Sunday, July 31, 2005

Not enough troops? 
Here's a useful discussion of the "Not enough troops" meme going on at Michael Totten's.

Withdrawing support of Paul Hackett 
I was prepared to support Democratic candidate Paul Hackett, a major and Marine Corps reservist who is running for Congress in Ohio, and was planning a post to that effect this week.

I think in a lot of ways it was refreshing to hear a guy who calls it like it is. I thought he held a lot of promise as a new Democrat, a guy who would help bring my former party back to its roots in, well, America. A guy who could be a critic of Iraq policy, but

But this man, a commissioned officer, who is wrapping himself in the mantle of his Iraq service, referred to the commander-in-chief as "that son-of-a-bitch who lives in the White House."
And that, friends, is conduct unbecoming an officer.

I doubt you saw Dwight Eisenhower stoop to that crap when he was running against Stevenson.

I've criticized policies. But never stooped to insulting the chain-of-command. Indeed, to do so may be a violation of the UCMJ.

I withdraw my support of Paul Hackett.

What is it with Democrats today that causes them to embrace such vile, childish rhetoric?
Is it something in the water?

Splash, out


Saturday, July 30, 2005

BBC Employee sending death threats to Afghan blogger 
Apparently, it's not just the Guardian who's been hiring radical Islamic fucktards.

Someone has been sending death threats to an Afghan blogger from the BBC's IP address.
Pseudonym: I know you
Sunday, June 26, 2005

“Have you scared a lot? So timid you are. You are exactly like a wounded dog. Do you think I do not know you? You are the one who once used to grow longer hair. You are the one, whose last three digits of mobile number end with 033. Aren’t you? You are the one who once used to work with the InterNews, and you are still working. Aren’t you? Do not so disappointedly shake your hands and feet. Your work has come to its end. I will very soon disclose your dirty name. Filths like you do not have any place in this land. You have to be buried in a muck grave. You and your complexes should be buried under debris of stone and clay. There were a number of people like you, who did not remain alive. They were all buried in graves. You have to be taken off from this land so that better human beings could take your place. For, you are dirty.

Yep...A WHOIS query traces that IP address back to the BBC.

I guess that's what you get when you start hiring your editorial leadership away from Al Jazeera.

Splash, out


France expelling radical imams 
Now they're waking up and smelling the shawarma.

The gulf between British and French treatment of preachers of hatred and violence was thrown sharply into focus yesterday when France announced the summary expulsion of a dozen Islamists between now and the end of August.

A tough new anti-terrorism package was unveiled by Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister and a popular centre-Right politician.

Nicolas Sarkozy: 'We have to act against radical preachers'
His proposals reflect French determination to act swiftly against extremists in defiance of the human rights lobby, which is noticeably less vocal in France than in Britain.

Imams and their followers who fuel anti-western feeling among impressionable young French Muslims will be rounded up and returned to their countries of origin, most commonly in France's case to its former north African colonies.

Mr Sarkozy also revealed that as many as 12 French mosques associated with provocative anti-western preaching were under surveillance. Imams indulging in inflammatory rhetoric will be expelled even if their religious status is recognised by mainstream Muslim bodies.

Those who have assumed French citizenship will not be protected from deportation. Mr Sarkozy said he will reactivate measures, "already available in our penal code but simply not used", to strip undesirables of their adopted nationality. "We have to act against radical preachers capable of influencing the youngest and most weak-minded," Mr Sarkozy told the French daily Le Parisien.

Long overdue. But a government response is insufficient. The Muslims of Europe should have expelled their violent imams long ago. The fact that it hasn't - that so many mosque congregations have retained their radical clerics and given them a salary to preach violence and hatred - is a black stain which has been seared - seared - into the Muslim body politic.

And only Muslims can remove it.

Now's the time.

Splash, out


UPDATE: Roger L. Simon has more:

Strip "undersireables" of their citizenship? Can you imagine how our civil liberties organizations would react if one of our major politicians started talking that way? Those "progressocrats" (how's that for a neologism?) react like the proverbial stuck pigs when someone gets a Koran wet. And back in the day I would certainly have sympathized with the ACLU, et al, on this. But we have reached a rather extraordinary pass. The limit of free speech has traditionally been defined as "yelling fire in a crowded theatre." We're light years beyond that now. Who cares what anyone's yelling? They're blowing up people in subways.

Precision guided pistols. 
If only we had more precision guided pistols.

How could this not have grabbed someone's attention at the Washington Times?

The reporter didn't catch it? The fact checker? The editor? The Webmaster? No one called the Army to say "gee, can you help us with a technical detail before we make asses out of ourselves?"

This is your news filter in action, folks.

This is the quality of the news coverage and analysis coming from your media professionals.

God help us when it comes to medical and technology coverage.

Splash, out


The fatwa 
Ok, so these guys finally manage to come out with a fatwa against terrorism more than four years after 9/11, and we're supposed to be impressed?

Four years.

Was it really that hard, people?

And they don't have the falafels to specifically and expressly include Israeli victims in the fatwa?

Counterterrorism blog has much more. And convincingly shows that some of the same people behind the fatwa have links to radical Islamic organizations themselves. In fact, some are facing deportation hearings here in the U.S.

I suppose it's a good start. And maybe it's an indication that REAL Muslims are starting to take back their mosques and congregations from these jackals.

It's time to see an open revolt against radicalism, throughout the U.S., of course, but especially in Europe, where this kind of radicalism is much more entrenched, along with the near willful failure of these communities (and the European nations surrounding them) to practice assimilation.

Splash, out


Terrorism: the cultural culpability of Europe 
I think a share of the responsibility for European terrorims must be borne by Europeans themselves, who manage to feed the terrorist petri dish in their midst with the seemingly contradictory practices of attacking and alienating Muslim communities with violent attacks and at the same time welcome millions of these immigrants and allow them to take over entire neighborhoods without expecting much in the way of assimilation, in an orgy of misguided tolerance. For years, British, Danish, and French authorities turned the other way in the face of radical imams publicly inciting their congregations to violence, and making excuses for terrorists in Palestine.

Simultaneously - and beginning with the Existential writers like Camus and Sarte, the Europeans and their pseudointellectual admirers cut the knees out from under the cultural influence of the Church... (and even before that with Nietzche and the Marxist radicals in the late 1800s) romanticising nihilism and atheism, and doing their best to create a society ill equipped to confront the multiple evils first of fascism, then of antiSemitism, and then of Communism.

European intellectuals simply lacked an arsenal of rhetorical weapons with which to confront radical ideas in their nascent stages - a handicap which continues to plague them to this day.

Combine this with the historic European prediliction for Jew-hating, and what did they think was going to be the result? How could radical Islamism NOT begin to take root in these European cesspools?

Splash, out


Bad week for the Boy Scouts 
A scout leader is dead, and one boy scout is on life support, after a lightning bolt struck their tent in Sequoia National Park.

The accident comes less than a week after four scout leaders were killed when the tent they were setting up for a jamboree came in contact with a power line.

You can help support the Boy Scouts in your area (or even in Japan and Europe!) by donating here.

Splash, out


TV news networks give free intelligence to Al Qaeda in London 
...apparently, as the British police were surrounding the home of a suspected member of an Al Qaeda-linked terror cell, the media thought it would be a good idea to give Al Qaeda a live, real-time play-by-play on the officer's positions, number, and armament they could watch on cable satellite TV.

Have these people no common sense whatsoever? Is there no public trust they are not willing to sell out in order to have the first pics on the scene?

Splash, out


Dauber has more. Apparently, this isn't the first time the subject came up.

Friday, July 29, 2005

"Over There" 
Nope. Didn't see it. I was actually at my unit working. I don't have a TV anyway, so I don't know if I ever will. I have a feeling there is no producer in history who could have hit the mark, with the war still going on. Maybe it's too soon to have even tried.

I'll give them credit for trying.

Looks like a big "thumbs down" from Blackfive's readership, though.

I went to the Website and looked at the characters. They got everybody but the California surfer dude and the tough guy from New York who runs a craps game.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Oops! I did it again! 
Powerline notes a particularly egregious factual error in the New York Times.

But Ms. Zernike quoted no representative of the government, and apparently talked to none; if she had, she would have realized that the entire premise for her story was incorrect. So millions of people were wrongly told that the "Government"--i.e., the Bush administration--had "defied" the order of a federal judge. If true, this would have been a noteworthy story. But it was a complete falsehood.

It's one thing to mispell a name or misattribute a quote or screw up a caption. That stuff just happens. But this kind of fuck up takes some doing.

Splash, out


Possible cell? 
From ABC News:

Five Egyptian men with maps of the New York City subway system and video of New York landmarks have been arrested by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, N.J., ABC News has learned.

FBI and law enforcement officials told ABC News the five men — four illegal immigrants and one law enforcement fugitive — were arrested Sunday night following a tip to the Newark Police Department. In addition to the subway maps and video, the men had train schedules and $8,000 in $20 and $50 bills.

Here's what happened. One of the guys opened the door and allowed police in, but said he was the only person in the apartment. The other four only turned up during the search.

