Category Archives: army

William S. Lind’s Grim Assessment of the US Officer Corps

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From The American Conservative.   Bill Lind, one of the authors of Fourth Generation Warfare, is often a bit of a scratchy contrarian who is firmly convinced of his own infallibility when it comes to military theory.   Lind has never served in uniform, and often his condescending pontification and admonitions of “You’re doing it all wrong!” to US military thinkers causes his views to be dismissed out of hand.  But Lind is very smart, and often had nuggets of insight that deserve our consideration.  Here are a few from his TAC article:

Even junior officers inhabit a world where they hear only endless, hyperbolic praise of “the world’s greatest military ever.” They feed this swill to each other and expect it from everyone else. If they don’t get it, they become angry. Senior officers’ bubbles, created by vast, sycophantic staffs, rival Xerxes’s court. Woe betide the ignorant courtier who tells the god-king something he doesn’t want to hear.

And:

What defines a professional—historically there were only three professions, law, medicine, and theology—is that he has read, studied, and knows the literature of his field. The vast majority of our officers read no serious military history or theory.

While my personal experience has been that Marine Officers tend to read and discuss military history, it could be that I gravitate toward those who do.  I will admit that I am chagrined at the numbers of Officers of all services who have seemingly no interest in doing so.

Lind also identifies what he calls “structural failings”:

The first, and possibly the worst, is an officer corps vastly too large for its organization—now augmented by an ant-army of contractors, most of whom are retired officers. A German Panzer division in World War II had about 21 officers in its headquarters. Our division headquarters are cities. Every briefing—and there are many, the American military loves briefings because they convey the illusion of content without offering any—is attended by rank-upon-rank of horse-holders and flower-strewers, all officers.

Command tours are too short to accomplish anything, usually about 18 months, because behind each commander is a long line of fellow officers eagerly awaiting their lick at the ice-cream cone… Decisions are committee-consensus, lowest common denominator, which Boyd warned is usually the worst of all possible alternatives. Nothing can be changed or reformed because of the vast number of players defending their “rice bowls.” The only measurable product is entropy.

The second and third structural failings are related because both work to undermine moral courage and character, which the Prussian army defined as “eagerness to make decisions and take responsibility.” They are the “up or out” promotion system and “all or nothing” vesting for retirement at 20 years. “Up or out” means an officer must constantly curry favor for promotion because if he is not steadily promoted he must leave the service. “All or nothing” says that if “up or out” pushes him out before he has served 20 years, he leaves with no pension. (Most American officers are married with children.)

It is not difficult to see how these… structural failings in the officer corps morally emasculate our officers and all too often turn them, as they rise in rank and near the magic 20 years, into ass-kissing conformists.

I cannot help but notice the truth that rings from much of what Boyd asserts.  I have made some of those very same assertions myself on more than a few occasions.  Give the article a read.  What does the gang here think?  Is Boyd on target?  If so, how do we fix it?  Can it be fixed?

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U-T San Diego: Ramadi Remembered

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Ramadi remembered

Iraq battle began 10 years ago on April 6, exacting heavy Marine toll

“The Battle of Ramadi was pivotal for coalition operations in the province,” the 1st Marine Division announced. Marines and soldiers killed an estimated 250 rebels from April 6 to April 10, and “the fighting shattered the insurgent offensive.”

U-T San Diego has the story.

One hell of a price was paid by the Marines and Soldiers in that battle and in the subsequent months. Paul Kennedy’s 2nd Bn 4th Marines, the “Magnificent Bastards” were magnificent once again. 1st Bn 16th Infantry was, too. As was every other unit that contributed to the fight and to holding the line until the Awakening turned the tables a couple years later.  The bravery, skill, and determination daily displayed in Ramadi and in Fallujah that April of 2004 is difficult to put into words.

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It was the honor of a lifetime to serve under LtGen Conway, CG I MEF, and MajGen Mattis, CG 1st MarDiv.  The Division ADC was John Kelly, and the Chief of Staff was Joe Dunford.  The MEF SgtMaj was the incomparable Carlton Kent.  Marines could never ask to be led by better.  And, of course the friendships forged in such a place will last the rest of our days.

O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Semper Fidelis, Marines.

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Easy Company’s Sergeant “Wild Bill” Guarnere dies at 90

Bill Guarnere with Babe Heffron

Bill Guarnere with Babe Heffron

A sad day and a loss to our country.  NBC from Guarnere’s native Philly has the story.

“He was without a doubt one of the bravest and best soldiers in all of Easy Company,” said Easy Company historian Jake Powers. “He was one of the best combat leaders not only in his company but also the division. If there was a fight going on with the 1st Platoon or 3rd Platoon, Bill would miraculously show up and leave 2nd Platoon to go help. He would ‘march to the sound of gunfire.’ He had no reservations and was just a fearless man in combat.”

Guarnere’s time in the war ended when he lost his right leg while trying to help a wounded soldier. For his efforts during the Brecourt Manor Assault on D-Day, he earned the Silver Star. He later received two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.

Men like Bill Guarnere are heroes.  He, and his ilk, will be missed.

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Pritzker Military Museum and Library’s Citizen Soldier: The Big Red One on D-Day

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First Infantry Division Badge.

The 1st Infantry Division has a long and storied unit history in the US Army that begins just before the US involvement in World War 1 and continues to this day with periodic deployments to Afghanistan. “The Big Red One,” as it’s perhaps more commonly known is the oldest division in the US Army.

On 13 March 2014 at 6pm, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, in conjunction with the First Division Museum, is hosting a live televised Citizen Soldier event featuring Paul Herbert, Joseph Balkoski, John C. McManus, and Steven Zaloga. These distinguished military historians will be discussing the 1st ID’s service on D-Day.

Here’s a glimpse of what the 1ID’s experienced on D-Day courtesy of Wikipedia:

When that campaign was over, the division returned to England 5 November 1943[11]:622 to prepare for the eventual Normandy invasion.[2]The First Infantry Division and one regimental combat team from the 29th Infantry Division comprised the first wave of troops that assaulted German Army defenses on Omaha Beach on D-Day[2][13] with some of the division’s units suffering 30 percent casualties in the first hour of the assault,[14] and secured Formigny and Caumont in the beachhead by the end of the day.

Learn more about the event and it’s participants here.

The event cost is $10.00 for non-members and free for members. If you’ll be in the area and would like to attend, purchase tickets now, or if you know someone in the Chicagoland area that would be interested in attending, please pass this along. If you attend, please let them know you heard about the event here.

It should be an interesting event and I’ll be in attendance.

The Big Red One on D-Day will be televised live and available for future viewing on the Museum’s website.

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Disastrously Delusional- Kerry on “Meet the Press”

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The events of this week in the Ukraine, particularly Russia’s de facto occupation of the Crimea, have highlighted the shambles that is US foreign policy.  Aside from revealing the complete impotence of NATO, the situation which has evolved in the last 72 hours has brought to the fore the contrast between the Machiavellian power-broker realism of Putin/Lavrov and the naive and feckless bumbling of Obama and SecState John Kerry.

To the list of foreign policy disasters that include the Cairo speech, the West Point speech, cut and run in Iraq, a stunted “surge” in AFG, the “Arab Spring” debacle, leading “from behind” in Libya, the Benghazi attack and cover-up, supporting Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, being caught bluffing with the “red line” nonsense in Syria, selling out our Israeli allies to make a deal virtually guaranteeing a nuclear Iran, we have the crowning fiasco, and likely the most dangerous in long-term impact for the United States and the world.

