31 December 2012

Our Next War? Mali...

Here's betting the next major US deployment is going to be to Mali. As detailed by the Miami Herald...

Deep inside caves, in remote desert bases, in the escarpments and cliff faces of northern Mali, Islamic fighters are burrowing into the earth, erecting a formidable set of defenses to protect what has essentially become al-Qaida's new country.

They have used the bulldozers, earth movers and Caterpillar machines left behind by fleeing construction crews to dig what residents and local officials describe as an elaborate network of tunnels, trenches, shafts and ramparts. In just one case, inside a cave large enough to drive trucks into, they have stored up to 100 drums of gasoline, guaranteeing their fuel supply in the face of a foreign intervention, according to experts.

Northern Mali is now the biggest territory held by al-Qaida and its allies. And as the world hesitates, delaying a military intervention, the extremists who seized control of the area earlier this year are preparing for a war they boast will be worse than the decade-old struggle in Afghanistan.

"Al-Qaida never owned Afghanistan," said former United Nations diplomat Robert Fowler, a Canadian kidnapped and held for 130 days by al-Qaida's local chapter, whose fighters now control the main cities in the north. "They do own northern Mali."

Al-Qaida's affiliate in Africa has been a shadowy presence for years in the forests and deserts of Mali, a country hobbled by poverty and a relentless cycle of hunger. In recent months, the terror syndicate and its allies have taken advantage of political instability within the country to push out of their hiding place and into the towns, taking over an enormous territory which they are using to stock arms, train forces and prepare for global jihad.

The catalyst for the Islamic fighters was a military coup nine months ago that transformed Mali from a once-stable nation to the failed state it is today. On March 21, disgruntled soldiers invaded the presidential palace. The fall of the nation's democratically elected government at the hands of junior officers destroyed the military's command-and-control structure, creating the vacuum which allowed a mix of rebel groups to move in.

With no clear instructions from their higher-ups, the humiliated soldiers left to defend those towns tore off their uniforms, piled into trucks and beat a retreat as far as Mopti, roughly in the center of Mali. They abandoned everything north of this town to the advancing rebels, handing them an area that stretches over more than 620,000 square kilometers (240,000 square miles). It's a territory larger than Texas or France - and it's almost exactly the size of Afghanistan.

Much more at the link. A long, well-written, and depressing, story.

By: Brant

28 December 2012

Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Passes On

The ground commander from Gulf I, the great bear whose press conference was the most entertaining moment of 1991, Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf has died.

Retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who topped an illustrious military career by commanding the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991 but kept a low public profile in controversies over the second Gulf War against Iraq, died Thursday. He was 78.
Schwarzkopf died in Tampa, Fla., where he had lived in retirement, according to a U.S. official, who was not authorized to release the information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle." General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
h/t Doctrine Man

By: Brant

27 December 2012

USAction! Battleships

Battleship Division Two: In line abreast formation, 7 June 1954, in the Virginia Capes operating area, on the only occasion that all four Iowa class battleships were photographed operating together. Ship closest to the camera is Iowa (BB-61). The others are (from near to far):Wisconsin (BB-64); Missouri (BB-63) and New Jersey (BB-62).

h/t Jim W on FaceBook. Text from FaceBook group on Iowa class battleships

By: Brant

25 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Now quit reading GrogNews and get back to Christmas!

By: Brant & The Staff

24 December 2012

US Army Refocus Toward Africa Starting Soon

The Army is planning to shift troops to AFRICOM.

U.S. Africa Command, the military’s newest regional force, will have more troops available early next year as the Pentagon winds down from two ground wars over the past decade, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, told The Washington Times.
As part of Gen. Odierno’s Regionally Aligned Forces concept, about 1,200 soldiers will deploy to Africa as early as March in an effort to place troops strategically around the globe to respond quickly to sudden challenges in hot spots such as Libya and to develop ties with the people and officials in host countries.
“It’s about us moving towards a scalable, tailorable capability that helps them to shape the environment they’re working in, doing a variety of tasks from building partner capability to engagement, to multilateral training to bilateral training to actual deployment of forces, if necessary,” Gen. Odierno said in an interview.
Amid budget cuts and with President Obama’s new military strategy downplaying the chances of another major land war, the Army has sought to maintain its relevance among admirals and generals in the Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa — likely places for the next flash point. When terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, no U.S. troops were close enough to help.

Beginning in March, small teams of soldiers from the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based in Fort Riley, Kan., will conduct at least 108 missions in at least 34 countries in Africa through mid-2014.
The missions could include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, training host-nation forces in marksmanship, first aid and other skills, and conducting military exercises. To prepare for these missions, soldiers are studying the regions and cultures of countries where they will deploy, and learning Arabic, Swahili, French and Portuguese.
According to the Combat Team’s commander, Col. Jeff Broadwater, the brigade will not deploy as a whole, but as smaller units to carry out the missions, some of which will last as short as a week and others as long as a month.

By: Brant`

23 December 2012

Prince Harry Plinks Taliban Sub-Commandante

As an Apache gunner, he missile'd a Taliban "chief" on his way to Allah.

The 28-year-old gunship co-pilot was called on to unleash a missile strike to eliminate a senior terror leader.
Harry has proved a massive hit with comrades in Helmand, Afghanistan, who have nicknamed him Big H.
A defence insider said: "Big H is a legend.
“We were on patrol and the Apache helicopters were called in. We heard this posh voice come over the radio and knew it was Big H. They were tracking a Taliban leader — he was commander level.

By: Brant

Norks Working on Christmas Present Delivery System?

The South Koreans think that the Norks could have the US within missile range in the next few years.

This month's rocket launch by reclusive North Korea shows it has likely developed the technology, long suspected in the West, to fire a warhead more than 10,000 km (6,200 miles), South Korean officials said on Sunday, putting the U.S. West Coast in range.
North Korea said the December 12 launch put a weather satellite in orbit but critics say it was aimed at nurturing the kind of technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.
North Korea is banned from testing missile or nuclear technology under U.N. sanctions imposed after its 2006 and 2009 nuclear weapons tests and the U.N. Security Council condemned the launch.
South Korea retrieved and analyzed parts of the first-stage rocket that dropped in the waters off its west coast
"As a result of analyzing the material of Unha-3 (North Korea's rocket), we judged North Korea had secured a range of more than 10,000 km in case the warhead is 500-600 kg," a South Korean Defense Ministry official told a news briefing.

Or maybe they just want us to stick around to help keep protecting them.

By: Brant

22 December 2012

Anniversaries: NUTS! and "War is Hell"

Most folks who are casually acquainted with military history know that right now is the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. Today is actually the 65th anniversary of the famous reply to the German request to surrender - "NUTS!".

But it's also the day that Sherman took control of Savannah, thus ending the infamous "March to the Sea".

Which battle has better wargames? Not more mind you, but better. Sound off below!

By: Brant

How Accurate is 'Zero Dark Thirty'?

We all know of the "Hollywood effect" where movies don't quite reflect reality, but the CIA is challenging the 'accuracy' of Zero Dark Thirty, especially the parts about interrogations.

The CIA joined on Friday the chorus of those challenging the accuracy of a new movie on the Osama bin Laden raid that suggests that harsh interrogation techniques used on suspected terrorists helped the agency find the man considered behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

In an unusual move, the acting director of the CIA , Michael Morell, issued a statement to employees on Friday that emphasized that "Zero Dark Thirty" is not a historically accurate film.

