Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Checkpoint shooting 
Some of the leftie blogs are all aflutter over the incompetence of the troops who fired on a vehicle that ran a checkpoint - killing the occupants, one of whom was pregnant.Granted, the soldiers on the ground, and Rumsfeld personally should have been able to discern, from hundreds of meters away, that the modestly clad woman in the floor-length robes in the back seat was obviously pregnant.

Now some of them are criticizing soldiers for "not shooting out the engine block," or "not shooting out the tires."


Look at the lethal radius of a VBIED.

Well, I suspect our official estimate is classified. But Danger Close for our own artillery is 600m, and 155mm shells have a lethality radius of about 300 meters.

Which happens to be about the maximum real-world effective range for an M16. (Ok, die hards - I'm fully aware that the effective range listed in the -10 manual is 525m. That's in a laboratory. How many of your soldiers skip the 300m target on the pop up range and save their ammo?)

And a .223 round ain't gonna "shoot out an engine block."

A .50 cal might. But that's because a .50 cal actually PENETRATES the engine block. And so will probably penetrate the dashboard as well. Even if it is carpeted. And it will kill the people inside.

But there's no evidence I've seen reported that a .50 cal was even on the scene. Which doesn't leave many options. Well, it leaves two: Accept the risk that the vehicle is a VBIED (despite the signage which clearly indicates, in Arabic, that you must stop "or you will be shot"), or you shoot to take out the occupants - beyond the lethal radius of the VBIED. Which could well consist of several 155mm rounds connected together.

I personally know that an IED consisting of about 3 155mm rounds will shatter windows more than 1,000 meters away, because I was in a room when it happened.

Of course, you could "shoot out the tires." And a .223 round will penetrate a tire. Unless the tire is filled with plastic explosive, of course. But even if it's not, why would flattening a tire in a suicide bomber's VBIED do anything more than make the last 20 seconds of his life a bumpy ride?

At any rate, the max effective range of the M16 under ideal conditions against a man-sized target is 525 meters or so. But most soldiers can't reliably hit the 300m target on a pop up range. And that one is standing still, not hurtling along at 60 mph.

And the man-sized silhouette is rather larger than a tire.

Really, in order to score a reliable tire shot with an M16, you'd probably have to let the vehicle close to within 1/5th to 1/10th of the actual lethal radius of a potential VBIED.

You also have to consider that since the explosive force experienced by the victims of the IED decreases by the square of the radius to the IED, it therefore follows that your own exposure to lethal effect - and therefore risk - increases exponentially with every passing second.

So some of our soldiers guessed wrong, and are labeled "incompetent."

Is this what passes for "analysis" among these people?

Who's calling whom "incompetent?"

Splash, out


Monday, May 29, 2006

In observance of Memorial day ... 
The following poem is by an Iraq war veteran named Brian Turner

AB Negative (The Surgeon's Poem)

Thalia Fields is under a grey ceiling of clouds,
just under the turbulance, with anesthetics
dripping from an I.V. into her arm,
and the flight surgeon says The shrapnel
cauterized as it traveled through her
here, breaking this rib as it entered,
burning a hole through the left lung
to finish in her back,
and all of this
she doesn’t hear, except perhaps as music—
that faraway music of people’s voices
when they speak gently and with care,
a comfort to her on a stretcher
in a flying hospital en route to Landstuhl,
just under the rain at midnight, and Thalia
drifts in and out of consciousness
as a nurse dabs her lips with a moist towel,
her palm on Thalia’s forehead, her vitals
slipping some, as burned flesh gives way
to the heat of the blood, the tunnels within
opening to fill her, just enough blood
to cough up and drown in, and Thalia,
she sees the shadows of people working
to save her, but she cannot feel their hands,
and she cannot hear them any longer,
and when she closes her eyes
the most beautiful colors rise in darkness,
tangerine washing into Russian blue,
with the droning engine humming on
in a dragonfly’s wings, the island palms
painting the sky an impossible hue
with their thick brushes dripping in green…
But this is all an act of the imagination,
a means of dealing with the obscenity
of war, what loss there is, the inconsolable
grief, the fact that Thalia Fields is gone,
long gone, about as far from Mississippi
as she can get, 10,000 feet above Iraq
with a blanket draped over her body
and an exhausted surgeon in tears,
his bloodied hands on her chest, his head
sunk down, the nurse guiding him
to a nearby seat and holding him as he cries,
though no one hears it, because nothing can be heard
where pilots fly in black-out, the plane
like a shadow guiding the rain, here
in the droning engines of midnight.

Turner published an anthology of Iraq War poetry last year.

If you purchase through this link, or via the Amazon link to your right, all Amazon Associate Proceeds from this item will be donated to the Army Emergency Relief Fund, to help soldiers and their families in times of crisis and need.

You can also donate directly via the links to the right.


Saturday, May 27, 2006

Off to Orlando this weekend to play violin at someone's wedding.

Then I'm swamped with writing deadlines and annual training preparations, regardless. Slim to no blogging for a few days.

Have a great memorial day weekend.


Friday, May 26, 2006

A stain on all of us 
If this New York Times story pans out, Abu Ghraib is child's play in comparison.

If it were a simple matter of trigger-happiness in fear and rage after a buddy was killed, I could forgive - after we exercised due process of law. At least I could understand it.

But what the Times describes is a systematic, cold-blooded, premeditated massacre - a crime that taxes my own Christian ability for forgiveness.

And the massacre appears to have been compounded by a conspiracy to cover up the crimes.

I'm no fan of the death penalty generally. But if the New York Times story is correct, then the firing squad for those directly responsible should be on the table.

I want to hear all the facts, complete with the results of cross examination. But this should be a potential capital case.

The whole world will be watching to see how the United States tries its own alleged war criminals.

I should note that it wasn't reservists who committed the crime. When Abu Ghraib broke, I objected to arguments that the lack of training of reservists was to blame. That argument was always stupid.

Training only teaches skills. It cannot reform a blackened heart.

My own is sick and sad.

And outraged.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Galloway says murder of Blair "would be justified." 
Not Gallagher Galloway. The other guy. The British MP.

Yesterday he made a public appearance on Cuban TV with Fidel Castro, extolling him as "a lion" in a world populated by "monkeys."

Will someone please indict this cretin?

Strange sourcing at the Military Times 
Check this out:

Headline: A dozen Marines may face courts-martial for alleged Iraq massacre

A key member of Congress said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if a dozen Marines faced courts-martial for allegedly killing Iraqi civilians Nov. 19. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., told Marine Corps Times that the number of dead Iraqis, first reported to be 15, was actually 24. He based that number on a briefing from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Mike Hagee on Wednesday.

Are the Military Times publications going to make a habit of running speculation from secondary sources in their ledes?

Is the Military Times in the habit of subverting the official spokespeople stating on the record policy to Senator Representative Murtha's rank speculation?

I can see calling Murtha for a quote. But Murtha ought to be towards the end of the story. I like to lead with facts.

Well, except when I'm blogging. Then it's wisecracks. But for news pubs, I go with what I know first.

Apparently, editorial standards vary at the Military Times Publications these days.

