25 April 2013

Anniversary: ANZAC Day

Today marks ANZAC Day among the Commonwealth countries around the world.

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, originally commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all those who died and served in military operations for their countries. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Pitcairn, and Tonga.

The Australian War Memorial website answers many questions, including...

Why is this day special to Australians?
When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “ANZAC legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

By: Brant

23 April 2013

Undercover Boss: Chinese Military Edition

Total PR stunt, right? Sure. But who is it really designed to benefit?

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered his top brass to spend two weeks as junior soldiers every few years as a way of boosting military morale - but skeptics doubt the move will do much more than polish his own credentials as commander in chief.
Under the directive, published by the defense ministry, the temporary and symbolic demotion applies to lieutenant colonels and above - although it is primarily aimed at senior officers aged under 55 or who have not come up through the lower ranks.
"It will help to purify the soul and be the prevention and cure for laziness, lax discipline, extravagance and other bureaucratic illnesses," the official People's Liberation Army Daily said of the measure in a commentary on Tuesday.
The move recalled a similar one made by former paramount leader Mao Zedong in 1958, the newspaper added.
Some political analysts said the gesture was likely part of Xi's public campaign to be seen as tough on privilege and corruption, given that media reports of graft in the military are on the rise again after a 1990s crackdown.

Is this all about the President, or the military, or is someone in China finally waking up to the PR value of shared burdens from the leadership?

By: Brant

18 April 2013

Final Reunion for Doolittle Raiders

There are only 3 of the left, and this was their final public reunion.

At 97, retired Lt. Col. Richard Cole can still fly and land a vintage B-25 with a wide grin and a wave out the cockpit window to amazed onlookers.
David Thatcher, 91, charms admiring World War II history buffs with detailed accounts of his part in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, in which he earned a Silver Star.
Retired Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, 93, still gets loud laughs from crowds for his one liners about the historic bombing raid 71 years ago Thursday that helped to boost a wounded nation's morale in the aftermath of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.
Cole, Thatcher and Saylor — three of the four surviving crew members from the history-making bombing run — are at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle for a final public reunion of the Doolittle Raiders. They decided to meet at Eglin because it is where they trained for their top-secret mission in the winter of 1942, just weeks after the Japanese devastated the American fleet at Pearl Harbor.
The fourth surviving raider, 93-year-old Robert Hite, could not make the event.
"At the time of the raid, you know the war was on and it was just a mission we went on, we were lucky enough to survive it but it didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time. I spent the rest of the war in Europe and with the guys in Normandy and taking bodies out of airplanes and stuff and I didn't feel like a hero," Saylor said Wednesday following a ceremony in which an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter maintenance hangar at the base was named in his honor.
Saylor joked with the audience of young airmen and local dignitaries.
"My reaction when I out found out we were bombing Japan from an aircraft carrier was that it was too far to swim back home so we might as well go ahead with it," he said.
The 16 planes, loaded with one-ton bombs, took off from the aircraft carrier on less than 500 feet of runway. They had only enough fuel to drop their bombs and try to land in China with the hope that the Chinese would help them to safety.
"We were all pretty upbeat about it, we didn't have any bad thoughts about what was going to happen. We just did what we had to do," said Cole, who was Doolittle's co-pilot.

I dunno - I guess they deserve a break...

By: Brant

17 April 2013

World Military Spending in a Chart

While The Economist calls this chart "Military Might", it's really talking about military spending, which isn't necessarily the same thing as might. Israel is lumped into the "rest of the world" in spending, but seems to get a lot for their money, as they've been a pretty mighty force for years.

By: Brant

16 April 2013

SecDef Hagel on the DWM

The DoD has released a statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the Distinguished Warfare Medal

Statement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on the Distinguished Warfare Medal

The Department of Defense announced on Feb. 13 the establishment of the Distinguished Warfare Medal to recognize the achievements of a small number of service men and women who have an especially direct and immediate impact on combat operations through the use of remotely piloted aircraft and cyber operations. I agree with my predecessor Leon Panetta that such recognition is justly warranted for these men and women and thank him for raising the level of awareness of their hard work and critical contributions.

