31 May 2011

Cyber Attack = Act of War?

A new Pentagon policy has elevated cyber attacks to "acts of war".

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

The Pentagon's first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country's military.

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks," said a military official.

By: Brant

Russia Takes Their Ball And Goes Home

Deciding not to play well with others, the Russians canceled their war games with India. Makes you wonder what's going on...

In a big snub to India, Russia has cancelled two bilateral war games with the Indian Armed Forces after months of planning and a well-established arrangement. The move has left the Indian Navy furious over the "unprofessional manner" in which the decision was taken.

Russia first called off the Indra series of exercises with the navy late in April. Later, it cancelled another planned war game with the army in June.

The cancellation of the naval war game came as a rude shock as the cancellation came after five Indian warships reached Vladivostok. The ships were allowed to dock at Vladivostok as a port of call and then they had to sail back to India.

Russia apparently stated that their warships were not available as they were deployed in Fukushima to help Japan in relief work in the wake of a massive earthquake followed by a tsunami and a major nuclear crisis.

OK, that I could almost buy. But not telling India before the ships set sail? Bush league.

However the latest insult to injury was the calling off of the army exercise. Moscow said that it would not be able to host the exercise as there was little time to prepare.

Apparently, the Russian moves come in the wake of India choosing two European fighter jets as the top contenders for a $10.4 billion fighter jet contract.

Aye - there's the rub. Now we know why the exercises were canceled. The Russians are petty and vindictive bastards.

By: Brant

Sound Off: What would it take for you to participate in a team game at the Origins War College?

(Bonus for today, as we ramp up to Origins)

Hey everyone -

I'm just wondering what - if anything - people know about the staff wargames we run at the Origins War College, and what it would take for you to come check out one of them and join us for a game?

Players take on roles in a military staff and plan and execute an operation using a wargame... gotta keep up with current situation and changes to the plan while the fight's going on. It's a ton of fun We get a lot of folks coming back year after year.

You've got an assignment within the command post in a military unit and during the course of the battle you manage your appropriate functional area, as the operations guy, or the intel guy, or fire support guy, and you're all working together against the OPFOR. It's a cooperative experience that's well-guided along by Dr Sterrett and the rest of the gang that's been doing this a few years. There's no "wasting time" because at some point the enemy comes rolling over the hill.

The only exception to the "cooperative" model might be Persian Incursion, which will be head-to-head teams if we get enough people.

It's a chance to learn what a military exercise looks like, within the context of a cooperative game, and play your way through the scenario in near-real time.

By: Brant

Sound Off! War Stories!

We've asked for your war stories before, and had some entertaining tales of our own...

Now we want more of yours - sound off with your war stories in the comments below!

By: Brant

Last Week In Photos at the DoD

Last Week In Photos, from the DoD.

Newly commissioned Navy ensigns and Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants from the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2011 celebrate their graduation with the traditional hat toss at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., May 27, 2011. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien

By: Brant

Ceremony Honors American Dead In Halifax

Deadman's Island in Halifax was the site of a Memorial Day ceremony that honored American prisoners of war who died in captivity on Melville Island during the War of 1812.
It’s been nearly 200 years and it seems that Canada and the United States are still at odds over who was the victor in the War of 1812.

That was apparent Monday morning at a U.S. Memorial Day ceremony held here in Halifax to honour the nearly 200 American prisoners of war buried in what is now a small park known as Deadmans Island on the shores of the Northwest Arm.

The brief ceremony was attended by American sailors off the USS Boise, a Virginia-based sub, which is visiting Halifax Harbour, and a smattering of locals and Canadian military.

"We have different views about exactly how we came out on that deal," said Anton Smith, the U.S. consul general for the Atlantic provinces.

"You guys ended up with more territory than we did, but a lot more ice," Smith said.
By: Shelldrake

Official Statements on Leadership Changes

Here's the official statement from Secretary Gates on the changes in US military leadership.

"I enthusiastically support President Obama's choices to fill these key military leadership positions.

"General Dempsey, Admiral Winnefeld, and General Odierno have all excelled in key command and staff roles within their services and in the joint arena. They possess the right mix of intellectual heft, moral courage, and strategic vision required to provide sound and candid advice to the President and his national security team. Above all, they are proven leaders of men and women in combat operations over the past decade, and are uniquely qualified to guide and shape our military institutions through the challenging times ahead.

"On a personal note, I have enjoyed working with Admiral Mullen and General Cartwright and benefited greatly from their wise counsel. All Americans owe these two fine officers and their families a debt of gratitude, and I look forward to paying fuller tribute to their accomplishments at the appropriate time."

And here's the statement by ADM Mike Mullen.

"I fully support the President's decision to nominate Gen. Marty Dempsey and Adm. Sandy Winnefeld for the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Both men are extraordinary leaders, who will provide the Secretary of Defense and the President not only their best military advice, but also the great benefit of their decades of military experience and their command in combat operations.

"I know, too, that they will represent faithfully and stridently the 2.2 million men and women in uniform, as well as their families.

"In that same vein, I applaud the selection of Gen. Ray Odierno to succeed Gen. Dempsey as Army Chief of Staff. Like Marty, Ray is a combat-proven officer who made a real difference in Iraq, and who will lead the Army with strength and with passion as we complete our mission there and begin to transition in Afghanistan."

By: Brant

Battle Lab: Logistics

Originally published in Battles Magazine #1, and republished by The Wargamer. This was due to run yesterday - and most of the reprints will hit on Mondays - but we pushed this one b/c of Memorial Day.


Here’s a logic puzzle for you.

You have 4 snakes that have to get through a maze. They each have a destination, but there are only 3 start points and only 3 endpoints. Oh, and the routes through the maze cross in several places, which means you have to sequence your snakes through the maze. And by the way, there is a certain sequence the snakes need to depart and arrive.

Does your head hurt yet? What if we started putting some obstacles in the maze? How about if the snakes stop off for a bite to eat? What if we start including snakes going the other direction, too? Some passageways are too small for some snakes, do you route them through those pathways to free up space for other snakes even if the smaller ones now take longer to get where they’re going?

Welcome to the world of military logistics planning. As you can see, it’s a very intricate dance, and – quite honestly – a lousy game. There’s a limited amount of “oogah oogah grunt grunt” appeal to convoy route planning and sequencing, especially when compared against main battle tanks killing targets at 3500m, and infantry bayonet charges into the teeth of the enemy line.

more after the jump! (click the article header for the full article)

What Would *You* Do With $32b?

I'll bet you wouldn't waste it on abandoned weapons programs like the Army did, eh?

[The Comanche] is one of 22 major Army weapons programs canceled since 1995, ringing up a price tag of more than $32 billion for equipment that was never built. A new study, commissioned by the Army and obtained by The Washington Post, condemns the service’s efforts as “unacceptable.”

The study is the latest indication that the Pentagon — and the defense industry, in turn — is undergoing a seismic shift in its approach to new programs. As pressures mounted in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military retreated from its ambitions for multibillion-dollar, technologically superior systems. Instead, it was forced to make better use of tried-and-true equipment.

For almost a decade, the Defense Department saw its budgets boom but didn’t make the kind of technological strides that seemed possible.

“Since 9/11, a near doubling of the Pentagon’s modernization accounts — more than $700 billion over 10 years in new spending on procurement, research and development — has resulted in relatively modest gains in actual military capability,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in an address last week.