Of particular concern are the harrowing scenes at the beginning of the movie that depict a suspected terrorist being interrogated at a secret CIA prison overseas with waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. The suggestion in the movie is that those coercive techniques aided in identifying the courier who eventually led to the compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was living.

Morell acknowledged that the interrogations played a role but said that they were not as important as the movie implied. "That impression is false," Morell said. There were multiple streams of intelligence, according to Morell. "Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques, but there were many other sources as well."

Morell also criticized the film for implying that just a few individuals were responsible for the successful operation when in fact hundreds were involved. He also took exception to the "liberties" the filmmakers took in depicting CIA officers, especially ones who had died. "We cannot allow a Hollywood film to cloud our memory of them," he said.

By: Brant

21 December 2012

Fighting AQ in Africa

For whatever the hell it might matter, the UN has authorized an African force to face off with al Qaeda in Mali.

The 15-nation U.N. Security Council on Thursday unanimously authorized the deployment of an African-led military force to help defeat al Qaeda and other Islamist militants in northern Mali.
The French-drafted resolution also authorized the 27-nation European Union and other U.N. member states to help rebuild the Malian security forces, who are to be assisted by the international African force during an operation in northern Mali that is not expected to begin before September 2013.
The adoption of the resolution was the result of a compromise that ended weeks of disagreements between the United States and France over how best to tackle the problem of Mali, where al Qaeda-linked insurgents seized vast swathes of territory in March.
The resolution authorizes the deployment for an initial period of one year of an African-led intervention force, to be known as AFISMA, to take "all necessary measures, in compliance with applicable international humanitarian law and human rights law."
The phrase "all necessary measures" is diplomatic code for military force. AFISMA is expected to have up to 3,300 troops and will assist the rebuilt Malian security forces "in recovering the areas in the north of its territory under the control of terrorist, extremist and armed groups."
The French text leaves open the question of how the international force will be funded. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended against straight U.N. funding for the operation, suggesting that it be financed through voluntary contributions.

By: Brant

20 December 2012

$30-odd Billion in Carriers

right-click to save for yourself

By: Brant

A Familiar Name Appears in Syria...

A compelling reason not to arm the Syrian rebels: Al Qaeda walks among them.

Having seen its star wane in Iraq, al Qaeda has staged a comeback in neighbouring Syria, posing a dilemma for the opposition fighting to remove President Bashar al-Assad and making the West balk at military backing for the revolt.
The rise of al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, which the United States designated a terrorist organisation last week, could usher in a long and deadly confrontation with the West, and perhaps Israel.
Inside Syria, the group is exploiting a widening sectarian rift to recruit Sunnis who saw themselves as disenfranchised by Assad's Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that dominates Syria's power and security structures.
Al-Nusra appears to have gained popularity in a country that has turned more religious as the uprising, mainly among Sunni Muslims, has been met with increasing force by authorities.
It has claimed responsibility for spectacular and deadly bombings in Damascus and Aleppo, and its fighters have joined other rebel brigades in attacks on Assad's forces.
According to Site Intelligence group, Nusra claimed responsibility in one day alone last month for 45 attacks in Damascus, Deraa, Hama and Homs provinces that reportedly killed dozens, including 60 in a single suicide bombing.

By: Brant

18 December 2012

America Lost a Hero Today

Daniel Inouye, US Senator and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, passed away. Here's the MoH citation from WWII for Second Lieutenant INOUYE, DANIEL K., U.S. Army

Rank: Second Lieutenant
Organization: U.S. Army
Company: Company E
Division: 442nd Regimental Combat Team
Date of Issue: 06/21/2000
Place / Date: San Terenzo, Italy, April 21, 12945

Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy.

While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns.

With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest.

Although wounded by a sniper's bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions.

In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge.

Second Lieutenant Inouye's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

By: Brant

13 December 2012

Anniversary: "We Got Him"

Ladies and Gentlemen, "We got him."

Operation Red Dawn was the U.S. military operation conducted on 13 December 2003 in the town of ad-Dawr, Iraq, near Tikrit, that captured Iraq President Saddam Hussein, ending rumours of his death. The operation was named after the film Red Dawn, (1984) by Captain Geoffrey McMurray.[1] The mission was assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, commanded by Col. James Hickey of the 4th Infantry Division, with joint operations Task Force 121 - an elite and covert joint special operations team.

By: Brant

Bringing Out The Big Guns?

The Syrian government supposedly fired Scud missiles at the opposition.

Syrian government forces have fired Scud missiles at insurgents in recent days, escalating the 2-year-old conflict against rebels seeking to overthrow the regime, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, two officials said forces of President Bashar Assad have fired the missiles from the Damascus area into northern Syria. These officials asked not to be named because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
News of the missiles came on the same day that more than 100 countries, including the United States, recognized a new Syrian opposition coalition. That has further isolated Assad's regime and opened a way for greater humanitarian assistance to the forces battling to oust him.
One official said there was no indication that chemical weapons were aboard the missiles. Officials have said over the past week that they feared rebel advances were prompting Assad to consider using chemical weapons.
This official estimated that the number of Scuds fired was more than a half dozen, confirming details first reported by The New York Times.

By: Brant

What's Next for Norks? Nukes?

Is the next step for the Norks a nuclear test?

North Korea's next step after rattling the world by putting a satellite into orbit for the first time will likely be a nuclear test, the third conducted by the reclusive and unpredictable state.
A nuclear test would be the logical follow-up to Wednesday's successful rocket launch, analysts said. The North's 2009 test came on May 25, a month after a rocket launch.
For the North and its absolute ruler Kim Jong-un, the costs of the rocket program and its allied nuclear weapons efforts - estimated by South Korea's government at $2.8-$3.2 billion since 1998 - and the risk of additional U.N. or unilateral sanctions are simply not part of the calculation.
"North Korea will insist any sanctions are unjust, and if sanctions get toughened, the likelihood of North Korea carrying out a nuclear test is high," said Baek Seung-joo of the Korea Institute of Defense Analyses.
The United Nations Security Council is to discuss how to respond to the launch, which it says is a breach of sanctions imposed in 2006 and 2009 that banned the isolated and impoverished state from missile and nuclear developments in the wake of its two nuclear weapons tests.

By: Brant

11 December 2012

US Rescues Doctor in Afghanistan, 1 KIA

US forces rescued a kidnapped US doctor in Afghanistan on Sunday.
US soldiers killed seven Taliban insurgents in a successful pre-dawn raid to rescue a kidnapped American doctor in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, the NATO force in the war-torn country said. The mission was launched when intelligence showed that Dr Dilip Joseph was in "imminent danger of injury or death", NATO's International Security Assistance Force said in a statement. Joseph was abducted on December 5 by Taliban insurgents in the Surobi district of Kabul province. "Today's mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban," said General John Allen, the commander of US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan. "I'm proud of the American and Afghan forces that planned, rehearsed and successfully conducted this operation. Thanks to them, Dr Joseph will soon be rejoining his family and loved ones." Joseph was now "undergoing evaluations", the statement said, without giving further details. A security source told AFP that the doctor had been involved in building clinics in Afghanistan but details of his capture were not immediately available.

