30 September 2011

Navy Commissions New "Spruance" This Weekend

Defense.gov News Release: Navy to Commission New Guided Missile Destroyer Spruance

The Navy will commission the newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer, Spruance, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, during a 6:30 p.m. EDT ceremony at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla.

Designated DDG 111, the new destroyer honors legendary Adm. Raymond Spruance, whose calm and decisive leadership at the Battle of Midway contributed to a pivotal American victory during World War II.

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Ellen Spruance Holscher, granddaughter of the ship’s namesake will serve as the sponsor. 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!”

Born in Baltimore, July 3, 1886, Spruance graduated from the Naval Academy in 1906. His Navy career was extensive, including command of five destroyers and the battleship Mississippi. Spruance led Task Force 16, with two aircraft carriers, during the 1942 Battle of Midway, where his disposition of forces and management of aircraft was crucial to a victory that is regarded as the turning point in the Pacific war with Japan. He later directed campaigns that captured the Gilberts, Marshalls, Marianas, Iwo Jima and Okinawa and defeated the Japanese fleet in the 1944 Battle of Philippine Sea. After commanding the Pacific Fleet in 1945-46, Spruance served as president of the Naval War College until retiring in 1948. In 1952-55, he was ambassador to the Philippines. Spruance died at Pebble Beach, Calif., Dec. 13, 1969.

Spruance, the 61st Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Spruance will contain myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare and be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously.

The ship will be the second ship named for Spruance. The first USS Spruance (DD 963) was the lead ship of Spruance class destroyers serving from 1973 to 2005.

Cmdr. Tate Westbrook, a native of Murfreesboro, Tenn., will become the first commanding officer of the ship and will lead a crew of 285 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Spruance was built by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. 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

Guns 'n Gear: 21st Century Sniper Rifle

Check out the Lockheed-Martin One Shot prototype sniper rifle on Military Time's Gear Scout. This puts a high-tech aiming system on a .308 sniper rifle. The aiming system combines a traditional rifle scope with a laser range-finder and a LIDAR-based sensor to measure down-range wind conditions. The wind sensor technology is important for long-range shots at 600 yards and beyond where reading and compensating for the wind becomes critical. You can read more about MS2, similar products, and the underlying technology on the Accurate Shooter site.

And, if you just have to have something like this to put on your own personal precision rifle, check out the Burris Eliminator or one of its competitors. They don't have the wind sensor and aren't quite up to tactical standards of durability and reliability (as a prototype, One Shot might not be either), but they seem well-suited to waging the annual war on Bambi or her bigger, Western cousins.

By: Guardian

US-Born Yemeni Cleric Now Pushing up Daisies

Apparently, we've bagged another one.

In a significant and dramatic strike in the campaign against Al Qaeda, the Defense Ministry here said that American-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, a leading figure in the group’s outpost in Yemen, was killed on Friday morning. In Washington a senior official said Mr. Awlaki had been killed in an American attack by a drone aircraft firing a Hellfire missile.

Mr. Awlaki’s Internet lectures and sermons have been linked to more than a dozen terrorist investigations in the United States, Britain and Canada. Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Awlaki before the deadly shooting rampage on Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. Faisal Shahzad, who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square in May, 2010, cited Mr. Awlaki as an inspiration.

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming: Rebels from the Empire

A one-page game of a fake British colonial revolt, Rebels from the Empire is a part of the One Page Wars series

Someone give it a spin and drop some knowledge on us!

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

29 September 2011

COIN Thru Videogames

Defense journalist Michael Peck has an excellent tour through UrbanSim over at Foreign Policy magazine's site.

UrbanSim is a U.S. Army game that teaches COIN to battalion commanders. Where most Pentagon computer simulations look like spreadsheets and are just as fun to play, UrbanSim, which came out in 2009, resembles the kind of strategy game that many of us enjoy at home. That's probably because it was developed by the Institute for Creative Technologies, an innovative University of Southern California center funded by the Army and with deep ties to Hollywood and the video-game industry. But though it looks like a militarized version of SimCity, UrbanSim is actually a sophisticated simulation that incorporates factors such as economic conditions and social networking ties, and analyzes how these factors sway the population to back the government or the insurgents.

He also drives home a serious point about the way the US Army views game-based training.

The military's own simulation experts laugh at the notion that commanders will ever be able to click a mouse and have a computer tell them the perfect strategy for destroying the Taliban. Yet a computer game might at least give them a sense of how officers' decisions have consequences. Repairing the local sewer system is like casting a stone in a pond; the ripples shift the population's mood, which in turn changes support for the insurgents, which affects the number of attacks from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) -- and could eventually alter the course of the war.

Go read his play-thru's on the game, too. It's a nice tour of the game.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Danish Mortar Crew

Danish troops fire 120mm mortar whilst engaging the enemy outside their patrol base in Helmand, Afghanistan. Afghan National Army (ANA) gunners have marked the end of five months of training alongside British troops, with the first multinational partnered live firing exercise to take place in Helmand. Members of Colchester-based 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery (7 Para RHA), who form part of the ISAF Brigade Advisory Group in Helmand, have mentored Afghan gunners since arriving in the Gereshk area last year. As they reached the culmination of five months’ training this week, the Afghans’ new skills were put into practice with a ‘live firing confirmatory exercise’, of the type commonly carried out by trainee gunners in the UK. The 7 Para RHA mentors, who have been living, working and training alongside their Afghan colleagues, were able to watch as their hard work paid off and the Afghan gunners fired High Explosive ammunition for the first time. The exercise was made possible by co-operation between Afghan, UK, Danish and American forces. Manning their Russian made D30 guns, the Afghans fired alongside British gunners equipped with the 105mm Light gun and the Danish 120mm mortars. Thirty rounds of each nature were fired onto a single target area, while observers from America, Afghanistan and the UK looked on out of sight, miles away. The first multinational live firing exercise of its kind in Helmand, it saw troops from Afghanistan, Britain and Denmark fire their respective weapons individually before coming together at the end to fire in unison - a sight and sound which was astounding to witness. For the Afghan gunners of the 4th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 215th Corps ANA, who have been stationed on an austere hill overlooking the town of Gereshk in southern Helmand, this was a chance to prove that their British training has brought them up to the challenge of serving as professional specialists in the Afghan National Army.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

28 September 2011

Europe Continually Awaiting US to Ride to Their Rescue

The Economist ran this column a whole back, but it's still worth discussing that Europe has been more than happy to let the US lead with their military and their wallet, and that in the long-term, that's unsustainable.

...if the European taxpayers do not want to pay to preserve their own security, why should Americans shoulder the burden? Only five of the 28 NATO allies meet NATO’s recommendation that countries should spend at least 2% of GDP on defence: America, Britain, France, Greece and Albania. Today America’s key security interests are in the Middle East and in Asia. Europe will be the obvious place for America to cut expensive overseas commitments.

Europe has more soldiers than America, but can deploy far fewer of them on overseas operations. This is partly the result of history: in the cold war European armies were built to hold the line in Europe, while awaiting reinforcement by American forces which, by definition, had to be designed for expeditionary warfare. Another is that “Europe” is not a sovereign state, but a collection of small- and medium-sized countries. Its considerable defence spending is hoplessly fragmented among a multitude of armies, air forces and navies.

Specialisation, pooling and sharing equipment is the obvious way forward. Defence experts across Europe have known this for a long time and, here and there, countries have embarked on some important experiments. A recent paper by the Centre for European Reform, and think-tank in London, makes some sensible recommendations (PDF). But what is rational in terms of defence accounting too often falls foul of political and operational reality. Many smaller countries have little interest in international commitments. And the bigger states that still retain some kind of global vision, like Britain and France, do not want to be dependent on smaller states for their military capability.

