30 November 2010

Tuesday Interview: Jim Zabek

You thought we forgot this week, eh? Ha! Just 'cuz I'm off at IITSEC doesn't mean there isn't time to get an interview in :)

If my plaque was to go in the Wargaming Hall of Fame next week, the 2-sentence bio on it would say this about me:
They let a game critic in here?  There goes the neighborhood!

You would know me from my work in this corner of the wargaming world:
Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Wargamer.com, now the Senior Gaming editor at ArmchairGeneral.com.

I'm currently working on:
Increasing the focus on gaming over at ArmchairGeneral.com.

How many folks have you converted to wargaming over the years?
I have no idea.  For the last decade I've been focused on writing about wargames and games in general.  The numbers of unique visitors that potentially could have read some of my thoughts is staggering if I stopped to think about it.  In most cases I'm preaching to the choir, so to speak, but I'd say it's fair to say that at least a few had to have been folks that never heard of the hobby before.  Therefore, I'd say it's safe to say that I've converted at least three people. 
Aim high, there Jay-Z!

What is one historical outcome you'd change to make a compelling alt-history game/scenario?
Sheesh, that's a tough one.  My initial reaction would be to change history so September 11th never happened.
You've been watching Fringe, haven't you?
I'm not sure how compelling that would be as a game, though. 
You're probably right, but it makes a helluva TV series!
Reaching back further in time, I remember reading John Keegan's book on the role of intelligence in war.  He had an interesting discussion about how the British tried to capture Napoleon in the Mediterranean.  I took a related alternatve history scenario to my forums and I asked them how the world might have looked.  The answer stunned me.  Almost unanimously the entire group's brain melted down.  “I can't imagine how things would look” is pretty much the universal answer – and no one elaborated.  I'm not a student of Napoleonic history, but that single scenario apparently would rearrange history significantly for the next 300 years.  If we could somehow model the dynamics of macro-history in a way that could allow it to unfold without Napoleon's influence, then we might have a completely different map on which to game, different cultures to come into conflict, and different wars with which to game.  I'm not sure how that world would look, but I suspect that there would be a plethora of compelling games to emerge from that single outcome.

What are your three favorite types/genres of wargames?
World War II games are my favorite, without a doubt. That conflict has everything: clear cut good versus bad, rapid evolution of technology, equipment, and tactics.  Global scale – the fate or the world really did hang in the balance.  It covered land, air and sea, and the climate reached from the freezing cold of Finland and Stalingrad to a heat so hot that the Tommys could cook eggs on their tanks in North Africa.  And I'll toss in that I prefer my WWII wargames on the PC, though I've enjoyed boardgames and miniatures, too. 

Have you ever visited a battlefield for a wargame you've played?
Yes, and I've found them almost universally melancholy. 

What current events are you following closely? Which ones are you just vaguely aware of?
I tend to follow events in the US, Europe, and Asia fairly closely, but not on a professional level.  That means I'm generally well-informed, but may miss certain areas of significance because of a lack of formal education or simple happenstance that I missed a news article on a random day. What am I vaguely aware of? Why Hugo Chavez is still in power.  Where's the Old School CIA ready to knock off a banana republic when you need them?

Ginger or Mary Ann?  Or, if you prefer 35, Madonna or Lady Gaga?
Since we're speaking hypothetically I'd say All of the Above.
I wonder what Mrs Z would have to say about that one! ;)

What's the last good book you read? 
I'm in the middle of Best Little Short Stories of Winston Churchill by C. Brian Kelly.  It's inconsistently written – almost as if each paragraph or chapter was intended to be discreet.  As a result it tends to repeat small facts with annoying repetitiveness.  However, it's an easy read about a man who may actually be larger than life.

By: Brant

Off to IITSEC!

I'm off to IITSEC in Orlando. Look for random stuff to appear over the next day or so as I wander the show, but the headlines / news might be a bit sparse while I'm gone.

By: Brant

Iran Plans To Launch New Home-Made Destroyer

Iran is currently building its second home-made destroyer.
A senior Iranian Navy commander announced on Sunday that the country plans to launch a new home-made destroyer in the Caspian Sea which will enjoy more advanced naval equipment compared with Iran's first home-made destroyer Jamaran, Tabnak reported.

Speaking to Fars news agency in Iran's Northern provincial capital city of Rasht today, Commander of the Northern Fleet of the Iranian Navy Seyed Mahmoud Mousavi announced the new destroyer is presently under construction in Shaheed Tajvidi Industrial Complex in Iran's Northern port city of Bandar Anzali.

"At present, the equipments are being mounted onto the destroyer, and effort has been made to optimize its equipments in comparison with those used in Jamaran (Iran's first home-made destroyer)," Mousavi stated, adding that the new destroyer will use 100% home-made and optimized equipments.

According to official statements, Jamaran has been tasked with patrolling Iran's Southern waters in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman, while the new destroyer will be used in the country's Northern waters in the Caspian Sea.
By: Shelldrake

GrogNews Daily Headlines

As we start to learn things from the latest WikiLeaks dump, it turns out China doesn't know any more about the Norks than we do. The Pentagon says there's no guarantee against another leak. And in teh Gospel according to Palin, of course it's all President Obama's fault.

Did Stuxnet actually work? Iran's centrifuges may be in trouble. The Norks, meanwhile are boasting about advances in their nuclear program.

The Israeli blockade of Hamastan is still "crippling". Oh darn. Stop lobbing rockets and then we'll talk.

Inside the FBI sting that snagged the Oregon doofus/bomberwannabe...

A Pentagon study lends credence to ending DADT.

By: Brant

XM-25 "Smart Gun" Hailed As "Game Changer"

The revolutionary XM-25 has already been issued to US troops serving in Afghanistan.
A new gun the US military hopes will help take on the Taliban has been unveiled. Called the XM-25 it has been described by the US Army as a 'game changer'. It uses a laser guidance system and specially developed 25mm high explosive rounds which can be programmed to detonate over a target. Richard Audette helped develop it for the US Army and says it's a big leap forward because it's the first small arms weapon to use smart technology.
By: Shelldrake

29 November 2010

GrogNews Daily Headlines

Danger Room takes a quick swim through the latest WikiLeaks data dump as the State Department condemns the release and goes into
goes into full-on damage control. I gotta wonder tho - was an E3 really privy to State Department cables? Really?
Oh yeah, and Israel warned the US that engagement with Iran was pointless. We needed WikiLeaks to tell us that? Maybe they know who offed a nuclear scientist with a car bomb and wounded another.

The Brazilian favela shootout apparently netted a huge drugs haul, and at least one Justin Bieber mural.

A Mexican gang boss has admitted to a whole passel of murders. And isn't it cool that "passel" doesn't set off the spellchecker?

The South Koreans are vowing retaliation against any further attack. Hello? How many further attacks do you need? At least they're starting artillery drills - let's hope it's practicing counter-battery fire - against what Seoul has called an "inhumane crime".

The Japanese are still trying to move the US base off of Okinawa.

And how close have we gotten to capping al Qaeda's #2?

By: Brant

Norks Recall Expat Workers

Escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula have apparently caused North Korea to recall expat workers from nearby Russia.
A mass exodus of North Korean workers from the Far East of Russia is under way, according to reports coming out of the region. As the two Koreas edged towards the brink of war this week, it appears that the workers in Russia have been called back to aid potential military operations.