Splash, out


UPDATE: I sent an email to the reporter asking for a comment. The reporter responds, "Murtha is not a Senator. But nice use of the word "bloviate."

(After sending the email I edited 'bloviating' to read 'speculation.'

I'll send an email requesting a response on the substance of the criticism, and let you know what she says, if anything.


"Iraqi soldiers, yes! American soldiers, yes! Police, no!" 
Cheeburger, cheeburger, Pepsi, Pepsi, cheeburger!

Seriously, good reporting from Mr. Bing West at the above link.

Note the following from an American officer at the end of the piece:

"We're not in a kinetic war here in south Baghdad. We're detectives. We get to know the community and make arrests, just like police.

Wow... we're not in a kinetic war there. It looks like it's somewhere between a Level I and Level II insurgency. In Baghdad. The article also indicates that the Iraqi Army easily has the upper hand over the Sadr militia.

Wow, you wouldn't get that impression from reading the newspapers, would you?

Via Ranting Profs.

Extra, extra! 
Here's the scoop.

How are those interest-only, balloon payment mortgages you took out with interest rates near historic lows and heading higher workin' out for ya, suckers?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What the Times didn't bother to tell you. 
Strategy Page has more background on the strike:

Coalition forces found that about a hundred Taliban gunmen were staying at a religious school near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. Smart bombs hit the school in the middle of the night, but several dozen of the Taliban fled to nearby homes. As Afghan and Coalition forces closed in, the surviving Taliban fired back from nearby homes. So smart bombs were used on the homes as well, which killed about 16 civilians and wounded another twenty. Over 80 Taliban were killed, with no Afghan army or Coalition dead. The Taliban promptly spun their use of civilian homes, as human shields, as a Coalition atrocity.

Strategy page usually has good sources within the military. So we know that the strikes were directly observed from close to within small-arms range. We know that the Taliban were actually shooting from those positions (despite the New York Times' implication that they weren't trying to fight). We know that the Taliban commandeered civilian homes after first having been spotted occupying a school.

The Times reported none of this.

I guess if you want to know what actually happens in Afghanistan, don't bother with the Times.

More European cowardice 
I guess I just have to look at every German and Italian citizen in the world as a self-propelled certified check for at least $2.5 million dollars. And France, having paid $25 million, is the biggest betrayer of all of them.

I certainly can't look at their governments as trustworthy. But at least we knew that about the collaborative Vichy regime currently occupying the halls of power in Paris.

I'll also look at every IED that goes off as having a stamp on it that says "paid for by the people of France, Germany and Italy."

Splash, out


(Via the Ranting One)

From Wretchard:

One unintended effect of the September 11 attacks is that it put a defining question to different modes of American political consciousness. Until then it was possible to treat many ideologies respectable since the 1960s as harmless forms of iconoclasm, posing "provocative" but fundamentally hypothetical views. But when attacks on the US homeland made it categorically necessary to answer the question: 'are you willing to fight our assailants', many sincere ideologues paused, shook their heads and said: 'No. In fact I am morally obligated to help our assailants'.

Just don't question their patriotism!

Monday, May 22, 2006

The media meltdown in Katrina 
Lou Dolinar reports on what the irresponsible media missed.

I initially heard about the Dome headquarters from Maj. John T. Dressler, who serves with the National Guard Bureau in Washington D.C, an organization that coordinates efforts of State Guard units which serve under their respective governors. Dressler was present in the command tent there and pulled together after-action reports for the Guard as a whole from its fifty-plus individual state commands. His account was so far at variance with the picture the media portrayed that I suspected a hoax, as did my RCP editor. As it turns out, various Guard documents, personal memories, and sworn testimony support his story, which in Louisiana is no great secret. It's just the rest of the country that's been kept in the dark.

Guardsmen and other interested people will definitely want to read the whole thing.

Jesse Macbeth, who claims to be a former "Special Forces Ranger" with the 3rd Ranger Battalion, is exposed as a (rather obvious) fraud.

Fortunately, it looks like all the publications who profiled him are fringe anti-war rags. The mainstream media, to their credit, didn't fall for this guy as far as I can tell.

Countercolumn News Ticker 
2006 Sets New Record for Number of Iraq War Turning Points

Ties Indianapolis 500, Daytona ...

UPDATED! Looks like the Taliban is getting its ass kicked 
From Monsters and Critics News

An airstrike on rebel strongholds in the restive southern Afghan province of Kandahar by US-led coalition forces killed at least 77 people, according to an official statement from Afghan authorities Monday.

There were 16 civilians among the dead and more than 60 fighters from the radical Islamic Taliban, Kandahar Governor Asadullah Khalid said.

A further 15 civilians had been injured in the airstrike, Khalid added.

The civilian casualties occurred because they had hidden Taliban fighters in their houses, Khalid said.

The US military had said earlier that there had been more than 50 'unconfirmed' casualties, which later turned out to be Taliban fighters.

US combat helicopters and aeroplanes had launched their attack at 2300 (1830 GMT) Sunday near the village of Azizi in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, once the main stronghold of the former Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, according to witnesses.

'These individuals were active members of the Taliban network and have conducted attacks against coalition and Afghan forces as well as civilians,' the US military said in a statement released in Kabul.

Five rebels had been taken prisoner, the statement said.

Since last Wednesday, there has been heavy fighting in the area between Taliban rebels and Afghan and coalition troops that resulted in more than 200 dead, including four foreign soldiers - two French, one American and a Canadian.

It was the worst fighting since the former Taliban regime was ousted in 2001.

Over the weekend, Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed 20 Taliban fighters during a battle in Afghanistan's southern province of Uruzgan, the US military said in a separate statement.

Mullah Mohibullah, a Taliban commander who was responsible for the death of at least one soldier during an ambush and the injuries of several others, was taken prisoner during the operation, the statement said.

Why is that "the worst fighting since 2001?"

We just greased 60 of their guys, and took five prisoner, including some senior leadership, without loss to our own.

That sounds like GREAT fighting!

Splash, out


UPDATE: The reliable idiots at the New York Times put their predictable spin on the victory: US Airstrike at Taliban Kills Civilians, Afghans Say.

It would be one thing if new information had come out to suggest that the strike was errant - that a Taliban unit had not, in fact, taken shelter in a civilian neighborhood.

Nothing doing. The Times stipulates to the Taliban presence - and thereby establishes that the houses were occupied by an armed force and therefore a legitimate military target under the law of land warfare.

The governor of the province likewise stipulates the presence of the Taliban - as do the witnesses interviewed by the Old Blind Lady:

Mohammed Rafiq, a 23-year-old farmer, said the bombs had caused enormous destruction. "I don't have anything left," he said.

Another farmer, Azizullah, 30, said three members of his family had been killed. "I was at home when the Taliban came to our village last night," he said. "After some time, U.S. planes came and bombed the Taliban, and they bombed us, too."

Damn right. And if your village shelters the Taliban in their homes, we'll do it again, motherf***er.

When he went out in the morning to go to the hospital, he said, he saw dozens of dead Taliban fighters on the ground, apparently killed in the aerial bombardment. Sixteen villagers were also killed and 15 were wounded, he and other villagers said. Fifteen wounded people were in the hospital, including an 8-month-old baby, doctors confirmed.

