence available, or even close to it.

Nevertheless, check out the New York Times' headline, here:

Kansas Begins Teaching Headlines on Diluting Teaching of Evolution

No, that is not what is at stake here. There is nothing in Darwinian evolution which postulates the absence of intelligent design. Evolution as Darwin describes could easily occur in a theistic or atheistic milieu - which is its strength. It cannot occur in a "new earth" milieu, which is why new earth creationism is discredited (along with its moonbat adherents.)

The reporter writes it pretty straight, or even tilts slightly to the intelligent designers:

The hearings by the Kansas State Board of Education- one part science lesson, one part political theater - were set off by proposed changes to Kansas's science standards intended to bring a more critical approach to the teaching of Darwinism. The sessions provided perhaps the highest-profile stage yet for the emerging movement known as intelligent design, which asserts that life is so intricately complex that an architect must be behind it. Critics argue that intelligent design has no basis in science and is another iteration of creationism.

Scientists who defend Darwinism are boycotting the hearings, called by the state school board's conservative majority. Nonetheless, a lawyer representing them peppered the other side's experts with queries both profound and personal.

"Can you tell us, sir, how old you believe the Earth is?" the lawyer, Pedro Irigonegaray, asked William S. Harris, a chemist, who helped write the proposed changes to the state standards.

"I don't know," Dr. Harris replied. "I think it's probably really old."

I think the reporter probably understands the nuances of the argument pretty well. But the knuckleheads at the NY Times copydesk either don't, or are trying to kill the baby in the crib with a distorting, misleading headline.

There is nothing about ID that dilutes evolution. ID tries to EXPLAIN evolution, not change it. And students will have a better understanding of the interface between science and theism, and the limits of science, and of evolution itself, for having looked at evolution through the lens of intelligent design.

Splash, out


(P.S., I think that's my greatest post title ever. :-) )

Uppity Women - or the Power of Marine Corps PR 
According to the Stars and Stripes, the Marine Corps made history by using women marines to assist infantry soldiers in searching female Iraqis on raids.


Cultural sensitivities precluded male Marines from searching women, so the female Marines were meant to deflate fears of Iraqi men and women, said the battalion executive officer, Maj. Larry Miller. It was a first in Iraq to have female Marines embedded at the lowest levels of infantry companies and working alongside their male counterparts, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jill St. John, 39, an embark officer with CLB-8.

“This is history. This is huge for us,” St. John said. “I’ve been in the Marine Corps for 18 years, and this is my first opportunity to be out with an infantry company. Even five years ago, the Marine Corps wouldn’t be doing this. This is a major change in how we think women can be used in the military.”

Well, geez, Marine Corps, I hate to burst your bubble. But the Army's been doing that in Iraq for two years already.


But we're glad you've managed to reinvent the wheel. (Next time, listen a little more closely during the TOA, mmmk?)

Splash, out


But I thought invading Iraq was a distraction from the War on Terror? 
"Syria's efforts to improve ties with the US seem to include providing information on possible Islamic terrorist attacks against American and other Western targets in the Middle East. Several recent busts of terrorist operatives in Saudi Arabia and adjacent areas seem to have been at least partially based on tips from Syrian sources."


Marine Cleared in Fallujah Shooting 
Again, my screwed up browser here won't let me do a hyperlink. Take my word for it.

A Marine Corps investigation found that a marine who shot a wounded muj in the head - and who's shooting was captured on camera - acted in self defense, consistent with the rules of engagement and the Law of Land Warfare.

The board found that since mujies in the area had made a practice of booby-trapping their dead and wounded, the marine was justified in firing his weapon.

Works for me. I called for an investigation, originally (and some of you guys gave me a bunch of grief for it, but I'm not here to be a popular guy), because I think the killing of any wounded and unarmed man, especially one who was previously in Marine custody, deserves a look. Our military is a brutal machine, but it is an extention of the will of a democracy with values that include the respect for and regard for human life, and one which rejects the mistreatment of prisoners. If our military is to retain its character, it must be a disciplined force, subject to the rule of law.

Good soldiers and marines understand that, and expect that.

If the marine in question genuinely had reason to fear that the wounded were booby-trapped, and fired in self-defense, then that's cause for mitigation, at the very least.

Now, let's think for a bit on the precedent that sets for other soldiers in the War on Terror. How localized is the insurgent tactic of booby-trapping their wounded? Was it unique to Fallujah? The Al Anbar Province? Since the great diaspora of insurgents fleeing Fallujah, can we now regard that tactic as a nationwide threat?