Kerry’s appearance on “Meet the Press” today reveals just how misguided and dangerously naive the arrogant amateur buffoons are who are careening our ship of state onto the shoals at flank speed.

This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th-century behavior in the 21st century, and there’s no way to start with that if Russia persists in this, that the G8 countries are going to reassemble in Sochi. That’s a starter. But there’s much more than that.

Is he kidding?  Power politics was centuries old when Machiavelli defined it in his works in the 1530s.  Power politics has dominated every century since, including the 20th.  In fact, there is virtually no reason to suddenly embrace some notion of “21st Century” statecraft that is any different from that of the previous five centuries, since the emergence of modern nation-states.  That Kerry and Obama think otherwise, and think the rest of the world behaves accordingly, is the height of hubris.  Treating the world as you wish it to be rather than how it exists is simply bankrupt intellectual foolishness.  But there’s more.

And we hope, President Obama hopes that President Putin will turn in the direction that is available to him to work with all of us in a way that creates stability in Ukraine. This does not have to be, and should not be, an East/West struggle.

There is no excuse whatever, other than a willful ignorance of history, to utter such a decidedly stupid and ill-informed comment publicly.  The central theme to the existence of European Russia is an eight-century long existential struggle between East and West.  The tragicomic foolishness of Hillary Clinton’s “reset button”, so contemptuously ridiculed by Foreign Minister Lavrov, was indicative of just how amateurish and incompetent the Obama Administration’s foreign policy and national security players were, and just how precious little they understood the art of statecraft.  Statements like the above reveal how little those players know about the history of the nations and peoples with which that statecraft requires them to interact.

There is worse to come later in the interview with David Gregory.   These two positively head-scratching pronouncements can rightfully make one wonder how tenuous this Administration’s grip on reality truly is:

David, the last thing anybody wants is a military option in this kind of a situation. We want a peaceful resolution through the normal processes of international relations.

President Putin is not operating from a place of strength here. Yanukovych was his supported president… President Putin is using force in a completely inappropriate manner that will invite the opprobrium of the world.

Such a bizarre pair of assertions is difficult to explain.  The several thousand Russian forces, which include mechanized infantry, attack aviation, and self-propelled artillery certainly seem to point to the notion that Vladimir Putin believed some semblance of a military solution was desired to ensure Russia maintained a friendly buffer between what Putin believes is a hostile West.   A buffer that incidentally includes the strategically vital naval base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and has a population demographic of approximately 60% ethnic Russians.

As for understanding a position of strength, one might also wonder just how Kerry would go about defining strength.  There is virtually nothing NATO can do militarily, should they even be willing; the United States, with shrinking defense budgets, is in the midst of gutting its military to pre-World War II levels.   The leverage the EU has over Russia is limited, despite Russia’s very significant economic problems.   Any “opprobrium”, or threats by the US, France, Canada, and the UK to suspend the G-8 Summit, is positively pittance to the Russians in comparison to the security of their strategically essential western neighbors, regions that have countless times stood between Russia and destruction at the hands of a conquering West. Russia has acted virtually unchallenged, presenting a fait accompli to the West that, despite assertions to the contrary, will not be undone.  If ever there was a position of power, Russia holds it right now in the Crimea, and will be asserting it anywhere and everywhere in the “near abroad” that Putin has long promised to secure.

The United States never has had all that much leverage to prevent Russia and a talented autocrat like Putin from leaning on their western border states, despite the fitful attempts by the US to draw some of those states into the Western sphere.  The invasions of Georgia and South Ossetia in 2008 proved that beyond a doubt.  But what is most disturbing about the current crisis is watching the US Secretary of State and the US President misread, misstep, and attempt to bluster their way through another confrontation with a geopolitical rival that is acting without restraint and without regard for the empty rhetoric from the Obama Administration.   The most fundamental lesson of statecraft is that of understanding power.  To that end, we have another object lesson in the use of that power.  There is no such thing as hard power, soft power, or “smart” power.  There is just power.  As it has since antiquity, power consists of the capability to enforce one’s will upon an adversary mixed with the willingness to use that capability.

Putin and Lavrov know that lesson well.  They are hard-bitten professionals who act as they believe necessary to promote Russian interests and improve economic and physical security.  Obama and Kerry are rank amateurs, blinded by an ideology that begets a naive and woefully unrealistic understanding of how the world works.  They have been outfoxed and outplayed yet again, seemingly willingly forfeiting US influence and credibility in pursuit of a badly-flawed world view in which influence is based upon hollow threats and ill-conceived public statements.  Any doubts regarding that assertion should be erased when one listens to the cognitive dissonance emanating from our Secretary of State as he describes the Crimean crisis in terms which have little to do with reality.   It is to weep.

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Ten Years Ago Today

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We flew in to Habbaniyah on a C-130 out of Kuwait, and the pilot juked on the way in, just in case.   Once on the deck, we were dispatched into an Army-Marine Corps convoy headed to Ramadi.  On the way out the gate of the laager, a VBIED detonated next to one of the lead security vehicles, killing two soldiers.  It would be an interesting eight months in Iraq.   The First Marine Division, led by MajGen James N. Mattis, whose ADC was John Kelly and Chief of Staff Colonel Joe Dunford, was one hell of a team (that included the Army’s excellent 1-16th Infantry).

The 1st Marine Division (not including Army casualties) suffered 118 killed and more than 1,400 wounded in those eight months in places like Fallujah and Ramadi, Haditah, and a lot of other dusty villages and towns nobody could find on a map except the men who fought there.   A high price was paid to hold the line in Anbar, to hold elections, and cultivate conditions for the Awakening.   For the Marines and soldiers who did so, recent events with AQ flying flags in Anbar’s cities and towns are particularly maddening.  It was clear that the “cut and run” philosophy of the White House was an exceedingly poor one, and subsequent events show that the so-called “zero option” is as descriptive of the President’s credibility as force levels in Iraq.  And we are set, with the same litany of excuses, to do it again in Afghanistan.

I wondered then what all this would be like, ten years on, should I be fortunate enough to survive.  Some things remain very vivid, the sights and smells, and the faces of comrades.  Others I am sure I would have to be reminded of.  And a few memories, thankfully few, are seared into the memory for the rest of my time on this earth.

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Going Hollow: The Hagel Preview of the FY2015 Defense Budget

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Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh Burke Chair at CSIS, provides a very cogent summary of the weakness of our Defense Department leadership and its inability or unwillingness to discuss the 2015 DoD budget meaningfully.

At the simplest level of budgetary planning, the Secretary’s budget statements ignore the fact that the Congressional Budget Office projects that the Department’s failure to manage the real-world crises in personnel, modernization, and readiness costs will have as negative an overall budget impact over time as Sequestration will. Ignoring the Department’s long history of undercosting its budget, its cost overruns, and the resulting cuts in forces, modernization, and readiness means one more year of failing to cope with reality.  Presenting an unaffordable plan is as bad as failing to budget enough money.

Cordesman gets to the real meat of our failure of strategic (dare I say “national strategic”?) thinking, as well.