Vladnews agency, based in Vladivostok, reported that North Korean workers had left the town of Nakhodka en masse shortly after the escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula earlier this week. "Traders have left the kiosks and markets, workers have abandoned building sites, and North Korean secret service employees working in the region have joined them and left," the agency reported.

Russia's migration service said that there were over 20,000 North Koreans in Russia at the beginning of 2010, of which the vast majority worked in construction. The workers are usually chaperoned by agents from Kim Jong-il's security services and have little contact with the world around them. Defectors have suggested that the labourers work 13-hour days and that most of their pay is sent back to the government in Pyongyang. Hundreds of workers have fled the harsh conditions and live in hiding in Russia, constantly in fear of being deported back to North Korea.

"North Korea's government sends thousands of its citizens to Russia to earn money, most of which is funnelled through government accounts," says Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist who discovered secret North Korean logging camps in the northern Siberian taiga. "Workers are often sent to remote locations for years at a time to work long hours and get as little as three days off per year." Now it appears that some kind of centralised order has been given for the workers to return home.
By: Shelldrake

NATO Troops Killed By Afghan "Policeman"

There has been another incident in which NATO troops have been attacked and killed by a "friendly".
NATO forces say a gunman in an Afghan police uniform has killed six service members in eastern Afghanistan.

NATO said the shooter turned his weapon on NATO troops during a training mission on Monday. He was also killed in the incident.

It was not immediately clear if the shooter was a police officer or someone who had infiltrated the training exercise. Insurgents commonly wear police uniforms to attack Afghan government installations.

NATO said it is investigating the incident along with Afghan authorities. The nationalities of the NATO service members has not been released.
By: Shelldrake

Monday Video: Blaze of Glory

A very patriotic start to your week...

Someone - anyone - PLEASE nominate your own videos in the comments below for future inclusion

By: Brant

UK In Action: Aircrew

Pictured are the Aircrew from a CH47 Chinook Helicopter, part of 27 Squadron RAF currently operating at Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan. The Aircraft and crew are operating in support of the Operation Jacana Taskforce in the region. 27 Squadron RAF is normally based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire when not deployed on operational duties.
Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

28 November 2010

GrogNews Daily Headlines

The Norks are readying their missiles as the U.S.-South Korea exercises steam ahead and the Chinese are threatening everyone with... talks!.

Maybe their threat of talks is a distraction from their vessels snooping into disputed waters near Japan.

Are the troops really OK with ending DADT?

And a near-redux yesterday's headlines :

WikiLeaks has another upcoming document release.

The FBI picked up a kid in Oregon for wanting to set off a bomb.

And Rio police invaded a favela and claimed success.... a, well, raiding a favela.

By: Brant

Order Of Battle: US Army Recon Troop

Continuing our ORBAT series of current US Army company-level combat units... Presenting the mounted recon troop from a heavy brigade
(click the image to enlarge)

image extracted from FKSM-71-8

By: Brant

Decorated Senior SAS Commander Resigns

The negative impact of recent defence cuts on morale has led to the resignation of yet another talented senior UK Army officer.
A highly decorated senior SAS commander, who masterminded a deadly campaign against the Taliban, has resigned from the Army amid claims that defence cuts are hitting morale.

Friends of the colonel, who cannot be named for security reasons, said he had grown increasingly despondent with service life following the cuts imposed on the military by the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

It is understood that two highly respected Brigadiers, one of whom also served with the Special Forces, are considering their positions.

Senior officers have warned that many more high calibre officers are expected to resign in the coming months especially if the Continuity of Education Allowance – which pays for a proportion of boarding school fees for service families – is cut.
By: Shelldrake

Spotlight On North Korea's Military

CNN has put together a very nice analysis of the Nork's current military capabilities.
North Korea's nuclear capability and ballistic missile technology are its trump card, to make up for its aging conventional forces and as a bargaining chip in negotiations. So that's what receives the bulk of funding and expertise. But despite economic stagnation, technological limitations and international sanctions, its conventional forces can't be discounted, if only because of their size.


Short of a general assault, the North clearly has enough in its arsenal to cause damage and death to its adversary, as the torpedo attack in March and the barrage this week have shown. And it has thousands of artillery pieces close to the Demilitarized Zone, which is just 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Seoul. Recent events show that it is also quite ready to exploit the element of surprise.

There remains the great unanswered question about intentions. There's plenty of what one expert calls "echo chamber analysis." But as former President Carter wrote with a hint of understatement in the Washington Post on Wednesday: "No one can completely understand the motivations of the North Koreans."
By: Shelldrake

Nork Missiles On Launch Pads

The volatile situation on the Korean peninsula seems to have worsened with news that North Korea has readied surface-to-surface missiles.
North Korea has placed surface-to-surface missiles on launch pads in the Yellow Sea, Yonhap news agency said, as the United States and South Korea began military drills and China called for emergency talks.

China made clear that the talks would not amount to a resumption of six-party disarmament discussions which North Korea walked out of two years ago and declared dead. South Korea said it would carefully consider China's suggestion.
By: Shelldrake

27 November 2010

GrogNews Daily Headlines

South Korea's marines are vowing "revenge" for the Nork artillery barrage as the US and South Korea
push ahead with their war games. The Norks are accusing their Southern brothers of using "human shields". And did Sarah Palin really proclaim support for North Korea?

Elsewhere, a Somali-born teen was picked up for plotting a car-bombing over Christmas.

The US has warned at least Turkey and Canada over the pending WikiLeaks dumps. You notice that ASSange isn't in a hurry to leak any diplomatic cables from Russia, China, Ghana, San Marino, New Zealand, Guatemala, or Uruguay.

Have they been practicing with Modern Warfare 2? Brazilian police are planning an offensive in the Rio favelas.

Great. There are fresh routes in and out of Afghanistan for the Talibanistanis. Oh yeah, and a suicide attack at an Afghan police HQ kills 12.

By: Brant

Weekend Humor: Go Get 'Em TSA!

It's amazing what happens at a TSA checkpoint...





With this report, we are forwarding all available information about a potentially disruptive air-travel incident which occurred in our sector at or about 0730 Thursday morning. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

Location of incident: Security Check-In Area, Concourse B, Municipal International Airport. The incident in question was triggered when passenger approached TSA agent at initial screening area and presented boarding pass and government-issued ID.

According to ID and boarding pass, passenger's name was "Tom Turkiyeh," but agent noticed identification tag on carry-on luggage gave name as "Tomas bin Gobble Gobble." Passenger refused to explain the inconsistency.

Screening agent's suspicions were further aroused by her inability to make and maintain eye contact with passenger, as well as passenger's apparent inability to speak any English.

In addition, ID photograph bore only a slight resemblance to the passenger: passenger was totally clean-shaven, while photograph portrayed someone with heavy feathers.

(Note: Agent notified her supervisor, who authorized immediate database check for "bin Gobble Gobble" against terrorist watch list. No match was discovered, and passenger was permitted to proceed to formal Screening Area, while boarding pass was red-stamped to call for heightened scrutiny.)

At formal screening area, passenger placed carry-on baggage on conveyer belt without incident. However initial "wanding" of passenger was positive for traces of sage and cardamom, which mandated more intensive inspection.