Another villager, Taj Muhammad, said two of his brothers had been killed, and others in his family were wounded. He said that when the bombing started, the Taliban were desperately trying to take shelter and were not trying to fight.

Good. That's the best time to attack and kill them.

This was a significant battlefield score. But the Times (note the unwestern byline) can't bring its pathetic self to acknowledge the victory.

FLASH FLASH FLASH - Security breach compromises millions of veterans' personal information 
A disc containing the personal records - including names, social security numbers, and birth dates, of about 25.6 million veterans was stolen from the home of a Veterans Administration analyst earlier this month.

That's a significant security breach - and a major windfall to cybercriminals and ID Theft professionals, if the criminals realize what they have. The fact that the VA is not revealing the date of the burglary, nor the location, nor the encryption used, suggests to me that there is little reason to believe the crooks know what they stole.

The VA is planning to notify every affected veteran as a precaution, but will not reimburse them for the cost of credit checks.

That shouldn't be a big deal. Everyone in the country is entitled to a free credit report every year under the current law.

If a pattern begins to emerge that suggests that veterans on this disc are becoming victims of identity theft, then we'll know pretty quickly.

Meanwhile, I strongly recommend every military member enroll in the "Active Duty Alert program.

Here's the straight dope, lifted directly from the Federal Trade Commission

When a business sees the alert on your credit report, it must verify your identity before issuing you credit. The business may try to contact you directly, but if you're on deployment, that may be impossible. As a result, the law allows you to use a personal representative to place or remove an alert. Active duty alerts on your report are effective for one year, unless you request that the alert be removed sooner. If your deployment lasts longer, you may place another alert on your report.

To place an "active duty" alert, or to have it removed, call the toll-free fraud number of one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union. The company will require you to provide appropriate proof of your identity, which may include your Social Security number, your name, address, and other personal information.

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com

Contact only one of the three companies to place an alert - the company you call is required to contact the other two, which will place an alert on their versions of your report, as well. If your contact information changes before your alert expires, remember to update it.

When you place an active duty alert, your name will be removed from the nationwide consumer reporting companies' marketing lists for prescreened offers of credit and insurance for two years - unless you ask that your name be placed on the lists before then. Prescreened offers - sometimes called "preapproved" offers - are based on information in your credit report that indicates you meet certain criteria set by the offeror.

Yes, the FTC says you're supposed to be on active duty to place one of these alerts. Somehow I don't think anyone is going to prosecute you for fraud in this instance, but I'm expecting a call from Dave Rubinger, VP of Equifax and the media relations honcho there, and/or Steve Katz, his counterpart at TransUnion, to provide some clarification on that point - they're still trying to figure out how that's going to go down.

Update: David Rubinger of Equifax advises: "People can do better than that. Anybody, veteran or not, can put a fraud alert on their credit report, which accomlishes the same thing."

Rubinger also suggests enrolling in a credit monitoring system - a paid service, which generates an email every time someone makes a credit inquiry or otherwise touches your credit report. Basic service at Equifax starts at $49.95 per year, for a weekly email. A more expensive package - 99.95 per year - gets you a daily email. And the high-speed, low-drag 3 in 1 monitoring plan monitors all three major credit bureaus, and comes with $20,000 in no-deductible identity fraud protection - all for 129.95 per year, or 14.00 per month.

"This is the biggest [security breech event] that we know of, says Rubinger. In some cases, such as with Time Warner, the companies themselves have underwritten providing credit monitoring service for the affected employees. The VA says they will not provide assistance beyond notification.

That's a lot of liability to assume.

Splash, out


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Greg Mankiw busts Robert Reich's liberal canard 
Former Clinton Labor secretary Robert Reich - a reliable redistributionist - argues that "we've turned a progressive tax system on its head."

Greg Mankiw turns Reich upside down and spanks him like a newborn baby.

Liberals hate it when we check the data.

Thank you 

An Iraqi mayor stood before troops lined up on the lawn at Fort Carson on Friday morning and said only two words in English.
But those two words brought the crowd to its feet.

"Thank you."

Police Academy Follies 
The New York Times leads:

As chaos swept Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Pentagon began its effort to rebuild the Iraqi police with a mere dozen advisers. Overmatched from the start, one was sent to train a 4,000-officer unit to guard power plants and other utilities. A second to advise 500 commanders in Baghdad. Another to organize a border patrol for the entire country

Wow. That's interesting. Because of those twelve advisers in the summer of 2003, seven of them were pulled from my company alone, to work training police in Ramadi.

Glad we were able to make such a contribution.

Our Bravo company's first sergeant is a police officer in civilian life. They were also very much involved in police training and ICDC training by the fall.

I wonder what else the Times is missing?

Police Academy Follies 
The New York Times leads:

As chaos swept Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Pentagon began its effort to rebuild the Iraqi police with a mere dozen advisers. Overmatched from the start, one was sent to train a 4,000-officer unit to guard power plants and other utilities. A second to advise 500 commanders in Baghdad. Another to organize a border patrol for the entire country

Wow. That's interesting. Because of those twelve advisers in the summer of 2003, seven of them were pulled from my company alone, to work training police in Ramadi.

Glad we were able to make such a contribution.

Our Bravo company's first sergeant is a police officer in civilian life. They were also very much involved in police training and ICDC training by the fall.

I wonder what else the Times is missing?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Thousands of deceased servicemembers named DoD "Employee of the month" 

WASHINGTON - 19 May 04 - CNS - In a move designed to provide motivation and inspiration to troops still in the field, the Department of Defense named more than 2,500 deceased servicemen and women as posthumous "Defense Department Employees of the Month."

Each servicemember so named is slated to recieve a premium parking space at the Pentagon for the next thirty days, a $25 gift certificate to Macy's, and a pair of movie passes to Bureauplex Theaters.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued a prepared statement, saying "Are we proud of our servicemen? Absolutely! Are we happy that they won't be here to accept their plaques and free movie passes in person? Heck, no! Are we going to redistribute the movie passes among Pentagon employees? You bet!"

When asked by a reporter if the decision to redistribute the movie passes didn't seem a little inappropriate, given that the only reason the new employee of the month honorees weren't there to claim their movie passes was that they were dead, Rumsfeld responded, "Goodness gracious, no! Look, the movie passes expire at the end of the month. What else are we going to do with them? ... Sometimes you have to give the perks to the employees you have - not the employees you wish you had."

President Bush congratulated family members of the deceased, and publicly thanked them for their loved one's sacrifices and selfless service in the cause of freedom appearing under a banner reading "Because There's no 'I' in TEAM."

Impacting ...

Countercolumn News Ticker 

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - 19 May 2006 - CNS - New York Times Afghanistan correspondent Gottalotta Gall is reporting that Pakistani authorities have detained senior Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah. The hunt continues for the notorious Rosanna Rosanna Danna, last seen at her winter wesidence in Walla Walla Washington in a pwime time intewview with Babwa Wawwa for Week in Weview wast weekend - an interview described by watchers as "weawwy, weawwy wiveting."