When I came into office, concerns were raised to me about the Distinguished Warfare Medal’s order of precedence by veterans’ organizations, members of Congress, and other stakeholders whose views are valued by this department’s leadership.

After consulting with the service secretaries, along with Gen. Dempsey and the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I directed them to review the Distinguished Warfare Medal. The medal was originally conceived to be awarded only to those men and women who, while serving off the battlefield, have an extraordinary impact on combat operations. While the review confirmed the need to ensure such recognition, it found that misconceptions regarding the precedence of the award were distracting from its original purpose.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the concurrence of the service secretaries, have recommended the creation of a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals to recognize the extraordinary actions of this small number of men and women. I agree with the Joint Chiefs’ findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal.

The Joint Chiefs also recommend further consultation with the service secretaries, the service senior enlisted leaders, and veterans’ organizations regarding the nature of the device as well as clear definition of the eligibility criteria for award of the device. I have directed that within 90 days final award criteria and the other specifics of the distinguishing device be developed and presented to me for final approval.

The service men and women, who operate and support our remotely piloted aircraft, operate in cyber, and others are critical to our military’s mission of safeguarding the nation. I again want to thank my predecessor, Leon Panetta, for raising the need to ensure that these men and women are recognized for their contributions.

A copy of the signed memo is available at: P&R and CJC Memo DWM .

Note that the link is a PDF download

By: BRant

Secretary of the Navy Announces the Names of Multiple New Ships

The DoD is announcing the Navy's plans for the naming of a group of new ships.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today the names of seven ships: three joint high speed vessels (JHSV), the USNS Trenton, the USNS Brunswick and the USNS Carson City; an amphibious transport dock ship (LPD), the USS Portland; two littoral combat ships (LCS), the USS Wichita and the USS Manchester; and an ocean-class auxiliary general oceanographic research (AGOR) ship, the R/V Sally Ride.

“As secretary of the Navy, I have the great privilege of naming ships that will represent America with distinction as part of the fleet for many decades to come,” Mabus said.  “These ships were all named to recognize the hard working people from cities all around our country who have contributed in so many ways to our Navy and Marine Corps team.”

Joint high speed vessels are named for small American cities and counties that embody American values.  The future USNS Trenton (JHSV 5), named in honor of New Jersey’s capital city, will be the fourth ship to bear this name.  Similarly, the USNS Carson City (JHSV 7) is the second naval vessel to be named in honor of Nevada’s capital city.  The USNS Brunswick (JHSV 6) is the fourth naval vessel named for the seaport city in Georgia and recognizes its longstanding relationship with the Navy. 

Military commanders will have the flexibility to use the JHSV in a variety of roles to include supporting overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, supporting special operations forces and supporting emerging joint sea-basing concepts.

The 338 foot-long aluminum catamarans are being constructed at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., and are designed to transport 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots.  These vessels can operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, providing U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility.  JHSVs are equipped with an aviation flight deck to support day and night air vehicle launch and recovery operations.  JHSVs have berthing space for up to 104 personnel and airline-style seating for up to 312.

Amphibious transport dock ships are named for major American cities.  Mabus named the future USS Portland (LPD 27) in honor of Oregon’s most highly populated city.  LPD 27 will be the third ship to bear this name.

The principal mission of Portland will be to deploy combat and support elements of Marine expeditionary units and brigades.  With the capability of transporting and debarking air cushion (LCAC) or conventional landing craft and augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft (MV-22), these ships support amphibious assault, special operations, and expeditionary warfare missions.  The USS Portland will provide improved warfighting capabilities including an advanced command-and-control suite, increased lift capability in vehicle and cargo-carrying capacity and advanced ship survivability features.

Portland will be a San Antonio-class (LPD 17) amphibious transport dock ship, built by Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Miss.  The ship will be 684 feet in length, have an overall beam of 105 feet, a navigational draft of 23 feet, displace about 24,900 tons and capable of embarking a landing force of about 800 Marines.  LPD 27 will be capable of reaching sustained speeds in excess of 22 knots.

