Wednesday, November 30, 2005

How I stopped worrying and learned to love white phosphorus 
WP is a useful tool for the control of fires on the modern battlefield. Without it, we would have to use HE for spotting rounds. HE has a vastly greater lethal radius. HE fills the air with red hot metal. If it hits you, it will burn the crap out of you.

The guys who get hit with fragmentation from high explosive rounds will tell you. They’ll cuss up a storm and tell you “it burns, it f-cking burns!”

Yep. Just like white phosphorus.

The flash burns from a 155 shell explosion will also fry flesh brown, much like in a few of the pictures flying around.

The fragments from a 155 High Explosive shell will shatter or puncture the walls of schools, nurseries, orphanages, apartments, and hospitals alike. The fragmentation from a WP shell does not have anywhere near the velocity or penetrating power of an HE round.

I’ve seen the overpressure from an HE shell shatter windows more than 1000m away from the blast. Needless to say, it plays havoc with eardrums at closer ranges, and the concussion alone from a 155mm HE shell is known to whip soldier’s heads around so much that they get brain damage to go along with their shattered eardrums, even if they escape the fragmentary effects of such a shell.

But this is the shell that would have to replace the WP shell in the doctrinal marking role on the battlefield.

Further, the smoke given off by the HE round is dark grey and black, and is much less visible. Which means we would have to fire MORE HE shells as we walk our rounds to the target, since observers will have trouble observing the HE rounds, particularly at night.

The inevitable result is MORE collateral damage, and MORE noncombatants killed. Not fewer.

I’ve never seen anyone with a WP injury who would not have been dead had the WP round that injured him been a high explosive round.

Furthermore, WP rounds are vital to controlling close air support. Without WP marking, in many cases, we could not control the devastating fires of aircraft with anywhere near the precision we can now.

If we cannot control CAS fires from the ground using WP markers, we will have to use Mk-77 or high explosives on the first run over the target, and adjust fires from that point, rather than use the much less destructive WP marking round and adjust from there.

Again, the result will be the relegation of CAS to an area fires weapon. The collateral destruction in that case will again be vastly greater, since the observer on the ground has no other way to guide and control these fires.

In some cases, the CAS will accidentally fire on friendly positions, because the WP round will not have been available to mark the limit of fires in order to protect friendly troops.

There are end runs around that, such as the use of strobe lights. But those are extremely difficult to coordinate in practice, and are easily duplicated by the enemy.

Finally, without the use of WP, you deny friendly troops precious seconds in the event of an “immediate suppression” smoke mission. If an element comes under fire and calls for smoke to screen it’s maneuver, the observer calls for WP on the first salvo because it builds up much more rapidly than regular smoke rounds. Otherwise, you will have friendly units under fire for an additional 30 seconds to a minute while you wait for your smoke screen to build up.

That’s 30 seconds more for the enemy—who’s exact location may not yet be known—to take aimed shots at you.

The use of WP on the battlefield rather than HE preserves lives and reduces collateral damage. Death from a WP explosion is no more gruesome or horrid than death from an HE explosion, and is a great deal less likely.

Banning it will endanger more lives, restrict the utility of close air support – particularly fixed wing – have a deleterious effect on long developed AirLand doctrine (they don’t call it that any more, but you get the idea), particularly in the Marine Corps) and further encourage the insurgents to take shelter in the civilian population, where they can run photos of babies showing the terrible effects of American high explosive rounds as well.

Banning the use of WP will kill more civilians – the exact opposite of the effect the NYT editorial board desires. The exact opposite of what everyone desires, except, of course, the mujahedeen.

Splash, out


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Editorial deals with sources - Or: Nazi Folk Punks Must Die! 
If Time, Inc. reporters can strike a deal with a family of overtly racist neo-Nazi purveyors of propaganda and agree in advance not to mention the words "hate," "Nazi" "racist" or the fact that they're Holocaust deniers, when it's a nonsense little human interest profile and who cares if they don't get the interview, then what deals are they cutting to get exclusive interviews and information with actual terrorists?

And before you think that this is just a one-off, and that they'd never whore themselves so blatantly for access on more major stories about war and terrorism, stop and think.

And think again.

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."

P.S. There's another word they use in the magazine business for a "junior employee." It's called "reporter."

P.P.S., In a prior life, not so long ago, I was a reporter for Time, Inc - the same company that publishes "Teen People." I read the editorial policy manual when I was hired, and I don't recall any mention that reporters and sources could not discuss the use of language and syntax. The articles stood or fell on their own merits. But you'd think the term "White Pride" would raise a flag on the play before it left the editorial review and story selection process.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Body burning investigation update: In which someone gets hung out to dry 
Centcom has just released its executive summary of the investigation into the body burning incident in Afghanistan.

There were four separate investigations launched, including a criminal investigation.

The bottom line: The investigation found that U.S. Coalition forces did not violate the Law of War.

(Well, geez, we could have told you that right here!)

"The Law of War requires the internment of enemy remains by burial or cremation. In particular, Article 17 of the 1949 Geneva Convention allows for the cremation of enemy remains for hygiene reasons and religious purposes."

Yep. It took me about 25 seconds of Googling to figure that one out.

"Finally, CJTF-76 investigation shows that there was no intent to desecrate, only to hygienically dispose of the enemy remains. The weather was hot, the remains were heavily damaged by gunfire, laying exposed for 24 hours and beginning to rapidly decompose. The unit planned to remain on that hill for 48 to 72 more hours and thus made the decision to dispose of the remains in this manner for hygiene reasons only. THe investigation alos found that there was no action taken to hide this incident."

Gee. Might that have had something to do with the fact that the media's cameras were pointed at the burning bodies anyway?

When ordered to extinguish the remains by a senior officer who was at the time coordinating with local villagers to take custody of the enemy remains for burial, the unit complied immediately.

Ok now comes the wierd part:

CJTF-76 Soldiers are given basic training on the Law of War which only covers that enemy combatants may be buried or cremated, but does not go into the procedures that are to be followed. Procedures for cremation are much more extensive than what the Soldiers on the ground understood.

Translation: CJTF-76 training was inadequate.

While not a violation of the Law of War, the burning of remains is not an acceptable practice according to Islamic religious beliefs and customs. CJTF-76 acknowledges that Islamic custom calls for the burial of the dead within 24 to 72 hours of death, and that any burial should be conducted by Muslims.

True, but these bodies had been dead for more than 24 hours already by the time they were cremated. Local residents already had had ample time to come pick them up. The fact that, unbeknownst to the troops on the ground, a senior officer was arranging for a pickup, does nothing to change the decisionmaking process on the ground. The unit leader had to make a decision with limited knowledge.

The fact that the battalion commander was in the village working on a pickup tells me that the unit had already called higher and said "what do you want to do with these guys, boss?"

Apparently, no one told the unit they were coordinating a pickup if they could just wait a little longer.

I probably would have cremated the bodies when they became a health hazard, too, unless someone told me specifically not to because a pickup was imminent.

There's nothing in the report that suggests that any such communication was sent to the platoon on the hill.

The soldiers at Gumbad did not have a thorough knowledge of the local Afghan traditions with respect to burial. This incident was the first time that this unit had killed enemy combatants at close range and had to determine what to do with the remains.

Translation: Again, CJTF-76 training was inadequate.

And CJTF-76's solution?

Based on the criminal investigation, there was no evidence to substantiate the allegation of desecration or any violation of the Law of War. However, there was evidence of poor decision-making and judgment, poor reporting and lack of knowledge and respect for local Afghan customs and tradition. Two Soldiers displayed poor judgment during this incident. They have receive General Officer Memorandums of Reprimand.

I hope one of the soldiers who received a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand was one of the guys who let this crap get to the level of a criminal investigation in the first place.

The other would be to whoever was responsible for the inadequate training in cremation procedures received by the unit on the ground. It's not like they could just Google the FM from the field. And it's not like they hadn't already waited 24 hours.

Somehow, I suspect it went to the LT on the ground.

Far be it from me to criticize the CG. So rather than say what I really think about this and earn myself a nastigram from someone, I'm going to say nothing but "duly noted, Sir. I see how it works."

And then be very careful about which commands I work for in the future.

Readers will understand what I'm saying.

Splash, out

UPDATE: The Associated Press makes sure to get a comment from a "Taliban commander."

Fuck them.

If I was the AP reporter and I got the Taliban commander on the phone wonder if the AP reporter asked him why the Taliban leaves the bodies of their own dead to rot, and why he's a good muslim if he disrespects his dead like that.

I'd also mention a few women his men had raped and murdered along the way, and ask just how halal that was, and how come his ratfucks didn't give them a proper burial after they were through with them?

I think that would have made for a more compelling news story, don't you?

UPDATE: More at RantingProfs. An National Nitwit has the inside story you WON'T hear about in the news.

Another one bites the dust 
Looks like we stomped on another cockroach.

A big one, with wings and stuff.

Shifting Sands 
American Future has put together a very valuable account of how malleable the New York Times' editorial board has been on Iraq and disarmament going back to 1993.