Now, unless you're Katie Couric, New York City apartments aren't very big. The other four were clearly hiding. Which makes sense, since all were either illegal immigrants or fugitives.

The guy who lied to cops at the door is guilty of at least obstructing justice.

FBI officials said the men have no known link to a terror network but noted that none of them could adequately explain the items they had in their possession, the large amount of money or their reasons for being in the United States. Mohamed Ibrahim Gaber has been a fugitive since he jumped ship from an Egyptian flagged freighter in September 2000.

The men, all of whom claimed to be unemployed civil or chemical engineers, are set to be deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Why in the world do we have to deport these guys anywhere? The U.S. has been keeping Haitian and Cuban illegals locked up indefinitely without charges. Why should an Egyptian get a free ticket home? (Maybe an extradition treaty with Egypt?)

Ah, but as Michael Moore says:

"There is no terrorist threat."

Splash, out


Monday, July 25, 2005

Confronting the unthinkable: Should nuking Mecca be on the table? 
What if a terrorist detonates a nuclear bomb within an American city? How should the United States respond in retaliation?

A congressman recently suggested that the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina should become targets.

The man is a fool.

And so are those on both sides of the isle who fell over themselves repudiating his remarks.

First of all, why is the man a fool?

Because you don't have to articulate a possible response to force potential adversaries to consider the possibility. And by articulating it, it becomes no more real a possibility than it was before.

But nuking Mecca and Medina obviously would be a terrible act of war against Saudi Arabia. And the Saudi security forces are among our most effective allies in the war against Al Qaeda. Moreover, articulating the possibility of vaporizing two Saudi cities forces the Saudi government to publically repudiate the United States -- unless the possibility is publicly repudiated by serious thinkers. Otherwise, the political knees will be cut out from under the Saudi government in its fight to hunt destroy the Al Qaeda infrastructure in its country. And the temptation of the Saudi Government to negotiate a separate peace with Al Qaeda -- and stick it to The Man in Washington -- becomes overwhelming.

All this congressman accomplished is to force the political establishment to remove a strategic option off the table when it had been an arrow in Uncle Sam's quiver before.

Similarly, those who uncritically and uncautiously repudiate the "massive retaliation" theory against the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina cause the possibility to lose its deterrence effect. It's almost as if the congressman's careless comments activated the political antibodies to protect Islamofascism from the terrible strategic option many of them fear most.

The prospect of englassing Medina or Mecca or both is nearly too terrible to contemplate. I say 'nearly' because nothing is too terrible to contemplate. And the deterrence of destruction is the most effective peace keeper in the history of mankind.

Nevertheless, I find it hard to imagine a scenario in which the nuking of Medina and Mecca would actually make sense. Except in the case of a direct nuclear attack by Saudi Arabia itself, this course of action would violate every precept of jus in bello.

It would simply be a monstrously cruel and excessive act.

Which is exactly the secret of its deterrence.

Of course, U.S. policy planners would have to discount the possibility that certain members of the Islamic death cults would love to provoke this measure, in the interests of sparking an outright worldwide war between Islam and the West.

But I'd rather the enemy would just have to wonder. Strategic ambiguity is a beautiful thing.

A better policy: Let the word out - either publicly or through diplomatic back-channels, that any government whose WMD security is so lax that they intentionally or unintentionally leak nuclear technology or material to Al Qaeda will themselves be subject to a massive retaliation, if it is deemed that their carelessness or collusion facilitated the attack.

And yes, I would specifically include carelessness in the definition. No country should be able to say "we tried." Either they secure their WMD technology and material, or they do not.

Put the word out that a fledgling or sloppy nuclear program may result in the destruction of the entire country as we now know it, and many marginal nations on the cusp of developing said technology may regard the risk/reward ratio as excessive, and elect to discontinue their WMD programs. They will definitely have a vested interest in making security air tight.

Splash, out


Friday, July 22, 2005

Drill this weekend 
More next week!


Mad grannies on the warpath 
Just when I thought the antiwar movement couldn't get any dummer, They pull something like this:

TUCSON, Arizona (AP) -- A group of anti-war senior citizens calling themselves the "Tucson Raging Grannies" say they want to enlist in the U.S. Army and go to Iraq so that their children and grandchildren can come home.

Five members of the group -- which is associated with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom -- are due in court Monday to face trespassing charges after trying to enlist at a military recruitment center last week.

The group has protested every week for the last three years outside the recruitment center.

"We went in asking to be sent to Iraq so our kids and grandchildren can be sent home, but rather than listening to us, they called the police," said 74-year-old Betty Schroeder. "It was their place to tell us the qualifications, but they wouldn't even speak to us. They should've said, `You're too old."'

Yep. And then called the police, have the grannies removed, and then get back to work.

Schroeder said she hopes the trespassing charges will be dropped and an apology given to the group from the Tucson Police Department and from the recruiters.

"This was not a performance, a joke or civil disobedience," she said. "This was an enlistment attempt."

If this bat thinks this wasn't a performance, she's not only to old to enlist; she's too stupid.

Splash, out


Letters, we get letters 
On banning married recruits (by the way, here's a link to the original story. I was right. It was General Carl Mundy who advocated banning married recruits and got shot down by then President Bill Clinton.)

The Sar-Major's argument is flawed. His marriage turned out well; therefore married troops are good for the military as a whole.


The military adopted lots of questionable social policies that don't seem to be related to military preparedness:

Show me how having a wife and kid back home, struggling to get by on E-2 pay, makes a 20-year-old a better soldier than an unmarried guy.

Show me how 19-year-old women living on the same ship with 19-year-old men makes any of them better sailors than all-male crews.

Show me how taking women pilots with marginal skill levels, instead of taking the top pilots regardless of gender, enhances the safety of the aircraft carrier group.

I think you're on the right track. Don't back down.


Please, PLEASE, realize that the "women" depicted in
that article are NOT the norm. Most military wives
(well, most that *I* know) are loyal, dedicated,
honest, moral people who want nothing more than to
have their husbands home safely and their families
back together.

They spend their days with a knot in their stomach,
waiting and fearing the phone call or, worse, the
knock at the door. They spend their nights praying for
the safety of their loved ones and wishing the days
(and nights) would go by more quickly. They do the
best they can because that is all they can do.

Yes, there are some awful people out there. But that
is the case everywhere in society. And, while I
realize that the issues that marriage brings to a
warzone, banning marriage will not alleivate these
problems. One does not have to be married to have
relationship problems. The only effect I see a ban on
married soldiers having is to hamper recruiting goals
even further.

I am not advocating social service from the military.
I do not think that is the military's responsibility.
However, I see fault with the idea of banning marriage
within the military - across the board or for soldiers
under a certain age.

And my favorite:

In your post on the 19th you spelled a word wrong. I don't normally think typos are a big deal, however I wiinced when I noticed the typo appeared in a post pointing out the stupidity of others. I've read your blog for a while and think you're a good guy and hate to have something like that hanging out there. I figured you'd want to know. It's kind of like having your fly hanging open.

There are about 4 million Muslim Americans in this country.

That's AMERICANS, you imbiciles! <---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- HERE'S THE TYPO

Hilarious. Naw. I'm keeping it.

Wait...it gets even better: I'm a professional copywriter.

(No, I don't use the same tone here as I do when writing Traveler's Life & Annuity's quarterly letter to policy owners. I wish I could, though. It would get read more.)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Allah akhbar 
A commenter on this post takes exception to my use of the term Allah Akhbar in solidarity with my Muslim American friends:

And FYI, "allah akhbar" means "allah is greatest" (as in, Allah is better than all other gods). It's what Mohamed Atta said as he flew American Airlines Flight 11 into 25,000 Americans sitting at their desks at One World Trade Center.

Do you think allah is better than all other gods?

Yes I do. By definition.

I'm surprised I would have to explain this to someone who claims to have read the Koran.

You should also browse through a koran, for your own knowledge. Don't take my word, or your friend's word, read for yourself.

I did. It said that God is all-merciful, and that there is no compulsion in religion.

But I guess the whole 'infidels' wearing rubber gloves thing doesn't bother you.

Nope. Not in the least. Muslims do the same thing. Not with the rubber gloves. Hand washing with a bottle of water prior to handling the Koran would be better. But a devout Muslim will wash his or her hands before touching the Koran. I would regard a similar gesture as a common courtesy, from one "person of The Book" to another.

I don't respect terrorists. But I respect Islam, properly practiced, and I respect their holy text. I would show respect in this way for the same reason I, a non-Jew, wear a hat or yarmulke when I enter a synagogue or attend a bris. To show respect for the tradition.

(Come to think of it, just about any guard in physical contact with a detainee probably wears rubber gloves anyway, as a matter of course. So what's the big deal?)

Splash, out


The Army adjusts its doctrine 
Soldiers' perspective describes how they're training units on IED warfare at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

These are the lessons we are trying to teach the Army. Even for those units who have already been to Iraq, when they return it will be to a different Iraq. The enemy is constantly shifting their tactics as we defeat them. We can be just as flexible (Semper Gumby) as they can. We are not a canned military. Our soldiers are trained to EXPECT change and will adapt as necessary. I can almost guarantee you that a blue Ford extended cab will never get into their convoy again. But that’s okay, we have other trucks!!

