30 December 2013

Big Changes for the US Army

The Maneuver Enhancement Brigades are going away, as are 5 BCTs in actual divisional units.

The Army has identified new units for inactivation as part of a sweeping reorganization that will cut 10 brigade combat teams and affect as many as 740 units across the force.

The reorganization, one of the most comprehensive organizational changes the Army has undertaken since World War II, is linked with an ongoing effort to cut the Army’s end strength by 80,000 soldiers.

“You are either going to see changes within your unit … or if there isn’t a change in your unit, you’ll most certainly look to your left and right and see change,” said Col. Karl Konzelman of the force management directorate in the Army G-3/5/7 (operations). “There are about 740 units that will be impacted in the next few years.”

Added to the list of affected units are the active Army’s two Maneuver Enhancement Brigades — the 1st MEB at Fort Polk, La., and the 4th MEB at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

The inactivation of these units means the Army’s MEBs will reside solely in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

The Guard has 16, and the Reserve has three of these formations, Konzelman said.

The MEBs have “just sort of run their course” in the active Army, he said.

The list of brigades getting the axe
The five BCTs to inactivate next year are:
4th BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas
3rd BCT, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.
4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
4th BCT, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
4th BCT, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

The remaining five BCTs to inactivate in fiscal 2015. They are:
3rd BCT, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas
3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.
4th BCT, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
2nd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
2nd BCT, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

There is some reassuring news in this, though. The net overall effect on shooters won't be a huge change
In addition to cutting 10 BCTs, the Army also will reorganize most of its remaining BCTs by adding a third maneuver battalion to its armored and infantry brigades. The Army’s Stryker brigades each have three maneuver battalions, and the BCTs stationed outside of the continental U.S. — four in all — will remain at two maneuver battalions, mostly as a way to save on military construction costs, officials said.
Which is comforting to know that we're cutting 26 manuever battalions (13 total BCTs x 2 BNs ea) but putting back almost 30 (+1 BN to each of the current BCTs that don't already have one). So we're reducing the number of HQs while increasing the foxhole count in the remaining brigades. Good start. I've long been a fan of adding an entire platoon to each armor / infantry company out there, noting that today's CO CDRs can handle that number of subordinates just fine. But this is at least a step in the right direction.
By: Brant

22 December 2013

Anniversaries: Battle of the Bulge & Sherman's March to the Sea

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".

Flip the outcome of either of these battles, and describe what comes next in the comments below.

By: Brant

21 December 2013

Hey Look! Problems in South Sudan

There's a report that US military aircraft were hit by fire in S. Sudan.

Rebel fire hit two U.S. military aircraft responding to the outbreak in violence in South Sudan on Saturday, wounding three U.S. service members and heavily damaging at least one of the aircraft, officials said. South Sudan blamed the attack on renegade troops in control of the breakaway region.

The U.S. military aircraft were heading to Bor, the capital of the state of Jonglei and scene of some of the nation's worst violence over the last week. One American service member was reported to be in critical condition. Officials said after the aircraft took incoming fire, they turned around and headed to Kampala, Uganda. From there the service members were flown on to Nairobi, Kenya for medical treatment, the officials said.

Both officials demanded anonymity to share information not yet made public. Both officials work in East Africa and are in a position to know the information. It was not immediately known what the U.S. aircraft were doing in Bor. One official said it appeared the aircraft were Ospreys, the type of aircraft that can fly like a helicopter and a plane.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

GrogHeads Contest for Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm

Our buddies over at GrogHeads are running a contest called GrogHeads Strike Back! The Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm Contest

GrogHeads has partnered with On Target Simulations and Matrix Games to bring a fantastic year-end shootout, with a chance to win some excellent prizes from Matrix Games and the GrogHeads prize vault.
Here’s how it works:

1. You have to play a game. We know, right?! Let us say that again: You have to play a game. See, you’re loving this contest already.

1a. Specifically, you have to play this game: Flashpoint Campaigns: The GrogHeads Strike Back

1c. This is a custom-modified self-contained game and scenario for Flashpoint Campaigns. This scenario is not available as a part of the standard install, so even if you already have the game (and OTS loves you if you do!) then you still need to download and install this package to play.

The rest of the rules are over there, but you can win $65 for the Matrix Games online store, or some other stuff. Just for playing a free game!

By: Brant

20 December 2013

She Is Cooler Than You Are. Twice

Finally, the Eagles are responsible for something cool. One of their former cheerleaders is an MI officer with 2 Afghan deployments under her belt. Kicking ass and taking names. And delivering babies. Go read the link.

Cheerleader turned soldier? Did that turn heads when she was in military training or living in a mud hut with Green Berets in a village in Afghanistan?

"Initially, it was kind of a novelty to people I met if they ever found out," Washburn said Thursday in a phone interview from Savannah, Ga., where she was on the first day of her post-deployment leave.

"It's kind of a bit of a shock. You don't expect those two things to go hand in hand with one person."

She didn't join the Army on a whim. During her three seasons with the Eagles, Washburn was an Army ROTC student and history major at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He father was an Army helicopter pilot and an Air Force fighter pilot. She figures she moved 17 or 18 times growing up, but she calls Philadelphia home even though she just attended college there.

"I am so proud of Rachel and all of her extraordinary accomplishments. She has tremendous courage and has made an amazing impact on the lives of others," said Barbara Zaun, Eagles director of cheerleading.

By: Brant

US Deploys Troops to South Sudan

AFRICOM finally gets a ground-force deployment, as part of 1 MECH heads to Africa.

In the midst of worsening violence in the South Sudan, the Obama administration informed Congress Thursday evening that it deployed soldiers from the US Army’s East Africa Response Force to the capital of Juba to help evacuate American citizens and ensure the safety of embassy personnel there.

The 45 combat-ready soldiers are part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division based in Fort Riley, Kansas. They are currently on a year-long deployment in the Army’s Regionally Aligned Forces program, which marries brigade combat teams with combatant commands around the world to thicken their ranks.

The AFRICOM command is the first to receive a brigade, and soldiers began deploying in April of this year. The soldiers who comprise the East Africa Response Force are based at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.

By: Brant

19 December 2013

USAction! Night Security

As seen through a night-vision device, U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Marcus S. McCollum provides aerial security over Helmand province, Afghanistan, Dec. 17, 2013. McCollum, a crew chief assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 462, provided aerial support for British forces with Task Force Helmand during an operation. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Gabriela Garcia
click image to enlarge

  By: Brant

13 December 2013

10th Anniversary of "We Got Him"

Yes, yes it's been 10 freakin' years since "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

Well This Can't Be Good

Apparently am American missing for 7 years in Iran was on some sort of unapproved mission thru a CIA team.

An American who vanished nearly seven years ago in Iran was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission that, when it came to light inside the government, produced one of the most serious scandals in the recent history of the CIA — but all in secret, an Associated Press investigation found.

The CIA paid Robert Levinson's family $2.5 million to head off a revealing lawsuit. Three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined.

The U.S. publicly has described Levinson as a private citizen.

"Robert Levinson went missing during a business trip to Kish Island, Iran," the White House said last month.

That was just a cover story. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts — with no authority to run spy operations — paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world's darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian regime for the U.S. government.

Details of the disappearance were described in documents obtained or reviewed by the AP, plus interviews over several years with dozens of current and former U.S. and foreign officials close to the search for Levinson, who is from Coral Springs, Fla. Nearly all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive case.

There is no confirmation who captured Levinson or who may be holding him now. Although U.S. authorities have investigated possible involvement of drug traffickers or terrorists, most officials say they believe Iran either holds him or knows who does.