Except for a brief period during 1994, The Times’ editorial position was distinctly hawkish during the Clinton presidency. At no time did the Times express any doubts regarding the credibility of intelligence information pertaining to WMD...

Notwithstanding their preference for inspections, the editors did not shy away from advocating the use of air strikes – including unilateral American air strikes – if the obstacles constructed by Saddam made it impossible for the U.N.’s inspectors to fulfill their missions. The Times endorsed every U.S. military operation ordered by Clinton. None of the editorials insisted that the U.S. must obtain Security Council approval before undertaking a military action, nor did they require that military operations – unilateral or multilateral – be authorized by new Security Council resolutions. When the editors criticized the Clinton administration, it was for being too dovish, not too hawkish. They leveled similar criticisms at the U.N. Security Council. China, Russia and especially France were taken to task for giving priority to their commercial interests over coming to grips with the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD.

More to follow in a future installment.

Still there 
What they said.

Splash, out


Friday, November 25, 2005

The media: A grunt's eye view 
Columnist Mona Charen documents the vast gulf separating our troops from the reporters who cover them.
There was plenty of progress to report, if the press had been interested. When the battle of Fallujah was over, the Marines set up a humanitarian relief station in an abandoned amusement park. Together with Iraqis locally hired and trained for the purpose and with an assist from the Iraqi ministry of the interior, they distributed rice, flour, medical supplies, baby formula, and other necessities to thousands of Iraqis. For six weeks, Bowers reports, the distribution went beautifully, "like a well-oiled machine." Not worth a story, apparently. Only when something went wrong did the press see something worth reporting. A small group of Iraqis were turned away from the food distribution point, though they had been waiting in line for hours. They were given vouchers and told they could come to the front of the line the next morning when supplies would be replenished. These few unhappy souls were then besieged by press types eager to tell their story.

At the same site, the Marines had repaired an old Ferris wheel. The motor was dead, but when two Marines pushed and pulled by hand they could get the thing turning to give rides to the children of the Iraqi employees. They did so for hours on end. A photographer from a large American media company watched impassively. "Why don't you take a picture of this?" demanded one Marine. The photographer snorted, "That's not my job."

French Jews voting with their feet 
The number of French Jews emigrating to Canada has doubled every year for the last few years.
It's not hard to see why:

There have been dozens of synagogues and community centres firebombed, Jewish schools covered with anti-Semitic graffiti and set on fire, kosher shops peppered with bullets, and tombstones toppled and desecrated, a domino effect of nauseating proportions. In Paris, on the statue of Alfred Dreyfus, the words "sal juif" -- "dirty Jew" -- were painted in 2002, an epithet that has made a comeback in parts of France, although perhaps not spray-painted on brick or stone as often as "Jews Get Out..."

"We are emigrating to Quebec for our children. You will find that this is the case with many of the Jews leaving. Even with all the aggressions, we are in many ways comfortable here. We have nice homes, jobs, family and a rich cultural life. We just can't see a Jewish future in France. There are the attacks [by extremists], but almost worse, we feel there is lethargy in this country to help us against the abuses."

In 2002, the same year Jean-Marie Le Pen's extreme right Front National party came second in the general election, the same year hundreds of anti-Semitic crimes were recorded, the same year Le Monde published an article so searing in its anti-Jewish sentiment that a French court has since found its writers and editor guilty of "racial defamation," French President Jacques Chirac admonished a Jewish editor to "stop saying there is anti-Semitism in France. There is no anti-Semitism in France."

The French capacity for denial has always been nothing short of startling. Not only is it clear that Jacque Chirac is unwilling to confront the growing virus, but as the events of the last three weeks have demonstrated, France is wholly unwilling and unable to impose law and order in order to protect much of anybody - much less a despised minority.

We were very lucky that the French-Arab rioters stopped short of targeting Jews. Had they decided to turn their riots into pogroms, the devastation to the Jewish communities in France would be severe. And the French government would do nothing to stop them.

I wouldn't hang around long if I were a French Jew with a family depending on me to look out for them, either.

Splash, out


Now available 
A limited edition, signed by the photographer, of this photograph.

Go to Michael Yon's site for details.

Update: A reader writes in to say that the soldier in the photo, Major Mark Beiger, received a silver star recently for a separate action.

Staff Sgt. Wesley Holt, Sgt. Joseph Martin and Maj. Mark Beiger received their Silver Stars for their efforts on Dec. 29, 2004, following a truck bomb attack and ambush on a combat outpost in Mosul. Holt and Martin moved under heavy fire to disable and then control the detonation of five improvised explosive devices that threatened Soldiers responding to the ambush.

Bieger moved under fire to evacuate casualties from the outpost, transported them in his Stryker through the firefight to a nearby combat support hospital, and then returned to add his vehicle’s firepower to the fight.

In all, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, has issued five silver stars and twenty six bronze stars with "V" devices, signifying for valor. More still being processed.

I'd go to war with Kurilla and the deuce four any day. Not bad for active duty guys.

Compare and Contrast 
While the knuckleheads at Think Progress and Pandagon are bemoaning the use of White Phosphorus on terrorists in Fallujah, the moojies have once again outdone themselves, setting off a bomb while American troops were passing out candy to children, and killing 30 and wounding 40 more. Mostly women and children, according to the Associated Press.

The New York Times misses the candy angle altogether, and edits it down to "near an American convoy."

The New York Times also blows another aspect of the story: It notes a bombing in the Southern Iraqi town of Hilla, killing at least three, without further comment or description. It fails to note what the AP gets: The bombing targeted a crowded soft drink stand.

The difference between the two accounts is huge: Where the Associated Press is pulling no punches and describing the attacks as the monstrous atrocities they are, the New York Times account makes them look like legitimate acts of resistance against military targets.

Furthermore, the Times can't resist getting a not-so-subtle dig at U.S. forces:

The recent spate of suicide bombings has called into question the American military's assertions that it has effectively clamped down on such attacks.

The Times' failure to note the relevant details of the recent suicide bombing attacks calls into question their willingness or competence to accurately report the war.

Splash, out


Hat tip to Phil Van Treuren

Camp Katrina makes a sharp observation:

Col Bubp disavows remarks 
For the record: Seems that Col Bubp, the USMC officer quoted by Representative Schmidt as saying "cowards cut and run, Marines never do." is distancing himself from those remarks.

Better living through chemistry 
Oh, please oh please oh please oh please oh please

Murtha's a hawk like OJ's a Promise Keeper 
Somehow, the Washington Post got through this fawning profile of Senator John "The Hawk" Murtha without once mentioning that Murtha's been toeing the "Iraq was a mistake" line since September 2003 (so it's not exactly a 'man bites dog' story that he's become a full-fledged surrender-monkey now, and it's certainly no "about face, as the headline asserts) and that he was one of the first people in Washington to lose his nerve over Mogadishu.

Murtha's a hawk like OJ's a Promise Keeper.

Splash, out


Selective memories in the media 
As the media and the usual gang of handwringers fret and strut about whether President Bush may have suggested hitting Al Jazeera, let's see how many of them remember that Bush was not the first president to have bombed TV stations, and indeed, several were hit under NATO auspices, under the command of General Wesley Clark.

Tony Blair was already the Prime Minister of the UK at the time. And Blair himself said that the attack on the Belgrade TV headquarters, which killed more than ten civilians, was "entirely justified."

Was Labour screaming for his head then? Were the London tabloids?

I doubt it.

Splash, out


Morroccan-Spanish Al Qaeda ring smashed 
Debka is reporting that a large Al Qaeda ring planning attacks on American, Israeli, and European targets has been destroyed by security agencies in Belgium, Germany, the UK, Holland, and Denmark.

Debka is also reporting that U.S. Marines, pursuing several Al Qaeda leaders who had fled Mosul into Syria, have clashed with Syrian troops.

This is a major development if true.

Nothing yet on CENTCOM's site. Debka has a reputation of being somewhat less reliable than Drudge.

But Syria cannot be allowed to harbor Al Qaeda leaders without risking serious blowback. Syria cannot be allowed to offer Al Qaeda a safe haven for operations in Iraq. We have the leverage to push Assad on this matter. Assad has far more to lose than we do. The sheikhs upon whom he relies for power do not want an open confrontation with the U.S. It's bad for business. Al Qaeda's bad for business. Watch, too, what happens in Lebanon if the people there believe that Syria's Ba'ath party is on its last legs.

Pursue Al Qaeda wherever they are.

Splash, out


Why I oppose the death penalty 
Because it appears Texas executed an innocent kid.

I've always opposed the death penalty. Not because I care if Paul Bernardo or Ted Bundy or Adolf Eichmann dangle at the end of a rope - and there are others I'd love to see fry, whose guilt is not seriously in doubt - but because I don't make bets I can't afford to lose.

Maybe we should be ending prosecutor's and judges' careers where evidence like this comes up, even years after the fact. That should balance the tendency of the electorate to drool for blood, give every prosecutor or judge a healthy incentive to be very circumspect about when he seeks or imposes the death penalty, if ever.

Fry an innocent man, get disbarred.

It's the law.

Splash, out


Letters, I get letters 
"I wrote the article about Sergeant Guzman, and I saw your post just now. I apologize for the delay.

