Category Archives: army

My time as a logistician

Newer readers may not have seen this post originally written in the early days of the blog.

Late in 1991, after my triumphant return from Operation Desert Storm I was transferred from the 1st Armored Division in Germany with orders to Ft. Carson, Colorado, home of the 4th Infantry Division. After 44 days of leave spent lounging around my parents and getting underfoot, I hopped a flight to the beautiful city of Colorado Springs, nestled at the foot of the towering Front Range of the Rockies.  A quick shuttle bus ride and I was deposited into the care of the 4th IDs Adjudant General’s 4th Replacement Company. As a junior enlisted soldier, my orders only specified the 4th ID. The division itself would subsequently make my assignment to one of its subordinate battalions.

I spent a week with the replacement company, mostly listening to briefings about the division and its policies and doing make-work details. Quite a bit of time was spent sitting around just waiting. Finally, my name was called to recieve my assignment. The clerk handed my orders to the 104th Main Support Battalion, part of the Division Support Command. The MSB is the logistical backbone of the division, providing maintenance, supply and medical care to the division. I promptly protested to the clerk that the orders were in error. I was an 11B. I should have been sent to one of the divisions infantry battalions. He responded that right or wrong, I was going to the MSB, and better hurry down the street to check in.

Off I went, slightly bemused with the idiocy sometimes displayed by the Army. I checked in with the S-1(Personnel) office and dropped off a copy  of my orders. The clerk there showed me to the Battalion Command Sergeant Major (the senior NCO in the battalion). The CSM quickly read my orders, and ushered me in to his office. He was far more accomodating to me than any other CSM I’d ever met. The trouble, he explained, was that the battalion had a severe shortage of supply personnel. His boss wanted to shift some other support soldiers into the slots. The CSM had a better idea. As an old infantryman, he was convinced that soldiers from the combat arms were adaptable enough to come in and learn the job quickly, helping the battalion achieve its mission and just maybe setting a good example for the junior soldiers from other MOS’s. I was one of three soldiers he’d snagged from the replacement company. All three of us would go to Bravo Company, where we would work in the parts warehouse.

I explained to the CSM that I didn’t want to be in the battalion (“no offense, Sergeant Major, but if I’d wanted to be a REMF, I would have enlisted as one!”) and could he just send me down the line to one of the infantry battalions. He made is counteroffer (“You’ll do it and like it!”) but he did sweeten the pot just a bit. He said that if I did a good job, he’d let me go in six months, and that if I did a really good job, he’d let me choose which of the three battalions I went to. I bowed to inevitability and grabbed my bags, walked across the street, and checked into Company B, 104th Main Support Battalion.

The first day at work was a little odd. When you report to  an infantry unit, just about the first thing battalion does is assign you to a company, and the company assigns you to a platoon, who puts you in a squad. Usually, that happens even before you get down to the battalion. A good unit knows you are coming and is ready for you, with the supply sergeant ready to get you set up in the barracks. When I showed up at B Co., they weren’t entirely sure what to do with me. I had to track down the First Sergeant to get a room assigned and track down the supply sergeant to get some sheets and blankets. Then, when I went to the warehouse, instead of having a clue, they told me to “follow that guy over there.”  “That guy” turned out to be a Sergeant who was also reporting for his first day of work, but at least he was working in his specialty. They hadn’t really given him a job either, but he grabbed some paperwork and got to work, utilizing me as his gopher and to lift heavy stuff (grunts are always good for that).

Soon, I found myself working with  a small team of supply types working in the outdoor parts yard for repair parts too large to store convienently in the warehouse. Here’s the basic workflow- as mentioned below, when  a vehicle down in one of the battalions needed a repair part, they’d draw one from their stocks and submit an order to us to replace it.  Each day, each battalion would place all their parts orders on a floppy disk and drive it down to our warehouse. Once all the disks were uploaded to our computer, list would be generated. Each part would be released by an MRO, or Material Release Order. Basically, this was an invoice. Each MRO would list the part by name, national stock number, serial number if neccessarry, and by its location in the warehouse. We would print out the days list of MROs. Since we knew which MROs were for parts located outside, my team would segregate these orders. Our mission each day was to find the parts, stage them to each battalions pick up area (the line battalions were responsible for picking the parts up from us, we just didn’t have the transport to push the parts to them), mark the orders complete and recieve any parts that came in and place them in their proper storage area. We would also recieve the broken parts to be replaced and stage them for turn in for either recycling or repair by a higher echelon than us.

When I started working there, the yards (there were two of them because of space limitations) were a complete mess. Typical parts stored outside were tires, roadwheels for tracked vehicles, track shoes and sections of track, engines, transmissions, FUPPS (the “full up power pack” for the M-1 tank, with engine, transmission and accessories, in a container, weighing in at 14,000 pounds), truck body parts like doors, windshields, shock absorbers and springs and stuff like that. There were some minor issues with parts not being in the right place. That was pretty easy to fix. The real problem was that over time, the previous workers had gotten sloppy about making sure equipment returned to them had been turned in for repair or recycling. And over time, the tags and orders had fallen off or been misplaced. There was no way to tell what piece was what. And without that information, we couldn’t figure out which open orders went with which piece of surplus.

I pretty soon got into the swing of working the yard. Normally, the Army is very fastidious about the procedures for licensing someone to drive or operate any equipment. The only licensces I’d ever held had been for the Humvee and for what the Army called CUCVs, basically Chevy pickups and Blazers with a camo paintjob. I checked in to the battalion motor pool and found that with no training or test drives, I’d been licensed for those vehicles, the duece and a half, the 5-ton truck, 5-ton tractor trailer, and a variety of forklifts, from 1000lb capacity electrics used in the warehouse to 10k forklifts built on the chasis of a front end loader. Indeed, I was not only licensed to drive them, I was the assigned driver on four different vehicles. If we ever had to move into the field, I wasn’t quite clear how I was going to drive four vehicles simultaneously. Still, I quickly earned a reputation as the go-to guy for operating the 10k forklift. Each day, I’d pick up all the orders for the big stuff. I even managed to load the 14,000lb FUPPs with a 10,000lb capacity forklift. It wasn’t easy, and you had to show a gentle touch. But it was very popular with the armor battalions because previously they’d had to order the parts separately, then assemble them in the field, installing them with a tank recovery vehicle. I’d saved them hundreds of man-hours of work. The downside was that any time a tank went down on the weekend, I’d get the call to go pull the parts for them and load them. More than once I came back to the barracks at 2am after a hard night partying in Colorado Springs, only to find an MRO and a couple of irritated tankers waiting on me. Trust me, loading really heavy tank engines while drunk as a skunk is a challenge. The worst part though, was having to go inside and fire up the terminal and generate and print the MRO. What should have been a 20 minute job would take an hour.

Since I could get through the larger parts pretty quickly, and since the boss was on my tail about it, I started looking into what could be done to clean up the yards. There had to be some way of getting rid of all the roadwheels and other junk sitting around taking up space and generally looking bad. There was an additional problem. A lot of the parts were turned in for scrap. But we couldn’t get rid of them since we couldn’t tell what was scrap and what wasn’t. If we turned in a piece of equipment as scrap that shouldn’t have been, there was no way we could ever close the open work order on that piece. The longer the orders stayed open, the worse we looked. The key would be identifiying what was what, right down to the national stock number. I’ll give you an idea of what a typical problem was. There were two types of roadwheels made for the M-113, steel and aluminum. One was discarded for scrap and one was turned in for refurbishment. Seems simple. But the instructions listed which to turn in by stock number, without mentioning what it was made of. No one knew which was which.