I went through an NTC rotation in 1999. Everybody says it's miserable, but once we got out of the contonement area and into the "Box" as the maneuver area is called, I had a terrific time!

Doctrine, obviously, has changed radically since that time. The OPFOR we were training against used a combination of Iraqi and North Korean tactical doctrine, both themselves derivatives of Warsaw Pact thinking.

We directed our efforts towards identifying and defeating things like the CRP and the AGMB (Combat Recon Patrol and Advanced Guard Main Body.) There was not a dismount or "civilian vehicle" to be had on the battlefield. There was some play with "Civilians on the battlefield," but it was only in the contonement area and extremely half-hearted. There was no prisoner of war handling to speak of. There was no light infantry on the battlefield. It was all pure mech. And there was zero urban environment play.

It was a classic case of training for the last war, although it certainly had some relevency to the fight against the Iraqi Army in the spring of 2003.

The light infantry guys would go to JRTC at Fort Polk Louisiana, and get some MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) training there, though, so it wasn't like the Army was totally ignoring the concept. The Army was also already developing some more advanced MOUT simulators and training areas, though I never got to play in one. Well, except for Ramadi and its environs.

Actually, there was some chatter among the officer corps and senior NCOs in my circles about significantly expanding the amount of MOUT training well before the war, which I supported wholeheartedly.


Three reasons:

1.) After the Kuwait war, I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to duke it out with the U.S. on the desert floor. It would be suicide. And a dream come true for U.S. military planners.

2.) The Intifada had already displayed its tactical hand. Lots of booby traps. Lure Israelis into wired houses, and then blow up the whole house. Use ambulances to smuggle arms. Maximize the use of land mine warfare. Negate superior Israeli firepower by getting hypermodern and hiding behind stone-throwing children. Put the Israelis on the horns of a dilemma: Do they choose to lose on the battlefield? Or lose in the world news media? The Israelis can only win one fight. Not both. Either way, the Intifada gains traction. I regarded this type of hypermodernism as the war of the future for the United States. We got a sneak preview in Mogadishu, ourselves. The British got a sneak preview in Belfast. We would be facing the same kinds of tactics and practices, except Al Qaeda and the Ba'athists are far nastier and scuzzier than the Provos ever were. And that's saying a lot.

3.) The most likely training area was a lot closer, so I wouldn't have to spend half of the available drill time driving back and forth from a training area 8 hours away.

I thought it was interesting that this blogger writes "you never let a car mix in with your convoy."

The fact is, I did, back in 2003. It was pretty common. Mostly because I had these piece of shit trucks from the National Guard that wouldn't do more than 45 mph flat out on a desert highway. So we let cars pass us from behind. And if one looked suspicious, we could stop him, as I did on a couple of occasions. We did catch a few bad guys through such tactics. We know because of the weapons and mortar shells we found in their cars, although I didn't find any personally.

In those days, though, the suicide car bomber was a fairly unusual tactic, and I wasn't worried about cars passing my convoy from the rear. Why? Well, of course he could set off a bomb. But he doesn't have to be passing you from the rear in order to do it. It's simple enough to simply park an explosive-packed car by the side of the road and set it off remotely. Why commit suicide when the same result can easily be had without killing your own operative?

And if you were hell-bent on being a martyr, the best and most decisive way to do that would be to smash into the convoy head-on from the opposite direction. Which was really my biggest worry. And every time I passed a fuel truck coming the other direction, I cringed.

What made it worse was Iraqi fuel trucks have a habit of driving the WRONG DIRECTION down highways, in the shoulder/emergency lane, when they're near fuel stops. THAT was nerve-wracking!

And no, I wouldn't let a fuel truck pass me from behind, ever. But the little sedans I was fine with. Hell, I'd go crazy too, being stuck behind a 45mph convoy on a 30 mile desert straightaway.

Now, in today's environment, with a lot more suicidal jihadists running around and the suicide car bomb a far more prevalent tactic, I would not take the same risks. Even towards the end of my tour I was less willing to accept that risk, and a lot of other convoy commanders wouldn't either by that point. We didn't allow it at all on the road march out of Iraq in February of 2004.

As the soldiers' perspective blogger says, the insurgency changes it adjusts. If I went back to Iraq tomorrow I'd have to go up a very steep learning curve to learn the insurgency all over again. It's a living, breathing organism. It's not the same one I fought and dodged at all. And we change to adapt.

Splash, out


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

How American am I? 
You Are 73% American
Most times you are proud to be an American.
Though sometimes the good ole US of A makes you cringe
Still, you know there's no place better suited to be your home.
You love your freedom and no one's going to take it away from you!

How American Are You?

I think I blew it when I said I didn't like American cheese. It's not even really cheese, people, c'mon!!!


What does stupidity look like? 
Well, in this case, it looks like four fat bastards and one skinny little bastard.


I guess if you are too ignorant to engage in the marketplace of ideas, then desecrating a holy book is the only thing left.

There are about 4 million Muslim Americans in this country.

That's AMERICANS, you imbiciles!

The key to victory in the War on Terror has always been to isolate the militants from the Muslim mainstream. Defiling the Koran is vengeful, hurtful, and counterproductive.

It has no place among freedom-loving people.

Idiots like this are the reason blue-staters are snobs.

Splash, out


Email of the Day 
A retired Air Force Sergeant Major tears me a new one:

I gotta say that banning married recruits or imposing your restrictions on them is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard. You may deserve a promotion. Sounds like some of the other hair-brain policies that float down from Wonkville.
Even in your latest example, the guy wasn't married to the girl. He was just stupid. And, speaking from the USAF side of the aisle, I rarely hear about these types of issues with airmen. It does happen. I just haven't heard about it with the same frequency that I have with the USN, USA, and USMC.
I know this is anecdotal, but I was married at 19 (E-3). I had pre-marital counseling. After I was married, my wife and I attended a marriage seminar at the chapel. It introduced her to the USAF way of life and what she could expect. It also informed her of what would be expected of me. We've been married for over 32 years now. I could not have been the NCO I was without her. And, her volunteer service to the USAF helped many an airmen, spouse and dependent have a better life in the USAF. Whether it was as a Girl Scout leader, working with Protestant Women of the Chapel (both in the first year of our marriage) or as Family Services Coordinator (40-60 hours a week-unpaid my last two years of active duty), she and many other spouses like her are a tremendous asset to the armed forces.
Here's what I have seen. An E-5 or E-6 having completed the requirements to become an officer dumps his wife after she has stood by him and "watched the kids" while he completed college. Or an E-7 or E-8 dump his wife who stood by him his entire career, because the old bastard is having some mid-life crisis as retirement approaches.
So, as an Army officer, you think that your guys can make life and death decisions on the field. They can decide who lives and dies. But, you don't trust them to make personal decisions affecting their own lives?
It's a sad comment. Maybe you should go back 40 years or so when the philosophy was, "If the Government would have wanted you to have a wife and family, they would have issued you one!" 
I usually thoroughly enjoy you insight. However, you've got this one wrong. The troops may need more education, guidance, or counseling, but it's THEIR life. If they can't get that, the Armed Forces will have a serious problem obtaining or retaining manning.

Hey, it may be a dumb idea. But it's not my dumb idea. Actually, the Commandant of the Marine Corps wanted to enact this policy in order to control spiraling dependent costs in the 1990s. President Clinton shot the idea down, however.

For some reason, I can't find a Web link to that story, but I remember it very clearly.

R.I.P. Gen. William Westmoreland 
General Westmoreland is gone.

It will serve no purpose to dwell at length on his failures. Others have done that exhaustively. Perhaps I may come to that later.

I think the nation should be grateful for the yeoman service he gave us all in WWII and in Korea:

Westmoreland saw action in North Africa, Sicily and Europe during World War II. He attained the rank of colonel by the time he was 30.

As commander of the 34th Field Artillery Battalion fighting German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, he earned the loyalty and respect of his troops for joining in the thick of battle rather than remaining behind the lines at a command post.

Military history is full of examples of fine brigade and division commanders who were eventually promoted beyond their abilities. The most glaring example I can think of now is Confederate General John Bell Hood.

Hood was one of the hardest-hitting soldiers anywhere as a brigade and division commander. But when he was given command of the Army of Tennessee, his lack of operational flexibility, and his relentless focus on the tactical offensive when he had no business attacking cost him his command and the lives of thousands of good, brave warriors - and the undying enmity of General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

So, too, I think, was General Westmoreland eventually promoted beyond his capabilities. Perhaps I'm wrong, and his hands were tied from Washington. If that were truly the case, though, he should have resigned his post in protest.

The greatest tragedy, however, is that Westmoreland presided over a decline in the basic institutional integrity of the Army. His focus on body counts, for instance, was too easily coopted by unethical subordinates, and inflated for purposes related more to the advancement of an officer's career than to positive results on the battlefield.

That said, every career soldier deserves my respect. I have no doubt that even though his final postings were beyond him, General Westmoreland did the level best he knew how to do, and busted his ass for his country for decades.