He talks about cuts in personnel, equipment, and force strength in case-specific terms, but does not address readiness and does not address any plan or provide any serious details as to what the United States is seeking in in terms of changes in its alliances and partnerships,  and its specific goals in force levels, deployments, modernization, personnel, and readiness.

He holds nothing back in his contempt for the process of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), either.

Worse, we are going to leave these issues to be addressed in the future by another mindless waste of time like the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). All the past QDRs have been set so far in the future to be practical or relevant. Each successive QDR has proved to be one more colostomy bag after another of half-digested concepts and vague strategic priorities filled with noise and futility and signifying nothing.

Cordesman saves his best for last, however.

Like all of his recent predecessors, Secretary Hagel has failed dismally to show the U.S. has any real plans for the future and to provide any meaningful sense of direction and real justification for defense spending. The best that can be said of his speech on the FY2015 defense budget is that U.S. strategy and forces will go hollow in a kinder and gentler manner than simply enforcing sequestration.

We do need to avoid cutting our forces, military capabilities, and defense spending to the levels called for in sequestration. But this is no substitute for the total lack of any clear goals for the future, for showing that the Department of Defense has serious plans to shape a viable mix of alliances and partnerships, force levels, deployments, modernization, personnel, and readiness over the coming Future Year Defense Plan.

I don’t always agree with Cordesman’s assertions, but he is just about always a thoughtful if provocative commenter on Defense and National Security issues, and his analysis of SECDEF Hagel’s remarks are spot-on.  We are headed for a hollow force, despite its smaller size, as many of us have feared all along.  This, despite all the promises and admonitions of this Administration and our Pentagon leadership.  Go have a read.

 

 

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Seduced By Success; An Army Leadership Untrained for True War?

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Our friend at Op-For, the urbane and erudite sophisticate LTCOL P (supplying some cogent comments of his own), points us to a superb article in AFJ by Daniel L. Davis outlining the very real possibility that our immense advantages over our foes in the last two-plus decades has left many of our middle and senior leadership untested and overconfident in our warfighting capabilities.

Imagine one of today’s division commanders finding himself at the line of departure against a capable enemy with combined-arms formation. He spent his time as a lieutenant in Bosnia conducting “presence patrols” and other peacekeeping activities. He may have commanded a company in a peacetime, garrison environment. Then he commanded a battalion in the early years of Afghanistan when little of tactical movement took place. He commanded a brigade in the later stages of Iraq, sending units on patrols, night raids, and cordon-and-search operations; and training Iraq policemen or soldiers.

Not once in his career did an enemy formation threaten his flank. He never, even in training, hunkered in a dugout while enemy artillery destroyed one-quarter of his combat vehicles, and emerged to execute a hasty defense against the enemy assault force pouring over the hill.

Spot-on.  Such sentiment applies to ALL SERVICES.  Even in the midst of some pretty interesting days in Ramadi and Fallujah, I never bought into the idea that was being bandied about so casually that “there is no more complex decision-making paradigm for a combat leader than counterinsurgency operations”.   It was utter nonsense.  The decisions to be made, as the author points out, above the troops-in-contact level, were seldom risking success or failure either in their urgency or content.  We had in Iraq and in AFG the ability to largely intervene with air or ground fires as we desired, to engage and disengage almost at will, against an enemy that could never have the capability of truly seizing tactical initiative.  Defeat, from a standpoint of force survival, was never a possibility.  To borrow Belloc’s observations of Omdurman, “Whatever happens, we have got, close air support, and they have not”.

Having a brigade of BMP-laden infantry rolling up behind the fires of a Divisional Artillery Group, supported by MI-24s and SU-25s, which stand a very real chance of defeating (and destroying) not just your unit but all the adjacent ones, is infinitely more challenging than even our rather intense fights (April and November 2004) for Fallujah.  The speed and tactical acumen of the decision makers will be the difference between holding or breaking, winning and losing, living or dying.   The author points out some significant shortcomings in our current training paradigm, and brings us back to some fundamentals of how we train (or used to, at any rate) decision-makers to operate in the fog and uncertainty of combat.  Training and exercises, designed to stress and challenge:

At some of the Combat Maneuver Training Centers, Army forces do some good training. Some of the products and suggestions from Army Training and Doctrine Command are good on paper. For example, we often tout the “world class” opposing force that fights against U.S. formations, and features a thinking and free-fighting enemy. But I have seen many of these engagements, both in the field and in simulation, where the many good words are belied by the exercise. For example, in 2008 I took part in a simulation exercise in which the opposing forces were claimed to be representative of real world forces, yet the battalion-level forces were commanded by an inexperienced captain, and the computer constraints limited the enemy’s ability to engage.

Many may remember the famed “Millennium Challenge 2002” held just before Operation Iraqi Freedom. Retired Marine general Paul Van Riper, appointed to serve as opposing force commander, quit because the exercise was rigged. ”We were directed…to move air defenses so that the army and marine units could successfully land,” he said. ”We were simply directed to turn [air defense systems] off or move them… So it was scripted to be whatever the control group wanted it to be.” For the U.S. Army to be successful in battle against competent opponents, changes are necessary.

Field training exercises can be designed to replicate capable conventional forces that have the ability to inflict defeats on U.S. elements. Such training should require leaders at all levels to face simulated life and death situations, where traditional solutions don’t work, in much more trying environments than is currently the case. They should periodically be stressed to levels well above what we have actually faced in the past several decades. Scenarios, for example, at company and battalion level where a superior enemy force inflicts a mortal blow on some elements, requiring leaders and soldiers to improvise with whatever is at hand, in the presence of hardship and emotional stress.Simulation training for commanders and staffs up to Corps level should combine computer and physical exercises that subject the leaders to situations where the enemy does the unexpected, where key leaders or capabilities are suddenly lost (owing to enemy fire or efforts), yet they still have to function; where they face the unexpected loss of key communications equipment, yet still be forced to continue the operation.

Such exercises should not all be done in nicely compartmentalized training segments with tidy start and end times, and “reset” to prepare for the next sequence. Instead, some exercises should be held where there is a beginning time “in the box” and no pre-set start or end times until the end of a rotation two weeks or more later. In short, the training rotation should replicate the physical and emotional stress of actual combat operations in which there is no “pause” to rest and think about what happened.

I couldn’t agree more.  However, in a budget-crunch environment where significant funding is going toward advancing political and social agendas even within DoD, I am not at all sanguine about such training occurring.  Worse, rather than having leaders champion the need for it and constantly fight for training dollars, I fear that such a requirement will be dismissed as less than necessary, since we already have “the most professional, the best educated, the most capable force this country has ever sent into battle.”  While our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are indeed superb, and honed at the small unit level, our senior leadership is much less so.  What’s worse is that leaders who have no experience in battlefield command against a near-peer force have begun to assert that technological innovation makes such training superfluous.  That the nature of war has changed, and we are now in an era of “real-time strategy” and “global awareness”.   To steal a line from The Departed, there is deception, and there is self-deception.

Anyway, the Armed Forces Journal article is a thought-provoking read.

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MAAM P-61B Black Widow Restoration Update

The MAAM's P-61B Black Widow as she currently appears.

The MAAM’s P-61B Black Widow as she currently appears.

We’ve written before about the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s Northrop P-61 Black Widow here.

Northrop’s P-61 Black Widow is the only night-fighter designed as such from the ground up. Built and flown in 1942, the P-61 could arguably be called one of the first fighter aircraft designed as an entire weapon system, namely the SCR-720A Airborne Radar.