Passenger was given the option of full-body Advanced Imaging Technology scan or a rigorous pat-down. Failing to express a preference (and as a matter of reasonable prudence under the circumstances), passenger was then subjected to both procedures.

Pat-down of passenger included, per TSA instructions, both breast and thigh areas, which appeared especially "meaty" but were otherwise unremarkable.

By contrast, AIT scan raised immediate alarms. Suspicious deposits of sausage were noted in several locations, as was a liquid substance that resembled butter but whose chemical composition turned out to be entirely different. (Once again, passenger was unable to account for the presence of these items.)

Of even more concern, AIT scan indicated additional items of indeterminate identity hidden beneath the skin - under the circumstances, a highly suspicious finding.

Agents on the scene then accompanied passenger to a private room a short distance from the screening area, and hoping to "turn up the heat," informed passenger that a concern for the safety of other passengers required them to conduct an even more intensive search, including body cavities.

Hearing no objection from the passenger, the agents proceeded per regulations, and removed from inside the passenger larger quantities of sausage, as well as apples, cranberries, mushrooms, and "seasoned" breadcrumbs.

Further body-cavity inspection then produced a small paper bag, in which agents discovered, to their horror, a seemingly random assortment of body parts, including a heart, a liver, a gizzard and a neck.

Agents were unable to establish how or why the bag had been secreted there, or the specific purpose of its contents. However, following the troubling nature of the earlier discoveries, these new items were considered "gravy," and all the more reason to detain the passenger until essential facts could be established.

Several hours of even more intense questioning ensued, but still to no avail. The passenger said nothing, explained nothing, admitted to nothing.

So we ate him.

Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist.

By: Chuckles

26 November 2010

TSA: Keeping America Safe

I'm not really a civil libertarian. I am, however, violently opposed to stupidity and hassles. So, from that perspective, I'd like to join Brant in GrogNews' unofficial campaign against the latest act in TSA's on-going production of "security theater."

Check out the Calgary Herald's gallery of the TSA in action. They are on the last line of defense against terrorism, bravely protecting us from old men who look like they probably fought in WW2 or the (first?) Korean War, grandmothers in wheelchairs, fat businessmen, and the occasional MILF.

Most of the pictures are just ridiculous, but I wouldn't mind giving an "enhanced pat-down" to a couple of the ladies :).

P.S.: The fact that this is from the Calgary Herald just adds to our national embarrassment. The TSA is just giving our more civilized and sane neighbors to the North another reason to snicker at us.

By: Guardian

GrogNews Daily Headlines

The updates from Korea:
The Norks are warning that the region is on the brink of war is the US and South Koreans go ahead with their planned exercises. The region is apparently not on "the brink of war" because, y'know, they fired artillery at unarmed civilians or anything or anything. And just to join the fun, China is issuing warnings, too.
The Chinese media is also claiming the South Koreans are "relaunching" psychological warfare against the Norks. Oh, and Fox News thinks they know how to "take down" North Korea without a war.

View Larger Map

In other less exciting news

The Russians have opened a plant to destroy chemical weapons.

After finding a 'bomb factory' in a house in southern California, law enforcement had pulled out of working on it, claiming that they're scared shitless of blowing themselves up it's too dangerous.

Saudi Arabia has arrested 149 people they claim are al-Qaeda suspects.

The Paks claim to have foiled a bomb plot in their capital.

And yes, there are still loud and proud opponents of repealing DADT in the US military.

The Karzai government is blaming the British for the Taliban "impostor". Can we blame them for the 'real' Taliban?

The US is warning its allies about the upcoming Wikileaks dump.

Mugabe's Prime Minister is taking him to court, for all the good it'll do.

By: Brant

Military Maps: Chosin

60 years ago, the Chinese counterattack poured over the Korean border, and as a result, 30,000 UN troops were encircled and fought the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

map from US Navy

By: Brant

25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of our US-based readers, Happy Thanksgiving!

And to the rest of you, well, Happy Thanksgiving to you, too :)

By: The GrogNews Staff

Happy Birthday USS Enterprise

The first and largest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to be built, USS Enterprise, marks 49 years of service today.
The world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise (CVN 65), will celebrate its 49th birthday on Thursday.

The Big E's birthday celebration will take place as the crew celebrates Thanksgiving.

With the exception of USS Constitution, the Enterprise is the oldest commissioned warship in the Navy. CVN-65 is the eighth U.S. ship bearing the name Enterprise and was commissioned Nov. 25, 1961.

During the commissioning, then Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally Jr. called the ship a worthy successor to the seventh Enterprise (CV 6), which was the most decorated ship in World War II. In his remarks, Connally said Enterprise will reign for a long, long time as "queen of the seas."

Former Aviation Boatswain's Mate Airman Jack Kepics was there that historic day and remembers it vividly.

"There was a chilly breeze that blew through the hangar bay as about 3,000 of us stood in ranks shivering in our dress blues," said Kepics. "Despite the dreary weather, the atmosphere was very festive, and a sense of pride beamed from every Sailor and officer as we stood and listened to the commissioning speeches."

The Enterprise is the largest aircraft carrier to ever be built. The "Big E" stretches 1,123 feet and weighs 73,858 tons. Enterprise is the only ship to ever house eight nuclear reactors.

"This is significant because we are still operating as efficiently as we did 49 years ago," said USS Enterprise Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Keith Oxley. "Roughly 250,000 sailors have served aboard Enterprise in her 49-year tenure, and we are carrying on that legacy."
By: Shelldrake

GrogNews Daily Headlines

How effective is the TSA? Well, they're letting loaded guns & ammo get onto the tarmac, and it's completely legal...

As the South Korean defense chief resigns, they are also making moves toreinforce the island against another attack by Pyongyang. Still no word about what "provoked" the attack.

The Dutch are hoping for the arrest of Nazi Klaas-Carel Faber, living in Bavaria.

There's been an attack on a base in Sudan.

What's in the next threatened Wikileaks release that has the US worried?

The Canadians are seeing progress in the Afghan army, but would like some more support.

By: Brant

South Korea Responds To Nork Attack

South Korea's defense minister has resigned and the government has pledged to deploy more troops to its islands in the Yellow Sea, as well as implement new rules of engagement to respond to any future attacks by North Korea.
South Korea is to strengthen its military force on five islands close to North Korea, amid tensions over a clash that left four people dead. It will also review military policy on the use of force, amid concerns it had become "rather passive". Its defence minister has resigned amid criticism of the response. North Korean shelling of a South Korean island on Tuesday killed two civilians and two marines, and prompted an increase in regional tension.


After holding an emergency cabinet meeting, South Korea announced it would dramatically increase its military capability in the area.

"[The government] has decided to sharply increase military force, including ground troops, on the five islands in the Yellow Sea and allocate more of its budget towards dealing with North Korea's asymmetrical threats," the presidential senior public affairs secretary, Hong Sang-pyo, told reporters.

He said the government had also decided to make new rules of engagement "to change the paradigm itself of responding to North Korea's provocation", describing the current rules as "rather passive".

The BBC's Chris Hogg says the cabinet had decided that in the existing rules of engagement there was too much emphasis on preventing a military incident escalating into something worse. There is now an awareness that this thinking had to change, our correspondent says. In future the South would implement different levels of response depending on whether the North Koreans attacked the military in the South or civilian targets, the spokesman said.
By: Shelldrake

UK In Action: Freakin' Cold!