That outcome, he said, is both “vexing and disturbing.”

Gone are the days of “no-questions-asked funding requests,” he said. The Defense Department must make do with less. It is focusing on fixing up older equipment and taking a more measured approach to weapon development.

By: Brant

The Brits'll Get An Aircraft Carrier Afloat... Eventually

Well, I guess the Brits will get an aircraft carrier back on the seas by 2020.

Defence secretary Liam Fox was on the Clyde to cut the first steel for HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy's two Queen Elizabeth class carriers.

Dr Fox started the computer-guided laser to cut the first piece of hull for the ship at a ceremony at the BAE Systems shipyard in Govan.

After the symbolic ceremony, Dr Fox told the workers the government was committed to delivering this next generation of powerful British aircraft carriers, which will form the cornerstone of the navy's Future Force 2020.

"This major construction project is creating and sustaining thousands of jobs in shipyards around the country," he added.

After attending the event, Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty told The Courier, "It is another milestone on the road to completion of the two aircraft carriers.

"Obviously I am delighted to begin to see the Queen Elizabeth carriers taking shape in Govan and more crucially at Rosyth."

He said not only would the carriers guarantee employment for Rosyth until 2020 at least, but they were of great benefit to the UK.

In the meantime, the pride of the French navy is doing the heavy lifting of Libya.

By: Brant

Disney vs SEAL Team 6... No Contest

Disney has backed down.

Faced with a public relations firestorm, Walt Disney Co. said it had withdrawn its application to trademark the moniker "SEAL Team 6" for use on games, snow globes and TV shows.

Two days after the Navy's elite SEAL Team 6 swooped into Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing the Al Qaeda leader, an attorney for the Burbank-based entertainment giant filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for use of the term "SEAL Team 6."

Last week, the Navy countered by filing two trademark applications of its own for the names "Navy SEALS" and "SEAL Team."

On Wednesday, Disney deferred to the Navy.

'Out of deference to the Navy's application for these trademarks, we have withdrawn ours,' a Disney spokesman said.

By: Brant

30 May 2011

UK In Action: ANA IED Patrol

Members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) search a road for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A significant offensive operation, which takes the independence and self-sufficiency of British-trained Afghan forces to a new level, has begun in central Helmand. As the new year was seen in around the world, Afghan troops were opening a new chapter which sets the scene for their future autonomy and long-term role in the defence of their nation against extremism and terror. Operation OMID PANJ ('Hope Five' in English) follows on from the successful Operation OMID CHAR which, at the time, was the largest operation in size, number of soldiers and duration to have been planned, led and conducted by the Afghan National Army. But OMID PANJ takes things a step further, with the Afghans relying on even less support from British troops, who are present only in a supporting role. One of the key areas where significant development of Afghan capability is being demonstrated is their growing ability to find and render safe improvised explosive devices, the indiscriminate weapon of choice for the insurgency. Being conducted in the Green Zone, north of the Helmand River, the operation is pushing the Afghan governmentÕs influence and security bubble further out. By the time of its conclusion, it will see a new patrol base established east of Gereshk between the River Helmand and the Bandi Barq Road. This rural area, filled with irrigation ditches, canals and small farm plots, interspersed with residential compounds, has suffered from significant insurgent intimidation due to its proximity to smuggling routes into Gereshk city.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Memorial Day - Taps

This Monday video isn't a bang. You understand.

By: Brant

Memorial Day

When I go home people'll ask me, "Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?" You know what I'll say? I won't say a goddamn word. Why? They won't understand. They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand that it's about the men next to you, and that's it. That's all it is.

By: Brant

29 May 2011

US Military Leadership Roulette

Once the wheels stop spinning, this is where Ricks expects everyone to land.

I'm hearing the announcements will start as soon as the Memorial Day weekend is over, probably coming Tuesday. In addition to Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Odierno as chief of staff of the Army, the vice chief of the Army, I am told, likely will be Lloyd Austin. Apparently the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs will be Adm. James Winnefeld.

This means that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the chief of the Army, and the chief of the CIA all will be people who commanded Army divisions in Iraq during that horrible first year, 2003-2004, which I found harder than subsequent years because I never expected the leadership of the United States military and government to screw it up so badly. (Dempsey had 1st Armored Division, Odierno had 4th Infantry Division, and Petraeus had 101st Airborne Division. Makes me want to dig out my notes for Fiasco of the logs of commanders' meetings from that year.)

By: Brant

Raid on OBL Also Revenge for CIA

It wasn't just revenge for 9-11. The raid on OBL was revenge for deaths all the way back to '98, especially for the CIA.

For a small cadre of CIA veterans, the death of Osama bin Laden was more than just a national moment of relief and closure. It was also a measure of payback, a settling of a score for a pair of deaths, the details of which have remained a secret for 13 years.
Tom Shah and Molly Huckaby Hardy were among the 44 U.S. Embassy employees killed when a truck bomb exploded outside the embassy compound in Kenya in 1998.
Though it has never been publicly acknowledged, the two were working undercover for the CIA. In al-Qaida's war on the United States, they are believed to be the first CIA casualties.
Their names probably will not be among those read at Memorial Day celebrations around the country this weekend. Like many CIA officers, their service remained a secret in both life and death, marked only by anonymous stars on the wall at CIA headquarters and blank entries in its book of honor.
Their CIA ties were described to The Associated Press by a half-dozen current and former U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because Shaw's and Hardy's jobs are still secret, even now.

By: Brant

28 May 2011

USAction! Air Assault

U.S. Army soldiers with 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Focused Targeting Force, board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Khowst province, Afghanistan, on March 29, 2011. DoD photo by Pfc. Donald Watkins, U.S. Army. (Released)

Photo from US DoD

By: Brant

27 May 2011

Drug-Running in a Freakin' Tank?!

OK, it's not really a "tank" in the truest sense of the word, but the Mexican drug cartel that's sporting it's own armored fighting vehicle is a bit of challenge for the local constabulary.

The war in northern Mexico between drug cartels and the Mexican government has raged for 4 1/2 years, with little end in sight — especially with the cartels starting to build tanks like this one, nicknamed "El Monstruo 2011."

From jungle-built submarines to ultralights hauling marijuana, drug cartels have found ingenious ways to transport their goods. But the tanks of the northern Mexico cartels represent something different; a paramilitary response to a government crackdown that has made little progress in staunching the violence.

The Blog Del Narco reports that the tank was captured two weeks ago after a firefight outside Ciudad Mier in northern Mexico. The vehicle had a top speed of 68 mph, and could carry 12 people — but had no side shielding for its tires, which ultimately led to its end.

h/t Dan!

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming: Greenline Chechnya

An older Miranda design from GameFix Magazine, Greenline: Chechnya is tough to find, but is worth it for two reasons. First, it can be played solo, which is nice; second, it was one of the first games to dig into the Central Asia conflicts as they were happening, and had some eerily predictive elements to it.

You can find a copy at Noble Knight Games, and some other places around the web.

CSW has a consolidated thread for all the different Chechnya games, so you have to dig around to find to comments.

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

By: Brant

Mladic Busted, Headed for Trial

Mladic is headed for trial, and will likely finally answer for war crimes 15 years ago.