And Secretary Panetta's official Statement on Operations in Afghanistan
“I want to commend the U.S Special Operations team who rescued an American citizen captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. I was deeply saddened to learn that a U.S. service member was killed in the operation, and I also want to extend my condolences to his family, teammates and friends. The special operators who conducted this raid knew they were putting their lives on the line to free a fellow American from the enemy's grip. They put the safety of another American ahead of their own, as so many of our brave warriors do every day and every night. In this fallen hero, and all of our special operators, Americans see the highest ideals of citizenship, sacrifice and service upheld. The torch of freedom burns brighter because of them.”

The US also lost one of their own in the raid.
An elite U.S. special forces team rescued an American doctor who had been abducted in Afghanistan, but lost one of their own members in the mission, officials said. Dr. Dilip Joseph was freed 11 hours after his captors released two other kidnapped staffers of his nonprofit agency, Morning Star Development, the organization said Sunday. Hours later, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that "a U.S. service member was killed in the operation." A U.S. official said the man who was shot dead belonged to the Navy's Special Warfare Development Group, more commonly known as SEAL Team Six. The elite unit is the same one that took part in the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, but the official didn't know if the fallen service member was involved in that operation. While he did not delve into detail, Panetta said, "the special operators who conducted this raid knew they were putting their lives on the line to free a fellow American from the enemy's grip."

By: Brant

Sound Off! Social Networking

Many military units / commands have social networking presences, on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Are these
--  a good thing!  Public engagement helps boost morale and the image of the military overall
-- a bad thing!  OPSEC magnets that invariably turn into rumor mills and bitch-fests

Sound off below!

By: Brant

09 December 2012

DOD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for Fiscal 2012

The DoD has announced their recruiting and retention numbers for FY 2012

DOD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for Fiscal 2012

The Department of Defense announced today recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for fiscal 2012.

Active Component
Recruiting. All four active services met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal 2012.

Army - 60,490 accessions, with a goal of 58,000; 104 percent
Navy - 36,329 accessions, with a goal of 36,275; 100 percent
Marine Corps - 30,514 accessions, with a goal of 30,500; 100 percent
Air Force - 29,037 accessions, with a goal of 29,037; 100 percent

Retention. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force all exhibited strong retention through fiscal 2012.

Reserve Component

Recruiting. Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their numerical accession goals for fiscal 2012. The Army Reserve shortfall was the result of precision recruiting which was implemented in an effort to rebalance the force.

Army National Guard - 47,997 accessions, with a goal of 46,000; 104 percent
Army Reserve - 26,041 accessions, with a goal of 26,875; 97 percent
Navy Reserve - 8,269 accessions, with a goal of 8,255; 100 percent
Marine Corps Reserve - 8,910 accessions, with a goal of 8,910; 100 percent
Air National Guard - 9,437 accessions, with a goal of 8,210; 115 percent
Air Force Reserve - 8,116 accessions, with a goal of 8,031; 101 percent

Attrition - All reserve components are on target to achieve their fiscal attrition goals.

By: Brant

Leave No Man Behind: Vietnam War Edition

Another soldier from Vietnam is coming home.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, killed in action during the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Capt. James M. Johnstone, of Baton Rouge, La., will be buried Dec. 12, in Arlington National Cemetery. On Nov. 19, 1966, Johnstone was the pilot of an OV-1A Mohawk aircraft that crashed while conducting a daytime reconnaissance mission over Attapu Province, Laos. Nearby U.S. aircrews reported seeing the wing of Johnstone’s aircraft hit a tree during a climb to avoid a nearby ridgeline. No parachutes were seen exiting the aircraft. Heavy enemy presence in the area prevented recovery efforts.
From 1993 to 2009, joint U.S.-Lao People’s Democratic Republic (L.P.D.R.) teams, led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), interviewed multiple witnesses, and conducted several investigations and excavations of the crash site in Attapu Province. The teams located human remains, military equipment, an identification card bearing Johnstone’s name, and aircraft wreckage of an OV-1A, which correlated with the last known location of Johnstone’s aircraft.
To identify the remains, scientists from JPAC analyzed circumstantial evidence and used forensic identification tools, such as dental comparisons.

By: Brant

New Commander for Syrian Rebels

There's a new commander as the Syrian rebels try unifying their chains of command.

Syrian rebel groups have chosen a former officer to head a new Islamist-dominated command, in a Western-backed effort to put the opposition's house in order as President Bashar al-Assad's army takes hits that could usher his downfall.
In Turkey, a newly formed joint command of Syrian rebel groups has chosen Brigadier Selim Idris, one of hundreds of officers who have defected from Assad's army, as its head, opposition sources said on Saturday.
Idris, whose home province of Homs has been at the forefront of the Sunni Muslim-led uprising, was elected by 30 military and civilian members of the joint military command after talks attended by Western and Arab security officials in the Turkish city of Antalya.
The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Salafists, who follow a puritanical interpretation of Islam. It excludes the most senior officers who have defected from Assad's military.

By: Brant

08 December 2012


By: Brant

Another Look at Petraeus

Another look at The Petraeus affair from The Economist

Of more abiding interest is what sort of legacy an extraordinary career has left. The general’s status as the epitome of the modern soldier-statesman-scholar was rooted in both real achievement and a myth of his own and others’ creation. Back home after two tours in Iraq, he used the time to digest the lessons he had learned to rewrite the army’s field manual on counterinsurgency (COIN). At the heart of what became known as “population-centric COIN” was the notion that the operational priority should be providing security for ordinary people and thus creating the conditions for a government under attack by an insurgency to earn legitimacy through the provision of goods and services.

By late 2006, faced with what looked like a descent into bloody civil war, most senior American officers were ready to give up on Iraq. However George W. Bush, desperate to try to find a less appalling denouement to the war, saw General Petraeus, supported by a controversial “surge” in troop numbers, as a possible lifeline for his reputation. How much of the (relative) success that followed was due to General Petraeus and how much the so-called “Anbar Awakening”—the rejection by Sunni tribal leaders of al-Qaeda’s ethnic slaughter that had begun shortly before the general’s return in January 2007—is still argued over. General Petraeus may have been lucky, but he worked with the grain of events to bend the history of the war around a narrative of narrowly averted disaster that was more or less true.

In June 2010, when Stanley McChrystal, his dedicated protégé, resigned as commander in Afghanistan after the reporting of remarks by his staff critical of the new administration, General Petraeus was sent for by Mr Obama to repeat his magic in Kabul. A time-limited troop surge was under way, but he knew official patience was running out and that the chances of applying a successful COIN strategy in a country as divided and poor as Afghanistan were slim. Even so, the speed with which he abandoned it in favour of a much more “kinetic” approach aimed at getting a quick improvement in security by killing as many Taliban as possible was breathtaking.

By the time General Petraeus handed over to his successor, General John Allen, 13 months later, a deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops at the end of 2014 had been set. General Allen was bizarrely drawn into the Petraeus scandal on November 13th when the Pentagon revealed that he had exchanged thousands of e-mails over a four-year period with Jill Kelley. Ms Kelley, a Tampa-based socialite who knew both men, triggered the FBI inquiry into the CIA director last May after receiving threatening e-mails from an apparently jealous Ms Broadwell. General Allen’s confirmation hearing as the new supreme commander in Europe has been put on hold because of the “inappropriate” nature of some of the e-mails.