One thing I had learned by this time was that there was always a regulation, manual or person that covered a situation. The trick was finding that repository of information. Inspiration came in a flash. I was visiting the on-post office of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO), the agency that handles all the suprlus sales for the DoD. I was looking for to see what interesting stuff they might have for the next auction, such as furniture or office equipment. Then I noticed they had a large section of scrap metal. I struck up a conversation with the civilian who worked there and explained my problem. I hit paydirt. The guy knew just about everything there was to know about what could be scrapped and what couldn’t. He also had the manuals to back his judgment up. Over the course of a couple of weeks, he came down to the yard and helped me sort through tons of scrap and even better, helped identify all sorts of arcane parts that none of us recognized. He even helped us find a streamlined way to generate the missing orders for scrap turn in. Once all the scrap was properly (and legally) disposed of, it was a fairly simple task to match work orders with the remaining surplus parts in the yard and clear all the overdue orders. Some of the orders had been open for years. By the time he and I finished, there wasn’t an order over 48 hours old.

It was an interesting and challenging job. But it wasn’t the infantry. And while I liked the work, I was deeply unhappy with the company itself. The commander was detached and she didn’t impress me in the least as a leader. The First Sergeant substituted bombast and abuse for standards and leadership. I wasn’t entirely clear on what it was they did all day, because we never saw them doing anything for the soldiers. As my six-month mark approached, I asked the CSM if he would let me go, and if possible, send me to the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry. I didn’t know much about the infantry battalions on post, but the 1-12IN had a decent reputation, far better than the other two. The First Sergeant was being difficult. He couldn’t stand me, but didn’t want to let me go. Still, the CSM was a man of his word. He told me he would make it happen. I called down to the battalion and they told me I would be further assigned to Alpha Company. I stopped by and introduced myself to the 1SG at Alpha company. What a great first impression he gave. No nonsense, spelled out what he expected, introduced me to my platoon sergeant and told me he looked forward to me “joining the real Army again” just as soon as the orders had been cut. The orders were cut on a Thursday afternoon. My 1SG at B/104, always looking for a way to be a pain, insisted that I be completely vacated out of the barracks that day. If some friends with a pickup truck hadn’t been handy to help me move, my stuff would have been out on the street.

I’m glad that I had a chance to see how the rest of the Army works. It ain’t all guns and ammo. Some of the folks I worked with were as dedicated as any I’ve ever met. And karma is a bitch. The First Sergeant who failed on so many levels? A few months later he was courtmartialed for sexual harrasment and drummed out of the Army in disgrace. Safely tucked away in my new home with my fellow infantrymen, I laughed my ass off.

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Filed under army, ARMY TRAINING, infantry, Politics

Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941- A Date That Will Live In Infamy

In spite of increasing tensions in the Pacific, and over two years of war in Europe, the morning of December 7, 1941 found the Navy, Army, Army Air Forces and Marines at Pearl Harbor and various installations across Oahu enjoying the usual peacetime Sunday routine, with many men on liberty or pass, and others just stirring for Morning Colors.

The peace and quiet were shattered by an enormous raid by the splendidly trained carrier pilots of the Kido Butai. From just before 8am to around 9:30am, a total of 353 Japanese warplanes ravaged ships, airfields, and installations throughout the island, most famously devastating the ships of Battleship Row, gutting the heart of the Pacific Fleet. Of 390 US aircraft on the island that morning, over three hundred would be destroyed or damaged.

Two thousand and forty-two American sailors, soldiers and Marines died in the perfidious attack. Another fourteen hundred were wounded. The single largest loss of life would come with the sinking of the battleship USS Arizona early in the attack. The explosion of her magazines shattered her, sank her, and killed a stunning 1,177 sailors.

The US had a decidedly isolationist sentiment in the years leading to the attack. Even as America slowly came to rearm in the face of the European war and an expansionist Japan, there was little public support for joining the great conflagration beyond our shores.

That sentiment ended abruptly with the Japanese attack. The American people would become united in a campaign to visit vengeance, retribution and retaliation upon Japan. As Yamamoto had predicted, Japan had awakened a sleeping giant. It had sown the wind, and within three and a half years, it would reap the whirlwind.

http://jerrygarrett.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/uss_arizona_memorial.jpg?w=500&h=351

The USS Arizona came to symbolize the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our first major loss of the war, she went down with her colors flying, and guns firing. She was never decommissioned, and never stricken from the Naval Register. Every day, a color guard raises the colors of this still serving warship. And every day, Americans visit the memorial built across her hull, to pay tribute to those who rest the eternal rest within her shattered hull. Oil from her bunkers still slowly seeps into the waters of the harbor, as if the mighty ship weeps for the sacrifice of so many.

*Update- changed “day” to “date” in the title. I *knew* what FDR said in his address, but my fingers this morning didn’t, and Mr. Coffee wasn’t there to correct them.

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Bumblebee- The Shmel

Among the more ubiquitous Soviet small arms are Rocket Propelled Grenades. Virtually every conflict in the world has seen the RPG-7 used, often by both sides.

The great strength of the RPG-7 is its simplicity. It takes only a few minutes training to impart a basic competency.

But the problem is, against anything but armored vehicles, its shaped-charge HEAT warhead is really pretty ineffective. Stories of RPGs exploding perilously close to personnel and not injuring them are common. That’s because a HEAT warhead focuses virtually all its power into a very tiny jet in one direction. Avoid the jet, and your chances of injury are quite small.

If you want to punch a hole in something, a HEAT round is the way to go. But a huge number of targets on the battlefield call for something else. Caves, buildings, bunkers and such need a different approach. Ideally, you can fire a high explosive charge through the aperture, and the resulting explosion inside will kill any enemy, and ideally dismantle the target.

And so the Soviets developed the PRO or Flamethrower Projector Rocket. Known in service as the Shmel, the PRO was single shot, disposable rocket propelled grenade. It came in three variants- high explosive (PRO-A), incendiary (PRO-Z), and smoke for screening (PRO-D). Interestingly, all three were designated as flamethrower projectors.

The high explosive variant used a thermobaric warhead. Unlike conventional high explosives that contain all their fuel and oxidizer, thermobaric warheads use the surrounding air for at least a portion of their oxidizer. Whereas a conventional high explosive forms its blast wave from a single point and diminishes in strength from that point, the “burn” of a thermobaric warhead actually increases blast wave pressure as it expands, until all the fuel is consumed. This makes thermobaric warheads nearly ideal for enclosed spaces.

All this is an excuse to post some splodey-

A later development, the PRO-M, increased range and warhead, and is still in use with Russian forces.

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Dinner Last Evening

I flatter myself in thinking my recent absence here is notable, but perhaps not.  In case it is, I have a litany of excuses all prepared.  A good deal of work at client locations, and USMC duty, each necessitating more than a little windshield time.  Deadlines on projects requiring crazy workloads.  And, there is my inherent laziness.  The news, also, chock full o’ one diplomatic and economic disaster after another on the part of this malignant Administation, is hardly inspiring of anything other than typing in ALL CAPS every expletive I can think of.  All of the above.  Or a combination thereof.

Anyway, my travels took me to Brattleboro for Tuesday and today.   I stayed over last night to work into the evening and avoid 140-odd miles of driving, rather than drive home Tuesday and back in the early-early today.  So, come 1800 yesterday, me belly be growlin’, and I was looking for a place to eat.  Found it!

