30 November 2009

Persian Gulf waters getting choppier

The Iranians are rearranging their command structure for the naval forces in the Persian Gulf

Iran has reorganized its naval forces to give operational control of the strategic Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz to the naval component of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the paramilitary organization that is playing an increasingly central role not only in Iran's military but also its political and economic life.

Politically favored over Iran's traditional navy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, or IRGCN as it is known, "has capitalized on this status to acquire advanced weaponry and better platforms to develop additional capabilities," according to the study by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence titled "Iran's Naval Forces: From Guerilla [sic] Warfare to a Modern Naval Strategy," Fall 2009. The study was disclosed last week by Steven Aftergood on his Secrecy News Web site. Faced with threats of military attacks on its nuclear facilities, Iranian leaders have threatened to cut off almost 30 percent of the world's oil supply by closing or controlling the narrow Strait of Hormuz, according to the Naval Intelligence study.

"Ingressing or egressing warships must pass through mineable waters within the range of a variety of weapons including coastal defense cruise missiles, significantly increasing the ships' vulnerability," the study said. Since 2007, the IRGCN has been given "full responsibility for operations in the Persian Gulf" while the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) was assigned to the Gulf of Oman and the Caspian Sea.

The IRGCN, the study reports, "has grown to be a non-traditional force, focused on preparing to survive any threat while incorporating asymmetric and novel defenses." New bases have been created "to present a line of defense that would prevent an enemy from accessing the Strait of Hormuz and thus the Persian Gulf."

The IRGCN has concentrated on acquiring and developing small, fast boats, some lightly armed and others armed with missiles and torpedoes. Using a mobile, anti-ship cruise missile bought initially from China in 1995, Iran can target any point within the Strait of Hormuz and much of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The Strait "could be mined effectively in a relatively short amount of time," according to the study. As of 2004, U.S. experts estimated Iran had at least 2,000 mines. Lacking modern mine-laying vessels, Iran had developed nonconventional tactics, deploying mines using commercial vessels and small boats.

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By: Brant

Brits kit out for their Afghan surge

As required by the government, the UK MoD announced they have their required equipment for the upcoming surge in Afghanistan.

As well as the availability of equipment, Mr Brown said in October that Britain's Nato allies must agree to send more troops to share the burden, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai must also commit to train more local forces to fight alongside Western soldiers.
The UK's armed forces have the vehicles and equipment needed to commit 500 more personnel to Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has said.
A ministerial committee is expected to be told by the chief of the defence staff that kit supplies are adequate.
This was one of three conditions Gordon Brown said must be met before he would send more troops. He will say if the others have been met later this week.

By: Brant

IDF still dealing with rockets from Gaza

Despite having fought a war in Gaza over rocket attacks, the Gazanians (or whatever the hell they are) don't seem to get the hint. This weekend, the Israeli air force shot at a rocket crew that was preparing to launch another salvo across the border.

The Israeli military said the air force attacked a group of Palestinian militants in northern Gaza early Friday as they were about to fire rockets at Israel, a week after the Hamas rulers of Gaza announced that they had secured the agreement of other groups to halt rocket fire in order to prevent retaliatory attacks.

Palestinian medics said four militants had been wounded in the airstrike, but the Israeli military said one member of the squad, from a small Islamic extremist group influenced by Al Qaeda, had been. Such groups are rivals of Hamas, but the military said it held Hamas responsible for maintaining calm.

Israeli strikes against militants have been rare since the end of last winter’s Gaza war. There has been a steep decline in rocket fire since Israel’s military offensive ended last January, but the sporadic attacks have continued. Several mortar shells have been launched in the last week.

By: Brant

Monday Video: Let the Bodies Hit the Floor

Start your week off with a bang...

By: Brant

(just like the Friday Museum series, feel free to nominate your own videos for highlighting here...)

Brunswick NAS sends its last aircraft packing

Realigned by BRAC, Brunswick NAS in Maine is shutting down, and the last of the aircraft have now left the tarmac.

The two last planes at Maine's Brunswick Naval Air Station lifted off Saturday in blustery winds, ending nearly 60 years of maritime patrol operations at New England's last active-duty military air base.
The P-3 Orions of the VP-26 squadron lumbered down an 8,000-foot runway before heading off to a six-month deployment in Central America. After that, they fly to their new home at Florida's Jacksonville Naval Air Station.
The planes took off without any speeches or fanfare about 50 minutes apart Saturday afternoon. A small group of visitors gathered at the base operations building to watch, including Albert Stehle of Bowdoinham, whose father, Leroy Stehle, commanded the VP-26 during the early 1970s.
'I just came to see the last plane take off,' said Stehle, a building contractor who lives in the flight path of the base and will no longer be able to look up and see the planes bearing the squadron's trident insignia. 'After being a Navy brat for all these years and having to miss your dad because he was off on deployment, you finally realize it was all for a great cause.'
Brunswick, once home to 4,000 sailors and six patrol squadrons, now has a skeleton crew. Its two runways are scheduled to close in January and personnel will continue to leave the base until it closes for good in May 2011.

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By: Brant

Surge in Afghanistan? Send in the Marines!

The point of the spear of President Obama's Afghanistan surge? Of course it's the Marines.

The US military will deploy up to 9,000 Marines to Afghanistan's Helmand province -- doubling US presence there -- in the days after President Barack Obama's war strategy announcement this week, the Washington Post said Saturday.
Citing senior US officials, the daily said the extra Marines won't move to the restive southern province until after Obama's address to the nation Tuesday from the prestigious West Point military academy in New York state.
The aim is to regain a footing in the region that has been a base for a fierce Taliban insurgency in recent months.
Some 1,000 army trainers will follow the Marine's deployment, perhaps by February next year, the Post said.
"The first troops out of the door are going to be Marines," General James Conway, the top Marine officer, was quoted as telling soldiers in Afghanistan on Saturday.

By: Brant

Cubans Preparing for Imminent US Assault... (?!)

Cubans are still harboring delusions of a US invasion, as if the US had any forces to spare right now...

Cuba began its biggest military maneuvers in five years on Thursday, saying they were needed to prepare for a possible invasion by the United States.

Despite a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations and assurances last week by President Barack Obama that the United States has no intention of invading the island 90 miles from Florida, Cuba's state-run press quoted military leaders as saying there 'exists a real possibility of a military aggression against Cuba.'

The war games, which are being called 'Bastion 2009,' also will get the military ready to deal with social unrest the United States may try to foment in this time of economic crisis in Cuba, ahead of an invasion, they said.

Cuban television showed images of tanks firing their guns as they rolled through the countryside, artillery batteries blasting away, camouflaged troops digging trenches and shooting bazookas, attack helicopters and fighter jets buzzing through the sky and rescue teams tending wounded combatants.

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By: Brant

29 November 2009

Ah yes, the stray commas...