The P-61s SCR-720A  airborne radar as it appears under the aircraft's radome.

The P-61s SCR-720A airborne radar as it appears under the aircraft’s radome.

As we also mentioned there are a few on display throughout the world including the National Museum of the United States Air Force (at Wright/Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH) and the National Air and Space Museum Uvdar-Hazy Annex (at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC).

The only soon-to-be flyable P-61 is owned by the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Museum was gracious enough to dedicate a portion of it’s website solely to give people a chance to see the restoration in progress (the website was last updated on 13 December 2013). The P-61 has always fascinated me and it’s interesting to see the aircraft from pieces to almost a complete aircraft. Just over the past few months there has been great progress on the P-61, enough that it’s being publicly displayed so you can view the Black Widow as she’s being restored. Below is one of the latest photos from the MAAM’s P-61B restoration site.

The right nose landing gear of the MAAM's P-61B

The right nose landing gear of the MAAM’s P-61B

The video below gives you a bit of a walkaround on the MAAM’s P-61:

An interesting thing to me was the detail with which the radar operator’s station at the rear of the main fuselage. Here’s an illustration of what the radar operator’s station looks like from the P-61′s Pilot’s Operating Manual (I know you know I have one…lol):

P-61 Radar Operator's Station.

P-61 Radar Operator’s Station.

Compare that with how it now appears after the restoration:

view into the RO's compartment from the boarding laddar view into the R.O.'s compartment from the aft boarding laddarPICT1352This example of the restored Radar Operator’s station serves to underline the painstaking care that the Museum is taking to get the Black Widow not only to flying condition but also “1942″ flying condition.

This particular aircraft even has an interesting history in it’s own right. You can learn more about that courtesy of Warbird Radio. If you don’t only to learn about the MAAM’s P-61, you can also be part of it by donating to the restoration here. That’s your chance to be part of history.

I can’t wait to see this aircraft completed to be flyable. Hell I’d be the first to volunteer to fly it :)

A P-61 Black Widow in her glory days.

A P-61 Black Widow in her glory days.

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U.S. Army finds ‘holy grail’: way to put pizza in combat rations | AL.com

After years of being stymied by technological limitations, the U.S. Army has developed a weapon that’s sure to be so popular that soldiers will demand its deployment: MRE pizza.

via U.S. Army finds ‘holy grail’: way to put pizza in combat rations | AL.com.

U.S. Army finds 'holy grail': way to put pizza in combat rations | AL.com

Hold the anchovies, please.

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Gun Owners are the Enemy to Ohio National Guard

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Seems that the 2nd Civil Support Team of the Ohio National Guard is participating in an exercise where the perpetrators of a chemical attack are posited to be “Second Amendment supporters”.    Media Trackers tells us the story.

Buckeye Firearms Association spokesman Chad Baus told Media Trackers that “it is a scary day indeed when law enforcement are being trained that Second Amendment advocates are the enemy,”

“The revelation of this information is appalling to me, and to all citizens of Ohio who are true conservatives and patriots, who don’t have guns for any other reason than that the Second Amendment gives them that right,” Portage County TEA Party Executive Director Tom Zawistowski said in a separate Media Trackers interview.

Not a new paradigm, of course.  Law-abiding citizens who are political opponents of the Obama-Holder secular-progressive statist left have been considered enemies all along.   Aside from the preposterous scenario, this is yet another of the Federal Government/Law Enforcement/Military leadership’s conditioning the American people to think of gun owners (and advocates of free speech, limited government, and due process) to be violent and unreasonable criminals, comprising threats that need to be dealt with in the harsh totalitarian measures so often favored by those far-left ideologues who despise our liberties so.  Of note is that, when similar training involved positing an environmental advocacy group committing an act of terror or violence, the apologies were profuse, and immediate.

Before I get the same hackneyed arguments that “this is just a training exercise”, the same weak reasoning was used to explain away the following:

  • The FBI report that white Veterans who believed in God, the Second Amendment, and limited government were a terrorist threat
  • The change in language from “Islamic extremists” to “violent extremists” was mere semantics and not for the purpose of labeling political opposition in the same language as America’s enemies
  • Increased militarization of police, including having them acquire heavy armored vehicles for use on American streets
  • When Barack Obama referred to political opposition when he talked of  “punishing our enemies”
  • The Joint Staff College posited a training scenario with the enemy being Tea Party activists

There have been myriad other instances where elements of the government have acted against law-abiding citizens as if they were criminals and threats to security, while often ignoring those who are sworn enemies of this country.

“You want to have it as realistic as possible, but you don’t want to single out an issue as emotional as that,” Eliason said.

Of course, the quote above would never be uttered by any official regarding demonizing of gun owners and advocates of our Second Amendment liberties.   Everyone knows that gun owners are evil.   That is to say, gun owners that didn’t vote for you.  Which is almost all of them.

It is telling that the spokesman for the Ohio National Guard was unwilling to talk.   Law-abiding citizens who choose to exercise their Constitutional liberties and see themselves portrayed as violent terrorists are due an explanation for such an outrage.

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Rules for Successful Platoon Leaders

Warcouncil.org has an interesting list of leadership tips for platoon leaders. I think a lot of these are applicable to Junior Officers of all branches of the armed forces  as well as to leaders in the civilian world as well:

1.   Love your unit and your job.  Love is not always a two way street, sometimes you give more than you get, and love is a choice.  Being an Infantry Platoon Leader is the greatest job in the world.  You have the ability to mold men and make our country stronger 24 hours a day.  Enjoy every minute of it, even the difficult times, and give of yourself freely to your mission and your men.  Hold nothing back and have a solid work ethic.  When your time is up, you need to know in your heart of hearts that you worked as hard as you could and did as much as you could to get your men ready for war

2.     Wake up before 0500 five out of seven days a week

3.     Be the most physically fit person in your unit

4.     Memorize and understand the steps to attack a strong point and engagement area development; know the components of IPB; be able to pitch your scheme of maneuver without referring to notes

5.     Read the news from credible sources which will challenge your view point and your vocabulary (The Economist, Foreign Affairs, PBS, NPR); read about things that have no apparent relation to your profession, you’ll be surprised at what you learn

6.     Set a reasonable number of realistic unit-focused goals and accomplish them

7.     Know how to call for fire

8.     Know how to call in a MEDEVAC

9.     Know the maximum effective range for every weapon system in your arms room

10.  Know what a sustained, rapid, and cyclic rate of fire is for every weapon in your arms room

11.  Be the arms room officer

12.  Have your property layout perfect before your commander gets there

a. Have the right TM

b. Have the shortages already updated on a shortage annex

c.  Have a binder with copies of 2062s signed down to the user level

d. Know what LINs will be inspected during cyclic inventories

e. Know how to read a property book

f. Know the difference between expendable, non-expendable, durable and AAL property items

g. Rehearse the layout with your NCOs

13.   Always maintain your integrity and tell your boss about bad news in a reasonable amount of time

14.  If it’s cold, hot, miserable, or sucks, be there – if it’s dangerous and it makes sense, be first

15.  Know the names of your Soldiers’ wives and kids

16.  Backbrief your platoon sergeant before you talk to your commander

17.  If you are backbriefing your commander, and your platoon sergeant is squared away, bring him

18.  Not every NCO is a 1-1; most PLTs only have 2-3 NCOs in the entire PLT who are a 1-1

19.  Counsel your platoon sergeant and squad leaders after every training event

20.  Counsel your platoon sergeant and squad leaders about your no fail missions prior to every training event

21.  The most important steps of the TLPs and 8 step training model are the WARNO and reconnaissance

22.  Identify risk and mitigate it through additional safeties, tempo, rehearsals, or location of key leaders; don’t be risk averse; ask yourself if you are being aggressive enough in your training events or if you are cutting corners in the name of safety that degrades from combat readiness