Thank you, General.

See you at the pass-in-review.

Splash, out


Monday, July 18, 2005

Inside the decision cycle 
Soldiers' perspective gives an account of how a multi-stage bombing was foiled:

The soldiers and IPs noticed the car bomb approaching and opened fire on it. The explosion detonated successfully causing minimal injuries and no deaths. Then, Iraqi police opened up on a female suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt. Some shrapnel from her explosion injured the other suicide bomber who was taken into custody, where is currently being interrogated.


I'm particularly impressed with the ability of the leaders on the ground - both U.S. and Iraqi - to read into the situation, and continue to read into it without allowing themselves to be distracted by the spectacular car bomb explosion.

The troops didn't let their guard down, remained alert, and didn't rule out possible threats just because they were women. That's good battlefield discipline. And you can only pull that off with good, alert troops who continue to WATCH THEIR SECTORS and maintain all-round security.

I'm also struck by the fact that at least one of the suicide bombers was a woman. I don't remember that happening when I was in Iraq. But it's an increasingly common occurance in Israstine and Chechnya. If it's becoming a pattern in Iraq, then soldiers' lives just got a bit more treacherous.

Read on: the soldier has a few things about the media coverage as well:

I mean, come on!! The headline is that 11 soldiers were accused of abusing prisoners. The least they could do is talk about it. Instead, all the articles I’ve read go into great detail about a bunch of car bombs and suicide bombers. Only 10% of the article even deals with the 11 soldiers. What were they accused of? What are they claiming is ‘abuse’?

Bookmark him.

Hat tip: The Paratrooper of Love

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Fiddle blogging 
Beautiful stuff from Canada's Brian Pickell Band, featuring Shane Cook on fiddle.

Ban married recruits 
From the comments section:

I don't care what anyone says. The Army is anti-family. Sure, you can make it work, but then again you can drive a car with your feet. It doesn't mean making something work is the best way to go about it.

The army absolutely encourages people to marry young, which is the dumbest thing in the world to do. I had a 1SG tell us in OBC that "ya'll shouldn't be having sex, unless ya'll is married, anyway"

As far as that one women goes, the is evil and is going to hell, but the soldier is just plain stupid. I'd rather light my money on fire or just go to vegas and put it all on red before I just hand over my check book, atm card, and such. I mean what did he think was going to happen?

Just more evidence that all the "take care of soldiers" propoganda is just lip service and there is a dire need for financial readiness training in Basic, and not some bogus ACS 3 hour course on check writing.

Condoms and financial readiness could do wonders for the Army.

I'll take that one step further:

The military should not be in the business of obligating itself to support unneccessary camp followers.

Ban married recruits, unless they are over a certain age.

Require E-4's and below, or soldiers below the age of, say, 25, to get the company commander's ok, or the go ahead of the battalion chaplain, before marrying. Or at least before the commander signs off on the extra money for BAH Type II.

It's an old and time-tested custom we got away from somewhere along the line. I don't think permission would be unreasonably withheld.

Take the millions and millions you save, and put it into better pay for single soldiers, and put it into training, spare parts, good housing for single soldiers and existing military families, and readiness.

Splash, out


Brits running out of blank ammo 
It makes headlines at the London Telegraph.

I remember one annual training when I was an infantry rifle platoon leader. I took my platoon to the field for ten days or so, training on the squad attack (movement to contact, approach march technique, for you die-hard doctrinairres.)

The squads were to undergo a formal internal evaluation by my company commander at the end of the FTX.

That's the squad attack. With two M249 machine guns. Regulating the M249 rate of fire and coordinating their efforts is a major point of action for the infantry squad leader.

I remember vividly I was allocated less than thirty blank rounds per soldier for the entire exercise. Ten days. Squad offense. Including the evaluation itself.

The MILES gear was useless.

Oh. I forgot to mention. Clinton was president, and that was the last year the Democrats controlled both houses of congress.

Things got a lot better after that. And under Bush, I actually have plenty of ammo - live and blank. I have so much ammo I have trouble shooting it all sometimes.

But make no mistake: While the U.S. Army was dodging RPGs in Mogadishu, its reserve components were training with "bang bang" rounds back in the States.

Splash, out


Military cluelessness at the Army Times!?!?!?! 
I missed this before. Just skimmed over it.

But who was the moron Army Times editor who let this one slip by?

Tschiderer, with E Troop, 101st “Saber” Cavalry Division, attached to 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division,

Thanks to a longtime reader. I owe ya a cold one, Dave!


Man Bites Dog!!!! Media uses the term "terrorist" when not warranted. 
When is a terrorist not a terrorist?

Well, when he fires a precision shot at an armed, uniformed U.S. service member in a theater of war.

During a routine patrol in Baghdad June 2, Army Pfc. Stephen Tschiderer, a medic, was shot in the chest by an enemy sniper, hiding in a van just 75 yards away. The incident was filmed by the insurgents.
Tschiderer, with E Troop, 101st “Saber” Cavalry Division, attached to 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was knocked to the ground from the impact, but he popped right back up, took cover and located the enemy’s position.

After tracking down the now-wounded sniper with a team from B Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, Tschiderer secured the terrorist with a pair of handcuffs and gave medical aid to the terrorist who’d tried to kill him just minutes before

Far be it from me to come to the rhetorical aid of the Iraq insurgency. But the problem is that the Army Times editors fail to grasp the difference between a terrorist and a garden-variety guerrilla who confines his attacks to military targets.

Aside from generally sabatoging the democratic reforms of the Iraqi people, unless this sniper is otherwise implicated in true terror attacks against innocent noncombatants, this sniper has done nothing wrong (except blow the shot) and does not deserve the label "terrorist."

When the media - the guard-dogs of political language - fail to draw a distinction - when they carelessly blur the difference between a true terrorist and one who attacks a legitimate military target with measured and proportionate force, they mislead and confuse the reader, and they lend rhetorical ammunition to anti-democratic forces, who thrive on - who RELY ON - the blurring of the line between insurgents and terrorists.

The fact is, they would like nothing more than for the term "terrorist" to be watered down, because they want to turn the term "terrorist," ju-jitsu style - against the U.S. military and pro-democratic forces. They want to hoodwink the media into calling U.S. snipers "terrorists," too, as well as the Israeli sniper whose handiwork is highlighted below.

Really, they want to turn all U.S. servicemen and women into "terrorists," so they can rail on about indicting Cheney, Bush, and Rumsfeld for "war crimes."
Yes, they look like fools in the West. And they are. But their arguments have a certain cache among the fools in the middle east who watch them, and take encouragement from them.

The Army Times was wrong to play into this idea. Someone who targets and terrorizes noncombatants is a terrorist. Someone who confines his attacks to armed, uniformed servicemen is not.

Editors, update your stylebooks. It's not that complicated.

Splash, out


Another Hamas scumbag bleeds out in the street. 
An Israeli sniper has apparently scored a hit against another Hamas ratfuck, dropping him in the street near his home with a shot to the neck.

Keep it up, boys.

Wow. I didn't see it before, But check out the fool who compares Hamas to Nelson Mandela in the comments to that post.

He also tries to compare them to Gerry Adams. But I wouldn't mind seeing the Oma bombers take a bullet in the neck either, along with a bunch of other people. Gerry Adams I don't know. He's always been careful to maintain plausible deniability. It would be interesting to see him rot in Long Kesh on a conspiracy charge.

Sinn Fein isn't still blowing up school busses and chasing seven year olds down and shooting them dead.
It's amazing to me that there are still people whose sense of perspective and moral discernment is so lacking that they can't draw a distinction.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Jody is alive and well 
The Los Angeles Times digs into the dark side of military family life.Yep, there's a few faithless skank ho' spouses and girlfriends in every unit. The vast majority of them are nothing like the scumsuckers portrayed here.

To girls who grow up around Killeen, or who land here courtesy of the Army, a soldier is considered an excellent catch — steady paycheck, health benefits, guaranteed housing.

Stability like that can be irresistible in a part of the country where earning $12 an hour is considered top dollar for a woman.

Still, when Owen met a young soldier two weeks before he left for Iraq in the spring, she declined his absurd marriage proposal — he was, after all, already married, and she'd had enough of that.

But when he asked her to handle his finances while he was off manning the gun on top of a tank, she agreed. He left her his ATM card, his pass code, a book of signed checks and instructions to spend some money on herself.

The thousands that accumulated in his account was irresistible, and she soon became the sort of woman she had seen so many others in Killeen become.

First, she went to Wal-Mart and bought her daughters a $400 motorized bicycle. That was followed by clothes for all three of them, a DVD player and a television set for the girls' room. She took one of the blank checks and paid her April rent. There were a few nights of $600 rounds of drinks for her friends at one of the local strip clubs. When the soldier's $10,000 reenlistment bonus came through, there was no stopping her.

"I got caught up on my bills and bought clothes for me and my girls," she said, laughing weakly. "It was nothing he didn't know about. He knew about most of it. He knew I was taking money out of his account. He just didn't know how much."