CNN Political Ticker: Pres. Obama cheers on brother-in-law at basketball game

Robinson, who coaches the Oregon State Beavers, was cheered on by the President, who snacked on popcorn, the First Lady, Sasha, Malia and the girls’ grandmother Marian Robinson.

Is it just me, or would you be full after snacking on the First Lady, your daughters, and mother-in-law? Oh, and popcorn.

US Army Tanks Since WWII

M24 Chaffee
M26 Pershing
M41 Walker Bulldog
M46 Patton
M47 Patton
M48 Patton
M60 Patton
M551 Sheridan
M1 Abrams
XM8 Buford

By: Brant

NATO Reinforcing Afghanistan

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is ready to announce another 5000 troops headed to Afghanistan on the heels of the US troop increase.

Gordon Brown paved the way today for the announcement next Tuesday of a large US troop surge in Afghanistan by saying he had received assurances from Nato countries that they would contribute an extra 5,000 troops.

The assurances are significant because both Brown and Barack Obama have said they will not commit more of their own troops unless there are increases in other Nato troop numbers.

There was some confusion in Nato circles as to the source of Brown's optimism that the number of troops could rise by 5,000, but the prime minister's spokesman said his assessment came after discussions with 10 coalition partners.

In his letter to the Nato secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the prime minister said he was optimistic that 'a majority of these countries will indeed make available increased numbers of troops, and more police trainers and civilian support'.

By: Brant

28 November 2009

Why is a US University Funding Research to Circumvent US Border Controls?

A UCSD lecturer has created a mobile app designed to help illegal border crossers evade US border controls.

As officially noted on the description page of the tool:
Funded by Arts and Humanities (Transborder Grant 2007-8), UCSD.

Yes, the University of California, San Diego, funded a grant that for a mobile application designed to circumvent US Border Controls.

As described at the progect page:
1)GPS mapping the Mexico/U.S. border on both sides of this border for 3 to 4 weeks, which allow us to find the exact coordinates needed to anchor the triangulations that would frame the start and points for the Transborder Immigrant Tool.

2)3 months to research current and pre-emptive transborder networks and infrastructures, such as, Homeland Security activities, Halliburton border security projects, border patrol and Minutemen activities and water/food anchors established by support communities along the border – with the goal to improve the odds of immigrant safety and determine which of the computationally mediated paths are likely to be currently useful to follow.

3)5 to 6 months to develop the Transborder Immigrant Tool algorithm code and test the GPS coordinates and develop the Spanish and English interface and instructions for use.

4)A 1 week Walkabout Testing of the Transborder Immigrant Tool algorithm by the Principle Investigators and invited artists. We would first walk south into Mexico and then walk back north into the U.S. in the tradition of Richard Long’s walking sculptures, Situationist psychographic gestures and x-border art work of artist Heath Bunting.

5)Passing out the Transborder Immigrant Tool to communities of immigrants on both sides of border for use in developing this project. Each tool would be branded as an art project by Electronic Disturbance Theater and b.a.n.g lab (bang.calit2.net) – all users would be requested to return the Transborder Immigrant Tool for distribution once they safely reach an end anchor point for upgrades and further distribution.

Other coverage of the new mobile app that's designed to help illegal immigrants break the law:
Phone App Helps Immigrants Cross Border - Tonic
Border Crossing: There's an App for That
Smart phone application helps illegal immigrants navigate safely across border

Now look - I get that you're looking for an 'excuse' as to why this was created, and I saw the TV coverage in which Micha* claims this is a 'safety' issue to help border crossers to a water point or other safe haven. Uh-huh... suuuuuuuuure... that's why you're on national TV wearing a PLO scarf? Yeah, buddy. Hardly. Academic freedom is one thing, but government funding of tools to circumvent government regulations and responsibilities is stupid, if not illegal. Someone pull this funding NOW.

*can't tell 'he' or 'she' and everything online points to a transgendered persona, so I don't know transgendered in which direction

By: Brant

Weekend Humor: You Might be a Tanker, If. . .

Military Jokes and Humor -- You Might be a Tanker, If. . .

1. You've ever been fined for riding with your head sticking out your car's sun roof.

2. Your wife complains because the kitchen junk drawer is full of MILES keys and heater parts.

3. You giggle when your hunting buddies talk about the awesome stopping power of the .308 Winchester.

4. You named your son Roger.

5. You drive a '59 Caddy because you like "the feel of a lot of American iron. "

6. You announce "On the way!" before you break wind.

7. Instead of meeting you at the door with a cold beer after work, your wife meets you with a can of degreaser and orders to strip before you touch the furniture.

8. After returning from the field it takes you a while to get used to food without the "diesel smoked" flavor.

9. After sex you make your wife wipe down the breech.

10. When you go duck hunting you give your dog the command "ducks! left duck!"

11. You've ever refered to a infantryman as a crunchie.

12. When buying a new car you make the salesman lay out the BII.

13. During intercourse you announce "On the way. "

14. You refer to General Patton as Him.

15. You consider cheating on your wife Permissive TDY.

16. You refer to the Gulf War as "The big one of 91. "

17. You think of ground troops as a speed bump.

18. You think bad sex may just be a boresight problem.

19. You consider a sand table exercise as a middle east deployment.

20. You consider a hasty defense just aiming the gun.

21. When working on your car you fill out a DA 2404.

22. A pillow is nice, but a CVC is better.

23. You think 19Kilo should be 19Sweep.

24. You wish your POV had Tac Idle.

25. You get mad when NOMEX is refered to as the tanker suit.

26. You volunteer to fuel up a car.

27. You have a BBQ and invite all three of your friends.

28. You rank monster trucks between a Bradley and a M1 tank.

29. You carry a tanker bar in your POV.

30. You think hot spots are targets, not clubs.

31. You wish Suburbans weren't so expensive.

32. Before your son/daughter can use your car they must complete a request for dispatch.

33. You think PT means Persona Training.

34. You always set 4 places at the dinner table.

35. You don't buy gas for your car, instead you "top off"

36. Your kids call the sandbox "NTC".

37. Your older kids call the youngest one "Cherry".

38. When your family gets together you call them "Slice Elements".

39. Your dog's name is Sabot.

By: Chuckles

India Flexing Its Missile Muscle

AFP: India tests nuclear-capable missile: defence official

India carried out a night-time test of a nuclear-capable, medium-range ballistic missile off its eastern coast on Monday, a defence official said.
The surface-to-surface Agni-II, which can deliver a nuclear warhead to targets within a range of 2,500 kilometres (1,560 miles), was fired from a mobile rail launcher on Wheeler Island off the coast of Orissa state at 7:50pm (1420 GMT).
'It was a user training trial to handle the missile at night,' the defence official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Indian-developed 20-metre-long missile, which has a launch weight of 16 tonnes, is capable of carrying a one-tonne conventional or nuclear warhead.
The missile is one of a series being developed by India's Defence Research Development Organisation as part of the country's deterrent strategy against nuclear-armed neighbours China and Pakistan.
India already has the 3,000-kilometre range Agni-III missile -- the longest in the Agni series -- which can also carry conventional or nuclear payloads.
Unconfirmed reports suggest India is also building an Agni variant with a range of 5,000 kilometres.
The Agni-I missile has a strike range of 1,500 kilometres.