COIN required more time and money than war-weary, economically stressed voters would stomach. As Mr Obama reiterated during his re-election campaign, nation-building now needs to take place at home. Boots on the ground are out again; special forces and drones, used to seek out and kill America’s enemies, are back in. After becoming director of the CIA, which has become the lead agency in fighting the high-tech, intelligence-led campaign against al-Qaeda and its offshoots, General Petraeus had no compunction in helping strangle his own COIN baby when it had outlived its usefulness.

Much more at the link

By: Brant

07 December 2012

Anniversary: Pearl Harbor

Here in it's entirety, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Infamy Speech

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Infamy Speech

December 8, 1941

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its Government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. This morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December seventh, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

By: Brant

Canada Ditches F-35

Canada has decided to ditch the F-35 and go a different direction.

The F-35 jet fighter purchase, the most persistent thorn in the Harper government’s side and the subject of a devastating auditor-general’s report last spring, is dead.

Faced with the imminent release of an audit by accountants KPMG that will push the total projected life-cycle costs of the aircraft above $30-billion, the operations committee of cabinet decided Tuesday evening to scrap the controversial sole-source program and go back to the drawing board, a source familiar with the decision said.

This occurred after Chief of the Defence Staff Thomas Lawson, while en route overseas, was called back urgently to appear before the committee, the source said.

The decision is sure to have ripple effects around the world, as any reduction in the number of aircraft on order causes the price to go up for all the other buyers. Canada is one of nine F-35 consortium members, including the United States.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay is not a member of the cabinet operations committee. It remains unclear whether he was present at the meeting Tuesday. However, MacKay is a member of the cabinet Priorities and Planning committee, which is to discuss the F-35 decision Friday morning.

The F-18s currently flown by the RCAF are at the tail end of their life cycle and are not expected to be operable much beyond 2020, at the outside.

By: Brant

04 December 2012

Sound Off! Military Motorcycles

Motorcycles for military usage - good thing?  Or bat-shit crazy?  Sound off below!

By: Brant

03 December 2012

Anniversary: Battle of Tora Bora

Today marks the start of the Battle of Tora Bora.

On December 3, a group of 20 U.S. commandos was inserted by helicopter to support the operation. On December 5, Afghan militia wrested control of the low ground below the mountain caves from al-Qaeda fighters and set up tank positions to blast enemy forces. The al-Qaeda fighters withdrew with mortars, rocket launchers, and assault rifles to higher fortified positions and dug in for the battle

Were you there? Know anyone who was? Share your stories below.

By: Brant

02 December 2012

Navy’s Next Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier to be Named Enterprise

The DoD has announced that the US Navy’s next Ford-Class aircraft carrier to be named Enterprise.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today via video message at the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) inactivation ceremony that the third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier will be named Enterprise.

Mabus selected this name to honor USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the Navy’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which was inactivated today in Norfolk, Va. Commissioned in 1961, CVN 65 served for more than five decades. It participated in the blockade of the Cuban Missile Crisis, launched strike operations in Vietnam, and conducted combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“The USS Enterprise was the first of its kind, and for 51 years its name has been synonymous with boldness, readiness and an adventurous spirit,” said Mabus. “Rarely has our fleet been without a ship bearing the name. I chose to maintain this tradition not solely because of the legacy it invokes, but because the remarkable work of the name Enterprise is not done.”

The future USS Enterprise, designated CVN 80, will be the ninth ship to bear the name.

USS Enterprise and subsequent Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers will provide improved warfighting capability, quality of life improvements for Sailors and reduced life cycle costs.

The Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier will be 1,092 feet in length and have a beam of 134 feet. The flight deck will be 256 feet wide, and the ship will be able to operate at speeds in excess of 34 knots. Enterprise will be built by Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va.

By: Brant

01 December 2012

DOD Identifies Units for Upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

The DoD has announced the next units deploying to Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense today identified three major units to deploy as part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan. The scheduled rotation involves two infantry brigade combat teams – one with roughly 1,400 personnel, the other with roughly 2,800 personnel – and one division headquarters with roughly 620 personnel to rotate in winter 2012 and spring 2013. The deploying units include:

Brigade Combat Teams:
1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Division Headquarters:
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

By: Brant

30 November 2012

Rex Brynen weighs in on Syrian conflict

There's an interview with Rex Brynen on the Syrian conflict that includes a direct question about the Syrian rebels and their "armor" force.

2- There have been reports of acquisition of tanks and artillery by the rebels. Do we know if they have actually used them against government forces? Force-on-force battles favor the government of course given the balance of power but can we get a sense of what kind of strategy the rebels might use that would incorporate these heavy weapons?

Captured armor has been used locally and on a small scale, usually as fire support for attacks on checkpoints or bases. There have been only a few cases of tank-on-tank fighting. Generally the rebels lack the experience, ammunition, and maintenance support to use armor effectively. Tanks are also hard to use in what are often hit-and-run attacks.

More effective use has been made of indirect fire weapons, especially mortars, in attacks on regime installations. I think we’re likely to see greater and more effective use of heavy weapons over time, both as the rebels capture more equipment and as they gain practical experience.

There's plenty more at the link that you ought to read.

By: Brant

28 November 2012

GameTalk - Ground Crews

How do you account for aircraft ground crews in wargames?
Where do you site them on the battlefield and how is that represented in the game?
What sorts of inherent defenses can/should they have, and how much interchangeability should they have as you increase the types / quantities of aircraft?

By: Brant

Garbage Delivery

This is a captured Palestinian garbage truck from Gaza. The truck is set up to fire 9 Kasem rockets and then drive off innocently. The note pasted on the drivers door says "In case of traffic violations, please contact the Palestinian Authority".

By: Brant

27 November 2012

Sound Off! More Camouflage!

Last week we asked about US camo.  This week, we want you to tell us what you think the most effective non-US camo pattern is out there...
British DPM?
German Flecktarn?
Something else?
Sound off below!

By: Brant

26 November 2012

Monday Video: Syrian Opposition Armor

Following the recent capture of a Syrian Army base outside of Damascus, the Syrian opposition is starting to field their own armored force.
h/t Rex
By: Brant

21 November 2012

GameTalk - Engineers

How can you best portray what engineers are truly capable of on the battlefield in a wargame?  What do engineers do well that hasn't been accurately captured on the tabletop?  What do they do poorly that's yet to manifest as an actual penalty in a game?

By: Brant

20 November 2012

Holy Shit! Up Front Is Actually Going To Get Printed!?

It's up on Kickstarter right now, and getting really, really well-funded.

By: Brant

Sound Off! Camo Patterns

Everyone agrees the ACU sucks, but what was the most successful US camouflage pattern out there?  Which one was not only successful on the battlefield, but contributed to the positive image and appearance of the US Army?

Tiger-stripes (Vietnam era)?
Basic OD Green?
ACU / pixelflage?

By: Brant

19 November 2012

When Wargaming Was a "Sport"

Yes, there was an article about wargaming - tabletop minis gaming - in Sports Illustrated. That's right: Sports Illustrated.

The observation post I picked to watch the battle was about halfway between a railroad yard and the plateau on which the opposing armies were deployed. I had to squint to see through the blue haze and intermittent puffs of smoke that floated across the terrain. Some of the troops to the east were about to haul an artillery piece over a bridge, and behind them a group of cavalrymen was preparing to charge. To the west, the enemy had concealed some of his men in a pass behind a mountain. It occurred to me that I was one of the few war correspondents in history who ever had been afforded such a splendid panoramic view of an engagement, and again I peered through my glasses at the troops moving into position.

