24 November 2014

US Camping in NATO Baltics for a While

Seeking to keep the Russkies at bay, US troops will staying in the Baltics through 2015.

A top U.S. military commander in Europe says U.S. troops will remain in the three Baltic countries and Poland through next year or longer to "deter Russian aggression."

In an interview published Monday, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, told the Baltic News Service that Russia was trying to intimidate its neighbors with military exercises near their borders and air space.

The U.S. has temporarily deployed hundreds of troops in NATO members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in the wake of the Russian intervention in Ukraine.

19 November 2014

Anniversary: The Gettysburg Address

Today marks the anniversary of the delivery of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Was this the true turning point of the American Civil War? Or have we overlooked a different battle that we shouldn't have? By: Brant

15 November 2014

Britain's Desert Rats Case Colors on Armoured Role

The 7th Armoured Brigade formally steps out of armoured role. The MoD reports:

The final parade of 7th Armoured Brigade The Desert Rats was held in the small town of Bergen, north Germany, as they move from their armoured role into an infantry brigade.
Brigadier James Woodham, Commander of 7th Armoured Brigade, led the parade of 640 soldiers. They represented all the current units of the Brigade and those units that currently wear or have worn The Desert Rat on recent operations. He said: “We stand on the brink of some significant changes for 7th Armoured Brigade. We are starting the process of transitioning to 7th Infantry Brigade which will stand up in the UK in early next year.
“Today is an opportunity to celebrate a fantastic history that has been based here in Germany since the end of the Second World War and to thank our German hosts who have been so fantastic at looking after us whilst we’ve been here.”



Brigadier James Woodham receives the flag of 7th Armoured Brigade from Len Burritt, the first Desert Rat of the 7th Armoured Division.

13 November 2014

Military Shakeup in Iraq - Will it Matter?

The newly-elected PM in Iraq is clearing out 36 commanders from the military.

The recently installed Iraqi prime minister removed 36 military commanders in a sweeping shake-up on Wednesday, in his first public attempt to put his mark on the Iraqi security forces battling to retake territory from Islamic State militants.

Despite receiving more than $25 billion in American training and equipment over the past 10 years, the Iraqi military buckled, and thousands of troops fled, in the face of the Islamic State’s rapid advance across Iraq this summer. Only half the remaining units are considered fit to fight, according to American officials.

But even as Iraqi and American officials are racing to expand the security forces and turn their losses around, they are having to struggle with a widespread perception of the Iraqi Army as a hopelessly corrupt and incompetent institution.

Think it'll make a difference?

12 November 2014

Hey Look! A New Shooting War in Central Asia!

I guess Armenia and Azerbaijan felt left out, with everyone else shooting at each other.

Armenia threatened 'grave consequences' Wednesday after Azerbaijani forces shot down a military helicopter, sparking fears of a major escalation in the conflict over the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh.

The downing of the helicopter belonging to the army of the breakaway ethnic Armenian region is the most serious incident on the Karabakh border since the 1994 ceasefire that ended a bloody war that cost 30,000 lives.

Armenian media reported that the helicopter's three crew members were all killed.

"A MI-24 combat helicopter attempted to attack positions of the Azerbaijani army near (Karabakh's) Agdam district," Azerbaijan's defence ministry said in a statement.

"The helicopter has been shot down by the Azerbaijani army," it said, adding that the wreckage fell on territory held by ethnic Armenians.

Yerevan vowed that Baku will face "grave consequences", fuelling fears that the incident might seriously undermine a shaky peace.

"This is an unprecedented escalation and the consequences for Azerbaijan will be grave,” Armenia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Artsrun Hovannisyan, told AFP.

“Azerbaijan's claim that the Armenian helicopter attacked its positions is not true. Examination of the wreckage will prove that the helicopter carried no weapons,” he added.

The separatist defence ministry in Karabakh confirmed that its helicopter was downed by Azerbaijani forces "while conducting a training flight as part of military drills", adding that a firefight began after the incident and was continuing.

11 November 2014

Mike Royko on Veterans' Day

Mike Royko is a WWII Veteran who was a newspaper columnist for a lot of years. This column has been in circulation for over a decade, but it should be required reading every Veterans' Day.

I just phoned six friends and asked them what they will be doing on Monday.

They all said the same thing: working.

Me, too.

There is something else we share. We are all military veterans.

And there is a third thing we have in common. We are not employees of the federal government, state government, county government, municipal government, the Postal Service, the courts, banks, or S & Ls, and we don’t teach school.

If we did, we would be among the many millions of people who will spend Monday goofing off.

Which is why it is about time Congress revised the ridiculous terms of Veterans Day as a national holiday.

The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor all veterans.

So how does this country honor them?…

…By letting the veterans, the majority of whom work in the private sector, spend the day at their jobs so they can pay taxes that permit millions of non-veterans to get paid for doing nothing.

As my friend Harry put it:

“First I went through basic training. Then infantry school. Then I got on a crowded, stinking troop ship that took 23 days to get from San Francisco to Japan. We went through a storm that had 90 percent of the guys on the ship throwing up for a week.