The AP first confirmed Levinson's CIA ties in 2010 and continued reporting to uncover more details. It agreed three times to delay publishing the story because the U.S. government said it was pursuing promising leads to get him home.

The AP is reporting the story now because, nearly seven years after his disappearance, those efforts have repeatedly come up empty. The government has not received any sign of life in nearly three years. Top U.S. officials, meanwhile, say his captors almost certainly already know about his CIA association.

By: Brant

10 December 2013

US Mobility Still Vital to Allies

Once again reminding our allies that if it absolutely, positively has to get there by tomorrow you need to call FedEx the United States military and their transportation assets.

Statement on Additional U.S. Support to France and the African Union in the Central African Republic

Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog provided the following statement:

“Last evening in Kabul, Secretary Hagel spoke with French Minister of Defense Yves Le Drian about the security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), where, under the authority of a UN Security Council Resolution, French forces are assisting the African Union-led international support mission to provide humanitarian assistance and establish an environment that supports a political transition to a democratically elected government.

“Minister Le Drian requested limited assistance from the United States military to support this international effort. In the near term, France has requested airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.

“In response to this request, Secretary Hagel has directed U.S. AFRICOM to begin transporting forces from Burundi to the Central African Republic, in coordination with France.

“The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic, and because of our interest in peace and security in the region. We continue to work to identify additional resources that might be available to help address further requests for assistance to support the international community’s efforts in CAR.”

By: Brant

French Minister Complaining About Job Cuts at EADS

There's a French minister claiming EADS has a 'duty' to avoid layoffs


European aerospace group EADS has a duty to avoid job cuts, French Labour Minister Michel Sapin insisted on hours after the company had said it would shed 5,800 posts.

"Its duty is to put in place measures to avoid all layoffs and in France, it will not be accepted, because it is not acceptable for a company like EADS to cut jobs globally," the minister told Europe 1 radio.

"This company makes money. It's a big company, it has many divisions. If it wants to restructure, that's fine. It is its duty to adapt to the situation.

"But it is also its duty ... to put in place all measures to avoid layoffs," he said.

OK, so the French government wants companies in France to not lay anyone off. That's reasonable. But a "duty"? I mean, why would they be laying off people anyway?

EADS, which makes Airbus planes but also has many other aerospace activities, announced late on Monday that 5,800 jobs in its defence and space division would go in the next three years. About 2,470 affected posts are in the space division while the remaining 2,830 are in defence.

The cuts are part of a restructuring programme undertaken by the company to cope with falling orders, and will affect its workforce in Germany, France, Spain and Britain.

Oh. So you guys are cutting your defense budgets, and then complaining that the people whose jobs depended on those budgets are losing their jobs? Wow. "Cause and effect" are not in your vocabulary, are they?

By: Brant

07 December 2013

Anniversary: Pearl Harbor

in memoriam

By: Brant

French Helping Keep Peace in CAR

French and African troops are trying to help restore order in Bangui and the CAR.

The Central Africa Republic's shaky interim authorities on Saturday ordered all forces except foreign peacekeepers and the presidential guard off the streets of Bangui, where gunfire has eased but attacks on civilians have continued.

A senior U.N. aid official said French and African peacekeepers must push into neighborhoods where "senseless" Muslim-Christian killings are rife, not just control the main roads of the capital.

Clashes resumed in Bossangoa, about 300 km (190 miles) north of Bangui, a day after an African peacekeeper was killed there, a witness there said.

The order for gunmen to return to barracks in Bangui, read on national radio, came as France dispatched 1,200 troops to the country, where at least 300 people have died in two days of violence in which rival militias clashed and then wholescale killings between Muslims and Christians began.

A reinforced French force stepped up patrols of the dilapidated, riverside capital and warplanes flew low overhead. But residents and rights groups said that killings had taken place on Friday down alleys away from the major arteries.

"Peacekeepers are patrolling the main roads. This is helping keep the looting down. But the atrocities are inside the neighborhoods," said Amy Martin, head of the U.N. Officer for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

03 December 2013

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

What's the closest historical example you think of to the Battle of Tora Bora? You thoughts below in the comments!

By: Brant

02 December 2013

The Bad News in Syria Keeps Getting Worse

While we can lament the evolution o the FSA from freedom fighters to criminals, how different is this from the FARC, the KLA, Mexico, the Chechens, the Republika Sprska, most of Afghanistan, the LRA, anyone in Liberia and/or Sierra Leone, and pretty much any other brush war you can bring up over the past 40 years?

The FSA, a collection of tenuously coordinated, moderately Islamic, rebel groups was long the focus of the West’s hopes for ousting President Bashar al-Assad.

But in northern Syria, the FSA has now become a largely criminal enterprise, with commanders more concerned about profits from corruption, kidnapping and theft than fighting the regime, according to a series of interviews with The Sunday Telegraph.

“There are many leaders in the revolution that don’t want to make the regime fall because they are loving the conflict,” said Ahmad al-Knaitry, commander of the moderate Omar Mokhtar brigade in the Jebel az-Zawiya area, south-west of Idlib city. “They have become princes of war; they spend millions of dollars, live in castles and have fancy cars.”

At the beginning of the Syrian war, caf├ęs in Antakya, the dusty Turkish town on the border with Syria, was alive with talk of revolution.

Rebel commanders were often seen poring over maps discussing the next government target. Almost three years later the fight against Bashar al-Assad is long forgotten. Discussion now surrounds fears of the growing power of al-Qaeda’s Syrian outfit, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and the criminality and corruption that grips rebel-held areas.

Syria’s north has been divided into a series of fiefdoms run by rival warlords.

With no overarching rule of law, every city, town and village comes under the control of a different commander. A myriad of checkpoints are dotted across the provinces: there are approximately 34 on the short road from the Turkish border to Aleppo alone. It is a dog-eat-dog existence, where men vie for control of territory, money, weapons and smuggling routes; it is, disgruntled civilians say, a competition for the spoils of war.

By: Brant

01 December 2013

Weapons and Intel: Tracking the Untrackable

There's a very interesting article in The Economist about weapons of great concern to the US, that are very hard to track.

The tracking of Shkval exports is but one part of a broad and increasing effort by the West to track a class of “showstopper” weapons that are both rare and easy to hide. Russia and other countries have stepped up the lucrative export of advanced weapons, especially missiles, designed with an eye to constraining rival Western forces, says Tor Bukkvoll, head of the Russia programme at Norway’s Defence Research Establishment, a defence-ministry body. Such “area denial” munitions allow an attack to be launched without the giveaway of first having to amass troops or hardware.

These weapons can be user-friendly enough even for non-state groups. On July 14th 2006 Hizbullah militants in Lebanon hit an Israeli corvette more than 15km offshore with an Iranian-made C-802 anti-ship missile, killing four sailors and severely damaging the warship. If Israel had known that Hizbullah possessed this weapon, the corvette’s automated countermeasure systems would not have been switched to standby and the attack would have failed, says Alex Tal, a former head of Israel’s navy.

The subsonic C-802 is not even particularly formidable. It is an old variant of a Chinese missile. Newer anti-ship or land-attack missiles fly faster and farther, and dodge interceptors. Their solid fuel means that they can be launched discreetly on short notice, Mr Tal says. Older types such as China’s widely exported Silkworm missiles require lengthy mixing and loading of volatile liquid propellants, a process which can be spotted from planes or satellites. With the newer models, the satellites have to keep watch on lorries leaving factories, which is costly and uncertain.