After spending a night in jail, Mladic was due back in a Belgrade court on Friday for a hearing on his extradition to a U.N. war crimes tribunal.
The Bosnian Serb wartime army commander is facing international war crimes charges, including the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
A Thursday extradition hearing was adjourned due to what Mladic's lawyer claimed was his poor health.
Serbian war crimes prosecutors say the health issue appears to be a tactic to delay his extradition to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

In a day full of irony (see PATRIOT Act article below), Mladic is headed for trial in the same country whose peacekeepers were completely useless at Srebrenica.

By: Brant

PATIOT Act Renewed. Sigh.

Great, another 4 years of declining privacy. I wasn't fond of this after 9-11, and I'm certain I don't like the 4-year Patriot Act extension 10 years later.

Congress on Thursday passed a four-year extension of post-Sept. 11 powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists. Votes taken in rapid succession in the Senate and House came after lawmakers rejected attempts to temper the law enforcement powers to ensure that individual liberties are not abused.
Following the 250-153 evening vote in the House, the legislation to renew three terrorism-fighting authorities headed for the president's signature with only hours to go before the provisions expire at midnight.
With Obama currently in France, the White House said the president would use an autopen machine that holds a pen and signs his actual signature. It is only used with proper authorization of the president. Minutes before the midnight deadline, the White House said Obama had signed the bill.
Obama said he was pleased the act had been extended

I can't be the only who finds it amusing that the largest technical intelligence collection effort in US history was signed by a machine. All hail our robotic overlords.

By: Brant

Next Units to Iraq ID'ed

The DoD has announced the next Iraq Force Deployment

The Department of Defense announced today the deployment of units as part of an upcoming rotation of forces supporting Operation New Dawn in Iraq. This rotation involves one division headquarters totaling 775 personnel and two brigade combat teams totaling 6,400 personnel. The scheduled rotation for the forces begins in mid-summer and continues through the fall of 2011. In accordance with the security agreement between the United States and Iraq signed in 2008, all U.S. forces will depart Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

Headquarters unit:
3rd Infantry Division Headquarters, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Brigade Combat Teams:
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas

By: Brant

26 May 2011

NATO in Libya, or "What's the Endgame?"

An interesting article from, of all places, Al Jazeera, talking about how the intervention in Libya is half-hearted, half-planned, and half-executed, and completely confusing.

It was meant to be rapid, unburdened by collateral damage or ethical liability and in support of a worthy cause: Ridding Libya of Gaddafi as a helping hand for the spectacular Arab Spring.

In reality, the battle for Libya is everything but that. It is progressing slowly and remaining inconclusive. Worse, its collateral damage has been mounting, and consequently the ethics are beginning to look shaky.

The word muddle comes to mind.

h/t Blackcloud6

By: Brant

UK In Action: A Note of Remembrance

The Last Post is sounded by a bugler at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan during a Remembrance Day service in November 2010.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Lobbyists Working for Small Arms Companies

The basis of the article is Colt hiring a lobbyist after 50-some-odd years. However, much of the article talks about lobbyists that are working for small arms companies, especially in advance of the competition for the next Army rifle.

Remington Arms and other gun makers already had lobbyists in place long before the Army announced it wanted a better combat rifle. Remington has spent nearly $500,000 on lobbyists over the last two years alone in a push to get more of its weapons into the hands of U.S. troops, according to lobbying records filed with Congress.

Remington, with its headquarters in Madison, N.C., and a manufacturing plant in upstate New York, is represented by the firms Winborn Solutions and Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough. Remington will offer its multicaliber Adaptive Combat Rifle.

"The biggest thing that Remington wants is the ability to compete for contracts," said Jason Schauble, vice president of Remington's military products division.


Smith, who runs RMax Technologies, a Washington consulting firm, registered as Colt's representative in April 2010, according to disclosure records. He knows how the process works. Before his six years as a senior Navy official, Smith was a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee and responsible for oversight of Army weapons programs.

"There's nothing nefarious about it," said James Battaglini, Colt's executive vice president. "We believe it is important to have a person in the Washington area that is available to speak on our behalf because we are in Connecticut."


FNMI sells a combat rifle called the SCAR to the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. The command has its own acquisition budget and the latitude to buy gear the conventional military branches can't. FNMI also sells machine guns to the Army.

Fighting FNMI's battles inside Washington's Beltway is the American Business Development Group, a firm that boasts a roster of retired military officers who "provide strategic guidance and access" to the leadership at the Defense Department and other federal agencies. FN Herstal pays the firm $120,000 a year, according to disclosure records.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Republican congressman Joe Wilson sits on the House Armed Services Committee. FMNI, based in Columbia, S.C., is in Wilson's district.

Smith & Wesson, known more for handguns than military rifles, will also bid for the carbine work. The company, based in Springfield, Mass., pays the firm Greenberg Traurig $360,000 a year to be its Washington representative, disclosure records show.

Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts is the top Republican on the Armed Services subcommittee that oversees Army programs.

But not all prospective competitors think a lobbying firm is necessary — at least, not any longer. Heckler & Koch, a German firearms maker with affiliates in the U.S., parted ways with Greenberg Traurig in 2009 and another Washington firm, Mark Barnes and Associates, in early 2010.

By: Brant

Pakistan Training Their Officers With Anti-American Rhetoric?

Are we actually learning something useful from WikiLeaks? A leaked diplomatic cable claims that Pakistan's National Defense University has badly biased material in their coursework.

"The elite of this crop of colonels and brigadiers are receiving biased NDU* training with no chance to hear alternative views of the U.S.," the Wikileaks cable, which was published in the Dawn newspaper, quoted Patterson as saying.

"Given the bias of the instructors, we also believe it would be beneficial to initiate an exchange program for instructors."

Some of the officers believed the CIA was in charge of the U.S. media, the report said.

Anti-Americanism runs high among many of Pakistan's mainly Muslim people but it has deepened after bin Laden's killing in a secret U.S. raid which many Pakistanis see as breach of sovereignty.

Patterson said the United States must target a "lost generation" of military officers who missed training programs in the United States after Washington imposed sanctions against Pakistan in the 1990s for its nuclear program.

The cables also documented the account of a U.S. army officer, Colonel Michael Schleicher, who attended a course at NDU and corroborated the views expressed by Patterson.

"The senior level instructors had misperception about U.S. policies and culture and infused the lectures with these suspicions, while the students share these misconceptions with their superiors despite having children who attended universities in the U.S. or London," the cables quoted Schleicher as saying.

* This is Pakistan's NDU, not the American one.

By: Brant

Not Really A Slow News Day

I've been at JETC in Dallas, and in the precious spare moments I had to monkey around with GrogNews, blogger.com decided to crap out on me and won't let me post, or edit, from the phone, or my primary browsers on the laptop. No idea what their problem is, but I wasn't able to log in at all through Safari. I'll get the news caught up while sitting in DFW waiting for my flight home.

By: Brant

25 May 2011

GameTalk - Hypotheticals

Plenty of WWII games give you the option to play equipment that was planed but never fielded (or not fielded widely). But what about a Dien Bien Phu game that gives you an extra 4-5 French units to commit outside the valley? What about an American Civil War game with the Brits/French getting involved?

How far do you like to see hypotheticals included in the game? Note that we're not talking about alt-history, but variations on the actual battles and campaigns that were fought...