Ex Joint Resolve XIII, Manjaca Range, Central Bosnia. A captain serving with 3 Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, covered up to protect against the hostile conditions of the Bosnian winter, whilst atop his Warrior armoured vehicle Officers. OPV. FOO. People.
Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

24 November 2010

Canadian Helicopter Deals - Old And New

There has been yet another delay in the process to replace the Canadian Navy's elderly Sea King helicopters.

There has been a third delay in the delivery of new navy helicopters slated to replace a fleet of decades-old Sea Kings, the federal government said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose says U.S.-based Sikorsky has informed the federal government it won’t meet a Nov. 30 deadline for delivery of early versions of the Cyclone helicopters used for testing and evaluation.

Rebecca Thompson said Sikorsky considers the delay "excusable" under its contract but Public Works will determine if any penalties should be applied. Thompson said if Ottawa rejects Sikorsky’s argument, the department could implement a fine of $45,000 a day, up to a maximum of 120 days, the delivery of the choppers is late.

"When we sign a contract, we expect a contractor to deliver on time," Thompson said in an email. "This case is no different."

The federal government originally ordered 28 of the Cyclones in 2004 with a delivery date of November 2008, but it has announced delays in the more than $5-billion contract on at least two previous occasions.

In her Oct. 26 report, federal auditor general Sheila Fraser slammed the project for huge cost overruns and delays. She said the total cost of buying all of the helicopters, which operate off the decks of navy frigates and are intended to replace the aging Sea King fleet, would likely top $5.7 billion and come in seven years late.

Thompson said she did not know when the training and evaluation helicopters would be available, but added that Sikorsky said it is sticking to its plan to begin delivering the fully-equipped, final version of the helicopters by June 2012.

The Canadian military apparently needs more helicopters for its Afghanistan mission and has quietly leased at least 4 Mi-17 helicopters.

The Defence Department has quietly acquired a new fleet of helicopters for combat missions in Afghanistan, but is refusing to provide details about how much the deal cost taxpayers or how many aircraft are operating.

The lease of the Russian-designed Mi-17s helicopters for use in Kandahar province is shrouded in secrecy.

The Defence Department says the lease was the result of a competitive contract, but military sources say the details were kept off the MERX web-site, which formally lists government procurement competitions, and no news release was issued about the new choppers, which have been in use since the spring.

Sources say the helicopters are among tens of millions of dollars of purchases of equipment for the Afghanistan mission that the Defence Department has kept secret.
The department will not release the number of helicopters, the cost, nor the name of the company providing the aircraft since it says that information could help Afghan insurgents. Sources say at least four helicopters are being used.
By: Shelldrake

GrogNews Daily Headlines

Even before the shelling starting, South Korea's President Lee was threatening to strike the Nork's missile base. Is this the provocation the Norks were going to claim? South Korea has reported 2 civilian deaths caused by the Nork artillery barrage. The US is sending the USS George Washington to Korean waters. Exactly why are the Norks this crazy? Is it because military leverage is the only leverage they have?

With a lesbian discharged under DADT be reinstated to the Air Force Reserve?

Afghan poll results in. Violent protests erupt. Just like New York City, eh? Oh, wait...

Want to un-nerve the TSA? Wear a kilt to security screening - the traditional way, and then opt out of scanning.
Terror Alert Level
Is the DHS going to do away with color-coded terror alerts? No more Sesame Street levels?

If we start shooting with Iran, we might need the B1 bomber back in action.

Did Al Qaeda just denounce Iran? Really?

By: Brant

Recruiting and Retention Numbers for FY 2011, so far

The DoD has announced the fiscal year-to-date 2011 recruiting numbers.

DOD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for Fiscal Year-To-Date 2011 Through October

The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through October. Beginning this fiscal year, the department will report against the services’ ‘year-to-date’ recruiting goals, as opposed to the monthly goals reported in the past. The department had already been reporting retention against year-to-date goals.

The services manage end strength using recruiting, retention, and attrition. The services set goals for each at the beginning of the year, and from those annual goals, develop monthly goals. When one element is doing better than expected, the services have to intentionally lower other elements, to ensure they do not exceed end strength at the end of the year.

“In the past, the services have, on occasion, intentionally ‘missed’ their monthly recruiting goals, to ensure they don’t come in over end strength,” said Accession Policy Director Curtis Gilroy. “This gives the false impression that recruiting goals are not being met, when in fact, for the year, the services are meeting or exceeding their goals. By reporting against year-to-date goals, the public is provided a more comprehensive picture of military recruiting.”

Active Component.

Recruiting - Year to Date. All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011 through October.

  • Army – 6,643 accessions, with a goal of 6,425; 103 percent
  • Navy – 2,291 accessions, with a goal of 2,291; 100 percent
  • Marine Corps – 2,457 accessions, with a goal of 2,448; 100 percent
  • Air Force – 1,511 accessions, with a goal of 1,511; 100 percent

Retention. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force retentions are near or above the fiscal year-to-date goals through October.

Reserve Component.

Recruiting. All six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011 through October.

  • Army National Guard –4,973 accessions, with a goal of 4,504; 110 percent
  • Army Reserve –2,774 accessions, with a goal of 2,557; 108 percent
  • Navy Reserve –665 accessions, with a goal of 665; 100 percent
  • Marine Corps Reserve –1,154 accessions, with a goal of 889; 130 percent
  • Air National Guard –729 accessions, with a goal of 541; 135 percent
  • Air Force Reserve – 769 accessions, with a goal of 760; 101 percent

Attrition. Losses in all reserve components are within acceptable limits.

By: Brant

Criticism of CoD:Black Ops Ad Completely Wrong

So one of the media gasbags at The Atlantic is up in arms about the advertising campaign for Call of Duty: Black Ops.

This ad equips people with real guns and simulates real-life, no-CGI combat. The thud of recoil, the screams of rockets, the dust of explosions... and the look of exasperation on that little, shotgun-wielding girl. The only things missing are the dead bodies on the receiving ends of each bullet and blast.

That "little, shotgun-wielding girl"? Yeah, she's 20. Yep, 20 years old. Hey Machkovech: they've got "clue" on sale at Toys'R'Us. Go pick one up, eh?

I caught up with Cannon and she assures me that she's certainly old enough to be playing an M-rated game like "Black Ops" much less starring in a commercial for it. In fact, she's 20 years old.
However, she says she can see how her young looks might have thrown some people off.
"I do look quite young," she said. "It's the cheeks. You can't look old with these cheeks."

Now, if you want to criticize the campaign, then do so because the tagline "There's a soldier in all of us" is completely off-base. Trust me, there is not a soldier in everyone. Being a soldier is much, much more than running around with a gun.

By: Brant

23 November 2010

No Ghost-Riding for You!

Remember our old ghost-riding montage from the Monday video series? Danger Room is reporting that the Army isn't particularly fond of the videos being posted to their internal video-sharing site.

By: Brant

Tuesday Interview: Marc von Martial

It's running late, but at least it's up... here's this week's Tuesday Interview, with links & graphics to follow. Sorry it's not more detailed, but real life has severely intruded today.