It's still illegal, absent self defense, to shoot a warrior who is hors de combat . Well, what does that mean, now? Does it mean anything, in Iraq, anymore? Can we hold the guy who murdered the Hungarian helicopter pilot accountable in this context?

Well, clearly, we can. There is no precedent for civilian contractors to booby-trap their dead and wounded. The Hungarian was asking for help. He was clearly not threatening the mujies.

But what do we tell soldiers and marines, now?

Well, I've got a suggestion:

Let the word go forth to all who oppose us that insurgent movements who booby-trap their wounded and dead in order to kill or maim our own troops and medical personnel rendering aid will recieve no protection under hors de combat rules. If an insurgent or terrorist movement does not respect its own wounded, then all mujies still breathing will be considered a threat. Soldiers and marines will double tap anyone on their way through the objective. If combatants in such movements are taken alive, it is out of the goodness and mercy of the heart of the local U.S. commander.

GIve them an incentive to be civilized. Right now they don't have one. But this encourages the enemy to behaved in a civilized fashion for once in their sorry lives, while preserving the rationale for trying and possibly executing those responsible for the shooting of the Hungarian, as well as others.

It also gives commanders something they can explain to their troops, that troops can understand and apply in combat. I know military lawyers hate the idea, and try to avoid it as much as possible, until commanders press them for a solution. But some of us have work to do, y'know?

Splash, out


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ezra Klein and the blind spots of the left 
Blogger Ezra Klein, in his rebuttal of this piece by a man who was once the token evangelical on the New York Times' editorial staff, exhibits a number of rhetorical blind spots on the American left.

Blind spot #1:) "But while no holy war lies on the horizon, it's hard to deny that skirmishes are being fought. Terry Schiavo, the campaign against an independent judiciary, the enormous and obvious power the Christian Right exerts on Republican legislation, and so forth."

This logic ONLY makes sense if one accepts the postulate that it's a bad thing for the Christian Right to exert power and influence on Republican legislation. Of course evangelicals have an influence on Republican legislation. Evangelicals are one of the Republicans' key constituencies. Now, given the sheer number of churchgoers in this country, and given the sheer number of people who have problems with such things as partial birth abortion, it's entirely natural that evangelicals would have a prominent place in the only party that does not reflexively try to demonize them.

News flash: I hate to break it to Ezra, but we live in a representative democracy, last I checked. And in a representative democracy, elected leaders represent THE PEOPLE. Not, say, the faculty senate at Columbia.

The difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives just want singers not to go topless at halftime. Liberals want entire swathes of the electorate silenced.

Blindspot number 2:) So John will have to excuse the hyperbole of his colleagues; there's no jihad occurring, but they can be forgiven for mistaking the unarmed war raging in the public sphere and perverting the government's ability to legislate effectively for something more than it is, as it's already reached a level much worse than it should.

Ezra doesn't bother to get very specific about what he means by "perverting a government's ability to legislate effectively." I can think of a good example, though. How about allowing a Senate minority to hold up a boatload full of judges in order to prevent YOUR Senator from voting on them? How does that not disenfrachise the majority of voters, whose elected representatives are de facto shut out from the debate? YOU elected YOUR Senator to ensure that your views and values are taken into account when it came time to confirm presidential nominees. Only one party is perverting that process. Only one party is disenfrancising the majority of elected representatives in the Senate. Hint: It's the party that wants to silence inconvenient voters.

Blind spot #3.) That said, contemporary public interactions between religion and science are characterized by faith's remarkable hostility to theories and findings that don't support a theological worldview.

Yes, the church jailed Copernicus. That was quite a while ago, though. But I don't even think Klein begins to understand the nature of the issue he's raising. If he thinks that James Dobson and his gang of halfwits characterize the majority, or even a vaguely representative sample of the "public interactions between religion and science," he's so divorced from reality he's got to send monthly alimony checks to the third dimension.

All he seems to be aware of is the interaction between religion and science that is dumbed down enough for even the media to understand. He lives in a world where the media is so mindlessly ignorant about the dynamics of intellectual Christian life that whenever a controversial issue comes up, the only way they can imagine to write about it is by concocting a paint-by-numbers formula interviewing two university professors - at least one of whom will have been suggested by PR firms on the left- and then sleepily log on to the Family Research Council's website to see what the latest knee-jerk idiocy is from the FRC, and then think that that represents the sum total of Christian thought.