Among the most feared exports are Russia’s supersonic Klub (3M-54) and Yakhont guided missiles. Faster than their Western counterparts, they can be launched from land batteries, aircraft, ships and submarines, carry large warheads, and reach targets 300km away. The Klub (called the Sizzler by NATO) accelerates to three times the speed of sound in the stretch before striking. Countries publicly known to have the Klub or Yakhont include Algeria, China, India, Syria and Vietnam.

America has “a pretty good idea” of other secret exports, because it tracks ships worldwide, says Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defence under Ronald Reagan who is now at the Centre for American Progress, a think-tank. But countries without such capabilities (or close ties to America) can be left in the dark. Even top-notch spy services are uncertain about some of the most burning questions. Has Syria’s Assad regime passed along some of its Yakhont missiles to Hizbullah for use against Israel? Is Iran’s boast of possessing the Shkval a bluff? Do North Korean subs have it? (Some reports suggest that a Shkval was used to sink a South Korean ship in 2010.) Mr Harmer, now at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, DC, says that keeping track of every such device manufactured is impossible.

By: Brant

27 November 2013

From the SSI: 2013-14 Key Strategic Issues List

The SSI has made the 2013-14 Key Strategic Issues List monograph available as a free download.

For several years, the Strategic Studies Institute has annually published the Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL). The overall purpose of this document is to make students and other researchers aware of strategic topics that are of special interest to the U.S. Army. Part I of KSIL is entitled "Army Priorities for Strategic Analysis" (APSA) and is a list of high-priority topics submitted by Headquarters, Department of the Army. Part II is entitled "Command Sponsored Topics" and represents the high-priority command-specific topics submitted by MACOMs and ASCCs. This KSIL provides military and civilian researchers worldwide a listing of the Army's most critical national security issues. The KSIL is developed by soliciting input from the appropriate elements of HQDA to develop the Army's high priority topics for strategic analysis. In addition, a similar solicitation is made to the Geographic Combatant Commands and Major Army Commands to identify their high-priority command-specific topics researchers can address. Topics for the APSA are organized to support the four imperatives and related objectives as identified in the "2013 Army Strategic Planning Guidance." Research on these topics will continue to contribute to the transition to the Army of the future. Part II of the KSIL incorporates many critical strategic issues that are both unique to the submitting organizations, and common to a number of commands. The intent of this document is to achieve greater fidelity and harmony between the research needs of the Department of Defense, and the considerable work done by the many different research assets.

By: Brant

File Under: "Empty Threats"?

Perhaps, but which action is the one to get filed there, the Chinese water grab, or the US overflight?

At a briefing in Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said the quiet reaction to what was a clear test by the United States of the new zone was “in accordance” with the rules announced by the Chinese Defense Ministry. China’s response to foreign aircraft in the new zone would depend on “how big the threat” was, the spokesman said.

Japan’s main civilian airlines also disregarded the new defense zone Wednesday, flying through the airspace claimed by China without notifying the Beijing authorities.

Tensions in the region have escalated since Beijing published a map of a new “air defense identification zone” on Saturday that overlapped with an air defense zone of its archrival, Japan, increasing the possibility of an encounter between Japanese and Chinese aircraft and heightening the dispute over islands in the East China Sea that both countries claim.

The Chinese declaration brought the United States, a treaty ally of Japan, directly into the dispute when Washington dispatched the B-52 bombers to the area overnight Monday.

The abrupt declaration by China of its air defense zone unnerved Asian countries and was criticized by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan as a “dangerous attempt” to change the status quo in the East China Sea by coercion.

China said it would require foreign aircraft flying through the zone to identify themselves or face possible military interception. The Pentagon said the B-52 bombers, which took off from Guam, were on a long-planned exercise, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that Washington had no intention of changing its procedures by notifying China of United States Air Force flights through the zone.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense, which released the coordinates of the new zone, said Wednesday that it had monitored the flight path of the two B-52 bombers and noted that they flew about 125 miles east of the Diaoyu Islands from 11 a.m. to 1:22 p.m. on Tuesday. The disputed islands in the East China Sea are known as the Diaoyu by China and as the Senkaku by Japan.

“China has the ability to implement effective management and control of the airspace,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

By: Brant

26 November 2013

Complete US Withdrawal From Afghanistan?

Well, if Karzai keeps shooting his mouth off... maybe we just say "fuckit" and bring everyone home.

On Sunday, an assembly of Afghan elders, known as the Loya Jirga, endorsed the security pact, but Karzai suggested he might not sign it until after national elections next spring.

The impasse strengthens questions about whether any U.S. and NATO troops will remain after the end of next year in Afghanistan, which faces a still-potent insurgency waged by Taliban militants and is still training its own military.

Karzai's defiance has surprised the many who had attended the Loya Jirga, which he had proclaimed would have the final word on the security deal.

A senior politician in Kabul said it appeared that Karzai's reluctance to let the deal go through stemmed from his eagerness to keep his hands on the levers of power in the run-up to a presidential election in April, when he is due to stand down.

"He is now in confrontation with his own nation as well as the United States," said the politician, who asked not to be named.

He added that the president's demand for no U.S. meddling in the coming election suggested that Karzai could be looking to ensure he has room to influence the outcome himself.

By: Brant

25 November 2013

The Myth of "No Easy War"

Foreign Policy has an interesting article by Scott Gerber called No More Easy Wars that opens with a compelling question.

Why is the myth of easy war so appealing to American strategists?

Now, the article has a variety of good answers, but I ask you, gentle reader - what's your answer? Tell us before you go read the article, and then tell us how well your idea compares to what he said.

We'll come back to my answer another day. (Someone remind me; I might forget to come back to it)

By: Brant

24 November 2013

DoD Pushing Back on China's "Expansion"

Following China's belligerent landsea grab toward Japan and Okinawa, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel released the following statement on the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone.

The United States is deeply concerned by the People's Republic of China announcement today that it is establishing an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea. We view this development as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region. This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.

This announcement by the People's Republic of China will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region.

The United States is conveying these concerns to China through diplomatic and military channels, and we are in close consultation with our allies and partners in the region, including Japan.

We remain steadfast in our commitments to our allies and partners. The United States reaffirms its longstanding policy that Article V of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands.

By: Brant

22 November 2013

Coming Trends in Future Warfare

An interesting summation of a talk by Dr Kilcullen, from The New America Blog, looking at the future of warfare.

According to Dr. Kilcullen, there are four environmental “mega- trends” that will be critical in planning future operational strategies. First, the continuing increase in the world’s population in the next generation will change the global landscape. Dr. Kilcullen noted that most studies that record this data predict that the world’s population will accelerate until it reaches around 9.5 billion around the year 2050, meaning that another 3 billion people will arrive before then. Second, the urbanization of that population means that these people will not be evenly distributed over the globe. Based on his research, Dr. Kilcullen believes that around two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in cities, and notably, that population will be aggregated in the developing world. Third, the littoralization (the movement of people from rural, inland areas to the coast) of those densely populated cities will be critical in terms of conflict patterns. Today, around 80 percent of the world’s population lives within 50 miles of the coast and Dr. Kilcullen predicts that this number will only increase. Fourth, and perhaps most significant, the connectivity of the world’s population is rapidly changing, enabling greater access to information and a higher ability to organize among non-state groups.

There's also this interesting quote, too

Dr. Kilcullen noted that since around 1846 until today, the U.S. military has very rarely become involved in state-on-state conflicts. Instead, the United States has engaged with non-state armed group adversaries, a trend completely independent of presidential political preference and one that is growing globally.