If my plaque was to go in the Wargaming Hall of Fame next week, the 2-sentence bio on it would say this about me:
Oh, I’m not good at this selfpromo stuff :)
You don't get off that easy! OK, maybe this time you do, because we need to get this online ASAP

You would know me from my work in this corner of the wargaming world:
Mainly from Matrix Games were I work as Art Director and Senior Artist and from Mark Walkers Lock ‘n Load Publishing, where I work on the LNL, WAW series and some other boardgames. The two are my main clients but I also work for some other publishers and developers.

I'm currently working on:
Game related, well, do you really want me to list all those projects ;)
It is a list from here to Tokyo (not sure if this german phrase works). The two most current are / were “Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris” and the new "Gary Grigsby's War in the East", both PC war-games by Matrix Games. And I work for a couple of Lock ‘n Load and World at War modules for Mark Walker. In my rare freetime I work on strengthening my photography and free hand sketching skills.

What was your first game convention?
SPIEL in Essen Germany, I forgot which year though.

Pick one game whose graphics you really dig (other than your own!), and tell us about them
I will keep this to wargaming. It is hard to pick one particular, but I generally love the style Craig Grando does, counters and maps. It is always really well designed stuff. I totally dig his creativity and sense for clear and beautiful designs.
Craig's work is quite nice... maybe we ought to pester him for an interview, huh?

Compare working on a computer game with working on a print/tabletop game for us
This is tough. I would say the computer designs are sometimes more restricted by the quality of the coders and programmers. And you need to find solutions to work around that. It is more technical in some aspects. The print designs need a lot of attention to usability. We all know how small war-game counters can sometimes be. It is very challenging to have them look good and readable at the same time. Much so because the perception of gamers seems also way more varied then in the PC wargame world. Generally I prefer the "relaxed" design work of the boardgame world over the "hectic" one of the PC game biz. In the end I love both of course.

Have you ever visited a battlefield for a wargame you've played?
Yes, often actually. The last time was Noville Belgium, I did go there for reference shooting and walkarounds cause I was also working on a wargame map (Lock ‘n Load series) of the same area. We, that's me and a group of friends, have plans to visit various WW1 Westfront battlefields in Spring 2011

What was the first wargame you designed your own scenario for?
Close Combat III

What current events are you following closely? Which ones are you just vaguely aware of?
Politics national and international, more or less on a general basis. My interests shift a lot.

People would describe my fashion sense as…
Relaxed but stylish, I love buying skate sneakers and shirts, I'm a whore for T-shirts…

You can invite any 3 living people to dinner, who do you pick?
My wife, Helmut Schmidt, Henry Rollins and Bernie Dexter, oh that’s four :)

If you could be the filmographer at any one battle in history, which one would you view?

What's the last good military book you read?
I’m not full into it yet but I enjoy “Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America” currently. I always loved “Citizen Soldiers”.

What was the first music concert you ever went to?
Some Punk Rock / Rockabilly concert, I do not really recall the band(s) though, it is decades ago ;)
Decades ago? What, were you 7?!

What's your favorite sport to play? To attend live? To watch on TV?
I mountainbike, which I love to do. I do regular gym and home workouts too. Watching on TV and live, well football of course. And no, not that kind of football were grown up men wear tight leggings ;) *
One in a while I visit hockey games of the local team in Cologne.
*Methinks he's making fun of us American football-types. C'est la vie. Someone point out where Köln are in the Bundesliga standings...

The coolest uniforms in history belonged to…
That’s tough, I would say the Nazis had some pretty mean and stylish uniforms but then again german uniforms always had quite some style ;), except for after WW2. But actually I always digged the british “red coats”.
Flecktarn doesn't do it for you, huh?

By: Brant

TSA: Time to Call "BS" on TSA's Illegal Activities

It's amazing what we subject ourselves to, with perfectly justifiable reasons, even when the ultimate result is illegal, embarrassing, and useless, all at once. TSA screening practices have evolved from odd to theatrical to downright offensive, with each evolution being justified as a reaction to some vague "threat," and this far the public has swallowed it. However, the latest iteration seems to have finally crossed a mental threshold with the public, and seems to finally be drawing attention to the entire sham that is our airport screening process.

The TSA has failed on three fronts. First, they have yet to demonstrate that their practices are actually legal. Second, they have never demonstrated that they are effective. And finally, the application of the rules is so laughable that if it were described to anyone not making TSA policy it would provoke howls of laughter.

The TSA fancies themselves a law enforcement organization. For the sake of discussion, let's pretend that they are, and compare their approach to law enforcement to the real police.
Following a series of violent attacks in a city, two agencies spring into action in search of the culprits and any copycats who would choose to reprise the crimes. We know that the culprits are white men, aged 30-50, who are bald and all at least six feet tall and usually wear a red hoodie sweatshirt, and following their attacks, they escape on foot.
The local police will begin by canvassing the areas where the crimes were committed, looking for witnesses, leads, tips, and forensics. Moreover, in their preventative mode, they may look for environmental patterns in the attacks - what time of day, what type of location, commercial or residential districts, etc - and try to focus on finding men who are operating within the pattern of the known suspects. They work in this fashion for several reasons: they know that in order to prosecute any crimes they have to gather evidence in a legal fashion and prove the guilt of the parties involved; they have to keep the public safe by preventing further crimes without infringing on the rights of the public; and they have very limited manpower with which to investigate, to they tend to focus rather quickly on the relevant details of the pattern.
The TSA, however, throws legitimate police work out the window. With full knowledge of the fact that the culprits - and most future suspects - are white men, aged 30-50, who are bald and all at least six feet tall and usually wearing a red hoodie sweatshirt, the TSA would instead focus their efforts on the means of transportation and set up random checkpoints throughout the city for anyone who wants to walk on the sidewalk. Want to move around by foot? Well, we've got intelligence that a group of ne'er-do-wells does, too, and we're going to keep you safe from them. How? By making you prove you're not one of them. Yep. Even when it's absolutely obvious to everyone except the TSA that you're a 17-year-old Asian teenage girl, you still have to prove to them that you have no 'dangerous' objects (the definition of which is arbitrary and ever-expanding) in order to walk on the sidewalks. Why? Because somewhere there's a 38-year-old bald white guy in a red hoodie who bears you ill will. And thus in an effort to show that we're some sort of egalitarian nation, we subject our 70-year-old grandmothers and our 4-year-old toddlers and our 26-year-old black men to an obscene level of scrutiny in the search for a our culprits who we know - we know - meet none of those criteria.

And thus we have an agency who completely turns 100 years of established legal practice on its head. The TSA does not treat you as innocent until proven guilty. They assume guilt until you can sufficiently demonstrate your innocence to them. Rather than start with a suspect pool of zero and add to it as they develop evidence (the standard practice for, well, pretty much any other US law enforcement agency), the TSA throws the entire flying populace, including the pilots and aircrew into the suspect pool, and then requires the suspects themselves to rule them out of the pool through a series of ever-intrusive physical inspections. Huh? When did we decide this is OK?