Boom. All evangelicals are suddenly tarred with Dobson's baby talk, when the true depth and breadth of the Christian conversation on any given issue is well beyond the depth and breadth of the average reporter.

What's more, I don't believe for a second that serious thinkers within the Church are hostile to empiricism, because empiricism cannot speak to that singular kernel of faith which illuminates both a theistic or atheistic world view.

The theist must deal with Occam's Razor. But logically, an atheistic world view must contend with the question: What caused all this? After all, the doppler shift demonstrates that a rapidly expanding universe did not always exist as it is now. If theism does not prove itself except by self-reference, Atheism fails to explain the evidence. Which is OK, but hardly scientifically sound.

Serious thinkers on both sides of the atheist/theist divide recognize that modern empirical methodology is silent on the existence of God one way or the other. God is not something to be proven or disproven. If God exists, He is beyond the senses upon which the scientific method must rely.

All this is totally lost on Klein, though.

Blind spot #4.) So while religion may not have been separate years ago, and while scientists of faith certainly roam the earth (much like dinosaurs did, by the way),

You can't get much more arrogant and prideful than this, folks. This is one of the biggest blind spots on the pseudointellectual left: Their tendency to look down condescendingly on people of faith. There is nothing mutually exclusive about sound science and faith in God, any more than there's something mutually exclusive about kissing and hugging. Indeed, one is better when combined with the other.

Blind spot #5.) Government vouchers that send four year old kids to schools with indoctrinating curriculums,

Again, the ONLY way this sentence makes sense in context is if one shares the absurd assumptions that A.) Public schools themselves do not attempt to "indoctrinate," B.) That "indoctrination" is neccessarily a bad thing - in fact I would regard it, in most cases, as neutral to good, and C.) If there is indoctrination going on, parents should not be the ones to select it.

All these assumptions fail on their face. But they are commonplace on the left.

Blind spot #6.)Christian leaders arguing that Hindus and Muslims shouldn't be allowed into the judiciary.

Ok, who said this? And why are we considering these knuckleheads representative? Besides, even if true, is this really any different than certain Democrats opposing juducial nominees because of "deeply held religious beliefs?"

Blind spot #7.) Indeed, the story of the past few years has been an ever-increasing, ever-more successful attempt to insert religion into the public sphere without forfeiting any of its perks or constraints (i.e, special tax status).

And again this nonsense only computes if one first accepts the idea that religion does NOT belong in the public square.

Again, liberals don't seek to converse with religious Americans. They don't seek a dialogue. They seek to silence entire congressional districts.

Splash, out


Nonlethal weaponry 
Is nonlethal weaponry feasible? The Armchair Generalist lays out some of the issues here.

I mentioned something about the dream world of the nonlethal munition last night, in another post. Not because I am opposed to the nonlethal munition per se. Quite the contrary, there's enough death in the world already - we don't need to go out of our way to add to it, excepting killing terrorist orcs and their ilk.

But I believe as a practical matter, nonlethal munitions pose problems in areas where troops must routinely use lethal munitions, and anywhere where troops expect to be engaged themselves with deadly force. You cannot reliably mix lethal and nonlethal munitions in a basic combat load. The uniform basic load for a dismounted infantryman is (mumble mumble) magazines, plus one in the weapon.

It's not enough. (mumble mumble) rounds go fast in a firefight.

But soldiers cannot reliably carry significantly more ammo than that. Maybe one or two mags in their shirt pockets. Mags don't work too well in cargo pockets-they bang you to pieces. The point, though, is that the dismounted (or even mounted) soldier has a limited carrying capacity for ammunition.

Now, for every rubber bullet you give him, for every nonlethal munition you give him, that's that much fewer live rounds he can carry. So you send your troops out at a disadvantage.

Now Ali Baba, who has no compunction about using lethal munitions, has no such handicap. He's going to carry a full basic load of live ammo, and seek to engage our soldiers who themselves must carry, say, a 70%-30% mix. When our soldiers are pressed into a fight, that ammo shortage could well make the difference between our soldiers pursuing, and pressing the fight, and being pursued. It could make the difference between gaining fire superiority so we can maneuver against the enemy's flank and kill him, or having to conserve ammo, cede fire superiority, and be forced to withdraw or get flanked ourselves.