I've been saying since 2002 that the excuse of "The US Army doesn't do COIN/small wars/whatever you want to call them" is bunk. We've done it on our own western frontier, in the Philippines (several times), in Central America, in Greece, on the Mexican border, in Africa, all over. Some overt, some not. But to say we "don't do it" because training for a Red invasion of Western Europe is both (a) easier and (b) sexier is ignoring the bulk of US military history.

By: Brant

The Limits of the Use of Power

The Economist has an interesting geo-political look at the uses and limits of force and the real threats to US power.

Seen from Washington, the main threat to America’s armed forces is to be found not in Helmand or Hainan but in the automatic budget cuts of the sequester. This roughly doubles the savings that will have to come from the Pentagon’s budget in the next nine years, to about $1 trillion.

During the summer Chuck Hagel, the defence secretary, mapped out a possible first round of cuts: shrinking the army by up to 110,000 troops from its current target of 490,000; and losing possibly two of ten aircraft-carriers, as well as bombers and transport aircraft. The alternative, Mr Hagel said, was to cut spending on modernisation.

Cut, but not to the quick
Inevitably, the proposed cuts have stirred up a hornets’ nest. But just how bad are they? In the ten years to 2011, when America was at war, pay and benefits for the army increased by 57% in real terms. The number of support staff, too, grew rapidly. Because Congress will not touch this large and politically sensitive part of the budget, the cuts must be borne elsewhere.

That is a foolish way to run an army. However, even without the sequester, much of the enormous build-up in spending after the attacks of September 11th 2001 should be going into reverse. Moreover, America’s military might will remain unchallenged, even after the cuts. Just after Mr Hagel set out his ideas, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress about the Pentagon’s revised plans for potential wars around the world. Large invasions may be out, but it can draw on quick-reaction forces and stealth air power and ships. And not only does it outspend most of the rest of the world combined on conventional defence (see chart 3), it also has a formidable nuclear arsenal and the wherewithal for cyber-warfare.

By: Brant

21 November 2013

Karzai Shoots of Mouth; Foot Next?

While admitting that Afghanistan needs US security deal he simultaneously insults us.

A Loya Jirga, or grand council, involving about 2,500 delegates convened a day after Karzai and Washington reached agreement on a pact defining the shape of the U.S. military presence after a 2014 drawdown of a multinational NATO force.

"My trust with America is not good. I don't trust them and they don't trust me," Karzai told the assembly. "During the past 10 years I have fought with them and they have made propaganda against me."

Is it propaganda to admit that you're an ineffective, corrupt, unloved figurehead who is little more than a warlord with a grandiose title who outright refuses to tackle the problems of his own underlings while simultaneously accosting others for the same failing?

It is?

OK then, we're making propaganda against you.

Oh yeah, it's true, too, if that matters at all.

By: Brant

19 November 2013

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.

What's the best post-battle / commemorative speech? By: Brant

Four Female Marines to Graduate Infantry School

The first female Marines to graduate enlisted infantry training will wrap up this week.

Four women will graduate this week from the Marine Corps’ enlisted infantry training course, Marine Corps Times has learned.

Their successful completion of the program, confirmed Monday by a Marine official with knowledge of ongoing efforts to determine what additional ground combat jobs should open to women, is a historic milestone, one that would suggest at least some female Marines posses both the physical strength and acumen to keep pace with their male counterparts on the battlefield. A graduation ceremony is scheduled for Thursday at Camp Geiger, N.C.

The four women are assigned to Delta Company, Infantry Training Battalion, which is part of the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry–East. Fifteen women began the 59-day course Sept. 24. By Oct. 28. the beginning of the grueling 12½-mile march — what many consider the course’s most strenuous event — there were seven women remaining, along with 246 men.. It’s not immediately clear how many men passed the course.

Throughout the training, female students were held to the same standards as men, Marine officials said. For example, during the 12½-mile march, all students were required to haul almost 90-pounds of combat gear. The women assigned to Delta Company also were required to perform pull-ups — not a flexed-arm hang — during their Physical Fitness Test.

By: Brant

15 November 2013

Major Aviation Exercise Underway in South America

The Aviationist has a nice article about Cruzex 2013 in Brazil.

About 90 airplanes and nine helicopters, and more than 2,000 Brazilian and foreign military personnel are currently taking part to Cruzex 2013, South America’s largest military exercise this year.

Hosted by the airbases of Natal and Recife, in the north of Brazil, the international drills organized by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) is attended by the air forces of Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. It could have been even larger if Argentina would not drop out at last moment.

By: Brant

14 November 2013

US Carrier Group Arrives off Leyte

The USS George Washington is now on station and the support is getting underway in earnest.

A US aircraft carrier and its escort of two cruisers have arrived off the Philippines coast to help communities devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

The top US commander in the Philippines told the BBC that US military support would be on an unprecedented scale.

Officials have begun burying some typhoon victims in mass graves. The confirmed death toll stands at more than 2,300 but is likely to rise.

The UN says some 11 million people have been affected by the typhoon.

By: Brant

View Larger Map

12 November 2013

US Relief Headed to Philippines

The DoD is sending US support to the Republic of the Philippines.

Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary George Little on Additional DOD Support to the Republic of the Philippines

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and other U.S. Navy ships to make best speed for the Republic of the Philippines.

The aircraft carrier, which carries 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, is currently in Hong Kong for a port visit. The crew is being recalled early from shore leave and the ship is expected to be underway later this evening.

In company with the carrier will be the cruisers USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Cowpens (CG 63), and the destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89). The supply ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE-10) is already underway and will rendezvous with the group as they get closer. USS Lassen (DDG 82) got underway yesterday for the region. Embarked on board USS George Washington, is Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5).

CVW-5 is a collection of aircraft designed to perform various functions including disaster relief and includes the "Golden Falcons" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 flying the MH-60S Seahawk; and the "Saberhawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 77 flying the MH-60R Seahawk.

As needed, these ships and aircraft will be able to provide humanitarian assistance, supplies, and medical care in support of the ongoing efforts led by the government and military of the Republic of the Philippines.

The ships should be on station within 48-72 hours. The Defense Department is continuing to work closely with the Philippine government to determine what, if any, additional assets may be required.

By: Brant

11 November 2013

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

Pentagon Releases Required Report on Progress in Afghanistan

The DoD has released the latest report on "progress" in Afghanistan. Or lack thereof. Lets hope they don't confuse "activity" with "progress"...

The November 2013 “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” a report to Congress in accordance with Section 1230 and 1231 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181), as amended; to include section 1221 of the NDAA for FY 2012 (Public Law 112-81); and sections 1212, 1223, and 1531(d) of the NDAA for FY 2013 (Public Law 112-239) was provided today to Congress.

While the insurgency remains resilient there has been a fundamental shift in the course of the conflict. “Afghan security forces are now successfully providing security for their own people, fighting their own battles, and holding their own against the insurgency,” according to Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) continue to progress and they now conduct 95 percent of conventional operations and 98 percent of special operations in Afghanistan. This year marked the first fighting season with Afghan forces in the lead for security operations throughout the country. The only unilateral operations that International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) continues to conduct are ISAF force protection, route clearance, and redeployment.

“The fact that the ANSF – a force in its infancy five years ago – has maintained the gains made by a coalition of 50 nations, with the best trained and equipped forces in the world, is a major accomplishment,” said Little.

The report is posted at http://www.defense.gov/pubs/October_1230_Report_Master_Nov7.pdf.