About $5,000 later, the soldier — who still is in Iraq and could not be reached for comment — caught on.

He called Owen at work to say he was cutting her off. She left the law office for lunch five minutes early, intending to withdraw all she could. When the machine spit the card back, she was furious.

"I was thinking to myself — and this is how these women think — I should have kept some in my own account so I'd have money," Owen said. "Because all of a sudden, that was it."

Having that money, she said, was like an addiction. To buy new quilts for the girls' beds, to drop steaks into the cart at the market, was glorious. Now back to living paycheck to paycheck, half of her brain tells her she did something terribly wrong, and the other half says to do it again if given the chance.

"I felt like if he was that stupid to have known me for two weeks and given me his ATM card, that's what he gets," she said, the tears in her eyes competing with the harsh words. "I tell myself I'm like a Good Samaritan, trying to get these soldiers to quit doing that. I know, it's monstrous."

This wench is one narcissistic, sociopathic woman! But at least she's struggling with it, a little bit. Or playing the part, anyway. Maybe she'll grow up in time.

One soldier's wife in my unit never wrote or contacted her husband in the entire year he was overseas. No letter, no email, nothing.

Another soldier received a video of his wife having sex with another man when he was away.

And then there's the bankruptcies, the illnesses, the nervous breakdowns - all of them had a significant effect on deployed soldiers, and took a lot of leadership's time and attention to help soldiers deal with it.

I don't hear about all of them. And I only know about a small fraction of the hundreds of small family dramas that played out privately in the lives of my soldiers while I was overseas. A lot of times the NCOs just sort of keep that to themselves.

That said, there are super spouses, moms, and girlfriends in every unit, too. And a lot of them were working overtime to be surrogate moms and big sisters to the younger women who were struggling with fidelity, money problems, depression, drug and alcohol addiction, problem children, and who knows what else.

And again, we soldiers don't know the half of that, either.

Why does the BBC have a hard time calling terrorists "terrorists?" 
Well, that's what happens when you go out of your way to recruit your top newsroom management from Al Jazeera.

Splash, out


Molly Ivins Corrects the Record 
Molly Ivins has published a lengthy and contrite correction to her assertion last June that the U.S. has killed more civilians in Iraq than Saddam ever did.

CROW EATEN HERE: This is a horror. In a column written June 28, I asserted that more Iraqis (civilians) had now been killed in this war than had been killed by Saddam Hussein over his 24-year rule. WRONG. Really, really wrong.

The only problem is figuring out by how large a factor I was wrong. I had been keeping an eye on civilian deaths in Iraq for a couple of months, waiting for the most conservative estimates to creep over 20,000, which I had fixed in my mind as the number of Iraqi civilians Saddam had killed.

The high-end estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths in this war is 100,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University study published in the British medical journal The Lancet last October, but I was sticking to the low-end, most conservative estimates because I didn't want to be accused of exaggeration.

Ha! I could hardly have been more wrong, no matter how you count Saddam's killing of civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, Hussein killed several hundred thousand of his fellow citizens. The massacre of the Kurdish Barzani tribe in 1983 killed at least 8,000; the infamous gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja killed 5,000 in 1988; and seized documents from Iraqi security organizations show 182,000 were murdered during the Anfal ethnic cleansing campaign against Kurds, also in 1988.

In 1991, following the first Gulf War, both the Kurds and the Shiites rebelled. The allied forces did not intervene, and Saddam brutally suppressed both uprisings and drained the southern marshes that had been home to a local population for more than 5,000 years.

Saddam's regime left 271 mass graves, with more still being discovered. That figure alone was the source for my original mistaken estimate of 20,000. Saddam's widespread use of systematic torture, including rape, has been verified by the U.N. Committee on Human Rights and other human rights groups over the years.

There are wildly varying estimates of the number of civilians, especially babies and young children, who died as a result of the sanctions that followed the Gulf War. While it is true that the ill-advised sanctions were put in place by the United Nations, I do not see that that lessens Hussein's moral culpability, whatever blame attaches to the sanctions themselves -- particularly since Saddam promptly corrupted the Oil for Food Program put in place to mitigate the effects of the sanctions, and used the proceeds to build more palaces, etc.

There have been estimates as high as 1 million civilians killed by Saddam, though most agree on the 300,000 to 400,000 range, making my comparison to 20,000 civilian dead in this war pathetically wrong.

I was certainly under no illusions regarding Saddam Hussein, whom I have opposed through human rights work for decades. My sincere apologies. It is unforgivable of me not have checked. I am so sorry.

Yep. Ivins screwed up. We all do, sooner or later. And Molly screwed up big time.

But here she sets the industry standard on how a journalist and writer with a commitment to accuracy and truth should fess up to error.

Good on ya Molly!

Dowd and Krugman, please take note!

Splash, out,


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Laugh line of the week 
Miami's an expensive city. And Coral Gables is one of the most expensive areas in an expensive city.

Here's an ad on the Florida Press Association's website:

The Coral Gables Gazette, one of South Florida¹s leading weekly newspapers, has an immediate opening for a news editor. The right candidate for the job will be someone with newsroom experience. The successful applicant will be proficient at covering city government and breaking news. Must have strong desire to get news and the ability to write on deadline. Competitive pay (starting at $26,000) and benefits.

People, you get the news quality you pay for.

Splash, out


The international Zionist cabal of Jewish financiers has apparently snubbed Daniel Finkelstein.

Damn...I need to join a better cabal.

"If historians could be disbarred, Juan Cole would have lost his license." 
Juan Cole gets busted.

Cole has been summoned by certain media to pronounce on the motives of Al-Qaeda in striking London. He hasn't got a clue. He can't keep the basic chronology of the 9/11 plot straight, and he doesn't have any notion of overall Middle Eastern chronology, which means he regularly mangles cause and effect. Reason? Bias trumps facts. If historians could be disbarred, Cole would have lost his license long ago. Instead, the Middle East Studies Association has elected him its president. So much for scholarly standards.

Addendum: Experienced Cole-watchers know that when he makes a mistake, he just goes back and tidies up his postings. So he's purged the Jenin reference. Instead, he writes that Bin Laden wanted to move up the operation "in response to Sharon's crackdown in spring of 2001." That's not what the 9/11 report says. It says Bin Laden may have considered speeding up the operation to coincide with a planned Sharon visit to the White House (p. 250).

But he's still a media darling. How many times does this guy have to immolate himself on the fencepost of stupidity before the press figures out he's talking out of his ass? At least on the kinds of things they ask him to comment on.

Martin Kramer goes on to convincingly show how Cole covers his tracks like an incontinent cat.

If Cole ran a balance she
I don't bother to read his stuff often. When I do, there's invariably something frightfully moronic on it. Here's an example.

Here's another.

This guy's a charter member of the idiotocracy, and one of the clunkiest cogs in the media-military-moron machine.

Splash, out


Kill them. 
Kill them all.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide car bomber sped up to American soldiers distributing candy to children and detonated his explosives Wednesday, killing up to 27 other people, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. One U.S. soldier and about a dozen children were among the dead.

And I still have coworkers using terms like "so-called 'terrorists'" in Iraq.

(I bit my tongue. I happen to like the guy.)

"It's their country," says the ignorant fool.

It's time to put these bastards down like so many rabid mongrels. I'd line the bastards up at Abu Ghraib and put them out of their misery, were it not for the whole "rule of law" thing. I feel like King Henry V after the French knights had slaughtered his baggage handlers.

"I was not angry 'til this instant."

And yet it's not the Muj, but American troops, who are compared to Nazis, KGB thugs, and Khmer Rouge, on the Senate floor.


Watch the jackasses at Iraqbodycount.net blame it on the U.S., now.


UPDATE: Well, it didn't take long for the first America-hating vomit brain to blame the United States (and no one else) for the deaths of these children. It's one thing to be a moron.

It's another thing to be a predictable moron. To wit:

I realize many of you may disagree with me on this, but I consider the blood of dozens of Iraqi children today who were blown up and killed by evil fucks in Baghdad who launched a suicide bomber at them while American military personnel were dispensing candy to be on the President's hands. Period. Argument not to the contrary not accepted, this time.

There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind -- none-- that every single child murdered today would still be alive right now if Saddam Hussein were still in power.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present Exibit A.

Exhibit B.

Exhibit C.

Exhibit D.

Exhibit E.

Exhibit F.

Do I need to go on?

I could post hundreds of links demonstrating why this dog is such an ignorant fool.

I don't know why I bother with these mouthbreathing dolts anymore.

Splash, out


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

BBC edits out the word "terrorist" 
I pulleth not thine leg.

The BBC has re-edited some of its coverage of the London Underground and bus bombings to avoid labelling the perpetrators as "terrorists", it was disclosed yesterday.

Yeah, this is what passes for critical thinking among journalists today.

I'm sure they're proud of themselves for being so broad-minded. You know, the way a bad dog is proud of himself for crapping on the sofa.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Stand down 
What a weekend!

I got a call at work on thursday afternoon instructing me to form the unit on Saturday at 0500, and get ready to move down to the lower keys, rolling out the gate not later than 0900, to support civil authorities in the wake of Hurricane Dennis.