It could mean the difference between a small detachment holding out until reinforcements arrive, or getting overwhelmed. Imagine the Rangers in Mogadishu, surrounded in the marketplace that one horrible October night in 1993, if they had had to carry two mags of nonlethal in their UBL!

The situation was dicey enough. Every round counted. Would they have been able to hold out?

Maybe. Maybe not. You don't know ahead of time.

The nonlethal munition has great utility in law enforcement. New technologies will no doubt save thousands of people who ordinarily would have been shot down. And that's a good thing. Even if I don't like protesters-even dumbass, violent protesters, that's a far cry from wanting to see them dead.

But the nonlethal munition has limited utility in a combat zone, where the pitcher aims for the head, and woe be to the hitter who's not willing to first disable the catcher and then charge the mound swinging a bat.

Splash, out


"They are the MINUTEMEN" watch... 
Task Force Baghdad soldiers this morning rescued a man apparently blackmailed into a suicide-bombing mission by terrorist master Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The man exploded his red Kia sedan roughly 15 feet from a barrier to a coalition base in east Baghdad, Iraq. The car bomb failed to detonate properly and the vehicle caught on fire. Soldiers manning the gate reacted quickly and saved the driver, coalition officials said in a release.

An initial investigation revealed that terrorists had kidnapped the driver's family and that he was forced to carry out this suicide-bombing mission to protect his wife and children, coalition officials said.

Michael Moore, you're an idiot.

"Why America must be defeated in Iraq" 
By a guy named Mike Whitney.

The greatest moral quandary of our day is whether we, as Americans, support the Iraqi insurgency. It’s an issue that has caused anti-war Leftists the same pangs of conscience that many felt 30 years ago in their opposition to the Vietnam War. The specter of disloyalty weighs heavily on all of us, even those who’ve never been inclined to wave flags or champion the notion of American “Exceptionalism”.

For myself, I can say without hesitation that I support the "insurgency", and would do so even if my only 21 year old son was serving in Iraq. There’s simply no other morally acceptable option.

Just don't question his patriotism or anything.

Therefore we look for an American defeat in Iraq. Such a defeat would serve as a powerful deterrent to future unprovoked conflicts and would deliver a serious blow to the belief that aggression is a viable expression of foreign policy.

What amazes me is the guy's sheer nihilism: His willingness to abandon large swathes of the Iraqi people - just months after they expressed their political will through largely succesful elections - to the wolves of radical jihadism in order to prove a semantic point:

Those who argue that we cannot leave Iraq in a state of chaos don’t realize that stabilizing the situation on the ground is tantamount to an American victory and a vindication for the policies of aggression. This would be a bigger disaster than the invasion itself. The Bush administration is fully prepared to carry on its campaign of global domination by force unless an unmovable object like the Iraqi insurgency blocks its way. Many suspect, that if it wasn’t for the resistance, the US would be in Tehran and Damascus right now. This, I think, is a rational assumption. For this reason alone, antiwar advocates should carefully consider the implications of “so-called” humanitarian objectives designed to pacify the population. “Normalizing” aggression by ameliorating its symptoms is the greatest dilemma we collectively face.


The Iraqi people be damned. I don't want to make the policy work because if it succeeds, Bush might be inclined to broaden his success and spread even MORE democracy around the Middle East. Therefore, I would rather see Iraqis slaughtered by the terrorists like chickens than see U.S. policy bear fruit.

By the way, the language of "National Liberation" is always a reliable giveaway. When push comes to shove, socialism always abandons the people it claims to serve.

Splash, out


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

"My camera was not nearly enough." 
"Never again," my ass.

Just remember, if the left and the majority of the European population had had its way, this man would still be in charge of Iraq's prison systems:

On several occasions I saw QUSAY SADDAM HUSSEIN walk along the row of cells, open the slot in the door and spray what I believe to be something like mustard gas into the cell...The bodies of the dead were bloated by the gas. They foamed at the mouth and were bleeding from the eyes...The prisoners were screaming. I remember one of them was only about twelve years old. I remember QUSAY shouting something like "Put this bastard in - he's a member of the [X] family'...The little boy was screaming. He was already bleeding from previous beatings. QUSAY killed him along with all the others...The little boy screamed out "I am sorry, I don't want to die, I want my father." QUSAY said, "Your father is in the cell next door", which was true. QUSAY then proceeded to spray him with gas and he died after about ten minutes of agony. We could hear them screaming... I estimate that QUSAY SADDAM HUSSEIN personally murdered between 1200-1300 people during this period."