Moreover, the TSA has yet to demonstrate that any of their practices actually work. While they're busy patting down high school cheerleaders, Islamist terrorists are slipping bombs into toner cartridges they know are insufficiently screened because it's hard to screen cargo for the TV cameras and the TSA can't waste time on security measures that aren't in the public eye. Thanks to Richard Reid's shoe bomb, we now have passengers removing perfectly flat 1/8-inch thick bamboo flip-flops at airport checkpoints. Why? No really, TSA, why? Don't give me any half-hearted broadly-worded platitudes. Give me the serious, real, specific, and identifiable threat posed by flat 1/8-inch thick bamboo flip-flops.
The idiocy of their screening practices have been thoroughly documented by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. The ineffectiveness of it has been trumpeted for years by Bruce Schneier. And still we have yet to move away from a contraband-based security process to a behavior-based profiling process.

And thus we come to the third problem with the TSA: the absolute stupidity with which the 'rules' are applied. The TSA has clearly communicated to the American public that their threat assessment of a domestic lawsuit is much, much higher than the threat assessment of a terrorist attack. Fearing a crusading and headline-seeking legal fight more than a bomb exploding in mid-flight, the TSA attempts to apply their screening guidelines as 'fairly' as possible. They would rather be stupid and insulated from a lawsuit by someone who feels their 'rights' have been violated than be smart and effective and in court defending their practices. So with an eye not toward keeping America safe from terrorists, but keeping themselves safe from the ACLU, the TSA fondles and gropes and exposes and forces the disrobing or America.

Why? Why have we reached the point where it's acceptable to be sexually assaulted by someone in uniform under the guise of "security"? And if you don't believe it's sexual assault, here's a thought - next time you're in line at the bank, give the person in front of you a TSA-approved pat-down. Tell them you're concerned they might be harboring a weapon with which to rob the back. See how quickly the real police show up, and what charges are filed against you.
We're here for the same reason the TSA has created these procedures: cowardice. The TSA is afraid of crusading civil-rights lawyers. Politicians are afraid of re-election campaign ads being run by their opponents falsely claiming to have weakened America if they make any effort to rein in the TSA. And the American public is justifiably afraid of speaking up because of the likelihood of getting ejected from the airport.

The TSA has finally brought that to a head. This recent sexual molestation policy masquerading as security pat-downs has finally drawn a line in the sand where the American public has said "enough!" And we can hope that in rolling back this latest inanity from the TSA that we roll back the other stupidities as well: the arbitrary invasions of privacy without any probable cause, the refusal to appropriately target screens toward legitimate threats, the myth that somehow disrobing at security checkpoints will keep us safe from threats the TSA can't even define, and the idea that the TSA is in any way something that should be considered a law enforcement organization.

By: Brant

GrogNews Daily Headlines

As noted earlier this morning at GN (and everywhere else in the world), the Norks shelled a South Korean island‎ this morning, killing two South Korean Marines. The BBC asks Why now?. If you're looking for details on the military forces on the Korean peninsula, Reuters has it for you.

Is the deal for Georgia to join NATO already done?

The Pentagon had no discharges under DADT last month.

Gambia to Iranian diplomats: GTFO!

Was the Afghan Taliban duped by a "fake" leader?

TSA thinks that resisting scanners will lead to delays. Here's a thought - not resisting them results in acquiescence to illegal behavior by the government.

So apparently the military has now awarded over 857,000 medals for OEF and OIF. Wow.

By: Brant

More Troops Deployed To Sino-India Border

China's military buildup in Tibet has resulted in a decision by India to beef up its defences in Arunachal Pradesh.
India has formed two new army divisions - comprising more than 36,000 men - to defend the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. The remote north-eastern state adjoins China which claims large parts of it. The 56th Division will be based in the nearby state of Nagaland to guard the eastern flank of Arunachal Pradesh from Chinese attack through Burma. The other new formation, the 71st Division, will be based in Assam to protect central Arunachal Pradesh. There has been no response so far from China to the decision.

Already the Indian Fifth Mountain Division guards western Arunachal Pradesh while another division is responsible for protecting the eastern part of the state. In addition there are counter-insurgency troops in Assam who can be sent to the Sino-Indian border at short notice. A total of 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers have been assigned to the two new divisions, which are being especially equipped for mountain warfare.

Officials say they were formed at the behest of the Indian army chief, General VK Singh - who said they were necessary to beef up defences against China. Gen Singh was not available for comment but one of his staff officers, on condition of anonymity, told the BBC that the army chief had "pushed very hard to fast-track the raising of the two divisions". He said that they should be "fully operational" by March 2011. He said their formation was India's response to the "huge Chinese build-up" in Tibet over the last three to four years. But he did not wish to elaborate.


The formation of the two new divisions means that India's deployments in the eastern sector of its border with China now matches the five army divisions that existed in 1986-87, when the two countries nearly went to war.
By: Shelldrake

Norks Shell South Korean Border Island

The Norks continue to act in an unpredictable and very dangerous manner, this time shelling the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong causing property damage and a number of casualties. Sooner or later someone is going to have to take care of this mad dog!
South Korea says it has returned fire after North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells at one of its border islands, killing two marines. The South's military was placed on its highest non-wartime alert after the shells landed on Yeonpyeong island. There is confusion about what triggered the shelling, with the North's military insisting it did not open fire first. Analysts say this is one of the most serious clashes since the Korean War ended without a peace treaty in 1953.


A spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korean shells had started falling in the waters off the island of Yeonpyeong at 1434 local time (0534 GMT). At least 50 landed directly on the island, most hitting a South Korean military base there. The South's military immediately fired back some 80 shells in self-defence, Col Lee Bung-woo added. At least 16 South Korean marines and three civilians were injured in the clashes.

A resident on the island told the AFP news agency that dozens of houses were damaged by the barrage, while television pictures showed plumes of smoke rising above the island.

"Houses and mountains are on fire and people are evacuating. You can't see very well because of plumes of smoke," a witness on the island told YTN television station. "People are frightened to death."

Local government spokesman Yoon Kwan-seok said the shelling lasted for about an hour and then stopped abruptly.

"The whole of Yeonpyeong island was blacked out following the North Korean attacks," he was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency. "All of the island's 1,600-odd residents were evacuated to shelters."

The South Korean military has also deployed fighter jets to Yeonpyeong, which lies about 3km (1.8 miles) south of the disputed inter-Korean maritime border and 100km (60 miles) west of the Korean Peninsula. It said the "inhumane" attack on civilian areas violated the 1953 armistice halting the Korean War. Later, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak warned North Korea that his country would "sternly retaliate against any further provocations".

"North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong island constitutes a clear armed provocation. Furthermore, its reckless shelling of civilian targets is unpardonable," his office said in a statement.

"North Korean authorities must take responsibility."

But North Korea's supreme military command blamed South Korea for the incident.

"The South Korean enemy, despite our repeated warnings, committed reckless military provocations of firing artillery shells into our maritime territory near Yeonpyeong island beginning 1300 (0400 GMT)," the state-run KCNA news agency quoted it as saying.

The North would "continue to make merciless military attacks with no hesitation if the South Korean enemy dares to invade our sea territory by 0.001mm", it warned.

"It is our military's traditional response to quell provocative actions with a merciless thunderbolt."

It did not say whether North Korea suffered any casualties or damage. A South Korean military official later told the Reuters news agency that it had been conducting regular military drills in the sea off Yeonpyeong before the incident, but that no fire was aimed towards North Korea.