I spent Friday at the unit with some of my key leaders, figuring out the logistical requirements of the move, when I got the word to push the next day's formation back to 1000 hours, and be ready to move at noon. I made a command decision to form the unit at 0800 rather than 1000, though, because we had just received a bunch of new vehicles back from languishing at Fort Stewart and Camp Blanding for more than a year, and it would take us some time to fuel them and pull a full maintenance inspection. With no external recovery assets between here and the Keys, I couldn't afford to take a dud vehicle. And between receiving the mission and conducting troop leading procedures, issuing weapons, dispatching and pulling maintenance on vehicles, and installing radios, it would just take some time to pull out the gate.

Just how much time, precisely, is nobody else's business but ours. And don't underestimate how much I can short circuit that process to come kick some terrorists' or rioters ass if I really needed to move in a hurry. But I wanted to afford myself the extra two hours to plan, brief soldiers, and pack correctly, and do this right. With a five hour drive separating the area of operations from the base of supply, you don't want to screw up the load-out. It's a ten-hour round trip if you forget something.

Meanwhile, I had also already committed with a vendor to contract breakfast for the company. She needed to buy food for the next days' breakfast by 3 pm or her wholesaler would shut down for the day, and she had already committed. This vendor has been good to the guard, and good to my soldiers in the past, and I wasn't going to cancel breakfast and leave her with hundreds of dollars of rotting eggs, ham, and sausage. We'd probably pay for it anyway. Which means I'd wind up getting run down and made to pay for it out of my own pocket, as the unit commander, if I didn't actually feed soldiers with it.

So we rescheduled the chow pickup and had the formation at 0800. We went right to work pulling maintenance on the vehicles. The fueler had aborted mission, so we were going to have to fuel at a civilian service station, using a government fuel card, which takes a long time and a good deal of organization, prior to a convoy.

Plus, some moron somewhere decided that the Florida Army National Guard spent too much money on fuel during the Summer Storm season, and decided that it would be a good idea to A.) Shut each fuel card off after two swipes unless and until we called for a reauthorization, and by the way, you're shit out of luck on weekends and after hours, and/or B.) No fuel card may be used to charge more than 1,000 dollars in a month.

Well, that might work ok for a line company with two vehicles. But I've got dozens of vehicles in the motor pool, and they all have to run on one or two fuel cards, and to put a headquarters company, separated from the support battalion by 180 miles, on the same footing with a light infantry company when it comes to fuel purchases, is beyond insane. Sheer fucking idiocy. Only a REMF bean-counter moron could come up with that one. And the predictable result is that you will eventually have a convoy of troops pulled over on the side of the road immobilized for lack of fuel, and the governor will have some esplaining to do.

Yeah, I might get in trouble for typing that, but I've already told my battalion headquarters several times that it's madness.

Fortunately, though, it was not a factor in this storm because at about 0830, I got the word to stand my troops down, and dismiss by 1200 hours. Just keep a 24 manning on unit phones in case we got called back up again as the storm made its way toward the gulf coast.

So we finished PMCSing the new vehicles, so I could get needed parts on order for them (seriously, Active Army...you sat on our vehicles for a year and didn't do a damn thing to fix them before shipping them down? Rather, you sat there and watched our tires go flat???? What's up with that???), formed the company, thanked the troops, told them to stay by their phones, and sent the Joes home, while I spent some time with the leaders going over the next drill.

On Sunday afternoon, I got a call again from the Battalion commander, ordering me to form the unit at 0600, and be prepared to move for the Panhandle not later than 0900 on Monday. Long-assed drive in these bumpy, un-airconditioned trucks at 45mph. So moving out on time was critical. Even then we'd have to remain overnight somewhere.

And the fuel card issue could have been critical, too (although it was solved by arranging to have military fuelers meet the column en route to the staging area...something which is easy to do northbound but next to impossible southbound.) But if those fuelers were there, we'd have no trouble at all. Plus, with organizational maintenance shops scattered around the length of Florida, I knew I'd have somewhere to leave a broken-down vehicle.

This helps, because I don't have to commit a contact team for a day at a time towing a vehicle up and down the keys, but also because it means I can actually take more vehicles. I'm more willing to take a chance on an iffy or unfamiliar vehicle if I know I'm supported with external maintenance assets.

Also, having a soldier manning the phones 24-7 was a Godsend. I was home, and technically off orders for Sunday, but having a couple of experienced soldiers at the Armory enabled me to delegate away most of my routine communications requests and saved me from having to call every section leader and platoon leader personally, plus full-time staff, plus supply, everytime something changed. It also saved my cell phone from ringing off the hook everytime someone had a minor question.

Which was invaluable, because it gave me time to sit home and THINK!!!!

How will my soldiers in Key West make it back in time? Should I even require it? Some of them had not even made it home to check on their own homes before getting the alert to come back to Miami by 0600 the next day.

Should I have soldiers who live in central florida report to the Armory? Or meet us en route? Normally, I'd just have them meet up with us on route, but some of them are hand receipt holders, and are therefore signed for gear that other people would be packing (and potentially losing.)

How many vehicles, exactly, shall I plan on taking? Do I need to request bus transportation in addition to organic vehicles? What time should the busses arrive?

Normally, I offload a lot of that movement planning to the unit executive officer. But he lives on the other side of the state, and will have to go to bed early in order to drive.

Who should I have command the convoy? Who is capable? Who needs the experience?

So and so ships off to Ranger School in a week. Do I mobilize and deploy him? Well, I'd lose a very scarce (and expensive!) Ranger School slot. But he's a hand receipt holder, and a key leader. (I finally had him show for the load-out, sign his property over, but decided not to deploy him. I had no way to transport him back from the Panhandle to Miami, unless he took his own car, and I couldn't pay him mileage.

Do I have enough vehicles to haul troops? Do I have enough additional vehicles, and the right KIND of vehicles, AFTER I take into account trucks and humvees transferred to other companies, to be transferred, vehicles which are broken, vehicles I just don't trust for long trips, and the number of licensed drivers available, to haul my water trailers and generators? How about my mobile kitchen setup? If not, then I need to give the S4 a heads-up.

So I did what any responsible commander would do:

I took my cell phone, went to an all-you-can-eat sushi dive, spread my vehicle listings and unit roster before me, and went to work, trying to resolve all these issues, and still make it to bed early. I only had to make a few phone calls, and was only moderately interrupted by minutiae that someone else could easily handle. (I'm a big believer in delegation!)

Got home, checked in with a couple of key personnel, and got ready for bed, when I got a call from the Battalion commander a little after 10.

"Listen, Jason...the formation time has been pushed back to 1000 hours. Everything got pushed back four hours. They're going to make another assessment in the morning to see if they need us. The damage isn't so bad as they thought."

No problem. I hate getting up early, anyway. The only thing is, a later departure time would change the spot I want to remain overnight. I don't want to keep truckers on the road too late. It's hard enough to stay awake in those things in 95 degree weather in 100 percent humidity after adequate rest. I didn't want to be pulling into a staging area at 1 am only to get up at 0500 and move at 0600 to pull 24 hour ops the next day and for who knows how long?

So I brought that up, and was told we'd figure out a new RON spot in the morning.

With that I called my 24 guys and had them help me out calling platoon sergeants, who would call their squad leaders, who would in turn call their team leaders, who would in turn call their soldiers. I would call my first sergeant, my XO, and my officer platoon leaders personally.

Made the call not to have my first sergeant drive up from the keys until I got a green light that we would actually be rolling. He had his own home to see to, and the Navy wouldn't let him onto the naval base where he lived yet. So he hadn't been home yet. Turned out to be the right call:

The next morning, at five minutes after eight, as I was already on the turnpike driving to Miami, I got a phone call to stand down the whole unit. They didn't need us. Better to keep us in reserve for Tropical Depression #5 and following storms we're already tracking.


It was the right call, though. We weren't really needed, and it would take us two days to get there in force, anyway. It's still very early in hurricane season, and we have a long storm season ahead of us. If you disrupt Guardsmen's lives too often, without an overwhemling reason, you won't have a Guard for very long. Most of these soldiers had already gone to Iraq and deployed for three or more storms last year. We've had people on and off pulling other missions as well, in support of deploying troops.

I was already committed to taking off work, though, so I stayed at the unit catching up on paperwork, and signing dozens of those inane little labels that say "This container contains no classified documents."

I told my full-timers I wanted them on all my mermite containers and juice jugs, too.

Splash, out


Saturday, July 09, 2005

"There is no terrorist threat in this country. This is a lie." 
"This is the biggest lie we've been told."

So said the now discredited Michael Moore in December 2003.

So when's a BBC or Sky News camera going to show up on his front porch for an ambush interview?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Hurricane Dennis 
Sorry for the light blogging today. I would have loved to have weighed in more on the London bombings - and less flippantly than below.

Bottom line: I blame Al Qaeda. Anyone who's out there thinking he's clever by blaming someone else other than Al Qaeda needs to stop examining his navel.