By: Brant

GameTalk - Hitting "Random" on the Event Table

This week's GameTalk topic comes from FoGN (Friend o' GrogNews) and WGer denizen Jack Nastyface:

Random events tables - Some games include random events tables, some don't. What do people think of RE events in a game, and why? Is there a game "scale" (tactical, operational, strategic) where RE make or don't make sense? Does the randomness of random events take away from the careful planning and execution in a game, or does adding unplanned events add to the realism?

What do you guys think? Take it away!

By: Brant

The View From the Ground in Afghanistan

As Jon Compton notes elsewhere, "winning" is the wrong term when applied to every-shifting conditions. But "winning" is what the US population wants, and at least one Afghanistan veteran says it's not out of reach.

I am an Army Special Forces officer by trade, and spent the past year leading a small team of Dari- and Pashto-speaking Americans whose mission was to embed with Afghan Army units. We went weeks wearing Afghan uniforms and sleeping at tiny outposts, eating local food and staying up late speaking with Afghan soldiers in their own languages. While I can’t pretend to know the intricacies of Afghan-Pakistani politics (nor can most “experts” on the evening news), I can describe the truth on the ground.

The southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand were ground zero for the 2010 Afghan surge and the area where we devoted the full weight of our resources and resolve. The headlines hide deeper trends in places where the Taliban until recently enjoyed uncontested rule. Riding around with Afghan soldiers from dozens of different units, we heard one message everywhere: “Last year we couldn’t even move out of the front gate without being shot or blown up. Now we control as far as you can see.”

And the civilian population is starting to stir in these newly reclaimed districts. In little-known places like Arghandab, Panjwai and Nad Ali, Afghans are moving back into their long-abandoned homes. Weekly tribal shuras — like town hall meetings — are beginning to flourish in areas where not even a handful of elders would attend a year ago, for fear of being assassinated. The Taliban are not standing idly by. Pushed out of many of their strongholds, they have shifted tactics, focusing on high-profile attacks on softer (usually civilian) targets. But we fail to see the subtleties at home.

In May, after one such attack in Kandahar, I joined some Afghan officers watching the local news coverage, expecting looped footage of explosions and chaos. We were all surprised to see four small children, their faces blurred, in an impromptu news conference. They recounted how the Taliban had given them candy and persuaded them to don suicide bomber vests by promising that they wouldn’t die and that their impoverished families would be provided for.

Regardless of their political views, all Afghans regard children as off limits. That night, watching the children tell how they were recruited, the Afghan captain at my side, a tough Pashtun named Mahmoud, shrugged and said in Dari, “They’re getting desperate.”

h/t Blackcloud 6

By: Brant

Russian Army Ending Kalashnikov Era

The Russians are ending a 70-year history of purchasing Kalashnikov rifles.

The Russian army says it is halting orders of the famous Kalashnikov assault rifle until a newer model is developed by its manufacturer.

Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov told Russian media that the army already had too many of the weapons in its stores.

A new model is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

News of the army's decision is reportedly being kept from the rifle's designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov, now 91.

"We do not want to take it upon ourselves to tell him," an unnamed member of his family told Russia's Izvestia newspaper.

"It might kill him."

h/t Mike M

By: Brant

27 September 2011

Last Week in Photos at the DoD

Last week in photos at the DoD

U.S. soldiers fire at an enemy hiding position during Operation Tofan 2 in Suri Khel, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2011. Soldiers worked to clear insurgents from the town and prevent their return. The soldiers are assigned to 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joseph Watson

By: Brant

Sound Off! Full-auto, or One-Shot One-Kill?

Are you someone who would rather...

... cut loose a full magazine and send lead flying everywhere?

... pick your targets and put every bullet in a bulls-eye?

Fire your shots below in the comments!

By: Brant

Pakistan is Playing Both Sides of the Fence... And It's Inarguable

They're refusing to launch any action aimed at the Haqqani network.

Pakistan will not launch an offensive against Haqqani extremists despite Washington ramping up the pressure after a series of attacks on US targets in Afghanistan, an official said on Monday.
The US and Pakistan are key allies in the war against Islamist militants in Afghanistan, but their relationship is often troubled and hit new depths after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a covert US raid in Pakistan in May.
Pakistan's army chief of staff gathered together his top generals in an extraordinary meeting at the weekend after a series of stinging rebukes from the Americans blaming the Haqqanis and Pakistani intelligence for recent attacks.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is now expected to call a rare cross-party conference, although he has dismissed the American allegations as little more than finding a scapegoat for US "disarray" in the 10-year war in Afghanistan.
"I don't think the indicators are as such," a senior Pakistani security official told AFP when asked if the army was going to launch an operation in North Waziristan, near the Afghan border, where the Haqqani leadership is based.
Instead, he said, the military needs to "consolidate gains" made against local militants who pose a security threat elsewhere in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt that Washington has branded an Al-Qaeda headquarters.
Pakistan has around 140,000 troops based in its troubled northwest and says more than 3,000 soldiers have been killed since 2001 -- more than the 2,735 Western soldiers to have died fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But their duplicity has being going on a while. Back in 2007, they ambushed a US/Afghan delegation they'd just hosted for a meeting.

A group of American military officers and Afghan officials had just finished a five-hour meeting with their Pakistani hosts in a village schoolhouse settling a border dispute when they were ambushed — by the Pakistanis.
An American major was killed and three American officers were wounded, along with their Afghan interpreter, in what fresh accounts from the Afghan and American officers who were there reveal was a complex, calculated assault by a nominal ally. The Pakistanis opened fire on the Americans, who returned fire before escaping in a blood-soaked Black Hawk helicopter.
The attack, in Teri Mangal on May 14, 2007, was kept quiet by Washington, which for much of a decade has seemed to play down or ignore signals that Pakistan would pursue its own interests, or even sometimes behave as an enemy.

They had tailed bin Laden's couriers to Abbotabad and decided it wasn't worth detailed investigation.

They shut down Afghan peace talks because they weren't at the table and claimed that they "protect" the Taliban.

Is it any wonder that you've got a US Senator calling for military action against Pakistan?

A Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday that the U.S. should consider military action against Pakistan if it continues to support terrorist attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.
"The sovereign nation of Pakistan is engaging in hostile acts against the United States and our ally Afghanistan that must cease, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told "Fox News Sunday."
He said if experts decided that the U.S. needs to "elevate its response," he was confident there would be strong bipartisan support in Congress for such action.
Graham did not call for military action but said "all options" should be considered. He said assistance to Pakistan should be reconfigured and that the U.S. should no longer designate an amount of aid for Pakistan but have a more "transactional relationship" with the country.
"They're killing American soldiers," he said. "If they continue to embrace terrorism as a part of their national strategy, we're going to have to put all options on the table, including defending our troops."

By: Brant

Women in Combat for Australia

The Australian military is opening frontline combat roles to women

Australia opened frontline combat roles to women for the first time in its history under a new policy allowing all military positions to be filled on merit rather than gender.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith on Tuesday said the changes, approved by the cabinet on Monday night, would give women access to the seven percent of military roles currently restricted to men.
Only three of Australia's military partners allow women on the frontlines -- New Zealand, Canada and Israel, Smith said.
The new policy will be phased in over five years to ensure that female combatants had the necessary training and preparation, he added, describing it as a major cultural and operational shift.
"From this day forward... no combat roles, no frontline role will be excluded from an Australian on the basis of his or her sex, it will be open to anyone to apply on the basis of merit," Smith told reporters.
"This is a significant and major cultural change."
But opponents of the move condemned it as a "political gimmick and a distraction".
Women currently account for about 10,000 of the 81,000 full- and part-time positions in Australia's armed forces, with the newly open roles mainly as frontline infantry and artillery soldiers, naval clearance divers and airfield guards.
Widely supported by military chiefs, Smith said the changes would not prescribe female ratios for frontline positions and it was "entirely a matter for the men and women of the defence force to put their names forward for a particular role".