By: Brant

Index of US Coast Guard Cutters

This is a list of named vessels of the Revenue Marine, Revenue Cutter Service, Coast Guard and the Lighthouse Service.

The Historian's Office maintains a file on most of the following vessels. Please note that decommissioned cutters' and tenders' logbooks, action reports and other official documentation are held by the National Archives, not the Coast Guard Historian's Office.

By: Brant

27 November 2009

Counterattack at Salyan - Liveblogging today's Warfighter game over at ConsimWorld

Follow today's live blog of the Warfighter game over at social.consimworld.com

By: Brant

Airborne Badges

How many can you ID without consulting something else?

List 'em in the comments!

By: Brant

Friday Museum: National Museum of the Marine Corps

Continuing our Friday Museum series, one of the best, the National Museum of the Marine Corps

Well worth the trip, and make sure to check out the "immersion diorama" rooms.

Google Maps still has it under construction. Trust me, it's done and it's awesome.

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By: Brant

(Please feel free to nominate your own museums to highlight in this recurring series!)

NEWS: Germany's Senior Soldier Out

Germany's senior military official is out following a controversial airstrike in Afghanistan.

The head of Germany's armed forces and a senior defence ministry official were forced to resign yesterday over reports the military withheld details about a deadly air strike in Afghanistan.

Opposition parties also called for Franz Josef Jung – the defence minister at the time of the strike and now labour minister – to step down in what could become a major embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel just as she considers sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Mrs Merkel stopped short of fully endorsing Mr Jung, a member of her Christian Democrats.

The air strike, ordered by a German commander and carried out by a US F-15 fighter on 4 September, was the deadliest operation involving German troops since the Second World War, killing 69 Taleban fighters but also 30 civilians, according to the Afghan government.

In the days after the strike, Mr Jung repeatedly denied that there were any civilian victims.

It was reported yesterday that, just before the start of a parliamentary debate on extending Germany's 4,500-strong mission in Afghanistan, videos and a secret military report had clearly pointed to civilian casualties at the time Mr Jung and the military were denying them.

By: Brant

Mundane Tidbits from the UK

Tank Driver goes oops

A soldier has apologised after crashing an eight-tonne tank into a garden fence during a driving lesson.

The Spartan Armoured Personnel Carrier - which had 'L' plates attached to it - left the road as it made his way through Letheringsett, Norfolk, on Monday, said army officials.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said the driver, who had recently returned from Afghanistan, apologised to the owners of the house, Phil and Jayne Jones.

She said the soldier was an experienced driver who was learning to drive tracked vehicles such as the Spartan.

No one was hurt and police said they had not been involved.

And randy kids are randy kids, everywhere
Ten British servicewomen on operations in Afghanistan have been sent back to the UK in the past six months after falling pregnant, it was revealed today.

The servicewomen were evacuated between April 31 and October 31 this year under military rules which ban pregnant women from being on battle duty, according to figures released to the Sunday Mirror by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

An MoD spokeswoman said: 'All our forces are expected to behave within the Armed Forces' code of conduct. If women become or discover they are pregnant on operations, they are returned to the UK at the first opportunity for their own well being and to preserve operational effectiveness.'

By: Widow 6-7

Russian Military Future Outlined by Medvedev in a Speech to Parliament

Prime Minister Medvedev outlined Russia's accelerating military future.
President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday dedicated part of his annual parliamentary speech to beefing up the Russian military - and without delay.

In the 100-minute marathon speech built around the idea of “modernization and change,” the Russian president surprised observers with an ambitious shopping list of military hardware that he said must be operational in the Russian military by 2010.

"Next year,” Medvedev said, in comments that probably had defense contractors sweating, “we need to supply to the army over 30 ground-based and sea-based ballistic missiles, five Iskander missile systems, some 300 armored vehicles, 30 helicopters, 28 fighter aircraft, three nuclear submarines, and one Korvet combat ship."

The Russian president said the rapid rearmament program was necessary for creating an army “that will not allow anybody to threaten us and our allies" and give Russian forces “superiority over any enemy.”

No word on which of Putin's speechwriters prepared the remarks for him.

In other news, Medvedev whacked a bunch of senior staff over ammo depot explosions.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday dismissed several high-ranking military officials over the recent explosions at an arms depot in the Volga city of Ulyanovsk.

Two firefighters were killed and many others were injured after a series of explosions ripped through the military ammunition depot in Ulyanovsk on Nov. 13. Eight servicemen died at the depot on Monday when shells blasted during a clear-up operation.

The tragedy 'happened due to lack of control by the Defense Ministry and the criminal negligence by those who were disposing old ammunition at the depot,' Medvedev was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying at a meeting with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in Ulyanovsk.

'I have decided to dismiss the head of the armed forces' engineering forces, head of the Defense Ministry's main rocketry and artillery department, acting head of the armaments department and deputy commander of the Volga-Urals military district and acting head of the engineering forces,' Medvedev said.

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By: Brant

26 November 2009

New French Ops in the 'Stan

The French will be opening up a fresh can of whoop d'ass to reclaim some pride and open some new supply routes (likely in that order)

Not far from the site of a disastrous encounter with Afghan insurgents last year, French forces have now mounted an offensive to clear the strategic Tagab valley of Taliban and Hizb-i-Islami fighters. An important mission lies behind “Operation Avalon” – the construction of a new road through the valley as part of a larger effort to create secure supply routes for NATO forces in Afghanistan. The operation is being carried out by the newly created Task Force La Fayette (TF La Fayette).

The French forces include roughly 700 men from the 3e Régiment d'Infanterie de Marine (3e RIMa), with smaller units from the 2e Régiment Étranger d'Infanterie (Foreign Legion). In recent years the 3e RIMa has taken part in operations in Chad, the 1991 Gulf War, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Albania and the Central African Republic. The French troops are accompanied by 100 men of the Afghan National Army (ANA) with air support from French and American attack helicopters. The advancing troops have been met with sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades. A November 15 Taliban rocket attack on the town of Tagab killed three people and wounded dozens more only 300 meters from a meeting between Task Force commander General Marcel Druart and a group of tribal elders (Radio France Internationale, November 15).