I am not on staff at the NY Times. I am a Columbia Journalism student who profiled an army recruiter for a class assignment and sold it to the Times. The recruiter, Staff Sergeant Richard Guzman, told me that recruits from the Marines, special forces and infantry were being fast-tracked to combat from boot camp. One detail he didn't explain to me was that recruits were sent to specialty schools after basic, and from there they were shipped to combat. A correction ran the next week after an irate reader wrote the Times. But even after that, Guzman didn't disagree with the "from basic to combat" leap, though I now see that this sentence overstated the situation. Of course, he's never been to combat, so perhaps he's not as well-versed as someone who has been through the rigors of combat training.

One of the reasons I profiled the recruiter was because I felt that so many negative stories were coming out in the Times and elsewhere detailing the stresses of recruiting in an unpopular war, and I wanted to see if recruiting in an urban environment like Harlem was any different than in, say, San Antonio. The reason I think the Times picked it up is because there was a void in this kind of military coverage. One reason for that might be access: it was incredibly difficult to gain access to the Harlem Knights Recruiting Center, and after I did, the doors were closed behind me.

The Times may have its faults, but I had only good intentions in showing this previously sequestered world to the population at large. I feel my reporting was balanced -- I wanted to be a fly on the wall, nothing more, in order to show people a world they would otherwise not have seen. Please don't paint the Times with such a critical brush for taking a chance on a grad student; the paper may have its flaws, but they ran a basically positive piece during a critical juncture in the conflict and they didn't have to -- they could have just run another piece by Damien Cave showing how recruiters hate their jobs. I would appreciate your feedback.

Jennifer Mascia"

I was probably that "irate reader!"

Here's what I wrote back:

Jennifer did a super human interest profile, but was ill-served by the absence of any kind of editorial backup at the New York Times. Even when they ran the correction, they still couldn't get it right, because they live in a bubble in which there are few people on staff with any military experience.

I think Jennifer's a very promising reporter, a good writer with a deft eye for detail, and I told her not to be discouraged by a cantankerous blogger like me, and not to be intimidated by anybody except anal fact checkers. --Jason

What would we do without studies? 
Study: Domestic Abuse Tied to Health Ills

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Why we fight 
While the Daily Kos and the leftist handwringers are pulling their hair out over whether the U.S. might have used White Phosphorus on armed combatants in full compliance with the laws of war, our enemies are targeting children by booby-trapping dolls with explosives.

Why I'm thankful 



Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Irresponsible journalism:" Al Jazeera should check their facts 
Jordanians are getting fed up with Al Jazeera. (p.s., the Israeli press gets a good thrashing, too!)

Via the excellent Athena.

"A Public Relations Failure" 
I've been waiting all week to pounce on the New York Times over the White Phosphorus story. I was sure they'd make a hash out of it. And I knew they couldn't ignore it much longer.

Credit where credit's due, though, I'm pleased to say that New York Times reporter Scott Shane gets it about right.

On Nov. 8, Italian public television showed a documentary renewing persistent charges that the United States had used white phosphorus rounds, incendiary munitions that the film incorrectly called chemical weapons, against Iraqis in Falluja last year. Many civilians died of burns, the report said.

The half-hour film was riddled with errors and exaggerations, according to United States officials and independent military experts. But the State Department and Pentagon have so bungled their response - making and then withdrawing incorrect statements about what American troops really did when they fought a pitched battle against insurgents in the rebellious city - that the charges have produced dozens of stories in the foreign news media and on Web sites suggesting that the Americans used banned weapons and tried to cover it up.

The Iraqi government has announced an investigation, and a United Nations spokeswoman has expressed concern.

"It's discredited the American military without any basis in fact," said John E. Pike, an expert on weapons who runs GlobalSecurity.org, an independent clearinghouse for military information. He said the "stupidity and incompetence" of official comments had fueled suspicions of a cover-up.

"The story most people around the world have is that the Americans are up to their old tricks - committing atrocities and lying about it," Mr. Pike said. "And that's completely incorrect."

Daryl G. Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, a nonprofit organization that researches nuclear issues, was more cautious. In light of the issues raised since the film was shown, he said, the Defense Department, and perhaps an independent body, should review whether American use of white phosphorus had been consistent with international weapons conventions.

"There are legitimate questions that need to be asked," Mr. Kimball said. Given the history of Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons in Iraq, he said, "we have to be extremely careful" to comply with treaties and the rules of war.

The Times pulls no punches in establishing that WP ordnance is not a chemical weapon, nor is it banned by any treaty to which the US is signatory. And also debunks the video evidence:

The film showed disfigured bodies and suggested that hot-burning white phosphorus had melted the flesh while leaving clothing intact. Sigfrido Ranucci, the television correspondent who made the documentary, said in an interview this month that he had received the photographs from an Iraqi doctor. "We are not talking about corpses like the normal deaths in war," he said.

Military veterans familiar with white phosphorus, known to soldiers as "W. P." or "Willie Pete," said it could deliver terrible burns, since an exploding round scatters bits of the compound that burst into flames on exposure to air and can burn into flesh, penetrating to the bone.

But they said white phosphorus would have burned victims' clothing. The bodies in the film appeared to be decomposed, they said.

The article doesn't break any new ground. But it doesn't have to. Reporters shouldn't be pressured to break new stories where there are no stories to break. That's how crap stories like this one wind up seared into public memory in the first place.

The Times article could have benefited from a sidebar backgrounder on the history of WP and maybe an infographic depicting its doctrinal use as a marking round. But maybe that's a job for USA Today.

Splash, out


CNN misrepresenting soldiers 
Don't know how long it's going to be up, but go to this page at CNN and click on the video feed "guaging morale"

(The link, which is 2 minutes 36 seconds long, is broken in the body of the article, but it works fine if you click the video on the menu to the right.)

The piece is basically a nondescript color piece in which the reporter interviews soldiers talking about the chow and how when they go home on leave, the don't like telling people they're in the infantry in Iraq.

I don't mention it much in public either with people I don't know. I just don't feel like dealing with the idiots. But I digress.

At any rate, in the body of the article, the link says "watch how soldiers' morale is declining."

And the blurb intro for the link says that "for some soldiers, survival is their only concern."

My objection: The actual news report says nothing of the sort. At all. The piece does not establish a morale problem. If anything, morale seems to be good among the soldiers featured. They're just frustrated people back home don't understand.

But CNN totally misrepresented the soldiers quoted. Totally.

Splash, out


Taking off the gloves 
The Iraqis have had it with the terrorists, and they're gonna win this fight any way they can. Even if it means deploying the most heinous and cruel weapons known to man.

Not sure if those are Bb chanters. If so, it won't be long now.

No wonder so many moojies would rather die in place than be taken alive.

Splash, out


Seizing the initiative 
That's what's happening in Ramadi this week, with just under a battalion's worth of U.S. and Iraqi troops participating in Operation Asad (Operation Lion).
The operation is taking place in the Tamim area, which lies on a gentle slope overlooking the highway that approaches Ramadi from the southwest.

It's long been a nasty little area, and more than a few U.S. troops have lost their lives along that stretch of highway, from IEDs and sniper fire. Come to think of it, Tamim is particularly vulnerable to moojie snipers because it's one of the very few areas in the region a skilled marksman can get off a long range (500m and up) shot at a major highway from some cover.

Watch for captured Dragonovs.

Terrorists in Ramadi are keen to disrupt the elections any way they can, and one of their lairs in Ramadi is Tamim.

Tamim is also near the university. It figures.

The best way to disrupt their efforts is to disrupt them FIRST.

With any luck, we'll hit some weapons stashes, capture some RPGs, IED making materials, and Dragonovs. Sometimes you'll come across a house with a sand table on the roof or inside, which moojies use the same way we do: To brief, plan, and rehearse upcoming operations.

Indeed, we've already drawn blood in the last fortnight, sending a platoon's worth of moojies to their rendezvous with death:

Since Nov. 16, operations by the Iraqi Army and 2-BCT have resulted in 32 enemy killed and the seizure and destruction of four weapon caches, to include: surface to air missiles, rocket propelled grenades, numerous rockets, mortar rounds, artillery rounds, hand grenades, landmines, small arms, small arms ammunition and various IED making equipment.

Now, here's what I don't get:

It's against the rules for any imbedded reporter (or blogger, for that matter) to mention the exact numbers of troops involved any any operation. It violates OPSEC.

So how come CENTCOM can do that very same thing right on their press release for an operation that is still ongoing?

Just sayin, y'know?

Splash, out


Big leaps 
The Iraqi Army is now conducting air assault missions.

Air assaults are very challenging, involving a great deal of staff work and specialized troop training. They can stretch officers and NCOs to the limit.

The fact that Iraqi troops are now capable of conducting air assaults alongside the 101st, the masters of the art, is very encouraging.

Will any national news outlets grasp the significance of this development?


Splash, out


I was pretty ticked 
To see that CNN whored itself out with coverage of a meeting in Tikrit disrupted by the nearby impact of a mortar shell. They aired it repeatedly today, listing where it happened and approximately when.