Here's the kicker that'll make it work:

New guidelines will be developed outlining the physical and mental requirements for elite jobs and both men and women would have to satisfy them.

By: Brant

The "Army of Jason Bournes" Claims Another Career

The USAF civilian who oversaw a questionably-legal 'spy ring' in the AfPak theater has resigned.

A man accused of running an illegal contractor spy ring in Afghanistan has resigned from the Air Force, still maintaining his innocence, and still facing possible criminal charges.
Two investigations continue in a case that has tested the definition of what contractors are allowed to do in war zones.
Air Force civilian employee Michael Furlong, together with his boss, Mark Johnson, resigned in July after the Air Force inspector general told the men they'd face official censure for how they ran an information gathering network in Afghanistan.
"After 17 months of DOD investigations and an FBI investigation, it was determined that no criminal laws were broken," Furlong wrote in his August 12 resignation letter, obtained by the Associated Press.
But inquiries continue by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Pentagon's Defense Criminal Investigative Service, a senior defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters still under legal review.
The CIA alleged in late 2009 that Furlong's private military contractors were running an illegal covert spying network in Afghanistan and Pakistan, managed by legendary ex-spymaster Duane R. Clarridge. The then-CIA station chief complained those contractors were helping target terrorists for capture and kill operations, and getting in the way of agency operations on the ground, according to multiple U.S. officials briefed on the investigation. All officials spoke anonymously to discuss intelligence matters.

Now, what's really funny are the comments on the article, by a bunch of people who have -zero- idea how intel/security work. They think the gov't shut it down b/c it was doing too good of a job competing w/ the CIA. Oy.

You can follow the older coverage here:
GrogNews: Pentagon Investigating AfPak News "Intel" Unit
GrogNews: Covert? Or Rogue? StratCom/OSINT website masking hit squad?
GrogNews: Investigating the Rogue Hit Squad
GrogNews: Investigating A Parallel "Intel Agency" and How It Was Buried In Clever Contracting

By: Brant

26 September 2011

Monday Video: South Korea's Killer Barbies

Starting your week off with a classical music BANG, and some ass-kicking lady commando-types

By: Brant

UK In Action: Dolphin Ahead

A dolphin takes the opportunity to ride the bow wave of HMS Albans' Rigid Inflatable Boat during a Boarding Team exercise in the Middle East. Type 23 frigate HMS St Albans is deployed for 6 months to the Middle East on Operation Kipion where she will carry out anti terrorist and anti piracy actions.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

25 September 2011

NSA Joins Smartphone Era?

Well, OK... Not exactly. But some people inside the NSA are trying to overcome security hurdles to get more productive.

Troy Lange knows that just mentioning cellphones is enough to give security officers heartburn at the National Security Agency.
Lange, as the NSA's mobility mission manager, is developing a smartphone that he wants to bring inside the super-secret U.S. spy agency to access classified information and apps while on the move. He wants it to work as easily as any of the smartphones those that are so ubiquitous in the outside world.
That is no small vision for an agency where entire buildings are designated as Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities, known as SCIFs in spy speak, with many restrictions to ensure the handling and discussion of secret information stays secure.
Visitors to the Fort Meade, Maryland, NSA complex are not allowed to bring outside cellphones into the building.
Lange argues that using smartphones inside areas that deal with secret material will increase efficiency.
"I want to get this into everybody's hands" -- every employee in the Defense Department, intelligence community and across government, he said, while acknowledging that kind of talk makes "the security people's heads pop off."

By: Brant

Perception is Reality

What's important in Afghanistan? Perception. It's kind of important back home, too.

Like insurgents in other wars, the Taliban seeks to strike at public perceptions, to sow doubts about the ability of the Afghan government to provide security or broker a peace deal, said Vanda Felbab-Brown of the Brookings Institution.
She said that "the assassination tactic is precisely the most rational policy for the Taliban right now and they would be crazy to be mounting attacks with massive forces because they would likely be slaughtered."
Battlefield victories were not the ultimate aim and instead the insurgents were pursuing assassinations to "maintain pressure and fear," she said.
"It's not just the assassination of very visible people but assassinations of district officials or people who cooperate with the US government or the (Hamid) Karzai government," she said. "And it has a profound effect on how people feel about their security."
The killing of Rabbani, who was leading Kabul's peace efforts, put the Pentagon in a difficult position, as it was clearly a setback but Panetta and other top officials warned against overstating its effect.
Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who advised the US commander in Afghanistan in 2009, said Friday the Obama administration needed to hold a frank public debate about war aims instead of engaging in "constant spin."
US troops have made headway in the Taliban's former bastions in the south and taken out key insurgents, according to Cordesman. But the Afghan government remained anemic and it was not at all clear its security forces could hold on to cleared areas as NATO-led forces gradually withdraw through 2014.
"We may be winning tactically, but insurgents may be winning a battle of political attrition that will ultimately be strategically decisive," Cordesman wrote in Friday's Washington Post.

By: Brant

Pak Army Convening Complaint Council?

Following their public verbal smack down by the US, top Pakistani army commanders are meeting among themselves. The problem is...? The ISI doesn't work for the Army. So we'll see what they can actually do about the problem.

Pakistan's army chief will convene a special meeting of senior commanders Sunday following U.S. allegations that the military's spy agency helped militants attack American targets in Afghanistan, the army said.
Senior Pakistani officials have lashed out against the allegations of support for the Haqqani militant network, accusing the U.S. of trying to make Pakistan a scapegoat for its troubled war in Afghanistan. The public spat has plunged the troubled U.S.-Pakistan alliance to new lows.
Pakistan's leaders have shown no indication that they plan to act on renewed American demands to attack the Haqqani network in their main base in Pakistan, even at the risk of further conflict with Washington, which has given the country billions of dollars in military and economic aid.
The top U.S. military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency Thursday of supporting Haqqani insurgents in planning and executing a 22-hour assault on the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan on Sept. 13 and a truck bomb that wounded 77 American soldiers days earlier.
Kayani, widely considered the most powerful man in Pakistan, has dismissed the allegations, saying the charges were baseless and part of a public "blame game" detrimental to peace in Afghanistan.

By: Brant

DoD Handing Over More Facilities in Europe

Continuing the dismantling of America's Cold War infrastructure, the DoD is turning over more facilities in Germany.

The US Department of Defense announced today that it will return several facilities to the German government. These are: the Oberweis Annex warehouse; three communication sites at Pruem Air Station, Hahn Communication Station and ARFT radio relay station; Hochspeyer ammunition storage facility; and Bitburg Storage Annex No.2 (French Kaserne).

These closures are part of U.S. European Command’s continued effort to remove non-enduring sites, bases and installations from its real-property inventory.

There are no personnel changes associated with these facilities and their return will have no impact on U.S. Air Forces in Europe operations in Europe. The United States plans to return the facilities to the host nation now through 2015.

Cost savings per site are as follows:

Oberweis Annex warehouse: approximately $1.24 million
Pruem Air Station communication sites, Hahn Communication Station and ARFT radio relay station: approximately $560,000
Hochspeyer ammunition storage facility: approximately $52,000
Bitburg Storage Annex No.2 (French Kaserne): approximately $1.5 million
As with all stationing actions, the United States has coordinated with host-nation officials prior to this public announcement.

By: Brant

24 September 2011

Canada's Subs Beached

Canadian submariners are temporarily out of a job with the drydocking of the RCN's fleet of used submarines.

All four subs are now sidelined because of over-budget and delayed refits, damage from running aground, or in the case of HMCS Chicoutimi, a fire that gutted the sub's interior.

The benching of all of the navy's subs marks the first time since the mid-1960s that Canada's Maritime forces are without a working submarine.