In related news, hundreds of thousands of speech impediment sufferers marched on Washington, demanding "equal pwotection under the w-w-w-waw."

Devewoping ...

Recruiting problems? 
Can't speak for other areas. But I just got an update through channels: The Florida Army National Guard end strength is currently 9,839 or 98.4% of authorized strength. This represents an increase of over 400 Soldiers since July 2005.

I knew my recruiting has gone well down in Miami, and I've got more new soldiers than I can get gear shipped down here for. It makes sense that the rest of the state reports similar progress over the last year.

In addition, over the last year, I've authorized the transfer of a number of soldiers who requested to move to the active duty Army for whatever personal reasons (more money, can't afford to live in the Keys, want to be with their wife who's active duty, etc.).

These numbers represent a loss on my books, and on the Florida Guard's books, too, but they cannot be considered a loss to the Florida Guard after all.

Splash, out


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ramadi fo' shizzle 
Pay close attention to the outstanding precombat inspection techniques in this video.

(Forwarded to me by some of my Ramadi vet brothers)

What do we have to do to get this guy to stop moving the goalpoasts around?

Via The Great One

Durbin stands by comparison of US troops to Nazis, Khmer Rouge 
And his fecrical reasoning is broadcast on Al Jazeera, no less - where it will provide another bullet in the belt of rhetorical ammunition our enemies will use to butress the case against us in the Arab world.

"Look - even some of the Great Satan's own senators think their troops are Nazis!"

Time Magazine name former Bradley speechwriter to new top editor post 

Gore wasn't leftist enough, so they had to go with a Bradley man to fit in.

Other contenders apparently included Tina Brown (yechhh!), disgraced former New York Times editor Howell Raines, and Slate's Jacob Weisberg.

Some little club, eh?

Think any former Bush or Reagan speechwriters were in contention?

Nope. No institutional or demographic biases to see here, folks. No intellectual inbreeding whatsoever. There's nothing to see here.

Move along, move along.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

An amazing feat 
This story has legs. Or not.

Our Army will never be broken II 
The 3rd ACR just had a reenlistment ceremony.

For 640 soldiers.


(courtesy of Cori)

Iceberg, Goldberg, what's the difference? 
A reader wrote me with the following update:

"It's Joe Galloway. Not Gallagher."


I'm going to go on down to the local truck stop and turn five dollar tricks in the parking lot until I get back my sense of self esteem.

Tulg a mach,


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Our Army will never be broken 
Don't miss this scathing exchange between military writer Joe Gallagher (the same Joe Gallagher who co-wrote We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, and Pentagon chief flack Larry Di Rita.

Di Rita is trying to argue that the Army is stronger now than it was in 2000, and that the Army of 2001 could not have withstood the kind of indefinite troop rotation that it is enduring now.

Here's Gallagher's response:

Neither can the army of 2004, 2005, or 2006. it is grinding up the equipment and the troops inexorably.
recruiting can barely, or hardly, or not, bring in the 80,000 a year needed to maintain a steady state in the active army enlisted ranks….and that is WITH the high retention rates in the brigades.

and neither figure addresses the hemorraging of captains and majors who are voting with their feet in order to maintain some semblance of a family life and a future without war in it. and what do we do about a year when average 93 percent of majors are selected for Lt Col in all MOSs….and 100 plus percent in critical MOSs.
the army is scraping the barrel.

then there is the matter of 14 pc Cat IV recruits admitted in Oct 05 and 19pc in Nov….against an annual ceiling of 4 percent???

the returning divisions, which leave all their equipment behind in iraq, come home and almost immediately lose 2,000 to 3,000 stop-loss personnel. then tradoc goes in and cherry picks the best NCOs for DI and schoolhouse jobs. leaving a division with about 65 percent of authorized strength, no equipment to train on, sitting around for eight or nine months painting rocks. if they are lucky 90 days before re-deploying the army begins to refill them with green kids straight out of AIT or advanced armor training. if they are even luckier they have time to get in a rotation to JROTC or NTC and get some realistic training for those new arrivals. if not so lucky they just take them off to combat and let em sink or swim.
this is not healthy. this is not an army on the way up but one on the way to a disaster.

we need more and smarter soldiers. not more Cat IVs.
so far it is the willingness of these young men and women to serve, and to deploy multiple times, and to work grueling and dangerous 18 hour days 7 days a week that is the glue holding things together.

all the cheap fixes have been used; all the one-time-only gains so beloved of legislators trying to balance a budget and get out of town.

the question is what sort of an army are your bosses going to leave behind as their legacy in 2009? one that is trained, ready and well equipped to fight the hundred-year war with islam that seems to have begun with a vengeance on your watch? or will they leave town and head into a golden retirement as that army collapses for lack of manpower, lack of money to repair and replace all the equipment chewed up by iraq and afghanistan, lack of money to apply to fixing those problems because billions were squandered on weapons systems that are a ridiculous legacy of a Cold War era long gone (viz. the f/22, the osprey, the navy’s gold plated destroyers and aircraft carriers and, yes, nuclear submarines whose seeming future purpose is to replace rubber zodiac boats as the favorite landing craft of Spec Ops teams, at a cost of billions)

meanwhile the pentagon, at the direction of your boss, marches rapidly ahead with deployment of an anti-missile system whose rockets have yet to actually get out of the launch tubes. at a cost of yet more multiple billions.

you say i blame your boss for things 3 or 4 levels below him that he can’t possibly be controlling and quote accusations from present and former flag officers who he has never eyeballed personally.

well the above items are things that he directly controls, or should; things he came into office vowing he was going to fix or change drastically. and in the latest QDR, his last, he made none of the hard choices about wasted money on high dollar weapons systems that make no sense in the real world today. the same QDR quite correctly identifies an urgent need for MORE psyops and civil affairs and military police and far more troops who have foreign language training appropriate to where we fight. and we budget a paltry 191 million, i say MILLION, bucks to do all that. not even the cost of the periscopes on those oh-so-necessary submarines, or the instruments on one of those f22s.

DiRita is wholly unequal to the debate. No wonder the Pentagon couldn't get good press if everyone in the whole building raffled off its first born!

A couple of points both DiRita and Gallagher miss:

1.) Despite the war, retention rates among company and junior field-grade officers in the Army today are on par with or even better than those of the Clinton Administration - and this is even with today's strong economy luring officers out of uniform.

2.) The term "wholly inappropriate to today's battlefield" is silly. Rumsfeld must direct the military's transformation into a force that is capable of fighting not only the war for Iraq, but also, simultaneously, develop a force that can fight and win the wars that may shape up a decade from now. When China moves to threaten U.S. hegemony in the South China Sea - as Japan did in 1941 - we're going to need that sea power and those modern air superiority fighters. You cannot develop the Platonic Ideal of an Iraq fighting force while ignoring emerging threats that are as yet still on the drawing board.

3.) Hey, Gallagher... Let's see you motor a Zodiac boat all the way to the Horn of Africa from Coronado. What do you think DELIVERS those Navy SEALS in their Zodiac boats. Oh, yeah. That's right. Submarines.