If the impact was, indeed a mortar, then we have effectively advertised the distance and direction from the mortar firing point to the palace for the moojies to see on Sattelite TV. We've confirmed what they may not have known: That their mortar settings were correct.

That's the kind of information that could easily cost a life down the road.

That info should have been blacked out, if the crew was embedded, or CNN should have waited a few days, or not mentioned the city, or both.

Meanwhile, CNN had no coverage whatsoever on the most important thing going on in the country right now: The offensive near the Syrian border. None.

So CNN whored itself out for 10 seconds of compelling video, while simultaneously endangering our troops and failing its responsibility to its viewers to help them understand what's going on in Iraq.

That's quite an accomplishment for one segment.

Splash, out


You think winning is hard? You should see what losing looks like! 
Neptunus Lex has a vision of the future the surrender monkeys are trying to create for the people of the middle east.

It's ugly.

Well, I had Murtha pegged. 
Turns out last week wasn't the first time John Murtha lost his nerve in the daunting face of inferior force. This guy makes cutting and running a habit.

Splash, out


Monday, November 21, 2005

Letters, I get letters 
Here's one from Mr. Robert Hayes:

Good writing.  Somebody needed to put Murtha in his place.  Who cares how many wars he's been in or how many medals, awards and degrees he's got? (Certainly not me! -- ed.) He's a Democrat.

 Nobody will notice that Representative Col. Danny R. Bubp (R-Ohio) is not a "committed Marine commander in the field".  (He's a lawyer.)
Or that Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) has never served in the military, though she did beat out Democrat Major Paul Hackett (who is an Iraq veteran) for her seat.

It's good to find somebody (besides the White House) who realizes that "facts" and "record" sometimes need to be... corrected ...so that the ignorant masses will support the Grand Old Party - err, I mean the troops.  Well, same thing, right?  No.

I'm not ignorant.  I don't like bigots or liars.  Moore included.  You included.

Don't bother to respond.

Mr. Hayes is correct to note that the Marine Representative Schmidt quotes is not a Marine commander in the field, as I erroneously stated in a previous post. I understand now he is actually a state legislator in Ohio.

Mr. Hayes goes further than that, though, and calls me a "bigot" and a "liar."

I hold that neither has been established. It is true I published an erroneous fact, which I acknowledge and hereby correct. However, it does not follow that I am therefore a liar. To establish that requires the establishment of intent - a rather obvious test that seems to be increasingly lost on the idiot wing of the Democratic party.

I have no idea where the "bigot" accusation comes from. The author doesn't bother to provide any support for that charge either against me or Moore.

I'm mostly interested in the "bigot" charge, though. So let the evidence be brought forth! It will either be an opportunity for self-examination and growth, or it will be an opportunity for much laughter, mirth and merriment at the expense of some frothy-mouthed morons. Maybe some combination of the two.

Sounds like a good thing all around, no?

Splash, out


UPDATE: Some will no doubt argue that I am indeed bigoted against the French. This is not true, except insofar as the corelation coefficient between French nationals and arrogance, nihilism, opportunism, disloyalty to Western ideals concerning liberty and brotherhood and human rights, bribe-taking, and the willingness to castrate oneself on the battlefield or in order to avoid the battlefield altogether remains positive.

It is true, on the whole, that I have an innate and reflexive bias against surrender-monkeys of all stripes, be they cheese-eating wine stompers or former Marines in congress. A surrender-monkey is a surrender-monkey is a surrender-monkey.

Surrender is, and should be, unthinkable.

Splash, out


The Greatest Sales Letter Ever Written 
Date: 1260 A.D.

From: Hulegu Khan, emissary of the Great Khan, the King of Kings of the East and West.

To: Qutuz the Mamluk, who fled to escape our swords.

SUBJECT: The coming of the Mongolian Horde

Dear prospective subjugate:

You should think of what happened to other countries ... and submit to us.

You have heard how we have conquered a vast empire and have purified the earth of the disorders that tainted it. We have conquered vast areas, massacring all the people. You cannot escape from the terror of our armies.

Where can you flee? What road will you use to escape us? Our horses are swift, our arrows sharp, our swords like thunderbolts, our hearts as hard as the mountains, our soldiers as numerous as the sand.

Fortresses will not detain us, nor arms stop us. Your prayers to God will not avail against us. We are not moved by tears nor touched by lamentations. Only those who beg our protection will be safe.

Hasten your reply before the fire of war is kindled ... Resist and you will suffer the most terrible catastrophes. We will shatter your mosques and reveal the weakness of your God and then we will kill your children and your old men together. At present you are the only enemy against whom we have to march.

I look forward to a long and productive relationship.


Executive Yurt

It's got it all. The author wastes no time getting to the business proposal. The prospect knows what he's being asked to do from the very first paragraph. The rest of the letter serves to build the case. The prose is forceful and exquisite throughout, the imagery concrete and vivid. The author sticks to the active tense.

The second paragraph establishes the credibility of the firm and builds upon the Mongol brand - already well known throughout the region at that time, thanks to a distinctive and consistent corporate identity centered around encirclement, rape, destruction, fermented goat milk, and slaughter.

The third paragraph serves to address anticipated objections to the sale - establishing the superiority of the Mongolian market vision and product over the alternatives. Note the effective use of repetition and parallel construction.

The fourth paragraph again establishes the credibility of the Mongol brand, and offers a warrantee against the failure of Mongol, Inc. to deliver as promised due to devine intervention or those pesky customer lamentations.

Finally, the letter closes with a restatement of the offer, a call to action, and a powerful incentive to act now.

Good and timeless stuff. A must read for any commercial copywriter.

Splash, out


Sunday, November 20, 2005

U.S. Stomps on a cockroach? 
Looks like we might have killed Zarqawi again.

Now, that was the first report. And first reports are almost always wrong. But it's unusual for garden-variety scumbags to resist like this when cornered. The fact that three of these guys apparently blew themselves up to avoid capture tells me that if we didn't catch Zarqawi, we caught somebody big.

I hope it's Zarqawi. See you in Hell, motherfucker.

Others have noted the timing is interesting, and I agree. This capture comes just as Zarqawi's family publicly disowns him, and within days of the female failed suicide bomber being captured. It also comes very soon after Zarqawi well overplayed his hand, threatening to behead the King of Jordan and slaughtering dozens at a wedding party in an Amman hotel.

It could be that the bomber sang like a canary and sold out part of his safehouse network, leading directly or indirectly to his capture.

It could be that a close associate of his was sufficiently horrified by the attack in Jordan that he was betrayed by someone close to him.

It may be a combination of both.

Even if it's not Zarqawi, though, it's clear that U.S. forces hit a sensitive nerve with this one.

We've got friends in Mosul. Mosul is the same town that tipped us to Uday and Qusay's vile presence back in 2003.

It's a rough neighborhood, sure, but we've got our team in there, too.

Splash, out


UPDATE: The White House is downplaying the likelihood of it being Zarqawi.

Coalition Forces Stomp on Another Cockroach 
This time we nabbed a bomb-maker and technology expert for Al Qaeda.

Nine more terrorists were taken down in two separate operations elsewhere in Iraq.

And this CENTCOM press release details a number of recent successes on the part of increasingly active and heads-up Iraqi security forces.

The Iraqi Army took the lead in a cordon and search designed to ferret out anti-Iraqi forces cell leaders tied to the development, distribution and emplacement of improvised explosive devices. During the operation in Sadr City, the Soldiers from 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade, along with U.S. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, detained 23 individuals and seized weapons, ammunition, and terrorist propaganda materials.

This is just one example of the Iraqi Army’s ongoing presence throughout Baghdad as its Soldiers thwart terrorist activities in local neighborhoods. During the three-day period, Iraqi Army units conducted more than 1,250 patrols.

In another cordon-and-search operation Nov. 15, a platoon from 1st Battalion, 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade nabbed five members of an anti-Iraqi forces cell who were planning an attack on the Italian Embassy in Baghdad. The Iraqi Soldiers also seized two vehicles which the terrorists had planned to use in the attack.

U.S. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division conducting operations in southwestern Baghdad conducted a knock and search of a house Nov. 15. When the owner appeared reluctant to open a shed on his property, the Soldiers grew suspicious and searched the building. Inside, they found wires, computer parts, timers and 14 magazines for AK-47 assault rifles. The individual was detained for further questioning.

An alert Iraqi Police officer discovered an improvised explosive device in a black bag near a bus stop in west Baghdad Nov. 16. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division responded to the incident. An explosive ordnance disposal team summoned to the scene confirmed the bag contained an anti-tank mine wired to a detonation device. The EOD team recovered the explosives and rendered the area safe.

Splash, out


Well, I didn't make the deck of cards... 
...so I guess I'll invest in a cheap bottle of mouthwash and a dental dam and spend the next couple of weeks turning five dollar tricks in the local Pilot station truck parking lot until I get back my sense of self-esteem.

But congratulations to these terrific bloggers who made the clubs suite reserved for military bloggers.