"We were conducting usual military drills and our test shots were aimed toward the west, not the north," he said.
By: Shelldrake

Anniversary: Operation Dingo

Starting on this day, back in the Rhodesian bush wars in 1977, Operation Dingo got underway as the Rhodesian military, with a mixture of RLI, SAS, and others, attacked a handful of terrorist camps (masquerading as refugee camps -why exactly do refugees need anti-tank weapons?!) and wiped out a significant number of enemy combatants, with only 2 friendly KIA.

Striking deep inside of Mozambique, the Rhodesians hit several camps where they knew (and had proof) that ZANLA fighters were returning after training in other nations for their terrorist attacks in Rhodesia.

You can also read more here.

Want to give the operation a whirl on your computer? Here's a link to a scenario for Squad Battles.

And check out the distance the Rhodesians had to travel to get to the camp. Wow. (For those not in the know, Rhodesia is now called "Zimbabwe" after the Mugabe takeover).

View Larger Map

By: Brant

22 November 2010

2011 Afghanistan Units Identified

The DoD has announced units for the upcoming Afghanistan rotation

The Department of Defense announced today major units to deploy as part of upcoming rotations of forces operating in Afghanistan. The announcement involves two headquarters totaling 1,600 personnel and two infantry brigade combat teams totaling 6,800 personnel. The scheduled rotation for these forces will begin in early 2011 and continue through the fall of 2011.

Headquarters units:

1st Cavalry Division Headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas.

82nd Airborne Division Headquarters, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Infantry Brigade Combat Teams:

170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Baumholder, Germany.

172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Grafenwoehr and Schweinfurt, Germany.

By: Brant

Draft-Dodging Concerns IDF

Service in the Israeli Defence Force is being avoided by a large number of Israeli men. I am frankly surprised by this news after watching the Monday video. What is wrong with these guys?!
Sixty percent of 18-year-olds will dodge the draft by 2020, Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir, head of the army’s Manpower Division, warned on Thursday.

“The IDF still is a people’s army with fairly high motivation to serve, but there is a crack in society and we need to prevent that crack from growing,” Zamir told reporters during a briefing marking the IDF’s November draft.

Zamir repeated statistics revealed earlier this month that 50 percent of Israeli men between the ages of 18 and 40 already don’t serve in the IDF, either in their mandatory service or in the reserves corps.

The main cause for the increase in draft-dodging numbers, Zamir said, was the increasing number of haredi men who received an exemption from military service due to their ultra-Orthodox beliefs.
By: Shelldrake

DND Orders Video Games For Canadian Troops

Gamers in uniform who are stationed in Afghanistan as part of Canada's military mission can look forward to video gaming during their downtime, courtesy of the Department of National Defence.
Canadian soldiers stuck in lonely outposts in Afghanistan are the lucky recipients of a big stash of video games ordered just months before the military pulls out. Defence officials confirm that 500 copies of games such as "Gears of War," "Call of Duty," "Mortal Kombat," and "Assassins Creed" are destined for Canada's forward operating bases in the war-ravaged country. An estimated 500 to 600 soldiers are stationed at Ma'sum Ghar and Sperwan Ghar, Canada's main bases outside Kandahar, which works out to a video game for almost every gamer-in-uniform.

"It helps in keeping good morale ... to bring some relief to people working long hours," Cmdr. Hubert Genest said in an interview.

The large order, which includes some unwarlike games — such as "Guitar Hero 3," "The Beatles Rock Band," and "Tiger Woods 2011" — was issued by public tender last week. The competition closes early next month. Genest was not able to provide a dollar value, but at an estimated $50 a title, the order could be worth as much as $25,000.


Genest said the military has sent video games to Afghanistan in the past — he called it "routine" — as part of a morale and welfare program, and noted that games need to be updated every few years as they are improved.

"(Soldiers) are in location 24/7. They don't take any leave. And so this program exists," he said.

Genest added that even after the July 1 pullout, Canada is keeping some 950 soldiers in Afghanistan as military trainers, and they will have access to the existing stash of video games.
By: Shelldrake

GrogNews Daily Headlines

Will the USMC toe the line on DADT?

Wikileaks might be dropping another massive trove of documents.

So there's a NATO envoy claiming that children are safer in Afghan cities than in New York City. That may be, but ours are also educated, well-fed, hopeful, and turned into pawns of megalomaniacal religious nutjobs competing over control of rock farms... Object, you say? Look, at least our kids are literate before they join the police force.
And if you want an update on casualties in the fight, check out iCasualties.org.

The Norks are getting nukey again.

Dislike the TSA? Get in line. No, really, get in line, as a Thanksgiving weekend protest is sure to disrupt travel.

What's the first step to MidEast peace? The Economist says fix those borders first.

By: Brant

Monday Video: You're Welcome

Here's a serious Monday Video BANG for you: The Girls of the IDF. You're welcome.

Someone - anyone - PLEASE nominate your own videos in the comments below for future inclusion

By: Brant

UK In Action: Wolfhound Training

Soldiers from 16 Air Assault are pictured conducting driver training with the new Wolfhound vehicle on a purpose built driver training area in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. The off road course is designed to push the vehicles and drivers to the limit, in order to give crews the confidence and experience before deploying on real operations.
Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

21 November 2010

Canada In Action: Replenishment At Sea

Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Athabaskan (front) approaches the American vessel USNS Kanawha (center) and HMCS Charlottetown (right) for Replenishment at Sea (RAS) during Task Group Exercise (TGEX) in the Atlantic Ocean on 14 November 2010.

TGEX is part of a continuing series of fleet training exercises, the aim of which is to develop unit‑level and multi-unit proficiency in all areas of maritime warfare. Typically, a mock scenario is drawn up involving Canadian participants -- but it has included Americans in the past -- who use their skills to successfully navigate through various challenges.

Image: Cpl Johanie Maheu, Formation Imaging Services, DND.

By: Shelldrake

Russia And NATO To Cooperate On Missile Defense

Security cooperation between NATO and Russia may soon reach unprecedented levels if the prospect of an integrated European missile defense network becomes reality.
Russia agreed Saturday to cooperate with NATO on building a U.S.-planned antimissile network in Europe as part of what was described as a new era in security relations between the former Cold War enemies.

The accord, announced at a NATO summit in Lisbon, symbolized a conclusion by the United States and its main European allies that Russia is not a threat to be protected from but a potential ally in girding the continent against possible ballistic missile attacks from Iran or elsewhere.

"We see Russia as a partner, not an adversary," President Obama said, hailing the NATO-Russian accord.

President Dmitry Medvedev warned, however, that Russia's cooperation must be "a full-fledged strategic partnership between Russia and NATO" and not just a nod in Moscow's direction to spare Russian feelings while Europe tends to its own defenses in tandem with the United States.

"Otherwise, it's a no-go," he said at a news conference here. "Everybody's clear that the missile defense system will be useful only when it is universal. I'll be blunt with you: We need to sort it out."

The NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said NATO countries and Russia will immediately revive cooperation on theater missile defenses for troop protection and launch a joint, six-month analysis of how Russia could be part of the broader, Europe-wide coverage being planned for deployment in the years ahead.