4.) Yes, the Army is undergoing personel strains. And yes, we are taking some of our BEST NCOs, pulling them out of the units, and putting them on NCO Academy duties (Not a bad place for them, if they can create more NCOs like them), and on recruiting duty. Again, not a bad idea. Like attracts like. Great recruiters will attract great recruits. Dumpy recruiters will attract weak recruits.

But what Gallagher misses - and what DiRita is too inarticulate to express - is this: For all Gallagher's statistics about retention rates, our 50th percentile NCO or junior officer today is better than our 80th percentile soldier in 2001.

He (and she!) is more experienced, has better leadership skills, has seen more combat (DUH!), knows more about logistics, planning, inspecting, rehearsing, and executing than almost anyone in the Army just a few years ago. This is true in the active and reserve components alike.

I've got Specialist E-4s that are sharper, and more knowledgeable about the nuts and bolts of combat operations than my E-7s and lieutenants a few years ago.

You cannot ignore this human element. And retention rates, as Gallagher himself concedes, indicates that we're keeping them.

These E-4s are tomorrow's NCOs. Some of them will go on to become tomorrow's platoon leaders and company commanders, just a few years hence.

Gallagher, you're right about spare parts. You have some points about funding and priorities. But you know as well as I do - as long as we have soldiers like we have now, our Army will never be broken.


Splash, out


You'd think the Dutch would want to keep courageous people like Hirsan Ali. 
Apparently not.

Faces of war 
The harrowing face of war in Iraq. Up close and personal.

Yes, I saw stuff like this almost every day in Iraq. Now more than two years ago already. I'll never be the same.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Taking the lead... 
Bill Roggio reports on the exponential growth in capabilities of the Iraqi Army, and notes that we're approaching the tipping point I've identified a few times here: the ability of the Iraqi Army to exercise command and staff functions up to the brigade level.

Cool Spring was conducted south of the city. "Troops from 3rd Brigade, 2nd IA Division planned and led the operation which included Soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team... The Iraqi brigade demonstrated their military planning skills by formulating the mission, issuing appropriate orders to its subordinate units, and overwatching the conduct of the operation."

Not surprisingly, Roggio also indicts the media for failing to understand the metrics before them last year:

Nearly one year ago, the media questioned the "readiness" of the Iraqi Army and declared "few Iraqi battalions are operational." This stemmed from Multinational-Forces Iraq's attempts to establish metrics for the readiness of the Iraq military, and the media's lack of understanding of the meaning of these metrics.

The media focused on "Level 1" battalions, units which could operate with complete independence from Coalition forces, and ignored the significance of Level 2 & 3 Iraqi Army units. Level 2 & 3 battalions lack the organic logistical capabilities (Level 2) or required Coalition forces to operate alongside in combat (Level 3). Level 2 units gather their own intelligence, conduct their own planning and are deemed "in the lead" during combat operations. Both Level 2 & 3 units are in the fight against the insurgency.

And now the shrinks are starting in... 
That's right - the mental health industry - the same industry that had the wool pulled over its eyes by a few losers who claimed to be combat vets allowed thousands of attention-seeking REMFs to clog the VA system with unwarranted PTSD claims, is now criticizing commanders in the field for sending troops into battle when they're feeling blue.

U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

The article specifically refers to major depression, and makes mention of suicide rates, making much of the fact that 22 soldiers committed suicide in Iraq last year. And yes, that's the fault of commanders who don't send our complainers back to the rear when they get a case of the snivels.

The article fails to mention, though, that the average national suicide rate back home for males age 20 to 34 is 22.3 per 100,000. There are currently about 120,000 personnel in Iraq at any one time. Which means the expected number of suicides for that demographic would be 26 per year. Which means that despite the heat, the hardships, the separation from family and friends, the lack of creature comforts, and despite the fact that everyone has a weapon and ammunition 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can blow their own brains out any time, day or night on a whim, the suicide rate for soldiers in Iraq is 15.3 percent lower than the national average!

Why does it fall on me to do a reporters' job for them?

And where on earth is THAT story, Associated Press?

“I’m concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country,” said Dr. Arthur S. Blank, Jr., the most gullible psychiatrist in the history of the profession a Yale-trained psychiatrist who helped to get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a booming industry diagnosis after the Vietnam War.

For much more on the PTSD racket, check out Bud Burkett's excellent book Stolen Valor. Or read this.

Know what would happen if anyone who was symptomatic could get to stay home? Dr. Blank? All of a sudden, half the Army would become symptomatic! Everyone else would have to experience more stress, to give the goldbrickers a free ride. Basic game theory. Basic economics. Meanwhile, we'd be paying the goldbrickers to sit in medical holding units popping prozac and yapping their traps in (ahem) "group", and making the moves on the wives of real soldiers.

This guy Blank must be some kind of naive.

Commanders, not medical professionals, have final say over whether a troubled soldier is retained in the war zone.

Damn right. As it should be. Albert Camus wrote that military officers "know men as if they had made them." Well, I wouldn't go that far. But between us and our First Sergeants, we know them a hell of a lot better than any shrink they're likely to see.

And look who qualifies as a source:

“Your average commander doesn’t want to deal with a whacked-out soldier. But on the other hand, he doesn’t want to send a message to his troops that if you act up, he’s willing to send you home,” said Maj. Andrew Efaw, a judge advocate general officer in the Army Reserves who handled trial defense for soldiers in northern Iraq last year.

Clearly, this guy understands. But a JAG lawyer? Not a commander or First Sergeant? No trigger pullers interviewed at all? Is the AP's rolodex really that thin?

Splash, out


Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Old Blind Lady 

Here's what I get for not bothering to read Michelle O'Donnell's New York Times article with the bad caption. The New York Times appropriately issued a correction today, explaining that the soldier in the photograph is a Sergeant First Class, not an officer.

The correction then continues:

The article also misstated the name of a service medal that a general presented to Sergeant Gomez's mother. It is a Purple Heart, not a Purple Star.

Hearts, stars...yeah, I can see the resemblance.

Just how uninformed do you have to be to not make the cut at the New York Times?

Splash, out


Lest We Forget... 
Not six months ago, Democrats.com was specifically exhorting its readers to purchase cell phone records of prominent Republicans in a systematic effort to find embarrassing phone calls.

If money is scarce, Democrats.com will reimburse you if you buy the records for an important phone number and discover gold when you get the records.

Remember that the next time Democrat snivels about the NSA.

Quote for the day 
Here's someone who posts on PressThink named "village idiot"

This hatred of the Times provides but a glimpse of the deeper hostility felt by the bible-thumpers for the creative core of America on the two coasts, and is borne out a feeling of inferiority. When the wingers claim that the muslims hate the west because of their own lack of social and economic progress, the wingers are channeling a sliver of this very inadequacy.

Yep. Scratch the surface just a little bit - prod their core assumptions - and their true nature comes out.

Friday, May 12, 2006

You'll laug. You'll cry. You'll thump your chest and brachiate. 
If you're not reading BOB on the FOB's hilarious comics, you should be.

(For the lay readers, FOB stands for "forward operating base.")