American Soldier — Ace of Clubs
Blackfive — King of Clubs
MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy — Queen of Clubs
Froggy Ruminations — 10 of Clubs
Michael Yon — 9 of Clubs
Wuzzadem — 8 of Clubs
Smash - Indepundit — 7 of Clubs
Mudville Gazette — 6 of Clubs
Risawn — 5 of Clubs
Bloodletting (Doc Russia) — 4 of Clubs
Argghhh!!! — 3 of Clubs
Baldilocks — 2 of Clubs

My comments: Mudville Gazette's only the SIX???? He ought to be the ACE! With Smash and Blackfive close behind.

I've never read Risawn, Wazzadem, or MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Guess I'm gonna have to start. (Like I can compete with the beauty of a Risawn or Baldilocks! AS IF!!!!!)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Cut off in Najaf 
Good footage from a Blackwater security team here.

Interesting background from an anonymous and third-hand source (I cannot vouch for its provenance but maybe a reader can somewhere):

''The 5-man Blackwater crew that was assinged to CPA Najaf were coming under heavy small arms and mortar fire, the city was being taken over by insurgents. The police stations and hospitals were taken over as well, after a day of fighting off hundreds of insurgents the city had been completely overrun, with the CPA in the heart of the city and no way out.

The Team called up to Baghdad and reported the situation, they said they needed immediate extract which Gen Sanchez also denied due to the fact the city had been overrun and there were no US troops there, only contractors.

Well, Ambassador Bremer was pissed at Sanchez and I remember being on office watch during the massive arguments! Ambassador Bremer and our Baghdad TM Leader got together and Bremer said ''I don't want another Bridge hanging! Get those boys out of there by any means nessassary!'' so 12 of us -- 6 pilots and 6 gunners loaded as much as we could in 3 MD530 little birds and headed 70 miles south. we flew in the first day and blind (no comms, and no intel on the heat) to try a resupply, land find out was was going on and then head back, rearm and get ready to go again. Well that night all hell broke lose and we flew back in. Over 1000 insurgents (reported by the F18 pilots) had taken the city and now wanted the CPA after a day of intense fighting by 11 BW guys, airstrikes, a handfull of Marines and 1 sniper we were able to hold them off. After it DIED down and gunships and SF guys finally started to roll in the battle was soon over and we the CPA was saved.

That's pretty much it in a nut shell...''

I'm not too sure I'd want to be filmed while I was killing, but that's just a personal thing. To each his own.

This video capturing the exhilaration of ground troops as the Muj they were fighting get waxed in an air strike is heartwarming fun for the whole family, too.

Splash, out


"Cowards cut and run. Marines never do." 
That was the message a Marine commander in the field asked Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) to pass on to Rep. Murtha, who put forward a resolution demanding that the Iraq deployment be immediately terminated, and the troops withdrawn as soon as practicable.

Jean Schmidt was immediately booed by the Democrats. But they weren't really booing her. They were booing, by proxy, a committed Marine commander in the field, who has made the only remark appropriate to suggestions that we give up the fight now:

As the New York Times relates:

Democrats booed in protest and shouted Ms. Schmidt down in her attack on Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Vietnam combat veteran and one of the House's most respected members on military matters. They caused the House to come to an abrupt standstill, and moments later, Representative Harold Ford, Democrat of Tennessee, charged across the chamber's center aisle to the Republican side screaming that Ms. Schmidt's attack had been unwarranted.

"You guys are pathetic!" yelled Representative Martin Meehan, Democrat of Massachusetts. "Pathetic."

No. Calls for surrender are pathetic. The Marine commander in the field gets it exactly right. Rep. Ford and Rep. Meehan are simply blaming the messenger. What Representative Schmidt said was merely this Marine commander expressing the sense of the troops in the field, who have already had their vote, are reenlisting in droves, and carrying the fight to the enemy on their second and third rotations in Iraq.

Napoleon said that the "moral is to the physical as three is to one." By "moral," Napoleon meant courage - the will to keep up the fight. No one in Britain was screaming "quagmire" in 1940. Because Britain in 1940 was led by a lion, not a sheep.

Turns out even the "most well respected Democrats on military matters" turn out to be sheep, too, when the going gets tough.

I cannot express how dismayed I was to hear Representative Murtha's defeatist talk just now, with American and Iraqi forces actually ON THE OFFENSIVE!!! Can you imagine? That's like a Congressman calling for a cessation of hostilities just as Omar Bradley was closing the Fulda Gap! That's like the Russians retreating before Army Group B in the last days of Stalingrad. That's like Lincoln losing his nerve and pulling Grant out as he laid seige to Petersburg in 1865.

American and Iraqi forces have the strategic and tactical offensive now. And as this flash presentation by Bill Roggio shows, it's an operation which holds a great deal of promise. It's the mujies who are holed up in bunkers and crawling among sheep to escape the offensive. It's the mujies who are losing maneuver space to a rapidly developing Iraqi army, which grows stronger and smarter every day. It's the mujies who are having their ability to disrupt elections rolled up and reduced to a few scattered acts of sabatoge. It's the mujies who are losing support in Iraq and throughout the broader Arab world. It's the mujies who are reduced to battling one another in the streets of Ramadi. It's the mujies who are seeing their own elements approach U.S. forces seeking a separate piece.

Representative Murtha's call for surrender now is pathetic, and a breath of fresh air, offering hope to our enemies. And defeated commanders like Zarqawi will seek hope from wherever they can get it.

Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee made a whole war strategy of simply trying to outlast the Yankee electorate, and make it to the 1864 presidential elections. What the Democrats have done - on the record, and officially now, rather than on the cover of "The Nation," where it doesn't count - is give Bin Ladin and Zarqawi a realistic strategic option: Avoid decisive engagement, and continue to bleed the U.S. in Iraq until Democrats in Congress award them an unambiguous victory, and force the American military - victorious on the battlefield - to turn tail and slink away as if we were a bunch of Spaniards or something.

Murtha gave hope and succor to the enemy in a very real sense.

It's one thing to call for withdrawal if your troops are outnumbered and outgunned, and they simply do not have the combat power to provide even for their own point blank defense. But to call for withdrawal even as your soldiers and Marines are committed - COMMITTED - in offensive operations is shameful. And as far as I'm concerned, Murtha undid everything he ever accomplished in a 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Yes, Marines drive me up the wall sometimes. But I love them like brothers, and I've never heard of one who's been mentally and morally beaten. Until now.

Murtha's turned into the kind of Marine who would have surrendered at Chosin. Except Murtha's surrendering from an air-conditioned office in Washington, if you can believe that If Chesty Puller - a real warrior - were alive today, he'd slap his ass silly, throw him back on the line, and then deployed steadier troops behind him with orders to shoot his sorry ass if he breaks and runs again.

Representative Schmidt finally apologized for her remarks, and asked for unanimous consent that her remarks be withdrawn. But they were not her remarks to apologize for. She represents a constituency, and if this Marine commander were part of her constituency, she should not be apologetic about honestly and faithfully representing his views on the floor of the House. She should have stuck to her guns. Let the Marine's remarks be a part of the official record:

"Cowards cut and run. Marines never do."

Splash, out


IED Primer, and convoy ops 
A Mobilized Year gives us the scoop on the enemy's employment of IEDs.

He also gives us this account of a challenging convoy operation from Anaconda (north of Baghdad) to Kirkuk (in which a 30-truck convoy, complete with semis, gets lost in Tikrit! Ouch!)

One thing that was interesting: They sent a 30 truck convoy with an escort of just three gun trucks. With a convoy that long, it's not likely that your front and rear gun trucks will be able to mutually support one another anywhere you're likely to get hit.

That tells me that they were reasonably confident about the security situation, even in Tikrit, and thought it was unlikely that the moojies could gather in anything above squad strength to threaten them.

Well, it might also tell me that there are not nearly enough MPs available for those long-range convoy escort missions, too. But if things were really bad, they would have been reinforced with some infantry from around Anaconda.

Alternatively, it might have started out with a four vehicle convoy with three gun trucks, and then all of a sudden you get 26 more vehicles wanting to "tag along." That happens a lot. "Hey, mind if we go with you?"

Splash, out


Friday, November 18, 2005

Countercolumn News Ticker 
Support for war fades as yet another Democrat breaks down and bawls like a bitch...

Marines under inquiry for reckless deployment of toxins in Fallujah...
Some Iraqis may have been allergic to peanut butter in MREs, say Italian news outlets...

Three dozen wop commies march in Rome to adoring CNN coverage...

Marines hold firm, Democrats cower...

Generals Krulak, MacArthur, Puller, Admiral Nimitz under scrutiny...
Use of flamethrowers on Tarawa, Pelelieu, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa called "war crimes."

Al Qaeda declares war on, well, everybody ...

The ethics of thermobaric weapons on the low-to-mid intensity battlefield:
CNN to air interview with Pvt E-1 Snuffy tonight ...

Anderson Cooper shoots and kills federal official on air in a fit of rage ...
Promoted to VP of CNN division...

Human rights advocates outraged at reports that Abu Ghraib detainees were subject to 8-hour PowerPoint briefings ...

Developing ...

From a JAG Corps Reader 

Tim Milklaszewski's story last night on the "controversy" about White Phosphorus
is a real low in journalism.