Kipling's Pub

Ayep!  The first name of the proprietor is actually Kipling, to boot.  A really nice little English Pub-type place, with a great selection of beers and a great bar selection.  Being in such a place, I hoisted a Guiness (for strength), and partook of the fish n’ chips.  No ketchup for me, here.  Vinegar on the “chips”.   The lovely bartender was friendly and welcoming, and it was obvious this place was a neighborhood bar with a legion of loyal elbow-benders.   I informed her I was quite a Kipling fan, but her reaction was sort of a “that’s nice”.  (I refrained from reciting “Copybook Headings” or “Mandalay”.)    The food was superb, by the way, and reasonable.   And how can I not go back to Kipling’s next time I am in town?   Because, well, a man can raise a thirst.   If’n you find yourself in the little town of Brattleboro, Vermont and looking for a good drink and a good meal,  I recommend Kipling’s Pub.  Tell them Peachy Carnahan sent you.

I should get ahold of the owner and tell him that I have the perfect slogan for his Kipling bar.  “You may talk o’ gin an’ beer…”

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The Medals of Honor on Letterman

I gave up watching Letterman pretty much about the time I gave up keggers in college. So I guess I missed these two (separate) interviews Dave did with Medal of Honor recipients SSG Ty Carter and SSG Clinton Romesha.

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Acta Non Verba

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We take care of our veterans.  We take care of your families.  Not just by saluting you on one day, once a year, but by fighting for you and your families every day of every year.

wwiimemorial

The White House and the Department of the Interior rejected a request from Rep. Steven Palazzo’s office to have World War II veterans visit the World War II memorial in Washington, the Mississippi Republican told The Daily Caller Tuesday.

 

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President Barack Ortega?

bho

Seems Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his Sandinistas are moving to quash term limits for the office of President.  He is already ruling by decree, with little restraint from any other branch of government.  Funny, how a corrupt and politicized judiciary, disdain for the legislative branch, and ignoring the Constitution can lead to a Marxist dictatorship.  Such an outcome occurs when a President rules instead of governing, a de facto state media is comprised of boot-licking toadies, and senior military commanders are yes-men fellow-travelers whose loyalty is to the dictator rather than the country or Constitution.  It is also where political opposition is treated as a national enemy, and dissenting voices are kowtowed by the use of government force, or the threat of force, to suppress them.

The constitution article in question prohibits consecutive presidential terms but in 2010 the supreme court overturned the ban, a ruling the electoral commission said was final. The ruling allowed Ortega to run for president for a second straight term in 2011.

Gabriel Alvarez, a constitutional law expert, said the proposal would only formalise the supreme court’s decision, which Ortega’s opponents contend was illegal and made by a heavily politicised judiciary.

How long before Barack Obama thinks this is a neat idea and begins selling it to the voting public?   Here’s betting he will sell it as an “American tradition”.  Not mentioning, of course, that it is a tradition of Latin America.  Vaminos, muchachos.   We have wealth redistribution, expropriation from the Bourgeoisie, and Land Reform to inflict.

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DoD Training Manual: “White Privilege” and “Assume racism is everywhere, everyday”

bp

Once again, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) is spouting the hackneyed and bigoted drivel of racist and grievance politics, with full endorsement of the Defense Department.   Todd Starnes has the story.

“Assume racism is everywhere, everyday,” read a statement in a section titled, ‘How to be a strong ‘white ally.’”

“One of the privileges of being white is not having to see or deal with racism all the time,” the manual states. “We have to learn to see the effect that racism has.”

And it is not just bigoted drivel, but the language of Bolshevik class warfare so common in the Obama Administration:

On page 181 of the manual, the military points out that status and wealth are typically passed from generation to generation and “represent classic examples of the unearned advantages of social privilege.”

“…the unfair economic advantages and disadvantages created long ago by institutions for whites, males, Christians, etc. still affect socioeconomic privilege today,” the manual states.

DEOMI states that “full access to the resources of the club still escape the vision of equitable distribution.”

Oh, and if you’re white, you’re a racist.  Don’t bother denying it.

The military also implies that white Americans may be in denial about racism.

In a section titled, “Rationalizations for Retaining Privilege and Avoiding Responsibilities,” the military lays out excuses white people use.

“Today some white people may use the tactic of denial when they say, ‘It’s a level playing field; this is a land of equal opportunity,’” the manual reads. “Some white people may be counterattacking today by saying political correctness rules the universities or they want special status.”

DEOMI points out that if “white people are unable to maintain that the atrocities are all in the past, they may switch to tactics to make a current situation seem isolated.”

The military concludes the section by urging students to “understand and learn from the history of whiteness and racism” and “support the leadership of people of color.”

As for Congressman Allan West, a black man who served in the US Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in Iraq?  Not a fan.

West said he is very concerned about the training guide.

“When the president talked about fundamentally transforming the United States of America, I believe he also had a dedicated agenda of going after the United States military,” he said. “The priorities of this administration are totally whacked.”

I fear Congressman West is entirely correct.  So do many others.  And that Obama is weeding out those in senior ranks who disagree with his socialist-communist secular progressive agenda, using trumped-up charges and reasons, and replacing them with supplicant political lap dogs and ideological fellow travelers.   The relief of General Carter Ham and RADM Gaouette certainly fit that description.  Perhaps the tales of negligence and misconduct on the part of senior Officers tasked with security of our strategic deterrence (nuclear) forces point to the same reasons.  How convenient for Obama, since he desires unilateral American nuclear disarmament.  After all, this Administration and the President himself have few qualms about fabricating stories, obfuscating truth, and when necessary, lying outright.

Another senior retired general told TheBlaze on the condition of anonymity, because he still provide services to the government and fears possible retribution, that “they’re using the opportunity of the shrinkage of the military to get rid of people that don’t agree with them or do not toe the party line. Remember, as (former White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel said, never waste a crisis.”

For this despicable Reverend Jeremiah Wright-style excrement being forced upon US service members, Chuck Hagel and Marty Dempsey are responsible.  Gents, you own it.  You allowed it to happen, if not encouraged it.  Neither of you are fit to be followed in any fashion.  You should both resign forthwith, and would do so if you hadn’t already sold your honor.
The DEOMI student guide goes on to state:
If one group is privileged over others on the basis of something like race or religion, this institutionalizes discrimination and bigotry.
That would certainly explain how Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Kathleen Sibelius, and Jeh Johnson got where they are.   And why such divisive Saul Alinsky-style 60s radical propaganda makes its way into the US Government.

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The Devolution of Strategic Thought

Eisenhower

Lazarus over at Information Dissemination has an absolutely superb piece about it.   His assertion is that what passes for strategic thought is almost entirely about budgets and technology.  Essentially, that the SCMR and QDR have been driving strategic considerations, rather than the other way around.

The Cold War strategy of containment was created when propeller-driven aircraft were the sole delivery source for atomic weapons. It achieved final success in an age of thermonuclear weapons delivered by multiple means. What similar strategies have been conceived by the McNamara-inspired, budget and technology -driven national security process? The disastrous Vietnam conflict and its mania for budget and analysis-driven warfare does not inspire confidence in the current system to create something as long-lasting and viable as Containment….

This ingrained institutional focus on money and technology at the expense of the geography, logistics, history, and cultural studies that have informed past successful strategies leaves the U.S. ill-prepared to confront the challenges of a new and potentially violent period of history.

Indeed, I would assert that the defense structure proposed by then-Secretary of Defense Cheney and CJCS Colin Powell at the end of the Cold War (1991) was the last serious attempt to include the above elements and considerations into a strategic view (and a military) that had the capabilities to meet America’s strategic needs in the post-Cold War world.   The work figured carefully the requirements for simultaneously waging two Major Regional Conflicts (MRCs) of a full-spectrum nature, and calculated the force and logistics requirements for shaping, fighting, and supplying those two MRCs simultaneously.  (For those who ask how such calculations should be made, I suggest reading that document front to back. )  The 1992 proposed force structure represented massive cuts in the Cold War military structure, upwards of 25% in both budget and size.