TF La Fayette operates from four forward bases in Kapisa and Surobi provinces, with support detachments in Kabul. Most operations are conducted jointly with ANA units. With a command post at Nijab, TF La Fayette is composed of two Groupements tactiques interarmes (GTIA); GTIA Kapisa (currently drawn largely from Foreign Legion infantry, armor and engineering units) and GTIA Surobi (currently drawn largely from Marine infantry and artillery units). The Task Force also includes a command and support battalion in Kabul and a battalion of 11 helicopters based at Kabul International Airport. Within the task force’s zone of operations, French Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLT) are attached to units of the 3rd Brigade of the ANA’s 201st Corps.

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By: Brant

Radiation Detectors Lacking Key Components

There's a definite need for radiological sniffers but apparently they can't be built for lack of critical components

Lack of a specific material has forced the suspension of a U.S. Homeland Security Department effort to deploy new radiation detectors intended to prevent a nuclear weapon from being smuggled into the country, the New York Times reported today

The agency to date has spent $230 million on the program to field up to 1,400 of the devices that would scan cargo passing though foreign seaports. However, the $800,000 machines require helium 3 for detection of neutrons, which are emitted by the nuclear-weapon material plutonium. Helium 3 is a byproduct of the decay of tritium, which is produced only in limited quantities in the United States.

By: Watchdog

The Parade

Yep, we're watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I don't mind the musical numbers, but I'm wish it was a bit more holiday sentiment and less NBC TV infomercial. They've got everyone but Leno on there, and that's probably because he's asleep.

The "national high school band" or somesuch is out there right now, and the dancing girls in the middle of the formation are decked out in Macy's logos that make them look like the Star-Bellied Sneetches from Dr Seuss.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

By: Chuckles

UK In Action: Sniper Up Close

A soldier is shown taking aim with an L115A3 sniper rifle at the Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) Equipment Demonstration at Salisbury Plain. The demonstration displayed the complete range of equipment that is in use by the Army, on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Involved in the display were actual soldiers who had used the equipment in an operational environment.

Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Estonia to France: "WTF?!"

The Estonians are understandably nervous about a NATO ally's plan to sell warships to the Russians. And now they're asking for clarification from the French about it.

Estonia said Tuesday it would press Paris over French plans to sell an assault ship to Russia which have caused jitters in the Baltic state amid rocky ties with its Soviet-era master Moscow.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet told reporters he wanted fellow NATO and EUmember France to say clearly if the helicopter-carrier would be sold 'with or without top military technology'.

'We will ask France for information about the deal and the matter will be also be discussed at the EU's working group on strategic goods,' he said.

Senior defence ministry official Harri Tiido underlined Tallinn's concerns.

'If it's a metal box, it is one thing, but if it's state-of-the-art technology, things will be different,' he told reporters.

Russian and French officials have confirmed Moscow is in talks to buy aMistral ship along with a licence to produce at least four others.

By: Brant

25 November 2009

Congo and Rwanda still smoldering... with ammo

The long-simmering tribal border wars are still smoldering, and the weapons aren't being gathered as they should.

Rwandan Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have thwarted UN-led attempts to disarm them militarily and global action is needed to cut off their financing, UN experts say.
In a major report for the United Nations Security Council, unpublished but seen by AFP, researchers said this year's attempts by Congolese, Rwandan and UN forces to disarm FDLR fighters in eastern DR Congo have failed.
'This report concludes that military operations against the FDLR have failed to dismantle the organisation's political and military structures on the ground in eastern DRC,' the detailed 93-page document begins.
The report alleges that the FDLR recruits and arms fighters using profits from a corrupt international trade in minerals, and calls on the international community to step up efforts to cut off rebel funds.
The militia sprang up in camps in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) housing mainly ethnic Hutu refugees who fled Rwanda after their leaders launched the 1994 genocide, which left some 800,000 people dead.
The campaign has been undermined by corruption and brutality within the official Congolese armed forces and by the FDLR's ability to fund its campaigns through the international mineral trade, it says.

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By: Brant

More Details About Afghanistan Surge Coming Out

Following up the earlier news of President Obama's troop increase announcement, Reuters looks in greater detail at the proposed increase

The leading buildup option, an increase of 30,000-plus U.S. troops and trainers that NATO will be asked to supplement, has the backing of several of Obama's top national security and military advisers, including Gates.

That would give McChrystal the resources to focus on securing Afghan population centers as well as move against Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in outlying areas.

Discussions have focused on sending two additional brigades, totaling between 10,000 to 15,000 troops, to southern Afghanistan around Kandahar, a key Taliban stronghold.

Another brigade was also likely to be added in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan.

Brigades range in size but generally include 3,500 to 4,000 troops. They can swell to over 5,000 troops if other units are attached to them. Marine brigades can be larger.

Administration opponents of the larger-scale buildup favor sending closer to 20,000 additional troops. That may be more politically palatable for Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress. It would allow McChrystal to accelerate the training of the Afghan army and police but would provide him with few additional resources for a broader counterinsurgency.

The smallest increase on the table would send another 10,000 to 15,000 troops to focus on training Afghan forces.

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By: Brant

CyberSecurity being hampered by Congressional Disorganization

DHS officials are accusing Congress of hampering progress on Cyber Security

Part of the blame for continued cybersecurity problems in the U.S. government and beyond lies with Congress and its 'scattershot' approach to dealing with the issue, a former assistant secretary for cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Thursday.

Congress has often provided aggressive oversight of cybersecurity efforts at DHS and elsewhere, but there are continued turf battles between various congressional committees, and lawmakers introduce multiple pieces of legislation that sometimes conflict with each other, said Gregory Garcia, who served as assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications at DHS from late 2006 to late 2008.

Garcia mentioned eight congressional committees that have responsibility for a portion of cybersecurity policy, and he called on congressional leadership to coordinate cybersecurity efforts. Some committees are pushing for more cybersecurity responsibility outside of DHS, while other committees are resisting changes, he said during a press briefing.

Congressional leaders "need to bring their committees together, sit them around the table ... and make sure everybody understands what is their jurisdiction, what's their responsibility, and what are the policy gaps," Garcia said. "Have a coordinated, leadership-driven process, rather than letting all these committees go off freelancing with their next great idea."

By: Watchdog

JSF F35 News: Brits Pissed, Japan Wants In

The Brits are (understandably) upset that the US doesn't want to share some of the software code in the new F35 JSF. This is especially annoying since the Brits have helped pay for quite a bit of it

British defence chiefs are furious over America’s refusal to share hi-tech secrets of a new radar-evading fighter jet that both countries are paying to develop.

The snub was seen last night as another blow to the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries at a critical time when President Obama is demanding more help from Britain in Afghanistan.

The row centres on the multi-billion pound development of Lockheed Martin’s futuristic new F-35 plane.

Meanwhile, Japan wants to replace their aging F4 fleet, and is leaning toward the F35
Japan's defense ministry is moving toward selecting Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) F-35 jet as the mainstay of its next-generation fighter force, Kyodo news agency reported on Monday, citing ministry sources.

