20 December 2004

How to rescue the all-volunteer Army

Joey Galloway (the author) is the guy that co-wrote We Were Soldiers Once... And Young. The book, not the movie.

He's been a military correspondent for a long time, and knows a lot of people. He references several of them here. While he is reporting someone else's projects and proposals, it is clear that Galloway approves of these ideas, or he wouldn't be reporting them.

How do you save the Army? There are all kinds of ideas. My first step is to fire Paul Wolfowitz. Almost every controversy that Rumsfeld has had to publicly defend came from this lout...

18 December 2004

Defense & Security News

Defense Tech
Along with several others, this is a really good site for military and security news.

While some of their stuff looks a little too far forward, it's still good. Think of it as WIRED for the defense industry.

08 December 2004

CNN swings and misses

This story recently appeared on CNN.com. See if you tell me what the problem is with it:

England's lawyers lose crucial ruling
Prosecution allowed to use statements about Abu Ghraib abuse
From Susan Candiotti and Jim Polk CNN
FORT BRAGG, North Carolina (CNN) -- A military judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors can use two written statements by Pfc. Lynndie England describing incidents of physical abuse and sexual degradation of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The 22-year-old mother from West Virginia faces a court-martial at Fort Bragg in January. She is charged with 19 counts of assault, conspiracy, improper conduct and indecent acts, and could be sentenced to as many as 38 years in prison.
-snip 11 paragraphs-
Among those awaiting court-martial at Fort Hood is Spc. Charles Graner, the Abu Ghraib guard who attorneys say is the father of the baby boy England gave birth to seven weeks ago.

Now I'm not usually one to criticize media people for the way they do their jobs, especially since I study this stuff for a living and I've got a perspective on how they do what they do. But Candiotti & Polk, however well-meaning they may have been, really drop the ball on this one.
If you only read the first 2 paragraphs of this story, as many people probably did on the web, you get the impression the government is picking on some poor kid's mom for a mistake she might have made. they describe England as "The 22-year-old mother from West Virginia." Well, yes, she's 22, a mother, and originally from West Virginia.
She's also a mother who got pregnant by a married man with whom she fooled around while stationed in a combat zone. To simply describe her as a "mother" impugns the good name of mothers everywhere - the ones who didn't get pregnant by a married man while ignoring the proper rules of conduct for soldiers, and who aren't in jail for physically abusing other people.
You don't get a real sense of just how wrong it is that she's a mother in the first place. Until the 11th paragraph, you have no idea that she wasn't a mother before being deployed. Why is it relevant that she's a mother at all, given what she's accused of? Why not describe her as the "22-year-old Army reservist from West Virginia?" Are we looking to intentionally drum up some sympathy for the "22-year-old mother from West Virginia"?
Candiotti & Polk really blew this one. And they wonder why people think CNN is slanted...

24 November 2004

Matthew Heidt: Security Rounds

I got this emailed to me, and it's pretty good:

We're gonna see more on this issue in the near future. Most folks who've served in combat are taking a much more objective view of how things are changing w/re to the Law of Land Warfare than those who have not.
The shots fired at the "unarmed" terrorist in that mosque in Fallujah are called "security rounds." Its a safety issue pure and simple. After assaulting through a target, put a security round in everybody's head. Sorry al-Reuters, there's no paddy wagon rolling around Fallujah picking up "prisoners" and offering them a hot cup a joe, falafel, and a blanket. There's no time to dick around in the target, you clear the space, dump the chumps, and moveon.org. Are Corpsman expected to treat wounded terrorists?
Negative. Hey libs, worried about the defense budget? Well, it would be waste, fraud, and abuse for a Corpsman to spend one man minute or a battle dressing on a terrorist, its much cheaper to just spend the $.02 on a 5.56mm FMJ.
By the way, terrorists who chop off civilian's heads are not prisoners, they are carcasses.
UPDATE: Let me be very clear about this issue. I have looked around the web, and many people get this concept, but there are some stragglers. Here is your situation Marine. You just took fire from unlawful combatants shooting from a religious building attempting to use the sanctuary status of their position as protection. But you're in Fallujah now, and the Marine Corps has decided that they're not playing that game this time. That was Najaf. So you set the mosque on fire and you hose down the terrorists with small arms, launch some AT-4s (Rockets), some 40MM grenades into the building and things quiet down. So you run over there, and find some tangos wounded and pretending to be dead. You are aware that suicide martyrdom is like really popular with these kind of idiots, and like taking some Marines with them would be really cool. So you can either risk your life and your fireteam's lives by having them cover you while you bend down and search a guy that you think is pretending to be dead for some reason.
Also, you don't know who or what is in the next room, and you're already speaking English to each other and its loud because your hearing is poor from shooting people for several days. So you know that there are many other rooms to enter, and that if anyone is still alive in those rooms, they know that Americans are in the mosque. Meanwhile (3 seconds later), you still have this terrorist that was just shooting at you from a mosque playing possum. What do you do?
You double tap his head, and you go to the next room, that's what.
What about the Geneva Conventions and all that Law of Land Warfare stuff? What about it. Without even addressing the issues at hand you first thought should be, "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6." Bear in mind that this is a perpetual mindset that in reinforced by experience on a minute by minute basis. Secondly, you are fighting an unlawful combatant in a Sanctuary which is a double No No on his part. Third, tactically you are in no position to take "prisoners" because there are more rooms to search and clear, and the behavior of said terrorist indicates that he is up to no good. No good in Fallujah is a very large place and the low end of no good and the high end of no good are fundamentally the same... Marines get hurt or die. So there is no compelling reason for you to do anything but double tap this idiot and get on with the mission.
If you are a veteran then everything I have just written is self evident, if you are not a veteran than at least try to put yourself in the situation.
Remember, in Fallujah there is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow, there is only now. Right NOW. Have you ever lived in NOW for a week? It is not easy, and if you have never lived in NOW for longer than it takes to finish the big roller coaster at Six Flags, then shut your hole about putting Marines in jail for war crimes. Be advised, I am not talking to my readers, but if this post gets linked up, I want regular folks to get this message loud and clear.
Comment by Lori Kahler
It is also important to note that there have been reports that just five minutes earlier and a block away from this incident, another wounded insurgent blew himself up. He took the life of a marine and severely wounded six other marines who were trying to give aid to this insurgent. Let us not forget that Senator Kerry received a purple heart for a very similar incident, although Kerry shot the boy in the back as he was fleeing. Not only was this marine correct in shooting the wounded insurgent, he was obligated to or risk the death or injury to whole unit

16 September 2004

The Sudden Urgency of Terrorism

When the original assault weapons ban was signed by President Clinton, you heard nary a word from anyone about how these weapons could be used for 'terrorist' purposes. Now that terrorism is portrayed as the shadow behind every decision (better textbooks for our kids, or they'll become terrorists!) we are suddenly concerned with what they might do with a semi-automatic weapon that they had theoretically purchased within legal limits. My question is this: what are the odds that a terrorist is going to walk into Bob's Guns'n'Beer and pick up an AK-47 after filling out the paperwork first? And why bother when there are so many illegal guns on the market?