Littoral combat ships are named after great American communities. 

The littoral combat ships named for Wichita and Manchester recognize regionally beneficial cities that are also within the top five highly populated communities in their states.  The USS Wichita (LCS 13) is named in honor of Kansas’ largest city and will be the third ship to bear the name.  The USS Manchester (LCS 14) will be the second ship named for one of New Hampshire’s industrial centers.

Wichita and Manchester will be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads, called mission packages, which can be changed out quickly as combat needs demand.  These mission packages are supported by special detachments that will deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine, undersea and surface warfare missions.

These ships are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in the coastal waters.  A fast, agile surface combatant, the LCS provides the required war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions close to the shore such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.

Lockheed Martin with Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis., will build the Freedom-variant, USS Wichita (LCS 13), which will be 388 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 58 feet, displace approximately 3,400 tons, and make speed in excess of 40 knots.  Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., will build the Independence-variant, USS Manchester (LCS 14), which will be 419 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 103 feet, displace approximately 3,100 tons, and make speed in excess of 40 knots.

Mabus named the future R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28), which will be a Neil Armstrong-class AGOR ship, to honor the memory of Sally Ride, a professor, scientist and an innovator at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego.  Ride was the first woman and also the youngest person in space.  She later served as director of NASA's Office of Exploration.

Traditionally, AGORs are named for nationally recognized leaders in exploration and science.  The R/V Sally Ride is the first academic research ship to be named in honor of a woman.

“Sally Ride’s career was one of firsts and will inspire generations to come,” said Mabus.  “I named R/V Sally Ride to honor a great researcher, but also to encourage generations of students to continue exploring, discovering and reaching for the stars.”

The ship will be a well-equipped modern oceanographic research platform that includes acoustic equipment capable of mapping the deepest parts of the oceans, and modular onboard laboratories providing the flexibility to meet a wide variety of oceanographic research challenges.  These make them capable of supporting a wide range of oceanographic research activities conducted by academic institutions and national laboratories.  The research vessel will be outfitted with multi-drive low-voltage diesel electric propulsion systems.  This upgraded system will help maintain efficiency while lowering maintenance and fuel costs.

The Neil Armstrong-class AGOR ship will be 238 feet in length, have a beam length of 50 feet, and can operate at more than 12 knots.  AGOR 28 will be built by Dakota Creek Industries, Inc. in Anacortes, Wash. 

By: Brant

15 April 2013

2012 World Military Spending Down

According to a Swedish think tank, world military spending dropped in 2012, except for the usual suspects.

Global military spending dipped last year for the first time since 1998 as defense outlays shrank in the West but rose in Russia, China and the Middle East, a Swedish-based arms watchdog said Monday.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said the world spent $1.75 trillion on its armed forces in 2012, down 0.5 percent from the year before.
The fall, driven by spending cuts in the U.S. and other NATO nations, was partially offset by increases elsewhere. Military spending rose by 7.8 percent in China and by 16 percent in Russia, while Oman's 51-percent boost was the biggest percentage increase in the world, SIPRI said.
"We are seeing what may be the beginning of a shift in the balance of world military spending from the rich Western countries to emerging regions," SIPRI researcher Sam Perlo-Freeman said in a statement. The drop in the West was linked to austerity policies and the drawdown in Afghanistan, he added.
SIPRI's report showed the U.S. remains way ahead of all other countries, accounting for 39 percent of global military spending in 2012. But it was the first time the U.S. share of global military spending dropped below 40 percent since the Cold War, the institute said.
"The U.S. of course is still far and away the No. 1, but the ratio between the U.S. and China has gone down from 7-1 a few years ago to 4-1 in 2012," Perlo-Freeman told The Associated Press.
He stressed that the gap was larger when it comes to actual capabilities, noting that the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers while China has one.

By: Brant

12 April 2013

DOD IDs Units for Upcoming Afghanistan Rotation

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

The Department of Defense today identified four major units to deploy as part of the upcoming rotation of forces operating in Afghanistan.  The scheduled rotation involves one cavalry regiment with roughly 3,000 personnel; one armored brigade combat team (ABCT) with roughly 3,200 personnel; one infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) with roughly 2,200 personnel; and a division headquarters with roughly 450 personnel to rotate in summer 2013. The deploying units include:

Brigade Combat Teams:          

2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, Ky.