He interviewed a former Army specialist to assert the fact that White Phosphorus
is "clearly" a chemical weapon?  Why couldn't he find a military law expert to
explain how the Chemical Weapons Convention defines "chemical weapon" and why
that does or does not apply to WP?  Why couldn't he mention the fact that WP has
been used in every conflict since WWII and is in the arsenal of almost every
major military power?

But he did make the idiotic statement: "Intentionally targeting civilians with
White Phosphorus is forbidden under international law."  What brilliance -- when
intentionally targeting civilians with ANY weapon is forbidden under
international law.  But it sure sounds a lot more incendiary when you're able to
link WP and "forbidden under international law" in one sentence and further
smear the US military.

I can understand how an Arab documentary is able to spread these lies.  But it
is very sad when the American media does a shoddy job researching a very
clear-cut issue (WP is NOT a chemical weapon and is NOT a WMD) and then
broadcasts it to the American public.

I missed the story, so I can't commment on it directly. But if this writer's critique is accurate, the fact that Tim Miklaszewski's rolodex could only get him to an Army specialist to discuss a technical and legal point of the law of war, or a doctrinal point normally handled at platoon headquarters level or above (the use of WP and call for fire procedures) merely underscores the same point I've been hammering on since the early days of this blog:

Our media culture is so far removed from our military culture that it has become impossible for the media to report on the military with any degree of accuracy. This reporter had no idea where to get information, and had no idea that his approach to reporting was akin to reporting on a Presidential Summit by seeking the comment of the White House switchboard operator.

He could have contacted the editors of Field Artillery Magazine, he could have contacted any number of trained JAG officers, many of whom now practice law privately and can comment freely. He could have contacted a career ordnance or combat arms officer or senior NCO.

Absolutely pathetic. What's worse is that this guy's editors didn't know any better.

They've become so clueless that they've lost all ability to police themselves. Even if they had the willingness, which they don't.

Splash, out


Jason on White Phosphorus 
Crossposted from the comments section from this thread at Balloon Juice. It was directed at some of the commenters on that board, but I would also apply it to the majority of the media "professionals" who've tried to cover the controversy:

Ah, the stupidity continues.

It has already been established that WP is not a chemical weapon. It is not classified as such, and as an incendiary used for marking and screening, it is specifically exempted from regulation as a chemical weapon.

The fact is that the vast majority of commenters critical of the use of WP have no standing whatsoever to second guess the actions of the commanders on the ground or their FOs who are actually selecting the ordnance.

WP is a standard round, used for marking, screening, and setting fire to flammable targets. It is precisely what it is designed to do.

With any Fire for Effect mission, particularly at night, the marking rounds and possibly the first salvo on the target would be WP rounds, because they are easier to observe than HE rounds. Using WP, which has a much smaller lethal radius, allows you to adjust rounds onto the target without using HE. Using WP, then, actually reduces collateral damage, and reduces the likelihood of injury to noncombatants, in this way.

Theoretically, you could use smoke rounds, too…but a short smoke round would obscure the observer’s view of the target, and would not be observable at night anyway. So you’re back to WP.

The vast majority of the carpers here, however, are too mired in their own outraged ignorance to grasp the doctrine and how WP is used on the battlefield.

WP rounds are also useful in marking a battlefield for fixed-wing close air support aviators. They may not understand “don’t fire south of Haifa Street.” But they can understand “See these two WP bursts? Fire up north of the line between them. There are friendlies to the south.”

You would also use WP to set fire to a building in order to force insurgents to flee…thus exposing themselves to the effects of HE. (It has the added effect This is the purpose of the “shake and bake” mission, which uses a combination of WP and HE ordnance.)

This is what the ordnance is designed for. This is why we carry it into battle.

Shake and bake has been an authorized technique in the artillery world for decades. The fact that the daisyshuckers and handwringers on the left don’t realize that simply underscores that they bring no understanding to the topic. They are simply not qualified or prepared to have an informed debate.

Nor are they able to coherently discuss the ethics of using WP ordnance, because they are still making the false and wholly ignorant claim that WP “fumes” “caramelize skin.”

(If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. But I can’t, because it’s against ethical practices for a real estate agent to exploit the mentally handicapped.)

Anyone who is still hung up on the caramelization lie, or is claiming that WP burns flesh but leaves clothing intact, is simply too stupid to bother with, and frankly does not know enough about the effects of ordnance to create a foundation for informed discussion.

Finally, there’s a further subset of drooling idiots who are trying to claim that they have no beef with the soldiers – only the commanders who authorized the use of WP.

But the fact is that it is 23-28 year old observers – 2nd lieutenants and sergeants, who are selecting and calling for the ordnance. Those are the people on the ground, who are taking the most direct risks. The round of choice for any given fire mission is not determined by Donald Rumsfeld.

Our artillery spotters are among the best and most highly educated in the world. Sorry, the commenters on balloon-juice simply don’t have the professional standing or fund of information to second-guess the professional judgement of our soldiers on the ground.

And the fact that you chuckleheads don’t realize who it is that selects these rounds – thinking, I suppose, that fire missions are planned and coordinated by Dough Feith at the Pentagon – simply further underscores the depths of your own incompetence to even discuss the matter with professionals.

Again, you are ignorant of the tactical situation on the ground. You are ignorant of doctrine. You are ignorant of fire control procedures. You are ignorant about the ordnance. You are ignorant about every single thing it would take to illuminate a rational discussion of the use of WP or other weapons in Fallujah.

Splash, out


If today's media reported on the Battle of Midway 
...it might look a lot like this.

"American forces claim to have sunk four Japanese carriers and the cruiser Mogami but those claims were vehemently denied by the Emporer's spokeman."

Splash, out


Thursday, November 17, 2005

For staff weenies everywhere... 
The Crash of the Powerpoint Briefing

The Crash of the PowerPoint Briefing

 *Sung to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

The legend lives on from the Fifth Corps on down,
of the thirty meg PowerPoint briefing.
The software its said never gives up its dead,
when the God of Electrons grows angry.
With officers galore, maybe a hundred or more,
it was said that no one could outbrief them.
The good ACE and crew was a bone to be chewed,
when the God of Electrons came calling.

The ACE was the pride of the German countryside,
when they left Wuerzberg bound for Tuzla.
As MI units go, they were bigger than most,
with a battle captain well seasoned.
Major Holden in lead, quite a large man indeed,
and a master with mouse and a laptop.
In charge of the ACE, he set a fast pace,
and demanded his graphics and bitmaps.

The fingers on keyboards made a tattletale sound,
and the Bubbavision TV only flickered.
The network was taxed, always pushed to its max,
but the Term Shop was bound and determined.
The dawns came late and the sleep had to wait,
with the turnover of April upon them.
When mid-April came, it was analysis time,
or the G-2'd be left with no briefings.

When BUB time came round, LTC Rapp came in,
sayin' "Fellas, the room is a'fillin".
At six PM, the main hard drive crashed,
he said "fellas it's been good to know ya".
SFC Taylor called down, "we got generals coming in"
and the good ACE and crew was in peril.
And later that night while the troops ran in a fright,
came the crash of the PowerPoint briefing.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes,
when the briefings turn minutes to hours?
The G-2, they say, would've made Colonel that day,
if he'd put ten less meg on the hard drive.
He might have compressed, or he might have zipped files,
He might have enlarged his server.
But all that remains is the faces and names,
of the spouses, the sons and the daughters.

In a musty old tent in Tuzla they prayed,
In the room that houses the Great Bubba.
The churchbell chimed til it rang twenty-nine times,
for each meg in the PowerPoint briefing.
The legend lives on from the Fifth Corps on down,
of the thirty meg PowerPoint briefing.
The software they said, never gives up her dead,
when the God of Electrons grows hungry.

Written By:  CPT Joe Paschall, USMC, JAC LNO to Task Force Eagle’s ACE, 18 Apr 97

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Confederate Yankee takes the WaPo apart 
after a WaPo columnist, showing his ignorance, objects to the U.S. using White Phosphorous to terrorize insurgents. Read the whole, brutal fisking here.

(Via Protein Wisdom)

The UK Guardian and White Phosphorous: Still Stuck on Stupid 
Proving that some filthy dogs cannot be housebroken, no matter how many times you spank them with a broom handle, the UK Guardian continues to stick with its ignorant White Phosphorous meme, even as it concedes that the Italian video wasn't worth crap.

US admits using white phosphorous in Falluja

Jamie Wilson in Washington
Wednesday November 16, 2005
The Guardian

US forces yesterday made their clearest admission yet that white phosphorus was used as a weapon against insurgents in Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC last night that it had been used as "an incendiary weapon" during the assault last year on Falluja in 2004.

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable said the substance, which can be used to lay smokescreens but burns down to the bone in contact with skin, was not covered by international conventions on chemical weapons.

But Paul Rodgers of the University of Bradford's Department of Peace Studies said the substance would probably fall into the category of chemical weapons if used directly against people.

The fact that this idiot's first idea for a call for comment was to call some flowerchucker at a university's "peace studies" department tells you all you need to know about the ideological baggage hobbling this reporter and his editors.

