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

Sound Off! Bring a Friend!

Your mission today is to sound off somewhere else! Tell a friend about GrogNews and bring them over to contribute some comments on our little corner of the blogosphere. Introduce them below in the comments and welcome them the finest little oddball military site out there.

By: Brant

Default on a Loan? Hand Over Your Navy!

Seriously. Argentina had a frigate seized by creditors while on a training mission.

Argentina replaced its navy chief on Monday as it investigates the seizure of a frigate in Ghana by bondholders who say they will not release the vessel until the South American country repays money owed them after its 2002 debt default.
The Libertad, a training frigate with some 300 crew on board, was detained in the Ghanaian port of Tema on October 2 under a court order obtained by NML Capital Ltd, an affiliate of investment firm Elliott Management.
The firm says Argentina owes it over $300 million on defaulted debt and it will only release the ship if the country pays it at least $20 million.
The Defense Ministry replaced navy chief Carlos Alberto Paz soon after removing two other senior officials as part of a probe into who was responsible for the ill-fated decision to stop in Ghana, a Ministry statement said.
President Cristina Fernandez's government has condemned the ship's detention, saying it could not be targeted by creditors due to its military nature. A Ghanaian court ruled that Argentina forfeited such immunities when it issued the bonds.

This might be the most bizarre story I've seen in a long, long time.

By: Brant

Big, Fat, Hairy Live Training in Europe (Again)

After 20 years, force-on-force training is going to extend beyond the training areas in Germany.

Conducting operations outside of the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels also puts troops in direct contact with everyday civilians as they travel the roads. According to the Army, Saber Junction is the largest U.S. Army European training event outside of the training areas in 20 years and involves more than 1,700 foreign personnel.

Although the exercise is primarily live, there is also an element of virtual training. Simulations from a brigade in Vicenza, Italy, are being incorporated so that higher commands have more than one unit to control, according to Col. Jeff Meeker, director of the Joint Multinational Simulation Center at Grafenwoehr.

JMSC is also sending the common operating picture from the exercise to both the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and the Joint Readiness and Training Center at Fort Polk, La.

“This is more of a proof of principle to ensure we can exchange digits between the combat training centers for the possibility of linking exercises between the U.S. Army Europe and the CTCs back in the states,” Meeker said.

Saber Junction is also intended to improve interoperability between the different nations. The 19 countries participating in the exercise with the United States include Italy, Germany, France and the U.K. U.S. military officials have stated that there will be a renewed focus on joint and international training.

By: Brant

13 October 2012

UN Security Council Planning Mali Intervention?

With 45 days to pull it together, will international agencies come up with a workable plan to intervene in Mali?

The U.N. Security Council urged African regional groups and the United Nations on Friday to present within 45 days a specific plan for military intervention in Mali to help government troops reclaim the north of the country from Islamist extremists.
The 15-nation council unanimously passed a French-drafted resolution in a bid to revive stalled attempts to deal with the crisis, which it warned could destabilize the wider, turbulent Sahel region - a belt of land spanning nearly a dozen of the world's poorest countries on the southern rim of the Sahara.
Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled Tuareg rebels to seize two-thirds of the country. But Islamist extremists, some allied with al Qaeda, have hijacked the revolt in the north.
In the resolution the council expressed "grave concern about the continuing deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in the north of Mali, the increasing entrenchment of terrorist elements including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, affiliated groups and other extremist groups, and its consequences for the countries of the Sahel and beyond."
Once a detailed plan for military intervention in Mali is received from the West African regional body ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations, the Security Council said it would be ready to consider a second resolution to approve the move.
The African Union asked the Security Council in June to back military intervention, but the council first asked for a detailed operation plan. ECOWAS mapped out a three-phase operation and Mali's interim leader, Dioncounda Traore, asked the Security Council last month to authorize the force.

By: Brant

Looking Inside the Uphill Climb in Afghanistan

Time Magazine has a hard look at why the Afghan Police killed a US Special Operations Captain
Excerpts from an interview with a major that returned from Afghanistan, which does not paint a rosy picture, even though he is personally optimistic.
[This is a tough one, a tough issue. It doesn't sound as if you have a lot of optimism about our operations in Afghanistan right now.]