Division Headquarters:

4th Infantry Division Headquarters, Fort Carson, Colo.

DoD will continue to announce major deployments as they are approved.

By: Brant

11 April 2013

Diplomatic Crisis in 3...2...

Brits to Argies: "You're not invited"

Britain has decided not to invite Argentine President Cristina Fernandez to Margaret Thatcher's funeral next week, a government source told Reuters on Thursday, a snub likely to deepen a bitter diplomatic dispute over the Falkland Islands.
The source said it would be normal protocol to invite representatives from every country with which Britain enjoys "normal" diplomatic relations to the funeral, but said Thatcher's family had objected to Fernandez being invited.
"It's about adhering to her family's wishes," the source said, adding that discussions were taking place to determine whether a more junior representative from Argentina could be invited instead.
Thatcher, 87, who died on Monday, led Britain at the time of the 1982 Falklands war ordering her armed forces to repel an Argentine invasion of the contested South Atlantic archipelago which Argentina calls Las Malvinas. Fernandez has mounted an increasingly vocal campaign to renegotiate its sovereignty.
In a special parliamentary debate about her legacy on Wednesday, many MPs from her ruling Conservative party paid tribute to her leadership during the war and her funeral will have a Falklands theme with military personnel from units that fought in the conflict playing a prominent role.

By: Brant

Wargaming the Nork Collapse

How did it play out? Not pretty.

The frightening scenario was played out at the U.S. Army War College recently, and it did not end well. The military sets the scene in the fictitious land of "North Brownland," essentially an alias for North Korea.

"It was a family regime that had nuclear weapons, lost control of nuclear weapons. The population was considered to be so brainwashed, and we had a staging area with a country in the south," said Paul McLeary of Defense News. McLeary was present as the military officials debated the plans.

U.S .troops, he said, had immediate problems surging into the North Korea-like country. V-22 Ospreys zoomed U.S. soldiers deep beyond the border, but with reinforcements so far behind they were quickly surrounded by the enemy and needed to be pulled out. American troops eventually made it over the border, but with nuclear sites located in populated areas, their mission became more difficult. U.S. forces made humanitarian aid drops to draw people out of the cities.

"They made the game as difficult as possible to really test their capabilities," said McLeary. "They're very concerned about being able to get troops who can deal with nuclear and chemical weapons where they need them quickly. And the fact [is] that over the past ten or twelve years, they haven't really invested in that capability so much. They've invested in counterinsurgency, ground vehicles, IED threats, but they haven't really spent a lot of time and money modernizing their nuclear and chemical troops."

By: Brant

10 April 2013

Norks Prepping Anniversary Muscle-Flexing?

Let's be honest - we don't know what the hell they're thinking, so an increase in South Korean surveillance probably isn't a bad idea.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said South Korea had asked China and Russia to intercede with the North to ease tension that has mounted since the U.N. Security Council slapped fresh sanctions on Pyongyang after a new nuclear arms test in February.
But all was calm in the South Korean capital, Seoul, long used to North Korean invective under its 30-year-old leader Kim Jong-un. Offices worked normally and customers crowded into city-center cafes.
Seoul stocks edged up 0.77 percent from a four-and-a-half-month low hit earlier this week, though trading was light with threats from the North still clouding the picture. The won currency gained 0.3 percent.
Other officials in Seoul said surveillance of North Korean activity had been enhanced. Missile transporters had been spotted in South Hamgyong province along North Korea's east coast - possible sites for a launch.
North Korea observes several anniversaries in the next few days and they could be pretexts for military displays of strength. These include the first anniversary of Kim's formal ascent to power, the 20th anniversary of rule by his father Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011, and the birth date next Monday of his grandfather, state founder Kim Il-Sung.
The near-daily threats to South Korea and the United States of recent weeks were muted in state media on Wednesday, with the focus largely on the festivities lying ahead.