“Then I rode a beat-up transport plane from Japan to Korea, and it almost went down in the drink. I think the pilot was drunk.

“When I got to Korea, I was lucky. The war ended seven months after I got there, and I didn’t kill anybody and nobody killed me.

“But it was still a miserable experience. Then when my tour was over, I got on another troop ship and it took 21 stinking days to cross the Pacific.

“When I got home on leave, one of the older guys at the neighborhood bar — he was a World War II vet — told me I was a —-head because we didn’t win, we only got a tie.

“So now on Veterans Day I get up in the morning and go down to the office and work.

“You know what my nephew does? He sleeps in. That’s because he works for the state.

“And do you know what he did during the Vietnam War? He ducked the draft by getting a job teaching at an inner-city school.

“Now, is that a raw deal or what?”

Of course that’s a raw deal. So I propose that the members of Congress revise Veterans Day to provide the following:

- All veterans — and only veterans — should have the day off from work. It doesn’t matter if they were combat heroes or stateside clerk-typists.

Anybody who went through basic training and was awakened before dawn by a red-neck drill sergeant who bellowed: “Drop your whatsis and grab your socks and fall out on the road,” is entitled.

- Those veterans who wish to march in parades, make speeches or listen to speeches can do so. But for those who don’t, all local gambling laws should be suspended for the day to permit vets to gather in taverns, pull a couple of tables together and spend the day playing poker, blackjack, craps, drinking and telling lewd lies about lewd experiences with lewd women. All bar prices should be rolled back to enlisted men’s club prices, Officers can pay the going rate, the stiffs.

- All anti-smoking laws will be suspended for Veterans Day. The same hold for all misdemeanor laws pertaining to disorderly conduct, non-felonious brawling, leering, gawking and any other gross and disgusting public behavior that does not harm another individual.

- It will be a treasonable offense for any spouse or live-in girlfriend (or boyfriend, if it applies) to utter the dreaded words: “What time will you be home tonight?”

- Anyone caught posing as a veteran will be required to eat a triple portion of chipped beef on toast, with Spam on the side, and spend the day watching a chaplain present a color-slide presentation on the horrors of VD.

- Regardless of how high his office, no politician who had the opportunity to serve in the military, but didn’t, will be allowed to make a patriotic speech, appear on TV, or poke his nose out of his office for the entire day.

Any politician who defies this ban will be required to spend 12 hours wearing headphones and listening to tapes of President Clinton explaining his deferments.

Now, deal the cards and pass the tequila.

- Mike Royko

By: Brant

06 November 2014

US Army finally goes British

With the pending inactivation of the "Iron Brigade" in Korea, the US Army is getting British with their rotational policy to fill the void.

The brigade’s inactivation is part of a broader Army plan to increase theater readiness and maneuver capabilities on the Korean peninsula and around the world, officials said.

The Army plans to start rotating a BCT into South Korea in late summer 2015.

The first brigade to go is 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, of Fort Hood, Texas. About 4,600 soldiers from the unit will deploy in June, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

The plan is to rotate one BCT at a time into South Korea “like we’ve done in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 13 years,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has said. “There’ll always be a brigade in Korea, but they’ll rotate from the United States.”

The Army tested its rotational model with battalion-sized units, beginning last fall when 4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was sent there for a nine-month tour.

In February, the Army deployed 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment to Korea. The combined-arms battalion from Fort Hood deployed with M1A2 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. They were replaced in October by about 800 soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, also from the 1st Cavalry Division.

Officials have said rotating whole units — instead of deploying soldiers on individual tours — will result in formations that are more ready and trained to higher levels.

29 October 2014

How You Know ISIS Is Pissing Everyone Off

When the Turks are letting the Kurds use their territory to get to ISIS to carry on the fight, you've got someone out there that no one likes.

Iraqi peshmerga fighters arrived in southeastern Turkey early on Wednesday ahead of their planned deployment to the Syrian town of Kobani to help fellow Kurds repel an Islamic State advance which has defied U.S.-led air strikes.

A Turkish Airlines plane touched down in the southeastern city of Sanliurfa at around 1:15 a.m. (2315 GMT) amid tight security, a Reuters correspondent said. A convoy of white buses escorted by armored jeeps and police cars left the airport shortly afterwards.

Kobani, nestled on the border with Turkey, has been besieged by Islamic State militants for more than a month and its fate has become an important test of the U.S.-led coalition's ability to combat the Sunni insurgents.

"They will be in our town today," Adham Basho, a member of the Syrian Kurdish National Council from Kobani, said of the peshmerga, confirming that a group of between 90 and 100 fighters had arrived in Sanliurfa overnight.

Islamic State has caused international alarm by capturing large expanses of Iraq and Syria, declaring an Islamic "caliphate" erasing borders between the two and slaughtering or driving away Shi'ite Muslims, Christians and other communities who do not share their ultra-radical brand of Sunni Islam.

Weeks of U.S.-led air strikes on the insurgents' positions around Kobani and the deaths of hundreds of their fighters have failed to break the siege on the town.