MP Peter Stoffer said the deal to buy four used British subs has been a disaster and leaves a hole in Canada's security.

"When somebody kicked the tires on these subs, they missed a lot," said Stoffer. "If the bad guy knows we don't have any submarines in our waters, then polluting, drug smuggling, illegal immigrants, overfishing, all these things can happen if we don't have a so-called silent deterrent out there."

Since the first Victoria class sub arrived in 2000, the program has been plagued with problems. Dents in the hull, cracked valves and a deadly fire have haunted the fleet and now once again questions about the crippled subs have surfaced in parliament.

On Friday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay defended the submarines in the House of Commons.

"No one would deny there have been challenges with respect to these submarines, which were purchased by the previous government. In fact, Mr. Speaker, submarines bring an important credibility and important capablity to the Royal Canadian Navy," said MacKay.

The government bought the British submarines on the navy's recommendation. The navy is defending the billion dollar plus submarine program saying the boats are vital to the defence of Canada even though none at the moment are capable of firing torpedoes, submerging or even venturing out to sea.
By: Shelldrake

23 September 2011

DoD Recruiting & Retention Numbers Thru August, FY'11

The DoD has announced the updated recruiting and retention numbers for FY 2011 thru August.

The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through August.

Active Component

Recruiting -- Year to Date. All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through August.
  • Army -- 60,199 accessions, with a goal of 59,150; 102 percent
  • Navy -- 31,308 accessions, with a goal of 31,308; 100 percent
  • Marine Corps -- 26,135 accessions, with a goal of 26,097; 100 percent
  • Air Force -- 26,533 accessions, with a goal of 26,533; 100 percent
Retention The services are on track to meet their fiscal year-to-date 2011 retention goals. Reserve Component Recruiting -- Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal year-to-date 2011, through August.
  • Army National Guard -- 45,972 accessions, with a goal of 48,108; 96 percent
  • Army Reserve -- 28,058 accessions, with a goal of 25,617; 110 percent
  • Navy Reserve -- 7,719 accessions, with a goal of 7,719; 100 percent
  • Marine Corps Reserve -- 9,131 accessions, with a goal of 8,864; 103 percent
  • Air National Guard -- 6,430 accessions, with a goal of 6,191; 104 percent
  • Air Force Reserve -- 8,456 accessions, with a goal of 8,444; 100 percent
Attrition -- All reserve components are on target to achieve their fiscal year attrition goals.
By: Brant

Sudan (Re)Invading Their New Southern Neighbor

US satellites are picking up Sudanese troops moving into contested areas.

A U.S. monitoring group said Friday that new satellite imagery appears to show what it called a "massive" military march toward a rebel stronghold in a contested region near South Sudan.
The Satellite Sentinel Project said the images show heavily camouflaged military equipment and several thousand troops moving south toward the rebel stronghold of Kurmuk in Blue Nile state. The group said the force appears to be equipped with tanks, artillery and infantry fighting vehicles.
"Since May, the government of Sudan has used indiscriminate and disproportionate force, including campaigns to bombard civilians, in the three border areas of Abyei, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile State," said Enough Project Executive Director John C. Bradshaw. "This irrefutable, visual evidence of massive military operations in Blue Nile State provides a human security warning to civilians in Kurmuk and the surrounding area."
South Sudan, a region of black tribesmen, officially broke away from the mostly Arab north Sudan in July. But residents in the three border areas who are aligned tribally and politically with the south have seen military attacks from Sudan, according to human rights groups.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

New Counterterrorism Network Founded

The purpose of the Global Counterterrorism Forum is to identify urgent global needs in counterterrorism, devise solutions, and mobilize the resources needed to implement those solutions.
The new group will become "a counterterrorism network that is as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the inaugural meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum.

"Let us pledge to learn as much as we can from one another."

Canada is a founding member of the group, whose 30 members include Britain, China, the European Union, Japan, Australia, developing countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as leading Muslim nations including Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The U.S. and Turkey will co-chair the group.
By: Shelldrake

ISI Shenanigans... Again

So the ISI helps AfPak Terrorists plan an attack on US folks in Afghanistan. It ain't the first time the ISI has misbehaved. But when the US points it out, the Paks get all indignant and publicly pissy. Hey ISI, we got a whole bag of 'waaah' over here for you!

Pakistan's foreign minister lashed out at the U.S. for accusing the country's most powerful intelligence agency of supporting extremist attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar condemned the allegations and warned the U.S. that it risks losing Pakistan as an ally. She said the U.S. cannot afford to alienate the Pakistani government or its people, and if it does so, it will be at Washington's cost.
Khar spoke to Geo TV from New York City on Thursday following Congressional testimony about Pakistan from the top U.S. military officer.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency of "exporting violence" to Afghanistan.
U.S. military officials told NBC News that the Pakistani government, through its intelligence service, is "actively involved" in directing the militant Haqqani network to launch terrorist attacks against U.S. and Afghan government targets in Kabul.
The officials told NBC News the ISI, Pakistan's powerful spy agency, directed the attacks by Haqqani militants on the U.S. Embassy on Sept. 13 and on the Inter-Continental Hotel on June 28. It's suspected ISI also had a role in the massive truck bombing targeting an American base in eastern Afghanistan on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the officials said.

By: Brant

22 September 2011

UK In Action: TESEX at BATUS

A Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank is pictured on exercise with the Army in Canada. Units from 12 Mechanized Brigade have been training at the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) on the prairies of Canada for the past three months in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan in early 2012. The exercise includes a live fire stage featuring multi-purpose machine guns, heavy artillery AS90 guns, Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior armoured vehicles, before switching to a Tactical Engagement Simulator Exercise (TESEX), which involves no live ammunition and aims to further develop the skills learnt during the live fire stage in a safe environment. The soldiers use the state-of-the-art computer-backed system where their weapons and vehicles are fitted with the laser-quest-style system to record every detail of an attack, showing simulated injuries from gunfire, shrapnel or mortar attack during a mission.

A Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle thunders across the prairies of Canada during a training exercise. Units from 12 Mechanized Brigade have been training at the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) on the prairies of Canada for the past three months in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan in early 2012. The exercise includes a live fire stage featuring multi-purpose machine guns, heavy artillery AS90 guns, Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior armoured vehicles, before switching to a Tactical Engagement Simulator Exercise (TESEX), which involves no live ammunition and aims to further develop the skills learnt during the live fire stage in a safe environment. The soldiers use the state-of-the-art computer-backed system where their weapons and vehicles are fitted with the laser-quest-style system to record every detail of an attack, showing simulated injuries from gunfire, shrapnel or mortar attack during a mission.

A soldier with the 12th Mechanized Brigade is pictured during an exercise at the British Army Training Suffield facility (BATUS) in Canada. Units from 12 Mechanized Brigade have been training at BATUS on the prairies of Canada for the past three months in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan in early 2012. The exercise includes a live fire stage featuring multi-purpose machine guns, heavy artillery AS90 guns, Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior armoured vehicles, before switching to a Tactical Engagement Simulator Exercise (TESEX), which involves no live ammunition and aims to further develop the skills learnt during the live fire stage in a safe environment. The soldiers use the state-of-the-art computer-backed system where their weapons and vehicles are fitted with the laser-quest-style system to record every detail of an attack, showing simulated injuries from gunfire, shrapnel or mortar attack during a mission.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

RIP GEN Donn A. Starry

Former Blackhorse trooper and author of the AirLand Battle concept, GEN Donn A. Starry has passed away at age 86.

Donn A. Starry, a retired four-star general and the chief architect of the cold war military strategy for repelling a tank-heavy Soviet invasion of Western Europe, died on Aug. 26 at his home in Canton, Ohio. He was 86.

His son Paul confirmed the death.