23.  Know how to write; proof read NCOERs and awards before they get to the commander; cut and paste your bullets in to Microsoft word – this will eliminate 70% of errors in Army correspondence; be familiar with AR 25-50

24.  Conduct a warno, oporder, and rehearsal prior to every operation; spot check one or two things from one or two Soldiers from each squad prior to execution; conduct a confirmation brief with your commander after he gives you an order; after you’ve come up with a tentative plan and issued a WARNO, backbrief your commander paying particular attention to your timeline and actions on the OBJ

25.  When you have the time available, plan every mission around the forms of contact and the eight points of failure.  At a minimum, plan your AOO and have a timeline for SP, LD, route and time to CPs, ORP, recon, AOO, consolidation, reorganization, and RTB.  There should be a phase line when you reach each form of contact, and that phase line should trigger some type of action by the friendly element; ie, at 800 meters from the OBJ we will cross PL Blue and we will be within the enemy’s crew served weapon range, to mitigate this, we will call smoke on target AB001 and change our movement technique to bounding overwatch and our movement formation to platoon column, squad wedge.  Have fires, HLZs/AXPs planned for each phase.  The eight points of failure are infiltration, exfiltration, fire support (TTLODAC, what assets are available, what is their max range, what is their response time, proficiency of assets in support, targets planned by phase of the operation), ISR (who is watching the enemy watch us), recovery (how are we recovering broken vehicles, mechanic plan, where do we get spare parts), sustainment (how do we resupply  ammo, food, water, medical supplies, FOO officer, batteries for electronics and commo), mission command (what is the PACE for communications, who is my higher headquarters, what is the CCIR, does my higher headquarters have the latest version of my common operating picture, do I have a GRG, do my graphic control measures add to the clarity of all players in the mission, when is my COMMEX, what is my interpreter plan, where is my QRF coming from, what is their composition, disposition, level of proficiency, reaction time, how am I talking to them, what is the trigger for them to launch), and MEDEVAC (plan HLZs/AXPs by phase of the operation, where is the nearest FAS, do I have a medic with each maneuver element).

26.  Don’t say that one of your Soldiers is a “good” Soldier; instead say that he scored 300 on his last APFT, got his EIB, shows up to work on time with a good attitude and that you have zero negative counseling statements on him.  On the other hand, if you have a “bad” Soldier, be able to quantify that as well – and make sure it’s documented

27.  Do the things the things that only you can do and delegate everything else

28.  If you don’t have comms with your higher element you are of very little use to anybody; if you haven’t heard any traffic on the net for more than five minutes, check your radios, your comms are probably out; unless you are personally engaging the enemy with direct fire, your commander wants to hear from you and not your RTO

29.  Have the personal courage to disagree with your commander; when you disagree with your commander have an alternate COA; it’s normally best to disagree with your commander behind closed doors unless it’s a matter of integrity or safety

30.  Trust your NCOs but don’t necessarily believe every word they say; NCOs rarely lie to officers, but they are known to stretch the truth on occasion; trust your gut

31.  When you communicate, it’s not enough to be right; you need to communicate in such a way so that those with whom you work see the merit of your point of view; there are many different ways to communicate, influence, and persuade

32.  Nothing good or productive comes from hanging out downtown Columbus on the weekend after 2200

33.  Watching TV is generally a waste of time; time is a precious commodity, use your free time to strengthen your family, increase your professional knowledge, improve your physical fitness, or take better care of your Soldiers; live by the philosophy of God, mission/family, men, self

34.  Bow hunting makes you a better infantry officer; everything you need to know about terrain analysis and pattern analysis, engagement area development, stealth, and patience you can learn by hunting deer with a bow

35.  Don’t ever let a JV product leave your platoon

36.  Attend mandatory fun events; as a lieutenant, you need to take every opportunity you can to learn about your profession and build relationships

37.  Know the task organization, capabilities, and equipment of each company in your battalion

38.  Make a concerted effort to know every lieutenant in your battalion

39.  Know the history of your battalion

40.  Prepare prior to any OPD/LPD you attend by reading and understanding the material to be covered; ask intelligent questions

41.  Take the time to publicly reinforce outstanding performance as close to the event taking place as possible

42.  Read as much as possible; you don’t  have to read every book cover to cover; at a minimum, read the preface, intro, conclusion, and notes page, then read the first and last paragraph of each chapter, write notes in the margin, and skim the body of each chapter; don’t waste of hours of reading time by reading things which you are not interested in or things that are not applicable; find out what your boss reads, he’s probably taking the time to read something for a reason

43.  Cultivate relationships with all of the key leaders in your company; don’t ever let there be daylight between you and your platoon sergeant

44.  If you can’t meet a suspense, don’t hope that your commander forgets about it, ask for an extension; if you have too many things going on, ask your commander for his priorities – what’s important to your commander is important to you

45.  Always seek out the difficult jobs and tough missions and always volunteer for extra responsibility; lieutenants learn by doing and you need to learn as much as possible so that when you’re a commander you delegate more effectively

46.  Spot check your platoon sergeant’s trackers

47.  If you are sitting around at work and you have nothing to do it’s an indicator you are or are becoming irrelevant to your organization

48.  Create a live fire packet with range control

49.  Execute combat focused team building events with your platoon once a month

50.  Get accounts for platoonleader.com, companycommander.com, S1 Net, LIW, PBUSE; be familiar with the HRC website

51.  Lead by example and from the front at all times; every action you take, every word you speak, and every interaction you have will increase or decrease the combat readiness of your unit

52.  Have a copy of the GARSOP and TACSOP and reference these products – make suggestions for how to improve them

53.  Read the attachments on the emails that you receive; you will often find that whoever sent an email with 12 attachments didn’t read each one, and in one of those attachments is a friction point or a valuable piece of information that needs to be disseminated or investigated

54.  Don’t eat fast food

55.  Maintain a good relationship with the guy you replace or the guy who replaces you

56.  Be on the same page as your fellow platoon leaders

57.  Be aggressive

58.  Ask yourself what a great leader would do when you encounter difficult situations

59.  Seek counsel from your company XO; he has more insight and experience than you do; support him and do what he asks in a timely manner

60.  Be present for command maintenance, bring additional work to do in the motor pool while your guys are on their tracks; spot check your M240s after a live fire exercise – weapons get cleaned before Soldiers eat or sleep

61.  Figure things out on your own but make sure you have your commander’s intent; when you ask a commander for his intent, you are not bugging him; often commander’s overlooked a detail or are not tracking the same reality that you are; therefore, prior to undertaking any significant project, make sure you have your commander’s intent

62.  Don’t ever take credit for any positive event; don’t ever shirk responsibility for any negative event

63.  Don’t get flustered and don’t undertake any significant action when your temper is running high; if you need to chew someone out, do it when you’re calm and tailor your comments to achieve the endstate that you want

64.  Spend at least 15 minutes a day with the door shut with just you and your platoon sergeant

65.  70% now is better than 100% an hour from now; be aware of the details you have left out

66.  Make your Soldiers stand at the position of attention when they speak to you until you put them at ease; make your Soldiers stand at the position of parade rest for your NCOs

67.  If you have the opportunity to do something to take care of one of your Soldiers, do it.  For example, it’s easy to give a guy a couple days of leave to take care of a family situation and that Soldier will remember that you helped him when he needed it and Soldiers are more productive when they aren’t distracted

68.  Use the battalion Chaplain generously – he has a lot of resources and can make your life easier – not all Chaplains are created equally

69.  When someone tells you “no” find a way to get them to “yes”; an experienced NCO can make just about any administrative action happen by talking to the right person in the right manner

Given the vast experience I’d be interested to know what the readership thinks.