Not on the border, absolutely not…

Well, at some point, I could see us being successful there, but until the Afghan government can positively affect the people there, we’re wasting our time. We’re buying time for the Afghan government, and until that happens — which I think will probably be at least another 10 to 15 years before the Afghan government can even build roads and significantly help the people in the area — nothing we do is going to help…

The people in the area don’t believe they’re in Afghanistan…They speak multiple different languages…There’s no national pride…

In that area, it was Waziri. The country that they would be, if any, is Waziristan, which is not recognized by either Pakistan or Afghanistan, or anybody in the world.

[These are huge geopolitical issues that they're asking an Army major to deal with. What are you going to be able to do?]

I can’t affect that. The best I can do is make sure that Afghan units have enough ammunition, have enough fuel, have enough vehicles to patrol, if the leadership was willing to get on the side of the mission. For the most part the thing that they’re interested in is preserving their lives so that they can provide for their families, wherever they are inside the country…

We have been extremely successful along the border killing terrorists, and I think we can continue being successful doing that. I think it would take a significant amount of time to train a capable force to continue doing that mission in that area, at least on the Afghan side. I think it’s doable.

By: Brant

Statement by Secretary Panetta on NATO Intervention

The DoD released this Statement by Secretary Panetta on NATO Intervention from Brussels, Belgium

Eleven years ago this week, on Oct. 7, 2001, our forces began a long fight against Al Qaeda. They also embarked on a mission to help the people of Afghanistan defend their country and determine their destiny. Every nation represented at this table has sacrificed for that cause over the past decade. We in the United States have lost 2,000 of our precious sons and daughters, nations of this coalition have lost hundreds, and the Afghans have lost thousands. We must pledge that our fallen shall not have died in vain. Rather, with our shared goal so close at hand, we must realize the noble purpose to which they dedicated their last full measure. That will take patience, courage, and commitment…in the face of a resilient enemy…and in the face of those who may try to criticize or divide us.

The fact is that we have made significant progress in Afghanistan. Last month, U.S. and ISAF forces concluded the surge of forces to the fight. For the United States, sending an additional 33,000 men and women to war was no easy decision. But it was the right one. It was the courageous one. And it has made a decisive difference.
As a result, the Taliban could not regain lost ground in 2011 and lost still more in 2012. Compared to a year ago, more Afghans are secure, and conflict is farther away from population centers. Coalition casualties have decreased by 30 percent from last year, a trend that emerged months before we fully recovered surge forces. At the same time, the number of Afghan security forces has grown to about 350,000, and that larger force has maintained recruitment and retention. Those forces have taken the lead for complex operations and they are suffering far more casualties than coalition forces -- a further sign of Afghans’ willingness to sacrifice for their own future. Fighting together, ISAF and Afghan forces have delivered serious blows to the enemy and have brought about a turning point in the campaign.

When conditions supported recovering surge forces, we brought them home, but there are 68,000 Americans are still fighting alongside their coalition and Afghan partners. We are also bringing mountains of equipment home from theater -- a huge logistical challenge. The unsung heroes of this chapter in the war are the planners, the logisticians, the drivers, the pilots, and the support team who are carrying out such a daunting task.

With the surge complete, we’ve reached a critical moment for this Alliance and for this war. Let me mention three keys to our future success: first, strong coalition partnership with Afghan forces; second, effective response to insider attacks; and third, careful evolution of the campaign, including key leadership changes I’d like to share with you.

Strong Coalition Partnership with Afghan Forces

First, strong coalition partnership with Afghan forces. We’ve invested a great deal in helping to develop Afghan security forces. Now we must do everything we can to help them successfully transition and take the lead for security throughout all of Afghanistan as planned next year.

The Security Force Assistance Team model is a game-changing approach to fielding an effective fighting force, according to commanders on the ground. We must build the capabilities of Afghan Army and police, and ensure they have the embedded trainers and mentors needed to assist them as they take security lead. I urge each of your nations to help eliminate the shortfall of 58 Security Force Assistance Teams by the November Force Generation Conference. The U.S. has filled a disproportionate number of these teams in recent years, and I ask for your help to fill the gap.