By: Brant

24 May 2011

Iran Busts "CIA" Network...? Suuuuuure

Iran says they busted a CIA spy network and arrested 30 people. One wonders if they arrested the pigeons, as well.

The Iranian intelligence service has broken up a spy network linked to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and arrested 30 U.S.-linked spies.

In a statement published on Saturday, the ministry announced that it managed to identify and break up the complicated spy network and identify 42 CIA intelligence officers in different countries through carrying out major intelligence and counterespionage operations at home and abroad.

According to the statement, a number of CIA intelligence officers established the network in several countries and started setting various traps for Iranian citizens to elicit information from them and convince them to spy for the United States.

The network used a number of employment and immigration agencies as covers for its activities and tried to deceive citizens through making promises like permanent residence, education, and job in foreign countries.

In addition, the statement says thorough investigation revealed that CIA officers used the U.S. intelligence bases, embassies, and consulates in countries like the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Malaysia to trap Iranian citizens including students into passing on information about Iran’s research centers, nuclear facilities, universities, aviation industry, defense sector, communications networks, banking system, airports, and customs.

Given that they've "invented" a flying submarine, arrested lost hikers as espionage agents, and Photoshop'ed missiles into test flights, I'm not sure we're all rushing out to believe this one, eh?

By: Brant

Sound Off! Contractors vs Uniforms

Are logistical and technical services best handled by...

Uniformed specialists who fill no specific combat role but are still in the service?

Contracted specialists who are not expected to fight and on time-defined contracts?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

By: Brant

Compare and Contrast... US and UK

ADM Mullen is concerned about the growing gap between the US military and the civilian population.

The US military's top officer warned Saturday about a worrisome disconnect between civilians and troops, saying soldiers are becoming isolated from the rest of American society.
Speaking to graduating cadets at the US military academy at West Point, Admiral Mike Mullen said that Americans appreciate the military but do not fully understand soldiers' lives or the sacrifices they have made in wartime.
"Our work is appreciated, of that I am certain. There isn?t a town or a city I visit where people do not convey to me their great pride in what we do," Mullen said, according to a text of the speech.
"But I fear they do not know us. I fear they do not comprehend the full weight of the burden we carry or the price we pay when we return from battle," he said.
"This is important, because a people uninformed about what they are asking the military to endure is a people inevitably unable to fully grasp the scope of the responsibilities our Constitution levies upon them," he said.

And in the UK, there's a "Military Covenant" between the MoD and the servicemembers.

The term “military covenant” was introduced in Britain in 2000 and is used by political leaders and the media in discussing the informal pact that exists between those who volunteered to serve in the British military and the nation. Its purpose is to ensure that those who served will be treated with respect and receive the benefits they’ve earned.

As defined by the Ministry of Defense:

“Soldiers are bound by service. The nature of service is inherently unequal: soldiers may have to give more than they receive. Ultimately, they may be called upon to make personal sacrifices — including death — in the service of the nation.

“In putting the needs of the Nation, the Army and others before their own, they forgo some of the rights enjoyed by those outside the Armed Forces. So, at the very least, British soldiers should always expect the Nation and their commanders to treat them fairly, to value and respect them as individuals, and to sustain and reward them and their families.”

The military covenant is not a law. It’s more like a guiding principle, an idea that exists to help steer decision making — kind of like Google’s “Don’t be evil” mandate. Making it into a law will, for the first time, give it teeth, and veterans may be able to challenge the government if their needs are not being met in conjunction with the covenant. On this, I’m skeptical that a guiding principle can be effectively legislated and enforced. I’m also disappointed that the military covenant needs teeth — shouldn’t it just exist because it is the right thing to do?

By: Brant

23 May 2011

Sound Off! Origins Roll Call!

One month 'til Origins, people!

Sound off in the comments if you're going to be there!

Let's see if we can't get a GN huddle at the War College one afternoon just to say 'hi' to everyone (or, as I suspect, "both of us"! :D )

By: Brant

UK In Action: Trident Launch

A Trident II D5 missile is fired from HM Submarine Vanguard during tests in the Western Atlantic in 2005. A credible nuclear deterrent depends upon the ability to threaten an assured and effective response to aggression. The Trident II D5 missile has a range of over 4,000 nautical miles and an accuracy, which can be measured in metres. Each missile is technically capable of delivering up to 12 warheads, enabling a number of different targets to be engaged, and each Vanguard class submarine has 16 missile tubes. The missile is ejected from the submarine by high-pressure gas and only when it reaches the surface does the rocket system actually fire.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

22 May 2011

President Obama to Pakistan: "Suck It"

Proving that Pakistan's sovereignty is more annoyance than hindrance, President Obama is willing to re-run the operation that bagged OBL. The BBC reports:

President Barack Obama has said he would order a similar operation to that which killed Osama Bin Laden if another militant leader was found in Pakistan.

He said the US was mindful of Pakistani sovereignty but said the US could not allow "active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action".

By: Brant

21 May 2011

Libya Claims NATO is Causing Humanitarian Crises

Yep, the same regime that would probably claim that refugees are to blame for target-rich environments is saying that NATO is to blame for the humanitarian crisis.

Libyan officials sounded alarm Saturday over NATO bombings of three ports which they said would trigger a crisis by limiting the movement of supply ships carrying critical supplies in and out of the war-torn nation.
NATO jets destroyed eight Libyan warships in the ports of Tripoli, Al-Khums and Sirte after concluding that Col. Moammar Gadhafi had started using naval assets to lay mines and hamper international humanitarian aid, said Mike Bracken, NATO's military spokesman.
Libyan officials said, however, that the airstrikes violated the United Nations resolution mandating the protection of civilians, said Amran al-Forjani, Libya's chief coastguard commandant. He called the operation a "crazy attack."
No deaths or injuries were reported.
Bracken said at a Friday news conference that the NATO strikes were justified.
Gadhafi was indiscriminately mining waters in Misrata and hampering the flow of humanitarian aid, Bracken said.

By: Brant

1AD Folds the Flag in Germany

The came ashore in 1943, and now 1AD is going home.

The U.S. 1st Armored Division lowered its flag this month in a ceremony that signaled the quiet return home of a unit whose tanks first rumbled onto the continent through Italy during World War II.
The Wiesbaden casing of colors ceremony also marked a milestone in the ongoing transformation of the American military. The sending off of the last division deployed in Europe at the height of the Cold War symbolizes the shift in favor of smaller, lighter units that planners say are better poised to meet today's threats.
But the question now being raised is whether the Army's plan to keep some 37,000 soldiers in Europe will survive growing budgetary pressures in Washington. There are increasing concerns in the U.S. Congress that the United States is footing too much of the bill for European defense at a time when some European countries have reduced defense spending.

By: Brant

USAction! Assault Training

U.S. Army Pfc. Robert Parker (2nd from left) provides fire support for his squad members during a live-fire exercise at the Kirkush Military Training Base in the Diyala province of Iraq on June 27, 2010. During the exercise, U.S. and Iraqi forces trained to clear mined wired obstacles, bunker complexes and on reacting to contact. Parker is assigned to Alpha Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. DoD photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ted Green, U.S. Navy. (Released)

Photo from US DoD

By: Brant

F35: Putting the "F" in "Bollocks" Again

It can't be a surprise that I don't like the JSF, but now that the price is over $100 million each why is anyone still throwing good lolly after bad?