 

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War Department Film: Landings On New Britain

UPDATE:  Okay fine.  Brad posted it already back in June.  Watch it again, anyway.

******************************************************

As per SOP, I watched the really good movie that XBRAD posted earlier, and in looking at zenoswarbirdvideos.com, found this one.

My Father was an 18-year old Machinist Apprentice who made both landings shown in the film, Arawe on 15 December 1943, and Cape Gloucester on 26 December.    His LCT 172 was a 105 foot craft somewhat larger than an LCM-8.  (You see LCT 174 at some point in the video.)  Part of his responsibilities was to go in ahead of the assault and mark water depth on the landing beaches, then paddle back out to the LCT and make the landings themselves.

At Arawe, his LCT went to pick up the survivors of the Army cavalry company that attempted to go in by rubber boat (described at 28:30).  It was shot full of holes in the process.  And LCT 172 was close to destroyer Brownson (DD-518) at Gloucester when she was hit by Japanese aircraft and sunk.  (49:50 in the film.)

Anyway, on a cold and snowy Saturday afternoon, grab a cuppa and have a watch.  The film is pretty gritty, and hardly paints a romantic picture of the war in the South Pacific.

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Locklear: US Pacific Dominance “Diminishing”? You don’t say, Admiral!

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Commander of US Pacific Command Admiral Sam Locklear seems to not have much of a knack for strategic thought.  Last March it was Locklear whom, in the face of a sabre-rattling North Korea and an intransigent and increasingly hostile China, defined his biggest strategic threat to be……  climate change. 

Recently, at the Surface Navy Association, Locklear again puts a round in the wood with his convoluted and childishly naïve assessment of The People’s Republic of China, after finally having the long-overdue epiphany that China actually represents a threat to US interests in the Pacific and elsewhere.

“China is going to rise, we all know that,” Adm. Locklear said, as reported by Defense News, which included several quotes from his speech at the annual Surface Navy Association meeting.

“[But] how are they behaving? That is really the question,” the admiral said, adding that the Pacific Command’s goal is for China “to be a net provider of security, not a net user of security.”

Not that Locklear is alone in his Pollyanna take on the PRC.  More than a few times, in wargames, and in discussions of events in the Pacific, I have heard senior officers discuss “co-opting” China as a “partner” to help “find a solution” to the problem, when the problem was very intentionally created by China and Chinese actions, because a change in status quo was in China’s best interests.   But Locklear has PACOM.   The People’s Republic of China is in his AOR.    Locklear’s bizarre assertions have gotten notice, finally.

“The problem with this formulation is, for whom does Adm. Locklear think China will be providing security?” said Dean Cheng, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “The implicit answer is ‘to everyone,’ because the assumption is that we can somehow mold China into being ourselves — that China will see its interests as somehow congruent and coincident with those of the United States, and therefore China will assume the mantle of regional provider of public goods.

“But this is a remarkable assumption, especially in light of recent Chinese behavior. China is not interested in providing security for everyone and, frankly, not even for anyone other than itself.”

A couple of news flashes for Sam Locklear.  China is not in a position to rise.  They ARE rising, and have been for some years.  The epiphany you had about China ending US dominance?   A little late.  By almost a decade.  China has been an unabashed supporter of DPRK bellicosity and intransigence, and has materially aided them in both weapons development and network exploitation capabilities.  They have undermined and eroded the Iran sanctions.  China has been long involved in penetration of US networks and theft of national and industrial secrets, as well as many tens of billions of dollars of intellectual property.  China has also made her intentions brutally clear on several occasions, in myriad ways.   Unfortunately, political being that he is, Sam Locklear is deaf to the sounds of a regional adversary playing power politics when his civilian masters deny that power politics even exist (except domestically, to get elected).
China as a force to be reckoned with has been something past Administrations have had to deal with, for sure.  Not all of them (Loral?) have done so prudently.  The continued shrinking of the US Navy under George W. Bush prevented a major US maritime presence in the Western Pacific while two wars unfolded in the Middle East.   But what has happened since January 2009 has been an emboldened China seeing a reluctant and amateurish Unites States foreign policy that lacks resolve and is determined to cut the very capabilities which would be most useful in deterring Chinese expansion in WESTPAC at the expense of our allies.   China smells blood (and opportunity), has greatly accelerated its efforts to establish complete regional hegemony, and has met with next to no opposition from the United States.   The US acquiescence to the Chinese ADIZ is a case in point.  Which is why you see Japan, and the Republic of Korea, India, and even the Philippines scrambling to build sufficient naval and military power to oppose China .  Those nations, all of the US allies, see a vacillating and irresolute America befuddled by the rules at the grown-up table.  American response to China’s increased aggression has been decidedly muted, while China’s proclamations of sovereignty over vast areas of the Pacific, and its military and diplomatic measures to cement that sovereignty have gone largely unchallenged.   The US, it is perceived, lacks the will to stand up to China.  Few indicators make that as clear as appointing someone like Sam Locklear to command PACOM.   Patrick Cronan at CNAS verbalizes it well.

Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, recently told The Washington Times that the U.S. is facing “a long game” when it comes to China.

Developments such as Beijing’s air defense zone may be “small tactical gambits,” Mr. Cronin said. But if the U.S. does not “respond and we don’t remain strong, then China will unilaterally redefine the region in a way that we do not recognize.”

President Obama’s promise that Defense cuts will not compromise US presence in the Pacific is being seen by both allies and enemies as largely disingenuous (and false) rhetoric more suited for the campaign trail than in diplomatic policy discussions.  The US position vis á vis China has been deteriorating for some time, and we are in danger of the bottom positively falling out.  Our Pacific allies sense that their ability to choose between Washington and Beijing may be nearing an end.   Sam Locklear seems to just be getting it.  Like the old woman who peeks out the front door of her house while the upstairs is engulfed in flames to ask the fireman rushing in, “Is there a problem?”

So when Admiral Locklear says “Our historic dominance that most of us in this room have enjoyed is diminishing, no question”, the first response that comes to mind would be that of my Senior Drill Instructor.  “NO SH*T, Sherlock!  What was your first clue?”   But this isn’t Marine OCS, and Locklear isn’t working a squad tactical problem.    Unfortunately, clueless as he is, he is a symptom of the disease, which permeates Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon.  I do hope the illness is not fatal.

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Camp Logan, Zion, Illinois

From Lake County, Illinois History:

Camp Logan was located in the very northeastern tip of the state, about an hour north of Chicago along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It served as a training range for the Illinois National Guard from 1892 to the early 1970s.