We must also review the force generation process as we work to fill requirements for trainers and advisors. The recurring six-month force generation cycle generates uncertainty in our plans and relationships. It is time to consider developing longer-term relationships between ISAF members and Afghan training institutions and field units to reduce that uncertainty and to enhance our training relationships.

Effective Response to Insider Attacks

Second, we must have an effective response to insider attacks. Insider attacks are a tragic part of every war. In this war, they are occurring with greater frequency than in the past, and they’ve attracted more media attention in recent months. Whatever motivates these attacks, the enemy intends to use them to undermine mutual trust and cohesion, driving a wedge between us and our Afghan partners. We can only deny the enemy its objective by countering these attacks with all of our strength -- and fortifying our resolve with the signs of our progress. General Allen just briefed what we are doing alongside our Afghan partners to diminish and defeat this threat, including:
-- Enhanced training, both pre-deployment and in the field, that emphasizes cultural awareness, counter-intelligence techniques, vigilance, and real-time information sharing;
-- Adaptive levels of partnering based on continuous reviews of threat information;
-- Expansion of vetting and counter-intelligence operations, by our own and by our Afghan partners;
- “Constant emphasis on effective use of “Guardian Angels” and other protective measures to deter attackers and to ensure the ability to respond quickly when an attack begins; and
-- Continuous efforts to analyze attack patterns in order to develop even stronger methods of prevention.

I believe that we can and will counter this threat with these efforts and with the full partnership of Minister of Defense Mohammedi and Minister of Interior Patang. Fellow Ministers, what tests us -- what tests this Alliance -- is not the problem of insider attacks. What tests us is how we respond to them. Still deeper partnerships, still deeper integration, those are the responses that will frustrate the enemy’s designs to capitalize on this problem.

Careful Campaign Evolution and Key Leadership Changes

Third, the evolution of the campaign and key leadership changes. A key challenge ISAF faces over the next two years is to plan and resource for the mid-2013 milestone and for the end of transition in December 2014. We must meet that challenge together. Here are the new realities we will see in the coming year:
-- We will operate from fewer bases;
-- The net flow of material will turn outbound from Afghanistan;
-- U.S. enabler support for ISAF partners will continue but the scope of support will change as transition proceeds and as we jointly reduce our forces;
-- As Afghan forces assume full responsibility, ISAF forces will continue stepping back.

While we have yet to determine the necessary size and composition of the force that will remain in Afghanistan after 2014, NATO’s presence should be steadfast and effective. We must follow through on the commitments made by our political leaders at the Chicago Summit, including implementation of the Lisbon framework.

A clear signal of U.S. commitment to this Alliance and to the mission in Afghanistan is the quality of our NATO ISAF leadership team. General Allen has commanded ISAF through a crucial period, and his outstanding leadership has put the campaign on a path to success.

He oversaw the war at the height of its combat strength and he oversaw the surge recovery. Under his leadership, ISAF has put relentless pressure on the enemy and built up Afghan security forces, which are now demonstrating their readiness to take the security lead.

As he completes his tour of duty, I am pleased to announce that President Obama will nominate General Allen to succeed Admiral Jim Stavridis as Commander, U.S. European Command, and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

General Allen is well known to all of you, and if confirmed his experience as COMISAF will be instrumental in his broader role and in leading NATO’s oversight of the mission in Afghanistan.

President Obama will nominate General Joseph Dunford, United States Marine Corps, to succeed General Allen as Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, and Commander, ISAF. General Dunford currently serves as the Assistant Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and he is an exceptionally gifted strategic leader. He is combat-tested. He believes in ISAF and if confirmed will be an extraordinary leader of it.

Lastly, let me take this opportunity to thank Admiral Stavridis for his service. I have trusted his wise counsel and I’ve depended on his ability to sustain our military and political relationships in Brussels and across this region. Jim will be here until the spring, so we’ll have much more to say about his leadership and service in the coming months.

I thank my fellow ministers for your continued support and consultations with these great leaders, and I am confident that this new NATO ISAF leadership team will carry forward the momentum we’ve achieved together.