By: Brant

10 November 2013

Happy Birthday to the US Marine Corps

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

What do you think is your most touching story of Marine valor or heroism? Sound off in the comments below!

By: Brant

08 November 2013

Navy to Christen Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford on Saturday

The Navy is launching its newest aircraft carrier - the USS Gerald R. Ford - this weekend.

Navy to Christen Aircraft Carrier Gerald R. Ford

The Navy will christen its newest aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, Saturday, Nov. 9, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at the Huntington-Ingalls Industries Newport News shipyard, Newport News, Va.

Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the 38th President Gerald R. Ford, will serve as the ship's sponsor, break a champagne bottle against a plate welded to the hull, and officially christen the ship Gerald R. Ford.

The Gerald R. Ford, designated CVN 78, honors the late president who guided the nation through the end of the Vietnam War and the Bicentennial of American Independence. President Ford served aboard USS Monterey (CVL-26) in the Pacific during World War II, and was the first President to serve aboard an aircraft carrier.

“The christening of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) marks an important milestone in both the life of this ship and the development of our future fleet; a fleet built on the innovation that makes our Navy and Marine Corps team the finest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.

Gerald R. Ford is the lead ship of the Gerald R. Ford class, the first new aircraft carrier design in more than 40 years. The Gerald R. Ford class will eventually replace all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. The Ford class is designed to provide increased warfighting capability with approximately 700 fewer crewmembers for decreased total ownership cost.

Ford will be the first aircraft carrier to deploy with the electromagnetic aircraft launching system, advanced arresting gear, dual band radar, and all electric auxiliaries. Gerald R. Ford is designed for a 50-year service life with one mid-life refueling complex overhaul.

By: Brant

03 November 2013

Pakistan Upset Over Taliban Killing

Not "killings conducted by the Taliban" but rather "the killing of a top Taliban leader"...

Pakistan is to review its relationship with the United States, the prime minister's office said on Sunday, following the killing of the Pakistani Taliban leader in a U.S. drone strike.

But a top-level meeting to examine relations, scheduled for Sunday, was postponed at the last minute without explanation.

Mehsud, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, was killed on Friday in the northwestern Pakistani militant stronghold of North Waziristan, near the Afghan border.

The Pakistani Taliban have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians and members of the security forces in their bid to impose Islamist rule, but the new government has been calling for peace talks.

The government denounced Mehsud's killing as a U.S. bid to derail the talks and summoned the U.S. ambassador on Saturday to complain.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office had said he would chair a meeting on the consequences for ties with Washington. There was no indication when it might now take place.

Some politicians have demanded that U.S. military supply lines into Afghanistan be blocked in response.

So let's get this clear - we put a hole in a guy who was wanted for killing people in at least 2 countries, who was hiding in a part of your country where you are powerless to do jack-all about it, and with whom you're trying to cut some sort of treaty so they'll quit killing people, and it's our problem he's dead?

You're welcome, bitches.

By: Brant

Pakistan Upset Over Taliban Killing

Not "killings conducted by the Taliban" but rather "the killing of a top Taliban leader"...

Pakistan is to review its relationship with the United States, the prime minister's office said on Sunday, following the killing of the Pakistani Taliban leader in a U.S. drone strike.

But a top-level meeting to examine relations, scheduled for Sunday, was postponed at the last minute without explanation.

Mehsud, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, was killed on Friday in the northwestern Pakistani militant stronghold of North Waziristan, near the Afghan border.

The Pakistani Taliban have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians and members of the security forces in their bid to impose Islamist rule, but the new government has been calling for peace talks.

The government denounced Mehsud's killing as a U.S. bid to derail the talks and summoned the U.S. ambassador on Saturday to complain.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office had said he would chair a meeting on the consequences for ties with Washington. There was no indication when it might now take place.

Some politicians have demanded that U.S. military supply lines into Afghanistan be blocked in response.

So let's get this clear - we put a hole in a guy who was wanted for killing people in at least 2 countries, who was hiding in a part of your country where you are powerless to do jack-all about it, and with whom you're trying to cut some sort of treaty so they'll quit killing people, and it's our problem he's dead?

You're welcome, bitches.

By: Brant

31 October 2013

Bullets! - Tasking

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

Don't task 2 men per platoon or 1 man per crew. Task an entire section or squad for a mission and let them work out the manpower. A more cohesive team gets the job done faster and maintains a more direct accountability chain to follow up with.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

Some Good News From Syria?

It's hard to find, but there is some 'good' news - Syria has met their "deadline" to destroy their chemical weapon production facilities... that we know of.

Syria has destroyed or rendered inoperable all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facilities, meeting a major deadline in an ambitious disarmament program, the international chemical weapons watchdog said Thursday.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace prize this month, said its teams had inspected 21 out of 23 chemical weapons sites across the country. The other two were too dangerous to inspect, but the chemical equipment had already been moved to other sites that experts had visited, it said.

Syria "has completed the functional destruction of critical equipment for all of its declared chemical weapons production facilities and mixing/filling plants, rendering them inoperable," it said, meeting a deadline to do so no later than November 1.

The next deadline is November 15, by when the OPCW and Syria must agree to a detailed plan of destruction, including how and where to destroy more than 1,000 metric tonnes of toxic agents and munitions.

By: Brant

29 October 2013

US Opens Monument to Combat Dogs

The US military has dedicated a national monument to military working dogs in Texas.

The United States' first national monument to a soldier's best friend, recognizing the sacrifices of dogs in combat, was dedicated by the U.S. military on Monday.

Inscribed with the words "Guardians of America's Freedom," the nine-foot tall bronze statue at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, features four dogs and a handler.

"These dogs were patriots just as much as anybody else who served," said military dog handler John Baker of Fallon, Nevada, whose 212th Military Police Company Detachment A was known as "Hell on Paws."

Lackland is home to the U.S. Armed Forces center that has trained dogs for all branches of the military since 1958.

The sculpture, built with private donations, features the four major breeds used since World War Two: Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and Belgian Malinois.

By: Brant

27 October 2013

Congo's Army Making Progress Against Rebels?

Are they making progress against the M23 rebels?

The Congolese army said it had recaptured two more towns and was heading for the rebel stronghold of Rutshuru in a third day of fighting on Sunday, raising the prospect of a military victory by government forces.

A Congolese army officer on the front line said it had taken the towns of Kiwanja and Kalingera from the M23 rebels on Sunday, a day after wresting the strategic town of Kibumba near the Rwandan border from the insurgents.

Fighting was continuing at Kiguri, 25 km (15 miles) north of Goma, the biggest city in eastern Congo, he said.

The army had also opened a second front to the north of M23 positions and was moving southward to Rutshuru, officers said.

"We are consolidating the zones we have conquered," army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli told Reuters near the front line. "Very soon we will take Rutshuru. Those who disarm we will accept, the others we will pursue."

By: Brant

26 October 2013

30th Anniversary: Invasion of Grenada

Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Invasion of Grenada

Operation Urgent Fury, was a 1983 United States-led invasion of Grenada, a Caribbean island nation with a population of about 91,000 located 100 miles (160 km) north of Venezuela, that resulted in a U.S. victory within a matter of weeks. Triggered by a bloody military coup which had ousted a four-year revolutionary government, the invasion resulted in a restoration of constitutional government. Media outside the U.S. covered the invasion in a negative outlook despite the OAS request for intervention (on the request of the U.S. government), Soviet and Cuban presence on the island and the presence of American medical students at the True Blue Medical Facility.