Unfortunately, the Florida Keys are under a Hurricane Watch, and I've been busy getting ready to respond to that one. I'll be at my unit by tomorrow afternoon, and will probably not return until the mission has been accomplished.

The thing is, right now, I have several soldiers, including my First Sergeant, who live in Key West, and who are simultaneously trying to board up their homes, evacuate their families, find homes for their pets, and somehow make it up the crammed US 1 to get out of the lower Keys.

So those guys need your prayers.

Oh, here's something for you...

I talked with one of my Key West soldiers today, well after the order came to evacuate all lower keys.

"Sir, I'm almost ready to leave, but my wife is still at work and they won't let her out."

"Ok. Where does she work?"

(I'm thinking, hospital? Police station? Public transit? Emergency service?)

"She works in a bar."

"They're keeping the bar open?"

"Yes, sir."

"Dude. You must live in Key West."

I can't wait to visit that bar down the road and tell the owner how dumb he is.

Splash, out


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terror Strikes London Underground 
...France surrenders to Germany

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tax cheats flocking to Iraq, Afghanistan 
The IRS has established a special email address servicemen and women can write to notify them that they are in a combat zone.

Just adress an email to combatzone@irs.gov.

Include your name, stateside address, date of birth, and date of deployment to the combat zone. Do not send your social security number by email.

The IRS will contact you back by snail mail, and will cease any tax enforcement or audit actions until 180 days after you return from the combat zone.

The email notification may be made by the service member, his or her spouse, or by an authorized agent or representative.

Theoretically, you can defer taxes indefinitely by killing Mujahedeen!

Is this a great country or what!

Somebody hand Willie Nelson a rifle!

Splash, out


Mutual fund follies 
The Fidelity Destiny series of funds made a list of "four-alarm funds" published by fundalarm.com on July 1st.

A four alarm fund, according to fundalarm.com, is a fund which has underperformed its benchmark index for the last 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, and 10 year time periods.

The Fidelity Destiny funds were aggressively marketed to military personnel by First Command Financial Planning, which charged novice military investors front-end sales charges of up to 50% - nearly ten times the industry average for sales loads - for putting them in these funds.

Fidelity Destiny I - a large-cap fund which achieved the dubious distinction of trailing the S&P 500 for nine calendar years running - the statistical equivalent of flipping "tails" nine times in a row" controls more than $3 billion dollars in military families' assets. Its fund manager, Karen Firestone, was replaced as fund manager last May.

(See the Morningstar.com review from Greg Carlson here: http://quicktake.morningstar.com/Fund/MorningstarAnalysis.asp?Country=USA&Symbol=FDTOX )

Fidelity doesn't even get to use high fees as an excuse for its underperformance: the 0.47 percent expense ratio on A shares is actually quite reasonable, and compares favorably with other actively managed funds of its class.

It's not that Firestone was a bad manager - she's a reasonably competent growth-oriented manager, and has actually beaten other large growth style fund managers during her tenure there. It's just that being a growth manager in the markets of the last five years has been the equivalent of taking a knife to a gun fight. She was doomed from the start. It wasn't a manager problem so much as a manager selection problem.

(Incidentally, check out the hilarious progression of Morningstar analysts' opinions going back to 2001 here: http://quicktake.morningstar.com/Fund/AnalysisArchiveList.asp?Country=USA&Symbol=FDTOX )

Fidelity Destiny II, incidentally, has squandered even more military family money - with assets of more than $5 billion dollars languishing in a consistently underperforming fund for the last decade.

Moreover, the machine gun trading strategy that the fund employs under its current manager is highly tax-inefficient, generating capital gains distributions and taxes and further depressing returns for anyone holding the fund outside of a retirement account. All in all, an inappropriate core holding for a military family new to investing.

All told, the two Destiny funds hold over $8 billion dollars in military family money, and each has managed to lag a simple S&P 500 Index fund in a variety of markets.

So what's a military family to do?

Why, I'd look no further than Vanguard's Target retirement funds - a great "one shot, one kill" option for people who want to focus more on beating the Muj than on beating the markets.

Just pick out whichever fund is closest to the date you plan on leaving the workforce, set up an automatic investment program with Vanguard for as much as you can (333.33/month at a minimum, if possible, since that will max out your Roth IRA or traditional IRA allowable contribution) and go down range and kill the enemy. Keep it up for 20 -30 years. You should do ok. In fact, you'll probably do better than about 75 percent of all investors.

Splash, out


The Nation writer expresses "Solidarity" with muj in Fallujah 
The word "solidarity" is his word, not mine. From a transcript of a Michael Medved interview with Nation writer Daniel Lazare:

Medved,Now, do you think that – do you feel some sympathy for the so-called insurgents in Fallujah?

Daniel Lazare: Oh, absolutely yes, total sympathy, total solidarity.

Michael Medved: You do?

David Horowitz: So who's the sophist here?

Daniel Lazare: Of course, absolutely. The insurgents in Fallujah are repelling a foreign invasion. They have every right to do it. Now, I’m not going to support every last action by every last fighter there, obviously, but certainly they have a right to repel a foreign invasion of their country.

And more:

Daniel Lazare [Responding to Horowitz's assertion that the Mujahedeen in Fallujah are actually terrorists oppressing the Iraqi people.] Are you aware, David, that the other Nazis routinely referred to members of the French Underground as terrorists during World War II?

Other Nazis, Daniel?

Michael Medved: Daniel Lazare, would you like to see the elections scheduled for January 30 in Iraq fail?

Daniel Lazare: I'm totally opposed to what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. Therefore, I would no more support U.S. elections than I would support German elections in France during World War II.

Michael Medved: So you're sticking with this comparison of the United States to Nazi Germany?

David Horowitz: He is, because he believes it in his soul.

Daniel Lazare: I believe it. I believe it entirely.

No further comment.

Splash, out


15 to 1, Bitches! 
Americans are more generous towards Africa than our European counterparts. By a factor of 15.

Come to think of it, I don't see Europe doing much for Central America, either.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Six Rules of Mainstream Journalism 
Cori Dauber's anonymous guest blogger lays out six rules of reflexively liberal journalism.

Rule #1: When politically partisan groups are described as in conflict, the focus will be on the "aggressive" activities of the "right" groups.

Rule #2: when politically partisan groups are described, the "right" group will be portrayed as more extreme than the "left" group.

Rule #3: when spokespeople are chosen to "sum up" a "liberal" point of view they will have, or will be described as having, the most pleasing credentials possible.

Rule #4: when profiling the "religious right", the story will find a religiously-credentialed opponent on the left to quote; when profiling the left, no liberal critic of the left will be quoted.

Rule #5: activism by religious people on the right is dangerous; activism by religious people on the left is innocuous or praiseworthy.

Rule #6: the left gets the last word.

He applies them to a Denver Post article. Normally, I'm suspicious of rules someone comes up with to describe a particular article. It's dangerous to argue from the specific to the general. But this summer we have a perfect opportunity to test the good professor's theorems -- the fight over the replacement for Justice O'Connor, and later Renquist.

Someone with more time than I have may wish to actually quantify the results. Which news outlets have the highest tendency to hit all six rules?

Sounds like a great project for an aspiring communications or j-school student!

Splash, out


Monday, July 04, 2005

Journalists: Evolve or die. 
Via The Last Call, Gary Trudeau is buying into the media misinterpretation of the blogging phenomenon:

Isn't blogging basically for angry, semi-employed losers who are too untalented or too lazy to get real jobs in journalism...

I mean, if half the market really valued what you say, wouldn't somebody pay you for it?

I suppose it's human for journalists who've been stung, or who have seen their friends stung, by blogger criticism, to sort of lash out. You know, like spoiled children. But this sentiment misses the mark in a lot of ways.

First of all, it assumes -- without basis in fact -- that bloggers are semi-employed. But the fact is that many of the most successful bloggers are very much employed. And some are at the very top of their professions. Others are successful in academia, or are otherwise proven professional and personal successes.

Second, it assumes - without basis in fact - that bloggers are more angry, in the aggregate, than professional journalists. But journalists don't enter the field without passions of their own. And many of them are quite angry about something or other.

They're a lot like everyone else in that regard. I mean, is someone going to try to tell me that Maureen Dowd, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews, don't have moments of pique? And haven't had them throughout their careers?

Anyone want to argue that Howell Raines, still smarting from his own blog-accelerated self-destruction during his tenure at the New York Times, isn't angry himself?

Anyone want to argue that a certain New York Based professional journalist whose identity I shall keep to myself out of friendship who last August, during the Republican Convention, compared the campaign to reelect George Bush to a campaign to reelect Pol Pot, isn't angry?

Clearly that isn't the case.

Third, Doonesbury assumes that the stuff we see in the mainstream media is written by professional journalists. Much of it, however, is written by underpaid and desperate stringers, who are themselves much more marginally employed than most bloggers. Indeed, much of the coverage in Iraq relies on the reporting of unidentified (and thus publicly unaccountable) Iraqi stringers, whose reports are then consolidated under an American byline and published without mentioning the fact that the bylined reporter has made no independent verification of the contents of the stringers' reports.