"Never again" my ass.


Abu Ghraib update 
Via Baldilocks comes this link from a blogger who was there during the Abu Ghraib riot:
Bob Herbert of the NYT has a column where he presents a Conscientious Objectors word as final. Trouble is, I was there too and closer to the action than Aidan Delgado the mechanic.

The compound where the riot took place, compound 8, was run by my Company, the 870th MP Co. The riot also was an escape attempt. It wasn't just a few stone throwers; the sky was black with throw debris, which effectively suppressed the compound towers from their overwatch duties. The stones being thrown represented a deadly force threat. Some of them were head size. It was only when the riot became a danger of a serious breakout attempt and less than lethal force(rubber shot from M203 and rubber point munitions from 12 GA shotguns) had been applied to no effect was the request for deadly force made. When permission was granted, two soldiers fired on the ring leaders. 3 were killed outright, ending the riot immediately. One more died later and 12 more were wounded. I know both of the soldiers who fired; they are good people and only did what they had to do to keep others from further harm. Given that one of the soldiers was using a M249, it could have been a bloodbath. Both soldiers showed remarkable restraint in picking their targets and only using necesarry force. There was a AR 15-6 investigation and CID also investigated. The shootings were found to be justified and both soldiers were decorated for their actions.

This Delgado guy was a mechanic; he was no where near those compounds. I also highly doubt he "confronted" the SGT who fired; he wouldn't have even known who he was. Different unit, not working anywhere near the compounds.

That was my understanding of the situation at Abu Ghraib that day, too.

Thrown rocks are lethal. I mean, ask any Bible scholar about stonings.

Now, had Delgado actually been an eyewitness to the event, he would have understood why his buddy fired on the rioters. But why would Delgado, a mechanic, be screwing around on the towers?

Splash, out


Prayers for a legend 
The great fiddle player Vassar Clements is struggling mightily with small cell lung cancer. His daughter, Midge, requests your prayers.

Splash, out


The best photo work since Allahpundit quit 
This is a really cool blog. The guy gives aesthetic analyses of news photos.

I like it.

I'm gonna be a regular customer there.


Orcs at work and play 
The following are excerpts from the interrogation of captured Iraqi terrorist 'Adnan Elias. Al-Iraqiya TV aired this interrogation on April 21, 2005.

Interviewer: Your name?

'Adnan Elias: 'Adnan Muhammad Elias.

Interviewer: Date of birth?

'Adnan Elias: 1984.

Interviewer: What education do you have?

'Adnan Elias: I got to 4th grade, but I don't know how to read or write.

Interviewer: What do you do for a living?

'Adnan Elias: I clean for the municipality.

Interviewer: To what group do you belong?

'Adnan Elias: The Ansar Al-Sunna, sir.

Interviewer: We tied (the policeman) up and blindfolded him, and then threw him into the trunk. Then we went to the house of the Emir. We untied his hands and eyes, and then punished him.

Interviewer: How did you punish him?

'Adnan Elias: We whipped him.

Interviewer: You whipped him?

'Adnan Elias: Yes, Muhsin did.

Interviewer: And you?

'Adnan Elias: I didn't whip him. I just stood there holding the gun.

Interviewer: Go on.

'Adnan Elias: They told us to take him to the house of Habib 'Izzat Hamu. We took him out there. We said to him: "Why did you do this and that… Why are you after us?" He answered: "It's out of our hands. We get orders." Then we were told to bring a knife.

Interviewer: You slaughtered him?

'Adnan Elias: Yes, sir. Habib 'Izzat Hamu got the knife. He slaughtered him, and when he was dead, he opened his shirt buttons and cut open his stomach.

Interviewer: Who opened him up?

'Adnan Elias: Muhsin, sir.

Interviewer: When a doctor performs an operation he wears a surgeon's mask over his nose and mouth.

'Adnan Elias: No sir, he didn't wear one.

Interviewer: He didn't wear one?

'Adnan Elias: No sir, he didn't wear one. He cut open his stomach and took stuff out.

Interviewer: What did he take out?

'Adnan Elias: I don't know, his guts.

Interviewer: Weren't you nauseous? Didn't you vomit?

'Adnan Elias: You mean Muhsin?

Interviewer: No, you.

'Adnan Elias: I was standing a little bit aside.