The ministry, which is thinking of buying about 40 F-35s, plans to submit a request for their purchase in the fiscal 2011/12 budget, Kyodo said.

It added, however, that the ministry may postpone making the request for one year, due to a view in the government that the purchase should only be made when full details of the plane's capabilities are available.

Lockheed is developing three models of the radar-evading F-35 to replace at least 13 types of aircraft, initially for 11 nations.

By: Brant

Blackwater... uh, "XE" - still active downrange?

Is Blackwater still working, uh... 'black' ops downrange? And does anyone refer to them as "Xe" at all?

The Atlantic has an article online that mentions Prince's guys running around Pakistan

The Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees special operations for the U.S. military, has been hiring out infamous military contracting firm Blackwater for operations in Pakistan, reports Jeremy Scahill in The Nation. Blackwater, whose soldiers are posing as aid workers, is tasked with snatching terrorists and scouting for predator drone attacks in Pakistan, with which U.S. has a cooperative but tenuous partnership in fighting terrorism. The revelation raises serious questions about why the military is still using Blackwater, which was pulled from Iraq after allegations of killing civilians, and what this will mean for our relationship with Pakistan.

By: Brant

Video: Gingrich Weighs in on "GWOT"

By: Watchdog

Israelis Gearing Up Iran Deterrent

In the event that Iranian nuclear defenses actually preclude an Israeli strike against the Persians, is appears that Israel is prepping their deterrent forces.

With cutting-edge anti-missile systems and two new submarines that can carry nuclear weapons, Israel is readying a new generation of armaments designed to defend itself against distant Iran as well as Tehran's proxy armies on its borders.
Having failed to crush Hamas' firepower in its Gaza offensive last winter, or Hezbollah's in its 2006 war in Lebanon, Israel is turning to an increasingly sophisticated mix of defensive technology.

A system that can unleash a metallic cloud to shoot down incoming rockets in the skies over Gaza or Lebanon has already been successfully tested, according to its maker, and is expected to be deployed next year. The army is developing a new generation of its Arrow defense system designed to shoot down Iran's long-range Shihab missiles outside the Earth's atmosphere.
It has three German-made Dolphin submarines and is buying two more. They can be equipped with nuclear-tipped missiles which analysts say could be stationed off the coast of Iran. Israel says Iran, despite its denials, is trying to acquire atomic weapons. It has never confirmed its Dolphin fleet has nuclear capabilities, but senior officials acknowledge that commanders are fast at work devising a strike plan in case diplomacy fails.
The missile projects have their critics in Israel, who question their effectiveness and say they are too costly. And many Israelis would probably agree with U.S. former President Bill Clinton's recent warning to an Israeli audience that the country could achieve true security only by making peace with its enemies, who he said would always be able to improve their ability to attack.

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By: Brant

Wednesday Wargaming: Thanksgiving Week

Needful diversions of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
- Abraham Lincoln (full text can be found here)

Thanksgiving is a traditional family holiday in the Americas. Wargamers will recall that it was Abraham Lincoln adopted it as a formal holiday during the Civil War, though the tradition extends as far back as the Puritan colonists who first landed here in the 17th Century. So as we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday and consider the bounties that we enjoy even in these tough economic times, let it not be said that we don’t have some great wargames to be thankful for.

Soldiers have long known that the weather sometimes dictates when battles may take place or if they can take place at all. Terms like “campaign season” are an explicit acknowledgment of that fact. So as I cast about looking for Civil War battles that took place over what we now recognize as the Thanksgiving holidays, the examples are few. As a result, I’ve loosened my criteria for battle selection and instead of focusing on a battle that took place on this particular week in history, I’ll take a look at some battles that took place in November during the Civil War and highlight some games that can help takes us back to that general time and place.
November 23, 1863 – The Chattanooga Campaign. Grant, Sherman, and Hooker lay the smack down on the rebs.

Games to set the mood: HPS's Chicamauga
Avalanche Press's War of the States
XTR Corp's Chattanooga
SPI's Chattanooga

By: GladiusMagnus

Video: Thunder Run

This isn't quite a Monday Video, since there's no real good music soundtrack under it. But it's still a great video of a turret camera on a TF 1-64 AR Thunder Run through Baghdad in 2003. Enjoy.

By: Brant

Afghanistan "Surge" and Reactions, sort of

President Obama has finally announced the plans to expand the force in Afghanistan, and will make an announcement shortly on how much of what is expected to go.

War-weary Americans will support more fighting in Afghanistan once they understand the perils of losing, President Barack Obama declared Tuesday, announcing he was ready to spell out war plans virtually sure to include tens of thousands more U.S. troops.
He is expected to make his case to the nation in a Tuesday night speech, even as the military completes plans to begin sending in reinforcements in the spring.
Eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks led the U.S. into Afghanistan, Obama said it is still in America's vital national interest to 'dismantle and destroy' al-Qaida terrorists and extremist allies. 'I intend to finish the job,' he said.
Obama said he would announce after Thanksgiving his decision on additional troops, and military, congressional and other sources said the occasion would be a Tuesday night televised speech laying out his plans for expanding the Afghan conflict — and then ultimately ending America's military role.

The issue of public opinion seems to weighing on his mind, as polls show the US public divided on support

A new poll Tuesday found Americans deeply divided about deploying more US troops to Afghanistan, just days before President Barack Obama was to announce his decision on sending reinforcements.
The CNN survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, found 50 percent of Americans would favor sending tens of thousands more troops while 49 percent would oppose it.
Asked generally about their view about the war in Afghanistan, 45 percent said they are in favor, while 52 percent oppose it.

And nevertheless, the President seems to think he can overcome that lack of support

President Barack Obama expects Americans to support sending tens of thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan once they understand the perils of losing, and he is preparing to make his case to the nation next week.
Eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks led the U.S. into Afghanistan, Obama said it is still in America's vital national interest to 'dismantle and destroy' al-Qaida terrorists and extremist allies. 'I intend to finish the job,' he said.
Military officials expect an infusion of approximately 32,000 to 35,000 troops to begin in February or March, the largest expansion since the beginning of the war and one that could bring the cost above $75 billion annually.

By: Brant

24 November 2009

Fascinating Analysis of Worldwide Aircraft Carriers

Wargamer.com has a fantastic piece about aircraft carriers in their forum. You should really check it out.

By: Brant

War Heroes: Colonel Lewis Millett

DefenseLink News Article: Face of Defense: Soldier Who Led Last Bayonet Charge Dies

Retired Army Col. Lewis L. Millett, who received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War for leading what reportedly was the last major American bayonet charge, died Nov 14.

Millett, 88, died in Loma Linda, Calif., after serving for more than 15 years as the honorary colonel of the 27th Infantry Regiment Association.