13 September 2004

Timing is Everything

from a friend of a friend

Family and Friends,
Have had an interesting week in Baghdad. It is getting hotter but the
temperature has gone down (stays between 104-108). We have had
mortar/rocket attacks on the camp almost everyday this week. A few days ago
I was doing a 10 mile run and when I hit the 8 mile mark, about 4 mortars
impacted where I was at three miles previously, luck is essential but Timing
is Everything.
Well, Sundays are my long run day and I was scheduled to go 18 (getting
ready for the marathon here on camp in November). The temperatures go up
rather quickly after the sun comes up so I planned to start at 0530 when it
is still dark but light enough to see to run. I was about 9 minutes late
getting started. But figured, oh well, it is just me since I'm on my own
pace. About the one mile mark I heard the first mortar whistle overhead and
then explode followed by the second. The run route is along the perimeter
so I hit the dirt next to the concrete perimeter wall and listened to about
6 or 7 more mortars whistle by and explode over a period of a couple of
minutes. I waited about 10 minutes and then made my way back to my trailer.
Scratch the run. When I got to the office my assistant had plotted the
explosions. Had I started at 0530 and on time, I would have been in the
DEAD (literally) center of the attack. All the impacts where right along
the road that I would have been on. 9 Minutes now separate me from death.
It is a weird sensation. I am physically fine. Can't wait to go home on
R&R in 5 weeks!!
I spent 5 months in Somalia, had some heated moments and didn't think twice
about kicking in doors but I never felt the way I do right now. I guess
back then it was just Lisa and I, no kids. Figure I have a little more to
live for these days or I'm just no longer invincible.
The time spent in the dirt seemed like a lifetime and in a way it was. I
can't say that my life passed before my eyes but I can tell you I did want
to have the opportunity again to tell Lisa and the girls I loved them. If
you have delayed telling someone in your life you love them, now's the time
to seize the moment and tell them. Life is SHORT! You never know when the
end is coming. God continues to guard and protect me as evident today. He
will see me through.
God Bless,
Love to All,
Joe :-)

12 May 2004

Thank goodness we're getting a daily body count from Iraq. We wouldn't want this war to get too closely compared to Vietnam, now would we?

11 May 2004

There's a lot I want to say, but not enough time to get to it right now. Besides, I finally got out of the Middle Ages on my game of Civ III, and that's been pretty time-consuming.

The short version of one of them is this:
The Pentagon is talking about the "six morons who lost the war" in Iraq. Those six are the twits who thought it would be cool to take pictures of Iraqi prisoners. I can almost accept that they agreed to be stupid about their ethics and their work and follow the 'instructions' of the MI guys. But I can't imagine the MI guys telling them to take pictures.

That said, the "six morons who lost the war" are not these idiots. The "six morons who lost the war" are the six morons who started the war: Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, Cheney, Armitage, and the Boy-Who-Would-Be-King. As Woodward reported in his book, Bush never asked anyone if he should got to war in Iraq, and no one had the balls to tell him it was a bad idea. But that's the advice you get (or don't) when you surround yourself with dad's old cronies (most of whom never served in the military), and a guy who lost a statewide election to a corpse.

08 May 2004

From the war zone - "Breaking Chains"

The CSA wanted to share this email with you.  The email was sent to GEN
Bell, CG, USAREUR from MG Dempsey, Cdr, 1AD.

...I met yesterday outside Najaf with a 1LT from the Iron Dukes of 2-37 Armor who as tank company XO was leading a convoy of two platoons of tanks on HETs from Al Kut in the east to Najaf in the west, a distance of about 175KM. As they passed through the town of Diwaniyah, they were ambushed by a group of insurgents--undoubtedly former regime soldiers with some military training--with RPGs, heavy machine guns, and AK-47s.  The Task Force Scouts had passed through only 30 minutes earlier without contact, so this was a well planned ambush of probably 50 or so organized in two and three man teams.
The convoy suffered three soldiers KIA in the initial moments of the ambush--one Iron Duke, one 2ACR cavalry trooper, and one transportation officer.  The convoy immediately returned fire.  They had several HUMMWVs in escort, and the tanks on the back of the HETs were manned with loaders and TCs on crew served weapons.  Within minutes of the ambush, one of the HETs was disabled, and the Lieutenant realized he would have to stand and fight to ensure he had everyone.  The Iron Dukes "broke chains" as they described it, by essentially driving off the back of the HETs under fire to engage the enemy.  In the course of the next hour, they fought their way out of Diwaniyah employing every weapon available to them including main gun.  They got everyone and everything out with the exception of one HET. Enemy BDA was 30 killed and an unknown number wounded.

A day after this fight, I received an email from CPT Thomas Moore, of the 1175th Transportation, who was the convoy commander.  He wrote: "were it not for the courage and actions under fire of the 2ACR and 2-37 soldiers that day, he is certain all his men would have been killed."  He asked me if he and his soldiers engaged in that fight with us could wear the 1AD combat patch.  I told him I'd be honored.
There are many such stories of courage under fire and just as many stories of incredible compassion to the innocent...
Continuing mission, sir.