The men looked very small at that distance. For that matter, they looked very small up close, for each was only 1[3/16] inches tall. Their battlefield was a 5-by-9-foot piece of green-painted plywood set atop a pool table. The blue haze came from a gel placed over a flood-light by a photographer, and the smoke came from a smoke-pill apparatus made for him by a friend in the Special Effects department at NBC-TV. The rolling stock in the railroad yard behind me was all Lionel, my observation post was an aluminum tubular kitchen chair and my glasses were not field but nose. I was in Bristol, Conn. to cover a war game that was about to be played by two devotees of this little-known sport, the brothers Bob and Charlie Sweet (left).

President of the North Side Bank, a graduate of Washington and Lee (he played guard there on a Southern Conference championship team in 1934), Charlie Sweet is a 50-year-old outdoorsman whose husky body imprisons, although not very effectively, the spirit of a boy. For years he took time off from his various civic activities (he is on virtually every public-minded committee in Bristol) to make model aircraft, both gas-and rubber-band-powered, as well as model boats, trains and other toys. As a boy he had played with tin or lead soldiers, and around 1950 he found himself thinking that it might be fun to play with them again.

Today Charlie Sweet is one of the foremost collectors of tin soldiers—or military miniatures, as they are called more formally—in the country. He owns around 6,000 figures, most of which he designed, cast and painted in his basement workshop. Sweet is just one of approximately 10,000 collectors, a figure vouched for by Jack Scruby of Visalia, Calif., a military-miniature manufacturer who also serves as a kind of information center for this breed of hobbyist. "Collectors are divided into three major categories," Scruby said recently. "There are those who just collect soldiers—some of the more famous ones are Churchill, Eisenhower, the writer James Jones, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and King Farouk. Then there are those who get their kicks out of making their own figures, usually in plaster-of-paris molds, casting them in lead and painting them—or who just like to paint the unpainted figures I make and sell. Finally, there are those who play war games with them. Some collectors have really tremendous armies. Leon Chodnicki of Baltimore has more than 40,000 figures, and Gus Hansen of Chicago has at least that many also."

There's a LOT more. Seriously. We excerpted part of page 1. It's 4 pages. Go read.

By: Brant

"Soft Power" - UK Number 1?

Monocle has released their annual "Soft Power" list, and the UK has unseated the US at the top of the list.

Britain has occupied the primary position in the yearly ‘Global Soft Power’ survey, conducted by the Monocle magazine. As per Monocle, Britain occupied the first spot for the first time in the ‘Global Soft Power’ survey due to the grand triumph of the London Olympics, the likability of the latest James Bond film and the international reach of the British media.

The positioning of Britain at the top in Monocle’s ‘Global Soft Power’ survey has been interpreted by the British media as an indication that Britain has the capacity to convince other national governments to do its bidding, without resorting to unmanned drones and semi-automatics.

In the Monocle survey, Britain’s occupation of the first spot has resulted in the US being demoted to the second position. The US has traditionally been perceived as a nation that has had ample ‘soft power’ through its Hollywood, its TV serials, the various clothing brands, its eateries, its beverages, its academic institutions overseas, its musical scene, etc.

the rest of the list?

Germany, France, Sweden and Japan occupied the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th positions respectively.

You need a subscription to read the entire article, but here's the link to it.

By: Brant

Anniversary: The Gettysburg Address

Today marks the anniversary of the delivery of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Was there a battle in US history that was more important to the history of the country? By: Brant

16 November 2012

Cybersecurity - Now a Taliban Problem, too!

I guess if you're going to fail, fail big!

Somewhere out there, Mullah Omar must be shaking his head.

In a Dilbert-esque faux pax, a Taliban spokesperson sent out a routine email last week with one notable difference.He publicly CC'd the names of everyone on his mailing list.

The names were disclosed in an email by Qari Yousuf Ahmedi, an official Taliban spokesperson, on Saturday. The email was a press release he received from the account of Zabihullah Mujahid, another Taliban spokesperson. Ahmedi then forwarded Mujahid's email to the full Taliban mailing list, but rather than using the BCC function, or blind carbon copy which keeps email addresses private, Ahmedi made the addresses public.

"Taliban have included all 4 of my email addresses on the leaked distribution list," tweeted journalist Mustafa Kazemi, a prolific Kabul-based tweeter with more than 9,500 followers. "Quite reassuring to my safety."

The list, made up of more than 400 recipients, consists mostly of journalists, but also includes an address appearing to belong to a provincial governor, an Afghan legislator, several academics and activists, an l Afghan consultative committee, and a representative of Gulbuddein Hekmatar, an Afghan warlord whose outlawed group Hezb-i-Islami is believed to be behind several attacks against coalition troops.

The Taliban routinely send out press releases to their mailing list, often claiming responsibility for attacks against Afghan and coalition targets. They are known for exaggerating casualty figures.

By: Brant

Video: Firefight on Hero-Cam

Here's a firefight as captured by the machine-gunners helmet-cam By: Brant

15 November 2012

War Crimes, Syria, Israel, and Indiscriminate Rocket Fire

Note from Brant:  Rex Brynen has kindly allowed us to repost his excellent summary of 'war crimes' that he originally had up over at Facebook.  He also recommended this link for many of legalisticisms that people may want to dig into.

At the risk of upsetting just about everyone on all sides of every conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere, some clarity on what is--or is not--technically a "war crime":

1) Attacking a military commander or rocket launching site in a way that results in civilian casualties. Usually not a war crime, if the force use was appropriate to the military advantage gained (a very fuzzy/elastic concept) and the civilians were not deliberately targeted. Whether it is a sensible thing to do is another issue.

2) Imposing an embargo on key economic goods for the purposes of collective punishment of a civilian population. Usually yes. An embargo is permissible for other purposes, however.

3) Declaring a naval blockade, and stopping ships in international waters. Perfectly legal. However, the actual policy being supported by the blockade might be illegal (see #2).

4) Firing inaccurate rockets at civilian areas. Definitely a war crime. If they were accurate rockets fired at a military target it would probably not be a war crime, even if civilians were hit too (proportionality/military advantage).

5) Syrian army firing at FSA in a residential building that also contains civilians. Usually not a war crime (see #1).

6) FSA firing at Syrian troops in a residential building that also contains civilians. Usually not a war crime (see #1).

7) Indiscriminate Syrian aerial or artillery bombardment of rebel-held civilian neighbourhoods. War crime (see #4).

8) Denying Palestinian right to self-determination. Immoral, politically-short sighted, a violation of other aspects of international human rights law, but not a war crime per se.

9) Settlement activity in occupied territories. Yes, a war crime (Rome Statutes, Art 8.2.b.viii)

10) Deliberately using civilians as human shields. Yes, a war crime.

11) Conducting military operations in built-up areas where there are lots of civilians around. No. The difference between this and #10 is hard to discern in practice, of course, since it hinges on intent.

12) Hiding rockets in the basements of houses. Not a war crime. Bombing those houses is also not a war crime. Shooting those rockets is a war crime if they aren't really aimed, or are aimed at a civilian target. It is not a war crime if they are aimed at a military target or a strategic economic target.