By: Brant

09 April 2013

Decisive-Point Games and an Underhanded Swipe at Army Bureaucracy

LTC(R) Lunsford is a great guy, and his games are excellent teaching tools.

Doug Tystad, a retired Army colonel, calls Lunsford “one of the most innovative guys I’ve ever met.” He encouraged Lunsford to develop the games while he was still in the service.

“He is helping the Army learn by doing,” Tystad said. “He and his games are helping to train better leaders.”

Tystad has seen the games work.

“The students suddenly realize — ‘What do you mean we didn’t bring fuel?’” he said. “Well, now you’re stuck. You’re out of gas. Those are the kinds of aha moments that crop up. And after playing the game for a while the students stopped and analyzed things and talked about what was working, or not working. If their plan was off track, they could adjust it. That’s the beauty of the serious game. You can run it as many times as you want.”

Lt. Col. Chuck Allen, chief of simulations for the college at Fort Leavenworth, said Lunsford’s games have allowed teachers to train more students more often.

“In February we ran 16 division exercises with Jim’s games, all simultaneously, all run on classroom computers, all operated by students,” he said. “There is no other Army program that can do that.”

Lunsford’s games allow students to learn from their mistakes — and even try atypical tactics in a consequence-free environment.

But some military leaders are seriously worried about serious gaming. “The bureaucrats who don’t like it are in charge of the big Army simulations,” Lunsford said. “They don’t like it because they don’t understand it. They see this as threatening some of the bigger programs, which is not true. They are complementary.”

A spokesman at Fort Leavenworth said game critics at the base declined to comment.

By: Brant

Why Pakistan Hates America

Hint: It's not the bin Laden raid. If you don't know the name "Raymond Davis" then you should. This article from the NYTimes Magazine is long, but worth the read.

More than two years later, the Raymond Davis episode has been largely forgotten in the United States. It was immediately overshadowed by the dramatic raid months later that killed Osama bin Laden — consigned to a footnote in the doleful narrative of America’s relationship with Pakistan. But dozens of interviews conducted over several months, with government officials and intelligence officers in Pakistan and in the United States, tell a different story: that the real unraveling of the relationship was set off by the flurry of bullets Davis unleashed on the afternoon of Jan. 27, 2011, and exacerbated by a series of misguided decisions in the days and weeks that followed. In Pakistan, it is the Davis affair, more than the Bin Laden raid, that is still discussed in the country’s crowded bazaars and corridors of power.

By: Brant

US MilAid to Somalia?

Mr Nobel Peace Prize President is now selling US small arms and offering military assistance to Somalia.

President Barack Obama has cleared the way for the US to provide military assistance to Somalia as it rebuilds itself following years of conflict.

Mr Obama issued a memo to Secretary of State John Kerry saying it would "strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace".

The move now gives Mr Kerry the option to provide defence aid to Somalia.

Last month, the UN Security Council agreed to partially lift its ban on selling arms to Somalia for a year.

The decision allows Somalia's new government to buy light arms to help it in its fight against the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabab Islamist militant group.

By: Brant

Current ISAF Placemat

Here are the current numbers, as of February 2013. Yes, I'm a slacker for not checking more frequently to have posted this earlier.
click to enlarge

troop numbers by country - 2 Malaysians (did they get lost?) and 3 Icelandianers (didn't know they had a military!) among them

Nice to see the Georgians sending a large battalion to Afghanistan and into the impossible mission that is Helmand.

By: Brant

06 April 2013

South Africa Withdrawing From CAR

The end of apartheid didn't signal the end of South African interventions in sub-Saharan Africa. With the coup in the CAR, they are now withdrawing their troops, according to the BBC.

South Africa says it will pull out its troops from the Central African Republic (CAR) after rebels there seized power more than a week ago.

President Jacob Zuma said a deal between the countries had become void with the ousting of Francois Bozize.

Mr Zuma was facing anger after 13 South African soldiers died in the rebellion.

He announced the withdrawal at an emergency regional summit on CAR, during which African heads of state refused to recognise the rebel leader.