There a long and excellent article at Small Wars Journal about How Grenada Changed How America Goes to War.
When you read about the planning leading up to Grenada, you'll be astounded that the US succeeded at all...

In this immediate period, the JCS passed out two parallel planning requests to two separate organizations with only inferred or non-existant guidance to jointly coordinate-Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and Atlantic Command (LantCom). JSOC because an actual invasion might include the new SOF elements and LantCom because Grenada fell into its geographical area of responsibility. Each began planning in isolation of the other and each planned for forces without regard for the other. In neither organization, until almost the point of execution, was the 82d Airborne or XVIII Airborne Corps engaged or mentioned.

The task each headquarters assumed was the capture of the Point Saline Airfield as well as likely nodes of government. The existence and safety of the students, primarily American citizens, at St Georges Medical University was initially not an issue.

Earlier, in 1979, the democratic government of Grenada was overthrown in a coup and replaced by a socialist dictatorship. On 14 October 1983, an internal power struggle resulted in the death of the original coup leader, Maurice Bishop and his replacement by his chief lieutenant Bernard Coard and his enforcer Gen Hudson Austin, both professed communists. Sir Paul Scoon, the UK Governor General, was placed under house arrest.

Despite this evolution, a US-based expatriate medical school, St Georges Medical University, continued to operate from several campus’s on the main island of Grenada. However, by the October coup, students and faculty became increasingly alarmed about the thuggish nature of local security elements. On 20 October, Hudson Austin announced a curfew for the students and the entire population, brought in additional guards and accused the school of spy activities. Numerous students called their friends and families and indicated their lives were in danger.

At this point, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States as well as the governments of Barbados and Jamaica asked the US to intervene. Three days later, 23 October, the Marine barracks in Beirut were bombed with a large loss of life. The Joint Chiefs of Staff began intensive planning resulting in an execute order for the invasion of Grenada on 25 October 1983. This would be the first significant military action for the US since its departure from Vietnam in 1973. This order involved a Joint effort by both elements of Lantcom and JSOC together-a requirement not previously expressed. Lantcom would be in overall command-sort of-and include the Marines afloat who were headed to Beirut to relieve the just-bombed barracks elements. Lantcom would also have augmentations from the 82d Airborne Division and follow-on forces from XVIII Airborne Corps. This inclusion was unknown until approximately two weeks prior to execution.

In sum, though two headquarters were charged with essentially the same task, each worked with forces not known to the other and planned in isolation. Further, key elements of the final plan (82d Airborne) were not informed of their engagement until two weeks prior to execution. The chain of command was imprecise and no Joint communications system other than ad hoc was established. The mission to rescue and recover the medical school students was a last minute addition to the 82d task list.

What are your recollections of the invasion and aftermath? And has their ever been a worse earnest 'war' movie than Heartbreak Ridge?

By: Brant

25 October 2013

South Korea Military Drill... At Japan?

The Southies are holding drills near some disputed islands in the direction of Japan.

South Korean forces have carried out a drill aimed at repelling foreign landings on disputed islands at the heart of a row with Japan.

The drill took place at an outcrop known in South Korea as Dokdo and in Japan as Takeshima.

The long-running row over the islands has affected ties between the two nations.

Both Japan and South Korea say they have long-standing historical ties to, and claims over, the island grouping.

The drill, which included destroyers and combat jets, took place on what South Korea has designated "Dokdo Day".

"It is a regular drill aimed at repealing non-military forces that approach Dokdo via a sea or air route," an unidentified military official told Yonhap news agency.

A defence ministry official said that it was important to show the area "would be defended by South Korea, in whatever circumstances".

By: Brant

24 October 2013

Bullets! - Training in Garrison

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

"Training in Garrison" is an oxymoron. The best you'll get in garrison is individual sustainment training. Collective training only happens in the field. Of course the Army would have you believe that Maintenance=Training and Training=Maintenance.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

23 October 2013

Army Accelerating Activation Axe

The US Army is speeding up the closure and reorganization of the current brigades in the force.

The BCT reorganization is one of the Army’s largest organizational changes since World War II. It not only will cut 10 BCTs from the Army but also result in the inactivation of almost 200 smaller units. The Army will reorganize most of its remaining BCTs by adding a third maneuver battalion to its armored and infantry brigades, Army Times noted.

The Army’s Stryker brigades each have three maneuver battalions, and the BCTs stationed outside the continental U.S. will remain at two maneuver battalions for now, mostly as a way to save on military construction costs, officials said.

The Times wrote that the move enables the Army to retain 95 of its 98 combat battalions across the BCTs while eliminating headquarters and staff elements.

Each new BCT will have about 4,500 soldiers, nearly 1,000 more than they do in their current configuration.

Most soldiers from the 10 BCTs slated for inactivation likely will be absorbed into the remaining BCTs, according to the report. In all, the BCT cuts will result in the loss of about 17,700 positions, which are counted as part of the 80,000 end strength cut toward which the Army is working.

In addition to the 10 U.S.-based BCTs scheduled for inactivation, the Army has inactivated two BCTs in Europe — the 170th in Baumholder, Germany, and 172nd in Schweinfurt, Germany.

This will leave the Army with 12 armored BCTs, 14 infantry BCTs and seven Stryker brigades.

One more overseas BCT will be identified for inactivation, officials have said, bringing the final number of BCTs to 32.

And for the love of Patton, can we stop calling things "BCTs" - it's a damned "Brigade". There's -zero- discernable difference between a "brigade" and a "brigade combat team". It's just someone monkeying around with terminology so they can sound cool. Brigades control the actions of multiple subordinate battalions. Occasionally they do so on the battlefield. It's a flipping Brigade people. It's not like they've only been in combat for that last 10 years, and never before that.

By: Brant

Anniversary: Beirut

It's been 30 years since the attack on the USMC in Beirut.

Beirut Memorial On Line

What lessons did we learn from this mission in Lebanon? Sound off below.

By: Brant

21 October 2013

Local "Vigilanties" Taking on Boko Haram in Nigeria

In a true "local" COIN response, a self-organized militia has run Boko Haram out of their own hometown.

Boko Haram has been pushed out of Maiduguri largely because of the efforts of a network of youthful informer-vigilantes fed up with the routine violence and ideology of the insurgents they grew up with.

“I’m looking at these people: they collect your money, they kill you — Muslims, Christians,” said the network’s founder, Baba Lawal Ja’faar, a car and sheep salesman by trade. “The Boko Haram are saying, ‘Don’t go to the school; don’t go to the hospital.’ It’s all rubbish.”

Governor Shettima has recruited the vigilantes for “training” and is paying them $100 a month. In the sandy Fezzan neighborhood of low cinder block houses, where the informer group was nurtured over the past two years, the walls are pockmarked with bullet holes from shootouts with the Islamists, a visible sign of the motivations for fighting the insurgents.

That's an excellent example of what can happen when the local population decides to stop cowering in fear and give a shit about their own communities (something conspicuously absent almost anywhere in Afghanistan).

“People will run away from me because I am catching the Boko Haram,” the elder Mr. Ja’faar, 32, said, smiling during a nighttime interview indoors.

Good on'ya mate - taking on the Jihadis.

But he seemed unafraid of the danger, lifting his bright yellow polo shirt to reveal a thin leather strip around his waist, which bore an amulet. He explained that he carried “plenty of magic,” 30 charms, to protect himself.

Oh right. This is Africa. Oh well. Hope one of those things actually deflects a bullet for you.

By: Brant

Navy Launching Zumalt Soon

Why have't you heard much about the impending launch of the Zumwalt-class destroyers? Maybe because they're on-time, and in-budget...