More rank ingnorance at the New York Times 
From Thursday's New York Times:

The caption: Maria Gomez tried to find comfort on an Army officer's shoulder Wednesday in a church in Corona, Queens, during the funeral for her son. Sgt. Jose Gomez, 23, was killed on April 20 by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Behind her was Sergeant Gomez's stepfather, Felix Jimenez, and Marie Canario, the soldier's fiancée.

Editors, when are you going to get some veterans in the newsroom so you don't embarrass yourselves like this?

Splash, out


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here! 

Well, it's not quite the earth-shaking event it turned out to be for Steve Martin's Navin R. Johnson. Because it's not really the phone book. It's the new Brookings Institution Iraq Index!

Salient points:

After a significant decline spanning several months, noted here on this blog, US fatalities from hostile incidents spiked sharply in April. Apparently, I jinxed us.

The percentage of fatalities resulting from hostile direct fire spiked in the first week of May to 32.3%. But in the several months before that, it has been well below the long term average of about 31%.

The spike in just one week is too short a time to draw any conclusions. And the standard deviation in the data series is rather high, but compare the following percentage figures to the long term average:

Long term average: 30.9%

Aug 05....31.8
Sep 05....6.1
Oct 05 ...11.5
Nov.05 ...28.6
Dec 05....13.2
Jan 06 16.1
Feb 06....12.7
Mar 06....29.0
Apr 06....19.4

There have been a couple of upward blips...but the percentage of fatalities attributable to direct fire is roughly on a par with those experienced in late 2003/early 2004. Maybe slightly higher, but nowhere near the high-tide months of the insurgency.

This suggests to me that the insurgency is not able to effectively follow up its IEDs with direct fire, and is not getting too many chances to engage even at a fleeting advantage.

I'm also struck by the relative ineffectiveness of the RPG. It's a nerve-wracking weapon, but it doesn't seem to hit much.

Interestingly, too, only 5% of US fatalities are a result of car bombs - even though these seem to account for most Iraqi fatalities. Looked at from a criminologists point of view, the Modus Operandi of the attacks on US patrols vs. the MO of the attacks on Iraqi civilians seems to indicate that they are the work of separate groups. If they were the same group, the methodology would be more similar.

The number of Iraqi police killed has been on the upswing since February, but nowhere near where they were last summer. Meanwhile, new police are being trained all the time.

The number of car bombs has remained steady at 22 per month since February, and represents a drop of more than two thirds from late 2005 levels. They are less than 1/6th of year ago levels.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed per month has increased steadily and sharply over the last four months, rising from 305 to 545. Again, though, the number is still well under its peak, even throwing out the incident where 900 Shia were tragically killed in a stampede after a bomb went off during a religious piligrimage.

Multiple fatality bombings per month have increased over time, and are at near peak levels now. There is no significant letup, even comparing last month to the bloody summer months of last year, when the number of car bombings per month was 136 rather than 22. Presumeably, the bombings are becoming more effective at causing casualties.

Crime related deaths in Baghdad seems to be pretty steady over the last couple of years. A lot of that is semantics, though.

2/3rds of the civilian deaths during the war have been in and around Baghdad - which would make sense if you were a ruthless enemy who wanted to manipulate a gullible media. Curiously, only a quarter of police deaths have been in and around Baghdad.

Civilian deaths have vastly outnumbered Iraqi police deaths almost everywhere...by huge, huge factors. By several orders of magnitude. In Qadisiya it was 68 to 1. In Karbala it was 938 to 21. In Diqhar it was 974 to 8. In Baghdad it's 20,125 to 527. This indicates to me that the insurgency cannot justly be called an insurgency. The numbers of civilian dead compared to military and police dead can only be the result of a terror campaign, not an insurgency. Media outlets who do not grasp this are not accurately describing the terror campaign to their readers.

The annual fatality rate for combat arms troops per 100,000 is 887, compared with 235 for Combat Support troops and 284 for Combat Service Support. That's right - the pogues are taking more of a beating than some of the fighters. But infantry, armor, cavalry, and artillery troops are taking a bigger beating than anyone by far.

Coalition troops have a remarkable knack for killing moojies in even, round multiples of 1,000.

Coalition troop strength is 152,000, down 14,000 from year-ago levels.

Attacks on gas and oil pipelines and infrastructure have declined markedly. It looks as if a cell or two which had concentrated on these attacks has been disrupted or broken up entirely.

Since April of last year, Insurgents apparently launch attacks in multiples of five. Weird, huh?

37% of the active army, 30% of the Guard, and 34% of the Reserves have been deployed more than once.

Actionable tips from the population have been rising modestly.

There are 300 political parties in Iraq. Can you imagine the living hell these people must be enduring? The junk mail alone has got to be unbearable.

Iraq's current electricity production is lower than the stated prewar average. But remember you have to seasonally adjust. Iraq has been able to match nationwide prewar electrical production figures during peak demand summer months (read: Air conditioners) for some time now. Arguments that Iraq can't even turn on the power are a non starter.

Iraqi per capita GDP has doubled since 2003.

Car traffic has quintupled since the war. Gas lines have not lengthened appreciably in two years. Supply is keeping pace with demand it seems.

9 of 10 Sunnis approve of attacks on coalition forces. That's ok. I approve of attacks on 9 of 10 sunnis.

84% of Shia believe the country's going in the right direction - only 6 percent of Sunnis do. Shows you how much those bastards have been raping the country for years.

77% percent of Iraqis think that ousting Saddam was worth the cost and suffering of the war. 91% of Kurds and 98% of Shias believe that. Only 13% of Sunnis do, of course. Ask Riverbend.

That's all I have time for. Much more on the Brookings page.

Splash, out


Monday, May 08, 2006

Why we fight 
And why we must win.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Saturday, May 06, 2006

I guess Zarqawi's way of pulling out of Iraq is by zooming in on Baghdad.

Friday, May 05, 2006

CNN's Jamie McIntyre is an incompetent buffoon 
Here's CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre, commenting on Zarqawi's inability to fire a captured M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.

"This weapon is an American weapon. It's called a SAW, or Squad Automatic Weapon. It's a very heavy machine gun which has a very heavy trigger. It's not easy to fire, and in fact it might be quite understandable that anyone - even someone with weapons experience - wasn't familiar with this particular weapon might have trouble firing off more than one shot at a time."

Jamie MacIntyre, friends, is an incompetent buffoon. There's no way around it. This short paragraph has a number of glaring factual errors which are obvious to anyone with even a modicum of weapons experience.

In fact, the ONLY thing that McIntyre got right was that it's an American weapon called a Squad Automatic Weapon. That's it. Everything else is 180 degrees wrong:

1. There is nothing heavy about the SAW. It is the only commonly fielded machine gun in the US inventory (other than a machine pistol) that is small and light enough to be manned and operated by one soldier, not two. The next heaviest gun in the US inventory, the M240B, is considered a "crew-served weapon," and and is considered a 'light machine gun."

The M240B is substantially heavier than the SAW, fires a much larger cartridge (the SAW fires the same 5.56mm round as the M16, while the 240B fires a 7.62.