All of us need to leave this meeting with the same talking points that reflect reality and unity:
1. We are succeeding in implementing the campaign plan agreed to in Chicago;
2. Whatever tactics the enemy throws at us -- IEDs, insider attacks, car bombs -- we will not allow those tactics to divide us from our Afghan partners or divert us from our mission.
3. "In Together -- Out Together”: ISAF will complete our mission to help Afghanistan secure and govern itself.

We, the defense leaders of this historic Alliance, preserve a legacy of mutual determination and sacrifice in the face of danger and difficulty. By uniting our powers to finish the long fight in Afghanistan, we will honor that legacy and pass it intact to future generations in the North Atlantic area and beyond.

We’ve come too far, we’ve fought too many battles, we’ve spilled too much blood, not to finish the job.”

By: Brant

12 October 2012

US Preparing "First Strike" Cyber Forces?

The BBC has an article about US first-strike cyber-forces.

Cyber-attacks could inflict as much damage on the US as the physical attacks on 11 September 2001, the US defence secretary has warned.

Leon Panetta said the country was preparing to take pre-emptive action if a serious cyber-attack was imminent.

He said US intelligence showed "foreign actors" were targeting control systems for utilities, industry and transport.

Advanced tools were being created to subvert key computer control systems and wreak havoc, said Mr Panetta.

"An aggressor nation or extremist group could gain control of critical switches and derail passenger trains, or trains loaded with lethal chemicals," said Mr Panetta in a speech to business leaders held on the USS Intrepid - a former aircraft carrier that is now a museum.

"They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.

"Such a destructive cyber-terrorist attack could paralyse the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability," he said.

Smaller scale cyber-attacks were now commonplace, said Mr Panetta.

By: Brant

11 October 2012

BULLETS! - Matrix Orders

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

If you use a preformatted matrix order to brief from, make 18x24 laminated blowups of the pages and fill in with a marker. Use that to brief off the butcher board and everyone will be able to see/read/follow along.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

10 October 2012

GameTalk - Melee Combat

Fix bayonets! CHARGE!

How should melee combat work in a modern wargame?

Yes, it does still happen - read this citation for proof.

By: Brant

09 October 2012

Sound Off! Books or Movies

Do you prefer to read about key military events of the past? Or watch the movies?

Justify yourself below, reader!

By: Brant

08 October 2012

Chinese Telecoms Companies Pose a "Security Threat"?

A congressional panel is claiming that Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE pose security threats to US customers.

vChinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE pose a security threat to the US, a congressional panel has warned after an investigation into the two companies.

The two firms should be barred from any mergers and acquisitions in the US, the panel has recommended in its report set to be released later on Monday.

It said the firms had failed to allay fears about their association with the Chinese government and military.

The two are among the world's biggest makers of telecom networking equipment.

"China has the means, opportunity and motive to use telecommunications companies for malicious purposes," the committee said in its report.

"Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems."

Both Huawei and ZTE have previously denied the allegations.

By: Brant

06 October 2012

Nork Soldier Kills 2 Officers, Defects South

A North Korean soldier has crossed the DMZ to South Korea after killing 2 officers to escape.

A North Korean soldier killed two of his officers Saturday and defected to South Korea across the countries' heavily armed border in a rare crossing that prompted South Korean troops to immediately beef up their border patrol, officials said.
The soldier shot his platoon and company commanders before crossing the western side of the Demilitarized Zone at around noon, a Defence Ministry official said, citing the soldier's statement after he was taken into custody by South Korean border guards.
The official declined to be named because questioning by authorities was ongoing. He said the soldier used a loudspeaker to let South Korean border guards know his intention to defect after the killings. The official said the motive behind the defection was unclear.
No unusual military movement was detected from the North Korean side of the border after the crossing, but South Korea immediately instructed its border troops to step up their guard, a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official said. He also declined to be named, citing office rules.
There was no immediate comment from communist North Korea's state-run media.

By: Brant

Is Karzai's Complaining Going Over the Edge?