Known as the AirLand Battle Doctrine and emphasizing counterattacks behind enemy lines, the strategy never needed to be put into practice in Europe. But it played a decisive role in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf war after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. While deep air attacks paralyzed Iraqi forces, American ground units made a wide, flanking sweep, surrounding the enemy and ending the war in just over four days.

“This was an execution of AirLand Battle that demonstrated a combination of deep attacks and agile synchronization that overwhelmed the enemy,” Conrad Crane, director of the United States Army Military History Institute at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., said in a telephone interview.

General Starry was commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., from 1977 to 1981. During that time he reshaped what had been known as the Active Defense Doctrine. That strategy was based on the idea that a small but agile high-tech force could repel the first wave of a massive conventional attack by Soviet forces, allowing time for reinforcements to arrive. At the time, Soviet ground forces significantly outnumbered NATO forces.

By: Brant

Some Thoughts on Recon

This was originally posted as s response in a discussion over at Blackcloud's Military Analysis Blog at the ConsimWorld Forum. The top line is me quoting a question, and then presenting my thoughts in response.

Does wargaming really reflect how recon is supposed to work?

Nope. Not in the least. For several reasons.

1) They rarely have the right footprint on the map. Recon units, especially US ones (and the French, too) are designed to take up a lot of real estate, and this is rarely modeled on the map. The Fifth Corps series tried, by making the cav units TRP/CO size while most of the game units are BN/RGT.
A point of comparison: at NTC, a typical BDE w/ 2 maneuver BNs could attack thru the central corridor on line w/ each other (approx 14-18km of frontage depending on where in central corridor you are). An ACR w/ 2 SQNs will be crammed in to cover from the live-fire area in the northern corridor to the south end of the Whale Gap.

2) Because the spatial ratios are frequently off, cav units end up being significantly up-gunned compared to their maneuver brethren. This was especially apparent in the SPI ModQuads, where the div cav in Wurzburg was more high-powered maneuver battalion that often gets used as a 'fire brigade' to plug holes in the US player's lines, instead of spread out in front of the division where he belongs. And why not? There's no real cav mission for him, so why not take advantage of his higher combat value?
Note - the higher combat value is accurate if you have a cav unit occupy the same space as a maneuver unit. An ACR squadron is organized with 3 TRPs of 9/13 (tk/brad) + a TK CO of 14/0, so their start strength is 42 tanks (9x3 + 14 + SQN CO) and 40 M3 CFVs (3x13 + SQN S3) plus another 6 M109-series howitzers in the gun battery. Oh, and each CAV TRP has its own mortar section, too. That's a lot of firepower at a BN level.

3) Over 50% of the cav's mission is non-existent in a wargame. Someone already said this a bit, but when I can see where the other guy's counters are - and aren't! - then sending a cav unit out to look over the hill for Injuns becomes less vital. I'm not looking for composition/disposition of enemy forces at that point, because I know what they are when the shrink wrap comes off.

4) A significant part of the cav's mission is knocked off by the very nature of wargaming. The W@W series{1} varies the way the two sides pull their chits and says it's based on the variances in doctrine between the two sides. Fair enough. But that's hardly a substitute for a doctrinal portrayal/employment of units on the map. There's absolutely no rule in place requiring the Forward Security Element of a regimental attack to consist of x, y, and z elements, and to move in a certain fashion with a certain mission according to Soviet doctrine. Once you get your ORBAT, the gloves come off, and there's no constraint on the player to fight according to doctrine, which would include a Sov-style Combat Recon Patrol (roughly equivalent to a US BN SCT PLT) that spreads across the BN frontage in teams of 1-2 vehicles to ID critical targets and get the FSE pointed at the key element of the NATO force. There's no requirement that the FSE be organized w/ it's appropriate reinforcements, nor that they follow their doctrinal mission of engage/fix the lead enemy element. There's no requirement for the regimental main body to fight a certain way, to employ chemical munitions or FASCAMs a certain way, or to allocate reinforcements into the battle a certain way.
Without those doctrinal requirements, the recon units' missions of identifying parts of the enemy formation, and comparing that to their anticipated doctrinal layout on the terrain to try to 'fill in the gaps' of the rest of the formation is pretty useless, even if you were playing a double-blind game where you didn't see everything on the map as soon as the game started.

{1} note, I'm not picking on W@W, which is one of my favorites. Assault had the same problems. So did Fire Team. So did First Battles. So did (your favorite NATO-Warsaw Pact game here).

By: Brant

21 September 2011

The Problem with the Long Run

"In the long run we’re all dead." -John Maynard Keynes

The problem with the long run is that eventually it gets here.

Military planning spans the gamut from large potential near-peer conflicts, to small, asymmetrical engagements across the globe. Lately, the trend is toward thinking about China. Whether it is over the Taiwan Straits, the Spratly Island chain, Vietnam, or North Korea, China is the new pacifier for all the cold-war enthusiasts who pine for the simpler days of bipolarity in the international system.

I’ve argued elsewhere that the notion of fighting a war with China is absurd. What’s more, from a strictly military perspective, there are much more immediate and problematic issues that require greater focus, such as a Mexican failed state on our southern border. But in truth, I now believe that all of that thinking ignores the 600 pound gorilla standing in the room. What planning exists in the military to cope with a collapsed dollar?

One reason I say that the idea of a war with China is absurd is because that war has already been lost. It’s time, once again, for some economics. Let’s start with a number:


That number, at the time I’m writing this, is our national debt. Let’s have a look at what our national debt has been doing over time (according to the US Govt.):

That debt is currently increasing at a rate of 4 billion dollars PER DAY. Who is lending us all this money? Let’s have a look at who owns our national debt:

China owns seven and a half percent of our national debt, which works out to $1,103,549,424,862.89 (1.1 trillion dollars). Worse yet, oil exporters hold a large portion as well. And just who are these "oil exporters?" Why it’s Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Gabon, Libya, and Nigeria.

This very morning, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the Fed would likely try even harder to lower interest rates, and since short-term rates are pretty much already zero, they’re going to go back to the 1960’s playbook and move short-term securities into longer-term holdings in an attempt to bring long-term yields closer to short-term. What is the point of that? It’s to try and push you, the consumer, into doing one thing: spend your money. For some reason, the Fed and our government have adopted the notion that the only sign of a good economy is people spending money on consumable goods. (As an aside comment, this is what happens when you put cool-aid-drinking modelers in charge of something.)

So take a wild guess what the national savings of the United States is. It’s -619,175,676,960.00 (that’s NEGATIVE six hundred BILLION dollars). There aren’t very many countries out there with negative national savings rates and the bulk of those are third world countries and failed states.

Well here’s where things start to get problematic. As of August of this year, our inflation rate according to our kind and benevolent government was 3.77 percent. Compare that to the ten-year yield on a US Treasury bill which is currently just under two percent, and perhaps you see a problem? If not, let me spell it out for you. If you bought a ten-year T-bill today, when it matures it will be worth less, in real money terms, than when you bought it. In other words, what is going on here is that the Fed and our government are purposely devaluing our currency for the express purpose getting you to consume, using borrowed money, in order to artificially pump up the economy. Do you truly think that can last? Well it can’t. Here’s why.

Let me first talk a little about the inflation rate. What I listed above as the inflation rate is called the "core" inflation rate. That rate of inflation is calculated using a basket of goods and tracing the price of those goods over time. What’s in that basket of goods is much less important than what isn’t: food and energy. Ostensibly, these two items are left out because it is feared that including them would bias the numbers because of short-term price issues. But in reality, including them always makes the rate higher, often much higher, than the core rate, which is the inflation rate that our government chooses to tell us about. In reality, our current inflation rate, accounting for food and energy, is substantially closer to ten percent. This imbalance between inflation and interest rates is why we constantly hear about how the purchasing power of US consumers has actually decreased relative to necessities, even though it has increased relative to other consumables such as electronics, etc. It is also why our currency is being devalued.