Camp Logan was named for General John Alexander Logan who commanded 31st Illinois Volunteer Regiment in 1861:

John Alexander Logan

John Alexander Logan

The land was purchased by the IL State Legislature in1892 and by the 1900s Camp Logan included a headquarters office, four regimental barracks, range office, mess hall, kitchen and arsenal.

Camp Logan Flag_courtesy Westerman_watermark

Camp Logan circa 1900

Regular Army marksmen from Fort Sheridan preferred the rifle range at CampLogan over their own facilities. Naval Militia from the Naval Training Center Great Lakes also utilized this facility.

Camp Logan Naval Rifle Range_LCDM 99-7-6_watermark

Camp Logan Rifle Range

Camp Logan Rifle Range_courtesy Westerman_watermark

US Naval Rifle Range at Camp Logan.

Camp Logan Firing Line_courtesy Westerman_watermark

Camp Logan Rifle Range.

Before World War I, the Illinois National Guard put great emphasis on rifle marksmanship. It was one of the few Guard activities that was judged by strict Army regulations.

Training at the camp included handling of small weapons, tactical maneuvers, and rifle marksmanship. Soldiers performed a variety of marksmanship scenarios on targets located from 100 to 1,000 yards oriented toward Lake Michigan. In 1902, over 6,000 soldiers attended the camp and expended over 640,000 rounds of ammunition.

Two key innovations were incorporated into the Camp Logan range, the echelon target system and Aiken targets. For more on the inventor of the Aiken targets, see my post on Illinois National Guardsman, Robert Aiken.

Corp. Rex Coniglio, Lieut. D.E. Zealand, and Private M. Cherion  using 3-inch trench mortar at Camp Logan.  Circa 1937.

Corp. Rex Coniglio, Lieut. D.E. Zealand, and Private M. Cherion
using 3-inch trench mortar at Camp Logan.
Circa 1937.

Col. George Marshall was assigned to Camp Logan from 1933 to 1937 as the head instructor.

The camp was closed in 1974 as increased restrictions on training due to the increasing civilian population around the base, limited the camp’s usefulness.

One of the remaining structures at the Camp Logan National Guard Rifle Range Historic District.  Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

One of the remaining structures at the Camp Logan National Guard Rifle Range Historic District.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Now Camp Logan is called the North Unit of Illinois Beach State Park.

It’s a bit of interesting history located where I grew up.

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“If you wanted to make some money in Washington, you would have to toe the line that the Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat.”

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Author and Middle East expert Barry Rubin gives an unvarnished appraisal of the Obama Administration’s embracing of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Faustian deal with Iran.

There was a secret debate happening in the Defense Department and the CIA in which some people thought that all Muslims were a problem, some believed that only al-Qa’ida was a problem, and still others thought the Muslim Brotherhood was a problem.
The main problem, however, was that all Islamism was a political threat, but it was the second position that eventually won over the Obama administration. Take note of this, since 2009, if you wanted to build your career and win policy debates, only al-Qa’ida was a problem. The Muslim Brotherhood was not a threat; after all, it did not participate in September 11. This view was well known in policy circles, but it was easy to mistake this growing hegemony as temporary.
The importance of moral courage in the senior uniformed and civilian leadership cannot be overemphasized.  Nor, unfortunately, can the glaring lack of that courage in the actions and words of blatant political sycophants like Ray Mabus, Mike Mullen, George Casey, Marty Dempsey, Sam Locklear, be minimized.  The indicators of their pliability to political masters, and their willingness to compromise their oaths and integrity, are symptoms of a much more damaging disease.
Some high-ranking defense department officials–for example, one on the secretary of defense’s level–were pressured to fire anti-Muslim Brotherhood people. I know of at least five such incidences.
Oh good.  After all, the Brotherhood is “largely secular”, or so we are told.    We must pay no attention to Brotherhood’s motto, or the words of their founder.   To point those out, it would seem, is to jeopardize one’s livelihood.
Al Banna:  “It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”
Brotherhood motto:  “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
The quashing of dissenting voices has to start with the subjugation of those who hold influential positions, and are ostensibly to supply meaningful advice and counsel.   The Obama Administration has become a notorious echo chamber, and has become so along ideological lines.   Worse, the opinions and views which prevail are from those with no discernible qualifications or talents.   Quite the contrary, the people who hold sway in our Defense and State Departments, and in National Security posts, are and have been mediocre, talentless ideological fops, remarkable only for their arrogance and demonstrated lack of acumen in international affairs.  Figures like Tom Donilon, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Jim Clapper, and John Kerry have aided in the non-stop catastrophes that have characterized US foreign policy during the Obama Administration, from the Cairo Apology speech to the Munich-esque Iran deal.
Egyptians protest Obama as Osama
Sandwiched in that dreary record of abject failure is the forcing of a Muslim Brotherhood government on the people of Egypt.  When Egyptians rose up by the MILLIONS in the streets this past July, and ousted Muhammed Morsi’s brutal theocracy, the Obama Administration turned its back on Egypt, asserting that a “democratic regime” had been overthrown by military coup against the will of the people.   Ignored, of course, was that the Morsi/Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt was guilty of brutal repression of its citizens, and was openly and systematically murdering and driving Egypt’s millenia-old Coptic Christian community out of the country.   Also ignored was Morsi’s immediate renouncing of the peace treaty with Israel, and tacit support for Islamist infiltration into the Sinai.  Without US support, Egypt has turned to the new power broker in the Middle East, Putin’s Russia.   Yes, the same Russia who has propped up Assad in Syria, and who is a long-time benefactor of post-1979 Iran.   THAT Russia.
Rubin’s missive is worth the read in its entirety.   It highlights how our President and his Administration has come to turn its back on its allies, negotiate away US interested and influence, and sought to treat America’s sworn ideological enemies as allies.   And why any voice raised in objection to such a course is decidedly unwelcome.
muslimbrotherhood
The result of such ideological pactum servae is the imbecilic notion that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular”, and that an alliance with “moderate Islamists” in Syria is something to strive for.    The Muslim Brotherhood is, as it has always been, the most Islamist of factions.  To behave as if they are otherwise is either foolhardy or deliberately subversive.   And finding a “moderate Islamist” is somewhat akin to finding a tall midget.
H/t to FranD

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Pentagon Shocked By Wave Of ‘Knockout Game’ Attacks

From the Duffel Blog, via our friends at Op-For.

Admit it, you have fantasized about just such a game if you have spent any time at all with senior Officers or Staff NCOs who talk to you as if you would starve for your own imbecility were it not for their wisdom and constant micromanagement.   I mean, after 28 years commissioned service, my list is probably a page and a half long at this point.

According to Pentagon chief historian Dr. Erin Mahan, speaking from behind a locked door, knockout attacks can be traced back to the late nineties, when Marine generals Charles Krulak and Anthony Zinni used to greet each other by punching each other as hard as they could in the face.

Good satire has more than a whiff of reality.

 

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Happy Birthday, Corporal Randolph Agarn

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Larry Storch, the veteran actor who portrayed the hapless Corporal Randolph Agarn on the classic (!) TV series F Troop, turns 91 today.   Born on January 8th, 1923 in New York, Storch dropped out of school during the Depression to work the comedy clubs to earn money.  While he did attend High School, at DeWitt Clinton, he was a schoolmate of Don Adams, of Get Smart fame.  (And a World War II Marine wounded on Guadalcanal.)