Seriously - he's complained about help he couldn't afford from countries he's openly bad-mouthed without whom he wouldn't be in power. Finally, Secretary Panetta snapped back.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lashed back at Afghan President Hamid Karzai Friday, saying the Afghan leader should say thank you now and then to the allied forces who are fighting and dying there, rather than criticizing them.

Panetta was responding to Karzai's complaints Thursday that the U.S. is failing to go after militants based in Pakistan, and instead is concentrating on the insurgents in Afghanistan.

"We have made progress in Afghanistan because there are men and women in uniform who have been willing to fight and die for Afghanistan's sovereignty," Panetta snapped, as he spoke with reporters traveling with him to South America. "Those lives were lost fighting the right enemy not the wrong enemy and I think it would be helpful if the president, every once in a while, expressed his thanks for the sacrifices that have been made by those who have fought and died for Afghanistan, rather than criticizing them."

Our question for Panetta: What took you so long?

By: Brant

Navy Commissions Guided-Missile Destroyer Michael Murphy today

From the official Defense.gov News Release
The Navy will commission the newest guided-missile destroyer, Michael Murphy (DDG 112), Oct. 6, during a 10 a.m. EDT ceremony at Pier 88 in Manhattan, N.Y.

The newest destroyer honors Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan June 28, 2005.

Murphy led a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan, when they came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. Mortally wounded while exposing himself to enemy fire, Murphy knowingly left his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters. While being shot at repeatedly, Murphy calmly provided his unit’s location and requested immediate support for his element. He returned to his cover position to continue the fight until finally succumbing to wounds.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Maureen Murphy will serve as sponsor of the ship named for her late son. The ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when she gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”

“This ship honors the courage, service and sacrifice of Lt. Michael Murphy, his Red Wings brothers, fellow SEALs, special operators and service members around the world who answer the call of duty every day,” said Mabus. “It is absolutely fitting that the USS Michael Murphy bears a SEAL trident on her crest because, much like Michael and every Navy SEAL who has earned the honor of wearing the trident, this ship is designed to counter threats from above and below the surface of the oceans, in the air and on land.”

Designated DDG 112, Michael Murphy is the 62nd Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, capable of conducting operations from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection. Michael Murphy is capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare.

“USS Michael Murphy, the most flexible, lethal and multi-mission capable ship of its kind, represents the backbone of our surface combatant fleet,” said Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations. “It is one of the best destroyers in the world. This ship will operate forward around the globe, assuring allies, projecting power and defending our nation. And, like its namesake Lt. Michael Murphy, this ship will serve to protect, influence and win in an era of uncertainty.”

Cmdr. Thomas E. Shultz, a native of El Cajon, Calif., is the commanding officer of the ship and will lead the crew of 279 officers and enlisted personnel. The 9,200-ton Michael Murphy was built by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works. The ship is 509 feet in length, has a waterline beam of 59 feet, and has a navigational draft of 31 feet. Four gas turbine engines will power the ship to speeds in excess of 30 knots.

By: Brant

Presidential Politics and Defense Budgets

The Economist has a look at the political differences in defense spending.

From a purely political perspective, neither candidate has so far cared to make much noise about national security. For Barack Obama, it is a potentially weak flank that he has been able to protect by taking credit for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and by his willingness to conduct a remarkably ruthless assassination-by-drone campaign against al-Qaeda fighters in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. For Mitt Romney, too much time spent attacking Mr Obama for being weak on defence means less time spent hammering home his much more central message that he would be a far more competent manager of the economy. Nor can Mr Romney, unlike his predecessor as Republican nominee, John McCain, claim any connection with the armed forces—although eligible for the draft, Mr Romney never served.

The one area where there is a clear division between the candidates is over future defence spending. Under the terms of the Budget Control Act (BCA) passed last year, the administration has agreed to reduce the Pentagon’s planned expenditure by $487 billion over the next decade. The cuts will be painful, but after the huge rises in spending of the Bush years and against the urgent need to take action on the deficit, many experts and military brass regard the slowdown as justifiable and manageable.