The ink was hardly dry on that strategy document when Clinton SecDef Lester Aspin undid the entire effort with his “Bottom-up Review”.    On the recommendations of that “review”, the respective services’ structure and budgets were slashed to levels far below what was considered the minimum for maintaining the capabilities and capacity across the spectrum required in the “uni-polar” 1990s and 2000s.   Nowhere in Aspin’s document was the careful calculus, based on empirical and historical data.  Instead, it contained assertions of dubious legitimacy, and considerable, if unidentified, risk.  (Considerably smaller estimates for what fighting an MRC entailed, and an assertion that fighting two simultaneously was no longer a requirement, to wit the new “fight one, hold one” concept, whatever that might mean.)  The hollowing of the force eviscerated not only existing capability, but severely reduced R&D and production of replacement systems and equipment, and bottomed training and maintenance budgets.  The “savings”, of course, was known as the Peace Dividend, which was almost entirely spent on social programs and other Clinton Administration priorities.   As a result, the “Army we have” that went into Iraq in 2003 was the Army (and other services) created by a budget and technology-driven process with non-strategic political overtones.   Contemporary conversations about Defense force structure and spending echo the disastrous Aspin tenure as SecDef.

I was a Senior Mentor (for China) at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy SIMULEX exercise this weekend, where the subject of “grand strategy” was central to the respective country teams playing in the event.  This precise discussion (how a strategy drives military development) was had on a number of occasions.  It took a while, but students began to understand and embrace the “long view” of decades and centuries inherent in Chinese strategic thinking, rather than the 4-year QDR/election cycle immediacy of what passes for American strategy efforts.

Go read the whole thing.  Lazarus is also spot-on in his discussions of Goldwater-Nichols accelerating the very conditions it was enacted to prevent.

BTW:  Here are some previous thoughts of mine on the subject:

http://blog.usni.org/2011/07/14/goldwater-nichols-at-25-success-or-failure

http://blog.usni.org/2010/01/07/the-war-against-muslim-extremism-time-for-a-new-nsc-68

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Our Host Has a Birthday!

N4990_1

Happy Birthday XBrad!   Lookin’ spry!  As I mentioned last year, it is a cool birthday, for sure, as it is the anniversary of:

  • Agincourt, 1415
  • Balaclava,  (Charge of the Light Brigade) 1854
  • Mine Creek, 1864
  • Russian Revolution, 1917
  • El Alamein, 1942
  • Santa Cruz (beginning) 1942
  • Samar/Leyte Gulf 1944
  • Grenada, 1983

Fitting for an auld warrior who chases young people off the lawn with his cane.

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Errata Sheet for SecArmy Guidance on Extremist Organizations

As most of us who’ve served in the military know, official documents, policy statements, training and technical manuals will often contain mistakes, errors, and omissions.  It is natural enough, as nobody is perfect, and review of every last thing produced is impossible.  In those instances where such mistakes, errors, and omissions are found, an errata sheet is issued, either with distribution of the original document or during the next quarterly update.

Here is the errata sheet for Army Secretary McHugh’s memorandum of 18 October.

McHugh Errata

There, Secretary McHugh, fixed it for ya.  Since you apparently couldn’t bring yourself to type or speak the words you should have.   You would boil in oil any Company or Platoon Commander who had made such public statements offensive to women, Islam, gays, minorities, or any other protected victim group du jour, and I suspect you wouldn’t have waited several weeks to say something on the matter.  No, in such an instance, I believe you would have been tripping over yourself to apologize on behalf of the Army, in front of a microphone, and would have initiated any number of new “training initiatives” that political pressure dictated.

A memorandum?  Extremely weak soup, Secretary McHugh.  Why don’t you stand in front of a microphone and apologize to those of Christian faith?  And then to the groups your training identified as “extremist”?  With a reassurance to your soldiers that their rights of free expression to donate to and affiliate with those organizations will be fiercely protected in keeping with the Constitution you and your Officers were sworn to support and defend?

And if you can’t manage that, why don’t you find the door, and put yourself on the other side of it?  And take Dempsey with you.

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6 October 1973, The Beginning of the Yom Kippur War

super shermans

Tomorrow is the Fortieth Anniversary of the beginning of the “Fourth Arab-Israeli War”, known for its auspicious holiday beginning as the Yom Kippur War, or Ramadan War.

sadat

In the weeks leading up to the war, Egypt’s President Sadat had made overtures of warmer relations with the United States, to include the expulsion of nearly 22,000 Soviet “advisors”.  In addition, Egyptian military commanders carefully hid preparations for the offensive from Israeli observation.   Israel had made a planning assumption that any future conflict with Egypt would give the IDF 24-48 hours of warning, time to mobilize reserves and reposition forces for effective defense and counterattack.   As it happened, Israel would get fewer than 12 hours’ warning, and this through espionage/diplomatic channels, in the early morning hours of 6 October 1973.

badr

The Egyptian forces began to move against the east bank of the Suez canal at 1400 on the same day.  Breaching the sand wall with fire hoses, the lead elements of the Egyptian forces established bridgeheads within a few hours.  This was Operation Badr, which would last for the first five days of the war.   Operation Badr is worth reading about in detail, as the use of integrated fire support and anti-mechanized capabilities by the Egyptian Army nearly spelled disaster for Israel.

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Initially, the Bar Lev line, the western Israeli defenses of the Suez Canal, was lightly held by fewer than a thousand IDF soldiers and a handful of tanks, supported by a few 105mm, 155mm, and 175mm artillery batteries, and two forward airfields.   The opening preparation fires, a combination of direct fire, massed 152 and 130mm artillery, and ground attack fixed-wing air support, was brilliantly executed.  The Israeli airfields were put out of action, and the artillery batteries neutralized.  In addition, several air search and ground radars were destroyed, blinding the IDF to the movements of Egyptian ground and air units.  The Egyptians had also studied their foe, and had rightly guessed that the IDF would react with powerful air interdiction and armored counterattacks.

f4SA-6

In the preceding years, Egypt had invested heavily in air defense and anti-armor capabilities for the Army, increasing its air defense forces fourfold since 1967.  Now, that investment would pay massive dividends.  With a brilliantly-executed combined arms strike that had neutralized Israeli artillery and air defense systems, the Egyptian Second and Third Armies were able to move the SA-2, SA-3, and SA-6 missile systems forward to establish a layered air defense system over their forward ground units.  It was this integrated air defense which took a frightful toll of the Israeli Air Force, especially in the beginning days of the war.

IDF tank

On the ground, Egyptian tank killer teams roamed about setting ambushes for Israeli armor, employing AT-3 Sagger man-portable antitank missiles, where those teams destroyed more than 300 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles.   The IAF strikes and IDF armored counterattacks, staples of Israeli doctrine to defeat their Egyptian enemies, could only be executed at considerable risk and with expectations of heavy losses.

By 10 October, with losses far higher than their opponents, Israel was forced entirely to the defensive in the Sinai.  In the Golan Heights, a strike on 7 October by three Syrian armored brigades, supported by an Iraqi brigade, required a diversion of forces to counter the new threat.   In the Golan, Israeli fortunes were better.  Despite being badly outnumbered by the Syrian forces, and the bravery and skill exhibited by the Syrians, Israeli armored and mechanized units held, and in the Valley of Tears, all but destroyed Syrian offensive capability.   A great little book was written about the Golan fighting by the Commander of the 77th Battalion of the 7th Armored Brigade,  LtCol Avigdor Kahalani.   The Heights of Courage should be a read for all company and field grade officers.