Millet received the Medal of Honor for his actions Feb. 7, 1951. He led the 25th Infantry Division’s Company E, 27th Infantry, in a bayonet charge up Hill 180 near Soam-Ni, Korea. A captain at the time, Millet was leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position when he noticed that a platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire.

Millett placed himself at the head of two other platoons, ordered fixed bayonets, and led an assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge, Millett bayoneted two enemy soldiers and continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement, according to his Medal of Honor citation.

"Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill," the citation states. "His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder."

Millett was wounded by grenade fragments during the attack, but he refused evacuation until the objective was firmly secured. He recovered, and attended Ranger School after the war.

In the 1960s, he ran the 101st Airborne Division Recondo School for reconnaissance and commando training at Fort Campbell, Ky. He then served in a number of special operations advisory assignments in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He founded the Royal Thai Army Ranger School with help of the 46th Special Forces Company. This unit reportedly is the only one in the U.S. Army to simultaneously be designated as both Ranger and Special Forces.

Millet retired from the Army in 1973.

(image from DefenseLink)

Captain MILLETT, LEWIS L., U.S. Army at Congressional Medal of Honor Society

By: Brant

Internet Wargames Catalog, 7th Edition now available

From CSW, the Internet Wargames Catalog, 7th Edition

Internet Wargames Catalog, 7th Edition

Now available. The Internet Wargames Catalog, 7th Edition, is the comprehensive price guide for board wargames helping sellers, buyers, and collectors. More than 4200 games are listed with prices for punched/played and unpunched/unplayed kept separate. Receive the electronic version (in both PDF and Excel format) for $11.99. Receive a CD-ROM version for $24.99 (which includes past editions of the catalog as well). Hardcopies are available for $25 (media mail) or $27.50 (priority mail). To place your order, please contact the publisher, Doug Steinberg or send payment via paypal using ID: steinbrg@htc.net.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Firefight in Helmand Province

During Operation Panchai Palang, men of 7 Platoon,2 Company, 1 Welsh Guards, (7 Plt, 2 Coy 1WG), together with men of the Mortar Platoon responded to enemy fire as they occupied a compound near Checkpoint Yellow 7 on the Shamalan Canal in Helmand, Afghanistan.

Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Pay-as-you-go for wars?

When, in the history of US wars, have they ever been paid for out of savings?
When has the US government ever actually had a surplus?

Call it “pay as you fight.”

After months of listening to conservatives caterwaul over deficits and health care, senior House Democrats want a graduated surtax on individuals and corporations to pay for another big drain on the treasury: the Afghanistan war.

Three full committee chairmen — including the House’s top tax writer, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) — are backing the initiative together with the chair of the party caucus, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), and close allies of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The speaker has been silent thus far, and many dismiss the idea as more rhetoric than real legislation. But with President Barack Obama due to make a final decision soon on adding more U.S. troops, the initiative testifies to the growing restlessness among Democrats over the costs of the American commitment in Afghanistan.

- ... -

U.S. military spending in Afghanistan had reached $3.6 billion a month this summer — or more than $43 billion a year, according to estimates by the Congressional Research Service. And in the course of meeting with lawmakers, Obama has used a rough measuring stick that every 1,000 troops added will add another $1 billion to this annual basis.

“We’re not trying to insult anybody. We’re just trying to keep in the forefront what the financial costs are,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) told POLITICO. “We felt conscience bound to speak up”

“It’s conditional, but if we’re going to add 40,000 troops, people ought to know what the costs are,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.). “It’s important for people to understand how these wars are adding to our deficits.”

Dubbed the “Share the Sacrifice Act,” the six-page bill exempts anyone who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan since the 2001 terrorist attacks as well as families who have lost an immediate relative in the fighting. But middle-class households earning between $30,000 and $150,000 would be asked to pay 1% on top of their tax liability today — a more sweeping approach than many Democrats have been willing to embrace.

By: Brant

A Brief History of The Medal of Honor

From the official DoD website, the history of the Medal of Honor

A Brief History — The Medal of Honor*

The first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by the nation's fighting men was established by General George Washington on August 7, 1782. Designed to recognize "any singularly meritorious action," the award consisted of a purple cloth heart. Records show that only three persons received the ward: Sergeant Elijah Churchill, Sergeant William Brown, and Sergeant Daniel Bissel Jr.

The Badge of Military Merit, as it was called, fell into oblivion until 1932, when General Douglas MacArthur, then Army Chief of Staff, pressed for its revival. Officially reinstituted on February 22, 1932, the now familiar Purple Heart was at first an Army award, given to those who had been wounded in World War I or who possessed a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate. In 1943, the order was amended to include personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Coverage was eventually extended to include all services and "any civilian national" wounded while serving with the Armed Forces.

Although the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse after the Revolutionary War, the idea of a decoration for individual gallantry remained through the early 1800s. In 1847, after the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, a "certificate of merit" was established for any soldier who distinguished himself in action. No medal went with the honor. After the Mexican-American War, the award was discontinued, which meant there was no military award with which to recognize the nation's fighting men.

Early in the Civil War, a medal for individual valor was proposed to General-in-Chief of the Army Winfield Scott. But Scott felt medals smacked of European affectation and killed the idea.
The medal found support in the Navy, however, where it was felt recognition of courage in strife was needed. Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy medal of valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21, 1861. The medal was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war."

Shortly after this, a resolution similar in wording was introduced on behalf of the Army. Signed into law July 12, 1862, the measure provided for awarding a medal of honor "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldierlike qualities, during the present insurrection."

Although it was created for the Civil War, Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration in 1863.

Almost 3,400 men and one woman have received the award for heroic actions in the nation's battles since that time.

(Image from Wikipedia)

By: Brant

COIN Video Archive

The CAC has an archive of COIN videos posted where you can view a variety of presentation from the U.S. Army and Marine Corps

By: Brant

Secret nuke pacts? Hmmmmm....

Keeping in mind that this is a Chinese news source, it makes you wonder just what the relevance is to a supposedly secret Japan-U.S. nuke pact

Japan's Foreign Ministry will admit that a secret pact between Japan and the United States, which allows nuclear-laden U.S. military vessels and aircraft to stopover in Japanese territory, does exist according to a statement made by the ministry on Saturday.

Following increasing allegations and mounting evidence that such a pact was in existence, Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka set up a task force in September to conduct a 'full and comprehensive' investigation into the allegations.

The task force now headed by Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and consisting of around fifteen ministry officials, has looked into some 3,200 in-house documents and 3,700 documents from the Japanese Embassy in Washington since Sept. 25. During Okada's in-house probe, documents have been found that corroborate the existence of the secret nuclear agreement, according to sources close to the matter.

Coupled with this finding, a former vice foreign minister recently came forward attesting to the Japan-U.S. clandestine understanding, saying that he was privy to the minutes of the meeting in which the secret pact was made in 1960.

By: Brant

EU Training Somalis?