03 May 2004

Trash Haulers Have Fun, Too

from the email files:
    From the mailbag and for all my Air Force friends:
  There I was at six thousand feet over central Iraq, two hundred eighty knots and we're dropping faster than Paris Hilton's panties. It's a typical September evening in the Persian Gulf; hotter than a rectal thermometer and I'm sweating like a priest at a Cub Scout meeting.
  But that's neither here nor there. The night is moonless over Baghdad tonight, and blacker than a Steven King novel. But it's 2003, folks, and I'm sporting the latest in night-combat technology. Namely, hand-me-down night vision goggles (NVGs) thrown out by the fighter boys. Additionally, my 1962 Lockheed C-130E Hercules is equipped with an obsolete, yet, semi-effective missile warning system (MWS). The MWS conveniently makes a nice soothing tone in your headset just before the missile explodes into your airplane. Who says you can't polish a turd? At any rate, the NVGs are illuminating Baghdad International Airport like the Las Vegas Strip during a Mike Tyson fight. These NVGs are the cat's ass. But I've digressed.
  The preferred method of approach tonight is the random shallow. This tactical maneuver allows the pilot to ingress the landing zone in an unpredictable manner, thus exploiting the supposedly secured perimeter of the airfield in an attempt to avoid enemy surface-to-air-missiles and small arms fire. Personally, I wouldn't bet my pink ass on that theory but the approach is fun as hell and that's the real reason we fly it.
  We get a visual on the runway at three miles out, drop down to one thousand feet above the ground, still maintaining two hundred eighty knots. Now the fun starts. It's pilot appreciation time as I descend the mighty Herk to six hundred feet and smoothly, yet very deliberately, yank into a sixty degree left bank, turning the aircraft ninety degrees offset from runway heading. As soon as we roll out of the turn, I reverse turn to the right a full two hundred seventy degrees in order to roll out aligned with the runway. Some aeronautical genius coined this maneuver the "Ninety/ Two-Seventy." Chopping the power during the turn, I pull back on the yoke just to the point my nether regions start to sag, bleeding off energy in order to configure the pig for landing.
  "Flaps Fifty!, Landing Gear Down!, Before Landing Checklist!" I look over at the copilot and he's shaking like a cat shitting on a sheet of ice. Looking further back at the navigator, and even through the NVGs, I can clearly see the wet spot spreading around his crotch. Finally, I glance at my steely-eyed flight engineer. His eyebrows rise in unison as a grin forms on his face. I can tell he's thinking the same thing I am. "Where do we find such fine young men?" "Flaps One Hundred!" I bark at the shaking cat. Now it's all aimpoint and airspeed. Aviation 101, with the exception there's no lights, I'm on NVGs, it's Baghdad, and now tracers are starting to crisscross the black sky.
  Naturally, and not at all surprisingly, I grease the Goodyear's on brick-one of runway 33 left, bring the throttles to ground idle and then force the props to full reverse pitch. Tonight, the sound of freedom is my four Hamilton Standard propellers chewing through the thick, putrid, Baghdad air. The huge, one hundred thirty thousand pound, lumbering whisper pig comes to a lurching stop in less than two thousand feet. Let's see a Viper do that! We exit the runway to a welcoming committee of government issued Army grunts. It's time to download their beans and bullets and letters from their sweethearts, look for war booty, and of course, urinate on Saddam's home.
  Walking down the crew entry steps with my lowest-bidder, Beretta 92F, 9 millimeter strapped smartly to my side, I look around and thank God, not Allah, I'm an American and I'm on the winning team. Then I thank God I'm not in the Army.
  Knowing once again I've cheated death, I ask myself, "What in the hell am I doing in this mess?" Is it Duty, Honor, and Country? You bet your ass. Or could it possibly be for the glory, the swag, and not to mention, chicks dig the Air Medal. There's probably some truth there too. But now is not the time to derive the complexities of the superior, cerebral properties of the human portion of the
aviator-man-machine model. It is however, time to get out of this shit-hole. "Hey copilot, clean yourself up! And how's 'bout the 'Before Starting Engines Checklist."
  God, I love this job!
    - Author chooses to remain anonymous