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.


Norks Rattling Sabers Again

Puts army on alert, threatens to fart in our general direction.

North Korea said on Tuesday its military would be put on high alert and be ready to launch operations, stepping up tension after weeks of rhetoric directed against the United States and South Korea, who it accuses of instigating hostility.

Reclusive North Korea has often issued threats to attack the South and the United States but has rarely turned them into action. Such hostile rhetoric is widely seen as a means to perpetuate its domestic and international political agenda.

In the latest outburst, a spokesman for the North's military warned the United States of "disastrous consequences" for moving a group of ships, including an aircraft carrier, into a South Korean port.

"In this connection, the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command to reexamine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations any time," the spokesman said, referring to the Korean People's Army (KPA).

"The U.S. will be wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster to be met by its imperialist aggression forces' nuclear strike means," the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

In March, the North declared it was no longer bound by the armistice that ended fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War signed with the United States and China, threatening to use nuclear weapons to attack U.S. and South Korean territories.

By: Brant

07 October 2013

US Involved in Weekend Raids in Africa

The Libyans are pissed off, and Secretary Kerry is telling them to get over it, after a pair of weekend raids capture an al Qaeda leader in Libya and go after an al Shabab planner in Somalia.

U.S. forces launched raids in Libya and Somalia on Saturday, two weeks after the deadly Islamist attack on a Nairobi shopping mall, capturing a top al Qaeda figure wanted for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, U.S. officials said.

The Pentagon said senior al Qaeda figure Anas al Liby was seized in the raid in Libya, but a U.S. official said the raid on the Somali town of Barawe failed to capture or kill the intended target from the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab movement.

Liby, believed to be 49, has been under U.S. indictment for his alleged role in the East Africa embassy bombings that killed 224 people.

By: Brant

06 October 2013

Were US SEALs involved in the Somalia Raid Yesterday?

Looks like a Navy SEAL Team was involved in the raid on al-Shabab in Somalia.

A U.S. Navy SEAL Team conducted a stealthy raid into Somalia on Saturday, targeting a senior leader of the al-Shabab terrorist group weeks after they carried out an attack on a busy Nairobi shopping mall, The New York Times reports.
The SEALs approached the target beachfront house by sea and began the raid using suppressed weapons, before a fierce hour-long firefight broke out that led to the use of helicopter air support.

“The Baraawe raid was planned a week and a half ago,” said an American security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to The Times. “It was prompted by the Westgate attack,” he added, referring to the mall in Nairobi that was overrun by militants two weeks ago.

By: Brant

05 October 2013

Somali Town Target of Military Strike

Retaliation for Kenya? Or hit on al-Shabaab?

Foreign military forces carried out a pre-dawn strike Saturday against foreign fighters in the same southern Somalia village where U.S. Navy SEALS four years ago killed a most-wanted al-Qaida operative, officials said.

The strike was carried out in the town of Barawe in the hours before morning prayers against what one official said were "high-profile" targets. The strike comes exactly two weeks after al-Shabab militants attacked Nairobi's Westgate Mall, a four-day terrorist assault that killed at least 67 people in neighboring Kenya.

The leader of al-Shabab, Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr, also known as Ahmed Godane, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was in retaliation for Kenya's military deployment inside Somalia.

A resident of Barawe — a seaside town 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Mogadishu — said by telephone that heavy gunfire woke up residents before dawn prayers. An al-Shabab fighter who gave his name as Abu Mohamed said "foreign" soldiers attacked a house, prompting militants to rush to the scene to capture a foreign soldier. Mohamed said that effort was not successful.

The foreign troops attacked a two-story house close to the beach in Barawe, battling their way inside, said Mohamed, who said he had visited the scene of the attack. Foreign fighters resided in the house, Mohamed said. Al-Shabab has a formal alliance with al-Qaida, and hundreds of foreign fighters from the U.S., Britain and Middle Eastern countries are known to fight alongside Somali members of al-Shabab.

By: Brant

03 October 2013

Bullets! - The Right Thing

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

You know that you are a good leader when your troops do the right thing even when you aren't there to check on them.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

Always Good When Your Allies Are Buying From You Chief Competitor

Turkey is apparently going to buy a missile defense system from China...

Turkey is highly likely to sign a deal to co-produce a missile defense system with a Chinese firm under U.S. sanctions after it placed the lowest bid of $3.44 billion in a tender, a senior defense ministry official said on Thursday.

Murad Bayar, Undersecretary of Defense Industries at the Defense Ministry, told reporters in Ankara that Turkey could finalize the deal with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) within six months.

The United States has expressed "serious concerns" over North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member Turkey cooperating with CPMIEC, under sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

Bayar said Turkey was not sharing any information on NATO defense systems with China and that, if the deal went ahead, almost all production would take place in Turkey.

NATO sources have said Turkish collaboration with China on the system could raise questions of compatibility of weaponry and of security. For China, it would be a breakthrough in its bid to become a supplier of advanced weapons.

By: Brant

Luftwaffe Heading Home... From Texas?

The German Air Force is closing their command at Ft Bliss after 60 years.

After nearly 60 years of having a presence in the West Texas desert, the German Air Force has deactivated its USA/Canada Command.

Tuesday's deactivation is the first step toward the Germans closing its command center at Fort Bliss by 2017.

The move is part of a German military reorganization. "We don't have a cold war anymore, and you have to find which barracks are expensive and here is quite expensive," said Sgt. Maj. Juergen Volmer, Public Affairs Officer for the Command.

The command dwindled from about 40 officers in previous years to about two dozen, and only seven remained before it was officially shuttered.

Some were transferred to New Mexico's Holloman Air Force Base, some 70 miles north of El Paso while others were sent to other bases around the U.S. where the German air force has presence. The Luftwaffe flight training center in Alamogordo, New Mexico, will expand its responsibilities.

The air command, established in 1966, was in charge of all the German Air Force's operations in the U.S. and Canada. Its duties were largely administrative.

The Air Defense Center, the other German unit in Fort Bliss, was set up in 1956, and since then more than 50,000 German soldiers have trained there.

Just 11 years after the end of WWII, German soldiers went to this Far West Texas post to learn to use the anti-air cannons of the era.

By: Brant

02 October 2013

GameTalk - Symbology?

How far from the 'norm' should graphics guys stray when designing wargame counters and maps?  A what point can symbols break the standard NATO/Silhouette paradigm?  How much can/should you move numbers around the counters?  How much can you deviate from normal colors on maps?

By: Brant

01 October 2013

Sound Off! Naval Developments

Do we worry more about...

... anti-ship ballistic missiles?

... anti-missile EW packages?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

Southies Getting Pushy With the Norks

South Korea is actually getting their hackles up and showing off in front of the Norks.

Two days after North Korea carried out its third nuclear test on February 12, the South's defence ministry called in the media for a video presentation showing the capabilities of the Hyeonmu, which has a range of 1,000 kilometres (around 600 miles).

"It is a precision-guided weapon that can identify and strike the office window of the North's command headquarters," ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told reporters at the time.

The missile was displayed again in the afternoon as a pared-down version of the parade moved to central Seoul, huge sections of which had been closed off to traffic for hours in advance.

The tanks, mounted heavy artillery, mobile missile launchers and marching soldiers paraded down a 1.4-kilometer route from the city's ancient South Gate towards the landmark Gyeongbok Palace.

Such events are generally considered more of a North Korean speciality, with massive, highly choreographed parades involving tens of thousands of goose-stepping troops regularly staged in Pyongyang.

By: Brant