A cease-fire was brokered on October 25th, 1973.  In the end, Israeli forces pushed the Egyptians back across most of the Sinai, and inflicted heavy losses.  But the IDF was only able to do so because of a massive influx of US aid, including mothballed F-4 Phantom fighters from Davis-Monthan  AFB, M-48 and M-60 tanks, and great quantities of munitions and logistical support.

Israel lost almost 3,000 killed and 11,000 wounded and captured in the 19 days of the Yom Kippur War.  The IDF had been ill-prepared for the Egyptian attack, both in its dispositions and its warfighting doctrine.  Since 1967, Israel had invested disproportionately in its vaunted Air Force and elite armored units, and had neglected infantry and artillery capabilities.   Israel had also committed the grave mistake of leaving planning assumptions about enemy capabilities and intent unquestioned, a mistake they would never make again.

The aftermath of the Yom Kippur War has been profound.  Egypt, once Israel’s most grave threat, reached a peace treaty in 1978, with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin signing the Camp David Accords.  Egypt, with a brief pause for a Muslim Brotherhood-led government, has remained on relatively good terms with Israel, and has (with a current brief pause AFTER the overthrow of the MB by the Egyptian Army) maintained a close relationship with the United States.    Operation Badr, significantly, represented the first Arab victory over Israeli forces on any scale since Israel’s founding in 1948.  It represents also the birth of the modern Egyptian Army, which remains a capable and well-equipped force, especially in comparison to its Middle Eastern neighbors.

golda

Just six years removed from the swift and devastating victories of the 1967 Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War was a profound shock to Israel.   Nobody will ever know for sure how close Israel came to being destroyed, or whether Golda Meir would have been willing to use the nuclear weapons in her possession to prevent that destruction.   We never had to find out, thankfully.   But it all began in earnest forty years ago tomorrow.

Update-XBradTC: URR writes: Israel had also committed the grave mistake of leaving planning assumptions about enemy capabilities and intent unquestioned, a mistake they would never make again.  

I’d argue that is incorrect. Israel badly misunderstood Hezbollah’s capabilities and tactics in the 2006 war. Israel’s incursion into Lebanon was not nearly as successful as hoped, and casualties were far higher than anticipated. The Israeli Army had planned and equipped and trained for a war of maneuver against an armored force, and found itself in an urban fight against a dug in irregular force in urban areas.

As a historical matter, the Yom Kippur War had enormous impact on US Army doctrine. I highly recommend to my readers King of the Killing Zone, the story of the development of the M1 Abrams tank, which also has an outstanding thumbnail sketch of the development of the Army’s AirLand Battle Doctrine. Our Army intensely studied the 1973 war, sifting for lessons learned on how to fight against a larger enemy, especially when strategically surprised. One of the real surprises the operational analysis of this and several other wars was that the smaller army in a war more often than not wins. The question became, “Why?” The answer was agility. Far more than the mere physical agility, the ability to move forces, smaller forces often have the mental agility to operate faster. AirLand Battle doctrine’s focus on operational agility predated, and foreshadowed, Boyd’s OODA Loop theory.

Update Update-URR:

I almost included a blurb about the 2006 Lebanon incursion.   Hezbollah tactics may have surprised the senior Israeli leadership, but did not surprise ground commanders.  I had the privilege of an extended conversation with Israeli BG Shimon Neveh, whose study of the 2006 fighting is absolutely superb.  His take was one that should ring familiar.  This from an interview with Matt Matthews:

Now, the other idea was to really assault by about 90 company-sized columns from all directions. Some elements airborne, some coming from the sea and others infiltrating almost without armor. The idea was to move in small teams and identify, feed the intelligence
circles, exploit our advantage in the air in remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fixed-wing and helicopters. When we introduced this idea, after certain experiments in CENTCOM in 2003, I remember it was a special meeting of the General Staff, presided by Chief Ya’alon, and I didn’t say much then because the whole idea to develop was presented by the Northern Command (NORTHCOM) commander at that time, Beni Ganz, who was against it then – and of course he was against it now. So when Gal Hirsch tells him to mobilize, let’s review the plans and see what our options are because we’ve been running out of time, he totally brushed this aside. “Halutz, we don’t need that. It’s a waste of time.”

BG Neveh believed strongly that the IDF operational commanders knew what awaited them, and the reasons for the “asymmetry” were political rather than doctrinal.  Including, as he told me with no little disdain, the idea of using military force to prompt a political decision rather than for the destruction of the enemy.

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North Vietnam Hero of Dien Bien Phu, Vo Nyugen Giap, Dead at 102

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BBC has the news.

They called him “Red Napoleon”, and for all his brutality and callous wasteage of the lives of his forces, he was a man of considerable military genius.   He had never been formally trained in tactics, strategy, or the operational arts.  Yet, his accomplishments on the battlefield and his unmistakeable savvy in exploiting enemy weakness make him one of the great military leaders of the post-World War II 20th Century. 

He once said that the NVA and Viet Cong were never strong enough to push half a million US troops out of Vietnam.  So his objective was to break American will.  His victories, not coincidentally, remain textbook lessons for insurgents and revolutionaries the world over.  

Interestingly, it was Giap who strongly encouraged warmer relations with the United States in the mid-1990s, as the threat of a burgeoning China began to grow. 

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Dr. Benjamin Carson Audited by IRS After Obama Criticism

Carson

Someone say “chilling effect” on free speech?

During an interview on “The O’Reilly Factor” Wednesday, Carson says the Internal Revenue Service started looking into his real estate holdings following his comments against the White House at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.

Carson says he had never had a problem with the tax-collecting agency until he spoke out against the president.

If anyone believes Doctor Carson’s audit was coincidence, they are willfully ignorant.  I am not going to type words here to try and get them to see the truth in front of them if they cannot bring themselves to face unpleasant facts.   That comes with being an informed citizen, and a grown-up.  Those with fingers in their ears and shrieks of “racist!” and “false scandal!” on their lips are neither, but rather are blind and contemptible worshippers of a personality cult.

This administration thinks nothing of using the apparatus of government to punish political opponents.  Enemies, domestic.  And those who assist them in these actions are as guilty as they, more so if they are wearing a uniform.

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P-61 Black Widow Footage…In Color!

From the video description over at Liveleak.com:

For aviation history fans. Very rare color P-61 night fighter footage shot at the end of World War II. From the 422nd NFS operating out of Florennes, Belgium, an up close look at P-61 “No Nothin II.”
Then in the Pacific and the island of Saipan, the legendary 548th NFS P-61 “Bat Outta Hells.”
Including P-61 gun camera film showing a night attack with bombs, rockets and 20mm cannon.

Click here for the vidya.

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Protect and Serve? All I See is Bully and Intimidate.

Yet another outrage with regards to how police in this country treat citizens with contempt and disrespect.   The video below was of an incident that began with a traffic stop for a license plate violation.

The officer drew his service weapon and pointed it at the head of the man on the ground.   Neighbors were concerned enough to begin filming the debacle.  Notice how the police officer told the witnesses he “didn’t need them there”, as if they haven’t a right to be.   They were interfering not at all with the officer, but were calling the police themselves because of the erratic and dangerous conduct of the officer.

Ask yourselves if you would trust the judgment and temperament of such a police officer in a real crisis, and whether he is upholding the law or instead merely bullying using the power of his badge and gun.   True, we don’t know the entire circumstance of the incident, but it seems extremely unlikely that the officer had reason to unholster.

I have had a police officer draw his weapon on me exactly once, on a routine traffic stop in LA in the late 80s.   He held the pistol at the ready (I could see him in the side mirror), while the other officer wrote the ticket.   (There is no “routine traffic stop” in LA.)  Both officers were nice as you please, pleasant and respectful.    A marked difference from the conduct of the policeman in the video.  This Toledo police officer deserves to find himself being called “the defendant” by a judge.