The Pentagon spokesman's comments also appeared to contradict the US ambassador to London, Robert Tuttle, who denied in a letter to the Independent that white phosphorus was deployed as a weapon. Mr Tuttle said: "US forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to use appropriate lawful conventional weapons against legitimate targets. US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons."

Well, the career diplomats at the State department are frigging morons. They proved it when they issued a press release stating that WP ammunition was not used in the TWO ROLES it's specificially designed for: Screening and marking.

They said it was used only to illuminate enemy positions.

Yeah, I think its important to use the same round you normally use as an obscurant to illuminate stuff.


The President should be placing a nasty call to Condi telling her to tell the State Department to stay in its frigging lane.

A recent documentary by the Italian state broadcaster, RAI, claimed that Iraqi civilians, including women and children, had died of burns caused by white phosphorus during the assault on Falluja. The report has been strenuously denied by the US. But Col Venable said it had been used to dislodge enemy fighters from entrenched positions in the city.

"White phosphorus is a conventional munition. It is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal," he told the BBC. "We use them primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases. However, it is an incendiary weapon, and may be used against enemy combatants."

Damn straight. Don't like it? Don't be an enemy combatant. Or even let them operate in your neighborhood.

US admits using white phosphorous in Falluja

Jamie Wilson in Washington
Wednesday November 16, 2005
The Guardian

US forces yesterday made their clearest admission yet that white phosphorus was used as a weapon against insurgents in Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC last night that it had been used as "an incendiary weapon" during the assault last year on Falluja in 2004.

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable said the substance, which can be used to lay smokescreens but burns down to the bone in contact with skin, was not covered by international conventions on chemical weapons.

Article continues


But Paul Rodgers of the University of Bradford's Department of Peace Studies said the substance would probably fall into the category of chemical weapons if used directly against people.

The Pentagon spokesman's comments also appeared to contradict the US ambassador to London, Robert Tuttle, who denied in a letter to the Independent that white phosphorus was deployed as a weapon. Mr Tuttle said: "US forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom continue to use appropriate lawful conventional weapons against legitimate targets. US forces do not use napalm or white phosphorus as weapons."

A recent documentary by the Italian state broadcaster, RAI, claimed that Iraqi civilians, including women and children, had died of burns caused by white phosphorus during the assault on Falluja. The report has been strenuously denied by the US. But Col Venable said it had been used to dislodge enemy fighters from entrenched positions in the city.

"White phosphorus is a conventional munition. It is not a chemical weapon. They are not outlawed or illegal," he told the BBC. "We use them primarily as obscurants, for smokescreens or target marking in some cases. However, it is an incendiary weapon, and may be used against enemy combatants."

Asked if it was used as an offensive weapon during the siege of Falluja, he replied: "Yes, it was used as an incendiary weapon against enemy combatants. When you have enemy forces that are in covered positions that your high explosive artillery rounds are not having an impact on, and you wish to get them out of those positions, one technique is to fire a white phosphorus round into the position: the combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about by the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so you can kill them with high explosives."

Glory, halle-fallujah.

White phosphorous burns spontaneously on contact with air, producing phosphorus pentoxide smoke. According to the standard US industrial safety sheet, the smoke "releases heat on contact with moisture, and will burn mucous surfaces. Contact ... can cause severe eye burns and permanent damage."

Well, that's the general idea, isn't it? That seems pretty obvious to everyone except morons who take their cues about war from a professor at a "Department of Peace Studies."

That's like taking a fish bone to a gun fight. Stupid.

Another Guardian Columnist weighs in here:


This cretin refers to U.S forces as "The invaders." Ok, true after a fashion. But will he refer to Al Qaeda in Iraq as "terrorists?"

From the article:

Given that they care so much, why has none of these hawks spoken out against the use of unconventional weapons by coalition forces?

Umm, because they're not "unconventional weapons," dumbass?

Saddam, facing a possible death sentence, is accused of mass murder, torture, false imprisonment and the use of chemical weapons. He is certainly guilty on all counts. So, it now seems, are those who overthrew him.

To try to draw a moral equivalence between Saddam and Chemical Ali on the one hand, and an allied forward observer under fire on the other, is simply outrageous. Especially when Monbiot's arguments collapse so quickly in light of the facts.

Monbiot does not know warfare, he does not know fire support, he does not know doctrine. He is wholly ignorant of the subject matter about which he speaks. It's not as if the opinion of informed observers is even divided. EVERY participant I've seen in this debate who has more than a rudimentary knowledge of fire support doctrine has weighed in against the idea of WP being a chemical weapon. Without exception.

Unlike most debates, this is a debate with all the informed on one side, and all the clueless jack brains on the other. Inexplicably, Monbiot and the Guardian choose to ally themselves with the clueless jackbrains.

He only makes a fool of himself. And the fact that the Guardian can write a column and a straight news story wholly ignoring huge swaths of the debate - as if there had never been one - speaks volumes about the lack of intellectual discipline or honesty among the editors of the Guardian.

Splash, out


BOOM! (shaka laka laka) 
I cannot WAIT to check out one of these things!


These weapons - high-end bunker busters with low penetration and huge knockdown power - seem like Godsends in the urban battlefield, and may be the countermeasure we've been looking for to the enemy tactic of rigging entire houses to explode and then luring marines and soldiers into them - a tactic adopted from Palestinians in their low-intensity urban fight against Israelis.

With this weapon, you don't need to enter the house. You can bring it down on top of the enemy and move on.

Additionally, because the penetration is minimal, you can be assured that the maximum explosive force is delivered to the target itself, and not, say, to the school or orphanage or women's and children's hospital that always seems to be positioned immediately beyond it.

Previously, the choices available to US servicemen were unpalatable:

You could call for an artillery strike or air strike that would cause a good deal of damage to surrounding properties which may be unoccupied and worth preserving.

You could call for mortar support. But mortars lack the ability to penetrate a concrete roof, in many cases. (I know because I had a platoon living in a concrete structure which suffered at least one direct mortar hit to the roof. It cut a chip out of the cement, and perforated a nearby (and thankfully unoccupied) cot.)

You could call for tank support. But the HEAT rounds had too high a muzzle velocity and were apt to take out three or four houses beyond the target house

You could use a shoulder-fired munition such as an AT-4. But AT-4s lacked the punch required to bring down a structure. They had some limited value as cave closers in Afghanistan, but this new weapon promises to be even more effective.

Call for a TOW missile or Hellfire Missile. These are bloody expensive. The TOW is designed for use against tanks, not buildings (though it has been used in this way.)

In practice, though, most gun trucks will arm themselves with a mix of 50 cal and Mk 19 40mm ammo, rather than TOWs. You can't always get TOWs forward on demand.

Finally, you could storm the building. This was the riskiest course of action of all, and forced you to shoot wounded on the first pass through anyway, just to make sure they were out of the fight. (No, you don't have time to check them out. You double tap every shadow on the way through, and you go through like lightning on the first pass.)

On the upside, storming the building sometimes leads to intelligence coups which can save allied lives later. You have to reach a balance.

The author's idea that we need some sort of national debate in order to field this weapon is just silly. This weapon will SAVE US lives, and it will REDUCE collateral damage. It's a direct fire weapon, and it need not be used against houses unless we're recieving direct fire from them.

This is a no brainer. If it is as effective as this article depicts, we need to field them in bulk, and get our fighters trained up in their use NOW, and start working pronto on the doctrine.

I can see the weapon being adapted to the anti VBIED role, with a few modifications (mostly for the sake of accuracy. Though a good antique anti-tank gun would do the trick too.)

The DefenseTech writer ought to stop thinking like a lawyer and start thinking like a soldier. Decisive victory has a way of obviating the need for apologies. And dead moojies file no lawsuits.

Splash, out


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Fisking the NY Times Editorial Page 
These people are so stupid, fisking them is like grenade fishing in a bucket.

To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements before the war with Iraq,

Objection. It has not been established that Bush was "misleading" about anything. After all we did find illegal missile programs, the key parts to an illegal centrifuge, and 1.77 tons of Uranium, along with evidence of other "weapons of mass destruction program activities," according to the Duelfer report. We also found a number of chemical weapons in Iraq - chemical weapons which were supposed to be destroyed years before. Saddam didn't destroy his stocks. He lied. He was in violation.

President Bush has tried denial, saying he did not skew the intelligence.

Well, it wasn't just Bush. A bipartisan Senate committee came to the same conclusion. The Times, of course, hobbled as it is by a hopelessly selective memory, doesn't bother to point that out.)

He's tried to share the blame, claiming that Congress had the same intelligence he had, as well as President Bill Clinton.

This is only a problem if you don't regard Congress as a separate and coequal branch of government, and only a problem if you agree with Sen. Rockefeller that a congressman is not responsible for his or her own vote.

He's tried to pass the buck and blame the C.I.A.

If you believe, as the Times does, that the Administration was wrong about WMD, then that's a "slam dunk." As it were.

Lately, he's gone on the attack, accusing Democrats in Congress of aiding the terrorists.

Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today.