Interviewer: And he didn't vomit or get nauseous?

'Adnan Elias: No, sir.

Interviewer: What is he, Dracula?

'Adnan Elias: Huh?

Interviewer: Go on.

'Adnan Elias: Yes, sir. He opened him up, took stuff out, and put TNT and explosives inside. Then he sewed up his stomach with thick thread.

Interviewer: With thread?

'Adnan Elias: Yes. And a needle. He put the buttons back in place...

Interviewer: He buttoned him up.

'Adnan Elias: Yes, he buttoned him up. We were told to take him in the car near the square in Tel A'far. We threw him there and placed his head back on his shoulders.

Interviewer: My God!

'Adnan Elias: 15 to 30 minutes later they told his family to come and get their son. His father came with two policemen. They picked up the body and made no more than two steps – we were standing far away – Ahmad Sinjar pressed the button.

Interviewer: By remote control.

'Adnan Elias: The body exploded on them, and they died.

Interviewer: So his father and the two policemen died.

'Adnan Elias: Yes sir, and we took off.

End transcript.

See the clip, along with others, here.

And remember:

"They are the MINUTEMEN, the Revolution. And they will win."
--Michael Moore

The Herbert Column 
Several people actually wrote in to ask me to comment on this Bob Herbert column today, featuring an interview with a disaffected soldier.

Even though the unit is identified, the 320th Military Police Company, a Reserve unit out of St. Petersburg, FL, Herbert seems to make no attempt to reach the command for comments.

He wasn't happy when, even before his unit left the states, a top officer made wisecracks about the soldiers heading off to Iraq to kill some ragheads and burn some turbans.

"He laughed," Mr. Delgado said, "and everybody in the unit laughed with him."

The officer's comment was a harbinger of the gratuitous violence that, according to Mr. Delgado, is routinely inflicted by American soldiers on ordinary Iraqis. He said: "Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads."

First of all, in my year overseas (actually, closer to 11 months, with 10 in Iraq, but you get the idea), I never ONCE saw a glass Coke bottle, nor did I see any other glass soda bottles. Never. I don't even recall seeing plastic soda bottles. The Iraqis and Brown and Root sold sodas in cans. Think about it: Cans are much, much easier to transport and store in bulk. And I transported sodas in bulk overseas. Hell, I loaded it into the trailers myself, when we opened the Hurricane Point PX.

Second, you just didn't get a chance to shatter ANYTHING over peoples' heads, because, well, genius, if the Iraqis were that close to the vehicles, you either had to A.) man your weapon like a soldier, or B.) Button up completely so no one could toss a grenade through the window.

Besides...think about it. How close to the road to people stand with traffic going 50-60 miles an hour? Unless we were stuck in traffic downtown like everyone else, Iraqis pretty much gave us a wide berth. I couldn't have done it if I wanted to. This soldiers' story does not compute.

And if it DOES, then this soldier is guilty of covering up a crime. Crashing a bottle over someone's head from a moving vehicle is assault with a deadly weapon.

As to whether the Iraqis were known as "Hajis" or "Ragheads," I hardly ever heard the term "Raghead." I heard "Haji" constantly. Or more formally, later on, "I.Z's." Don't ask me what "Z" stood for.

At any rate, either this soldier is lying, or he's guilty of covering up a crime which he should have reported to the chain of command.

Herbert is guilty of credulousness. Geez, didn't he bother to reality-check ANYTHING?

Now, obviously, there were serious leadership lapses at Abu Ghraib in 2003. The chain of command there seems to have collapsed under the strain around that time, and troops were clearly running amok.

Do troops act inappropriately? Sometimes. I believe that much. Have troops exhibited a callous disregard for Iraqi welfare and safety? At times. But such is the exception, by far - not the norm. Nobody wanted to see the innocent suffer. That's why we went over there in the first place.

Mr. Delgado said he had witnessed incidents in which an Army sergeant lashed a group of children with a steel Humvee antenna, and a Marine corporal planted a vicious kick in the chest of a kid about 6 years old.

Ok, Bob...you're a journalist. Who? Where? When? Why? Is there any record of this? Did Delgado file a report? Are there any other witnesses? (If Delgado says no, he's lying. Troops don't travel alone or even by two's. If it happened, there was an American audience. Try doing your job and digging a little bit for once.)

Detainees who had been demonstrating over a variety of grievances began throwing rocks at the guards. As the disturbance grew, the Army authorized lethal force. Four detainees were shot to death.