So why aren’t we seeing much more severe inflationary effects? The reason is because of trade imbalance. Most of the goods we consume are made in China, which means the money we spend for them go to banks overseas, and are not part of the money circulating in our economy, but rather in someone else’s. This is possible due to the reserve status of the US currency. Foreign nations hold US dollars due to its reserve status, and I’ve already shown you above just how much money that actually is.

Currently there are movements in the international system to move away from the US dollar to some other reserve currency. Chief among the folks wanting to do this are Russia, most of the oil producing nations and, you guessed it, China. So what happens if the US currency is no longer the reserve currency of the world?

Very simple. Nations holding US reserves will seek to spend those reserves in the only place that they can: the United States. Imagine, for a moment, the inflationary effects of a sudden infusion of several trillion dollars into our economy, as foreign nations seek to purchase anything that they can in the US. To put it simply, our economy will collapse under the weight of cripplingly high inflation rates as other nations dump their holdings in US currency, which is to say nothing of the exacerbating effects of "quantitative easing," which the Fed also announced this morning it is considering another round of. When you add to that the reality that US manufacturing has all but disappeared, the ramifications are staggering.

China will have won the war without ever firing a shot. In truth, they already have. All they need do is pull the trigger. Which gets me back to the opening points in this discussion. What plans are being made in the US military to help this nation survive that trauma? I’m fairly certain that the answer is none. The US military industrial complex currently operates under a single over-riding assumption: that the gravy train of the defense budget will never end. I’ve got bad news. It’s about to.

As much as we love our expensive gadgets, they are simply untenable. If the US Military does not start planning on how to remain an effective force using a fraction of their current budget, then they do a disservice to our country.

It is my belief that at this stage it is simply too late to prevent what is going to happen to our economy. It will happen, and it will happen sooner rather than later (and the longer we put it off by artificially propping up the economy, the worse it will be). We need to start planning on how to survive the event, and come out the other end a stronger, more agile, and more fiscally responsible nation. The members of our military take an oath to defend our constitution. It is time for them to do some soul searching over what that really means when the financial status-quo changes drastically for the worse.

By: Jon Compton

GameTalk - Firing the Commander

There have been plenty of times in which incompetent commanders were sent packing from the battlefield - preferably before their guys get killed. GEN Marshall fired damn near every US general at some point during WWII. And yet, they were being fired for a reason, and their replacements were almost universally better.

How do you fire a general from division command in the middle of a game of Third Reich? How do you swap out commanders in an OCS game, or AVL/AVD? When President Lincoln had a revolving door on the Army of the Potamac, how do you swap out commanders, especially when there are a limited number of counters in the mix to reflect changes in the units?

What mechanics can you use to change leadership on the battlefield in a wargame?

By: Brant

Rebels No More

Now that they've been recognized as the government, it looks like Libya's rebels are rebels no more.

The African Union (AU) has recognised Libya's interim leaders the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the country's de facto government.

It came as US President Barack Obama said after meeting NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil that his ambassador was to re-open an embassy in Tripoli.

Meanwhile, Col Muammar Gaddafi warned opponents Nato support would not last.

And a revolutionary commander has suggested the deposed leader's forces are still recruiting mercenaries.

By: Brant

20 September 2011

USAction! Early Morning Move-Out

Click to Enlarge

U.S. Marince Corps Lance Cpl. Theodore McCormick prepares to load an amphibious assault vehicle to begin Clear, Hold, Build Exercise 2 on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., Sept. 16, 2011. McCormick is a machince gunner assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Kilo Company. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder

By: Brant

Sound Off! Spain vs Italy

Like our previous showdowns (Canada v Australia, Germany v France), we want you to tell us who you think has the better military heritage:

Spain! Conquered the New World, ruled the seas for 100 years, and have some bad-ass troops around the globe today...

Italy! Rome, the Bersaglieri, and indigenous attack helicopters...

Sound off in the comments below!

By: Brant

19 September 2011

Looking Back At Biafra, Part III

Another short snippet on Biafra, highlighting Rolf Steiner. (Yes, we skipped August in our re-runs of these articles...)

To reach Aba, federal forces had to cross the swift currents of the Imo River, which the Biafrans had established as the major defense line protecting Aba by the simple expedient of blowing up the main bridges. They had left just one bridge intact—at Awaza—and it was heavily mined. When federal marine commandos stepped onto the bridge, it, too, exploded and vanished. The blast, however, failed to stop federal soldiers from running across the catwalk on top of a natural-gas pipeline that spanned the river parallel to the bridge. As 50 virtually unarmed Biafran guards watched helplessly, a steady line of Nigerians made their way across the catwalk and pierced the Ibo heartland.

The backbone of Ojukwu's military resistance is a small group of white mercenaries commanded by Colonel Rolf Steiner, a 38-year-old former Foreign Legion sergeant who fought in Indo-China and Algeria. His ability to make the most of Biafra's minimal military resources has moved him steadily upward in rank and power since he signed on last December. When news of the federal onslaught reached Ojukwu, he hurried to Steiner's headquarters in an abandoned nunnery in Owerri.

Outside, monsoon rain was falling on a blue-and-white plaster Madonna whose forehead had been punctured by a bullet. Steiner was standing in the refectory, the strain of the war lining his face. "You must save Aba at any cost," pleaded Ojukwu. "You must hold the place—is that clear?" Steiner hesitated. "Mon colonel, I was only a sergeant in the Legion," he said. "I cannot command a division." Replied Ojukwu: "Oh, but you will. And you will hold."

By: Brant

Monday Video: Rockin' an IED

If you're gonna start your week off with a BANG! make it a big one...

By: Brant

UK In Action: Sling Load

A Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter brings in vital supplies to a Forward Operating Base during Operation Omid Haft in Helmand, Afghanistan. A quad bike stands by to deliver the stores once on the ground. Images of A Company, 1 Rifles Conducting a Helicopter Assault Force (HAF) Operation into the town of Alikosi in Helmand province where they were to take over a local compound in the Taliban strong hold and set up and Ooperational Check Point (CP ZARAWAR). From Here the guys will patrol out at the same time as building up defences for their position and improving living conditions they will integrate with locals provide security and force the Insurgeny out of the area.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

18 September 2011

Safety First!

We wouldn't want those reflective jackets to feel unsafe! Better get them a reflective belt!

Yes, this is an official US Army photo.  You may weep now.

By: Brant

Gadhafi's Hometown Scene of Much Fighting

The Libyan 'rebels' (are they still 'rebels' if they're the recognized government?) are fighting their way thru Gadhafi's hometown.

Revolutionary fighters struggled to expand the offensive into Moammar Gadhafi's hometown Saturday with street-by-street battles and commanders seeking to break open a new front against loyalist forces fiercely defending the most symbolic stronghold remaining from the shattered regime.
The fresh assaults into the seaside city of Sirte contrasted with a stalemate in the mountain enclave of Bani Walid where demoralized anti-Gadhafi forces tried to regroup after being beaten back by Gadhafi snipers and gunners holding strategic high ground.
Sirte, however, remains the big prize for both sides.
Anti-Gadhafi fighters backed by heavy machine guns and rockets tried to push through crowded residential areas in the city — on Libya's central Mediterranean coast — but were met with a rain of gunfire and mortars. A field hospital set up outside Sirte at a gas station filled with wounded revolutionary militiamen, including those on a convoy hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
In earlier battles, Gadhafi's gunmen fired from mosque minarets and high-rise buildings. In the streets, the two sides battered each other with high-caliber machine guns, rockets and rocket-propelled grenades.