Wrong. Does the Times have a problem with reading comprehension? The President specifically allowed for a place for criticism and honest debate. The President was not taking aim at the practice of criticizing him. The President was taking aim at the specific practice of historical revisionism. The President was taking aim at hypocrisy.

It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance.

What of the Democrat avoidance of their own words, back in 1998 and 2002? Aided and abetted by their willing stooges at the New York Times.

But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true.

Objection. I've already pointed out the latent nuclear program, the chemical shells found by U.S., and Polish troops, and the illegal missile programs. The fact that even one chemical shell was found, or the fact that one centrifuge was found buried under a rose garden in order to decieve the inspectors alone falsifies the foolish Times statement that "none of it has been true."

Actually, a good deal of it was true, including the fact that - as verified by one of the 9/11 commissioners, there were "all kinds of ties, all kinds of connections," between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

Mr. Bush says everyone had the same intelligence he had - Mr. Clinton and his advisers, foreign governments, and members of Congress - and that all of them reached the same conclusions.

Substantively true. Who were the big dissenters? Even the German and French intelligence services were convinced that Saddam possesed WMD prior to the war. If the Times says there were serious dissenters, they sure don't bother to mension them. Didn't these jokers take Freshman Comp class? You don't raise a controversial point or accuse someone of lying without bothering to cite the evidence for your claim. This is like reading a sophomoric 10th grade paper from a not-very-bright kid.

The only part that is true is that Mr. Bush was working off the same intelligence Mr. Clinton had. But that is scary, not reassuring. The reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons were old, some more than 10 years old. Nothing was fresher than about five years, except reports that later proved to be fanciful.

Welcome to the real world. Information doesn't fall from trees. It takes years of investing in human intelligence sources. Clinton couldn't even keep the inspectors there consistently. Where else was intel going to come frm.

Foreign intelligence services did not have full access to American intelligence. But some had dissenting opinions that were ignored or not shown to top American officials.

And you don't name any examples? Go on back to school, kid. You aren't up on the whole critical thinking or expository writing concept yet.

Congress had nothing close to the president's access to intelligence.

False. A congressional investigation found no substantial differences between the two.

The National Intelligence Estimate presented to Congress a few days before the vote on war was sanitized to remove dissent and make conjecture seem like fact.

It's hard to imagine what Mr. Bush means when he says everyone reached the same conclusion. There was indeed a widespread belief that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons. But Mr. Clinton looked at the data and concluded that inspections and pressure were working - a view we now know was accurate.

That's a crock of baloney. Clinton looked at the data and decided to bomb the crap out of Iraq.

France, Russia and Germany said war was not justified.

The Times' failure to mention France and Russia's involvement in the Oil for Food scandal is just beyond the pale here.

Even Britain admitted later that there had been no new evidence about Iraq, just new politics.

One word. Yellowcake.

The administration had little company in saying that Iraq was actively trying to build a nuclear weapon. The evidence for this claim was a dubious report about an attempt in 1999 to buy uranium from Niger, later shown to be false,

False. Joe Wilson's original report to the CIA actually substantiated the idea that Iraq had, indeed, planned to acquire uranium, over and above the 1.77 tones already tagged by the inspectors (and which they weren't supposed to have).

The fact that the Times does not understand this facet of Plamegate tells you they're incompetent to cover the picture.

and the infamous aluminum tubes story. That was dismissed at the time by analysts with real expertise.

So why was Iraq concealing a centrifuge?

The Bush administration was also alone in making the absurd claim that Iraq was in league with Al Qaeda

False. The 9/11 commissioners concluded that there were "all kinds of ties, all kinds of connections" between Saddam and Al Qaeda. And Clinton indicted Bin Ladin in 1998, in part, on suspicions that Saddam and Al Qaeda had agreed to cooperate on WMD development.

and somehow connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A contemptible lie. No senior Administration official publicly tied Saddam to 9/11. There were, however, some connection between Saddam and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, as we found after the war.

Wish I had time to finish this. Unfortunately, I'm too zonked on cough medicine to continue coherently.

Maybe tomorrow.

Splash, out


Killing muj is like wetting your pants in a dark suit... 
...It gives you a warm feeling, but nobody notices.

Big news from Western Iraq today: The U.S. has found a concentration of moojies in a town on the Syrian border, and true to the search and attack technique of movement to contact doctrine, it is now piling on the firepower.

U.S. and Iraqi forces estimate that they have killed 50 moojies through small arms fire and through close air support. There doesn't seem to be much doubt about the CAS kills - they were actively engaged in firing at allied troops when they were hit.

Where there's fifty to kill, there's probably another few hundred we can't quite get our steel on. So there's a fairly major engagement going on in Ubaydi, which seems to be going rather well.

The Washington Post reports it on page A-16.

Yep. They had 15 whole pages of news stories they thought were more important than this one.

Splash, out


(Hat tip to Cori Dauber)

Why is a Peugot a better car than a Renault? 
A: It burns longer.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Coming off the ropes again 
The White House, for once, gets in a counterpunch in time to influence the debate:

Today's press release: "Setting the record straight: The Washington Post on Pre-War Intelligence attempts to rebut the gathering meme that the intelligence information that went to the President was materially different than that available to Congress.

The release argues that:

*The President actually toned down the alarmist language of the President's Daily Brief for public and congressional consumption: Quite the opposite of hyping it.

*The Robb-Silberman Commission Reported That The Intelligence In The PDB Was Not "Markedly Different" Than The Intelligence Given To Congress In The NIE.

* The Bipartisan Senate Select Committee On Intelligence Report "Did Not Find Any Evidence" Of Attempts To Influence Analysts To Change Intelligence.

* The British Butler Report finds no evidence of Intelligence Distortion.

This information is now immediately available to any other reporter who tries to report on the topic. And any White House spokesperson now has a prewritten release to refer to any reporter researching a story on charges of intel manipulation. No reporter can now credibly claim not to have seen this information, unless he or she wants to admit that he or she never bothered to seek comment from the White House on a story directly involving the White House.

It's good to see the White House sprouting a pair.

Splash, out


The President Strikes Back 

This time, the White House levels both rhetorical barrels at Senator Levin and hits him with a shotgun blast. From a White House press release:

Sen. Levin (D-MI) Tries To Separate Iraq From The War On Terror. SEN. LEVIN: "But before the war, the President was saying that you cannot distinguish between Saddam Hussein and Iraq. As a matter of fact, he said that so often that he tried to connect Saddam Hussein with the attackers on us, on 9/11, so often, so frequently and so successfully, even though it was wrong, that the American people overwhelmingly thought, because of the President's misstatements that as a matter of fact, Saddam Hussein had participated in the attack on us on 9/11. That was a deception. That was clearly misinformation. It had a huge effect on the American people." (CNN's "American Morning," 11/14/05)

But Sen. Levin And Other Democrats Previously Said That Iraq Was A Part Of The War On Terror.

Sen. Levin: "The War Against Terrorism Will Not Be Finished As Long As [Saddam Hussein] Is In Power." (CNN's "Late Edition," 12/16/01)

Sen. Levin: "We Begin With The Common Belief That Saddam Hussein Is A Tyrant And A Threat To The Peace And Stability Of The Region." (Committee On Armed Services, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 9/19/02)

Lots more at this link here.

And to make sure the return salvo didn't go unnoticed, the President quoted Senator Levin again in a speech today at Elmendorf Air Force Base. He doesn't name Levin by name, or anyone else. But comes back with further quotes from Democrats supporting the notion that toppling Saddam is part and parcel of the war against terrorism.

Sounds like Rove is finally back on the job. Mike McCurry couldn't hit a counterpunch against my grandma.

Reporters read this stuff. They have to hit the White House website to get their quotes right. As long as the White House ensures that these Democrat quotes are in every other White House press release, they are bound to make their mark. Reporters are liberals, but they love to catch someone on their own words regardless of party. It's what they live for.

As long as the White House keeps up the counteroffensive, Democrats will have to explain their own inconsistency and fecklessness. Their own credibility will become an issue.

The President can even take his case directly to the American people and leave the chattering classes behind. At his best, the President excels at this. But he needs to have good backup from his staff.

Looks like the White House press office is finally en pointe.

It's about time.

Splash, out


Sunday, November 13, 2005

I just lost a lot of respect for Phil Carter 
The proprietor of Intel Dump has this to say:

The United States and its allies WERE determined to keep WMDs out of the hands of extremists and prevent them from gaining control of any country. They have failed. I can list three countries that are working toward or already have Nuclear Weapons AND are in the control of extremists, thus threatening the entire world:

North Korea
The United States of America

I suppose one could be charitable and suggest he's just being snarky. But there's no excuse for equating a democratically elected secular government with a variety of checks and balances, which safeguards the rights of its citizens, with the brutal and repressive regimes of Iran and North Korea.

No excuse at all.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Emailers and commenters have written in to point out that these words are not authored by Phil Carter at all, but by a blog partner, J.D. Henderson. I regret the error.

My point still stands, though.

If I found someone was using my blog to badmouth my country in such a way, I'd yank his password faster than he could call me "fascist."

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