The SAW is the only belt-fed, fully automatic weapon commonly fielded in the Army's inventory that can be fired from the shoulder in a pinch. The M240B light machine gun cannot.

There is nothing "heavy" then, about the M249 SAW. If the 240B is a light machine gun (and it is) then the SAW must be considered a sub-light or ultra-light machine gun - if it is considered a machine gun at all. More properly, it is generally considered an automatic rifle, and generally used as such, except when it is used with a tripod and T&E (traverse and elevation mechanism.)

2. If the SAW cannot be described as a "heavy machine gun," then it certainly cannot be described as a "very heavy machine gun." The only thing the intensifier intensifies is the ignorance of the correspondent.

3. "It's not easy to fire."

Fact: When properly assembled, the M249 SAW is just as easy to fire as an M16 or any other fielded weapon. In fact, judging from the number of accidental discharges the M249 SAW generates, it can be argued that the weapon is TOO easy to fire.

4. "It has a very heavy trigger pull"

Fact: It's not too heavy for a 5 foot, four inches, 120-pound woman. In fact, it's no heavier than the trigger pressure required to fire an M16. The spring mechanism in the trigger assembly is roughly the the same size and tension as the M16.

5. "Even someone with weapons experience - wasn't familiar with this particular weapon might have trouble firing off more than one shot at a time."

False. The M249 does not even have a semiautomatic selector. You CAN'T fire one shot off at a time unless you are a pussy who's so frightened by the weapon that you take your finger off the trigger immediately, or you're an idiot who doesn't have the God-given sense to clean it once in a while. Otherwise, the M249 will fire continuously as long as you keep your finger depressing the trigger.

Now, this man with such careless disregard for factual accuracy, this man who's fundamental ignorance of one of the most common weapons in the Army, after the US has been engaged in infantry wars for 5 and a half years, is CNNs SENIOR Pentagon correspondent.

I'm frightened to reflect on how ignorant our junior correspondents are.

I don't know how CNN recruits and retains its correspondents on the Pentagon beat. But obviously competence is not a criteria. After all, the former CNN Pentagon correspondent Wolf Blitzer thought a Humvee would have withstood a shape charge better than a 31 ton armored vehicle -- and he's got his own show.

If this guy can't be bothered to do a little homework after 5 and a half years, he needs to be fired or kicked back to cover the Little League World Series - along with the producers who tolerate this appalling lack of quality.

I mean, geez...it's one thing not to know. But clearly, this correspondent isn't only incompetent about the basic facts on his own beat, but he was too stupid, lazy, or careless to bother ASKING someone who might know what he was talking about, before he went on TV to spread bad information to hundreds of thousands of viewers.

No wonder CNN is getting its ass kicked by Fox News. It deserves to.

McIntyre needs to go.

Editors, when are you going to stop making idiots of yourselves and get some veterans in the newsroom?

Splash, out


Hat tip: Confederate Yankee

UPDATE: The New York Times refers to the weapon as a "heavy automatic rifle."

Hmmm. Automatic rifle is ok. But heavy?

Notice to Debt-consolidation.com 
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I wish you continued success in your business endeavors.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

On the decision to disband the Iraqi Army, etc... 
I'm elevating this to the main page from a commenter, since I couldn't have put it any better:

"The problem with all this discussion is that it skirts the political and focuses on strictly military issues, which I understand since this is a military blog, but I find the lack of the political discussion along with the military (also a Clausewitz principle) to be naive and, in one case here, extremely misleading.

For instance, commenter above notes that Rumsfeld had the Iraqi Army disbanded. As if, first of all, he had the sole decision making or any decision making in that effort beyond the fact that our military forces rolled them up and large numbers (practically the entire force) simply disappeared. Most commenters act as if there were 300,000 Iraq soldiers who had returned to their bases and were waiting instructions from a new government. They simply did not exist.

Further, Bremer wrote a piece not long ago about the situation which apparently most people ignored. It's interesting that many assume that it was totally a Bush administration decision, part of the plan. Possibly because Wolfowitz and others supported it in noted plans.

Bremer noted that his recommendation to disband came from the Iraqi Interim government who did not want the old army operating in Iraq and not part of their political future. Its not really hard to understand why that was. For MG Eaton or anyone else to dismiss the reality of the Iraqi Army as it existed (or didn't) in relationship to some plan they would have preferred is wearing blinders. Or putting their hands over their eyes and their fingers in their ears yelling "lalalalalala" so it does not impact their view of reality.

Why did the Iraqis not want the Iraq army as it stood at the time of defeat? Officers were political animals. we're not talking about the political minded officers of our own military, we're talking the Nazi version where officers were not promoted based on their ability to lead. They were Ba'ath officers. They routinely abused their own soldiers. They were corrupt, taking money from their own soldiers in extortion scams (all the way from high command to NCOs).
Loyalty was definitely in question. Would you really want to give politically motivated officers with social connections to Sunni/Ba'athists access to tanks, artillery and other weapons without having attempted some vetting first?

Then there was the issue of the army as an arm of the Ba'athist regime. This army had committed atrocities against its own people. Not just simple repression. Murder, sweeps into villages, round up of all citizens (including children), imprisonment and whole sale slaughter. This was going on up to the time of the invasion because Saddam feared the complicity of parts of his population with our invasion. The interim government would have been crazy to try to keep this army and present it as "re-educated" to the masses when the masses were 60% shia who had been oppressed.

In fact, in case you've missed the real war going on there, many old Ba'ath regime army officers have been assassinated as well as other known political leaders. The news was full of it in 2003 and 2004, even 2005 had several killings that continued the culling of these people who the population rightly surmised would not be punished any time soon for their acts (since it took so long to arrest and try Saddam and very few army officers have been arrested and tried for their activities) so they decided to go vigilante. Do you really think the population would have supported such an army or that we would have been able to weed out and retrain these forces in proper military conduct (beyond telling soldiers to shoot at something)?

In regards to the other political situation, maybe some folks missed the fact that this war was being billed as a war of liberation along with the "stop Saddam" war. General Eaton and shinseki, among others, still smarting over the political war fought in Vietnam, bring over a lot of baggage into their ideology of committing war. They want to take out politics all together and fight a straight war, state on state, where they could consider a whole nation to be the enemy and commit war against it in that fashion. That is the only purpose for the number of troops and types of weapons systems they were advocating for.

We could have done that, but, if you think the current outcry against actions there are ugly and caused diplomatic relations issues with our allies, imagine the war you are talking about in relation to that. I still recall the reaction to the Turkey Shoot in Gulf War I when we were destroying huge numbers of retreating Iraqi soldiers and armaments. I recall that we stopped that for political purposes as well. We can debate that in terms of our current war if we wanted to, but it speaks much about how we are viewed in the world. We are the big, ugly stick that is perceived as a giant stomping around without regard to damage and deaths.

that is what Eaton is suggesting. What he likes to pretend is that we would have had this giant force going through Iraq instead of the smaller force and the outcome in deaths for civilians and soldiers would have somehow been the same (or less) with the caveat that afterwards we would have had all of these soldiers to control and patrol Iraq. Nice theory, but highly unlikely. That we would have committed such a war in the face of the political situation is also blind.

warriors do not like to think about politics messing with their war. Warriors still smarting over Vietnam even less so. The fact is, warriors wouldnt have a war to fight if it was not due to political asperations, thus, at given times, the political controls the war and at others war controls the political.