There's a report that the EU may send a training team to Somalia

The European Union plans to send some 100 troops to Uganda next year to train Somali government forces who are fighting Islamist insurgents, European officials said on Tuesday.

The mission still needs final approval but could start in the first half of next year, and is likely to be led by Spain, which takes over the EU presidency for six months from January.

French Defence Minister Herve Morin said Paris intended to contribute 30 soldiers. Spain has also committed troops and Britain, Slovenia, Hungary and Greece may also contribute.

"We agreed today that the EU as a whole can participate ... but we will take this decision in the next weeks when we have an operational plan," said Cristina Gallach, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

"It can be done rather quickly."

The intention is to train up to 2,000 Somali troops, which will complement other training missions and bring the total number of better-trained Somali soldiers to 6,000.

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By: Brant

BAOR/BFG no more?

The Conservatives in the UK want to pull the BAOR/BFG out of Germany

Britain should withdraw its army from Germany so it can take on 'expeditionary roles' elsewhere under a strategic NATO overhaul, the British opposition defence spokesman said in a newspaper interview on Saturday.

Liam Fox told the Daily Telegraph Britain's 25,000-strong military presence on the Rhine 'wasn't necessary' any longer now the security threat once posed by the Soviet regime was over.

BAOR - Wargame it!
Website devoted to service locations for BAOR
British Forces Germany at Wikipedia
British Army of the Rhine at Wikipedia

By: Brant

Senior Mentors Cashing In, but is it an ethical comflict?

There's much abuzz in DC and the news media about the idea of retired generals acting as 'mentors' for their successors, at hefty pay increases. The oddest thing about it is that it's just now become newsworthy when it's been going on for years.

Federal times offers someperspective on individual generals.
Six months after Marine Lt. Gen. Gary McKissock retired in 2002, he did what many other ex-military leaders do: He joined the board of directors of a defense contractor, a company doing business with his former service.

McKissock also had a second job. The Marines brought him back as an adviser, at double the rate of pay he made on active duty. Since 2005, the Marines have awarded McKissock contracts worth $1.2 million, in addition to his military pension of about $119,000 a year.

McKissock is one of at least 158 retired admirals and generals the Pentagon has hired to offer advice under an unusual arrangement. Most of the retired officers, one to four stars in rank, have been paid hundreds of dollars an hour by the military even as they worked for companies seeking Defense Department contracts, a USA Today investigation found. That's in addition to pensions of $100,000 to $200,000 a year for officers with 30 or more years of service.

As 'senior mentors,' as the military calls them, the retired officers help run war games and offer advice to former colleagues. Some mentors make as much as $330 an hour as part-time government advisers, more than triple what their rate of pay was as high-level, active-duty officers. They earn more — far more, several mentors said in interviews — as consultants and board members to defense companies.

While USA Today focuses on Senator McCain's reaction to it all.
The Pentagon should rewrite ethics rules for retired generals who work as advisers for the military while representing defense contractors, Arizona Sen. John McCain and other lawmakers said Wednesday.
'The important thing is that they avoid the appearance of conflict,' McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview.

And the =The Project On Government Oversight weighs in, too.

By: Brant

23 November 2009

Vegas Tourism to be "hurt" by DHS Exercise?

Is there are real reason that Sen. Reid objects to emergency exercise set for Vegas or is it political grandstanding looking for an excuse?

Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid has sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking her to reconsider plans for an emergency exercise in Las Vegas.
Reid says in the letter dated Thursday that the simulation would harm the southern Nevada economy and hurt or even reverse economic recovery efforts.
Reid's office says the Federal Emergency Management Agency National Level Exercise 2010 is planned for May and would simulate a national level security threat on the Las Vegas Strip.
Reid says he understands the need for first responders to do training, but he says several groups have voiced opposition to the current proposed scenario.
DHS spokesman Sean Smith says the National Level Exercise 2010 is still in the planning phases, and FEMA will continue to work with congressmen and other key stakeholders as it develops the event.

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By: Watchdog

British Army Blogging from the front

There are a handful of 'official' blogs links from the MoD website to guys out in the field. Some of the posts are pretty good reads, while others are barely more than propaganda. Enjoy.

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan
Basra Blog - Iraq
Frontline bloggers - Afghanistan

By: Brant

Sigh... someone can't tell fantasy from reality again

So apparently in the litany of things that exist only in games, and not reality, we now need to add war crimes to the list of stuff not to try at home.

Video games depicting war have come under fire for flouting laws governing armed conflicts.
Human rights groups played various games to see if any broke humanitarian laws that govern what is a war crime.
The study condemned the games for violating laws by letting players kill civilians, torture captives and wantonly destroy homes and buildings.
It said game makers should work harder to remind players about the real world limits on their actions.
War without limits
The study was carried out by two Swiss human rights organisations - Trial and Pro Juventute. Staff played the games in the presence of lawyers skilled in the interpretation of humanitarian laws.
Twenty games were scrutinised to see if the conflicts they portrayed and what players can do in the virtual theatres of war were subject to the same limits as in the real world.
'The practically complete absence of rules or sanctions is... astonishing,' said the study.
Army of Two, Call of Duty 5, Far Cry 2 and Conflict Desert Storm were among the games examined.
The games were analysed to see "whether certain scenes and acts committed by players would constitute violations of international law if they were real, rather than virtual".
The group chose games, rather than films, because of their interactivity.
"Thus," said the report, "the line between the virtual and real experience becomes blurred and the game becomes a simulation of real life situations on the battlefield."
The testers looked for violations of the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols which cover war should be waged.
In particular, the testers looked for how combatants who surrendered were treated, what happened to citizens caught up in war zones and whether damage to buildings was proportionate.
Some games did punish the killing of civilians and reward strategies that tried to limit the damage the conflict, said the study.
However, it said, many others allowed "protected objects" such as churches and mosques to be attacked; some depicted interrogations that involved torture or degradation and a few permitted summary executions.
The authors acknowledged that the project was hard because it was not clear from many of the games the scale of the conflict being depicted. This made it hard to definitively determine which humanitarian laws should be enforced.
It also said that the games were so complex that it was hard to be confident that its testers had seen all possible violations or, in games in which they found none, that no violations were possible.
It noted that, even though most players would never become real world combatants, the games could influence what people believe war is like and how soldiers conduct themselves in the real world.
It said games were sending an "erroneous" message that conflicts were waged without limits or that anything was acceptable in counter-terrorism operations.
"This is especially problematic in view of today's reality," said the study.
In particular, it said, few games it studied reflected the fact that those who "violate international humanitarian law end up as war criminals, not as winners".