"This is of real political importance," Rasmussen said.
By: Shelldrake

Al-Qaeda Group Reveals Cargo Plane Bomb Plot Details

More on the recent bomb plot by Yemen-based militants to down US-bound cargo planes.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is promising more small-scale attacks like its attempts to bomb two U.S.-bound cargo planes, which it likens to bleeding its enemy to death by a thousand cuts, in a special edition of the Yemeni-based group's English on-line magazine, Inspire.

The editors boast that what they call Operation Hemorrhage was cheap, and easy, using common items that together with shipping, cost only $4,200 to carry out.

Alerted to the late October bomb plot by Saudi intelligence, security officials chased the packages across five countries, trying frantically over the next two days to prevent an explosion that could have come at any moment. The pursuit showed that even when the world's counterterrorism systems work, preventing an attack is often a terrifyingly close ordeal.

The group says it's part of a new strategy to replace spectacular attacks in favor of smaller attacks to hit the U.S. economy, according to the special edition of the online magazine, made available by both Ben Venzke's IntelCenter, and the Site Intelligence Group.

"To bring down America we do not need to strike big," the editors write. With the "security phobia that is sweeping America, it is more feasible to stage smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch" thereby circuventing U.S. security, they conclude.

In the magazine, an author identified as the group's head of foreign operations says the package attacks were intended to cause economic harm, not casualties. "We knew that cargo planes are staffed by only a pilot and a co-pilot," the author writes, "so our objective was not to cause maximum casualties but to cause maximum losses to the American economy," by striking at the multi-billion dollar U.S. freight industry.
By: Shelldrake

A Different Kind of Grog


h/t to Admiral at ACG

By: Brant

20 November 2010

Housing Changes Afoot at Ft Sill, OK

The Army is building a 432-unit housing addition at Ft Sill, OK.

Work has started on a new 432-unit housing addition at Fort Sill that will be named in honor the original Buffalo Soldiers.

Post officials marked the official beginning of the development on Thursday. Some homes in Fort Sill's Artillery Village housing area already have been demolished to make room for Buffalo Soldiers Acres, which will include 30 single-family homes and 402 duplexes.

Why is this relevant, you ask? I used to live in the house at the top left of the circle, from 77-80. That's my childhood you're tearing down!

View Larger Map

By: Brant

GrogNews Weekend Headlines

Man, the USAF just can't get the tanker deal right, can they? Now it looks like they sent details of the bids to the opposing competitors...

As Krazi Karzai meets with NATO to discuss exit strategy, NATO vows they won't abandon Afghanistan. This as the new bicycle-borne IED threat kills 4 and wounds 31 in Afghanistan. Hey Jason, what's the map symbol for a BMXBIED?

By: Brant

Navy Commissions Guided Missile Destroyer Gravely Today

DDG-107 will officially join the fleet today.

The Navy will commission its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, Gravely, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010, in Wilmington, N.C.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Alma Gravely will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her late husband. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when she gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

Designated DDG 107, the new destroyer honors the late Vice Adm. Samuel L. Gravely Jr. Gravely was born in Richmond, Va., June 4, 1922. After attending Virginia Union University, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve in September 1942. In 1943 he participated in a Navy program (V-12) designed to select and train highly qualified men for commissioning as officers. On Dec. 14, 1944, Gravely successfully completed midshipman training, becoming the first African American commissioned as an officer from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps. He was released from active duty in April 1946, but remained in the Naval Reserve.

Gravely was recalled to active duty in 1949. As part of the Navy’s response to President Truman’s executive order to desegregate the armed services, his initial assignment was as a Navy recruiter, recruiting African Americans in the Washington, D.C. area. Gravely went on to a Navy career that lasted 38 years and included many distinguished accomplishments.

Gravely’s performance and leadership as an African American Naval officer demonstrated to America the value and strength of diversity. Gravely’s accomplishments served as watershed events for today’s Navy. He was the first African American to command a warship (USS Theodore E. Chandler); to command a major warship (USS Jouett); to achieve flag rank and eventually vice admiral; and to command a numbered fleet (Third).

Gravely is the 57th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The ship will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management, to sea control and power projection. Gravely will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and contains a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with “A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower,” which postures the sea services to apply maritime power to protect U.S. vital interests.

Cmdr. Douglas Kunzman will become the first commanding officer of the ship and lead the crew of 276 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Gravely was built at Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

By: Brant

Weekend Humor: Whither NATO?

A bit more high-minded than our normal humor, this weekend's riff is from Small Wars Journal and is a series of re-phrasings of a famous quote about NATO...

The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated the organization's goal was "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down".

A series of rephrasings of this famous quote follows:

The purpose of NATO is to keep the West in, the Russians out, and the isolationists (especially in Europe) down. (John Hulsman, HCSS)

Today; NATO’s purpose is to keep the Americans in charge, the Europeans compliant, and the Brussels bureaucracy busy. (Stephen Walt, Harvard University)

The purpose of NATO is to attract the Russians Westward away from reactionary Slavophile tendencies; to keep the Americans in by helping them to manage the global challenges that they share with Europe; and to provide the security blanket that allows Germany and others to continue the integration that has made Europe an island of peace.” (Joseph Nye, Harvard University)

To keep America engaged, the French inside, and Europe together. (Michael Cox, LSE)

NATO’s purpose has become one locking in the security and durability of the West while bringing Russia in from the cold. (Charles Kupchan, Georgetown University)

NATO’s present function is to keep the European Union weak, European welfare states strong, and the U.S. defense budget large. (Barry Posen, MIT)

NATO’s purpose has become one of sustaining pretense. Thanks to NATO, the Americans pretend to have allies, Europe pretends to contribute to global security, and the Russians pretend to have an external enemy. (Andrew Bacevich, Boston University)

Today, NATO’s purpose is to keep the Americans engaged, Europe in the lead, and Russia as a constructive partner. (Sean Kay, Ohio State University)

Keep the U.S. in, Mullah Omar out, Germany engaged, and Russia on a leash. (Daniel Korski, ECFR)

By: Chuckles

19 November 2010

GrogNews Daily Headlines, Bonus Edition

There's just a lot of news today...

As the US is now following the lead of the Canadians and sending M1-series tanks to Afghanistan it's amazing what we are still learning about the Afghans. Turns out most of them have no idea about 9-11 or why we're at war there. In fairness, there's probably a lot of Americans that are pretty ill-informed, too.

While the US and Israel are having a hard time hammering out a settlement pact the People's Republic of Jihadistan in Gaza launched a long-range Grad rocket at their neighbors. Religion of Peace, indeed.

How was the cybersabotage of Iran's nuke plant supposed to work? By overloading commands to the centrifuge.

With capsizing safely off the table as a danger for the military relocation to Guam, lawsuits have taken center stage, as a live-fire range is apparently too close to some endangered sand or something.

Lockheed is going to shut down a plant in Minnesota, and probably blame Congress for it.

The US is trying to cut off access to drug money for the Norks, and hopes that sanctioning some of their "commercial" entities will keep other nations from working with them as well.

By: Brant

Yay Airport Security! Can We Mock You Even More?

On the heels of the "Don't Touch My Junk" rap, and Krauthammer making "Don't Touch My Junk" the the new "Don't Tread On Me" comes the new "Touched by the TSA" contest to win.... an iPod Touch, natch.

Or you can just score the t-shirt to wear through the next TSA screening line.

By: Brant