In Vermont, this right-to-carry state, such a police officer may well end up looking into the muzzle of a pistol himself, and will have earned it.   If he fears for his safety, he should become an accountant.   He sure as hell shouldn’t be a cop.

But, of course,

The police department stands by Hart’s actions…

As usual, our esteemed host is correct.  The militarization of our nation’s police forces is de facto the standing army the founding fathers warned us away from.   There will be more of this, as less restraint is shown by police officers, and individual liberties are increasingly curtailed in the name of “safety” and “compliance”.

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CPT William Swenson to be presented Medal of Honor

This is for his actions in the same engagement where SGT Dakota Meyers earned his.

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2013
President Obama to Award Medal of Honor
On October 15, 2013, President Barack Obama will award William Swenson, a former active duty Army Captain, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Captain Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as an Embedded Trainer and Mentor of the Afghan National Security Forces with Afghan Border Police Mentor Team, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, during combat operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.
Captain Swenson will be the sixth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.
PERSONAL BACKGROUND:
Captain William D. Swenson separated from the Army on February 1, 2011 and currently resides in Seattle, Washington. He is single.
Captain Swenson was commissioned as an Army Officer upon completing Officer Candidate School on September 6, 2002. His military training and education includes: Infantry Maneuver Captains Career Course, Ranger Course, Infantry Officer Basic, Infantry Mountain Leader Advanced Marksmanship Course, Airborne, Officer Candidate School.
At the time of the September 8, 2009 combat engagement, Captain Swenson was an Embedded Trainer and Mentor of Afghan National Security Forces. His actions were performed as part of 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division.
His military decorations include: Bronze Star Medal with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with One Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge

I stole this from John Donovan’s facebook feed. Thanks, John. John also mentions his suspicion that, for whatever reason, the Bush era DoD had a strong reluctance to consider any award of the MoH to surviving troops, whereas the Obama administration has not shown such reluctance.

Interestingly, this is the second small unit engagement that has seen the award of the MoH to two participants. Both here and the battle of COP Keating were desperate fights, and both came in for widespread criticism for the way Big Army handled the fight. I have a suspicion that the scrutiny of the fights has lead to greater documentation of the actions, which in turn raised the visibility of the participants, and led to greater supporting documentation for the awards process. Of course, in CPT Swenson’s case, the awards package was “lost” leading to a delay in the decision to make the award. That’s absolutely shameful.

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Just because you’ve been discharged doesn’t mean you don’t still have a duty.

We’ve borrowed this most excellent letter from An Enlightened Soldier.

GEN “Skinny” Wainwright had the unenviable duty of surrendering US (and Philippine) forces in the Philippines to the Japanese in World War II. He endured the rest of the war in captivity. His sense of duty led him to believe he deserved court martial for failure to accomplish his mission and save his command. Instead, when the Japanese delegation boarded the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945 to sign the articles of capitulation, GEN Wainwright stood by General of the Army MacArthur in a place of honor.

His command to his soldiers then is every bit as valid today.

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Regional Reaction Forces- Marine Mission, or does the Army want to play?

Army Times has a piece where Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs, ADM Sandy Winnefeld, says the Army should establish similar rapid regional response units like the one the Marine Corps recently stood up in Spain. The Marine unit, a reinforced rifle company with supporting aviation, was deployed as a response to the public outcry over an ability to respond to the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi a year ago.

The Army should consider establishing forward-deployed crisis-response units similar to the Marine Corps’ instead of ceding that mission entirely, a top military official said.

Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the crisis-response mission has taken on greater urgency in light of recent world events.

“I would say that I’d like to see the Army place more emphasis on the growth industry of the national security interest of protecting American citizens abroad; don’t yield that entirely to the Marine Corps,” he said.

The comments are unlikely to be popular in the Corps, which has claimed crisis response as its own mission. Commandant Gen. Jim Amos frequently refers to the service as the United States’ premier 9-1-1 force, and he has expressed significant interest in the Corps expanding its crisis-response capabilities in the last year.

 

Should the Army establish a similar team in support of our facilities in the Middle East or South America?

I am dubious, at best. For the Marines, deploying a reinforced rifle company with attached aviation assets is part and parcel of their business. While typically the Marines don’t deploy units smaller than a reinforced infantry battalion with aviation and logistics units as a Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU, while the MEU is deployed, slicing off a rifle company for a fair period of time isn’t unusual. To be sure, adding this mission to the Marine’s plate is a burden. But it is also very much a historical part of their skill set. And the Marines typically already deploy and afloat MEU to the Middle East on a continuing basis.

For the Army, such a mission is outside its typical deployment package. Outside the Special Forces community, typically the smallest element independently deployed would be the Brigade Combat Team.  Battalion and company sized elements may deploy overseas for training evolutions, but the logistics and communications for an operational deployment of an Army unit that size would call for tailoring a special task force.

Make no mistake, the Army would not be given extra funding, or establish special new companies to perform this mission. Instead, a rotation of various companies from existing BCTs would be tasked to perform the mission in rotation. So the tasked BCT would lose an integral part of its end strength not only for the length of time of the deployment, but also the time needed to train the unit for its specialized mission, and time to reintegrate it with the BCT’s training upon its return. And it wouldn’t just be a BCT impacted. A slice from a supporting Combat Aviation Brigade would also need to participate. And not just that, but if the notional rapid response force is to have a reach of more than about 200 miles, it would require air transport and support from the Air Force. Worse, Army helicopters are incapable of in-flight refueling (unlike Marine MV-22 and CH-53E helicopters).

The Marines have long had the mission of protecting US embassies and consulates. This is a mission very much in their wheelhouse. Let’s let the Army concentrate on training and executing those mission best suited for its strengths.

True story. I had a roommate in the barracks in Germany who was prior enlisted Marine. He enlisted in the Marines, wanting nothing more than to be a grunt, and deploy on a “float” to the Far East, and follow in his father’s footsteps. So what did the Marine Corps, in its infinite wisdom do? It made him an Embassy Marine, and sent him to the US Embassy in Bonn, Germany. Steve loathed Germany. He couldn’t think of a single good thing about being stationed in Germany. So when his enlistment was up, he quit the Marines, and enlisted in the Army, hoping to be stationed in Korea. The Army had about 50,000 people then in Korea, and 200,000 in Germany. So Steve found himself stationed back in Germany, only this time, at least, he was in a real Infantry unit. I know he stayed in the Army after his first enlistment. I just don’t know if he ever made it to the Far East.

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Kindly Uncle

Your humble host is playing kindly uncle to his niece’s children. They’re pretty good kids. But I’m very, very new to being left in charge of children.* They’re doing a good job training me. Who knew snacks and junk food were not just part of a healthy diet, but the cornerstone thereof?

The kids are being very, very quiet right now, which I take to mean they’re being very well behaved. Which means I have time to post a couple links.

I was going to write on this subject yesterday, but the Bangor Daily News website and I don’t get along. So I tossed it to Craig for his blog, and since he did all the work of writing, I’ll just crib back from him. To wit- it appears the original Medal of Honor presented to Joshua Chamberlain has been discovered, and is now being exhibited in Chamberlain’s hometown of Brunswick, ME.

Joshua Chamberlain’s original 1893 Medal of Honor found at church sale, donated to Brunswick history group

Brunswick, Maine — One of the most prestigious medals earned by one of Maine’s most decorated sons was discovered at a church sale and turned over to a Brunswick-based organization for safe keeping, the group announced Monday.

The U.S. Army Medal of Honor was awarded to Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain — who would go on to become president of Bowdoin College and governor of Maine — in 1893 for “distinguished gallantry” in the Battle of Gettysburg 30 years earlier.