The cost of building the F-35 fighter jet, set to replace a large part of the US warplane fleet, is "unaffordable" in its current version and must be reviewed, the Pentagon's top acquisition official said Thursday.
"Over the lifetime of this program, the decade or so, the per-aircraft cost of the 2,443 aircraft we want has doubled in real terms," said Ashton Carter, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.
"That's our forecast for how much the aircraft's going to cost.
"Said differently, that's what it's going to cost if we keep doing what we're doing. And that's unacceptable. It's unaffordable at that rate."
The cost of the plane has jumped to $385 billion, about $103 million per plane in constant dollars or $113 million in fiscal year 2011 dollars, said Christine Fox, the Defense Department's director of cost assessment and program evaluation.
Republican Senator John McCain called the figure "truly troubling," considering the original price was $69 million per airplane.
"The facts regarding this program are truly troubling," said McCain. "No program should expect to be continued with that kind of track record, especially in our current fiscal climate," said McCain.
"It seems to me we have to start at least considering alternatives"
The F-35 or Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), made by Lockheed Martin, is the Pentagon's most costly weapons program.

By: Widow 6-7

20 May 2011

Random Friday Wargaming: Modern Land Battles - Target Acquired

Another one of DVG's fantastic card games, Modern Land Battles – Target Acquired brings today's battles to your game room.

Order yours from DVG here.

No CSW forum yet, but maybe once it goes to print we can update the links.

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

By: Brant

Next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs?

The Wall Street Journal is speculating about who could replace ADM Mullen as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Although Gen. Cartwright could still get the nod, the RUMINT (Pentagon jargon for “rumor intelligence” as opposed to HUMINT and SIGINT – intel from human sources or signals intercepts) is swirling around four other four-star officers.

  • Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. The current Army chief of staff has several pros: He has combat experience in Iraq; served as acting head of U.S. Central Command; and is a warrior-intellectual in the mode of Gen. David Petraeus. The cons: Gen. Dempsey just took over as the Army’s top officer, and it would be an unusual move for him to take a new job, especially when the Army is dealing with looming budget woes.
  • Army Gen. Ray Odierno. The bald, imposing general’s command of the 4th Infantry Division drew criticism for the tough tactics it employed early in the Iraq war. But Gen. Odierno remade his reputation overseeing the surge strategy. His oversight of the Iraq drawdown suggests he knows how to bring wars to a close. Though long seen as a George W. Bush-era general, Gen. Odierno did the administration a favor by tackling the shutdown of U.S. Joint Forces Command, a job that sets a precedent for an era of slimmer military budgets.
  • Adm. Eric Olson. Adm. Olson is the head of U.S. Special Operations Command. He is a Navy SEAL, and in the wake of the successful raid on Osama bin Laden, who wouldn’t want a commando in the top uniformed military post?
  • Adm. James Stavridis. NATO’s supreme commander in Europe was once seen as a top candidate, but insiders say his stock is not rising.
By: Brant

Really, Army? Seriously?

Look, if you want to go out and purchase six (6) integrated, secured communications centers camouflaged as a hutch, bookcase cabinet and buffet, fine. But do you have to advertise for fake furniture that hides the James Bond SIPR terminal on Fed Biz Opps?

This specification outlines the contractor's requirement to furnish the Headquarters U.S. Army Forces Command (HQ FORSCOM) senior leaders with NIPRNET/SIPRNET compatible office furniture for their houses/quarters at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. This requirement calls for the furnishing of, delivery of, and installation of the furniture. Items requested are Trusted Systems products OR EQUAL. The item descriptions are as follows:
Furniture: Deliver and install six (6) integrated, secured communications centers camouflaged as a hutch, bookcase cabinet and buffet. Communications center should be constructed using hardwood of medium cherry stain to match living quarters d cor. Shall be designed with unrestricted air flow, safe and PDS inspections, acoustical silencing, and hidden access points. Further requirements include superb functionality for SIPRNet users with a laptop. Needs to include an embedded folding laptop tray. Needs to have a secured KVM Switch to select between the various networks. Require a pedestal PC tray for convenient access and storage of NIPRNet workstations or DRSN phone sets.

* New equipment ONLY, NO remanufactured products or used products. No "GREY" market items. Must be able to hide and securely house security container
1. The executive cherry desks should be configured in the following fashion:
a. Center Drawer or Keyboard Tray
b. 2 drawers plus file drawer in left side bay
c. NIPR PC Tray in right side bay
2. The Incognito cherry executive credenzas should be configured in the following fashion:
a. Right side opening
b. Hardware that matches the cherry desk
c. Keyboard shelf in top and right drawer
d. Mounting for 2 drawer letter file safe in left cabinet.
3. The Incognito Executive IPS Cabinets/IPS Container should be configured in the following fashion:
a. Thermostatic fan cooling system
b. Rack mount TEMPEST panel (24" deep)
c. 19" Roll out rack assembly, 9U (20" deep)
d. All equipment must be compatible both in appearance and connectivity and color should match on all furniture/incognito equipment.

Oy vey....

h/t Greg

By: Brant

19 May 2011

UK In Action: Chinook in Afghanistan

An engineer from Number 18/27 (Engineering) Squadron, Royal Air Force Odiham, keeps watch during a Chinook engine start-up whilst on pre-deployment training in the Middle East. The Chinook is a highly capable and versatile aircraft that can cope well in many diverse environments, including the harsh conditions in Afghanistan where it is the aircraft of choice for heavy lift and is fulfilling a pivotal role in supporting the front line coalition forces and the Afghan National Security Forces. This image was a winner for SAC Andy Masson in the 2010 RAF Photographic Competition.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

More Details on OBL Raid

The Stars & Stripes has a great detailed article about the raid. Two excerpts.

Adding exclusive new details to the account of the assault on bin Laden's hideout, officials described just how the SEAL raiders loudly ditched a foundering helicopter right outside bin Laden's door, ruining the plan for a surprise assault. That forced them to abandon plans to run a squeeze play on bin Laden - simultaneously entering the house stealthily from the roof and the ground floor.

Instead, they busted into the ground floor and began a floor-by-floor storming of the house, working up to the top level where they had assumed bin Laden - if he was in the house - would be.

They were right.

The raiders came face-to-face with bin Laden in a hallway outside his bedroom, and three of the Americans stormed in after him, U.S. officials briefed on the operation told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe a classified operation.

U.S. officials believe Pakistani intelligence continues to support militants who attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and actively undermine U.S. intelligence operations to go after al-Qaida inside Pakistan. The level of distrust is such that keeping Pakistan in the dark was a major factor in planning the raid, and led to using the high-tech but sometimes unpredictable helicopter technology that nearly unhinged the mission.


Five aircraft flew from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, with three school-bus-size Chinook helicopters landing in a deserted area roughly two-thirds of the way to bin Laden's compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, two of the officials explained.

Aboard two Black Hawk helicopters were 23 SEALs, an interpreter and a tracking dog named Cairo. Nineteen SEALs would enter the compound, and three of them would find bin Laden, one official said, providing the exact numbers for the first time.

Aboard the Chinooks were two dozen more SEALs, as backup.