South Africa has about 200 troops stationed in the capital, Bangui, to block the Seleka rebels from overthrowing the government of Mr Bozize - who is now in Cameroon.

As well as the 13 dead, another 27 soldiers were injured - the highest number of casualties suffered by South Africa's army since white minority rule ended in 1994.

The deaths caused controversy, with critics saying the troops had been deployed to protect South Africa's mining interests in CAR. President Zuma's governing ANC party rejected the claims, saying the soldiers were training government forces and providing security.

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Zuma said South Africa's deal with CAR was no longer valid.

By: Brant

05 April 2013

The Real Reason GEN Ham Was Pushed Out

They needed somewhere to put GEN Rodriguez, a huge star in the Army.

Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez took over for Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, who is retiring after 39 years in uniform, including two years as an enlisted 82nd Airborne paratrooper.
Rodriguez served two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, including as the No. 2 commander of coalition forces during the 2010 U.S. troop surge. He is a member of a high-achiever West Point class of 1976 that includes the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno.
Ham and Rodriguez made the switch at a ceremony presided over by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, at a hotel near Africa Command's Stuttgart headquarters.
Dempsey called Rodriguez well-suited to lead Africa Command, calling him "smart and decisive."
Notable for his absence was Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. He sent two letters — one read for him at a retirement ceremony for Ham and another at the formal change-of-command ceremony. Dempsey said Hagel had been "held" in Washington on other business.
Since its creation in 2007, Africa Command has grown from a relative backwater to arguably one of the most important commands in the U.S. military establishment. That is largely due to rising concern about Islamic extremists in the region, including a group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which gained strength following the March 2012 coup d'etat in Mali.
Other extremist groups of particular concern to the U.S. are Boko Haram in Nigeria, and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Click to enlarge.  Also available as a PDF from http://www.defense.gov/ucc

By: Brant

Southies Deploys Ships to Track Nork Missiles

South Korea is sending warships out to track possible launches. The Beeb reports:

South Korea has deployed two warships with missile-defence systems, reports say, a day after the North apparently moved a missile to its east coast.

Military officials told South Korean media the two warships would be deployed on the east and west coasts.

Seoul has played down the North's missile move, saying it may be for a test rather than a hostile act.

In recent weeks, the North has ramped up its rhetoric and made specific threats to target US territory.

One of the targets named by Pyongyang was the Pacific island of Guam, which hosts a US military base.

On Thursday, the US confirmed it would deploy a missile-defence system to Guam in response to the threats.

By: Brant

Last US Tanks Leave Leave Germany

“There is no [U.S.] tank on German soil. It’s a historic moment,” said Lt. Col. Wayne Marotto, 21st TSC spokesman.

Just another day in the unwinding of the Cold War, as the US Army's last tanks depart from Germany.

The U.S. Army’s 69-year history of basing main battle tanks on German soil quietly ended last month when 22 Abrams tanks, a main feature of armored combat units throughout the Cold War, embarked for the U.S.

The departure of the last M-1 Abrams tanks coincides with the inactivation of two of the Army’s Germany-based heavy brigades. Last year, the 170th Infantry out of Baumholder disbanded. And the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade at Grafenwöhr is in the process of doing the same.

On March 18, the remaining tanks were loaded up at the 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s railhead in Kaiserslautern where they then made the journey to the shipping port in Bremerhaven, Germany. There they boarded a ship bound for South Carolina.

h/t Starfury

By: Brant

04 April 2013

Pacific Pivot, More

The US is sending F/A-18 warplanes to the Philippines for exercises.

Washington is this week deploying a dozen F/A-18 fighters to the Philippines, the first time it has sent so many of the aircraft there, to take part in annual military drills with a close security ally amid rising tension in the Asia-Pacific region.
The presence of the warplanes is not connected to tensions on the Korean peninsula, a Philippine army spokesman said.
"These exercises were planned more than a year ago, well ahead of what is now happening in the region," Major Emmanuel Garcia said.

And that last line is the key. The Norks will still freak out, but that's because they're allergic to facts.