13) Deliberately bombing UN facilities. Yes, war crime. Ditto Red Cross facilities, hospitals. Deliberate targeting of religious establishments and cultural institutions is a war crime too--UNLESS those installations have lost their protection by being used for military purposes (like weapons storage or firing positions). In that case bombing them is permitted.

14) Accidentally bombing UN facilities, etc. No, unless one could show some willful disregard for the presence of such facilities.

15) Car bombs and suicide bombers. Depends on the target (and hence proportionality/military advantage). See #4.

In general, international law clearly allows military forces to kill civilians. However, it places limits on that killing: it must not be deliberate, the use of force may not be indiscriminate, and the use of force (and collateral damage caused) must be proportionate to the military advantage gained.

Finally, the extent to which actions are or are not technically "war crimes" is a separate issue from the morality (and legality) of the larger purpose for which military force is employed (although that can get fuzzy if notions of aggression vs legitimate self-defence are introduced).

By: Rex Brynen

14 November 2012

GameTalk - "Alternate COAs"

How much latitude should you grant players to step outside the bounds of history when playing an historical battle?  Should you allow Napoleon to change his organization at Waterloo?  Should you allow the Germans to defend Normandy more vigorously, or retreat from Stalingrad?  Should you allow Lee to avoid Gettysburg altogether?

At what point are you beyond the "history" of an historical game?

By: Brant

Petraeus, Allen, and the Rest

We've been resisting saying much of anything about the Petraeus scandal, as it's moving faster than we can really keep up with. But CNN has described it as a "dizzying saga", and that's about accurate.

The complicated web entangling an ex-CIA director, his mistress, a top military leader and a woman he allegedly flirted with got no less confusing Wednesday, though the U.S. defense secretary insisted facts will emerge.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta defended his request to withhold Marine Gen. John Allen's nomination to become NATO's supreme allied commander, pending an investigation into Allen's communications with a Florida woman.

The move was "a prudent measure until we can determine what the facts are, and we will," Panetta told reporters Wednesday. "No one should leap to any conclusions."

He added that the general "certainly has my continued confidence to lead our forces."

According to the Defense Department, Allen is under investigation for what one defense official referred to as "flirtatious" e-mail messages with Jill Kelley -- the woman whose complaints about anonymous, harassing e-mails led to the discovery of CIA Director David Petraeus' affair with a woman later identified as his biographer. Petraeus resigned Friday after acknowledging the affair.

Allen will retain his post as the commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, pending Senate confirmation of a successor, according to the Defense Department. That vote is due Thursday, Senate officials said.

Allen has denied wrongdoing, a senior defense official said.

There's a whoooooole lot more at the link.

By: Brant

13 November 2012

Sound Off! Best Military Meal

What's the best meal you've ever had served to you in the military?

By: Brant

12 November 2012

Military Maps: Camp Lemonier

In case you were wondering what the base of most US actions in HOA looks like, here's the sat view of Camp Lemonier, and the aircraft that were on the tarmac that day.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

ECOWAS Approves Intervention in Mali

It will be interesting to see how effective the ECOWAS intervention force is in retaking northern Mali for the Islamists.

West African regional leaders have agreed to deploy 3,300 soldiers to Mali to retake the north from Islamist extremists.

At a summit of Ecowas, the group's chairman said it was ready to use force to "dismantle terrorist and transnational criminal networks".

The soldiers would be provided mainly by Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Islamist groups and Tuareg rebels took control of the north after Mali's president was overthrown in March.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Outtara told reporters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, that the soldiers could be deployed as soon as the UN approved the military plan.

He said he hoped the Security Council would approve the plan by late November or early December.

By: Brant

Busting Bond: The myths of movie spycraft – CNN Security Clearance - CNN.com Blogs

CNN Security Clearance blog has an entertaining read about "the myths of movie spycraft" in honor of the release of Skyfall, the new Bond flick.

The latest James Bond movie, "Skyfall," delves into some tantalizing personal details about the world's favorite British spy, from formative events in his childhood to an up-close look at his relationship with M, the chief of the super-secret British spy service where Bond works.

The new film offers plenty of the heart-thumping chase scenes one expects from a Bond movie, and it also gives glimpses of Bond's well honed art of spycraft. Which begs the question: How realistic is today's Bond?

And they proceed to run through a handful of 'myths' - in some cases with some amusing revelations.

Bond Myth 1: Spies have super human abilities
Bond Myth 2: Style is a spy's best weapon
Bond Myth 3: It's easier to work alone
Bond Myth 4: Breaking the rules makes you bad
Bond Myth 5: Technology always makes the job easier
Bond Myth 6: Sophisticated drinks and theme songs make you cooler

By: Brant

11 November 2012

Offered Without Comment

By: Brant

Veterans' Day from Doctrine Man

If you're not reading Doctrine Man!! on Facebook, you're missing out. Equal parts amusing, informative, and poignant.

Today, it's poignant.

By: Brant

Mike Royko on Veterans' Day

Mike Royko is a WWII Veteran who was a newspaper columnist for a lot of years. This column has been in circulation for over a decade, but it should be required reading every Veterans' Day.

I just phoned six friends and asked them what they will be doing on Monday.

They all said the same thing: working.

Me, too.

There is something else we share. We are all military veterans.

And there is a third thing we have in common. We are not employees of the federal government, state government, county government, municipal government, the Postal Service, the courts, banks, or S & Ls, and we don’t teach school.

If we did, we would be among the many millions of people who will spend Monday goofing off.

Which is why it is about time Congress revised the ridiculous terms of Veterans Day as a national holiday.

The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor all veterans.

So how does this country honor them?…

…By letting the veterans, the majority of whom work in the private sector, spend the day at their jobs so they can pay taxes that permit millions of non-veterans to get paid for doing nothing.

As my friend Harry put it:

“First I went through basic training. Then infantry school. Then I got on a crowded, stinking troop ship that took 23 days to get from San Francisco to Japan. We went through a storm that had 90 percent of the guys on the ship throwing up for a week.

“Then I rode a beat-up transport plane from Japan to Korea, and it almost went down in the drink. I think the pilot was drunk.

“When I got to Korea, I was lucky. The war ended seven months after I got there, and I didn’t kill anybody and nobody killed me.

“But it was still a miserable experience. Then when my tour was over, I got on another troop ship and it took 21 stinking days to cross the Pacific.

“When I got home on leave, one of the older guys at the neighborhood bar — he was a World War II vet — told me I was a —-head because we didn’t win, we only got a tie.

“So now on Veterans Day I get up in the morning and go down to the office and work.

“You know what my nephew does? He sleeps in. That’s because he works for the state.

“And do you know what he did during the Vietnam War? He ducked the draft by getting a job teaching at an inner-city school.

“Now, is that a raw deal or what?”

Of course that’s a raw deal. So I propose that the members of Congress revise Veterans Day to provide the following:

- All veterans — and only veterans — should have the day off from work. It doesn’t matter if they were combat heroes or stateside clerk-typists.

Anybody who went through basic training and was awakened before dawn by a red-neck drill sergeant who bellowed: “Drop your whatsis and grab your socks and fall out on the road,” is entitled.