By: Brant

04 October 2012

BULLETS! - End-States

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

Never give a multi-faceted end-state without prioritizing. "I want to allow no penetration of PL SCOTT, retain 70% combat power, and be prepared to conduct future operations" is
a crappy end-state. Which one is the priority: no pen of PL SCOTT, 70% combat power, or ability to conduct future ops?
COMMANDERS: don't do this to your subordinates.
SUBORDINATES: if your commanders do this to you, pin them down to specifics. And by the way, why do we say "allow no penetration of ___" instead of "prevent penetration of ___"?

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

Is Syrian Civil War Going to Rope In Turkey?

The Turks are retaliating against Syria for a mortar strike against a residential neighborhood.

Turkish artillery hit targets near Syria's Tel Abyad border town for a second day on Thursday, killing several Syrian soldiers according to activists and security sources, after a mortar bomb fired from the area killed five Turkish civilians.
Turkey's government said "aggressive action" against its territory by Syria's military had become a serious threat to its national security and sought parliamentary approval for the deployment of Turkish troops beyond its borders.
"Turkey has no interest in a war with Syria. But Turkey is capable of protecting its borders and will retaliate when necessary," Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, said on his Twitter account.
"Political, diplomatic initiatives will continue," he said.
In the most serious cross-border escalation of the 18-month uprising in Syria, Turkey hit back after what it called "the last straw" when a mortar hit a residential neighborhood of the southern border town of Akcakale on Wednesday.

By: Brant

Anniversary: Black Hawk Down

October 3-4, 1993 were the two days of the Battle of Mogadishu.
The Battle of Mogadishu (more commonly referred to as Black Hawk Down or, for Somalis, the Day of the Rangers (Somali: Maalintii Rangers) was part of Operation Gothic Serpent and was fought on October 3 and 4, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, between forces of the United States, supported by UNOSOM II, and Somali militia fighters loyal to the self-proclaimed president-to-be Mohamed Farrah Aidid who had support from armed civilian fighters. A U.S. Army force in Mogadishu, consisting primarily of US Army Rangers from 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment; B [Bravo] Company, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D), better known as "Delta Force"; and helicopters from 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, attempted to seize two of Aidid's high-echelon lieutenants during a meeting in the city. Shortly after the assault began, Somali militia and armed civilian fighters managed to down two MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters over the city. The subsequent rescue operation to secure and recover the crews of both helicopters drew the raid, intended to last no more than an hour, into an overnight standoff in the city. The battle resulted in approximately 20 deaths, 80 wounded, and 1 helicopter pilot captured amongst the raid party and rescue forces, including Pakistani and Malaysian troops. US sources estimate between 1,500 and 3,000 Somali casualties, including civilians; SNA forces claim only 315 casualties, with 812 wounded.
The crew of Super 6-4 a month before the Battle of Mogadishu. Winn Mahuron, Tommy Field, Bill Cleveland, Ray Frank and Mike Durant. (h/t Doctrine Man)
Want to replay the raid and try your own hand at the mission? Check out LNLP's Lock'n'Load: Day of Heroes, and refight Mogadishu on your own tabletop.

By: Brant

03 October 2012

GameTalk - Staffs

At the operational level and above, your subordinate units have HQs that include a significant number of staff officers. How do/should those staff actions get modeled at subordinate levels? What should we expect to see from them? How do you introduce an appropriate amount of variability in their capabilities without bolting on chrome for its own sake?

By: Brant

Next Afghanistan Units Announced

The DoD has identified the next units for the upcoming Afghanistan rotation.

The Department of Defense today identified two major units to deploy as part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan. The scheduled rotation involves one armored brigade combat team with roughly 1,390 personnel -- and one combat aviation brigade with roughly 1,700 personnel to rotate in winter 2012. The deploying units include:

Brigade Combat Team:
4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Combat Aviation Brigade:
1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas.

By: Brant

02 October 2012

Sound Off! Military Humor and Parodies

For your heaping helping of military chuckles, do you prefer

-- Doctrine Man! Esoteric humor, cheesy cartoons, and the occasional dose of real news?

-- The Duffel Blog! If the Onion went to war, and fooled a thousand people a day into thinking they're real...?

Sound off below!

By: Brant