By: Brant

US Missile Defense Deployment to Guam

As long as it doesn't capsize the island, sending missile defenses to Guam over the Nork threat is probably a good idea.

The United States said it would soon send a missile defense system to Guam to defend it from North Korea, as the U.S. military adjusts to what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called a "real and clear danger" from Pyongyang.
Hours later, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said North Korea had moved what appeared to be a mid-range Musudan missile to its east coast. It was not clear if the North planned to fire the rocket or was just putting it on display as a show of force, one South Korean government source was quoted as saying.

Here's the official DoD statement on the Missile Defense Deployment
Department of Defense Announces Missile Defense Deployment
The Department of Defense will deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) ballistic missile defense system to Guam in the coming weeks as a precautionary move to strengthen our regional defense posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat.
The THAAD system is a land-based missile defense system that includes a truck-mounted launcher, a complement of interceptor missiles, an AN/TPY-2 tracking radar, and an integrated fire control system. This deployment will strengthen defense capabilities for American citizens in the U.S. Territory of Guam and U.S. forces stationed there.
The United States continues to urge the North Korean leadership to cease provocative threats and choose the path of peace by complying with its international obligations. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and stands ready to defend U.S. territory, our allies, and our national interests.

By: Brant

01 April 2013

Pushing the Great Commanders Overboard

An interesting commentary - from Commentary Magazine, natch - about how the US has pushed out most of the great GWOT commanders. Losing any one of them might not have been too bad, but booting all four of them is really causing some well-earned soul-searching in the US military.

First, they talk about the achievements of the different generals - Mattis, Allen, Petraeus, and McChrystal - and it's McChrystal's achievements that seem to be most undervalued as he's most famous for a Rolling Stone article instead of his actual counter-terror work.
McChrystal has been credited with four innovations. First, he invited other intelligence agencies, such as the CIA and NSA, to send liaison officers to his headquarters, where he shared information generously with them—a radical change for the secretive culture of the special-operations forces. Those agencies, in turn, reciprocated by sharing more intelligence with JSOC than in the past. Second, he improved JSOC’s interrogation facilities and trained interrogators to extract useful information without the use of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that became so controversial and notorious. Third, he emphasized “sensitive site exploitation,” ordering his men to take the time to gather up all the hard drives, papers, and other information they could grab at a target site. Fourth, McChrystal wrangled more manned and unmanned aircraft and more Internet bandwidth for JSOC, vastly increasing its ability to monitor potential targets. All this made it possible for JSOC to ramp up its operations, often launching a dozen missions a night in Iraq and Afghanistan similar to the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden. In some instances, new missions would be planned and executed within minutes to take advantage of intelligence generated at a target site.

But the comments about the loss of these four overall are sobering.
Petraeus, McChrystal, Allen, and Mattis would be the first to deny that they are irreplaceable—the graveyards, they would no doubt remind us, are said to be full of irreplaceable men. And clearly there are a number of capable officers who will strive to fill their combat boots. Some heroes of the last decade of war—including General Ray Odierno, General Martin Dempsey (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Admiral William McRaven (McChrystal’s successor at JSOC and the man who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid), and Major General H.R. McMaster (a noted military intellectual and counterinsurgency commander)—remain in uniform. But the experience and savvy of the four will be hard to replace. Certainly they deserve more public appreciation than they have gotten so far and, at the very least, an honored role in helping to teach a new generation of soldiers and Marines how to operate at the pinnacle of command. We do not have such a surplus of brilliant commanders that we can afford to wave away those like Petraeus and McChrystal and Allen and Mattis, who have demonstrated a mastery of the modern battlefield. We can only hope that President Obama’s cavalier attitude toward the loss of their institutional knowledge, their leadership abilities, and their complex understanding of a dangerous world does not prove to be a tragedy for the nation.

What do you think? Are the remaining leaders worthy of the same levels of deference and respect as the four who have been sent packing?
By: Brant

A Nifty Online Wargaming Tool

A great clickable, online wargaming map & counters that you can use for a variety of simpler games, including the ones in Dr Sabin's Simulating War.
The Portable Morschauserscope

By: Brant