The artifact was given to the Pejepscot Historical Society, which owns the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum in Brunswick, by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, the organization announced Monday afternoon. The individual who came to own the medal found it in the back of a book he had purchased “several years ago” at a sale held by First Parish Church in Duxbury, Mass., according to the society.

Read the whole thing, of course. And while you’re over there, take a moment to peruse Craig’s excellent historical overview of various campaigns of the Civil War.

An aside about the Medal of Honor during the Civil War. At the time, the MoH was the only award for valor. And the conditions under which it was awarded were not quite as defined as today. As a result, one might see awards for actions that today wouldn’t merit such an award. But surely Chamberlain’s award is one that even today the professional warrior, the citizen soldier (of which Chamberlain may be the most worthy example) and the armchair general can all agree was righteously given.

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BusBob over at the Lexicans has another of his very entertaining sea stories.

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It looks like budget cuts have the Army trimming its Combatives program. Combatives, as they are trained today, are a new development. In my days, we had bayonet training, and hand-to-hand combat training. But both were so stylized and unrealistic, neither was really worth much. As far as the Combatives program goes, I like it. Not because very many soldiers will ever need to fight that way, but as some folks in the Army Times article note, it goes a long way to help instill a warrior ethos into the soldier. Grappling, struggling, fighting. Those are good things.

But the Army-wide competition seems to me to have almost become an “MMA-Lite” obsession with some folks. My only concern is that a lack of qualified Combatives instructors can lead to injuries in training.

On the other hand, it’s staying in the basic skill set for soldiers. And the Army has also been trying hard to trim back the number of tasks that are “everybody must know” tasks. After all, if everything is a priority, nothing is.

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*I’ve long said the Army is just like the Boy Scouts, but without adult supervision.

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Cutaway Thursday: Boeing RAH-66 Comanche

boeingrah66eb

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What Might Have Been: The Polish PZL P.50 Jaszdrab (Hawk)

pzl_p-50

Salamander’s encore FbF today was a tribute to the suicidally brave pilots of the Polish Air Force, who rose in small numbers and outmoded machines to contest the modern and lethal Luftwaffe of the Third Reich, seventy-four years ago this week.

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The aircraft that the Polish pursuit (fighter) pilots took to the skies in on that first September morning of 1939 were thoroughly obsolete vestiges of another era.  The PZL P.11 featured on Sal’s porch was a parasol-wing monoplane with fixed landing gear that was a derivative of a design dating back to the late ‘Twenties.  With a top speed of barely 235 mph, it was no match for the German Bf 109D and E models, which were some 120 mph faster and much more heavily armed.

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The Poles watched the once cutting edge P.11 fade into complete obsolescence with the rapid advances in aircraft and engine technology of the mid 1930s (Bf 109, Spitfire, Hurricane, Curtiss Hawk 75), and in 1936 proposed their own all-metal low-wing monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear.  This was the PZL P.50 Jaszdrab (Hawk).   Design work included the mounting of a 870 hp Gnome-Rhone radial, giving the aircraft a designed top speed of around 270 mph.  A more powerful engine, of British design, would have increased performance considerably.  Unfortunate delays in acquiring retractable landing gear and in engine delivery (the 1,350 hp Bristol Hercules radial) slowed development to a crawl.  The first prototype flew only weeks before the German invasion, and the only other airframe never flew.

Plans were to build more than three hundred of the P.50B with the more powerful British engine to replace the outmoded P.11.  The Hercules would have given the Hawk a top speed of around 340 mph.  With a higher power/weight ratio and considerably lower wing loading (26 lb/sqft vs 40 lb/sqft) than the Bf 109E, the Hawk would likely have had excellent maneuverability, climb rate, and acceleration.  The sturdy construction of the P.11 would certainly have been carried over to the P.50.

While the P.50 Jaszdrab most probably would have still been somewhat outclassed by the German fighter, the brave Polish pilots would have been at least in a modern aircraft much more equal to their foes.   Three hundred P.50s in the hands of the brave and skilled Polish pilots, fourteen squadrons instead of ten, may have given the Luftwaffe pause.  The toll they might have taken on the cream of the German fighter strength may have given the equally brave and equally outmatched Polish ground forces some respite from the onslaught.

Perhaps, perhaps not.  But the P.50 in the hands of the Polish Air Force is one of those “what if?” scenarios one cannot help but ponder.

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“I Have Not Made a Decision”

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So says President Obama in reference to US military action in Syria.    Problem is, he has.  Two of them, actually.  Whether he acknowledges so or not.  Both of them are exceedingly poor ones.  The first was Obama’s August 2012 ill-conceived bluster about use of chemical weapons being a “red line” for the United States.  Tough talk that sounded good, at least to the untrained ear.

When it seemed that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on rebel forces, in April of 2013, Obama was caught bluffing like a teenager in a grown-up poker game.   So, his second decision was to do nothing after promising “serious consequences” for such use.

Now, the rather predictably beholden news media, led by ABC News, is attempting to tell us that Obama really did not say

“…a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

Or, if he did, that he didn’t mean to imply what his words meant.

And now, he is stuck.  The Administration has “concluded” that the chemical weapons, likely Sarin (GB), which is not a gas but a liquid nerve agent, were fired by elements of the Assad regime.  What evidence?  Not very much.  None, in fact, that would stand up to the scrutiny of 2004.

“We have concluded,” the president said, that Assad’s regime “in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, there needs to be international consequences.

“…We have looked at all the evidence and we don’t believe the opposition possessed… chemical weapons of that sort,” he continued. “We do not believe given the delivery system using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks.”

Anyone with much intelligence background would acknowledge immediately that such an assertion is utter nonsense.  Following a statement from that icon of Foreign Policy, Joe Biden, that there was “no doubt” the attacks came from the Assad regime, the President uses the phrase “we don’t believe” twice in making his assertion.

In truth, neither Biden nor Obama has any way of knowing.  The delivery system?  Such is easy enough to acquire.  In Iraq, the enemy captured or fabricated rail fairings for 122mm rockets, and for the Chinese-made 107mm variety, routinely.   The capability most certainly exists in Syria.  In fact, there are videos of anti-regime elements firing 122mm rockets from captured BM-21 launchers and improvised systems all over YouTube.   Here are two.

So much for the Administration’s assertion on that point.

As for Assad’s chemical stockpiles, my guess is that they have been divided among dozens or even hundreds of caches, with varying levels of security around them, in order to keep Western forces from being able to secure them with special operations forces.   Have the “rebels” (which include Al Qaeda in strength, and other radical Islamists) lain their hands on one or more of those stockpiles?  There is no way for the US to tell.  And it isn’t as if the Assad regime would volunteer the information, even if they knew.

The major point, however, is the question of why the Assad regime would resort to chemical attacks at this juncture.  Regime elements are no longer hard-pressed, the Assad regime is winning.  What would be the strategic purpose of facing international condemnation and risking the alienation of a very powerful ally (Putin’s Russia) to launch a chemical attack that doesn’t even accomplish a tactical objective?   Assad is not a fool.  He understands survival.

This is not to say conclusively that the Syrian government did NOT launch such an attack.  A miscalculation borne of the weakness and vacillation of the US response the first time, a thumb in the eye of America on the heels of the empty “tough talk” of Obama, may have played into the decision.  But I find that eventuality rather unlikely.  Could a junior commander have fired the chemical barrage without authorization?  Also a possibility, and perhaps more likely.  Though I find hard-pressed and increasingly desperate anti-government forces using such weapons with the hope of being saved by outside intervention just as likely.  Especially if they are egged on by an Al Qaeda presence that understands the import of the fall of Assad for the advent of yet another Radical Islamist state in a strategic region.