Mr. Delgado confronted a sergeant who, he said, had fired on the detainees. "I asked him," said Mr. Delgado, "if he was proud that he had shot unarmed men behind barbed wire for throwing stones. He didn't get mad at all. He was, like, 'Well, I saw them bloody my buddy's nose, so I knelt down. I said a prayer. I stood up, and I shot them down.' "

Now, just what sort of moral judgement is Herbert implying by closing with this? Most soldiers would have fired, under those circumstances. (Some people are still living in a dream world of nonlethal munitions.) You think the command took that decision lightly? Ok, Herbert: Why? State your case.

Or admit you don't have one.

The reality is that that guard fired to protect people like Dalgado, who had already relinquished his weapon, the fool.

Splash, out


"Do you believe any of this conduct was in any way encouraged by a chain of command?" he asked. 
"No, sir," she said.

F*** the Troops Update: "An army of criminals, addicts, and psychos." 
Here's a first-class imbicile commenting on this New York Times article about bad recruiting practices:

so what do you do when you’re stuck waging war with an army no one wants to join? you command an army comprised of criminals, addicts and psychos – and ask them to stabilize a place like iraq.

Well, this numbskull's not fit to polish my soldiers' boots. What's sad is he doesn't even realize how ignorant he is. He's just tagged himself with one of Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns:" that thing he does not even know he doesn't know:

The U.S. Army, right now, today, is ragged around the edges, the same way Ricky Henderson's uniform used to get dirty and torn when he was stealing 135 bases.

The U.S. Army, right now, today, is the best-equipped, best-educated, best-trained, and best led army in the history of the republic, and I'm damn proud to be associated with it. Only the Army that defeated Saddam in 1991 comes close (although that one was in decline).

(Obligatory disclaimer about me not being an official spokesperson for the U.S. Army here. I know regular readers are smart enough to figure that out. Bugbrain, however, might track back from his post and try to invent some Pentagon conspiracy, though.)

I am not as familiar with the other services, but I am confident that their experiences won't vary by much.

The troops in it know it already. That's why they are reenlisting at surprisingly high rates. (The bonuses are actually beginning to help us lure people back in who've ETS'd over the last year and who miss the Big Green Family. They know what Pudentella doesn't: The quality of the men and women who serve.

A dumbass like Pudentella wouldn't last a week in the company of my soldiers. Not if he wanted to remain as he is. But chances are he'd reform himself into something much wiser and better, just to keep up with them.

Splash, out


Sunday, May 01, 2005

Drilling down the news 
A former PR man takes an X-ray to the news to reveal the corporate PR industry that leads it around.

"Suits make a corporate comeback," says the New York Times. Why does this sound familiar? Maybe because the suit was also back in February, September 2004, June 2004, March 2004, September 2003, November 2002, April 2002, and February 2002.

Why do the media keep running stories saying suits are back? Because PR firms tell them to. One of the most surprising things I discovered during my brief business career was the existence of the PR industry, lurking like a huge, quiet submarine beneath the news. Of the stories you read in traditional media that aren't about politics, crimes, or disasters, more than half probably come from PR firms.

He does a great job helping readers recognize the scam for what it is: Lazy reporters who don't get out enough and don't develop their own stories.

If everyone read the news this way, reporters would have to get a whole lot more proactive. And Microsoft's Hotmail home page would lose 90 percent of its content.

Via the Ombudsgod

Splash, out


L.A. Times, you're "BUSTED!" 
Patterico catches the L.A. Times deliberately doctoring a Reuters story to remove the satellite evidence that the Italian communist journalist Giuliana Sgrena was lying when she insisted that the car she was traveling was going 30 miles per hour when it was fired on.

Patterico also shows that the L.A. Times edited Reuters' text to read "slaying" rather than the more neutral term "killing."

Great catch, Patterico.

Geez, did the pseudojournalists at the L.A. Times think no one would notice? Are they really that arrogant? Do they really have that little respect and regard the truth?

I would think that altering Reuters' text in such a way may be a violation of their licensing agreement.

But most of all, the public should be angry -- angry that the Los Angeles Times, the monopoly newspaper of one of the largest cities in the nation, deliberately concealed the evidence that clears the checkpoint soldiers of wrongdoing.

The Republic is not well served by this kind of editing. And the Los Angeles Times, once again, should be ashamed of itself.

Splash, out


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