The Black Hawks were specially engineered to muffle the tail rotor and engine sound, two officials said. The added weight of the stealth technology meant cargo was calculated to the ounce, with weather factored in. The night of the mission, it was hotter than expected.

The Black Hawks were to drop the SEALs and depart in less than two minutes, in hopes locals would assume they were Pakistani aircraft visiting the nearby military academy.

One Black Hawk was to hover above the compound, with SEALs sliding down ropes into the open courtyard.

The second was to hover above the roof to drop SEALs there, then land more SEALs outside - plus an interpreter and the dog, who would track anyone who tried to escape and to alert SEALs to any approaching Pakistani security forces.

If troops appeared, the plan was to hunker down in the compound, avoiding armed confrontation with the Pakistanis while officials in Washington negotiated their passage out.

The two SEAL teams inside would work toward each other, in a simultaneous attack from above and below, their weapons silenced, guaranteeing surprise, one of the officials said. They would have stormed the building in a matter of minutes, as they'd done time and again in two training models of the compound.

The plan unraveled as the first helicopter tried to hover over the compound. The Black Hawk skittered around uncontrollably in the heat-thinned air, forcing the pilot to land. As he did, the tail and rotor got caught on one of the compound's 12-foot walls. The pilot quickly buried the aircraft's nose in the dirt to keep it from tipping over, and the SEALs clambered out into an outer courtyard.

The other aircraft did not even attempt hovering, landing its SEALs outside the compound.

h/t Chris and Doctrine Man

By: Brant

18 May 2011

Next Steps in US-China Relations?

The English-language People's Daily asks "Will this visit compensate for the "shortcomings" and strengthen the military ties between China and the United States?"

Well, not if you're running around behind our backs making videogames where you kill our soldiers.

The latest example? A first-person-shooter video game, developed by China’s Giant Network Technology Co. and backed by the People’s Liberation Army. It’s apparently modeled on the U.S. Army–made shooter America’s Army.

Like its American counterpart, introduced as a recruiting tool in 2002, Glorious Mission begins with simulated basic training before deploying the player to an imaginary battleground to duke it out in close-quarters combat. News reports show scores of Chinese troops dutifully gaming away in front of their computer screens.

“The game itself looks pretty well-made,” one blogger commented. “Graphics definitely on par with at least the [Call of Duty] series.”

But there’s one key difference between the American and Chinese “shooters.” Where the bad guys in America’s Army are generic Middle Eastern or Central Asian insurgents and terrorists, the enemy in Glorious Mission is apparently the U.S. military. A TV report offers glimpses of an American-made Apache gunship crashing in flames.

By: Brant

Al Qaeda Names Next US Target in GWOT

I'm pretty sure they just intended to name the next guy to take operational control of Al Qaeda, but really, all they did was put the next guy in the crosshairs of the Maquis, er... Seal Team 6.

Al Jazeera television said al Qaeda has appointed a temporary leader and a new head of operations following the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. commandos, citing its own correspondent on Wednesday.
It said in a brief news flash the Egyptian militant Saif al-Adel was named interim leader, while Mustafa al-Yemeni, whose nationality it did not give, would direct operations.
U.S. special forces shot dead Al Qaeda leader bin Laden in his hideout outside the capital of Pakistan earlier this month.
U.S. prosecutors say Adel is one of al Qaeda's leading military commanders and helped plan the bomb attacks against the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998.
They also say he set up al Qaeda training camps in Sudan and Afghanistan in the 1990s.
An al Qaeda expert had said on Tuesday that Adel would likely not act as head of the organization.
"This role that he has assumed is not as overall leader, but he is in charge in operational and military terms," said Noman Benotman, a former bin Laden associate who is now an analyst with Britain's Quilliam Foundation think tank.

I guess when you're being hunted by the US military, every appointment is temporary, huh?

In the meantime, you can entertain yourselves with comparisons of how NATO and the Taliban report the Afghan War from The Atlantic Wire.

For real comedy, follow the link to the Taliban's twitter feed. Hoo-boy...

By: Brant

GameTalk - Counters

What are your favorite wargame counters? Why? What info has to be on the counter and what info are you willing to chase around in other charts? What kind of art do you prefer?

By: Brant

Designing Out Loud - Random Comments

It always seems like the "good idea" bug bites when I'm walking my daughter to sleep at night, or driving in the car - two times that are not conducive to capturing the thoughts. This time, though, I'm trying to get them down quick...

Two key ideas that I'm trying to get through as I work out the bugs in this game/concept:

1. The idea that you have a plan, and everyone knows what the plan is, and if you want to change it, you have to expend some effort changing it, and it's not instantaneous. You can't suddenly turn 2 companies left to face a new threat you never knew was there, without some delay / confusion / significant effort.
And in a game, I want to do it without written orders.
The way I'm trying to capture this is by having players lay out their sequence of orders/missions with a set of cards that specify what type of missions and when they shift from one to the next. To change from that mission costs some form of effort (command points, probably) and depends on what you're changing to/from. It keeps the game moving by not bogging down into written orders, while still committing players to a plan, and keeps the relevant modifiers in front of them at all times.

2. Leaders have varying traits/qualities. There are different ways these are put into place currently. ASL has morale modifiers. LnL has morale modifiers, and skill cards. PG allows for activations, but little else. The new leaders in the W@W series allow for some powerful modifiers of *any* stat, which to me seems a bit too wide-ranging, but I've yet to play it to know for sure.
I want leaders that have strengths and can be put in a position to play to them. Some are aggressive, others meticulous. Some are very demanding trainers, and others are very creative. I want them to have the ability to not just modify something within their units, but to have an effect on their execution of certain missions as well.

That's all I've got tonight. It's been a long day...

By: Brant

17 May 2011

Rwanda Genocide Results in 30-year Prison Sentences

One of the architects of Rwanda's genocide has been given a 30-year sentence

Former Rwandan army chief Augustin Bizimungu has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the 1994 genocide.

The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda also convicted Augustin Ndindiliyimana, the ex-paramilitary police chief, but released him for time already served.

Two other senior generals were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the 100-day genocide.

Bizimungu and Ndindiliyimana are two of the most senior figures to be sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), established to try those who committed crimes during the genocide.

By: Brant

The DoD Announcing a Trade Show?

Y'know, I've been to a LOT of these military trade shows, and the new Force Protection Equipment Demonstration VIII sounds pretty cool, but why is the DoD issuing an official press release about a completely commercial trade show? Did you see DoD announcements of IITSEC? SOFEX? No? What makes this one so special?

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced today that the 2011 Force Protection Equipment Demonstration (FPED VIII) will be held May 17-19, at Stafford Regional Airport in Northern Va. The event is intended to increase awareness of material solutions to force protection and counterterrorism challenges for military commanders and first-responder personnel.

Nearly 600 exhibitors will present more than 3,000 items of force protection equipment and systems at the regional airport, approximately 40 miles south of Washington, D.C. The event is not open to the general public.

Force Protection Equipment Demonstration VIII will focus on immediately available commercial off-the-shelf equipment that can reduce or eliminate vulnerability to terrorist attacks against personnel, equipment and infrastructure. Items demonstrated in previous FPEDs have been successfully employed in Iraq and Afghanistan, at military installations and other locations throughout the United States, and at bases, embassies and other critical locations around the world.