There are no good options, and thanks to Obama’s indiscretions regarding his “red line” comments, there now are not even neutral options, only bad ones.   Yet another head-on collision with the real world for the arrogant, naive, incompetent, bumbling, indecisive ideologues in the White House and at Foggy Bottom.

And the newly-minted US Ambassador to the UN?  Where was she when the emergency UN session on Syria was held?  On vacation in Ireland.  She did, however, “tweet” on the subject.  Perhaps she even used a frowny-face icon when discussing the chemical attacks.  Not yet a month on the job.  Gotta wonder, how many Corporals have been recalled or had leave canceled in the last two days because of this crisis?  At least Malik was absent in protest, and not in a pub in Belfast.

Our foreign policy is in shambles.   Absolute shambles.

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US Army Leaders Give Subordinates Just Weeks to Cut Staffs, Budgets by 25 Percent

The Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff have given their staffs just weeks — until Sept. 11 — to report back with “a comprehensive set of recommendations” as to where the service can make 25 percent cuts in funding and manning levels at all Army headquarters elements at the 2-star level and above.

The “2013 Army Focus Area Review Group” plan was spelled out in an August 14 Army document obtained by Defense News.

In some of the strongest language yet about how seriously Army leadership is taking the cuts, the memo bluntly says that “Let there be no mistake, aggregate reductions WILL TAKE PLACE. The money is gone; our mission now is to determine how best to allocate these cuts while maintaining readiness. We expect Army leaders, military and civilian, to seize this opportunity

to re-shape our Army. This effort will take PRIORITY OVER ALL other Headquarters, Department of the Army activities.”

The Group is being led by Deputy Undersecretary of the Army Thomas Hawley and head of Army’s Office of Business Transformation Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr. The memo states that the group will have seven “Focus Area” teams, each tasked with developing “bold executable recommendations which will be used to balance the already directed reductions” in the budget projections from 2015-2019. The initial focus areas are:

■ Institutional Headquarters Reductions

■ Operational Headquarters Reductions

■ Operational Force Structure and Ramps

■ Readiness

■ Acquisition Work Force

■ Installation Services and Investments

■ Army C31 [sic] and Cyber

via US Army Leaders Give Subordinates Just Weeks to Cut Staffs, Budgets by 25 Percent | Defense News | defensenews.com.

I think the very first thing I’d do is close anything named even remotely like Office of Business Transformation and get rid of that 3-star slot.

On the institutional side, we’ve already seen the Armor Center and the Infantry Center consolidated to the Maneuver Center. I can think of some other arms and services that might consolidate as well.

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Three-quarters of which the NSA can capture and record.

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The above image was front and center on this morning’s Drudge Report.   And it is telling, perhaps more so than even the folks at Drudge realize.

Such an image cannot be viewed in isolation.   Bearing in mind Franklin’s warning about trading freedom for safety, one cannot but be most chagrined at the course of individual liberty during this present Administration, especially if you are not of a preferred color/gender/sexual orientation.

But the image above captures something deeper, more disturbing even than the predictable constriction of individual freedom by secular-progressives who desire a statist command-economy and all the forced equality trappings that go with it.   What the image shows is a US General Officer, sworn to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, explaining how the subversion of that Constitution is helping protect us from bad people.    He is, by transitive property, asserting rather unilaterally (and against the ruling of SCOTUS) that Americans have no reasonable right to privacy in their electronic communications.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Still ringing in my ears is the voice of Marine General James Cartwright, in full uniform, explaining how Constitutional limits on the authority of Title 10 forces represented “obstacles to mission accomplishment” which must be “overcome”, instead of those limits being bulwarks of liberty against the arbitrary and dangerous use of government/military power.

Here is where the political pliability of our senior uniformed leadership is far more than just disappointing, becoming instead a grave threat to our liberty and our Republic.   The willingness of men like General Casey to insert the politically-motivated remarks about diversity in the immediate wake of a Muslim Army MAJOR killing 13 at Fort Hood (while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar!’), and CJCS Mike Mullen violating the most basic of discipline by offering his personal opinion unsolicited, while in uniform, regarding repeal of DADT, are of themselves deeply disappointing and corrosive to the credibility of both men, and that of senior leaders in general.   Marine Commandant General Amos’ alleged actions in subverting the legal rights of Marines accused in high-profile misconduct is yet another example.  But each is a symptom of a much larger problem.

The politicizing of our senior uniformed leadership is not a new phenomenon, but what is a far more alarming and grave situation is the willingness of these senior officers to set aside their oath to the Constitution and to the tenets of their offices in order to comply with and curry favor from their political bosses.   Marty Dempsey’s shameful conduct in criticizing lawful free speech of a Veterans’ group was compounded immeasurably by his despicable actions in the Benghazi incident.  He was quick to call a private American citizen and urge that citizen to refrain from lawful free expression, and did so in the execution of his office.   Not only is that a blatant violation of the Constitution he is sworn to support and defend, but it was patently dishonest.  Even before  Dempsey made that call, he knew that his premise, the supposed video that sparked a spontaneous protest at the Consulate, was a lie.   And he did it anyway, selling his soul and what shreds were left of his honor for his political masters.  Worse, it seems General Dempsey was conspicuously derelict in allowing someone with virtually no Constitutional authority (Valerie Jarrett) to make decisions regarding deployment of military forces, when she likely issued the stand-down order contributing to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three brave Americans, and the humiliation of the United States internationally.

The Obama Administration has amply demonstrated its willingness, even eagerness, to identify political opposition as national enemies.  The FBI identification of white Veterans who believe in small government and the Second Amendment as possible “domestic terrorists” happened not long after Obama entered the White House.   Military exercises in which law-abiding political movements are posited as violent enemies of the state have been conducted on more than one occasion.  In fact, the replacing of “Islamic extremist” with “violent extremist” has very intentionally allowed the far-left to demonize gun owners and believers in the right to keep and bear arms with that very label, “violent extremists”.  The media, ideally a check to such detestable action on the part of government and its elected officials, has been all too eager and complicit in the efforts to demonize.

Not long following the Obama Administration’s Alinsky-esque demonizing of those who disagree with the socialist-progressive mantra has come the wielding of the apparatus of government to punish and persecute political opponents, and to cajole and threaten others into compliance and cooperation.  The IRS scandal, in the wake of the Benghazi fabrications, is indicative of both the ruthless nature of this Administration and the dangers of unchecked government authority.  Sibelius’ extorting of hundreds of millions of dollars for the support of Obamacare is another.  The NSA surveillance revelations, first revealed by Edward Snowden, are unsurprisingly far more serious than we had been led to believe.

Our senior Officers, those who swore the oath to support and protect the Constitution of the Unites States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, have become politically pliable sycophants who follow unquestioningly the direction of their political masters.    There may come a time when these senior Officers are faced with the moral dilemma of following orders from senior civilian (and other military) officials they know are in contravention of the law and our Constitution, or standing firm on their oath and honor to uphold that Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Alas, it is all too predictable which choice so many of them will make.

The men who held those posts once stood as the guardians of freedom, brave men whose moral and physical courage were to be admired.  Not perfect, even sometimes badly flawed, but loyal to our Constitution and the oaths they swore.  Those days, and those men, are gone.  At the top of this post is photographic evidence.  One more critical protection of our precious liberties has been dismantled, and replaced by yet more instruments of a dangerous Administration to increase and consolidate its hold on power.    Such is the apparatus of rulers of the people, rather than government by the people.   Should we lose our Republic, posterity can point to this time, and to these men, as the true beginning of the end.   The shame and disgrace of those in uniform who helped it along will be eternal.   And those they so desperately wanted to please will still despise and scorn them.

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