After embarrassing troubles with its latest class of surface warships, the Navy is hoping for a winner from a new destroyer that's ready to go into the water.

So far, construction of the first-in-class Zumwalt, the largest U.S. Navy destroyer ever built, is on time and on budget, something that's a rarity in new defense programs, officials said. And the Navy believes the ship's big gun, stealthy silhouette and advance features will make it a formidable package.

The christening of the ship bearing the name of the late Adm. Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt was canceled a week ago because of the federal government shutdown. Without fanfare, the big ship will be moved to dry dock and floated in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the public christening ceremony featuring Zumwalt's two daughters will be rescheduled for the spring.

Adm. Zumwalt served in destroyers during World War II and was awarded a Bronze Star for valor at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. As the nation's youngest chief of naval operations, appointed at age 49 by President Richard Nixon, he fought to end racial discrimination and allowed women to serve on ships for the first time.

Like its namesake, the ship is innovative.

By: Brant

20 October 2013

Pak Troops Open Fire on India

Pak troops open fire at 25 locations along the international border with India.

In the biggest ceasefire violation along the International Border in a decade, Pakistani soldiers opened fire at Border Security Force (BSF) posts at 25 different locations in the Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday night. Sources in the BSF say they have asked for a flag meeting to lodge formal protest but are awaiting response from Pakistan.

h/t Windigo @ grogheads

By: Brant

17 October 2013

Women on Subs

No "seaman" jokes, please. DoD announces women will be assigned to fast-attack submarines by January 2015.

The USS Virginia and the USS Minnesota will be the first two gender-integrated fast-attack submarines, the Navy announced Tuesday.

Six women — four nuclear-trained officers and two supply corps officers — will report to the subs by January 2015, after completing the nuclear submarine training pipeline, according to the Navy.

Women are already serving aboard the ballistic missile subs the USS Wyoming, USS Louisiana and USS Maine, and the guided missile subs USS Florida, USS Georgia and USS Ohio.

The Navy in 2010 officially changed the policy that had previously prohibited women from serving aboard submarines. Since then, 43 women have been integrated into the sub force.

“Female officers serving aboard Virginia-class submarines is the next natural step to more fully integrate women into the submarine force,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a written statement. “There are many extremely talented and capable women with a desire to succeed in this field and the submarine force will be stronger because of their efforts.”

In an all-hands call last week, Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert told sailors that the Navy will lay out a plan by May 2015 for integrating enlisted women into the submarine force. It is important to add female officers first, he said, so that younger sailors will have role models at sea.

“But the fact of the matter is, we’re going to do this,” he said.

By: Brant

Bullets! - Sleep Plans

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

Sleep plan suggestion that seems to work pretty well: XO asleep during the OPORD and briefed by the commander later, so 1SG briefs the CSS in the OPORD (paragraph 4) after coordinating it w/ the XO XO supervises last-light checks, allowing the commander to do battalion-level coordination XO fights the night battle (if any) COMMANDER SLEEPS AFTER DARK! Trust the XO to do the job - he has to do it if you're dead anyway, remember? Delegate as much overnight work as possible to the PSGs - they always seem to get enough sleep no matter what. But don't burn them out, just let them supervise the normal activities. Night security crews should be asleep from 1400-dark, at least. Don't wake them until 21-2200 if you can help it. (Not necessarily the leadership, but rather the drivers and loaders and GIBs) Most of the vehicle maintenance that they would normally do around 1700 can be done by red-lens light anyway (checking oil levels, tightening bustle racks, etc.) Whatever you do, DO NOT wake them up for evening chow - just leave them some MRE's for that night. If you wake them, they'll start BS'ing with their buddies and never go back to sleep.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

16 October 2013

Separating Truth from Idiocy in Shutdown Rhetoric

The headline from Reuters reads: Navy priest sues over right to celebrate Mass during U.S. shutdown

Let's look at what the article actually says

A Roman Catholic priest who says the government shutdown keeps him from performing religious services at a U.S. Navy base filed suit with a parishioner on Tuesday to be able to celebrate Mass at a chapel.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington by the Rev. Ray Leonard, of St. Marys, Georgia, claims the shutdown barred him from carrying out religious duties at the Kings Bay, Georgia, submarine base.

Leonard and parishioner Fred Naylor, a Navy veteran from St. Marys, said the shutdown violated their First Amendment rights to free speech, association and exercise of religion.

Leonard, a civilian, said he had been told that if he celebrated Mass at the base's Kings Bay Chapel voluntarily during the shutdown he would be arrested. Leonard's contract with the Navy started on October 1, when the shutdown began.

The suit said that the chapel was closed to Catholic services but Protestant services were still being held there.

Scott Bassett, a base spokesman, said the Navy lacked funds to pay Leonard and denied he had been told he would be arrested. Active-duty personnel unaffected by the shutdown were performing Protestant services, he said.

The suit seeks to prevent the government from applying a law that allows voluntary services only in emergencies.

The lawsuit is filed against Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Department of Defense and the Department of the Navy.

He's not a "Navy Priest" as the headline alludes. He's a contractor hired to support a Navy base that does not have an active duty priest assigned to support the on-post population.
They're also not prohibiting anyone's First Amendment exercise of religion. They're preventing the use of government facilities to do so by non-government employees. No one is stopping Catholics on post from going to a local church.
Is it stupid? Yes. It's absolutely stupid that a bunch of adults in Washington are acting like 8-year-olds. Moreover the choices about how different departments and agencies behave during the government shutdown has been equally stupid.
But it's not an attack on religion, it's not an attack on the military, and it's not an attack on the First Amendment, unless you're already inclined to believe the worst about everything you see about the President.

By: Brant

The UCP is Dead - Long Live the UCP!

How bad was the UCP?  Despite knowing it was crap. the Army spent $5 billion to replace the old BDU, and is now spending billions more to roll out Multi-cam to replace it.

Less than a decade after the so-called Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, was introduced the Army is back to the drawing board, set to announce a new camouflage pattern and standard uniform to be worn by the more than million members of the active duty and reserve forces.

Evidence of the UCPs inadequacy as a combat uniform is easy to find—just look at pictures of soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan, they’re not wearing the UCP, which was deemed unsuitable for operations there, but a different uniform known as the MultiCam. In 2009, Congress responded to soldiers’ “concerns about the current combat uniform which they indicated provides ineffective camouflage given the environment in Afghanistan,” by passing a bill in the appropriations act requiring that the DOD “take immediate action to provide combat uniforms to personnel deployed to Afghanistan with a camouflage pattern that is suited to the environment of Afghanistan.” The result was the MultiCam. But that uniform, while it is currently worn in Afghanistan, was not a replacement but an interim substitution for the UCP, which is still the Army’s official uniform and the one worn by all soldiers not overseas.

Only 5 years after it was introduced the UCP’s failures had already become glaring enough to compel congressional intervention but despite the moratorium on its use in Afghanistan, it will have taken another 5 years for the Army to field its replacement.

Eventually, after mounting criticism and reports of the uniforms problems, the Army started looking for something better. This time, instead of hoping for a universal, one-size-fits-all design, an Army source who wished to remain unnamed explained that the Army solicited designs from companies for patterns with three variations, one for the desert, another for woodlands and jungles and a third, traditional semi-wooded pattern similar to the one currently used by soldiers in Afghanistan. After several rounds of testing, four patterns with three variations for each, from companies in New York, Virginia and Alaska were submitted to the Army to choose a winner.

Critics say this has been a huge waste of money.