The demonstration covers 20 equipment categories, including automated entry control systems and equipment; armored and utility vehicles; biometrics; blast protection/mitigation systems; cargo inspection devices; chemical and biological detection, mitigation and protection equipment; communications equipment; delay and denial technology; explosives detection systems; explosive ordnance disposal equipment; fence sensor systems; individual protective equipment; night vision and optics devices; non-lethal weapons and technology; physical security equipment sensor and surveillance systems; robotic vehicles and systems; unattended ground sensors; unmanned aerial vehicles; vulnerability assessment/analysis software tools, and waterside security equipment.

By: Brant

Naval Aviation Going Unmanned?

The success of UAVs in the GWOT has the US Navy looking into UAVs for carrier operations.

The U.S. is developing aircraft carrier-based drones that could provide a crucial edge as it tries to counter China's military rise.
American officials have been tightlipped about where the unmanned armed planes might be used, but a top Navy officer has told The Associated Press that some would likely be deployed in Asia.
"They will play an integral role in our future operations in this region," predicted Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, which covers most of the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Land-based drones are in wide use in the war in Afghanistan, but sea-based versions will take several more years to develop. Northrop Grumman conducted a first-ever test flight — still on land — earlier this year.
Van Buskirk didn't mention China specifically, but military analysts agree the drones could offset some of China's recent advances, notably its work on a "carrier-killer" missile.
"Chinese military modernization is the major long-term threat that the U.S. must prepare for in the Asia-Pacific region, and robotic vehicles — aerial and subsurface — are increasingly critical to countering that potential threat," said Patrick Cronin, a senior analyst with the Washington-based Center for New American Security.

By: Brant

Everything You Need To Know About the Taliban

I want to hear the moral defense of the Taliban from anyone who thinks it's OK that they are duping children into becoming suicide bombers.

The orders from their religious teacher were clear: Go to Afghanistan, strap on a suicide vest and kill foreign forces.

With that, 9-year-old Ghulam Farooq left his home in Pakistan with three other would-be boy bombers and headed into eastern Afghanistan.

They were told there would be two members of the Taliban waiting for them at the Torkham border crossing in Nangarhar province. Instead, members of the Afghan intelligence service who had been tipped to the boys’ plans arrested them at the border.

“Our mullah told us that when we carried out our suicide attacks, all the people around us would die, but we would stay alive,” Farooq said Saturday, sitting inside a juvenile detention facility in the Afghan capital.

He was one of five accused suicide bombers — all boys in adolescence or even younger — whom the Afghan intelligence service paraded before reporters, photographers and cameramen at a recent news conference in an effort to turn public opinion against the Taliban.

Farooq and the other boys are being held at a detention facility that resembles a vocational training center. There are no armed guards, and the facility has classrooms and playgrounds. During a visit to the center, Farooq was smiling and said he was going to school, and that he and the other boys were being given the opportunity to learn carpet weaving, carpentry and other handicrafts. The facility has dozens of boys, most detained in criminal cases.

Afghan intelligence officials say the Taliban turns to young boys because they are easier to recruit than adults and tend to believe what recruiters tell them.

By: Brant

Sound Off! Mustangs or Academy Grads?

Are the best commanders...

... students of military art and science who move straight into leadership roles?

... grown from within the ranks with less formal education?

Sound off in the comments with your thoughts!

By: Brant

16 May 2011

UK In Action: Replenishment At Sea

HMS Cumberland met up with RFA Wave Knight for a Replenishment At Sea (RAS). It is a tricky operation, passing ropes, wires and fuel hoses between ships moving at sea, but it is a task the Royal Navy carries out day in, day out. The Cumberland took on fuel, and Wave Knight's helicopter was used for a vertical replenishment (vertrep) at the same time. HMS Cumberland, a Devonport based Type 22 frigate, had only recently arrived in the Caribbean, for the start of a short deployment. Her main roles in the area were Counter Drugs Operations (CD Ops) and Hurricane relief operations, should such assistance be required. The RFA Wave Knight had been in the Caribbean since March and had already had numerous takedowns of drug traffickers.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

HMS Liverpool Returns Fire On Rocket Battery

Navy News reports that pro-Gaddafi forces recently learned the hard way that it is not a good idea to fire on a Royal Navy destroyer.
HMS Liverpool pummelled an enemy rocket battery after it opened fire on the destroyer off the besieged Libyan city of Misrata this morning.

The words ‘Four-five, engage’ were issued after a salvo of rockets was launched at Liverpool as she and Allied warships tried to stop Colonel Gaddafi’s forces mining the waters off the port.

The destroyer’s main 4.5in gun responded with a series of withering blows which silenced the pro-government battery.

It’s the first time the main guns of the Royal Navy have been fired in anger since they plastered Saddam Hussein’s defences in the opening moments of the 2003 Iraq campaign.

After a break in Crete, Liverpool returned to waters off Libya for her second patrol to continue enforcing UN Security Council resolutions – preventing arms and munitions reaching Col Gaddafi and ensuring aid reaches the free peoples of Libya.

Pro-government forces have made sustained attempts to block the approaches to Misrata port with mines, including one thwarted by HMS Brocklesby a fortnight ago when the Portsmouth-based minehunter blew up a mine laid a mile or so off the harbour.

Last night Liverpool and other NATO warships were sent in to intercept inflatable boats seen approaching Misrata; the small fast craft are used to lay and anchor the mines to the seabed.

As the force moved in, one of the regime’s coastal batteries fired a salvo at Liverpool – which missed – and the destroyer immediately sent a response of steel and fire in the direction of the rocket launchers which promptly ceased firing.

The sweep by the Allied warships also caused the pro-Gaddafi boats to abandon their mining operation before laying their deadly ‘eggs’.
By: Shelldrake

Monday Video: Dancing Thru Iraq

Start your Monday with some BANG-UP dance grooves

By: Brant

15 May 2011

Order Of Battle: India's II Corps (Strike) Opens Exercises Pointed Toward Pakistan

With the Defence Minister scheduled to observe, II Corps opens 2-week long wargames focusing on the Pakistani threat.

The fortnight long exercise of the Ambala-based 2 Strike Corps, under Western Command, is scheduled from May 8 in western Rajasthan, in which more than 10,000 troops will participate in war games. Elements of artillery and armoured columns are to participate in the exercise in which mobilisation time of troops during operations is expected to be tested, along with other war strategies.

Antony will be briefed by the general officer commanding-in-chief lieutenant general AK Singh at the Jaisalmer military station, about the operational preparedness and issues relating to the formation command. The defence minister is also expected to interact with the troops. A forward location visit is also on the itinerary.

Every year the three strike corps of the Indian Army carry out war game exercises and each of the three, the Bhopal-based 21 Corps, Ambala-based 2 Corps and Mathura-based 1 Corps, get their chance in turn.

Several thousand troops are out in the field and deployed.

India kicked off war games involving thousands of troops on Monday along its border with arch-rival Pakistan, which is still smarting from the US operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

A military spokesperson told reporters the six-day exercise, codenamed Vijayee Bhava (Be Victorious) was being held in the Thar desert region in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

"This exercise envisages sustained massed mechanised manoeuvres," S D Goswami said, adding the drill involved an array of weaponry that India has acquired as part of its ongoing military modernisation programme.