By: Brant

16 September 2011

AFRICOM Lessons from Libya

AFRICOM is talking publicly about lessons learned from the Libya operations

Inside Africom, the general said, the greatest learning curve involved kinetic targeting.
“It was not something we had practiced; we didn’t have great capability honed and refined inside the organization, and Odyssey Dawn really caused us to work in that regard,” Ham said.
The command had to define what effects it needed, and what specific targets would contribute to achieving those effects – a precise endeavor, Ham said. If attacking a communications node, planners must ask themselves what does that particular node do? How does it connect to other nodes? What’s the right munition to use? What’s the likelihood of collateral damage? What’s the right time of day to hit it? What’s the right delivery platform? And finally, how to synchronize attacks.
“That level of detail and precision … was not something the command had practiced to the degree that we were required to do in Odyssey Dawn,” Ham said.
The expertise came very quickly, the general added.
“It’s unsurprising to you that most of the intelligence analysts, most of the targeteers across the United States military have done this in previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and other places,” Ham said. “They know how to do it but, collectively, Africa Command had not previously done this.”
Ways to sustain this expertise is something the command must look at in the future, the general said The same is true, he added, in the maritime environment.

By: Brant

Ooops! Off-Limits Ordnance Orgy

The Pakistani national arms company was shut down at a UK expo after ads for cluster bombs were found among their materials.

Defence & Security Equipment international (DSEi) permanently shut down the Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF) stand and Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organisation Pavilion after promotional material was found on both containing references to cluster bombs at the London expo.
A DSEi statement said that promotional material was found containing references, which on closer inspection were found to be in breach of UK Government Export Controls and the exhibitions own contractual requirements.
The statement posted on the DSEi website further read that the British Government fully supported the decision by DSEi to close the stand and the Pavilion.
The Pakistani arms companies were found distributing brochures bearing advertisement for banned cluster bombs at the expo.

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming: Second Lebanon War - 2006

Another project out of King's College in London, Second Lebanon War - 2006 is a student project that's a solitaire game with the player as the Israelis.

It's freely available (along with a host of others) over at Professor Sabin's site at King's College.

No discussion board at CSW, but feel free to talk about it here...

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

Indoctrination for Return to U.S.

All the recent talk of "reverse bootcamp" reminds me of this oldie-but-goodie. It's from the WW2 era, but I'm sure it can be updated for present circumstances. A couple of points that I would add from personal experience:

1) In the United States, one is required to pay for their meals at a restaurant. Unlike the DFAC, it is both illegal and socially unacceptable to simply eat and drink whatever you want, throw out your trash, grab a bottle of water for the road, and leave.

2) IEDs are not commonly encountered on American roads. It is neither safe nor appropriate to swerve and accelerate away from trash bags, animal carcasses, and other road-side debris, nor is it usually necessary to call 911 when you see such objects on the side of the road.

By: Guardian


APO 001. U.S. ARMY
AG 1010.99.99 (DECCA)

SUBJECT: Indoctrination for Return to U.S.

TO: All Units.

1. In compliance with current policies for rotation of armed forces overseas it is directed that in order to maintain the high standard of character of the American Soldier and to prevent any dishonor to reflect on the uniform all individuals eligible for return to the U.S. under current directives will undergo an indoctrination course of demilitarization prior to approval of his application for return.

2. The following points will be emphasized in the subject indoctrination course:-

a. In America there is a remarkable number of beautiful girls. These young ladies have not been liberated and many are gainfully employed as stenographers, sales girls, beauty operators or welders. Contrary to current practice they should not be approached with "How much?". A proper greeting is "Isn't it a lovely day?" or "Have you ever been to Chicago?". Don't say "How much?".

b. A guest in a private home is usually awakened in the morning by a light tapping on his door, and an invitation to join the host at breakfast. It is proper to say "I'll be there shortly". DO NOT say "Blow it out your ass".

c. A typical American breakfast consists of such strange foods as cantaloupes, fresh eggs, milk, ham, etc. These are highly palatable and though strange in appearance are extremely tasty. Butter, made from cream, is often served. If you wish some butter, you turn to the person nearest it and say quietly "Please pass the butter". DO NOT say "Throw me the damn grease".

d. Very natural urges are apt to occur when in a crowd. If it is found necessary to defecate, one does NOT grab a shovel in one hand and paper in the other and run for the garden. At least 90% of American homes have one room called the "Bathroom", i.e. a room that, in most cases, contains a bathtub, wash basin, medicine cabinet, and a toilet. It is the latter that you will use in this case. (Instructors should make sure that all personnel understand the operation of toilet, particularly the lever or button arrangement that serves to prepare the device for reuse).

e. In the event the helmet is retained by the individual, he will refrain from using it as a chair, wash bowl, foot bath or bathtub. All these devices are furnished in the average American Home. It is not considered good practice to squat Indian fashion in a corner in the event all chairs are occupied. The host usually will provide suitable seats.

f. Belching or passing wind in company is strictly frowned upon. If you should forget about it, however, and belch in the presence of others, a proper remark is "Excuse me". DO NOT say "It must be that lousy chow we've been getting".

g. American dinners, in most cases, consist of several items, each served in a separate dish. The common practice of mixing various items, such as corn-beef and pudding, or lima beans and peaches, to make it more palatable will be refrained from. In time the "Separate Dish" system will become enjoyable.

h. Americans have a strange taste for stimulants. The drinks in common usage on the Continent, such as underripe wine, alcohol and grapefruit juice, or gasoline bitters and water (commonly known by the French as "Cognac") are not usually acceptable in civilian circles. A suitable use for such drinks is for serving one's landlord in order to break an undesirable lease.

i. The returning soldier is apt to find often that his opinions differ from those of his civilian associates. One should call upon his reserve etiquette and correct his acquaintance with such remarks as "I believe you have made a mistake", or "I am afraid you are in error on that". DO NOT say "Brother, you're really screwed up". This is considered impolite.

j. Upon leaving a friend's home after a visit, one may find his hat misplaced. Frequently it has been placed in a closet. One should turn to one's host and say "I don't seem to have my hat. Could you help me find it?". DO NOT say "Don't anybody leave this room, some S.O.B. has stolen my hat".

k. In traveling in the U.S., particularly in a strange city, it is often necessary to spend the night. Hotels are provided for this purpose and almost anyone can give directions to the hearest hotel. Here, for a small sum, you can register and be shown to a room where he can sleep for the night. The present practice of entering the nearest house, throwing the occupants into the yard and taking over the premises will cease.

l. Whiskey, a common American drink, may be offered to the soldier on social occasions. It is considered a reflection on the uniform to snatch the bottle from the hostess and drain the bottle, cork and all. All individuals are cautioned to exercise extreme control in these circumstances.

m. In motion picture theaters seats are provided. Helmets are not required. In is NOT considered good form to whistle every time a female over 8 and under 80 crosses the screen. If vision is impaired by the person in the seat in front, there are plenty of other seats which can be occupied. DO NOT hit him across the back of the head and say "Move your head, jerk, I can't see a damn thing".

n. It is not proper to go around hitting everyone of draft age in civilian clothes. He might have been released from the service for medical reasons. Ask for his credentials, and if he can't show any THEN go ahead and slug him.

o. Upon retiring, one will often find a pair of pajamas laid out on the bed. (Pajamas, it should be explained, are two-piece garments which are donned after all clothing has been removed.) The soldier, confronted by these garments, should assume an air of familiarity and not act as though he were not used to them. A casual remark such as "My, what a delicate shade of blue" will usually suffice. Under NO circumstances say "How in hell do you expect me to sleep in a get-up like that?".

p. Natural functions will continue. It may frequently be necessary to urinate. DO NOT walk behind the nearest tree or automobile you find to accomplish this. Toilets (see 2d above) are provided in all public buildings for this purpose.

q. Beer is sometimes served in bottles. A cap remover is usually available, and it is not good form to open the bottle by the use of one's teeth.

r. Always tip your hat before striking a lady.

s. Air raids and enemy patrols are not encountered in America. Therefore it is not necessary to wear the helmet in church or at social gatherings, or to hold the weapon at ready, loaded and cocked, when talking to civilians in the street.

t. Every American home and all hotels are equipped with bathing facilities. When it is desired to take a bath, it is not considered good form to find the nearest pool or stream, strip down, and indulge in a bath. This is particularly true in heavily populated areas.

u. All individuals returning to the U.S. will make every effort to conform to the customs and habits of the regions visited, and to make themselves as inconspicuous as possible. Any actions which reflect upon the honor of the uniform will be promptly dealt with.