But hey, it was great in one particular urban setting

By: Brant

15 October 2013

The Coming Nigeria-Liechtenstein Rift

So Nigeria says that Liechtenstein is making excuses to keep money on deposit from former dictator Abacha, years after his death. There's irony in this, of course, with Nigeria needing to email people all over the world for help repatriating the funds from Liechtenstein back to their home country.

Nigeria accused Liechtenstein of using legal challenges as a pretext to cling on to 185 million euros stolen by former military dictator Sani Abacha who died 14 years ago.

Nigeria has been fighting to recover the money for years, but companies linked to the Abacha family keep going to court to prevent the funds being repatriated, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.

A Liechtenstein government spokesman said the country was making efforts to return the money but a complaint in the European Court of Human Rights brought by companies affected was still pending.

"We feel that the Liechtenstein people have been stalling for 14 years," Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters.

"They are just looking for excuses and I think this is where international civil society should mount pressure on these people," she added. "The authorities are holding things back."

By: Brant

14 October 2013

Did COIN "Fail" in Afghanistan?

Karl W. Eikenberry resoundingly says "yes" and has a lot of details to back up his assertions.

More than three years after the Afghan surge’s implementation, what can be said about the efficacy of COIN and the U.S. experience in Afghanistan? Proponents might, with some merit, claim that the experiment was too little, too late -- too late because an industrial-strength COIN approach was not rigorously applied until eight years after the war began, and too little because even then, limits were placed on the size and duration of the surge, making it more difficult to change the calculations of Afghan friends and enemies. Moreover, even though President Barack Obama announced plans to end U.S. participation in combat operations in Afghanistan by 2014, the war continues and the outcome remains indeterminate. Still, it is possible to answer the question by examining the major principles of COIN and analyzing how these fared on the ground.

The COIN-surge plan for Afghanistan rested on three crucial assumptions: that the COIN goal of protecting the population was clear and attainable and would prove decisive, that higher levels of foreign assistance and support would substantially increase the Afghan government’s capacity and legitimacy, and that a COIN approach by the United States would be consistent with the political-military approach preferred by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Unfortunately, all three assumptions were spectacularly incorrect, which, in turn, made the counterinsurgency campaign increasingly incoherent and difficult to prosecute. In short, COIN failed in Afghanistan.

What say you? Could COIN have succeeded in Afghanistan, under the conditions faced there by NATO? What's your assessment of the mission in Afghanistan and what could've / should've happened there?

By: Brant

12 October 2013

AU wants more African troops in Somalia

The AU wants more African troops in Somalia, especially as al-Shabab appears to be growing in strength.

The African Union has backed a call to boost by about a third the number of troops in an African peacekeeping force in Somalia to reinforce a campaign against Islamist militants there who attacked a Nairobi shopping mall last month.

The union's Peace and Security Council said 6,235 soldiers and police should be added to the AMISOM peacekeeping force to take its total strength to 23,966 uniformed personnel for a limited period of 18 to 24 months.

The council endorsed the recommendations of a review of the force this week and announced its decision on Friday. The decision needs the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

AMISOM is made up of troops mainly from Kenya, Uganda and Burundi. Ethiopia has also sent in soldiers, but they are not under AMISOM command.

By: Brant

10 October 2013

Bullets! - Ignoring Yourself

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

You never ignore anyone as quickly as you ignore yourself - we saw this one played out at NTC during the Leaders' Training Program with 3rd Bde 4th ID. The S-3s had more than a few good ideas, but cast them aside for inferior ideas from other people. It seemed to be done more out of inclusiveness than any tactical necessity.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

09 October 2013

Historical Parallels

General Giap's obit from Globalsecurity.org
Giap's nearly fatal mistake in the anti-French war was the too-early challenge of French forces in open battles during the first half of 1951. In three battles, the Viet-minh were defeated each time and Giap almost lost his position as Viet-minh commander in chief. The Viet-minh immediately went back to stage II - smaller battles on their own terms in scattered areas. The basis of this fame is Giap's leadership of the Viet Minh in their victory over the French in the Indochina War. Giap's fame as a tactician and strategist were exaggerated, that neither his tactics nor his strategies were new or imaginative. Giap's greatest ability was an organizer of the masses in a total effort behind the war. Giap successfully combined the roles of civil organizer, politician and battlefield leader in achieving his victory over the French.
simple word replacement
Washington's nearly fatal mistake in the anti-British war was the too-early challenge of British forces in open battles during the first half of 1777. In three battles, the Colonials were defeated each time and Washington almost lost his position as Colonials commander in chief. The Colonials immediately went back to stage II - smaller battles on their own terms in scattered areas. The basis of this fame is Washington's leadership of the Colonials in their victory over the British in the AWI. Washington's fame as a tactician and strategist were exaggerated, that neither his tactics nor his strategies were new or imaginative. Washington's greatest ability was an organizer of the masses in a total effort behind the war. Washington successfully combined the roles of civil organizer, politician and battlefield leader in achieving his victory over the British.
hmmmmm.... By: Brant

A Government That Can't Pay Its Bills That's Worth Celebrating

Hmmmm.... Maybe if you quit trying to wipe Israel off the map, you wouldn't have an economic blockade imposed that's so severe that you can't even pay your own bills.

Hamas is struggling to meet its payroll in the Gaza Strip, where income from taxes has been badly hit since neighboring Egypt started destroying a network of tunnels used to smuggle food, fuel and weapons into the Islamist-run enclave.

The crisis means that Gaza's thousands of civil servants may not receive their full salaries in time for an important Muslim holiday next week.

Egypt, which accuses Hamas of aiding Muslim militants in the lawless Sinai desert, has been waging a campaign to destroy the smuggling tunnels that delivered weapons and other goods to the Gaza Strip, which is partially blockaded by Israel.

Hamas, which denies the Egyptian allegations, taxes the traffic through the tunnels - a money stream that has now virtually run dry.

Last month, the Hamas government paid only 77 percent of its $25 million August payroll for Gaza's 50,000 civil servants.

It said on Tuesday it would make a special payment of 1,000 shekels ($280) to the employees on Thursday before the Eid al-Adha holiday. There is still no word on whether full September salaries will be paid this month.

"What is supposed to be a day of joy and happiness would turn into a nightmare, a disaster, because we cannot afford to feel happy," said 47-year-old public servant Mohammed Khalil.

By: Brant

08 October 2013

Sound Off! Digital Gizmos

Should future military tech development focus on...

... laptops?

... tablets?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

The Official DoD Statement on Africa Raids

The DoD has released an official statement on the Somalia raid.

Late Friday night, U.S. military personnel conducted a targeted operation against Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, known as "Ikrima", a Kenyan of Somali origin.

Ikrima is a top commander in the terrorist group al-Shabaab, an al-Qa'ida affiliate. Ikrima is closely associated with now-deceased al-Qa'ida operatives Harun Fazul and Saleh Nabhan, who played roles in the 1998 bombing of the United States embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and in the 2002 attacks on a hotel and airline in Mombassa, Kenya that resulted in the deaths of Kenyan and Israeli citizens, including children.

The goal of the operation was to capture Ikrima under legal authorities granted to the Department of Defense by the Authorization to Use Military Force (2001) against al-Qa'ida and its associated forces.

While the operation did not result in Ikrima's capture, U.S. military personnel conducted the operation with unparalleled precision and demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al-Shabaab leadership at any time of our choosing.

Working in partnership with the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the United States military will continue to confront the threat posed by al-Shabaab. The United States military has unmatched capabilities and could rely on any of them to disrupt terrorist networks and plots.