Category Archives: army

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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Filed under Air Force, army, Around the web, budget, China, Defense, history, Iran, iraq, logistics, marines, navy, obama, planes, Politics, Uncategorized, war

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.

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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.
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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.
Continue reading

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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…

2013 mug close-up

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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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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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.

Yom-Kippur-war-Egyptian-artillery-conduct-a-barrage-during-the-Yom-Kippur-War-wiki-commons.jpg

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

General-Giap-300x202

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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