- Those veterans who wish to march in parades, make speeches or listen to speeches can do so. But for those who don’t, all local gambling laws should be suspended for the day to permit vets to gather in taverns, pull a couple of tables together and spend the day playing poker, blackjack, craps, drinking and telling lewd lies about lewd experiences with lewd women. All bar prices should be rolled back to enlisted men’s club prices, Officers can pay the going rate, the stiffs.

- All anti-smoking laws will be suspended for Veterans Day. The same hold for all misdemeanor laws pertaining to disorderly conduct, non-felonious brawling, leering, gawking and any other gross and disgusting public behavior that does not harm another individual.

- It will be a treasonable offense for any spouse or live-in girlfriend (or boyfriend, if it applies) to utter the dreaded words: “What time will you be home tonight?”

- Anyone caught posing as a veteran will be required to eat a triple portion of chipped beef on toast, with Spam on the side, and spend the day watching a chaplain present a color-slide presentation on the horrors of VD.

- Regardless of how high his office, no politician who had the opportunity to serve in the military, but didn’t, will be allowed to make a patriotic speech, appear on TV, or poke his nose out of his office for the entire day.

Any politician who defies this ban will be required to spend 12 hours wearing headphones and listening to tapes of President Clinton explaining his deferments.

Now, deal the cards and pass the tequila.

- Mike Royko

By: Brant

10 November 2012

Happy Birthday to the US Marine Corps

on 10 November, 1775, Samuel Nicholas founded the USMC.

We all know the Marines have the best damn commercials out there. What's your favorite? Sound off below!

By: Brant

Boy, When Iraq say you're 'corrupt', you've got a problem

The Iraqis backed off a Russian arms deal, claiming - get this! - that the Russians are corrupt. Whoodathunkit?

Iraq has cancelled a $4.2bn (£2.6bn) deal to buy arms from Russia because of concerns about "corruption", an Iraqi government advisor has said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has suspicions about corruption within his own team, his spokesman told the BBC.

The purchase - said to include attack helicopters and missiles - was only signed off in October.

Iraq has been rebuilding its armed forces since the end of US-led combat operations against insurgents.

One Russian military expert has suggested the that Iraqi authorities scuppered the Russian arms deal under pressure from Washington.
Russian arms deals?  Corrupt?  In other late-breaking news, gravity continues to hold people to the planet.

By: Brant

09 November 2012

NEWS: Petraeus Resigns

CNN is reporting the resignation of GEN Petraeus as the head of the CIA. It is supposedly connected to an extra-marital affair, and not part of the continuing delusional right-wing fantasy that everyone wanted to parachute into Benghazi guns-a-blazing and was told to "sit and spin" by the Prez.

CIA Director David Petraeus submitted his resignation Friday to President Barack Obama, citing person reasons, a U.S. government source said.

According to the source, Petraeus admitted to having an extramarital affair when he asked to resign.

A retired U.S. Army general who served as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, Petraeus was sworn in as the head of the CIA in September 2011.

By: Brant

Assad as the new "Baghdad Bob"?

Apparently Assad thinks that there is no civil war in Syria.

Syria's president said in an interview broadcast Friday that his country is not in a state of civil war, and that he has no regrets about any decisions he has made since the uprising against him began nearly 20 months ago.
Instead of civil war, Assad said, Syria is facing "terrorism through proxies," referring to foreign backing of the rebellion against his regime.
In a sign of relentless ferocity of the conflict, a surge of more than 5,000 Syrians crossed into Turkey overnight to flee violence, a Turkish official at the government's crisis management center said Friday. The new exodus raises to 120,000 the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules.

In al fairness, it is a pretty uncivil war right now.

But hey, any chance to revive the memory of the Iraqi Information Minister must be seized!

By: Brant

07 November 2012

GameTalk - Area / Square / Hex / Point-to-Point

What are the inherent strengths or weaknesses of the different types of map movement paradigms?

By: Brant

06 November 2012

Sound Off! Political Changes

With the US election going on, it makes us stop to think - what's the one political change that can/should be imposed on the US military?

You thoughts below

By: Brant

02 November 2012

Random Friday Wargaming: Kick-Ass Sale Edition

Cult of Mac has a bundle deal going right now that would greatly interest Mac gamers. For $30, you get

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare ($40)
Civilization V ($50)
Company of Heroes: Complete ($30)
Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy ($55)
And Yet It Moves ($10)
LIMBO ($10)

That's a helluva lot of gaming goodness for the cost of a nice meal out.

By: Brant

East Coast Stoms

I was talking with Longblade (from GrogHeads) yesterday about the storm.  We pretty much agreed that there are going to be two completely different lessons that people are going to take from the storm.

One group of people are going to say "Holy crap! There's no way the current government capabilities can handle something like this.  I need to improve my preparations to take care of myself in case this ever happens again."

The other group of people are going to say "Holy crap! There's no way the current government capabilities can handle something like this.  We need to increase the government's capabilities and give them more control."

And while there's probably some truth to both of those statements, you can probably guess where I come down on this one.

By: Brant

01 November 2012

BULLETS! - Analyze

-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

Analyze the info before broadcasting it. The first question needs to be "so what?" After that, then figure out what to do with the data. Where does it fit into the picture of the battlefield? Once it's relevancy and validity has been established, send it down the tube to those who need to know.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

31 October 2012

Generals in Need of Firing

Danger Room interviews Tom Ricks about how the Army has evolved since WWII into a culture that famously doesn't hold senior leaders accountable for battlefield failures.

Our generals today are not particularly well-educated in strategy. Exhibit A is Tommy Franks, who thought it was a good idea to push Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda from Afghanistan into Pakistan, a larger country that also possesses nuclear weapons. Franks also thought that he had won when he took the enemy’s capital in Afghanistan and Iraq — when in fact that is when the wars really began.

When generals don’t know what to do strategically, they tend to regress back down to what they know, which is tactical. That’s one reason why in Vietnam you saw colonels and generals hovering over company commanders giving orders. It is also why our generals were so slow to adapt in Iraq. By the time they became operationally effective, it was 2007, and we had been fighting in Iraq for nearly four years, longer than we had during all of World War II.

What percentage of them need to be fired? All those who fail. That is how George Marshall ran the Army during World War II. Failures were sacked, which is why no one knows nowadays who Lloyd Fredendall was. Successful generals were promoted — which is why why we know names of younger officers of the time such as Eisenhower, Ridgway and Gavin. This was a tough-minded, Darwinian system that reinforced success. Mediocre wasn’t enough back then. It is now, apparently. Back in World War II, a certain percentage of generals were expected to be fired. It was seen as a sign that the system was working as expected.