Navy Christening USNS Spearhead

A Joint High Speed Vessel, the Spearhead will be commissioned this weekend.
The Navy will christen the joint high speed vessel (JHSV) Spearhead Sept. 17, at 10 a.m. CDT in Mobile, Ala.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama will deliver the commissioning ceremony’s principal address. Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth Wahlman, will serve as the ship’s sponsor. His daughter Catherine, a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps at Virginia Tech University, will assist her father in the christening.

The 338 foot-long aluminum catamaran is being constructed by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. Spearhead and the nine other JHSVs under contract allow intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles, supplies and equipment. They are capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots and can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, providing U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility. Joint high speed vessels’ aviation flight decks can support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations. This platform can berth up to 146 personnel and provides airline-style seating for up to 312.

Military commanders will have the flexibility to use the JHSV in a variety of roles, including supporting overseas contingency operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts and special operations forces and maintaining emerging joint sea-basing concepts.

Upon delivery to the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC), Spearhead will be designated as a United States naval ship. It will have a core crew of 21 civilian mariners who will operate and navigate the ship. The first four JHSVs – including Spearhead – will be crewed by federally employed civil service mariners, and the remaining six will be crewed by civilian contract mariners working for private shipping companies under contract to MSC. Military mission personnel will embark as required by the mission sponsors.

By: Brant

15 September 2011

UK In Action: French Coordination

A French soldier (left) with the Armee de Terre, is pictured briefing British soldiers during the first ever joint military exercise between the two nations at CENZUB the French Urban Centre in Sisonne, France. Members of 1st Battalion The Coldstream Guards are the first British soldiers to engage in tactical level training with the French Army since the announcement of the UK-France Defence Cooperation Treaty on 2 November 2010. Some 130 soldiers from the battalion’s Number 1 Company and attached personnel from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, The London Regiment and 5 Medical Regiment travelled to the French Urban Centre (CENZUB), where French forces conduct their Operations in Built-up Areas training (OBUA). Exercise GAULISH, which took place between 21 March and 1 April was an opportunity to conduct joint Company-level training and represented the first steps towards the long-term aim of bilateral cooperation between the British and French armies at all levels.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

The Latest in the DoD Unified Command Plans

With the disestablishment of JFCOM, the DoD has released the latest change to the Unified Command Plan 2011.

The Department of Defense has issued a change to the Unified Command Plan (UCP), a strategic document that establishes the missions, responsibilities, and geographic areas of responsibility (AORs) for commanders of combatant commands. The Unified Command Plan 2011 Change 1, signed by President Obama on Sept. 12 captures administrative changes required to reflect the disestablishment of U.S. Joint Forces Command and several secretary of defense-directed efficiencies initiatives.

Every two years, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is required to review the missions, responsibilities, and geographical boundaries of each combatant command and recommend to the President, through the secretary of defense, any changes that may be necessary.

As in past years, this review process included the combatant commanders, service chiefs, and DoD leadership.

Significant changes made by UCP 2011 Change 1 include:

- Removing language that refers to U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), which was disestablished on Aug. 31, 2011.

- Removing language for geographic combatant command standing joint force headquarters, which are approved for disestablishment by the end of fiscal 2012.

- Adding responsibility for global standing joint force headquarters to U.S. Transportation Command. These assets will transfer as the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command from USJFCOM.

- Transferring the Joint Warfare Analysis Center missions to U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). Joint Warfare Analysis Center was previously a subordinate command to USJFCOM.

- Removing language and responsibilities for information operations, military deception, and operations security from USSTRATCOM. These missions will transfer to the Joint Staff.

The UCP 2011 continues to support U.S. defense security commitments around the world while improving military responsiveness to emerging crises.

Click to enlarge.  Also available as a PDF from http://www.defense.gov/ucc

As noted on the page with the map, there have been a few boundary shifts:

Significant changes made by UCP 2011 include:
  • Shifting AOR boundaries in the Arctic region to leverage long-standing relationships and improve unity of effort.
  • Giving U.S. Northern Command responsibility to advocate for Arctic capabilities.
  • Codifying the President's approval to disestablish U.S. Joint Forces Command.
  • Expanding U.S. Strategic Command’s responsibility for combating weapons of mass destruction and developing Global Missile Defense Concept of Operations.
  • Giving U.S. Transportation Command responsibility for synchronizing planning of global distribution operations.
The UCP 2011 continues to support U.S. defense security commitments around the world while improving military responsiveness to emerging crises.
By: Brant

Always Thinking of Others - the Latest CMOH Recipient

As the nation is set to celebrate a Marine receiving the COngressional Medal of Honor, he insisted that the hometowns of his fallen comrades celebrate their lives at the same time. Ever the selfless act.

Dakota Meyer saved 36 lives from an ambush in Afghanistan and the former Marine will collect the nation's highest military honor at the White House on Thursday. While he is receiving the Medal of Honor, Meyer's slain comrades will be memorialized in hometown ceremonies at his request.
His hero's moment was his darkest day. Meyer lost some of his best friends the morning of Sept. 8, 2009, in far-off Kunar Province.
"It's hard, it's ... you know ... getting recognized for the worst day of your life, so it's... it's a really tough thing," Meyer said, struggling for words.
Meyer charged through heavy insurgent gunfire on five death-defying trips in an armored Humvee to save 13 Marines and Army soldiers and another 23 Afghan troops pinned down by withering enemy fire. Meyer personally killed at least eight insurgents despite taking a shrapnel wound to one arm as he manned the gun turret of the Humvee and provided covering fire for the soldiers, according to the military.
President Barack Obama will bestow the medal at a White House ceremony. The two have also met privately, having a beer on a patio outside the Oval Office on Wednesday.

By: Brant

14 September 2011

Joint Nork-Russian Exercises Coming

The Russians are hoping to re-engage with the Norks, and help stabilize the situation. Or maybe the Russians just want to show their guys that it could be worse than wherever they are.

Russia has moved to upgrade its relations with North Korea, announcing plans to revive defence ties between the two countries and to write off Pyongyang’s multibillion dollar debt.

The Russia and North Korean military will hold their first joint drill next year, said a spokesman for the Russian Eastern Military District.

Lieutenant Colonel Igor Muginov was quoted by the Interfax wire service as saying that the joint military exercise will involve search and rescue of ships in distress and humanitarian aid to populations hit by natural calamities.

The decision to hold war games was reached when Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Military District Admiral Konstantin Sidenko visited Pyongyang last month.

North Korea was a close ally of the former Soviet Union but defence ties were frozen after the latter’s disintegration 20 years ago. The planned joint defence drill is part of Russia’s recent efforts to re-engage North Korea in order to stabilise the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

By: Brant

ISAF Placemat SEP 2011

As always, click to enlarge...

By: Brant

GameTalk - Propaganda

What, if any, role can propaganda play in a wargame? Does it have a strategic effect? An operational effect? A tactical one?
How about the effects of counter-propaganda?
Under what circumstances might you try to include propaganda in the game, and to what end? By what means might you track it?

By: Brant