Like so many actors on the set of F Troop, Storch was a Veteran (along with Forrest Tucker, Joe Brooks, Henry Gibson, Ken Berry, and James Gregory), serving in the US Navy during World War II aboard USS Proteus.  One of his shipmates was none other than Tony Curtis.

F Troop only ran for two seasons, 1965-1967, but the cornball schtick and physical comedy made it a favorite.  I saw it in syndication beginning in the late 60s, and it always made me laugh.  My Dad thought it was “idiotic”, and perhaps it was.  But Fort Courage had everything (except sunshine, it seemed, on the sound stage), including a cannon with a wheel that fell off (and invariably shot down the guard tower), a blind lookout (Trooper Vanderbilt, Joe Brooks), a bugler who couldn’t play a note (Dobbs, James Hampton), a well-meaning but inept Captain (Berry), a smoking-hot frontier babe (Wrangler Jane, Melody Patterson), a grizzled Veteran (Duffy, played by old western star Bob Steele), and a scheming Sergeant making cash on the side (Sergeant O’Rourke, Forrest Tucker).   (It also had an opening theme that could stick in your head for WEEKS….)  The “opponents”, the not-so dangerous Heckawi Indians, were in on the black market business, with comedic caricatures of their own.

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Recurring regulars and guest stars included Henry Gibson, Harvey Korman, Edward Everett Horton, Paul Lynde, Lee Meriwether, and a host of others.   Some of the classic episodes include the antics of visitors to Fort Courage.  (Harvey Korman as Count Ferdinand von Zeppel.)  But my favorites were the boys of F Troop.  Especially Agarn.  He had the absolute coolest hat, and could make the best faces.

Larry Storch was in a number of television comedies and variety shows over his career, and was a talented impersonator.  He has film and stage credits that include The Great Race (with shipmate Tony Curtis), and was a frequent guest of Johnny Carson and  a semi-regular on Hollywood Squares.

Happy Birthday, Corporal Randolph Agarn of Pissaic, New Jersey.   I don’t know why everybody says you’re dumb!

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The Very Last of Them: “Balaclava Ned” Hughes

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Private 1506 Hughes, Edwin, was born in Wrexham in December of 1830. Before enlisting in Her Majesty’s forces, he worked as a shoemaker.  In 1852, at age 21, Hughes enlisted in the 13th Hussars (then the 13th Light Dragoons [quibble]).   In the summer of 1854, as the Crimean War escalated, the 13th Light Dragoons, Hughes among them, embarked for Sevastopol in the Black Sea, as a part of the British contingent, assigned to the Light Brigade of the Cavalry Division, under Lord Raglan.

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On October 25th, 1854, Hughes and almost seven hundred other British horsemen of the Light Brigade of Cavalry galloped across the valley at Balaclava, “storm’d at with shot and shell”, toward the Russian guns in the famous charge immortalized by Tennyson.  Hughes had his horse shot from under him, injuring his leg.  He recovered to serve in the Crimea until the end of the war, and with the 13th Hussars, until 1873.   Hughes eventually achieved the rank of Troop Sergeant Major, the uniform which he wears in the above (top) photo.  After retirement from the 13th Hussars, Hughes enlisted as a Sergeant-Instructor in the Worcestershire Yeomanry, serving until discharged for “old age” in 1886.   Hughes was awarded the Crimea Turkish Medal, the Long Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal.  (The four clasps on the Crimea Turkish Medal read “Sevastopol”, “Inkerman”, “Balaclava”, and “Alma”.)

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Even before his retirement, Hughes had become a legend of sorts for his participation in the famous charge.  He became known as “Balaclava Ned”, and was often asked to return to his birthplace of Wrexham to talk of his exploits in the “Valley of Death”.   Hughes was also a recipient of a number of pensions created for the Light Brigade survivors.  Public focus on the plight of the often-penniless veterans of the British Army, the Light Brigade in particular, came from none other than Rudyard Kipling, whose “Last of the Light Brigade” (1890) painted a sorrowful tale of the fate of twenty old soldiers who go to an aging Tennyson for help:

There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

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Ned Hughes outlived all of his 672 comrades, nearly 300 of which fell on that October day in the Crimea in 1854.  Troop Sergeant Major 1506 Hughes, Edwin died in Blackpool, 14 May 1927, at the age of 96.

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Have a Coke and a Warbird

Someone in the FB group pointed me to Machine Age Chronicles which featured advertisements for Coca-Cola and pictures of combat aircraft used in World War 2.

During the Second World War Coca-Cola released a gallery of US warplane posters. They were all painted by the American artist William John Heaslip who was famous for his aviation related advertisements. The prints were 33cm x 38cm and probably spruced up the bedroom of many American boys.

I did a quick post on vintage aviation advertisements and one of those was indeed Mr Healys work.

Here are some of them:

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I’m hoping these bring back back some good memories for the readers.

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A bit more on Swamp Heathen 1

If you don’t mind indulging me.  His daughters had printed out my post and displayed it at the funeral service.  Also on display was this shadowbox Don had put together years ago (as well as one with his NASA pins for various missions).

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I had not recognized the award between Don’s Silver Star and Bronze Star. When I told XBrad it looked like a Legion of Merit, he said that was usually for generals and colonels as a farewell gesture, that it was unusual for an enlisted man to get one. See for yourself, and believe me, no Stolen Valor here. The part I messed up was thinking he was E-8 and not E-7, and that was entirely my presumption that anyone who made sergeant at 19 would have been promoted more than twice in 18 years.

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RIP, Swamp Heathen 1

There are so many stories from the last 23 years that I hardly know where to begin. Don joined the Army when he was 17. He lost a brother in Vietnam and ended up serving two tours there himself. He was in Signal Corps, Airborne, Special Forces, recruiting, and Hawk missile maintenance. He earned two Silver Stars, two Purple Hearts, and turned down a third Purple Heart because that would have sent him home. (Yes, he despised John Kerry.) He was a Master Parachute Rigger, was part of a jump demo team that went all over Europe (not the Golden Knights), and made a special parachute system for a Kermit the Frog doll. After he retired from the Army, he worked for a couple of contractors before being hired by NASA. A co-worker didn’t think he should be drawing Army retirement while working for NASA, and Don let him know right quick that he could go down to the recruiting office and get in on the action, with the comment that even as an E-7, his family qualified for food stamps and reduced price school lunches.
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Also on sick call

XBradTC reader and my good friend Swamp Heathen #1 landed in the intensive care unit today with pneumonia and low blood pressure. Definitely not faking it to get out of PT. Your good thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated.

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On the Second Bloggin’ Christmas…

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2013 mug

♫  …my blog host gave to me….

a really awesome coffee mug,

and a Jaaaack-aaass Caaa-aat for scale! ♫

Thanks, Brad!

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Rarely-seen Photographs from the Korean War

These were published in the Denver Post back in 2010, but are worth a look.   Many are incredibly poignant, and show the misery and hardship of what war was like in Korea, and what it would be like today.   It is important to note the conditions, the terrain, and the utter exhaustion of the men in many of the photographs, especially as we decide to debate the physical demands of combat arms.

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There are more than a hundred of them.  Worth a cup of coffee and half an hour to look at all of them.

H/T

Miss Robin

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