According to Wikipedia, the composition of II Corps (India):

II Corps, headquartered at Ambala, Haryana
1st Armoured Division headquartered at Patiala
14th RAPID at Dehradun
22nd Infantry Division headquartered at Meerut
474th Engineering Brigade
612th Mechanised Independent Air Defence Brigade

The general area where the exercises are taking place

View Larger Map

By: Brant

The List of WGer Articles

Here's the list of my articles from the past few years over at The Wargamer. I'm going to start migrating them over here, and restoring as many of the images as I can (many of them were lost in the WGer website overhaul). I'll start with the Battle Labs and other think pieces, and slowly work my way thru to the game reviews and (eventually) the Origins / GenCon articles, which are among the least relevant from their lack of timeliness.

By: Brant

A Prince Builds an Army for a Sheik

Even if this turns out to be legal, it can't be a good idea.

The Colombians had entered the United Arab Emirates posing as construction workers. In fact, they were soldiers for a secret American-led mercenary army being built by Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of Blackwater Worldwide, with $529 million from the oil-soaked sheikdom.

Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the U.A.E., according to former employees on the project, American officials and corporate documents obtained by The New York Times.

The force is intended to conduct special operations missions inside and outside the country, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from terrorist attacks and put down internal revolts, the documents show. Such troops could be deployed if the Emirates faced unrest or were challenged by pro-democracy demonstrations in its crowded labor camps or democracy protests like those sweeping the Arab world this year.

We're pretty sure this is Zayed Military City, but if not, someone please set us straight. Clearly not all the construction was in progress when this image was taken.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

14 May 2011

Mandatory Mention of MMOWGLI

Look, I'm not a huge fan of the MMOWGLI concept, but it's a professional wargame and it's getting a lot of attention, so I feel the need to talk about it. However, rather than talk too much, I'm going to throw out a link-fest you can chase around, and see if you come to similar conclusions to mine, or something radically different.

WIRED's coverage is being run through Danger Room.

PaxSims takes a break from sightseeing in Estonia to offer a pirate-themed headline.

GamePolitics actually knows something about wargaming and offers some intelligent commentary, focused on, y'know - training and all - unlike the PC Mag weenies who think the Navy is actually fighting pirates with MMOWGLI instead of just training to.

Here's the DoD's own propaganda release.

Oh, and I guess we'll send you to the official MMOWGLI site, too.

Here's the link to the original government solicitation, as well.

By: Brant

USAction! Stryker Crossing

U.S. Army soldiers with Fox Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division cross from Iraq into Kuwait on Aug. 15, 2010. DoD photo by Sgt. Kimberly Johnson, U.S. Army. (Released)

Photo from US DoD

By: Brant

Will He Taunt Us a Second Time?

Muammar Gaddafi is taunting NATO.

Libyan state television carried brief audio tape remarks it said were by Muammar Gaddafi in which he taunted NATO as a cowardly crusader whose bombs could not kill him.

I dunno 'bout y'all, but that sounds like a dare to me.

By: Brant

Weekend Humor: Demotivating the Jihad!

Something funny from War is Boring

By: Brant

13 May 2011


Some of you may have noticed that there was a Blogger outage yesterday. We lost a few posts, including the one on MMOWGLI and at least one UK in Action. I'm going to try to recover them, but if they don't come back, we're not going to try to recreate them.

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming: Biafra

There was a well-covered civil war back in the 1960s in Nigeria, when the state of Biafra seceded. Despite a litany of well-documented firefights, and some operations up at battalion level and above, there's never been a lot of wargaming around it. However, Against the Odds Magazine has recently re-release Biafra!, their game spanning the entire war.

Check out the order site at Against the Odds Magazine.

And join in the discussion over at the ConsimWorld Forum for Biafra.

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

Stay tuned for a series of articles from the Biafran conflict out of old media archives over the next few weeks.

By: Brant

Ah Irony... thy name is "Wikileaks"

Anyone else find it funny that WikiLeaks forces their employees to sign NDAs?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange now makes his associates sign a draconian nondisclosure agreement that, among other things, asserts that the organization’s huge trove of leaked material is “solely the property of WikiLeaks,” according to a report Wednesday.

“You accept and agree that the information disclosed, or to be disclosed to you pursuant to this agreement is, by its nature, valuable proprietary commercial information,” the agreement reads, “the misuse or unauthorized disclosure of which would be likely to cause us considerable damage.”

The confidentiality agreement (.pdf), revealed by the New Statesman, imposes a penalty of 12 million British pounds– nearly $20 million — on anyone responsible for a significant leak of the organization’s unpublished material. The figure is based on a “typical open-market valuation” of WikiLeaks’ collection, the agreement claims.

Interestingly, the agreement warns that any breach is likely to cause WikiLeaks to lose the “opportunity to sell the information to other news broadcasters and publishers.”

By: Brant

12 May 2011

UK In Action: HMS Tyne... and cousins

HMS Tyne leads the way as all three vessel of the same Class operated together for a joint exercise. In a rare occurrence the Severn Class vessels HMS Mersey, HMS Severn and HMS Tyne sailed together in the Solent as part of a squadron exercise to demonstrate their capabilities and to take the opportunity to operate as a group. The River Class patrol vessels usually work independently, patrolling 80,000 square miles of UK waters to prevent over-fishing and to protect UK and EU fish stocks and to provide security and reassurance.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

11 May 2011

Pimping a New Wargame Company

From the lads that brought you Battles Magazine comes the most excellent new venture, Nuts! Publishing. You can read it all for yourself :)

By: Brant

Wargaming the Future for Civilian Companies

Non-military organizations are now looking at wargaming as a way to drive corporate strategy. One article spoke with Mark Herman, wargame designer extraordinaire and high-level Grand Mucky-Muck for Booz Allen Hamilton. The article offered some tips for people putting together corporate wargames.

  • Develop scenarios that push participants to get into the full range of issues, without getting hung up on how realistic some aspects of the scenario are. The idea is to get people to propose courses of action that haven’t been contemplated. Preparing good scenarios is probably the area in which wargaming expertise based on prior experience is most helpful.
  • Include a broad range of participants who know enough to come up with new ideas and are outspoken enough to do so and defend their views.
  • Put the most senior and knowledgeable people on “red” (adversaries) teams, so that you have the best chance of seeing the adversary played aggressively and well.
  • Each team should have one “troublemaker” who will challenge everyone in the game with unconventional approaches.
  • Avoid having a game with only senior decision-makers, especially if they share a point of view, again to ensure that alternative ways of looking at the situation get considered.
    Do not allow any idea to be dismissed or suppressed without strong evidence that it really wouldn’t work.
  • Concentrate on producing indicators and warnings that would let you know if a threat the game identified seems to be happening or about to happen.
  • Go over the lessons learned, preferably revisiting some of the more vexing questions more fully in one or more subsequent games.
By: Brant

GameTalk - Movement and Locations

There's area, point-to-point, and hexes. There's even the occasional square (LnL's Day of Heroes, and Manoeuvre spring immediately to mind).

What type of map / movement system works best for what type of game? Racier's got a WWI game that's essentially linear point-to-point fighting along 'fronts'. Crusader Rex has point-to-point movement throughout the Holy Land. Avalanche has some interesting area games in which the counters, representing formations, have to physically fit inside the areas in order to move them into the area. And there's no shortage of hex-based examples out there.

Give us your thoughts and examples.

By: Brant