To ignore the political in favor of simply arguing straight military tactics or strategy just seems completely dishonest and that is in fact how I view Eaton's commentary. He is even being extremely dishonest with himself because that is the only way he could have written this op-ed and felt good about it."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

No Greater Love 
He was shot seven times. Then 40 pieces of super-heated shrapnel melted into his flesh.

And at three different moments, in nanoseconds laced with adrenaline, confusion, sweat and blood, Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal took account of his life.

Then he decided it would be OK if he died.

And no, no press outlets, other than hometown and Southern California outlets near Camp Pendleton and San Diego, picked up the story, so far. (The Los Angeles Times publishes an Orange County edition.)

Splash, out


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Reservists treated as second-class soldiers 
Here's military benefits columnist Tom Philpott:

Today, active duty members who buy into the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) also do pretty well with post-service education benefits.

But consider the experience of Reserve and Guard members, said Snyder. An initial commitment of up to six years can include up two years of involuntary active duty, with a year or more in a combat zone. Yet reservists who leave service after completing their obligations forfeit any unused Reserve GI Bill benefits.

Because Reserve MGIB was designed mostly as a retention tool, only members who stay in drill status, subject to call up, can use education benefits. In wartime, Snyder said, this is “terribly unfair.”


My troops are Florida Guardsmen, and have lived and worked in Florida, Ground Zero for nearly ten hurricanes over the last two years, in addition to their deployments to Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

Each hurricane can knock a student out of school for a semester. Each deployment can knock a student out for 1 1/2 to two years.

The soldiers in my unit have not had a year unmolested by mandatory mobilizations for either State or Active Duty since October of 2001, when most of the unit was involuntarily mobilized to provide airport security - a mission that knocked them out of two full semesters of college.

They got in a semester in the fall of 2002, but were mobilized for duty in Iraq - and civilian school was put on hold until their return 15 months later.

Then they were called away for four hurricanes in 2004, and four more in 2005 - each mobilization disrupting school plans, and forcing many students to drop classes in the fall semester of both years.

On top of that, the Guard frequently schedules annual training in May, which causes a conflict with spring semester students. This year, annual training is in June, which poses less of a conflict. But that has been the exception in recent years, rather than the rule.

Therefore, you cannot say that these soldiers have plenty of time to go to school. A GI Bill benefit they can't take advantage of because their duties prevent them from attending school in the first place - and then taken away because they leave the unit in frustration when their enlistments come up is no benefit at all.

When I talk to soldiers, the number one reason they tell me they're getting out is because they haven't been able to finish school.

These soldiers put in their time, just as active component soldiers do. They bleed the same blood.

They shouldn't get the same monthly benefit. But those benefits they do earned ought to have the exact same permanence as those for active duty soldiers.

Splash, out


Fire for Effect 
Fully engaged in the comments to this thread over at PressThink.

Scroll down a ways.

Background: Someone mentioned the "no WMDs were found in Iraq" meme. I objected, saying that assertion has long been falsified - we have found a number of chemical weapons in Iraq, for instance, and the CIA reports that we uncovered a stash of "seed stocks" for biological weapons.

Now, I might be missing something that contradicts those findings, but the usual PressThink gaggle of intrepid reporters doesn't seem up to the task.

I think I have them pinned down in the kill zone, though - particularly on the seed stocks issue, and I think they must concede the point - the statement "No WMDs were found" can be shown to be false.

What amazes me, though, is the slovenly thinking that passes for argument over there. The casualness with regard to facts, the poor research, logical fallacies and poor or nonexistent critical reasoning skills, the preference for arguing from authority rather than from the evidence itself, the disdain for the rules of evidence, and the inability to discern fact from opinion.

The lack of intellectual discipline and rigorousness there is startling (Jay Rosen is staying out of that particular dogpile, to his credit. He's much stronger on media issues, anyway, natch. Steve Lovelady is firing from the flanks. Ann Kolson, I gather, is Lovelady's wife, and she's waded in up to her hips.)

If this is the quality of journos we're creating, it's time to scrap the whole journalist education and recruiting system and start over. It's gone the way of teacher education.

And that's pretty bad.

Splash, out


Rough Men 
Strategery Page has an intriguing account of special operations in Iraq.

The SOCOM intel effort has its hooks into everyone else's intelligence operations, and gets any info related to al Qaeda, and especially al Qaeda leadership. The basic drill is for one of the four smaller Task Forces to grab a likely bit of info and quickly plan and execute a raid. The rangers provide muscle (perimeter security, read guard) , as needed, and keep any other unfriendlies away, while the SEAL, Delta or SAS commandoes go in after the main target. The objective is to capture people alive, if possible, because interrogations and examination of documents starts immediately. The idea is to get fresh information that will lead to other al Qaeda people. Often this is the case, in which the commandoes and rangers are immediately off to another raid. Most of this takes place at night, and several raids may be carried out between dusk and dawn.

The Task Force has been so successful that, except for Zarqawi, there are no more foreigners (Saudis, Jordanians, etc) in the Iraqi al Qaeda leadership. It's all Iraqis, and these guys are proving just as vulnerable to informers as the foreigners (who stood out because of their accent and body language) were.


My own battalion, the 1-124, was involved in a couple of ad hoc operations with these groups. I was not involved in them as the Headquarters Company XO - Actually, I wasn't really involved in any of the raids until we got detainees, so I can't comment on tactics, techniques and procedures. Well, I wouldn't anyway, on this blog. But if you have an AKO account, you might visit the Center for Army Lessons Learned.

The nice thing about using the local unit, though, is you only have to move the Delta/SAS/SEAL element. You don't have to tip your hand moving a company of Rangers into the raid area when you plan a strike.

I don't know what percentage of these raids are air assaults. Terrain would dictate that - as would our level of confidence that we have the element of surprise.

The combination of Rangers and special ops is a potent one. A company-sized element seems just right to be able to execute an inner and outer cordon around a house or city block, is big enough to discourage a moojie counterattack, but not so big as to become unwieldy.

Interesting reading.

Flexibility on the objective is key. The best stuff frequently comes from the second or third operation in a sequence. Speed in the 1-2 punch is of the essence.

The moojies for their part will rely on cell phones to provide early warning to their network in the last seconds before being taken down. Speed is critical - and that fact lends an intriguing electronic warfare aspect to the operation as well.

No, I don't know what the usual procedure is, or the assets usually available to these teams now. And I'd keep it to myself if I did.

I have a better idea of what was available to them in 2003, but that was an eternity ago. Doctrine and tactics, techniques and procedures have made quantum leaps since then, as have the microtechnologies made available to our troops in the field -- especially units with (ahem) streamlined material acquisition systems who can buy beta versions and early rollouts of loads of gee-whiz gear.

In the end, though, it still comes down to guts and gunpowder, pounding hearts, and mouths as dry as the desert sand.

Splash, out


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