Fourth, the Doonesbury piece assumes that those journalists who are employed full-time are employed full-time because anybody gives a rats ass about what they have to say. The fact is that they are not. People value the information in the reports. It is very rare, indeed, that a person buys a paper to read a report based on the byline of the author.

Even someone like Seymour Hersh gains his market value as a reporter not from his own commentary or analysis, but because of his unparrallelled access to disgruntled Pentagon sources. We care about what the sources may have to say. Someone like Hersh is but a conduit. And reporters, almost without exception, do their best writing when they become masters of negative capability, and simply become a medium to transport the reader to another time and place, and present the readers with new information.

And how can it be otherwise? A journalism degree qualifies a journalist to do nothing more. There is no magic pill that a professional reporter can swallow that makes his or her own professional knowledge of nonjournalism subjects worth a dime, nor can a few years as a journalist trump the considered opinions of those who, for example, have been immersed in military and logistical questions every day of their careers for years and decades longer than the journalist.

And this is a trap for journalists who rely on their own limited candlepower to lend "perspective" to events they themselves are simply ill-equipped to understand. And the war in Iraq serves as a constantly renewing example of the failure of journalism to recognize its own biases and limitations.

Fifth, Doonesbury ignores the fact that many bloggers, who are themselves recognized professionals and even experts in their field, are in fact plying their knowledge, full-time, and professionally. When Vodkapundit blogs on the law, he knows what he's talking about. When Steve Jobs and Bill Gates blog about technology, nobody can say it's because they're underemployed losers. When Jeff Jarvis blogs about media, it's from the perspective of someone who has himself worked in media and media marketing for a decade longer than many reporters have even been alive.

Examples of bloggers lending their expertise to the public as a public service exist in abundance. Overpressure.com is written by an ordnance and explosives expert. When Don Luskin blogs about finance, he's blogging as someone who's spent years coming up with stupid investing ideas (Democratically run mutual funds, anyone?)

Yeah, I'm having fun at his expense. But Luskin's a knowledgable guy.

When Stephen Bainbridge blogs about corporate law, he blogs as someone with nationally recognized stature in the field.

When this blog originated in Iraq, I wrote as someone who was an expert in small unit operations, convoy operations, and the weaponry and equipment of that time and place. It was an expertise which my government paid me for, full-time, but which was not acquired overnight, but as a result of a long process of specialized study, training, and experience that began nearly 17 years ago. (Christ, has it been that long???)

I started the blog as a hobby and a public service, and as a way to reach editors and reporters, whom I hoped to attract as readers. I also wrote it because I knew what a lousy job they were doing reporting the war, and I also knew that they were ill-equipped to make improvements because of the vast culture gap separating today's professional journalist from the American soldier, and those who understand and study warfare.

Many bloggers bring an expertise of their own that dwarfs that of any journalist on the beat.

By the way, many bloggers are better and livelier writers than most journalists. (So if a journalist doesn't have the background to understand a story, and can't out write some of the experts, then what, exactly, is the value they're adding to the table?)

Sixth, Doonesbury assumes that even professional journalists are employed for a reason. But there's an ontologocal problem with that reasoning: The population he refers to is employed BY DEFINITION. It is simply impossible to assign any meaningful significance to their employement statistics because there's no correlation and no causality to point out. You have simply taken a select sample. You can't ascribe any more significance to the employment status of professional journalists, who are by very definition employed, than you can to the fact that the jelly beans in a pile you've created are yellow when you yourself created the pile by looking for and selecting yellow jelly beans.

All in all, if this is the reasoning the (I hate this term) "elite media" uses to justify their position, and set themselves apart from and above bloggers, then they're in more trouble than I thought.

Good journalists should not be trying to look down on bloggers. Good journalists ought to be leveraging their skills by cooperating with bloggers, and by exploiting the advantages of pooled and collective intelligence.

There's no way a newspaper staff, for instance, working in isolation, can predictably and reliably come up with the bolt from the blue of a Buckhead writing in as a typography expert, or as someone who was intimately familiar with the format of TANG memorandums from the early 1970s.

But thousands of readers can.

The Times' experiment with Wiki editorials is on the right track. It was a false start, but it's a false start in the same sense that Da Vinci's early aircraft never got off the ground, either. But it laid the groundwork for what was to come.

Media will change. And those reporters who understand their limitations, and who find ways to leverage their own abilities with blogosphere experts, online "intelligence hives" and "expert workshops", will eventually achieve outstanding success. And they will tower professionally over those journalists who are still stuck in the old ways, trying to do everything themselves, failing to embrace new technologies and new ways of aggregating and distributing intelligence and knowledge. News aggregators are already beginning to consolidate the best of expert bloggers and combine them with basic wire service reports.

The bloggers are the mammals playing in dinosaur footprints, and are already devouring the occasional egg. And like packs of jackals in another eon, have already combined to bring down far larger specimins from older species.

Evolve or die.

Splash, out


The Mesopotamian puts it into perspective 
Politically, the U.S. has made an important conquest so far: That of the hearts and strategic alliance of both the majority of the Shiaa and certainly the Kurds; that accounts for at least 75% of the Iraqi people. And I am sure a sizable part of the Iraqi Sunnis can be won over eventually. The undercurrent of largely unspoken popular support and gratitude remains despite all the hardships, mistakes and even harshness in the relationship between the troops and the population due to the mistrust created by the terrorists. This is something that no amount of Media bias and enemy propaganda can shake off. This is the decisive factor, and this is what is going to prevail in the end of the day

Agreed. Most idiots think that the Sunnis represent Iraq. They do not. The Sunnis represent a proportion of people in Iraq roughly equivalent to the proportion of African Americans in the U.S. today. But you couldn't figure that out from the news coverage, could you?

Splash, out


(Hat tip: Roger L. Simon

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Hot Tuna 
Old joke: How many guitar players does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Answer: Twelve. One to change the bulb, and eleven to stand around and say "Yeah, he's good, but I coulda done better."

So anyway, I saw Hot Tuna. Jorma Kaukonen was one of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane. Jefferson Airplane peaked with "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love," of course, and Jorma wisely jumped ship before they could morph into Starship and torture us with "We Built This City," quite possibly the dumbest pop hit ever cut.

Well, Jorma and Jack Casady are two very competent instrumentalists, and I caught them on tour last night in Fort Lauderdale.

Jorma's a fantastic fingerstyle guitar player. But the show was marred by its format. No seating. It's an outdoor stage, and the open area's made for dancing, not listening. Combine a packed crowd with South Florida heat and humidity in the summer and, well, you get the idea.

Saw it with one of my usual gigging partners. Both of us pretty much figured that if we put on a show like that, we'd never get asked back to the pub.

Everything was blues in E or A, same uptempo White Boy Blues, same time signature. These guys are good technicians, but the sameness of the material was difficult to take, and my ears tired after a while.

It was kinda funny because the place was crawling with middle-aged guitar pickers, all comparing their penises with Jorma's. And all brought their wives and girlfriends who seemed to be less into it.

Jorma's good, but I can play the same shit around my house for free all night long and not even break a sweat.

They were accompanied by a mandolin player, whose name escapes me. Competent, but not inspiring. A far cry from the brilliant Sam Bush, who occasionally appears with them, and whom I was hoping to see.

My compatriots and I...three of us guitar players, one of them a Berklee college of music grad, actually left the show early. The consensus: These guys are living off of past glory and not pushing themselves.

A bunch of people asked me how come I wasn't fighting my way to the front of the crowd. "Don't you want to watch his hands?"

I'm thinking, "Why? I already know how to do everything he's doing! Let someone else go up there. It's too hot."

I can't execute it as well as Jorma right now. He's a very clean player. But that's just a matter of practice.

All in all, a disappointing performance by some players I'd expect more of.

Splash, out


Satire site skews pols, media figures 
There's lots of satirical, Photoshoppy, bloggy goodness here from Wuzzadem. Really clever stuff, with all the right people getting skewered.

Check out any of the "favorites" in the right hand column!


Saturday, July 02, 2005

Long overdue 
The maximum coverage available under the Serviceman's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program has just been increased from $250,000 to $400,000.

The increase is long overdue - not because of inflation, so much, but because in today's era of low interest rates and reduced expected returns on equities, $250,000 would simply be insufficient to replace a soldier's lost income and provide for a surviving spouse and children - especially when you factor in the increased need for day care, etc.

The death gratuity itself is increased from 12,500 - enough to take care of a modest funeral, but not much more - to $100,000. Which is welcome news. It's not going to be enough money to bankrupt the war effort. But it will mean a great deal to those who have lost loved ones.

Interestingly, the increase is retroactive to October 7th, 2001, and not to September 11th, 2001. Which means that families of those killed in the Pentagon, and any reservists or guardsmen abord the planes or killed in the WTC would be excluded.

I wonder if those killed at Pearl Harbor were also excluded, because that, too, was a defensive action, prior to the U.S. declaring war. It's as if the WWII gratuity was only authorized from Guadalcanal forward.

It's an odd thing to do, when the Bush Administration is making the rhetorical argument that Iraq is part of the War on Terror, and that the War on Terror started on September 11th, 2001.

Splash, out


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