Still waiting for someone to tell me how "True Crime" games are military, or how Far Cry 2 is 'realistic', never mind Metal Gear Solid - if we're worried about assessing the "realism" of games, why don't we criticize chameleon suits, too?
24, The Game
Army of Two
Battlefield Bad Company
Brothers in Arms - Hell's Highway
Call of Duty 4
Call of Duty 5
Close Combat: First to Fight
Conflict Desert Storm
Far Cry 2
World in Conflict
Frontlines: Fuel of War
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter
Hour of Victory
Medal of Honour Airborne
Metal Gear Solid
Soldier of Fortune
Tom Clancy Rainbow 6 Vegas
Tom Clancy Splinter Cell Double Agent
True Crime Streets of LA

By: Brant

Video: How to shoot skeet


By: Brant

COIN in the US - really.

We don't normally re-post an entire news story. This one's an exception. It's a touchy subject, and deserves to be more fully discussed. It also happens to affect a town where several GN staffers have lived and have family. Check out how the US military is using COIN lessons from overseas to help law enforcement in Salinas, CA

SALINAS, CALIF. -- Famed to readers as the birthplace of John Steinbeck and in supermarket produce circles as the "Salad Bowl of the World," the city of Salinas carries darker renown in the netherworld of California's prisons. Instant respect is accorded any inmate tattooed with the words "Salad Bowl" or "Salis" -- gang shorthand for a city now defined most of all by ferocious eruptions of violence.

In the space of 11 days this year, seven people were murdered in Salinas. Each killing, like the record 25 homicides the previous year, spilled from the gang warfare that this summer pushed the homicide rate in the city of 140,000 to three times that of Los Angeles. Residents retreated indoors at night, and Mayor Dennis Donohue affirmed his decision to seek help from an unlikely source: the U.S. military.

Since February, combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been advising Salinas police on counterinsurgency strategy, bringing lessons from the battlefield to the meanest streets in an American city.

"This is our surge," said Donohue, who solicited the assistance from the elite Naval Postgraduate School, 20 miles and a world away in Monterey. "When the public heard about this, they thought we were going to send the Navy SEALs into Salinas."

In fact, the cavalry arrived in civvies, carrying laptops rather than M-16s and software instead of mortars. In this case, the most valuable military asset turned out to be an idea: Change the dynamic in the community and victory can follow.

"It's a little laboratory," said retired Col. Hy Rothstein, the former Army career officer in Special Forces who heads the team of 15 faculty members and students, mostly naval officers taking time between deployments to pick up a master's degree. Their effort in Salinas counts as extracurricular and is necessarily voluntary, given the constitutional bar on the military operating within U.S. borders.

'Obviously, there are restrictions,' said Salinas Deputy Police Chief Kelly McMillin. 'Not only the constitutional part of it, but just the idea we are going to have choppers fast-roping onto Alisal Street.'

'Occupying force'

The reality turns out to be less dramatic: The thrust of the plan relies on winning the trust of people. In Salinas, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, the uniformed forces patrolling 'are still viewed as an occupying force,' said Police Chief Louis Fetherolf.

Gangs and police compete in the aftermath of gang shootings -- witnesses in a position to see everything share nothing with police. Their silence is so absolute that after a killing in August, a department spokesman told the local paper that police were 'absolutely begging' for witnesses.

The distrust rises partly from differences of culture and language: Many Hispanics in the city have roots in nations where police are often viewed as predators.

'Lot of people are afraid of the cops,' said Jose Angel Soto, whose 16-year-old son was fatally shot on the street in May 2008.

But Fetherolf, who took office this year, also blamed a tradition of police officers who 'love the chase. They get into this business to kick ass and take names, by and large. We're at odds with ourselves because of the people we hire.'

When Salinas police hosted a community meeting a couple of years ago to help residents determine whether their children were in gangs, not a single resident showed up.

Rothstein, a veteran of counterinsurgency efforts in Colombia and Central America, notes the "significant overlap with how you deal with insurgencies and how you deal with cities that are under siege from gangs." Going after insurgents, he said, involves "trying to capture the allegiance and control of the population. Gang members are trying to do the same."

To help, the advisers brought to Salinas the powerful computer software commanders used in Iraq. U.S. forces there started out nearly as blind as Salinas police claim to be in facing a population where, by the mayor's count, 10 percent to 15 percent of families include a gang member.

The military's software tracks crimes and links suspects and their associates by social, geographic and family connections. "It looked pretty wazoo," said Fetherolf, impressed.

Certain adjustments were required: "Commander's Intent" became "Mayor's Intent." But parallels leapt out immediately to Maj. James M. Few, who on smallwarsjournal.com wrote: "The frightening realization is that I've walked this dog before."

Few, a veteran of three Iraq tours, said in an interview that he sensed in the grievances of poor Latinos some of the air of disenfranchisement Sunnis felt toward the Iraq government dominated by Shiites. In a visit to the Salinas courthouse, he watched a gang member charged with fighting who appeared almost eager to get to jail.

"What was strange was the look on his face was very similar to a bunch of the insurgents we'd captured" in Diyala province, Few said. "Stone-cold face. Eyes are very deep set and very cold. It's one of defiance, almost."

A plague in Salinas

The gang problem dates back decades in Salinas, headquarters of the northern California network known as La Familia or Norteños. Organized in regiments, the gang operates more coherently in Salinas than its rival, the Mexican Mafia based in Southern California, according to Sgt. Mark Lazzarini, a Salinas police officer. He briefed the Monterey contingent and calls it a "godsend."

"Only half of our gangs are structured: the Norteños," he said. "The southerners are completely unstructured. Half of our violence is kids who get into a car and go out and hunt. These kids don't know their victims. How do you stop that? It's very chaotic."

That's the flip side of the "surge," city officials say.

To secure Salinas, the mayor wants more boots on the ground, though finding the money to hire 84 officers became more problematic after local voters recently rejected a 1-cent increase in the sales tax, billed as "a penny for peace." More officers would mean less dashing from call to call and more time to demonstrate that police work for residents.

Social programs will play a key role in a city where gang membership often flows from the long hours when youths are unwatched by parents working in the lettuce fields.

"The kid's left alone a lot," said Lazzarini. "Pretty soon they become a 'neighborhood kid.' ''

All the pieces, however, must leave city officials speaking with one voice.

"I don't want to use the word 'psychological operations' because that'll really make people go crazy," said Rothstein, who teaches a "classified seminar" on information operations in Monterey. "But the idea is, talking to the public thwarts negative messages. All that is part of a strategic communication plan that has to inform everything you do."

Leonard A. Ferrari, provost of the Naval Postgraduate School, embraced the project from the start, hearing in Donohue's plea an opportunity for a school "in transition from just a defense institution to a national homeland and even a human security institution. The Justice Department estimates 1 million gang members nationwide. If the Apollo program gave the mattress industry memory foam, the $1 trillion invested so far in Iraq and Afghanistan could pay a dividend in American streets.

"The idea was, not just Salinas," Ferrari said, "but is there a national model for this?"

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By: Brant