By: Brant

An Excellent Timeline on What Happened in Benghazi

Yahoo! News put together a very good timeline on the events during and since Benghazi

Sept. 11: The Attack
2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (8:30 p.m. Benghazi time): U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens steps outside the consulate to say goodbye to a Turkish diplomat. There are no protesters at this time. (“Everything is calm at 8:30,” a State Department official would later say at an Oct. 9 background briefing for reporters. “There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside.”)
3 p.m.: Ambassador Stevens retires to his bedroom for the evening. (See Oct. 9 briefing.)
Approximately 3:40 p.m. A security agent at the Benghazi compound hears “loud noises” coming from the front gate and “gunfire and an explosion.” A senior State Department official at the Oct. 9 briefing says that “the camera on the main gate reveals a large number of people – a large number of men, armed men, flowing into the compound.”
About 4 p.m.: This is the approximate time of attack that was given to reporters at a Sept. 12 State Department background briefing. An administration official identified only as “senior administration official one” provides an official timeline of events at the consulate, but only from the time of the attack — not prior to the attack. The official says, “The compound where our office is in Benghazi began taking fire from unidentified Libyan extremists.” (Six of the next seven entries in this timeline — through 8:30 p.m. EDT — all come from the Sept. 12 briefing. The exception being the 6:07 p.m. entry, which comes from Reuters.)
About 4:15 p.m.: “The attackers gained access to the compound and began firing into the main building, setting it on fire. The Libyan guard force and our mission security personnel responded. At that time, there were three people inside the building: Ambassador Stevens, one of our regional security officers, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith.”
Between 4:15 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Sean Smith is found dead.
About 4:45 p.m.: “U.S. security personnel assigned to the mission annex tried to regain the main building, but that group also took heavy fire and had to return to the mission annex.”
About 5:20 p.m.: “U.S. and Libyan security personnel … regain the main building and they were able to secure it.”
Around 6 p.m.: “The mission annex then came under fire itself at around 6 o’clock in the evening our time, and that continued for about two hours. It was during that time that two additional U.S. personnel were killed and two more were wounded during that ongoing attack.”
6:07 p.m.: The State Department’s Operations Center sends an email to the White House, Pentagon, FBI and other government agencies that said Ansar al-Sharia has claimed credit for the attack on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. (The existence of the email was not disclosed until Reuters reported it on Oct. 24.)
About 8:30 p.m.: “Libyan security forces were able to assist us in regaining control of the situation. At some point in all of this – and frankly, we do not know when – we believe that Ambassador Stevens got out of the building and was taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We do not have any information what his condition was at that time. His body was later returned to U.S. personnel at the Benghazi airport.”
About 10:00 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues a statement confirming that one State official was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Her statement, which MSNBC posted at 10:32 p.m., made reference to the anti-Muslim video.
Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

Much more at the link.
By: Brant

25 October 2012

BULLETS! - 10s Report

-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

Any in-contact report should be under 10 seconds, fully loaded.
"This is A6, slant 8/2, PL HAMMER, contact north" for OPS
"This is A5, slant 8/2, 3-5-M-M is AMBER - RED - GREEN - AMBER" for LOG.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

23 October 2012

Anniversary: Beirut

Beirut Memorial On Line

Do you remember when it happened? Where were you and what do you remember? Tell us below.

By: Brant

22 October 2012

US Contract Security Overseas - Damned if you do... damned if you don't

The small British firm with local ties that was in charge of Benghazi diplomatic security is under fire,

The State Department's decision to hire Blue Mountain Group to guard the ill-fated U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, entrusted security tasks to a little-known British company instead of the large firms it usually uses in overseas danger zones.
The contract was largely based on expediency, U.S. officials have said, since no one knew how long the temporary mission would remain in the Libyan city. The cradle of last year's uprising that ended Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule, Benghazi has been plagued by rising violence in recent months.
Security practices at the diplomatic compound, where Blue Mountain guards patrolled with flashlights and batons instead of guns, have come under U.S. government scrutiny in the wake of the September 11 attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Federal contract data shows that the Benghazi security contract, worth up to $783,284, was listed as a "miscellaneous" award, not as part of the large master State Department contract that covers protection for overseas embassies.
"Blue Mountain was virtually unknown to the circles that studied private security contractors working for the United States, before the events in Benghazi," said Charles Tiefer, a commissioner at the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which studied U.S. contracting in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Several British government sources said that they were unfamiliar with Blue Mountain, which is based in Wales. They said British authorities used a different contractor for security protection in Libya.
Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at the Stratfor consulting firm and a former U.S. diplomatic security agent, said he did not know Blue Mountain, but it likely got State Department work because it was already working in Libya.
"They may have been the path of least resistance," he said.
Blue Mountain was able to work in Libya because it forged a business alliance with a local security firm, as required by Libyan regulations.

The thing is, if State had contracted out to TripleArmorXeWaterSolutions then there would've been tons of protests about trigger-happy thugs jacked up on alcohol shooting their way through the Middle East. They go local, and they get beat up on for going to small. What do you think? Is there any way that State Dept could've avoided criticism on this one?

By: Brant

"German War Gaming" in US Naval Review

There's an interesting article about "German War Gaming" in the current issue of US Naval Review.

By: Brant

Anniversary: Cuban Missile Crisis

50 years ago today, President Kennedy informed the United States that the Russians had parked missiles 90 miles off their coast. By: Brant

19 October 2012

Myanmar Invited to Observe Cobra Gold Exercises

In a diplomacy-focused move, the US is going to invite Myanmar to observe joint military exercises. Reuters reports (via Yahoo!):

The United States will invite Myanmar to the world's largest multinational military field exercise, a powerful symbolic gesture toward a military with a grim human rights record and a milestone in its rapprochement with the West.
Myanmar will be invited to observe Cobra Gold, which brings together thousands of American and Thai military personnel and participants from other Asian countries for joint annual maneuvers, officials from countries participating in the exercises told Reuters.
"This appears to be the first step on the part of the U.S. to re-engage Myanmar militarily and to wean it away from its reliance on China," said Jan Zalewski, an analyst covering Myanmar for IHS Global Insight, a research firm.
Washington's rapprochement with Myanmar's military is part of a carefully calibrated re-engagement under the umbrella of humanitarian dialogue, the sources said, constituting one of the boldest rewards for Myanmar's new semi-civilian government after 49 years of direct military rule.
It is also seen as a first step towards U.S.-Myanmar military-to-military ties, cut off after 1988 when soldiers opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in a crackdown that killed or wounded thousands and led to the house arrest of democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi.
Thailand, co-host of the exercises, lobbied for Myanmar's inclusion, the sources said.

By: Brant

18 October 2012

BULLETS! - Suppression

-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

Killing is the best form of suppresion.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

17 October 2012

GameTalk - UAVs

Can you make a commercially successful game out of being a UAV pilot? How would you do it?

By: Brant

16 October 2012

Fractures in Army's Training Sims Community

In what can only be described as shot across the bow to any Army agency not called "TCM-Gaming" the new new TRADOC command policy letter #21 pretty clearly lays a smack-down on any attempts to localize procurement to support training. The secondary effects, of course, are to (a) consolidate power in the hands of TCM-Gaming, an organization staffed by non-gamers with little/no interest in actually learning about wargaming or participating in the wargaming field in any sort of professional manner* and (b) ensure the continued flow of tax dollars to the 'big boys' of the wargaming/sims world - BAH, LockMart, Boeing, Northrup - who have the battalions of contractors needed to support the bloated legacy sims that are waaaaay to complex for their actual usage.
The interesting question will be how it impacts the training for the FA57 community, whose curriculum often includes non-standard COTS games with the intention of showing the FA57s what the state of the art is among civilian designers. No good idea should go un-stolen, so there's no reason not to teach the FA57s what's out there, unless you're an Army agency intentionally trying to stifle independent thought so as to maintain iron-fisted control over the acquisitions of toys you approved but don't actually fully understand.

click images to enlarge and read the entire memo
* Quick, name the TCM-Gaming attendees at Connections this year. Can't do it? Neither can they - there weren't any.

By: Brant